The Questions of Sulaymān al-Marūzi to Imam Reza (as)

al-Ma’mūn sent his messenger to the Imām and asked him to come in order to debate with Sulaymān. The Imām responded to that and attended along with a delegation from among his eminent companions including ‘Umrān al-Sābi’i, who became a Muslim at the hand of the Imām. Then a debate took place between Sulaymān and ‘Umrān al-Sābi’i on al-bidā’. Sulaymān denied al-bidā’ while ‘Umrān confirmed it. Then Sulaymān sought the Imām’s view about it and he confessed it. He established it through some verses from the Holy Qur’ān. Then al-Ma’mūn turned to Sulaymān and said to him: “Question Abū al-Hasan about whatever you desire. You must listen well and be fair.” Sulaymān asked the Imām the following questions:
Q1: “What is your view about Him whom has made will as name and attribute such as All-living, All-hearing, All-seeing, and All-powerful?”
Ans. 1: “You want to say that things were originated and became different because He desired and willed, and you do not want to say that things were originated and became different because He is All-hearing and All-seeing. This is proof of that they (i.e. will and desire) are not similar to All-hearing, All-seeing, and All-powerful.”
Sulaymān interrupted the Imām, saying: “He has always been willing.”
The Imām answered him: “Sulaymān, His will is (something) other than Him.”
Sulaymān numbered (some attributes) to show that Allah, the Exalted, was united with His intention. So, the Imām disproved Sulaymān’s vague error, saying:
“You have proved along with Him something other than Him which has always been.”
“I have not proved (that),” replied Sulaymān
“Is it (the will ) originated?” asked Sulaymān.
“No, it is not originated,” answered the Imām.
The Imām confused Sulaymān and he began saying contradictory statements. He (Sulaymān) sometimes said that will was eternal and sometimes said that it was originated. Therefore, al-Ma’mūn shouted at him and asked him not to show obstinacy and to show fairness in his speech, saying: “You must be fair. Do you not see that the people of consideration are around you?”
Then al-Ma’mūn turned to the Imām and said to him: “Abū al-Hasan, debate with him on theology, for he is the theologian of Khurasān.”
The Imām asked him: “Is it (the will) originated?”
Sulaymān denied the origination of the will, so the Imām answered him:
“Sulaymān, it is originated. If thing is not eternal, it is originated; if it is not originated, it is eternal.”
Sulaymān interrupted (the Imām) saying: “His (Allah’s) will is (part) of Him just as His hearing, His sight, and His knowledge are (parts) of Him.”
The Imām disproved his statement, asking: “Did He will Himself?”
“No,” was the answer.
The Imām began confuting his statement, saying: “Therefore, the willing is not like the All-hearing and the All-seeing.”
Sulaymān (answered) at random, for the Imām left no room for him to defend his own vague errors. He (Sulaymān) said: ‘Surely, He willed Himself just as He heard Himself, saw Himself, and recognized Himself.”
The Imām confuted his statement, asking: “What is the meaning of that He willed Himself? Did He will to be a thing? Did He will to be All-living, All-hearing, All-seeing, and All-powerful?”
Sulaymān did not know what to say, so he answered: “Yes.”
“Did that occur through His will?” asked the Imām.
“Yes,” was the answer.
The Imām began refuting Sulaymān’s statement and showing the contradiction therein, saying: “Your statement: ‘He willed to be All-living, All-hearing, and All-seeing,’ has no sense. Was that through His will?”
As the matter was deep, Sulaymān said: “Yes, that was through His will.”
The people in the session burst into laughter. Al-Ma’mūn laughed at the contradictory speech of Sulaymān. However, the Imām turned to the people and asked them to show gentleness toward Sulaymān. Then he asked him: “Sulaymān, do you think that He (i.e. Allah, the Exalted) has altered from state to state and changed due to it? This is something through which Allah is not described.”
Sulaymān became feeble and kept silent, so the Imām turned to him in order to establish proof against him, saying: “Sulaymān, I want to ask you a question.”
“Question (me), may I be your ransom,” replied Sulaymān.
“Tell me about you and your companions: Do you debate with the people on theology according to what you understand and know or according to what you do not understand and know?”
“Rather, according to what we understand and know,” answered Sulaymān.
The Imām began establishing proof against Sulaymān’s vague errors, saying: “The thing which the people know is that the willing is other than will, that the willing is before will, that the doer is before the thing done. This (statement) disproves your statement: ‘Will and the willing is one thing.’”
Sulaymān said: “May I be your ransom, isn’t that of Him as the people know and understand?”
The Imām continued refuting Sulaymān’s vague errors, saying: “I think that you have claimed the knowledge of that without knowledge and said: ‘Will is like hearing and seeing.’ If you have such a view, then it is something which is neither known nor is understood.”
Sulaymān became perplexed and was unable to answer because of the many scientific abilities of the Imām, peace be on him. The Imām resumed his debate in order to complete proof against him, saying:
“Sulaymān, does Allah know all those who are in the Garden and the Fire?”
“Yes,” Sulaymān retorted.
The Imām opposed him, saying: “Is what Allah, the Exalted, knows (part) of that?”
“Yes,” was the answer.
“If it is to the extent that nothing of it remains but is, will He increase them or cut them off from it (the fruit of the Garden)?”
“Rather, He increases them,” replied Sulaymān.
The Imām disproved his statement, saying: “From your statement I see that He increases them what is not in His knowledge that it will be.”
Sulaymān said: “May I be your ransom, the willing has no limit.”
“Tell me about you and your companions: Do you debate with the people on theology according to what you understand and know or according to what you do not understand and know?”
“Rather, according to what we understand and know,” answered Sulaymān.
The Imām began establishing proof against Sulaymān’s vague errors, saying: “The thing which the people know is that the willing is other than will, that the willing is before will, that the doer is before the thing done. This (statement) disproves your statement: ‘Will and the willing is one thing.’”
Sulaymān said: “May I be your ransom, isn’t that of Him as the people know and understand?”
The Imām continued refuting Sulaymān’s vague errors, saying: “I think that you have claimed the knowledge of that without knowledge and said: ‘Will is like hearing and seeing.’ If you have such a view, then it is something which is neither known nor is understood.”
Sulaymān became perplexed and was unable to answer because of the many scientific abilities of the Imām, peace be on him. The Imām resumed his debate in order to complete proof against him, saying:
“Sulaymān, does Allah know all those who are in the Garden and the Fire?”
“Yes,” Sulaymān retorted.
The Imām opposed him, saying: “Is what Allah, the Exalted, knows (part) of that?”
“Yes,” was the answer.
“If it is to the extent that nothing of it remains but is, will He increase them or cut them off from it (the fruit of the Garden)?”
“Rather, He increases them,” replied Sulaymān.
The Imām disproved his statement, saying: “From your statement I see that He increases them what is not in His knowledge that it will be.”
Sulaymān said: “May I be your ransom, the willing has no limit.”
Sulaymān went on clinging to vague errors and imaginations which the Imām had already disproved through undeniable proofs, saying:
“Yes, He cuts them off from it and does not increase them.”
The Imām opposed that and confuted it with these words of him: “Therefore, He destroys (them) therein. This (statement), Sulaymān, cancels everlastingness and opposes the Book, for Allah, the Great and Almighty, says: They have therein whatever they wish and with Us is more yet.[1] And He, the Great and Almighty, says: A gift which shall never be cut off.[2] And He, the Great and Almighty, says: Nor shall they be ever ejected from it (the Garden).[3] And He, the Great and Almighty, says: Abiding therein forever.[4] And He,  the Great and Almighty, says: And abundant fruit, neither intercepted nor forbidden.”
Sulaymān kept silent, not knowing what to answer after the Imām had closed before him all avenues of argument. Then the Imām asked him: “Sulaymān, tell me about will: Is it an action or not?”
“Rather, it is an action,” replied Sulaymān.
“Therefore, it is originated, for all actions are originated,” declared the Imām.
All possible beings are effects, made, and originated. As for the Necessary Being, the Most High, it is impossible for Him to have the qualities of the possible being. Sulaymān was unable to say anything and began contradicting himself, saying:
“It (i.e. will) is not an action.”
As for Sulaymān, he had already admitted that it was an action. As a result, the Imām turned to him and asked him: “Is there anyone besides Him who, too, is eternal?”
Sulaymān dodged and did not answer the Imām’s question, saying: “Will is the brining forth.”
The Imām answered: “This is the thing because of which you criticized Dirār[1] and his companions, saying that everything Allah, the Great and Almighty, has created in heaven or earth, ocean or land ¾such as dog or pig, monkey, human or an animal ¾is Allah’s will, and that Allah’s will lives, dies, goes away, eats, drinks, marries, feels pleasure, wrongs, commits immoral acts, disbelieves, becomes a polytheist, so He renounces it and repeats Himself through it, and this is its bound.”
The Imām, peace be on him, demonstrated Dirār’s corrupt viewpoints which Sulaymān and his companions had criticized. He refuted all these corrupt viewpoints before Sulaymān, but the latter did not understand the Imām’s statement and said: “It (i.e. will) is like hearing, seeing, and knowledge.”
Sulaymān repeated what he had already said that will was like hearing and seeing. The Imām had already confuted this corrupt statement, yet he, peace be on him, asked him: “Tell me: Are hearing, seeing, and knowledge made?”
“No,” was the answer.
The Imām criticized Sulaymān for his contradictory statement, saying: “How did you negate Him? You sometimes said that He did not will and sometimes you said that He willed, and that it (i.e. will) was not one of His actions.”
Sulaymān said at random: “Surely, that is like our statement: He sometimes knows and sometimes does not know!”
The Imām answered with inclusive proof, saying: “That is not the same, for negating the known is not like negating knowledge; negating what is willed is (not like) negating will, for if the thing is not willed, there will be no will. Knowledge may be established even if the known is not like seeing. Man may be knowing even though he is not the one who enlightens (others). Knowledge may be established even if it is not the known.”
Sulaymān answered: “It (i.e. will) is made.”
The Imām invalidated Sulaymān’s statement, saying: “Therefore, it (will) is originated and is not like hearing and seeing, for hearing and seeing are not made, and this is made.”
Sulaymān said: “It (will) is one of His eternal attributes.”
The Imām answered him, saying: “Therefore man must be eternal, for his quality is eternal.”
Sulaymān began dodging in his speech and said: “No, because He did not do it (will).
As a result, the Imām criticized him for that and said: “Khurasāni, what numerous your errors are! Are things not according to His will?”
Sulaymān insisted on his error, saying: “No.”
The Imām answered him: “If things are not according to His will nor His desire nor His command nor His practice, then how are they? High is Allah above that!”
Sulaymān became perplexed. He was unable to say anything. Then the Imām continued confuting Sulaymān’s vague errors and imaginations, asking him: “Will you not tell me about these words of Him, the Great and Almighty: And when We wish to destroy a town, We send Our commandment to the people of it who lead easy lives, but they transgress therein?[1] Does He not mean by that that He creates His own will?”
 “Yes,” Sulaymān retorted.
The Imām answered him: “If He creates His own will, then your statement is that  will is He or a futile thing of Him, for it is not (possible) for Him to create Himself and does not change His state. Exalted is Allah above that.”
Sulaymān opposed (the Imām), saying: “By that He does not mean that He creates His own will?”
“So what does He mean?” asked the Imām.
“He means doing a thing,” was the answer.
The Imām rebuked him, saying: “Woe unto you! How many times have you repeated this matter? I told you that will is created, for the action of a thing is originated.”
“Therefore will has no sense,” declared Sulaymān.
“Do you think that He describes Himself with will which has no sense? If will has no old or new meaning, then your statement, ‘Allah, the Great and Almighty, has always been willing’ is groundless.”
Sulaymān began clinging to vague errors, saying: “I mean that will is one of Allah’s eternal actions.”
The Imām answered him, saying: “Do you not know that thing is not done and eternal and new at the same time?”
Sulaymān became perplexed after the Imām had disproved all his vague errors and made clear for him that every possible thing was created and not eternal, and that the will of Allah was not like the qualities of the possible being.
The Imām continued establishing his proofs against Sulaymān, saying: “There is no harm on you. Complete your questions.”
“Will is one of His attributes,” declared Sulaymān.
The Imām criticized him for repeating this statement, saying: “How many times have you said that it is one of His attributes? Is His will originated, or has it always been so?”
“Originated,” was the answer.
The Imām said: “Allāhu Akbar! You are telling me that His attribute is originated. Had it been one of His attributes, an eternal one, then He willed nothing, for the thing which has always been so is not done.”
Sulaymān began contradicting himself, saying: “Things are not a will, and He did not will anything.”
The Imām answered him, saying: “You have hissed, O Sulaymān! He did and created as long as His will and His creation are eternal! This is the attribute of someone who does not know what he is doing. Exalted is Allah above all of that.”
Again Sulaymān contradicted himself and said: “Master, I have already informed you that will is like hearing, seeing, and knowing.”
As a result, al-Ma’mūn shouted at Sulaymān, saying: “Woe unto you, Sulaymān! How you have erred and how often you have repeated yourself? Stop it and take another (matter), for you seem to be unable to provide any answer better than that.”
The Imām turned to al-Ma’mūn and said to him: “Leave him, Commander of the faithful. Don’t interrupt his questions, for he will regard it as an argument (against me).”
Then the Imām looked at Sulaymān and said to him: “Speak, Sulaymān.”
Sulaymān continued saying: “I have already informed you that will is like hearing, seeing, and knowing.”
The Imām replied to him: “There is no harm, tell me about the meaning of this. Is it one meaning or different meanings?”
“One meaning,” came the answer.
“Is the meaning of will one?” asked the Imām.
“Yes,” was the answer.
The Imām answered him with an irrefutable answer, saying: “If its meaning is one, then it will be the will of standing, sitting, life, and death. If His will is one, parts of which do not go ahead parts, and parts of which do not oppose parts.”
Sulaymān replied, saying: “Surely, its meaning is different.”
The Imām understood that Sulaymān was uncertain, so he asked him: “Tell me about the willing: Is He the will or other than it?”
“Rather, He is the will,” replied Sulaymān.
The Imām answered him: “In your view, is the willing different when He is the will.”
“Master, the will is not the willing,” explained Sulaymān.
Yet the Imām understood that Sulaymān was not sure, so he said to him: “Will is originated; otherwise there is (something) other than Him along with Him.”
“Will is one of His names,” said Sulaymān.
“Did He name Himself with that?” asked the Imām.
“No,” replied Sulaymān, “He did not name Himself with that.”
“Therefore, you have no right to name Him with what He did not name Himself,” said the Imām.
Sulaymān dodged and said: “He described Himself that He was willing.”
The Imām said: “His attribute is not His selfness. That He is willing is telling of that He is will and is not telling of that will is one of His names.”
“That is because His will is His knowledge,” declared Sulaymān.
The Imām asked: “If He knows thing, does He lose (His) will.”
“Yes,” was the answer.
“If He does not will thing, does He not know it?” asked the Imām.
“Yes,” replied Sulaymān.
The Imām began explaining Sulaymān’s corrupt views, saying: “From where did you say that? What is the evidence for that His will is His knowledge? He may know what He does not will by no means, and that is these words of Him, the Great and Almighty: And if We will, We should certainly take way that which We have revealed to you.[1] Therefore, He knows how He takes it away, but He never takes it away.”
Sulaymān said: “That is because He finished the affair, so He did not increase anything therein.”
The Imām replied, saying: “This is the statement of the Jews. So why did He, the Exalted, say: Call upon Me, I will answer you.[2]
As for Sulaymān, he denied that and said: “By that He meant that He had power over it.”
The Imām asked him: “Does He promise what He does not fulfill? Why did He say: He increases in creation what He wills?[3] And He, the Great and Almighty, said: Allah makes to pass away and establishes what He wills [4], while He finished this matter.”
Sulaymān became perplexed after the Imām had closed before all avenues of argument. Wherever he went, the Imām faced him with an irrefutable argument and inclusive proof in order to invalidate his viewpoints. Then the Imām, peace be on him, continued confuting Sulaymān’s vague errors, saying: “Sulaymān, did He know that a human being would be and He did not will to create a human being by no means? That a human being will die today and He will not make him die today?”
“Yes,” retorted Sulaymān.
The Imām hastened to refute these contradictory words of Sulaymān, asking: “Does He know that what He wills exists or does He know what He will not exists?”
Sulaymān opposed the Imām, saying: “He knows that both of them exist.”
The Imām answered him according to his contradictory statement, saying: “Therefore, He knows that man is living and dead, standing and sitting, blind and seeing at the same time. This is impossible.”
Sulaymān began saying more contradictory statements regarding the questions of the Imām, saying: “May I be your ransom, He knows that one of them exists.”
The Imām said: “There is no harm (on you), which of them exists ¾the one which He wills to be or the one which He wills not to be?”
Sulaymān began saying at random, not knowing what to say, and not knowing his contradictory statements: “He wills what He wills to be!”
The people including al-Ma’mūn burst into laughter. As for Imām al-Ridā, he smiled at Sulaymān and said to him: “You have erred and left your statement: He knows that a person will die today and He does not will to make him die today, that He wills to create  creatures and He will not to create them. If your knowledge is not enough (to understand) what He wills not to be, then He knows only what He wills to be.”
Sulaymān tried to correct his statement, saying: “My statement is that will is neither He nor a thing other than Him!”
The Imām indicated Sulaymān’s contradiction, saying: “If you say that will is not He, then you have regarded it as (something) other than him. If you say that will is not (a thing) other than Him, then you have regarded it as Him.”
Sulaymān asked: “Does Allah know how He creates thing?”
“Yes,” replied the Imām.
“Surely, this establishes thing.”
The Imām answered him with a wise answer, saying: “You have said something impossible. That is because man may build a wall even if he does not build, sew even though he does not sew, make thing well despite he does not make it. Sulaymān, do you know that He is One without anything with Him?”
“Yes,” was the answer.
“Does this establish thing?”
As for Sulaymān, he denied what he said previously, saying: “He does not know that He is One without anything with Him.”
“Do you know that?” asked the Imām.
“Yes,” came the answer.
“Therefore, You, Sulaymān, more knowledgeable than Him!”
“The matter is impossible,” declared Sulaymān.
The Imām asked him: “Is it impossible in your view that He is One without anything with Him, that He is All-hearing, All-seeing, All-wise, All-powerful...?”
“Yes,” was the answer.
The Imām answered with a wise answer, saying: “How  did He, the Great and Almighty, say that He was One, All-living, All-hearing, All-seeing, All-wise, All-powerful, All-knowing, All-aware, while He did not know that and His being accused of lying? Exalted is Allah above that.”
The Imām added, saying: “How does He will to create that which He does not know how to create and what it is? If creator does not know how to create thing before he creates it, then he is perplexed.  Exalted is Allah above that, a great exaltation!”
Sulaymān said at random: “Will is power.”
The Imām replied: “He, the Great and Almighty, always has power over what He will. There is no escape from that, for He, the Blessed and Exalted, said: And if We will, We should certainly take away that which We have revealed to you. If will is power, He wills take it away because of His power.”
Feebleness appeared on Sulaymān’s face, and he stood perplexed before this Ocean of knowledge and merit. As a result, he kept silent. Al-Ma’mūn turned to him and praised the Imām’s talents saying: “Sulaymān, this is the most learned of the Hāshimites!”


Reference :The life of Imām'Ali Bin Mūsā al-Ridā