Amr and Khalq – Two different words for ‘creation’

The following excerpt is taken from “Exposition of the Quran” by Ghulam Ahmed Pervez pg. 1144-1145:

Al-amarato wat-tamoor means a sign post made of small stones in the desert to indicate boundaries or paths. Al-itemar means to consult. In verses (7:110) and (26:35) the Pharaoh asked his chiefs about Moses, “So what do you suggest in this matter?” Motamar means the place where consultations take place – the conference room and the conference itself. Ameer is a person who gives guidance to a blind man (Taj). It also means abundance (Taj). Other meaning in which amr is used are: to order, to direct a situation or a position. When it is used in the context of giving directions, then its plural is awamir (as we used awamir and nawahi – its antonym). When amr is used in the sense of a problem or a situation, its plural is umoor. Al-imaato means a government or state (Taj) and ameer means a person who gives directives. In verse, (7:54) amr is used in a different form than khalq. Here it is important to keep in view its basic meanings, i.e. guidance, indication, direction. Ibn-e-Faris says that nourishment is also one of its intrinsic meanings.

               Khalq means to bring into existence various things by mixing different elements. This pre-supposes that these elements already exist. However, before this stage, there is another stage when things are in the process of becoming. This planning stage is aalam-ul-amr. Amr also means the laws, rules or disciplines according to which things in the universe exist. The Quran says that when Allah decides to create something, He says “Be” and so it “Becomes”. How it takes shape and form, and where it comes into being, we do not know as it is beyond our comprehension.

               Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal, in his book “Essays on Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam” (p. 103) quotes Pringle Pattison, a famous Scottish philosopher, who exposes the helplessness of the English language He says that English has only one word about the creation of the universe, whereas there should have been two different words to explain two different phases. Arabic has two words khalq and amt to express the two ways in which the creative activity of Allah reveals itself to us.

               In short, the first stage is that of divine planning, where Allah’s directive energy initiates an inchoate object on the pat leading to its destined incarnation. In addition, the process by which it finally assumes the material form intended for is us called the process of creation. Creation involves the blending of various elements in a particular manner and proportion, to produce an entirely new thing, for instance the formation of water through a combination of hydrogen and oxygen molecules.

               How the divine planning operates n the various stages of amr is beyond human comprehension. The domain of amr (creating from nothingness) is exclusive to Allah. In the world of creation (khalq), we can understand and comprehend through physical laws the operation of creation but also cooperate with Allah in the creative process. The laws under which various objects in the universe function in the world of divine planning (alam-ul-amr) are enforced and executed in the world of creation (alam-ul-khalq­­­) under set standards and measures.