In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
What Is The Unseen
The Unseen is anything that is kept hidden from us, for the seen is no longer unknown! This means that what the eyes behold is not considered unseen, but it simply has to be away from our perception. Thus, that which is witnessed does not fall under the hidden or the unknown.
If man were to examine his life he would discern that his knowledge is but trivial and what is kept beyond it is far greater. To us the seen merely constitutes our lives, which is a very limited sphere, even when added to it the events we see on television or in other media transmitted to us from lands afar. All what we gain through them, in spite of their multiplicity, is a mere fraction compared to what happens in the entire universe.
We could be present in the same place yet in separate rooms, unaware of what is going on in the one next to us. We could be sitting face to face conversing with some people, yet have no clue as to what truly revolves in their minds and hearts.
Therefore, we perceive that in our daily lives the least of all is visible and certainly far beyond great is kept unknown to us. Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, says in His Noble Book, (what means):
â€œAnd of knowledge, you (mankind) have been given only a little.â€ (Al-IsrÃ¢â€™, 17: 85)
If the knowledge we possess about the witnessed present world is the very least, the same applies to general issues, because no issue that was subjected to careful study and its researchers devoted themselves to uncover it but involved their knowledge of certain things and their ignorance of many others.
Seldom one finds a worldly matter or a passed law that does not need modification or alteration after a while. Why? Because those who studied a given case or established a particular law learned certain facts and missed others, so with the passage of time the hidden realties begin to manifest themselves, hence necessitating amendments. This is the way things are, as every age enfolds its own laws and cases. Every age uncovers certain matters that were kept hidden from the preceding generations and reveals new issues.
As Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, is the Sole Legislator, and because nothing is hidden from Him, His Knowledge is Eternal and fully comprehends everything in the universe even before He brought it into being. Indeed, not even the weight of an atom (or a small ant) or less than that or greater, escapes His Knowledge in the heavens or in the earth.
Solving worldly problems with the Divine Law
If we truly want to solve the problems of this world with a remedy that needs no alteration or substitution, let us seek and derive such a remedy from the Law of Allah, because He, all praise and glory be to Him, is the One Who created the disease and its cure. He is the One Who created man and knows best what serves him and what harms him. He, be ever gloried His Majesty and Might, is the One Who created this universe and knows best what sets it right and what brings about its destruction.
In our worldly affairs we seek the machine manufacturer to help repair the machine damage, because he made it and hence knows best the secrets of his creation. If it was not possible for us to go to the manufacturers themselves due to the large-scale production and its international distribution, the manufacturers would have technicians trained to repair the machines they produce and would print millions of manuals instructing people on how to repair them.
But if we sought a man who was neither trained by the manufacturer nor read the manual, he would certainly damage it instead of repairing it. The same applies to calling a carpenter to fix your television, he would simply damage it and people would blame you for not seeking the help of the manufacturer or a technician.
We come to the Divine Law and abandon it!
We act thus in our material concerns but we ignore it in universal matters. We definitely know that Allah is The Creator of this universe and The Creator of man. He is The Lawmaker of the course of life in the universe and He has conveyed it to us. But when it comes to practicing the Law of Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, we actually abandon it. We make laws based on our imperfect reasoning and limited understanding believing that we are reforming, but in fact we are corruptors. We abandoned what The Creator has given us and we began imposing our own opinions, thinking that we are more capable than The Maker in handling His Creation. In this regard Allah, The Truth [Al-Haqq: one of the Beautiful Names of Allah], says (what means):
â€œAnd when it is said to them: â€˜Make not mischief on the earth,â€™ they say: â€˜We are only peacemakers.â€™ Verily! They are the ones who make mischief, but they perceive not.â€ (Al-Baqarah, 2: 11-12)
All acts of reform remote from the Law of Allah are nothing but mischief on the earth for moving further from The All-Knowing Creator towards the created being who knows but little. Nothing created by Allah but blesses the universe and is impossible to cause mischief. The sun, for instance, illumines the universe since time began; it has caused aught mischief as that caused by factories and the exhaust gases emitted from cars in a matter of a few years.
Allah created the plants to provide the planet with the pure oxygen it needs, but man came, uprooted them and built in their place factories and cities that caused air pollution and the ozone hole that threatens the entire humanity.
Indeed, what is hidden from us is great and what is seen is so petty. That is regarding this world, apart from the other worlds that Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, has kept hidden from us, unseen, unknown. The world of jinn is hidden from us, whether the righteous among them or the devils. Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, says in the Noble Qurâ€™an (what means):
â€œVerily, he and QabÃ®luhu (his soldiers from the jinns or his tribe) see you from where you cannot see them.â€ (Al-Aâ€˜rÃ¢f, 7: 27)
Moreover, the world of angels is hidden from us, as we do not see the angels, together with the other worlds that only Allah knows and we know nothing about.
A limited knowledge of existence
So, can see that our knowledge is very limited regarding all that exists in this universe, whether of the material or the unseen world. There exists a present seen world; that is the world of Dominion, the visible world that we all share. And there also exits the world of the Greatest Kingdom; the invisible world that Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, only shows to whom He wills from His Messengers or righteous servants. Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, says in the Noble Qurâ€™an (what means):
â€œThus did we show IbrÃ¢him (Abraham) the kingdom of the heavens and the earth that he be one of those who have Faith with certainty.â€ (Al-Anâ€˜Ã¢m, 6: 75)
Hence, we realize that there exists Kingdoms known only to Allah, which He shows to whomever He wills of His servants. The Ghaib (all that is hidden, unseen or unknown) in its comprehensive essence is divided into two: a relative unseen world and an absolute unseen world. The absolute Unseen is only possessed by Allah, and has not yet emerged to perform its duty in life, for everything in this universe is assigned a duty and has a beginning and an end. Even the progress that humans achieve has a beginning; a feature in fact not exclusive to man alone but everything in the universe has both a beginning and an end.
For instance, each scientific theory is assigned a birth date for it to start carrying out its mission in the universe. If it chances upon a researcher after its discovery, Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, may reveal it to him and if it does not, Allah, Blessed and Exalted be He, will reveal it to a seeker of the Signs of Allah on earth, through what we call coincidence.
Many a time we find a researcher examining a certain matter or a certain theory and his search leads him to a totally different path; something he was not even looking for. But Allah, The Most Exalted, has guided him to it by what we humans call coincidence. Or else, Allah makes him notice a thing he has not noticed before which makes him change his search entirely and pursue a different course.
Recovery from sickness also has an assigned date and birth. When Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, wills the regaining of health He guides the physician to the disease and reveals its cause to him, so he diagnoses it, treats it and health is restored by the Will of Allah. A patient may in vain seek the most skilled doctors, but still does not get cured, then may come a fresh graduate doctor who examines him, diagnoses the illness and the patient is cured!!
Is this inexperienced fresh graduate doctor more versed than the medical professors who taught him? No, because he acquired his knowledge from those professors. He simply examined the patient at the birth date of healing, so Allah guided him to the illness, which he treated and health was restored.
Allah reveals to His Messenger some of the Divine Secrets
So, the absolute Hidden or Unseen is only within the Knowledge of Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, and has not yet emerged out of the Realms of The Almighty through His Word â€˜Beâ€™, to be known and starts carrying on its role in the universe. We recite in the Noble Qurâ€™an the verse in which Allah, be ever gloried His Majesty and Might, says (what means):
â€œAnd with Him are the keys of the Ghaib (all that is hidden), none knows them but He.â€ (Al-Anâ€˜Ã¢m, 6: 59)
Only Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, knows the absolute Unseen but the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) told us about hidden things that happened for real.
All the minor portents of the Last Hour that came true during the present time such as: loss of honesty, rivalry of the naked barefooted people in constructing high edifices, children becoming an affliction to their parents, manâ€™s love for his wife and desertion of his mother, niggardliness obeyed, prevalence of corruption on the earth, impunity of bloodshed in the innumerable bombings, assassinations and civil wars, decoration of Masjids, decadence of hearts and absence of faith within, the rise of hypocrites to high positions and authority coming in the hands of unfit persons.
These as well as hundreds of other prophecies foretold to us by the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) came true, which at the time the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) predicted them were still unseen, then they were fulfilled. The question is: Did the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) know the Unseen?
Almighty Allah says to His Messenger (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) in the Noble Qurâ€™an (what means):
â€œSay (O Muhammad SAW): â€˜I don't tell you that with me are the treasures of AllÃ¢h, nor (that) I know the unseen.â€™â€ (Al-Anâ€˜Ã¢m, 6: 50)
Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, commanded His Messenger (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) to inform us that he knows not the Unseen, so how did the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) foretell many events that actually happened? In the Battle of Khaibar, the noble Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) saw a warrior fighting among the rows of Muslims, showing remarkable courage that amazed the believers, yet he said, â€˜Indeed, that man is one of the denizens of hellfire!â€™
Abu-Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated to us the hadith saying, â€œWe were in the company of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) in the Battle of khaibar when the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said (about a man who claimed to be a Muslim), â€˜Indeed, that man will be cast into hellfire.â€™ So, when the battle started, the man fought with all his might till he sustained many wounds, whereupon a man from amongst the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) came and said, â€˜O Messenger of Allah! Tell me, the man about whom you have said that he is one of the denizens of hellfire, by Allah he had fought for the Sake of Allah with all his might and sustained many wounds.â€™ Upon that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, â€˜As to him, he is indeed one of the denizens of hellfire.â€™ Some of the Muslims were almost on the verge of doubting (what the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, had said) but while he was in this state, the man suffered pain from his wounds so he precipitated death, thus he firmly placed his sword into the ground then he heaved himself upon it and killed himself.â€
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) knew that the warrior was one of the denizens of hellfire though the man fought on that day in the Cause of Allah with exceptional courage and audacity. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) also foretold his Companions others things that happened afterwards.
During the Battle of the Trench, and while digging one around Medina to protect it from the attack of the disbelievers, the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) foretold that ShÃ¢m [the territory expanding to modern Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan], Persia and Yemen would be conquered and won by the Muslims. Al-BarÃ¢â€™ bin â€˜Ã‚zib Al-AnsÃ¢ry (may Allah be pleased with him) said, â€œ(It happened) at the time the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) ordered us to dig a trench, that we came across a very huge hard rock some place in the trench unyielding to the strikes of the pick, so we complained to the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) of that. On seeing it he (the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace) took the pick and said, â€˜BismallÃ¢h (In the Name of Allah),â€™ and he aimed a blow that broke its third and then he said, â€˜Allahu akbar (Allah is the Most Great), I have been given the keys of ShÃ¢m, by Allah I can see its red palaces by the Will of Allah.â€™ Then, he aimed a second blow that broke another third, whereupon he said, â€˜Allahu akbar (Allah is the Most Great), I have been given the keys of Persia, by Allah I can see Al-MadÃ¢â€™in (Ctesiphon) white palace.â€™ Then, he aimed a third blow and said, â€˜BismallÃ¢h (In the Name of Allah),â€™ breaking the rest of the rock. So, he said, â€˜Allahu akbar (Allah is the Most Great), I have been given the keys of Yemen, by Allah I can see the gates of Sanaa from this very place of mine.â€™â€
Thus, the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) foretold unseen events that would happen several years ahead and narrated them to the believers standing around him.
Many prophecies revealed by the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) that all came true. How then has Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, commanded His Messenger (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) in the Noble Qurâ€™an, that is never to be altered or changed till the Day of Resurrection, to tell the believers that he knows not the Unseen, yet he informs us with ever so much of the Hidden and the Unknown?
The answer is that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) certainly knows not the Unseen, but it is Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, Who had informed him of all the secrets he foretold. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) did not know the Unseen on his own, but Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, revealed to him incidents that would happen in the future to narrate them to us as a testament to the veracity of his message and the fact that it is conveyed from Almighty Allah. But the absolute Unseen is only known by Allah, all praise and glory be to Him.
What is the relative Unseen?
We then move on to the relative Unseen, which constitutes the unseen matters that humans may know. But what is the relative Unseen? It is something you do not know but others do. For instance, if something is stolen from you, the thief is unknown to you; it is something beyond your knowledge. The police may also not know the thief, but the thief knows himself, as well as his accomplice who hid the stolen objects and the buyer of the stolen goods.
A ruler or a minister may sign me in a new post; the endorser of my employment contract knows the decision, also his clerk or whoever was present at the time of signing the contract. If that witness phoned me at the time of issuing the decision and told me that I would be appointed to that post, whilst hiding from me the fact that he witnessed the signing of the contract, should I say that he knows the Unseen? Of course not.
So, the relative Unseen is known by others but I am held unaware of it. For instance, if I am traveling back from a journey and a friend accompanying me, who knew the time of my arrival, returned a couple of days before me. He then stated the day of my return and I did actually return on that day, should my friend then be a knower of the Unseen? Of course not.
The same applies to all affairs that we believe to be totally unknown but actually they do not belong to the absolute Unseen, rather they are relatively unseen.
All such affairs that mankind may learn, which charlatans or other deceivers, who invoke the help of the devils, try to make people believe that they hold the secrets of the Unseen when actually they do not. All are merely events that took place in reality but remained unknown to their seekers. But as for the real and absolute Unseen, only Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, has its keys.
Prediction and the Unseen
Prediction or foresight also falls under the relative Unseen. For instance, I know that in the character of a certain person that he grows angry out of specific causes: as his dislike of a certain man and his reluctance to receive him at home. It happens that the one whom he dislikes knocks at his door during his absence; I may predict that if the man shows up now a quarrel will ensue. The man actually comes and a dispute follows. By foreseeing this, am I a knower of the Unseen?
I may also notice that my son does not study; that he opens the book and gazes blankly at it but understands nothing, or pretends that he is studying his lessons so he shuts himself in his room but actually does not study. Consequently, I predict that the boy will not pass and he actually takes his exams and fails. Does this mean that I am a knower of the Unseen? Or that premises simply bespoke the results!
Moreover, if you asked a professor about his students: those who will and will not succeed, he can pinpoint them to you. He can even name who will be the first, the second and the third. Then, come the exams and the results match the professorâ€™s predictions. Is he then considered a knower of the Unseen? Of course not, he simply used his foresight, intelligence and experience in predicting the results.
The three veils screening the Unseen
The veils screening the Unseen pertaining to worldly life are three. First is the past; something that happened in a past I have not lived whereby that thing remains unknown to me. All the historical events that occurred before our birth are kept unknown to us and we only learn about them through the narrators who saw or witnessed them. We receive them as news, thus we pose uncertain whether they are true or false.
In history there are contradictory accounts, deeds not ascribed to their proper authors, intrusions that never happened and none can tell truth from falsehood? But we have to accept them as they are, relying on the authority of the narrators and the historians. In fact, many of the historical events are full of forgery and falsification.
In our contemporary history and during the present time we live we find clear examples for that. When one of the leaders or rulers dies some biographers ascribe to him glories, whereas others depict him having the most dreadful qualities. Some say he was just, some say he was vicious, others say he was a tyrant and each substantiates his writings by documentations.
Historians affirm that the forged documentations in the history of mankind exceed the authentic ones. Even the celestial books (save the Noble Qurâ€™an) did not escape attempts of falsification, so they withheld some of the stated parts in them and forged what they withheld not, and then brought words of their own and claimed them to be Divine, even though they are certainly not the Words of Allah, all praise and glory be to Him.
In this regard, the Noble Qurâ€™an conveys to us the Statement of The Truth, Blessed and Exalted be He, (which means):
â€œThen woe to those who write the Book with their own hands and then say, â€˜This is from AllÃ¢h,â€™ to purchase with it a little price! Woe to them for what their hands have written and woe to them for that they earn thereby.â€ (Al-Baqarah, 2: 79)
And the Qurâ€™anic Statement of The Truth, be ever gloried His Majesty and Might, that says (what means):
â€œDo you (faithful believers) covet that they will believe in your religion inspite of the fact that a party of them (Jewish rabbis) used to hear the Word of AllÃ¢h [the TaurÃ¢t (Torah)], then they used to change it knowingly after they understood it?â€ (Al-Baqarah, 2: 75)
We thus see that they distorted the Words of Allah, Blessed and Exalted be He, and ascribed to The Almighty words He uttered not while alleging them to be Divine. Furthermore, we must pay heed to the Words of The Truth, all praise and glory be to Him, that say (what means), â€˜After they understood it?â€™ which signify that they did not distort or change the Words of Allah, out of ignorance or lack of understanding; otherwise their excuse would have been their ignorance or incomprehension of the Divine Words. But in reality they willfully changed them after a sound and reasonable understanding.
If this is the case regarding the Words of Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, what would it be regarding the deeds and words of mankind? In the previous celestial messages, Allah, be ever gloried His Majesty and Might, entrusted His servants with guarding His Books and Words against any alteration or distortion. But when people did alter and change them and ascribed to Allah what He uttered not, The Almighty ordained that He should be the One to guard the Noble Qurâ€™an by His Endless Might and Power, as substantiated by the noble Qurâ€™anic verse saying (what means):
â€œVerily We: It is We Who have sent down the Dhikr (i.e. the Qur'Ã¢n) and surely, We will guard it (from corruption).â€ (Al-Hijr, 15: 9)
Therefore, the Noble Qurâ€™an will remain guarded by the Endless Might of Allah, Blessed and Exalted be He, never to be altered or changed till the Day of Resurrection.
The veil of the unseen past
So, the first veil screening the Unseen is the past but as for the second, it is the future; for none knows what will happen in the future. Time has concealed from us the events yet to come until they become a present reality for us to learn them. We do not even know what will happen tomorrow. Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, says (what means):
â€œNo soul knows what it will earn tomorrow.â€ (LuqmÃ¢n, 31: 34)
In this way, the future remains a sealed book before us all, knowing not what will happen in it, or what will happen to us, or to those surrounding us or to the entire world.
As for the third veil, it is that of space; in plain words, my unawareness while present in a certain place of what is going on in other places; the screening veil of space prevents me. For instance, while being in Cairo I do not know what is happening in London or New York or in other locations throughout the world. All these events are concealed from me. Sitting in my study I am unaware of what is going on in my house. I may not even know what is happening in the next room by reason of the screening barrier of space, which is one veil of the Unseen to mankind.
Then, came the Noble Qurâ€™an and lifted all these veils; that of time, space and future, unveiled them all by disclosing famous and well-known incidents that none can belie, even by the enemies of this religion and that is owed to the Inimitability of the Noble Qurâ€™an, mightily able of working unending miracles till the Day of Resurrection.