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Lesson 10

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Lesson - 10


"Who believe in the Unseen and keep up prayer and spend out of what We have given them." — The Holy Quran, 2:3.

Belief in the Unseen

In the last verse discussed, we are informed by Allah that this Book (Holy Quran) is a guide for those who keep their duty (muttaqin). In the verse under discussion today, those who keep their duty are further defined. They are the ones who believe in the Unseen (Al-Ghaib). Unseen is what cannot be perceived visually or by means of our other physical senses. The Unseen in this verse means Allah. By use of the word ‘Unseen’, attention has been drawn to this specific attribute of Allah and its effect on our spiritual development. Taqwa (root word of muttaqin) has previously been defined as abstaining from evil and anything injurious to one’s spiritual well being. This quality would fail to evolve in man if the presence of Allah (Who is Omnipresent) could be visualized by our physical senses. For example, if the chief law enforcement officer of a country is physically present in an area, then those who are aware of his presence are disposed towards following the laws and avoidance of criminal behavior. This does not mean that each one of those individuals is a truly righteous and law abiding citizen. The real measure of their character can only be established during the physical absence of the legal authority. If one abstains from evil while not being able to see the Divine Being, then only can it be said unequivocally that the quality of taqwa (abstinence from evil) has truly developed in that person. He rejected the evil of a wrongful action after recognizing it and accepted the goodness of righteous action on basis of a similar assessment. Only such a person can really be called a muttaqi (one who keeps his duty and abstains from evil). Allah has kept Himself in the unseen only from human visual perception, otherwise Divine presence is with mankind all the time. The Holy Quran refers to this in the verses:

"And He is with you wherever you are." (57:4)

"And Allah is ever Hearing, Seeing." (4:134)

If Allah was just confined to the heavens or to the mosque (place of worship), and man was in need of His help, which can arise at any time and in any place, then how could He have helped him? From the Holy Quran it is quite apparent that Allah helps His servants all the time as stated in these verses:

"And thy Lord suffices as having charge of affairs." (17:65)

"Surely my Lord is Preserver of all things (including human beings)." (11:57)

If this was not the case the world would cease to exist. He is also the Rabb-ul-‘alameen, One Who evolves and nourishes all His creation to perfection, from a lower to a higher state, so that it can achieve the purpose of its creation. I have discussed this in my commentary on the chapter Al-Fatiha. Thus in every moment of its existence there is a relationship between the Creator and His creation.

The Holy Quran repeatedly tells us that "Allah is Ever-Hearing, Seeing." He listens to man and observes all his actions. He has knowledge of why man acts in a certain way as in the frequently stated verse:

"And Allah is Aware of what you do." (2:234)

He also knows the hidden secrets of our inner self and the condition of our souls as in the Quranic verse:

"He is Knower of what is in the hearts." (57:6)

This is not difficult to understand. God has created man from a state of non-existence to that of a fully developed human being. Not only has He fashioned his outer form, but also created his spirit within. How is it possible for such a Creator to be unaware of and be unresponsive to His creation, and to allow it to act according to its own design? Similarly it is inconceivable that the Creator of the human soul is unaware of its inner secrets and its moral condition. If one reads the histories of the prophets, and the appointed ones, it becomes quite evident that Allah listens to their supplications and responds to their actions and to those of their opponents in this very life. He brings to light the evil intentions of the evil doers, and informs His prophets and appointed ones of this beforehand. This proves that Allah is truly "Ever-Hearing Seeing" and is Knower of what is in the hearts, and He is with His servants at all times. In addition hundreds of events in the lives of these people testify to the truth that He responds to His servants who call upon Him during times of distress and difficulty, by bringing about a change in their condition.

Unfortunately, the fact that Allah is not visualized by the human eye, has led many worshippers of form to go astray. Particularly in the last hundred years, people influenced by scientific materialism and Western culture started making such statements that until they see God, they cannot be expected to believe in Him. How truly magnificent is the excellence of the Creator! The very same scientists who influenced their thinking are now saying that although we can see and touch matter, we can never understand its real nature, because it extends far beyond atoms and electrons to a point beyond our comprehension. Thus we can only realize the real nature of matter through its properties (The Mysterious Universe, by Sir James Jeans). If something as insignificant as matter can only be recognized through its properties, then why are objections raised when the Holy Quran (at least in this material world) teaches us to recognize the Divine Being through His attributes? From the beginning to the end, the Holy Quran on numerous occasions identifies the Divine attributes relevant to any of His commands or actions. A Persian couplet describes this very appropriately:

"How very evident is the Source of all resplendence,

The whole universe is His reflection for those who can truly see."

Limitations of Human Vision

These Western oriented persons do not realize that the eyes only fulfill our limited physical needs. In reality, not to mention God, they do not even give us reliable knowledge of His creation. Whatever information they do give us is flawed. Without light the human eye does not function, and even after its reception it can only visualize a limited spectrum of it. Even within this limited spectrum, it is unable to visualize the rays with shorter wave-length, such as ultraviolet and x-rays, and those with longer wave-length such as infra-red etc. Again the differences that are visualized by the human eye are merely in the outward form. In reality all things are internally composed of similar components of matter. The different colors seen in various objects by the human eye are not their actual colors. For example, something which appears red, is not really red in color. It absorbs all other colors except red which is the only color reflected back to the eye, thereby giving the false impression that the color of that object is red. Our eyes cannot even stand a slight increase in intensity of light. This is the reason scientists advise us not to look at the sun directly. Although the sun is 93 million miles away even this type of minor exposure can result in permanent damage to the eye. Our sun is a small star, whereas there are billions of other stars which are thousands of times larger in mass and the quantity of light they generate. These heavenly bodies are only a reflection of the light (nur) and power of the Creator. As the Holy Quran states:

"Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth." (24:35)

How can we then expect to see the Divine Being with our eyes?

The Holy Quran has explained this in the incident relating to Prophet Moses. The Israelites, like modern materialists, had asked a similar question from him:

"And when you said: O Moses, we will not believe in you till we see Allah manifestly." (2:55)

The Holy Quran further describes this incident:

"And when Moses came at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said: You cannot see Me; but look at the mountain; if it remains firm in its place, then will you see Me. So when his Lord manifested His glory to the mountain, He made it crumble and Moses fell down in a swoon." (7:143)

Thus when Allah cast the reflection of His power on the mountain, it was made to crumble, and Moses fell down in a swoon. If something as strong as the mountain could not bear the manifestation of Divine Power, how can the human eye (which is the most delicate part of the human body) stand up to it? This type of difficulty arises because association with God, which is a universal phenomenon, has corrupted the concept of Unity of the Divine Being. This has led people to the worship of stone idols, the cow, or at the most that of a mortal being like themselves. I would advise my young Western oriented friends to cast away this type of concept from their hearts. The One Who is Creator of such a magnificent, powerful and limitless universe, His strength, majesty and dignity cannot be measured. He is not a finite being that the human eye, which is the most delicate part of his body, could visualize Him with its extremely limited capacity.

The Holy Quran explains this in another verse:

"Vision comprehends Him not, and He comprehends (all) vision; and He is the Subtile, the Aware." (6:103)

Thus mankind or any other creation cannot visualize or comprehend the greatness and grandeur of the Divine Being. He, however, comprehends the full extent and degree of what they or any of His other creation can visually observe.

It is impossible to estimate the extent of Allah’s creation, or the limits of His universe. As progress is made in the development of telescopic instruments, and they become more powerful, the existence of previously unknown heavenly bodies is confirmed. The immensity of this universe is such that distances in it cannot be measured except by the speed of light. The knowledge of the existence of this universe is also obtained by noting the increase and decrease in the colors of the light spectrum. The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second. If we multiply this twice by 60, we get the distance that light travels in one hour. Multiply this by 24, and then by 365 to calculate the distance which light travels in one year. This is called a light year and is used to measure distances in this universe.

The human mind cannot comprehend the extent of this universe. Several years ago there was a news item that American scientists had discovered a galaxy 8 billion light years away which was estimated to be five to ten times our galaxy, the milky way. The sky we see full of stars is only a limited portion of our galaxy. There are hundreds of thousands of galaxies much larger than ours and these amazing pieces of the universe with their vast distances surround us on all sides. They are formed from the same elements and follow the same universal laws. This gives us only a small estimate of the power, unity and omnipotence of Allah. The human mind cannot fathom the depth of this limitless universe in which new discoveries are made every day. How can it be possible for the tiny human eye to envision the Creator and the Master of the Universe.

Vision of the Truthful

Right after the verse "Vision comprehends Him not," the Holy Quran states:

"Clear proofs (basa’ir) have indeed come to you from your Lord; so whoever sees (absa-ra), it is for his own good; and whoever is blind, it is to his own harm." (6:104)

The Arabic word used here is basa’ir which is the plural of basirat. This word stands for the discerning faculty of the human mind. The verses that I have just quoted, therefore, mean that the human visual faculty cannot comprehend the Divine Being. However, the discerning faculties of the human mind can recognize and find Him through the luminescent proofs and arguments presented in the Holy Quran, which appeals to human wisdom.

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