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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
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 ones
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
"And He is with you wherever you are."
"And Allah is ever Hearing, Seeing."
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
"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."
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."
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
How can we then expect to see the Divine Being with
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 Allahs
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 (basair) 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
The Arabic word used here is basair
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.