Belief in the ghayb
[Ghayb: It means those things that cannot be known through the mind and sense organs but can only be known through prophets’ informing us about them, e.g., Allah’s Attributes, the Day of Judgement, resurrection after death, creatures’ assembling in the place of Mahshar, etc.]
Question: In the subject concerning îmân of the book Endless Bliss, Sayyid ‘Abdulhakîm Efendi defines “îmân” as follows:
Îmân itself is:
“Without consulting mind, experience or philosophy, to confirm, to believe the facts which Hadrat Muhammad [‘alaihis-salâm], the master of both worlds, communicated as the Prophet. If one confirms them because they are reasonable, one has confirmed mind, not the Messenger. Or one has confirmed mind and the Messenger together, in which case the Prophet has not been trusted completely. When confidence is incomplete, there is not îmân. For îmân cannot be broken. If a mind finds what the Messenger brought as reasonable, it will be understood that this mind is salîm, perfect.”
Does this definition not disregard ‘aql [reason, wisdom]?
This definition may be contrary to ‘aql-i saqîm, not to ‘aql-i salîm.
[‘Aql-i salîm: The wisdom which is salîm never goes wrong and never errs. It never does anything to necessitate repentance. It does not make mistakes in the things it considers. It always follows the course of actions that are good and that turn out good. It thinks properly and finds the right way. Its deeds are always correct. This wisdom existed in Prophets only. They were successful in every activity they had started. They would not do anything that would make them repent or that would harm them. The one which is close to theirs is the wisdom of the Sahâba, of the Tâbi’ûn, of the Taba-i tâbi’ûn, and of the religious imâms. Theirs was a wisdom that was suitable for the rules of the Sharî’at.
‘Aql-i saqîm: The wisdom that is saqîm is quite the opposite. It errs in its acts and thoughts, which always incur sorrow, repentance, harm, and trouble.]
This definition is intended as an obstacle in the way of understanding the meaning of the Qur’ân.
Quite the contrary, it poses an obstacle to the people who strive to rationalize Islam. If the religion is rationalized, there appear as many religions as the number of people. The owner of this definition is an Islamic scholar. If the minds of scholars are not standard in the religion, how can your mind be a standard? Allahu ta’âlâ declares, “If you do not know, ask the scholars.”
It would not be a real îmân to believe without straining dogmas, i.e., âyats, through the filter of the mind.
The term “dogma” is generally used by atheists. They say, “You (i.e., Believers) accept whatever the Qur’ân says without investigating.” If you also adopt such a stance, what is the difference between you and atheists then? If someone says to us, “This is an âyat,” we only search whether it is an âyat or not. If it is, then we confirm immediately.
It is not logical to believe in something without seeing it and straining it through the filter of the mind.
Have you seen Paradise or Hell? How do you believe in them without seeing?
In the third âyat of Sûrat-ul-Baqara, it is declared, “They confirm the ghayb.” It is not declared, “Believe without seeing.”
Apparently, you do not know what the ghayb is. The ghayb are things that cannot be proven through sense organs [through the eyes, the nose, the ears, the tongue, and the skin], through calculations, or experiments. Hadrat Imâm-i Rabbânî “quddisa sirruh” states: “Mind and imagination cannot approach Him. There is no other way than believing such a high Creator, who is unlike anything and who cannot be understood with mind, through ghayb. For it will not be belief in Him to believe Him by attempting to understand Him by seeing or thinking. It will be belief in something made by us, which will not be îmân” (Second Volume, 9th Letter).
Îmân is confirmation after seeing.
Your statement is another way of saying “I do not believe in Islam.” Which of the six tenets of îmân have you seen? Îmân is confirmation without seeing. If I take an apple out of my pocket and say, “This is an apple,” the confirmation of a person seeing it will not be îmân, but stating what that person has seen. Therefore, îmân is put in the ghayb. If I say, “There is a gold object in my pocket,” and having confidence in me, if you confirm in the affirmative, this is îmân. However, after seeing the gold object, your confirmation is not îmân anymore, but stating what you have seen. You should notice the difference between these two.
Îmân which is obtained without straining all things pertaining to the ghayb through the filter of the mind is not valid.
Can we understand through our mind what kind of a Being Allahu ta’âlâ is, how He speaks, how He creates, or can we know the taste of fruits present in Paradise? Can we provide a clear depiction of angels through it? Is it possible to define what kind of a Being Allahu ta’âlâ is? Does He have hands and eyes? Is He with place? By what means does He hear? How can He be eternal in the past and in the future?These matters are beyond the boundary of human knowledge. In other words, you cannot deepen your knowledge of these issues by using your mind.
Question: A young friend of mine who lays great emphasis on mind and research says, “Why is this fard? Why is it a sin? I cannot accept them without knowing the reasons behind them. I do not believe in Allah, who is not seen, as an old woman believes.” Does our religion not enjoin us to believe without seeing?
It is very dangerous to utter such kinds of statements as this youngster does. Even if we fail to understand the reasons behind the divine rules, we have to accept them without hesitation as they are the commandments of Allah. In the books Ihyâ by Hadrat Imâm-i Ghazâlî, who is among the greatest in Islamic savants and who has the title of dignity Hujjat-ul Islam, and Jâmi’us-saghîr by Imâm-i Suyûtî, the following hadîth-i sharîf is reported:
(When different beliefs appear in the time period close to Doomsday, believe as old women do.) [Daylamî]
This hadîth-i sharîf does not mean that we have to blindly believe baseless things as an old woman does, but rather it means that we have to believe whatever Allahu ta’âlâ and His Prophet communicated, even if they are beyond comprehension and provability. Jannat [Paradise], Jahannam [Hell], the Sirat Bridge, and the events pertaining to the Hereafter cannot be substantiated by the mind and reason. It being beyond comprehension, the Mu’tazila group have denied the Sirat Bridge, Mi’râj, and such like. Today, while many Muslims become renegades because of denying the Mi’râj event and while disbelievers consider it to be a fallacy, Hadrat Abû Bakr (radiy-Allahu ‘anh), on the other hand, reached the summit of îmân by saying, “If he (Hadrat Muhammad ‘alaihissalâm) says that, it is certainly true.”
Without seeing and reasoning it out, his faithful confirmation of Hadrat Muhammad’s ascension in just a moment to the heavens (Mi’râj) elevated his îmân to higher degrees. As regards his îmân that is more luminous than the sun, our master the Prophet stated, “Were the îmân of Abû Bakr weighed against the îmân of my entire Ummat, Abû Bakr’s îmân would prove heavier.”
As it is fard-i ‘ayn to learn necessary Islamic knowledge pertaining to practices, it is not permissible to omit this fard and instead to be continuously busy observing the anatomy of trees, flowers, humans, and animals, thinking that you are investigating the îmân. However, fundamentals of îmân are not ascertainable, and it is not obtained through proofs. Our Master the Prophet enjoined us to believe in the ghayb. Îmân is to believe without seeing. When the pious are praised in the Qur’ân al-karîm, it is declared, “Those muttaqîs believe in the ghayb” (Sûrat-ul-Baqara 3).
That means to say that belief in the ghayb is an attribute of the pious. The people who believe by saying “All the things communicated by the Messenger of Allah are true” are saved. Îmân is not such a thing that is acquired through investigation and reasoning. Islamic savants define îmân as follows:
Îmân itself is, without consulting mind, experience or philosophy, to confirm, to believe the facts which Hadrat Muhammad, the master of both worlds, communicated as the Prophet. If one confirms them because they are reasonable, one has confirmed mind, not the Messenger. Or one has confirmed mind and the Messenger together, in which case the Prophet has not been trusted completely. When confidence is incomplete, there is not îmân. For îmân cannot be broken. It is reported in a hadîth-i sharîf:
(There is no one more corruptive than he who measures the Dîn with his mind.) [Tabarânî]
‘Aql-i salîm is a very precious bestowal. Our Master the Prophet said the following in a hadîth-i sharîf, “Aql [wisdom] is a nûr [halo] which differentiates what is right from what is wrong.” In order for humans to distinguish right and good ones from wrong and evil ones, Allahu ta’âlâ has granted them wisdom. Wisdom is a gauge, a tool used to measure (compare) things, but there cannot be a comparison in the knowledge pertaining to Allahu ta’âlâ. However, there is a comparison in the knowledge about creatures. Since the amount of wisdom in humans varies from one person to another, while some people make a correct comparison in the knowledge about creatures, the others cannot. Throughout centuries human beings have failed to find without a guide the right path revealed by Allah. A retrospective view of history will show us that when left alone without a guide people have deviated into degenerate paths. Therefore, it is a condition to believe in the Prophet of Allah.
Question: How can I counter a friend who says, “My mind does not accept to believe in a thing without seeing it, and the things in the religion make my soul gloomy”?
Ask him to show his mind that does not accept to believe and his soul that feels gloomy. Let us see how he can show them.
Question: Is it appropriate to say, “I do not believe in Allah, whom I do not see”?
No, it is not appropriate. Hadrat Imâm-i Rabbânî “quddisa sirruh” states:
“All things which we know and learn, which we remember and imagine, and which affect our sense organs are creatures. Our saying that He is unlike anything means to liken Him (to something). The greatness which we realize means inferiority. Ibrâhîm (Abraham ‘alaihis-salâm) said to the disbelievers, “Why do you worship idols which you yourselves have made? Allahu ta’âlâ created you and all your deeds.” All the things we do, whether we do them with our hands or we shape them with our mind and imagination, are Allah’s creatures. He is unlike any of the things which we know or which we find out by thinking. He cannot be understood. Mind and imagination cannot approach Him. There is no other way than believing such a high Creator, who is unlike anything and who cannot be understood by mind, through ghayb (without seeing or understanding). For it will not be belief in Him to believe Him by attempting to understand Him by seeing or thinking. It will be belief in something made by us; and that something is His creature. We will have made it a partner to Him, and we will have believed something besides Him” (Second Volume, 9th Letter).
Question: Some awliyâ say, “If we saw Paradise and Hell, there would not be an increase or a change in our îmân.” How can it be? Certainty coming from knowledge is termed ‘ilm-ul yaqîn, but certainty coming from direct observation and seeing is termed ‘ayn-ul yaqîn. Is seeing something with eyes not so much higher than a conviction coming from knowledge? Did our forefathers say “Should I believe in my eyes or should I believe in my words?” to no purpose? What is the hidden meaning in this statement that pious people have uttered?
Seeing something with eyes is certainly more solid evidence compared to only knowing it. But this addresses to people like us. The ‘ilm [knowledge] of people who acquired the absolute belief (îmân-i haqîqî) is different. Hadrat Abû Bakr’s saying “If he (the Prophet) says that, it is certainly true” is an exemplary case of this issue. Eyes may err, but the îmân of those people are so unshakeable that nothing can change it. Strength of the belief of a person who has seen with eyes cannot be to such an extent. Eyes are not gauges, tools in having îmân. If they were, people who saw our Prophet must have believed in him. While people who held our Prophet in “the orphan of ‘Abdullah” regard sank into disbelief, people who held him in “the Messenger of Allah” regard attained hidâyah. Eyes in the faces may err, but eyes in the hearts do not err. Muslims’ seeing or understanding something happens through the eyes of the hearth. Eyes see something when they look at, but the spiritual heart sees it when it believes. The spiritual hearts of Muslims have believed, and they have attained the blessings of Allahu ta’âlâ. Depending on their degrees, they see many things that are not even dreamed of, no matter whether they pertain to this life or the life to come.