The Holy Quran – the most accomplished and the final revealed Divine Book has laid great stress on the acquisition of knowledge and it’s blessings, inviting human endeavour in seeking and preserving more and more knowledge for leading a successful life in this world and the Hereafter.
The very first Revealed verses of the Holy Quran proclaim in an unambiguous manner that the acquisition of knowledge is the most fundamental pre-requisite for survival and development of existence (Wajud) in all its pervasive sense. Says the Holy Quran: “He (Allah the Almighty) taught (man) the use of the Pen (the basic implement in the field of knowledge) and taught man which he knew not (a divine invitation for research and advancement of knowledge so as to lead the life in conformity and obedience to Divine Pleasure).” 1
At another place it is said: “O my Lord! Advance me in knowledge.”2 These divine Revelations brought in focus the significance of knowledge to motivate and enlighten the human mind to seek more and more knowledge in any conceivably beneficial manner.
The Holy Quran is a treasure house of Knowledge and Wisdom.It contains references or mentions at more that 800 places relating to knowledge and it’s derivatives, i.e. the innumerable branches of knowledge which continue to grow as the life advances from stage to stage. Similarly, references to “books” and “writing” are at more than 600 places in the Holy Quran. This clearly indicates the divine emphasis on knowledge and its acquisition at all levels of life.
In a tradition (Hadith), the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) has said: “I have been raised as a teacher and an accomplisher of (refined) manners.” 3 The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) has laid great emphasis as a compulsive obligation of the Ummah to seek more and more knowledge and brought forth the blissful significance of knowledge. 4
Hazrat Ali (Karramallahu wajhul Kareem) has said: “The real dignity to men is through learning.” The Holy Quran itself bears testimony to the significance of knowledge when its says that it was on account of his knowledge that Almighty Allah chose Hazrat Talut (alaihis salaam) as the King of the Bani Israel, “Allah hath filled Talut with Knowledge and bodily prowess.” 5 The superiority of Hazrat Adam (alaihis salaam) – the epitomic symbol of human progeny – over angels (and all the creations) was on account of this knowledge alone. 6
All these examples illustrate the significance and dignified evaluation of the acquisition of knowledge in the fields of human pre-eminence, viz. the Prophetic assignment, the leadership and Five Regent kingship for guidance the human destining as the Vicegerent of Allah on earth.
1. Surah Alaq: Verses 4-5
2. Surah Taha: Verse 114
3. Ibn-i-Abd al-Birr: Jami bayan al I’lm wa fazlihi, p. 47
4. ibid., p. 46, 49
5. Surah Baqarah: Verse 247
6. Surah Baqarah: Verse 31
2. THE TWO CATEGORIES OF KNOWLEDGE
In its abstract sense, there are two kinds of Knowledge (or learning); the one which is taught in Madrasahs, school, colleges and universities (in the progressive order). For a lay-man as well as for the majority of the populace this is what constitutes the knowledge and it is believed to be sufficient to satisfy our material quest and urge in this behalf.
However, there is yet another branch of knowledge which is taught and acquired directly or straightaway through the divine agency, with the functional audio-visual aids, such as books, papers, pens or such-like paraphernalia, needing neither the teaching institutes, such as schools, colleges, universities, etc. nor the professional teachers and degree holders. This is the transcendental or divine sector of knowledge, which in Quranic terminology is known as “I’lm-i-Ghayb” or the “Knowledge of the Unseen” 7 and which constitutes one of the fundamental tenets of Islamic belief. In fact, the belief and unbelief in the Unseen (Ghayb) is the distinguishing mark of a person being a Muslim or a Heathen. 8
This is the branch of knowledge which is super human in nature surpassing the human intellect as also the five proverbial senses on their own. The Knowledge of the Unseen (I’lm-i-Ghayb) is superior to and dominant over all other knowledge in any field of human activity, defying all methods of imparting and receiving education and knowledge. This is essentially an emblem of Divine Grace bestowed upon the chosen servants of Allah, like the gentle blissful rain showered upon the hearts and minds of the esteemed recipients on earth.
7. Surah Kah’f: Verse 65
8. Surah Baqarah: Verse 3
3. VERSES OF THE QURAN PERTAINING TO I’LM-I-GHAYB
There are many verses in the Holy Quran in which there is mentioned or reference to I’lm-i-Ghayb (The Knowledge of Unseen). It is clear from these verses that this I’lm-i-Ghayb pertain and belong to Almighty Allah alone.
The following verses of the Holy Quran corroborates this proposition:-
A. “With Him are the Keys of the Unseen; the treasure that none knows but He.” 9
B. “I know the secrets of the heaven and earth.” 10
C. “Say: O Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam)! The Unseen isfor Allah”. 11
D. “The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) is asked todeclare: Say, I tell you not that the Treasures of Allah are with me, nor do know on my own, what is hidden (In the Unseen).” 12
From these verses, it is learnt that the Knowledge of the Unseen (I’lm-i-Ghayb) belongs as His most exclusive supreme prerogative to Allah the Almighty. None on his own, can know the Unseen (Ghayb) unless bestowed by Almighty Allah as a grace (and not as a matter of right to claim).
A little probe into these verses would reveal that while even the minutest part of the Ghayb remains in the Divine Authority, it is not to be said anywhere that Allah the Almighty does not grant this knowledge even to anyone among his servants nor that the treasure of the Ghayb remain un-bestowed and unshared by anyone else. This the prime point of consideration on which the Ummah must devote thoughtful attention to avoid any pitfalls in assuming or imbibing any self-founded notions of I’lm-i-Ghayb.
This point is stressed again and again in the Holy Quran:
A. “He (Allah the Almighty) alone is the Knower of the Unseen; He does not make anyone acquainted with the mysteries except the apostle whom He has chosen.” 13
B. “Allah will not disclose to you the secret of the unknown, but He chooses of His apostles whom He pleases.” 14
9. Surah An’am: Verse 59
10. Surah Baqarah: Verse 33
11. Surah Yunus: Verse 20
12. Surah Hud: Verse 31
13. Surah Jinn: Verse 26
14. Surah Ale Imran: Verse 179
4. LEVELS OF I’LM-I-GHAYB POSSESSED BY THE AMBIYA (ALAIHIMUS SALAAM)
This, however, does not mean that Allah the Almighty restricts and retains the Knowledge of Unseen exclusively to Himself and does not reveal any part of it to any other person. No, not at all. Allah the Almighty has revealed and honoured His apostles as much and as and when He willed, for guidance and enlightenment to cope with the circumstances and situations confronting them viz-a-viz the enemies of Allah, and to fulfill the mission assigned to them. These phenomena have been illustrated at various places in the Holy Quran.
Some of the relevant verses are quoted below:-
A. Regarding Hazrat Adam (alaihis salaam) and the Angels, it is said: “He (Allah) taught the names (nature and qualitative attributes) of all the things and placed them before the Angels”. 15
B. Regarding Hazrat Da’ud (alaihis salaam), it is said, “He (Allah) gave Da’ud power and wisdom and taught him whatever (else)He willed.” 16
C. In respect of the I’lm-i-Ghayb to Hazrat Sulaiman (alaihis salaam), it is said, “O People! We have been taught the speech of the birds, and on us has been bestowed (a little of) all things.” 17
D. For Hazrat Lut (alaihis salaam), it is said, “And to Lut We gave Judgement and Wisdom.” 18
E. About Hazrat Yaqub (alaihis salaam) it was said, “He was, by Our instructions full of Knowledge (and experience), but most men know not.” 19
F. Hazrat Yaqub (alaihis salaam) himself told his sons about this blessing from Allah thus, “Did I not say to you, I know from Allah that which you know not.” 19
G. About Hazrat Yusuf (alaihis salaam), it is said, “When Yusuf attained his full manhood, We gave him Power and Knowledge; thus do We reward those who do the right things.” 20
H. Regarding Hazrat Musa (alaihis salaam), it is said, “When he reached full age and was firmly established (in life), We bestowed on him Wisdom and Knowledge.” 21
I. It is said about Hazrat Khizr (alaihis salaam): “So they found one of our servants on whom We had bestowed Mercy from Ourselves and whom We had taught knowledge (of special significance) from Our Own Presence.” 22
These verses of the Holy Quran make it clear that Allah the Almighty bestowed the Knowledge of the Unseen (Ghayb) on His chosen servants, but is unfortunate that most people do not know this; on the contrary, even they refuse to believe it without realising the consequence thereof! These pious souls, at times on their own, disclosed this Divine bestowment in order to convince the people and clear their doubts and put them on the right track of faith and Belief.
J. For example, Hazrat Isa (alaihis salaam) spoke to his followers thus, “And I declare to you whatever you eat and whatever you store in your houses.” 23 (It meant that whatever they had eaten in the houses – within four walls – and whatever they had preserved therein, was well known to the Prophet of Allah.
K. On another ocassion, Hazrat Yusuf (alaihis salaam) spoke to his fellow prisoners before telling them the meaning of their dreams. He said, “Before any food comes to you, I shall surely reveal to you the truth and meaning of this. It is due to the knowledge bestowed upon me by Allah that I have to reveal to you what you did not know.” 24
These verses reveal that Allah the Almighty has bestowed I’lm-i-Ghayb to His chosen Apostles. To deny this, amounts to the denial and rejection of the Holy Quran itself. This is not an ordinary or routine knowledge. Elaborate precautionary and protective measures are adopted before such messages relating to the “Unseen” are despatched. Special angels are sent (on earth) who stay around the Apostles, on whom the Knowledge of the Unseen (I’lm-i-Ghayb) is bestowed. 25
The grant of I’lm-i-Ghayb is admitted by a great honour and whosoever of the Apostles are bestowed this Unique Divine blessing become the holders of great Divine Treasure. However, there is no uniform and set pattern of Divine Message transmitted to each recipient in accordance to their status.
According to the Holy Quran the status and nature of responsible of the Apostles vary from one to another. “Those Apostles, we bestowed with gifts (endowed with ranks, etc.) as willed by Allah.” 26 Likewise the grant of I’lm-i-Ghayb to Prophets varies according to their nature of assignment relating to their prescribed mission.
The story of Hazrat Musa and Khizr (alaihimus salaam) so vividly described in the Holy Quran explains this aspect of the proposition. Hazrat Musa met Khizr (alaihimus salaam) and requested him to enlighten him with the specific knowledge which Allah bestowed on him. Hazrat Khizr (alaihis salaam) accepted, but advised Hazrat Musa (alaihis salaam) to be patient and not to utter any word until he would permit him to do so. Whatever Hazrat Khizr (alaihis salaam) did was beyond the understanding of Hazrat Musa (alaihis salaam).
The promise of keeping silence on events taking place before his eyes was too much for Hazrat Musa (alaihis salaam) to sustain and at last (he broke the silence) Hazrat Khizr (alaihis salaam) revealed the secrets of the events. Hazrat Khizr (alaihis salaam) did not keep him in his company any more. Details of the story is found in the Holy Quran 27 This clearly shows that the nature of I’lm-i-Ghayb even to Prophets of Allah was not uniform nor of equal measure.
15. Surah Baqarah: Verse 31
16. Surah Baqarah: Verse 251
17. Surah Namal: Verse 16
18. Surah Anbiya: Verse 74
19. Surah Yusuf: Verse 96
20. Surah Yusuf: Verse 22
21. Surah Qasas: Verse 140
22. Surah Kah’f: Verse 65
23. Surah Ale Imran: Verse 49
24. Surah Yusuf: Verse 37
25. Surah Jinn: Verse 26
26. Surah Baqarah: Verse 253
27. Surah Kah’f: Verse 65-82
5. I’LM-I-GHAYB OF THE HOLY PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SALLAL LAAHU ALAIHI WASALLAM)
The Knowledge of the Unseen (I’lm-i-Ghayb) was also bestowed upon the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam). This I’lm-i-Ghayb was, in essence, the most revealing and surpassing miracle given to the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam).
This miracle, in it’s totality and persuasiveness, surpassed all miracles given to other Prophets taken together. More or less 124 000 Apostles were raised at different periods of time with some specific knowledge of the hidden realm, i.e. I’lm-i-Ghayb. But the Knowledge of the Unseen bestowed upon the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) was limitless in scope and magnitude. This is to say that each and every miracle in the nature of I’lm-i-Ghayb given to different Prophets was also given to the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam).
The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) was the epitomic symbol of all the previous Prophets in the past in respect of their qualitative characteristics and quantum of knowledge and spiritual enlightenment. Relating to this bestowment of knowledge and observation upon the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam), the Holy Quran says: “Allah has sent down to you O Prophet! the Book and Wisdom and taught what you knew not. Great is the Grace of Allah upon you.” 28 In this virtuous essence the Quranic verse asserts that after bestowment of this everlasting treasure of knowledge now there remains no realm of knowledge and enlightenment which is not in the grip of the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam). This is what the Holy Quran describes as the “Fazl-i-Azim” (The Great Grace) – whatever the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) was taught by way of knowledge was taught by Allah the Almighty. 29
If the teacher says to the pupil: I have taught you to read and you knew nothing before this, then he is justified to make this claim and there is nothing derogatory on his part to make such a claim; it cannot be termed as insolence to degrade the student. But if the student says to his teacher, you knew nothing and it was your teacher who gave you knowledge, then though, this logic cannot be denied. Nonetheless, it demonstrates that the student is guilty of insolence and misbehaviour towards his teacher. Such an example can hardly be traced in the annals of civilised behaviour.
Whatever the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) knew was through the knowledge bestowed upon him by Allah the Almighty. This being the fact, if before imparting the knowledge through the Holy Quran, Almighty Allah mentioned the state of the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam): “You knew nothing of the Book nor of the Faith (Imaan).” 30; it is consonance with the Almighty state of Divine Grandeur. It does not at all behove mortals like us to utter such words in respect of the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam). This would be downright degrading and insulting the high virtuous status of the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam).
The uncontroversial fact remains that Allah the Almighty granted the I’lm-i-Ghayb to the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) and if anyone denies and suspects the veracity of this Divine Truth, he is surely guilty of falsehood and diminishing the eminence of Divine Favour. If there be such a one, he ought to be condemned as a blasphemer, worthy of being expelled from the rank and file of Muslimhood. The quality of a true Muslim is that he accepts and believes as true each and every command of Almighty Allah and acts upon it ungrudgingly and unreservedly and induces others to do so.
The Darbar (seat of pre-eminences) of the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) is a grand Darbar surpassing the grandeur of worldly kings and monarchs. It is an act of misbehaviour and misdemeanour even to utter loud words in his august presence; such an act causes the loss of other virtuous deeds of a Believer, forfeiting the Divine Grace. There is a stern warning against those who slip away slyly from his assembly without seeking his permission, this amounts to misbehaviour. For them there is stern foreboding of dire punishment on the day of Judgement. It is said: “Deem not the summons of one Apostle among yourselves, like the summons of one of you to another. Allah doth knows those of you who slip away under shelter of some excuse; then those of you who slip away under shelter of some excuse; then beware those who withstand the Apostle’s orders, lest some trial befell them or a grievous penalty be inflicted on them.” 31 We can guess what would be the state of awe-inspiring grandeur of the Holy Company graced by the Holy Presence of the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) where even the slightest misdemeanour is caught up as a misdeed inviting punishment from the providence.
The companions of the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) used to sit in his presence in due respect holding their breaths and not making any gestures to disturb the dignity of the assembly. They would only utter respectful words like: “O Prophet of Allah! May my parents be sacrificed at the alter of your dignity.” To every question put to them, their reply used to be, “Allah and his Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) know better.”
28. Surah Nisa: Verse 113
29. Surah Aala: Verse 6
30. Surah Nur: Verse 63
31. Surah Shura: Verse 52
6. THE THREE DIMENSIONS OF THE GHAYB OF THE HOLY PROPHET(SALLAL LAAHU ALAIHI WASALLAM)
In the light of the foregoing evidence it must be admitted that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) was endowed with the Knowledge of the Unseen (I’lm-i-Ghayb) as a Grace from Allah.
We can examine the issue from three angles.
A. The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) was granted this treasure of knowledge directly from the Providence, i.e. without the means of any agency conveying the “knowledge.”
B. Through the revelation of the Holy Quran which is the Treasure-House of all Knowledge operating in the universe.
C. The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) was sent as a “Shahid” (Witness), i.e. a person who is in constant touch will the affairs taking place in the world, examining and analyzing them as an observer with an insight to assess and analyse their influence in day-to-day matters. He thus remained ever aware of the God-gifted vigilance possessing full knowledge as an eye-witness, with powers of Haqq-ul-Yaqeen and Ain-ul-Yaqeen – the faculty of witnessing things with unwavering faith and certitude.
By examining the Holy Prophet’s (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) Knowledge of the Unseen under the first view-point, viz. the bestowment of I’lm-i-Ghayb directly from Allah the Almighty, we might refer to the following verses of the Holy Quran:-
A. “These are some of the stories of the Unseen which We haverevealed to you, O Prophet!” 32
B. “Such is one of the stories of what happened Unseen which We revealed by inspiration unto you.” 33
C. “The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) does not withhold grudgingly a knowledge of the Unseen.” 34
Examining the Knowledge of the Unseen of the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) from the second point of view, the following verses of the Holy Quran are enough to open our eyes:-
A. “And We have sent down to you the Book explaining all things, a Guide, a Mercy and Glad Tidings to Muslims.” 35
B. “The Quran is not a tale invented, but a confirmation of what (went) before it – a detailed exposition of all things.” 36
C. “Nothing We have omitted from the Book.” 37
D. “Surely there has come to you from Allah a Light and a Perspicuous Book.” 38
E. “Nor is there ought of the Unseen, in Heaven, or earth butit is recorded in the Clear Book.” 39
F. “There is no grain in the darkness (or depth) of the earth,nor anything, fresh or dry, (green or withered), but is inscribed in a record clear.” 40
It is seen that in these verses, first there is the mention of the Holy Quran being the Kitab-i-Mubeen – the Book Manifest making everything clear, without even the minutest part remaining under any shadow of doubt or omitted. It is worth observing that the Book manifest contains the mention of all things (with all their attributes), under the sun. Now just imagine what shall be the expanse and depth of the knowledge of the Person on whom the Book was revealed. Surely each and everything mentioned in the Book must have been in full view of the recipient. The phenomena must be pondered over in a most dispassionate and open-minded manner without casting any aspersions over the Divine bestowment on the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam).
Examining the Knowledge of the Unseen possessed by the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) as a SHAHID or witness to all affairs, the following verses carry us to the visionary world of enlightenment where we stand completely wonder-struck at the very idea of the extent of the knowledge which Allah the Almighty revealed to him so as to make him the true representative of Divine rights, not alone on this earth, but even forces of heavenly kingdom operating at the present moment as well as that would take place in the universe and the Hereafter. It is but essential that we should bow our heads and accept the truth of Divine assertions, and spare ourselves the repercussions, should any shade of wavering creep our mind and vision. It is beyond our capacity to guess the extent of Knowledge of the Unseen (I’lm-i-Ghayb) bestowed upon the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) by Almighty Allah. Only Allah knows that He has bestowed upon His beloved Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam).
A. “Surely We sent you as a Witness, as a Bringer of Glad Tidings and as a Warner.” 41
B. “And We shall bring you as a Witness against the people.” 42
C. “Surely we have sent to you (O men!) an Apostle to be a Witness concerning you.” 43
D. “And one day We shall raise from all peoples a Witness against them from among themselves and We shall bring as witness against them from among themselves and We shall bring you as a Witness against them. 44
From these verses it is clear that on the day of Judgement not only the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) shall be a Witness over his own Ummah, but shall also testify before Almighty Allah on behalf of the peoples of other Prophets. Now this testimony or evidence can only be given by the person who is an eye-witness to all events and incidents under scrutiny on the Day of Judgement.
This, in other words, means that the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) is fully informed and kept in touch with all those events which he shall be witness to. Incidently, this also means that he is keeping watch over our deeds and misdeeds at all times. We should therefore beware of our activities lest any of them displeases or grieves him.
This fact is further corroborated by the (under noted) traditions (Ahadith) of the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam):-
A. In one tradition it is said: “As I see in front of me, so I see things clearly behind me.” 45
B. In the second tradition the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: “I saw Prophet Musa (alaihis salaam) in the valley of Azraq, while passing from Mecca to Madina. He was reciting Talbiah. On another ocassion, I saw Prophet Yunus (alaihis salaam) wearing a long woollen overcoat and riding a red camel.” 46
C. In the third Tradition, the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) is described witnessing Paradise and Hell. 47
D. From the fourth Tradition it is learnt that the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) knows each inmate by name going in the Paradise or in the Hell. 48
E. From the fifth Tradition, it is learnt that when a man enquired from the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) whether he would go into Jannah or Jahannam, the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) replied without a moment’s pause that, “You shall go to Jahannam.” 49
F. The sixth Tradition says: “My entire Ummah was presented before me with each individual’s scroll of deeds, good as well as bad.” 50
G. In the seventh Tradition, the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “One night, my Ummah was presented before me at my Hujrah and I know each of them as clearly as anyone knows his colleague.” 51
At one place in the Holy Quran, it is said: “Does he possess the Knowledge of the Unseen that he sees the dead?” 52 It is understood from this verse that only such a person possesses I’lm-i-Ghayb as is capable of seeing things beyond normal reach in terms of time and space. At various places in the Holy Quran, the transcendental power of witnessing things by the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) has been described. 53 The truth is that when a Chosen Friend of Allah has seen Allah, nothing remains hidden from him. The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said, “I saw Allah the Almighty. He placed His Hand on my back. I felt the coolness in my breast. Within an instance everything became visible clear before me and I recognised everyone.” 54
32. Surah Hud: Verse 49
33. Surah Yusuf: Verse 102
34. Surah Takweer: Verse 24
35. Surah Nahl: Verse 89
36. Surah Yusuf: 111
37. Surah An’am: Verse 38
38. Surah Maida: Verse 15
39. Surah Nam’l: Verse 75
40. Surah An’am: Verse 59
41. Surah Fatah: Verse 8
42. Surah Nisa: Verse 41
43. Surah Muzammil: Verse 15
44. Surah Nahl: Verse 89
45. Muslim Shareef, vol.2, p. 116
46. Ibn-i-Majah, pp. 20, 208
47. Muslim Shareef, vol.2, p. 180
48. Miskhat Shareef, p. 19
49. Bukhari Shareef, vol.3, p. 855
50. Muslim Shareef, vol. 1, p. 207; Musnad-i-Ahmad; Ibn-e-Maja
51. Ref: Anba al-Mustafa, p. 19; ref: Tibrani
52. Surah Najam, Verse 35
53. Surahs Mujadilah: Verse 7; Surah Ibrahim: Verse 19; SurahBaqarah: Verses 243 & 258; Surah Nur: 41; Surah Feel.
54. Tirmizi Shareef; Miskhat Shareef, Karachi, p. 72
7. THE PROPHET (SALLAL LAAHU ALAIHI WASALLAM) ALSO DISTRIBUTEDPORTIONS OF HIS I’LM-I-GHAYB TO HIS SERVANTS
So far we have been discussing the vast expanse and depth of the Holy Prophet’s (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) knowledge and meditative understanding of the cosmic forces operating in the universe together with the super human forces operating in the universe with super human visual insight of the Unseen as a special gift from the Divine Grace, transcending and surpassing human intellect, unmatched in the entire history of mankind.
We are apt to feel and think if the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) kept the whole repository of these God-gifted treasures, of the knowledge, particularly relating to the Unseen confined to himself alone or he also, as charitable gesture, passed on some part of it to his devotees who were eager and capable to receive and preserve the rare and priceless beneficence from Almighty Allah.
It is learnt from different Traditions of the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) that he not only favoured his devotees and admirers with this rare and Divine gift, but did so in a greater and open-hearted manner, taught them how communion with Divinity may be maintained and carried forward as the intellect advances and progresses in the realm or history. This is an expression of Divine Dispensation of charity among the fellow beings, the humanity at large for whose benefit the vast universe has been created.
A. This is what the well-known and famous devoted Companion of the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) Abu Zarr Ghaffari (radi Allahu anhu) has to say in this respect, “The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) did not leave this material world without telling us in effect that there is not a single birdflying in the atmosphere about which he left anything unsaid.” 55
B. Another companion, Hazrat Huzaifa (radi Allahu anhu) reports, “Only the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) stood amongst us (to deliver a sermon) and disclosed before us every detail of events that were to take place that moment onward till the Day of Judgement; he left nothing. Anyone who could retain in his memory remembered it; and the one who forgot it, could not revive it afterwards.” 56
C. It is reported in the Tradition: “The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) did not leave the world without telling the description of every disrupter (creating disturbance on earth) till the coming of the Day of Resurrection; everything, i.e. his name, his father’s name and the name of the tribe or clan to which he belonged.” 57
D. The Battle of Badr took place on the 17th of Ramadaan. Before the fighting (Jihad) started, the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) went over the field and disclosed the identity of the enemies of Islam and indicated by placing his hand at different spots and telling “here so and so will be slain.” When the battle was over, it was discovered that each and every person about whom the Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) had indicated, was found at the very spot lying dead, neither inch more or less. 58
E. There is a lengthy Tradition (Hadith) of the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) which is an eye-opener for any sceptic who entertained misgivings about the truth of the Holy Prophet’s (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) Knowledge of the Unseen. It is reported by Hazrat Anas bin Malik (radi Allahu anhu), who says: “After the decline of the sun (noon) the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) came out of his Hujrah, and led the Zohr Prayer. After completing the prayer the Holy Prophet mounted the pulpit and delivered the sermon about the Day of Judgement and the big events that will take place before the advent of the Day. Then addressing the companions he asked them if any one of them had any question to ask from him. He proceeded, ‘I swear in the name of Allah, there is nothing that you would ask me and I will not answer it (no query, whatever its nature shall remain unanswered), so long as I am here.’” Hazrat Anas (radi Allahu anhu) reports that on hearing this the companions burst in tears, (for it forbode the grave tidings of his leaving the world). But the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) continued, saying again and again: “Ask me. Ask me (as none after me will tell you).” 59
The following verse of the Holy Quran bears testimony to his truth: “The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) does not withhold grudgingly a Knowledge of the Unseen.” 60 It amounted to saying, “whatever you ask will be answered and whatever you will require, shall be granted.”
The insistence of the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) on oath in the Name of Allah and urging the audience again and again to ask and enquire about anything indicates beyond a shadow of doubt that by the Grace of Almighty Allah, the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) was endowed with the Knowledge of the Unseen and was extremely generous to satisfy every enquirer in his quest for knowledge including the Unseen.
An Arab Scholar, Shaikh Ahmad bin Muhammad Al-Siddique Al-Ghamari Al-Hasani has written a very learned book entitled “Motabiqa al-Ikhtia’at al-Asriya.” (Mufti Ahmad Mian Barkati has translated this book in Urdu with the title “Islam aur Asri Eijadaat” printed and published at Lahore in 1980). In this book the learned scholar has collected forebodings of the Unseen, which the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) has disclosed on various ocassions. One is explicably amazed and wonderstruck while going through these details how gracefully the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) was honoured by Allah the Almighty about even the minutest details of the Unseen. It appears that the past, the present and the future lay clear before the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) like a mirror. Why this should not be so! because the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) has himself said: “The keys of the Unseen were brought before me and placed over my hand.” 61
Thus the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) was made the key Bearer (Owner) of the treasures of the earth, 62 because one who possesses the keys, enjoys the right of possession too. This however does not mean that Allah the Almighty has divested himself of the Divine Powers of the Unseen. On the contrary, it indicates the Absolute Authority and Power of Allah even to bestow any one of His Choice anything as He pleases. It also demonstrates how much Allah has favoured and honoured the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam)! These are, in fact, the keys with which the hidden meanings and interpretations of the Holy Quranic treasures are opened. The Holy Quran as the Divine Book, we all see and recite, but whatever the Prophetic Vision observes behind the contents of words and letters we cannot even imagine and visualize with our limited blurred vision of intellect.
I might refer to but one verse of the Quran: “Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies of Allah.” 63
In this verse the word “power” seems to denote nothing in particular, i.e. weapon or means to subdue the enemy, but when the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) lifts the veil from the word “power” then the human wisdom simply gets perplexed to the extreme, as the real significance, as expressed and stressed by the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) is definitely beyond the reach of human intellect. Expressing the real significance of the word “power”, he said: “Beware this power is Rami! Beware this power is Rami! Beware this power is Rami!” 64
In the Arabic language, the word “Rami” means to throw or strike. One of the important ritual observance during the course of hajj, is to throw small stones at the Satan which ritual is known as “Rami.” In this Hadith (Tradition) the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) meant all such weapons which demand throwing or hurting from a distance at the enemy. The simplest form of this “throw” is by the hands with as much power as one is capable of, and this power is in the hands of those nations in possession of those weapons, especially firing cannon shells, hurting missiles, rockets or even bombs of any description. All these weapons are thrown at the enemies from a distance and these are the secrets of “power.” If you refer to Ahadith (Traditions) you will discover an ocean of the Knowledge of the Unseen spring up from its bottom.
55. Anba al-Mustafa, p. 8 ref: Musnad-i-Ahmad and Tabaqat-i-Ibn-i-Sa’ad
56. Anba al-Mustafa, p. 7 ref: Bukhari, Muslim and Musnad-i-Ahmad
57. Miskhat Shareef, Bab al-Fitan
58. Muslim Shareef, Kitab al-Jihad, vol. 2
59. Bukhari Shareef, Kitab al-E’tisaam, vol. 3, p. 855
60. Surah Takweer: Verse 24
61. Bukhari Shareef, p. 848 and Muslim Shareef, vol. 2, p. 116
62. Bukhari and Muslim Shareef
63. Surah Anfal: Verse 60
64. Muslim Shareef, vol. 2, p. 143
8. CONCLUSIVE FACTS CONCERNING I’LM-I-GHAYB
From what has been discussed with apparent justification and presentable conviction, the following broad basic realities about the Knowledge of the Unseen must be borne in mind to avoid any pitfalls from any biased and intense quarters in this behalf.
A. This first thing to be noted in this connection is that the “Unseen” is a reality, concrete and irrefutable.
B. That the “I’lm-i-Ghayb” or the “Knowledge of the Unseen” belongs exclusively to Allah the Almighty as His Exclusive Divine Prerogative, none having any share in it, or any power to controvert and refute His Exclusive Domain. His knowledge is total.
C. Allah the Almighty bestows this Knowledge of the Unseen (I’lm-i-Ghayb) to his chosen servants.
D. Allah the Almighty has granted this Knowledge of the Unseen to the Apostles and Prophets.
E. Allah the Almighty has granted this Knowledge of the Unseen to the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam).
F. The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) bestowed this Knowledge of the Unseen (I’lm-i-Ghayb) to his companions who in turn passed this knowledge to the qualified persons who were entrusted with the mission to propagate the Religion of Allah to succeeding generations.
No doubt, the great poet philosopher of Islam, Allama Iqbal, has aptly summed up the illustrious personality of the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) in one of his beautiful couplets:
“Lauh bhi tu, Qalam bhi tu, tera wajud Al-KitabGhumbad-e-Abgina rang tere muheet mein habab”
“You are O Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) theScroll (of human destiny), you are the pen of Divine(with powers) to scribe and delineate the affairs of the universe, you are the personification of the Book of Allah.This vast glassy canopy (the sky) is not more than a bubblein the vast ocean of your August Knowledge.”