Friday, April 11, 2014

Ilm ul Ghayb- The Knowledge of the Unseen

We, the Ahl as-Sunna, believe that Allah has given the knowledge of the Ghayb (unseen), to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), and that it is also permissable to say that our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) knows the knowledge of the Ghayb. However, it is not possible, nor permissable to say that the Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) knowledge of the Ghayb is equal to that of Allah - or even like the knowledge of Allah, since Allah's knowledge is His own and the Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) knowledge has been given to him by Allah.
There are some people who say that to hold such beliefs will render that person a kafir. We will prove, with the help of Allah, that such a notion is not one of kufr.
Belief of the Ahl as-Sunna about 'ilm of the Ghayb
Mufti Ahmad Yar Khan states:
"Allah has informed His Prophets about certain things from the Unseen. The knowledge of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) is more than anyone elses. Nobody can be equal to the knowledge of the Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) knowledge in the world.
There are five special things of the Unseen and Allah has informed some of these parts to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)"
[Khan, Ahmad, Y., Ja-al-Haq, chapter on 'Masala of Ghayb' ]
Proof from the Qur'an that the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) has been given the knowledge of al-Ghayb
Allah says in the Qur'an:
"These are the tidings of the Unseen that We reveal to you in secret"
[Sura al-Imran, verse 44]
"Nor will He disclose to you the secrets of the Unseen. But He chooses of His Apostles [for the purpose]"
[Sura al-Imran, verse 179]
"The Knower of Unseen reveals not His secret to anyone
Except to His chosen Messengers".
[Sura al-Jinn, verse 26]
"...Allah has sent down to you the Book and Wisdom and has taught to you what you did not know, and great is the grace of Allah upon you"
[Sura an-Nisa, verse 113]
Imam Tabari writes under this verse:
"Allah Most High has told the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) to thank Him as He has informed the Prophet of what has already happened and what will happen in the future and this is a bestowal of great grace"
[Tafsir Tabari, Sura an-Nisa, under verse 113]
The above Qur'anic verses prove that Allah Most High has given Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) the knowledge of the Ghayb.
Proofs from the Ahadith that Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) Possessed Knowledge of the Ghayb
We find in a narration from the collection of Imam al-Bukhari:
"Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) stood up in one meeting and he started to tell us about events from the beginning of this world to the end and he told us about Heaven and Hell and about the people who were going to Hell and who were going to Heaven and what will be their places in Heaven and Hell. Of course, some people remember what he told us and some people have forgotten"
[Bukhari, chapter on 'Bada al-Khalq]
Imam Muslim writes:
"The Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) led the Fajr prayer and then sat on the pulpit, and until Zuhr he told the people of the things about the Unseen. After Zuhr, he sat on the pulpit and continued until 'Asr, then sat on the pulpit and continued until Maghrib prayer. He even informed of the dwellers of Paradise and Hell"
[Muslim, chapter on 'Fada'il']
Hafiz ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani in his famous commentary to Sahih al-Bukhari writes that:
"What Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) told in that one meeting is a miracle of the Prophet and this should not be doubted"
[Fath al-Bari, chapter on Bada al-Khalq]
Imam al-Bukhari writes:
"The munafiqs [hypocrites - those who were outwardly Muslims but inwardly unbelievers] made an objection to the knowledge of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) stood on the pulpit and said,'Ask me what you will'.One person stood up and asked, "What will be my place in the Hereafter?" The Prophet replied, 'Hell'. Another person, whose name was 'Abdullah ibn Huzayfa (people doubted whether he was a legitimate child), stood up and asked, 'Who is my father?' The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) replied, 'Your father is Huzayfa.' [The accusation on 'Abdullah ibn Huzayfa was cleared]. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) repeated, 'Ask me, ask me' "
[al-Bukhari, Kitab-ul-I'tisaam; Muslim, chapter on 'Fada''l']
It is evident from this hadith that the only people who objected to the knowledge ('ilm al-Ghayb) of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) were the munafiqs (hypocrites). Further, the belief that Allah informed His Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) of more knowledge than anyone else is the belief of the blessed Companions of the Prophet.
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal quotes the following narration which provides more evidence on the Prophet's knowledge:
"The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) stated, "I have seen my Lord, after which everything appeared before me and I recognized everything"
[Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, vol 5, page 243]
Hafiz Ibn Kathir writes:
"A shepherd was with his goats upon which a wolf came and grabbed one goat and ran. The shepherd then chased after the wolf to get the goat back. The wolf then spoke to him and said, 'Why do you take what food (rizq) which Allah has provided for me?' The shepherd was astonished that the wolf spoke. The wolf again said, 'If you are so surprised that I can talk then go to Madina. You will find the last of the Prophets, and he can inform you of the past and the future'. The shepherd left his goats and went straight to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and mentioned his experience. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) replied, 'The wolf spoke the truth.'Isnad [chain of narrators]. For this hadith is authentic.
[Ta'rikh Ibn Kathir, chapter on 'Miracles of the Prophet']
We also find the following clear-cut hadith, without any ambigious meanings, from Sahih Muslim:
"The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) stated, 'Allah put the earth before me and I saw it from the East to the West'
[Muslim, chapter on 'Excellence of the Prophet']
This hadith is a proof that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was bestowed with the knowledge of the whole world.
Hafiz Ibn Kathir and Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab an-Najdi writes:
"Suad ibn Qarib recited a poem in front of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace): 'I bearwitness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah. Allah has made you the trustee over all the Ghayb' "
[Ibn Kathir, Sirat an-Nabi; and Ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab, Mukhtasar Sirat ar-Rasul, story of 'Suad ibn Qarib']
Shaykh al-Islam, Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani, writes:
"One of the qualities bestowed upon a Prophet is the quality that he knows what has already happened in the past and what will happen in the future"
[Fath al-Bari, chapter on 'The Anbiya']
From all the above ahadith it is proven that the Prophet(may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was bestowed with more knowledge than any other creature by Allah Most High. It is also clear that he (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) has been bestowed with the knowledge of the past and future and it is therefore permissible to say that Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) is the trustee of the knowledge of Ghayb.
It is proven from the above narrations that Allah Most High bestowed our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) the knowledge of the Ghayb, so it is permissible to say that he (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) knows the Ghayb. Hence if someone says that they hold the Prophet to know the Ghayb (Unseen), he is not committing kufr or shirk by holding such a belief.
Sayyiduna al-Khidr (peace be upon him) also knew the Ghayb?
Imam at-Tabari, Imam al-Qurtubi and Qadi Shawkani quote the following narration:
"Ibn 'Abbas reported that al-Khidr was a man who did all his work with the knowledge of the Ghayb because he knew the Ghayb"
[Tafsir Tabari; Tafsir Qurtubi; Qadi Shawkani, Tafsir Fath al-Qadir;]
The above statement of a Sahabi is a narration which is accepted by leading and reputable classical authorities. It is thus permissible to say that Khidr knew the Ghayb, and so how can it possibly be wrong to say that Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) also knows the Ghayb?
Hafiz ibn Kathir and Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab an-Najdi both narrate:
"Malik ibn 'Awf an-Nazri has written a poem about our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and has written:
'I have not seen any one like you in this world that I can compare with,
Who always fulfill all that he promises.
There is no one more generous than him,
When you ask him something he will inform you of what is going to happen tomorrow' "
[Ibn Kathir, Sirat an-Nabi; and Ibn Kathir & Ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab., Muktasar Sirat ar-Rasul, chapter on 'Gazwa Hawazan']
We will now examine some doubts that are raised by the opponents of the above Qur'anic ayats and ahadith based beliefs and then, by the grace of Allah, will answer their doubts so that the truth may become clear, insha'llah.
Q)How can you say that Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) has been given the knowledge of the Ghayb when Allah Most High says in the Qur'an that there are five things of which no one has any knowledge about?
A)The relevant verse of the Qur'an is as follows:-
"Undoubtedly, Allah has the knowledge of the Hour, and He sends rain and knows what is in the wombs of the mothers and no soul knows in what land it will die. Undoubtedly, Allah is the Knower, All-Aware" [Sura al-Luqman, verse 34]
There are two answers to this:
Firstly, the word used in this verse in Arabic is adri, which refers to that knowledge which someone can attain by guessing. Of course the knowledge of the Unseen of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was not by guessing. Allah informed this to him.
Hafiz Ibn Kathir has written in his famous commentary to the Qur'an, Tafsir Ibn Kathir, the meaning of this ayat, namely, that no-one can find the knowledge of these things on there own endeavor. Only Allah can give this knowledge. For example, Allah gives knowledge to the angels, whose duties are to control rain, and therefore on the command of Allah it rains. Also Allah commands an angel who goes into the mother's womb and hangs a record around the child's neck which tells what he/she will do in his/ her lifetime. This knowledge is not attained by the angel but rather it is given by Allah Himself.
Secondly, if the literal and direct meaning is taken from the above quoted ayat, then it will mean that only Allah knows what is in the mothers womb but today, we can discover quite easily if the child is a male or female by modern scanning techniques. If the angels have some knowledge of the five things from the Unseen - given to them by Allah, why is it strange if the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) also has some of this knowledge - again bestowed by Allah?
During the Battle of Badr, the Prophet mentioned the names of the kuffar that were to die and also described the manner in which the Companions would achieve martyrdom.
These are clear and authentic examples of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace),informing his Umma about future events, hidden from all else (i.e Ghayb).
[Taken from Sahih al-Bukhari, chapter on 'The Battle of Badr'; and also Tafsir Ibn Kathir, on 'Sura al-Luqman, verse 34]
(Q)Did Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) not stop people from saying that he had the knowledge of tomorrow? On one occasion our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) went to a wedding.There, the girls were singing about the Battle of Badr. When they saw the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) coming they stopped singing about the Battle of Badr and started to sing that:'There is a Prophet amongst us that knows about tomorrow'. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) told them to carry on singing what they were singing before.
[Miskat, chapter on 'Nikah']
If he (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) knew about tomorrow, then why did he stop them from singing it?
(A)These poems were written by a Companion (Sahabi) before the wedding and had it been incorrect he (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) would have instructed them to stop immediately and not allowed them to repeat. This means the poem was right.The reason he told them to stop singing was because a wedding celebration was taking place and he wanted them to sing the poem that they were singing before, and secondly he did not want them to praise him in the presence of himself.This hadith demonstrates one of the beauties of our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), that he did not like to be praised in front of others.
Everyone knows that our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) knew about the future events up to the Day of Judgment and even after; how else could he have told us about the Mahdi, the Dajjal, the second coming of Jesus, the questions to be asked in the grave, the bridge over Hell which everyone will have to cross to get to Heaven, the mizan (scales) in which everyones' actions shall be weighed etc.
There are countless more proofs which show without a shadow of a doubt that the beloved Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) had been given the knowledge of the Ghayb (Unseen) and Allah is the knower of all things!
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