11. HIKMAT (WISDOM, GOOD JUDGEMENT)
Wisdom is definitely the highest ability man can aspire and benefit from. In Arabic the word for wisdom is ‘hikmat’ and it is defined as the ability to tell good from evil. As such it is partially synonymous with ‘aql’ or ability to reason. Hikmat can be understood better when compared with intelligence which make the other half of ‘aql’. Without intelligence no hikmat can exist in a man but without hikmat intelligence can. A criminal may be so intelligent that it can outwit the police for decades. But had he had hikmat/wisdom would he commit any crimes to begin with.
Allah in His Qur’an praises hikmat and aql which contains it and those with perhaps intelligence but no hikmat/wisdom He calls ‘al sufaha’ which means the silly if wily sinners.
Only people with hikmat can see the point in faith and religion and endorse them whole-heartedly. The silly wily sinners cannot even see the tips of their noises which is already and always dipped in dirt and addicted to it too much to look for anything else.
1. It is He who raised a prophet from among the unlettered, who rehearses to them the verses of Allah and purifies them and teaches them the Scripture and wisdom/hikmat (62:2)
C. Have no doubt that the Prophet sws WAS the messenger of Allah and the Qur’an he publicised WAS and IS Allah’s Word, albeit in a form and format ‘sent down’ to human level of understanding and that the Prophet sws has been teaching us, with the help of the Qur’an how to purify ourselves both inside and outside and also teaching us hikmat- how to tell good from evil through faith and spiritual refinement and elevation.
Spiritual refinement, because the Prophet sws demonstrated to us in his person how kind, tolerant, polite and charitable a man can be short of being a fool and a walkover. This in fact is hikmat- we must and can be kind, tolerant, polite and charitable but still keep our sense of balance and social responsibility and not suffer crooks, fools and tryrants.
Spiritual elevation, because refinement leads to elevation. As man jettisons his crude, morally unexamined lusts and passions he lightens his burden sticking him to this swamp of an ignorants’ world and can float up to more rarefied space of spiritual ascent whereby his vision and viewpoint comes closer and closer to Allah’s Who is all wisdom and all mercy.
Mind you, the purification the Prophet sws was delivering to his believers was both physical cleanliness and spiritual. The Spiritual was this refinement and elevation of the soul (62: 2).
2. He sent down on thee the Book and the Wisdom and taught thee what thou usest not to know at all (2: 151) *
C. So, both the Qur’an and THE WISDOM were sent down on the Prophet sws. Beacuse the Qur’an and the Wisdom are mentioned separately we may not entirely assume that the two is one and the same. Yet the Qur’an contains the Wisdom. But the Wisdom in the Qur’an is not apparent to everybody. That is why the two names are separately mentioned. This implies that as the Qur’an kept coming down its Wisdom content was not always equally explicit to the Prophet sws and Allah inspired to him through Gabriel or otherwise increasing varieties and depths of wisdom. We have on record both in the Qur’an and the Hadith to the effect that the Prophet sws was sometimes overwhelmed by the Qur’an and Allah had to come to his help. The same applies to the lesser form of Divine revelation the true dream when the dreamer is initially baffled by the dream and only subsequently its ta’wil (interpretation) is inspired to him. But like the greater Revelation the Prophetic form that the Qur’an is the dream’s ta’wil may also be instantly known by a good dream interpreter like Joseph AS. The Messenger of Allah sws also was an instant interpreter of his and others’ dreams.
Allah taught His Messeneger sws things he never knew before. That is obvious and explicit from this verse. Which lies to rest some gnostic (supposedly self-revealed) claims that the Prophet sws already knew everything. Allah uses the phrase “ma lam takun ta’lam” which flatly means: What you NEVER knew. Allah knows best, doesn’t He?
3. This (string of good pieces of advice, like never being arrogant etc) are wisdoms thy Lord hath revealed to thee: Do not put up other gods with Allah or else thou end up being cast into Hell, denounced and banished (17:39)
C. Allah mentions a few wisdoms associated with His Legal Rulings, e.g., why not wantonly to kill others or show-off and offend others and CROWNS His advice by strongly and vehemently reiterating His oft-repeated admonition to the effect that man must only worship Allah and none other. If man dares to extent his worship to false gods he then destroys his chances of real and eternal felicity and instead lands with unmitigated disaster.
The false gods can be anything. Any being man considers capable of helping him DESPITE what Allah wills is a false god. It may be a man or a force of nature or what have you, it does not matter. Man should always keep in mind that not only this world is run by a Single King but also this Single King, unlike shadow kings, is instantly and directly accessible to all His servants even when they all call on to Him simultaneously in their billions. What is more He is neither deceived not deceives- in every case of a call He only delivers what is best for the servant although the servant may not always appreciate this. You may now guess why some people despair or shies of Allah and resort to another being, always a creature like himself or herself, hoping that this another being can do better than Allah Whom to the supplicant seems too coy or unwilling to accommodate him or her. That is the greatest mistake. If the unwise wish is granted, it is not granted by the created being at all but by Allah, but it is not a blessed gift and the asker will eventually regret it. The crassest form of wish fulfilment is that by magic and nobody has seen magical satisfaction to end in happiness; it only ends in destruction.
One modern form of magic is salesmanship: Salesmen, sales talks and sales advertisements which are loaded with lies, half-truths, exaggerations or traps (like unintelligible fine print) and often as they do, employ psychological ploys like the exploitation of the sexual urge or sectarian prejudices can help sell items fabulously and even in a long-term way but the results are unblessed both for the vendors and the buyers. That new devil called ‘brand image’ enables a vendor (often a big multinational company) to sell any garbage at ten or a hundred times its worth for years but the buyers are just robbed and deceived while the vendors are in for great waste, devastating self-abuse and eventual heartache and frustration, most dying after an increasingly miserable later life feeling totally lost and cheated, despite all the riches and luxuries surrounding them. Only living with Allah ensures increasing and eventually triumphant happiness. Amen.
4. We gave Luqman that wisdom that “Give thanks to Allah”. Whoever gives thanks to Allah thereby only helps himself. Whoever remains ungrateful then Allah has no need of even the entire worlds (let alone a single person) (31: 12) *
C. “Innallaha ghaniyyun ‘anil alamin”, the last part of this verse is very important to bear in mind. Yes Allah needs nothing and nobody whatsoever either to exist or be happy. But first things first. Why and how must we be thankful to Allah. This verse tells the importance of maintaining an optimistic, thankful mood despite everything, that is to say a thankfulness towards the Most Gracious Creator. How come you may ask, given the fact that our lives sometimes go through hell for various reasons. That is true. But there are other truths below such truths. One of them is that our minds are made in a very supple and vast way. Like a very elastic and strong balloon the mind can expand thousands of times its original uninflated size. And that is not all: It has layers upon layers of separate if interconnected departments of mental activity as well as side by side compartments of them.
Normally only a fraction of our mind power we use at any one time but that need not remain so. By constant use and cultivation of our minds we can explore and exploit its higher and higher, finer and finer potentialities as a result of which we may come to command our moods, thoughts and inclinations. A true (conforming to sound human nature) faith which Islam is makes the first condition of greatest possible expansion and ennoblement of our minds in a way which is both reasonable and practicable. For example our faith does not go against our social instincts or health needs which many other faiths go against. We are required to feed ourselves adequately without waste or harm, to mix with others and take up all possible social responsibilities and basically worship the Creator in simplest, healthiest and eminently bearable ways.
Our Qur’an is such a vast, comprehensive and profound compendium of wisdom and practicable spirituality that nothing can enhance the mind than a proper and thorough study of it on a regular basis. An expanded and deepened mind can find a hundred reasons why it should be thankful to and hopeful of its Creator. It recognises, for example that things change and can never last forever and that if some aspects of an event are unpleasant it does not automatically mean that the all the results from it shall also be unpleasant. On the contrary many depressing events often lead to quite pleasing other events. Ultimately trusting that Allah always wishes and means well and will somehow, sometime bless us is the best philosophy of life and it works. The optimism it plants does not only keep us sane and safe but making us more alert to positive opportunities it enables us to take measures to reduce our sufferings and replace them with decent and healthy pleasure. This must be best wisdom. Amen
5. He gives wisdom whom He will; whoever is given wisdom is given plenty of good (2: 269)
C. “He gives wisdom whom He will” can also be translated as “Allah gives wisdom to whom is after wisdom” and in fact the two senses overlap. Allah does not guarantee that he will grant our every wish for this worlds goods but he does guarantee to give spiritual blessings like more wisdom and more piety and more compassion to all those who are seriously after them. Once the wisdom is given then there is little else the recipient needs as far as his spirituality is concerned. Additionally the wise person is wise in everything and can always find a way to alleviate his worldly sufferings on top of looking after his other-worldly interests. The least he can do is successfully making do with his share of this world without to much worry and strain and often he can find more solutions than that. A wise person knows that the majority of our so-called needs in this world are in fact almost totally unnecessary or no more than outright harmful desires; a man’s need of cigarettes is just one example. Those who are not addicted could not care less whether cigarettes existed or not. Many things in life we yearn after and fight over are as unnecessary and harmful as cigarettes and drinks and gambling etc. They are simply inflated and desperate delusions we can completely do away with provided of course we have- guess what- WIS-DOM!
6. We did bestow upon the House of Abraham the Book and the Wisdom and also bestow upon them a great kingdom (4: 54)
C. Not for nothing that among the descendants of our blessed father Abraham AS there have been so many holy prophets and mighty kings which shows that being beloved of Allah does not exclude worldly blessings but often may also include them. The thousand year long dominant civilisation Islam created is only one example of this comprehensive Abrahamic blessings and more are always possible. The secret of this blessing is the Book and the Wisdom Allah endowed it with. Which means if we want Abrahamic blessings to bless our lives as well we must go after Allah’s Book and the Wisdom He All-Wise, All-Gracious sent down in His Book and through His Prophet sws and all saints (best Muslims) following him.
7. Indeed some news of what contains deterrents from evil, an effective, all-conquering Wisdom has come to you. But what use is it to those who evade it (54: 4-5)
C. The Qur’an is full of warnings which, if heeded could prevent tonnes of man-made evils.The appalling crime statistics go only a little way to demonstrate the amount of evil running through the human society. Almost on every square metre of every piece of space occupied by people some mischief is either afoot or in the planning stage. Such evils are pursued in the deluded hope that the perpetrator will get a benefit at the expense of others. Lack of wisdom leaks from every pore of such silly people. Had they had the wisdom which is constantly on offer from their Creator they could see that they needed not to commit any evils at the expense of anybody but, provided they could see their best interests objectively and set their priorities decently they could get more satisfaction from their existence without committing a single offence but just exerting the minimal effort which would be sufficient for them to help themselves to the good things of this world and the next. Allah adds that the moral deterrents He embedded in His Book contain a very effective and comprehensive Wisdom which could be enough to save and bless anybody beyond all their expectations. Amen.
8. Call to the Path of Thy Lord with wisdom and comely preaching and fight against them (your adversaries) by what is most elegant. Thy Lord knows who errs from His Path and He knows best the rightly-guided (16: 125)
C. Yeah and sure: This is a point many Muslim preachers fail to observe. They either simply accuse and condemn and threaten or plod on with uninspiring, formalistic information-passing exercise which make many listeners yawn and fret and await early release and relief. The preaching to be effective and endearing must combine two elements says the Lord: It must be full of wisdom and it must be delivered in a interest-arousing and love-inspiring manner. The preacher must broadcast humility with strength of conviction, grace with correctness of message. The listeners must feel that their time is not wasted, that the preacher is not taking them for granted but is sensitive to their concerns and responsive to their needs. The preacher’s personality is as important as the message he is preaching and when the two are matchingly good the audience cannot fail to be impressed and moved although the extent of these will vary from person to person.
12. AL GHAIB (THE IMPERCEPTIBLE)
Man has very limited senses of perception feeding information to a very limited mind. Yet, some great enhancements are not impossible in all of them. The sense organs can be helped by instruments magnifying the imputs, like binoculars helping our eyes to see distant objects better. As for the mind which is the ultimate recipient of sense data it can be internally improved by education. All such helps can enable us to perceive our world better but infinite improvement is simply impossible. No man, however able and hard working can become like God and know everything at all times. Yet, some gnostic claimants since time immemorial claimed exactly or almost that although they often used enough turbid language to hide behind in case the public reaction became very indignant.
Why a human being, however able cannot know God’s actual knowledge let alone a part of it can be seen from the following analysis:
All our perceptions are products of our minds however objective they look and however objectively verified can they be by groups of observers. That is because perception is a process and not an isolated fact standing in a vacuum. It results from the interaction of certain nervous centres with the stimuli reaching and filtering to them through nerve organs and channels earlier in their reception of the stimuli. Let us take the king of all senses: Vision. Light from objects is refracted by the eye lenses and a photographic image forms on the retina. This tissue is rich in light processors and nerves which coalesce into a nerve at the centre, the optic nerve. This is a channel which takes the data created on the retina to the centre of vision in the rear part of the brain which serves the whole input to our subjective mind in a form which we have every reason to believe to represent the object we believe to be outside our mind. It is significant to consider in this context that the mind KNOWS itself but cannot perceive itself like perceiving things outside itself. It is our primary given, our very selves without which we are as good as non-existent. Which means we have an utterly closed system in ourselves which closes on itself and becomes hermetically sealed from knowing things beyond its scope. There is only so much that human mind can bear.
Another point to consider is the fact that had we had differently structured and operating sense organs we would perceive our world in a different way. Colour blindness is perhaps one of the smallest abnormalities to prove this point; a colour blind person cannot tell green from red and sometimes green from blue. Since this is incurable the person affected lives in a world where scenery look different from our normally perceived version. If we imagine more and more abnormalities affecting us we can understand that more and more different versions of the world can hit us and incurably so. Now, if we imagine we had a sixth or seventh sense in addition to our present five only God knows how our perception of the world would be revolutionised. With such RELATIVE as well as LIMITED range of perceptive abilities how on earth can we imagine the knowledge of any of us to match either in quality or quantity that of the HIMSELF ESSENTIALLY IMPERCEPTIBLE CREATOR? Yet we have gnostics who does not hesitate to pontificate something like the following gem: “Above the Divinity (uluhiyya) of God there is another level of being for the Real (al Haqq) where He is not aware of Himself”. Yes? But the gnostic IS AWARE of such a level of supreme reality!
This makes it clear that that compendium of all Truth, namely the Qur’an needs be consulted again. The following attempts at that.
1. HE IS THE KNOWER OF AL GHAIB; HE DOES NOT SHOW HIS GHAIB TO ANYBODY (72:26)
C. Is any comment necessary? The Almighty, All-Knowing sender down of the Qur’an is categorically and unambiguously stating that only HE is the Knower of THE Ghaib (an infinite body of things out of bounds for and imperceptible to any created being) and He does not intend to allow any creature to break into it! Why that should be so should be obvious to all in the light of the introductory remarks preceding this verse we numbered as
It is beyond doubt that all our perceptions and knowledge based on them are CREATED things like ourselves and are as limited and relative as ourselves. We have a one-way relation of dominance with Allah. He knows us inside out and more while our own knowledge of ourselves is infinitesimally small compared to His knowledge of ourselves. That is why we sometimes are surprised by ourselves, either being very ashamed when we least expect it or elated about ourselves similarly. Allah is not surprised by anything. For our part we cannot penetrate either Allah’s knowledge of us nor His knowledge of Himself. The mistake some gnostics do is equating the discoveries they make (often dubiously) of their deeper levels of mind with Allah’s Own knowledge of Himself. As the gnostic goes deeper and deeper or rises higher and higher (the same thing) in his mental spheres or levels (the same thing again) he thinks that he is discovering the universe. He may begin describing how the moon is, how Jupiter or Mars is like and by what or whom inhabited etc. and may also see that the stars are brilliant chandeliers hanging from the top sky with immense gold chains etc. Nothing of the sort exist out there though; like most planets are solid and rugged spheres minding their God-dictated routines unaware of the chains and strange inhabitants the self-hynotised gnostic’s dream mind churns up. The Gahib is simply not there and that is why Allah calls it THE Ghaib and owns it up exclusively for Himself.
But still there is another level of Ghaib which we may call relative ghaib. A woman knows what she is cooking at home while her husband may not. But if he was a spiritually gifted man he could know it sometimes at least. What is important to know about this relative ghaib is that it is essentially of a humanly perceptible kind. As such while some living in the vicinity of something may know it from direct perception others elsewhere do not. It is this type of ghaib that spiritually gifted or developed people may sometimes and often imperfectly perceive. This power is what any seers like fortune-tellers or pious saints may benefit from. The first depend on jinni associated with them and are not entirely reliable while the second, the saints depend on angels appointed by Allah to help them. The supreme example of angelic revelation helping one is the Messenger of Allah sws who was not only visited by Gabriel AS but many more angels as occasion demanded. All ghaibs though so made known to the Prophet were of relative if of the highest kind, like the Paradise and the Hell. The Absolute Ghaib (Ghaib al Mutlaq) always remains with Allah and man’s nervous system has no way of gaining a knowledge of it. Lastly, even the relative ghaibs of this world and the next are so large realms that we cannot exhaust them so that we always have more thrills to land with. In other words Allah in His generosity gave us infinite gifts.
2. It is not Allah’s Way to make you access the Ghaib but He chooses from His messengers whom He will (to impart to him of Ghaib what He will). Therefore believe in Allah and His messengers” (3: 179)
C. Allah the Most Sublime and Praiseworthy is more than infinite. In fact the concept of infinity is created by Allah in the mind of man and as a created thing it cannot describe Allah. All Allah’s Most Beautiful Names are given us by Him to help steer our thoughts and actions towards His Pleasure and the consequent rewards for us from Him; in actual fact nothing of words or ideas can do justice to His Worth. It simply is the case that His Reality in Himself is the Most Unknowable and inaccessible of ghaibs. Don’t you see how we man cannot know each other as perfectly as each of us could know (if he can) himself. What is more, none of us know ourselves anywhere fully and we are sometimes greatly surprised with joy or horror what comes out of us. These being said, we know that both within the external version of creation the physical universe and the internal version which our equally vast inner worlds are there are incomparably far more things we do not know about than we know about. In fact what we know about either may be one billionth of billionth of billionth… of the whole. And all these are known by Allah, known in a direct and full way utterly unhampered by time, space and what have you. Yet, to guide us in His Mercy He sees our need for more information at times, information inaccessible by sensory or scientific research at any given time and He may then reveal to one of His chosen messengers the information we need. That is the full and final picture of man’s chances of knowing things inaccessible to him by ordinary means and the claim that some mystics can access the whole secret of things by their ascetic and devotional practices is a myth by which they are deceived, if they are not outright liars. Yes, it is true that we have more perceptive powers than our five senses as well as more powers of discovery within our mental centres which can be awakened and developed by certain practices but these are mere extensions of our more ordinary mental and perceptive faculties and not our road to full knowledge of everything Allah knows.
The overwhelming sense of full discovery of the nature of things, sometimes even of Allah’s Essence some mystics report must be true as this humble writer can also verify but it is only a sense and not the ultimate Reality. The sense of having attained a full discovery of things is simply the attainment of the LIMITS of our perceptive and cognitive powers which yield so great a sense of power and joy that a spiritual orgasm so-to-speak crowns it which gives all the satisfaction we need and can bear. That indeed is a very wonderful fulfilment as far as the pleasure side is concerned but NOT any ultimate attainment; what is more it can be also Devilic. Devilic because ecstasy is no measure of a blessing since evil people also experience ecstasy when they attain their evil ends.
Because this essence of ours is modelled by the Creator in His Own Image it is called ‘Ruhun minhu’ - a spirit from Him- which He ‘blew’ into Adam- into men in general and to great prophets in an additional way and in particular. But the infinitesimal ratio of man’s essence to Allah’s remains and that is as it should be. We simply are limited even when we feel we are unlimited. Just like because we need and are given our rizq (sustenance) by Allah does not mean we are given all the food and other necessities of life the world contains- because we cannot possibly eat, drink or otherwise use such great amounts- we cannot be given all the knowledge Allah has simply because the capacity of our minds cannot possibly contain it; what is more we do neither need such amount of knowledge nor can do anything with it since Allah is already doing all for the benefit of all. If and when we need something we ourselves cannot find Allah reveals it to one of us we call a prophet (or a saint which is an inheritor of the prophet in a limited sense, i.e., he cannot add to or substract from the faith or law the prophet was given by Allah). Even we humble believers have our humble but good enougb share of Divine revelation the most formal form being the salat al istikhara.
3. Say “With Him is the keys of the Ghaib, none knows it but He! And He knows what is in the land and the sea. No leaf falls but He knows it. Neither a seed in the dark depths of the earth or anything dry or wet but all are in an Open Book (6: 59)
C. Yes, IN AN OPEN BOOK. As you know a book contains information in a timeless sense: The information is there in its entirety and does not develop over time. Time comes into the picture when we scan its pages line by line; otherwise all information is there at the same instant. Allah metaphorises His Knowledge like in a book- full and final knowledge available instantly in its entirety. Although the contexts of past and future are there and Allah knows them, the bulk of the knowledge is still fully and instantly open to Him Almighty. Such knowledge is impossible for us and in fact we should thank for our weakness. Because it is our weakness that endears us to Allah and stirs His loving mercy (rahmat) towards us and His rahmat is our only hope and capital.
4. Say (o Prophet sws) “I am not saying you that Allah’s treasures are with me or that I know the Ghaib or that I am an angel. I only follow what is revealed to me. Say “Is who sees the same as who is blind? Will you then not contemplate?” (6: 50)
C. The adversaries of the Prophet sws kept demanding that were they to believe him they needed to see him dispensing Allah’s treasures, tell them about normally unknown matters or prove either that he is an angel or at least an angel visibly follows and supports him anywhere he goes. Allah commands His Prophet sws to tell frankly and bluntly to his adversaries that he is only a human being like them and like them has no access to or control over Allah’s treasures or Allah’s secret knowledge and that he is not an angel in fact authorised to satisfy the demands of the adversaries. Apparently thinking that such limitations diminish a prophet and that they are better equipped with supernatural powers than the Prophet sws some mystics blow him up with unfounded exaggerations in order that their own boastings do not sound hollow in the face of the Prophet’s (sws) self-admitted limitations. In passing we must also observe that what makes the Prophet sws so great, in fact incomparably greater than all other men, is his absolutely sincere and heroic effort to help Allah’s Cause. None in history put in as much as him into a cause as persistently and consistently as him nor did any succeed as honourably and magnificently as he did. That is human greatness at its best and greatest and also the only PRACTICABLE example for us to follow. Until and unless all claims of self-made magic and miracle are abandoned Islam can only be mis-served and the Prophet’s sws success cannot be repeated to any degree possible for our humble selves, which repetition shall be the only salvation of Islam.
Lastly about this comment, there can be no denying that the Prophet sws had incomparable spiritual gnosis which amounted to more than all the best and holiest mystics could attain but he neither boasted nor divulged more than a fraction; what he admitted was that his knowledge was nothing compared to Allah’s and any that He had was not acquired by techniques but came as gifts from Allah in gratitude for his sincere performance of his prescribed and voluntary devotions homologous with the prescribed and not invented. Invented practices are soundly condemned by the Prophet sws and lead only to deluded euphoria, megalomania and at times and if not careful, to madness. Chemical drugs can do as much and much more quickly in fact and mystics outside Islam almost uniformly resort to them, the simplest being alcohol and carbon dioxide (breath control) and others ranging from opium to mescalin. All can make men feel god or anything else depending on their culture and flair.
5. Say “I can cause no benefit or harm to myself except in what Allah wills. Had I known the Ghaib I would definitely accumulate good for myself and no evil would touch me. I am just a plain warner (and no possessor of superhuman powers) (7: 188)
C. Again the same fact, depressingly so! Allah commands His Messenger sws to publicly and unequivocally admit that he does not know the Ghaib. Allah also explains that was one to come across information telling him about opportunities for the acquisition of benefits or dangers from certain things one HAS THE DUTY AND RIGHT to take advantage of the information. In this case it is the Prophet sws who was not aware of all opportunities for good and all dangers from other things and therefore was excused if something bad happened to him or he missed some opportunity for good to himself. Since the wording is so clear and authoritative one can decide whom to believe, Allah or self-styled mystic discoverer? In fact a spiritual guide who does not suffer from the same human limitations as his pupils cannot guide them. He can only act as a showman and collect the ticket moneys. All of us at all times are at the Mercy of Allah and the solution to our problems come from Allah and not from our skills. Firm and loving faith in Allah is the whole secret of piety and any occasional glimpses into the spiritual secrets are free gifts from Allah to those who are both humble and sincere. Spiritual secrets cannot be obtained by methodical, regimented hard work but by the child-like trust in and all-out sincere devotion to Allah. Allah knows best and we ask for His forgiveness in all things.
6. Say “None in the heavens or earth knows the Ghaib but Allah (27: 65)
C. Almost certainly ‘those in heavens’ mean the angels and by metaphor men and women who try to emulate angels in their self-purifying exercises which Allah prescribed them in Islam. In fact Allah said that angels do contact and accompany His sincere human servants and help them achieve purification (41: 30). ‘Those on earth’ must be people who remain earthly in their interests but can otherwise be scientists, astrologers etc. who look for discoveries of one sort or another. Allah is saying that whether heavenly or earthly, no soul knows the Ghaib no matter what they do to access it. Only Allah knows and only He can dish out bits of it to whom He will. A scientific discovery is no less God-gifted than an accidental find of a treasure, simply because all scientific work occasionally benefits from accidental finds and out of the blue inspirations. Remember? The first true antibiotic penicillin was discovered when Dr Fleming noticed that bacteria failed to thrive when the broth he had left them in went mouldy. He injected an extract of the moulds into sick cows and they spectacularly recovered- then followed research into other fungi and dozens of powerful and safe antibiotics followed. Subhanallahu uluwwan kabeera!
7. These (stories about past nations and their prophets) are some of the news from the Ghaib We are revealing to thee (o Muhammad sws); neither thou nor thy nation knew them until know. Be steadfast, the good end belongs to the pious (11:49)
C. This verse clearly anticipates and demolishes the subsequent claims among some mystics that the Prophet sws already knew or witnessed all world (and also heavenly) events as they occurred. Allah as the Most Authoritative and Plainest Informant is explicitly and unambiguously stating that neither the Prophet sws nor his people knew anything about the adventures of prophets and their peoples before their time but only now Allah was imparting them the knowledge. Whom shall we believe? Allah knows best.
Not for the first and I am afraid not for the last time we face the nagging claims of self-reported gnostics who claim to have special and infallible gnosis of matters no matter what Allah says otherwise about them in His Book. Some ‘explain’ how Mary conceived Jesus as if they were present at the scene and could watch and detect every physiological and spiritual processes first-hand. One says something along the following lines: “Breath is humid and on being expired it forms a mist. It was this misty wetness that acted as the male sperm and fertilised Mary. Because the wetness was not real but imaginary Jesus became a very spiritual man. What is more, Gabriel appeared to Mary in the form of a man. Had he appeared to her in the form of something else Jesus would be so ugly that nobody could bear to look at him”. How he knows all these gems only Allah knows. Apparently he was believing like the ancients that it as possible for humans and animals to cross breed and a Gabriel in an animal form or the like could equally impregnate Mary to produce what the Greek mythology called a chimera (half man half beast). No need to mention that biological science rules out such crossing of the species. Even animals as close as leopards and jaguars (almost perfect look-alikes) cannot be crossed successfully enough; the offspring is invariably infertile. More dissimilar animals quickly abort the fertilised egg if it has formed at all. Another difficulty for the above mystic’s theory (which in fact he presents not as a theory at all but a dogmatic fact discovered by him in his capacity of the so-called ‘perfect man’) is that Allah equates the creation of Jesus with that of Adam and explains the extraordinary nature of the creation as “Be!” and it was. Why not resign to Allah’s beautiful and simple explanation and instead follow in the fallacious if exciting footsteps of some idle Greek philosophers who wanted to explain everything not by humble and hard-working if very slow-going research but by skilful use of their fast-breeding imaginations and their cobwebs webbing verbal skills? In fact Allah already ruled out such gnosis in the verse above, i.e, that the Prophet sws did not know what happened to old prophets and their nations. How could our gnostic know how Mary conceived Jesus and what charitable or pious use such knowledge be put into? Surely Allah knows best.
May Allah forgive all our failings and mistakes (including mine) and gather us in His Garden under His Gaze of Loving Mercy with all our disputes resolved and our hearts happily reconciled. Amen.