Friday 26 February 2021

None in the heavens or on the earth has knowledge of the Unseen save Allah

There has always been a section of misleaders, the so called saints, who tempt believers to follow them by calming that they can see into the future and save them from any impending disaster or misfortune. The illiterate and men of poor faith instantly fall into the trap of such people and get fleeced. There is a need that those who can read Quran by understanding it should educate others that it is ONLY ALLAH who has the knowledge of what lies in the heavens and earth and none but He is in the knowledge of the unseen.

The following verse from Surah 27, An Naml (The Ant) should serve as an eye opener for such mislead people of poor faith that it is only Alone alone who has the knowledge of the unseen and even prophets and messengers of Allah do not have such knowledge, lest something is told to them as a special case:

قُلْ لَّا يَعۡلَمُ مَنۡ فِى السَّمٰوٰتِ وَالۡاَرۡضِ الۡغَيۡبَ اِلَّا اللّٰهُ​ؕ وَمَا يَشۡعُرُوۡنَ اَيَّانَ يُبۡعَثُوۡنَ‏ 
(27:65) Say: "None in the heavens or on the earth has knowledge of the Unseen save Allah. They do not know when they will be raised to life."

In this verse it is being told that from the viewpoint of knowledge, which is an important attribute of Godhead, that Allah is Unique and without associate. Whatever creations are there in the heavens and the earth, whether angels or jinns, prophets and saints, or other men and other creatures, they have only limited knowledge. Something is hidden from all of them. The All- Knowing One is only Allah, from Whom nothing whatever of this universe is hidden, and who knows every thing of the past and the present and the future.

The word ghaib " الۡغَيۡبَ " means something hidden and covered. As a term it implies everything which is unknown, and beyond one’s sphere of knowledge and information. There are many things in the world which individually are known to some human beings and unknown to others. And there are many others which taken as a whole have never been known to any of mankind, nor are known at present; nor will be known in the future: The same is the case with the jinns and the angels and other kinds of creation: certain things are known to some of them and hidden from others, and many things hidden from all of them and known to none. All kinds of hidden things are only known to One Being, the All-Knowing Allah. For Him nothing is unknown, everything is known and evident.

In order to bring out this reality the method of the question as employed above with regard to creation, design and sustenance of the universe has not been adopted here. The reason is that the manifestations of those attributes are clear and evident which everyone sees, and which even the pagans and polytheists acknowledged, and do even today, that they are the works of Allah. So, the argument adopted above was: When all these works, as you admit, are being done by Allah, and no one else is His partner in these, why have you then made others His associates in Divinity, and in His worship? However, the attribute of knowledge has no perceptible manifestation which may be referred to and pointed out. It can be comprehended only by thought and reflection. Therefore, it has been put forward as an assertion instead of a question. Now it is for every intelligent person to think and consider for himself whether it is reasonable to believe that there should be any other than Allah, who is all-knowing, i.e. who knows all those conditions and things and realities which existed in the universe in the past; or exist now; or will exist in the future. And if there is none other who is all knowing, and cannot be, then is it reasonable to believe that any of those who are not aware fully of the realities and conditions and circumstances, cannot become the answerer of the people’s prayers, fulfiller of their needs and remover of their hardships?

There is a subtle relationship between Divinity and the knowledge of the unseen and hidden. Since the earliest times in whatever being has man imagined the presence of an attribute of Godhead, he has taken it for granted that it knows everything and nothing is hidden from it. In other words, it is self-evident for man to believe that making or marring the destinies, answering the prayers, fulfilling the needs and helping everyone in need of help, can be the work of the being who knows everything and from whom nothing is hidden. That is why whomsoever man has regarded as possessor of the powers and authority of Godhead, he has necessarily regarded him as the knower of all hidden things as well. For his intellect testifies rightly that knowledge and authority are inter-dependent. Now if it is a fact that none but God is the Creator and the Designer and the Answerer of the prayers and the Providence, as has been proved in the foregoing verses, then it is also a self-evident reality that none but God is the Knower of the hidden things. After all, who in his senses could imagine that an angel or a jinn or a prophet or a saint or any other creature would be knowing where and what kinds of animals existed in the oceans and in the atmosphere and under the layers of the earth and upon its surface? And what is the correct number of the planets in the heavens? And what kinds of creatures exist in each of them? And where is each one of these creatures living and what are there requirements? All this should necessarily be known to Allah, because He has created them and He alone has to watch over their conditions and control their affairs and arrange for their sustenance. But how can some one else with his limited self have this vast and all-embracing knowledge and what has he to do with the functions of creation and sustenance that he should know these things?

Then this quality is also not divisible in the sense that a person, for instance, may be the knower of everything on the earth, or the knower of everything concerning human beings only, on the earth. It is in the same way indivisible as are God’s Creativity and His Providence and His Self- Subsistence indivisible. After all, how can it be possible for one to know all the affairs and all the conditions and states of all human beings who have been born in the world since the beginning of creation, and will be born till Resurrection, from the time their mothers conceived them till the time they will breath their last? And how and why will he know all this? Is he the creator of these countless multitudes? Did he create their seed in their fathers’ sperm-drop? Did he mold and shape them in their mother’s womb? Did he arrange for their normal birth? Did he make the destiny of each one of them? Is he responsible for taking decisions with regard to their life and death, their health and ill-health, their prosperity and adversity, and their rise and fall in the world? And since when did he become responsible for it? Since before his own birth or since after it? And how can these responsibilities remain confined only to human beings? This is only a part of the universal administration of the heavens and the earth. The Being Who is controlling the whole universe is the Being Who alone can be responsible for the creation and death of men, for restricting and extending their provisions and for making and marring their destinies.

That is why it is a fundamental article of Islam that none other than Allah is the Knower of the hidden and unseen things. Allah may disclose whatever of His information He wills to whomsoever of His servants He pleases and blesses him with the knowledge of one or more of the hidden things as a whole. Being the Knower of all hidden and unseen things is the attribute only of Allah, Who is the Lord of all creation:
 “He alone has the keys of the ‘unseen’ of which none has the knowledge but He.” (Surah Al-Anaam: Ayat 59). “Allah alone has the knowledge of the Hour: He alone sends down the rain and He alone knows what is (taking shape) in the wombs of the mothers. No living being knows what he will earn the next day, nor does anybody know in what land he will die.” (Surah Luqman: Ayat 34). “He knows what is before the people and also what is hidden from them; and they cannot comprehend anything of His knowledge save whatever He Himself may please to reveal.” (Al Baqarah: Ayat 255).
The Quran does not rest content with this general and absolute negation of the knowledge of the hidden and unseen for the different forms of creation. But about the Prophets in particular, and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), it clearly says that they do not possess the knowledge of the hidden and unseen, and that they were given only that much knowledge of the hidden by Allah as was necessary to enable them to carry out the duties of prophethood. (Surah Al-Anaam: Ayat 50); (Surah Al-Aaraf: Ayat 187); (Surah At-Taubah: Ayat 101); (Surah Hud: Ayat 31); (Surah Al-Ahzab: Ayat 63); (Surah Al-Ahqaf: Ayat 9); (Surah At-Tahrim: Ayat 3): and (Sutah Al-Jinn: Ayats 26-28) do not leave any room for doubt in this regard.

All these elucidations of the Quran support and explain the verse under discussion after which there remains no doubt that looking upon another than Allah as the knower of the hidden and unseen and believing that someone else also possesses the knowledge of all the past and future events, is an absolutely un-Islamic belief. Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Nasai, Imam Ahmad, Ibn Jarir and Ibn Abu Hatim have cited this saying of Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) through authentic reporters: “Whoever claimed that the Prophet (peace be upon him) knew what was going to happen the next day, accused Allah of lying, for Allah says: O Prophet, say, None in the heavens and the earth has the knowledge of the hidden and unseen but Allah.” Ibn al- Mundhir has reported this on the authority of Ikrimah, the well-known pupil of Abdullah bin Abbas: A person asked the Prophet (peace be upon him), O Muhammad, when will Resurrection be? And our territory is suffering from famine: when will it rain? And my wife is pregnant: what will she deliver, a boy or a girl? And I know what I have earned today; but what shall I earn tomorrow? And I know where I was born, but where shall I die? In reply, the Prophet (peace be upon him) recited (verse 34 of Surah Luqman ) as cited above. Then the well-known tradition as reported in Bukhari; and Muslim and other works of Hadith also supports the same. According to it one of the questions asked by Angel Gabriel from the Prophet (peace be upon him) when he sat among the companions in human shape before him, was: “When will Resurrection be?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: “The one being questioned knows no better than the one questioning.” Then added, “This is one of those five things whose knowledge is possessed by none but Allah,” and then he recited the above-cited verse of Surah Luqman .

Suffice to day that “Those others about whom it is thought that they possess the knowledge of the hidden and, therefore, are regarded as partners in Divinity, are themselves unaware of their future. They do not know when will Resurrection be, and when will Allah raise them up again.”

Tafsir Ibn Kathir
The One Who knows the Unseen is Allah - Allah in this verse commands His Messenger to inform all of creation that no one among the dwellers of heaven and earth knows the Unseen, except Allah.

(" إِلاَّ اللَّهُ " except Allah) This is an absolute exception, meaning that no one knows this besides Allah, He is alone in that regard, having no partner in that knowledge. 
This is like the Ayat: (And with Him are the keys of the Unseen, none knows them but He) (6:59). And (Verily, Allah, with Him is the knowledge of the Hour, He sends down the rain) (31:34). until the end of the Surah. And there are many Ayat which mention similar things.
(" وَمَا يَشْعُرُونَ أَيَّانَ يُبْعَثُونَ " nor can they perceive when they shall be resurrected.) That is, the created beings who dwell in the heavens and on earth do not know when the Hour will occur, as Allah says: (Heavy is its burden through the heavens and the earth. It shall not come upon you except all of a sudden) (7: 187). meaning, it is a grave matter for the dwellers of heaven and earth.

Muhammad Asad Explanation
In this context, the term al-ghayb - rendered by me here as "the hidden reality" - apparently relates to the "how" of God's Being, the ultimate reality underlying the observable aspects of the universe, and the meaning and purpose inherent in its creation. My repetition, within brackets, of the words "none knows it", i.e., save God, is necessitated by the fact that He is infinite, unlimited as to space, and cannot, therefore, be included among the beings "in the heavens or on earth" who have all been created by Him.

Yusuf Ali Explanation
The existence of Allah is certain. But nothing else can be known with certainty to our knowledge. He has told us of the Hereafter, and therefore we know it is true. But those who do not believe in Allah,-what knowledge or certainty can they have? Even when it is actually coming, they will not have the sense to perceive it.
May Allah help us understand Qur'ān and help us to act upon the commandments of Allah contained therein. Aameen.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
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Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Qur'ān from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation has been taken from the Qur'ān officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [1]
  • The exegesis of the chapters of the Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. [2]  
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided by [2], additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Al-Quran, Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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