How to Stay Safe from Sins - The Master Prescription
Of all the religions of the world, belief in Tauhid, monotheism in its pure and applied form, is the distinctive feature of Islam. It is also obvious that Tauhid is not limited to taking the being of Allah Ta` ala as one. Instead, Tauhid is “ believing in Him” as being unique and without equal in all His attributes of perfection and in not taking any created being, other than Him, to be a sharer or partner in these attributes of perfection.
Some of these attributes of Divine perfection are: Life, Knowledge, Power, Hearing, Seeing, Will, Creation, Sustenance. Allah is so perfect in all His attributes that no created being can be equal to Him in any of the attributes. Then, out of these, two attributes are most distinct. These are Knowledge (` Ilm) and Power (Qudrah). His Knowledge encompasses and embraces all existents and non-existents, open and secret, large or small, atoms and particles. So it is with His Power which surrounds and controls everything fully and conclusively. The two verses (59 60) cited above describe these two attributes - and these two attributes are mysteriously unique. If anyone were to bring himself around to believe in these two attributes strongly and completely, and thereby start imagining them as being present before him, then, he just cannot ever even think of committing a crime or sin. It goes without saying that here is a person who, in all states of word and deed, rest and movement, remains conscious of the presence and knows that there is someone All-Knowing, All-Aware, All-Powerful watching over him all the time, and Who knows him outside in and in-side out and Who is aware of even the intention of the heart and the passing thought of the mind, then, how would he ever be able to take even a tiny step towards any disobedience to his All-Powerful Master? This is the legendary philosopher's stone of what is known as Istihdar in religious terminology [ or, to make it more recent, it is like building a web site in your heart with this frame of reference being always online, just click and connect! - Tr.]
In the end, we can say that these two verses are sovereign prescriptions which can make one a model human being, correct and groom deeds and morals, and keep them that way all along.
It was said in the first verse (59): وَعِندَهُ مَفَاتِحُ الْغَيْبِ لَا يَعْلَمُهَا إِلَّا هُوَ :(And with Him are the keys of the Unseen. No one knows them but He). The word, ` مَفَاتِحُ ' (Mafatih : keys) is plural. Its singular can be: مِفتَاح : Maftah, pronounced with a vowel point a on the letter Mim, which denotes treasure; and it could also be: مِفتَاح Miftah, pronounced with a vowel point i on the letter Mim, which means key. The word, Mafatih accommodates both meanings. Therefore, some commentators and translators have rendered it as treasures while some others take it as keys. The outcome, however, is the same because owning the keys to the treasures is taken as the owning of the treasures.
Knowledge of the Unseen and Absolute Power: Two Attributes of Allah, not shared by anyone
Al-Ghayb' means things which have not come into existence, or in existence they have come but Allah Ta` ala has not let anyone know them (Mazhari). The first kind relates to conditions and events about Qiyamah, or future happenings in the universe - for example, who will be born when and where? Who will do what? Who will live how long? Who will have how many breath counts? Who will take how many steps? Who will die where and buried where? Who will get what sustenance, and how much, and at what time? When will it rain, and where, and how much?
The example of the second kind is the fetus which has come to exist in the womb of a woman, but no one can be certain in the absolute sense, as universally applicable with inevitable reliability and accessibility, about the fetus being good natured or bad tempered, handsome or ugly, even a male or female (the radiological determination of which at the later trimesters of pregnancy is a different matter and does not affect the premises of the present discussion). Similar is the case of many other things which, despite having come into existence, remain unseen and unknown to the created beings.
So, the sentence: عِندَهُ مَفَاتِحُ الْغَيْبِ means that with Allah are the keys (or treasures) of the Unseen. The sense of being ` with him' (عِندَهُ ) is that they are owned by Him and are in His possession. The outcome is that He is the One who has control of the treasures of the Unseen and it is He who has the exclusive power to bring them into existence and make them manifest as and when He has determined. This is as has been said in another verse of the Holy Qur'an: وَإِن مِّن شَيْءٍ إِلَّا عِندَنَا خَزَائِنُهُ وَمَا نُنَزِّلُهُ إِلَّا بِقَدَرٍ مَّعْلُومٍ ﴿21﴾ which means: We have treasures of everything, but We send them down in a particular measure (15:21).
In short, from this one sentence, it stands proved that the knowledge of Allah is perfect, and so is His power, and also that this all-encompassing knowledge and absolute power is the exclusive attribute of Allah Jalla Sha'nuhu, and that no one can acquire or have it. By putting the word, عِندَهُ (` indahu: with Him) before, according to the rules of the Arabic grammar, a pointed reference has been made towards this restriction and particularity. Immediately after, this hint has been changed into full clarity when, to drive the point home, it was said: لَا يَعْلَمُهَا إِلَّا هُوَ (No one knows them but He).
So, this sentence proves two things: (1) The awareness of Allah about everything Unseen by virtue of His all-encompassing knowledge, and His being dominant over all of them by virtue of His perfect power; and (2) The inability of any created being or thing, other than Al-lah Jalla Sha'nuhu, to acquire or have such knowledge and power.
The meaning of the word, ` Al-Ghayb' (Unseen), as in the terminology of the Qur'an, which has been stated above (with reference to Tafsir Mazhari) - that it means things which have not yet come into existence, or have come into existence but have not yet been fully unveiled to any created being - was to be kept in sight, the common doubts which bother people when they take a shallow view of the question of Ghayb, would be automatically removed.
Usually what happens is that people take the word, Al-Ghayb (Unseen) in a literal sense, that is, that which is absent from our knowledge and perception - whether the sources of acquiring its knowledge be present in the sight of others - thus, they would start calling that too as the Ghayb. As a result, all sorts of doubts abound. Take the example of astrology, divination of fortunes mathematically (` Ilmul-Jafr The knowledge of Jafr; vulgur ` Jafar' ), geomancy (` Ilmur-Raml: The knowledge of Raml; vulgur ` Ramal', meaning divination by means of figures and lines in the sand), or palmistry and things like that which are harnessed to acquire the knowledge of future events. Or, there may be someone who gets to know about future events through Kashf (illumination) and Ilham (inspiration). Or, there are our weather forecasters who by examining things like the drift, power and velocity of the monsoons predict rains and storms a lot hasten to take all these to be out to be right too. But, common people hasten to take all these to be the Knowledge of the Unseen. Therefore, they start doubting about these verses of the Holy Qur'an thinking that the Qur'an attribute of the ` Ilm of the Ghayb, the knowledge of the Unseen, an Allah Jalla Sha'nuhu, while observation shows that others too get to acquire it.
The answer is clear. If Allah Ta` ala has made one of His servants informed on some future event, that then, in the terminology of the Qur'an, does not remain what the ` Ilm of Ghayb or the knowledge of the Unseen is. Similarly, in accordance with the Qur'anic terminology, knowledge (` Ilm) which can be acquired through means and instruments (technology) is no Knowledge of the Unseen (` Ilm al-Ghayb). Examples of this could be the weather reports of the meteorological departments and bureaus, or the diagnosis instrumentally). The reason patient by feeling the pulse (manually or is that the weather forecaster or the physician got the chance to announce such information only when the substance of these events comes into existence and becomes obvious. The only difference is that it does not manifest itself openly until that time; it reveals itself, through technical instruments, to experts. People at large remain unaware. And when this substance becomes stronger, its manifestation becomes common. For this reason, weather forecasters cannot come up with what would be the breaking news of rains that will come one or two months from now - because the substantial evidence of rains has not presented itself before them. Similarly, no physician can diagnose the status of medicine or food taken a year or two ago, or a year or two after, by feeling the pulse (manually or instrumentally) today - because that does not habitually leave any effect on the pulse.
In short, these are things the existence of which is foretold by examining their traces and signs. Now, when the traces, signs and substances of these have come into existence that, does not remain part of the Knowledge of the Unseen (` Ilm al-Ghayb); rather, it has become a matter of observation. However, because of its being refined or weak, it has not become public knowledge. When it becomes stronger, it will become a matter of common observation too.
In addition to this, the awareness acquired from all these things, despite that so much has taken place, still remains in the class of estimation and calculation. The real Ilm or Knowledge is the name of Certitude. That does not come out of any of these. That is why events attesting to the error of such information are many and frequent.
As for astrology and other disciplines, whatever there is based on mathematical computation is knowledge, but not Al-Ghayb (Unseen). It is like someone computes existing data and says that the sun will rise today at the hour of five and forty one minutes; or, there will be a solar or lunar eclipse on such and such date in such and such a month. It is obvious that determining time by calculating the speed of that which is perceptible through the senses is very much like announcing the news of planes and trains reaching airports and stations. Moreover, the claim to be able to know things through astrology etc. is nothing but deception. The emergence of one truth out of a hundred lies is no knowledge.
When X-Ray equipment was invented, it was hoped that the determination of the sex of the fetus will be possible, but it did not serve the purpose satisfactorily (besides being radio logically harmful). Experts in our time (specially those associated with digital imaging who study the fetus in section view, or use water-induced method to let the fetus float in the womb which helps determine digitally if it is a boy) too are helpless as far as the first trimester of pregnancy is concerned. Nothing can be known at that stage.1 But, during the later trimesters, predictions are made which can be called technical approximations at best and cannot be classed as certain knowledge and absolute awareness. Sometimes predictions can be correct, at others faulty or misread. This is not the Certitude of ` Ilm al-Ghayb, nor qualifies as such.
1. Even the test of genes to determine the gender of a child, cannot work before a certain stage of pregnancy which again is a matter of observation, and not the knowledge of the unseen. (Muhammad Taqi Usmani)
The gist of the assertion is: That which is Al-Ghayb in the terminology of the Qur'an is something no one knows but the most sacred
Allah. As for what people habitually get to know through causation or intrumentation is not really the Ghayb - though, it may be so called be-cause of not having been manifested openly.
Similarly, when part of the knowledge of what belongs to the Ghayb has been given to some prophet or messenger, through Wahy (revelation), or to a man of Allah (Waliy) through Kashf (illumination) and Ilham (inspiration), that then, does not remain Ghayb. This is called أَنبَاءِ الْغَيْبِ (the reports or news of the Unseen) in the Holy Qur'an, and not Al-Ghayb. This appears in several verses of the Qur'an, for example: تِلْكَ مِنْ أَنبَاءِ الْغَيْبِ نُوحِيهَا إِلَيْكَ (These are some reports from the Unseen [ events ] which We reveal to you - 11:49). Therefore, when it is said: لَا يَعْلَمُهَا إِلَّا هُوَ (No one knows them but He) in the present verse, there is no room for any doubt or exemption in it.
In this particular sentence, a special attribute of Allah has been pointed out - that He is the Knower of the Unseen (` Alim al-Ghayb). The sentences that follow contain a description of the knowledge of the Seen (` Ilmush-Shahadah), that is, the knowledge of things present and existing, in sharp contrast to the knowledge of the Unseen (` Ilmul-Ghayb). They too establish that the knowledge of Allah Jalla Sha'nuhu is all encompassing leaving not the minutest particle outside its reach. It was said: And He knows what is in the land and the sea. Not a leaf ever falls but He knows it, nor a grain in the dark hollows of the earth, which too is within His knowledge; and so is, in His knowledge, everything fresh or wet or dry in the whole universe - and all of which lies recorded in writing on al-Lawh al-Mahfuz, the Preserved Tablet.
To sum up, it can be said that Allah Ta` ala has two unique attributes of knowledge in which no angel or prophet or another created being shares with Him. These are: the Knowledge of the Unseen (Ilm al-Ghayb) and the All-Encompassing Knowledge of existents (al-Ilm al-Muhit). These attributes have been described with a system. The first sentence says: وَعِندَهُ مَفَاتِحُ الْغَيْبِ لَا يَعْلَمُهَا إِلَّا هُوَ (And with Him are the keys of the Unseen. No one knows them but He). This was about the first at-tribute. In the sentences that follow, the all-encompassing knowledge of Allah about His universe of existents was identified first by saying: وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ (And He knows what is in the land and the sea). It means the whole universe and all existents. This is like saying morning and evening in the sense of all the time or saying the East and the West in the sense of the whole world. Thus, by saying land and sea the sense given is that of the whole universe with its existents. So, the knowledge of Allah Jalla Sha'nuhu covers whatever there is.
Further on, this was explained by saying that the knowledge of Allah Ta` ala is not limited to what is big, He also knows what is the minutest and the most concealed: وَمَا تَسْقُطُ مِن وَرَقَةٍ إِلَّا يَعْلَمُهَا (Not a leaf ever falls but He knows it). It means that the falling of every leaf in the whole wide world - before it falls, when it falls and after it falls - remains within His knowledge. He knows how many times each leaf on a tree will swing and sway and when and where it will fall and through what circumstances it will go through. The mention of ` fall' at this place is perhaps indicative of the life cycle of the leaf. Its fall from the tree is the end of its growth and botanical life. Its last condition has been pointed out here as a mirror to the rest of its conditions.
After that it was said: وَلَا حَبَّةٍ فِي ظُلُمَاتِ الْأَرْضِ (Nor a grain in the dark hollows of the earth). Mentioned first was a leaf which falls in common sight. After that, it was a grain which is sowed in fields by a farmer, or gets buried somewhere in the dark and deep belly of the earth. Then, the same all-surrounding knowledge of Allah has been pointed out through things fresh and dry. In the end it was said that with Allah all these things were present in writing. According to some commentators, كِتَابٍ مُّبِينٍ (a manifest book) means al-Lawh al-Mahfuz, the Preserved Tablet. Some others say that it denotes Divine Knowledge. It has been identified with a manifest book' because what is written stays preserved leaving nothing to chance or mistake or forgetting. This is similar to the all-encompassing knowledge of Allah Jalla Sha'nuhu, which is not based on conjecture - it is certain.
Many verses of the Holy Qur'an confirm that the kind of all-encompassing knowledge from which nothing, neither a particle nor its condition, remains excluded is but that of Allah Subhanuhu wa Ta` ala. It was said in Sarah Lugman:
إِنَّهَا إِن تَكُ مِثْقَالَ حَبَّةٍ مِّنْ خَرْدَلٍ فَتَكُن فِي صَخْرَةٍ أَوْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ أَوْ فِي الْأَرْضِ يَأْتِ بِهَا اللَّـهُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَطِيفٌ خَبِيرٌ.
If it be (anything) even equal to the weight of a grain of mustard-seed, and though it be in a rock, or (anywhere) in the heavens or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth: for Allah is subtle and aware - 31:16
It appears in the Ayatul-Kursi of Surah al-Baqarah:
يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ ۖ وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلَّا بِمَا شَاءَ
He knows what is before them and what is behind them. And they encompass nothing of His knowledge except what He wills - 2:255
In Surah Yunus, it was said:
وَمَا يَعْزُبُ عَن رَّبِّكَ مِن مِّثْقَالِ ذَرَّةٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فِي السَّمَاءِ
And not hidden from your Lord is (anything even) the weight of an atom in the earth or in the heaven - 10:61
And it appears in Surah At-Talaq:
وَأَنَّ اللَّـهَ قَدْ أَحَاطَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عِلْمًا
And that Allah encompasses all things in (His) Knowledge - 65:12
This subject has been dealt with in the Holy Qur'an at many more places where it has been made very clear that the ` Jim of Al-Ghayb (as determined in the Qur'an and explained earlier) or the all-encompassing knowledge of everything in the universe is the exclusive attribute of Allah Jalla Sha'nuhu. Taking the knowledge of an angel or messenger to be as all-compassing amounts to giving a messenger of Allah the status of Allah Himself and declaring him to be equal to Him - which is Shirk according to the Holy Qur'an. This aspect of Shirk has been pointed out in Surah Al-Shu` ara':
تَاللَّـهِ إِن كُنَّا لَفِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ ﴿97﴾ إِذْ نُسَوِّيكُم بِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ ﴿98﴾
That is (the Mushriks will say in Qiyamah), By Allah, we were in an error manifest when we held you (objects of worship) as equals with the Lord of the Worlds - 6:97, 98