Prophet’s and Awliya’s knowledge of the unseen – ghayb

“Your Prophet has received everything except these Five.”

“I have received the keys of the Unseen.”6

These five things are:

  • Knowledge of what is in the wombs
  • Knowledge of when the Hour will rise
  • Knowledge of what one will gain tomorrow
  • Knowledge of the land in which one will die
  • Knowledge of the time Allah will send rain

(Hadith of Ibn `Umar in Ahmad and Bukhari.)

2. A man from Banu `Amir, after asking the Prophet certain questions, said: “Is there any knowledge left which you do not know?” whereupon the Prophet said: “Allah has taught me a great good, and there is a kind of Unseen knowledge which Allah alone knows: He has knowledge of the Hour, He sends down the rain, He knows what lies in the womb, no one (but He) knows what one will gain tomorrow, and no one (but He) knows in what land one shall die.”7

3. It is confirmed by Ibn Mardawayh’s narration from `Ali cited in the chaper of Surat Luqman in Kanz al-`ummal, as a commentary for the verse 28:66 in Surat al-Qasas, “On that day tidings will be darkened for them,” whereby `Ali said: “Nothing was darkened for your Prophet except five matters from the secrets of the Unseen.” (lam yu`ma `ala nabiyyikum shay’un illa khamsun min sara’ir al-ghayb.)

4. In Tirmidhi (hasan sahih) and Baghawi in Sharh al-Sunna on the authority of Mu`adh ibn Jabal:

The Prophet said: “My Lord came to me in the best image and asked me over what did the angels of the higher heaven vie, and I said I did not know, so He put His hand between my shoulders, and I felt its coolness in my innermost, and the knowledge of all things between the East and the West came to me.”

`Ali al-Qari wrote about this hadith in the chapter on the Prophet’s turban in his book Jam` al-wasa’il fi sharh al-shama’il, a commentary on Tirmidhi’s Shama’il or Characteristics of the Prophet:

Whether the Prophet saw his Lord during his sleep or whether Allah the Glorious and Exalted manifested Himself to him with a form (bi al-tajalli al-suwari), this type of manifestation is known among the masters of spiritual states and stations (arbab al-hal wa al-maqam), and it consists in being reminded of His qualities (hay’atihi) and reflecting upon His vision (ru’yatihi), which is the outcome of the perfection of one’s inner detachment (takhliyatihi) and self-adornment (tahliyatihi).

And Allah knows best about the states of His Prophets and Intimate Friends whom He has raised with His most excellent upbringing, and the mirrors of whose hearts He has polished with His most excellent polish, until they witnessed the Station of Divine Presence and Abiding (maqam al-hudur wa al-baqa’), and they rid themselves of the rust of screens and extinction (sada’ al-huzur wa al-fana’).

May Allah bestow on us their yearnings, may He make us taste their states and manners, and may He make us die in the condition of loving them and raise us in their group.8

al-Qari also said in al-Asrar al-marfu`a:

Ibn Sadaqa said that Ibn Zar`a said: “The hadith of Ibn `Abbas [about the Prophet seeing His Lord] is sound (sahih), and no-one denies it except a Mu`tazili” [!]… Ibn al-Humam answered that “this (representation) is the veil of form (hijab al-sura).” It seems that he meant by this that the entire goal can be visualized if it is interpreted as a formal manifestation (tajalli suwari), as it is incontrovertibly absurd to interpret it as a real or literal manifestation (tajalli haqiqi)… for Allah is exalted from possessing a body, a form (sura), and directions with regard to His essence… And if the hadith is shown to have something in its chain that indicates forgery, then fine; otherwise: the door of figurative interpretation is wide and imposes itself (bab al-ta’wil wasi`un muhattam).9

5. The Prophet’s “knowledge of all things between the East and the West” is confirmed by the famous narration with a grade of hasan (fair) from al-Bara’ ibn `Azib whereby:

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