- By Tariq Mehanna
Looking at the beginning of Surat al-Baqarat, you will notice that the very first characteristic of the muttaqin Allah lists is that they believe in al-Ghayb – the unseen world. Besides the obvious, there are a few practical implications of this concept in your life.
Firstly, you – O Muwahhid – believe what you believe not because it is popular, easy, cute & cuddly, or will get you more visits to your website. You do not draw your scale of truth/ falsehood, right/ wrong, acceptable/ unacceptable from the reaction of the people around you. In fact, such factors mean absolutely nothing to you. If the six billion people on this Earth believed in something, this would not cause you to budge. Rather, in this world of changing trends, fashions, and flavors of the month, you believe what you believe based on the reaction of a world that never changes its scales – the world of the Unseen … a world of divine Pleasure and Anger, Heaven and Hell, Angels and devils, that has retained the same unchanging scale of good/ evil & truth/ falsehood since the beginning of time, and will continue to do so until the end of time. The record of this scale – the Qur’an – was sprung forth from that world. It sprung forth from that world whose scales pay no mind to what those around you think, pay no mind to what will/ won’t make you a household name, pay no mind to the constantly changing fashions that beliefs have unfortunately become an example of. This is why, my brother and sister, your heart grabs onto this Qur’anic scale of Tawhid being the maslaha (benefit) over all other masalih, and it grabs onto this scale of wala’ & bara’ being the honor of honors to carry in this era, and it holds tight to the scale that measures compromising with or bowing to a taghut as being the humiliation of humiliations in this era – your heart holds to this and never asks what this will mean for your popularity or worldly comfort. Why not? Because your heart is holding onto a scale that comes from a world devoid of changing fashions and trends. To believe in the unseen world will keep your beliefs as firm and unchanging as the scales of that world. And in a world where overnight riddah is in style, this verse of al-Baqarah means all the more.
Because of your full conviction in the unseen world, you are not a coward. You are willing to take risks in life, especially for the sake of preserving truth. You think back to the du’a’ make by the Messenger of Allah (صلي الله عليه و سلم) during the Battle of Badr: “O Allah! If this small group is defeated, You will never be worshipped on Earth!” You Think about how this shows that the odds were so much against the Muslims that day – the risk of failure and annihilation so high – that Islam itself was in danger of being wiped out for good, and yet, this only increased the resolve of the Muslims and they went forth anyway. You think to yourself what drove them to take such a risk? What instilled this courage in their hearts? What kept them firm? You then realize that they had an advanced understanding of the forces at work in the world. They knew that the unseen world could – and would – unleash powers that the human mind cannot comprehend. They didn’t know when it would unleash these powers and forces, but they knew for a fact that it could and would. In her book ‘Just Five Minutes’ (p.48-49), Heba Dabbagh relates that when her mother was in prison, her interrogators asked about her son, to which she replied: “All I know is that I raised my son to go from our house to the mosque from the mosque to the university, and that’s all.” The officer then said to the interrogator: “Prepare her for some beatings.” She replied: “God help you. I am your mother’s age, and you want to beat me?” When she was put into solitary confinement, she complained to the warden, asking why she was in prison: “I want to write a letter of complaint to this whole division! Give me a pen and paper.” He replied: “That is not allowed. It would never reach him. That is against the rules.” So, she replied: “Then I will complain to God, the One and Only, the most Just of Judges, and God-willing, one day you will sit in my place, but you will not have the patience to bear it as I do.” Sister Heba then related: “After a month or two, we heard about the warden’s death. He died in a car crash. The steering wheel tore into his stomach.”
So, you reflect over how the unseen world controls the seen world – not vice versa – and you are emboldened because of this. No worldly power can possibly stand in your way, because you are privy to powers even greater. This is a reality we have to be 100% certain in!
As a believer in the unseen world, you are also able to absorb losses and instead see them as victories. Your whole scale and perception of what loss is is completely beyond what they are for those around you. They deal with the currency of money and health, you deal with the currency of thabat and Allah’s Pleasure. For you, there is no such thing as loss so long as you are true to your principles and have fulfilled the criteria for attaining Allah’s Pleasure. Loss for you is defined as weakening in your principles and violating the Shari’ah. While the Battle of Uhud was, in a wordly sense a loss, Ibn al-Qayyim dedicates roughly eight pages of ‘Zad ul-Ma’ad’ to in essence illustrate how it was a victory. This writing of his should be dissected and pondered over deeply by any Muslim looking for clarity in our current circumstances. By making our success/ failure based on the currency of the unseen world, we can never lose, no matter what “losses” befall us in this world. Our religion will be attacked, we will be thrown in prison, our lands will be invaded and pillaged, but we never lose because these are all transactions of this world, while the flurry of activity in the unseen world – reward being recorded, palaces in Paradise being prepared – tells a very different story as to who won & who lost.
The best example in my mind to illustrate this attitude is that of the mother of our sister Aafia Siddiqui – that poor, poor woman who was subjected to so many years of physical and mental torture at the hands of those who lecture us day and night on how to treat our women. The blatant injustice experienced by this woman who was kidnapped, held in a secret American prison, torn from her children, shot twice in the abdomen in hopes of having the truth of what was done to her die along with her, and finally convicted of utterly ridiculous and laughable charges in light of her physical frailty – what this woman has been subject to leaves no words that can adequately express the heart’s feelings. However, the attitude of her heroic mother is one that perfectly manifests a true belief in the unseen world turning a loss into a victory. She reacted to her daughter’s conviction by saying:
“Up until now, I’ve been so sick, I couldn’t leave my bed. But after receiving the news of my daughter’s guilty verdict, life has come back to me! If the judge thinks that today will be a dark day at Aafia’s house, that her mother would faint from hearing the verdict, then let it be known to him that I couldn’t have had a happier day! This day, Allah has replaced Aafia with a thousand sons for me who stand by my door everyday pledging their support!”
Finally, she said: “The sign of a believer is that he never bows to anyone except Allah. The day we bend to the Creation for mercy instead of Allah, we will be destroyed.”
This is the true meaning of gain/ loss – based on the scales of the Ghayb, not those of this tangible world that will one day melt away.
So, belief in the unseen world has very deep and powerful implications in our lives as Muslims in this world.
And may peace & blessings shower Muhammad.
Plymouth Correctional Facility
Isolation Unit – Cell #108
Written in the hours before Fajr
Friday 27th of Safar 1431/
12th of February 2010