In a verse it is said that our one day is like your one thousand years (Hajj/The Pilgrimage 47, Sajdah/The Adoration 5), in another verse it is said that our one day is like your fifty thousand years (Ma’arij/ The Ways Of Ascent 4). Can you explain this time difference?
Yet they ask you to hasten on the Punishment! But Allah will not fail in His Promise. Verily a Day in the sight of your Lord is like a thousand years of your reckoning. (Hajj/The Pilgrimage 47)
In this verse it is told that unbelievers wanted Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to bring on the torment that they are threatened with quickly. As can be understood from the verse Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) warned the unbelievers that they will suffer torment if they do not believe. And since they didn’t believe in him they were making fun of him and saying “Where is the torment you are talking about, why does not it come; here we deny you. If you are a prophet do bring on us that torment you threaten us with!”
In the second sentence of the verse it is told that Allah (swt) will not give up his promise and a day in his presence is like one thousand years with humans’ calculation. What is understood from this is: Time given to the humans seems them as if it is long. Their not having the pain at once deceives them. They think that they will never have pain, they will get away with what they did, and always live in comfort. However it is a trial period given to them by Allah. Even it seems long to them, it is short for Allah and passes quickly. Human life is short. A day in His presence seems like a thousand years long to the humans. Commentators say about the last sentence that the pain they will have seems like one thousand years to them because of its severity.
In this verse, relativity of the time is expressed. Time runs differently in every universe. For instance one day of grave life is not same with the one day of the Judgment area. Moreover, even in this universe there are different times in different planets. And this show that time can change.
How will be the time for a dead person? Can you give information about the time in Heaven and Hell?
There is a time concept in the grave life and afterlife but it may run differently. Time runs differently in the earth and in the space. One year for our world is only a little time period for the sun. Also one day for us means a lifetime for some creatures.
Time concept is different in grave and afterlife. For instance a moment of the heaven may be equal to the thousands of years of our world. Also in the grave life time varies from person to person too. One thousand years seems like a moment to the ones who are in boon, and a moment seems like one thousand years to the ones who are in torment.
Time runs different for different people. Sometimes in a dream lasting for a couple of minutes we may feel like days, months or years passed away. And sometimes we can not understand how the night passes as if we went to the bed just now.
Like this, a person getting into the grave early may feel like he has just got into it when he wakes up for the afterlife. And some other one may feel like he stayed there for thousands of years because he was in pain, whereas he stays only for a couple of years.
Therefore going to the grave early or late is not important because the time being felt there varies from person to person according to his good and bad deeds. Allah can create a feeling like he is in sleep and dream for the person.
Actually it requires living them to understand and explain the heaven and the hell. Evaluating their conditions by comparing with this world is like explaining this world to the baby in the womb. Just as the baby in the womb can not understand this world, we also being in the womb of this world can not understand the heaven.
FAQ in the category of Ghayb
In a verse it is said that our one day is like your one thousand years (Hajj/The Pilgrimage 47, Sajdah/The Adoration 5), in another verse it is said that our one day is like your fifty thousand years (Ma’arij/ The Ways Of Ascent 4). Can you explain this time difference?
We do not have any clear verse or hadith regarding the issue. However, the scholars of Ahl as-Sunnah agree unanimously that believers will see the face of Allah in the hereafter. That unanimous view is based on some verses and hadiths. Since the face of Allah, which is the greatest ghaib (unknown), will be seen, we can think that other unknown things will be seen, too.
The Doomsday, which is one of the most famous ghaibs, will be seen; angels, jinn, spiritual beings, Hell and Paradise will be seen, too. There is no doubt about them. However, we do not know whether some secret and unknown things to us like the realm of similitude (mithal), realm of sovereignty (jabarut) and realm of the unknown (ghaib) will be visible to us or not.
However, in some verse of the Quran, there are some expressions implying that everything that is secret to us will be revealed. For instance:
a. The first thing that is stated in the verse, “The Day that (all) things secret will be tested” (at-Tariq, 86/9), is that all of the good and bad deeds of human beings will be revealed. However, the fact that the word “sarair” (covered secrets) is used absolutely, without any conditions, suggests, in general, that all of the secret things will be revealed.
b. In the verse, “To them will be passed round, dishes and goblets of gold: there will be there all that the souls could desire all that the eyes could delight in: and ye shall abide therein.”(az-Zukhruf, 43/71), it is stated that all kinds of views that eyes could delight in will be seen. The views that human eyes take delight in should be the views of the unknown world that they have heard about but that they have never seen. It is possible to understand this from the general expression of the verse. It is Allah who knows the truth about everything.
We will try to answer your question from the Risale-i Nur Collection, The Words written by Badiuzzaman Said Nursi
The Twenty-Eighth Word
[This Word is about Paradise and consists of two Stations. The First indicates some of the subtle wonders of Paradise. However, it does not prove the existence of Paradise, since this has been proved in most brilliant fashion with the twelve decisive Truths in the Tenth Word and with the most firm and clear consecutive arguments in Arabic which form the basis and summary of the Tenth Word and form the Second Station of this Word. This Station rather discusses a number of the aspects of Paradise which have been the cause of criticism, and of question and answer. If Divine assistance is forthcoming, a great Word will later be written about that mighty truth. God willing.]
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
And give glad tidings to those who believe and act righteously that their's shall be gardens beneath which flow rivers. Everytime they are fed with fruits therefrom, they will say: " Why, this is what we were fed with before." For they will be given things in similitude. And they shall have therein spouses pure, and shall abide there for ever.
The brief answers to a number of questions about eternal Paradise.
The descriptions of the verses of the Qur'an about Paradise, which are more beautiful than Paradise, more lovely than the Houris, and sweeter than the water of Selsebil, leave nothing to be said about it so that anyone should say it. However, in order to bring closer to the understanding those shining, pre-eternal, post-eternal, elevated and exquisite verses, we shall mention a number of steps, and, as samples of that Qur'anic Paradise, a number of fine points which are like samples of its flowers. We shall point to these through five allusive questions and answers. Indeed, Paradise is the means to all spiritual and non-physical pleasures, and so too it is the means to all physical pleasures.
QUESTION: What connection with eternity and Paradise has faulty, deficient, changing, unstable, and suffering corporeality? Since the spirit has elevated pleasures, that is sufficient. Why is bodily resurrection necessary for bodily pleasures?
THE ANSWER: Because, just as in relation to water, air, and light, earth is dense and dark, but since it is the source and means of all the varieties of Divine artefacts, in meaning it rises above the other elements, and just as in regard to the mystery of its comprehensiveness and on condition it is purified, the human soul, which is also dense, rises above all the other human subtle faculties, so too corporeality is the richest and most comprehensive and all-embracing mirror to the manifestation of the Divine Names. All the tools and instruments for measuring the contents of the treasuries of Mercy and reckoning their balance are in corporeality. For example, if the sense of taste in the tongue was not the source for scales to the number of the sorts of foods and their pleasures, it could not experience each and recognize them, and taste and measure them. Also, the instruments for experiencing and knowing the manifestations of most of the Divine Names, and tasting and recognizing them, are again in corporeality. And the faculties for experiencing the most various and infinitely different pleasures are also in corporeality.
Since, as is proved in the Eleventh Word, it is understood clearly from the disposition of the universe and man's comprehensiveness that the universe's Maker wants to make known all the treasuries of His Mercy, and all the manifestations of His Names, and to make experienced all the varieties of His bounties, for sure, the abode of bliss, which is a mighty pool formed from the flood of the universe and a great exhibition of the textiles woven on the loom of the universe and an everlasting store of the crops produced in the arable field of this world, will resemble the universe to a degree. And it will preserve all its fundaments, both corporeal and spiritual. And its All-Wise Maker, the Most Compassionate One, will give as recompense for the duties of the physical tools and instruments, pleasures worthy of them; and to His servants, as a wage and as a reward for the particular worship of each. Otherwise a situation would occur that was contrary to His wisdom, justice, and mercy, which is in no way fitting for the Beauty of His Mercy and Perfection of His Justice, and in no way compatible with it.
QUESTION: If a body is living, its parts are constantly being formed and dissolved; it is doomed to extinction and cannot be eternal. And eating and drinking are for the perpetuation of the individual, and sexual relations are for the perpetuation of the species. These are fundamental to this world, but there is no need for them in the world of eternity and hereafter. So why have they taken their place as the greatest pleasures of Paradise?
THE ANSWER: Firstly, the bodies of living creatures being doomed to extinction and death in this world arises from an imbalance in what is taken in and what is expended. From childhood until maturity much is taken in, and after this what is expended increases; the balance is spoilt, and so the body dies. In the world of eternity, however, the particles of the body remain constant and are not subject to formation and dissolution, or else the balance remains constant. [In this world, the bodies of humans and animals are like guest-houses, barracks, and schools for particles. The lifeless particles enter them and acquire worthiness to be particles for the everlasting realm, which is living and they then leave them. In the hereafter, however, according to the verse, The Abode of the Hereafter, that is life indeed, the light of life is general. There is no necessity for that travelling, drill, and instruction in order to be illuminated. Particles will remain constant as old timers.] Like a closed circle or perpetual motion, the body of the living creature becomes eternal together with the functioning of the machine of bodily life for pleasure. Although in this world eating and drinking and sexual relations arise from need and perform a function, various delights and pleasures have been left within them as an immediate wage for the duty performed, which are superior to other pleasures. Since in this abode of sorrows eating and sexual relations are the means to this many wonderful and various pleasures, for sure, in Paradise, which is the abode of pleasure and bliss, those pleasures will take on a most exalted form, and adding to them as pleasure the recompense of the duties pertaining to the hereafter performed here and adding also the worldly need in the form of an agreeable, otherworldly appetite, they will become an all-embracing, living source of pleasure worthy of Paradise and suitable to eternity. Indeed, according to the meaning of the verse,
And what is the life of this world but amusement and play? But indeed the Abode of the Hereafter, that is life indeed,
substances, matters, which are inanimate, and without consciousness and life in the abode of this world, there, are living and conscious. Like human beings and animals here, the trees and stones there will understand commands and carry them out. If you tell a tree to bring you such-and-such a fruit, it will bring it. And if you tell such-and-such a stone to come, it will come. Since stones and trees will take on an elevated form to this degree, it surely necessitates that, together with preserving their bodily realities, eating, drinking, and sexual relations also will take on a form higher than their worldly form, higher to the degree that Paradise is higher than this world.
QUESTION: According to the meaning of:
Everyone will be together with those he loves,
in Paradise, friend will be together with friend. So, a love for the sake of God is born in a simple nomad in one minute's conversation with the Prophet (PBUH), through which he has to be at the Prophet (Upon whom be blessings and peace)'s side in Paradise. But how can the effulgence of the Most Noble Prophet (PBUH), who receives limitless effulgence, be united with that of a simple nomad?
THE ANSWER: We shall point to this elevated truth with a comparison. For example, a magnificent personage set up a vast banquet and finely-adorned spectacle in a fine and splendid garden, and he prepared it in such a way that it included all the delicious foods that the sense of taste can experience, and all the fine things that please the sense of sight, and all the wonders that amuse the faculty of imagination, and so on; he included in it everything that would gratify and give pleasure to all the external and inner senses. Now, there were two friends and they went together to the banquet. They sat at a table in a pavillion. But the sense of taste of one of them was very limited, so he received only minor pleasure. His eyes could see only a little, and he had no sense of smell, and he could not understand the wondrous arts nor comprehend the marvels. In relation to his capacity, he could only benefit from and take pleasure at a thousandth or even a millionth of that beautiful place. The other man however had developed his outer and inner senses, his mind, heart, emotions, and subtle faculties so perfectly and to such a degree that, although he was next to his friend, he could perceive and experience all the subtleties and beauties and marvels and fine things in the exhibition, and receive their different pleasures.
Since this confused, sorrowful, and narrow world is thus, and although the greatest and the least are together, the difference between them is as great as from the ground to the Pleiades, for sure, in Paradise, the realm of bliss and eternity, while friend is together with friend, each will receive his share from the table of the Most Merciful and Compassionate One in accordance with his capacity and to the degree of his abilities. Even if the Paradises in which they are found are different, it will not be an obstacle to their being together. For although the eight levels of Paradise are one above the other, the roof of all of them is the Sublime Throne. If there are walled circles round a conical mountain, one within the other and one above the other from its foot to the summit, the circles are one over the other and look to one another, but do not prevent each other seeing the sun. So too there are various narrations of Hadiths indicating that the Paradises are in a manner close to this.
QUESTION: It is said in Hadiths: "Although the Houris are clothed in seventy garments, the marrow of their leg-bones may be seen." What does this mean? What sort of meaning can it have? What sort of beauty is this?
THE ANSWER: Its meaning is most beautiful and its beauty is most lovely. It is like this: in this world, which is ugly, inanimate, lifeless, and for the most part just a husk, beauty and loveliness only appear beautiful to the eye, and so long as familiarity is not an obstacle, that is sufficient. Whereas in Paradise, which is beautiful, living, brilliant, and entirely the essence without the husk and the kernel without the shell, like the eye, all man's senses and subtle faculties will want to receive their different pleasures and various delights from the Houris, the gentle sex, and from the women of this world, who will be like Houris and even more beautiful. That is to say, the Hadith indicates that from the beauty of the top garment to the marrow in the bone, each will be the means of pleasure to a sense and a subtle faculty. Yes, by saying, "The Houris wear seventy garments and the marrow of their leg-bones can be seen," the Hadith points out that however many senses, feeling, powers, and faculties man has which are enamoured of beauty, worship pleasure, are captivated by ornament, and yearn for loveliness, the Houris comprise every sort of adornment and exquisite loveliness, physical and spiritual and immaterial, which will please and satisfy all of them, and gratify and make happy each of them.
That is to say, since the Houris are of seventy of the varieties of the adornment of Paradise, and not of one sort, as they are clothed in garments which do not conceal one another, they display from their beings and selves and bodies, perhaps more than seventy of the different sorts of its beauty and loveliness. They demonstrate the truth indicated by the verse:
There will be there all that the souls could desire and all that the eyes could delight in.
Moreover, the Hadith indicates that since in Paradise there are no unnecessary, extraneous, waste-matters, the people of Paradise will not excrete waste after eating and drinking. Since in this lowly world, trees, the most ordinary of living beings, do not excrete despite taking in much nourishment, why should not the people of Paradise, who are the highest class of life, not excrete waste?
QUESTION: It says in Hadiths: "Some of the people of Paradise are given a place as large as the world, and thousands of palaces and hundreds of thousands of Houris are bestowed on them." What need has a single person of all these things, what necessity is there for them? How can this be and what does it mean?
THE ANSWER: If man was only a lifeless being, or was only a vegetable creature consisting of a stomach, or consisted only of a limited, heavy, temporary, and simple corporeality or animal body, he could not own many palaces and Houris, or be fit for them. But man is such a comprehensive miracle of power that even in this transitory world and brief life, if he is given the rule of all the world and its wealth and pleasures, in regard to the need of some of his subtle faculties which have not developed here, and even his ambition, he cannot be satisfied. Whereas, that a person possessing an infinite capacity in an eternal abode of bliss who knocks on the door of an infinite mercy with the hand of infinite desires and the tongue of infinite needs will receive the Divine bounties described in Hadiths, is reasonable, right, and true. We shall observe this elevated truth through the telescope of a comparison. It is as follows:
Although, like this valley garden,5 each of these gardens and vineyards of Barla has a different owner, each bird, each sparrow, each honey-bee in Barla, who possesses with regard to food only a handful of grain, may say: "All the gardens and orchards of Barla are my pleasant places of promenading and recreation." Each may take possession of Barla and include it in his property. Others sharing it does not infringe its rule. Also, a man who is a true human being may say: "My Creator made this world a house for me. The sun is my lamp, the stars my electric lights. The face of the earth is my resting-place spread with flowered carpets." And he offers thanks to God. The other creatures sharing it does not negate this statement of his. On the contrary, the creatures adorn his house and are like its decorations. And so, if in regard to his humanity, man in this narrow brief world - and even a bird - claims a sort of power of disposal over such a vast sphere and receives such a vast bounty, how can it be deemed unlikely that he is given the ownership of a property stretching a distance of five hundred years in a broad and eternal abode of bliss?
Moreover, just as in this dense and dark narrow world the sun is present in the same way at the same moment in numerous mirrors, so too, as is proved in the Sixteenth Word, a luminous being may be present in many places in the same way at the same moment. For example, Gabriel (Upon whom be peace) being on a thousand stars at the same moment, and at the Divine Throne, and in the presence of the Prophet (PBUH), and in the Divine Presence; and the Prophet Muhammed (Upon whom be blessings and peace) meeting with most of the righteous of his community at the resurrection of the dead at the same moment and appearing in this world in innumerable places at the same moment; and a strange group of the saints known as abdal, appearing at the same time in many places; and ordinary people sometimes carrying out as much as a year's work in one minute in a dream and observing this; and everyone being in contact with and concerned with numerous places at the same moment in regard to heart, spirit, and imagination – all these are well-known and may be witnessed. And so, most certainly, in Paradise, which is luminous, unrestricted, broad, and eternal, the people of Paradise, whose bodies are of the strength and lightness of the spirit and of the swiftness of imagination, being in hundreds of thousands of places at the same time, and conversing with hundreds of thousands of Houris, and receiving pleasure in hundreds of thousands of ways, is fitting for that eternal Paradise, that infinite mercy, and as told by the Bringer of Sure News (PBUH), is reality and the truth. Nevertheless, these vast truths cannot be weighed on the scales of our tiny minds.
This tiny mind cannot perceive the true meanings,
For such a scale cannot bear such a weight.
Glory be unto to You! We have no knowledge save that which You have taught us; indeed, You are All-Knowing, All-Wise.
O our Sustainer! Do not call us to task if we forget or fall into error.7
O God! Grant blessings to Your beloved, who opened the doors of Paradise through being Your beloved and through his prayers, and You confirmed its opening for his community due to their benedictions for him, on him be blessings and peace.
O God! Enter us into Paradise among the righteous, through the intercession of Your beloved, the chosen one. Amen.
* * *
A Short Addendum to the Word On Paradise
As is proved in the Second and Eighth Words, belief bears the seed of a sort of Paradise, while unbelief conceals the seed of a sort of Hell. Just as unbelief is a seed of Hell, so too, Hell is one of its fruits. Just as unbelief is the cause of Hell being entered, so too it is the cause of Hell's existence and creation. For if an insignificant ruler of small dignity, small pride, and small loftiness is told impudently by some unmannerly person: "You may not punish me and you cannot", for sure, if there is no prison in that place, the ruler will have one built for him and will throw him in it. However, by denying Hell, the unbeliever is giving the lie to One of infinite dignity, pride, and glory, Who is most great and infinitely Powerful, and is accusing Him of impotence, lying, and powerlessness; he is severely insulting His dignity and offending His pride in awesome manner. He is rebelliously causing affront to His Glory. Certainly, to suppose the impossible, there was no reason for Hell's existence, it would be created for unbelief, which comprises denial and ascribing impotence to this degree, and such an unbeliever would be cast into it.
Our Sustainer! You did not create that in vain. Glory be unto You! Save us from the penalty of the Fire!
(Badiuzzaman Said Nursi- Risale-i Nur Collection, The Words)
Can the future be known?
The following verse declares using a majestic style that Allah’s knowledge surrounds everything:
“With Him are the keys of the Unseen, the treasures that none knoweth but He. He knoweth whatever there is on the earth, and in the sea. Not a leaf doth fall but with His knowledge: there is not a grain in the darkness (or depths) of the earth nor anything fresh or dry (green or withered) but is (inscribed) in a Record Clear (to those who can read)” (al-An’am, 59).
It is understood from the general style of the verse that ghayb is like a treasure whose doors are locked. Allah has the keys to this treasure. As a matter of fact, the following verse states as a general decree that only Allah knows the ghayb:
“Say: None in the heavens or on earth, except Allah, knows what is hidden.” (an-Naml, 65)
However, there may be exceptions to any general rule. When we say “Swans are white”, it is understood that “they are generally white” because there are some black swans though they are very rare.
“Can anybody know the future? Can Allah not give the keys to the treasure of the ghayb He has to others?” The following verse clarifies the questions above:
“He (alone) knows the Unseen, nor does He make any one acquainted with His Mysteries ― Except a messenger whom He has chosen…” (al-Jinn, 26-27). That is there is an exception to the decree “Only Allah knows the ghayb.” If Allah informs a person about the ghayb, that person can know the ghayb to some extent.
The phrase “a messenger whom He has chosen” is interpreted differently in tafsir books.
According to some interpreters, what is meant by a messenger is a prophet. That is, Allah informs only a prophet about the ghayb. They reject the view that saints, magicians and soothsayers can know about the ghayb. For, magicians and soothsayers are the people that are the furthest away from the consent of Allah and nearest to His wrath. Saints are people that Allah is pleased with but they are not prophets.
We want to attract attention to the following issues:
1. The word “messenger” is not a word that is exclusively used for prophets. As a matter of fact, the following verse states it clearly: “Allah chooses Messengers from angels and from men…” (al-Hajj, 75)
2. Since the word “messenger” in the verse above includes angels, it is possible that some angels convey inspiration to some saints. As a matter of fact, the following is stated in a hadith: “Satan touches the son of Adam and the angel touches him.” (Tirmidhi, Tafsir 2/ 35) As it will be seen, some saints were informed about some secrets about the ghayb.
3. Being addresses by divine speech is not something that is peculiar to prophets. It is possible for some people to learn about some secrets about the ghayb through dreams or inspiration; there are examples of it. As a matter of fact, the following verse states the principle of Allah’s speaking to man:
“It is not fitting for a man that Allah should speak to him except by inspiration, or from behind a veil, or by the sending of a Messenger to reveal, with Allah's permission, what Allah wills...” (ash-Shura, 51)
In the verse, it is stated that “It is not fitting for a man that Allah should speak to him through three ways” it is not stated that “It is not fitting for a prophet that Allah should speak to him”, which shows that other people can be addressed by divine speech. Accordingly:
a. Allah’s speaking through revelation can include various degrees of revelation like being strong and weak. It expresses receiving divine message while one is awake or asleep as it is the case in revelation to the prophets and to the mother of Moses. Therefore, the revelation here also contains the meaning of inspiration.
b. Allah’s speaking from behind a veil includes incidents like hearing the divine speech directly as it was the case when Moses received the first revelation.
c. Allah’s speaking by sending of a messenger expresses the incidents like sending Gabriel to Hz. Muhammad (pbuh) to reveal.
As it is seen, “the treasures of the ghayb” belong to Allah but Allah informs His prophets and some of His special slaves about some secrets.
Hz. Isa (Jesus) giving information about the future
Prophets are people that receive information about the ghayb through revelation. God Almighty conveyed His message to people through these people that He chose among them.
These prophets are not the people who know the ghayb but they are the people who receive information about the ghayb. That is, these distinguished people do not know the ghayb on their own. They only know what is revealed to them.
It is seen in the Quran that prophets give some information about the future. For instance, Hz. Isa (Jesus) mentioned the name of the prophet to come after him:
“And remember Jesus, the son of Mary, said: "O Children of Israel! I am the Messenger of Allah (sent) to you confirming the Law (which came) before me, and giving glad Tidings of an Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad...” (as-Saff, 6)
The glad tiding that Hz. Prophet would be sent was expressed clearly by Jesus as it is seen in the verse above.
“Without doubt it is (announced) in the revealed Books of former peoples. Is it not a Sign to them that the learned of the Children of Israel knew it (as true)?” (ash-Shuara, 196-197) As it is stated in the verses above, the other heavenly books also mentioned Hz. Prophet and the Quran, which was sent down to him.
As a matter of fact, when Hz. Prophet became a prophet the scholars of Sons of Israel were talking about the advent of a prophet.
Jesus, who is one of the great prophets, states the following when he talks about the miracles given to him by Allah:
“…and I declare to you what ye eat, and what ye store in your houses...” (Aal-i Imran, 49).
A similar thing is valid for Hz. Yusuf (Joseph). When he was in the dungeon, he told his friends beforehand what food would come. Hz. Yusuf said the following to his two friends who came to him for the interpretation of their dreams: “Before any food comes (in due course) to feed either of you I will surely reveal to you the truth and meaning of this ere it befall you…” (Yusuf, 37) His statement that he knows some ghayb secrets does not indicate pride; it is preparation to call his friends to believe in Allah. His following statement aims to declare that it is not fortune-telling or sooth-saying: “That is part of the (Duty) which my Lord hath taught me.” (Yusuf, 37)
Hz. Yaqub and Hz. Yusuf
Hz. Yaqub (Jacob) is one of the prophets that the Quran informs us about. He had a special love for Yusuf, who would be a prophet in the future. Yusuf's brothers were jealous of him and threw him into a well. They took his bloody shirt to their father and said to him, “A wolf ate Yusuf.” Afterwards, Yusuf was saved by a caravan from the well and was sold as a slave in Egypt. Then, he was sent to a dungeon due to a slander. He stayed there for a long time. Then, he was saved from the dungeon due to the interpretation of the dream of the king. Then, he was appointed as one of the highest administrators of Egypt.
Meanwhile, Hz.Yaqub became blind due to his longing for his son, Yusuf. However, due to the knowledge coming from Allah, he believes that his son is alive. Then, Yaqub’s sons went to Egypt to get food due to famine. Hz. Yusuf recognized his brothers. When he found out about his father's situation, he said to them, “Go with this, my shirt, and cast it over the face of my father: he will come to see (clearly)” When the caravan left (Egypt), their father said: "I do indeed scent the presence of Joseph: nay, think me not a dotard." The people around him did not feel such a scent and said, “By Allah! truly thou art in thine old wandering illusion..” Then when the bearer of the good news came he cast (the shirt) over his face, and he forthwith regained clear sight. He said: "Did I not say to you, I Know from Allah that which ye know not?' (Yusuf, 93-96)
In this incident narrated in the Quran, it is an extraordinary state that Hz. Yusuf knows his father will start to see again thanks to the shirt he sends to him and that his father, Yaqub, receives the scent of his shirt from such a distance. Some people may think as follows: “Yaqub felt it because his longing and yearning for his son increased his sensitivity.” Hamdi Yazır, a great interpreter answers it as follows:
“No matter how much Yaqub’s sensitivity and his sense of smelling increased after becoming blind, he did not feel the scent of Yusuf until the caravan left Egypt but felt it later, which shows that it is not based on his sensitivity.” (Yazır, IV, 1651, 1652)
That “Did I not say to you, I Know from Allah that which ye know not?” is stated in the verse shows that Hz. Yaqub received this information from Allah through a special way and that it does not originate from his material sensitivity.
Sheikh Sadi states the following subtle point regarding the issue:
“Somebody asks Yaqub, who has lost his son: You received the smell of Yusuf’s shirt from Egypt; why did you not see him when he was in a well in Kanan? Hz. Yaqub answers as follows: “We are like lightning. We sometimes see clearly and sometimes see nothing. We sometimes rise to the sky and sit there; we sometimes do not see our feet.” (Sadi, p. 50)
Hz. Yusuf received divine knowledge when he was a child. When his brothers were jealous of him and threw him into the well, God Almighty inspired the following into his heart:
“Of a surety thou shalt (one day) tell them the truth of this their affair while they know (thee) not.”(Yusuf, 15)
It is the manifestation of God Almighty's grace and mercy to send ease during hard times. It was the necessity of divine wisdom and mercy to please the sensitive heart of little Yusuf, who was betrayed by his brothers and thrown into the well. It is a reality experienced by many people that divine mercy comes to help people when they are in agony and trouble and when they are in need of holy consolation.
That, Hz. Yusuf gave his shirt to his brothers and said to them “Go with this, my shirt, and cast it over the face of my father: he will come to see (clearly)” (Yusuf, 93) is a kind of news about the ghayb.
In addition, although Hz. Yaqub received the ill news that “a wolf ate Yusuf” with a bloody shirt, he knew that Yusuf was alive and said,
“I know from Allah that which ye know not” (Yusuf, 86), which shows the dimension of his knowledge about the ghayb.
That is, prophets knew about some secrets about the ghayb with the permission of Allah. The examples in the Quran prove this reality clearly. These examples show that similar incidents are possible. That is, the knowledge about the ghayb sent to the prophets is not limited with the ones mentioned in the Quran; many similar events took place.
In verses 60 to 82 of the chapter of al-Kahf, the journey of Hz. Musa (Moses) with "a servant of Allah" is narrated. This journey includes very remarkable and interesting incidents regarding "knowledge about the ghayb". The journey of this unknown person with Hz. Musa takes place as follows:
After a long journey with the young man near him, Hz. Musa arrives at the place where he will meet Hz. Khidr.
“So they found one of Our servants on whom We had bestowed Mercy from Ourselves and whom We had taught knowledge from Our own presence.
Moses said to him: "May I follow thee, on the footing that thou teach me something of the (Higher) Truth which thou hast been taught?"
(The other) said: "Verily thou wilt not be able to have patience with me!
"And how canst thou have patience about things about which thy understanding is not complete?"
Moses said: "Thou wilt find me, if Allah so will (truly) patient: nor shall I disobey thee in aught."
The other said: "If then thou wouldst follow me, ask me no questions about anything until I myself speak to thee concerning it."
So they both proceeded: until, when they were in the boat, he scuttled it. Said Moses: "Hast thou scuttled it in order to drown those in it? Truly a strange thing hast thou done!"
He answered: "Did I not tell thee that thou canst have no patience with me?"
Moses said: "Rebuke me not for forgetting, nor grieve me by raising difficulties in my case."
Then they proceeded: until, when they met a young man, he slew him. Moses said: "Hast thou slain an innocent person who had slain none? Truly a foul (unheard-of) thing hast thou done!"
He answered: "Did I not tell thee that thou canst have no patience with me?"
(Moses) said: "If ever I ask thee about anything after this, keep me not in thy company: then wouldst thou have received (full) excuse from my side."
Then they proceeded: until, when they came to the inhabitants of a town, they asked them for food, but they refused them hospitality. They found there a wall on the point of falling down, but he set it up straight. (Moses) said: "If thou hadst wished, surely thou couldst have exacted some recompense for it!"
He answered: "This is the parting between me and thee: now will I tell thee the interpretation of (those things) over which thou wast unable to hold patience.
As for the boat, it belonged to certain men in dire want: they plied on the water: I but wished to render it unserviceable, for there was after them a certain king who seized on every boat by force.
"As for the youth his parents were people of Faith, and we feared that he would grieve them by obstinate rebellion and ingratitude (to Allah and man).
"So we desired that their Lord would give them in exchange (a son) better in purity (of conduct) and closer in affection.
"As for the wall it, belonged to two youths, orphans in the Town; there was, beneath it, a buried treasure, to which they were entitled: their father had been a righteous man: so thy Lord desired that they should attain their age of full strength and get out their treasure― a mercy (and favour) from thy Lord. I did it not of my own accord. Such is the interpretation of (those things) over which thou wast unable to hold patience."”(al-Kahf, 65-82)
We regard it useful to attract attention to some points related to this instructive story:
1. The name of the hero of the story, "a servant of Allah" is not mentioned. The atmosphere of obscurity in the ghayb is seen in the whole story and also in the fact that the name of the hero is not given. Therefore, some scholars did not mention the name of this hero in their tafsirs acting upon the point of living in the shade of the Quran. We will mention this person as "Khidr" since he is mentioned as "Khidr" in hadiths and since it will be more practical.
2. There is no clear expression in the verses whether Hz. Khidr is a prophet or a saint. However, those who say he is a prophet acting upon the fact that he knew some secrets about the ghayb that Hz. Musa did not know and that he said, “I did it not of my own accord”(al-Kahf, 82) are in majority.
3. The knowledge of Hz. Khidr is known as ilm al-ladun (hidden knowledge). This term originates from the word ladun in the verse “whom We had taught knowledge from Our own presence”.
Although all sciences come from Allah, this knowledge is especially mentioned here, which shows that it comes directly from divine instruction without any reasons from outside. For, it is possible to learn the sciences like history and fiqh from books and by listening to a person. Ilm al-ladun is not a science that can be learned through the ways we have just mentioned. Even a prophet like Hz. Musa was not given this science directly. This science is also called the science of the truth, the esoteric knowledge and the knowledge of the ghayb. The following words of Hz. Khidr to Hz. Moses show the difference between their knowledge:
“O Moses! I know a science taught to me by Allah that you do not know. And you know a science that I do not know.”
4. When we look at them in terms of their duties, we see that there is a difference between them. Hz.Khidr is not appointed by Allah to lead people to guidance like Hz. Musa; he is appointed to fulfill the orders of God regarding people. Therefore, his killing the child is like the duty and responsibility of the angel of death, who is appointed to remove the souls of the children who die as a result of the order of Allah. (Yazır, V, 3273)
Or, we can resemble Hz Khidr to an actor that plays a role in the divine scenario. The actors play the roles assigned for them. They have no responsibilities and obligations other than that. (Albayrak, p. 245)
5. For us, this story includes several lessons to learn. The most important lesson for us to learn in terms of "the knowledge about the future" is not to be deceived by the outward appearances of the incidents. Many seemingly bad incidents may have nice outcomes. The following verse of the Quran expresses this reality clearly: “But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you.” (al-Baqara 216) This story is like the explanation of the verse above. Scuttling the boat and killing the child, which were seemingly bad deeds, brought about nice outcomes in the future.
The realm of similitude is described as the realm of transition between the realm of spirits and the realm of matter.
Like the other realms, a small example of this realm is present in man, too. We understand from Nur Collection that this example is “imagination”.
When we visualize a place we have been to before in our imagination, an example of that place forms in our realm of imagination. The origin of this world is in the visible realm but its form in the imagination is in the realm of similitude.
When we stand in front of a mirror, two people face each other. One of them is real and the other is imaginary.
Under the light of these examples, we can say that everything we see in this realm has a similar one in another realm. That realm is called the realm of similitude. The realm of similitude is denser than the realm of spirit but finer than the visible realm. In this sense, it is like a barzakh between two realms.
Every human will definitely experience the life of grave, whether s/he is buried underground after death, stays deep down the sea having been drowned, or is eaten by a predator, or thrown as ash into air after being cremated... As the torment of the grave and questioning address the spirit, even if the corpse of the deceased is not in the grave, s/he will experience the questioning and- if s/he deserves-the torment of the grave. Even if corpses are buried underground, they rot after some time. Therefore, the life of the grave, questioning, reward or punishment (of the grave-life) should not be attributed only to the corpse buried underground.
After man dies, his spirit goes to the realm of barzakh. The person in the realm of barzakh opens his eyes when the angels start to ask him questions. That is, questioning in the grave starts when a person dies. Even if the dead body is put into the grave late, the human spirit enters the realm of barzakh and is questioned without any connection with the body.
As a matter of fact, though there are some differences, it is stated in various narrations having the same meaning that as soon as the spirit of a believer is removed, it will be given to the angels of mercy, who will elevate it and that the spirits of unbelievers and bad people will be given to the angels of torture and that the doors of the sky will not be opened for them. Meanwhile, the spirit is conscious and it knows that the worldly life ended and that it left the body. (see Ghazzali, Durratu'l-Fakhira. v. 311 b; Abdullah Sirajuddin., al-Iman bi Awalimi'l-Akhira, p. 47, Aleppo, 1977)
Death is the phenomenon of the spirit's leaving the body. It is body that dies, not spirit. Human is essentially spirit. Body is its home or garment. One's existence is not harmed through change of garment or through getting ripped off or exterminated. Our Lord, who makes us wear this body in this world's life, and who thus accommodates us in this universe, separates our spirit from that garment when He makes us emigrate from this world.
Death is not extermination. It is the door to a better world. A seed underground apparently dies, rots and becomes eradicated, but in reality, it enters a better life, from the life of a seed to a life of a tree.
Similarly, a person who dies goes under the earth apparently and rots, but in reality, s/he finds a more beautiful life in the intermediate realm and the realm of the grave.
Body and spirit are like a light-bulb and electricity. When the bulb is broken, electricity does not die out; it continues to exist. Even if we do not see it, we are sure that electricity is still existent. Likewise, when human dies, the spirit leaves the body but it continues to exist. Allah ensures the spirit's life in the realm of grave by making it wear a more appropriate and beautiful garment.
Thus, the prophet (pbuh) informs us about the existence of the life of grave life in detail by saying;
“The grave is either a garden of the gardens of Paradise, or a pit of the pits of Hell.” (Tirmidhi, Qiyamah, 26)
When man is put into the grave after he dies, two angels called Munkar and Nakir go to him and ask him, "Who is your Lord? Who is your Prophet? What is your religion?" People with belief and good deeds answer these questions correctly. Doors of Paradise are opened to those people and Paradise is shown to them. While believers live in boons, without any problems and peacefully, unbelievers and hypocrites (munafiqs) will be tortured in grave. (see az-Zabidi, Tajrid Sarih, trnsl. Kamil Miras, Ankara 1985, IV/496 ff)
There are certain verses of Qur'an and hadiths which denote the presence of torment and of blessing in the grave. In a verse, the following is stated:
“In front of the Fire will they be brought, morning and evening: and (the Sentence will be) on the Day that Judgment will be established: "Cast ye the People of Pharaoh into the severest Penalty!” (Surah al-Mumin, 40/46)
According to that verse, there is torment before the Doomsday, too; in other words, in the grave. The Prophet explained that the verse:
"Allah keeps firm those who believe by the true, firm word in the life of this world and in the Hereafter.” (Abraham, 14/17)
was revealed about the blessing of grave. (Bukhari, Tafsir, Surah: 14).
There are many hadiths about the punishment of grave mentioned in books of hadith. Some of them are as follows:
While the Prophet, peace and blessings upon him, was passing by a cemetery, he saw that two dead people in two graves were suffering torment for some petty things. One of the dead people in those two graves committed talebearing in the world and the other did not avoid urine (not paying attention to avoiding urine drops while urinating). Thereupon, Allah's Messenger, peace and blessings upon him, took a green branch, split it into two, and planted them each on the two graves. The Companions asked why he did so:
The Prophet replied: “As long as those two branches do not dry, the torment those two suffer is hoped to be alleviated.” (Bukhari Janaiz, 82; Muslim, Iman, 34; Abu Davud, Taharah, 26)
In another hadith, the Prophet says:
“When the deceased is put to grave, two dark blue angels, one named Munkar, the other Naker, come, and they say to the dead:
“What do you say about Muhammad (PBUH)?” And s/he answers: “He is the slave and Messenger of Allah. I witness that there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.” Thereupon, the angels say: “We already knew you would say so.” Then they widen his/her grave seventy yards. And then this person's grave is enlightened. Then the angels say to the deceased: “Lie and sleep!” S/he says: “Go to my family and inform them of my situation.” The angels say: “Continue sleeping till the Day of Resurrection, just like the person who is in his/her wedding night and who is waken only by the person who s/he likes most.”
If the dead is a hypocrite, the angels say to him/her: “What do you say about Muhammad (PBUH)?” And the hypocrite answers: “I had heard people say some things about Muhammad, and I talked like them. I know nothing else.” The angels say to him/her: “We already knew you would say so.” And then the earth is addressed: “Pressure this person as much as you can!” And the earth starts to pressure. It pressures to such an extent that that person feels as if his/her bones entangled each other. That torment continues till the Day of Resurrection.” (Tirmidhi Janaiz 70)
In the Qur'an, the following is stated about the grave life of the martyrs:
“Think not of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead. Nay they live finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord.” (Aal-i ‘Imran, 3:169),
“And say not of those who are slain in the way of Allah: "They are dead." Nay, they are living, though ye perceive (it) not.” (al-Baqara: 2/154).
The view that the torment will be suffered by both the spirit and the body is more preferable.However, it will not be the body which is put to earth that will be tormented, but the new luminous body, which is suitable for the realm of grave and which the spirit wears after leaving its worldly body. Some people from Ahl- as-Sunnah(mainstream Islamic sect) said, "Just as the essence of rose penetrates the rose, so too the spirit is an ore which penetrates the body." (Aliyyu'l-Qari, Explanation of Fiqh al-Akbar, trans. Y. Vehbi Yavuz, Istanbul 1979, p. 259).
The following is stated in a verse:
“Say: "The Spirit (cometh) by command of my Lord of knowledge it is only a little that is communicated to you (O men!)” (al-‘Isra, 17/85).