Names of Allah Series: Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X | Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII | Part XIV | Part XV | Part XVI | Part XVII | Part XVIII | Part XIX | Part XX | Part XXI | Part XXII | Part XXIII | Part XXIV | Part XXV | Part XXVI | Part XXVII | Part XXVIII | Part XXIX | Part XXX |Part XXXI | Part XXXII | Part XXXIII | Part XXXIV | Part XXXV | Part XXXVI |Part XXXVII | Part XXXVIII | Part XXXIX | Part XL | Part XLI | Part XLII | Part XLIII | Part XLIV | XLV
As human beings, we usually act upon what we know. For the things that we do not know, we try to make educated guesses (or not). But there is also a realm that we do not know at all—the realm of al-ghayb (the unseen).
Previously, we learn about Allah’s Names al-‘Aleem (the All-Knowing) and al-Hakeem (the Most Wise). We learned that Allah knows every single thing—what is, what was and what will be; what could have been and what could be—and acts with the Ultimate Wisdom. Today, it is about Allah’s Attributes of “`aalim al-ghayb wal-shahaadah“—the Knower of the Unseen and the Witnessed. Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) tells us:
“He is Allah, other than whom there is no deity, Knower of the unseen and the witnessed. He is the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.” (Qur’an, 59:22)
Sheikh Ratib an-Nabulsi teaches us that everything that falls under our senses is the realm of the witnessed; those things that we can touch, hear, see, taste and smell. Other things that fall within this realm are those things whose effects we witness: for example, we cannot see electricity. But when we switch on the lights, we see the effects of that electricity.
As for the world of the unseen, Sheikh Ratib an-Nabulsi says that it is of two types. The first type is only known by Allah (swt). That which is only known by Allah is hidden from us, or He can choose to reveal parts of it; for example, Allah tells us there are Angels. They are in the unseen realm, but we know of their existence because Allah told us. The second type is something that moves from the unseen realm to that of the witnessed. Allah (swt) tells us:
“Allah knows what every female carries and what the wombs lose [prematurely] or exceed. And everything with Him is by due measure. [He is] Knower of the unseen and the witnessed, the Grand, the Exalted.” (Qur’an, 13:8-9)
At the beginning of pregnancy, we do not know what a woman carries in her womb. It is in the unseen. But it moves from the unseen world to that of the witnessed. Allah (swt) then tells us:
“It is the same [to Him] concerning you whether one conceals [his] speech or one publicizes it and whether one is hidden by night or conspicuous [among others] by day.” (Qur’an, 13:10)
Imam Suhaib once said, “I got 99 problems, and Allah has Ninety-Nine Names to help me with them”. I truly felt the impact of Allah being the Knower of the Unseen a few weeks ago, when I came home really tired. I was not in the mood to cook, so I decided to order food online.
I had ordered on that website before. Once you pay, a circle appears with 6 boxes that get ticked off as they get done. The order roughly was: “processing payment”, “transferring to restaurant”, “waiting for restaurant to accept order”, “preparing food”, “food on its way”, “delivered!”
After the first two boxes were ticked, it stopped at “waiting for restaurant to accept order”, and it stayed there for a while. This part sometimes takes some time, and as it was Saturday night, I was kind of expecting it. Anyway, I waited and waited, but it did not get ticked off. I started to do things in the meanwhile. I came back and it was still in the same place. Grr. Why did I order food on a Saturday night? Should I just cancel the order?
Suddenly my doorbell rang. When I answered, it was the delivery guy. It actually only took 30 minutes from when I placed the order. The restaurant people had just forgotten to update that page.
This might seem like such a silly example, but I truly felt that Allah is al-Lateef (the Subtle and Kind) and ‘Aalim al-Ghayb wal-Shahaadah.
That 30-minute experience is like a microcosm of life. We focus on the frustrating thing in front of us thinking that because we cannot see it move or change, nothing is happening. So we react out of our impatience, and feel justified in our anger. But in the unseen world, and in places we have no knowledge of, things are happening.
So just because things are moving slow in front of you—or maybe not moving at all—despite your efforts, remember that whatever Allah (swt) has written will pass. If something is written for you, no one can stop it. And if it is not, it will never befall you. You might want to give up, you might want to leave, but remember just because you cannot see the change in front of you, it does not mean that things are not moving forward.
And maybe, if you are patient enough, the delivery guy will surprise you by coming at an unexpected time.
Indeed, “That is the Knower of the unseen and the witnessed, the Exalted in Might, the Merciful,” (Qur’an, 32:6).