What are the imperceptible facts of our lives — the facts that are part and parcel of our lives and yet, we are either heedless or unaware of them? The purpose of this article is to highlight those facts on the basis of Qur’anic verses and Ahadith, and thus bring each of us face-to-face with his/her inner self. This gives the person an opportunity to know those unseen entities that make up his spiritual self and prepare himself/herself for the journey to Eternity. Besides addressing this inner world, the article addresses the environment we live in, and it exposes us to the factors (seen and unseen) that impact the course of our lives. In doing so, sometimes the article has resorted to scientific facts for explanation and better understanding.
Creation and the Human Life Cycle
Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), the Creator, creates with the Command “Kun!” or “Be!” With this Command, inert material comes into existence: “Fa-Yakun,” “And it is”:
“…the Originator of the heavens and the earth. And when He decrees a thing to be He but says to it ‘Be,’ and it is.” [Sûrah Al-Baqarah, 2:117]
The Holy Qur’an refers to this inert state as a state of death. Then comes the state of life, followed by death, followed by Resurrection and Eternal life:
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“How can you cover up [the Truth] about Allah when you were dead and He made you alive? Then He will make you dead, then make you alive [again], then to Him you shall return.” [Sûrah Al-Baqarah, 2:28]
“They will say, “Our Lord, You have made us die twice and made us live twice, and we have now confessed our sins, so is there any way out [of the punishment]?” [Sûrah Ghâfir, 40:11]
Our worldly life begins at birth and ends in death; this worldly life is only a very short segment of our life cycle. In death the body decays to the earth, while the spiritual life continues. Although short, our worldly life is extremely important because it serves as the stage of preparation for the upcoming Eternal life. Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) gives us life to test how well we will do (67:2). The result of this test determines the course of the Hereafter.
Our Status and Responsibility
Man is created differently from all other creations, both in his physical and spiritual make up, referred to as “In the best of molds” (95:4). Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) created the physical mold of Adam with His Two Hands (38:75), and activated Adam’s spiritual mold by blowing Rûḥ into him (38:72) and giving him knowledge (2:31). This raised Adam’s status to be Allah’s “Khalifah,”(trustee) and made him worthy of respect from angels and Iblis.
The physical growth of the human embryo is directed by the human genome inherited from Adam. The embryo becomes a spiritual entity only after the Rûḥ is blown into him while still in his mother’s womb. It is this genomic constitution and spirituality that makes him different from other creations. This is what the Quran calls the “Khalqan Akhar” (23:14), and is to be addressed, inshaAllah, in a further article.
The nature of the human being is built in accord with the blueprint of Tawhîd, the essence of Allah’s Religion. The blueprint registering man’s nature is preserved in a template within his DNA which is used for his propagation. Consequently, every child is born with a physical and spiritual nature consistent with Monotheism:
“So, O Muhammad, set your face towards the Hanîfa Religion [of pure Islamic Monotheism] [in which is] the nature (Fitrah) [set by] Allah, in accord with which He has created mankind. No change let there be in [the form of] Allah’s Creation (Khalq-illah): that is the straight religion, but most men know not.” [Sûrah Al-Rum, 30:30]
Similarly, the Khalq-illah is the subject for a separate article.
Fitrah, meaning the inborn human nature, the natural disposition of man without corruption, embodies the virtues of mankind. It is a gift from Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). It derives from Allah’s own ‘Fitrah’ which we refer to as Islamic Monotheism. Allah’s Fitrah likewise is reflected in the essence of His Religion, Islam:
“The only [true] religion inthe sight of God is [man’s] self-surrender [al-islâm] unto Him. [Surah Âl-‘Imrân, 3:19]
The assignment of Adam was to be Allah’s Deputy on earth, to be His Trustee, to practice and preach Tawhîd, to be the father of mankind and worship Him:
“And I (Allah) created not the Jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (alone)” [Sûrah Al-Dhariyat, 51:56]
Our Lives: A Trial And a Lonely Journey
The worldly life of each of us, birth to death, is a lonely journey on a fixed timeline. During the course of life we earn deeds, wealth and family. In death, it is only the deeds that accompany us into the next life. On the Day of Judgment, we will be asked of the blessings (102:8), and judged by our deeds in relation to them: we alone, and no one else, will be accountable (53:38) for our deeds. Thus, in terms of spiritual life, we are born alone, walk alone, die alone, are resurrected alone (31:28), and bear the burden of responsibility alone:
“Your creation and your resurrection [from the dead] are only like [that of] a single person. Surely Allah is Hearing, Seeing.” [Sûrah Luqmân, 31:28]
“And no bearer of burdens shall bear another’s burden; and if one heavily laden calls another to (bear) his load, nothing of it will be lifted, even though he be near of kin…” [Sûrah Al-Fatir, 35:18]
Life is a trial, fraught with challenges. In facing these challenges, one finds his strength, inner potential and qualities that make human beings superior to other creations. It is our action, and its quality, that sets us apart in the Sight of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala):
“Verily! We have made that which is on earth as an adornment for it, in order that We may test them (mankind) as to which of them are best in deeds.” [Sûrah Al-Kahf, 18:7]
The inner-self of the human being is composed of invisible spiritual entities like the Rûḥ [Spirit], the Nafs [Soul], the Qalb [spiritual heart], and the Nasiyya (Mind). Each one of these entities as well as the invisible forces like Angels and Jinn, and the environment we live in plays an important role in our everyday life:
The Rûḥ (Spirit) comes by order directly from Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). In the case of Adam, Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) blew the Rûḥ into him, and in the case of the human embryo, the angels bring the Rûḥ from Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and blow it into the fetus, at the end of the third forty-day period of gestation, that is, after 120 days, (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 4, Hadith No. 549). It is the Rûḥ that imparts the humane qualities to human beings. Rûḥ as an abstract entity is mentioned only in reference to the creation of the human being:
“Then He fashioned him in due proportion, and breathed into him [life] from His Spirit (Rûḥ) and He gave you hearing, sight and hearts. Little is the thanks that you give!” [Sûrah Al-Sajdah, 32:9]
The Nafs (Soul) comes into existence after the Rûḥ enters the body. It has the knowledge of right and wrong. It has both earthly and spiritual qualities. It is more inclined to the charms of the world, so if left alone, it can ruin one’s life; but if purified, it can lead to ultiimate spiritual success. Most importantly, the Nafs can be trained to reach its highest level, called Muthmainnah. :
“[I swear] by the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it. And by its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right: Truly he succeeds who purifies [his soul], And he fails who corrupts it!” [Sûrah Al-Shams, 91:7-10]
Souls are categorized in Quranic terminology as being of three types:
- The Ammarah soul (12:53), which is inclined to vices
- The Lawwama soul (75:2), which is the reproaching soul
- The Muṭma’innah soul (89:27), which is the soul that is at complete rest and contentment, pleased with itself and pleased with the Lord:
“O you, the soul in (complete) rest and contentment! Come back to your Lord well pleased (yourself) and well pleased (unto Him).” [Surah Al-Fajr, 89:27-28]
This soul is the driving force behind our every-day lives , looking after our physical and emotional needs, and making suggestions to our minds. The soul works with free will in our minds; while the soul makes suggestions to our minds to act on our wishes and needs, free will allows the mind the flexibility in decision-making.
The human mind is a mysterious metaphysical entity. It is the center of intention, decision-making and command, while the brain is the physical means to carry out the orders. The human mind works in conjunction with the heart, the soul, and free will. From a neuro-scientific point of view, the human brain receives and processes information [sensory impulses], and the mind works with that information to plan and decide, directing the brain to execute the decision. Because of its decision-making authority, the mind will be held responsible for all our actions:
“The sinners (Mujrimûn) will be known by their marks [black faces] and will be seized by their forelocks (Nawas) and feet.” [Sûrah Al-Rahman, 55:41)
Qalb (Spiritual Heart)
In the world of spirituality, the spiritual heart or Qalb has a special place. The Qalb is the site of inspiration, faith, peace, guidance and wisdom. The use of the word Qalb (pl. Qulûb) in the Qur’an and Hadith primarily conveys a spiritual meaning. The Holy Qur’an attributes the faculty of understanding and seeing to the spiritual heart:
“Have they not traveled in the land, and do they not have hearts with which to understand, or ears with which to hear? For surely eyes do not become blind, but it is the hearts [qulûb] in the breasts that grow blind.” [Sûrah Al-Ḥajj, 22:46]
The Qalb also perceives emotions. It directs the brain to express the signs of happiness and sadness, comfort and discomfort, and love and hate, through touch, smile, tears and facial expressions:
“Hearts [qulûb] that day shall throb and their eyes shall be downcast.” [Sûrah Al-Nâzi’ât, 79:8-9]
The spiritual nature of the heart (qalb) is further supported by the absence of proof of physical rusting (ran) or any covering (khitam) on the sinner’s heart:
“Nay! But on their hearts [qulûb] is the covering of sins and evil deeds [ran] which they used to earn” [Sûrah Al-Mutaffifin, 83:14]
“This is because they believed, then covered up [the Truth], and thus a seal [khitam] [has been placed] on their hearts and they do not understand.” [Sûrah Al-Munâfiqûn, 63:3]
Fu’âd, is a special attribute of the Qalb. It is coined the “Little Brain” because it separates truth from falsehood:
“His heart [fu’âd] did not lie [about] what he saw.” [Sûrah Al-Najm, 53:11]
Al-Qaḍa’ wa al-Qadr
The doctrine of Al–Qaḍa’ wa Al-Qadr explains that the full plan of Allah’s creations was “recorded” in Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz (The Preserved Tablet), “written” fifty-thousand years before the time when creation came into existence. This record has pre-recorded the future course of actions of all members of His creation —before any of it happened— dictated to “the Pen” by Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) from His Eternal Knowledge. He is the Knower and See-er of all, irrespective of the Past, Present or Future tense of time and place, as we know it in our human experience:
“…He knows what happens to them (the creations) in this world and what will happen to them in the Hereafter…” [Sûrah Al-Baqarah, 2:255]
“He is Allah, than Whom there is no god but Him, Knower of the Unseen and the Seen. He is the Universally Merciful, the Singularly Compassionate.” [Sûrah Al-Ḥashr, 59:22]
Divine Decree (Qaḍa’) governs the creation in a domain far beyond human reach. It applies to knowledge of the Hour (Resurrection), creation in the mother’s womb (in the depth of darkness), the control of weather, the individual’s sustenance, and the time and place of death of an individual:
“Truly with Allah is knowledge of the Hour. He sends down the drenching rain and He knows what is in the wombs. And no one knows what [he or she] will earn tomorrow, and no one knows in what land they will die. Surely Allah is Knowing, Aware.” [Sûrah Luqmân, 31:34]
Beside the doctrine of Qaḍa,’ there is that of Qadr (“Power and Proportion”). In every unit of creation the doctrines of Al-Qaḍa’ wa Al-Qadr work synergistically. This means that every thing that is created is created according to the intention and knowledge of Allah, also with His power —under Allah’s complete control— and in due proportion/measure in keeping with His purpose:
“He to whom belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth. … He has created everything and has measured it exactly according to its due measurement.” [Sûrah Al-Furqân, 25:2]
“Surely We have created everything to measure.” [Sûrah Al-Qamar, 54:49]
Once creation comes into existence, it must follow a set of rules instilled into it by Divine Inspiration. A creation fashioned in due proportion and functioning in submission to Divine Rule means that each part of the universe obeys the laws which Allah has put into operation for that segment, allowing for an interconnectedness of universal peace and tranquility:
“And He decreed that there be seven heavens in two æons and ordained in each heaven its [unique] law. And We adorned the heavens of the world with lamps and protected it. That is the decree of the Mighty, the Knower.” [Sûrah Al–Fuṣṣilât, 41:12]
“…Who created and proportioned, and Who measures and guides,..” [Sûrah Al-‘A’lâ, 87:2-3]
Where science follows the Qur’an
The Balance of existence: Allah’s Glory, Omniscience and Omnipotence are manifested in the design of the universe and in everything it contains. One aspect of that design is that, ever since creation began, the universe is in constant motion and constant expansion, and yet, we hardly ever feel any impact of that motion or expansion: our position remains constant in relation to our environment. That is because Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) created gravitational force between each component of the universe to establish balance in the universe. He anchored us to the surface of the earth so that we are neither pulled in by the earth nor drawn out into the space:
“Verily! Allah grasps the heavens and the earth lest they will move away from their places…” [Sûrah Fatir, 35:41]
Besides the gravitational force, there are revolving forces and rotational speeds which cause the planets to revolve each on its own axis and to rotate around a much larger mass (viz. the sun) at the center of their orbits to create the sense of daily, monthly and yearly periods of time. Amazingly, despite the earth’s spinning at 1,037 miles/hr on its own axis, and moving at 66,660 miles/hr in its orbit, we never feel the impact of such speeds because of the intricate balance locked into the design:
“It is He Who created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon: all (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its rounded course” [Sûrah Al-‘Anbiyâ’, 21:33]
The concept of time, speed and space: The details of time, speed and space vary according to the realm of existence: from planet to planet and from creation to creation. At the beginning, when the earth and the heavens came into existence, they were joined to each other; the heavens existing in the form of cloud. Then, they were separated:
“Do not those who cover up [the Truth] see that the heavens and the earth were of one piece and We parted them…?” [Sûrah Al-‘Anbiyâ’, 21:30]
The Big Bang theory supports this Qur’anic Revelation. This currently accepted theory postulates that, before explosion, all the material of the universe was confined to a single point, called its “Point Zero,” resting at “Time Zero.” Because of high density and high heat-energy, the material at Point Zero exploded with a tremendous force, scattering around all its material. The force of that explosion continues to expand the area of space :
“With power did We construct the heaven. Verily, We are able to expand the vastness of space thereof.” [Surah Al-Dhâriyât, 51:47]
The instant when the separation began, “Time Zero,” is considered the “beginning of time.” The residual force of explosion continues to drive all matter outward, so that space (distance) is the product of time and speed—to speak in terms familiar in modern Physics.
The speed of separation and expansion is beyond human perception (68 kilometers per second per megaparsec. (One megaparsec is 1 million parsec, which equals 3.26 million light years!).
Cosmic plasma: In science, the understanding of ‘cosmic plasma’ is a recent phenomenon. It postulates that charged particles and fluids interacting with self-consistent electrical and magnetic fields fills up the so called ‘vacuum’ in between the visible celestial bodies. The Holy Qur’an, revealed 14 centuries ago, referred to the creation of the heavens and the earth and “what is in between” as having been created in six aeons:
“And We indeed created the heavens and the earth and everything between them in six cycles of time, and no weariness touched Us.” [Sûrah Al-Qâf, 50:38]
It is the cosmic plasma that provides the fabric of space in which the gravitational force can exert the ‘pull-effect’ on its neighboring objects.
Time and speed in different spheres of existence: In the realm of the Creator, the concepts of time, space, and speed are totally beyond our comprehension, as is revealed to us in the Divine Expression:
“And to Allah [belong the] unseen [dimensions of] the heavens and the earth. And the command for the Hour is nothing but the twinkling of an eye or closer. Surely Allah has power over all things.” [Sûrah Al-Naḥl, 16:77]
According to Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity, when an object travels at the speed of light, it contracts in size. Thus at higher speeds, an object may lose its physical characteristics and travel at the speed of light or faster, making the travel time extremely short for a given distance. For example in the world of metaphysics, there are speeds that are much faster than the speed of light and so speeds differ according to the nature of the object/entity that is subjected to speed, as in case of Divine Command:
“He arranges [all] the orders from the heavens to the earth, and in the end all shall ascend to Him on a Day the length of which will be [like] a thousand years of those you count.” [Sûrah Al-Sajdah, 32:5]
Or, like Angels and the Rûḥ:
“The angels and the Spirit ascend to Him in a Day the length of which is fifty thousand years.” [Sûrah Al-Ma’ârij, 70:4]
Or, like the Jinn [Ifrit]
“An ‘ifrît from among the jinn said, “I will bring it to you before you get up from your place. Truly I am strong and trustworthy for this [task]!” [Sûrah Al-Naml, 27:39]
In summary, this article has attempted to help us reach knowledge that is beyond ordinary perception. We have elaborated on the creation, Allah’s Creating Power, His Qaḍa’ wa Al-Qadr, and His Eternal Knowledge.
We have addressed man’s life, his status, his natural disposition, his responsibility, his perennial journey towards Eternity and final accountability. In describing man as Allah’s best creation, we have highlighted man’s inner potential, given to him as various gifts. He has been exhorted to explore those qualities to know himself and his status among other creations.
We have referred to the environment that man lives in, which is full of entities, visible and invisible, to understand how the environment influences his daily life.
And, finally, we addressed man’s existence in relation to time, space and speed so as to show that these entities are not constant, but differ from place to place, and creation to creation.
Thus this topic, “Far Beyond My Comprehension,” has been all about man, his inner-self, his Creator, and the environment he lives in. As with my book by the same title— my purpose here has been helping bring man face to face with his inner-self, so that he can best discover guidance on a Path that leads to his Creator.
1 The full length 400-page book by Dr. Mohammed Siraj Uddin, MD, FACG, FACP, Far Beyond My Comprehension, 2015, is available at modest cost in paperback and Kindle editions. A preview can be seen at:
Originally posted 2019-05-07 20:28:37.