By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam
The dispute over the issue of the holy prophet’s (peace be upon him) knowledge of the unseen is so serious that it has divided Muslims into two sections. A section believes that the prophet (peace be upon him) did not have the knowledge of the unseen and so those who believe otherwise are Kafirs while the other believes that those who do not have faith in the prophet’s Ilm-e-Ghaib and consider him an ordinary man comes closer to apostasy.
Wahhabi ideologues repeatedly call those who believe in this prophetic virtue as Kafir. They have spread the misleading interpretations of the Quran on the subject among Muslims. Consequently this has caused a serious schism in the community and it has turned into a major cause of conflict between two sections of the Muslims. Therefore, there is a need to sincerely resolve this important issue related to the prophet’s knowledge of the unseen according to the Quran and Hadith.
Barring hypocrites, the holy companions never denied the prophet’s unseen knowledge (peace be upon him). The opponents have evolved since Abdul Wahhab mis-contextualized the verses of the holy Quran. This led to conflict and division among Muslims. Initially, Wahhabi propounded ideology was refuted even by Deoband Ulema. Later they, too, started believing the prophet’s knowledge to be equal to theirs.
We need to understand the Quran and Hadiths seeking help from God Almighty. This will lead us to the right conclusion.
The prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is endowed by God with knowledge of the unseen. So it does not suggest that the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) knowledge was equal to that of Allah. Whatever knowledge the prophet (peace be upon him) had was a gift of God.
Therefore those who have faith in the knowledge of the Prophet (peace be upon him), are not non-believers (kafir). The Qur’an clearly says:
“That is from the news of the unseen which We reveal to you, [O Muhammad peace be upon him]”. (3: 44)
“The Knower of Unseen reveals not His secret to anyone. Except to His chosen Messengers” (72: 26)
“Allah has sent down to you the Book and Wisdom and has taught you what you did not know and great is the grace of Allah upon you.” (4:113)
“Nor will He disclose to you the secrets of the Unseen. But He chooses of His Apostles (For the purpose)” (3:179)
The verses quoted above justify that Allah almighty has granted Muhammad (peace be upon him) the knowledge of unseen and so whoever beliefs in it cannot be termed Kafirs.
Now let us analyse some most authentic Hadiths justifying that the prophet has the knowledge of unseen.
During the battle of Badr, the Prophet had already told the names of those pagans who were going to die. He also described how the companions would be martyred. (Sahih Bukhari chapter on the Battle of Badr, Tafsir Ibn Kathir on Surah Luqman Aayat 34)
Imam Bukhari writes: “Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) stood up in one meeting and started telling us about events from the beginning of this world to the end. He told us about the Heaven, the Hell, the people who were going to hell or heaven and what will be their places in heaven and hell. Of course, some people remember what he told us and some people have forgotten. (Bukhari, Chapter Bada-Ul-Khalq)
“The Munafiqs (hypocrites) made an objection to the knowledge of the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Prophet (peace be upon him) stood on the pulpit and said, “Ask me what you will”. One person stood up and asked, “What will be my place in the Hereafter?” The Prophet replied, “Hell”. Another person whose name was Abdullah bin Huzaifa, (people doubted whether he was a legitimate child), stood up and asked, “Who is my Father?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, “Your Father is Huzaifa”. (Thus the accusation on Abdullah bin Huzaifa was cleared.) The Prophet (peace be upon him) repeated, “Ask me, ask me”. (Bukhari Kitab-ul-I’tisaam Muslim chap on Fadial]
“The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) led the Fajr prayer. Then he sat on the pulpit. He, thereafter, informed the people of the unseen things till Zuhar. After Zuhar, he sat on the pulpit and continued the same till Asar, then sat on the pulpit and continued until Maghrib prayer. He even informed of the dwellers of Paradise and Hell”
(Muslim Shareef: chapter of Fadial)
It is clear from the verse above that only hypocrites (Munafiqs) rejected the prophet’s knowledge of the unseen. It is notable that Allah imparted His Prophet more knowledge than anyone else on the earth, which is the belief of every companion (Sahabi).
The following narration from Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal further confirms the Prophet’s knowledge:
“The Prophet (peace be upon him) stated, “I have seen my Lord, He put His hands upon my chest, after which everything appeared before me and I recognized everything”
(Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, vol 5, page 243)
There is a Hadith with identical meanings from Sahih Muslim:
The Prophet (peace be upon him) stated, “Allah put the earth before me and I saw it from the East to the West” (Muslim, Chapter of Excellence of the Prophet (peace be upon him)
Hafidhh Ibn Kathir and Ibn Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab al Najdi write:
“Suad bin Qarib recited a poem in front of the Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), “I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah. Allah has made you the trustee over all the unseen knowledge.
(Sirat-un-Nabi and Mukhtasar Sirat ul Rasool, Storey on Swad bin Qariq by Hafidhh Ibn Kathir and Ibn Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab al Najdi)
Hafidhh Ibn Kathir writes:
A shepherd was with his goats. A wolf came to them, grabbed one goat and fled away. Then the shepherd chased after the wolf to take the goat back. The wolf then spoke to him and said, “Why do you take the food (rizq) provided by Allah for me?” The shepherd was surprised, for the wolf spoke. The wolf again said, “If you are so much astonished that I can speak. You should then go to Madina. You will find the last of the Prophets who can tell you about the Past and the Future”. The shepherd left his goats and went straight to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and mentioned his experience. The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, “The wolf spoke the truth" (The chain of narrators for this Hadith is Authentic) (Taareekh: Chapter of Miracles of Prophet peace be upon him)
Allama Hafidhh Ibn Hajar Asqalani writes:
“One of the qualities bestowed upon a Prophet is the quality that he knows what has already happened in the past and what will happen in the future”.
(Fathul Bari chapter of the prophets)
The Hadiths quoted above evidently prove the unseen knowledge given to the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
A narration from a companion (Sahabi) and the classical authorities prove even the following narration about Hazrat Khidr’s unseen knowledge.
Ibn Abbas reported that Khidr was such a man who did all his work with the knowledge of the unseen because he knew the unseen (Ghaib)”. (Tafsir Tabari, Tafsir Qurtabi, Tafsir Fathul Qadir, by Imam Tabari, Qurtabi and Qadi Shawkani)
n intellectual mind can easily grasp this fact. When Allah almighty could grant this virtue to Hazrat Khidhr, it was more possible for the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to be given the unseen knowledge.
Now it is essential to clear out the doubts and wrong interpretation aired by Wahabi Ulema.
They think if prophet (peace be upon him) knew about tomorrow, why did he stop the girls during a wedding ceremony from singing a poem about his unseen knowledge?
This refers to the following Hadith:
“On one occasion our Prophet (peace be upon him) went to a wedding. The girls were singing about the battle of Badr. When they saw the Prophet (peace be upon him) coming, they stopped singing about Battle of Badr and started singing, "There is a Prophet among us that knows about tomorrow". The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “keep on singing what you were singing before”. (Miskat chapter: Nikah)
Their doubt came from the Hadith above. But perhaps they do not know the fact that the poems were written by a Companion. If they had been incorrect, the prophet (peace be upon him) would have instructed them not to repeat that.
The poem was right. He stopped them from singing the poem, for there was a wedding celebration. The prophet (peace be upon him) wanted them to sing the poem that they were singing before. Secondly the prophet never wanted to be praised in his own presence.
The major point is that the Quran does not explicitly describe the signs of the doomsday. However, everyone knows something about the day of judgement revealed by our Prophet (peace be upon him). If he did not know the unseen knowledge, how else he could have told us concerning the second coming of Jesus, the Dajjal, and the Mahdi. How he predicted the questions to be asked in the grave, the scales (Meezan) where everyone’s doings will be weighed.
Besides, it is incumbent upon us to ponder over the fact. The prophet told us “this is the Quran”, “that is Kaaba”, “there is God Almighty” all this was the unseen for Muslims. For, no one saw God Almighty except the prophet. Could anyone tell us what Muhammad (peace be upon him) got from Allah Almighty during the night of Heavenly ascension (Shab e Meraj)? No, it is not known to anyone. Even the angel Gabriel could not accompany the prophet till the last destination. We knew only what the prophet (peace be upon him) told us about. We Muslim Ummah believed in all what Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught us. We don’t know what our prophet did not predict.
Another doubt they put forward is that Allah Almighty says in the Qur’an that there are five things which are unknown to anyone except Allah. The verse is described as follows:
“Undoubtedly, Allah has the knowledge of the Hour, and He sends rain and knows what is in the wombs of the mothers and no soul knows in what land it will die. Undoubtedly, Allah is the Knower, All aware”. (Surah Luqman Verse 34)
The researched work of widely renowned Sufi Ulema sheds light on the subject. According to them the word used in the Quran is “Adri” which refers to the knowledge that can be attained by guessing. All classical Ulema unanimously agree that the prophet (peace be upon him) could not have knowledge by guessing but given by Allah Almighty.
Hafiz Ibne Kathir explains this verse that no one can get the knowledge of these five things on their own struggle. Only Allah can impart this knowledge to anyone whom he wants. For example, Allah bestows this knowledge to the Angels whose duties are to control rain on the command of Allah.
He adds saying that Allah commands an Angel to enter the mother’s womb and hangs a record around the child’s neck what he or she will do in his or her whole life. This knowledge is not gained by the Angel but given by Allah Himself. . (Tafsir Ibn Kathir)
A man of great intelligence can easily understand the contextual meaning. On the contrary, if we literally mean the quoted verse above, it will mean that only Allah is acquainted with what is in the mothers’ womb but today, we can discover quite easily if the child is a male or female by modern scanning techniques.
If the angels can be granted the knowledge of the five Unseen things by Allah, why can’t Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) deserve them as being the most beloved of Allah? Hence it is clear the prophet has the knowledge of the unseen and those who believe so, are not non-believers (Kafir).
A regular Columnist
with NewAgeIslam.com, Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Dehlvi is an Alim and Fazil
(Classical Islamic scholar), with a Sufi-Sunni background and
English-Arabic-Urdu Translator. He has also done B.A (Hons.) in Arabic, M.A. in
Arabic and M.A in English from JMI, New Delhi. He is Interested in Islamic
Sciences; Theology, Jurisprudence, Tafsir, Hadith and Islamic mysticism
A regular Columnist with NewAgeIslam.com, Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Dehlvi is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar), with a Sufi-Sunni background and English-Arabic-Urdu Translator. He has also done B.A (Hons.) in Arabic, M.A. in Arabic and M.A in English from JMI, New Delhi. He is Interested in Islamic Sciences; Theology, Jurisprudence, Tafsir, Hadith and Islamic mysticism (Tasawwuf).