Did Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) have Ilme Ghaib?
a) Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.)
Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) was superior to all the Prophets (a.s.), in fact he (s.a.w.a.) is Allahâs greatest creation. When Ilme Ghaib is proved for other creatures, then it is already proved for Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.). Nonetheless, we have advanced some verses as evidence of his greatness as these Muslims take the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) as an ordinary mortal and try to lower his position in this manner.
i) Proclamation and Revelation
When for the first time, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was informed about Prophethood (besat) and subsequently, during the revelation of verses, prove Ilme Ghaib was bestowed on him (s.a.w.a.). To the extent that the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was informed about this before and to the exclusion of others shows he (s.a.w.a.) was recipient of Ilme Ghaib. This in fact was true for all Prophets (a.s.) and one who denies Ilme Ghaib after this has in fact failed to understand the basic concept of prophethood and method of divine communication.
ii) Holy Quran
Anyone who understands the importance of the Quran will testify that it is filled with amazing sciences and the most profound secrets available to none except those who Allah chooses. This amazing book was revealed to the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and he (s.a.w.a.) is the foremost recipient of the secrets of the Quran.
âAnd with Him are the keys of the unseen treasures– none knows them but He; and He knows what is in the land and the sea, and there falls not a leaf but He knows it, nor a grain in the darkness of the earth, nor anything green nor dry but (it is all) in a clear book.â (Surah Anaam (6): Verse 59)
âAnd on the day when We will raise up in every people a witness against them from among themselves, and bring you as a witness against these– and We have revealed the Book to you explaining clearly everything, and a guidance and mercy and good news for those who submit.â (Surah Nahl (16): Verse 89)
All secrets, sciences, events of the past and future, every conceivable knowledge is present in the Quran. The Quran was revealed on the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.). Anyone who denies Ilme Ghaib was given to the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has in fact rejected the importance of the Quran and its sciences and has taken it as an ordinary book that every Muslim can claim to understand.
iii)Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Ascension to the Heavens (Meraaj)
It is clear from the Quran that the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) ascended to the skies (Meraaj) and witnessed the most amazing spectacles which can only be classified as Ilme Ghaib.
iv) Information of the past nations
Allah repeatedly narrates the incidents of the past nations to the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and emphasises that it is Ilme Ghaib.
âThis is of the announcements relating to the unseen (which) We reveal to you, and you were not with them when they resolved upon their affair, and they were devising plans.â (Surah Yusuf (12): Verse 102)
âThese are announcements relating to the unseen which We reveal to you, you did not know them– (neither) you nor your people– before thisâ¦â (Surah Hud (11): Verse 49)
This knowledge was granted by Allah to Prophet Muhammad (a.s.) and He reminds the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) on more than one occasion that he (s.a.w.a.) was not there and the knowledge being granted is therefore the Unseen.
And you were not on the western side when We revealed to Moosa the commandment and you were not among the witnesses.â (Surah Qasas (28): Verse 44)
ââ¦and you were not dwelling among the people of Madyanâ¦â (Surah Qasas (28): Verse 45)
And you were not on this side of the mountain when We calledâ¦â (Surah Qasas (28): Verse 46)
Another point worth noting is that we Muslims were not present in the era of the past nations and we have learnt of their condition from the Quran. This knowledge of the unseen has been granted to us while we were born even later than the Prophet (s.a.w.a.). A little reflection tells us that when we can be recipients of Ilme Ghaib, it is foolish to discuss whether the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) received Ilme Ghaib!
Even Firaun tests Hazrat Moosaâs (a.s.) knowledge of the unseen by asking him of the past generations:
He (Firaun) said: Then what is the state of the former generations? He (Moosa) said: The knowledge thereof is with my Lord in a book, my Lord errs not, nor does He forget.â (Surah Taha (20): Verses 51-52)
Firaun was clear that knowledge of the past generations was Ilme Ghaib and Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) reinforces this by admitting that the knowledge is only with Allah.
Surprisingly, a tyrant and corrupt person like Firaun who claimed godhood understood the concept of Ilme Ghaib very well, but the Muslims are still grappling with such a simple issue and denying an evident thing.
v)Wives of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.)
âAnd when the prophet secretly communicated a piece of information to one of his wives– but when she informed (others) of it, and Allah made him to know it, he made known part of it and avoided part; so when he informed her of it, she said: Who informed you of this? He said: The Knowing, the one Aware, informed me.â (Surah Tahreem (66): Verse 3)
There are two evidences of Ilme Ghaib over here. First when the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) informed of the Ghaib to one of his wives (Hafsah) in confidentiality. Second is when Allah informed the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) that the wife had betrayed him (s.a.w.a.) and spilled the secret to another wife (Aesha).
This is further proof of Allah informing His Prophet (s.a.w.a.) of the Ghaib. Anyone who rejects Ilme Ghaib of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) after such verses can only be described as a disbeliver as he has rejected an evident verse.
vi) Witness in the nation
Prophets (a.s.) are witnesses of their nations and will be brought on the Day of Judgement to bear testimony to the actions of their people.
Regarding the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), Allah has emphasised this on more than one occasion:
âAnd on the day when We will raise up in every people a witness against them from among themselves, and bring you as a witness against theseâ¦â (Surah Nahl (16): Verse 89)
âAnd thus We have made you a medium (just) nation that you may be the bearers of witness to the people and (that) the Apostle may be a bearer of witness to youâ¦â (Surah Baqarah (2): Verse 143)
âHow will it be, then, when We bring from every people a witness and bring you as a witness against these?â (Surah Nisa (4): Verse 41)
How is it possible for Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) to bear witness to the actions of the people of his nation when he has passed away?
Quran replies to this:
¦and now Allah and His Apostle will see your actions, then you shall be brought back to the Knower of the unseen and the seen, then He will inform you of what you did.â (Surah Taubah (9): Verse 94)
And say: Work; so Allah will see your work and (so will) His Apostle and the believers; and you shall be brought back to the Knower of the unseen and the seen, then He will inform you of what you did.â (Surah Taubah (9): Verse 105)
It is clear from these verses that the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) who is considered dead and helpless by these Muslims is far from dead and helpless. He is a witness to every action of every person in his nation while he was in their midst and after having passed away and will continue to witness the actions until the Day of Resurrection. Anyone who denies Ilme Ghaib for the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has in fact denied these verses and the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is a witness to their denial.
Iblis and Ilme Ghaib
Ilme Ghaib was available not only with the aforementioned, even Iblis, the enemy of Allah, was used to stealing news from the skies which is how the soothsayers and seers on the earth were able to predict certain news accurately. It is only with the birth of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was Iblis prohibited from accessing this news.
âSurely We have adorned the nearest heaven with an adornment, the stars, And (there is) a safeguard against every rebellious Shaitan. They cannot listen to the exalted assembly and they are thrown at from every side. Being driven off, and for them is a perpetual chastisement. Except him who snatches off but once then there, follows him a brightly shining flame.â (Surah Saaffaat (37): Verses 6-10)
If Iblis can have access to Ilme Ghaib albeit illegitimately, why should it surprise any Muslim if Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) can have access to such knowledge legitimately? A situation where Iblis is aware of something that is not known to the prophet of a nation is inconceivable as it would lead people into doubt about the veracity of a prophet who claims divine connection and is more worthy of possessing the knowledge than Iblis, an enemy of Allah.
The aforementioned evidences were produced from the decisive verses of the Quran which cannot be debated on grounds of ambiguity. It is sufficient for a person to be branded as a disbeliever if he rejects just one verse of the Quran. The verses that talk of Ilme Ghaib are too many to be listed. It is interesting to see how many of these verses can be rejected and on what grounds.
Ilme Ghaib from the Sunnah
While we have produced only Quranic verses so far there are many more incidents of Ilme Ghaib in the Sunnah. The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) forecasted several incidents like discord in the nation after his death, the ascension of unworthy ones like Bani Marwan to caliphate, Muawiyahâs hunger never getting satiated, battles of Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) with the three groups â” Nakeseen (Aesha, Talhah, Zubair), Qaasiteen (Muawiyah) and Mareqeen (Khariji), killing of Ammar (r.a.) at the hands of an unjust group, Aeshaâs revolt despite being ordered to remain confined to the house, killing of Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) in a manner that his beard would be dyed with his own blood, killing of Imam Husain (a.s.) in Karbala at the hands of Yazid, signs of the last era like cheating, debauchery, homosexuality, etc.
Reconciliation between Verses
Since there are several verses that prove Ilme Ghaib was bestowed on Allahâs creatures and the verses advanced by these Muslims prove that prophets (a.s.) claimed ignorance regarding Ilme Ghaib, a reconciliation between the two sets of verses is in order.
As Allah claims in Surah Nisa (4): Verse 82, âDo they not then reflect on the Quran? And if it were from any other than Allah, they would have found in it many a discrepancyâ, it is necessary to look at this topic in a manner that puts both the verses in the right contextâ.
Prophetâs (s.a.w.a.) helplessness in accessing the Unseen
When the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) proclaims helplessness in accessing Ilme Ghaib it is because original Ilme Ghaib is with Allah Alone and none has any authority or access over essential divine knowledge. This is the context of all such verses advanced by these Muslims as also verses like the 101st verse of Surah Taubah (9):
âAnd from among those who are round about you of the dwellers of the desert there are hypocrites, and from among the people of Medina (also); they are stubborn in hypocrisy; you do not know them; We know themâ¦â
Like all other divine powers, all knowledge including knowledge of the unseen, belongs to Allah. All wisdom, knowledge, power, sovereignty, dominion, kingdom, guidance among others belong to Allah. Anyone who seeks a partner for Allah in these matters is a polytheist.
While all these â” knowledge, power, kingdom, etc are originally for Allah, He has bestowed the same to His creatures.
ââ¦Say: Surely grace is in the hand of Allah, He gives it to whom He pleases; and Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing.â (Surah Ale Imran (3): Verse 73)
âHe specially chooses for His mercy whom He pleases; and Allah is the Lord of mighty grace.â (Surah Ale Imran (3): Verse 74)
These verses make it clear that Grace (knowledge, wisdom, kingdom, etc which originally belong to Allah) can be bestowed by Allah to His creatures. He can give what He pleases to whomsoever He pleases and none can question Him â” âHe cannot be questioned concerning what He does and they shall be questioned.â (Suran Ambiya (21): Verse 23)
Specifically with regards to bestowal of Ilme Ghaib Allah says:
âSay: I do not know whether that with which you are threatened be nigh or whether my Lord will appoint for it a term. The knower of the unseen! So He does not reveal His secrets to any except to him whom He chooses as an apostle..â (Surah Jinn (72): Verses 25-27)
These verses provide a perfect contrast between Allahâs knowledge and Prophetâs (s.a.w.a.) knowledge and settle the debate conclusively. Initially the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) claims ignorance in a matter only for Allah to immediately declare that the knowledge of the unseen is a secret that He does not reveal to anyone except his chosen apostles. Indeed who can be more select near Allah than His Beloved â” Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.)?
Denying Ilme Ghaib merits Allahâs Wrath
âEvil is that for which they have sold their souls– that they should deny what Allah has revealed, out of envy that Allah should send down of His grace on whomsoever of His servants He pleases; so they have made themselves deserving of wrath upon wrath, and there is a disgraceful punishment for the unbelievers.â (Surah Baqarah (2): Verse 90)
The point clearly brought forward in this verse is that it is only out of envy that the evil-doers, deny the grace that Allah has bestowed on His servants. So, the Muslims who deny Ilme Ghaib for the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) need to check if this verse refers to them because then âthey will have made themselves deserving of wrath upon wrath, and there is a disgraceful punishment for the unbelievers.â (Surah Baqarah (2): Verse 90)