Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan
Question: I am a new Muslim who grew up in a strongly secular environment. I struggle with the issue of al-ghayb: the unseen, the unknowable, hidden realities.
For example, I know that Allah said in the Quran that certain Bedouins didn’t have iman, but only have islam. (49:14) And I know that Moses wanted to see Allah but was knocked unconscious (7:143).
There are days when I find it difficult to take Allah, angels, jannah, and jahannam seriously, because I cannot see them. I believe in them in theory and principle, but without having any direct experience of them, they still feel unreal or imaginary on some level. Can you offer any advice to help me strengthen and secure my iman in that regard?
What practical advice can you give?
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,
I pray this finds you in the best of health and states.
The basis of our belief in the unseen (ghayb) is that Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) informed us thereof. Once we have firm conviction and absolute certainty in Allah and in the messengership of our Master Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), it only follows that we have certainty in everything they inform us of as well.
We were not meant to see angels, heaven or hell. Rather, our Master Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) received revelation about those things, and he in fact saw them as well. He was fully truthful and trustworthy, both before and after prophethood, and so our complete conviction is in all that he brought. As the Companion Abu Bakr (Allah be pleased with him) said when told of the Prophet’s Night Journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and back, “If he said it, it is undoubtedly true.”
Important Related Answers
As for general advice on strengthening one’s faith, please see the following related answers, as much of their content addresses your personal situation. Also, there are some important reading lists in these answers that could prove very helpful for you.
The Truth of Islam, the Qur’an, & the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him)
I would especially advise you to study the life of our Master Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), and read books on his qualities, character and miracles (see above links for reading lists).
Important Related Courses
Also, there are many courses here at Seekersguidance that might prove helpful, particularly those on Islamic spirituality, such as:
I would also encourage you to read “Sea Without Shore” by Sheikh Nuh Keller.
Gratitude: Seeing the Miracles in Our Lives
Lastly, I want to highlight the virtue of gratitude as a specific means of seeing ‘miracles’ in one’s personal life. The great sage Ibn Ata’illah said, “Whoever does not realize the value of blessings when possessing them, will surely come to realize their value upon losing them.” We have countless blessings in our spiritual ‘blind spot’, out of our mental gaze and hence not appreciated. Yet the moment we lose a blessing, its worth becomes magnified a hundred fold. How many a person with full eyesight failed to appreciate it, yet upon becoming blind could think of nothing else? How many a person with normal speech took it for granted, yet after a brain tumor that caused muteness came to see speech as the greatest blessing one could possess?
The blind and mute see people with eyesight and speech as kings, drowning in unimaginable blessings. And if they ever regain those blessings, they become completely bewildered with them, in utter awe and marvel of what they so longed for. For those of us who are being inundated and flooded by these gifts, we should marvel over them now before they are God forbid lost. Doing so will let us see the tsunami of miracles we experience at every moment of our existence, sent down by the Divine Himself.
“And He unleashes upon you His blessings, both manifest and hidden” (Qur’an 31:20). Realizing our blessings allows us to see the Bestower of those blessings. And Allah knows best.
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani