Relativity of Time and the Reality of Destiny
The foregoing arguments demonstrate that we can never have direct experience of the outside world, that we only know matter as it exists inside our brains and that one leads one's whole life in "spacelessness". To assert the contrary would be to hold a superstitious belief removed from reason and scientific truth, for the things set out here are all technical and scientific facts even described in middle school textbooks.
This fact refutes the primary assumption of the materialist philosophy that underlies evolutionary theory. This is the assumption that matter is absolute and eternal. The second assumption upon which the materialistic philosophy rests is the supposition that time is absolute and eternal. This is as superstitious as the first one.
The Perception of Time
The perception we call time is, in fact, a method by which one moment is compared to another. We can explain this with an example. For instance, when a person taps an object, he hears a particular sound. When he taps the same object five minutes later, he hears another sound. He then perceives that there is an interval between the first sound and the second, and he calls this interval "time." Yet at the time he hears the second sound, the first sound he heard is no more than a bit of information in his memory. The person formulates the perception of "time" by comparing the moment in which he lives with what he has stored in his memory. If this comparison is not made, neither can there be perception of time.
Similarly, a person makes a comparison when he sees someone entering a room through its door and sitting in an armchair in the middle of the room. By the time this person sits in the armchair, the images related to the moments he opens the door, walks into the room, and makes his way to the armchair have been compiled as bits of information in the brain. The perception of time occurs when one compares the man sitting in the armchair with those bits of stored information.
In brief, time comes to exist as a result of the comparison made between a number of illusions stored in the brain. If man had not had memory, his brain would not have made such interpretations and therefore the perception of time would never have been formed. The reason why one determines himself to be thirty years old is only because he has accumulated information pertaining to those thirty years in his mind. If his memory did not exist, he would not be thinking of the existence of such a preceding period of time and he would only experience the single "moment" he was living in.
The Scientific Explanation of Timelessness
Let us try to clarify the subject by quoting explanations by various scientists and scholars on the subject. Regarding the subject of time flowing backwards, the famous intellectual and Nobel laureate professor of genetics, François Jacob, states the following in his book Le Jeu des Possibles (The Possible and the Actual):
Since our brain is accustomed to a certain sequence of events, the world operates not as it is related above and we assume that time always flows forward. However, this is a decision reached in the brain and therefore is completely relative. In reality, we can never know how time flows or even whether it flows or not. This is an indication of the fact that time is not an absolute fact but just a sort of perception.
The relativity of time is a fact also verified by the most important physicist of the 20th century, Albert Einstein. Lincoln Barnett, writes in his book The Universe and Dr. Einstein:
Einstein himself pointed out, as quoted from Barnett's book, that "space and time are forms of intuition, which can no more be divorced from consciousness than can our concepts of colour, shape, or size." According to the Theory of General Relativity, "time has no independent existence apart from the order of events by which we measure it."59
Since time consists of perception, it depends entirely on the perceiver and is therefore relative.
The speed at which time flows differs according to the references we use to measure it, because there is no natural clock in the human body to indicate precisely how fast time passes. As Lincoln Barnett wrote: "Just as there is no such thing as colour without an eye to discern it, so an instant or an hour or a day is nothing without an event to mark it."60
The relativity of time is plainly experienced in dreams. Although what we see in our dream seems to last for hours, it in fact, lasts for only a few minutes, or even a few seconds.
Let us take an example to further clarify the subject. Imagine that, for a certain unspecified period of time, we are locked up in a room with a single, specially designed window from which we can see the setting and rising of the sun, and that we have a clock by which to judge the passage of time. A few days later, our estimate of the time spent in the room will be based on our periodic clock – watching and our noting of how often the sun rose and set. At the end of our period of confinement, we come to the conclusion that we have spent three days in the room. But then our "captor" reveals that in reality if was only two days. The reason? The "sun" we had been observing had been artificially projected by a simulation machine and our clock had been regulated to run faster than normal. So our calculations had no meaning.
This example confirms that the information we have about the rate of the passage of time is based on relative references. The relativity of time is a scientific fact also proven by scientific methodology. Einstein's Theory of General Relativity maintains that the speed of time changes depending on the speed of the object and its distance from the centre of gravity. As speed increases, time is shortened, compressed; and slows down as if coming to the point of "stopping".
Let us explain this with an example given by Einstein himself. Imagine twins, one of whom stays on earth while the other goes travelling in space at a speed close to the speed of light. When he comes back, the traveller will see that his brother has grown much older than he has. The reason is that time flows much more slowly for the person who travels at speeds near the speed of light. Similarly, in the case of a space-travelling father and his earth-bound son, if the father was 27 years old when he set out and his son 3, when the father comes back to the earth 30 years later (earth time), the son will be 33 years old, but his father will be only 30.61
It should be pointed out that this relativity of time is caused not by the slowing down or running fast of clocks or the slow running of a mechanical spring. It is rather the result of the differentiated operation periods of the entire material system, which goes as deep as sub-atomic particles. In other words, for the person experiencing it, the shortening of time is not like acting in a slow-motion picture. In such a setting where time shortens, one's heartbeats, cell replications, and brain functions, and so on, all operate more slowly than those of the slower-moving person on Earth, who goes on with his daily life and does not notice the shortening of time at all. Indeed the shortening does not even become apparent until the comparison is made.
Relativity In The Qur'an
The conclusion to which we are led by the findings of modern science is that time is not an absolute fact as supposed by materialists, but only a relative perception. What is more interesting is that this fact, undiscovered until the 20th century by science, was imparted to mankind in the Qur'an 14 centuries ago. There are various references in the Qur'an to the relativity of time.
The scientifically-proven fact that time is a psychological perception dependent on events, setting, and conditions is underscored in many verses of the Qur'an. For instance, as started in the Qur'an, the entire life of a person spans a very short time:
On that Day He will call you, and you will answer (His Call) with (words of) His Praise and Obedience, and you will think that you have stayed (in this world) but a little while! (Surat al-Isra, 52)
And on the Day when He shall gather them together, (it will seem to them) as if they had not tarried (on earth) longer than an hour of a day: they will recognise each other. (Surah Yunus, 45)
In some verses, it is indicated that people perceive time differently and that sometimes people can perceive a very short period of time as a very lengthy one. The following conversation of people held during their judgement in the Hereafter is a good example of this:
He will say: "What number of years did you stay on earth?" They will say: "We stayed a day or part of a day: but ask those who keep account." He will say: "You, stayed for only a little while – if you had only known!" (Surat al-Mumenoon, 112-114)
In some other verses it is stated that time may flow at different paces in different settings:
Yet they ask you to hasten on the Punishment! But Allah will not fail in His Promise. Truly, a day in the sight of your Lord is like a thousand years of your reckoning. (Surat al-Hajj, 47)
The angels and the spirit ascend to him in a day the measure of which is like fifty thousand years. (Surat al-Maarij, 4)
These verses are all manifest expressions of the relativity of time. The fact that this result, only recently understood by science in the 20th century, was communicated to man 1,400 years ago by the Qur'an is an indication of the revelation of the Qur'an by Allah, Who encompasses the whole of time and space.
Many other verses of the Qur'an reveal that time is a perception. This is particularly evident in the stories. For instance, Allah has kept the Companions of the Cave, a believing group mentioned in the Qur'an, in a deep sleep for more than three centuries. When they were awoken, these people thought that they had stayed in that state but a little while, and could not reckon how long they slept:
Then We drew (a veil) over their ears, for a number of years, in the Cave, (so that they could not hear). Then We wakened them up so that We might know which of the two parties would best calculate the time that they had tarried. (Surat al-Kahf, 11-12)
Such (being their state), we roused them (from sleep), so that they might question each other. Said one of them, "How long have you stayed (here)?" They said, "We have stayed (perhaps) a day, or part of a day." (At length) they (all) said, "Allah (alone) knows best how long you have stayed here.... (Surat al-Kahf, 19)
The situation described in the verse below is also evidence that time is in truth a psychological perception.
Or (take) the instance of one who passing by a hamlet, all in ruins and quite desolate, said: "Oh! how shall Allah (ever) bring it to life, now that it is dead?" Therefore, Allah caused him to die for a hundred years, then brought him back to life. Allah asked: "How long did you tarry (thus)?" He said: (Perhaps) a day or part of a day." He said: "No, you have tarried thus a hundred years; but look at your food and your drink; they show no signs of age; and look at your donkey: And so that We may make you a sign to the people, look further at the bones, how We bring them together and clothe them with flesh." When this was shown clearly to him, he said: "I know that Allah has power over all things." (Surat al-Baqara, 259)
The above verse clearly emphasises that Allah, Who created time, is unbound by it. Man, on the other hand, is bound by time: that is ordained by Allah. As in the verse, man is even incapable of knowing how long he remained asleep. This being so, to assert that time is absolute (just as the materialists do because of their distorted mentality), would be very unreasonable.
The Relativity of Time Explains The Reality of Destiny
As we see from the account of the relativity of time and the verses that refer to it, time is not a concrete concept, but one that varies depending on perceptions. For example, a space of time conceived by us as millions of years long is one moment in Allah's Sight. A period of 50 thousand years for us is only a day for Gabriel and the angels.
This reality is very important for an understanding of the idea of destiny. Destiny is the idea that Allah created every single event, past, present, and future in "a single moment". This means that every event, from the creation of the universe until doomsday, has already occurred and ended in Allah's Sight. A significant number of people cannot grasp the reality of destiny. They cannot understand how Allah can know events that have not yet happened, or how past and future events have already happened in Allah's Sight. From our point of view, things that have not happened are events which have not occurred. This is because we live our lives in relation to the time that Allah has created, and we could not know anything without the information in our memories. Because we dwell in the testing place of this world, Allah has not given us memories of the things we call "future" events. Consequently, we cannot know what the future holds. But Allah is not bound to time or space; it is He Who has already created all these things from nothing. For this reason, past, present and future are all the same to Allah. From His point of view, everything has already occurred; He does not need to wait to see the result of an action. The beginning and the end of an event are both experienced in His Sight in a single moment. For example, Allah already knew what kind of end awaited Pharaoh even before sending Moses to him, even before Moses was born and even before Egypt became a kingdom; and all these events including the end of Pharaoh were experienced in a single moment in the Sight of Allah. Besides, for Allah there is no such thing as remembering the past; past and future are always present to Allah; everything exists in His Sight in the same moment.
If we think of our life as a filmstrip, we watch it as if we were viewing a videocassette with no possibility to speed up the film. But Allah sees the whole film all at once at the same moment; it is He Who created it and determined all its details. As we are able to see the beginning, middle and end of a ruler all at once, so Allah encompasses in one moment, from beginning to end, the time to which we are subject. However, human beings experience these events only when the time comes to witness the destiny that Allah has created for them. This is the way it is for the destinies of everyone in the world. The lives of everyone who has ever been created and whoever will be created, in this world and the next, are present in the Sight of Allah in all their details. The written destinies of all living things-planets, plants and things-are existing together with the destinies of millions of human beings in Allah's eternal memory. They will remain without being lost or diminished. The reality of destiny is one of the manifestations of Allah's eternal greatness, power, might and His name The Preserver (al-Hafiz).
The Concept Of "Past" Comes From Information In Our Memories
Because of suggestions we receive, we think we live in separate divisions of time called past, present and future. However, the only reason we have a concept of "past" (as we explained earlier) is that various things have been placed in our memories. For example, the moment we enrolled in primary school is a bit of information in our memory and we perceive it therefore as an event in the past. However, future events are not in our memories. Therefore, we regard these things that we do not yet know about as things that will be experienced or happen in the future. But just as the past has been experienced from our point of view, so has the future. But, because these events have not been given to our memories, we cannot know them.
If Allah puts future events into our memories, then, the future would be the past for us. For example, a thirty year old person has thirty years of memories and events in his memory and, for this reason, thinks he has a thirty year past. If future events between the ages of thirty and seventy were to be put into this person's memory, then, for this thirty year old individual, both his thirty years and the "future" between the ages of thirty and seventy, would become the past. In this situation past and future would be present in the memory, and each one would be lived experiences for him.
Because Allah has made us perceive events in a definite series, as if there were a time moving from past to future, He does not inform us of our future or give this information to our memories. The future is not in our memories, but all human pasts and futures are in His eternal memory. This, as we said before, is like observing a human life as if it were already wholly depicted and completed in a film. A person cannot advance the film and sees his life as the frames pass one by one. He is mistaken in thinking that the frames he has not yet seen constitute the future.
Past And Future Are News Of The Unseen
In the verses, Allah reveals that the only One Who knows what is secret, invisible, unseen and unknown is He Himself:
Say: "O Allah, Originator of the heavens and the earth, Knower of the Unseen and the Visible, You will judge between Your servants regarding what they differed about." (Surat az-Zumar: 46)
Say: "Death, from which you are fleeing, will certainly catch up with you. Then you will be returned to the Knower of the Unseen and the Visible and He will inform you about what you did." (Surat al-Jumu'a: 8)
He said, "Adam, tell them their names." When he had told them their names, He said, "Did I not tell you that I know the Unseen of the heavens and the earth, and I know what you make known and what you hide?" (Surat al-Baqara: 33)
Generally, the word "secret" is thought to refer only to something unknown about the future; however, both the past and the future are secret. Those who have lived in the past and those who will live in the future are kept in Allah's Sight. However, Allah gives some of the knowledge kept in His Sight to the memories of people and makes it known. For example, when Allah gave knowledge concerning the past in the Koran, He told the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) that this was news of the unseen:
That is some of the news of the Unseen which We reveal to you. Neither you nor your people knew it before this time. So be steadfast. The best end result is for those who do their duty. (Surah Hud: 49)
This is news of the Unseen which We reveal to you. You were not with them when they decided what to do and devised their scheme. (Surah Yusuf: 102)
Allah gave the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) information about some things that had not yet happened which was news of the unseen about the future. For example, the taking of Mecca (Surat al-Fath: 27) and the victory of the Greeks over the pagans (Surat ar-Rum: 3-4) were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) before they happened. The Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) sayings about the signs of the day of resurrection and the end times (which were news of the unseen to people of that time) show that Allah taught these things to him.
The Qur'an explains that news of the unseen is given to prophets and some devout believers. For example, it was revealed to Joseph that the trap set for him by his brothers will come to nothing (Surah Yusuf: 15), and to the mother of Moses it was revealed that her son would escape the cruelty of Pharaoh and become a prophet. (Surat al-Qasas: 7)
Finally, all that we call past and future is news of the unseen hidden in the Sight of Allah. Allah gives some of this knowledge to the memories of those He chooses, at a time He chooses, thus making them aware of some of the unseen. The events which become visible and observable are characterized by human beings as being past events.
The Importance Of Submission To Destiny
The fact that past and future are already created in Allah's Sight, and that everything has happened and is present at Allah's Sight, demonstrates a very important truth. Everyone is in complete submission to his destiny. Just as a person cannot change his past, so he cannot change his future, because, like the past, the future has already happened. Everything in the future is determined-when and where events will happen, what he will eat, who he will talk to, what he will discuss, how much money he will earn, what diseases he will get, and when, where and how he will die. All these things are already in Allah's Sight and already experienced in His infinite memory. But this knowledge is not yet in a person's memory.
Therefore, those who are sorry, upset, outraged and worried about the future, are anxious in vain. The future they are so worried and anxious about has already happened. And no matter what they do, they cannot change these things.
At this point it is very important to point out that it is necessary to avoid a mistaken understanding of destiny. Some people misunderstand and think that what is in their destiny will happen anyway so there is nothing they can do. It is true that everything we experience is determined in our destiny. Before we experienced an occurrence, it has been experienced in Allah's Sight and is written in all its details in the Mother of the Book (Lawh Mahfuz) in Allah's Sight. But Allah gives everyone the sense that he can change things and make his own choices and decisions. For example, when a person wants to drink some water, he does not say "If it is my destiny I will drink", and sit down without making any move. Instead, he gets up, takes a glass and drinks the water. Actually, he drinks a predetermined amount of water from a predetermined glass. But as he does this, he senses that he is acting according to his own desire and will. He senses this throughout his life in everything that he does. The difference between a person who submits himself to Allah and to the destiny created by Allah, and someone who cannot grasp this reality is this: the person who submits himself to Allah knows that everything he does is according to the will of Allah despite the sense that he has done it himself. The other person mistakenly assumes that he has done everything with his own intelligence and power.
For example, when a person who has submitted himself to Allah learns that he has contracted a disease, knows that the disease is in his destiny and he trusts in Allah. He thinks that because Allah has put it in his destiny, it will certainly bring him great good. But he does not wait without taking any measures thinking that if he is destined to get better he will get better. On the contrary, he takes all possible precautions; he goes to a doctor, pays attention to his diet and takes medicine. But he does not forget that the effectiveness of the doctor, the treatment, the medicine, as well as whether or not he will get better are all in his destiny. He knows that all this is in Allah's sublime memory and was present there even before he came into the world. In the Qur'an, Allah reveals that everything that human beings experience is written beforehand in a book:
Nothing occurs, either in the earth or in yourselves, without its being in a Book before We make it happen. That is something easy for Allah. That is so that you will not be grieved about the things that may have escaped you or exult about the things that come to you. Allah does not love any vain or boastful man. (Surat al-Hadid: 22-23)
For this reason, anyone who believes in destiny will not be troubled or despair about things that happen to him. On the contrary, he will have the utmost trust and confidence in his submission to Allah. Allah has determined in advance everything that happens to a person; He has commanded that we not be sorry for the things that happen to us, and be self-satisfied by the blessings that we receive. The difficulties that human beings experience, together with their wealth and success, is determined by Allah. All these things are in the destiny predetermined by our Lord to test human beings. As it is revealed in one verse, "... Allah's command is a pre-ordained decree." (Surat al-Ahzab: 38)
In another verse, Allah reveals that "We have created all things in due measure." (Surat al-Qamar: 49) Not only human beings but also all things animate and inanimate, the sun, the moon, mountains and trees have their destinies determined by Allah. For example, a broken antique vase was broken at the moment determined by its destiny. While it was being made, it was determined who would use this centuries-old vase, as well as in which corner of which house and with which other objects it would stand. The designs on the vase and it colors were determined in advance in its destiny. It was known in Allah's memory on which day, which hour, which minute, by whom and how it would be broken. The first moment the vase was made, the first moment it was placed in the window for sale, the first moment it was placed in the corner of the house, the moment it was broken into pieces, in short, every moment in the centuries-long life of this vase, was present in Allah's Sight as one single moment. Whereas even though the person who would break the vase was not aware that he would break it until a moment before it happened, that moment was experienced and known in Allah's Sight. For this reason, Allah tells human beings not to be sorry for the things that may have escaped them. What have escaped them escaped in accordance with their destiny, and they cannot change it. People must learn a lesson from what happens in their destiny, see the purpose and benefits that accrue to them from it. They must always incline themselves toward the endless mercy, compassion and justice of our Lord, Who creates their destiny, and spares and protects His servants.
Those who lead their lives heedless of this important reality are always anxious and fearful. For example, they are very worried about the future of their children. They are very concerned about questions such as these: What school will they go to? What profession will they follow? Will they have good health? What kind of lives will they lead? However, every moment of a person's life is determined in Allah's Sight, from the time he is a single cell to the time he learns to read and write, from the first answers he gives in a university exam to what company he will work in during his life, what papers he will sign and how many times he will sign them, where and how he will die. All of these things are hidden in the memory of Allah. For example, at this moment, a person is in the fetal stage, at primary school and at the university. These are all in Allah's memory as one single moment, along with the moment he celebrates his thirty-fifth birthday, the first day he begins his job, the moment when he sees the angels after he dies, the moment when he is buried, and the moment on the Last Day when he will give an account to Allah.
Consequently, it is pointless to worry and be fearful about a life whose every moment has been lived, experienced and is still present in the memory of Allah. No matter how hard a person tries and no matter how anxious he may be, everyone, his children, spouse, friends and relatives will live the life that is present at Allah's Sight.
If this is the case, a person of conscience and intelligence who grasps this reality must submit humbly to Allah and to the destiny He has created. Actually, everyone is already in submission to Allah, created in subservience to Him. No matter whether he likes it or not, he lives subservient to the destiny created for him by Allah. A person who denies his destiny is a denier because being a denier is written in his destiny.
Those who submit themselves willingly to Allah may hope to enjoy Allah's pleasure and mercy and to win paradise; they will live a life of well being in security and happiness both in this world and in the world to come. This is because, for a person who submits himself to Allah, knowing that there is nothing better for him than the destiny created for him by Allah, there is nothing to fear or be anxious about. This person will make every effort, but he knows that this effort is in his destiny and, no matter what he does, he will not have the ability to change what is written in his destiny.
A believer will submit himself to the destiny created by Allah. In the face of what happens to him, he will do his best to understand the purpose of these happenings, take precautions, and make an effort to change things for the better. But he will take comfort in his knowledge that all these things come to be according to destiny and that Allah had determined the most beneficial things in advance. As an example of this, the Qur'an mentions measures taken by Jacob for the security of his children. In order to make his sons beware of people with evil intentions, Jacob advised his sons to enter the city by different gates but he reminded them that this would never influence the destiny determined by Allah.
He said, "My sons! You must not enter through a single gate. Go in through different gates. But I cannot save you from Allah at all, for judgment comes from no one but Allah. In Him I put my trust, and let all those who put their trust, put it in Him alone." (Surah Yusuf: 67)
People may do what they like, but they will never be able to change their destiny. This is revealed in this verse:
Then He sent down to you, after the distress, security, restful sleep overtaking a group of you, whereas another group became prey to anxious thoughts, thinking other than the truth about Allah-thoughts belonging to the Time of Ignorance-saying, "Do we have any say in the affair at all?" Say, "The affair belongs entirely to Allah." They are concealing things inside themselves which they do not disclose to you, saying, "If we had only had a say in the affair, none of us would have been killed here in this place." Say, "Even if you had been inside your homes, those people for whom killing was decreed would have gone out to their place of death." So that Allah might test what is in your breasts and purge what is in your hearts. Allah knows the contents of your hearts. (Surah Al 'Imran: 154)
It can be seen in this verse that even if a person runs away from a task in the way of Allah in order not to die, if his death is written in his destiny, he will die anyway. Even the ways and methods resorted to in order to escape death are determined in destiny and everyone will experience those things that are written in his destiny. And in this verse, Allah reveals to human beings that the purpose of the things created in their destiny is to test them and to purify their hearts. In the Qur'an it is said that everyone's death is determined in the Sight of Allah and that the conception of a baby happens with the permission of Allah.
Allah created you from dust and then from a drop of sperm and then made you into pairs. No female becomes pregnant or gives birth except with His knowledge. And no living thing lives long or has its life cut short without that being in a Book. That is easy for Allah. (Surah Fatir: 11)
In the verses below it is revealed that everything a person does is written sentence by sentence and what those in paradise experience are also things that have already been experienced. As we said earlier, the real life of paradise is for us in the future. But the lives of those in paradise, their conversations and feasting is in Allah's memory at this moment. Before we were born, the future of humanity in this world and the next had been experienced in Allah's Sight in a moment and is being kept in Allah's memory.
Everything they did is in the Books. Everything is recorded, big or small. The heedful are amid Gardens and Rivers,on seats of honour in the Presence of a Competent Sovereign. (Surat al-Qamar: 52-55)
We can understand from this way of speaking in the Qur'an that, in Allah's Sight, time is a single moment and for Him there is no past or future. As we see, some events that will be for us in the future, are understood in the Qur'an as being long passed. This is because both the past and the future are created by Allah as a single moment. Therefore, an event which is related to occur in the future, in fact, has already occurred, but, because we cannot understand this, we think of them as future. For example, in the verses where the account to be given to Allah by human beings is described, it is understood as a long passed event.
And the trumpet is blown, and all who are in the heavens and all who are on the earth swoon away, save him whom Allah wills. Then it is blown a second time, and behold them standing waiting! And the earth shone with the light of her Lord, and the Book is set up, and the Prophets and the witnesses are brought, and it is judged between them with truth, and they are not wronged. (Surat az-Zumar: 68-69)
Some further examples of this are the following:
And every soul came, along with a driver and a witness. (Surah Qaf: 21)
And the heaven is cloven asunder, so that on that day it is frail. (Surat al-Haqqa: 16)
And because they were patient and constant, He rewarded them with a garden and garments of silk. Reclining in the garden on raised thrones, they saw there neither the sun's excessive heat nor excessive cold. (Surat al-Insan: 12-13)
And Hell is placed in full view for all to see. (Surat an-Nazi'at: 36)
But on this day the believers laugh at the unbelievers. (Surat al-Mutaffifin: 34)
And the sinful saw the fire and realized they are going to fall into it and find no way of escaping from it. (Surat al-Kahf: 53)
In the above verses, the events we are to experience after death are described as finished. This is because Allah is not bound to the relative dimension of time and space as we are. Allah has willed all these events in timelessness; human beings have done them, experienced them all and brought them to a conclusion. The verse below reveals that every kind of occurrence, great and small, happens within the knowledge of Allah and is inscribed in a book.
You do not engage in any matter or recite any of the Qur'an or do any action without Our witnessing you while you are occupied with it. Not even the smallest speck eludes your Lord, either on earth or in heaven. Nor is there anything smaller than that, or larger, which is not in a Clear Book. (Surah Yunus: 61)
The Worry of the Materialists
The issues discussed in this chapter, namely the truth underlying matter, timelessness, and spacelessness, are, of course quite clear. As stated before, these issues are in no way any sort of a philosophy or a way of thought, but crystal-clear, indisputable scientific truths. In addition to their being a technical reality, the rational and logical evidence also admits of no other alternatives on this point: we can know only the version of the universe, with all the matter composing it and all the people living in it, in our brain.
Materialists have a hard time in understanding this issue. For instance, let us return to Politzer's bus example: although Politzer knew that technically he could not step out of his perceptions, he could only admit it for certain cases. That is, for Politzer, events take place in the brain until the bus crash, but as soon as the bus crash takes place, things go out of the brain and gain a physical reality. The logical defect at this point is very clear: Politzer has made the same mistake as the materialist philosopher Johnson who said, "I hit the stone, my foot hurts, therefore it exists" and could not understand that the shock felt after bus impact was in fact a mere perception as well.
The subliminal reason why materialists cannot comprehend this subject is their fear of the fact they will face when they comprehend it. Lincoln Barnett writes that this subject has been "discerned" by certain scientists:
Any reference made to the facts that we do not have direct experience of the original of matter and that time is a perception arouses great fear in a materialist, because these are the only notions he relies on as absolute entities. In a sense, he takes these as idols to worship; because he thinks that he has been created by matter and time (through evolution). (Surely Allah is beyond that.)
When he feels that he only experiences the perceptions of the universe he thinks he is living in, the world, his own body, other people, other materialist philosophers whose ideas he is influenced by, and in short, everything, he feels overwhelmed by the horror of it all. Everything he depends on, believes in, and takes recourse to vanishes suddenly. He feels a desperateness which he, essentially, will experience on Judgment Day in its real sense as told about the unbelievers in the verse: "That Day they shall openly show their submission to Allah; and all their inventions shall leave them in the lurch." (Surat an-Nahl, 87)
From then on, this materialist tries to convince himself of the lie that he can reach the original of matter, and makes up "evidence" to this end; he hits the wall with his fist, kicks stones, shouts, yells, but can never escape from the reality.
Just as they want to dismiss this reality from their minds, they also want other people to discard it. They are also aware that if the true nature of matter is known by people in general, the primitiveness of their own philosophy and the ignorance of their worldview will be exposed for all to see, and there will be no grounds left on which they can rationalise their views. These fears are the reason why they are so disturbed by the fact related here.
Allah states that the fears of the unbelievers will be intensified in the hereafter. On Judgement Day, they will be addressed thus:
One day We shall gather them all together: We shall say to those who ascribed partners to Us: "Where are the partners whom you invented and talked about?" (Surat al-Anaam, 22)
Thereupon, unbelievers will bear witness to the disappearance of possessions, children and close circle whom they had assumed to be real and ascribed as partners to Allah: "Behold! how they lie against their own souls! But the (lie) which they invented will leave them in the lurch." (Surat al-Anaam, 24).
The Gain of Believers
While the reality that we do not have direct contact with the original matter and that time is a perception alarms materialists, just the opposite holds true for true believers. People of faith become very glad when they have perceived the secret behind matter, because this is the key to all questions. With this key, all secrets are unlocked. One comes to easily understand many issues that were previously difficult to understand.
As previously stated, the concepts of death, paradise, hell, the hereafter and changing dimensions will be explained, and important questions such as "Where is Allah?", "What was before Allah?", "Who created Allah?", "How long will the life in cemetery last?" "Where are heaven and hell?", and "Where do heaven and hell currently exist?" will be easily answered. The kind of system by which Allah created the entire universe from nothingness will be understood. So much so that, with this secret, the questions of "when", and "where" become meaningless, because there will be no time and no place left. When spacelessness is comprehended, it will follow that hell, heaven and earth are all actually at the same place. If timelessness is understood, it will follow that everything takes place at a single moment: nothing is waited for and time does not go by, because everything has already happened and finished.
With this secret uncovered, the world becomes like heaven for a believer. All distressful, material worries, anxieties, and fears vanish. The individual grasps that the entire universe has a single Sovereign, that He changes the entire physical world as He pleases and that all he — the believer — has to do is to turn to Him. He then submits himself entirely to Allah "to be devoted to His service". (Surah Al 'Imran, 35)
To comprehend this secret is the greatest gain in the world.
Along with this secret, another very important reality mentioned in the Qur'an is unveiled: the fact that "Allah is nearer to man than his jugular vein." (Surah Qaf, 16). As everybody knows, the jugular vein is inside the body. What could be nearer to a person than his own insides? This is easily explained by the reality of spacelessness. This verse can also be much better understood in terms of this concept.
This is the plain truth. It should be well established that there is no other helper and provider for man other than Allah. There is nothing but Allah; He is the only absolute being in Whom one can seek refuge, appeal to for help, and count on for reward.
Wherever we turn, there is the presence of Allah.
They said "Glory be to You!
57. François Jacob, Le Jeu des Possibles, University of Washington Press, 1982, p. 111.
58. Lincoln Barnett, The Universe and Dr. Einstein, William Sloane Associate, New York, 1948, pp. 39-40.
59. Lincoln Barnett, The Universe and Dr. Einstein, p. 12.
60. Lincoln Barnett, The Universe and Dr. Einstein, p. 40.
61. Paul Strathern, The Big Idea: Einstein and Relativity, Arrow Books, 1997, p. 57.
62. Lincoln Barnett, The Universe and Dr. Einstein, p.12.