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Khutba # 27

Belief in the Unseen (Ghayb)


Let us all practice piety and righteousness, and let us obey Allah and follow His divine commands.  We ask Allah to protect us from evilness and falsehood and help us lay a foundation with moral values according to the rules of our Lord.  We know all God’s Messengers have gone through much hardship in their quest to elevate humanity to a higher standard of morality.


What is the Unseen (Arabic word Ghayb) one may ask, and what are its consequences?  Before discussing the Unseen, we better consider a few definitions:  A believer (a Mu’min) means a devout person, (with deep faith in the teachings of Islam who performs the acts of worship devotedly).  Belief then, is a matter of heart and inner feeling.  Sometimes a person can be said to be without faith, who gives religion a lip service.  The Holy Quran refers to these people respectively as men having belief in religion or men lacking belief in religion.  The Quran, in Surah 49 (al-Hujuraat), Ayah 14, informs us that a group of nomadic Arabs came to the Prophet (pbuh) alleging that theirs is deep faith in Islam.  In answer the Quran retorts as follows:


قَالَتِ الأعْرَابُ آمَنَّا قُل لَّمْ تُؤْمِنُوا وَلَكِن قُولُوا أَسْلَمْنَا

وَلَمَّا يَدْخُلِ الإِيمَانُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ

The Bedouin say, “We Believe”. 

[O’ Muhammad] Say unto them: “Ye have not yet attained to Faith; you should [rather] say: `We have [outwardly] submitted’ —for [truly] Faith has not yet entered your hearts….

By this is meant that faith is not a matter of claim or of lip service, but faith is a serious matter of the hearts in accepting all what it entails.  Faith is a matter of belief in God, His attributes, His Prophets, the Revelations, and Resurrection among other things.  The Quran sums up all these in Surah 2 (al-Baqarah), Ayah 1-5 as follows:


ذَلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لاَ رَيْبَ فِيهِ هُدًى لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ

الَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْغَيْبِ وَيُقِيمُونَ الصَّلاةَ

“…This is the Divine Book,  —let there be no doubt about it—  in it is Guidance sure,

to the God-fearing who believe in the Unseen, are steadfast in Prayer…”

The Arabic word Ghayb means Unseen or the hidden from our senses.  Hidden from what one may ask? Let us consider the room we are in right now:  Whatever is beyond the walls is hidden from our sights, but if we sense that things can happen behind them, is it faith in the Unseen?  Similarly, tomorrow is hidden from us, however if we can predict what is going to happen tomorrow won’t that be a form of the Unseen? 


In this world there are things, which can be understood through our senses of sight, hear, touch, smell, and taste.  We call these things perceptible if our senses enable us to know them.  Belief in the Unseen, however, means admitting that in the world of existence there are certain facts, which cannot be distinguished by our senses, even if they are present before us.  The senses as given to living creatures are simply limited means of contact with the world outside.  The eyes are given to distinguish form, color, and direction.  The ears are meant to distinguish waves of sound.  The other senses too are bestowed for various purposes.  But if we cannot distinguish other facts beyond these senses, can we say that these facts do not exist?  Of course not!


The Holy Quran under the subject of the Unseen expresses all things that man should believe in.  The question is: If we cannot distinguish these facts through our senses, how should we accept them?   The answer is that there are other means at our disposal to help us believe in the Unseen.  If we were asked what are the ways of believing in the Unseen, we would say that there are stages.


The first stage is to recognize various signs that make the Unseen impossible to deny.  This will mean transforming from the stage of denial into the stage of doubt. When in our prayer we say Surah al-Fatiha, part of which says:

إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ

 “Thee do we worship, and Thine aid do we seek.”


We show that we worship the Unseen God and beg His assistance since we believe that all powers are in His hand.

      Religion is a relationship between a creature and its Creator, which brings about the relationship between us and the Unseen (and it inclines us to action and display the effort to serve).  At the same time, religion tells us that because of our relationship with the Unseen we are somehow helped through our supplications (Du’aa) to attain our goal.  The Quran speaking of the Prophet (pbuh) says in Surah 3 (Aali Imran), Ayah 103:


وَاعْتَصِمُواْ بِحَبْلِ اللّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلاَ تَفَرَّقُواْ وَاذْكُرُواْ نِعْمَتَ اللّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنتُمْ أَعْدَاء فَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُم بِنِعْمَتِهِ إِخْوَانًا وَكُنتُمْ عَلَىَ شَفَا حُفْرَةٍ مِّنَ النَّارِ فَأَنقَذَكُم مِّنْهَا كَذَلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ

“…And remember with gratitude Allah’s favor on you;  For you were enemies and He joined your hearts in Love, so by His grace, you became as brothers.  And you were on the brink of the Pit of Fire; and He saved you from it…”


This indicates the assistance from the Unseen.  Sometimes you feel that if you follow a certain goal appointed by God, you receive some hidden aid and support beyond what you think or understand, and such a belief gives one a footing or a basic foundation, which is quite necessary in life.


Some enlightened people claim that the downfall of humanity is near.  They say that man will in all probability destroy himself with all the skill at his command because Western scientific progress has given the power to destroy mankind.


However, we receive an insightful inspiration from religion.  In the past, for instance, we have seen disastrous things do take place on a small scale, but they were proportionate to the size of the society, countries, or regions.  But God in His infinite Mercy has always protected mankind (whether on a small scale or global scale), from man’s follies.


God (swt) has promised of a time when wisdom will rule and life will be better and security more complete.  The Quran so promises in Surah 24 (al-Noor), Ayah 55:


وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنكُمْ وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَيَسْتَخْلِفَنَّهُم فِي الأَرْضِ كَمَا اسْتَخْلَفَ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ وَلَيُمَكِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ دِينَهُمُ الَّذِي ارْتَضَى لَهُمْ وَلَيُبَدِّلَنَّهُم مِّن بَعْدِ خَوْفِهِمْ أَمْنًا يَعْبُدُونَنِي لا يُشْرِكُونَ بِي شَيْئًا

“Allah has promised such of you who believe and do good deeds that He will cause them to gain power on earth, as He appointed those before them;  and He shall certainly establish their religion [Islam] which he has chosen for them,

and He will give them in exchange security after their fear.   They shall worship Me and not associate any one with Me….”


You see, the aid of the Unseen for one person is on a personal scale, but for communities it is on a social scale, and for the world it will be on a global scale.  For the global scale, imagine and envision that a single world government would establish wholesale justice, security, welfare, progress, and goodness.


For the end of the 1st part of the Khutba, read Surah Al-Asr, take a short intermission, then start the 2nd part of the Khutba with a short Du’aa.


The heart of an Islamic response to the modern world consists, of course, of religious, spiritual, and intellectual aspects of human life.  These aspects determine how a human being acts and how he views the world around him.


In many ways the modern world seems to corrode or even seek to destroy all that is religious. It is especially opposed to Islam as a religion, for Islam has refused to abandon its sacred view of life and the Divine Law (Shari’ah), which encompasses every human activity.


Muslims must first provide an Islamic response to the challenges posed by the modern world.  The response must be to basic religious beliefs and then to the Islamic revelations in particular.  The task is not to be placed on the shoulders of ignorant Muslims who might not know well their own tradition.  The task has to be responsibility of high level, mature, scholars of the Islamic world who must provide the intellectual defense of the religion and its spiritual aspects from which younger Muslims can at the same time benefit and learn.  To achieve this task:

  1. It is essential to present Islam in a contemporary language by writers with good command of English.

  2. To study Christianity, Judaism and other religions from Islamic point of view. During the last two centuries the Islamic world witnessed the appearance of a whole army of Western scholars many of whom were Orientalists.

  3. To be aware of our own intellectual tradition so we can respond to the modern and post-modern challenges.  The authentic religious traditions of the West have a great deal more in common with Islam than agnostic secularism.


Islam is a living reality.  Muslims whether youth or old, have no possibility of surviving without responding to the challenges the modern world poses.  They have to do that whether individually or as members of a unique civilization of the Ummah of the Prophet (pbuh).


Muslims must understand the modern world in depth, intelligently, and intellectually.  They must respond to the challenges not simply emotionally but on the basis of authentic knowledge, by way of relying upon knowledge of the Islamic traditions in its fullness.


At the heart of this enterprise lies the presentation of Iman, that is, faith in Allah, and Allah’s Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Allah’s unbound Love for those who submit themselves to Him.  Also, to have faith in Allah’s Word (the Noble Quran) and its teachings, as had emanated from the final Prophet (pbuh).


It must never be forgotten that the Quran and Hadith (the twin sources of the Islamic traditions) provide all the guidance Muslims need, now or in the future, to the end of time, for each generation. 

It is clear that the atrocities and events taking place in the world nowadays are against the very basic norms of human rights.  The Holy Quran, in Surah 21 (al-Anbiya): Ayah 18 asserts:


بَلْ نَقْذِفُ بِالْحَقِّ عَلَى الْبَاطِلِ فَيَدْمَغُهُ فَإِذَا هُوَ زَاهِقٌ وَلَكُمُ الْوَيْلُ مِمَّا تَصِفُونَ

“Nay, We hurl the Truth Against the Falsehood, and it crushes it down,

and behold, Falsehood withers away!…”


The voice of truth is always the final word, for it comes from Allah.  As a matter of fact, one of Allah’s names is the Truth (Al-Haqq), and to paraphrase the well-known dictum of the Nobel Quran, when the truth comes, falsehood shall disintegrate and fade away.  The Holy Quran assures us, in Surah 17 (al-Israa): Ayah 81:


وَقُلْ جَاء الْحَقُّ وَزَهَقَ الْبَاطِلُ إِنَّ الْبَاطِلَ كَانَ زَهُوقًا

“And Say: Truth has now come [to light] and Falsehood has withered away:  For, behold, all Falsehood is bound to wither away.”


Finally Imam Al-Saadiq in one of his orations comments about the Holy Quran:[1]

    “In the Holy Quran there is eloquence and explanation.  Revealed in Arabic, the Quran is in earnest, is honest, and it guards against vice and error. 

    Allah (glory be to Him) made the Quran clear to men (elucidated it),

    detailed its method with knowledge,

    detailed the religion itself,

    ordained the religious duties,

    explained its edicts for people, and

    disclosed and declared matters for His creation.

    In these matters there is a direction to salvation and a summons to guidance.

    So, the Prophet (pbuh), propagated what he was sent to do, declared what he was ordered to, and fulfilled the burdens of Prophethood.

    The Prophet (pbuh) was patient for his Lord, he waged Jihad for the cause of Islam.  The Prophet was loyal to his nation, summoned men to Salvation, and urged them (to study) the Quran.  The Prophet showed men the way of guidance with methods and reasons, whose foundation he founded, and in ways, which he proved for them that, they will not go astray after him.  The Prophet (pbuh), was compassionate and merciful to them all.”



In the end we pray Allah to acquaint us with Islam well and make us true devotees of Islam and grant us victory over the opponents of Islam.  We ask Allah to enable us to win His satisfaction and obtain salvation in this world and in the hereafter.  Also we pray Allah to help all the oppressed people around the world especially in the Islamic world.


We pray Allah to grant us a happy end, give us the favor of obedience, worship, and devotion to Him.  We pray to Allah to make us true devotees of Islam, make our intentions pure, protect us against every evil and grant us salvation in this world and in the hereafter.


Finally, let us read Surah Al-Nasr with a short Du’aa to close the Khutba.


[1]  A-Saadiq, Section of His Chosen Words, #300, Published by Islamic reference CD.

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