It is an open reality that, in this material world of observation, if man was left to rely totally on his senses and his intellect, that is, he was allowed to opt according to his intellect whatever was commanded by his senses, we would have remained in the dark about the transcendental matters; It was, therefore, His Profound Justice and his Mercy on us that he did not let the hidden mattes out of the comprehension of our intellect: rather, He endowed it, form Himself, with the knowledge of the invisible according to its requirements.
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy exploring the fundamental questions, including the nature of concepts like being, existence, and reality. It has two branches – cosmology and ontology. Traditional metaphysics seeks to answer, in a “suitably abstract and fully general manner”, the questions:
What is there?
And what is it like?
Topics of metaphysical investigation include existence, objects and their properties, space and time, cause and effect, and possibility. A central branch of metaphysics is ontology, the investigation into the basic categories of being and how they relate to one another.
There are two broad conceptions about what “world” is studied by metaphysics. The strong, classical view assumes that the objects studied by metaphysics exist independently of any observer, so that the subject is the most fundamental of all sciences. The modern view assumes that the objects studied by metaphysics exist inside the mind of an observer, so the subject becomes a form of introspection and conceptual analysis. Some philosophers, notably Kant, discuss both of these “worlds” and what can be inferred about each one.
Some philosophers, such as the logical positivists, and many scientists reject the entire subject of metaphysics as meaningless and unverifiable, while others disagree and think that it is legitimate.
Al-Ghyb Unseen World:
Al-Ghaib is an Arabic expression used to convey that something is concealed in some way. It is an important concept in Islam, referring to something that is known only to Allah. In the Qur’an it has 6 forms and 3 meanings. But it can also be used in a general sense to refer to something that is known to some but concealed from others.
In the Islamic context, al-Ghaib refers to transcendental or divine secrets. It is mentioned in sixty different places in the Qu’ran, in six different forms. It has three primary meanings:
1. Absent – “That is so al-‘Azeez will know that I did not betray him in [his] absence and that Allah does not guide the plan of betrayers.” (12:52)
2. The Unknown or Hidden – “[Allah is] Knower of the unseen and the witnessed, the Grand, the Exalted.” (13:9)
3. The Future – “Say, “I hold not for myself [the power of] benefit or harm, except what Allah has willed. And if I knew the unseen, I could have acquired much wealth, and no harm would have touched me. I am not except a warner and a bringer of good tidings to a people who believe.” ”  (7:188)
It is well established that we are unable to perceive everything that exists in this world with our senses. What’s more, there are many other worlds in existence which we are not aware of, the closest example being ‘spirit’. How can we deny the existence of spirit, when it keeps everyone alive? But has anyone ever known the true essence of spirit? Of course not. In other words, the world that we can see and perceive is described by the Holy Qur’an as the ‘seen world’, and the world that is beyond our sense of perception is the ‘unseen metaphysical world’. Every human being, without exception, endorses and expresses belief in the seen world. Even animals perceive this world with their senses. Therefore, no one can claim superiority or precedence over anyone else in this matter, because this belief forms part of what we called ‘essential knowledge.’ However, ‘superiority’ is granted to those who, on the basis of trust in the truth of the Message conveyed to them, believe in and claim that the unseen world exists. It is this quality which gives superiority to the God fearing over others. And it is the very first quality emphasized in the Holy Qur’an: “Who believe in the Unseen…”(Qur’an;2:3).
How Can We Believe in the Unseen?
How can we believe in the unseen when God has not given us the sense perception to perceive it? If we were left to depend only on our senses and power of intellect in order to draw our conclusions, we would still be groping in the dark, and remain ignorant about the metaphysical world. But God, in His wisdom and mercy, has not left the human intellect in its state of helplessness. On the contrary He has provided it with the necessary guidance and information. But this information cannot be obtained from within the self. It can be found in external sources – sources which are not connected with intuition, spiritual inspiration, intellectual enlightenment or powers of reasoning. And neither can it be evolved from human ability alone. It can only be obtained through one of the following three methods:
1). God might communicate it to man either through an inspiration, or a dream or through any other method of transmission which does not involve any effort on our part. It is something that cannot be intellectualized in such a way that we can feel and express it.
2). A prophet, to whom revelation is sent, may hear it without being able to know or locate the original source of the sound.
3). God may choose a human being to receive His Message through one of his angels, with the command that this Message be conveyed to mankind, In this context the Holy Qur’an says: “And it is not given to mortal man that God should speak unto him otherwise than through sudden inspiration, or (by a voice, as it were), from behind a veil, or by sending an apostle to reveal, by His leave, whatever He will (to reveal)”(Qur’an;42:51).
Matters in which Faith in the Unseen is Essential:
Faith in the Unseen is an element of Faith, which has been described in detail through the Divine Revelations a part of our faith to trust this knowledge. The unseen includes the Angels, the Jinn, the Revealed Books, the Prophets, the Day of Judgement, and the Day of Reckoning, when we shall receive reward or punishment and belief in destiny. We are also asked to believe everything that is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an like; the creation of heaven and earth, the creation of man, and all the other information like historic narratives, future and scientific or any other information which it contains.
Rationale to Believe in Something Not Perceived by Senses:
Materialists will refuse to believe in anything which they do not perceive with their senses. Our response to this is already mentioned in the ‘The Principles of Conceptualization of Faith’, which states, ”We are not in a position to deny the existence of whatever is beyond our senses.” In other words, just because we cannot sense certain things, this does not mean we can deny their existence. And also, the 3rd principle of conceptualization of faith’ states that, “Certitude transmitted by an authentic person gives us a good enough proof as through that which we can see or feel.” Since the honesty of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in conveying the Divine Message revealed to him has been established for us, we Muslims firmly believe in the unseen.
Classification of the Unseen:
We can classify the unseen into several categories:
1 Historic Events: The first category of the unseen includes all the events which occurred in the lifetime of past generations. It is for this reason that the story of Joseph is referred to in the Holy Qur’an as: an account of something that was beyond the reach of thy perceptions: “We now reveal unto thee”. Our Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) had not witnessed the events of this story. It was only witnessed by the sons of Israel, i.e., the sons of Prophet Jacob (peace be upon him). Such information has therefore been classified by the Almighty as something “beyond the reach of perception”, or as “stories of what happened unseen”.
2 Events Before Existence of Humanity: The second category involves events which mankind would have observed, had the human race been in existence at their time of occurrence. For example, all the events that took place on earth before the birth of the human race, information regarding all the creatures that existed on earth, and the story regarding the creation of Adam, the” father of mankind. The only means that human beings have had to learn about these events has been through revelation.
3 Matters Imperceptible through Senses & Intellect: In the third category of the Unseen, we can group all those matters which cannot be perceived by the senses – issues which cannot be reasoned through the intellect, nor belief in the unseen comprehended by using the power of imagination. The Attributes of God, Creations, He has hidden from our sight, the angels, judgement and how it will take place, and the consequent reward and punishment.
Knowledge about Child in the Womb and Weather:
Some people might say regarding the realm of the unseen, that God has reserved certain pieces of knowledge for Himself. For example, the causing of rains to occur or the knowledge of the sex of a child in the womb. But how does the weather forecaster predict the weather every day whether the skies will be clear, or whether it will rain? And how does science discover the sex of a child in the mother’s womb? The answers to all this are as follows:
1). God revealed the Holy Qur’an, and He created this universe and everything that has ever happened in it. It is therefore impossible to find a text in the Holy Qur’an which contradicts any physical reality. Whenever we think we have come across such a text, we will find after further scrutiny that the real meaning is something other than what we understood.
2). As for the weather forecast, it informs us about weather conditions after the causes have been examined. For example we may be told there will be rain in the south west. If we study the laws of this universe, which have been laid down by God, we understand that this rain is caused by a breeze which comes from the side of the Atlantic Ocean, passes through the Straits of Gibraltar and collides with a block of still air, resulting in the ‘ formations of clouds, which cause the rain. We can compare this kind of prediction with the example of someone who sees the postman approaching his house, and tries to predict how long it will take him to reach the door. He may predict that it will take him three minutes. Or we can take the example of someone looking through binoculars and observing vehicles approaching, and then telling others about them, in advance. Such knowledge is not knowledge of the unseen. It is merely information gained in advance of other people. It can be compared to the prediction of the sex of a baby after it takes shape as a fetus. But the knowledge about rain clouds, the falling of rain on land which God has deemed to be dry, the prevention of rain on land which He deemed to be blessed with rain and the knowledge of the sex of an embryo when it is still a sperm are all matters which belong to the realm of the unseen.
[Explanation by Dr.Zakir Naik: Allah is Omnipotent and Omniscient He has granted knowledge of certain things to humankind. But Allah has knowledge of the seen as well as the unseen. Many people believe that the Qur’an claims that Allah alone knows the sex of the child in the mother’s womb. The Glorious Qur’an says: “Verily the knowledge of the Hour is with Allah (alone). It is He who sends down Rain, and He who knows what is in the wombs….” (Qur’an;31:34). A similar message is given in the following verse: “Allah doth know what every female (womb) doth bear, By how much the wombs fall short (of their time or number) or do exceed. Every single thing is before His sight, in (due) proportion.”(Qur’an;13:8). Today science has advanced and we can easily determine the sex of the child in the womb of a pregnant mother, using ultrasonography. It is true that many translations and commentaries of this verse of the Glorious Qur’an say that only Allah knows the sex of the child in the mother’s womb. If you read the Arabic text of this verse, there is no Arabic word corresponding to the English word ‘sex’. In fact the Qur’an says the knowledge of what is in the womb is with Allah alone. Many commentators have misunderstood it to mean only Allah knows the sex of the child in the womb, which is a mistake. This verse does not refer to the sex of the child in the womb but it refers to, how the child in the mother’s womb will be. How will his nature be? Will he be a blessing or a curse to his parents? Will he be a boon or a bane to the society? Will he be good or evil? Will he go to heaven or hell? The complete knowledge of all things is with Allah alone. No scientist in the world, no matter how advanced his equipment, will ever be able to accurately determine the knowledge of these things about the child in the mother’s womb. As far as rain is concerned He says: “It is He who sends down Rain”.]