Narrations of Ahlulbayt (as) about Ilm al Ghayb.
(please note that this is a chapter from the book “Ghuluw” which can be downloaded from the “PDF Download Files” section.)
(For a better understanding, start from the first blog (Definition and condemnation….))
- In a Sahih Narration, in Amali Sheikh Mufeed, Yahya b. Abdullah b. al-Hasan and I were with Abul Hasan (Imam Ridha a.s), peace be upon him, and Yahya asked him: “May I be your ransom, they think that you have the knowledge of the unseen (Ilmul Ghaib).” He said: “Glory be to Allah! Place your hand over my head. For, By Allah, there does not remain a hair on my head and on my body except that it stood up (Goosebumps). Then he said: “No, By Allah, it is nothing but what we have inherited from the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny).”
Pic Reference: Amali Sheikh Mufeed, Majlis 3, H 5.
2. The same Sahih narration has been mentioned in Rijal al Kashi
Pic Reference: Rijal Kashi, Pg 250.
3. In another Sahih narration in Rijal kashi,
it is narrated from Ibn Abi Umair, from shu’aib, from Abi Baseer, who said: I said to Abi Abdullah (Imam Sadiq a.s) “Indeed they claim!!!” Imams (as) asked: “And what do they claim?”
I said “They claim that you know the (number of the) drops of the rain, and the number of stars and (the number of) leaves on trees, and the weight of what is in the seas and number of (the particles in the) sand.
So the Imam (as) raised his hand towards the sky and said: “Subhanallah! Subhanalla! No one knows all this except for Allah (swt)”
Pic Reference: Rijal al Kashi, Pg 251.
4. In Nahj balagha, in Sermon 128, Imam Ali (as) discloses some events of the future, so one of the companions said to him: O Amir al-mu’minin, you have been given (Ilm al Ghayb) knowledge of hidden things.
Whereupon Amir al-mu’minin laughed and said to the man who belonged to the tribe of Banu Kalb:
O brother of Kalb! This is not knowledge of hidden things (`ilmu’l-ghayb), these matters have been acquired from him (the Prophet) who knew them. As regard knowledge of hidden things, that includes knowledge of the Day of Judgment, and the things covered by Allah in the verse:
“Verily, Allah is He with Whom is the knowledge of the Hour; He sends down the rain, and He knows what is in the wombs. No soul knows what it will earn tomorrow, and no soul knows in what land it will die..” (Qur’an, 31:34)
Therefore, Allah alone knows what is there in the wombs, whether male or female, ugly or
handsome, generous or miserly, mischievous or pious, and who will be the fuel for Hell and
who will be in the company of the Prophets in Paradise. This is the knowledge of the hidden
things which is not known to anyone save Allah. All else (that we know) is that whose knowledge Allah passed on to His Prophet and he passed it on to me, and prayed for me that my bosom may retain it and my ribs may hold it.
This shows that whenever the Imams (as) said something about specific future events, it was not due to Ilm al ghayb, but rather due to what had been narrated by Rasulallah (saww) who in turn received it from Allah (swt).
4. In Uyun Akhbar al Ridhaof Sheikh Saduq, It has been narrated
…The man asked, “What is the proof of a Divine Leader?” The Imam (s) replied, “It is knowledge and the fulfillment of our prayers.”
The man asked, “How can you tell what is going to happen in the future?” The Imam (s) replied, “It is due to the Trusted Covenant which we have inherited from God’s Prophet (s).
The man asked, “How do you become aware of the people’s secret intentions?” The Imam (s) asked, “Have you not been told about the saying of the Messenger (s)?: ‘Fear the insight of the believer since he looks through a God-given light.’” The man replied, “Yes.” The Imam (s) said, “All believers have an insight with which they look through a God-given light according to the degree of their faith, insight and knowledge. God has given us – the Divine Leaders – as much insight as He has bestowed upon all the believers….”
This shows that the Imams (as) at times used to predict things due to their insight and far sightedness, which Allah (swt) bestows to other believers too, it is not Ilm al ghayb.
6. In a letter in Nahjul Balagha, which Imam Ali (as) sent to Munzir ibn Jarud Abdi:
The fact is that piety, honesty and righteousness of your father made me misjudge your character. I thought you were a worthy son of a worthy father and were following him in his honesty and righteousness. But all of a sudden I received about you news which confirms the fact that you do not check and control your inordinate desires, that you do not attach any importance to your life after death and you want to adorn and beautify your life at the cost of your salvation and that you are forsaking your religion to provide for your relatives.
If all that is reported to me about you is correct, then the very camel you own or even the strap-shoe is superior to you. You and men of your calibre are not the persons to be confided with the financial affairs of a country or to be assigned to important vacancies of the State or to be entrusted to check and control dishonesty and disloyalty. Therefore, as soon as you receive this letter come back to me.
As we can see, Imam Ali (as) did not have knowledge about the character of Munzir ibn Jarud, and hence he misjudged his character. Also, further the Imam (as) says, “If all that is reported to me about you is correct”, which means that Imam (as) is not even sure if the report he has received are correct.
This shows that the Imams (as) were normal human being, sometimes they predicted accurately because of their insight, and sometimes they misjudged.
Furthermore, if the Imams (as) had Ilm al Ghayb, i.e knowledge of every minute detail of the universe, knowledge of the past and future, then how can they be role models for us?
If we assume this kind of knowledge for them, then there is no lesson for us in the incidents where the Imams (as) controlled their anger and replied politely in the face of insults and humiliation from the enemy, because anyone can prepare and control himself if he knows what’s going to happen, the real test is when you have no idea and out of nowhere someone comes and starts abusing you, and in that moment you control your anger.
Also, if we assume this kind of knowledge for the Imams (as), then there would be no virtue for Imam Ali (as) to have slept on the bed of the Prophet (saww) on the night of hijra, because any tom dick and harry could do that if they were sure that they won’t be harmed, but the virtue of Imam Ali (as) lies in the fact that he did not know if he would wake up the next morning or he would be killed, and yet he slept on the bed of the Prophet (saww) to save his (saww) life.
So these people, who claim these supernatural powers and supernatural knowledge for the Imams (as) to raise their status, in reality out of their ignorance, insult the Imams (as) and degrade their status, and make it seem impossible for us to take lessons from the Imams (as).
Therefore we should reject and condemn those who narrated fabricated incidents that attribute Ilm al ghayb to the Imams (as), like the incident where Imam Ali (as) says that I never kill a person in battle until I have seen that there is no believer in his next 7 generations, this kind of incidents totally contradict the Quran and narrations of Ahlulbayt (as), as we have seen above, Imam Ali (as) quoted the verse of quran and said that no one knows what is in the womb of a woman except Allah (swt), let alone knowing if that child would be a believer or non believer.