The Secret Beyond Matter is Not Wahdatul Wujood
The topic called "The Real Essence of Matter" has been criticized by some people. Having misunderstood the essence of the subject, these people claim that what is explained as the secret beyond matter is identical to the teaching of Wahdatul Wujood. Let us state, before all else, that the author of this book is a believer strictly abiding by the doctrine of Ahlus Sunnah and does not defend the view of Wahdatul Wujood.
However, it should also be remembered that Wahdatul Wujood was defended by some leading Islamic scholars including Muhyiddin Ibn al-‘Arabi. It is true that numerous significant Islamic scholars who described the concept of Wahdatul Wujood in the past did so by considering some subjects found in these books. Still, what is explained in these books is not the same as Wahdatul Wujood.
Some of those who defended the view of Wahdatul Wujood were engrossed by some erroneous opinions and made some claims contrary to the Qur'an and the doctrine of Ahlus Sunnah. They, for example, completely rejected the Creation of Allah. When the subject of the secret beyond matter is told, however, there is definitely no such claim. This section explains that all beings are created by Allah, and that the originals of these beings are seen by Him whereas people merely see the images of these beings formed in their brains.
Mountains, plains, flowers, people, seas—briefly everything we see and everything that Allah informs us in the Qur'an that exists and that He created out of nothing is created and does indeed exist. However, people cannot see, feel or hear the real nature of these beings through their sense organs. What they see and feel are only the copies that appear in their brains. This is a scientific fact taught at all schools primarily in medicine. The same applies to the article you are reading now; you can not see nor touch the real nature of it. The light coming from the original article is converted by some cells in your eyes into electrical signals, which are then conveyed to the sight center in the back of your brain. This is where the view of this article is created. In other words, you are not reading an article which is before your eyes through your eyes; in fact, this article is created in the sight center in the back of your brain. The article you are reading right now is a "copy of the article" within your brain. The original article is seen by Allah.
In conclusion, the fact that the matter is an illusion formed in our brains does not "reject" the matter, but provides us information about the real nature of the matter: that no person can have connection with its original.
There Is Matter Outside Of Us, But We Cannot Reach It
… [S]aying that matter is an illusion does not mean it does not exist. Quite the contrary: whether we perceive the physical world or not, it does exist. But we see it as a copy in our brain or, in other words, as an interpretation of our senses. For us, therefore, the physical world of matter is an illusion.
The matter outside is seen not just by us, but by other beings too. The angels Allah delegated to be watchers witness this world as well:
And the two recording angels are recording, sitting on the right and on the left. He does not utter a single word, without a watcher by him, pen in hand! (Surah Qaf: 17-18)
Most importantly, Allah sees everything. He created this world with all its details and sees it in all its states. As He informs us in the Qur'an:
… Heed Allah and know that Allah sees what you do. (Surat al-Baqara: 233)
Say: "Allah is a sufficient witness between me and you. He is certainly aware of and sees His servants." (Surat al-Isra': 96)
It must not be forgotten that Allah keeps the records of everything in the book called Lawh Mahfuz (Preserved Tablet). Even if we don't see all things, they are in the Lawh Mahfuz. Allah reveals that He keeps everything's record in the "Mother of the Book" called Lawh Mahfuz with the following verses:
It is in the Source Book with Us, high-exalted, full of wisdom. (Surat az-Zukhruf: 4)
… We possess an all-preserving Book. (Surah Qaf: 4)
Certainly there is no hidden thing in either heaven or earth which is not in a Clear Book. (Surat an-Naml: 75)
The Secret Beyond Matter
Those who contemplate their surroundings conscientiously and wisely realize that everything in the universe—both living and non-living—must have been created. So the question becomes, "Who is the Creator of all these things?"
It is evident that the Creation that reveals itself in every aspect of the universe cannot be an outgrowth of the universe itself. For example, no insect could have created itself, nor could the solar system have created or organized itself. Neither could plants, humans, bacteria, red-blood cells, nor butterflies have created themselves. As this book explains throughout, any possibility that all these could have originated "by chance" is unimaginable.
Therefore, we arrive at the following conclusion: Everything that we see has been created, but nothing we see can itself be a "creator." The Creator is different from—and superior to—all that we see, a Superior Power Who is invisible to our eyes, but Whose existence and attributes are revealed in everything that He creates.
This is where those who deny Allah's existence are led astray. They are conditioned not to believe in Allah's existence unless they see Him with their own eyes, forced to conceal the actuality of Creation manifested all throughout the universe, and to claim that the universe and all the living things it contains have not been created. In order to do so, they resort to falsehoods. Evolutionary theory is one key example of their lies and vain endeavors to this end.
The basic mistake of those who deny Allah is shared by many others who don't actually deny His existence, but have wrong perceptions of Him. These people, constituting the majority of society in some countries, do not deny Creation openly, but have superstitious beliefs about Allah, most believing that He is only "up in the sky." They tacitly and falsely imagine that Allah is off behind some very distant planet and only occasionally interferes with worldly affairs. Or perhaps He doesn't intervene at all: He created the universe, and then left it to itself, leaving humans to determine their fates for themselves. (Surely Allah is beyond that.)
Still others are aware of the fact that Allah is "everywhere," as revealed in the Qur'an, but cannot fully understand what this means. Superstitiously, they think that Allah surrounds all matter like radio waves or like an invisible, intangible gas. (Allah is certainly beyond that.)
However, this and other notions that cannot clarify "where" Allah is (and unwisely deny His apparent existence perhaps because of this) are all based on a common mistake: They hold a groundless prejudice that moves them to wrong opinions about Allah.
What is this prejudice? It concerns the existence and nature of matter. Some people have been so conditioned to the mistaken ideas about the true nature of matter that they may have never thought about it thoroughly. Modern science, however, demolishes this prejudice about the nature of matter and discloses a very important and imposing truth. In the following pages, we will explain this great reality pointed to in the Qur'an.
The World of Electrical Signals
All the information we have about the world is conveyed to us by our five senses. Thus, the world we know consists of what our eyes see, our hands feel, our nose smells, our tongue tastes, and our ears hear. Many people never think that the external world can be other than what our senses present to us, since we've depended on those senses since the day we were born.
Yet modern research in many different fields of science points to a very different understanding, leading to serious doubt about the "outside" world that we perceive with our senses.
For this new understanding, the starting point is that everything we perceive as external is only a response formed by electrical signals in our brain. The information one has about the red of an apple, the hardness of wood—moreover, one's mother, father, family, and everything that one owns, one's house, job, and even the pages of this book—is comprised of electrical signals only. In other words, we can never know the true color of the apple in the outside world, nor the true structure of wood there, nor the real appearance of our parents and the ones we love. They all exist in the outside world as Allah's creations, but we can only have direct experience of the copies in our brains for so long as we live.
To clarify, let's consider the five senses which provide us with all our information about the external world.
How Do We See, Hear, and Taste?
The act of seeing occurs in a progressive fashion. Light (photons) traveling from the object passes through the lens in front of the eye, where the image is refracted and falls, upside down, onto the retina at the back of the eye. Here, visual stimuli are turned into electrical signals, in turn transmitted by neurons to a tiny spot in the rear of the brain known as the vision center. After a series of processes, these electrical signals in this brain center are perceived as an image. The act of seeing actually takes place at the posterior of the brain, in this tiny spot which is pitch dark, completely insulated from light.
Even though this process is largely understood, when we claim, "We see," in fact we are perceiving the effects of impulses reaching our eye, transformed into electrical signals, and induced in our brain. And so, when we say, "We see," actually we are observing electrical signals in our mind.
All the images we view in our lives are formed in our center of vision, which takes up only a few cubic centimeters in the brain's volume. The book you are now reading, as well as the boundless landscape you see when you gaze at the horizon, both occur in this tiny space. And keep in mind that, as noted before, the brain is insulated from light. Inside the skull is absolutely dark; and the brain itself has no contact with light that exists outside.
An example can illustrate this interesting paradox. Suppose we place a burning candle in front of you. You can sit across from it and watch this candle at length. During this time, however, your brain never has any direct contact with the candle's original light. Even while you perceive the candle's light, the inside of your brain is lightless. We all watch a bright, colorful world inside our pitch-dark brain.
R. L. Gregory explains the miraculous aspect of seeing, which is taken so very much for granted:
The same applies to all our other senses. Sound, touch, taste and smell are all transmitted as electrical signals to the brain, where they are perceived in the relevant centers.
The sense of hearing proceeds in the same manner. The auricle in the outer ear picks up available sounds and directs them to the middle ear; the middle ear transmits the sound vibrations to the inner ear by intensifying them; the inner ear translates these vibrations into electrical signals and sends them to the brain. Just as with the eye, the act of hearing takes place in the brain's hearing center. The brain is insulated from sound just as it is from light. Therefore, no matter how noisy it may be outside, it is completely silent inside the brain.
Nevertheless, the brain perceives sounds most precisely, so that a healthy person's ear hears everything without any atmospheric noise or interference. Your brain is insulated from sound, yet you listen to the symphonies of an orchestra, hear all the noises in a crowded auditorium, and perceive all sounds within a wide frequency, from the rustling of leaves to the roar of a jet plane. However, were a sensitive device to measure the sound level in your brain, it would show complete silence prevailing there.
Our perception of odor forms in a similar way. Volatile molecules, emitted by vanilla extract or a rose, reach receptors in the delicate hairs in the olfactory epithelium and become involved in an interaction that is transmitted to the brain as electrical signals and perceived as smell. Everything that you smell, be it pleasant or repugnant, is only your brain's perception of the interactions of volatile molecules transformed into electrical signals. The scent of a perfume, a flower, any delicious food, the sea, or other odors you like or dislike, you perceive entirely in your brain. The molecules themselves never reach there. Just as with sound and vision, what reaches your sensory centers is simply an assortment of electrical signals. In other words, all the sensations that, since you were born, you've assumed to belong to external objects are just electrical signals interpreted through your sense organs. You can never have direct experience of the true nature of a scent in the outside world.
Similarly, at the front of your tongue, there are four different types of chemical receptors that enables you to perceive the tastes of salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. After a series of chemical processes, your taste receptors transform these perceptions into electrical signals and transmit them to the brain, which perceives these signals as flavors. The taste you get when you eat chocolate or a fruit that you like is your brain's interpretation of electrical signals. You can never reach the object outside; you can never see, smell or taste the chocolate itself. For instance, if the nerves between your tongue and your brain are cut, no further signals will reach your brain, and you will lose your sense of taste completely.
Here, we come across another fact: You can never be sure that how a food tastes to you is the same as how it tastes to anyone else; or that your perception of a voice is the same as what another's when he hears that same voice. Along the same lines, science writer Lincoln Barnett wrote that "no one can ever know whether his sensation of red or of Middle C is the same as another man's." 2
Our sense of touch is no different. When we handle an object, all the information that helps us recognize it is transmitted to the brain by sensitive nerves on the skin. The feeling of touch is formed in our brain. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we perceive sensations of touch not at our fingertips or on our skin, but in our brain's tactile center. As a result of the brain's assessment of electrical stimulations coming to it from the skin, we feel different sensations pertaining to objects, such as hardness or softness, heat or cold. From these stimulations, we derive all details that help us recognize an object. Concerning this important fact, consider the thoughts of B. Russell and L. J. J. Wittgenstein, two famous philosophers:
It is impossible for us to reach the original of the physical world outside our brain. All objects we're in contact with are actually collection of perceptions such as sight, hearing, and touch. Throughout our lives, by processing the data in the sensory centers, our brain confronts not the "originals" of the matter existing outside us, but rather copies formed inside our brain. We can never know what the original forms of these copies are like.
The "External World" Inside Our Brain
As a result of these physical facts, we come to the following indisputable conclusion: We can never have direct experience of any of the things we see, touch, hear, and name "matter," "the world" or "the universe." We only know their copies in our brain and can never reach the original of the matter outside our brain. We merely taste, hear and see an image of the external world formed in our brain. In fact, someone eating an apple confronts not the actual fruit, but its perceptions in the brain. What that person considers to be an apple actually consists of his brain's perception of the electrical information concerning the fruit's shape, taste, smell, and texture. If the optic nerve to the brain were suddenly severed, the image of the fruit would instantly disappear. Any disconnection in the olfactory nerve traveling from receptors in the nose to the brain would interrupt the sense of smell completely. Simply put, that apple is nothing but the interpretation of electrical signals by the brain.
Also consider the sense of distance. The empty space between you and this page is only a sense of emptiness formed in your brain. Objects that appear distant in your view also exist in the brain. For instance, someone watching the stars at night assumes that they are millions of light-years away, yet the stars are within himself, in his vision center. While you read these lines, actually you are not inside the room you assume you're in; on the contrary, the room is inside you. Perceiving your body makes you think that you're inside it. However, you must remember that you have never seen your original body, either; you have always seen a copy of it formed inside your brain.
The same applies to all other perceptions. When you believe you're hearing the sound of the television in the next room, for instance, actually you are experiencing those sounds inside your brain. The noises you think are coming from meters away and the conversation of the person right beside you—both are perceived in the auditory center in your brain, only a few cubic centimeters in size. Apart from this center of perception, no concepts such as right, left, front or behind exist. That is, sound does not come to you from the right, from the left, or from above; there is no direction from which sound "really" comes.
Similarly, none of the smells you perceive reach you from any distance away. You suppose that the scents perceived in your center of smell are the real ones of outside objects. However, just as the image of a rose exists in your visual center, so its scent is located in your olfactory center. You can never have direct contact with the original sight or smell of that rose that exists outside.
To us, the "external world" is a collection of the electrical signals reaching our brains simultaneously. Our brains process these signals, and some people live without recognizing how mistaken they are in assuming that these are the actual, original versions of matter existing in the "external world." They are misled, because by means of our senses, we can never reach the matter itself.
Again, our brain interprets and attributes meanings to the signals related to the "external world" of which people imagine they are in contact with the original that exists outside. Consider the sense of hearing, for example. In fact, our brain interprets and transforms sound waves reaching our ear into symphonies. That is to say, we know music as interpreted by our brain, not the original music that exists outside. In the same manner, when we see colors, different wavelengths of light are all that reaches our eyes, and our brain transforms these wavelengths into colors. The colors in the "external world" are unknown to us. We can never have direct experience of the true red of an apple, the true blue of the sky or the true green of trees. The external world depends entirely on the perceiver.
Even the slightest defect in the eye's retina can cause color blindness. Some people perceive blue as green, others red as blue, and still others see all colors as different tones of gray. At this point, it no longer matters whether the outside object is colored or not.
The World of Senses Can Occur Without Outside World's Existence
One factor which reveals that everything we see and experience exists in our brain and that we can never know the original of the matter that exists outside is that we do not need an outside world for senses to occur in the brain. Many technological developments such as simulators and also dreams are the most important evidences of this truth.
Science writer, Rita Carter, states in her book, Mapping the Mind, that "there's no need for eyes to see" and describes at length an experiment carried out by scientists. In the experiment, blind patients were fitted with a device that transformed video pictures into vibrating pulses. A camera mounted next to the subjects' eyes spread the pulses over their backs so they had continuous sensory input from the visual world. The patients started to behave as if they could really see, after a while. For example, there was a zoom lens in one of the devices so as to move closer the image. When the zoom is operated without informing the patient beforehand, the patient had an urge to protect himself with two arms because the image on the subject's back expanded suddenly as though the world was looming in.4
As it is seen from this experiment, we can form sensations even when they are not caused by material equivalents in the outside world. All stimuli can be created artificially.
"The world of senses" that we experience in dreams
A person can experience all senses vividly without the presence of the outside world. The most obvious example of this is dreams. A person lies on his bed with closed eyes while dreaming. However, in spite of this, that person senses many things which he or she experiences in real life, and experiences them so realistically that the dreams are indistinguishable from the real life experience. Everyone who reads this book will often bear witness to this truth in their own dreams. For example, a person lying down alone on a bed in a calm and quiet atmosphere at night might, in his dream, see himself in danger in a very crowded place. He could experience the event as if it were real, fleeing from danger in desperation and hiding behind a wall. Moreover, the images in his dreams are so realistic that he feels fear and panic as if he really was in danger. He has his heart in his mouth with every noise, is shaken with fear, his heart beats fast, he sweats and demonstrates the other physical affects that the human body undergoes in a dangerous situation.
A person who falls from a high place in his dream feels it with all his body, even though he is lying in bed without moving. Alternatively, one might see oneself slipping into a puddle, getting soaked and feeling cold because of a cold wind. However, in such a case, there is neither a puddle, nor is there wind. Furthermore, despite sleeping in a very hot room, one experiences the wetness and the cold, as if one were awake.
Someone who believes he is dealing with the original of the material world in his dream can be very sure of himself. He can put his hand on his friend's shoulder when the friend tells him that "it isn't possible to deal with the original of the world", and then ask "Don't you feel my hand on your shoulder? If so, how can you say that you don't see the original matter? What makes you think this way? Let's take a trip up the Bosphorus; we can have a chat about it and you'll explain to me why you believe this." The dream that he sees in his deep sleep is so clear that he turns on the engine with pleasure and accelerates slowly, almost jumping the car by pressing the pedal suddenly. While going on the road, trees and road lines seem solid because of the speed. In addition, he breathes clean Bosphorus air. But suppose he is woken up by his ringing alarm clock just when he's getting ready to tell his friend that he's seeing the original of matter. Wouldn't he object in the same manner regardless of whether he was asleep or awake?
When people wake up they understand that what they've seen until that moment is a dream. But for some reason they are not suspicious of the nature of the life (what they call "real") that starts with a "waking" image. However, the way we perceive images in "real life" is exactly the same as the way we perceive our dreams. We see both of them in the mind. We cannot understand they are images until we are woken up. Only then do we say "what I have just seen was a dream." So, how can we prove that what we see at any given moment is not a dream? We could be assuming that the moment in which we are living is real just because we haven't yet woken up. It is possible that we will discover this fact when we are woken up from this "waking dream" which takes longer than dreams we see everyday. We do not have any evidence that proves otherwise.
Many Islamic scholars have also proclaimed that the life around us is only a dream, and that only when we are awakened from that dream with "a big awakening," will people be able to understand that they live in a dreamlike world. A great Islamic scholar, Muhyiddin Ibn al-'Arabi, referred to as Sheikh Akbar (The greatest Sheikh) due to his superior knowledge, likens the world to our dreams by quoting a saying of the Prophet Muhammad (saas):
In a verse of the Qur'an, people are told to say on the Judgment Day when they are resurrected from the dead:
They will say, "Alas for us! Who has raised us from our sleeping-place? This is what the All-Merciful promised us. The Messengers were telling the truth." (Surah Ya Sin: 52)
As demonstrated in the verse, people wake up on the Judgment Day as if waking from a dream. Like someone woken from the middle of a dream in deep sleep, such people will similarly ask who has woken them up. As Allah reveals in the verse, the world around us is like a dream and everybody will be woken up from this dream, and will begin to see images of the afterlife, which is the real life.
Who Is the Perceiver?
We can never have direct experience of the "external world" that many people think they inhabit. Here, however, arises a question of primary importance: If we cannot reach the original of any physical object we know of, what about our brain itself? Since our brain is a part of the material world just like our arms, our legs, or any other object, we can never reach its original either.
When the brain is dissected, nothing is found in it but lipid and protein molecules, which exist in other organs of the body as well. This means that within the tissue we call "our brain," there is nothing to observe and interpret the images, constitute consciousness, or to make the being we call "ourselves."
In relation to the perception of images in the brain, perceptual scientist R.L. Gregory refers to a mistake people make:
This problem puts materialists, who hold that nothing is real except matter, in a quandary: Who is behind the eye that sees? What perceives what it sees, and then reacts?
Renowned cognitive neuroscientist Karl Pribram focused on this important question, relevant to the worlds of both science and philosophy, about who the perceiver is:
This book in your hand, the room you are in—in brief, all the images before you—are perceived inside your brain. Is it the blind, deaf, unconscious component atoms that view these images? Why did some atoms acquire this quality, whereas most did not? Do our acts of thinking, comprehending, remembering, being delighted, and everything else consist of chemical reactions among these atoms' molecules?
There is no sense in looking for will in atoms. Clearly, the being who sees, hears, and feels is a supra-material being, "alive," who is neither matter nor an image. This being interacts with the perceptions before it by using the image of our body.
This being is the soul.
It is the soul that sees, hears, feels, perceives and interprets the copies in the brain of the matter existing on the outside.
The intelligent being reading these lines is not an assortment of atoms and molecules and the chemical reactions between them, but a soul.
The Real Absolute Being
We are brought face to face with a very significant question: Since we know nothing about the original of the material world and we only deal with the copy images in our brain, then what is the source of these images?
Who continuously makes our soul watch the stars, the Earth, the plants, the people, our body and everything else that we see?
Very evidently, there exists a supreme Creator Who has created the entire material universe, and Who ceaselessly continues His Creation. This Creator displays a magnificent Creation, and surely He has eternal power and might.
This Creator describes Himself, the universe and the reason of our existence for us through the Book He has sent down.
This Creator is Allah, and His book is the Qur'an.
The fact is, the heavens and the earth—that is, the universe—are not stable. Their presence is made possible only by Allah's Creation, and that they will disappear when He ends this Creation. This is revealed in a verse as follows:
Allah keeps a firm hold on the heavens and earth, preventing them from vanishing away. And if they vanished no one could then keep hold of them. Certainly He is Most Forbearing, Ever-Forgiving. (Surah Fatir, 41)
As we mentioned at the beginning, some people have no genuine understanding of Allah and so, as a result of terrible ignorance, they imagine Him as a being present somewhere in the heavens and not really intervening in worldly affairs. (Surely Allah is beyond that.) The basis of this corrupt logic actually lies in the mistaken thought that the universe is merely an assembly of matter and Allah is "outside" this material world, in a faraway place. (Surely Allah is beyond that.)
The only real absolute being is Allah. That means that only Allah exists; matter is not absolute being. The material world on the outside is one of the works of Allah's sublime Creation. Allah is surely "everywhere" and encompasses all. This reality is explained in the Qur'an as follows;
Allah! There is no deity but He,—the Living, the Self-subsisting, Eternal. Neither slumber nor sleep can overtake Him. His are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who can intercede in His Presence except as He permits? He knows what (appears to His creatures as) before or after or behind them. Nor shall man grasp anything of His knowledge except as He wills. His Throne extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them, for He is the Most High, and the Supreme (in glory). (Surat al-Baqara, 255)
The facts that Allah is not bound by space and that He encompasses everything are stated in another verse as follows:
To Allah belong the East and the West: Wherever you turn, there is the Presence of Allah. For Allah is all-Pervading, and all-Knowing. (Surat al-Baqara, 115)
The fullness of faith consists of understanding this truth, avoiding the mistake of associating others with Allah and acknowledging Allah as the One Absolute Being. Someone who knows that, apart from Allah, everything is a shadow existence, will say with certain faith (at the level of Haqq-al yakin – truth of certainty) that only Allah exists and there is no other deity (or any being with strength) besides Him.
The materialists do not believe in the existence of Allah, because they cannot see Him with their eyes. But their claims are completely invalidated when they learn the real nature of matter. Someone who learns this truth understands that his own existence has the quality of an illusion, and grasps that a being which is an illusion will not be able to see a being which is absolute. As it is revealed in the Qur'an, human beings cannot see Allah but Allah sees them.
Eyesight cannot perceive Him but He perceives eyesight... (Surat al-An‘am, 103)
Certainly, we human beings cannot see the Being of Allah with our eyes but we know that He completely encompasses our inside, our outside, our views and our thoughts. For this reason, Allah reveals Himself in the Qur'an as "controlling hearing and sight" (Surah Yunus: 31) We cannot say one word, we cannot even take one breath without Allah's knowing it. Allah knows everything we do. This is revealed in the Qur'an:
Allah – Him from Whom nothing is hidden, either on earth or in heaven. (Surah Al ‘Imran: 5)
When people observe the copy world in their brains, imagining that they are dealing with the original matter, that is, as they lead their lives, the closest being to us is clearly Allah. The secret of the verse "We created man and We know what his own self whispers to him. We are nearer to him than his jugular vein" (Surah Qaf: 16) is hidden in this fact. Allah has encompassed man all around and is eternally near to him.
That Allah is eternally near to human beings is also revealed in this verse: "If My servants ask you about Me, I am near (to them)..." (Surat al-Baqara: 186) In another verse the same reality is expressed, "Surely your Lord encompasses mankind round about." (Surat al-Isra': 60).
Many people continue to err by thinking that the nearest thing to themselves is themselves. However, Allah is closer to us even than we are to ourselves. Allah reveals this fact in these verses: "Why then, when death reaches his throat and you are at that moment looking on—and We are nearer him than you but you cannot see" (Surat al-Waqi‘a: 83-85). But as revealed in the verse, because people do not see it with their eyes, some of them are ignorant of this extraordinary reality.
Some people are unaware of this great fact. They accept that Allah created them, but think that the work they do belongs to them. However, every action performed by a human being is created with the permission of Allah. For example, a person who writes a book writes it with the permission of Allah; every sentence, every idea, and every paragraph is composed because Allah wills it. Allah reveals this very important principle in several verses; one of these verses is, "... Allah created both you and what you do?". (Surat as-Saffat: 96) In the verse "... when you threw; it was Allah Who threw... ," (Surat al-Anfal: 17) Allah reveals that everything we do is an act that belongs to Him.
A person may not want to concede this reality; but this changes nothing.
Understanding the Reality of Matter Removes Worldly Ambitions
What we have described so far is one of the most profound truths that you have heard in your whole life. We have shown that the whole material world is really a shadow, and that this is the key to understanding the existence of Allah, His Creation, and the fact that He is the one absolute Being. At the same time, we have presented a scientifically undeniable demonstration both of how helpless human beings are and a manifestation of Allah's wonderful artistry. This knowledge makes people assured believers making it impossible for them not to believe. This is the main reason why some people avoid this truth.
The things that are being explained here are as true as a physical law or a chemical formula. When necessary, human beings can solve the most difficult mathematical problems and understand many very complex matters. However, when these same people are informed that throughout their lives they have experience of only the images formed in their mind, and that they have no connection with the original of matter, they have no desire at all to understand. This is an "exaggerated" case of an inability to understand, because what is discussed here is no more difficult than the answer to the questions, "What is two times two?" or "How old are you?". If you ask any scientist or professor of neurology where they see the world, they will answer you that they see it in their brains. You will find this fact even in high school biology text books. But despite the fact that it is clearly evident, information pertaining to the fact that we perceive the material world in our brains and the results that this information entails for human beings can be overlooked. It is of major significance that one of the most important scientifically proven facts is so carefully hidden from people's eyes.
The fundamental reason why people easily accept all scientific facts, yet are so afraid to accept this one, is that learning the truth about matter will basically change the way everyone looks at life. Those who believe that matter and the self are absolute beings will discover one day that they have merely dealt with the reflection in their minds of everything they have worked for and protected based on this idea - their spouses, their children, their wealth, even their own personalities. People are very afraid of this reality and pretend not to understand it even if they do. They try with determination to disprove the facts, which are simple enough for even a primary school child to understand. The reason behind this opposition is that they are afraid to lose what this world offers.
For someone who is attached to his possessions, his children, or the transient offerings of this world, the illusory nature of matter is cause for great fear. At the moment such a person understands this, he will have died before his natural death, and he will have surrendered his possessions and his soul. In the verse, "If He did ask you for it (all your wealth) and put you under pressure, you would be tight-fisted and it would bring out your malevolence." (Surah Muhammad: 37), Allah reveals how human beings will behave with meanness when He demands their possessions from them.
But when a person learns the real nature of matter, he will understand that his soul and his possessions already belong to Allah. If he knows that there is nothing to give or to resist giving, he will submit himself and all he possesses to Allah before he dies. For sincere believers, this is a beautiful and honorable thing and a way to draw nearer to Allah. Those who do not believe or whose faith is weak cannot recognize this beauty and stubbornly reject this reality.
The Environment That Will Come To Be When the Real Nature of Matter Is Not Kept Secret
Those who know that they have no connection with the actual material things, and that they are in the presence only of images that Allah presents to them, will change their whole way of living, their view of life and their values. This will be a change that will be useful both from the personal and social point of view, because someone who sees this truth will live without difficulty according to the high moral qualities that Allah has revealed in the Qur'an.
For those who do not regard the world as important and who understand that we cannot have direct experience of the original matter, it is spiritual things that deserve to be given importance. Someone who knows that Allah is listening to him and watching him at every moment, and is aware that he will render an account of his every action in the hereafter, will naturally live a morally virtuous life. He will be very careful about what Allah has commanded and what He has forbidden. Everyone in society will be filled with love and respect for one another, and everyone will compete with one another in the performance of good and noble deeds. People will change the values according to which they judge others. Material things will lose their value and therefore, people will be judged not according to their standing and position in society but according to their moral character and their piety. No one will pursue things whose external originals cannot be reached; everyone will seek after truth. Everyone will act without worrying about what others will think; the only question in their minds will be whether or not Allah will be pleased with what they do. In the place of the feelings of pride, arrogance and self-satisfaction that come from possessions, property, standing and position, there will be a sense of the understanding of humility and dependence. Therefore, people will willingly live according to those examples of good moral qualities mentioned in the Qur'an. Eventually, these changes will put an end to many problems of today's societies.
In place of angry, aggressive people, anxious even about small profit, there will be those who know that what they see are images Allah shows them. They will be well aware that reactions of anger and loud shouting make them look foolish. Well-being and trust will prevail in individuals and societies and everyone will be pleased with his life and possessions. These, then, are some of the blessings that this hidden reality will bring to individuals and societies. Knowing, considering and living according to this reality will bring much more goodness to human beings. Those who wish to attain this goodness should consider this reality well and endeavor to understand it. In one verse, Allah says,
Clear insights have come to you from your Lord. Whoever sees clearly, does so to his own benefit. Whoever is blind, it is to his own detriment... (Surat al-An‘am: 104)
Logical Deficiencies of the Materialists
From the start, this chapter has clearly and scientifically stated that matter is not absolute, as materialists claim, and that we can never reach its original that exists outside. In an extremely dogmatic manner, materialists resist this evident reality which destroys their philosophy, and bring forward baseless counterclaims to refute it.
There are similar examples in the books of famous materialists such as Marx, Engels, Lenin, and others along with impetuous sentences such as, "You understand the real nature of matter when you are slapped in the face."
The point where materialists are mistaken is that they think the concept of "perception" only applies to the sense of sight. In fact, all sensations, such as touch, contact, hardness, pain, heat, cold and wetness also form in the human brain, in precisely the same way that visual images are formed. For instance, someone who feels the cold metal of the door as he gets off a bus, actually "feels the cold metal" in his brain. This is a clear and well-known truth. As we have already seen, the sense of touch forms in a particular section of the brain, through nerve signals from the fingertips, for instance. It is not your fingers that do the feeling. People accept this because it has been demonstrated scientifically. However, when it comes to the bus hitting someone, not just to his feeling the metal of the indoor—in other words when the sensation of touch is more violent and painful—they think that this fact somehow no longer applies. However, pain or heavy blows are also perceived in the brain. Someone who is hit by a bus feels all the violence and pain of the event in his brain.
In order to understand this better, it will be useful to consider our dreams. A person may dream of being hit by a bus, of opening his eyes in hospital later, being taken for an operation, the doctors talking, his family's arrival at the hospital, and that he is crippled or suffers terrible pain. In his dream, he perceives all the images, sounds, feelings of hardness, pain, light, the colors in the hospital, all aspects of the incident in fact, very clearly and distinctly. They are all as natural and believable as in real life. At that moment, if the person who is having that dream were told it was only a dream, he would not believe it. Yet all that he is seeing is an illusion, and the bus, hospital and even the body he sees in his dream have no physical counterparts in the real world. Although they have no physical counterparts, he still feels as if a "real body" has been hit by a "real bus."
In the same way, there is no validity to the materialists' objections along the lines of "You realize the real nature of matter when someone hits you," "You can have no doubt as to whether or not you see the original of matter when someone kicks your knee," "You run away when you meet a savage dog," "When a bus has hit you, you understand whether it is in your brain or not," or "In that case, go and stand on the motorway in front of the oncoming traffic". A sharp blow, the pain from a dog's teeth or a violent slap are not evidence that you are dealing with the matter itself. As we have seen, you can experience the same things in dreams, with no corresponding physical counterparts. Furthermore, the violence of a sensation does not alter the fact that the sensation in question occurs in the brain. This is a clearly proven scientific fact.
The reason why some people think that a fast-moving bus on the motorway or an accident caused by that bus are striking proofs of their dealing with the physical existence of matter is that the image concerned is seen and felt as so real that it deceives one. The images around them, for instance the perfect perspective and depth of the motorway, the perfection of the colors, shapes and shadows they contain, the vividness of sound, smell and hardness, and the completeness of the logic within that image can deceive some people. On account of this vividness, some people forget that these are actually perceptions. Yet no matter how complete and flawless the perceptions in the mind may be, that does not alter the fact that they are still perceptions. If someone is hit by a car while walking along the road, or is trapped under a house that collapses during an earthquake, or is surrounded by flames during a fire, or trips up and falls down the stairs, he still experiences all these things in his mind, and is not actually confronting the reality of what happens.
When someone falls under a bus, the bus in his mind hits the body in his mind. The fact that he dies as a result, or that his body is completely shattered, does not alter this reality. If something a person experiences in his mind ends in death, Allah replaces the images He shows that person with images belonging to the hereafter. Those who are unable to understand the truth of this now on honest reflection will certainly do so when they die.
The Example of A Shared Nervous System
Let us consider Politzer's car crash example: If the injured person's nerves traveling from his five senses to his brain, were connected in parallel to another person's—Politzer's, for instance—then at the instant the bus hit that person, Politzer, sitting at his home at that same time, would feel the impact too. Politzer would experience all the sensations experienced by the person undergoing the accident, just as the same song will issue from two different loudspeakers connected to the same tape recorder. Politzer will hear the braking of the bus, feel its impact on his body, see the sights of a broken arm and spreading blood, suffer the aching fractures, experience entering the operation room, the hardness of the plaster cast, and the feebleness of his healing arm.
Just like Politzer, every other person connected to that man's nerves would experience the accident from beginning to end. If the man in the accident fell into a coma, so would everyone. Moreover, if all the perceptions pertaining to the car accident were recorded in some device, and repeatedly transmitted to someone, the bus would knock this person down again and again.
But which one of these two buses hitting those people is real? To this question, materialist philosophers have no consistent answer. The correct answer is that all of them experience the car accident, in all its details, in their own minds.
The same principle applies to our other examples. If the nerves of materialist Johnson, who felt pain in his foot after delivering a sound kick to a stone, were connected to a second individual, that person too would feel himself kick the same stone and feel the same pain.
In our previous example, let's make an exchange: Connecting the nerves of the man hit by the bus to Politzer's brain, and the nerves of Politzer, sitting in his house, to brain of that man who had the accident. In this case, Politzer will think that a bus has hit him, but the man actually hit by the bus will never feel the impact and think that he is sitting in Politzer's house. The very same logic can be applied to the example involving the stone.
As is evident, it is not possible for man to transcend his senses and break free of them. In this respect, a man's soul can be subjected to all kinds of representations, although it has no physical body and no material existence and there are no material surroundings. It is not possible for a person to realize this because he assumes these perfectly three-dimensional images to be real and is absolutely certain of their existence, because everybody depends on the perceptions stemming from his sensory organs.
The famous British philosopher David Hume expressed his thoughts on this point:
Formation of Perceptions in the Brain Is Not Philosophy, But Scientific Fact
Materialists claim that what we have stated here is a philosophical view. But the plain scientific fact is we cannot interact with the original of the "external world." This is not a matter of philosophy. All medical schools teach in detail how images and feelings form in the brain. Facts proven by twentieth-century science, and by physics in particular, clearly show that we can never reach the originals of physical matter; and that in a sense, everyone is watching the "monitor" in his brain.
Everyone who believes in science, be he an atheist, Buddhist, or of any other belief, must accept this fact. Even the materialist who denies the existence of Allah cannot deny scientific reality.
That Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Georges Politzer and others were never able to comprehend such a simple, evident fact is still startling, even though their level of scientific understanding was primitive and insufficient. Our highly advanced science and technology make it even easier to comprehend this explicit fact. Materialists, on the other hand, are paralyzed with their fears of even partially comprehending this fact and thereby, realizing how completely it demolishes their philosophy.
The Materialists' Great Fear
Materialists have been loudly publicizing their fear and panic in their publications, conferences and panels for some time. Their agitated, hopeless discourse implies that they are suffering a severe intellectual crisis. The collapse of the theory of evolution—the basis of their so-called scientific philosophy—already came as a great shock. Now they experience an even greater one, as they realize that they are losing matter itself, which for them is a greater mainstay than even Darwinism. They declare that for them, this issue is a tremendous threat that totally demolishes their cultural fabric.
One who expressed the materialist circles' anxiety and panic in a most outspoken way was Renan Pekunlu, an academician and writer in the periodical Bilim ve Utopya (Science and Utopia) which has assumed the task of defending materialism. Both in his articles in Bilim ve Utopya and in the panels he attended, Pekunlu presented our book The Evolution Deceit as the number-one threat. What disturbed Pekunlu even more than the chapters invalidating Darwinism was the section you are currently reading, which is also available in The Evolution Deceit. Pekunlu admonished his handful of readers not to let themselves be carried away by the indoctrination of idealism and to keep their faith in materialism. He used Vladimir I. Lenin, leader of Russia's bloody communist revolution, as a reference. Advising everyone to read Lenin's century-old book Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, Pekunlu only repeated Lenin's ignorant counsel to "not think over this issue, or you will lose track of materialism and be carried away by religion." In an article for the aforementioned periodical, Pekunlu quoted the following lines from Lenin:
These words explicitly demonstrate how the reality that Lenin found alarming and wanted to expunge, both from his own mind and the minds of his "comrades" disturbs contemporary materialists too, in a similar way. But Pekunlu and other materialists suffer a yet greater distress because they know that this certain fact is now being advanced in a way that's far more explicit convincing than a hundred years ago. For the first time, this subject is being explained in a truly irrefutable way.
Still, nevertheless, a great number of materialist scientists take a superficial stand against the fact that no one can ever have direct experience of the original of matter. The subject covered in this chapter is one of the most important and most exciting that a person can ever run across. It's fairly unlikely that these scientists would have faced such a crucial subject before, but the reactions and the stance they employ in their speeches and articles still hint at how superficial their comprehension really is.
Some materialists' reactions show that their blind adherence to materialism has somehow impaired their logic, making them far removed from comprehending the subject. For instance, Alaettin Senel- like Rennan Pekunlu, an academician and a writer for Bilim ve Utopya- said, "Forget the collapse of Darwinism, the real threatening subject is this one," and made demands implying " prove what you tell," sensing that his own philosophy has no basis. More interestingly, this writer has written lines revealing that he can by no means grasp this very fact which he considers such a menace.
For instance, in one article where Senel discussed this subject exclusively, he accepts that the brain perceives the external world as an image. But he writes, "I do not know whether or not the images in my brain have correlates in the external world, but the same thing applies when I speak on the phone. When I speak on the telephone, I cannot see the person I am speaking to, but I can have this conversation confirmed later, when I see him face to face." 12
By this, he actually means that if we doubt our perceptions, we can look at their origin and check its reality. This is an evident misconception, however, since it's impossible for us to reach matter itself. We can never get outside of our minds to know what is "outside." Does the voice on the phone have an objective correlate or not? We can confirm that by meeting the person we spoke with. However, this confirmation is nothing but one again experienced in the mind!
In fact, these writers also experience the same events in their dreams. For instance, Senel may dream that he speaks on the phone, then have this conversation confirmed by the person he spoke to. Or Pekunlu may, in his dream, feel he's facing a serious threat and advise others to read century-old books by Lenin. But no matter what they do, these materialists can never deny that they have never had direct experience of the events they've experienced and the people they talked to.
Materialists Have Fallen into One of the Biggest Traps in History
The panicky atmosphere sweeping materialist circles in Turkey, of which we've mentioned only a few examples here, shows that materialists face utter defeat. Modern science has proven that we don't have direct experience of the original of matter, and put this forward in a clear, straightforward, forceful way. Materialists see that the material world, in which they blindly believe and on which they rely and depend, disappears altogether. In the face of this fact, they can do nothing. Throughout human history, materialist thought has always existed. Being assured of themselves and their philosophy, materialists ignorantly revolted against Allah Who created them. Unreasonably and unscientifically, they maintained that matter is eternal, that none of it could possibly have had a Creator. (Surely Allah is beyond that) While denying Allah out of their arrogance, they took refuge in the lie that matter had absolute existence. So confident were they of this philosophy that they believed that no arguments could ever disprove it.
That is why this book's facts regarding the real nature of matter so surprised these people. What we've related here destroyed the very basis of their philosophy and left no grounds for further discussion. Matter, on which they based all their thoughts, lives, arrogance, and denial, suddenly vanished.
One of the attributes of Allah is His plotting against the unbelievers. This is stated in the verse; "They plot and plan, and Allah too plans; but the best of planners is Allah." (Surat al-Anfal, 30)
Allah entrapped materialists by making them assume that they are in direct contact with the original of matter and in so doing, humiliated them in a way never seen before. Materialists deemed they knew the originals of their possessions, status, rank, the society they belonged to, the whole world and everything else of which they actually experienced only the copies. Moreover, by relying on these, they ignorantly grew arrogant against Allah. By displaying the greatest unreason and being boastful, they revolted against Him and added to their unbelief. While so doing, they relied on matter. Yet so lacking are they in understanding that they fail to realize that Allah compasses them round about. Allah announces the state to which the unbelievers are led as a result of their thick-headedness:
Or do they intend a plot [against you]? But those who defy Allah are themselves involved in a Plot! (Surat at-Tur, 42)
Theirs is most probably the biggest intellectual defeat in history. While growing arrogant of their own accord, materialists have been tricked and suffered a serious defeat in their struggle against Allah by bringing up something monstrous against Him. The verse "Thus have We placed leaders in every town, its wicked men, to plot [and burrow] therein: but they only plot against their own souls, and they perceive it not" (Surat al-An‘am, 123) announces how unconscious these people who ignorantly revolt against our Creator are (surely Allah is beyond that), and how they will end up. In another verse the same fact is related as:
Fain would they deceive Allah and those who believe, but they only deceive themselves, and realize (it) not! (Surat al-Baqara, 9)
While trying to plot, unbelievers do not realize the very important fact that everything they experience are copy images they deal with in their brains, and that they merely have experience of images of all the plots they devise formed in their brains, just like every other act they perform. Their folly has let them forget that they are all alone with Allah and, hence, are trapped in their own devious plans.
In another verse Allah reveals the delusion of unbelievers: "But the unbelievers, their deeds are like a mirage in sandy deserts, which the man parched with thirst mistakes for water; until when he comes up to it, he finds it to be nothing, but he finds Allah there." (Surat an-Nur, 39) Materialist philosophy, too, offers a mirage for the rebellious; when they have recourse to materialism, they find everything to be merely an illusion. Allah has deceived them with such a mirage, and beguiled them into thinking that they have direct experience of the original of this collection of perceptions. All those professors, astronomers, biologists, physicists and all others, regardless of their rank and post, are simply deceived and humiliated because they foolishly took matter as their deity. (Surely Allah is beyond that) Assuming the copy images they watched within their brains to be absolute, they based their philosophy and ideology on it, grew involved in serious discussions, adopting a so-called "intellectual" discourse. They deemed themselves wise enough to argue about the truth of the universe and, more seriously thought unworthy thoughts about Allah with their limited intelligence. Allah explains their situation in the following verse:
And [the unbelievers] plotted and planned, and Allah too planned, and the best of planners is Allah. (Surah Al ‘Imran, 54)
One may possibly escape from some plots in the world; but Allah's plan against the unbelievers is so firm that there is no avoiding it. No matter what they do or to whom they appeal, never can they find any helper other than Allah. As Allah informs us in the Qur'an, "they shall not find for them other than Allah a patron or a help." (Surat an-Nisa', 173)
Materialists never expected to fall into such a trap. Having all the means of the twentieth century at their disposal, they believed they could grow obstinate in their denial and drag others into disbelief. This ever-lasting mentality of unbelievers and their end are described as follows in the Qur'an:
They plotted and planned, but We too planned, even while they perceived it not. Then see what was the end of their plot! - this, that We destroyed them and their people, all [of them]. (Surat an-Naml, 50-51)
This, in another sense, is what the fact stated in the verses comes to mean: Materialists are now told that they merely have experience of the copies in their brains of everything they own, and therefore, everything they possess has been rendered valueless. As they witness their possessions, factories, gold, money, children, spouses, friends, rank and status, and even their own bodies—the originals of all of which they believe they know—slipping out of their hands, they are in a sense destroyed. At this point, they are no longer material entities but souls.
Realizing this truth is doubtless the worst possible thing for the materialists. This is, in their own words, tantamount to "death before dying" in this world.
With the verse, "Leave Me alone, [to deal] with the [creature] whom I created [bare and] alone!" (Surat al-Muddaththir, 11) Allah has revealed the fact that each human being is, in truth, all alone in His Presence. This remarkable fact is revealed in many other verses:
"And behold! You come to Us bare and alone as We created you for the first time: you have left behind you all (the favors) which We bestowed on you..." (Surat al-An‘am, 94)
And each one of them will come unto Him on the Day of Resurrection, alone. (Surah Maryam, 95)
This, in another sense, is what the fact stated in the verses comes to mean: Those who ignorantly take matter as their deity (surely Allah is beyond that) have come from Allah and returned to Him. They have submitted themselves to Allah, whether they want to or not. Now they wait for the Day of Judgment, when each one of them will be called to account, however unwilling they may be to understand it.
The subject we have explained so far is one of the greatest truths you will ever read in your lifetime. Proving that we can never have direct experience of the original of matter, this subject is important in comprehending the existence of Allah and His creations and to understanding that He is the only absolute Being.
The person who understands this will realize that the world is not the sort of place that most people surmise. Not an absolute place whose original we know of, as supposed by those who wander aimlessly about the streets, get into fights in pubs, show off in luxurious cafes, brag about their property, or who dedicate their lives to hollow aims. All our knowledge of the world consists of copy images we see in our brains. All of the people cited above are shadow beings who watch these copy images in their minds, yet are unaware of this.
This very important concept undermines the materialist philosophy that denies the existence of Allah. This is why materialists like Marx, Engels, and Lenin panicked, became enraged, and warned their followers "not to think over" this concept when told about it. Such people are so mentally deficient that they cannot even comprehend the fact that perceptions are formed inside the brain. Assuming that what they watch in their brains is the "original of the external world," they cannot comprehend obvious evidence to the contrary.
In the age we live in, this fact has been proven with clarity by the body of evidence put forward by science. For the first time, the fact that we don't have direct experience of the original of the universe is described in a concrete, clear, and explicit way.
For this reason, the 21st century will be a turning point when people in general will comprehend the Divine realities and be led in crowds to Allah, the only Absolute Being. In the 21st century, twisted materialistic creeds of the 19th-century will be relegated to the trash-heaps of history; Allah's existence and Creation will be grasped; facts like spacelessness and timelessness will be better understood. Humanity will break free of the centuries-old veils, deceits, and superstitions enshrouding them.
Relativity of Time and the Reality of Fate
Everything related so far demonstrates that we never have direct contact with the external world, that we only know the version of matter as it exists in our minds and that one actually leads one's whole life in "spacelessness." Asserting the contrary would be to profess a superstitious belief removed from reason and scientific truth, for what is set out here are all technical and scientific facts even described in middle school textbooks.
This refutes the primary assumption of the materialist philosophy underlying evolutionary theory—the assumption that matter is absolute and eternal. The materialistic philosophy's second assumption is that time is also absolute and eternal—a supposition just as superstitious as the first.
The Perception of Time
What we call "time" is in fact a method by which one moment is compared to another. For example, when a person taps an object, he hears a particular sound. If he taps the same object five minutes later, he hears another sound. Thinking there is an interval between the two sounds, he calls this interval "time." Yet when he hears the second sound, the first one he heard is no more than a memory in his mind, merely a bit of information in his imagination. A person formulates his perception of time by comparing the moment in which he lives with what he holds in memory. If he doesn't make this comparison, he can have no perception of time either.
Similarly, a person makes a comparison when he sees someone enter through a door and sit in an armchair in the middle of the room. By the time this person sits in the armchair, the images of the moment he opened the door and made his way to the armchair are compiled as bits of information in memory. The perception of time takes place when one compares the man sitting on the armchair with those bits of recalled information.
Briefly, time comes about as a result of comparisons of information stored in the brain. If man had no memory, his brain could not make such interpretations and therefore, he would never form any perception of time. One determines himself to be thirty years old, only because he has accumulated in his mind information pertaining to those thirty years. If his memory did not exist, then he could not think of any such preceding period and would be experiencing only the single "moment" in which he was living.
The Scientific Explanation of Timelessness
We can clarify this subject by quoting various scientists' and scholars' explanations. Regarding the idea of time flowing backwards, François Jacob, a famous intellectual and Nobel laureate professor of genetics, states the following in his book Le Jeu des Possibles (The Play of Possibilities):
But since our brain is accustomed to a certain sequence of events, the world does not operate as related above. We assume that time always flows forward. However, this is a decision reached in the brain and is, therefore, completely relative. In reality, we never can know how time flows—or even whether it flows or not! This is because time is not an absolute fact, but only a form of perception.
Since time consists of perception, it depends entirely on the perceiver—and is therefore relative.
The relativity of time is plainly experienced in dreams. Although what we perceive in a dream seems to last for hours, in fact, it only lasts for a few minutes, and often even a few seconds.
An example will clarify the point. Assume that you were put into a room with a single window, specifically designed; and were kept there for a certain period of time. A clock on the walls shows you the amount of time that has passed. During this "time," from the room's window, you see the sun setting and rising at certain intervals. A few days later, questioned about the amount of time spent in the room, you would give an answer based on the information you had collected by looking at the clock from time to time, as well as by counting how many times the sun had set and risen. Say, for example, you estimate you'd spent three days in the room. However, if the person who put you in there says that you spent only two days in there; that the sun you saw from the window was falsely produced; and that the clock in the room was especially regulated to move faster, then your calculation would be erroneous.
This example dramatizes that the information we have about the rate of time's passing is based only on references that change according to the perceiver.
That time is relative 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 center of gravity. As speed increases, time is shortened—compressed—and slows down until it approaches to the point of stopping entirely.
This relativity of time is caused not by clocks slowing down or running fast. Rather, it's the result of the differentiated operational periods of the entire material system, as deep as sub-atomic particles. In such a setting where time stretches out, one's heartbeat, cell replications, and brain functions all operate more slowly. The person continues with his daily life and does not notice the slowing of time at all.
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. 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.
It is possible to see the scientifically-proven fact that time is a psychological perception dependent on events, setting, and conditions in many verses of the Qur'an. For instance, the entire life of a person is a very short time as we are informed in the Qur'an:
On the Day when 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 recognize 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 judgment in the hereafter is an 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 not but a little, if you had only known!" (Surat al-Muminun, 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. Verily 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 unto Him in a day the measure whereof is (as) fifty thousand years. (Surat al-Ma‘arij, 4)
He directs the whole affair from heaven to earth. Then it will again ascend to Him on a day whose length is a thousand years by the way you measure. (Surat as-Sajda, 5)
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 in the Qur'an is an indication of the revelation of the Qur'an by Allah, Who encompasses the whole time and space.
The narration in many other verses of the Qur'an reveals 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 figure out how long they slept:
Then We draw [a veil] over their ears, for a number of years, in the Cave, [so that they heard not]. Then We raised them up 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 raised them up [from sleep], 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 told in the below verse is also evidence that time is in truth a psychological perception.
Or [take] the similitude of one who passed by a hamlet, all in ruins to its roofs. He said: "Oh! How shall Allah bring it [ever] to life, after [this] its death?" but Allah caused him to die for a hundred years, then raised him up [again]. He said: "How long did you tarry [thus]?" He said: [Perhaps] a day or part of a day." He said: "Nay, 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 that We may make of you a sign unto 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)
It is clearly stated in the above verse that Allah, Who created time, is unbound by it. Man, on the other hand, is bound by time that Allah ordains. As in the verse, man is even incapable of knowing how long he stayed in his sleep. In such a state, to assert that time is absolute [just like the materialists do in their distorted mentality], would be very unreasonable.
Time's variable relativity reveals a very important reality: A period of time of apparently billions of years' duration to us, may last only a second in another dimension. Moreover, an enormous period of time—from the world's beginning to its end—may not last even a second, but just an instant in another dimension.
This is the very essence of destiny's reality—one that is not well understood by most people, especially materialists, who deny it completely. Destiny is Allah's perfect knowledge of all events, past or future. Many, if not most, question how Allah can already know events that have not yet been experienced, and this leads them to fail to understand the authenticity of destiny. However, events not yet experienced are not yet experienced by us only. Allah is not bound by time or space, for He Himself has created them. For this reason, the past, the future, and the present are all the same to Allah; for Him, everything has already taken place and is finished.
In The Universe and Dr. Einstein, Lincoln Barnett explains how the Theory of General Relativity leads to this insight. According to him, the universe can be "encompassed in its entire majesty only by a cosmic intellect."18 What Barnett calls "the cosmic intellect" is the wisdom and knowledge of Allah, Who prevails over the entire universe. Just as we easily see the beginning, middle, and end of a ruler and all the units in between as a whole, so Allah knows the time to which we're subjected right from its beginning to the end, like a single moment. People experience incidents only when their time comes for them to witness the fate Allah has created for them.
It is also important to consider society's distorted understanding of destiny. This distorted conviction presents the superstitious belief that Allah has determined a "destiny" for every man, but sometimes that people can change these destinies. For instance, speaking of a patient who's recovered from a fatal disease, people make superficial statements like, "He defeated his destiny." Yet no one is able to change his destiny. The person who recovers is destined not to die then. Again, it's the destiny of those people to deceive themselves by saying, "I defeated my destiny" and maintain such a mindset.
Destiny is the eternal knowledge of Allah. And for Allah, Who knows the whole time as a single moment and Who prevails over the whole time and space, everything is determined and finished in its destiny.
We also understand from what is related in the Qur'an that time is one for Allah: some incidents that appear to happen to us in the future are related in the Qur'an in such a way that they already took place long before. For instance, the account that people are to give to Allah in the hereafter is related as already occurred long ago:
And the trumpet is blown, and all who are in the heavens and all who are in the earth swoon away, save him whom Allah willeth. Then it is blown a second time, and behold them standing waiting! And the earth shineth 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... And those who disbelieve are driven unto hell in troops... And those who keep their duty to their Lord are driven unto the Garden in troops... (Surat az-Zumar, 68-73)
Some other verses on this subject are:
And every soul came, along with it 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 apprehended that they have to fall therein: no means did they find to turn away therefrom. (Surat al-Kahf, 53)
As may be seen, occurrences that are going to take place after our death (from our point of view) are related as already experienced and past events in the Qur'an. Allah is not bound by the relative time frame that we are confined in. Allah has willed these things in timelessness: people have already performed them and all these events have been lived through and ended. It is imparted in the verse below that every event, be it big or small, is within the knowledge of Allah and recorded in a book:
In whatever business you may be, and whatever portion you may be reciting from the Qur'an, and whatever deed you [humanity] may be doing, We are witnesses thereof when you are deeply engrossed therein. Nor is hidden from your Lord [so much as] the weight of an atom on the earth or in heaven. And not the least and not the greatest of these things but are recorded in a clear record. (Surah Yunus, 61)
The Worry of the Materialists
The facts discussed in this chapter, namely the truth underlying matter, timelessness, and spacelessness, are extremely clear indeed. As expressed earlier, these are not some sort of philosophy or way of thinking, but crystal-clear scientific truths, impossible to deny. On this issue, rational and logical evidence admits no other alternatives: For us, the universe—with all the matter composing it and all the people living on it—is an image, a collection of perceptions that we experience in our minds and whose original reality we cannot contact directly.
Materialists have a hard time in understanding this—for example, if we return to the example of Politzer's bus. Although Politzer technically knew that he could not step out of his perceptions, he could admit it only for certain cases. For him, events take place in the brain until the bus crash takes place, then events escape from the brain and assume a physical reality. At this point, the logical defect is very clear: Politzer has made the same mistake as the materialist Samuel Johnson, who said, "I hit the stone, my foot hurts, therefore it exists." Politzer could not understand that in fact, the shock felt after a bus impact was a mere perception too.
One subliminal reason why materialists cannot comprehend this is their fear of the implication they must face if they comprehend it. Lincoln Barnett tells of the fear and anxiety that even "discerning" this subject inspires in materialist scientists:
Any reference to the fact that we cannot make contact with original matter, and that time is a perception, arouses great fear in a materialist because these are the only notions he relies on as absolutes. In a sense, he takes these as idols to worship; because he thinks that he has been created by matter and time, through evolution.
When he feels that he cannot get to the essence of the universe he lives in, nor the world, his own body, other people, other materialist philosophers whose ideas he is influenced by—in short, to anything—he feels overwhelmed by the horror of it all. Everything he depends on and believes in suddenly vanishes. He feels the despair which he, essentially, will experience on Judgment Day in its real sense as described in the verse "That Day shall they [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 that he's really confronting external, original matter, and makes up "evidence." He hits his fist on the wall, kicks stones, shouts, and yells. But he can never escape from the reality.
Just as materialists want to dismiss this reality from their minds, they also want other people to discard it. They realize that if the true nature of matter becomes known to people in general, the primitiveness of their own philosophy and the ignorance of their worldview will be laid bare for all to see. No ground will be left on which they can rationalize their views. These fears explain why they are so disturbed by the facts related here.
Allah states that the fears of the unbelievers will be intensified in the hereafter. On Judgment Day, they will be addressed thus:
One day shall We 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-An‘am, 22)
In the hereafter, unbelievers will bear witness to their possessions, children and close friends leaving them and vanishing. They had assumed themselves to be in contact with their originals in the world and associated them with Allah. Allah stated this fact in the verse "Behold! How they lie against their own souls! But the (lie) which they invented will leave them in the lurch." (Surat al-An‘am, 24)
The Gain of Believers
The facts—that matter is not absolute and that time is a perception—alarm materialists, but for true believers, just the opposite holds true. People with faith in Allah become very glad to have perceived the secret behind matter, because this reality is the key to every question. With this, all secrets are unlocked, and one can easily understand many issues that previously seemed hard to grasp.
As said before, the issues of death, paradise, hell, the hereafter, and changing dimensions will be comprehended. Important questions such as, "Where is Allah?," "What existed before Allah?," "Who created Allah?," "How long will the life in cemetery last?," "Where are paradise and hell?," and "Do paradise and hell currently exist?" will be easily answered. Once it's understood that Allah created the entire universe from nothingness, the questions of "When?," and "Where?" become meaningless, because there will be no time or place left. When spacelessness is comprehended, it can be understood that hell, paradise and earth are all actually in the same location. If timelessness is understood, it will be understood that everything takes place at one single moment: Nothing need be awaited, and time does not go by, because everything has already happened and finished.
When this secret is comprehended, the world becomes like paradise for any believer. All distressful material worries, anxieties, and fears vanish. The person grasps that the entire universe has one single Sovereign, that He creates the entire physical world as He pleases, and that all one has to do is to turn unto 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.
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 inside? This situation can be easily explained by the fact that we cannot get out of our minds. This verse can also be much better comprehended by understanding this secret.
This is the plain truth. It should be well established that there is no other helper and provider for man than Allah. Nothing is absolute but Allah; He is the only absolute being in Whom one can seek refuge, appeal for help, and count on for reward.
Unbelievers should be aware of one further truth: While they mock the believers or try to harm them, they are in fact submitted to the destiny that Allah has predetermined for them. Every mocking word they utter, every unpleasant act they commit, every unbelieving thought that crosses their minds, and every plan they make is a part of this destiny. Although the unbelievers do not know it, they are Allah's servants and, by following His instructions, provide an important service. While they mock people who live according to the Qur'an's morality, the believers show patience and, because of their loyalty to Allah, earn an honorable place in the eternal beauty of Allah's paradise.
Unbelievers bring themselves down by believing that they actually interact the real world, the original of which they can never reach. But one day they will awaken, as if from a dream, and suddenly realize that their life was like the blink of an eye. Moreover, they will regret having spent it in unbelief. On the Day of Judgment, all of their mocking words, glances, and acts will be held against them. Indeed, even their own organs will be made to testify against them:
[O]n the Day when their tongues, hands, and feet will testify against them about what they were doing. On that Day, Allah will pay them in full what is due to them, and they will know that Allah is the Clear Truth. (Surat an-Nur,24-25)
1. IR.L.Gregory, Eye and Brain: The Psychology of Seeing, Oxford University Press Inc. New York, 1990, p. 9
2. Lincoln Barnett, The Universe and Dr. Einstein, William Sloane Associate, New York, 1948, p. 20
3. Orhan Hancerlioğlu, Dusunce Tarihi (The History of Thought), Istanbul: Remzi Bookstore, 6.ed., September 1995, p.447
4. Rita Carter, Mapping the Mind, p. 113
5. Muhyiddin Ibn al-'Arabi, Fusus al-Hikam, p. 220
6. R. L. Gregory, Eye and Brain: The Psychology of Seeing, Oxford University Press Inc. New York, 1990, p. 9
7. Ken Wilber, Holographic Paradigm and Other Paradoxes, p. 20
8. George Politzer, Principes Fondamentaux de Philosophie, Editions Sociales, Paris 1954, p. 53
9. Orhan Hancerlioglu, Dusunce Tarihi (The History of Thought), Istanbul: Remzi Bookstore, 6. ed., September 1995, p. 261
10. Paul Davies, Tanrı ve Yeni Fizik, (God and The New Physics), translated by Murat Temelli, Im Publishing, Istanbul 1995, pp. 180-181
11. Rennan Pekunlu, "Aldatmacanin Evrimsizligi", (Non-Evolution of Deceit), Bilim ve Utopya, December 1998 (V. I. Lenin, Materialism and Empirio-criticism, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1970, pp.334-335)
12. Alaettin Senel, "Evrim Aldatmacasi mi?, Devrin Aldatmacasi mi?", (Evolution Deceit or Deceit of the Epoch?), Bilim ve Utopya, December 1998
13 .Francois Jacob, Le Jeu des Possibles, University of Washington Press, 1982, p. 111
14. Lincoln Barnett, The Universe and Dr. Einstein, William Sloane Associate, New York, 1948, pp. 52-53
15. Lincoln Barnett, The Universe and Dr. Einstein, William Sloane Associate, New York, 1948, p. 17
16. Lincoln Barnett, The Universe and Dr. Einstein, William Sloane Associate, New York, 1948, p.58.
17. Paul Strathern, The Big Idea: Einstein and Relativity, Arrow Books, 1997, p. 57
18. Lincoln Barnett, The Universe and Dr. Einstein, William Sloane Associate, New York, 1948, p. 84
19. Lincoln Barnett, The Universe and Dr. Einstein, William Sloane Associate, New York, 1948, pp. 17-18