Relativity of Time and the Reality of Fate
Everything related so far demonstrates that "three-dimensional space" does not exist in reality, that it is a prejudice completely founded on perceptions and that one leads one's whole life in "spacelessness". to assert the contrary would be to hold a superstitious belief far removed from reason and scientific truth, for there is no valid proof of the existence of a three-dimensional material world.
This refutes the primary assumption of the materialist philosophy that underlies evolutionary theory, the assumption that matter is absolute and eternal. the second assumption upon which materialistic philosophy rests is the supposition that time is absolute and eternal. This is as superstitious as the first.
The Perception of Time
What we perceive as time is, in fact, a method by which one moment is compared to another. We can explain this with an example. for instance, when a person taps an object, he hears a particular sound. When he taps the same object five minutes later, he hears another sound. the person perceives that there is an interval between the first sound and the second and he calls this interval "time". Yet at the time he hears the second sound, the first sound he heard is no more than an imagination in his mind. It is merely a bit of information in his memory. the person formulates the concept of "time" by comparing the moment in which he lives with what he has in his memory. If this comparison is not made, there can be no concept of time.
Similarly, a person makes a comparison when he sees someone entering a room through a door and sitting in an armchair in the middle of the room. By the time this person sits in the armchair, the images related to the moments he opens the door, walks into the room, and makes his way to the armchair are compiled as bits of information in the brain. the perception of time occurs when one compares the man sitting in the armchair with those bits of information.
In brief, time comes to exist as a result of the comparison made between some illusions stored in the brain. If man did not have memory, then his brain would not make such interpretations and therefore would never have formed the concept of time. the only reason why someone determines himself to be thirty years old is because he has accumulated information pertaining to those thirty years in his mind. If his memory did not exist, then he would not think of the existence of such a preceding period and he would only experience the single "moment" in which he lives.
The Scientific Explanation of Timelessness
Let us try to clarify the subject by quoting various scientists' and scholars' explanations of the subject. Regarding the subject of time flowing backwards, the famous intellectual and Nobel laureate professor of genetics, François Jacob, states the following in his book Le Jeu des Possibles (The Possible and the Actual):
Films played backwards make it possible for us to imagine a world in which time flows backwards. A world in which milk separates itself from the coffee and jumps out of the cup to reach the milk-pan; a world in which light rays are emitted from the walls to be collected in a trap (gravity center) instead of gushing out from a light source; a world in which a stone slopes to the palm of a man by the astonishing cooperation of innumerable drops of water making the stone possible to jump out of water. Yet, in such a world in which time has such opposite features, the processes of our brain and the way our memory compiles information, would similarly be functioning backwards. the same is true for the past and future and the world will appear to us exactly as it currently appears.42
Since our brain is accustomed to a certain sequence of events, the world operates not as is related above and we assume that time always flows forward. However, this is a decision reached in the brain and is relative. in reality, we can never know how time flows or even whether it flows or not. This is an indication of the fact that time is not an absolute fact but just a sort of perception.
The relativity of time is a fact also verified by one of the most important physicists of the 20th century, Albert Einstein. Lincoln Barnett, writes in his book the Universe and Dr. Einstein:
Along with absolute space, Einstein discarded the concept of absolute time – of a steady, unvarying inexorable universal time flow, streaming from the infinite past to the infinite future. Much of the obscurity that has surrounded the Theory of Relativity stems from man's reluctance to recognize that sense of time, like sense of color, is a form of perception. Just as space is simply a possible order of material objects, so time is simply a possible order of events. the subjectivity of time is best explained in Einstein's own words. "The experiences of an individual" he says, "appear to us arranged in a series of events; in this series the single events which we remember appear to be ordered according to the criterion of 'earlier' and 'later'. There exists, therefore, for the individual, an I-time, or subjective time. This in itself is not measurable. I can, indeed, associate numbers with the events, in such a way that a greater number is associated with the later event than with an earlier one.43
Einstein himself pointed out, as quoted in Barnett's book: "space and time are forms of intuition, which can no more be divorced from consciousness than can our concepts of colour, shape, or size." According to the Theory of General Relativity: "time has no independent existence apart from the order of events by which we measure it."44
Since time consists of perception, it depends entirely on the perceiver and is therefore relative.
The speed at which time flows differs according to the references we use to measure it because there is no natural clock in the human body to indicate precisely how fast time passes. As Lincoln Barnett wrote:
"Just as there is no such thing as color without an eye to discern it, so an instant or an hour or a day is nothing without an event to mark it."45
The relativity of time is plainly experienced in dreams. Although what we see in our dreams seems to last for hours, in fact, it only lasts for a few minutes, and even a few seconds.
Let us think about an example to clarify the subject further. Let us assume that we were put in a room with a single window that was specifically designed and we were kept there for a certain period. Let there be a clock in the room from which we can see the amount of time that has passed. At the same time, let it be that we see from the window of the room the sun rising and setting at certain intervals. A few days later, the answer we would give to the question about the amount of time we spent in the room would be based both on the information we had collected by looking at the clock from time to time and on the computation we had made by referring to how many times the sun rose and set. for example, we estimate that we spent three days in the room. However, if the person who put us in that room said that we spent only two days in the room and that the sun we had seen from the window was produced artificially by a simulation machine and that the clock in the room was regulated specially to work faster, then the calculation we had done would have no meaning.
This example confirms that the information we have about the rate of passage of time is based on relative references. the relativity of time is a scientific fact also proven by scientific methodology. Einstein's Theory of General Relativity maintains that the speed of time changes depending on the speed of the object and its position in the gravitational field. As speed increases, time is shortened and compressed: it slows down as if coming to the point of "stopping".
Let us explain this with an example given by Einstein. Imagine two twins, one of whom stays on earth while the other goes travelling in space at a speed close to that of light. When he comes back, the traveller will see that his brother has grown much older than he has. the reason is that time flows much slower for the person who travels at speeds near the speed of light. Let us consider a space-travelling father and his earth-bound son. If the father were twenty-seven years old when he set out and his son three; when the father came back to earth thirty years later (earth time), the son would be thirty-three years old while his father would only be thirty.46
This relativity of time is not caused by the deceleration or acceleration of clocks, or the deceleration of a mechanical spring. It is rather the result of the differentiated operation periods of the entire system of material existence, which goes as deep as sub-atomic particles. in other words, for the person experiencing it, the shortening of time is not experienced as if acting in a slow-motion picture. in such a setting where time shortens, one's heartbeats, cell replications, and brain functions, etc, all operate slower than those of the slower-moving person on earth. Nevertheless, the person goes on with his daily life and does not notice the shortening of time at all. Indeed the shortening does not even become apparent until comparison is made.
Relativity in the Qur'an
The conclusion to which we are led by the findings of modern science is that time is not an absolute fact as supposed by materialists, but only a relative perception. What is most interesting is that this fact, undiscovered until the 20th century by science, was revealed to mankind in the Qur'an fourteen centuries ago. There are various references in the Qur'an to the relativity of time.
It is possible to see in many verses of the Qur'an the scientifically-proven fact that time is a psychological perception dependent on events, the setting, and conditions. for instance, as stated in the Qur'an, a person's entire life is a very short time:
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 recognise each other. (Surah Yunus: 45)
Some verses indicate that people perceive time differently and that sometimes people can perceive a very short period as a very lengthy one. the following conversation of people held during their judgement in the hereafter is a good example of this:
He will say: "What number of years did you stay on earth?" They will say: "We stayed a day or part of a day, but ask those who keep account." He will say: "You stayed not but a little, if you had only known!" (Surat al-Muminun: 112-114)
In some other verses Allah states 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 rules (all) affairs from the heavens to the earth: in the end will (all affairs) ascend to Him in a day the measure of which is a thousand years of what you count. (Surat al-Sajda, 5)
These verses are clear expressions of the relativity of time. That this result, which was only recently understood by scientists 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 of time and space.
Many other verses of the Qur'an reveal that time is a perception. This is particularly evident in the stories. for instance, Allah has kept the Companions of the Cave, a group of believing people mentioned in the Qur'an, in a deep sleep for more than three centuries. When they awoke, these people thought that they had stayed in that state but a little while, and could not reckon how long they had slept:
Then We drew (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 verse below 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, "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)
The above verse clearly emphasises that Allah, Who created time, is unbound by it. Man, on the other hand, is bound by time, which is ordained by Allah. As in the verse, man is even incapable of knowing how long he slept. in such a state, to assert that time is absolute (just as materialists, in their distorted thinking, do) is very unreasonable.
This relativity of time clears up a very important matter. Relativity is so variable that a period appearing billions of years' duration to us may last only a second in another perspective. Moreover, an enormous period of time extending from the world's beginning to its end may not even last a second but just an instant in another dimension.
This is the very essence of the concept of destiny – a concept 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. A majority of people question how Allah can already know events that have not yet been experienced and this leads them to fail in understanding the authenticity of destiny. However, "events not yet experienced" are only so for us. Allah is not bound by time or space for He Himself has created them. for this reason, past, future, and present are all the same to Allah; for Him everything has already taken place and finished.
In the Universe and Dr. Einstein, Lincoln Barnett explains how the Theory of General Relativity leads to this conclusion. According to Barnett, the universe can be "encompassed in its entire majesty only by a cosmic intellect".47 the will that Barnett calls "the cosmic intellect" is the wisdom and knowledge of Allah, Who prevails over the entire universe. Just as we can easily see a ruler's beginning, middle, and end, and all the units in between as a whole, Allah knows the time we are subject to as if it were a single moment right from its beginning to its end. People, however, experience incidents only when their time comes and they witness the destiny Allah has created for them.
It is also important to draw attention to the shallowness of the distorted understanding of destiny prevalent in our society. This distorted belief of fate is a superstition that Allah has determined a "destiny" for every man but that these destinies can sometimes be changed by people. for instance, people make superficial statements about a patient who returns from death's door such as "he defeated his destiny". No-one is able to change his destiny. the person who returned from death's door, didn't die precisely because he was destined not to die at that time. It is, ironically, the destiny of those people who deceive themselves by saying "I defeated my destiny" that they should say so and maintain such a mindset.
Destiny is the eternal knowledge of Allah and for Allah, Who knows time like a single moment and Who prevails over the whole of time and space; everything is determined and finished in destiny. We also understand from what He relates in the Qur'an that time is one for Allah: some incidents that appear to us to happen in the future are related in the Qur'an in such a way as if they had already taken place long before. for instance, the verses that describe the accounts that people must give to Allah in the hereafter are related as events which 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 wills. Then it is blown a second time, and behold them standing waiting! and the earth shone with the light of her Lord, and the Book is set up, and the prophets and the witnesses are brought, and it is judged between them with truth, and they are not wronged… and those who disbelieve are driven unto hell in troops…: and those who feared their Lord are driven unto Paradise 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. (Surat al-Qaf: 21)
And the heaven is cloven asunder, so that on that day it is frail. (Surat al-Haqqah: 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 in the Qur'an as past events already experienced. Allah is not bound by the relative time frame in which we are confined. Allah has willed these things in timelessness: people have already performed them and all these events have been lived through and are ended. He imparts in the verse below that every event, 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 (mankind) 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 issues discussed in this chapter, namely the truth underlying matter, timelessness, and spacelessness, are indeed extremely clear. As expressed before, these are definitely not any sort of philosophy or way of thought, but scientific outcomes that are impossible to deny. in addition to its being a technical reality, the evidence also admits of no other rational and logical alternatives on this issue: the universe is an illusory entity with all the matter composing it and all the creatures living in it. It is a collection of perceptions.
Materialists have a hard time understanding this issue. for instance, if we return to Politzer's bus example: although Politzer technically knew that he could not step out of his perceptions he could only admit it in certain cases. That is, for Politzer, events take place in the brain until the bus crash, but as soon as the bus crash takes place, things go out of the brain and gain a physical reality. the logical defect of this point is very clear. Politzer has made the same mistake as the materialist Johnson who said, "I hit the stone, my foot hurts, therefore it exists". Politzer could not understand that the shock felt after the impact of the bus was merely a perception as well.
The subliminal reason why materialists cannot comprehend this subject is their fear of what they will face when they comprehend it. Lincoln Barnett tells us that some scientists "discerned" this subject:
Any reference made to the fact that matter and time are perceptions arouses great fear in the materialist, because these are the only notions he relies on as absolute beings. He, in a sense, takes them as idols to worship; because he thinks that matter and time (through evolution) created him.
When he feels that the universe in which he thinks he is living, the world, his own body, other people, other materialist philosophers by whose ideas he is influenced, and, in short, everything is a perception, he feels overwhelmed by a horror at it all. Everything he depends on, believes in, and has recourse to suddenly vanishes. He feels a taste of the desperation which he will really experience on the day of judgement, as described in the verse "That day shall they (openly) show (their) submission to Allah; and all their inventions left them in the lurch." (Surat an-Nahl: 87)
From then on, this materialist tries to convince himself of the reality of matter, and makes up "evidence" for this end. He hits his fist on the wall, kicks stones, shouts, yells, but can never escape from the reality.
Just as they want to dismiss this reality from their minds, they also want other people to discard it. They are also aware that if people in general know the true nature of matter, the primitive nature of their own philosophy and the ignorance of their worldview will be bared for all to see, and there will be no ground left on which they can found their views. These fears are the reasons why they are so disturbed at the facts related here.
Allah states that the fears of the unbelievers will be intensified in the hereafter. On the day of judgement, 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)
Thereupon, unbelievers will witness their possessions, children and their intimates, whom they had assumed to be real and had ascribed as partners to Allah, leaving them and vanishing. Allah informs us of this in the verse "Behold! How they lie against their own selves! But the (lie) which they invented left them in the lurch." (Surat al-An'am: 24).
The Gain of Believers
While the fact that matter and time are perceptions alarms materialists, the opposite holds true for believers. People of faith become very glad when they perceive the secret behind matter, because this reality is the key to all questions. with this key, all secrets are unlocked. One comes easily to understand many issues that one previously had difficulty in understanding.
As said before, the questions of death, paradise, hell, the hereafter, changing dimensions, and questions such as "Where is Allah?" "What was before Allah?" "Who created Allah?" "How long will life in the grave last?" "Where are heaven and hell?" and "Where do heaven and hell currently exist?" are easily answered. It will be understood with what kind of order Allah created the entire universe from out of nothing, so much so that, with this secret, the questions of "when?" and "where?" become meaningless because there are no time and no space left. When spacelessness is grasped, it will be understood that hell, heaven and earth are all actually the same place. If timelessness is grasped, it will be understood that everything takes place at a single moment: nothing is waited for and time does not go by, because everything has already happened and finished.
With this secret delved, the world becomes like heaven for a believer. All distressful material worries, anxieties, and fears vanish. the person grasps that the entire universe has a single sovereign, that He changes the entire physical world as He pleases and that all one has to do is to turn to Him. He then submits himself entirely to Allah "to be devoted to His service" . (Surat Ali 'Imran: 35)
To comprehend this secret is the greatest gain in the world.
Along with this secret, another very important reality mentioned in the Qur'an is unveiled: 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 easily be explained by the reality of spacelessness. This verse also can be much better comprehended by understanding this secret.
This is the plain truth. It should be well established that there is no helper and provider for man other than Allah. There is nothing but Allah; He is the only absolute being with Whom one can seek refuge, to Whom one can appeal for help and count on for reward.
Wherever we turn, there is the presence of Allah.
42 François Jacob, Le Jeu des Possibles, University of Washington Press, 1982, p.111
43 Lincoln Barnett, the Universe and Dr.Einstein, William Sloane Associate, New York, 1948, pp. 52-53
44 Lincoln Barnett, the Universe and Dr.Einstein, William Sloane Associate, New York, 1948, p.17
45 Lincoln Barnett, the Universe and Dr.Einstein, William Sloane Associate, New York, 1948, p.58.
46 Paul Strathern, the Big Idea: Einstein and Relativity, Arrow Books, 1997, p. 57
47 Lincoln Barnett, the Universe and Dr.Einstein, William Sloane Associate, New York, 1948, p.84
48 Lincoln Barnett, the Universe and Dr.Einstein, William Sloane Associate, New York, 1948, pp.17-18