For the time we spend in this world, we make comparisons, thinking about what we did yesterday and accordingly making plans for the morrow. We think about what happened ten years ago, believe that time has passed and we have grown older. What gives rise to this belief is simply the comparisons we make between those previous moments and the present one.
If you were watching television before opening this book, you compare the time when you were watching television with the time when you are reading and imagine that time has passed between the two events. You refer to when you were watching television as "the past," imagining there has been a passage of time between the two events. In fact, the time you were watching television is information stored in your memory. You compare "the present," when you are reading this book, with the information in your memory, and perceive this interval as "time." The fact is, however, that there is only the present moment in which you are living. When you make no comparison with recollections in your memory, then no concept of time remains.
The well-known physicist John Barbour makes this definition of time:
Time is nothing but a measure of the changing positions of objects. A pendulum swings, the hands on a clock advance. 129
Time, therefore, consists of a comparison between various perceptions that arise in the brain. A study of people suffering from the memory loss known as anterograde amnesia makes it easier to see that time is nothing more than a human perception. Such people lose all their short-term memory, they are unable to remember what happened before, and are therefore unaware whether there's been any interval between two events. This is one further proof that time exists solely as a perception.
Since the events occurring in our daily lives are shown to us in a specific sequence, we subdivide time into the past, present and future. But in fact, the idea of a progression from the past to a future is mere conditioning. If we watched the information in our memories in the same way that we watch a film run backwards, then for us the past would be the future, and the future would be the past. This shows that time is not absolute, but forms in line with our perception.
The famous physicist Roger Penrose makes the following comment:
I think there's always something paradoxical about the way we seem to perceive time to pass and the way physics describes time. And partly it's a question of is there a clear temporal order of things in our perceptions, or do we somehow put lots of things together and form pictures of things . . . 130
The sequencing we perform in our own minds between events that we recall gives rise to what we refer to as past, present and future. This, however, is a decision we make of our own will. François Jacob, French biologist and Nobel laureate, makes this comparison:
Films played backward, 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 it possible for the stone 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. 131
This all goes to show that the concepts of past and future are concerned with how we perceive our memories. The truth is that we have no means of knowing how time passes or does not pass. In the same way that we can never have direct experience of the images we see, so we can never know for sure whether we are exposed to time and, if we are, how it functions, because time is merely a mode of perception.
The fact that time is a perception was confirmed with the general theory of relativity proposed by Albert Einstein. In his book The Universe and Dr. Einstein, Lincoln Barnett writes:
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 a sense of time, like sense of colour, 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.” 132
In Barnett's words, Einstein shows that "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 general theory of relativity, "time has no independent existence apart from the order of events by which we measure it." 133
Since time is a perception, it is also a relative concept that depends on the perceiver. The speed at which time passes varies according to the reference we use to measure it. There is no natural clock in the human body to confirm the passage of time with absolute accuracy. As Lincoln Barnett has stated, "Just as there is no such thing as colour without an eye to discern it, so an instant or an hour or a day is nothing without an event to mark it." 134
When we are left in a closed room where we cannot know the time and cannot see the rising and setting of the Sun, we can never determine how fast time goes by nor how long we remain there. What makes us think a specific amount of time has gone by is nothing more than the rising and setting of the Sun and the movement of the watches on our wrists. When these are removed, anything we say about the time we imagine has passed must be conjectural and subjective-belonging to ourselves alone. For example, time goes by quickly for someone taking an exam in a limited space of time. Yet the same amount of time seems very long to that person's friend waiting outside.
One of two twins sets off into space at a speed approaching that of light, while the other twin remains on Earth.
Through a telescope, the twin on Earth sees that the other twin appears younger than himself.
The twin who left in a rocket returns to Earth. The twin who had remained behind has aged, while his astronaut brother is much younger.
According to Einstein's twin paradox, one twin remains on Earth while the other sets off into space at a speed near that of light. When the one who traveled into space returns to Earth, he will find his brother to be older than him. The explanation is that time passes slower for the twin traveling in space at a high rate of speed.
If time were an absolute reality, then it would not be a variable concept, determined by our perceptions.
According to Einstein's general theory of relativity, the speed of time changes according to the velocity of a body and its distance from the center of gravity. As velocity rises, time contracts and is compressed, in such a way as to run slower and eventually approach the point of stopping altogether.
To use an example cited by Einstein, one of a pair of twins remains on Earth while the other heads out into outer space at a speed near that of light. When the traveling twin returns to Earth, he will find himself much younger than his brother. The reason is that time flows more slowly for the brother traveling at a high velocity.
The same example can also be considered with regard to a father traveling in a rocket moving at roughly 99% of the speed of light and his son who stays on Earth. According to Einstein, if the father was 27 years old when he set out and his son three, when the father comes back to the Earth 30 years later (in Earth time), the son will be 33 years old, but his father will be only 30. 135
The fact that time is relative affects not only the slowing or acceleration of clocks, but the entire material system, right down to the level of subatomic particles. In an environment in which time is foreshortened, processes such as the heartbeat, cell division and the activities of the brain take place more slowly. A person is thus able to continue going about his daily life without realizing the slowing down of time.
The particle physicist Dr. Jim al-Khalili made the following comments on a radio program:
Both Einstein's Theories of Relativity say that travelling to the future is allowed; in fact, we've proven it experimentally. One way is to travel very fast, so you head off in a rocket, close to the speed of light and come back again. Because you've travelled very fast, your clocks will have run more slowly and so, if you've been away for one year according to your clock, maybe ten years have gone by on Earth. So, in essence you've travelled nine years into the future. Another way to travel to the future is to orbit a massive star. If you do it for a year, again, you may come back to find again that ten years have elapsed on Earth. So either way, time travel to the future is possible. 136
Al-Khalili explains the concept of time:
This would imply that the past, present and future all exist. There is no present moment to distinguish past from future. All times co-exist, time just is. And so the future is already out there. The only way to understand this was to link the three dimensions of space with the one dimension of time to what became known as four-dimensional space/time. 137
The passage of time is merely a sensation created for us. Since we perceive it in this way, we think that what we do takes place within a temporal process. The fact is that we always live in the present "moment." The concept of passing time is illusory.
Mathematical physicist Roger Penrose of the University of Oxford has won countless awards for his work on perception. He gave this reply to a question by the host on a radio program:
Physicist: We have this subjective feeling, that time goes by. But physicists would argue this is just an illusion.
Roger Penrose: Yes. I think physicists would agree that the feeling of time passing is simply an illusion, something that is not real. It has something to do with our perceptions. 138
The way that such a seemingly objective factor operates as a perception in our minds and how all times exist within one single time are without doubt beyond our comprehension. We can only understand as much as Allah reveals to us. We can only know as much as He shows us. No doubt that it is an easy matter for Allah to create time as a perception and to give rise to past, present and future within a concept which actually does not exist. That is because Allah is beyond time. He creates time, but is not subject to it. All events we perceive as past or future already exist in the memory of Allah. They are all created in a single moment. Therefore, all events belonging to the future have in fact been created at the same moment, and exist now. But since we are subject to time, we are as yet unable to see them.
All events we perceive as the past-as when you received a report card from school or your first driving lesson-are also contained within the infinite memory of Allah, and even a stone you will trip over in the future as you walk along the road is determined in His memory. That is because Allah has created all events within a single moment.
Canon David Brown makes this statement:
God is in fact outside time, so there's no "before" for God. He's present with each bit of our temporal story . . . 139
Allah sees and knows every circumstance of every entity. It is He Who creates them all. Every meter a person travels, the images he encounters and the time to which he is subject are all known to and controlled by Allah. In one verse, He informs us that:
You do not engage in any matter or recite any of the Qur'an or do any action without Our witnessing you while you are occupied with it. Not even the smallest speck eludes your Lord, either on Earth or in heaven. Nor is there anything smaller than that, or larger, which is not in a Clear Book. (Surah Yunus, 61)
Space, Like Time, Is Also a Perception
In proposing his theory, Einstein regarded the speed of light as a universal constant. No matter how fast you may go, the speed of light always remains constant. Even if you travel at a speed approaching 99% of that of light, light will still travel at 186,282 miles (299,791 kilometers) per second. It is impossible to match that speed. According to Einstein's calculations, time decelerates as the speed of the observer increases, and space compresses according to the direction of travel. These concepts, which change according to the speed of light, prove that they are not absolute because they vary depending on the individual.
Peter Russell describes:
. . . however fast you are moving you will always measure the speed of light to be 186.282 miles per second-just as Michelson and Morley had found. Even if you were to travel at 186,281 miles per second, light would not pass by a mere 1 mile per second faster; it would still zoom by at 186,282 miles per second. You would not have caught up with light by even the tiniest amount.
This goes totally against common sense. But in this instance it is common sense that is wrong. Our mental models of reality have been derived from a lifetime's experience of a world where velocities are far below the speed of light. At speeds close to that of light, reality is very different. 140
As the speed of the observer increases, so time decelerates, and space shrinks in the direction of travel. Einstein showed that what we regard separately, as space and time, are components of a space-time continuum. Therefore, space and time have been created as directly dependent on our perception.
Einstein showed that what we regard as space and time are actually part of a space-time whole. Therefore, time and space are directly created as perceptions and become part of a world that is experienced relatively. The perceptions of time and space are necessary to form an image of the world in the mind. Yet when we claim that these represent the true reality, we are mistaken, because we can never have direct experience of the true concept of space outside.
Fred Alan Wolf makes the following comment:
According to Einstein's theory of general relativity, matter cannot exist independent of space and time. If any one of the three-matter, space, or time-is absent, they all are. Space is necessary in order for matter to exist; matter is necessary in order for time to exist; and time is necessary in order for space to exist. They are codependent.
So, if time is just some form of a dream, an illusion, as many philosophers have speculated, then so are space and matter. Yet from the standard or Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics, we understand that matter cannot exist without an observer of matter. 141
The fact that matter can be perceived only through our senses and in other words, is a shadow entity, again does away with the concept of space as a material concept. We perceive space as outside us, but it is totally inside the brain when we remember any place. In fact, when looking at and considering somewhere we imagine to lie outside us, the concept of space again arises solely inside the brain. The room we imagine to be standing in is an illusion forming inside our brain, a waking dream.
Peter Russell summarizes this mode of perception:
Einstein's work also revealed that space and time are not absolutes. They vary according to the motion of the observer. If you are moving rapidly past me, and we both measure the distance and time between two events-a car traveling from one end of a street to another, say-then you will observe the car to have traveled less distance in less time than I observe. Conversely, from your point of view, I am moving rapidly past you, and in your frame of reference, I will observe less space and time than you do. Weird? Yes. And almost impossible for us to conceive of. Yet numerous experiments have shown it to be true. It is our common-sense notions of space and time that are wrong. Once again, they are constructs in the mind, and do not perfectly model what is out there. 142
Einstein went even further, showing that matter was actually a form of energy. His mathematical formula for this was the famous E=mc2. 143 An entity with mass appears solely as a form of energy. Peter Russell has made this statement:
Even the notion of mass is questionable. In his General Theory of Relativity, Albert Einstein showed that mass and acceleration are indistinguishable. A person in an elevator feels lighter when the elevator accelerates downwards, and heavier when it decelerates to a halt. This is no illusion, scales would also show your weight to have changed. What we experience as mass is the resistance of the ground beneath our feet to our otherwise free fall towards the center of the Earth. According to Einstein, we are being continually decelerated, and interpret that as mass. An astronaut in orbit experiences no mass-until, that is, he bumps into the wall of the spacecraft and experiences a temporary deceleration. 144
The Relativity of Time Revealed in the Qur'an
The relativity of time, discovered by 20th-century science, was revealed 1,400 years ago in the Qur'an.
For example, Allah emphasizes in several verses that the life of this world is very brief. Our Lord has informed us that the average human life span is as brief as "an hour of a single day":
On the Day He calls you, you will respond by praising Him and think that you have only tarried a very short time. (Surat al-Isra', 52)
On the day We gather them together-when it will seem if they had tarried no more than an hour of a single day-they will recognize one another. . . (Surah Yunus, 45)
In some verses, Allah reveals that time is much shorter than people imagine:
He will ask, "How many years did you tarry on the Earth?" They will say, "We tarried there for a day or part of a day. Ask those able to count!" He will say, "You tarried there for only a little while, if you did but know!" (Surat al-Muminun, 112-114)
In other verses of the Qur'an, it is revealed that time passes at different speeds in different dimensions. For example, it is stated that one day in the Sight of Allah is equal to one thousand human years. (Surat al-Hajj, 47)
Other verses on this subject read as follows:
The angels and the Spirit ascend to Him in a day whose length is 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)
The Companions of the Cave, a group of believers to whom Allah refers in the Qur'an, were kept in a profound slumber for around 300 years. When He later woke them, these people thought that a very short period of time had elapsed, and were unable to estimate for how long they had slept:
So We sealed their ears with sleep in the cave for a number of years. Then We woke them up again so that we might see which of the two groups would better calculate the time they had stayed there. (Surat al-Kahf, 11-12)
That was the situation when we woke them up so they could question one another. One of them asked, "How long have you been here?" They replied, "We have been here for a day or part of a day." They said, "Your Lord knows best how long you have been here." . . . (Surat al-Kahf, 19)
Almighty Allah is He Who creates images, sounds, tastes, in short the whole external world and the perception of time for us, and Who knows all the entities He has created, and all their situations. Everything is under His control. Allah's creation and knowledge of the status of all things reveals to us the fact of destiny.
In the following verse, Allah also reveals an important proof of the fact that time is essentially a psychological perception:
Or the one who passed by a town which had fallen into ruin? He asked, "How can Allah restore this to life when it has died?" Allah caused him to die a hundred years then brought him back to life. Then He asked, "How long have you been here?" He replied, "I have been here a day or part of a day." He said, "Not so! You have been here a hundred years. Look at your food and drink-it has not gone bad-and look at your donkey so We can make you a Sign for all mankind. Look at the bones-how We raise them up and clothe them in flesh." When it had become clear to him, he said, "Now I know that Allah has power over all things." (Surat al-Baqara, 259)
These verses reveal that time is relative rather than absolute. It varies according to perception and the observer, and that fact was revealed 1,400 years ago in the Qur'an.
The Existence of Destiny and the Scientific Evidence
. . . Allah's command is a pre-ordained decree. (Surat al-Ahzab, 49)
If all events are created in a single moment and if we observe these only within our perception of time, then we must conclude that there is a Creator Who knows all these events from the very beginning, Who is not subject to time, Who sees these things as we experience them and Who therefore created them.
This Creator, Who creates for us images, sounds and tastes-in short, the external world, as well as the perception of time-must be aware of the circumstances and existence of all that He has created, and must observe them at all moments. This Great Creator, Who causes us to perceive all these things and reveals them to our minds, must keep them under His control at all times. Allah, Lord of the worlds, the Sublime and Almighty, is the Creator of all things. The fact that He knows and creates the condition of all things shows us the fact of destiny.
In the sight of Allah, everything, from the moment of the creation of the universe right up to the Last Day when the universe will come to an end, has already taken place and is over and done with. Allah is unfettered by space and time. He is the Creator of space and time. All events are but "a single moment" in His sight. Past and future are always ready formed before Him and take place as determined by Him.
A period of time lasting billions of years for us is but a "single moment" in the Sight of Allah. Something that for us will take place in the future is already over and done with in the Sight of Allah. We observe the future within the concept of time that we perceive. The fact is, however, that anything we need to wait for already exists in the Sight of Allah. All events that will take place in the future have already done so in the dimension of timelessness.
In the Sight of Allah, everything from the moment of the creation of the universe to the Last Day, when the universe will come to an end, is already over and finished with. One main reason why people are unable to understand this concept properly is that they are unaware of it. The fact is that events "that have not yet taken place" have simply not yet been experienced within our perceptual world.
Allah is unfettered by time and space. He creates time and space out of nothing. He has no need to wait in order to see the result of an event. Its beginning and end all take place in a single moment in His sight. The past and present are all laid out before Him and develop in the manner determined by Him.
Dr. Jim al-Khalili described this fact during a program broadcast on BBC radio:
If you take this block of 4-D space/time literally, it means you have to abandon free will. It means not only is the future pre-ordained, but it's already there, it's already happened. There's no point in making any decisions, whatever you do has already happened. If I choose to drop this stone into a pond, I think of it being my own free choice. But of course in 4-D space/time, I had no choice in dropping the stone; the splash is already there in the future, and so we lose all free will. 145
Roger Penrose, a guest on the same program, drew the following conclusion from the data provided:
So this means that in a sense, the present, past and future are out there, and that also gives us a very deterministic view of the world. We have no control of what happens in the future because it's all laid out. 146
A human being witnesses the destiny determined for him throughout the course of his life. Every moment in the lives of everyone who has ever lived, and who will ever live in the future are all previously experienced in the Sight of Allah. All events written in the destinies of all things, not just human beings, but the animals, plants, planets and other entities-all exist in His "memory," constantly and permanently. The workings of destiny is one of the manifestations of Allah's name of Al-Hafeedh (the Preserver, the Guardian) and of His infinite might and greatness.
Fred Alan Wolf describes how someone's past and future have been determined long beforehand:
Although a history depends on our observations of both the starting and finishing events, we remember the history as if we were aware of it while it was taking place.
In other words, we seem to "live" the history as it happens. We make it a "living" story. We live in a river of time in which the source of the river (our past) and its final destination ahead of us (our future) already exist. 147
A person is constantly under the control of Allah, our Creator, and does what He has determined for him. Allah reveals this fact in a verse:
Nothing occurs, either in the Earth or in yourselves, without its being in a Book before We make it happen. That is something easy for Allah. (Surat al-Hadid, 22)
Submission to Destiny
Everyone has surrendered unconditionally to their destiny. Everything a person has and will ever experience is determined in the sight of Allah, and that individual has no control over his or her own future. For that reason, the best thing to do is to be aware of the destiny appointed for one and to submit to Allah.
You should be aware that you are in a state of unconditional submission to your own destiny. No power other than Allah can alter this. Everything that you have experienced or will experience in future is set out in the Sight of Allah, and you have no control over your future. This book will leave your hands in a while, wrinkles will appear on your face in a few years' time, and all the details of a film you will watch 15 years from now are all included in the knowledge of Allah. The people you will meet, how much money you will earn, which illnesses you will suffer, what you will rejoice over and how and where you will die-all this has already taken place in your own destiny.
The only reason why you do not know these things is that they are not yet in your memory.
Grieving over something that happens, therefore, wondering "Why did it happen like that?", harboring sorrow and regret and starting with the words "If only . . . ," and becoming angry, greedy or impatient-all these actions are needless and meaningless. That is because all events that give rise to sorrow or anger are under the control of Allah. It is Allah Who creates all of these within a person's destiny, and there can be no question of any other possibility outside a person's destiny.
If someone has a traffic accident after turning into the wrong street, it is meaningless to complain about his mistake. Even if he could have his time over again, he would still turn into the wrong street and still have that accident. Saying things like, "If only I had my life to live over" are pointless and stem from a failure to understand this fact. Similarly, it is no solution for someone whose wallet is stolen to say, "If only I hadn't gone into that shop," or "If only I had kept my money in my pocket." That person had no alternative but to go into that shop, carry money in his wallet and have it stolen. That person's destiny has been created to go into a particular place at a particular time and for the money to be stolen. Even if he were to go back in time a thousand times, the money would still be stolen a thousand times.
A happy event or a success achieved are also in the individual's destiny. Those successes and moments of joy will inevitably be experienced, because they are appointed in destiny.
Some people are reluctant to accept this insight. Roger Penrose describes them:
I think the trouble that people have with this idea is that you think the future is under your control, to some degree. And so, this means that if the future's laid out, then in a sense it's not under your control. 148
If Allah afflicts you with harm, no one can remove it except Him. If He desires good for you, no one can avert His favor. He bestows it on whichever of His slaves He wills. He is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surah Yunus, 107)
. . . Allah's command is a pre-ordained decree.
(Surat al-Ahzab, 38)
Since most people wish to be in control of their own lives, they reject the fact of destiny. Yet they fall into a serious error by doing so, because whether or not they wish to, whether they admit the fact or not, people live their own destinies. People's very denial is also appointed in their destiny!
It will be useful to recall that living in submission to one's destiny is a great blessing and brings great peace of mind. People experience great panic and distress if they think that events are actually under their own control. They then imagine that every event in the future will be their own responsibility, and they feel the weight of every event on their own shoulders. They feel that they must resolve all difficulties on their own. Unable to see the auspicious side of the functioning of events, they experience great distress in the face of events. They grow proud in the face of the triumphs they achieve, which feeling may result in serious harm in this world and in the Hereafter. The difficulties they experience, on the other hand, lead to increasing pessimism, emptiness and stress.
But knowing that every event takes place within a destiny determined by Allah and believing that all events are created for good is one of the greatest blessings a person can enjoy. Living in submission to the destiny appointed by Allah means accepting His will and voluntarily submitting to every event determined by Him. People will then be freed from the feeling that events are under their control, will feel rid of troubles, will know that they are living events that are already over and done with, and will enjoy the peace of mind that this imparts. Submission to destiny is a great blessing for anyone who knows that all things are created to be auspicious. Even events that may appear to be troubles or difficulties are in fact positive and eventually result in great good.
When considering the concept of destiny, some people take the fact that everything is predetermined to imagine that there is no need for them to do anything. Yet this is a major distortion of the concept of destiny. True, everything we experience is determined in our destinies-before we experience them, those events have already taken place in the Sight of Allah and all its details are written down in the Lawh al-Mahfuz (the Preserved Tablet) in His Sight.
However, Allah gives every human being the feeling that they are able to alter events and act in accordance with their own decisions and choices. When one is thirsty, for example, one does not sit down and wait, saying,"I will have a drink-if that is in my destiny." One gets up, takes a glass and drinks. In fact, of course, one drinks the amount of water determined in one's destiny. But one nevertheless feels that one is doing this in accord with one's own wish. That feeling is experienced in everything we do throughout our lives. The difference is that someone who has submitted to the destiny created by Allah knows that despite the feeling he does things of his own accord, he actually performs them by the will of Allah. Others who have failed to grasp this fact mistakenly imagine that they do everything with their own intelligence and strength.
For example, a submitted person who learns that he has contracted a disease will be resigned, since he knows that this is his destiny. He will say, "Since Allah has created this in my destiny, there must be an auspicious element to it." He will not sit back and do nothing saying "If I am destined to recover, I will." On the contrary, he will take all the requisite precautions. He will go to the doctor, be careful what he eats and take medicine. However, he will not forget that the doctor he visits, the treatment administered, the drugs he takes, and how effective these will be-in short, every single detail-are all in his destiny. He knows that all these events were already in the memory of Allah, long before he ever came into the world.
Allah has revealed this in verses:
It is He Who created you from clay and then decreed a fixed term, and another fixed term is specified with Him. Yet you still have doubts! (Surat al-An'am, 2)
. . . Allah's command is a pre-ordained decree. (Surat al-Ahzab, 38)
Not just human beings have a destiny in the Sight of Allah, but the Sun, the Moon, mountains, trees and all things and entities. A centuries-old antique vase that is broken, for example, breaks at the moment appointed in its destiny. The people who would use this vase, where it would stand in which home, and what other objects would be standing alongside it were all determined at the moment it was manufactured. Every pattern on it and all its colors were determined beforehand in its destiny. The day, hour and minute when it would be broken, and by whom and how, already exist in the memory of Allah. In fact, the moment that the vase was first made, the moment it was placed in the shop window, the moment it was placed in its new home and the moment it was broken-in short, every moment in the life of that vase lasting several hundred years-all exist as a single moment in the Sight of Allah. Although the person who broke the vase was totally unaware of that event even a few seconds beforehand, that moment had already happened and was known in the Sight of Allah. That is why Allah tells us not to be saddened by what befalls us. That is because what happens is part of one's destiny, and human beings have no power to change this. However, people must still learn from destined events and, by seeing the wisdom and goodness in them, turn to our Lord, Who creates their destinies and Who is infinitely Merciful, Affectionate and Just, and Who preserves and protects His servants.
The form people assume while still an embryo, their state when they first learn to read and write and the fitness they display on their 35th birthday and when they retire are already determined in the book in the Sight of Allah. Human beings can neither experience nor do anything that is not appointed in their destiny. People heedless of this major truth spend their lives in a state of anxiety and fear. For example, they constantly worry about their children's futures, which school they will attend, what jobs they will have, their state of health and the kind of lives they will lead. In fact, however, everything from a person's existence as a single cell to the time when they first learn to read and write, from the answers they give in exams to what job they will do in which company, how many times they will sign their names, and how and where they will die-everything is predetermined in the Sight of Allah. All these events lie concealed in the memory of Allah. For example, people's state at this precise moment, as a fetus, in primary school, at university, first day at the office, when they celebrate their 35th birthday, when they see the angels at the time of their death, when they are buried by their relatives and the moments when they account for themselves in the Hereafter-all exist as a single moment in His Sight.
Those who sincerely submit to Allah may hope to attain His approval, mercy and Paradise, and will live in peace and happiness in both this world and the Hereafter. For someone who has submitted to Allah and who knows that the destiny created by Him is the most auspicious for them, there is nothing to fear, or regret or sorrow over. Such people will make genuine efforts, but will know that these are all in their destiny, and that they have no power to change what is written in their destiny, no matter what they may do.
A believer will submit to the destiny created by Allah, will embrace, as much as he can, the events he encounters, will take precautionary measures and seek to turn all events in an auspicious direction, but will live in the awareness and ease imparted by knowing that they all take place within his destiny and that Allah has already determined them in the most auspicious form.
In the Qur'an, Allah refers to a precaution taken by the Prophet Yaqub (as) for the security of his children. In order that they should not attract the attention of evilly disposed persons, the Prophet Yaqub (as) recommended that his sons enter the city by separate gates, but also reminded them that this could never alter the destiny appointed by Allah:
He [Jaqub] said, "My sons! You must not enter through a single gate. Go in through different gates. But I cannot save you from Allah at all, for judgment comes from no one but Allah. In Him I put my trust, and let all those who put their trust, put it in Him alone." (Surah Yusuf, 67)
Allah reveals in another verse that no matter what they may do, people cannot change their destinies:
Then He sent down to you, after the distress, security, restful sleep overtaking a group of you, whereas another group became prey to anxious thoughts, thinking other than the truth about Allah-thoughts belonging to the Time of Ignorance-saying, "Do we have any say in the affair at all?"" Say, "The affair belongs entirely to Allah." They are concealing things inside themselves which they do not disclose to you, saying, "If we had only had a say in the affair, none of us would have been killed here in this place." Say, "Even if you had been inside your homes, those people for whom killing was decreed would have gone out to their place of death." So that Allah might test what is in your breasts and purge what is in your hearts. Allah knows the contents of your hearts. (Surah Al 'Imran, 154)
As can be seen from this verse, even if people avoid an auspicious, religious observance in order to save their lives, they will still die if that is what is written in their destiny. The methods to which such a person will resort in order to avoid death are also determined in that destiny, and everyone will experience what has been determined for them.
In this verse, Allah also states that the events created in people's destinies are intended to test them and cleanse their hearts. In Surah Fatir, it is revealed that everyone's life span is determined in the Sight of Allah:
Allah created you from dust and then from a drop of sperm and then made you into pairs. No female becomes pregnant or gives birth except with His knowledge. And no living thing lives long or has its life cut short without that being in a Book. That is easy for Allah. (Surah Fatir, 11)
The following verses from Surat al-Qamar reveal that everything a person does has been written line by line and relate the events experienced by the people of Paradise as events which have already occurred. As has already been stated, the true life in Paradise is the future for us. However, the discourse, experiences and banquets in Paradise are all present in the memory of Allah. The future of all people in this world and in the Hereafter have taken place in a moment in the Sight of Allah before we are even born and are preserved in His memory:
Everything they did is in the Books. Everything is recorded, big or small. The people who guard against evil are amid Gardens and Rivers, on seats of honor in the presence of an All-Powerful King. (Surat al-Qamar, 52-55)
In some verses of the Qur'an, Allah refers to some events which lie in the future for us, but which have already taken place in His Sight. For example, certain verses revealing that people will have to account for themselves to Allah in the Hereafter relate those events as already over and done with:
The Trumpet is blown, and those in the heavens and those in the Earth all lose consciousness, except those Allah wills. Then it is blown a second time and at once they are standing upright, looking on. And the Earth shines with the Pure Light of its Lord; the Book is put in place; the Prophets and witnesses are brought; it is decided between them with the truth . . . (Surat az-Zumar, 68-69)
Those who disbelieve are driven to Hell in companies . . . (Surat az-Zumar, 71)
And those who have fear of their Lord are driven to the Garden in companies . . . (Surat az-Zumar, 73)
Other verses on the same subject read:
[On that Day,] every self came together with a driver and a witness. (Surah Qaf, 21)
And Heaven is split apart, for that Day it is very frail. (Surat al-Haqqa, 16)
And [He] rewarded them for their steadfastness with a Garden and with silk. Reclining in it on couches, they experienced there neither burning sun nor bitter cold. (Surat al-Insan, 12-13)
And the Blazing Fire is displayed for all who can see. (Surat an-Nazi'at, 36)
So today those who believe laugh at the disbelievers. (Surat al-Mutaffifin, 34)
The evildoers saw the Fire and realized they had to fall into it and found no way of escaping from it. (Surat al-Kahf, 53)
The Essence of Matter and the Fact of Destiny Are a Great Blessing for Believers
It is a great blessing for people who believe and have faith in Allah and are capable of seeing that He has created all things to know the true essence of matter. Matters about death, the Hereafter, Paradise and Hell are all resolved for people who grasp this secret. And questions such as "Where is Allah?" "Where are Paradise and Hell?" and "Do Paradise and Hell exist at this moment?" are all easily answered. They realize the system by which Allah created the universe out of nothing and how He constantly creates; so much thanks to this secret, questions such as "When?" and "Where?" become meaningless-because, in fact, neither time nor space exist. Events to be experienced have already taken place. It is illogical and meaningless to worry about, sorrow over or feel regret for them.
Comprehension of these secrets turns the life of this world into a kind of Paradise. All material concerns, doubts, fears and longings that cause distress in this world will vanish. One will see that Almighty Allah, Lord of the worlds, is the sole absolute Being, and that no other entity really exists. One understands that the entire universe has but one Lord; that He alters the material world as He so desires, and that the only thing one must do is turn to Him and take Him as one's guardian, having submitted to Him.
Understanding this great secret is one of the greatest blessings a person can enjoy in this world.
Allah is very close to us. It is He Who creates man and bestows His own Spirit upon him. The entity that anyone refers to as "I" is thus a manifestation of Allah. Allah knows every action he does, everything he thinks; all of them are created by Allah. It is He Who causes a person to perceive, feel, think, rejoice and be happy. A person lives his every moment because Allah so chooses. Every event one encounters is in the form determined by Allah. That is the true state of affairs. A person has no guardian and no helpmate other than Allah, the one absolute Being. His existence pervades all the worlds and all places. Nothing exists but Almighty Allah, the Great and Exalted, the Only Being, in Whom one must seek shelter, help and recompense.
In the Qur'an, Allah tells us that:
That is Allah, your Lord. There is no deity but Him, the Creator of everything. So worship Him. He is responsible for everything. Eyesight cannot perceive Him but He perceives eyesight. He is the All-Penetrating, the All-Aware. (Surat al-An'am, 102-103)
129. Tim Folger, "From Here to Eternity," Discover, Vol. 21 No.12, December 2000. 130. http://www.fortunecity.com/emachines/e11/86/flowtime.html 131. François Jacob, Le Jeu des Possibles, University of Washington Press, 1982, p. 111. 132. Lincoln Barnett, The Universe and Dr. Einstein, New York: William Sloane Associates, 1948, pp. 39-40. 133. Ibid., p. 12 134. Ibid., p. 40. 135. Paul Strathern, Einstein and Relativity: The Big Idea, Arrow Books, 1997, p. 57. 136. http://www.fortunecity.com/emachines/e11/86/flowtime.html# 137. Ibid. 138. Ibid. 139. Ibid. 140. Russell, From Science to God, p. 61 (Emphasis in the original). 141. Wolf, Mind into Matter, p. 104 (Emphasis in the original). 142. Peter Russell, "The Primacy of Consciousness," http://www.peterussell.com/SP/PrimConsc.html 143. Peter Russell, "Mathematics and Reality," http://www.peterussell.com/Reality/realityart.html 144. Peter Russell, "The Primacy of Consciousness," http://www.peterussell.com/SP/PrimConsc.html 145. http://www.fortunecity.com/emachines/e11/86/flowtime.html# 146. Ibid. 147. Wolf, Mind into Matter, p. 112. 148. http://www.fortunecity.com/emachines/e11/86/flowtime.html