How can some awliya (pious people) know of their death, when only Allah has knowledge of the unseen?

Question:

Salaamu Alaykum

There are many ahadith and Quranic ayats that certain knowledge has not been revealed to the Prophet Salla Allahu Alayhi wa Sallam or his Ummah such as knowledge of when the final hour will be, or knowledge of where a person will die.

However, I would like to ask a question in this regard.

What about the awliya (the stories are very common) who have a dream or vision that they will die on a particular day and they buy their burial clothes and are found dead with their burial sheets? Does this contradict the hadith?

Jazaakum Allah Khayran.

 

Answer:

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

Allah Ta’ala states in The Quran,

إِنَّ اللَّهَ عِندَهُ عِلْمُ السَّاعَةِ وَيُنَزِّلُ الْغَيْثَ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِي الْأَرْحَامِ ۖ وَمَا تَدْرِي نَفْسٌ مَّاذَا تَكْسِبُ غَدًا ۖ وَمَا تَدْرِي نَفْسٌ بِأَيِّ أَرْضٍ تَمُوتُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

Verily, Allah! With Him (Alone) is the knowledge of the Hour, He sends down the rain, and knows that which is in the wombs. No person knows what he will earn tomorrow, and no person knows in what land he will die. Verily, Allah is All-Knower, All-Aware (of things). (Surah Luqmān 34)

In Ma’ariful Quran, Mufti Muhammad Shafi’ (Rahmatullah Alayhi) beautifully explans the Ayah and illuminates the issue of Ilm ul Ghaib (knowledge of the unseen), and explains the answer to your query;

 

A doubt and its answer

 

The cited verse proves that even in the absolute knowledge of the unseen which is an integral attribute of Allah Ta’ala there are five particular things the knowledge of which is not given to any prophet even through wahy (revelation). This demands that these things should never become known to anyone. However, countless events relating to men of Allah{auliya’) in the Muslim community have been reported to the effect that somewhere they gave the news of rain, or pregnancy, or someone doing or not doing a deed in the future, or someone’s exact place of death. And this foreboding turned out to be true as well when observed.

One answer to this question is the same as has appeared in details under our Commentary on Surah An-Naml (27:65, Ma’ariful-Qurlm, Volume VI)[1]. A brief one has been given above to the effect that the Knowledge of the Unseen, in its real sense,is knowledge without the mediation of a physical cause – that is, sans medium, by itself. If these things are received by the blessed prophets through wahy (revelation), by men of Allah (auliya’) through ilham (inspiration) and by astrologers and other claimants to divination or prediction through their calculations and physical causes, then, that is no knowledge of the unseen as such. Instead, these are ‘news’ of the unseen. If someone from among the creation of Allah were to receive such news relating to some partial or personal matter, it would not be contradictory of the cited verse. The reason is simple. According to the substance of the verse, the total

knowledge of these five things, a knowledge which comprehends everything created as well as every relative condition, is something not given by Allah Ta’ala to anyone, neither through wahy (revelation) nor through ilham (inspiration). That someone gets to receive some partial knowledge through ilham (inspiration) in a stray case is not contradictory to it.

In addition to that, when we say ‘Ilm (knowledge), it means absolute knowledge. That no one has except Allah Ta’ala. The knowledge a man of Allah (waliyy) receives through ilham (inspiration) is not absolute. Many probabilities of error or false perception exist in it. As for the information given out by astrologers and their ilk, it is a common observation that they hardly come up to the level of a single truth out of ten lies. How can that be called ‘absolute knowledge’?[2]

 

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Arshad Ali

http://fatwa-tt.com


Trinidad

Checked and Approved by,


Mufti Ebrahim Desai.

 

[1] When part of the knowledge of what belongs to the
Ghayb has been given to some prophet or messenger, through Wahy (revelation), or to a man of Allah (Waliy) through Kashf (illumination) and Ilham (inspiration), that then, does not remain Ghayb. This is called ‘ أنباء الغيب (the reports or news of the Unseen) in the Holy Qur’an, and not Al-Ghayb. This appears in several verses of the Qur’an, for example: تلك من أنباء الغيب نوحيها إليك (These are some reports from the Unseen [events] which We reveal to you – 11:49). Therefore, when it is said: (No one knows them but He) in the present verse, there is no room for any doubt or exemption in it.
 
[2] Ma’ariful Quran vol 7 pg 59