Contents > Chapter 9: Knowledge of the Ghayb (Unseen) > Ghayb – It’s Meaning and Sources


Ghayb – It’s Meaning and Sources

Ghayb or Unseen includes everything that is hidden from the people of the future and past events, and what is not seen. Ghayb is exclusive to Allah’s knowledge.[1] Imam Ibn Katheer (rahimahullah) writes in the Tafseer of the following verse, “Those who have faith in the Ghayb…”[2] - “They believe in Allah, the Angels, Books, Messengers, the Last Day, His Paradise, Fire and the meeting of Him.”


From the matters of the Unseen are those pertaining to the Hereafter, Barzakh (life after death), Paradise, Hellfire, contents of the womb and secrets of the hearts, as mentioned in many Qur’aanic verses.


Allah says: “Verily, Allah! With Him (Alone) is the knowledge of the Hour, He sends down the rain, and knows that which is in the womb. No person knows what he will earn tomorrow, and no person knows what land he will die. Verily, Allah is All-Knower, All-Aware.”[3]


And: “No doubt! They did fold up their breasts that they may hide from Him. Surely, even when they cover themselves with their garments, He knows what they conceal and what they reveal. Verily, He is the All-Knower of the (innermost secrets) of the breasts.”[4]


Our Only Source to the Knowledge of the Unseen

The Pagans of Mecca at the time of Allah’s Messenger made many claims about the matters of the Unseen, like saying that they would have wealth and status in the Hereafter, or their claim that Allah had daughters. Allah, Glorified is He, rejected their claims saying, “Or have they a stairway (to Heaven), by means of which they listen? Then let their listeners produce some manifest proof. “[5] …this is because the Arab Pagans had no means of receiving the knowledge of the Unseen.


Even events from the past nations who lived on the same earth as they, were from the Ghayb (unseen) to them, let alone the knowledge of Allah and the Hereafter. Allah mentioned the conditions of the people of Noah (alaihi as-salaam) in the Qur’aan, and then said, “This is of the news of the Unseen, which we reveal unto you (O Muhammad), neither you, nor your people knew them before this.”[6]


Allah does not reveal the Ghayb to anyone except to His Messengers from amongst humans and Angels. Allah says, “He is the Knower of the Unseen, and He does not reveal His secrets to anyone. Except to him whom He chooses namely, a Messenger of His.”[7] Allah has restricted this information because reporting about the Unseen is among the signs of Prophethood. Allah revealed many matters of the Unseen to His Messenger, Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) who informed us of them. Thus, he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) is our one and only source of information of the Ghayb. Allah says about him, “And He (Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)) withhold not knowledge of the Unseen”[8] (i.e. he is not stingy in conveying the revelation [see, Tafseer Ibn Katheer]).”


Revelation and Guidance from Allah continued throughout the 23 year old life of the Prophethood of Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam). Upon his death, our source to knowledge about the Unseen and direct guidance from Allah, the Most High, has ended. We have to therefore, suffice with what has reached us from the Messenger about the Unseen.

[1] See, “The Book of Tawheed” by Shaikh Saleh al-Fawzan.

[2] Soorah al-Baqarah (2):3.

[3] Soorah Luqman (31): 34.

[4] Soorah Hud (11): 5.

[5]  Soorah at-Tur (52):38

[6] Soorah Hood (11): 48.

[7] Soorah al-Jinn (72):26-27.

[8] Soorah at-Takwir (81): 24