Reflection around the "personality of the invisible"

Reflection around the “personality of the invisible”

The register of Muslim religious culture refers to several Islamic concepts including that of “Al-Ghayb” (the invisible). An analysis of the misunderstanding of this notion by Muslims and their relationship to the world is delivered to us by the theologian Muhammad Hussein Fadlallahparticularly in its exegesis “Min Wahyi Al-Quran” in 24 volumes, when he comments on verse 3 of sura Al-Baqara, speaking of believers “who believe in the invisible”. After confirming that the belief in the invisible is constitutive of the Muslim faith, the author of the exegesis asks a long rhetorical question in a section titled “Is religion entirely based on the invisible?” “: “We must stop on a very important point. When religion insists on belief in the invisible, can we say that religion is based on faith in the invisible only, and that the content of faith is only made up of the invisible (…) in the same title as the reasons for being of events, of cosmic and social phenomena, as some say, believe and explain; so that they subject natural phenomena in their totality or in their majority to explanations [métaphysiques] relying on the invisible; explanations inaccessible to human thought and causing human reason, in some of its stages, to seek the causes of natural phenomena – such as illness, health, defeat and victory – and the causes of economic and political problems, apart from the real practicality of things, being satisfied with invisible factors, or indeed with Allah, without seeking the natural laws created by Allah in the universe, laws on which the divine order and the biological order rest within the framework of causality governing things? “.

It is indeed a worrying structural phenomenon within the Muslim community, more precisely within its mentality. It is the “focusing of preaching and its discourses on the dimension of the invisible in all spheres of life, neglecting the role of the natural laws that Allah has created in the universe”, which has leads to linking any phenomenon – whether social, economic, political or even natural – to God in a direct way: “It is Allah who willed it”, “it is the maktoub”, etc., ignoring the objective conditions that govern the phenomena we face. Failing to be able to explain the mechanisms, through ignorance or intellectual laziness, facts are systematically attributed to the dimension of the invisible.

However, the biography of the Prophet (ç) is rich in lessons. Several stories relating to the Sîra show us how the Prophet (ç) and his companions had taken astutely planned and strategic measures to effectively repel the attacks of the associationists. Let us think of the battle of Uhud where many Muslims had perished because of the non-respect of the defense protocol by some Muslims themselves.
It is this realistic relationship to the perceptible world that is unfortunately lacking in the Muslim community.

Admittedly, it is true that in Islam, the invisible has a certain role in explaining events, but not all events can be explained solely by the invisible, and when they can be, the dimension of the invisible is not the only explanatory factor. “We don’t believe in the invisible in this very broad framework encompassing people’s private and public lives. We rather believe in the invisible which binds us to Allah within a restricted framework. And that is why we observe that Islam is intransigent in the face of charlatans, astrologers, in order to remove the mentality of the invisible from realistic thought and from all of life”, says MH Fadlallah. In this context, it is not surprising that Allah, exalted be He, evokes the existence of these laws that man can reveal for a better understanding of the universe: “According to the laws established for those who lived previously” (Al-Ahzâb, 38). “Never will you find any change in the rule of Allah, and you will never find any deviation from the rule of Allah” (Fâtir, 43). “And probably it is this ‘personality of the invisible’ (Ash-sharkhçiyya Al-Ghaybiyya) which has ossified the Muslim in the past up to the present day, preventing him from progressing in the understanding of the universe at through the understanding of its laws, endowed with the reason of the invisible and the feelings of the invisible, which seeks in the past and in the present the steps of the invisible, and faces the future through the invisible, giving the opportunity for charlatans and clairvoyants to manipulate the emotions of the credulous,” the exegete tells us. We note that in France, in particular, there are many Muslims who explain their personal state by the evil eye, witchcraft, possession, etc., without forgetting this strange infatuation, among part of our youth, for questions eschatological like the signs of the end of the world, Gog and Magog, the Dajjâl, etc.

This “personality of the invisible” must, in our view, attract all our vigilance in order to remedy it as the implications can be substantial. Indeed, whatAlexandre Koyre remarks about medieval Christianity may in some ways probably relate to Muslim civilization: “Medieval Christianity was much more concerned with the other world than with this one and the development of interest in technology – as all modern history seems to show quite convincingly – is quite closely associated with the secularization of Western civilization and the shift of interest from the future life to life in the world (Alexandre Koyré, studies in the history of scientific thought, 1966, 1973 edition, p. 74). It is obviously not a question of calling for this secularization which we consider harmful for Islam and all of humanity, but of paying all our attention to the problem of the personality of the invisible, the solution of which lies, in our eyes, in the reconciliation of the Muslim with his reality, a reconciliation that does not necessarily imply – in any case it should not imply – secularization.

In this respect, when reading the Koran, it is clear that reference is often made to the scientific universe, to tangible reality. It is not a question of these precise but often provisional scientific “truths”, such as embryology, which some have tried at all costs to persuade us of their existence in the Koran for 14 centuries. No, it’s about something else, much more important, that can only be seen by embracing the Quran from an overview, it’s about the scientific spirit in the Quran. It is this link between faith and science that Mohammed Baqir Assadr –a close friend of MH Fadlallah during their studies in Najaf – establishes in his epistemological and revolutionary book “The Logical Foundations of Induction. New study of the inductive method with the aim of discovering the logical foundation common to the sciences of nature and to faith in God”.

In this book, while refuting both the Aristotelian school and the modern experimental school, the author shows that “the logical foundations on which scientific demonstrations are based, as observations and experiments, are the same logical foundations on which rests the demonstration which proves the existence of the Creator and Organizer of this world (…), and this demonstration – like any other scientific demonstration – is of an inductive nature” (p. 419).

It is common to see that the Koran addresses both the rational intelligence of its interlocutors, but also our ability to observe empirically. We are in fact asked to see, to observe and to derive by induction teachings, laws…our faith. The following verse contains a fundamentally scientific lexical field: “We will show them Our signs in the universe and in themselves, until it becomes clear to them that this (the Koran) is the Truth. »“Let’s show” and “the universe” are two terms that come from the sensible world, from the concrete, from the observable, from the empirical, from the experimental, from induction, that is to say from the facts of the sensitive world and go up in generality, until releasing a law… the “Truth”.