In Arabic, the unseen is termed as ‘Al-Ghaib’. This word includes vast meanings: belief in Allah (swt), angels, holy books, Allah’s (swt) messengers, Day of Resurrection, and Al-Qadr (divine preordainments). It also includes what Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa) informed about the knowledge of the matters of past, present, and future, for example, news about creation of the heavens and earth; botanical and zoological life; news about the nations of the past; and about Paradise and Hellfire.
Allah (swt) has created everything in pairs, for instance, day and night; sun and moon; sky and land. Similarly, the Lord has also created the seen world (Duniya) and the unseen world (Akhirah).
Since time immemorial, some people have had no objections to the above mentioned pairs of physically apparent things but very grave rejection of the unseen abstract realities. Allah (swt) describes them in the Quran: “They know only the outside appearance of the life of the world (i.e. matters of their livelihood, like irrigating, sowing or reaping), and they are heedless of the Hereafter.” (Ar-Rum 30:7)
For a Muslim to stay within the folds of Islam, it is imperative to have faith in the unseen. Only then he can reach his potential in the world by opting for correct choices in life. The Holy Book and the Messenger (sa) can be a source of guidance for him only if he firmly believes in Akhirah. “This is the Book (the Quran) whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqun and love Allah much. Who believe in the Ghaib and perform as-Salat…” (Al-Baqarah 2:2-3)
Ilm ul-Ghaib (knowledge of the unseen) is only and absolutely Allah’s (swt) domain. He has shared it with his messengers for humankind’s care to the extent Allah (swt) deemed necessary. “Say (O Muhammad [sa]): ‘I don’t tell you that with me are the treasures of Allah, nor (that) I know the Unseen; nor I tell you that I am an angel. I but follow what is revealed to me…’” (Al-Anam 6:50)
Today we live in a world where materialism is supreme, while the unseen is linked to objects of fascination such as magic, soothsaying, fortune-telling, and supernatural powers. On the other extreme, people of science and technology blatantly reject the concept of an unseen world that logic cannot define.
Amusingly, many heretics in the past rejected the existence of germs and diseases until world theories changed. Today, nobody argues that what cannot be seen does not exist.
Atheists put forward the argument that the world is full of injustices and ask: where is God and how can He let all the cruelties take place? This argument in itself proves the existence of God, Who will take account one day of all the good and evil. For this, we must have faith in the unseen world, which is going to be perfect in comparison with the imperfect reality we experience today.
Another point regarding disbelief in the unseen realities is that if there is none, we have nothing to lose, because every Momin lives a life of the highest principles and leaves behind a noble legacy as per the Quran and the Sunnah. But what about those who disbelieved today, assuming that there is no God, yet after death they find out that they were horribly wrong? What an eternal unimaginable loss. Are we ready to take the risk?
“Say: ‘None in the heavens and the earth knows the Ghaib (unseen) except Allah (swt), nor can they perceive when they shall be resurrected.’” (An-Naml 27:65)