The prophets (a.s.) and the knowledge of the unseen – Seyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah


SHAFAQNA – The Humanness of the Prophet (p.):

The Holy Quran stated that the Prophet (p.) has emphasized to his people that he (p.) is a man like them. “I am but a man like you: It is revealed to me by Inspiration, that your Allah is one Allah.” (41:6). Allah, the Most Exalted also says: They say: “We shall not believe in thee, until thou cause a spring to gush forth for us from the earth, or (until) thou have a garden of date trees and vines, and cause rivers to gush forth in their midst, carrying abundant water; or thou cause the sky to fall in pieces, as thou sayest (will happen), against us; or thou bring God and the angels before (us) face to face: Or thou have a house adorned with gold, or thou mount a ladder right into the skies. No, we shall not even believe in thy mounting until thou send down to us a book that we could read”. Say: “Glory to my Lord! Am I aught but a man, an apostle?”

Their messengers said to them: We are nothing but mortals like yourselves, but Allah bestows (His) favors on whom He pleases of His servants, and it is not for us that we should bring you an authority except by Allah’s permission. (14:11)

The problem of prophets (a.s.) with their peoples is that those peoples reject the notion of a man-prophet however, he should be a person of paranormal capabilities who executes some supernatural actions to impress those around him and show his greatness or who has the power to change the normal system of the universe. In this respect, Allah says: And nothing prevented people from believing when the guidance came to them except that they said: What! has Allah raised up a mortal to be a messenger? (17:94). On the other hand, Allah emphasizes in the Holy Quran that the prophet (p.) had to be a human being, as a prerequisite for the establishment of a harmonious and normal relationship between him and his follower . He, the Most Exalted says: Say, “If there were settled, on earth, angels walking about in peace and quiet, we should certainly have sent them down from the heavens an angel for an apostle”. (17: 95)

Thus, the Prophet (p.) emphasized his humanness that has both negative as well as positive aspects, showing his role that is open on the message that he called them to discuss objectively if they can, so that they can seriously discuss together the clashing viewpoints, instead of running away from studying his thoughts.

The Prophet (p.) has also presented in front of his people himself as a man who has a little money that can barely satisfy his private needs, far away from the big treasures that are embodied in earth. Hence, he (p.) did not talk about these two subjects in his missionary speech and thus, he did not claim to be an angel or to possess the land’s treasures.

The Prophets (p.) and the Unseen

The Prophet (p.) absolutely dismissed the notion that he could know the unseen because that is not of the Prophet’s business nor is it of the missionary traits, but the Prophet’s (p.) responsibility is to deliver the Heavenly revelation concerning issues of the monotheistic belief, to act in his public and private behavior, as a human being in life, and to lead people to the spiritual, moral and social concepts related to the system of the reality that people are required to abide by.

The Holy Quran also emphasizes that Allah only has the knowledge of the unseen. It states that:  And with Him are the keys of the unseen treasures– none knows them but He (6:59) and that He (alone) knows the Unseen, nor does He make any one acquainted with His Mysteries (72:26). He, the Almighty, says: Surely Thou art the great Knower of the unseen things.  (5:116). The Most Exalted also says: Verily Allah knows (all) the hidden things of the heavens and the earth: verily He has full knowledge of all that is in (men’s) hearts. (35:38)

Moreover, many other verses emphasize that Allah, the Almighty, did not give any of His servants the knowledge of the unseen that enables them to own the key of knowledge by themselves.

In other words, these verses indicate that Allah’s will, the Most Exalted, did not grant the Prophets (p.) with the knowledge of the unseen in the way that makes them able to know all of the unseen by themselves, but rather Allah might have told some Prophets (a.s.) about some information as a part of His revelation to them (p.).

Allah says in His Glorious Book: This is of the announcements relating to the unseen which We reveal to you; and you were not with them when they cast their pens (to decide) which of them should have Mariam in his charge, and you were not with them when they contended one with another. (3: 44) He, the Most Exalted also said in Surat Hud: These are announcements relating to the unseen which We reveal to you, you did not know them– (neither) you nor your people– before this; (11:49) and in Surat Yusuf This is of the tidings of the Unseen which We inspire in thee (Muhammad). Thou wast not present with them when they fixed their plan and they were scheming. (12:102) 

The Holy Quran, indicates in other verses that the Prophet (p.) has asserted to his people that he does not know all minor and major issues of the unseen: Allah says: Say: “I have no power over any good of harm to myself except as God wills. If I had knowledge of the unseen, I should have multiplied all good, and no evil should have touched me: I am but a warner, and a bringer of glad tidings to those have faith”. (7:188). Consequently, these verses reveal that the Prophet (p.) might encounter many problems in his private life because he does not have the knowledge of the issues related to his fortune, health or to the public affairs.

These verses also deny that Allah has given the Prophets (p.) and Imams (a.s.) Wilayat Takwiniya that is the mandate to run the universe or to control people’s public and private issues that are related to their life and their moving universal existence. Indeed, Allah, the Most Gracious, has commissioned them with the missionary responsibility and to give glad tidings of Heaven and Allah’s satisfaction and warn people against doing what is bad since that will make Allah angry of them and will lead them to Hell.

Besides, the ninth verse of Surat Al-Ahqaf, stresses the human nature of the Prophet Mohammad (p.) as well as the previous prophets (p.). Allah says: Say: “I am no bringer of new-fangled doctrine among the messengers, nor do I know what will be done with me or with you. I follow but that which is revealed to me by inspiration; I am but a Warner open and clear”. (46:9) This verse indicates that Allah, the Most Exalted, did not tell Mohammad (p.) nor the previous prophets (p.) about what is going to happen to them or to their people, since the Prophet’s missionary role is to follow what was revealed to him as an apostle for all people warning them that if they do not believe in Allah, and in the Islamic belief and Sharia in their behavior in life, Allah will punish them.

Besides, the issues concerning the unseen that Prophet Issa (a.s.) talked to his people were revealed to him (a.s.) by God. He (a.s.) and I inform you of what you should eat and what you should store in your houses; most surely there is a sign in this for you, if you are believers. (Al-Imran 3:49)>This shows that Prophet Issa (a.s.) has the special knowledge necessary on the missionary level, but not the general knowledge.

Moreover, Allah has informed the Prophet (p.) that the Romans will gain victory over the Persians. He, the Almighty, said: Alif. Lam. Mim. The Romans have been defeated in the nearer land, and they, after their defeat will be victorious within a few years (Al-Room: 2-4). However, this does not reveal that the Prophet (p.) has a power that enables him to know the unseen, but Allah, has given him the knowledge of some issues that he did not know.

Translated by: Ghassan Rimlawi

Source – Bayynat



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