Do Awliya know the unseen?



Islamic Text

Only Allah (Most High) has knowledge of the unseen, and He (Most High) gives such knowledge to the Messengers (peace be upon them). No one else has knowledge of the unseen.

قُلْ لَا يَعْلَمُ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ الْغَيْبَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ

Say, no one in the Heavens or Earth knows the unseen except Allah (Most High). (Surah al-Naml, 65).

To claim knowledge of the unseen for people other than Prophets (peace be upon them) is misguidance. It contradicts explicit verses of the Holy Quran, Hadith of the Holy Prophet ﷺ and clear statements of classical scholars. Unfortunately, many people have extreme views regarding their Shaykhs and fall into this dangerous error.

قالت عائشة: من قال إن أحدا يعلم الغيب إلا الله فقد كذب، وأعظم الفرية على الله (تفسير الطبري)

(Sayidah) Aishah  said, whoever says that someone besides Allah (Most High) knows the unseen has lied and invented a great falsehood against Allah (Most High). (Imam al-Tabari, Tafseer al-Tabari Vol. 20, p160).

The fact that the Prophets (peace be upon them), have been given knowledge of the unseen is clear in Quran and Hadith, so they are an exception to the general rule, that none has knowledge of the unseen except Allah (Most High). There is no such exception for anyone else.

عَالِمُ الْغَيْبِ فَلَا يُظْهِرُ عَلَى غَيْبِهِ أَحَدًا (26) إِلَّا مَنِ ارْتَضَى مِنْ رَسُولٍ

The knower of the unseen, He (Most High) does not make the unseen apparent to anyone. Except whom he is pleased with from the Messengers. (Surah al-Jinn, 26 -27).

Even with the blessed Prophets (peace be upon them), we say they have some knowledge of the unseen, as having all knowledge is a unique attribute of Allah (Most High).

وقد أكذب الشرع من ادعى علم الغيب (إِكمَالُ المُعْلِمِ بفَوَائِدِ مُسْلِم)

Whoever claims knowledge of the unseen has rejected the Sharia. (Qadi Iyaad, Sharh Muslim Vol. 7, p153).

Despite the abundance of evidence from Quran and Hadith, as well as clarification from classical scholars, there remain some people who oppose the truth regarding this matter. Such people may mislead others by misrepresenting certain concepts.

عَنْ أَبِي سَعِيدٍ الخُدْرِيِّ: أَنَّهُ سَمِعَ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، يَقُولُ: الرُّؤْيَا الصَّالِحَةُ جُزْءٌ مِنْ سِتَّةٍ وَأَرْبَعِينَ جُزْءًا مِنَ النُّبُوَّةِ

Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri narrated that he heard Allah’s Messenger ﷺ saying, ‘A good dream is a forty-sixth portion of Prophecy.’  (Sahih al-Bukhari, 6989).

They say this Hadith proves knowledge of the unseen for people who are not Prophets. Sadly, people who make such claims cannot differentiate between knowledge (Ilm) of the unseen and speculative information (Dhann) regarding the unseen. The first (Ilm) can never be wrong, whereas the second (Dhann) may be incorrect. How often does a person see a dream of a future event which turns out to be untrue? The Hadith above clearly indicates this. (See the link below for more detail regarding this issue).

To put it another way, when a Prophet of Allah (Most High) speaks of the unseen then it is a fact, but if a Wali makes a prediction regarding the unseen then it is speculative and cannot be treated as fact. Furthermore, this raises many questions; Who is a Wali? How do you know if someone is a Wali? Is it permitted to claim someone is a Wali? Should a Wali be predicting the future?

Some say that predicting the future is part of the Karamat (miracles) of the Awliya and therefore it is permitted for them to make such predictions. There are many problems with such statements, we will focus on two.

Firstly, according to the dominant opinion Awliya are supposed to hide Karamaat and not show them, a misunderstanding of this point has resulted in widespread corruption and misguidance in the Ummah.

من أظهر كراماته فَهُوَ مُدع وَمن ظَهرت عَلَيْهِ الكرامات فَهُوَ ولي

Whoever makes his Karamaat (miracles) apparent is an imposter, and whoever’s Karamaat become apparent is a Wali. (Imam al-Sulami, Tabaqaat al-Sufiyah, p415).

Secondly, many people who make such predictions do so in a definitive manner, as if they have knowledge of the unseen, such behaviour is absolutely unacceptable and contradicts the Deen.

دَعْوَى عِلْمِ الْغَيْبِ مُعَارِضَةٌ لِنَصِّ الْقُرْآنِ فَيَكْفُرُ بِهَا، إلَّا إذَا أُسْنِدَ ذَلِكَ صَرِيحًا أَوْ دَلَالَةً إلَى سَبَبٍ مِنْ اللَّهِ تَعَالَى كَوَحْيٍ أَوْ إلْهَامٍ، وَكَذَا لَوْ أَسْنَدَهُ إلَى أَمَارَةٍ عَادِيَّةٍ يَجْعَلُ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى

Claiming knowledge of the unseen goes against what is explicit in the Quran, so one will become Kafir due to it. Unless he explicitly or implicitly links it to a means from Allah (Most High), like revelation, inspiration, or he links it to a normative sign that Allah (Most High) has established. (Imam Ibn Abideen, Radd al-Muhtaar, Dar al-Fikr Vol. 4, p243)

And Allah (Most High) Knows Best.

– Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen (21.06.2021)

See also:

Do we believe in Karamaat of the Awliyaa?

Must Awliyaa hide their miracles?

Is there a difference between Karaamah and Mu’jizah?

Can you establish something new based upon a dream in which you see the Prophet ﷺ?

See also (video):