This woman is in her seventies. Have you ever wondered how somebody her age would assess her life?
If she recalls anything about her life, it is surely that it was a "fleeting life".
She would simply remark that her life has not been a "long" one as she dreamed in her teens it would be. It probably never crossed her mind that one day she would grow so old. Yet now, she is overwhelmed by the fact that she has put seventy years behind her. Earlier in life, she probably never thought that her youth and its desires would pass so quickly.
If she were asked late in life to tell her story, her reminiscences would only make a five or six-hour talk. That is all that remains from what she says was "a long life of seventy years".
The mind of a person, worn out with age, is occupied with many questions. These are actually important questions to consider and answering them truthfully is essential to understanding all aspects of life: "What is the purpose of this life that passes so quickly? Why should I remain positive with all the age-related problems I have? What will the future bring?"
The possible answers to these questions fall into two major categories: those given by people who trust Allah and those given by disbelievers who do not trust Him.
Someone who does not trust Allah would say, "I spent my life chasing vain pursuits. I have put seventy years behind me, but to tell the truth, I still have not been able to grasp what I lived for. When I was a child, my parents were the centres of my life. I found all happiness and joy in their love. Later in life, as a young woman, I devoted myself to my husband and children. During that time, I set many goals for myself. Yet by the time they were achieved, each of them proved to have been a passing whim. When I rejoiced in my success, I headed towards other goals and they occupied me so that I did not think about the real meaning of life. Now at seventy, in the tranquillity of old age, I try to find out what was the purpose of my past days. Is it that I lived for people of whom I have only dim memories now? For my parents? For my husband whom I lost years ago? Or my children whom I see rarely now that they have their own families? I am confused. The only truth is that I feel close to death. Soon I will die and I will become a faint memory in people's minds. What will happen afterwards? I really have no idea. Even the thought of it is frightening!"
There is surely a reason for why she falls into such hopelessness. That is simply because she cannot comprehend that the universe, all living things and human beings have predetermined purposes to fulfil in life. These purposes owe their existence to the fact that everything has been created. An intelligent person notices that plan, design and wisdom exist in every detail of the infinitely varied world. This draws him to recognition of the Creator. He further concludes that since all living things are not the consequences of a random or mindless process they all serve important purposes. In the Qur'an, the last surviving authentic revealed guide to the true path for humanity, Allah repeatedly reminds us of the purpose of our life, which we tend to forget, and thereby summons us to clarity of mind and consciousness.
It is He Who created the heavens and the earth in six days when His Throne was on the water, in order to test which of you has the best actions. (Surah Hud: 7)
This verse provides a full understanding of the purpose of life for believers. They know that this life is a place where they are tried and tested by their Creator. Therefore, they hope to succeed in this test and attain the Paradise and hence the good pleasure of Allah.
However, for the sake of clarity, there is an important point to consider: those who believe in the 'existence' of Allah do not necessarily have true faith; they do not put their trust in Allah. Today, many people accept that the universe is the creation of Allah; yet, they little comprehend the impact of this fact upon their lives. Therefore, they do not lead their lives as they should. What these people generally regard as the truth is that Allah initially created the universe but then, they believe, He left it on its own.
Allah, in the Qur'an, addresses this misapprehension in the following verse:
If you ask them, who it is that created the heavens and the earth, they will certainly say, "Allah". Say: "Praise be to Allah!" But most of them understand not. (Surah Luqman: 25)
If you ask them, who created them, they will certainly say, "Allah." How then are they deluded away (from the truth)? (Surat az-Zukhruf: 87)
Due to this misapprehension, people cannot relate their daily lives to the fact that they have a Creator. That is the basic reason why each individual develops his or her personal principles and moral values, shaped within a particular culture, community and family. These principles actually serve as "life-guides" until death comes. People who adhere to their own values always find comfort in the wishful thinking that any wrong actions will be punished temporarily in Hell. The same rationale suggests that eternal life in paradise will follow this period of torment. Such a mentality unwittingly eases fears of the grievous penalty at the end of life. Some, on the other hand, do not even contemplate this issue. They merely remain heedless of the next world and "make the most of their lives".
However, the above is false and the truth is contrary to what they think. Those who pretend not to be aware of the existence of Allah will fall into deep desperation. In the Qur'an, those people are characterised as follows:
They know but the outer (things) in the life of this world: but of the end of things they are heedless. (Surat ar-Rum: 7)
Surely, little do these people grasp the real face and purpose of this world, and they never think that life in this world is not perpetual.
There are some phrases commonly used by people regarding the shortness of this life: "Make the most of your life while it lasts", "life is short", "one does not live forever" are phrases always referred to in definition of the nature of this world. Yet, these phrases contain an implicit attachment to this life rather than the next. They reflect the general attitude of people to life and death. Having such a strong affection for life, conversations about death are always interrupted with jokes or by raising other subjects thus attempting to alleviate the seriousness of the matter. These interruptions are always on purpose, a deliberate effort to reduce such an important subject to insignificance.
Mortality is surely a grave topic to ponder. Until this moment in his life, it may well be that the person is unaware of the significance of this reality. Yet, now that he has the chance to grasp its importance, he must reconsider his life and his expectations. It is never too late to repent to Allah, and to reorient all one's deeds and the conduct of one's life in submission to the will of Allah. Life is short; the human soul is eternal. During this short period, one should not allow temporary passions to control one. A person should resist temptation and keep himself away from everything that will strengthen his bonds to this world. It is surely unwise to neglect the next world just for the sake of the temporary joys of this one.
Nevertheless, disbelievers who cannot comprehend this fact spend their lives in vain being forgetful of Allah. Moreover, they know that it is impossible to attain these desires. Such people always feel a deep dissatisfaction and want even more of what they currently possess. They have endless wishes and desires. Yet, the world is not an appropriate arena in which to satisfy these desires.
Nothing in this world is perpetual. Time works against both what is good and what is new. No sooner does a brand-new car go out of fashion than another model is designed, manufactured and marketed. Similarly, someone may crave others' stately mansions or opulent houses with more rooms than occupants and with gold-plated fixtures, which once he has seen, he loses interest in his own house and cannot avoid regarding them with envy.
An endless search for the new and better, attaching no value to something once it has been achieved, deprecation of the old and placing all hopes in something new: these are the vicious circles that people have everywhere experienced throughout history. Yet an intelligent person should stop and ask himself for a moment: why is he chasing after temporary ambitions and has he ever gained any benefit from such pursuit? Finally, he should draw the conclusion that "there is a radical problem with this viewpoint." Yet people, lacking this kind of reasoning, continue to chase after dreams they are unlikely to achieve.
Nobody, however, knows what will happen even in the next few hours: at any time one may have an accident, be severely injured, or become disabled. Furthermore, time flies in the countdown to one's own death. Every day brings that predestined day closer. Death surely eradicates all ambitions, greed and desires for this world. Under the soil, neither possessions nor status prevail. Every possession with which we are being stingy, including the body, will also vanish and decay in the earth. Whether one is poor or wealthy, beautiful or ugly, one will be wrapped in a simple shroud one day.
We believe that The Truth of The Life of This World offers an explanation regarding the real nature of human life. It is a short and deceptive life in which worldly desires seem fascinating and full of promise, but the truth is otherwise. This book will enable you to perceive your life and all of its realities, and help you reconsider your goals in life, if you want to.
Allah enjoins on believers to warn others about these facts, and calls upon them to live only to fulfil His will, as He says in the following verse:
Verily, the promise of Allah is true: let not then this present life deceive you…. (Surah Luqman: 33)
Relativity of Time and the Relatiy of Fate
Everything related so far demonstrates that we never have direct contact with the "three-dimensional space" of reality, and that we lead our whole lives within our minds. Asserting the contrary would be to profess a superstitious belief removed from reason and scientific truth, for by no means can we achieve direct contact with the external world.
This refutes the primary assumption of the materialist philosophy underlying evolutionary theory—the assumption that matter is absolute and eternal. The materialistic philosophy's second assumption is that time is also absolute and eternal—a supposition just as superstitious as the first.
The Perception of Time
What we call "time" is in fact a method by which one moment is compared to another. For example, when a person taps an object, he hears a particular sound. If he taps the same object five minutes later, he hears another sound. Thinking there is an interval between the two sounds, he calls this interval "time." Yet when he hears the second sound, the first one he heard is no more than a memory in his mind, merely a bit of information in his imagination. A person formulates his perception of time by comparing the moment in which he lives with what he holds in memory. If he doesn't make this comparison, he can have no perception of time either.
Similarly, a person makes a comparison when he sees someone enter through a door and sit in an armchair in the middle of the room. By the time this person sits in the armchair, the images of the moment he opened the door and made his way to the armchair are compiled as bits of information in memory. The perception of time takes place when one compares the man sitting on the armchair with those bits of recalled information.
Briefly, time comes about as a result of comparisons of information stored in the brain. If man had no memory, his brain could not make such interpretations and therefore, he would never form any perception of time. One determines himself to be thirty years old, only because he has accumulated in his mind information pertaining to those thirty years. If his memory did not exist, then he could not think of any such preceding period and would be experiencing only the single "moment" in which he was living.
The Scientific Explanation of Timelessness
We can clarify this subject by quoting various scientists' and scholars' explanations. Regarding the idea of time flowing backwards, François Jacob, a famous intellectual and Nobel laureate professor of genetics, states the following in his book Le Jeu des Possibles (The Play of Possibilities):
Films played backwards let us imagine a world in which time flows backwards. A world in which cream separates itself from the coffee and jumps out of the cup to reach the creamer; in which the walls emit light rays that are collected in a light source instead of radiating out from it; a world in which a stone leaps up to a man's hand from the water where it was thrown by the astonishing cooperation of innumerable drops of water surging together. Yet, in such a time-reversed world with such opposite features, our brain processes, and the way our memory compiles information, would similarly function backwards. The same is true for the past and future, though the world will appear to us exactly as it does currently. 1
But since our brain is accustomed to a certain sequence of events, the world does not operate as related above. We assume that time always flows forward. However, this is a decision reached in the brain and is, therefore, completely relative. In reality, we never can know how time flows—or even whether it flows or not! This is because time is not an absolute fact, but only a form of perception.
That time is a perception is also verified by Albert Einstein in his Theory of General Relativity. In his book The Universe and Dr. Einstein, Lincoln Barnett writes:
Along with absolute space, Einstein discarded the concept of absolute time—of a steady, unvarying inexorable universal time flow, streaming from the infinite past to the infinite future. Much of the obscurity that has surrounded the Theory of Relativity stems from man's reluctance to recognize that sense of time, like sense of color, is a form of perception. Just as space is simply a possible order of material objects, so time is simply a possible order of events. The subjectivity of time is best explained in Einstein's own words. "The experiences of an individual," he says, "appear to us arranged in a series of events; in this series the single events which we remember appear to be ordered according to the criterion of 'earlier' and 'later'. There exists, therefore, for the individual, an I-time, or subjective time. This in itself is not measurable. I can, indeed, associate numbers with the events, in such a way that a greater number is associated with the later event than with an earlier one. 2
As Barnett wrote, Einstein showed that, "space and time are forms of intuition, which can no more be divorced from consciousness than can our concepts of color, shape, or size." According to the Theory of General Relativity: "time has no independent existence apart from the order of events by which we measure it." 3
Since time consists of perception, it depends entirely on the perceiver—and is therefore relative.
The speed at which time flows differs according to the references we use to measure it, because the human body has no natural clock to indicate precisely how fast time passes. As Barnett wrote, "Just as there is no such thing as color without an eye to discern it, so an instant or an hour or a day is nothing without an event to mark it." 4
The relativity of time is plainly experienced in dreams. Although what we perceive in a dream seems to last for hours, in fact, it only lasts for a few minutes, and often even a few seconds.
An example will clarify the point. Assume that you were put into a room with a single window, specifically designed; and were kept there for a certain period of time. A clock on the walls shows you the amount of time that has passed. During this "time," from the room's window, you see the sun setting and rising at certain intervals. A few days later, questioned about the amount of time spent in the room, you would give an answer based on the information you had collected by looking at the clock from time to time, as well as by counting how many times the sun had set and risen. Say, for example, you estimate you'd spent three days in the room. However, if the person who put you in there says that you spent only two days in there; that the sun you saw from the window was falsely produced; and that the clock in the room was especially regulated to move faster, then your calculation would be erroneous.
This example dramatizes that the information we have about the rate of time's passing is based only on references that change according to the perceiver.
That time is relative is a scientific fact, also proven by scientific methodology. Einstein's Theory of General Relativity maintains that the speed of time changes depending on the speed of the object and its distance from the center of gravity. As speed increases, time is shortened—compressed—and slows down until it approaches to the point of stopping entirely.
Einstein himself gave an example. Imagine two twins, one of whom remains on Earth while the other goes into space at a speed close to the speed of light. On his return, the traveler will find that his brother has grown much older than he has. The reason is that time flows much more slowly for the person who travels at near-light speed. What about a space-traveling father and his son who stays behind on Earth? If the father were 27 years old when he set out, and his son was only three, the father, when he comes back 30 years later in Earth time, will be only 30, whereas his son will be 33 years old! 5
This relativity of time is caused not by clocks slowing down or running fast. Rather, it's the result of the differentiated operational periods of the entire material system, as deep as sub-atomic particles. In such a setting where time stretches out, one's heartbeat, cell replications, and brain functions all operate more slowly. The person continues with his daily life and does not notice the slowing of time at all.
Time's variable relativity reveals a very important reality: A period of time of apparently billions of years' duration to us, may last only a second in another dimension. Moreover, an enormous period of time—from the world's beginning to its end—may not last even a second, but just an instant in another dimension.
This is the very essence of destiny's reality—one that is not well understood by most people, especially materialists, who deny it completely. Destiny is God's perfect knowledge of all events, past or future. Many, if not most, question how God can already know events that have not yet been experienced, and this leads them to fail to understand the authenticity of destiny. However, events not yet experienced are not yet experienced by us only. God is not bound by time or space, for He Himself has created them. For this reason, the past, the future, and the present are all the same to God; for Him, everything has already taken place and is finished.
In The Universe and Dr. Einstein, Lincoln Barnett explains how the Theory of General Relativity leads to this insight. According to him, the universe can be "encompassed in its entire majesty only by a cosmic intellect." 6 What Barnett calls "the cosmic intellect" is the wisdom and knowledge of God, Who prevails over the entire universe. Just as we easily see the beginning, middle, and end of a ruler and all the units in between as a whole, so God knows the time to which we're subjected right from its beginning to the end, like a single moment. People experience incidents only when their time comes for them to witness the fate God has created for them.
It is also important to consider society's distorted understanding of destiny. This conviction presents the superstitious belief that God has determined a "destiny" for every man, but sometimes that people can change these destinies. For instance, speaking of a patient who's returned from death's door, people make superficial statements like, "He defeated his destiny." Yet no one is able to change his destiny. The person who turns from death's door is destined not to die then. Again, it's the destiny of those people to deceive themselves by saying, "I defeated my destiny" and maintain such a mindset.
Destiny is the eternal knowledge of God. And for God, Who knows the whole time as a single moment and Who prevails over the whole time and space, everything is determined and finished in its destiny.
The Worry of the Materialists
The facts discussed in this chapter, namely the truth underlying matter, timelessness, and spacelessness, are extremely clear indeed. As expressed earlier, these are hardly some sort of philosophy or way of thinking, but crystal-clear scientific truths, impossible to deny. On this issue, rational and logical evidence admits no other alternatives: For us, the universe—with all the matter composing it and all the people living on it—is an illusory entirety, a collection of perceptions that we experience in our minds and whose original reality we cannot contact directly.
Materialists have a hard time in understanding this—for example, if we return to the example of Politzer's bus. Although Politzer technically knew that he could not step out of his perceptions, he could admit it only for certain cases. For him, events take place in the brain until the bus crash takes place, then events escape from the brain and assume a physical reality. At this point, the logical defect is very clear: Politzer has made the same mistake as the materialist Samuel Johnson, who said, "I hit the stone, my foot hurts, therefore it exists." Politzer could not understand that in fact, the shock felt after a bus impact was a mere perception too.
One subliminal reason why materialists cannot comprehend this is their fear of the implication they must face if they comprehend it. Lincoln Barnett tells of the fear and anxiety that even "discerning" this subject inspires in materialist scientists:
Along with philosophers' reduction of all objective reality to a shadow-world of perceptions, scientists became aware of the alarming limitations of man's senses. 7
Any reference to the fact that we cannot make contact with original matter, and that time is a perception, arouses great fear in a materialist because these are the only notions he relies on as absolutes. In a sense, he takes these as idols to worship; because he thinks that he has been created by matter and time, through evolution.
When he feels that he cannot get to the essence of the universe he lives in, nor the world, his own body, other people, other materialist philosophers whose ideas he is influenced by—in short, to anything—he feels overwhelmed by the horror of it all. Everything he depends on and believes in suddenly vanishes.
From then on, this materialist tries to convince himself that he's really confronting external, original matter, and makes up "evidence." He hits his fist on the wall, kicks stones, shouts, and yells. But he can never escape from the reality.
Just as materialists want to dismiss this reality from their minds, they also want other people to discard it. They realize that if the true nature of matter becomes known to people in general, the primitiveness of their own philosophy and the ignorance of their worldview will be laid bare for all to see. No ground will be left on which they can rationalize their views. These fears explain why they are so disturbed by the facts related here.
In the Hereafter, unbelievers will bear witness to their possessions, children and close friends leaving them and vanishing. They had assumed themselves to be in contact with their originals in the world and flattered themselves as partners with God.
The Gain of Believers
The facts—that matter is not absolute and that time is a perception—alarm materialists, but for true believers, just the opposite holds true. People with faith in God become very glad to have perceived the secret behind matter, because this reality is the key to every question. With this, all secrets are unlocked, and one can easily understand many issues that previously seemed hard to grasp.
As said before, the issues of death, Paradise, Hell, the Hereafter, and changing dimensions will be comprehended. Important questions such as, "Where is God?," "What existed before God?," "Who created God?," "How long will the life in cemetery last?," "Where are Paradise and Hell?," and "Do Paradise and Hell currently exist?" will be easily answered. Once it's understood that God created the entire universe from nothingness, the questions of "When?," and "Where?" become meaningless, because there will be no time or place left. When spacelessness is comprehended, it can be understood that Hell, Paradise and Earth are all actually in the same location. If timelessness is understood, it will be understood that everything takes place at one single moment: Nothing need be awaited, and time does not go by, because everything has already happened and finished.
When this secret is comprehended, the world becomes like Paradise for any believer. All distressful material worries, anxieties, and fears vanish. The person grasps that the entire universe has one single Sovereign, that He creates the entire physical world as He pleases, and that all one has to do is to turn unto Him.
To comprehend this secret is the greatest gain in the world.
It should be well established that there is no other helper and provider for man than God. Nothing is absolute but God; He is the only absolute being in Whom one can seek refuge, appeal for help, and count on for reward.
Wherever we turn, there is the Face of God …