Although the issue of
the reality of matter is exceedingly straightforward and easy
to understand, some people attempt to avoid accepting the only
possible conclusion, for a number of different reasons, and pretend
not to comprehend it.
Many people who have understood the problem have expressed
their extraordinary excitement at learning "the secret behind
matter," and how it has changed their lives and way of thinking.
Many people try to go deeper into the issue, asking questions
to try to understand it better. You can see some of the comments
they make in the chapter "Those Who Learn The Secret of Matter
Feel Great Excitement."
Others, however, stubbornly deny this extraordinary
truth, and put forward various objections of their own in an effort
to reject it. Anyone who does reject it has to scientifically
demonstrate that images or sounds do not form inside the brain.
Yet none of the objections that are put forward, from scientists,
professors of neurology, brain experts, psychologists, psychiatrists
or professors of biology, in short from anybody at all, deny that
our perceptions are formed within our brains. This is because
it is a scientifically established fact.
Despite this, some people try to cover the matter up
by playing word games or adopting an overblown scientific manner.
They try to avoid the evident truth which follows from the statement
beginning "Since images form in our brains…" One of the clearest
examples of this is the answers given by scientists who are asked
whether images form in the brain.
One of these scientists replies: "No, images do not
form in the brain. The incoming signals form a representation
of a visual experience."
Let us now examine the method this scientist employs
to ignore the truth. Asked whether images form within the brain,
he starts out with a definite "No." He then follows up by saying
that the signals form a representational image which enables us
to see what we are looking at. So he is actually answering the
above question in the affirmative. Of course the image in the
brain is a "representational one". Our brains can never contain
a real table, or sun or the sky. The image we have is a representation,
in other words a copy. When we say we can "see the world," we
are actually perceiving this "representational world", or "copy",
or "imaginary world". These expressions are all different ways
of saying the same thing. One scientist, asked whether what we
see in our brains is a representational world, answers, "Definitely
not. What we see in our brain is a copy of the world." In other
words, he first rejects the question asked, but then uses a rather
more confused explanation to confirm that we actually do see in
our brains. This is a dishonest method resorted to by some scientists
who fear that if they accept this truth they will in turn be forced
to give matter up, which they believe is the only thing that exists.
Others feel unable to deny that images form in our
brains, but because they hesitate to say, "Yes, I see the whole
world in my brain," they give a more meandering answer, "The brain
simply processes the incoming signals and orders neural activity,
that is how you see and hear." Yet in any case, the real subject
of discussion is where the image forms once the brain has carried
out all its processing. The answer provided by this scientist
is not an answer at all but a short account of the stage before
the formation of an image. The brain processes the signals, but
it does not then send them back to the eye or the ear. For this
reason, it is not the eye that sees, or the ear that hears. That
being the case, what does the brain do after processing the incoming
signals? Where is the processed information stored, and where
is it turned into images or sounds? Who is it who perceives this
information as images or sounds? When these scientists are asked
for answers to questions like these, they try to avoid accepting
the truth by offering long, convoluted accounts. Actually, it
is a wonder that there is any debate about such an obvious truth
However, all these ways of objecting to or avoiding
the issue to hand are feeble and invalid. Until someone who objects
to the reality that is described in these pages comes up with
scientific facts to disprove that all our perceptions are formed
within our brains, what he says will be of absolutely no worth.
It is a fact that images and all our senses form in our brains.
However, even though someone has clearly grasped this concept,
he may still deny that it is God who forms these images. He may
say, 'I don't even like to think about it,' or 'It is uncomfortable
to imagine that I can never see actual matter itself,' or "my
life does not have any meaning any more." That person may find
it unnerving that nothing exists but God. Yet he cannot say that
he sees what he does with his own eyes, or that the originals
of what he sees exist somewhere outside him. That is because there
is no scientific evidence or observation to show that that is
the case, and neither can there ever be any. In any case, even
the most determined materialists accept that images are seen inside
This chapter will mainly be devoted to replying to
the objections of those who cannot bring themselves to accept
this fact. Reading these objections and the replies to them, you
will see that the replies are actually quite evident when examined
with honesty and without prejudice.
Objection: "When you see a bus
coming towards you, you get out of the way to avoid being crushed.
That means the bus exists. Why should you get out of the way if
you see it in your brain?"
Reply: The point where
those who ask such questions are mistaken is that they think the
concept of "perception" only applies to the sense of sight. In
fact, all sensations, such as touch, contact, hardness, pain,
heat, cold and wetness also form in the human brain, in precisely
the same way that visual images are formed. For instance, someone
who feels the cold metal of the door as he gets off a bus, actually
"feels the cold metal" in his brain. This is a clear and well-known
truth. As we have already seen, the sense of touch forms in a
particular section of the brain, through nerve signals from the
fingertips, for instance. It is not your fingers that do the feeling.
People accept this because it has been demonstrated scientifically.
However, when it comes to the bus hitting someone, not just to
his feeling the metal of the indoor-in other words when the sensation
of touch is more violent and painful-they think that this fact
somehow no longer applies. However, pain or heavy blows are also
perceived in the brain. Someone who is hit by a bus feels all
the violence and pain of the event in his brain.
In order to understand this better, it will be useful
to consider our dreams. A person may dream of being hit by a bus,
of opening his eyes in hospital later, being taken for an operation,
the doctors talking, his family's anxious arrival at the hospital,
and that he is crippled or suffers terrible pain. In his dream,
he perceives all the images, sounds, feelings of hardness, pain,
light, the colors in the hospital, all aspects of the incident
in fact, very clearly and distinctly. They are all as natural
and believable as in real life. At that moment, if the person
who is having that dream were told it was only a dream, he would
not believe it. Yet all that he is seeing is an illusion, and
the bus, hospital and even the body he sees in his dream have
no physical counterpart in the real world. Although they have
no physical counterparts, he still feels as if a 'real body' has
been hit by a 'real bus.'
Some people accept that when
they touch a bus, they feel the cold metal in their
brains. On the other hand, they do not accept that
the feeling of pain at the moment the bus hits them
forms in the brain. However, a person will feel the
same pain if he sees himself falling under a bus in
In the same way, there is no validity to the materialists'
objections along the lines of "You realize that matter actually
exists when someone hits you," "You can have no doubt as to the
existence of matter when someone kicks your knee," "You run away
when you meet a savage dog," "When a bus has hit you, you understand
whether it is in your brain or not," or "In that case, go and
stand on the motorway in front of the oncoming traffic". A sharp
blow, the pain from a dog's teeth or a violent slap are not evidence
that you are dealing with the matter itself. As we have seen,
you can experience the same things in dreams, with no corresponding
physical counterparts. Furthermore, the violence of a sensation
does not alter the fact that the sensation in question occurs
in the brain. This is a clearly proven scientific fact.
The reason why some people think that a fast-moving
bus on the motorway or an accident caused by that bus are striking
proofs of the fact they are dealing with the physical existence
of matter is that the image concerned is seen and felt as so real
that it deceives one. The images around them, for instance the
perfect perspective and depth of the motorway, the perfection
of the colors, shapes and shadows they contain, the vividness
of sound, smell and hardness, and the completeness of the logic
within that image can deceive some people. On account of this
vividness, some people forget that these are actually perceptions.
Yet no matter how complete and flawless the perceptions in the
mind may be, that does not alter the fact that they are still
perceptions. If someone is hit by a car while walking along the
road, or is trapped under a house that collapses during an earthquake,
or is surrounded by flames during a fire, or trips up and falls
down the stairs, he still experiences all these things in his
mind, and is not actually confronting the reality of what happens.
Even if someone is attacked
by a dog, that does not change the fact that he sees
it all in his brain. A person could see the same incident
with the same clarity in a dream, and experience the
same excitement and fear.
When someone falls under a bus, the bus in his mind
hits the body in his mind. The fact that he dies as a result,
or that his body is completely shattered, does not alter this
reality. If something a person experiences in his mind ends in
death, God replaces the images He shows that person with images
belonging to the hereafter. Those who are unable to understand
the truth of this now on honest reflection will certainly do so
when they die.
Objection: "It is true that I
see all objects in my mind, but I am seeing things that actually
Reply: The fact that we
perceive the whole world in our brains has been definitively established
by science, and no right-thinking person can claim anything to
the contrary. However, the point that people fail to understand
is this: If we perceive all things in our minds, then how can
we be sure of the existence of things outside our minds? This
doubt is valid: We never can be sure that there do exist physical
counterparts of the things we perceive in our minds. That is because
we can never step outside our brains and see what is really out
there. That is why it is impossible to claim that the images in
our brains really correspond to things in the outside world. Nobody-not
the person making the claim, nor a neurologist, nor a brain surgeon,
nor a philosopher, nor anyone else-has ever been able to step
out of his own brain to see what there is outside it.
Everything that a person knows about his life is perceived
by the brain by means of the electrical signals reaching it. In
other words, we always live in the worlds that exist within our
own brains. The birds we see when we look at the sky, the car
about to disappear from sight at the other end of the street,
the things in our rooms, the book in our hands, our friends, relations
and everything else-all of these are copy images that reach our
brains. Nobody can step outside this life within the brain. Neither
science nor technology can be of any assistance in doing so. That
is because whatever a scientist may invent, he still invents it
within that image in his brain. For that reason, the object he
invents to see the outside world with still remains inside his
When the nerves to the brain
are severed, then no image forms. In that event, there
is no meaning to the sentence "The originals of the
images do exist outside," because we can never see
these originals, even if they do exist.
Although the truth of this is perfectly clear, some
people still maintain that the images they see still correspond
to physical realities in the outside world. They believe in "matter"
(even though they have never seen matter itself), and they ignore
the fact that matter is nothing but a name people give to the
illusions they see. It is not possible for anyone to know what
matter actually looks like, because nobody has ever come face
to face with the original of anything. From the time of the first
man right up to today, not one human being has ever heard the
original of any sound, nor seen the original of any view, nor
enjoyed the original smell of a rose.
We must also remember this: Anyone who claims that
there is a physical world that exists beyond our perceptions still
needs eyes with which to see that world. And that outside world
will turn into an electrical signal when it passes through his
eyes, and those electrical signals will create an image inside
his brain. Consequently, that person will still be seeing the
world inside his brain. If the nerves leading to that person's
brain are severed, the image of the world that he maintains exists
"outside" will also suddenly cease. That being the case, what
is the point of insisting on something the original of which we
can never see, and which can be of absolutely no use to us even
if it does exist?
Objection: "Matter exists outside
my brain. The pain when a knife slips and cuts my hand and the
blood that flows from it are not an image. What is more, my friend
was with me and saw it happen."
Reply: We actually considered
the reply to this objection in the previous answer. Given the
importance of the subject, however, it will be beneficial to run
over it one more time.
Those who say this kind of thing ignore the fact that
not only sight, but other senses such as hearing, smell and touch
also happen inside the brain. That is why they say, "I may see
the knife in my brain, but the sharpness of the blade is a fact,
just look how it has cut my hand." However, the pain in that person's
hand, the warmth and wetness of the blood, and all the other perceptions
still form within the brain. The fact that his friend may have
witnessed the incident changes nothing, because his friend is
also formed in the same visual center of his brain where the knife
is formed. This person could also experience the same feelings
in a dream-the way he cut his hand with a knife, the pain in his
hand, the image and the warmth of his blood. He can also see in
that dream the friend who saw him cut himself. Yet the existence
of his friend does not prove the physical existence of what he
sees in his dream.
The pain and wetness when someone
cuts her hand all form in the brain. That same person
might dream she has cut her hand and might experience
the same sensations in that dream. Yet in her dream
she is simply seeing an illusion, and there is no
real knife or bleeding wound. That being the case,
the feeling of pain does not alter the fact that we
see all our lives as images within our brains.
Even if someone came up just when he was cutting his
hand in that dream and said: "What you are seeing is just perceptions,
this knife is not real, the blood flowing from your hand and the
pain in it are not real, they are just events you are witnessing
in your mind," the person will not believe him, and will object.
He might even say: "I am a materialist. I do not believe in such
claims. There is a physical reality in everything I am now seeing.
Look, can't you see the blood?"
Those who insist that matter does actually physically
exist outside are like the person we have just been considering.
In the world of perceptions they live in, they hear the words,
"All these things are perceptions, and you can never reach the
original sources of these perceptions, nor can you know whether
these originals even exist or not," yet they violently oppose
Yet we must not forget that nobody who cuts his hand
just says, "This is only an image" and sits down without doing
anything about it. That is because God has created effects binding
people to the images they perceive. For instance, someone who
cuts his hand puts something on it, bandages it or goes to the
doctor. However, all of these processes again happen as images
in the brain. The bandage and the medicine he puts on are all
images that form inside the brain.
Objection: "Is saying that matter
is an illusion we perceive in our minds compatible with Islam?"
Reply: Some Muslims suggest
that the fact that matter is an illusion is not compatible with
Islam, and maintain that religious scholars in the past rejected
this fact. That is not actually the case, however. On the contrary,
what we are saying here is in complete conformity with the verses
of the Koran. Many of the verses that imply matter is an illusion
are exceedingly important for a definite understanding of subjects
revealed in the Koran, such as heaven and hell, timelessness,
infinity, resurrection and the hereafter.
Unquestionably, even if he is unaware of this subject,
a person can still live in complete faith. He can have faith,
with all his heart and feeling no doubt, in what God has revealed
in the Koran. We must still make it clear, however, that an awareness
of this subject allows such a person to deepen his faith and certainty.
A number of Islamic scholars of the past looked on the matter
from that same point of view. The only factors that prevented
what they had to say from being widely spread and known were 1)
the fact that the level of science when they lived was unable
to totally clarify the subject and 2) the existence of trends
that were apt to lead to its being misunderstood.
The most important of those Islamic scholars who explained
the true nature of matter was Imam Rabbani, who has been widely
respected in the Islamic world for hundreds of years and is seen
as "the greatest reformer of the 10th century according to the
Muslim calendar." In his book Letters, Imam Rabbani provides a
detailed commentary on this very subject. In one of his letters,
Imam Rabbani says that God created the entire universe at the
level of perception:
I have used the following sentence above, "God's creation
is at the sphere of senses and perceptions." This means "God's
creation is at such a sphere that at that sphere, there is no
permanency or existence for objects apart from senses and perceptions."46
On close examination, Imam Rabbani is careful to emphasize
that the world we see, in other words all that exists, has been
created on the level of perception. All that exists outside this
level of perception is the Being of God. Actually, this concept
of "outside" is a hypothetical one, because a perception has no
body, and takes up no volume. Imam Rabbani explains that things
(in other words, matter) have no existence on the outside:
Nothing but God exists on the outside… Perhaps all
of Almighty God's creation finds constancy on the sphere of perception…
In the same way that matter has no existence in the outside world,
it appears on the outside in a colorless form… If it does have
a fixed appearance, that is again only on the perceptual level.
It only has permanency thanks to God's artistry on that one level.
In short, it only has permanency and appearance on one level.
It does not have existence on one plane and appearance on another…
It contains no sign on the outside that might allow it to be seen
As a result, as we can see from Imam Rabbani's clear
exposition,either by referring to science or by thinking with
our powers of reason, we reach the conclusion that we can never
know whether there is an actual physical counterpart corresponding
to what we perceive. All we can see is the image presented to
us in our minds. It is God, the Lord of all the Worlds, who creates
this image and presents it to us.
The great Islamic scholar Muhyiddin Ibn al-'Arabi also
believes that the only thing that has definitive existence is
God, who has created the whole universe only on the perceptual
level. He is known as "The Greatest Master" (Shaykh al-Akbar)
on account of the depth of his knowledge, and in his work The
Essence of Wisdom (Fusűs al-Hikam), he reveals that the universe
is but a shadow existence consisting of what is manifested by
I say that you must know that apart from God, all that
exists, or everything in the universe, stands in the same relation
to God as a shadow to a man. That being the case, everything apart
from God is but His shadow… There is no doubt that the shadow
exists in perception.48
Muhyiddin Ibn al-'Arabi offers a clear reply to those
who see themselves as having an existence independent of God,
who believe that they enjoy a separate existence:
As I have explained to you, the world is a concept.
It has no real existence. That is what illusion means. You have
thought to yourselves that the world is something that intrinsically
exists: That its existence depends on itself, and that it exists
independent of God. However, that is not the case. Do you not
see that the shadow derives from its owner and since it is connected
to him, it is seemingly impossible for it to separate it from
its owner… This being so, you must know that you are but a dream.
All that you perceive, and all that which you say is "separate
from the Lord" or "it is not me" is also but a dream. All that
exists does so within a dream. God is the only One to possess
true existence in its very essence.49
As Muhyiddin Ibn al-'Arabi's words demonstrate, man
is something that possesses the soul God has breathed into him,
a manifestation of God. God is all that really exists, whereas
man is a dream. This is a most important truth, and we would be
making a grave error to believe the opposite.
Alongside these two, Mawlana Jami also expresses this
astonishing truth, that he came by from signs in the Koran and
by using his own powers of reason, in the words; "Whatever exists
in the universe is but a perception. It is like a reflection in
a mirror, or a shadow".
As we have seen, great Islamic thinkers have made this
truth perfectly clear, and for this reason it is not credible
to claim that it conflicts with the Koran and the Sunnah, or that
it is rejected by the world of Islam. What is more, it must not
be forgotten that it is a scientifically proven fact, which nobody
can deny, that we see all that we do in our brains. Because this
was not scientifically known in past times, it is quite natural
that some Islamic scholars should not have referred to it. Furthermore,
the fact that matter is an illusion has been described in a perverted
way by some circles, who have tried to do away with the rules
and laws of religion in this way. On account of these twisted
and dishonest views, some Islamic scholars have issued warnings
against these dangers. However, these comments have deviated from
the truth. They should not be compared with the comments we have
In fact, Imam Rabbani mentions those philosophers who
depart from the truth when discussing the subject of matter. He
stresses that what he says is very different to their twisted
views. He says the following in his Letters:
When I refer to the world as "imaginary," I do not
mean that it is made and shaped by the imagination… Of course,
what it really means is that God has created the world on the
perceptual level… An imaginary thing has no true appearance or
body… This can be likened to a circle created by the fast cycling
of a point. It also has an appearance, but not a body…
On the other hand, philosophers who are comprised of
a group of lunatics actually talk about something else. What they
mean is that the world is the work of imagination and it is shaped
by the imagination. There is a great difference between the two.50
As Imam Rabbani has made clear, the ancient Greek sophists
said that "matter is a perception we have created ourselves."
This view is rationally and scientifically flawed, and departs
from true religion. As we have stressed from the very beginning,
the truth is that matter is a perception created by God.
It is a grave error to confuse this false view of those
philosophers, with the explanation given here by Islamic scholars
that "matter is a perception created by God."
Objection: "If everything is
an illusion, how can we explain some of the attributes of God?"
Reply: Some believers
think that when we accept the true nature of matter, a curtain
is brought down on many of the names of God, and that if matter
is simply an illusion, the manifestation of some of those names
cannot be explained. This is again an error that stems from shallow
thinking and failure to understand the nature of the subject.
First of all, no force or idea can draw a curtain over
any of the names of God. No scientific truth can prevent the manifestation
of any of these names. It is God who creates these truths in the
first place. God is not bound by the things and laws He creates.
For this reason, no power or knowledge in the world can do away
with any of these manifestations. Even thinking such a thing would
be failing to appreciate the infinite might of God.
Furthermore, the fact that matter is but a perception
that forms in our minds is an important proof that, contrary to
what these people may think, the manifestation of the names of
God takes place at all times and in all places. That is because,
just like a film, this image which forms on the perceptual level
cannot come about of itself, and there must be something that
displays it, and that means a Creator which brings it into being.
The fact that the image is permanent and unbroken is
clear evidence that our Creator continues His act of creation
at all times. In fact, one verse says that the earth and the sky
(in other words, the universe) are not fixed and unvarying, that
they only exist by virtue of God's creation, and that they will
cease to exist when that creation ceases:
God keeps a firm hold on the heavens and earth,
preventing them from vanishing away. And if they vanished no one
could then keep hold of them. Certainly He is Most Forbearing,
Ever-Forgiving. (The Koran, 35: 41)
In the Koran, sura 27, verse 64, God reveals that He
"originates creation and then regenerates it". In another verse,
He draws attention to the fact that people are at every moment
Do they make things into partner-gods which cannot
create anything and are themselves being created? (The Koran,
In other words, the reason for the permanent and unbroken
nature of the images we see, is not that they have a fixed and
material existence, but that God creates them at every moment.
So the manifestation of God's continuous creation can be seen
at every moment, in everything a person sees or feels.
ALL BEAUTIFUL THINGS
ARE THE WORKS OF GOD'S CREATION
All the beautiful things
we possess and see around us are manifestations of God's
attribute, the Bestower (al-Wahhab).
In consequence, this truth makes the manifestation
of the attributes of God in the universe even clearer. For example,
someone who knows that when he goes into a garden all the fruit,
flowers and trees are actually images being presented to him in
his own mind will recall that it is God, the Provider (al-Razzaq),
who gives him countless blessings and beauties, and who shows
these images to him. Someone with a pleasant house who knows the
true nature of all the furniture, antiques, gold and silver in
it, in other words who realizes that they are all images in his
brain, can never brag about his possessions. Just like the Prophet
Solomon, he identifies God, the Giver (al-Vahhab) as He who shows
the beauty of these possessions to him and makes him wealthy by
means of it. Or, when someone convinces another of the existence
and oneness of God, that He is all that physically exists, together
with the existence of heaven and hell, he thus sees the manifestation
of God's attribute of He who reveals the true path, the Guide
We must here recall that it is a scientific fact that
everyone sees the images, hears the sounds that accompany them,
and feels their physical properties in his brain. We can never
know, by means of our perceptions, what lies outside our brains,
and whether these objects have any actual counterparts there.
We can be sure, however, that there is a power as the result of
which we see these images and hear these sounds, and who creates
them in a relationship of cause and effect. That force is God.
If He did not create these images for us, there would be no life
in this world. In this way, God's creation and the manifestation
of His attributes continue at every moment. For instance, God
continues to create this book and the words in it, together with
the colors in the pictures it contains, for whoever reads it.
This shows to us God's attribute of Creation (al-Khaliq),
and the power of His creation. At this very moment, God is showing
the billions of people on earth billions of separate images. Each
of these images is created without pause, in perfect harmony,
and down to the finest detail. Every individual is shown images
without the tiniest error of detail. Thinking of this wonder will
demonstrate God's infinite might and that He is the only Ruler
of the Worlds.
When saying that matter was created on the level of
perception, Imam Rabbani explains that the names of God are also
manifested on the level of perception:
… The Glorious God assigned an appearance from all
appearances for names from all names in the sphere of non-existence
with his Perfect Might. And He created it at the sphere of sensations
and perceptions. At the time He willed and in the way He willed…
The constancy of the world is not at the exterior level but at
the level of sensations and perceptions… Even in the exterior,
there is nothing permanent and existing other than the being and
attributes of the Almighty God...51
It is impossible for anyone who comprehends this truth
to swell up with pride because of his success, wealth, property
and titles. Since at every moment, in every place, he knows there
is a manifestation of the name of God, and that he is perceiving
an image that God is causing in him, he can never forget how helpless
and needy he is in the face of God.
He believes in the truth stated in the verse below
as "Haqq-al yakin'"or with truth of certainty:
Mankind! you are the poor in need of God whereas
God is the Rich Beyond Need, the Praiseworthy. (The Koran, 35:
Objection: "This is an old philosophy
that was once put forward by the idealists"
Reply: Because some people
are very uncomfortable at the true explanation of matter, they
try to compare the truth that matter is an illusion we perceive
in our brains to earlier philosophies. Developments in the sciences,
however, reveal that this is a scientific fact, not a mere philosophical
speculation. So these peoples' efforts are all in vain.
Besides, the fact that other thinkers in other times
have supported an idea neither disproves nor makes it worthless.
The fact that matter is a perception has been understood and stated
by people in earlier as well as our own times.
Furthermore, the ideas of the idealists of the past
were not disproved by the materialists who emerged later. Therefore,
saying, "This idea has been expressed in the past" proves nothing.
The idea that we perceive the world in our brains
is not a philosophical speculation:
The true facts about matter are not something that
has been discovered for the first time, although it is true that
in the past they were discussed only in the form of a philosophical
speculation. However, the facts have now been scientifically proved.
Many thinkers, religious scholars and scientists throughout
history have brought this subject up and explained that matter
is really a collection of perceptions. For instance, ancient Greek
philosophers such as Pythagoras, the Elea School and Plato-with
his allegory of the cave-have looked at the subject from that
aspect. Documents that have come down to us show that religions
such as Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism and Christianity
have all discussed the matter. Prominent Islamic scholars such
as Imam Rabbani, Muhyiddin Ibn al-'Arabi and Mawlana Jami have
also discussed the essence of matter in the same way. However,
it is the Irish philosopher Berkeley whose ideas on the subject
need to be given the most detailed discussion.
Berkeley said that matter was a totality of perceptions.
He came in for fierce attacks from the materialists of the time
who believed that matter enjoyed a physical existence, and who
tried to silence him by insults and slander. A materialist, Bertrand
Russell did the same thing. Although Russell is one of the thinkers
that materialists have the greatest faith in, and although he
is seen as a great supporter of the materialist viewpoint, he
was unable to refute what Berkeley said. In his book The Problems
of Philosophy, he described the situation in these terms:
…Berkeley retains the merit of having shown that the
existence of matter is capable of being denied without absurdity,
and that if there are any things that exist independently of us
they cannot be the immediate objects of our sensations.52
However, because of the lack of scientific facts at
the time when they lived, neither Berkeley nor other thinkers
were able to support their views with empirical evidence. As a
consequence, it was not possible for the matter to be completely
understood or widely discussed, particularly given the pressure
from those who held the opposite view. Some of these incorrectly
evaluated the truth they had discovered, and even though they
came close to the truth, they were unable to draw the correct
conclusions. Others with hidden agendas tried to drag the matter
in a completely erroneous direction.
The Essence of Matter is a Scientific Fact:
In our time, however, the "perception of matter in
the mind," is no longer a matter of philosophical speculation,
but has turned into a fact backed up by scientific proof. Advances
in the world of science have revealed the functioning of man's
sensory organs. As we saw at the beginning of this book, this
functioning is the same for every sensory organ. The signals coming
to our sensory organs from the outside world are turned into electrical
signals by our cells and forwarded to the perception centers in
our brain by our nerves. So man sees, hears, smells, tastes or
touches the world in tiny perception centers in his brain.
These scientific facts are now completely clear, and
can be found in any book on physiology or high school biology
textbook. The way images and perceptions form in the brain is
now taught in a detailed manner in medical schools. As our knowledge
has advanced, sciences such as physics, quantum physics, psychology,
neurology, biology and medicine have clarified the factual details
of the process.
For instance, the theoretical physicist Dr. Fred Alan
Wolf, who has attracted considerable attention with his research
and has written eight award-winning books, explains that quantum
physics in particular has revealed that the world we see is actually
…there is something beyond all materialism, beyond
the physical world, out of which all reality, the whole of existence,
projects. This would overwhelm traditional dualism - and I take
this view not as a mystic but as a quantum physicist. I think
that our most modern understanding of the physical world suggests
that there may be an ineffable realm, a mystical realm, an "imaginal"
realm, out of which the physical world pops into existence. Kind
of like what [the German physicist and pioneer of quantum mechanics]
Werner Heisenberg suggested when he brought the notion of consciousness
into physics - when he said that it's the observer who creates
the observed simply by the act of observation… I see reality differently.
Reality to me is more like a dream - I see a dreaming reality.
I envision a dreamer, or a great spirit, of which we're all a
part… And I think that using this model we can achieve some real
scientific breakthroughs, rather than attempting to reduce everything
down to the simplest level.53
This scientist has seen the fact that the material
world is actually an "illusion" in the light of scientific discoveries,
and is only one of the scientists who have done so. Those who
reject this evident scientific truth do so for ideological reasons,
not scientific ones. That is because these scientists do not wish
to accept this fact, knowing as they do that it will completely
undermine the materialism to which they are so stubbornly attached.
In fact, Dr. Wolf makes it clear that this reality will exclude
any possibility of materialism.
When we consider the scientific results that have been
obtained, there is no credibility in treating the fact that we
perceive the outside world in our brains as a philosophical speculation.
It is not a philosophical speculation at all, but a scientific
fact clearly revealed by scientific discoveries. It is a fact
that everyone lives within, and which nobody can deny. Everyone,
religious or not, knows that unconditionally, and even if someone
does reject it, that rejection is meaningless.
Objection: "Is the subject of
the truth of matter the same as the idea of the unity of being
Reply: It is true that
the idea of the unity of being is something that many Islamic
scholars of the past have discussed while considering some subjects
that appear in this book. However, what is being discussed here
is not exactly the same as the unity of being.
Throughout history, many scholars and thinkers have
explained this principle. Some of them, however, have been led
astray by a false idea, and have seen the things that God has
created as totally non-existent. However, to say that matter is
an illusion formed inside our brains does not mean that "none
of the things we see exist." That is because all the things we
see, the mountains, meadows, flowers, people, seas, in short everything
we see, everything whose existence God has described in the Koran,
has been created and does exist. However, each and every one exists
as an image.
Saying, "God creates everything
as an image" is not the same as saying, "These things
do not exist." All that God creates: people, buildings,
lakes, the sky and everything else, really exists.
However, they all exist as images, and we can only
see them in our brains.
Everything created by God exists whether we see it
or not. It has in any case been created, and as we have seen,
it will continue to exist under the memory of God from the moment
it is created until the moment it dies. (For further information
see Eternity Has Already Begun by Harun Yahya).
As a result of this, the fact that matter is an illusion
in our minds does not mean it does not exist. But this fact does
tell us something about the true nature of matter i.e. that it
is a perception.
Objection: "How can anyone love
something he knows to be an illusion? If we accept that everything
is an illusion formed within our minds, how are we to love our
mothers, fathers, friends and the prophets?"
Reply: A person asking
this question does not know, or has not understood that he is
also an illusion. Whereas he accepts his friends and family as
illusions, he accepts himself as absolute. However, like those
close to him, he is also an illusion. The body he sees and touches,
like those of those he loves, is an image that forms inside his
Furthermore, the fact that such peoples' friends and
family are also perceptions in their minds does not prevent them
being loved. If someone loves his family and friends because of
their corporeal or material existences, then that is in any case
a false love. True love consists in loving someone because of
the features manifested in him by God. For instance, although
we have never seen the Prophet Muhammad, we feel great love and
affection for him because we know that many of the attributes
of God, such as The Supporter (Al-Wali), The Sovereign Lord (Al-Malik),
The Generous One (Al-Karim), The Trustee (Al-Wakil), The Guide
(Al-Hadi) are manifested in him. Yet the only source of this love
we have for the Prophet Muhammad is the love and affection we
feel for his true Lord, God.
Muslims love people, and all other things too, because
of their love of God, and because all of these things are a manifestation
of Him. For instance, a Muslim who loves a young gazelle, does
so because God's compassion and love are manifested in it, because
the lovable qualities God has created in the animal please him,
and its appearance inspires a feeling of compassion in him. He
does not love the animal itself, or any other creature, on its
own as an independent entity.
A Muslim who feels love, affection
and interest in the things God has created, actually feels
these things for God's creation, and the power and art it
contains. He knows that the beauty in a living thing actually
belongs to God.
A Muslim feels no independent love or ties for any
person or thing. The origin of all love is the love of God. One
Koranic verse says, "... besides God, you
have no protector and no helper," and stresses that man
has no other friend than God. (The Koran,
2: 107) Another verse asks, "Is God
not enough for His servant?". (The Koran, 39: 36) That
being the case, those we love cannot be our friends and parents
independently of God. For that reason, the fact that all our family
and friends are perceptions in our mind just reinforces that truth.
When we love our mothers, what we actually love are the qualities
of God that He manifests in her, The Merciful (Ar-Rahim), the
Compassionate (al-Rauf) and the Protector (al-Asim). Alternatively,
when we love a brother believer, we really love the pleasing morality
that God manifests in him. Since we hope that his character and
nature will be pleasing to God, they are also pleasing to us.
Since we see that he loves and fears God, we also take pleasure
in this faithful image that God has created. For that reason,
when we love someone, whether they have a separate physical existence
or not, we are really loving God, and our love and affection for
that image are really love and affection for their true source,
Those people who love others independently of God,
as having an independent existence distinct from Him, are making
a grave error. According to the Koran, love and devotion are only
to be felt for God, and other things are loved for their manifestations
of Him. God has the following to say about those who love people
and ascribe to them an independent existence:
Some people set up equals to God, loving them
as they should love God. But those who believe have greater love
for God. If only you could see those who do wrong at the time
when they see the punishment, and that truly all strength belongs
to God, and that God is severe in punishment. (The Koran, 2: 165)
As it says in the verse, to ascribe to people or things
a force outside the existence of God means to consider them the
equals and partners of God. However, nothing that exists has the
power to do anything or carry out any action apart from God. In
many verses of the Koran, people are warned about ascribing powers
to anything else than God:
Those you call on besides God are servants just
like yourselves. Call on them and let them respond to you if you
are telling the truth. Do they have legs they can walk with? Do
they have hands they can grasp with? Do they have eyes they can
see with? Do they have ears they can hear with? Say: "Call on
your partner-gods and try all your wiles against me and grant
me no reprieve. My Protector is God who sent down the Book. He
takes care of the righteous." Those you call on besides Him are
not capable of helping you. They cannot even help themselves.
If you call them to guidance, they do not hear. You see them looking
at you, yet they do not see. (The Koran, 7: 194-198)
When a Muslim loves someone, he is
actually showing his love for God. The true source
of love for an image that God has created is our
love for God, who creates that image in a form that
we can love.
As is clearly stated in the above verses, it is not
possible for anyone other than God to help anyone else. Not even
a person's parents, children or friends, whose existence he assumes
throughout the course of his life, can actually do anything to
help him. Help from friends and family only happens by the will
and permission of God. It is not even possible for someone to
help himself outside the will of God. It is even impossible for
anyone to walk, see or feel, in short to survive, if that is not
the will of God.
Neither must we forget that things and people, of whose
external existence we can have no idea, but which some people
claim to have physical existence in the external world, will be
taken away from those who make such suggestions in the hereafter.
As the Koran has revealed, everyone will be called to account
all alone. In other words, in the same way that everyone is actually
alone with God in this world, so he will be called to account
in the same way after death. God states this in a verse;
You have come to Us all alone just as We created
you at first, leaving behind you everything We bestowed on you.
We do not see your intercessors accompanying you, those you claimed
were your partners with God. The link between you is cut. Those
you made such claims for have forsaken you. (The Koran, 6: 94)
When looking at a friend, for instance, everyone sees
the image of a friend that God creates in his mind. If the nerves
to his brain are cut, the image of his friend will disappear.
It is only God who is Living and Eternal. So how, in that case,
can anyone be attached to anything, the original of which he can
never establish contact with, and which only exists in his mind?
It must not be forgotten that it is only God whom a person must
love and submit to.
Objection: "A person wants his
loved ones to be as real and permanent as he is."
Reply: Some of those who
object to this matter say: "A person wants his friends to be as
real and permanent as he is. How can they be any different?"
Such statements show that these people have not understood
what we have been saying about the true nature of matter, or else
have not thought deeply enough about it. People who say such things
are not "real and permanent" as they believe themselves to be,
so they cannot expect their loved ones to be real and permanent.
When one considers the matter, a person will understand that his
own body is merely an image that God shows to his soul.
It is possible to create a feeling of
fullness with artificial signals from outside the human brain.
These can make someone feel full, even if he has not eaten
When some people feel their bodies, feel pain when
they cut their fingers, or meet some of their bodies' physical
needs, this may give them the feeling that their bodies have a
true physical existence. However, a person's own body is actually
a perception, just like everything else, and nobody can ever know
whether his body has a physical counterpart outside his perception
of it. For example, the pain when one cuts one's finger is again
a perception. So is the feeling of fullness one enjoys after eating
something. Artificial signals from outside the human body can
also produce the same feelings. However, nobody can ever be sure
of his own body's physical existence. It is the soul that God
has given to man that feels pains or understands the words on
a page, for that reason, the individual himself is also a manifestation
of God. These people are not real and permanent, as they would
Objection: "To conclude that
the universe is a collection of perceptions means abandoning enquiry
into how the universe functions, in other words science."
Reply: This is a form
of objection generally put forward by materialists, and is used
to show this subject as opposed to science and intended to negate
it. However, it is clearly false and invalid.
God shows us the images we experience within ourselves
as united by a network of cause and effect relationships, all
linked together by laws. The images that form in our brains of
night and day, for instance. We perceive night and day as being
linked to the Sun and the movement of the Earth. When the image
of the Sun in our minds is at its height, we know that it is noon,
and when the Sun goes down, we witness the fall of night. When
creating perceptions belonging to the universe, God created them
together with a cause and effect relationship. We never experience
daytime after the Sun has gone down. Thus science is the observation
and study of this cause and effect relationship that God has created
in our minds.
Let us consider another example: In the illusion within
our minds, whenever we let a pen go, it falls to the ground. As
a result of research into the cause and effect relationship that
governs these kinds of occurrences, we discover "the law of gravity."
God presents the images he shows us in our minds as linked to
particular causes and laws. One of the reasons for the creation
of these causes and laws is that life is created as a test. Science
is born as a result of research into the order within which these
laws and the collection of perceptions called the "universe" function.
That is why it is very important to study science, the laws that
appear to govern the extraordinary images that God has created.
The rising and setting of the sun
are images that form in peoples' brains. A person watches
the sunset in his mind, and it is his soul that takes pleasure
In conclusion, there is no justification for materialist
claims that accepting the fact that matter is perception means
rejecting science. On the contrary, those who genuinely accept
the fact see science as an important way of understanding this
collection of images, and the secrets within them.
There is a great difference between this conception
of science and that of the materialists. The laws of nature that
we have discovered by observing the totality of images in question
are the laws of God, who created that same totality. The view
of science held by materialists, who think that matter has a real
existence, that the laws of nature stem from matter itself, and
that it is these laws which actually created them, collapses in
the light of this truth.
Neither must we forget that God possesses the power
to create all these perceptions without the need for any cause
or law. For example, God can create a rose without using a seed,
or rain without the need for clouds, or shadow and day and night
without the Sun. God reveals this fact in a verse:
Do you not see how your Lord stretches out shadows?
If He had wished He could have made them stationary. Then We appoint
the sun to be the pointer to them. Then We draw them back to Ourselves
in gradual steps. It is He who made the night a cloak for you
and sleep a rest, and He made the day a time for rising. (The
Koran, 25: 45-47)
God shows the images
He creates as linked to particular causes and effects.
When an apple drops off a tree, for instance, it always
falls to earth, it never goes upwards or remains suspended
in the air. The study of these effects and laws that
God has created form the fields of study in science.
As a result, the fact that the whole universe is a
totality of perceptions does not invalidate or do
away with the need for scientific research.
As we have seen in this verse, God reveals that He
first created shadow, then the Sun as a cause of it. Dreams are
an example that can help us to understand this creation better.
Although our dreams have no material counterpart, we still perceive
the light and warmth of the Sun. From that point of view, dreams
are indications that perceptions of the Sun can be created in
our minds without its actually being there.
However, within this test, God has also provided humans
with a reason for everything. Day is caused by the Sun, and rain
by clouds. All of these are images that God creates individually
in our minds. By creating a cause before an effect, God enables
us to think that everything functions within specific rules, and
thus enables us to carry out scientific enquiry.
God possesses the
power to create effects without any causes. One proof
of this is the way one can feel the heat of the sun
in a dream, even though the sun is not actually there.
Objection: "Is there not a contradiction
between describing the being of God with the proofs of His existence
in nature on the one hand, and saying that the physical world,
put forward as a proof of His existence, does not exist on the
Reply: Some people who
have not fully understood the essence of matter suppose that the
statement "The physical world consists of a collection of perceptions"
means "Nothing exists." However, saying that matter is a totality
of perceptions or an image we perceive in our brains is not the
same as saying that matter does not exist. There is a physical
universe, but it exists only as a totality of perceptions. Just
like our dreams, it exists solely on the perceptual level.
Matter's existence on the perceptual level is very
definite proof of the existence of God. That is because since
nothing that exists on the perceptual level (just like an image)
can possibly create itself, that shows there must be a Creator
who brings it into being. Thus, the fact that the physical universe
is only an image is concrete proof of the existence and oneness
of God. For that reason, there is no contradiction between matter's
being an image and existing things manifesting the existence of
God. Quite the contrary, one is a logical consequence of the other.
Someone looking at
a seal sees it in his brain. He also studies the features
of that creature in his brain. What he learns shows
him the flawlessness of God's creation, and the superiority
of His wisdom.
God has created everything that exists. However, He
has created them all as images. Examining and studying the properties
of these image-objects demonstrates proof of the superiority of
God's creation, His art and His infinite knowledge. As a result,
there is no contradiction between saying that matter is a totality
of perceptions and then studying the properties of these perceptions
and seeing the greatness, and might of God.
It must also be made clear that some people think that
God only exists as long as there exist beings that think about
Him (God is surely beyond that), and as a result of this a grave
error, put forward a number of objections. However, if God wished
He could eliminate all the images that He has created, and destroy
all that exists, yet He would still exist. That is because He
is infinite and timeless. Several verses draw attention to the
fact that God can destroy whatever He wishes at any time:
Mankind! if He wanted, He could
remove you altogether, and produce others instead. God certainly
has the power to do that. (The Koran, 4: 133)
Mankind! you are the poor in
need of God whereas God is the Rich Beyond Need, the Praiseworthy.
If He wills He can dispense with you and bring about a new creation.
That is not difficult for God. (The Koran, 35: 15-17)
It is a very important fact that even if God did destroy
everything that exists, what counts would still be His own existence.
God existed before anything else, and will continue to exist even
if everything else ceases to exist. This is revealed in a verse:
Everyone on it will pass away; but the Face of
your Lord will remain, Master of Majesty and Generosity. (The
Koran, 55: 26-27)
Objection: "If we accept this
account, then there can be no concepts of lawful or unlawful."
Reply: This is a completely unrealistic claim. The fact that we cannot be in direct contact with the physical world does not do away with the secret of the test. Even though we never get to know the original of the matter, what God has said to be forbidden is forbidden, and what is lawful is lawful. For example, God has forbidden the eating of pork. Saying, "I only confront the perception of pork" and then going on to eat it is evidently dishonest and unintelligent. Alternatively, saying "I only know the images of these people in my mind, so it does not matter if I lie to them" is not something that anyone who fears God and has understood what we are discussing could ever do. That applies to all the limits, commands and prohibitions imposed by God. The fact of what we are discussing does not do away with giving alms, for instance. The fact that the alms we give exist in the minds of the people we give them to does not mean we need not perform this obligation. God has created the whole world as a totality of perceptions, however, within these perceptions we are still charged with abiding by what the Koran has revealed.
In the past, some people twisted this truth to try and do away with the concepts of lawful and unlawful. However, they already possessed a twisted belief system, and they may have wanted to use this truth for their own ends. Yet it should be understood that the conclusion they arrived at was incorrect.
In conclusion, anyone who honestly considers the situation will clearly see that, for the purposes of the test which God gives us, it is not necessary to interact with the matter itself. God has created this test within the world of images. There is no basis to the suggestion that one needs to know the original of the matter to pray or distinguish between what is lawful and unlawful. Furthermore, the important thing is the soul. It is the soul that will be punished or rewarded with blessings in the Hereafter. For that reason, the fact that we confront an illusion of matter in our minds does not prevent us doing what is lawful and avoiding what is unlawful or carrying out our religious obligations.
At this point, we need to be clear that those who claim they have no responsibility for images will say, "We thought we were not responsible, that is why we are here," when they are sent to Hell. These people, even though they will understand that Hell is an image, in the same way as this world is, will still suffer its torments forever.
We can never know
whether the color we refer to as green appears the
same to anyone else. For instance, the picture on
this page could be seen differently in two different
brains. One could be seeing green, while the other
sees blue, even though he still calls it green. This
can never be known.
Objection: "Everybody says leaves
are green when they look at a tree. Since everyone describes this
tree in the same way, that means it does not exist in my mind
Reply: What people around
us call green, we also call green. However, is the color they
call green the same green we see in our minds, or do they refer
to what we see as blue, and call it green? There is no way we
can ever know. As we have already seen, there are no colors outside
our mind. There are only different length light waves outside,
and it is our brains which process these into colors. Thus colors
form within us, and no one else can ever see the color we see
in our brains.
This is a subject that has been discussed by many philosophers
and scientists, and the latter have agreed that "We can never
say whether someone else sees the rose which we see as red in
the same way as we do, or whether what we see as blue he refers
to as red." This applies to perceptions, not just colors. Daniel
Dennett, for instance, expresses his thoughts on and interest
in the subject:
Locke discussed it in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding
(1690), and many of my students tell me that as young children
they hit upon the same idea for themselves, and were fascinated
by it. The idea seems to be transparently clear and safe:
"There are the ways things look to me, and sound to
me, and smell to me, and so forth. That much is obvious. I wonder,
though, if the ways things appear to me are the same as the ways
things appear to other people."
We can never know whether two people
who look at red tulips see exactly the same tones
Philosophers have composed many different variations
on this theme, but the classic version is the interpersonal version:
How do I know that you and I see the same subjective color when
we look at something? Since we both learned our color words by
being shown public colored objects, our verbal behavior will match
even if we experience entirely different subjective colors - even
if the way red things look to me is the way green things look
to you, for instance.54
Drew Westen, a professor of psychology from Harvard
University, says that from the scientific point of view we can
never know whether somebody else perceives a rose in the same
way we do:
If perception is a creative, constructive process,
to what extent do people perceive the world in the same way? Does
red appear to one person as it does to another? If one person
loves garlic and another hates it, are the two loving and hating
the same taste, or does garlic have a different taste to each?
The constructive nature of perception raises the equally intriguing
question of whether, or to what extent, people see the world as
it really is. Plato argued that what we perceive is little more
than shadows on the wall of a cave, cast by the movement of an
unseen reality in the dim light. What does it mean to say that
a cup of coffee is hot? And is grass really green? A person who
is color-blind for green, whose visual system lacks the capacity
to discriminate certain wavelengths of light, will not see the
grass as green. Is greenness, then, an attribute of the object
(grass), the perceiver, or some interaction between the observer
and the observed? These are philosophical questions at the heart
of sensation and perception.55
As we see, the fact that we make the same definitions,
or call the colors by the same name, does not mean that we see
the same things. To compare the perceptions of people is absolutely
impossible, because everyone sees a distinct world within his
brain which belongs to him alone. The next objection includes
yet another explanation pertaining to this objection.
Objection: "I am in a garden
with two friends, and the three of us see exactly the same things.
If what we each see in our minds is the same, that means that
there must be originals of these things outside our minds."
Reply: The fact that you
and other people see the same things is no confirmation of the
claim that there is a physical counterpart of what you all see.
That is because you also see your companions in your mind. For
example, when strolling with your friends in a fruit garden, in
the same way that the apples, apricots, colored flowers, the sounds
of the birds, the warm breezes, and the smells of the fruit and
flowers all form in your brain, so do your friends, and the things
you all talk about. In other words, your friends are walking in
the garden you see in your mind, not one in the outside world.
So the fact that your friends see the same things as you does
not mean that there is a physical counterpart of all that you
Someone walking in the country with
his friends is actually doing so with friends in his
mind, and smelling the fresh air in his mind. Three
people looking at flowers in the countryside form
three different images of them. This cannot be shown
as proof that the originals of those images of flowers
When you watch a match in a stadium full of people,
the fact that thousands of people see a goal being scored at the
same time and react to it at the same moment is no proof of the
physical existence of the stadium, the players, the referee nor
the thousands of people in the stands. The players, fans, cheering
and everything else you see there all take place inside your brain.
The player who scores a goal and the fans who rejoice at it are
all inside you. You rejoice at a goal scored in your mind, and
clap and cheer with the crowd in your brain. In conclusion, the
fact that the people you see alongside you confirm what you see
does not mean that what you see has any physical counterpart in
the external world. No matter what their number is, the people
you say are "right beside" you, are actually in your brain.
A STADIUM FULL OF
FANS EACH WATCHING A DIFFERENT MATCH IN THEIR BRAINS
Someone who enters a stadium to watch
a match thinks that he is watching the same game as everyone
else, but he is completely wrong.That is because a different
pitch, players, fans and everything else form a different
image in the brain of everyone there. However, all the thousands
of people there think that there is only one match, and
that everybody is watching it. Even those watching at home
think they are seeing the same game.
However the same number of images form as there are spectators,
and nobody can distinguish between his own image and the
reality. Neither the fans in the stadium, nor those sitting
in front of their screens at home can see the true image.
That is because nobody can step outside the screen in his
brain and make direct contact with what is outside it. All
that these people can see is the information that reaches
the screens in their brains. What sees it all is the soul.
It is the Lord of the Heavens and the Earth, God, who creates
the soul, and the images which so resemble the reality for
every human being individually.
Objection: "We perceive the external
world as it actually is so there isn't any abnormality in our
behavior. For instance, when we come to a cliff, we stop instead
of keeping on and walking over the edge."
Reply: This objection
shows that the questioner is seriously confused, and has not understood
what is being said. That is because the objection rests on the
following claim: "There is a physical world out there. However,
everybody sees that world differently in his own mind." This person
thinks that such a claim is being made, and goes on to object
to it, thinking that he disproves the claim by saying: "There
is a material reality out there, and we see it as it is. Nobody
sees it any differently. The proof of this is that when there
is a cliff edge out there we see it as such, and stop walking."
However, the fact under discussion here is very different
from what that person supposes. One case says, "There is an outside
world, but we see this world differently from how it truly is."
The other says, "We perceive all that we experience in our minds,
and we can never make direct contact with any sort of original
independent entity. For that reason we can never know whether
these originals exist in the external world, or not."
The fact that we do not walk over the edge of a cliff
does not mean that we see the external world as it really is.
When we walk along a straight path and then stop at the cliff
edge, we are walking along a path in our brain, and see the cliff
edge in our brain. In fact, even if we do fall off the edge of
the cliff, we still perceive doing so in our brains. That happens
in exactly the same way as when a bus hits us, or a dog bites
us, as we have seen above. When we fall off the cliff, the pain
of any injuries or broken bones we suffer still forms in our brains.
Objection: "There is no doubt
that God shows us these images in order to test us. However, why
should God, the creator of all actions, bring about such a test?"
Reply: Naturally, God
has no need to test people to see their attitudes, since it is
our Lord who has created all events, times and places. God is
not constrained by time and place. What for us are the past and
future have been lived and come to an end in an instant in His
sight. However, God allows us to experience these tests and causes
so that people should witness their own attitudes and understand
why they go to heaven or hell. Someone who knows that God is his
friend-that He is infinitely just, compassionate and loving- will
accept this creation of His.
God shows us things that have already happened in His
sight. He gives people the feeling that they are doing these actions
themselves, of their own free will. Within that feeling, He announces
by means of the Koran that we are responsible for everything He
reveals. That responsibility is to obey all of our Lord's commands.
We can learn beyond this only if God wills. If He wishes, God
can reveal this secret and wisdom to us either in the world or
in the hereafter. Or if He wishes, never at all. As stated in
a verse, 'they cannot grasp any of His knowledge
save what He wills'. (The Koran, 2: 255) Whatever happens,
God is our Lord and Protector. It is therefore our duty to trust
in Him, who gives us so many blessings, and to be pleased with
everything He creates.
Some people in the past have grasped the truth about
the essence of matter, yet because their faith in God and their
understanding of the Koran have been weak, they have produced
deviant ideas. Some have said, "Everything is an illusion, so
there is no point in worship." Such ideas are twisted and ignorant.
It is true that everything is an image presented to us by God.
However, it is also true that God charges us to abide by the Koran.
What we have to do is to carefully abide by His commands and prohibitions.
In the Koran, God reveals that He has provided very
little information about the soul. God has created this image
of a test for a certain cause:
We will test you with a certain
amount of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and life and fruits.
But give good news to the steadfast. (The Koran, 2: 155)
You will be tested in your wealth
and in yourselves and you will hear many abusive words from those
given the Book before you and from those who associate others
with God. But if you are steadfast and do your duty, that is the
most resolute course to take. (The Koran, 3: 186)
There is considerable wisdom within this test. One
of these is that we are tested and then sent to heaven or hell
for all eternity as a result. Further wisdom could lie in the
way people can witness what they do throughout their lives, and
see why the morality by which they have lived should lead them
to heaven or hell at the Day of Judgment. But God knows best.
All we can do is to pray that He will reveal His knowledge to
Objection: "From what we have
seen so far, our perception will continue even after death. Will
that last forever? Are heaven and hell nothing but totalities
Reply: God has created
the people in such a way that we can only perceive the world by
means of images presented to our souls. In other words, we can
still see the images presented to us, whether there is a real
physical world out there or not. However, after death God will
create the individual in a different manner, although we can never
know what that is.
Nevertheless, the fact that heaven and hell are experienced
as perceptions does not in the least detract from the pleasure
received from the former, nor the suffering from the latter. In
the same way that someone in this world feels pain when he burns
his hand, so he will also feel the reality of this perception
in the hereafter. As has already been mentioned, feelings such
as pain are also perceived in the brain. However, this perception,
which everybody experiences, has been created to be exceedingly
realistic, just like all our other perceptions. People can even
faint from the violence of the pain they feel. In the same way,
some images can cause people intense discomfort, even though they
are created as perceptions in our minds. For instance, an unpleasant
sight or sound, or a bad smell can cause great discomfort. The
fact these are perceived in the brain changes nothing. Therefore,
even though hell will be presented to the soul as a perception,
that fact does nothing to lighten the torment that will be experienced
there. In the same way that God creates the life of this world
to be so clear and convincing that people assume it to be "a definite
fact," He has the power to do exactly the same thing in the hereafter.
God reveals in several verses that the torments of hell are quite
... My punishment is the Painful
Punishment. (The Koran, 15: 50)
We will make those who disbelieve
suffer a severe punishment and repay them for the worst of what
they did. That is the repayment of the enemies of God - the Fire.
They will have it for their Eternal Home as repayment for their
renunciation of Our Signs. (The Koran, 41: 27-28)
The same thing applies to heaven. Everything a person
enjoys or which gives him pleasure is a perception that forms
in his mind. Someone enjoying a conversation with his best friend,
for instance, is in reality doing so in his mind. Or someone enjoying
the magnificent sight of a waterfall, and listening to the roaring
of the water, is actually seeing sights and hearing sounds in
his mind. There is no question about that. Yet that does not stop
him enjoying that image. That is why God reveals in the Koran
that heaven represents supreme achievement for people, and that
it contains everything their souls will take pleasure from:
But those who heed their Lord
will have Gardens with rivers flowing under them, remaining in
them timelessly, for ever: hospitality from God. What is with
God is better for those who are truly good. (The Koran, 3: 198)
Their Lord gives them the good
news of His mercy and good pleasure and Gardens where they will
enjoy everlasting delight, remaining in them timelessly, for ever
and ever. Truly there is an immense reward with God. (The Koran,
As for him whose balance is heavy, he will have
a most pleasant life. (The Koran, 101: 6-7)
Furthermore, someone who knows that it is God who allows
him to see these delightful images will take even greater pleasure
from the fact. For example, someone who picks an apple from a
tree, with its lovely smell and pleasing appearance, and thinks
of God who has created that smell and appearance for him, will
enjoy that image even more than other people. God will prepare
different images of heaven for each believer, and the best examples
of whatever a believer's soul craves will be given to him there.
In this world and in the hereafter, a person's only friend, protector
and creator is God. All the prophets, apostles, devout believers,
houris and others that he will see with him in heaven are beings
that form the clearest manifestation of God's friendship, love
It is quite evident that God allows us to receive this
totality of perceptions throughout our lives. An honest person
who realizes this can feel no doubt about His justice, flawless
creation, and that He creates the best and most beautiful of everything.
God will also create heaven and hell as perceptions. Yet that
fact does not change the promises God makes in the Koran. While
a person is offered the greatest joys and pleasures for all eternity
in heaven, the terrible suffering in hell will also last for all
eternity. God's creation is flawless, and He keeps His promises.
Those are people from whom We accept the best
of what they have done and pass over their evil deeds. They are
among the Companions of the Garden, in fulfillment of the true
promise made to them. (The Koran, 46: 16)
As verses make clear, heaven exists at this very moment
in the sight of God. He has created heaven and hell, and both
of them exist, in time and form, in His sight.
Objection: "Can we never directly
experience absolute existence? I am uneasy at knowing that I exist
only in a world of perceptions."
Reply: Only God exists
absolutely. Whatever else we see is a manifestation of God. People
generally assume that they and others do physically exist, and
that God permeates them, a bit like radio waves. (Allah is surely
beyond that) Yet the truth is the exact opposite of that. In other
words it is only God who exists. We must not be deceived by the
fact that we cannot directly see His Being. Wherever anyone turns,
whoever he looks at, whatever he is actually seeing is the manifestations
Furthermore, far from making someone uneasy, this fact
should give even greater happiness to anyone who believes in God.
It is a great honor that God is all that exists and that we, His
servants, are illusions. That fact is cause for rejoicing. It
multiplies the awe we feel for our Lord, and our submission to
His infinite might.
GOD WILL CREATE HEAVEN AS
A SOURCE OF UNENDING PLEASURE
It is also an important statement that people will
naturally be freed from their worldly desires, and that will allow
them to worship God without attributing any partners to Him. That
is because saying "Something else must exist besides God," is
actually attributing an equal to Him, and claiming that there
is another power outside that of God. However, that can never
be the case with a true believer. Such a person has no fear of
anything but God. When he comes by any strength or power, he knows
that these really belong to God. When a doctor finds a cure for
his sickness, he praises God as the One who has really supplied
the cure. He knows that the doctor is just an agent for the cure
God has caused to come about.
God always creates the most beautiful and best of everything.
That fact must never be forgotten. In one verse, God reveals:
Return to your Lord, well-pleasing and well-pleased!
(The Koran, 89: 28)
A person must always be content with every event that
God creates. In that case it can be clearly understood how this
truth we are discussing can bring people closer to God. What is
more, when the Koran is read again with this truth in mind, the
wisdom in many of the verses can be more readily appreciated.
It is true, however, that someone who does not believe
in God, who is trapped by his worldly desires, who has no hope
of the hereafter, and who holds materialist views, could be made
terribly uneasy by this situation. It is truly disappointing and
crushing for such people to understand that all the things they
desire, all the people they assume to have absolute existence,
are really just illusions. When they understand the truth, they
will see that they have spent all their lives chasing illusions,
and wearing themselves out in vain with their desires. They will
see that they wasted their energies in denying the truth. They
will be truly saddened by that, and even humiliated.
They will also suffer grave disappointment in the hereafter
from assuming that all such illusions were truly real.
Those are the people who have lost their own
selves. What they invented has abandoned them. Without question
they will be the greatest losers in the hereafter. (The Koran,
Yet, the fact that everything is an illusion, that
God is all that truly exists, is a source of great joy to anyone
who accepts God as his only friend and protector, and who genuinely
Objection: "Is the end of this
world of perception nothingness? Can people remain in that nothingness?"
Reply: One of the things
that prevent people from thinking about this subject is that they
are frightened of remaining in complete nothingness. When they
consider the implications of this, they realize that what they
think they touch is actually nothing at all. However, nothing
apart from the will of God can remove any of the causes that He
has created to test us in this world. These causes will continue
to be created until the moment of our death.
We will continue to undergo such tests as feeling the
hardness of a table, seeing our blood when we cut our hand, pain,
suffering, fear and sickness. The fact that we live in a world
of nothing but perceptions will not do away with our close connection
to such causes. Even when we die, there will still not be nothingness.
As God has revealed in the Koran, we will begin a new life of
different dimensions and causes. There is no reason to think that
we will end up in nothingness. Since God has created human beings
in this environment which tests us, He will continue to provide
us with perceptions. That is in fact what He reveals in the Koran.
When our perceptions in this world cease, perceptions of the hereafter
will start, and we will never feel ourselves to be in nothingness.
Objection: "Can someone who understands
that everything is an illusion continue to be tested in this world?"
Reply: This is a very
important subject. Some people suggest that the test will come
to an end when this truth is finally understood. However, that
is a dishonest idea. As we have already seen in other replies,
the test will continue as long as we live.
Even though God causes us to live in this world of
perceptions, He also links the world to all its many causes and
effects. For instance, when we are hungry we eat something. We
do not say, "It is all an illusion, so it does not matter." If
we do not eat, we grow weak and eventually die. God can remove
these causes and effects whenever He wishes, for whoever He wishes,
by whatever means He wishes. We can never know when or why He
will do this. However, this is a most important truth: God charges
us with abiding by the whole of the Koran, and we continue to
live in the sphere of causes in order to abide by the divine commandments
in it. For example, God commands people to do good and avoid evil.
He orders defenseless women and children to be spared cruelty
and suffering. In the Koran God asks "Why are you not fighting
in their name?" It would be completely wrong and dishonest to
adopt an attitude rejecting these responsibilities that God has
placed on our shoulders.
On the contrary, someone who is aware that it is God
who shows him everything that goes on will feel an enormous obligation
in response to every image he sees. Unlike many people, he will
always try to support good and prevent evil. That responsibility
can never be passed on to others, and no excuses to the effect
of "Let someone else do a bit, I've done all I can" are acceptable.
Someone who knows the true facts of the situation will say, "If
God is showing me this image, then He wants me to find a solution,
and I am responsible for doing so."
In conclusion, everyone must do all he can to carry
out the responsibilities laid on his shoulders in the Koran. Knowing
the true nature of matter -and coming by a view of the world in
accordance with that nature- further strengthens all our efforts
to gain God's good pleasure, and increases our determination many
Objection: "Is it really true
that God is everywhere? Does His sovereignty not lie in the heavens?"
Reply: The great majority
of people believe in the existence of themselves, matter, and
the world they see around them. They think of God as an illusion
that somehow surrounds this existing matter. (God is surely beyond
that) Or, since they cannot see God with their own eyes, they
say "God must be somewhere we cannot see, in space, or somewhere
far away in the sky." That is an enormous mistake.
God is everywhere, not just in the heavens. As the
only thing that truly exists, God permeates all the universe,
all people, and all places. Wherever you turn, the face of God
is there. It is wrong according to the Koran to say that God's
sovereignty lies only in the heavens, because He is everywhere.
As we have seen in earlier sections, it has been revealed in several
verses of the Koran that God is everywhere, closer to us than
our own bodies, and that wherever we turn we see the face of God.
For instance, He says "... His Footstool
encompasses the heavens and the earth..." (The Koran, 2: 255)
Another verse stresses that there is no doubt that the
Lord encircles all that people do:
"... But my Lord encompasses everything that
you do! " (The Koran, 11: 92)
As is revealed in the Koran, God is not solely in the
heavens. God is everywhere. This truth has been given us by means
of the Koran.
The explanation of the secret behind matter will enable
people to understand these verses better. Those people who see
that matter has no absolute existence will understand that God
is everywhere, that He sees and hears them every moment, that
He witnesses everything and is closer to them than their own bodies,
and that He hears every prayer offered to Him.
Conclusion: Hell Is The Home Of Argument
In the Koran, God draws attention to human beings'
argumentative natures, "We have variegated
throughout this Koran all kinds of examples for people, but, more
than anything else, man is argumentative!" (The Koran, 18: 54)
Most people pretend not to understand the simplest truths,
no matter how clear they are, especially if they think these truths
conflict with their own interests. They go into unnecessary detail,
ask pointless questions that can never lead to any definitive
conclusion, and reveal an argumentative nature. On account of
that character trait, most people throughout history have argued
with all the prophets and messengers chosen by God, and put forward
unrealistic arguments to oppose the clear truth that has been
given to them. The aim behind this opposition was not a genuine
desire to learn the truth, but rather a wish to make difficulties
so they could ignore it.
We must exclude here those people who ask questions
out of a genuine desire to learn the truth, consider and understand
it. Of course it is totally reasonable and necessary to ask questions
about this very important subject, and to refer to those who know
more about it, since most people will have come across it for
the first time in their lives and it will completely change their
ways of looking at the world. It is also evident that people who
ask questions out of a genuine desire to understand are different
from those who are simply argumentative and skeptical and lack
all understanding. The people we are talking about here are those
who refuse to see the truth, and who have grown used to argument
THOSE WHO REFUSE THE TRUTH
WILL CONTINUE TO ARGUE IN THE PAINS OF HELL FOREVER
God describes the state of mind of such argumentative
types in a verse:
They retort, "Who is better then, our gods or
him?" They only say this to you for argument's sake. They are
indeed a disputatious people. (The Koran, 43: 58)
One of the examples of stubborn and argumentative people
given in the Koran is Pharoah. Although the prophet Moses explained
the whole truth to him quite clearly, he asked a question that
had nothing to do with what the prophet had been saying, the answer
to which could not possibly do him any good. This is the question
he asked the Prophet Moses when told about the existence of God:
He said, "What about the previous generations?"
(The Koran, 20: 51)
It is evident that Pharaoh only asked the question
to start an argument. There was no sincere desire to learn in
it, and he thought in his own feeble mind that the Prophet Moses
would have no answer. However, the prophet immediately understood
why he asked it, and gave him a clear reply:
He said, "Knowledge of them is with my Lord in
a Book. My Lord does not misplace nor does He forget." (The Koran,
Naturally, argumentative and denying natures are not
restricted to Pharaoh and similar types who lived in the past.
A large part of people today are always ready to start an argument
about subjects that clash with their own interests, and particularly
about religion. They do not really want to understand a subject
that is perfectly obvious if approached with a measure of honesty.
This is immediately clear from their attitudes and the questions
they ask. Subjects such as destiny and the nature of matter in
particular, such as we have been considering in this book, are
some that people most often try to ignore. For that reason, questions
asked about these subjects are often inspired by a wish to convince
themselves such things are not true, rather than a sincere inquiry
into the truth. For instance, those who ask, "If everything is
an image, what is the purpose of carrying out our religious duties?"
cannot realize what a meaningless question that is. The only reason
they suggest the fact that man is created as an image should stop
him praying, or the fact that food is an image should stop some
things from being unlawful, is simply to raise an objection, without
thinking about the matter at all. Their sole aim, which lacks
any logic, is to refuse to accept the truth.
Believers, however, immediately accept the truth when
they see it, and abide by it. They say, "We have heard and obeyed,"
as the Koran puts it. When argumentative types ask them questions,
they give clear replies without getting drawn into polemics. God
has revealed that believers give this kind of reply when questioned
by those who want to have an argument:
Say, "Do you argue with us about God when He
is our Lord and your Lord? We have our actions and you have your
actions. We act for Him alone." (The Koran, 2: 139)
Those who argue with true believers, who refuse to
understand that God is all that truly exists and that they themselves
actually belong to God, thus rejecting obvious truths, and who
question the existence of heaven and hell, the compassion of God,
and His justice with illogical questions must understand the following:
They will continue these arguments for all eternity in hell. Koranic
verses describe hell as a place of eternal argument and conflict:
Arguing in it with one another,
they will say, "By God, we were plainly misguided" (The Koran,
When they are squabbling with
one another in the Fire, the weak will say to those deemed great,
"We were your followers, so why do you not relieve us of a portion
of the Fire?" Those deemed great will say, "All of us are in it.
God has clearly judged between His servants." (The Koran, 40:
As we have seen in the above verses, the deniers will
continue to argue even in the flames of hell. Another verse deals
with those who try to provoke believers, and cites their words:
They will say, "Our Lord, give him who brought
this on us double the punishment in the Fire!" They will say,
"How is it that we do not see some men whom we used to count among
the worst of people? Did we turn them into figures of fun? Did
our eyes disdain to look at them?" All this is certainly true
- the bickering of the people of the Fire. (The Koran, 38: 61-64)
The souls in hell will still continue to argue in those
dark and narrow places, under the iron cudgels and the boiling
water poured over them, as their skins melt from the heat of the
flames. The pointless debates will go on forever, and they will
keep asking each other why they are suffering these torments.
They will continue to fall out over God and the believers:
Here are two rival groups who disputed concerning
their Lord. Those who disbelieve will have garments of fire cut
out for them, and boiling water poured over their heads, which
will melt the contents of their bellies as well as their skin,
and they will be beaten with cudgels made of iron. Every time
they want to come out of it, because of their suffering, they
will be driven back into it: "Taste the punishment of the Burning!"
(The Koran, 22: 19-22)
However, they will never be able to come to any conclusion
from these debates. Those who argued over the truth in this world,
and thus ignored it, will continue arguing in the pains of hell,
in great sorrow, which will never cease.
The continuation of this debate among the companions
of hell is a sign that not even when they see the fires of hell
will those who do not believe come to understand the truth of
what they are talking about. They will continue to deny, even
among the torments of hell:
Those in the Fire will say to the custodians
of Hell, "Call on your Lord to make the punishment less for us
for just one day." They will ask, "Did your Messengers not bring
you the Clear Signs?" They will answer, "Yes." They will say,
"Then you call!" But the calling of the disbelievers only goes
astray. (The Koran, 40: 49-50)
It is clear that explanations and reminders given these
people will be of no benefit, since they will continue to refuse
to call on to their Lord even in the fires of hell and to be swollen
with pride. No matter how many examples are given them, no matter
how much proof, they still will not understand. God reveals how
some people will never believe in another verse:
They have sworn by God with their most earnest
oaths that if a Sign comes to them they will believe in it. Say:
"The Signs are in God's control alone." What will make you realize
that even if a Sign did come, they would still not believe? (The
Koran, 6: 109)
For that reason, we must not be surprised if some people
refuse to accept the truth of what we have been discussing here,
no matter how clear and evident it is. Their stubbornness in the
face of the truth is actually a revelation from God.