As human beings make progress in the investigation of the nature of reality, we came to the conclusion that the physical world is not all there is. Beyond our naked eye, there is the world of the atom. Or so we first thought. Now we know of the quantum world of sub atomic particles and it is difficult to tell if we’re really at the level of basic building blocks of reality yet even. So much for the physical world. The metaphysical world is even more difficult to formulate. Since the beginning of philosophy itself, humankind has strived to understand what is beyond the physical world. Time, existence, god – these are all subjects of metaphysical investigations.
Quran does not have a metaphysical treatise in the format of Aristotle’s Metaphysics, the classical text on the subject. Being a student of philosophy, I had personally wondered the reason behind this. I believe Quran has the discourse after comparing it with many philosophical works, yet it does not have a systematic treatise for metaphysics. I believe the reason is as follows – rather than give speculative statements about the metaphysics (the way Aristotle’s Metaphysics does), Quran proposes an access point to the metaphysical field itself. This is what I call ‘taghayyub’ (denoting entry into the ‘ghayb’ or unseen).
Taghayyub is not a conceptual process, meaning it does not take place on paper. Rather it is about tapping into existence itself. Taghayyub may be seen as a means of communicating with the Divine. This communication is activated by simply switching on one’s awareness. We may begin to understand Quran’s system of communication by the studying the word ‘aya’ (signs). Signs appear in our horizon and in our selves and confirm that Quran in its correct understanding is the truth (Chapter 41 Verse 53). This process of enlightenment leads to what is known as the meeting with Allah mentioned in the very next verse (41/54).
Another example of the meeting with Allah which is linked with the Quran is in 10/15. Taghayyub comes with rehearsal or reflection of clarifying signs. These signs will be acceptable to those who are inclined to the meeting with their lord. This is when the entry into the metaphysics happens. 10/17 tells us that the deconfirming of these signs (i.e stopping them from developing further or takdheeb) is an act of oppression. This is effectively stopping taghayyub from taking place.
What actually happens with taghayyub? A good example of this is probably with the story of musa. Musa first achieves a spiritual awareness when he approaches the fire and hears the call of Allah (an example is 20/9 onwards). This was his taghayyub. However it did not end there. His next step was to challenge the oppression of firaun. This is when his communication continues and he experiences signs and inspiration. This culminates in the destruction of firaun when musa called Allah for aid and achieves victory (10/88-92). This shows a metaphysical ‘critical mass’ after which Allah personally intervenes.
This sequence of events can be formulated in Ch 110 (An-Nasr), one of the shortest chapters in Quran. 110/1-2, speaks about the coming of the ultimate form of aid, nasrullah (the help of Allah). This opens the door to the system of peace and justice into which people enter. This is the relationship between the metaphysical (help of Allah) and the physical (people entering the system) which is bridged by the ‘opening’ (al-fath). 110/3 then links this process with action (tasbeeh bil hamd wa astaghfir – working in harmony with the universe and seeking the divine protection). The tasbeeh program can also be linked with a whole block of chapters, 57-66.
In essence, Quran presents a doorway into the metaphysics. This is the process of taghayyub. Engaging in this process will give us a direct interaction with Allah. In the next part of this essay, we will analyse the opposite process, tagharrrur which is an obfuscation of this reality.