And with Him are the keys of the unseen….

“And with Him are the keys of the unseen.” (Qur’an 6:59)

The use of unseen in the Qur’an includes vast domains of hidden reality, of worlds beyond the limits of our knowledge, of existences and creations outside the boundaries of our perception, of whole vast realms that are concealed and demarcated so as to deny us awareness and access to them while we are in this corporeal domain.

Yet it also refers to what is locked up within us, sitting patiently inside, waiting for us to do what is necessary to be able to witness it, acknowledge it, and benefit from it. It is that which is part of our metaphysical nature, a range of subtle and hidden potentials. There is a whole unseen universe internal to us of which we are unaware, from which we are blocked by the heaviness of our outlook, and our overwhelming immersion in the mundane world of matter and the suffocating and disturbing views disseminated by a modern humanity that thrives on rejection of connection to what is unseen (or outright denial of the unseen) and therefore to all that lies beyond the limits of the mundane.

Perhaps we have some faint level of awareness of this or perhaps a crisis of the moment, personal to us, or on the stage of the world awakens us to the reality of the dangers of the systems that have taken hold of society and of us. But when a crisis arises, what direction do we take our response? Is it only a worldly response or does it lead us to a deeper response, a deeper seeking from which a stronger, comprehensive rejoinder within ourselves and within the world, arises.

“Soon shall We show them Our Signs on the horizons and within their own inner being (within the depths of their own souls) until it becomes clear to them that it is the Truth. Is it not sufficient that your Lord is a witness over everything.” (Qur’an 41:53)

It is the inner state, and a deep caring about our inner state that allows us to slowly turn the key. “Or are there locks upon their hearts….” (Qur’an 47:24). The keys to an unseen knowledge within us are with Him and He allows unlocking it as He Wills for whom He Wills. But there is a method to this unlocking, this opening of the treasures He has placed within us.

“Through hearts He unlocks guidance; through concern, through care, through (what proceeds from) tongues, through (truthful) narratives; and through limbs (and what they do), through (beautiful) conduct, and an indication (of truthfulness and deep devotion).” (Jafar Sadiq (a.s) commenting on the verse “And with Him are the keys of the unseen”)

Our dwelling in this world is temporary and our return to the One is assured. So our concern, in the matter of our selves and in the matters of the world, should be infused with awareness of that return and with cognizance that we will be asked about all that proceeded from us and all that is within us.

Our care should be turned towards awareness of the gravity of the consequences that can emerge from our thoughts, words, and actions, since they all have reverberations, not only in affecting our internal states but also in affecting all that we outwardly interact with. Our inner state will guide our outward state. So we seek protection of our hearts, through Him, from turning towards concerns, cares, and actions, that are not suited to the dignity and beauty of the Truth. For that would be like breaking the key (given freely to us) within the lock so that we bar our own way to opening that which He has shown us the way to open.

“Is the one who was lifeless, whom we then enlivened, and to whom We gave a light whereby they walk (in truthfulness) among humanity, like those who have shrouded themselves in the darkness of profound wrongdoing (from which they refuse to emerge). And so We have placed in every society the most wicked to conspire in it. Yet they only plot against themselves, but they utterly fail to perceive it” (Qur’an 6:122-123)

We are lifeless when we refuse to even begin to approach and open the locks that guard and protect what is most deeply human (insan) within our hearts, that part of us connected to something profoundly elevated beyond this mundane existence. We are enlivened when we turn the key and open the locks and begin to transform our inner selves. Our selves transcend this world even as we dwell in it. We have a connection to higher realms, to a sublime domain in which our spiritual state manifests and registers its traces even while that inner state is hidden, unseen within us in this lower existence.

The keys are with Him, and He gives them to those who not only seek His guidance but who incorporate that guidance through their concern, care, love for the truth, through what passes in their thoughts, through what passes over their tongues, through striving to establish a firm and deep beauty within themselves and a beautiful but firm and sincere conduct outwardly. A sincere conviction and conduct that arises from a true attachment to that which is higher than this world and all-encompassing of this world. And a determination to turn the key that opens forever the obstructive locks upon our hearts so that we remove the cause of our own oppression and become uplifters of humanity.

“They are the ones to attain felicity.” (Qur’an 3:104)

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