By Hazrat Maulana Abdul Hamid Is`haq Saheb (Daamat Barakaatuhum)
The age-old adage: ‘Seeing is believing and hearing is deceiving,’ is known to most of us, and it is also used in our speech, but without much thought and reflection.
However, on deliberating the message in these words, we come to understand that these words conflict and contradict the essential teachings of Imaan and Islam.
As Muslims, we understand that our Imaan (faith) is in the unseen. Our belief is without seeing.
“Who believe in the Unseen…"
[Surah Baqarah 2 : 2]
In spite of this belief, the observation is that what we see of things happening about us are due to the causes of the material world. People generally go by the principle of ‘cause and effect’. For example, a person takes medication (cause) and his health improves (effect). We see that he got better by taking medication, but we hear that it is Allah Ta’ala who gives cure. Our belief is thus on what we hear from Qur`aan and Ahaadeeth.
“And when I become sick, He heals me.”
[Surah Ash-Shu’ara 26 : 80]
We find that the indoctrination of ‘cause and effect’ also substantiates the belief that seeing is believing – based on what is material, physical, visible, measurable or in solid form. This is what is firm in the minds of people. And as a result, we find that what is found in the Qur`aan and Sunnah is disregarded and flouted, because Deen is based on the Unseen. Doubt is created in respect to what we hear from our elders, about Deen, because it is not what we see with our physical eye.
Since we only ‘hear’, and we do not ‘see’, many look upon different Islamic teachings as deceiving (Na uzu Billahi min zaalik). Why? …Because the concept of ‘cause and effect’, and ‘seeing is believing’, does not serve as a basis.
Even though not a water tight principle, the truth is that hearing is believing and seeing is sometimes deceiving.
When Hazrat Moosa (AS) led the Bani Isra’eel away from Fir`aun, they reached the Red Sea. Before them was the deep blue sea and behind them was Fir’aun and his army.
As is commonly said in English, and which holds so true in this instance: They were ‘sandwiched’ between the devil and the deep blue sea. At this point in time, the Bani Isra’eel saw their total destruction.
And when the two companies saw one another, the companions of Moosa said, "Indeed, we are to be overtaken!"
[Surah Ash-Shu`ara 26 : 61]
They saw the water to be their destruction, but they heard from Hazrat Moosa (AS) that that was to be their salvation.
[Moosa] said, "No! Indeed, with me is my Lord; He will guide me."
[Surah Ash-Shu`ara 26 : 62]
Allah (Jalla Jalaaluhu) commanded Hazrat Moosa (AS) to strike the water of the sea, with his ‘asaa (staff).
Then We inspired Moosa, "Strike with your staff the sea," and it parted, and each portion was like a great towering mountain.
[Surah Ash-Shu`ara 26 : 63]
What they saw to be their destruction immediately changed to their salvation. When Hazrat Moosa (AS) struck the waters of the sea with his staff, the waters parted, providing dry pathways for the Bani Isra’eel to cross in safety.
"And We saved Moosa and those with him, all together."
[Surah Ash-Shu`ara 26 : 65]
Fir’aun, on the other hand, saw the water as his salvation : He claimed that the water flowed by his command and in turn, irrigated their lands and provided drinking water for them. However, that very water was his destruction.
We read that Fir`aun pursued the Bani Isra`eel into the sea. When he and his army were in the middle of the sea, the waters suddenly closed around him and his men, drowning them all.
This was what was heard : that Allah (Jalla Jalaluhu) would destroy him if he did not bring Imaan. But it was not believed and that disbelief sealed his fate.
"Then We drowned the others."
[Surah Ash-Shu`ara 26 : 66]
A Muslim should have the firm and grounded belief that ‘Hearing is Believing’ – that is, hearing and believing in the words of Allah Ta’ala and His Rasul (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). This is our salvation and our success – in both worlds.
"The only statement of the [true] believers when they are called to Allah and His Messenger to judge between them is that they say, "We hear and we obey."
And those are the successful."
[Surah An-Noor 24 : 51]