How can we establish the existence of the invisible beings?
Since our sensory powers are limited, it is not wise to deny outright the
existence of realms beyond our senses. Also, we know so little about existence
that what we do know is considerably less than what we do not. Our sciences
are still in their “childhood,” and the future will witness dazzling scientific
discoveries and developments.
Sciences are supported by theories and develop through trial-and-error investigation
of those theories. Numerous “established” facts were once considered false,
and many other “established” facts are now known to be incorrect. We accept
unquestionably, and without any scientific basis, the existence of many things.
Since the beginning of time, most people have believed in the existence of the
spirit and angels, jinn and Satan. So, it would seem to be more scientific to
allow their existence in theory and then investigate it. Denying their existence
is unscientific, insofar as such a judgment or conclusion must be based on concrete
proof. No one can prove and therefore scientifically claim the non-existence
of the invisible realm of existence.
Many physical qualities, such as heat and cold, and such abstract qualities
as beauty and charm, and feelings of joy, sorrow, and love, can be experienced
directly and measured to some degree. Materialists attribute these to some biochemical
processes in the brain, and some scientists (like psychologists and psychiatrists)
still try to explain them by natural or physical laws. However, our
side (namely, our feelings, beliefs, potentialities, desires, and so on that
vary enormously from individual to individual, although everyone has the same
material elements) is too profound to be explained by physics, chemistry, or
biology. Believers can (and do) observe that the stronger their belief, the
deeper and more regular their worship; and the higher their morality, the more
radiant and lovable their faces appear to be. Can this fact be explained in
merely physical terms?
The existence of the angels and other spiritual beings is as evident as the
existence of human beings and animals
It can be argued that the existence of the angels and other spiritual beings
is as evident as the existence of man and animals. Reality and universal wisdom
require that the heavens should have conscious inhabitants of their own as does
the earth. These inhabitants of many different kinds are called ‘angels and
spirit beings’ in the language of the Shari‘a.
It is true that reality and universal wisdom require the existence of the
angels and other spirit beings because the earth, although insignificant in
size compared with the heavens, is continually being filled with and emptied
of conscious beings. This clearly indicates that the heavens, which resemble
decorated castles having awe-inspiring towers, are filled with living beings
who are the perfect class of living creatures. These beings are conscious and
have perception, and they are the light of existence; these are the angels,
who, like the jinn and mankind, are observers of the universal palace of creation
and students of this book of the universe and heralds of their Lord’s Sovereignty.
Through their comprehensive worship, they manifest the praises of God by the
whole of creation.
The universe requires the existence of the angels because the finely adorned
works of art and meaningful decorations and purposeful, delicate embroideries
displayed in it demand sentient beings who will reflect upon those perfections,
and praise and commend them in full appreciation. Just as a beauty needs a lover,
and food is given to the hungry, so the food for the souls and the hearts, provided
through this infinite beauty of art, is, first of all, related to the existence
of the angels and other spirit beings. The infinite beauty and majesty of the
universe calls for a response, which has to be an infinite duty of contemplation
and servanthood, but since the capacity of the jinn and mankind is inadequate
for this duty, countless angels and spirit beings fill the great mosque of existence
with rows arranged in worship of the Creator. This is what the bands of the
angels and other spirit beings do in every corner of the universe. Each band
has a duty of servanthood particular to itself. This is implied by some Prophetic
sayings, and the order of the universe manifests it: some mobile objects, from
certain heavenly bodies like stars to raindrops, for example, provide vehicles
for the angels, who mount them by the leave of God and travel through the material
world praising and glorifying God.
Furthermore, certain sorts of living bodies provide vehicles for some souls.
For example, there is a hadith that the souls of the people of Paradise enter
into ‘green birds’ of Paradise in the Intermediate Realm--the world of the grave--and
travel around Paradise in them, and those birds, and even some flies are from
these groups of living bodies. These souls, by the authority of God, enter into
these living things and observe the wonders of creation through their senses
and perform the glorification of the Creator on their behalf. Reality and the
Divine Wisdom require this, since, just as God has breathed life into gross
clay and muddy water, which have little to do with the spirit, and produced
numerous conscious beings, so too, He surely creates certain sorts of intelligent
beings from light and other subtle substances like air and electricity as they
are more appropriate for the creation of the spirit and life.
A parable to understand the existence of angels
If you wish to understand how true and rational it is to accept the existence
of angels and other spirit beings, and as the Qur’an shows, how contrary to
truth and wisdom, and what a superstition and foolishness it is not to accept
them, consider the following parable :
Two men, a wild nomad and a civilized person, went to Istanbul. In a remote
corner of that well-ordered and magnificent city they came across an old building
which contained a factory. They observed that the factory was full of miserable
workers. They also noticed that there were numerous living beings in the neighborhood,
some living upon vegetables and some eating fish only. Whilst they were watching
these people, they had a vision of palaces and castles, amongst which were huge
workshops. However, they could see no inhabitants living in them, either because
of their defective eyesight or because the inhabitants were hiding. There was
no comparison between the living conditions of the old building and these palaces,
and because of this, the wild man of the desert concluded that these palaces
were devoid of inhabitants. His friend, who was civilized and sensible, admonished
him by saying, ‘O you unfortunate man, you can see this poor, dilapidated factory
is inhabited by workers–somebody very powerful and wise is employing them, and
replacing them by new ones. Furthermore, there is no empty space around the
factory, everywhere has been made use of, so how is it possible that those palaces
and castles should be unoccupied? They are certainly inhabited by beings who
have different conditions of life; you should never consider them unoccupied,
you cannot see those inhabitants only because they hide themselves. Because
you cannot see, something does not mean that it does not exist.
The earth, although many times smaller than other heavenly bodies, is so
densely inhabited by countless living creatures that even a most insignificant
part of it is the home of numerous living things like micro organisms. This shows
that those infinite firmaments with numerous stars and constellations are inhabited
by conscious, living beings created from fire, light, air, ether, and other
subtle forms of matter. Such living beings, in the language of the Holy Qur’an
and the pure teaching of the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings,
are known as angels, jinn and spirit entities, and like earthly creatures, they
have their kinds. The angel in charge of a raindrop is certainly different from
the one in charge of the sun, and the jinn are also of different kinds.
While accepting the existence of natural laws, why should we not accept the existence of invisible beings?
We accept the existence of natural laws and forces unquestionably, and even
go so far as to attribute to them all phenomena in the universe. We ascribe
a tiny seed’s growth into a huge, elaborate tree to the law of germination and
growth in that seed, and the universe’s incredible balance to the laws of gravitation
and repulsion. But we ignore the absolute will, knowledge, power, and wisdom
necessary for the universe’s very existence, operation, and balance. The One
Who has absolute Will, Knowledge, Power, and absolute Wisdom uses such powerful
invisible beings as winds or gales, and others much more powerful than natural
forces or laws, behind natural forces and laws to make those very natural laws
and forces operative. These beings are angels.
The experience of some people with invisible beings prove their existence
A consensus has formed, especially among followers of religions, that there
have always been some who can see and converse with angels, jinn, Satan, and
other spirit beings. Had angels not existed, if a single angel had never been
seen, or the existence of one or more angels not been established through observation,
how could such a general belief continue? If this belief were not based on strong
evidence, could it have come down to us despite the changing ideas and beliefs
and the passage of time? Therefore, we can conclude that religious belief in
the existence of such beings is based on the experiences which the Prophets
and other godly persons have had with them. Such accounts have been narrated
by reliable sources.
Existence of a species can be proved by establishing the existence of one
The existence of the angels and other spirit beings can be established by
proving the existence of an individual angel, because their denial amounts to
the denial of the species. Thus, the acceptance of the individual requires the
acceptance of the whole species. Does it not suffice to prove the existence
of the angels and other spirit beings that all the people of religion from the
beginning have unanimously believed in their existence, and that a consensus
has been formed that some human beings have seen and conversed with them, and
related from them. Had the angels not existed, and if a single angel had not
been seen or the existence of one or numerous individual angels not been established
through observation, would it have been possible for such a general belief to
continue, and had this belief not been based on strong evidences, could it have
come down to the present time in spite of the changing of ideas and beliefs
along with the passage of time? Besides, is it possible that such a religious
belief and the consensus of the religious scholars is not based on a certain
intuition and an experienced certainty which originated in countless signs and
numerous experiences? Therefore, we can conclude that the religious belief in
the existence of the angels and other spirit beings is based on the experiences
which the Prophets and some other godly persons have had with them, and this
has been narrated by reliable sources.
Is there a consensus of religions on the existence of angels?
There has been a consensus of most philosophers and religious scholars on
the existence of angels and spirit beings of all kinds, although there have
been some differences in naming them. Of the schools of philosophy, the Peripatetics
(Mashshaiyyun), who were inclined to explain the origin of existence in materialistic
terms, had to admit the existence of angels, on the ground that there exists
a spiritual, incorporeal essence of each species. As for the Illuminists (Ishraqiyyun),
they could not deny the existence of angels but wrongly called them ‘Ten Intellects
and Masters of Species’. On the other hand, the followers of all the Divine
religions, guided by the Divine Revelation, have believed that there is an angel
in charge of each kind of existence. They called them by the name of that kind
of existence such as ‘the Angel of the mountains, the Angel of the seas, the
Angel of rain’, and so on. Even the naturalists and materialists, who have restricted
themselves only to what they see, cannot help but admit the meaning of the angels
by calling them ‘pervasive forces’.
Philosophers and religious scholars have unanimously agreed that creation
is not limited to this visible world; although this world is material and, accordingly,
is not suitable to receive and be the ‘home’ of spirits, it has been decorated
by countless living creatures. It is this very fact which causes us to conclude
that there are many degrees of existence, over which this material world is,
as it were, a lace curtain. Furthermore, as the sea is the home of the fish,
so the unseen world of the spirit is occupied by spirit beings. In short, all
the arguments we have mentioned and many more others that can be concluded from
the operation of the universe indicate the existence of the angels, and the
Qur’an explains the meaning of the angelic existence so reasonably that every
sensible person can understand it. As the Qur’an puts it, mankind is a community
responsible for carrying out the Divine Commandments issuing from the Divine
Attribute of Speech, and the angels constitute a community whose ‘working’ stratum
carry out the Divine laws of nature issuing from the Attribute of Will. They
are God’s honored servants who perform whatever He commands them.
The angels are spiritual, subtle bodies divided into different classes. Being
servants of God, they obey the commandments issuing from the Eternal Will and
the Creative Power, which rules over the universe. Each of the heavenly bodies
is a place of worship for the angels.
All of the Prophets reported the invisible dimension of existence
All Prophets, numbering 124,000 in reliable religious sources, unanimously
report the existence of angels, spirit beings, jinn, and Satan. All saints and
religious scholars agree on this invisible realm’s existence. We hardly need
to say that two specialists in a matter are preferable to thousands of non-specialists.
In addition, it is an established fact that once a matter is confirmed by two
people, its denial by thousands carries no weight. Furthermore, all people of
religion and followers of almost all religions unanimously accept the existence
of these beings.
All Divine Scriptures record the existence of spirit beings and the human
spirit, and the story of Satan and his intrigues to seduce us exist in all of
them. Above all, can one doubt the report of the Qur’an and the testimony and
experiences of Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings? The proofs
of the Qur’an’s Divine authorship, the mission of Prophethood, and the Prophethood
of Muhammad and all other Prophets, upon them be peace, also prove the invisible
realm’s existence and thus the existence of the spirit, angels, jinn, and Satan.
The best and most rational way of establishing the existence of such beings
is expounded by Islam, described by the Qur’an, and was seen by the Prophet,
upon him be peace and blessings, during his Ascension through the heavens. The
Qur’an explains the meaning of angelic existence so reasonably that anyone can
understand it. It relates that we are a community responsible for carrying out
the Divine Commandments issuing from the Divine Attribute of Speech, and angels
are a community whose “working class” carry out the Divine Laws of nature issuing
from the Attribute of Will. They are God’s honored servants who do whatever
He commands. The existence of angels and other spirit beings can be established
by proving the existence of an individual angel, because their denial amounts
to denial of the species. Thus, the acceptance of the individual requires the
acceptance of the species.
Can life establish the existence of angels or can there be life in other
Life and angels
The perfection of a thing’s existence is through life. Moreover, life is
the real basis and the light of existence, and consciousness, in turn, is the
light of life. It is also life that constitutes the foundation of everything.
Life appropriates everything for each living thing, and only through life can
a living creature claim that everything belongs to it. The whole world, it can
claim, is its home and the entire universe is its property conferred upon it
by the Owner.
Just as light causes (concrete) things to be seen and, according to one theory,
is the real cause of color, so life may be said to unveil the creation. It is
life again which causes the qualities to be realized, and the archetypes to
gain material existence, thus making the particular acquire universality and
universals be concentrated in a particular.
Life also causes existence to attain to perfection and achieve the rank of
possessing a soul, by making countless factors unite into a whole to become
a sentient, percipient being. Furthermore, life is the manifestation of oneness
in the realm of multiplicity, and the reflection of unity in plurality. See
how lonely a substance is without life, even though it is as big as a mountain.
Its interactions are restricted to its own location, and whatever else exists
in the universe means nothing to it since it is unconscious of other existents.
Now observe a minute living being such as a honeybee, what close interactions
it has with the universe, particularly with its environment of plants and flowers--so
that it can properly argue that the earth is the garden or the market- place
where it does business. The bee has, through the unconscious instinctive senses
which enthuse and motivate it, in addition to its external and inner senses,
close relations and familiarity with most of the species in the world.
If the effect of life upon the humble honeybee is so great, how much more
will it be upon man, as it expands into his consciousness, reason and intellect.
Man, by means of reason and consciousness, which are the light of life, travels
through the higher worlds of corporeal and spiritual existence as easily as
he passes from one room to another in his house. That is, just as that conscious
and living being may go in spirit as a guest to those worlds, those worlds too
come as guests to his mirror-like spirit by being reflected there.
Life is a most manifest evidence of God’s Unity, a greatest source of His
bounty and a most subtle manifestation of His Compassion; it is also a most
hidden and delicate embroidery of His art. Life is really so mysterious and
subtle that even the life of plants, which is the simplest of the levels of
life, and the awakening of the life-force in seeds as the beginning of a plant’s
life, is still not fully understood. Although it is something commonly observed
by man, it has remained a mystery from the time of Adam, since the human mind
has been unable to grasp the nature of life.
Life in both its outer or material and inner or immaterial aspects is pure.
The Divine Power creates life directly without the participation of causes,
while on the other hand It employs natural causes in the creation of everything
else. The reason why God operates behind the veil of natural causes in the creation
of things other than life is that man, being unable to discern Divine Wisdom
in some occurrences, might ignorantly ascribe to Him some things which he deems
In short: It may be argued that inanimate things cannot be regarded as really
existent, not being substantially different from non-existence. Life is the
light of the spirit, and consciousness is the light of life. Since life and
consciousness are so important, and a perfect harmony evidently prevails over
the whole creation, and again since the universe displays a firm cohesion, and
as this small ever-rotating sphere of ours is full of countless living and intelligent
beings, so it is equally certain that those heavenly castles, those lofty constellations,
should have conscious living inhabitants peculiar to themselves. Just as the
fish live in water, so those spirit beings may exist in the heat of the sun.
Fire does not consume light, on the contrary, light becomes brighter because
of fire. We observe that the Eternal Power creates countless living beings from
inert, solid substances and transforms the densest matter into subtle living
compounds by life. Thus It radiates the light of life everywhere in great abundance
and furnishes most things with the light of consciousness.
From this we can conclude that the All-Powerful, All-Wise One would certainly
not make subtle forms of matter like light and ether, which are close to and
fitting for the spirit, without life and consciousness; indeed He creates animate
and conscious beings in great numbers from light, darkness, ether, air and even
from meanings (conceived) and words (uttered). As He creates numerous species
of animals, He also creates from subtle forms of matter numerous different spirit
creatures. One of their kinds are the angels, others are the varieties of spirit
beings and jinn.*
* Scientists restrict the concept of life to the conditions that obtain on
or beneath the outer surface of our planet. Therefore, when they look for extraterrestrial
life, they look for conditions that are the same as or closely correspond to
the conditions for life on Earth. But surely, if they had retained a sufficient
sense of the absolute wonder of life (an aspect of life’s being a direct manifestation
of the Ever-Living), they should not have ruled out forms and conditions of
life currently beyond their understanding. In their view, the arguments put
forward by Said Nursi for the existence of angels and other spirit beings may
not be worthy of consideration. However, the latest discoveries in deep-sea
biology may persuade them to review his arguments. V. Tunniclife writes:
All life requires energy, and nearly all life on Earth looks to the sun as
the source. But solar energy is not the only kind of energy available on the
Earth. Consider the energy that drives the movement and eruption of the planet’s
crust. When you look at an active volcano, you are witnessing the escape of
heat that has been produced by radioactive decay in the Earth’s interior and
is finally reaching the surface. Why should there not be biological communities
associated with the same nuclear energy that moves continents and makes mountains?
And why could not whole communities be fuelled by chemical, rather than, solar
… Most of us associate the escape of heat from the interior of the Earth
with violent events and unstable physical conditions, with extreme high temperatures
and the release of toxic gasses—circumstances that are hardly conducive to life.
The notion that biologic communities might spring up in a geologically active
environment once seemed fantastic. And until recently, few organisms were known
to survive without a direct or indirect way to tap the sun’s energy. But such
communities do exist, and they represent one of the most startling discoveries
of 20th century biology. They live in the deep ocean, under conditions that
are both severe and variable. (Discover, 8.20.93)
Is matter the essence or basis of existence?
Matter serves life, not the other way
As may be established empirically, matter is not essential so that existence
may be made subject to it and be dependent upon it. Rather, matter subsists
by means of a meaning, and that meaning is life, it is spirit.
Also, as may be established through observation, existence is not in the
service of matter so that everything should be ascribed to it. Rather, matter
exists so that it may serve for the perfection of a reality, which is life,
and spirit is the foundation of life.
Also, it is evident that matter does not rule over existence so that perfections
may be sought from it. Rather, it is dominated; it is subject to the decree
of a fundamental and fashioned according to the dictates of that decree. That
fundamental is life, spirit, consciousness.
Life does not depend on matter
Furthermore, matter is not the unchanged essence of existence and the source
of perfections, rather, it is a form and outer covering subject to disintegration.
It can be observed that a micro organism possesses acute senses; it can hear
the voice of its mate, and see its food. This demonstrates that the more refined
matter becomes, the more manifest are the effects of life and the brighter the
light of the spirit grows.
It is as though the more closely matter resembles the realm of spirit and
consciousness, the more ethereal it becomes, and the light of life is manifested
more brightly. Therefore, could the inner world of existence fail to be occupied
with conscious living beings, whilst the reflections of life and consciousness
continue to be manifested upon the veil of matter? Besides, is it possible that
the countless manifestations and reflections of meaning, spirit, life, and consciousness
in the corporeal world could be ascribed solely to matter and its motion? On
the contrary, these countless manifestations and reflections indicate that the
corporeal world is nothing more than a lace veil over the world of the spirit,
and the inner worlds.
Human existence depends on the spirit
This spirit-body relation can be likened to that between electrical power
and a factory operating by electricity. If there is no electricity, the factory
is reduced to heap of junk. Likewise, when the spirit leaves the body because
of some rupture or disconnection (e.g., illness or death), despite our matchless
value when alive, we are reduced to mass of tissue and bone that decomposes
in the soil. This means that our real existence and uniqueness depend on this
Does humanity have both angelic and satanic aspects?
Angels stand for the good aspect of humanity, while Satan represents the bad one
Angels are purely spirit beings that stand for the purely good aspect in
existence, while Satan and his descendants represent the purely evil aspect.
God is One and Infinite, without opposite. All other beings and existents have
an opposite. Since we have two opposite aspects in our nature, one inclined
toward good and the other toward evil, angels represent this good aspect while
Satan represents the evil one. Angels invite us to our purely spiritual or “angelic”
aspect, while Satan tries to seduce us through tempting us to do evil. The resulting
struggle in each individual, and in the universe as a whole, has been ongoing
since the beginning of existence. Everyone feels a stimulus toward good and
evil at the same time. The former comes from the angels or our unpolluted spirit;
the latter comes from Satan collaborating with our carnal self, which represents
our animal aspect.