Word 38: Whoever thinks in the books of authors finds them the proof of the immateriality of the container of knowledge, both the giver and receiver (which is Nafs).
We have two main types of authors: The one who collects the materials that have been said and written before and compiles a book is called “Ta’lif”. If someone has not collected subjects from other sources but has written science by himself, then this is called a “Tsanif”.
Currently, when you read a scientist’s book, you are reading a portion of the scientist’s written scientific thoughts that have been collected into a book. What we have in our hands is a book made of paper with ink written on it; this is not knowledge, and neither is the book; it is just some paper with ink poured on it.
“knowledge” – What is it? The presence of an immaterial object in the sight of another immaterial object or the presence or realization of the form or concept of an object in the sight of the knower. But we know that there is no consciousness in the book itself; it is an inanimate object, a being for which there is no consciousness. Therefore, the book itself is not knowledge. That is why reading a book or even listening to a tape or CD is different from attending a class. Because they are inanimate, they are not alive to give us life, but the teacher is a living being. Therefore, the effect that is in the class is not in reading or listening to tapes. The scientist who wrote the book possesses the knowledge that is written in it.
What is the knowledge’s container? We’ve already covered in detail and provided ample evidence for the immateriality of the soul. The knowledge container ought to be immaterial in accordance with the immateriality of knowledge. Therefore, because the brain is dividable, it cannot contain information. The brain may be divided into two, three, four, and even a hundred pieces, but science cannot be divided.
You can divide the book and tear it into pieces, but science is something other than a book. The book is made of paper, which shows different types of lines. It is a contract between us to understand the meaning. For example, we defined that when we draw a figure like an apple, it refers us to an apple. We can also invent different forms and letters instead of current letters. In this case, the people who invented them will understand them. This is not science; this is a contract between us that established these forms to understand a specific meaning.
Knowledge is within the knower. In a more precise explanation, knowledge and its container (Our Nafs) is one. The knowledge can not be divided, but the brain can. If knowledge was in our brain, it would be as dividable as the brain. The knowledge and its container are immaterial. Assume someone wrote 200 books. If knowledge was a material object, then where did it fit into the human brain?
The largest book in mysticism is a book written by Ibn Arabi and titled “Futuhat Makkiya”. They had previously written extremely tiny letters in four volumes, but more recently, they were printed in one hundred volumes. It was only one of his publications. Four times larger than his Futuhat book is his commentary on the Quran. It may be between 300 and 400 volumes if they decide to publish everything right now. Ibn Arabi states: “Ibn Rushd al-Maghrebi” was a famous philosopher when I was a child. When it was time for his funeral, they brought his books, weighed them, and placed them on a scale. He was placed in a coffin, but his books weighed more than his body. His books weighed more than he did. Ibn Arabi went on: “I also wished that I could have written so many books and gained so much knowledge when I died.” There is significantly more in Ibn Arabi’s works than there is in Ibn Rushd’s.
So where does this knowledge fit in them? If it is in the material brain, the material brain has a specific container. If we want to take the pot of knowledge as the brain, the brain has a limit, while when the person writes a book, he writes an extract of his knowledge. He wrote a book, but he knows a hundred times more about it, so where does he have them?
Thus, we understand that knowledge is contained in an immaterial container that we refer to as “Nafs”. Knowledge cannot be poured into the brain, just as it cannot be poured into a glass. The question is now raised: What exactly fits into the CD or flash memory then? They compress the material objects and burn them onto a CD. Since there is matter involved, this is not the knowledge either. We are talking about knowledge; a computer is not aware of things; it does not have knowledge because it does not have the presence at all. A computer is comparable to a light switch. The lamp goes on when you press the switch, turning on the electricity. Does this mean the switch is intelligent? This switch mechanism is now sophisticated enough to function as a calculator and computer. A computer does not have knowledge and intelligence. Computers are like books in that they are unaware of words and information, just as calculators are unaware of numbers.
Our knowledge is with us. We do not have a presence in the matter. Two times two is equal to four. Where is the location of this knowledge? Is it in our brain? My brain has different parts; which of these parts is the location of this knowledge? And every part you look at is made of millions of cells; which of those cells should it go to? Those cells themselves are each made of molecules. Which of those molecules should this knowledge be placed? A molecule itself is made of tiny atoms. The atom itself is something like the solar system. We have said this many times: it has a central core, and particles are circulating around it. The distance of the central nucleus of the atom to the particles revolving around it is like the distance of the planets to the sun. According to scientists, the Earth would resemble a ball if we eliminated the space between objects. Quarks, which are smaller particles, are what make up the atomic particles.
The two sides of the planet are not aware of one another. Now, reduce the size of the example. Make it a cell’s size. Because smallness is relative, the cell appears tiny to us. The opposing half of the cell is unaware of this side’s existence. Carry this over to the atoms. We do not find an identity in the matter; identity is the identification of a true personal unit; even in the case of the body, there is no singular identity in the body if the soul does not manage the body. I control my body. Who are you, if someone asks? I’ll respond, “I am I.” I cover every area. Different components, including cells, molecules, and atoms, make up our bodies. We would not be able to find a real One in our body. This also holds true for the material world.
An army, for instance, is composed of several troops who get together to make an army. It’s a virtual “One” here. In matter, every unit we have is a virtual unit because whenever we study matter, we see that it is gathered from smaller particles to form a unit. On the other hand, “I” is a genuine unit. Since all of our knowledge is available or present in the “I” that we have, “I” is not material; rather, “I” surrounds my physical body. “I” lacks the laws of matter since it is an immaterial unit. These are like power, love, kindness. We cannot fit these in the material container since they are also immaterial. As a result, the “Nafs” or “I” is immaterial and the container of immaterial knowledge.
Let’s get back to our discussion: “Whoever thinks in the books of authors finds them the proof of the immateriality of the container of knowledge, both the giver and receiver (which is Nafs)”. We found that the receiver of the knowledge is Our “I” or “Nafs”. The inquiry pertains to the source of our knowledge. Do scientists, educators, books, cassettes, and our thoughts impart knowledge to us? As discussed the knowledge is not in matter. As a result, there is a knowledge source that grants us knowledge, yet these are only intermediaries that link us to the knowledge source from which we obtain the knowledge. The source of knowledge is referred to by philosophers as “Active Intellect” and by religion as the angel “Gabriel” (A).
We have already provided a thorough explanation of this and demonstrated how knowledge originates at the transcendent level. The matter is not the container for the knowledge. The book and teacher are material objects. The teacher’s voice and words are how we interact with him; we are not able to speak directly with his spirit. Words and sounds are material objects and do not carry knowledge. The sound is a wave. Is there any knowledge lying on this wave to be transferred to us? No, there is no knowledge inside or above of these waves. Knowledge can not exist in matter at all; its container is in the immaterial world. Of course, it should be noted that knowledge does not descend to this world; be careful, it does not descend to the material world, since if it descends to matter, it becomes material. Knowledge never degrades to matter because if it degrades to the level of matter, it would have to become material and subject to the properties of matter, such as color, smell, weight, height, breadth, and form.
For instance, air cannot submerge into water; if you want to place air into water, fill a ball with air, submerge it, and press down firmly. The origin of the air is on the water. The origin of the knowledge is the immaterial world. So, it can not be placed in our material brain. We have knowledge because we are immaterial, our soul is immaterial, and our body is material. If we have knowledge, it is because of the immaterial Nafs that we have. The knowledge that we receive is united with our Nafs. Thus, the body serves as a conduit via which our soul—which is immaterial—receives knowledge from the “active intellect,” which is the knowledge-bearer.
The descent of the angel and the revelation is another discussion. Descendants of them are in immaterial worlds and at different levels. Some disbelievers objected to Prophet Muhammad (S), asking why the angel did not come to Earth. Why doesn’t God’s angel appear and lead us? The verse of the Holy Quran says: “And if We had made him an angel, We would have made him [appear as] a man, and We would have covered them with that in which they cover themselves” (Al-An’am:9). Quran says: If we wanted to send an angel, then we should have sent him in the form of a human being and dressed him in human clothes so that you can see; this indicates that if immaterial truth comes to this world, it should wear the garments of this world and be in the form of a human being. Perceiving immaterial objects can be done in two ways: either by elevating oneself spiritually to comprehend immaterial facts or by dressing material clothes of the immaterial truths (Prophet Muhammad (S). Consequently, immaterial truths have to be made known via human beings, or else people will ascend to the immaterial realm, at which point their suffering will stop since the veils will be lifted, and the Day of Resurrection will take place. Therefore, the idea that an angel would appear to lead us in this world is absurd. The hadith states that repentance ends with death. In other words, repentance is accepted up to death, at which point the curtains are not drawn, but after that point, there is nowhere to believe and accept the faith.
It is worth mentioning that faith is different than certainty. The Holy Quran says: “Those who believe in the unseen” (Al-Baqara:3). People do not see the unseen, but they have an innate belief in it. “Faith” belongs to the place where there is a veil and a person does not see. A person who believes unseen with his heart is said to have “faith”. This is faith, which, of course, has degrees. “Certainty” belongs to the time when the veil is removed. “And those who believe in what was revealed to you, and in what was revealed before you, and are certain of the Hereafter” (Al-Baqara:4). Amir Al-Mu’minin Ali (A) said: “If all the curtains are removed, my certainty will not increase”. “If you knew with knowledge of certainty. (5) You would see the Inferno” (At-Takathur:5-6). That is, certainty is accompanied by seeing. Certainty belongs to the time when the veil is removed. Therefore, one of the names of death is “certainty”. Because when people die, the curtains fall, and people see the facts and unseens. Thus, it is not acceptable to start believing after entering the Hereafter. “Are they waiting for anything but for the angels to come to them, or for your Lord to arrive, or for some of your Lord’s signs to come? On the Day when some of your Lord’s signs come, no soul will benefit from its faith unless it had believed previously, or had earned goodness through its faith. Say, Wait, we too are waiting” (Al-An’am:158).
Let’s return to our earlier consideration that knowledge does not descend to the level of the material world. If we have knowledge, it is due to the fact that it is immaterial and resides in our souls. The soul travels in this world with the material body. When we die, our Nafs leaves this body and enters another body known as “Barzakh” (immaterial transitional world between material and intellect worlds), through which it lives in the world of Barzakh. The soul has a body proportional to the world through which it travels. The “active intellect” or angel Gabriel (A) is the same as knowledge; it has no place because it is immaterial and it surrounds the material world. Someone may ask that 80,000 people were killed at once during the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. How did angel Izrael (A) (angel of death) take their life? People think that Angel Izrael (A) is a material thing that runs from this side to that side. No, Angel Izrael (A) is an immaterial truth that surrounds the material world as our Nafs surround our bodies. We move our hands, we speak, we turn our eyes, and we move our feet because our Nafs surround our bodies. Angel Gabriel and Izrael (A) surround the material world.
Muhammad Mahdi Me’marian
All praise is to God to the extent that He deserves it.