The spirit issues forth from the world of unconditioned existence, where Divine commands are carried out instantly and directly. However, like energy requiring cords or bulbs to function, the spirit needs matter to function in this world, although matter restricts its activity. So, to make the spirit more active and less confined within time and space, we can follow one of three ways:
Supernormal Phenomena, the Prophets, and Saints.
Every person can give the spirit more room in which to act. This goal is accomplished by firm religious belief and spiritual development through regular worship and asceticism. The more refined matter is, the freer and more active the spirit. Eating less food, frequent fasting, sleeping less, refraining from sin, and regular and more frequent worship help you reach this goal. If you use your innate ability to develop your spiritual faculties, you can transcend the limits of this world, travel in the spirit in other dimensions of existence, and, to some degree, establish contact with the past and future.
Consider the following analogy: When you are in a room, you see that which is confined by the four walls. When you go outside, you can see all of your immediate surroundings. You can see even more from the top of a hill. The higher you ascend, the more you see. It is the same with time. The freer the spirit is from the prison of matter and the body, the broader the realm of its activity with respect to time and space.
This way is usually the way of the Prophets and saints. Either through traveling in spirit in time and space or being taught by God, the Knower of the Seen and Unseen, they penetrate into the depths of time and space. Just as sunlight is in innumerable places simultaneously, although it is a material body, so a Prophet’s or a saint’s spirit, especially one of the “substitutes” (abdal), can be present in many places at once in his or her body’s immaterial or energetic form. The Qur’an points to this:
She (Mary, the mother of Jesus) placed a screen to seclude herself from them. Then We sent to her Our spirit, and he appeared before her as a man without fault (19:17).
Many interpreters of the Qur’an say this spirit was Archangel Gabriel. Such accounts also are reported in many authentic narrations.
A saint’s spirit, if it has acquired sufficient enlightenment or luminosity, encounters symbols or signs of past or future events while traveling in time. Saints interpret these visions and tell us of certain past or future events. This is comparable to dream interpretation. Saints may sometimes err in their interpretation. However Prophets, since they receive Revelation and are taught directly by God Almighty, the Knower of the Unseen, cannot err in their interpretations and predictions. Whatever they predicted always came true. For example, Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, predicted numerous future events (e.g., the martyrdom of ‘Uthman and ‘Ali, the Battle of Jamal (Elephant) between ‘Ali and such leading Companions as Talha and Zubayr, and the Muslims’ conquest of Damascus, Iran, and Istanbul). Most of his predictions have already come true; others are waiting for their time to come true.
Muhyi al-Din ibn al-‘Arabi (d. 1240 CE), a Muslim saint who died about 50 years before the founding of the Ottoman State, predicted many important events of Ottoman history. His Shajarat al-Nu’maniya, manuscripts of which are available in libraries in Edirne and Istanbul, is like a symbolic history of the Ottoman State. For example, he predicted that his grave would be discovered when Selim entered Damascus (it was), that despite 9 months of siege Hafiz Ahmad Pasha would not capture Baghdad (he did not), that Sultan Murad would conquer it in 40 days (he did), and that Sultan ‘Abd al-‘Aziz would be dethroned and killed (he was).
Similarly, Mushtaq Dada of Bitlis, who lived in the first half of the eighteenth century, predicted that after a war someone named Kamal would make Ankara the capital of Turkey (all of which happened). His Diwan, a book of his poems that contains this prediction, is still available.
Such beloved servants of God, whether Prophets or saints, make predictions only if He allows them to do so through His permission and power. He declares: My servant can draw near unto Me in no safer and better way than performing his obligatory religious duties. He becomes nearer to me through supererogatory prayers. Once he becomes near to Me, I become his eyes with which he sees, his ears with which he hears, and his hands with which he holds.
Supernormal Phenomena and the Divine Names.
The second way to travel in spirit in time and space, or to penetrate into further and deeper dimensions of time and space, is to follow the guidance of the relevant Divine Name or Names. All existence depends on the Divine Names’ manifestations. We can see only because the manifestation of His Name the All-Seeing enables us to see. We continue to exist because of the manifestation of His Names the Self-Subsistent and the One-Causing-to-Subsist allows us to do so. If He no longer manifested His Name the One-Causing-to-Subsist in connection with existence, the universe would cease to exist instantly.
Similarly, this practice allows angels and jinn to assume animal and human forms, provided that God allows them to do so. Especially jinn can enter an animal’s body and govern its actions. They can also control people. So, by discovering the Divine Name that allows one to penetrate such dimensions and then following Its guidance in a particular affair, we can travel in time and space, and see and hear certain things that others cannot.
Various supernormal phenomenon.
Such supernormal phenomena as telepathy and spiritualism are widespread. Millions of people who seek peace and happiness to counteract the domination of their worldview, mind, and spirit by technology and materialism, attend séances for so-called transcendental experiences. Some people are more inclined to and can perform supernormal phenomena. For example, a Madame Gibson predicted the partition of India in 1947 and the murder of John Kennedy. Likewise, Fenni Bey from Ordu, Turkey, who fought at the front of Medina during the First World War, relates:
We were under siege in Medina. I was unable to communicate with my family in Istanbul. One night in a dream I saw fire and smoke in my house. In the morning I sent for a private of mine, who was a medium. I told him to go into a trance and, travelling to my house—I told him where it was situated—describe to me what he saw. He did what I told him and began to describe: “I have reached the house, I have knocked on the door and an old woman in a head-scarf has come out with a child in her arms.” I told the private to ask the woman if there was anything wrong in the house? He related to me: “She says your wife died yesterday.”
Spiritualism is now widespread.
Before further explanation, I should point out that I discuss such things only to emphasize that existence is not restricted to matter. Rather, as a book’s main existence lies in its meaning, that which is metaphysical, spiritual, or immaterial is the essential part of existence. Matter, on the other hand, is accidental and a changing means for manifesting what is immaterial. Great saints like Ibn al-‘Arabi communicated with the spirits of the dead and even of those who had not yet been born. Contemporary spiritualists and mediums communicate with unbelieving jinn or devils who appear as the dead person with whose soul they wish to communicate. Also, mediums predicting future events usually make contact with jinn and then report what they are told.
Jinn live longer than us, are active in broader dimensions (realms) of time and space, are much quicker than us, and can see things that we cannot. However, they cannot see the future and we should not believe their predictions, even though a very few of them do come true. In the past, American and Soviet intelligence services competed with each other in studying telepathy and other supernormal ways of communication. As will be explained later, in a not-too-distant future, world powers will use jinn to communicate with each other, especially in intelligence matters. However, it is dangerous to seek to contact and communicate with jinn or devils, for such beings can easily assert their influence and control those seekers.
A psychiatrist friend relates the following account:
I was invited to a necromantic event in a house in Samsun (a province in northern Turkey). The youngest daughter arranged cups and letters on a table. One of the friends present invited the soul of his late grandfather. After several calls, a man appeared. When we asked him insistently who he was, he answered: “Satan.” We were greatly astonished. A while later, I asked him why he had come although we had not called him. He wrote on the table with the cups: “So I come!” I asked him whether he believed in God. He wrote “No!” When I asked whether he believed in the Prophet, again he wrote, “No!” I began reading to him some passages from a book concerning the existence of God. When I read: “A factory with such and such features points to the engineer who planned and built it,” he wrote: “True”; but when I read: “So too the universe with all the planets and particularly the world with all plants and animals in it indicate God,” he wrote, “No!” This continued for some time, and I began reciting to him from Jawshan al-Kabir (The Great Armor), a collection of supplications to God. While I was reciting, the cups were moving on the table. Meantime he wrote: “Give up that nonsense!” When I continued to recite, he could not endure listening and disappeared.
Like such supernormal experiences, observations of some doctors at the time of death also prove the existence of the spirit and spirit beings. What Bedri Ruhselman reports in Ruh ve Kainat (The Spirit and the Universe) from a doctor agrees fully with the observations of a group of doctors from Holland, which were published in the newspapers. A doctor narrates:
My wife was ill. When she went into the pangs of death, two things resembling two clouds descended into the room and hovered above her head. Meanwhile a form appeared, which was connected to my wife on the nape of the neck with a cord and was fluttering. This continued for five hours. In the end, the cord broke off and the form, the spirit, rose away. This was the end of my wife’s life.
by M. Fethullah Gulen