Erroneous Belief in the Tower
The "little man in the tower" is no invention of ours, but the logical outcome of the train of thought maintained by materialism. Any materialist, who insists on the delusion of absolute existence of matter, maintaining that we enjoy direct knowledge of the original matter in the outside world, is in that exact position. He is claiming that outside the body he sees and feels, there is yet another body carrying around that first body and its surrounding area.
Detailed consideration reveals how nonsensical is the picture drawn by this materialist claim.
In fact, materialists are describing a monstrosity that would frighten even themselves. Let us describe this frightening picture more closely: The materialist is describing a giant carrying the whole universe in a tiny region in his head, looking at it from close up. Since the Sun, Moon, stars and all other sources of light are in his head, our giant must inevitably be in darkness. In comparison with our own scale, this giant’s arms and legs are hundreds of feet long. In other words, the materialist arrives at the conclusion that there must be a giant human being, who carries the entire universe in his head, and goes nobody knows where, all in pitch darkness.
however, belief in the "giant human being" theory is only a requirement of materialist philosophy. That is because there is no other need to believe that we interact with the original of the body which we see and touch. Why should we believe in such knowledge? Why accept the existence of such a giant as real in the absence of any evidence, when nobody has ever found any trace of such a thing?
Apart from a blind acceptance of materialist philosophy, there’s no reason to believe in the existence of such an imaginary material person.
Matter Created in the Sphere of Perceptions and Imagination
We’re now led to a most important truth: Since the only world we can deal with is one of perceptions, all these perceptions must be created and displayed to us by a Creator possessed of infinite knowledge, wisdom and power. That Creator is Almighty Allah—the Lord of all the Worlds, in the words of the Qur’an.
A clearer expression of this important truth is this: Allah has created from nothing all that exists. Yet as Islamic scholars have written, all entities are created in the sphere of "perceptions and imagination." Since Allah has breathed into man His Spirit, man perceives part of these perceptions and gives them such names as "the world," "the universe," "matter" and "objects." In any case, it is Allah Who taught man these names. All of these perceptions, created by Allah, submit to Him unconditionally and act in accordance with His will. No entity is created independent of Allah. Only Allah is real. Everything else is an illusion at the level of perceptions.
Imam Rabbani, regarded as one of the greatest scholars in the history of Islam, explains this in his Letters:
In another letter, Imam Rabbani again emphasizes that the entire material world was created only in the sphere of perceptions and imagination:
On close inspection, Imam Rabbani is stressing that the world we see, and all beings "in the sphere of imagination," were created at the level of perceptions. Outside that, all there is, is the Being of Allah.
… All of you will return to Allah and He will inform you about what you were doing.
… They know an outward aspect of the life of this world but are heedless of the Hereafter.
As we have seen, the technical facts we’ve arrived at by means of modern physics and physiology were noted hundreds of years ago by Islamic scholars. They confirm one truth: that matter is an illusion. What truly exists is Allah, Who created matter from nothing.
Materialism: A Hypothetical View of the Life of This World That Is Regarded as Real
Once it is understood, the truth explained here will entirely change people's views of the world.
The great majority lives unaware of this great secret. They imagine that everything they see with their eyes, hold in their hands and refer to as "matter" has an absolute, objective existence. People falling into this error hold one of two viewpoints:
Both these utterly mistaken viewpoints stem from a failure to comprehend the true nature of the world. As Allah reveals in the Qur’an:
… He [Allah] grants victory to whoever He wills. He is the Almighty, the Most Merciful. That is Allah's promise. Allah does not break His promise. But most people do not know it. They know an outward aspect of the life of this world, but are heedless of the Hereafter. ( Surat ar-Rum: 5-7)
In these verses, the word "outward" is a translation of the Arabic zahir. The concept of zahir refers to external appearance. In contrast, there is also the concept of batin, meaning the essence of things which is not externally visible, or their internal aspect, or inward meaning.
Unbelievers know only the external appearance of the world, which is why they cannot grasp the existence of Allah and His dominion over all that exists. Some who deny Allah are materialists, others—semi-materialists—believe in His existence, but are unable to comprehend His might. In the Qur’an Allah refers in detail to those who believe in His existence, but cannot comprehend His infinite might and dominion over all, for which reason they ascribe various partners to Him.
On the other hand, anyone who understands that we can only have the knowledge of original matter in the outside world as a perception in our minds is saved from all these errors and understands the batin aspect of the life of this world.
One important aspect of this is the disappearance of the concept of place.
Eliminating the Concept of Location
The only knowledge we have of everything we think of as material—our own bodies, the objects around us, the ground we walk on, the Sun, stars, and planets—is their perception in our brains, just like our dreams. Therefore, we cannot have direct knowledge of the original forms of these materials.
Anyone who comprehends this truth is saved from the mistakes that most people fall into. Heading the list of these errors is the question, "Where is Allah?" which stems from a belief in the concept of space. Most people imagine that Allah is in outer space, up in the sky, or resides in some other part of the universe (Allah is surely beyond that).
This ignorant belief is described in the Qur’an, in the story of Pharaoh, who claimed in a most ignorant way that he himself was the Lord of Egypt (Allah is surely beyond that), and maintained that Allah was in the sky. Allah reveals this in the verses:
Pharaoh said, "Haman, build me a tower so that perhaps I may gain means of access, access to the heavens, so that I can look on Moses’ Allah…" (Surah Ghafir: 36-37)
However, Allah is everywhere and encompasses all places. This truth is also explained in the Qur’an:
Both East and West belong to Allah, so wherever you turn, the Face of Allah is there. Allah is All-Encompassing, All-Knowing. (Surat al-Baqara: 115)
As the sole absolute being, Allah enfolds the whole universe, all people and places, the heavens and everywhere. He is manifested in the whole universe. According to the hadith, our Prophet (saas) said that someone who said that Allah was in the sky was telling the truth. But this account in no way conflicts with the fact that Allah is everywhere. That is because if someone at your location on Earth raises his hands and prays to Allah and thinks that Allah is in the sky, while someone at the South Pole turns to Allah in the same way, while someone else at the North Pole raises his hands and yet another individual in Japan, or America or Ecuador raises his hands to the sky in the same way and turns to Allah, then it is impossible to speak of any fixed direction. In the same way, if djinn, angels and demons at various points in space and the universe also pray toward the skies, it will again be impossible to speak of any fixed direction, and the situation will be one that covers the entire universe. Wherever you turn, the manifestation of Allah is there.
Since Allah is everywhere, He is closer to us than anything else. This fact eliminates the perception of "distance," by which most people are again deceived. Generally, people refer to entities they see close to themselves as being "nearby." Asked, "What’s the nearest object you see?" they reply, "My clothes," "My watch," "My glasses," or else, "My own body." The fact is, Allah is closer than any of these things. This is revealed thus in one verse of the Qur’an:
We created man and We know what his own self whispers to him. We are nearer to him than his jugular vein. (Surah Qaf: 16)
Anyone who comprehends this truth understands that Allah is his only friend, protector, and helper. In this way, the secret of the prayer in Surat al-Fatiha, the first Surah, is revealed "You alone we worship. You alone we ask for help." In the same way, the believer understands that everything in the world happens by the will of Allah, functioning according to the destiny He has set out for it, and can never step outside His will. This is the understanding of the secret revealed in the verse below:
Everyone in the heavens and earth belongs to Him. All are submissive to Him. (Surat ar-Rum: 26)
Realizing that space is only a perception removes all misunderstandings and doubts as to how life in the Hereafter will be lived. Most who do not believe in the Hereafter or who doubt its existence cannot understand how the universe, which they imagine to be fixed and unalterable, will come to an end, to be replaced by a brand new world containing Heaven and Hell. The fact is, the very universe that they imagine to be fixed and unalterable consists of the totality of perceptions revealed by Allah to their souls. For Allah, it is a simple matter to remove one of a person’s perceptions and give another in its stead. In the same way that you can have a dream, but find yourself in an entirely different world on awakening (the world you imagine to be "real"), so in the same way you will make the transition from the life of this world to the Hereafter. The universe you imagine to be fixed and unalterable, but which really exists only through Allah’s creation at every moment, will disappear in a great tumult, following which Heaven and Hell will be created.
Everyone who understands that matter is an illusion, that space is a perception in our minds, and that he lives in a world created by Allah in the sphere of imagination and perceptions, will be vouchsafed many more secrets. Unlike most other people, he will be saved from the confusion of struggling to understand "causes" (the events and entities created by Allah). He will resort only to active prayer, which is the only true cause. He will know that in truth, both good and evil come from Allah, and will pray to—and seek help from—Him in all matters. He will not be consumed by desire for goods and property because he knows that he can only make contact with the perceptions of the material possessions that people so magnify in their own eyes—for instance, grand houses, luxury cars, expensive clothes and social and political prestige—inside his mind. He will attach no value to them, knowing that Allah has created these splendid-looking adornments as tests. He gives them and takes them away, from whomsoever He wishes.
Anyone who understands that matter and space are illusions is freed from fearing any entity other than Allah. Everything he sees is a perception created by Allah, and no one can do anything to him without Allah’s willing it. Allah is the only being worthy of fear. Anyone who understands that will have attained the superior moral values of the prophets, as described in the following verse:
[Allah praises] those who convey Allah’s Message and fear Him, fearing no one except Allah… (Surat al-Ahzab: 39)
… The life of this world is just the enjoyment of delusion.
Relations of Cause and Effect Determined by Allah
One who understands that matter and space are illusions grasps yet another important secret unknown to most people: The cause-and-effect relationships that apply in this world are not the result of the physical properties of matter or interactions between people. Since matter is only a perception, it can have no physical effects. Every physical effect is created separately as a perception. A stone, for instance, does not break a window; the images of the throwing of the stone and the breaking of the window are created separately. The lifting force of water that keeps a ship afloat or the aerodynamic lift that keeps a plane aloft are created as illusions. All such "forces" actually belong to Allah. Allah reveals this truth in the Qur’an as follows:
Have they not looked at the birds above them, with wings outspread and folded back? Nothing holds them up but the All-Merciful. He sees all things. (Surat al-Mulk: 19)
Do you not see that Allah has made everything on the earth subservient to you and the ships running upon the sea by His command? He holds back the heaven, preventing it from falling to the earth—except by His permission. Allah is All-Compassionate to mankind, Most Merciful. (Surat al-Hajj: 65)
Also, a believer who grasps this secret will develop meaningful relationships with others unlike the superficial cause-and-effect type of relationships that most people accept. Because Allah has created all people and their destinies, the various cause-and-effect relationships among people take the form determined by Him. In one verse, for instance, Allah reveals this secret:
You who believe! You are only responsible for yourselves. The misguided cannot harm you as long as you are guided. All of you will return to Allah, and He will inform you about what you were doing. (Surat al-Ma’ida: 105)
If Muslims attain the true path, then those who deviate from it can never harm them. This is Allah's law, although it applies only to believers who comprehend His might and believe in Him, as is due. In another verse, Allah reveals another law:
Anyone who acts rightly, male or female, being a believer, We will give them a good life and We will recompense them according to the best of what they did. (Surat an-Nahl: 97)
For believers, many secrets like this make the world a very different place. For unbelievers, life in this world is a place of suffering, full of troubles, fears, doubts and tension. But for believers, it becomes a foretaste of Paradise.