Nietzsche once said, ‘What is Truth, but a lie agreed upon.’ While this is true in a philosophical discourse, it also makes one wonder as to what truth is then? What is truth or what is reality and what is their true natures? One understands, in a sense, that truth might as well be a relative term and not an absolute reality. In a nutshell, what is true to us today might not have been true for people who have lived before us as well as for the people who would live after our times. They might, in turn, get to find out that our truth is not true for them in their time. Therefore, truth and reality might only be relative terms and not absolute in nature.
On the contrary, the statement that truth is not absolute is actually an absolute statement within itself. How can one take an absolute statement if one agrees that even truth is not absolute? If truth is not absolute then nothing might be absolute then how can a statement stating truth not to be absolute, absolute? In a similar notion, truth is only relative, is again an absolute statement. In this world of uncertainty and relativity and also in my quest to seek knowledge, I have realised that nothing may actually be absolute. Was it not Bertrand Russell who once said, ‘Not to be absolutely certain is, I think, one of the essential things in rationality.’ Now according to this statement if one is to look at things with rationality and logic one might as well find out that nothing is absolutely certain in terms of rationality and hence might only be relative. What is truth then? What is relative truth? Is truth absolute or relative? What is reality? Is reality relative? and if it is relative, what is relative reality then?
Man used to think that earth is the centre of everything and all other planets including the sun revolves around it. It was a reality for people of that era. Then man progressed and found out that sun was stationary and that everything revolves around it, including earth. That became a reality or the truth. Similarly, man progressed and said at a time, for quite some time, that earth has a gravitational pull as well as all heavenly bodies and the world was swayed in to that with Newton till the time Einstein said that it is not the pull causing gravity, it is indeed the bent caused in time-space by any given celestial body including earth that pushes down due to that curvature. It might also be proved and then it will become truth or reality until the time man evolves in science, makes more discoveries, and concludes another thing thereby falsifying the truth of our time with another truth of his time. Therefore, truth or reality, as we know them, may only be relative. The big bang theory, theories of special and general relativity and other concepts will be challenged and new shall emerge in this process of evolution that has no bounds, knows no halt. Therefore, truth or reality in this context, shall remain relative.
Man has always been intrigued by the metaphysical questions. Any why not, when these are the basic questions that arise in our minds. Who am I? What is God? What is this universe? What is my relation or purpose in this grand scheme? Many philosophers have attempted in the past to think about such notions and to argue over their nature. Many have been thinking on these lines long before any religion. This causes confusion and doubt and hence, the one who ponders, never finds an answer and gets overly anxious to find one again. Something that is ultimate, concrete- something that can be trusted- and in the process one’s belief is put to the test. One grows up considering many things to be real and true yet time changes perspectives and new theories and values are assigned to old dogma- and that goes on.
Nevertheless, here in the midst of all this confusion an idealist like me would put the question- Is this all how it is meant to be? That the world is made up of matter and material and that brain is material too? Is conscience a by-product of such material? I do not think so. I cannot digest this, with logic and with reason, no matter how much I think.
Spirit or soul existed before man and would tend to exist after man and be in a state of continuous existence even after this bodily life ends- then it is not material but the conscience that gave rise to material. This hence means that there is someone who has a grand scheme of things. He is the commander and controller of nature. Be it the reality of the celestial bodies or quantum physics, everything is happening through a grand scheme of arrangement which follows a set pattern. There is chaos and there is harmony in this pattern. Our conscience and reason demands us to believe that there is someone who is greater than all of us, and therefore one cannot escape the calling of faith that it is God Himself, Allah Pak Himself, who has created this whole scheme of affairs.
Whilst my thoughts might be taken as biased, given that I am a Muslim and have a strong conviction in the philosophy of Islam, yet this has transpired in to a solution, an understanding, a belief, that will not be challenged and a staunch framework of things, the nature of things and the nature of nature. I understand why the philosopher of the west fails to comprehend this notion, it is only because no matter how much we think and understand through observation and experience, find out through research and prove or dispel it with experimentation, the human thought and progress cannot leave this dimension of time and space.
We are in a way locked or chained in time and space and whatever we think or understand has to be within the confines of this time and space. It really makes me laugh when we talk about freedom and liberty. Are we really free? I do not think so, given the contexts of time and space and even timespace, man’s thought and progress cannot go beyond this challenging limitation of the mind and conscience composed of what we believe to be true and real within this time and space. As Allama Iqbal said,
‘Tere azad bandon ki, na ye dunia na wo dunia …Yahan marne ki pabandi, wahan Jiney ki pabandi’For your free man (O Lord!) Neither is this world, nor the Hereafter …Here, the obedience to death, there, the obedience to life.
But wait! Hold on! There is a way! There is a state of mind that can cross this ‘event horizon’ and see through the limitations of time and space. It takes the logical eyes of belief and reason triggered by faith at a higher conscience level to take a leap beyond this quagmire of relative reality to be able to see, through the eyes of the spirit, the true nature of things and the existence and oneness of God. It is the greatest path through which any thinker, philosopher, ponderer, scientist (for all scientists before science were actually philosophers of their time) may only be able to appreciate the Kingdom of God. The realm of the (in the words of Professor Rafique Akhtar) ‘Ultimate Now.’
I’m really in a different realm of senses where nothing that the eye can see makes sense anymore however this revelation is what makes this insanity, overwhelmingly digestible happily, and through the eyes of the mind, comprehendible. It is indeed God who was always there in the past, who is always there in the present and who will always be in the future. I would even go beyond and state that for Him the past and future cease to exist, as time ceases to exist before Him, and He remains always in the state of a perpetual Now.
It wasn’t the quest for quantum physics that landed me here. I was listening to a lecture of an Idealist philosopher at Oxford, Professor Keith Ward on youtube called ‘The Idealist View of Reality’ that instigated me to get some concepts right. But when I did that I was able to relate all of it to how an idealist mind, including mine, functions in its thought process of trying to understand God, life and the world. When you understand these things in terms with cosmic and quantum physics and then refer to them wearing the goggles of metaphysics in ones thought process, pondering over idealist philosophy, the mind simply takes you in to a time and space where nothing is what seems to be, given that even time and space, as we know them, are also relative terms. Eventually, the concept of reality and existence is destined to be shaken to the bone.
It is for this reason that Allah Pak highlights in Chapter Takassur of the noble Quran the difference between Ilm-Al-Yaqin (knowledge of certainty) and Ain-Al-Yaqin (eye of certainty). If one does not believe, with certainty, through the knowledge that He has bestowed upon one, through the Quran and the Prophet Mohammad (SAWW-PBUH), one is surely destined to believe, with certainty, when one would behold the end of time and the day of reckoning- the Day of Judgement.
One can see God’s essence in things big and small. From the grand scheme of things like the cosmos, universe and the world around us to little things like honesty, generosity, kindness, greatness, love, sympathy, helping humanity, being of service to mankind and sharing love and mercy with fellow human being- the blessings, presence and essence of Allah Pak is everywhere. That is the true beauty of God for ‘He is Beautiful and He likes beauty.’
My message is thus clear that in order to achieve the noblest state in the eyes of God, just as He explains it in the Chapter Asr in the holy Quran and commands us all to believe, be righteous in deeds and advise each other to truth and to patience. This means that one has to have faith, be on the right path and advise others to truth and to perseverance, by sharing love, mercy and kindness- for it He who is the absolute reality, the absolute truth.