Invisible Realms – Commentary by Sally Jo Gilbert de Vargas

“They ask thee concerning the Spirit. Say: ‘The Spirit is by command of my Lord. Of knowledge it is only a little that is communicated to you.’”  (Qur’an 17:85)

There is traffic and trade in the invisible realms.”  ~Rumi

How can I write about the Spirit when only a little knowledge of it has been communicated to us human mortals?  That would be presumptuous, indeed.  It was Lao Tsu who astutely reminded us, “Those who know, do not say; those who say, do not know.” It takes a healthy dose of deep humility to admit that we cannot ever know certain aspects of God’s plan and purpose. Yet, it doesn’t make sense to use that as an excuse not to learn all we can about our own purpose and the best ways to achieve higher understanding.  The word knowledge (ilm in Arabic) is the second most frequently used word in the Qur’an, after the word Allah.  Even though our knowledge will always be incomplete, it is still vastly important to pursue.  The Prophet Mohammad emphasized that the most important kind of knowledge is knowledge of oneself.  “Know thyself and you shall know thy Lord.” The nineteenth century Sufi Sheikh Abd Al-Kader said, “The search has no conclusion.  Knowledge of Allah is without end.”  The Qur’an has many verses which encourage us to learn more about God and our relationship to Him, and include the injunction, “…only those imbued with understanding…” For example, “Those who listen to the Word and follow the best of it, those are the ones on whom Allah has guided. And they are the ones imbued with understanding.” (Qur’an: 39:18)

How can we gain access to the invisible realms that Rumi extols?  The most important access is through deep meditation. “Silence is the language of God.  Everything else is a poor translation.”  (Rumi)  In the Qur’an, we are guided to spiritual practices such as regular prayer and the study and contemplation of holy scriptures. Spending time in the natural world, noticing and contemplating the “signs of God” also gives us access to the invisible realms.  Above all, the most frequently mentioned virtue in the Qur’an is “doing righteous deeds.”  

For, Believers are those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a tremor in their hearts, and when they hear His signs rehearsed, find their faith strengthened, and put (all) their trust in their Lord; who establish regular prayers and spend (freely) out of the gifts We have given them for sustenance: Such in truth are the believers: they have grades of dignity with their Lord, and forgiveness, and generous sustenance.

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