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Quranic Sciences

Manifest (ظاهر) versus Hidden (باطن) Bounty

The bounties and blessings of Allah (SWT) can either be of the apparent / Dhahir type which is obvious to us, or it can be of the hidden / Batin type which requires contemplation and reflection on our part to identify and recognize such bounty.  We often fail to realize that Ne'am are not only what our senses detect, what our eyes see, or what we feel.  Allah (SWT) makes this distinction in the Quran when He says,

 

"وأسبغ عليكم نعمه ظاهرة وباطنة"

 

And He has completed and perfected His Graces upon you, both apparent and hidden. [31:20]

 

Examples of the apparent Ne'am that are related to our senses are what we eat and wear, our shelter, health, appearance, and lawful pleasures of this world.  According to Tafseer Bayan Al-Sa'ada fi Maqamaat Al 'Ibadah by Al-Janabedhi, the most honorable of such bounties is one which brings forth the permanent blessings of the Hereafter, related to prophethood, the message, its acceptance by general pledge of allegiance (bay'a), the apparent invitation towards Islam, and the laws of the divine revelation.  As for the hidden bounties, examples are knowledge, wisdom, guidance to doing righteous deeds, recognition, the intellect, and also the pleasures and delights of Paradise in the Hereafter. 

 

And the most honorable of such type according to this exegesis is the divinely appointed Wali / guardian and the belief in his Wilayah / guardianship, its acceptance by giving the oath of allegiance to Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS), accepting the unseen invitation to Islam and the laws of Wilayah. 

 

It is narrated that Imam Al-Baqir (AS) used to say, “The apparent bounty is the Prophet (SA) and the message of Tawheed (Oneness) and Ma'refatullah (recognition of God).  As for the hidden Ne’mat, it is our Wilayah (AhlulBayt) and our Mawada (love).” 

 

And according to Imam Al-Kadhem (AS), “The apparent bounty is الإمام الظاهر(the manifest leader) and the unseen bounty is الإمام الغائب(occulted Imam).”  In the words of Imam Ali (AS) as cited in Majma' Al-Bayan fi Tafseer Al Quran by Sheikh Tabarsi, “There are six types of bounties (Ne'am): Islam, Quran, Prophet Muhammad (SA), Satr / protection, 'Afeya / good health, and needlessness of what is in people's hands.”

Adapted from: "Brief Analysis of Ne'ma (Bounty) in the Holy Qur'an" by: "Jerrmein Abu Shahba"