It is clear that there are numerous benefits in the sun’s rising, but since it is tied to a regular law, supplications are not offered for its rising and thanks are not given. And since because of the law it is a part of human knowledge that it will rise again tomorrow, it is not counted among the matters of the Unseen. But the particular occurences of rain do not follow any law, so men are all the time obliged to take refuge at the divine court with prayers and supplications. Human knowledge has been unable to specify the times of precipitation, men therefore consider it a special bounty proceeding from the treasury of mercy alone, and truly offer thanks.
In consequence the verse includes the time rain falls among “the five hidden things.” Deducing the preliminaries of rain with instruments in observatories and specifying the times of precipitation is not knowing the Unseen, but knowing by studying some of its preliminaries when it has emerged from the World of the Unseen and drawn close to the Manifest World. When the most hidden events of the Unseen occur, or when they are close to occurring, they may be perceived through a sort of premonition. But that is not knowing the Unseen, but knowing that something exists or is close to existence. In fact, I sometimes perceive the rain twenty-four hours before it arrives due to a sensitivity in my nerves. That is to say, the rain has preliminaries, forerunners; they make themselves felt through a sort of dampness, making it known that rain is to follow. Just like a law, this situation is a means of reaching matters that have left the World of the Unseen but not yet entered the Manifest World. But to know when rain will fall that has not yet set foot in the Manifest World, nor left through a particular divine wish the treasury of mercy, is peculiar to the One All-Knowing of the Unseen.
THE SECOND MATTER
Learning by means of X-rays whether a child in the womb is male or female is not contrary to the meaning of the verse, “And He Who knows what is in the wombs,”(31:34) which refers to the Unseen. For what is intended by the verse are the preliminaries of the child’s particular capacity and the appointed course of its life, which it will acquire in the future, and even the wondrous stamp of the Eternally Besought One on its face – the child being known in this way is particular to the One All-Knowing of the Unseen.1 Even if a hundred thousand X-ray-like minds of men were to combine, they still could not discover its true features, each of which is a mark distinguishing the child from all the other members of the human
See, Bukhari, Bad’ al-khalq, 6; Anbiya’, 1; Muslim, Qadar,1.