Reality as generally perceived is the state of things that actually exists or that is actually experienced or seen.
In scientific tradition, what is observable comes under the purview of reality but in its widest sense the term reality includes everything that is observable and comprehensible.
Reality in an Islamic perspective is quite different. It is at once being, knowledge and bliss. It means that reality indicates actuality implying the state of existence, whether comprehensible or beyond our comprehension, but it has a force to persist and influence others.
It is a source of consciousness and makes humans aware of himself and of the external world. It is linked with truth and goodness and as such most beneficial to human being.
The fact is that reality is not limited only to the appearance of a phenomenon, or as it exists, but it also contains the spirit, power or force that gives it a distinct form, assign particular function and determine its purpose.
There is an ontological structure behind it that determines its nature and functioning in a particular framework. The reality which we observe in everyday life is the reflection of a vital force that provides the former with vitality and buoyancy to exist and operate. The events and activities that take place or crop up in everyday life are the manifestation of human cogitation of transcendental reality in its true or deviational forms.
In Islamic doctrine the principal, primordial and the Absolute Reality is Allah, the Most Powerful, the Most Knowledgeable, Just and full of Wisdom. The Qur’an categorically explains:
That is because Allah is the (only) Reality, and because whatever else they invoke besides Him is falsehood; and because Allah – He is the Most High, Most Great (Qur’an, 30; 31).
He is the Creator of the world and all things that lie in between heaven and earth reflect His attributes in one way or the other. They get vitality and strength to exist, persist, operate in the world and perform the function allocated to them.
The phenomenal world has two aspects: physical and transcendental. One is visible and the other is invisible. Both are integrated with each other and their integrated view gives the idea of the nature of the existence of objects, tangible and intangible.
The phenomenal world which we observe by our senses is only the partial reality and not the whole. The other aspect of that world is the force and vitality that enables it to exist, operate and maintain its buoyancy. This directly links with the Absolute Reality which gives it a form and establishes a pattern according to which it operates and assigns a purpose which it has to fulfil.
We are, thus, surrounded by two realities; phenomenal and transcendental. Phenomenal reality is easier to grasp as it can be observed and experienced by our five senses. Every individual directly comes in contact with it, develop certain set of ideas of how to face it, treat it and use it.
Transcendental reality lies within the phenomenal one, provides it with vitality and activates it to operate. It can be identified by the sources of knowledge other than the senses. Humans can know it when they develop extensive knowledge, ponder over the working of the phenomenal reality and have access to those twin sources of metaphysical knowledge and certitude, namely revelation and intellection.
Humans are so much involved in the gratification of their bodily urges and in the fulfilment of the aspiration of their egos that they only consider phenomenal reality important and as such explore it.
The catastrophe of modern particularly scientific knowledge is that it has reduced reality to the sense perceived world and consequently reduced God and in fact all spiritual realms of being to the category of the abstract and finally to the unreal.
The result is that modern man has manipulated the interpretation of reality, removed it “as a category pertaining to God used it according to his/her own advantage and pleasure and constructed other realities accordingly.