From the Risale-i Nur Collection
On the Nature and Purposes of Man, Life and All Things
by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi
Translated from the Turkish by Şükran Vahide
The Words / First Word - p.15
IN THE NAME OF GOD,
THE MERCIFUL, THE COMPASSIONATE
And from Him do we seek help.
All praise be to God, the Sustainer of All the Worlds,
and blessings and peace be upon our master Muhammad,
and on all his Family and Companions.
THE MERCIFUL, THE COMPASSIONATE
And from Him do we seek help.
All praise be to God, the Sustainer of All the Worlds,
and blessings and peace be upon our master Muhammad,
and on all his Family and Companions.
The First Word
Bismillah, “In the Name of God,” is the start of all things good. We too shall start with it. Know, O my soul! Just as this blessed phrase is a mark of Islam, so too it is constantly recited by all beings through their tongues of disposition. If you want to know what an inexhaustible strength, what an unending source of bounty is Bismillah, listen to the following story which is in the form of a comparison. It goes like this:
Someone who makes a journey through the deserts of Arabia has to travel in the name of a tribal chief and enter under his protection, for in this way he may be saved from the assaults of bandits and secure his needs. On his own
The Words / First Word - p.16
he will perish in the face of innumerable enemies and needs. And so, two men went on such a journey and entered the desert. One of them was modest and humble, the other proud and conceited. The humble man assumed the name of a tribal chief, while the proud man did not. The first travelled safely wherever he went. If he encountered bandits, he said: “I am travelling in the name of such-and-such tribal leader,” and they did not molest him. If he came to some tents, he was treated respectfully due to the name. But the proud man suffered indescribable calamities throughout his journey. He both trembled before everything and begged from everything. He was abased and became an object of scorn.
My proud soul! You are the traveller, and this world is a desert. Your impotence and poverty have no lim it, and your enemies and needs are endless. Since it is thus, take the name of the Pre-Eternal Ruler and Post-Eternal Lord of the desert and be saved from begging before the whole universe and trembling before every event.
Yes, this phrase is a treasury so blessed that your infinite impotence and poverty bind you to an infinite power and mercy; it makes your impotence and poverty a most acceptable intercessor at the Court of One All-Powerful and Compassionate. The person who acts saying, “In the Name of God,” resembles someone who enrolls in the army. He acts in the name of the government; he has fear of no one; he speaks, performs every matter, and withstands everything in the name of the law and the name of the government.
At the beginning we said that all beings say “In the Name of God” through the tongue of disposition. Is that so?
Indeed, it is so. If you were to see that a single person had come and had driven all the inhabitants of a town to a place by force and compelled them to work, you would be certain that he had not acted in his own name and through his own power, but was a soldier, acting in the name of the government and relying on the power of the king.
In the same way, all things act in the name of Almighty God, for minute things like seeds and grains bear huge trees on their heads; they raise loads like mountains. That means all trees say: “In the Name of God,” fill their hands from the treasury of mercy, and offer them to us. All gardens say: “In the Name of God,” and become cauldrons from the kitchens of Divine power in which are cooked numerous varieties of different foods. All blessed animals like cows, camels, sheep, and goats, say: “In the Name of God,” and produce springs of milk from the abundance of mercy, offering us a most delicate and pure food like the water of life in the name of the Provider. The roots and rootlets, soft as silk, of plants, trees, and grasses say: “In the Name of God,” and pierce and pass through hard rock and earth.
The Words / First Word - p.17
Mentioning the name of God, the name of the Most Merciful, everything becomes subjected to them. The roots spreading through hard rock and earth and producing fruits as easily as the branches spread through the air and produce fruits, and the delicate green leaves retaining their moisture for months in the face of extreme heat, deal a slap in the mouths of Naturalists and jab a finger in their blind eyes, saying: “Even heat and hardness, in which you most trust, are under a command. For like the Staff of Moses, each of those silken rootlets conform to the command of, And We said, O Moses, strike the rock with your staff,1 and split the rock. And the delicate leaves fine as cigarette paper recite the verse, O fire be coolness and peace2 against the heat of the fire, each like the members of Abraham (UWP).
Since all things say: “In the Name of God,” and bearing God’s bounties in God’s name, give them to us, we too should say: “In the Name of God.” We should give in the name of God, and take in the name of God. And we should not take from heedless people who neglect to give in God’s name.
Question: We give a price to people, who are like tray-bearers. So what price does God want, Who is the true owner?
The Answer: Yes, the price the True Bestower of Bounties wants in return for those valuable bounties and goods is three things: one is remembrance, another is thanks, and the other is reflection. Saying, “In the Name of God” at the start is remembrance, and, “All praise be to God” at the end is thanks. And perceiving and thinking of those bounties, which are priceless wonders of art, being miracles of power of the Unique and Eternally Besought One and gifts of His mercy, is reflection. However foolish it is to kiss the foot of a lowly man who conveys to you the precious gift of a king and not to recognize the gift’s owner, it is a thousand times more foolish to praise and love the apparent source of bounties and forget the True Bestower of Bounties.
O my soul! If you do not wish to be foolish in that way, give in God’s name, take in God’s name, begin in God’s name, and act in God’s name. And that’s the matter in a nutshell!
1. Qur’an, 2:60.
2. Qur’an, 21:69.
The Words / The Second Station of the Fourteenth Flash - p.18
The Second Station of the Fourteenth Flashes
This, which has been included here because of its relevance, concerns six of the thousands of mysteries contained in In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
‘In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate’
NOTE: A bright light from In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate concerning Divine Mercy appeared to my dull mind from afar. I wanted to record it for myself in the form of notes, and to hunt it down and capture it, and circumscribe the light with twenty to thirty Mysteries. But unfortunately I was not able to do this at the present time and the twenty or thirty Mysteries were reduced to five or six.
When I say: “Oh, man!”, I mean myself. And while this lesson is directed particularly to my own soul, I refer it as the Second Station of the Fourteenth Flash for the approval of my meticulous brothers in the hope that it may benefit those with whom I am connected spiritually and whose souls are more prudent than mine. This lesson looks to the heart more than the mind, and regards spiritual pleasure rather than rational proofs.
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
[The Queen] said: “Ye chiefs! Here is-delivered to me-a letter worthy of respect. It is from Solomon, and is [as follows]:‘In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.’” 1
A number of mysteries will be mentioned in this Station.
I saw one manifestation of In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate as follows:
On the face of the universe, the face of the earth, and the face of man are three Stamps of dominicality one within the other and each showing samples of the others.
1. Qur’an, 27:29-30.
The Words / The Second Station of the Fourteenth Flash - p.19
T h e F i r s t is the Great Stamp of Godhead, which is manifest through the mutual assistance, co-operation, and embracing and corresponding to one another of beings in the totality of the universe. This looks to In the Name of God.
T h e S e c o n d is the Great Stamp of Divine Mercifulness, which is manifest through the mutual resemblance and proportion, order, harmony, favour and compassion in the disposal, raising and administration of plants and animals on the face of the earth. This looks to In the Name of God, the Merciful.
T h e n there is the Exalted Stamp of Divine Compassionateness, which is manifest through the subtleties of Divine beneficence, fine points of Divine clemency, and rays of Divine compassion on the face of man’s comprehensive nature. This looks to the Compassionate in In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
That is to say, In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate is the sacred title of three Stamps of Divine Oneness, which form a luminous line on the page of the world, and a strong cord, and shining filament. That is, through being revealed from above, the tip of In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate rests on man, the fruit of the universe and miniature copy of the world. It binds the lower world to the Divine Throne. It is a way for man to ascend to the Divine Throne.
In order not to overwhelm minds by Divine Unity, which is apparent in the boundless multiplicity of creatures, the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition constantly points out the manifestation of Divine Oneness within Divine Unity. For example, the sun encompasses numberless things with its light. In order to consider the sun itself in the totality of its light, a most extensive conceptual ability and comprehensive view is necessary. So, lest the sun itself be forgotten, it is displayed in every shining object by means of its reflection. And in accordance with the capacity of each, all shining objects display the sun’s qualities, such as its light and heat, together with the manifestation of its essence. And just as in accordance with their capacities, all lustrous objects show the sun together with all its attributes, so too do the sun’s qualities, like its light and heat and the seven colours in its light, all encompass all the things facing it.
In the same way, And God’s is the highest similitude1 -but let there be no mistake in the comparison-just as Divine Oneness and Eternal Besoughtedness have a manifestation together with all the Divine Names in everything, in animate creatures in particular, and especially in man’s mirror-like essence, so too through Divine Unity does each of the Divine Names connected
2. Qur’an, 16:60.
The Words / The Second Station of the Fourteenth Flash - p.20
to beings encompass all beings. Thus, lest minds become overwhelmed by Divine Unity and hearts forget the Most Pure and Holy Essence, the Qur’an constantly puts before the eyes the Stamp of Divine Oneness within Divine Unity. And that is In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate, which points out the three important points of the Stamp.
What makes this boundless universe rejoice is clearly Divine Mercy. And what illuminates these dark beings is self-evidently Divine Mercy. And what fosters and raises creatures struggling within these endless needs is self-evidently again Divine Mercy. And what causes the whole universe to be turned towards man, like a tree together with all its parts is turned towards its fruit, and causes it to look to him and run to his assistance is clearly Divine Mercy. And what fills and illuminates boundless space and the empty, vacant world and makes it rejoice is self-evidently Divine Mercy. And what designates ephemeral man for eternity and makes him the addressee and beloved of a Pre-Eternal and Post-Eternal One is self-evidently Divine Mercy.
Oh man! Since Divine Mercy is such a powerful, inviting, sweet, assisting lovable truth, say: In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate, adhere to this truth and be saved from absolute desolation and the pains of unending needs. Draw close to the throne of the Pre-Eternal and Post-Eternal Monarch, and through the compassion and rays of Divine Mercy, become the addressee, friend, and beloved of that Monarch.
Indeed, to gather with wisdom around man the realms of beings in the universe, and to make them hasten to meet all his needs with perfect order and favour is clearly one of two situations. Either each realm of beings in the universe itself knows man, and obeys him, runs to help him, which just as it is completely irrational is also impossible in many respects, or an absolutely impotent being like man has to possess the power of the mightiest absolute sovereign, or this assistance occurs through the knowledge of an Absolutely Powerful One behind the veil of the universe. That is to say, it is not that the different beings in the universe know man, but that they are the evidences of a Knowing, Compassionate One being acquainted with him and knowing him.
Oh man! Come to your senses! Is it at all possible that the All-Glorious One, Who causes all the varieties of creatures to turn towards you and stretch out their hands to assist you, and causes them to say: “Here we are!” in the face of your needs, is it possible that He does not know you, is not acquainted with you, does not see you? Since He does know you, He informs you that He knows you through His Mercy. So, you know Him too, and with respect let Him know that you know Him, and understand with
The Words / The Second Station of the Fourteenth Flash - p.21
certainty that what subjugates the vast universe to an absolutely weak, absolutely impotent, absolutely needy, ephemeral, insignificant creature like you, and despatches it to assist you is the truth of Divine Mercy, which comprises wisdom, favour, knowledge, and power.
Most certainly, a Mercy such as this requires universal and sincere thanks, and earnest and genuine respect. Therefore, say: In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate, which is the interpreter and expression of such sincere thanks and genuine respect. And make it the means of attaining to the Mercy, and an intercessor at the Court of the All-Merciful One.
Indeed, the existence and reality of Divine Mercy is as clear as the sun. For just as a woven tapestry centred on one point is formed by the order and situation of the threads of its warp and weft coming from all directions, so too the luminous threads extending from the manifestation of a thousand and one Divine Names in the vast sphere of the universe weave such a seal of compassionateness, tapestry of clemency, and seal of benevolence within a Stamp of Mercy that it demonstrates itself to minds more brilliantly than the sun.
The Beauteous All-Merciful One, Who orders the sun and moon, the elements and minerals, plants and animals like the warp and weft of a vast woven tapestry through the rays of His thousand and one Names, and causes them to serve life; and demonstrates His compassion through the exceedingly sweet and self-sacrificing compassion of all mothers, plant and animal; and subjugates animate creatures to human life, and from this demonstrates man’s importance and a most fine and lovely large tapestry of Divine dominicality, and manifests His most brilliant Mercy, has, in the face of His own absolute lack of need made His Mercy an acceptable intercessor for animate creatures and man.
Oh man! If you are truly a human being, say: In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. Find that intercessor. For sure, it is clearly, self-evidently, Divine Mercy which, without forgetting or confusing any of them raises, nurtures, and administers the four hundred thousand different plant and animal species on the earth at precisely the right time, and with perfect order, wisdom, and beneficence, and stamps the Seal of Divine Oneness on the face of the globe of the earth. And just as the existence of Divine Mercy is as certain as the existence of the beings on the face of the earth, so too do the beings form as many evidences to its reality as their own number.
Like on the face of the earth there is such a Seal of Mercy and Stamp of Divine Oneness, so also on the face of man’s nature is a Stamp of Divine Mercy which is not inferior to the Stamp of Compassion and vast Stamp of Mercy on the face of the universe. Simply, man possesses a comprehensiveness like being a point of focus of a thousand and one Divine Names.
The Words / The Second Station of the Fourteenth Flash - p.22
Oh man! Is it at all possible that the One Who gives you this face, and places such a Stamp of Mercy and Seal of Oneness on it would leave you to your own devices, attach no importance to you, pay no attention to your actions, make the whole universe, which is turned towards you, futile and pointless, and make the tree of creation rotten and insignificant with decayed fruit? Would He cause to be denied His Mercy, which is as obvious as the sun, and His Wisdom, which is as clear as light, neither of which can in any way be doubted, nor are in any way deficient? God forbid!
Oh man! You should know that there is a way to ascend to the throne of Divine Mercy, and that is, In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. If you want to understand how important this way of ascent is, look at the beginning of the one hundred and fourteen chapters of the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition, and at the beginnings of all estimable books, and at the start of all good works. And a clear proof of the God-determined grandeur of In the Name of God is that the very foremost Islamic scholars like Imam Shafi’i (may God be pleased with him) said: “Although In the Name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate is one verse, it was revealed one hundred and fourteen times in the Qur’an.”
To declare: “You alone do we worship” in the face of the manifestation of Divine Unity within boundless multiplicity is not sufficient for everyone; the mind wanders. It is necessary to possess a heart as broad as the globe of the earth in order to observe the Unique and Single One behind the unity in the totality of beings, and to say: “You alone do we worship, and from You alone do we seek help.”3 As a consequence of this, so that the Seal of Divine Oneness should be apparent on all species and realms of beings just as it is shown clearly on individual objects, and that they should call to mind the Unique and Single One, it is shown within the Stamp of Divine Mercy. Thus everyone at every level may turn to the Most Pure and Holy One, and saying: “You alone do we worship, and from You alone do we seek help,” address Him directly.
It is in order to express this mighty mystery and clearly point out the Seal of Divine Mercy that the All-Wise Qur’an suddenly mentions the smallest sphere and most particular matter when describing the vastest sphere of the universe, for example, the creation of the heavens and the earth. And so that the mind does not wander, nor the heart drown, and the spirit may find directly its True Object of Worship, it opens the subject of man’s creation and man’s voice, and the subtle details of the bounties and wisdom in his features, for example, while mentioning the creation of the heavens and
3. Qur’an, 1:5.
The Words / The Second Station of the Fourteenth Flash - p.23
earth. The verse,
And among His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and in your colours4
demonstrates this truth in a miraculous fashion.
Within innumerable creatures and an infinite multiplicity, there are sorts and degrees of Stamps of Divine Unity like concentric circles from the greatest Stamp to the smallest. But however clear that Unity is, it is still a unity within multiplicity. It cannot truly address observers. It is because of this that there has to be the Stamp of Divine Oneness behind Unity. So that unity does not call to mind multiplicity, and directly before the Most Pure and Holy One a way may be opened up to the heart.
Furthermore, in order to direct gazes towards the Stamp of Divine Oneness and attract hearts towards it, a most captivating design, shining light, agreeable sweetness, pleasing beauty, and powerful truth, which is the Stamp of Divine Mercy and Seal of Divine Compassion, has been placed on it. For sure, it is the strength of that Mercy which attracts the gazes of conscious beings, draws them to It, and causes them to reach the Seal of Oneness and to observe the Unique and Single One, and from that to manifest the true address in You alone do we worship, and from You alone do we seek help.
Thus, it is through In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate being the index of the Sura al-Fatiha and a concise summary of the Qur’an that it is the sign and interpreter of this mighty mystery. One who acquires this sign may travel through the levels of Divine Mercy. And one who causes this interpreter to speak may learn the mysteries of Divine Mercy and see the lights of Divine Compassion and pity.
There is a Hadith which goes something like this:
“God created man in the form of the All-Merciful One.”5
It has been interpreted by some Sufis in an extraordinary way inappropriate to the tenets of belief. Some of them who were ecstatics even considered man’s spiritual nature to be ‘in the form of the All-Merciful’. Since ecstatics are mostly immersed in contemplation and confused, they are perhaps to be excused in holding views contrary to reality. But on consideration, those in their senses cannot accept their ideas which are contrary to the fundamentals of belief. If they do, they are in error.
Indeed, the Most Pure and Holy Deity, Who administers with order the
4. Qur’an, 30:22.
5. “Indeed, Allah created Adam in the form of the Most Merciful.” Bukhari, Isti’dhan 1; Muslim, Birr 115; Musnad, Janna ii, 22, 244, 251, 315, 323, 434, 463, 519.
The Words / The Second Station of the Fourteenth Flash - p.24
whole universe as though it was a palace or house, and spins the stars as though they were particles and causes them to travel through space with wisdom and ease, and employs minute particles as though they were orderly officials, has no partner, match, opposite, or equal. So also according to the meaning of the verse:
There is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He hears and sees [all things],6
He has no form, like, or peer, there is nothing resembling or similar to Him. However, according to the meaning and manner of comparison of the following verse,
And His is the highest similitude in the heavens and the earth, and He is Exalted in Might, Full of Wisdom,7
His actions, attributes, and Names may be considered. That is to say, there is allegory and comparison in regard to His actions. One aim of the above-mentioned Hadith is as follows: “Man is in a form showing the Divine Name of All-Merciful in its entirety.”
For sure, as we explained before, just as the Divine Name of All-Merciful is manifest through the rays of a thousand and one Names on the face of the universe, and is apparent through the innumerable manifestations of God’s absolute dominicality on the face of the earth, so also is the complete manifestation of the Name All-Merciful apparent in a small measure in man’s comprehensive form, like on the face of the earth and the face of the universe.
A further indication is this: the evidences to the Necessarily Existent One of places of manifestation like animate creatures and man, who are proofs of and mirrors to the All-Merciful and Compassionate One, are so certain, clear, and obvious that just as it may be said of a shining mirror which reflects the image of the sun: “That mirror is the sun,” indicating to the clarity of its brilliance and evidence, so also it has been said and may be said: “Man is in the form of the All-Merciful One,” indicating to the clearness of his evidence and completeness of his connection. It is as a consequence of this mystery that the more moderate of those who believed in ‘the unity of existence’ said: “There is no existent but He,” as a way of expressing the clarity of this evidence and perfection of connection.
O God! O Most Merciful One! Most Compassionate One! Through the truth of ‘In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate’ have mercy on us as befits Your Compassionateness, and allow us to understand the mysteries of ‘In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate’ as befits Your Mercifulness. AMEN.
6. Qur’an, 42:11.
7. Qur’an, 30:27.
The Words / The Second Station of the Fourteenth Flash - p.25
O unhappy man struggling within a boundless impotence and endless want! You should understand just what a valuable means and acceptable intercessor is Divine Mercy. For Divine Mercy is the means to an All-Glorious Sovereign in Whose army both the stars and minute particles serve together in perfect order and obedience. And that All-Glorious One and Sovereign of Pre-Eternity and Post-Eternity is self-sufficient, He is utterly without need.
He is rich without limit being in no respect needy of the universe and beings. The whole universe is under His command and direction, utterly obedient beneath His majesty and grandeur, submissive before His sublimity. That is Divine Mercy for you, Oh man! It raises you to the presence of the One absolutely lacking any need, the Eternal Sovereign, and makes you His friend, addressee, and well-loved servant. But just as you cannot reach the sun, are far from it and can in no way draw close to it, although the sun’s light gives you its reflection and manifestation by means of your mirror, in the same way you are infinitely distant from the Most Pure and Holy One, the Sun of Pre-Eternity and Post-Eternity, and cannot draw close to Him, but the light of His Mercy makes Him closer to us.
And so, O man! He who finds this Mercy finds an eternal unfailing treasury of light. And the way to find it is through following the Practices of the Most Noble Prophet (Upon whom be blessings and peace), who was the most brilliant exemplar and representative of Mercy, its most eloquent tongue and herald, and was described in the Qur’an as a ‘Mercy to All the Worlds.’
And the means to this embodiment of Mercy who is a Mercy to All the Worlds is to utter the prayer calling down God’s blessings upon him. Indeed, the meaning of this prayer is Mercy. As a prayer of Mercy for that living embodiment of Divine Mercy, it is the means of reaching the Mercy to All the Worlds. So, make this prayer the means to the Mercy to All the Worlds for yourself, and at the same time make him the means to the Mercy of the Most Merciful One.
The whole Muslim Community in all their great numbers uttering this prayer which is synonymous with Mercy for the Mercy to All the Worlds proves in brilliant fashion what a valuable Divine gift is Divine Mercy, and how broad is its sphere.
T o C o n c l u d e : Just as the most precious jewel in the treasury of Mercy and its doorkeeper is the Prophet Muhammad (Upon whom be blessings and peace), so too is its first key In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. And its most easy key the prayer for the Prophet.
O God! Through the truth of ‘In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate’ grant blessings
The Words / The Second Station of the Fourteenth Flash - p.26
and peace to the one whom You sent as a mercy to all the worlds as befits Your Mercy, and in veneration of him, and to all his Family and Companions. And grant us Mercy so as to make us free of want for the mercy of any other than You from among Your creatures. AMEN.
Glory be unto You! We have no knowledge save that which You have taught us. Indeed, You are All-Knowing, All-Wise.(8)
8. Qur'an, 2:32
The Words / Second Word - p.27
The Second Word
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Those who believe in the Unseen.1
If you want to understand what great happiness and bounty, what great pleasure and ease are to be found in belief in God, listen to this story which is in the form of a comparison:
One time, two men went on a journey for both pleasure and business. One set off in a selfish, inauspicious direction, and the other on a godly, propitious way.
Since the selfish man was both conceited, self-centred, and pessimistic, he ended up in what seemed to him to be a most wicked country due to his pessimism. He looked around and everywhere saw the powerless and the unfortunate lamenting in the grasp of fearsome bullying tyrants, weeping at their destruction. He saw the same grievous, painful situation in all the places he travelled. The whole country took on the form of a house of mourning. Apart from becoming drunk, he could find no way of not noticing this grievous and sombre situation. For everyone seemed to him to be an enemy and foreign. And all around he saw horrible corpses and despairing, weeping orphans. His conscience was in a state of torment.
The other man was godly, devout, fair-minded, and with fine morals so that the country he came to was most excellent in his view. This good man saw universal rejoicing in the land he had entered. Everywhere was a joyful festival, a place for the remembrance of God overflowing with rapture and happiness; everyone seemed to him a friend and relation. Throughout the country he saw the festive celebrations of a general discharge from duties accompanied by cries of good wishes and thanks. He also heard the sound of a drum and band for the enlistment of soldiers with happy calls of “God is Most Great!” and “There is no god but God!” Rather than being grieved at the suffering of both himself and all the people like the first miserable man, this fortunate man was pleased and happy at both his own joy and that of all the inhabitants. Furthermore, he was able to do some profitable trade. He offered thanks to God.
1. Qur’an, 2:3.
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After some while he returned and came across the other man. He understood his condition, and said to him: “You were out of your mind. The ugliness within you must have been reflected on the outer world so that you imagined laughter to be weeping, and the discharge from duties to be sack and pillage. Come to your senses and purify your heart so that this calamitous veil is raised from your eyes and you can see the truth. For the country of an utterly just, compassionate, beneficent, powerful, order-loving, and kind king could not be as you imagined, nor could a country which demonstrated this number of clear signs of progress and achievement.” The unhappy man later came to his senses and repented. He said, “Yes, I was crazy through drink. May God be pleased with you, you have saved me from a hellish state.”
O my soul! Know that the first man represents an unbeliever, or someone depraved and heedless. In his view the world is a house of universal mourning. All living creature are orphans weeping at the blows of death and separation. Man and the animals are alone and without ties being ripped apart by the talons of the appointed hour. Mighty beings like the mountains and oceans are like horrendous, lifeless corpses. Many grievous, crushing, terrifying delusions like these arise from his unbelief and misguidance, and torment him.
As for the other man, he is a believer. He recognizes and affirms Almighty God. In his view this world is an abode where the Names of the All-Merciful One are constantly recited, a place of instruction for man and the animals, and a field of examination for man and jinn. All animal and human deaths are a demobilization. Those who have completed their duties of life depart from this transient world for another, happy and trouble-free, world so that place may be made for new officials to come and work. The birth of animals and humans marks their enlistment into the army, their being taken under arms, and the start of their duties. Each living being is a joyful regular soldier, an honest, contented official. And all voices are either glorification of God and the recitation of His Names at the outset of their duties, and the thanks and rejoicing at their ceasing work, or the songs arising from their joy at working. In the view of the believer, all beings are the friendly servants, amicable officials, and agreeable books of his Most Generous Lord and All-Compassionate Owner. Very many more subtle, exalted, pleasurable, and sweet truths like these become manifest and appear from his belief.
That is to say, belief in God bears the seed of what is in effect a Tuba-Tree of Paradise, while unbelief conceals the seed of a Zakkum-Tree of Hell.
That means that salvation and security are only to be found in Islam and belief. In which case, we should continually say, “Praise be to God for the religion of Islam and perfect belief.”
The Words / Third Word - p.29
The Third Word
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
O you people, worship...1
If you want to understand what great profit and happiness lie in worship, and what great loss and ruin lie in vice and dissipation listen to and take heed of the following story which is in the form of a comparison:
One time, two soldiers received orders to proceed to a distant city. They set off and travelled together until the road forked. At the fork was a man who said to them, “The road on the right causes no loss at all, and nine out of ten of those who take it receive a high profit and experience great ease. While the road on the left provides no advantages, and nine out of ten of its travellers make a loss. But they are the same as regards distance. Only there is one difference: those who take the left-hand road, which has no rules and no one in authority, travel without baggage and arms. They feel an apparent lightness and deceptive ease. Whereas those travelling on the right-hand road, which is under military order, are compelled to carry a kit-bag full of nutritious rations four okkas or so in weight and a superb army rifle of about two kiyyes2 which will overpower and rout every enemy...”
After the two soldiers had listened to what this instructive man had to say, the fortunate one took the road to the right. He loaded the weight of one batman onto his back, but his heart and spirit were saved from thousands of batmans of fear and feeling obliged to others. As for the other, luckless, soldier, he left the army. He did not want to conform to the order, and he went off to the left. He was released from bearing a load of one batman, but his heart was constricted by thousands of batmans of indebtedness, and his spirit crushed by innumerable fears. He proceeded on his way both begging from everyone and trembling before every object and every event until he reached his destination. And there he was punished as a mutineer and a deserter.
1. Qur’an, 2:21.
2. 1 okka = approx. 2.8 lbs. or 1,300 grams. Kiyye, another name for okka. 1 batman = 2 - 8 okkas or 5 - 30 lbs. [Tr.]
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As for the soldier who loved the order of the army, had guarded his kit-bag and rifle, and taken the right-hand road, he had gone on his way being obliged to no one, fearing no one, and with an easy heart and conscience until he reached the city he was seeking. There he received a reward worthy of an honourable soldier who had carried out his duty faithfully.
O rebellious soul, know that one of those two travellers represents those who submit to the Divine Law, while the other represents the rebellious and those who follow their own desires. The road is the road of life, which comes from the Spirit World, passes through the grave, and carries on to the hereafter. As for the kit-bag and rifle, they are worship and fear of God. There is an apparent burden in worship, but there is an ease and lightness in its meaning that defies description. For in the prescribed prayers the worshipper declares, “I bear witness that there is no god but God.” That is to say, he finds the door of a treasury of mercy in everything because he is believing and saying, “There is no Creator and Provider other than Him. Harm and benefit are in His hand. He is both All-Wise; He does nothing in vain, and He is All-Compassionate; His bounty and mercy are abundant.” And he knocks on the door with his supplication. Moreover, he sees that everything is subjugated to the command of his own Sustainer, so he takes refuge in Him. He places his trust in Him and relies on Him, and is fortified against every disaster; his belief gives him complete confidence.
Indeed, like with every true virtue, the source of courage is belief in God, and worship. And as with every iniquity, the source of cowardice is misguidance.
In fact, for a worshipper with a truly illuminated heart, it is possible that even if the globe of the earth became a bomb and exploded, it would not frighten him. He would watch it with pleasurable wonder as a marvel of the Eternally Besought One’s power. But when a famous degenerate philosopher with a so-called enlightened mind but no heart saw a comet in the sky, he trembled on the ground, and exclaimed anxiously: “Isn’t that comet going to hit the earth?” (On one occasion, America was quaking with fear at such a comet, and many people left their homes in the middle of the night.)
Yes, although man is in need of numberless things, his capital is as nothing, and although he is subject to endless calamities, his power too is as nothing. Simply, his capital and power extend only as far as his hand can reach. However, his hopes, desires, pains, and tribulations reach as far as the eye and the imagination can stretch. Anyone who is not totally blind can see and understand then what a great profit, happiness, and bounty for the human spirit, which is thus impotent and weak, and needy and wanting, are worship, affirmation of God’s unity, and reliance on God and submission to Him.
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It is obvious that a safe way is preferable to a harmful way, even if the possibility of its safety is only one in ten. But on the way of worship, which our matter here, there is a nine out of ten possibility of it leading to the treasury of eternal happiness, as well as its being safe. While it is established by the testimony -which is at the degree of consensus- of innumerable experts and witnesses that besides being without benefit, and the dissolute even confess to this, the way of vice and dissipation ends in eternal misery. According to the reports of those who have uncovered the mysteries of creation this is absolutely certain.
In Short: Like that of the hereafter, happiness in this world too lies in worship and being a soldier for Almighty God. In which case, we should constantly say: “Praise be to God for obedience to him and success,” and we should thank Him that we are Muslims...
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The Fourth Word
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
The prescribed prayers are the pillar of religion.1
If you want to understand with the certainty that two plus two equals four just how valuable and important are the prescribed prayers, and with what little expense they are gained, and how crazy and harmful is the person who neglects them, pay attention to the following story which is in the form of a comparison:
One time, a mighty ruler gave each of two of his servants twenty-four gold pieces and sent them to settle on one of his rich, royal farms two months’ distance away. “Use this money for your tickets,” he commanded them, “and buy whatever is necessary for your house there with it. There is a station one day’s distance from the farm. And there is both road-transport, and a railway, and boats, and aeroplanes. They can be benefited from according to your capital.”
The two servants set off after receiving these instructions. One of them was fortunate so that he spent a small amount of money on the way to the station. And included in that expense was some business so profitable and pleasing to his master that his capital increased a thousandfold. As for the other servant, since he was luckless and a layabout, he spent twenty-three pieces of gold on the way to the station, wasting it on gambling and amusements. A single gold piece remained. His friend said to him: “Spend this last gold piece on a ticket so that you will not have to walk the long journey and starve. Moreover, our master is generous; perhaps he will take pity on you and forgive you your faults, and put you on an aeroplane as well. Then we shall reach where we are going to live in one day. Otherwise you will be compelled to walk alone and hungry across a desert which takes two months to cross.” The most unintelligent person can understand how foolish, harmful, and senseless he would be if out of obstinacy he did not spend that single remaining gold piece on a ticket, which is like the key to a treasury, and instead spent it on vice for passing pleasure. Is that not so?
1. TirmidhI, Iman, 8; Ibn Maja, Fitan, 12; Musnad, v, 231; al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak, ii, 76
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O you who do not perform the prescribed prayers! And O my own soul, which does not like to pray! The ruler in the comparison is our Sustainer, our Creator. Of the two travelling servants, one represents the devout who perform their prayers with fervour, and the other, the heedless who neglect their prayers. The twenty-four pieces of gold are life in every twenty-four-hour day. And the royal domain is Paradise. As for the station, that is the grave. While the journey is man’s passage to the grave, and on to the resurrection, and the hereafter. Men cover that long journey to different degrees according to their actions and the strength of their fear of God. Some of the truly devout have crossed a thousand-year distance in a day like lightning. And some have traversed a fifty-thousand-year distance in a day with the speed of imagination. The Qur’an of Mighty Stature alludes to this truth with two of its verses.
The ticket in the comparison represents the prescribed prayers. A single hour a day is sufficient for the five prayers together with taking the ablutions. So what a loss a person makes who spends twenty-three hours on this fleeting worldly life, and fails to spend one hour on the long life of the hereafter; how he wrongs his own self; how unreasonably he behaves. For would not anyone who considers himself to be reasonable understand how contrary to reason and wisdom such a person’s conduct is, and how far from reason he has become, if, thinking it reasonable, he gives half of his property to a lottery in which one thousand people are participating and the possibility of winning is one in a thousand, and does not give one twenty-fourth of it to an eternal treasury where the possibility of winning has been verified at ninety-nine out of a hundred?
Moreover, the spirit, the heart, and the mind find great ease in prayer. And it is not trying for the body. Furthermore, with the right intention, all the other acts of someone who performs the prescribed prayers become like worship. He can make over the whole capital of his life to the hereafter in this way. He can make his transient life permanent in one respect...
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The Fifth Word
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Indeed, God is with those who fear Him and those who do good.1
If you want to see what a truly human duty and what a natural, appropriate result of man’s creation it is to perform the prescribed prayers and not to commit serious sins, listen to and take heed of the following comparison:
Once, at a time of general mobilization, two soldiers found themselves together in a regiment. One was well-trained and conscientious, the other, a raw recruit and self-centred. The conscientious soldier concentrated on training and the war, and did not give a thought to rations and provisions, for he knew that it was the state’s duty to feed and equip him, treat him if he was ill, and even to put the food in his mouth if the need arose. He knew that his essential duty was to train and fight. But he would also attend to some of the rations and equipment as part of his work. He would boil up the saucepans, wash up the mess-tins, and bring them. If it was then asked him: “What are you doing?”, he would reply: “I am doing fatigue duty for the state.” He would not say: “I am working for my living.”
The raw recruit, however, was fond of his stomach and paid no attention to training and the war. “That is the state’s business. What is it to me?”, he would say. He thought constantly of his livelihood, and pursuing it would leave the regiment and go to the market to do shopping. One day his well-trained friend said to him:
“Your basic duty is training and fighting, brother. You were brought here for that. Trust in the king; he will not let you go hungry. That is his duty. Anyway, you are powerless and wanting; you cannot feed yourself everywhere. And this is a time of mobilization and war; he will tell you that you are mutinous and will punish you. Yes, there are two duties which concern us. One is the king’s duty: sometimes we do his fatigue duties and he feeds us for it. The other is our duty: that is training and fighting, and sometimes the king helps us with it.”
1. Qur’an, 16:128.
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Of course you will understand in what danger the layabout soldier would be if he did not pay attention to the striving, well-trained one.
O my lazy soul! That turbulent place of war is this stormy worldly life, and the army divided into regiments, human society. The regiment in the comparison is the community of Islam in this century. One of the two soldiers is a devout Muslim who knows the obligations of his religion and performs them, and struggles with Satan and his own soul in order to give up serious misdoings and not to commit sins. While the other is a degenerate wrongdoer who is so immersed in the struggle for livelihood that he casts aspersions on the True Provider, abandons his religious obligations, and commits any sins that come his way as he makes his living. As for the training and instruction, it is foremost the prescribed prayers and worship. And the war is the struggle against the soul and its desires, and against the satans among jinn and men, to deliver them from sin and bad morals, and save the heart and spirit from eternal perdition. And the first of the two duties is to give life and sustain it, while the other is to worship and beseech the Giver and Sustainer of life. It is to trust in Him and rely on Him.
Indeed, whoever made and bestowed life, which is a most brilliant miracle of the Eternally Besought One’s art and a wonder of dominical wisdom, is the one who maintains and perpetuates it through sustenance. It cannot be another. Do you want proof? The most impotent and stupid animals are the best nourished; like fish, and worms in fruit. And it is the most helpless and delicate creatures who have the choicest food; like infants and the young of all species.
For sure, it is enough to compare fish with foxes, newly born animals with wild beasts, and trees with animals in order to understand that licit food is obtained not through power and will, but through impotence and helplessness. That is to say, someone who gives up performing the prescribed prayers because of the struggle for livelihood resembles the soldier who abandoned his training and trench and went and begged in the market. But to seek ones rations from the kitchens of the All-Generous Provider’s mercy after performing the prayers, and to go oneself so as not to be a burden on others is fine and manly. It too is a sort of worship.
Furthermore, man’s nature and spiritual faculties show that he is created for worship. For in respect of the power and actions necessary for the life of this world, he cannot compete with the most inferior sparrow. While in respect of knowledge and need, and worship and supplication, which are necessary for spiritual life and the life of the hereafter, he is like the monarch and commander of the animals.
O my soul! If you make the life of this world the aim of your life and work constantly for that, you will become like the lowest sparrow. But if
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you make the life of the hereafter your aim and end, and make this life the means of it and its tillage, and strive in accordance with it, then you will be like a lofty commander of the animals, and a petted and suppliant servant of Almighty God, and His honoured and respected guest.
Those are the two ways open to you! You can choose whichever you wish... So ask for guidance and success from the Most Compassionate of the Compassionate...
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The Sixth Word
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Verily God has purchased from the believers their persons and their property that Paradise might be theirs.1
If you wish to understand how profitable a trade it is, and how honour-able a rank, to sell one’s person and property to God, to be His slave and His soldier, then listen to the following comparison.
Once a king entrusted each of two of his subjects with an estate, including all necessary workshops, machinery, horses, weapons and so forth. But since it was a tempestuous and war-ridden age, nothing enjoyed stability; it was destined either to disappear or to change. The king in his infinite mercy sent a most noble lieutenant to the two men and by means of a compassionate decree conveyed the following to them:
“Sell me the property you now hold in trust, so that I may keep it for you. Let it not be destroyed for no purpose. After the wars are over, I will return it to you in a better condition than before. I will regard the trust as your property and pay you a high price for it. As for the machinery and the tools in the workshop, they will be used in my name and at my workbench. But the price and the fee for their use shall be increased a thousandfold. You will receive all the profit that accrues. You are indigent and resourceless, and unable to provide the cost of these great tasks. So let me assume the provision of all expenses and equipment, and give you all the income and the profit. You shall keep it until the time of demobilization. So see the five ways in which you shall profit! Now if you do not sell me the property, you can see that no one is able to preserve what he possesses, and you too will lose what you now hold. It will go for nothing, and you will lose the high price I offer. The delicate and precious tools and scales, the precious metals waiting to be used, will also lose all value. You will have the trouble and concern of administering and preserving, but at the same time be punished for betraying your trust. So see the five ways in which you may lose! Moreover, if you sell the property to me, you become my soldier and act in my name. Instead of a common prisoner or irregular soldier, you will be the free lieutenant of an exalted monarch.”
1. Qur’an, 9:111.
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After they had listened to this gracious decree, the more intelligent of the two men said:
“By all means, I am proud and happy to sell. I offer thanks a thousandfold.”
But the other was arrogant, selfish and dissipated; his soul had become as proud as the Pharaoh. As if he was to stay eternally on that estate, he ignored the earthquakes and tumults of this world. He said:
“No! Who is the king? I won’t sell my property, nor spoil my enjoyment.”
After a short time, the first man reached so high a rank that everyone envied his state. He received the favour of the king, and lived happily in the king’s own palace. The other by contrast fell into such a state that everyone pitied him, but also said he deserved it. For as a result of his error, his happiness and property departed, and he suffered punishment and torment.
O soul full of caprices! Look at the face of truth through the telescope of this parable. As for the king, he is the Monarch of Pre-Eternity and Post-Eternity, your Sustainer and Creator. The estates, machinery, tools and scales are your possessions while in life’s fold; your body, spirit and heart within those possessions, and your outward and inward senses such as the eye and the tongue, intelligence and imagination. As for the most noble lieutenant, it is the Noble Messenger of God; and the most wise decree is the Wise Qur’an, which describes the trade we are discussing in this verse:
Verily God has purchased from the believers their persons and property that Paradise might be theirs.
The surging field of battle is the tempestuous surface of the world, which ceaselessly changes, dissolves and reforms and causes every man to think:
“Since everything will leave our hands, will perish and be lost, is there no way in which we can transform it into something eternal and preserve it?”
While engaged in these thoughts, he suddenly hears the heavenly voice of the Qur’an saying:
“Indeed there is, a beautiful and easy way which contains five profits within itself.”
What is that way?
To sell the trust received back to its true owner. Such a sale yields profit fivefold.
The First Profit: Transient property becomes everlasting. For this waning life, when given to the Eternal and Self-Subsistent Lord of Glory and spent for His sake, will be transmuted into eternity. It will yield eternal fruits. The moments of one’s life will apparently vanish and rot like kernels and seeds. But then the flowers of blessedness and auspiciousness will open and bloom in the realm of eternity, and each will also present a luminous and reassuring aspect in the Intermediate Realm.
The Second Profit: The high price of Paradise is given in exchange.
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The Third Profit: The value of each limb and each sense is increased a thousandfold. The intelligence is, for example, like a tool. If you do not sell it to God Almighty, but rather employ it for the sake of the soul, it will become an ill-omened, noxious and debilitating tool that will burden your weak person with all the sad sorrows of the past and the terrifying fears of the future; it will descend to the rank of an inauspicious and destructive tool. It is for this reason that a sinful man will frequently resort to drunkenness or frivolous pleasure in order to escape the vexations and injuries of his intelligence. But if you sell your intelligence to its True Owner and employ it on His behalf, then the intelligence will become like the key to a talisman, unlocking the infinite treasures of compassion and the vaults of wisdom that creation contains.
To take another example, the eye is one of the senses, a window through which the spirit looks out on this world. If you do not sell it to God Almighty, but rather employ it on behalf of the soul, by gazing upon a handful of transient, impermanent beauties and scenes, it will sink to the level of being a pander to lust and the concupiscent soul. But if you sell the eye to your All-Seeing Maker, and employ it on His behalf and within limits traced out by Him, then your eye will rise to the rank of a reader of the great book of being, a witness to the miracles of dominical art, a blessed bee sucking on the blossoms of mercy in the garden of this globe.
Yet another example is that of the tongue and the sense of taste. If you do not sell it to your Wise Creator, but employ it instead on behalf of the soul and for the sake of the stomach, it sinks and declines to the level of a gatekeeper at the stable of the stomach, a watchman at its factory. But if you sell it to the Generous Provider, the the sense of taste contained in the tongue will rise to the rank of a skilled overseer of the treasuries of Divine compassion, a grateful inspector in the kitchens of God’s eternal power.
So look well, O intelligence! See the difference between a tool of destruction and the key to all being! And look carefully, O eye! See the difference between an abominable pander and the learned overseer of the Divine library! And taste well, O tongue! See the difference between a stable doorkeeper or a factory watchman and the superintendent of the treasury of God’s mercy!
Compare all other tools and limbs to these, and then you will understand that in truth the believer acquires a nature worthy of Paradise and the unbeliever a nature conforming to Hell. The reason for each of them attaining his respective value is that the believer, by virtue of his faith, uses the trust of his Creator on His behalf and within the limits traced out by Him, whereas the unbeliever betrays the trust and employs it for the sake of the instinctual soul.
The Fourth Profit: Man is helpless and exposed to numerous misfortunes. He is indigent, and his needs are numerous. He is weak, and the
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burden of life is most heavy. If he does not rely on the Omnipotent One of Glory, place his trust in Him and confidently submit to Him, his conscience will always be troubled. Fruitless torments, pains and regrets will suffocate him and intoxicate him, or turn him into a beast.
The Fifth Profit: Those who have experienced illumination and had unveiled to them the true nature of things, the elect who have witnessed the truth, are all agreed that the exalted reward for all the worship and glorification of God performed by your members and instruments will be given to you at the time of greatest need, in the form of the fruits of Paradise.
If you spurn this trade with its fivefold profit, in addition to being deprived of its profit, you will suffer fivefold loss.
The First Loss: The property and offspring to which you are so attached, the soul and its caprice that you worship, the youth and life with which you are infatuated, all will vanish and be lost; your hands will be empty. But they will leave behind them sin and pain, fastened on your neck like a yoke.
The Second Loss: You will suffer the penalty for betrayal of trust. For you will have wronged your own self by using the most precious tools on the most worthless objects.
The Third Loss: By casting down all the precious faculties of man to a level much inferior to the animals, you will have insulted and transgressed against God’s wisdom.
The Fourth Loss: In your weakness and poverty, you will have placed the heavy burden of life on your weak shoulders, and will constantly groan and lament beneath the blows of transience and separation.
The Fifth Loss: You will have clothed in an ugly form, fit to open the gates of Hell in front of you, the fair gifts of the Compassionate One such as the intelligence, the heart, the eye and the tongue, given to you to make preparation for the foundations of everlasting life and eternal happiness in the hereafter.
Now is it so difficult to sell the trust? Is it so burdensome that many people shun the transaction? By no means! It is not in the least burdensome. For the limits of the permissible are broad, and are quite adequate for man’s desire; there is no need to trespass on the forbidden. The duties imposed by God are light and few in number. To be the slave and soldier of God is an indescribably pleasurable honour. One’s duty is simply to act and embark on all things in God’s name, like a soldier; to take and to give on God’s behalf; to move and be still in accordance with His permission and law. If one falls short, then one should seek His forgiveness, say:
“O Lord! Forgive our faults, and accept us as Your slaves. Make us sure holders of Your trust until the time comes when it is taken from us. Amen!”, and make petition unto Him.
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The Seventh Word
If you want to understand what valuable, difficulty-resolving talismans are the two parts of the phrase I believe in God and the Last Day, which solve both the enigmatical riddle of creation and open the door of happiness for the human spirit, and what beneficial and curative medicines are reliance on your Creator and taking refuge in Him through patience and entreaty, and supplicating your Provider through thanks, and what important, precious, shining tickets for the journey to eternity -and provisions for the hereafter and lights for the grave- are listening to the Qur’an, obeying its commands, performing the prescribed prayers, and giving up serious sins, then listen and pay attention to this comparison:
One time a soldier fell into a most grave situation in the field of battle and examination, and the round of profit and loss. It was as follows:
The soldier was wounded with two deep and terrible wounds on his right and left sides and behind him stood a huge lion as though waiting to attack him. Before him stood a gallows which was putting to death and annihilating all those he loved. It was awaiting him too. Besides this, he had a long journey before him: he was being exiled. As the unfortunate soldier pondered over his fearsome plight in despair, a kindly person shining with light like Khidr appeared. He said to him: “Do not despair. I shall give you two talismans and teach you them. If you use them properly, the lion will become a docile horse for you, and the gallows will turn into a swing for your pleasure and enjoyment. Also I shall give you two medicines. If you follow the instructions, those two suppurating wounds will be transformed into two sweet-scented flowers called the Rose of Muhammad (PBUH). Also, I shall give you a ticket; with it, you will be able to make a year’s journey in a day as though flying. If you do not believe me, experiment a bit, so that you can see it is true.” The soldier did experiment a bit, and affirmed that it was true. Yes, I, that is, this unfortunate Said, affirm it too. For I experimented and saw it was absolutely true.
Some time later he saw a sly, debauched-looking man, cunning as the Devil, coming from the left bringing with him much ornamented finery, decorated pictures and fantasies, and many intoxicants. He stopped before the soldier, and said:
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“Hey, come on, my friend! Let’s go and drink and make merry. We can look at these pictures of beautiful girls, listen to the music, and eat this tasty food.” Then he asked him: “What is it you are reciting under your breath?”
“A talisman,” came the reply.
“Stop that incomprehensible nonsense! Let’s not spoil our present fun!” And he asked a second question: “What is that you have in your hand?”
“Some medicine,” the soldier replied.
“Throw it away! You are healthy, there is nothing wrong with you. It is the time of cheer.” And he asked: “What is that piece of paper with five marks on it?”
“It is a ticket and a rations card.”
“Oh, tear them up!”, the man said. “What need do we have of a journey this beautiful spring?” He tried to persuade him with every sort of wile, and the poor soldier was even a bit persuaded. Yes, man can be deceived. I was deceived by just such cunning deceptions.
Suddenly from the right came a voice like thunder. “Beware!”, it said. “Do not be deceived! Say to that trickster: ‘If you have the means to kill the lion behind me, remove the gallows from before me, repulse the things wounding my right and my left, and prevent the journey in front of me, then come on and do so! Show that you can and let us see it! Then say, come on, let’s go and enjoy ourselves. Otherwise be silent!’ Speak in the same way as that Khidr-like God-inspired man.”
O my soul, which laughed in its youth and now weeps at its laughter! Know that the unfortunate soldier is you, and man. The lion is the appointed hour. As for the gallows, it is death, decline, and separation, through which, in the alternation of night and day, all friends bid farewell and are lost. Of the two wounds, one is man’s infinite and troublesome impotence, while the other is his grievous and boundless poverty. The exile and journey is the long journey of examination which passes from the world of spirits through the womb and childhood to old age; through the world and the grave and the intermediate realm, to the resurrection and the Bridge of Sirat. As for the two talismans, they are belief in Almighty God and the hereafter.
Yes, through the second sacred talisman, death takes on the form of a mastered horse, a steed to take believing man from the prison of this world to the gardens of Paradise and the presence of the Most Merciful One. It is because of this that the wise who have seen death’s reality have loved it. They have wanted it before it came. And through the talisman of belief in God, the passage of time, which is decline and separation, death and decease and the gallows, takes on the form of the means to observe and contemplate with perfect pleasure the miracles of the All-Glorious Maker’s various, mul-
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ticoloured, ever-renewed embroideries, the wonders of His power, and the manifestations of His mercy. Yes, when mirrors reflecting the colours of the sun’s light are changed and renewed, and the images of the cinema changed, better, more beautiful scenes are formed.
As for the two medicines, one is trusting in God and patience, and the other is relying on the power of one’s Creator and having confidence in His wisdom. Is that the case? Indeed it is. What fear can a man have, who, through the certificate of his impotence, relies on a Monarch of the World with the power to command: “Be!” and it is.1 For in the face of the worst calamity, he says: Verily, to God do we belong, and verily to Him is our return,2 and places his trust in his Most Compassionate Sustainer. A person with knowledge of God takes pleasure from impotence, from fear of God. Yes, there is pleasure in fear. If a twelve-month baby was sufficiently intelligent and it was asked him: “What is most pleasurable and sweetest for you?”, he might well say: “To realize my powerlessness and helplessness, and fearing my mother’s gentle smack to at the same time take refuge in her tender breast.” But the compassion of all mothers is but a flash of the manifestation of Divine mercy. It is for this reason that the wise have found such pleasure in impotence and fear of God, vehemently declaring themselves to be free of any strength and power, and have taken refuge in God through their powerlessness. They have made powerlessness and fear an intercessor for themselves.
The second medicine is thanks and contentment, and entreaty and supplication, and relying on the mercy of the All-Compassionate Provider. Is that so? Yes, for how can poverty, want and need be painful and burdensome for a guest of an All-Generous and Munificent One Who makes the whole face of the earth a table of bounties and the spring a bunch of flowers, and Who places the flowers on the table and scatters them over it? Poverty and need take on the form of a pleasant appetite. The guest tries to increase his poverty in the same way he does his appetite. It is because of this that the wise have taken pride in want and poverty. But beware, do not misunderstand this! It means to be aware of one’s poverty before God and to beseech Him, not to parade poverty before the people and assume the air of a beggar.
As for the ticket and voucher, it is to perform the religious duties, and foremost the prescribed prayers, and to give up serious sins. Is that so? Yes, it is, for according to the consensus of those who observe and have knowledge of the Unseen and those who uncover the mysteries of creation, the provisions, light, and steed for the long, dark road to post-eternity may only be obtained through complying with the commands of the Qur’an and
1. Qur’an, 2:117, etc.
2. Qur’an, 2:156.
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avoiding what it prohibits. Science, philosophy, and art are worth nothing on that road. Their light reaches only as far as the door of the grave.
And so, O my lazy soul! How little and light and easy it is to perform the five daily prayers and give up the seven deadly sins! If you have the faculty of reason and it is not corrupted, understand how important and extensive are their results, fruits, and benefits! Say to the Devil and that man who were encouraging you to indulge in vice and dissipation: “If you have the means to kill death, and cause decline and transience to disappear from the world, and remove poverty and impotence from man, and close the door of the grave, then tell us and let us hear it! Otherwise, be silent! The Qur’an reads the universe in the vast mosque of creation. Let us listen to it. Let us be illuminated with that light. Let us act according to its guidance. And let us recite it constantly. Yes, the Qur’an is the word. That is what they say of it. It is the Qur’an which is the truth and comes from the Truth and says the truth and shows the truth and spreads luminous wisdom...”
O God! Illuminate our hearts with the light of belief and the Qur’an.
O God! Enrich us with the need of You and do not impoverish us with the lack of need of You. Make us free of our own strength and power, and cause us to take refuge in Your strength and power. Appoint us among those who place their trust in You, and do not entrust us to ourselves. Protect us with Your protection. Have mercy on us and have mercy on all believing men and women. And grant blessings and peace to our Master Muhammad, Your Servant and Prophet, Your Friend and Beloved, the Beauty of Your Dominion and the Sovereign of Your Art, the Essence of Your Favour and the Sun of Your Guidance, the Tongue of Your Proof and the Exemplar of Your Mercy, the Light of Your Creation and the Glory of Your Creatures, the Lamp of Your Unity in the Multiplicity of Your Creatures and the Discloser of the Talisman of Your Beings, the Herald of the Sovereignty of Your Dominicality and the Announcer of those things pleasing to You, the Proclaimer of the Treasuries of Your Names and the Instructor of Your Servants, the Interpreter of Your Signs and the Mirror of the Beauty of Your Dominicality, the Means of witnessing You and bearing witness to You, Your Beloved and Your Messenger whom You sent as a Mercy to All the Worlds, and to all his Family and Companions, and to his brothers among the prophets and messengers, and to Your angels and to the righteous among Your servants. AMEN.
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The Eighth Word
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
God, there is no god but He, the Ever-Living, the Self-Subsistent.1
Verily, the religion before God is Islam.2
If you want to understand this world, and man’s spirit within the world, and the nature and value of religion for man, and how the world is a prison if there is no True Religion, and that without religion man becomes the most miserable of creatures, and that it is O God! and, There is no god but God that solve this world’s talisman and deliver the human spirit from darkness, then listen to and consider this comparison:
Long ago, two brothers set off on a long journey. They continued on their way until the road forked. At the fork they saw a serious-looking man and asked him: “Which road is good?” He told them: “On the road to the right one is compelled to comply with the law and order, but within that hardship is security and happiness. However, on the left-hand road there is freedom and no restraint, but within its freedom lie danger and wretchedness. Now, the choice is yours!”
After listening to this, saying, I place my trust in God,3 the brother with a good character took the right road and conformed to the order and regulations. The other brother, who was immoral and a layabout, chose the road to the left just for the lack of restrictions. With our imaginations, we shall follow this man in his situation, which was apparently easy but in reality burdensome.
Thus, this man went up hill and down dale until he found himself in a desolate wilderness. He suddenly heard a terrifying sound and saw that a great lion had come out of the forest and was about to attack him. He fled. He came across a waterless well sixty yards deep, and in his fear jumped into it. He fell half-way down it where his hands met a tree. He clung on to it. The tree, which was growing out of the walls of the well, had two roots.
1. Qur’an, 3:2; 2:255.
2. Qur’an, 3:19.
3. Qur’an, 11:56
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Two rats, one white and one black, were attacking and gnawing through them. He looked up and saw that the lion was waiting at the top of the well like a sentry. He looked down and saw a ghastly dragon. It raised its head and drew it close to his foot thirty yards above. Its mouth was as big as the mouth of the well. Then he looked at the well’s walls and saw that stinging, poisonous vermin had gathered round him. He looked up at the mouth of the well and saw a fig-tree. But it was not an ordinary tree; it bore the fruit of many different trees, from walnuts to pomegranates.
Thus, due to his lack of thought and foolishness, the man did not understand that this was not just some ordinary matter, these things were not here by chance, and that there were mysterious secrets concealed in these strange beings. And he did not grasp that there was someone very powerful directing them. Now, although his heart, spirit, and mind were secretly weeping and wailing at this grievous situation, his evil-commanding soul pretended that it was nothing; it closed its ears to the weeping of his heart and spirit, and deceiving itself, started to eat the tree’s fruit as though it was in a garden. But some of the fruit were poisonous and harmful. Almighty God says in a Divine Hadith: “I am according to how my servants think of Me.”4
Thus, through his foolishness and lack of understanding, this unhappy man thought what he saw to be ordinary and the actual truth. So that is the way he was treated, and is treated, and will be treated. He neither dies so that he is saved from it, nor does he live - he is in such torment. Now we shall leave this ill-omened man in his torment and return, so that we may consider the situation of the other brother.
This fortunate and intelligent person went on his way, but he suffered no distress like his brother. For, due to his fine morals, he thought of good things and imagined good things. Everything was friendly and familiar to him. And he did not suffer any difficulty and hardship like his brother, for he knew the order and followed it. He found it easy. He went on his way freely and in peace and security. Then he came across a garden in which were both lovely flowers and fruits, and, since it was not looked after, rotting and filthy things. His brother had also entered such a garden, but he had noticed and occupied himself with the filthy things and they had turned his stomach, so he had left it and moved on without being able to rest himself. But this man acted according to the rule, ‘look on the good side of everything,’ and had paid no attention to the rotting things. He had benefited a lot from the good things, and taking a good rest, he had left and gone on his way.
Later, also like the first brother, he had entered a vast desert, and had suddenly heard the roar of a lion which was attacking him. He was frightened,
4. Bukhari, Tawhid, 15, 35; Muslim, Tawba, 1; Dhikr, 2, 19; Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 51; Da’wat, 131; Ibn Maja, Adab, 58; Darimi, Riqaq, 33; Musnad, ii, 251, 315, 391, 412, 445, 482, 516.
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but not as much as his brother. For, because of his good thoughts and positive attitude, he thought to himself: “This desert has a ruler, and it is possible that this lion is a servant under the ruler’s command,” and found consolation. But he still fled until he came across an empty well sixty yards deep. He threw himself into it. Like his brother, his hand clasped a tree half-way down and he remained suspended in the air. He looked and saw two animals gnawing through the tree’s two roots. He looked up and saw the lion, and looked down and saw the dragon. Just like his brother he was seeing a most strange situation. He was terrified like him, but his terror was a thousand times less than his brother’s. For his good morals had given him good thoughts, and good thoughts show the good side of everything. So, because of this, he thought as follows:
“These strange happenings are connected to someone. Also it seems that they are acting in accordance with a command. In which case, these matters contain a talisman. Yes, everything is happening at the command of a hidden ruler. Therefore, I am not alone; the hidden ruler is watching me, he is testing me, he is impelling me somewhere for some purpose, and inviting me there. A curiosity arising from this pleasant fear and these agreeable thoughts prompt me to say: I wonder who it is that is testing me, wants to make himself known, and is impelling me for some purpose on this strange road.”
Then, love for the owner of the talisman arose out of the desire to know him, and from that love arose the desire to solve the talisman. And from that desire arose the will to acquire good qualities which would please and gratify the talisman’s owner. Then he looked at the tree and saw it was a fig-tree, but it was bearing the fruits of thousands of trees. So then all his fear left him, for he understood that for certain the fig-tree was a list, an index, an exhibition. The hidden ruler must have attached samples of the fruits in the garden to the tree through a miracle and with a talisman, and must have adorned the tree in a way that would point to each of the foods he had prepared for his guests. For there is no other way a single tree could produce the fruits of thousands of different trees. Then he began to entreat that he would be inspired with the key to the talisman. He called out:
“O ruler of this place! I have happened upon you and I take refuge with you. I am your servant and I want to please you. I am searching for you.” After he had made this supplication, the walls of the well suddenly parted, and a door opened onto a wonderful, pleasant, quiet garden. Indeed, the dragon’s mouth was transformed into the door, and both it and the lion took on the forms of two servants; they invited him to enter. The lion even became a docile horse for him.
O my lazy soul! And O my imaginary friend! Come! Let us compare the position of these two brothers so that we can see how good comes of good and evil comes of evil. Let us find out.
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Look, the unhappy traveller on the left road is all the time trembling with fear waiting to enter the dragon’s mouth, while the fortunate one is invited into a blooming, splendid garden full of fruit. And the unfortunate one’s heart is being pounded by an awful terror and grievous fear, while the fortunate one is gazing at and observing strange things as a delightful lesson, with a pleasant fear and loving knowledge. Also the miserable one is suffering torments in desolation, despair, and loneliness, while the fortunate one is enjoying himself, full of hope, longing, and a sense of belonging. Furthermore, the unfortunate one sees himself as a prisoner subject to the attacks of wild beasts, while the fortunate one is an honoured guest who is on friendly terms and enjoying himself with the strange servants of his generous host. Also the unhappy one is hastening his torments by indulging in fruits which are apparently delicious but in fact poisonous. For the fruits are samples; there is permission to taste them so as to seek the originals and become customers for them, but there is no permission to devour them like an animal. But the fortunate one tastes them and understands the matter; he postpones eating them and takes pleasure in waiting. Moreover, the unfortunate one is wronging himself. Through his lack of discernment, he is making a truth and a situation which are as clear and bright as daylight into a dark and oppressive fear, into a hellish delusion. He does not deserve pity, nor does he have the right to complain to anyone.
For example, if a person at a pleasant banquet in a beautiful garden in summer among his friends makes himself drunk through filthy intoxicants, then imagines himself hungry and naked in the middle of winter among wild animals and starts shouting out and crying, he does not deserve to be pitied; he is wronging himself, and he is insulting his friends by imagining them to be wild beasts. Thus, the unfortunate brother is like this. But the fortunate one sees the truth. And the truth is good. Through perceiving the beauty of the truth, the fortunate brother is being respectful towards the truth’s owner. So he deserves his mercy. Thus, the meaning of the Qur’anic decree: “Know that evil is from yourself, and good is from God”5 becomes clear. If you make a comparison of other differences in the same way, you will understand that the evil-commanding soul of the first brother has prepared a sort of hell for him, while the good intention, good will, good character, and good thoughts of the other have allowed him to receive abundant bounty, experience true happiness and prosperity, and display shining virtue.
O my soul! And O you who is listening to this story together with my soul! If you do not want to be the unfortunate brother and want to be the fortunate one, listen to the Qur’an, obey its decrees, adhere to them, and act according to them.
5. See, Qur’an, 4:79.
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If you have understood the truths in this comparison, you will be able to make them correspond to the truths of religion, the world, man, and belief in God. I shall say the important ones, then you deduce the finer points yourself.
So, look! Of the two brothers, one is a believing spirit and a righteous heart. The other is an unbelieving spirit and a depraved heart. Of the two roads, the one to the right is the way of the Qur’an and belief in God, while the left one is the road of rebellion and denial. The garden on the road is man’s fleeting life in human society and civilization, where good and evil, and things good and bad and clean and dirty are found side by side. The sensible person is he who acts according to the rule: ‘Take what is pleasant and clear, and leave what is distressing and turbid,’ and goes on his way with tranquillity of heart. As for the desert, it is the earth and this world. And the lion is death and the appointed hour. The well is man’s body and the time of his life, while its sixty-yard depth points to the normal life-span of sixty years. And the tree is the period of life and the substance of life. The two animals, one white and one black, are night and day. The dragon is the road to the Intermediate Realm and pavilion of the hereafter, whose mouth is the grave. But for the believer, that mouth is a door opening from a prison onto a garden. As for the poisonous vermin, they are the calamities of this world. But for the believer they are like gentle Divine warnings and favours of the Most Merciful One to prevent him slipping off into the sleep of heedlessness. The fruits on the tree are the bounties of this world which the Absolutely Generous One has made in the form of a list of the bounties of the hereafter, and both as examples of them, and warnings, and samples inviting customers to the fruits of Paradise. And the tree producing numerous different fruits despite being a single tree indicate the seal of the ower of the Eternally Besought One, to the stamp of Divine dominicality and sovereignty. For ‘to make everything from one thing,’ that is, to make all plants and fruits from earth, and create all animals from a fluid, and to create all the limbs and organs of animals from a simple food, together with ‘making everything one thing,’ that is, arts like weaving a simple skin and making flesh particular to each animal from the great variety of foods that animals eat, is an inimitable stamp and seal peculiar to the Ruler of Pre-Eternity and Post-Eternity, Who is the Single, Eternally-Besought One. For sure, to make one thing everything, and everything one thing is a sign, a mark, peculiar to the Creator of all things, the One Powerful over all things.
As for the talisman, it is the mystery of the purpose of creation which is solved through the mystery of belief. And the key is There is no god but God, and, God, there is no god but He, the Ever-Living, the Self-Subsistent. The dragon’s mouth being transformed into the door into the garden is a sign that, although for the people of misguidance and rebellion the grave is a door opening, in desolation and oblivion, onto a grave distressing as a dungeon
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and narrow as a dragon’s stomach, for the people of the Qur’an and belief, it is a door which opens from the prison of this world onto the fields of immortality, from the arena of examination onto the gardens of Paradise, and from the hardships of life onto the mercy of the All-Merciful One. The savage lion turning into a friendly servant and a docile mount is a sign that, although for the people of misguidance, death is a bitter, eternal parting from all their loved ones, and the expulsion from the deceptive paradise of this world and the entry in desolation and loneliness into the dungeon of the grave, for the people of guidance and the Qur’an it is the means of joining all their old friends and beloved ones who have already departed for the next world, and the means of entering their true homeland and abode of everlasting happiness. It is an invitation to the meadows of Paradise from the prison of this world, and a time to receive the wage bestowed out of the generosity of the Most Merciful and Compassionate One for services rendered to Him, and a discharge from the hardship of the duties of life, and a rest from the drill and instruction of worship and examination.
In Short: Whoever makes this fleeting life his purpose and aim is in fact in Hell even if apparently in Paradise. And whoever is turned in all seriousness towards eternal life receives the happiness of both worlds. However difficult and distressing this world is for him, since he sees it as the waiting-room for Paradise, he endures it and offers thanks in patience...
O God! Appoint us among the people of happiness, safety, the Qur’an, and belief. Amen. O God! Grant peace and blessings to our Master Muhammad, and to his Family and Companions, to the number of all the letters of the Qur’an formed in all its words, represented with the permission of the Most Merciful One in the mirrors of the air waves on the recital of each of those words by all the Qur’an’s reciters from its first revelation to the end of time, and have mercy on us and on our parents, and have mercy on all believing men and women to the number of those words, through Your mercy, O Most Merciful of the Merciful. Amen. And All praise be to God, the Sustainer of All the Worlds.
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The Ninth Word
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
So glorify God when you reach evening and when you rise in the morning; for all praise is His in the heavens and on earth, and towards the end of the day and when you have reached noon.1
Brother! You ask me concerning the wisdom in the specified times of the five daily prayers. I shall point out only one of the many instances of wisdom in the times.
Yes, like each of the times of prayer marks the start of an important revolution, so also is each a mirror to Divine disposal of power and to the universal Divine bounties within that disposal. Thus, more glorification and extolling of the All-Powerful One of Glory have been ordered at those times, and more praise and thanks for all the innumerable bounties accumulated between each of the times, which is the meaning of the prescribed prayers. In order to understand a little this subtle and profound meaning, you should listen together with my own soul to the following five ‘Points’.
The meaning of the prayers is the offering of glorification, praise, and thanks to Almighty God. That is to say, uttering Glory be to God by word and action before God’s glory and sublimity, it is to hallow and worship Him. And declaring God is Most Great through word and act before His sheer perfection, it is to exalt and magnify Him. And saying All praise be to God with the heart, tongue, and body, it is to offer thanks before His utter beauty. That is to say, glorification, exaltation, and praise are like the seeds of the prayers. That is why these three things are present in every part of the prayers, in all the actions and words. It is also why these blessed words are each repeated thirty-three times after the prayers, in order to strengthen and reiterate the prayers’ meaning. The meaning of the prayers is confirmed through these concise summaries.
1. Qur’an, 30:17-18.
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The meaning of worship is this, that the servant sees his own faults, impotence, and poverty, and in the Divine Court prostrates in love and wonderment before dominical perfection, Divine mercy, and the power of the Eternally Besought One. That is to say, just as the sovereignty of dominicality demands worship and obedience, so also does the holiness of dominicality require that the servant sees his faults through seeking forgiveness, and through his glorifications and declaring Glory be to God proclaims that his Sustainer is pure and free of all defects, and exalted above and far from the false ideas of the people of misguidance, and hallowed and exempt from all the faults in the universe.
Also, the perfect power of dominicality requires that through understanding his own weakness and the impotence of other creatures, the servant proclaims God is Most Great in admiration and wonder before the majesty of the works of the Eternally Besought One’s power, and bowing in deep humility seeks refuge in Him and places his trust in Him.
Also, the infinite treasury of dominicality’s mercy requires that the servant makes known his own need and the needs and poverty of all creatures through the tongue of entreaty and supplication, and proclaims his Sustainer’s bounties and gifts through thanks and laudation and uttering All praise be to God. That is to say, the words and actions of the prayers comprise these meanings, and have been laid down from the side of Divinity.
Just as man is an example in miniature of the greater world and Sura al-Fatiha a shining sample of the Qur’an of Mighty Stature, so are the prescribed prayers a comprehensive, luminous index of all varieties of worship, and a sacred map pointing to all the shades of worship of all the classes of creatures.
The second-hand, minute-hand, hour-hand, and day-hand of a clock which tells the weeks look to one another, are examples of one another, and follow one another. Similarly, the alternations of day and night, which are like the seconds of this world -a vast clock of Almighty God- and the years which tell its minutes, and the stages of man’s life-span which tell the hours, and the epochs of the world’s life-span which tell the days look to one another, are examples of one another, resemble one another, and recall one another. For example:
The time of Fajr, the early morning: This time until sunrise resembles and calls to mind the early spring, the moment of conception in the mother’s womb, and the first of the six days of the creation of the heavens and earth; it recalls the Divine acts present in them.
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The time of Zuhr, just past midday: This resembles and points to midsummer, and the prime of youth, and the period of man’s creation in the lifetime of the world, and calls to mind the manifestations of mercy and the abundant bounties they contain.
The time of ‘Asr, afternoon: This is like autumn, and old age, and the time of the Final Prophet (PBUH), known as the Era of Bliss, and recalls the Divine acts and favours of the All-Merciful One present in them.
The time of Maghrib, sunset: Through recalling the departure of many creatures at the end of autumn, and man’s death, and the destruction of the world at the commencement of the resurrection, this time puts in mind the manifestations of Divine glory and sublimity, and rouses man from his slumbers of heedlessness.
The time of ‘Isha, nightfall. As for this time, by calling to mind the world of darkness veiling all the objects of the daytime world with a black shroud, and winter hiding the face of the dead earth with its white cerement, and even the remaining works of departed men dying and passing beneath the veil of oblivion, and this world, the arena of examination, being shut up and closed down for ever, it proclaims the awesome and mighty disposals of the All-Glorious and Compelling Subduer.
As for the nighttime, through putting in mind both the winter, and the grave, and the Intermediate Realm, it reminds man how needy is the human spirit for the Most Merciful One’s mercy. And the tahajjud prayer informs him what a necessary light it is for the night of the grave and darkness of the Intermediate Realm; it warns him of this, and through recalling the infinite bounties of the True Bestower, proclaims how deserving He is of praise and thanks.
And the second morning calls to mind the Morning of the Resurrection. For sure, however reasonable and necessary and certain the morning of this night is, the Morning of the Resurrection and the spring following the Intermediate Realm are certain to the same degree.
That is, just as each of these five times marks the start of an important revolution and recalls other great revolutions, so through the awesome daily disposals of the Eternally Besought One’s power, each calls to mind the miracles of Divine power and gifts of Divine mercy of both every year, and every age, and every epoch. That is to say, the prescribed prayers, which are an innate duty and the basis of worship and an incontestable debt, are most appropriate and fitting for these times.
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By nature man is extremely weak, yet everything touches him, and saddens and grieves him. Also he is utterly lacking in power, yet the calamities and enemies that afflict him are extremely numerous. Also he is extremely wanting, yet his needs are indeed many. Also he is lazy and incapable, yet life’s responsibilities are most burdensome. Also his humanity has connected him to the rest of the universe, yet the decline and disappearance of the things he loves and with which he is familiar continually pains him. Also his reason shows him exalted aims and lasting fruits, yet his hand is short, his life brief, his power slight, and his patience little.
It can be clearly understood from this how essential it is for a spirit in this state at the time of Fajr in the early morning to have recourse to and present a petition to the Court of an All-Powerful One of Glory, an All-Compassionate All-Beauteous One through prayer and supplication, to seek success and help from Him, and what a necessary point of support it is so that he can face the things that will happen to him in the coming day and bear the duties that will be loaded on him.
The time of Zuhr just past midday is the time of the day’s zenith and the start of its decline, the time when daily labours approach their achievement, the time of a short rest from the pressures of work, when the spirit needs a pause from the heedlessness and insensibility caused by toil, and a time Divine bounties are manifested. Anyone may understand then how fine and agreeable, how necessary and appropriate it is for the human spirit to perform the midday prayer, which means to be released from the pressure, shake off the heedlessness, and leave behind those meaningless, transient things, and clasping one’s hands at the Court of the True Bestower of Bounties, the Eternally Self-Subsistent One, to offer praise and thanks for all His gifts, and seek help from Him, and through bowing to display one’s impotence before His glory and tremendousness, and to prostrate and proclaim one’s wonder, love, and humility. One who does not understand this is not a true human being.
As for the time of Asr in the afternoon, it calls to mind the melancholy season of autumn and the mournful state of old age and the sombre period at the end of time. It is also when the matters of the day reach their conclusion, and the time the Divine bounties which have been received that day like health, well-being, and beneficial duties have accumulated to form a great total, and the time that proclaims through the mighty sun hinting by starting to sink that man is a guest-official and that everything is transient and inconstant. Now, the human spirit desires eternity and was created for it; it worships benevolence, and is pained by separation. Thus, anyone who is truly a human being may understand what an exalted duty, what an appropriate
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service, what a fitting way to repay a debt of human nature, indeed, what an agreeable pleasure it is to perform the afternoon prayer. For by offering supplications at the Eternal Court of the Everlasting Pre-Eternal One, the Eternally Self-Subsistent One, it has the meaning of taking refuge in the grace of unending, infinite mercy, and by offering thanks and praise in the face of innumerable bounties, of humbly bowing before the mightiness of His dominicality, and by prostrating in utter humility before the everlastingness of His Godhead, of finding true consolation of heart and ease of spirit, and being girded ready for worship in the presence of His grandeur.
The time of Maghrib at sunset recalls the disappearance amid sad farewells of the delicate, lovely creatures of the worlds of summer and autumn at the start of winter. It calls to mind the time when through his death, man will leave all those he loves in sorrowful departure and enter the grave. It brings to mind when at the death of this world amid the convulsions of its death-agonies, all its inhabitants will migrate to other worlds and the lamp of this place of examination will be extinguished. It is a time which gives stern warning to those who worship transient, ephemeral beloveds.
Thus, at such a time, for the Maghrib prayer, man’s spirit, which by its nature is a mirror desirous for an Eternal Beauty, turns its face towards the throne of mightiness of the Eternal Undying One, the Enduring Everlasting One, Who performs these mighty works and turns and transforms these huge worlds, and declaring God is Most Great over these transient beings, withdraws from them. Man clasps his hands in service of his Lord and rises in the presence of the Enduring Eternal One, and through saying: All praise be to God, he praises and extols His faultless perfection, His peerless beauty, His infinite mercy. Through declaring: You alone do we worship and from You alone we seek help,2 he proclaims his worship for and seeks help from His unassisted dominicality, His unpartnered Godhead, His unshared sovereignty. Then he bows, and through declaring together with all the universe his weakness and impotence, his poverty and baseness before the infinite majesty, the limitless power, and utter mightiness of the Enduring Eternal One, he says: All glory to My Mighty Sustainer, and glorifies his Sublime Sustainer. And prostrating before the undying Beauty of His Essence, His unchanging sacred attributes, His constant everlasting perfection, through abandoning all things other than Him, man proclaims his love and worship in wonder and self-abasement. He finds an All-Compassionate Eternal One. And through saying, All glory to my Exalted Sustainer, he declares his Most High Sustainer to be free of decline and exalted above any fault.
Then, he testifies to God’s unity and the prophethood of Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him). He sits, and on his own account offers as
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a gift to the Undying All-Beauteous One, the Enduring All-Glorious One the blessed salutations and benedictions of all creatures. And through greeting God’s Most Noble Messenger, he renews his allegiance to him and proclaims his obedience to his commands. In order to renew and illuminate his faith, he observes the wise order in this palace of the universe and testifies to the unity of the All-Glorious Maker. And he testifies to the Messengership of Muhammad the Arabian (Peace and blessings be upon him), who is the herald of the sovereignty of God’s dominicality, the proclaimer of those things pleasing to Him, and the interpreter of the signs and verses of the book of the universe. To perform the Maghrib prayer is this. So how can someone be considered a human being who does not understand what a fine and pure duty is the prayer at sunset, what an exalted and pleasurable act of service, what an agreeable and pleasing act of worship, what a serious matter, and what an unending conversation and permanent happiness it is in this transient guest-house?
At the time of ‘Isha at nightfall, the last traces of the day remaining on the horizon disappear, and the world of night enfolds the universe. As the All-Powerful and Glorious One, The Changer of Night and Day, turns the white page of day into the black page of night through the mighty disposals of His dominicality, it recalls the Divine activities of that All-Wise One of Perfection, The Subduer of the Sun and the Moon, turning the green-adorned page of summer into the frigid white page of winter. And with the remaining works of the departed being erased from this world with the passing of time, it recalls the Divine acts of The Creator and Life and Death in their passage to another, quite different world. It is a time that calls to mind the disposals of The Creator of the Heavens and the Earth’s awesomeness and the manifestations of His beauty in the utter destruction of this narrow, fleeting, and lowly world, the terrible death-agonies of its decease, and in the unfolding of the broad, eternal, and majestic world of the hereafter. And the universe’s Owner, its True Disposer, its True Beloved and Object of Worship can only be the One Who with ease turns night into day, winter into spring, and this world into the hereafter like the pages of a book; Who writes and erases them, and changes them.
Thus, at nightfall, man’s spirit, which is infinitely impotent and weak, and infinitely poor and needy, and plunged into the infinite darkness of the future, and tossed around amid innumerable events, performs the ‘Isha prayer, which has this meaning: like Abraham man says: I do not love those that set,3 and through the prayers seeks refuge at the Court of an Undying Object of Worship, an Eternal Beloved One, and in this transient world and fleeting life and dark world and black future he supplicates an Enduring,
3. Qur’an, 6:76.
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Everlasting One, and for a moment of unending conversation, a few seconds of immortal life, he asks to receive the favours of the All-Merciful and Compassionate One’s mercy and the light of His guidance, which will strew light on his world and illuminate his future and bind up the wounds resulting from the departure and decline of all creatures and friends.
Temporarily man forgets the hidden world, which has forgotten him, and pours out his woes at the Court of Mercy with his weeping, and whatever happens, before sleeping -which resembles death- he performs his last duty of worship. And in order to close favourably the daily record of his actions, he rises to pray; that is to say, he rises to enter the presence of an Eternal Beloved and Worshipped One in place of all the mortal ones he loves, of an All-Powerful and Generous One in place of all the impotent creatures from which he begs, of an All-Compassionate Protector so as to be saved from the evil of the harmful beings before which he trembles.
He starts with the Sura al-Fatiha, that is, instead of praising and being obliged to defective, wanting creatures, for which they are not suited, he extols and offers praise to The Sustainer of All the Worlds, Who is Absolutely Perfect and Utterly Self-Sufficient and Most Compassionate and All-Generous. Then he progresses to the address: You alone do we worship. That is, despite his smallness, insignificance, and aloneness, through man’s connection with The Owner of the Day of Judgement, Who is the Sovereign of Pre-Eternity and Post-Eternity, he attains to a rank whereat he is an indulged guest in the universe and an important official. Through declaring: You alone do we worship and from You alone do we seek help, he presents to Him in the name of all creatures the worship and calls for assistance of the mighty congregation and huge community of the universe. Then through saying: Guide us to the Straight Path, he asks to be guided to the Straight Path, which leads to eternal happiness and is the luminous way.
And now, he thinks of the mightiness of the All-Glorious One, of Whom, like the sleeping plants and animals, the hidden suns and sober stars are all soldiers subjugated to His command, and lamps and servants in this guest-house of the world, and uttering: God is Most Great, he bows down. Then he thinks of the great prostration of all creatures. That is, when, at the command of “Be!,” and it is,4 all the varieties of creatures each year and each century -even the earth, and the universe- each like a well-ordered army or an obedient soldier, is discharged from its duty, that is, when each is sent to the World of the Unseen, through the prostration of its decease and death with complete orderliness, it declares: God is Most Great, and bows down in prostration. Like they are raised to life, some in part and some the same, in the spring at an awakening and life-giving trumpet-blast from the command
4. Qur’an, 2:117, etc.
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of “Be!” and it is, and they rise up and are girded ready to serve their Lord, insignificant man too, following them, declares: God is Most Great! in the presence of the All-Merciful One of Perfection, the All-Compassionate One of Beauty in wonderstruck love and eternity-tinged humility and dignified self-effacement, and bows down in prostration; that is to say, he makes a sort of Ascension. For sure you will have understood now how agreeable and fine and pleasant and elevated, how high and pleasurable, how reasonable and appropriate a duty, service, and act of worship, and what a serious matter it is to perform the ‘Isha prayer.
Thus, since each of these five times points to a mighty revolution, is a sign indicating the tremendous dominical activity, and a token of the universal Divine bounties, it is perfect wisdom that being a debt and an obligation, the prescribed prayers should be specified at those times.
Glory be unto You! We have no knowledge save that which You have taught us; indeed You are All-Knowing, All-Wise.5
O God! Grant blessings and peace to the one whom You sent as a teacher to Your servants to instruct them in knowledge of You and worship of You, and to make known the treasures of Your Names, and to translate the signs of the book of the universe and as a mirror to its worship of the beauty of Your dominicality, and to all his Family and Companions, and have mercy on us and on all believing men and women. Amen. Through Your Mercy, O Most Merciful of the Merciful!
5. Qur’an, 2:32
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The Tenth Word
Resurrection and the Hereafter
[The reasons for my writing these treatises in the form of metaphors, comparisons and stories are to facilitate comprehension and to show how rational, appropriate, well-founded and coherent are the truths of Islam. The meaning of the stories is contained in the truths that conclude them; each story is like an allusion pointing to its concluding truth. Therefore, they are not mere fictitious tales, but veritable truths.]
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.
Look, then, to the signs of God’s mercy -how He restores life to the earth after its death- verily He it is Who quickens the dead, for He is powerful over all things.1
Brother, if you wish for a discussion of resurrection and the hereafter in simple and common language, in a straightforward style, then listen to the following comparison, together with my own soul.
Once two men were travelling through a land as beautiful as Paradise (by that land, we intend the world). Looking around them, they saw that everyone had left open the door of his home and his shop and was not paying attention to guarding it. Money and property were readily accessible, without anyone to claim them. One of the two travellers grasped hold of all that he fancied, stealing it and usurping it. Following his inclinations, he committed every kind of injustice and abomination. None of the people of that land moved to stop him. But his friend said to him:
“What are you doing? You will be punished, and I will be dragged into misfortune along with you. All this property belongs to the state. The people
1. Qur'an, 30:50.
NOTE: The main part of this translation of the Tenth Word is by Hamid Algar, Prof. of Middle East Studies in the Univ. of Califıornia, Berkeley, USA, and was first published in 1980. It has been slightly amended to fit the present work.
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of this land, including even the children, are all soldiers or government servants. It is because they are at present civilians that they are not interfering with you. But the laws here are strict. The king has installed telephones everywhere and his agents are everywhere. Go quickly, and try to settle the matter.”
But the empty-headed man said in his obstinacy: “No, it is not state property; it belongs instead to some endowment, and has no clear or obvious owner. Everyone can make use of it as he sees fit. I see no reason to deny myself the use of these fine things. I will not believe they belong to anyone unless I see him with my own eyes.” He continued to speak in this way, with much philosophical sophistry, and an earnest discussion took place between them.
First the empty-headed man said: “Who is the king here? I can’t see him,” and then his friend replied:
“Every village must have its headman; every needle must have its manufacturer and craftsman. And, as you know, every letter must be written by someone. How, then, can it be that so extremely well-ordered a kingdom should have no ruler? And how can so much wealth have no owner, when every hour a train2 arrives filled with precious and artful gifts, as if coming from the realm of the unseen? And all the announcements and proclamations, all the seals and stamps, found on all those goods, all the coins and the flags waving in every corner of the kingdom - can they be without an owner? It seems you have studied foreign languages a little, and are unable to read this Islamic script. In addition, you refuse to ask those who are able to read it. Come now, let me read to you the king’s supreme decree.”
The empty-headed man then retorted: “Well, let us suppose there is a king; what harm can he suffer from the minute use I am making of all his wealth? Will his treasury decrease on account of it? In any event, I can see nothing here resembling prison or punishment.”
His friend replied: “This land that you see is a manoeuvering ground. It is, in addition, an exhibition of his wonderful royal arts. Then again it may be regarded as a temporary hospice, one devoid of foundations. Do you not see that every day one caravan arrives as another departs and vanishes? It is being constantly emptied and filled. Soon the whole land will be changed; its inhabitants will depart for another and more lasting realm. There everyone will be either rewarded or punished in accordance with his services.”
That treacherous empty-headed one retorted rebelliously: “I don’t believe it. Is it at all possible that a whole land should perish, and be transferred to another realm?”
2. Indicates the cycle of a year. Indeed, every spring is a carload of provisions coming from the realm of the unseen.
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His faithful friend then replied: “Since you are so obstinate and rebellious, come, let me demonstrate to you, with twelve out of the innumerable proofs available, that there is a Supreme Tribunal, a realm of reward and generosity and a realm of punishment and incarceration, and that just as this world is partially emptied every day, so too a day shall come when it will be totally emptied and destroyed.
• First Aspect: Is it at all possible that in any kingdom, and particularly so splendid a kingdom as this, there should be no reward for those who serve obediently and no punishment for those who rebel? Reward and punishment are virtually non-existent here; there must therefore be a Supreme Tribunal somewhere else.
• Second Aspect: Look at the organization and administration of this kingdom! See how everyone, including the poorest and the weakest, is provided with perfect and ornate sustenance. The best care is taken of the sick. Royal and delicious foods, dishes, jewel encrusted decorations, embroidered garments, splendid feasts - all are to be found here. See how everyone pays due attention to his duties, with the exception of empty-headed people such as yourself. No one transgresses his bounds by as much as an inch. The greatest of all men is engaged in modest and obedient service, with an attitude of fear and awe. The ruler of this kingdom must possess, then, great generosity and all-embracing compassion, as well as, at the same time, great dignity, exalted awesomeness and honour. Now generosity requires liberality; compassion cannot dispense with beneficence; and awesomeness and honour make it imperative that the discourteous be chastised. But not even a thousandth part of what that generosity and awesomeness require is to be seen in this realm. The oppressor retains his power, and the oppressed, his humiliation, as they both depart and migrate from this realm. Their affairs are, then, left to the same Supreme Tribunal of which we speak.
• Third Aspect: See with what lofty wisdom and ordering affairs are managed, and with what true justice and balance transactions are effected! Now a wise polity requires that those who seek refuge under the protecting wing of the state should receive favour, and justice demands that the rights of subjects be preserved, so that the splendour of the state should not suffer. But here in this land, not a thousandth part of the requirements of such wisdom and justice is fulfilled; for example, empty-headed people such as yourself usually leave this realm unpunished. So again we say, matters are postponed for the consideration of a Supreme Tribunal.
• Fourth Aspect: Look at these innumerable and peerless jewels that are displayed here, these unparalleled dishes laid out like a banquet! They demonstrate that the ruler of these lands is possessed of infinite generosity and an inexhaustible treasury. Now such generosity and such a treasury
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deserve and require a bounteous display that should be eternal and include all possible objects of desire. They further require that all who come as guests to partake of that display should be there eternally and not suffer the pain of death and separation. For just as the cessation of pain is pleasurable, so too is the cessation of pleasure painful! Look at these displays and the announcements concerning them! And listen to these heralds proclaiming the fine and delicate arts of a miracle-working monarch, and demonstrating his perfections! They are declaring his peerless and invisible beauty, and speaking of the subtle manifestations of his hidden beauteousness; he must be possessed, then, of a great and astounding invisible beauty and perfection. This flawless hidden perfection requires one who will appreciate and admire it, who will gaze on it exclaiming, Ma’shallah!, thus displaying it and making it known.
As for concealed and peerless beauty, it too requires to see and be seen, or rather to behold itself in two ways. The first consists of contemplating itself in different mirrors, and the second of contemplating itself by means of the contemplation of enraptured spectators and astounded admirers. Hidden beauty wishes, then, to see and be seen, to contemplate itself eternally and be contemplated without cease. It desires also permanent existence for those who gaze upon it in awe and rapture. For eternal beauty can never be content with a transient admirer; moreover, an admirer destined to perish without hope of return will find his love turning to enmity whenever he imagines his death, and his admiration and respect will yield to contempt. It is in man’s nature to hate the unknown and the unaccustomed. Now everyone leaves the hospice of this realm very quickly and vanishes, having seen only a light or a shadow of the perfection and beauty for no more than a moment, without in any way being satiated. Hence, it is necessary that he should go towards an eternal realm where he will contemplate the Divine beauty and perfection.
• Fifth Aspect: See, it is evident from all these matters that that peerless Being is possessed of most great mercy. For he causes aid to be swiftly extended to every victim of misfortune, answers every question and petition; and mercifully fulfils even the lowliest need of his lowliest subject. If, for example, the foot of some herdsman’s sheep should hurt, he either provides some medicine or sends a veterinarian.
Come now, let us go; there is a great meeting on that island. All the nobles of the land are assembled there. See, a most noble commander, bearing exalted decorations, is pronouncing a discourse, and requesting certain things from that compassionate monarch. All those present say: “Yes, we too desire the same,” and affirm and assent to his words. Now listen to the words of that commander favoured by his monarch:
“O monarch that nurtures us with his bounty! Show us the source and origin of these examples and shadows you have shown us! Draw us nigh to
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your seat of rule; do not let us perish in these deserts! Take us into your presence and have mercy on us! Feed us there on the delicious bounty you have caused us to taste here! Do not torment us with desperation and banishment! Do not leave your yearning, thankful and obedient subjects to their own devices; do not cause them to be annihilated!” Do you not hear him thus supplicating? Is it at all possible that so merciful and powerful a monarch should not totally fulfil the finest and highest aim of his most beloved and noble commander?
Moreover, the purpose of that commander is the purpose of all men, and its fulfilment is required by the pleasure, the compassion and the justice of the king, and it is a matter of ease for him, not difficulty, causing him less difficulty than the transient places of enjoyment contained in the hospice of the world. Having spent so much effort on these places of witnessing that will last only five or six days, and on the foundation of this kingdom, in order to demonstrate instances of his power, he will, without doubt, display at his seat of rule true treasures, perfections and skills in such a manner, and open before us such spectacles, that our intellects will be astonished.
Those sent to this field of trial will not, then, be left to their own devices; palaces of bliss or dungeons await them.
• Sixth Aspect: Come now, look! All these imposing railways, planes, machines, warehouses, exhibitions show that behind the veil an imposing monarch exists and governs.3
3. When a vast army in the present age receives the order, "take up your weapons and fix your bayonets," in accordance with the rules of war while on manoeuver, it comes to resemble a forest of upright oaks. Similarly, when the soldiers of a garrison are commanded on festive days to don their parade uniforms and pin on their medals, it will resemble from one end to the other a colourful and ornate garden, where all the flowers have blossomed. Conversely, when on the parade-ground of the world, the various and infinite species of the soldiery of the Pre-Eternal Monarch - angels, jinn, men, animals and even unfeeling plants - receive the order of Be! And it is in the struggle for life's preservation and the command, "take up your weapons and equipment, and prepare to defend yourselves," when they fix the minute bayonets that are the spiked trees and plants found throughout the world, - then they resemble a magnificent army advancing with bayonets fixed.
Similarly, each day and each week of the spring is like a festival for each class of the vegetable kingdom, and each class presents itself to the witnessing gaze of the Pre-Eternal Monarch with the jewelled decorations He has given them, as if it were on parade in order to display the fine gifts He has bestowed on them. It is as if all the plants and trees were heeding a dominical command, don the bejewelled garments produced by God's artistry, put on the decorations made by His Creative Power - flowers and fruit. The face of the earth then comes to represent a parade-ground on a splendid festive day, a magnificent parade brilliant with the uniforms and jewelled decorations of the soldiers.
Such wise and well-ordered arrangement and ornament demonstrates of a certainty, to all who are not blind, that they derive from the command of a monarch infinite in power and unlimited in wisdom.
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Such a monarch requires subjects worthy of himself. But now you see all his subjects gathered in a hospice for wayfarers, a hospice that is filled and emptied each day. It can also be said that his subjects are now gathered in a testing-ground for the sake of manoeuvres, and this ground also changes each hour. Again, we may say that all his subjects stay in an exhibition-hall for a few minutes to behold specimens of the monarch’s beneficence, valuable products of his miraculous art. But the exhibition itself changes each moment. Now this situation and circumstance conclusively shows that beyond the hospice, the testing-ground, the exhibition, there are permanent palaces, lasting abodes, and gardens and treasuries full of the pure and elevated originals of the samples and shapes we see in this world. It is for the sake of these that we exert ourselves here. Here we labour, and there we receive our reward. A form and degree of felicity suited to everyone’s capacity awaits us there.
• Seventh Aspect: Come, let us walk a little, and see what is to be found among these civilized people. See, in every place, at every corner, photographers are sitting and taking pictures. Look, everywhere there are scribes sitting and writing things down. Everything is being recorded. They are registering the least significant of deeds, the most commonplace of events. Now look up at the tall mountain; there you see a supreme photographer installed, devoted to the service of the king;4 he is taking pictures of all that happens in the area. The king must, then, have issued this order; “Record all the transactions made and deeds performed in the kingdom.” In other words, that exalted personage is having all events registered and photographically recorded. The precise record he is keeping must without doubt be for the sake of one day calling his subjects to account.
Now is it at all possible that an All-Wise and All-Preserving Being, who does not neglect the most banal doings of the lowest of his subjects, should not record the most significant deeds of the greatest among his subjects, should not call them to account, should not reward and punish them? After all, it is those foremost among his subjects that perform deeds offensive to his glory, contrary to his pride and unacceptable to his compassion, and those deeds remain unpunished in this world. It must be, therefore, that their judgement is postponed to a Supreme Court.
4. Some of the truths indicated in this parable have been set forth in the Seventh Truth. However, let us point out here that the figure of the "supreme photographer devoted to the service of the king" is an indication of the Preserved Tablet. The reality and existence of the Preserved Tablet has been proved in the Twenty-Sixth Word as follows: a little portfolio suggests the existence of a great ledger; a little document points to the existence of a great register; and little drops point to the existence of a great water tank. So too the retentive faculties of men, the fruits of trees, the seeds and kernels of fruit, being each like a little portfolio, a Preserved Tablet in miniature or a drop proceeding from the pen that inscribes the great Preserved Tablet - they point to, indicate and prove the existence of a Supreme Retentive Faculty, a great register, an exalted Preserved Tablet. Indeed, they demonstrate this visibly to the perceptive intellect.
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• Eighth Aspect: Come, let me read to you the decrees issued by that monarch. See, he repeatedly makes the following promises and dire threats: “I will take you from your present abode and bring you to the seat of my rule. There I shall bestow happiness on the obedient and imprison the disobedient. Destroying that temporary abode, I shall found a different realm containing eternal palaces and dungeons.”
He can easily fulfil the promises that he makes, of such importance for his subjects. It is, moreover, incompatible with his pride and his power that he should break his promise. So look, o confused one! You assent to the claims of your mendacious imagination, your distraught intellect, your deceptive soul, but deny the words of a being who cannot be compelled in any fashion to break his promise, whose high stature does not admit any such faithlessness, and to whose truthfulness all visible deeds bear witness. Certainly you deserve a great punishment. You resemble a traveller who closes his eyes to the light of the sun and looks instead upon his own imagination. His fancy wishes to illuminate his awesomely dark path with the light of his brain, although it is no more than a glow-worm. Once that monarch makes a promise, he will by all means fulfil it. Its fulfilment is most easy for him, and moreover most necessary for us and all things, as well as for him too and his kingdom.
There is therefore, a Supreme Court, and a lofty felicity.
• Ninth Aspect: Come now! Look at the heads of these offices and groups.5 Each has a private telephone to speak personally with the king. Sometimes too they go directly to his presence. See what they say and unanimously report, that the monarch has prepared a most magnificent and awesome place for reward and punishment. His promises are emphatic and his threats are most stern. His pride and dignity are such that he would in no way stoop to the abjectness inherent in the breaking of a promise. The bearers of this report, who are so numerous as to be universally accepted, further report with the strong unanimity of consensus that “the seat and headquarters of the lofty monarchy, some of whose traces are visible here, is in another realm far distant from here. The buildings existing in this testing-ground are but temporary, and will later be exchanged for eternal palaces. These places will change. For this magnificent and unfading monarchy, the splendour of which is apparent from its works, can in no way be founded or based on so transient, impermanent, unstable, insignificant, changing,
5. The meanings indicated in this Aspect can be found in the Eighth Truth. For example, by heads of offices we mean the Prophets and the Saints. As for the telephone, it is a link and relation with God that goes forth from the heart and is the mirror of revelation and the receptacle of inspiration. The heart is like the earpiece of that telephone.
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defective and imperfect matters. It is based rather on matters worthy of it, eternal, stable, permanent and glorious.”
There is, then, another realm, and of a certainty we shall go toward it.
• Tenth Aspect: Come, today is the vernal equinox.6 Certain changes will take place, and wondrous things will occur. On this fine spring day, let us go for a walk on the green plain adorned with beautiful flowers. See, other people are also coming toward it. There must be some magic at work, for buildings that were mere ruins have suddenly sprung up again here, and this once empty plain has become like a populous city. See, every hour it shows a different scene, just like a cinema screen, and takes on a different shape. But notice, too, that among these complex, swiftly changing and multifarious scenes perfect order exists, so that all things are put in their proper places. The imaginary scenes presented to us on the cinema screen cannot be as well-ordered as this, and millions of skilled magicians would be incapable of this artistry. This monarch whom we cannot see must, then, have performed even greater miracles.
O foolish one! You ask: “How can this vast kingdom be destroyed and re-established somewhere else?”
You see that every hour numerous changes and revolutions occur, just like that transfer from one realm to another that your mind will not accept. From this gathering in and scattering forth it can be deduced that a certain purpose is concealed within these visible and swift joinings and separations, these compoundings and dissolvings. Ten years of effort would not be devoted to a joining together destined to last no longer than an hour. So these circumstances we witness cannot be ends in themselves; they are a kind of parable of something beyond themselves, an imitation of it. That exalted being brings them about in miraculous fashion, so that they take shape and then merge, and the result is preserved and recorded, in just the same way that every aspect of a manoeuvre on the battleground is written down and recorded. This implies that proceedings at some great concourse and meeting will be based on what happens here. Further, the results of all that occurs here will be permanently displayed at some supreme exposition. All the transient and fluctuating phenomena we see here will yield the fruit of eternal and immutable form.
6. You will find what this Aspect alludes to in the Ninth Truth. The vernal equinox is equivalent to the beginning of spring. As for the green plain covered with flowers, this is the face of the earth in springtime. The changing scenes and spectacles are an allusion to the different groups of vernal beings, the classes of summer creation, and the sustenance for men and animals, that the All-Powerful and Glorious Maker, the All-Wise and Beauteous Creator, from the beginning of spring to the end of summer, brings forth in orderly succession, renews with the utmost compassion, and dispatches uninterruptedly.
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All the variations we observe in this world are then, for the sake of a supreme happiness, a lofty tribunal, for the sake of exalted aims as yet unknown to us.
• Eleventh Aspect: Come, o obstinate friend! Let us embark on a plane or a train travelling east or west, that is, to the past or the future. Let us see what miraculous works that being has accomplished in other places. Look, there are marvels on every hand like the dwellings, open spaces and exhibitions we see. But they all differ with respect to art and to form. Note well, however, what order betokening manifest wisdom, what indications ïf evident compassion, what signs of lofty justice, and what fruits of comprehensive mercy, are to be seen in these transient dwellings, these impermanent open spaces, these fleeting exhibitions. Anyone not totally devoid of insight will understand a certainty that no wisdom can be imagined more perfect than his, no providence more beauteous than his, no compassion more comprehensive than his, and no justice more glorious than his.
If, for the sake of argument, as you imagine, no permanent abodes, lofty places, fixed stations, lasting residences, or resident and contented population existed in the sphere of his kingdom; and if the truths of his wisdom, compassion, mercy and justice had no realm in which to manifest themselves fully (for this impermanent kingdom is no place for their full manifestation) - then we would be obliged to deny the wisdom we see, to deny the compassion we observe, to deny the mercy that is in front of our eyes, and to deny the justice the signs of which are evident. This would be as idiotic as denying the sun, the light of which we clearly see at midday. We would also have to regard the one from whom proceed all these wise measures we see, all these generous acts, all these merciful gifts, as a vile gambler or treacherous tyrant (God forbid!). This would be to turn truth on its head. And turning a truth into its opposite is impossible, according to the unanimous testimony of all rational beings, excepting only the idiot sophists who deny everything.
There is, then, a realm apart from the present one. In it, there is a supreme tribunal, a lofty place of justice, an exalted place of reward, where all this compassion, wisdom, mercy and justice will be made fully manifest.
• Twelfth Aspect: Come, let us return now. We will speak with the chiefs and officers of these various groups, and looking at their equipment will inquire whether that equipment has been given them only for the sake of subsisting for a brief period in that realm, or whether it has been given for the sake of obtaining a long life of bliss in another realm. Let us see. We cannot look at everyone and his equipment. But by way of example, let us look at the identity card and register of this officer. On his card, his rank, salary, duty, supplies and instructions are recorded. See, this rank has not been awarded him for just a few days; it may be given for a prolonged
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period. It says on his card: “You will receive so much salary on such-and-such a day from the treasury.” But the date in question will not arrive for a long time to come, after this realm has been vacated. Similarly, the duty mentioned on his card has not been given for this temporary realm, but rather for the sake of earning a permanent felicity in the proximity of the king. Then, too, the supplies awarded him cannot be merely for the sake of subsisting in this hospice of a few days’ duration; they can only be for the sake of a long and happy life. The instructions make it quite clear that he is destined for a different place, that he is working for another realm.
Now look at these registers. They contain instructions for the use and disposition of weapons and equipment. If there were no realm other than this, one exalted and eternal, that register with its categorical instructions and that identity card with its clear information, would both be quite meaningless. Further, that respected officer, that noble commander, that honoured chief, would fall to a degree lower than that of all men; he would be more wretched, luckless, abased, afflicted, indigent and weak than everyone. Apply the same principle to everything. Whatever you look upon bears witness that after this transient world another and eternal world exists.
O friend! This temporary world is like a field. It is a place of instruction, a market. Without doubt a supreme tribunal and ultimate happiness will succeed it. If you deny this, you will be obliged also to deny the identity cards of all the officers, their equipment and their orders; in fact, you will have to deny too all the order existing in the country, the existence of a government in it and all the measures that the government takes. Then you will no longer deserve the name of man or the appellation of conscious. You will be more of a fool than the sophists.
Beware, do not imagine that the proofs of the transfer of creation from one realm to another are restricted to these twelve. There are indications and proofs beyond counting and enumeration, all showing that this impermanent, changing kingdom will be transformed into a permanent and immutable realm. There are also innumerable signs and evidences that men will be taken from this temporary hospice and sent to the eternal seat of rule of all creation.
I will show one proof in particular that is stronger than all the twelve aspects taken together.
Come now, look, in the midst of the great assembly visible in the distance the same noble commander whom we previously saw on the island, adorned with numerous decorations, is making an announcement. Let us go and listen. See, that luminous and most noble commander is conveying a supreme edict, beautifully inscribed. He says:
“Prepare yourselves; you will go to another and permanent realm, a realm
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such that this one will appear as a dungeon by comparison. You will go to the seat of rule of our king, and there receive his compassion and his bounty, if you heed this edict well and obey it. But if you rebel and disobey it, you will be cast into awesome dungeons.” Such is the message that he conveys. If you look at the decree, you will see that it bears such a miraculous seal that it cannot in any way be imitated. Everyone apart from idiots such as yourself knows of a certainty that the decree is from the king. Moreover, the noble commander bears such bright decorations that everyone except those blind like yourself understands full well that he is the veracious conveyer of the king’s orders.
Is it at all possible that the teaching of transfer from one realm to another, challengingly conveyed by that noble commander in the supreme edict he has received, should at all be open to objection? No, it is not possible, unless we deny all that we have seen.
Now, o friend, it is your turn to speak. Say what you have to say.
“What should I say? What can be said to contradict all of this? Who can speak against the sun at midday? I say only: Praise be to God. A hundred thousand thanks that I have been saved from the dominance of fancy and vain imagination, and delivered from an eternal dungeon and prison. I have come to believe that there is an abode of felicity in the proximity of the monarch, separate from this confused and impermanent hospice.”
Our comparison indicating the truth of resurrection and the hereafter is now complete. Now with God’s grace, we will pass on to the most exalted truth. We shall set forth twelve interrelated Truths, corresponding to the twelve Aspects discussed above, as well as an Introduction.
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[By means of a few indications, we refer here to several matters explained elsewhere, that is, in the Twenty-Second, Nineteenth and Twenty-Sixth Words.]
• First Indication
The foolish man in the previous story and his trustworthy companion correspond to three other pairs:
• The instinctual soul and the heart;
• The students of philosophy and the pupils of the All-Wise Qur’an;
• The people of unbelief and the community of Islam.
The worst error and misguidance of the students of philosophy, the people of unbelief and the instinctual soul, lies in not recognizing God. Just as in the preceding story the trustworthy man said, “there can be no letter without a scribe, no law without a legislator,” we too say the following:
A book, particularly one in each word of which a minute pen has inscribed another whole book, and in each letter of which a fine pen has traced a poem, cannot be without a writer; this would be entirely impossible. So too this cosmos cannot be without its inscriber; this is impossible to the utmost degree. For the cosmos is precisely such a book that each of its pages includes many other books, each of its words contains a book, and each of its letters contains a poem. The face of the earth is but a single page in the book of the cosmos. See how many books it contains. Every fruit is a letter, and every seed is a dot. In that dot is contained the index of the whole tree in its vastness. A book such as this can have been inscribed only by the mighty pen of a Possessor of Glory Who enjoys the attributes of splendour and beauty, and Who is the holder of infinite wisdom and power. Faith, then, follows inevitably on the observation of the world, unless one is drunk on misguidance.
Similarly, a house cannot arise without a builder, particularly a house adorned with miraculous works of art, wondrous designs, and amazing ornaments. As much art has been put into one of its stones as into a whole palace. No intelligence will accept that it could arise without a builder; definitely it needs a master architect. Moreover, within the building, veritable
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rooms take shape and change each hour with the utmost order and ease, just as if clothes were being changed, or as if scenes were passing across a cinema screen. We can say even that numerous little rooms are constantly being created in each of those scenes.
In like manner, the cosmos also requires an infinitely wise, all-knowing and all-powerful maker. For the magnificent cosmos is a palace that has the sun and the moon as its lamps and the stars as its candles; time is like a rope or ribbon hung within it, on to which the Glorious Creator each year threads a new world. And within the world that He thus threads on the string of time He places three hundred and sixty fresh and orderly forms. He changes them with the utmost orderliness and wisdom. He has made the face of the earth a bounteous spread that He adorns each spring with three hundred thousand species of creation, that He fills with innumerable kinds of generous gifts. This He does in such a fashion that they all stand apart from each other, quite separate and distinct, despite their being at the same time so close and intermingled. Is it possible to overlook the existence of the Maker of such a palace?
Again, to deny the existence of the sun, on a cloudless day at noon, when its traces are to be observed and its reflection is to be seen in every bubble on the surface of the ocean, in every shining object on dry land, and in every particle of snow - to make such a denial would be to rave like the deranged. For if one denied and refused to accept the existence of the single, unique sun, he would be compelled to accept the existence of a whole series of minor suns, each real and existent in its own right, as numerous as the drops and bubbles of the ocean, as countless as the particles of snow. It would be necessary to believe that each minute particle contains a huge sun, even though the particle is large enough only to contain itself. It would be an even greater sign of lunacy and misguidance to refuse one’s assent to the attributes of perfection of the Glorious Creator, even while beholding the well-ordered cosmos that is constantly changing in wise and regular fashion, that is being ceaselessly renewed in disciplined manner. This, too, would be like the ravings of a lunatic, since it would then become necessary to believe and accept that absolute divinity is present in all things, even a particle. For every particle of air is somehow able to enter and work its effects upon every flower, fruit and leaf, and unless the particle be entrusted with this task by a Creator, it must know of itself the structure and form of all the objects it penetrates and affects. In other words, it must possess all-encompassing power and knowledge.
Every particle of soil is potentially capable of giving rise to all the different seeds that exist. If it is not acting under command, it must contain within itself equipment and instruments corresponding to all the various trees and plants in the world. Or, to put it differently, one must attribute to the particle
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such artistry and power that it is aware of the structure of each of them, knows the forms that each of them is caused to assume, and is capable of fashioning those forms. The same is true with respect to the particle and other realms of creation.
From this you can understand that in all things there are numerous and manifest proofs of God’s Unity. To create all things from one thing, and to make all things into one thing, is a task possible only for the Creator of all things. Pay heed to the sublime declaration: “There is naught but proclaims His Glory with praise.” For if one does not accept God, the One and Unique, one must accept gods as numerous as created beings.
• Second Indication
In our story, we made mention of a Most Noble Commander and said that whoever is not blind and sees his decorations and medals will understand that he acts in accordance with the commands of a monarch and is his favoured servant. Now that Most Noble Commander is the Most Noble Messenger of God, may peace and blessings be upon him. The sacred Creator of so ornamented a cosmos must of necessity have a Noble Messenger, just as the sun must of necessity have light. For the sun cannot exist without giving light, and Divinity cannot be without showing itself through the sending of prophets. Is it at all possible that a beauty of utter perfection should not desire to manifest itself by means of one who will demonstrate and display it?
Is it at all possible that a perfection of beauteous artistry should not desire to make itself known by means of a herald that will draw men’s gazes upon it?
Is it at all possible that the universal monarchy of all-embracing dominicality should not desire to announce its unity and eternal besoughtedness throughout the different levels of multiplicity and particularity by means of an envoy possessing two aspects? By the two aspects, we mean that he is both the envoy of the realm of multiplicity to the Divine Court, by virtue of his universal worship, and also the messenger of the Divine Court to the realm of multiplicity, by virtue of his closeness to God and being entrusted with His message.
Is it at all possible that a possessor of infinite inherent beauty should not wish both to behold himself and to display to others, in numerous mirrors, the charms of his beauty and the allurements of his fairness? God’s Messenger is His beloved, making himself beloved of Him by means of his worship and holding up a mirror to Him, and he is also the bearer of His message, making Him beloved of men and demonstrating to them the beauty of His Names.
Is it at all possible that the owner of treasuries full of wondrous miracles, rare and valuable items, should not wish and desire to display them to men’s
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gaze by means of an expert jeweller, and eloquent describer, thereby revealing his hidden perfections?
Is it at all possible that the One Who manifests the perfection of all His Names in the cosmos by means of artful adornment for men to look upon, so that the cosmos comes to resemble a palace decorated with all kinds of wondrous and subtle art, should not also designate a teacher and a guide to the wonders of his creation?
Is it at all possible that the Lord of the cosmos should not solve, by means of a messenger, the complex talisman of the aim and purpose of all the changes that take place in the cosmos, and the riddle contained in the three difficult questions posed by all beings: “What is our origin? What is our destination? What is our purpose?”
Is it at all possible that the Glorious Maker Who makes Himself known to sentient beings by means of His fair creation, and Who makes himself loved by means of His precious bounties, should not also communicate to sentient beings, by means of a messenger, what His pleasure desires of them in exchange?
Is it at all possible that God should create mankind in a form predisposing it to suffer the consciousness of multiplicity but also containing the ability to engage in universal worship, without at the same time wishing to turn it away from multiplicity to unity, by means of a teacher and guide?
There are numerous other functions of prophethood, each of which is a decisive proof that Divinity necessarily implies messengership.
Did anyone ever appear in the world more worthy and more in possession of the abovementioned qualities and functions than Muhammad, the Arabian Prophet, may peace and blessings be upon him? Has time ever shown us one more fitting and suited to the rank of messengerhood and the task of conveying God’s message? No, by no means! He is the master of all messengers, the foremost of all prophets, the leader of all pure ones, the closest to God of all those who have drawn nigh unto Him, the most perfect of all creatures, the monarch of all guides to righteousness.
Quite apart from the countless indications of his prophethood deriving from more than a thousand miracles, such as the splitting of the moon and the flowing of water from his fingers, that all scholars unanimously confirm, the supreme miracle of the Glorious Qur’an -an ocean of truth and a book miraculous in forty different respects- is itself enough to demonstrate his prophethood as clearly as the sun. Since we discuss the forty different aspects of the Qur’an’s miraculousness in other treatises, particularly the Twenty-Fifth Word, we curtail our discussion of the matter here.
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• Third Indication
Let it not be thought that petty man is too insignificant for this vast world to be brought to an end and another realm to be unfolded simply for the sake of his being brought to account. For apparently petty man bears great importance as the master of all creatures, by virtue of the comprehensiveness of his disposition, as the herald of God’s monarchy, and the manifester of universal worship. Also let nobody ask: “How can one earn eternal torment in the course of a very brief life?” For unbelief seeks to drag creation, something as valuable and exalted as a letter written by God, down to the depths of meaninglessness and purposelessness. It is an insult to all being, since it denies and rejects the manifestations and impresses of God’s Sacred Names that are visible in all being, and it seeks to negate all the infinite proofs that demonstrate the veracity and truthfulness of God Almighty. Hence, unbelief is a crime of infinite proportions, deserving of infinite punishment.
• Fourth Indication
In the story, we saw by means of twelve aspects that a king who had one realm resembling a transient hospice must of a necessity have another realm, one eternal and permanent, manifesting his splendour and the sublimity of his power. In the same way, it is not at all possible that the Eternal Creator of the transient world should not create also an eternal realm. It is not possible that the Everlasting Maker of this fine but unstable cosmos, should not create another cosmos, permanent and lasting. It is not possible that the Wise, Powerful and Merciful Creator of this world, which is like an exhibition, or a testing-ground, or a field, should not create also a hereafter in which the purposes of this world shall be made manifest. Entry is to be had to this truth by means of twelve gates, and the twelve gates are to be unlocked by means of twelve other truths. We will begin with the shortest and simplest of them.
The Gate of Dominicality and Sovereignty,
the Manifestation of the Name of Sustainer
Is it at all possible that the glory of God’s dominicality and His Divine sovereignty should create a cosmos such as this, in order to display His perfections, with such lofty aims and elevated purposes, without establishing a reward for those believers who through faith and worship respond to these aims and purposes? Or that He should not punish those misguided ones who treat His purposes with rejection and scorn?
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The Gate of Generosity and Mercy,
the Manifestation of the Names of Generous and Merciful
Is it at all possible that the Lord of this world, Who in His works demonstrates infinite generosity, infinite mercy, infinite splendour and infinite glory, should not give reward in a manner befitting His generosity and mercy, and not punish in a manner befitting His splendour and glory? If one looks at the disposition of affairs in this world, one sees that all animate beings -from the weakest to the most powerful- are given some fitting form of sustenance.7 Indeed, the weakest and most powerless are given the best form of sustenance. This largesse and bounty is distributed with such lofty generosity that a hand of infinite generosity is manifestly at work.
For example, in the spring, all the trees are garbed in clothes as fine as silk, just like the houris in Paradise; they are encrusted with flowers and fruits, as if with jewels, and caused to offer us numerous varieties of the choicest fruits, on branches delicately outstretched like the hands of a servant. Similarly, we are given wholesome and sweet honey to eat, from the hand of the bee with its sting; we are clothed in the finest and softest of clothes by means of an insect that has no hands; and within a small seed a great treasure of mercy is preserved for us. It is self-evident that all of this is the effect of a most beauteous generosity, a most delicate sense of mercy.
Then, too, the fact that, with the exception of man and certain wild animals, all things, from the sun, the moon and earth to the smallest of creatures, perform their functions with the utmost exactitude, do not overstep their bounds by an inch, and observe a universal obedience in a spirit of great awe - this shows that they act by the command of a Possessor of great glory and dignity. It is also apparent that the fashion in which all mothers, in the vegetable, animal and human realms, succour their weak and powerless infants with the delicate nurture of milk, in tender compassion, is a manifestation of God’s all-embracing mercy.8
7. All licit nourishment is obtained not through the exercise of strength, but through the existence of need. The decisive proof of this is that powerless infants enjoy the finest of livelihoods, while strong wild beasts suffer from all kinds of deficiency, and that fish, for all their lack of intelligence, wax fat, while the cunning fox and monkey remain thin in their quest for livelihood. There is, therefore, an inverse relationship between sustenance on the one hand and strength and will power on the other. The more one relies on strength and will power the more difficult it will be to sustain one's livelihood.
8. The fact that a hungry lion will prefer its offspring to itself, and give to it a piece of meat it would otherwise have eaten; that the cowardly rabbit will attack a lion in order to protect its young; that the fig-tree contents itself with mud while giving pure milk to its offspring, the fruit - this shows to anyone not blind that they act in accordance with the commands of a Being infinitely merciful, generous and solicitous. Again, the fact that even unconscious plants and beasts function in the wisest and most conscious of fashions demostrates irrefutably that One Utterly Knowing and All- Wise has set them to work, and that they are acting in His name.
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Since the master of this world has, then, such infinite generosity, mercy, splendour and glory, it follows that His infinite glory and splendour require the chastisement of the discourteous; that His infinite generosity requires infinite bounty, and His infinite mercy requires a bestowal of favour worthy of itself. Now in this transitory world and brief life, only a millionth part of all this, like one drop from the ocean, establishes and manifests itself. There must therefore be a realm of blessedness appropriate to that generosity and worthy of that mercy. One would otherwise have to deny the existence of the mercy that is visible to us, and this would be like denying the existence of the sun that fills every day with its light. For irrevocable death would transform compassion into disaster, love into affliction, blessing into vengeance, intellect into a tool of misery, and pleasure into pain, so that the very essence of God’s mercy would vanish.
There must in addition be a realm of punishment appropriate to God’s glory and dignity. For generally the oppressor leaves this world while still in possession of his might, and the oppressed while still subjected to humiliation. These matters are therefore deferred for the attention of a supreme tribunal; it is not that they are neglected. It sometimes happens too that punishment is enacted in this world. The torments suffered by disobedient and rebellious peoples in previous centuries show that man is not left to his own devices, and that he is always subject to the blows that God’s splendour and majesty may choose to inflict on him.
Is it at all possible that man should have the most important duty in all of creation and be endowed with the most important capacities; that man’s Sustainer should make Himself known to him with all His well-ordered works, and man should then fail to recognize Him in return by way of worship - or that God should make Himself beloved of men through the numerous adorned fruits of His mercy, and man should then fail to make himself beloved of God through worship - or that God should demonstrate His love and mercy to man through His variegated bounties and man should then fail to respect Him with thanks and with praise - is it at all possible that man should remain unpunished, left to his own devices, or that that powerful Possessor of splendour and glory should not make ready for him a realm of requital?
Is it at all possible, on the other hand, that He should not prepare a realm of reward and eternal bliss for those believers who respond to the Merciful and Compassionate One’s making Himself known by recognizing Him in faith; to His making Himself beloved by loving Him in worship; and to His mercy by offering thanks and veneration?
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The Gate of Wisdom and Justice,
the Manifestation of the Names of Wise and Just
Is it at all possible9 that the Lord of Glory, Who demonstrates His dominical sovereignty in the wisdom and order, the justice and equilibrium that pervade all things, from the atom to the sun, should not bestow favour on those believers who seek refuge beneath the protective wing of His dominicality, who believe in His Wisdom and Justice, and whose acts are for the purpose of worshipping Him?
Again, is it possible that He should not chastise those rude and discourteous men who disbelieve in His wisdom and justice, and rebel against Him in insolence? Now not even a thousandth part of that wisdom and justice is exercised with respect to man, in this transient world; it is rather deferred. Most of the people of misguidance leave this world unpunished, and most of the people of guidance leave it unrewarded. All things are, then, postponed for a supreme tribunal, an ultimate bliss.
Yes, it is apparent that the Being Who controls this world does so in accordance with an infinite wisdom. Do you require a proof? It is the preservation of interest and benefit in all things. Do you not see that numerous wise benefits are intended in all the limbs, bones and veins of man, even in the cells of his brain and in every particle of his body? Do you not see that from certain limbs wise benefits are to be had as numerous as the fruits of a tree? All of this shows that matters are done in accordance with infinite wisdom. The existence of the utmost regularity in the making of all things is a proof of the same truth.
The compression of the exact programme of development of a beautiful flower into a minute seed, the inscription on a small seed by the pen of destiny of the scroll of deeds of a tree, its life-history and list of equipment, show that a pen of utmost wisdom is at work.
The existence of a high degree of fine artistry in all things proves that there exists also the impress of an infinitely Wise Maker. Further, the
9. The sentence "is it at all possible?" is indeed repeated many times, because it expresses a most significant mystery. Misguidance and lack of belief generally spring from the habit of imagining things to be impossible, far removed from the realm of reason, and therefore denying them. Now in this discussion of resurrection it has been decisively demonstrated that true impossiblity, absurdity and irrationality pertain to the path of misbelief and the road of misguidance, whereas true possibility, facility and rationality are characteristics of the path of faith and highway of Islam.
In short, the philosophers tend to unbelief on account of their regarding things as impossible, whereas the Tenth Word (discussion of resurrection), by means of the repeated sentence, "is it at all possible?" shows where impossibility lies, and thus deals them a blow in the mouth.
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inclusion within the minute body of man of an index of all being, of the keys to all the treasuries of mercy, and of the mirrors of all the Divine Names, demonstrates the existence of wisdom within that infinitely fine artistry. Now is it at all possible that the wisdom that thus permeates the workings of dominicality should not wish eternally to favour those who seek refuge beneath the wing of dominicality and who offer obedience in faith?
Do you wish for a proof that all things are done with justice and balance? The fact that all things are endowed with being, given shape and put in their appropriate place in accordance with precise equilibrium and in appropriate measure, shows that all matters are done in accordance with infinite justice and balance.
Similarly, the fact that all things are given their rights in accordance with their disposition, that they receive all the necessities of their being and all the requirements of life in the most fitting form - this too is the sign left by a hand of infinite justice.
Again, the fact that answer is always given to every petition and request made by the tongue of disposition, and of natural need or necessity, demonstrates the existence of infinite justice and wisdom.
Now is it at all possible that the justice and wisdom that hasten to relieve the pettiest need of the smallest of creation should fail to provide immortality, the greatest need of man, the greatest of creatures? That it should fail to respond to his greatest plea and cry for assistance? Or that it should not preserve the dignity of God’s dominicality by preserving the rights of His servants? Man, whose life is so brief, cannot experience the true essence of justice in this transient world; it is for this reason that matters are postponed for a supreme tribunal. For true justice requires that man, this apparently petty creature, should be rewarded and punished, not in accordance with his pettiness, but in accordance with the magnitude of his crime, the importance of his nature and the greatness of his function. Since this passing and transient world is far from manifesting such wisdom and justice for man, who is created for eternity, of necessity there will be an eternal Hell and everlasting Paradise of that Just and Awesome Possessor of Beauty, that Wise and Beauteous Possessor of Awe.
The Gate of Generosity and Beauty,
the Manifestation of the Names of Generous and Beautiful
Is it at all possible that infinite generosity and liberality, inexhaustible riches, unending treasures, peerless and eternal beauty, flawless and everlasting perfection, should not require the existence of grateful supplicants,
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yearning spectators and astounded onlookers, all destined to stay an eternity in an abode of bliss, a place of repose? Yes, adorning the face of the world with all these objects of beauty, creating the moon and the sun as its lamps, filling the surface of the earth with the finest varieties of sustenance and thus making it a banquet of bounty, making fruit-trees into so many dishes, and renewing them several times each season - all this shows the existence of infinite generosity and liberality. Such unending liberality and generosity, such inexhaustible treasures of mercy, require the existence of an abode of repose, a place of bliss, that shall be everlasting and contain all desirable objects within it. They also require that those who enjoy such bliss should remain in that abode of repose eternally, without suffering the pain of cessation and separation. For just as the cessation of pain is a form of pleasure, so too the cessation of pleasure is a form of pain, one that such infinite generosity is unwilling to countenance. It requires, then, the existence both of an eternal paradise and of supplicants to abide in it eternally.
Infinite generosity and liberality desire to bestow infinite bounty and infinite kindness. The bestowal of infinite bounty and infinite kindness require in turn infinite gratitude. This necessitates the perpetual existence of those who receive all the kindness so that they can demonstrate their thanks and gratitude for that perpetual bestowal and constant bounty. A petty enjoyment, made bitter by cessation, and lasting for only a brief time, is not compatible with the requirements of generosity and liberality.
Look too at the different regions of the world, each like an exhibition where God’s crafts are displayed. Pay attention to the dominical proclamations in the hands of all the plants and animals on the face of the earth10 and listen to the prophets and the saints, the heralds of the beauties of dominicality. They unanimously display the flawless perfections of the Glorious Maker by demonstrating His miraculous arts, and thus invite the gazes of men.
The Maker of this world has, then, most important, astounding and secret perfections. It is these He wishes to display by means of His miraculous arts. For secret, flawless perfection wishes to be manifested to those who will appreciate, admire and wonderingly gaze at it. Eternal perfection requires eternal manifestation. Such eternal manifestation in turn requires the perpetual existence of those who are to appreciate and admire it. The value of perfection will always sink in the view of its admirer if he is devoid of perpetual existence.11 Again, the beauteous, artistic, brilliant and adorned creatures
10. The existence of a brightly designed and brilliantly adorned flower, a most artfully conceived and bejewelled fruit on a twig as thin as a wire, affixed to a dry, bonelike tree - this is without doubt a proclamation to all animate beings of the fine arts produced by a most skilled, wise and
miraculous maker. This holds true not only of the vegetable kingdom, but also of the animal realm.
11. There is a proverbial occurrence pertaining to this point. A celebrated beauty once expelled from her presence a common man who had become infatuated with her. In order to console himself, he said, "how ugly she is!", thus denying her beauty.
Once a bear stood beneath a vine trellis, and wished to eat the grapes. But he was unable to reach out for the grapes, or to climb up the trellis. So he said to himself, by way of consolation, "the grapes must be sour," and growling went on his way.
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that cover the face of the globe, bear witness to the fairness of a peerless, transcendent beauty, and indicate the subtle charms of an unparalleled, hidden pulchritude, just as sunlight bears witness to the sun.12 Each manifestation of that sacred, transcendent beauty, indicates the existence of countless hidden treasures in each of God’s Names. Now so exalted, peerless and hidden a beauty, just as it desires to view its own fairness in a mirror and to behold the degrees and measures of its beauty in an animate reflection, desires also to become manifest, in order to look on its own beauty through the eyes of others. That is, it wishes to look at its own beauty in two ways; firstly, by beholding itself in mirrors of variegated colour; secondly, through the gaze of yearning witnesses to itself, of bewildered admirers of its beauty.
In short, beauty and fairness desire to see and be seen. Both of these require the existence of yearning witnesses and bewildered admirers. And since beauty and fairness are eternal and everlasting, their witnesses and admirers must have perpetual life. An eternal beauty can never be satisfied with transient admirers. An admirer condemned to irreversible separation will find his love turning to enmity once he conceives of separation. His admiration will yield to ridicule, his respect to contempt. For just as obstinate man is an enemy to what is unknown to him, so too he is opposed to all that lies beyond his reach, and love that is not infinite will respond to a beauty that deserves unending admiration with implicit enmity, hatred and rejection. From this we understand the profound reason for the unbeliever’s enmity to God.
So endless generosity and liberality, peerless fairness and beauty, flawless perfection - all these require the existence of eternally grateful and longing supplicants and admirers. But we see in this hospice of the world that everyone quickly leaves and vanishes, having had only a taste of that generosity, enough to whet his appetite but not to satiate him, and having seen only a dim light coming from the perfection, or rather a faint shadow of its light, without in any way being fully satisfied. It follows, then, that men are going toward a place of eternal joy where all will be bestowed on them in full measure.
In short, just as this world, with all its creatures, decisively demonstrates the existence of the Glorious Maker, so too do His sacred attributes and Names indicate, show and logically require, the existence of the hereafter.
12. Although all beings that act as mirrors for God's beauty constantly vanish and disappear, those that succeed them display and manifest in their forms and features the same beauty and fairness. This shows that the beauty in question does not belong to them; the visible instances of beauty are rather the signs and indications of a transcendent and sacred beauty.
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The gate of Compassion and Muhammadan Worship,
the Manifestation of the Names of
Answerer of Prayer and Compassionate
Is it at all possible that a Lord possessing infinite compassion and mercy, Who most compassionately fulfils the smallest need of His lowliest creatures in the most unexpected fashion, Who heeds the muffled plea for help of His most obscure creature, and Who responds to all the petitions He hears, whether vocal or mute - is it at all possible that such a Lord should not pay heed to the greatest petition of the foremost among His servants, the most beloved among his creatures, that He should not hear and grant his most exalted prayer? The kindness and ease manifested in the feeding and nurturing of weak and young animals show that the Monarch of the cosmos exercises his dominicality with infinite mercy.
Is it at all possible that a compassion merciful to this degree in the exercise of dominicality should not accept the prayer of the most virtuous and beautiful of all creation?13 This truth is explained in the Nineteenth Word, but let us repeat our statement of the matter here:
O friend listening to these words together with my own soul! We said in the comparison that a meeting took place on a certain island, and a most noble commander delivered a speech there. In order to find out the truth indicated in the comparison, come, let us depart from this age, and in our mind and imagination travel to the Arabian Peninsula in the blessed age of the Prophet, in order to visit and watch him while he is performing his duties and engaging in worship. See, just as he is the means for the attainment of eternal bliss, by means of his messengerhood and guidance, so too he is the cause for the existence of that bliss and the means for the creation of Paradise, by means of his worship and prayer.
Now see! That being is praying for eternal bliss in such supreme supplication, with such sublime worship, that it is as if this island, or even the whole world, were praying and supplicating together with him. For the worship he performs contains within itself not only the worship of the community tha
13. He whose kingdom has lasted one thousand three hundred and fifty years, who has generally had more than three hundred and fifty million subjects, to whom his subjects daily renew their pledge of allegiance and to whose perfections they continually bear witness, whose commands are obeyed in perfect submission, whose spiritual hue has colored half of the globe and a fifth of mankind, who is the beloved of men's hearts and the educator of their spirits - such a being is without doubt the greatest servant of the Lord Who holds sway over the universe. Also, since most of the realms of beings applauded that being's function and duty through each bearing the fruit of his miracles, he is for sure the most beloved creature of the Fashioner of the cosmos. Similarly, the desire for perpetuity existing in all men by virtue of their very nature, a desire that lifts men from the lowest of the low to the highest of the high, is the greatest of all desires and petitions, fit to be presented to the Provider of all Needs only by the greatest among His servants.
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follows him, but also that of all the other prophets, in its essential form, by virtue of the correspondence existing between him and them. Moreover, he performs his supreme prayer and offers his supplications in such a vast congregation that it is as if all luminous and perfect men, from the time of Adam down to the present, were following him in prayer and saying “amen” to his supplications!14 He is praying for so universal a need -immortality- that not merely the people of this earth, but also the inhabitants of the heavens and the entirety of creation are participating in his supplications and silently proclaiming, “yes, o Lord! Grant his prayer; we too desire it.” He petitions for everlasting bliss with such touching sadness, in so yearning, so longing, and so pleading a fashion, that he causes the whole of the cosmos to weep and thus to share in his prayer.
See, he desires and prays for bliss, for such a purpose and goal that he elevates man and all creatures from captivity in the abysmal state of utter annihilation, from worthlessness, uselessness, and purposelessness to the apex of preciousness, eternity, exalted function, and the rank of being a script penned by God.
See, he makes his petition with such elevated plea for succour, makes his supplication with so sweet a request for mercy, that it is as if he caused all beings, the heavens and God’s throne itself to listen, and to echo his prayer ecstatically with cries of “amen, o Lord, amen!”15
14. From the time that the Prophet - peace and blessings be upon him - first made his supplication down to the present, all the invocations upon him of peace and blessings made by his community are a kind of eternal amen to his prayer, a form of universal participation in it. Every invocation of peace and blessings upon him by every member of the Muslim community in the course of his prayer, as well as the prayer for him uttered after the second call to prayer according to the Shafi'i school - this too is a powerful and universal amen to his supplication for eternal bliss. So the eternity and everlasting bliss desired by all men with all of their strength, in accordance with their primordial disposition, is requested in the name of humanity by the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and the luminous segment of humanity says "amen" after him. Is it at all possible that such a prayer should not be accepted?
15. Indeed, it is not at all possible that the Master of this world, all of Whose doings are self-evidently inspired by consciousness, knowledge and wisdom, should be unaware and uninformed of the acts of the foremost among all of His creatures. Again, it is not at all possible that the All-Knowing Master should remain indifferent to the deeds and prayers of that foremost among His creatures, and deem them unimportant despite being aware of them. It is further impossible that the Powerful and Merciful Master of the World should not accept his prayers, having not remained indifferent to them. Yes, through the light of the Muhammedan Being the form of the world has changed. The true essence of men and all beings in the cosmos became apparent through that light; it became clear that they are each missives of the Eternally Besought One proclaiming the Divine Names, precious and profound beings with God-given functions and destined to manifest eternity. Were it not for that light, beings would be condemned to utter annihilation, they would be valueless, meaningless, useless, confused, the result of blind chance, sunk in the darkness of illusion. It is for this reason that just as men say "amen" to the prayer of the Prophet, so too all other beings, from the face of the earth up to God's throne, from the soil to the stars, all take pride in his light, and proclaim their connection with him. The very spirit of the worship of the Prophet is indeed none other than this prayer. Again, all the motions and workings of the cosmos are in their essence prayer. For example, the progress of a seed until it becomes a tree is a form of prayer to the Creator.
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See, he requests bliss and eternity from a Being, One so All-Hearing, Generous and Powerful, so All-Seeing, Merciful and Knowledgeable that He sees, hears, accepts and takes pity upon the most secret wish, the slightest desire of the most obscure of his creatures, this, in observable form. He answers all pleas even if they are silently proffered. He bestows all things and answers all pleas in so wise, percipient and merciful a fashion that no doubt remains that all that nurturing and regulating can derive only from One All-Hearing and All-Seeing, One Generous and Merciful.
Let us listen to what the Pride of All Being is requesting, that source of honour for all of mankind, that one unique in all of creation, who bears on his back the burden of all men, who standing on this earth lifts up his hands towards God’s throne and offers up a prayer which in its reality contains the essence of the worship of all of mankind. See, he is asking for eternal bliss for himself and for his community. He is asking for eternity and Paradise. He is making his plea together with all the Divine Sacred Names that display their beauty in the mirrors of all created being. You can see, indeed, that he is seeking intercession from those Names.
If there were not countless reasons and causes for the existence of the hereafter, a single prayer of that exalted being would be enough for the creation of Paradise, a task as easy for the power of the Merciful Creator as the creation of spring.16
Indeed, how could the creation of spring be difficult for the Possessor of Absolute Power Who each spring makes the face of the world into a plain of resurrection, and brings forth there a hundred thousand examples of resurrection? In just the same way that the messengerhood of the Prophet was the reason for the foundation of this realm of trial -the saying “were it not for thee, were it not for thee, I would not have created the spheres”17 being an indication of this- so too the worship he performed was the cause for the foundation of the abode of bliss.
Is it at all possible that the flawless perfection of artistry, the peerless beauty of dominicality expressed in the order of the world and the comprehensive mercy that reduce all to bewilderment, should not answer his prayer, and thus tolerate an extreme form of ugliness, cruelty and disorder? Is it possible that it would listen to the most petty and insignificant desires and grant them, but dismiss significant and important desires as worthless, and fail to
16. To display wondrous samples of art, and examples of resurrection on the face of the earth that, compared with the hereafter is like a narrow page, to inscribe and include on that single page, in perfect order, all the different species of creation, that resemble three hundred thousand separate books, is certainly more difficult than building and creating the delicate and symmetrical structure of Paradise in the broad realm of eternity. Indeed, it may be said that to whatever degree Paradise is more elevated than the spring, to that degree the creation of the gardens of spring is more difficult and wondrous than the creation of Paradise.
17. 'Ali al-Qari, Sharh al-Shifa, i, al-Ajluni, Kashf al-Khafa, ii, 164
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fulfil them? No, a thousand times no! Such beauty can never accept such ugliness and itself become ugly.18
So just as the Prophet opened the gates of this world with his messengerhood, he opens the gates of the hereafter with his worship.
May the blessings of the Compassionate One be upon him, to the extent of all that this world and paradise contain. O God, grant blessings and peace to Your servant and Messenger, that Beloved One who is the Master of both Realms, the Pride of all the Worlds, the source of life in both spheres, the means for the attainment of happiness here and in the hereafter, he who flies on two wings, who is the messenger to both men and jinn - to him, and to his Family, and all of his Companions, as well as his brethren from among the prophets and messengers. Amen.
The Gate of Splendour and Eternity,
the Manifestation of the Names of Glorious and Eternal
Is it at all possible that the splendour of dominicality that subdues and commands all beings, from suns and trees down to particles, just like obedient soldiers, should concentrate its entire attention on the wretched and transient beings that pass a temporary life in the hospice of this world, and not create an eternal and everlasting sphere of splendour, an unending manifestation of dominicality? The display of Divine splendour in the changing of the seasons, the sublime motions of the planets in the heavens as if they were aeroplanes, the subjugation of all things and the creation of the earth as man’s cradle and the sun as his lamp, vast transformations such as the reviving and adornment of the dead and dry globe - all of this shows that behind the veil a sublime dominicality exists, that a splendid monarchy is at work.
Now such a dominical kingdom requires subjects worthy of itself, as well as an appropriate mode of manifestation. But look at this hospice of the world, and you will see that the most significant class of its subjects, endowed with the most comprehensive of functions, are gathered together only temporarily and that, in the most wretched of states. The hospice fills and empties each day. All of the subjects stay only temporarily in this abode of trial for the sake
18. It is unanimously agreed the total reversal of truths is impossible. It is quite impossible that something should become the very opposite and reverse of itself, and impossible to the thousandth degree that something should retain its own nature, and yet at the same time become identical with its opposite. Thus infinite beauty cannot become ugliness, while yet remaining beauty, and, in our example, it is not possible that the beauty of Dominicality, a beauty perceptible and manifest in its existence, should retain its quiddity as the beauty of Dominicality, but become the very essence of ugliness. This would be the strangest of all impossible and false notions in the world
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of being tested in service. The abode itself changes each hour. Again, all of the monarch’s subjects stay only for a few brief minutes in order to behold the samples of the precious bounty of the Glorious Maker, to look on His miraculous works of art in the exhibition of the world with the eye of a buyer. Then they disappear. The exhibition itself changes every minute. Whoever leaves it, never returns, and whoever comes to it, will ultimately depart.
Now this state and circumstance definitively shows that behind and beyond this hospice, this testing-ground, this exhibition, there are permanent palaces and eternal abodes that fully manifest and support God’s everlasting sovereignty; there are gardens and treasurehouses full of the pure and exalted originals of the forms and copies we see in this world. If we strive here in this world, it is for the sake of what awaits us there. We work here, and are rewarded there. Bliss awaits everyone there, in accordance with his capacity, as long as he does not squander his share. Yes, it is impossible that such eternal kingship should concentrate exclusively on these wretched transient beings.
Consider this truth through the telescope of the following comparison. You are travelling along a road. You see a caravanserai ahead of you on the road, built by a great personage for people coming to visit him. Millions are spent on the decoration of the caravanserai so that guests should enjoy their one night’s stay there, and for their instruction. But the guests see very little of those decorations, look at them for a very short time; briefly tasting the joys of what is offered them, they go on their way without being satiated. But each guest takes a photograph of the objects in the caravanserai by means of his special camera. Also, the servants of that great personage record with great care the conduct of all the guests and preserve the record. You see, too, that he destroys every day most of the valuable decorations, and replaces them with fresh decorations for the newly arriving guests. After seeing all this, will any doubt remain that the personage who has constructed this caravanserai on the road has permanent and exalted dwellings, inexhaustible and precious treasures, an uninterrupted flow of great generosity? By means of the generosity displayed in the caravanserai, he intends merely to whet the appetite of his guests for those things he keeps in his immediate presence; to awaken their desire for the gifts he has prepared for them. So too, if you look upon the state of the hospice of this world without falling into drunkenness, you will understand the following nine principles:
• First Principle: You will understand that this world does not exist for its own sake, any more than does the caravanserai. It is impossible that it should assume this shape by itself. Rather, it is a well-constructed hospice, wisely designed to receive the caravan of beings that constantly arrive to alight before departing again.
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• Second Principle: You will understand, too, that those living within this hospice are guests. They are invited by their Generous Sustainer to the Abode of Peace.
• Third Principle: You will understand, further, that the adornments of this world are not simply for the sake of enjoyment or admiration. For if they yield pleasure for a time, they cause pain for a longer time with their cessation. They give you a taste and whet your appetite, but never satiate you. For either the life of the pleasure is short, or your life is short, too brief for you to become satiated. These adornments of high value and brief duration must, then, be for the sake of instruction in wisdom,19 for arousing gratitude, and for encouraging men to seek out the perpetual originals of which they are copies. They are, then, for other exalted goals beyond themselves.
• Fourth Principle: You will understand also that the adornments of this world20 are like samples and forms of the blessings stored up in Paradise by the mercy of the Compassionate One for the people of faith.
• Fifth Principle: You will understand, too, that all of these transient objects have not been created for the sake of annihilation, in order to appear briefly and then vanish. The purpose for their creation is rather briefly to be
19. Now the life-span of everything is short, although its value is high and the subtleties of its artistry are most exalted and beautiful. This implies that everything is only a sample, a form of something else, that it has the function of drawing the gaze of the customer to the authentic and original object. This being the case, it may be said that the variegated adornments of this world are the samples of the bounties of Paradise, prepared by the Compassionate and Merciful One for His beloved servants.
20. There are numerous purposes for the existence of everything, and numerous results flow from its being. These are not restricted to this world and to the souls of men, as the people of misguidance imagine, being thus lost in vanity and purposelessness. On the contrary, the purposes for the existence and the results of the being of all things relate to the following three categories.
The first and the most exalted pertains to the Creator. It consists of presenting to the gaze of the Pre-Eternal Witness the bejewelled and miraculous wonders He has affixed to the object in question, as if in a military parade. To live for a fleeting second is enough to attain that glance. Indeed, the potentiality and intent for existence is enough, without ever emerging into life. This purpose is fully realized, for example, by delicate creatures that vanish swiftly and by seeds and kernels, each a work of art, that never come to life, that is, never bear fruit or flower. They all remain untouched by vanity and purposelessness. Thus the first purpose of all things is to proclaim, by means of their life and existence, the miracles of power and the traces of artistry of the Maker and display them to the gaze of the Glorious Monarch.
The second purpose of all existence and the result of all being pertains to conscious creation. Everything is like a truth-displaying missive, an artistic poem, or a wise word of the Glorious Maker, offered to the gaze of angels and jinn, of men and animals, and desiring to be read by them. It is an object for the contemplation and instruction of every conscious being that looks upon it.
The third purpose of all existence and result of all being pertains to the soul of the thing itself, and consists of such minor consequences as the experience of pleasure and joy, and living with some degree of permanence and comfort. If we consider the purpose of a servant employed as a steersman on some royal ship, we see that only one hundredth of that purpose relates to the steersman himself - i.e., the wage he receives; ninty-nine hundredths of the purpose relate to the king who owns the ship. A similar relation exists between the purpose of a thing related to its own self and its worldly existence, and its purpose related to its Maker. In the light of this multiplicity of purposes we can now explain the ultimate compatibility between divine wisdom and economy on the one hand, and divine liberality and generosity - in fact, infinite generosity - on the other hand, even though they appear to be opposites and contradictory. In the individual purposes of things, liberality and generosity predominate, and the Name of Most Generous is manifested. From the point of view of individual purpose, fruits and grains are indeed beyond computation, and they demonstrate infinite generosity. But in universal purposes, wisdom predominates, and the name of All-Wise is manifested. However many purposes a tree has, each of its fruits contains that many purposes, and these can be divided into the three categories we have established. Their universal purposes demonstrate an infinite wisdom and economy. Infinite wisdom and infinite generosity and liberality are thus combined, despite their apparent opposition. For example, one of the purposes for raising an army is the maintenance of order. Whatever troops are available for the purpose will suffice or be more than enough. But the whole army will be barely enough for other purposes such as protecting the national frontiers and repelling enemies; its size will be in perfect balance with utter wisdom. Thus the wisdom of the state will be joined to its splendour, and it can be said that there is no excess in the army.
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assembled in existence and acquire the desired form, so that these may be noted, their images preserved, their meanings known, and their results recorded. This is so that, for example, everlasting spectacles might be wrought for the people of eternity, and that they might serve other purposes in the realm of eternity. You will understand that things have been created for eternity, not for annihilation; and as for apparent annihilation, it has the sense of a completion of duty and a release from service, for every transient thing advances to annihilation with one aspect, but remains eternally with numerous other aspects.
Look, for example, at the flower, a word of God’s power; for a short time it smiles and looks at us, and then hides behind the veil of annihilation. It departs just like a word leaving your mouth. But it does so entrusting thousands of its fellows to men’s ears. It leaves behind meanings in men’s minds as numerous as those minds. The flower, too, expressing its meaning and thus fulfilling its function, goes and departs. But it goes leaving its apparent form in the memory of everything that sees it, its inner essence in every seed. It is as if each memory and seed were a camera to record the adornment of the flower, or a means for its perpetuation. If such be the case with an object at the simplest level of life, it can be readily understood how closely tied to eternity is man, the highest form of life and the possessor of an eternal soul. Again, from the fact that the laws -each resembling a spirit- according to which large flowering and fruit bearing plants are formed and the representations of their forms are preserved and perpetuated in most regular fashion in tiny seeds throughout tempestuous changes - from this fact it can be easily understood how closely tied and related to
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eternity is the spirit of man, which possesses an extremely exalted and comprehensive nature, and which although clothed in a body, is a conscious and luminous law issuing from the divine command.
• Sixth Principle: You will also understand that man has not been left to graze at will, with a halter loosely tied around his neck; on the contrary, the forms of all his deeds are recorded and registered, and the results of all his acts are preserved for the day when he shall be called to account.
• Seventh Principle: You will understand, further, that the destruction visited upon the beautiful creatures of summer and spring in the autumn is not for the sake of annihilation. Instead, it is a form of dismissal after the completion of service.21 It is also a form of emptying in order to clear a space for the new creation that is to come in the following spring, of preparing the ground and making ready for the beings that are to come and assume their functions. Finally, it is a form of Divine warning to conscious beings to awake from the neglect that causes them to forget their duties, from the drunken torpor that causes them to forget their obligation of offering thanks.
• Eighth Principle: You will understand this, too, that the eternal Maker of this transient world has another, everlasting world; it is to this that He urges and impels His servants.
• Ninth Principle: You will understand, also, that so Compassionate a Being will bestow upon His choice servants in that world such gifts as no eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard, nor has their image crossed the heart of any man.22 In this we believe.
The Gate of Protection and Preservation,
the Manifestation of the Names of Preserver and Guardian
Is it at all possible that God’s attribute of Preserver, which protects all things with the utmost order and balance, -things in the heavens and on the earth, on dry land and in the ocean, dry and wet, large and small, commonplace and exalted- and as it were, sifts their results by way of accounting
21. Yes, it is fitting that the fruits, flowers and leaves on the tips and branches of a tree, proceeding from the treasuries of sustenance provided by divine mercy, should depart when they become old and their duties are at an end. Otherwise the gate will remain closed to those that come after them, and a barrier will be erected against the expansion of God's mercy and the services to be performed by their brethren (i.e., other members of the species). Moreover, with the passing of youth, they will become wretched and distraught. Spring is like a fruit-bearing tree that in turn is an indication of the plain of resurrection. Similarly, the world of humanity in every age is like a tree inviting contemplation, and the world as a whole is like an amazing tree the fruits of which are dispatched to the market of the hereafter.
22. Bukhari, Bad'ul-Khalq, 8; Tafsir al-Sura, xxxii, 1;Tawhid, 35; Muslim, Iman, 312.
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- is it at all possible that this attribute should permit the deeds and acts of man, man who has been given the lofty disposition of humanity, the rank of God’s supreme vicegerency, and the duty of bearing the Supreme Trust, not to be recorded, not to be passed through the sieve of accounting, not to be weighed in the balance of justice, not to be punished or rewarded fittingly, even though his acts and deeds closely pertain to God’s universal dominicality? No, it is not in any way possible!
Yes, the Being that administers this cosmos preserves all things in order and balance. Order and balance are the manifestation of knowledge and wisdom, of will and power. For we see that the substance of every created object is fashioned in well-ordered and symmetrical fashion. Not only is each of the forms it changes throughout its life well-ordered, but the totality of these forms is also marked by the same orderliness. We see, too, that the Glorious Preserver preserves many forms of all things the life of which comes to an end when they have performed their function and which depart from the manifest world, in the memories of men, that are like a kind of preserved tablet,23 or in a form of archetypal mirror. He also writes and inscribes a brief history of their life in a seed, that is like the result and outcome of the whole. Thus He causes all things to be preserved in mirrors pertaining to both the outer and inner worlds. The memory of man, the fruit of the tree, the kernel of the fruit, the seed of the flower - all of these demonstrate the universality and comprehensiveness of the law of preservation.
Do you not see that all the flowers and fruits of the vast spring, the records of their deeds in appropriate form, the laws of their formation, and the images of their forms, are all inscribed into the finite space of a minute seed and are there preserved? The following spring, their record of deeds is set forth, in a form of accounting appropriate to them, and another vast world of spring is brought forth, with the utmost order and wisdom. This demonstrates with what powerful comprehensiveness God’s attribute of Preserver exercises itself. Considering that the results of such transient, commonplace, impermanent and insignificant things are preserved, is it at all possible that men’s deeds, that yield important fruit in the world of the unseen, the world of the hereafter, and the world of spirits, from the point of view of universal dominicality, is it at all possible that they should not be guarded and preserved, should not be recorded as a matter of importance? No, by no means!
Yes, from this manifestation of God’s attribute of Preserver it can be deduced that the Master of all creation devotes great care to the orderliness of all things that come to pass in His realm. He pays great attention to the function of sovereignty, and lavishes extreme care on the dominicality of kingship. Thus He records, or causes to be recorded, the pettiest of happen
23. See, the footnote to the Seventh Aspect above.
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ings, the smallest of services, and preserves in numerous things the form of everything that happens in His realm. This attribute of Preserver indicates that an important register of deeds will be subjected to a precise examination and weighing: the records of men’s deeds will stand revealed.
Now is it at all possible that man should be ennobled with the vicegerency of God and His Trust, that, as a witness to the universality of dominicality, he should proclaim God’s unity in the realm of multiplicity, and thus act as a controller and witness by having some share in the glorification of God and worship of most beings - is it at all possible that he should do all of this and then go to his grave and sleep peacefully without ever being awakened? Without ever being asked concerning his deeds, small and great? That he should not go to the plain of resurrection and be tried at the Supreme Tribunal? No, by no means!
Or is it possible for man to flee and hide himself in annihilation, for him to enter the earth and conceal himself from that Powerful and Glorious One to Whose Power over all contingencies in the future,24 the occurrences of past time -each a miracle of His power- bear witness, and Who visibly creates winter and spring, that, taken together, resemble resurrection? Since
24. The entirety of the past, extending from the present back to the beginning of creation, consists of occurrences. Every day, year and century that came into being is like a line, a page, a book, written by the pen of destiny; the hand of God's power has inscribed His miraculous signs there with the utmost wisdom and order.
Similarly, time from the present until resurrection, Paradise and eternity, consists entirely of contingencies. The past consists of occurrences, the future of contingencies. Now if these two chains of time be compared with each other, it will be seen to be true of a certainty that the Being That created yesterday and brought into being the creatures peculiar to it, is capable, too, of creating tomorrow together with its creatures. Again, there is no doubt that the beings and wonders of past time, that wondrous display, are the miraculous works of a Powerful and Glorious One. They bear decisive witness that that Powerful One is capable of creating all of the future and its contingencies, and manifesting all of its wonders.
The one who creates an apple must of a certainty be able to create all the apples in the world and to bring the vast spring into being. Conversely, the one who cannot create a spring cannot create a single apple either, for the apple is made at the same workbench. But the one who makes an apple can make the spring. Each apple is an example in miniature of a tree, even of a garden or a cosmos. The apple seed that carries within itself the life-story of the huge tree is, from the point of view of artistry, such a miracle that the one who creates it thus is incapable of nothing. So too, the one that creates today is able also to create the day of resurrection, and it is only the one capable of creating the spring that is able, too, to create resurrection. The one who affixes all the worlds of past time to the ribbon of time and displays them there in utmost wisdom and order, is without doubt capable of attaching other beings to the ribbon of the future and displaying them there. In several of the Words, particularly the Twenty-Second Word, we proved with utter certainty that: "the one who cannot create everything cannot create anything, and the one who can fashion one thing, can fashion everything. Also, if the creation of everything is entrusted to a single being, the creation of all things becomes as easy as the creation of a single thing; thus facility arises. If, on the contrary, it is entrusted to numerous causes, and ascribed to multiplicity, the creation of a single thing becomes as difficult as the creation of everything, and such difficulty arises as borders on impossibility."
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man is not called to account and judged in fitting fashion while in this world, it follows that he must proceed to a Supreme Tribunal and a final felicity.
The Gate of Promise and Threat,
the Manifestation of the Names of Beautiful and Glorious.
Is it at all possible that the Maker of this world, the Possessor of Absolute Knowledge and Absolute Power, should not fulfil the oft-repeated promise and threat that has been proclaimed unanimously by all the prophets and been witnessed in unison by all the veracious and the saints, and thus display weakness and ignorance? God forbid! All that is implied by His promise and threat is not at all difficult for His power to fulfil; it is extremely simple and easy. It is as easy for Him as bringing back next spring the countless beings of last spring, in part identically,25 in part in simile.26 It is our need, the need of everything, His own need and the need of His dominical sovereignty, that He should fulfil His promise. For Him to break His promise would be contrary to the dignity of His power, and it would contradict the comprehensiveness of His knowledge. For the breaking of a promise can arise only from ignorance or impotence.
O denier! Do you know how foolish a crime you are committing with your unbelief and denial? Paying heed to your own lying fancy, your delirious intellect, your deceptive soul, you reject as a liar One Who in no way can be compelled to the breaking of His promise, Whose glory and stature can in no way admit the breaking of His word, and Whose truthfulness and veracity are attested by all visible matters and objects! Despite your infinite pettiness, you are committing a crime of infinitely great proportions. Without doubt you deserve great and eternal punishment. According to certain narrations, the fact that the teeth of some of the people of Hell will be as big as a mountain27 will serve as an indication of the magnitude of their crime. O denier, you are like a traveller who closes his eyes to the sunlight and looks instead at the fantasy in his own mind. His imagination wishes to illumine the awesome path in front of him with the light proceeding from his mind’s lamp that in reality is no stronger than a glow-worm. Whatever has been promised by God Almighty, Whose veracious words are these beings we see and Whose truthful, eloquent signs are the processes of nature, He will of a surety fulfil. He will establish a Supreme Tribunal, and bestow an ultimate bliss.
25. Like trees and the roots of grasses.
26. Like leaves and fruits.
27. Muslim, Janna, 44; Tirmidhi, Jahannam, 3; Ibn Maja, Zuhd, 38; Musnad, ii, 26, 328, 334.
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The Gate of God’s bestowal of life and death,
the Manifestation of the Names of Eternally Living
and Self-Subsistent, and Giver of Life and Giver of Death.
Is it at all possible that the One Who gives life to this vast dead and dry earth; Who in so doing demonstrates His power by deploying more than three hundred thousand different forms of creation, each of them as remarkable as man; Who further demonstrates in this deployment His all-embracing knowledge by the infinite distinctions and differentiations He makes in the complex intermingling of all of those forms; Who directs the gaze of all His slaves to everlasting bliss by promising them resurrection in all of His heavenly decrees; Who demonstrates the splendour of His dominicality by causing all of His creation to collaborate with one another, to revolve within the circle of His command and His will, to aid one another and be submitted to Him; Who shows the importance He has given to man by creating him as the most comprehensive, the most precious and delicate, the most valued and valuable fruit on the tree of creation by addressing him without intermediary and subjugating all things to him; - is it at all possible that so Compassionate and Powerful a One, so Wise and All-Knowing a One, should not bring about resurrection; should not gather His creatures together or be unable to do so; should not restore man to life, or be unable to do so; should not be able to inaugurate His Supreme Court; should not be able to create Heaven and Hell? Nay, indeed, by no means is any of this possible.
Indeed, the Almighty Disposer of this world’s affairs creates in every century, every year and every day, on the narrow and transient face of the globe, numerous signs, examples and indications of the Supreme Gathering and the Plain of Resurrection.
Thus in the gathering that takes place every spring we see that in the course of five or six days more than three hundred thousand different kinds of animal and plant are first gathered together and then dispersed. The roots of all the trees and plants, as well as some animals, are revived and restored exactly as they were. The other animals are recreated in a form so similar as to be almost identical. The seeds which appear, in their outward form, to be so close to each other, nonetheless, in the course of six days or six weeks, become distinct and differentiated from each other, and then with extreme speed, ease and facility, are brought to life in the utmost order and equilibrium. Is it at all possible that for the One Who does all of this anything should be difficult; that He should be unable to create the heavens and the earth in six days; that He should be unable to resurrect men with a single blast? No, by no means is it possible!
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Let us suppose there were to be some gifted writer who could write out in a single hour the confused and obliterated letters of three hundred thousand books on a single sheet without any error, omission or defect, complete and in the best form. If someone were then to say to you that that writer could write out again from memory a book written by him that had fallen into the water and become obliterated, would you then say that he is unable, and would you not believe in his ability? Or think of some talented king who, in order to demonstrate his power or for the sake of providing a warning example, removes whole mountains with a single command, turns his realm upside down, and transforms the sea into dry land. Then you see that a great rock rolls down into a valley, so that the path is blocked for guests travelling to attend the king’s reception and they are unable to pass. If someone should say to you: “that exalted one will remove or dissolve the stone, however great it may be, with a single command; he will not leave his guests stranded,” would you then say that he will not remove the stone, or be unable to do so? Or if someone one day should gather together a great army, and you are then informed that he will summon its battalions together with a blast of the trumpet after they had dispersed to rest, and the battalions will form up in disciplined shape, would you respond by saying, “I don’t believe it?” Were you to say any of these things your behaviour would truly be madness.
If you have understood these three parables, now look further and see how the Pre-Eternal Designer turns over in front of our eyes the white page of winter and opens the green pages of spring and summer. Then He inscribes on the page of the earth’s surface, with the pen of power and destiny, in the most beautiful form, more than three hundred thousand species of creation. Not one encroaches upon another. He writes them all together, but none blocks the path of another. In their formation and shape, each is kept separate from the other without any confusion. There is no error in the writing. That Wise and Preserving One, Who preserves and inserts the spirit of a great tree in the smallest seed, no bigger than a dot - is it permissible even to ask how He preserves the spirits of those who die? That Powerful One Who causes the globe to revolve like a pebble in a sling - is it permissible even to ask how He will remove this globe from the path of His guests who are travelling to meet Him in the Hereafter?
Again, the One of Glorious Essence Who from non-being recruits anew and inscribes into His battalions, with the command of “Be, and behold it is,” and with utmost discipline, the troops of all living things, the very particles of all of their bodies, and thus creates highly disciplined armies - is it permissible even to ask how He can make bodies submit to His discipline like a battalion, how He can gather together their mutually acquainted fundamental particles, and their component members?
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You can, moreover, behold with your own eyes, the numerous designs made by God as signs, similes and indications of resurrection, designs placed by Him in every age and epoch of the world, in the alternation of day and night, even in the appearance and disappearance of clouds in the sky. If you imagine yourself to have been living a thousand years ago, and then compare with each other the two wings of time that are the past and the future, then you will behold similes of the gathering and indications of resurrection as numerous as the centuries and days. If, then, after witnessing so many similes and indications, you regard corporeal resurrection as improbable and rationally unacceptable, know your behaviour to be pure lunacy.
See what the Supreme Decree says concerning the truth we are discussing:
Look upon the signs of God’s mercy, and see how He restores life to the earth after its death. Verily He it is Who shall bring to life the dead, and He is powerful over all things.28
In short: There is nothing that makes impossible the gathering of resurrection, and much that necessitates it. The glorious and eternal dominicality, the almighty and all embracing sovereignty of the One Who gives life and death to this vast and wondrous earth as if it were a mere animal; Who has made of this earth a pleasing cradle, a fine ship, for man and the animals; Who has made of the sun a lamp furnishing light and heat to the hostelry of the world; Who has made of the planets vehicles for the conveyance of His angels - the dominicality and sovereignty of such a One cannot rest upon and be restricted to the transitory, impermanent, unstable, insignificant, changeable, unlasting, deficient and imperfect affairs of this world. He must, therefore, have another realm, one worthy of Him, permanent, stable, immutable and glorious. Indeed, He does have another kingdom, and it is for the sake of this that He causes us to labour, and to this that He summons us. All those of illumined spirit who have penetrated from outer appearances to truth, and have been ennobled with proximity to the Divine Presence, all the spiritual poles endowed with luminous hearts, all the possessors of lucent intelligence, all bear witness that He will transfer us to that other kingdom. They inform us unanimously that He has prepared for us there reward and requittal, and relate that He is repeatedly giving us firm promises and stern warnings.
As for the breaking of a promise, it is baseless and utter humiliation. It cannot in any way be reconciled with the glory of His sanctity. Similarly, failure to fulfil a threat arises either from forgiveness or powerlessness.
28. Qur'an, 30:50.
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Now unbelief is extreme crime, and cannot be forgiven.29 The Absolutely Omnipotent One is exempt of and exalted above all powerlessness. Those who bring us their testimony and report, despite all the differences in their methods, temperaments and paths, are totally unanimous and agreed on this basic matter. By their number, they have the authority of unanimity. By their quality, they have the authority of learned consensus. By their rank, each one is a guiding star of mankind, the cherished eye of a people, the object of a nation’s veneration. By their importance, each one is an expert and an authority in the matter. In any art or science, two experts are preferred to thousands of non-experts, and two positive affirmers are preferred to thousands of negators in the transmission of a report. For example, the testimony of two men affirming the sighting of the crescent moon at the beginning of Ramadan totally nullifies the negation of thousands of deniers.
In short: In the whole world there is no truer report, no firmer claim, no more apparent truth than this. The world is without doubt a field, and the resurrection a threshing-floor, a harvest. Paradise and Hell are each storehouses for the grain.
The Gate of Wisdom, Grace, Mercy and Justice;
the Manifestation of the Names of All-Wise,
Generous, Just and Merciful.
Is it at all possible that the Glorious Possessor of all Dominion in this impermanent hospice of the world, in this transient place of testing, in this unstable showplace of the earth so manifest a wisdom, so evident a grace, so overwhelming a justice, so comprehensive a mercy, - is it at all possible that in His realm, in the worlds of the outer and inner dimensions of things, there should not exist permanent abodes with eternal inhabitants, everlasting stations with immortal residents, and that as a result all the truths of wisdom, grace, mercy and justice that we now see should decline into nothingness.
29. Unbelief denounces creation for alleged worthlessness and meaninglessness. It is an insult to all of creation, a denial of the manifestation of the Divine Names in the mirror of beings. It is disrespect to all the Divine Names, and rejection of the witness borne to the Divine Unity by all beings. It is a denial of all creation. It corrupts man's potentialities in such a way that they are incapable of reform and unreceptive to good. Unbelief is also an act of utter injustice, a transgression against all of creation and the rights of God's Names. The preservation of those rights, as well as the unredeemable nature of the unbeliever's soul, make it necessary that unbelief should be unpardonable. The words, "to assign partners to God is verily a great transgression," (Qur'an, 31:13) express this meaning.
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Again, is it at all possible that that All-Wise Being should choose man, among all His creation, to receive direct and universal address from Him, should make him a comprehensive mirror to Himself, should permit him to taste, weigh, and become acquainted with, all the contents of His treasuries of mercy, should make Himself known to him with all His Names, should love him and make Himself beloved of him - that He should do all this and then fail to despatch wretched man to that eternal realm, to invite him to that abode of permanent bliss and make him happy there?
Is it at all reasonable that He should impose on every being, even the seed, a task as heavy as a tree, mount in it instances of His wisdom as numerous as the flowers, and beneficial aspects as numerous as the fruits, but assign to that task, to those instances of His wisdom and those beneficial aspects, a purpose pertaining only to this world, one as small as a seed? That He should make that purpose nothing more than the life of this world, something less valuable than a grain of mustard-seed? That He should not make of beings seeds for the world of meaning and tillage for the realm of the hereafter, for them to yield there their true and worthy results? That He should permit such significant alternations to remain without purpose, to be empty and vain? That He should not turn their faces towards the world of meaning and the hereafter, so that they might there reveal their true purposes and fitting results?
Again, is it at all possible that by thus causing things to controvert their own nature He should present His own veracious Names, All-Wise, Generous, Just, Merciful, as being characterized by their opposites -God forbid!- that He should deny the true essences of all those beings that indicate His wisdom and generosity, His justice and mercy, that He should reject the testimony of all creatures, that He should negate the indications made by all things?
Can intelligence at all accept that God should impose on man and his senses duties as numerous as the hair on his head, but give him no more than an earthly reward, something no more valuable than a hair? That He should act meaninglessly, in a fashion contrary to His true justice and opposed to His true wisdom?
Again, is it at all possible that God Who proves and shows Himself to be a possessor of absolute wisdom, by attaching to every animate being, or even to every member like the tongue, indeed to every creature, instances of His wisdom and sources of benefit as numerous as the results and the fruits He has attached to a tree - is it at all possible that He should fail to bestow of Himself the greatest of all instances of His wisdom, the most significant of all sources of benefit, the most necessary of all results, that which makes His wisdom into wisdom, His blessings into blessings, His mercy into mercy, the
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source and aim of all of His wisdom, bounty, mercy and beneficence - eternity, the meeting with Him in the hereafter and everlasting bliss? Were He to abandon these, He would plunge all of His doings unto utter pointlessness and cause Himself to resemble a being who constructed a palace, each stone of which contained thousands of designs, in each corner of which thousands of adornments were to be found, and in each part of which thousands of precious household instruments and tools were provided, but failed to build a roof over it, so that everything rotted and was needlessly destroyed. No, by no means can this be true! From absolute goodness comes forth goodness, and from the Possessor of Absolute Beauty comes forth beauty. So too nothing devoid of purpose can emerge from the Possessor of Absolute Wisdom.
Whoever in his imagination embarks on the ship of history and sets sail for the past, will see dead stages, places, gatherings and worlds, as numerous as the years, and each like the stopping-place that is the world, the field of trial, the gathering of creation, that we now see. In form and quality they are different from each other, but they resemble each other with respect to their orderliness, their wondrousness and the fashion in which they display the power and wisdom of the Maker.
In those impermanent stopping-places, those transient fields, those fleeting gatherings, he will also see the orderly workings of so manifest a wisdom, the indications of so evident a beneficence, the signs of so imperious a justice, the fruits of so comprehensive a mercy, that he will know of a certainty -unless totally devoid of perception- that a more perfect wisdom that that which he beholds is inconceivable, that a beneficence more beauteous than that the signs of which he observes is impossible, that a justice more glorious than that the indications of which he sees cannot exist, and a mercy more comprehensive than that the fruits of which he sees is unimaginable.
If, to suppose the impossible, there were no permanent abodes, lofty mansions, everlasting stations and eternal abodes, with their eternal residents, God’s joyous servants, in the realm of that Eternal Monarch Who disposes all affairs and Who constantly is changing the hospice and its inmates, then it would be necessary to reject the true essences of wisdom, justice, beneficence and compassion, those four powerful and universal spiritual elements that are like light, air, water and earth, and to deny their existence, even though they are as apparent as that of the external elements. For it is plain that this impermanent world and its contents cannot be a complete manifestation of their true essences. If there is no other place, somewhere else, where they can be manifested fully, it then becomes necessary, with a lunacy like that of the man who denies the existence of the sun even though
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he sees its light filling the day, to deny the wisdom that we can see in everything in front of our eyes; to deny the beneficence that we can observe in our own souls and in most other things; to deny the justice the signs of which appear so strongly;30 and to deny the compassion we see everywhere in operation. It follows in turn that we must regard as a foolish prankster, a treacherous tyrant, the one from whom proceed all the wise processes, the generous deeds and the merciful gifts we perceive in the universe. God forbid that this should be so; it is a totally impossible reversal of the truth. Even the foolish sophists, who denied the existence of everything and even that of their own selves, would not readily contemplate such a proposition.
In short: Considering the utter disparity between -on the one hand- this state of affairs which we see together with the universal fusions of life and the swift separations of death, the imposing gatherings and the rapid dispersions, the magnificent revolutions and the great manifestations, and -on the other hand- the petty fruits we see briefly attained in this transient world, the temporary and insignificant purposes of beings that pertain to this world, we conclude that the non-existence of the hereafter would mean attaching to a little stone wise purposes as great as a mountain, and to a great mountain, a purpose as petty as a small stone. No intelligence or wisdom can find this acceptable.
In other words, this lack of proportion between beings and these matters on the one hand, and their purposes pertaining to this world on the other, demonstrates with certainty that all beings have their faces turned to the world of meaning. It is there that they will yield their appropriate fruits, and their eyes are fixed on the Sacred Names. Their ultimate aims pertain to that world alone. While their substance is hidden beneath the soil of this world, their flowers will unfold in the World of Similitudes. Man sows and is sown in this world, in accordance with his capacity; the harvest is gathered in the hereafter. If you look at the aspect of things that is turned towards the Divine Names and the hereafter you will see that each seed, a miracle of
30. There are two varieties of justice, one affirmative, the other negative. The positive variety consists in giving the deserving his right. This form of justice exists throughout the world in the most obvious fashion, because, as proven in the Third Truth, it observably bestows, in accordance with special balances and particular criteria, all the objects of desire requested by everything from its Glorious Creator with the tongue of innate capacity, the language of natural need, the speech of necessity, and all the requirements of life and existence. This variety of justice is, then, as certain as life and existence itself.
The other variety of justice, the negative, consists in chastising the unjust; it gives wrongdoers their due by way of requittal and punishment. This type of justice is not fully manifest in this world, even though there are countless signs and indications that permit us to sense its true nature. For example, all the chastising blows and punitive lashes that have descended on all rebellious peoples, from the Ad and Thamud to those of the present age, show definitely that an exalted justice dominates the world.
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power, has an aim as vast as a tree. Each flower, which is like a word of Divine wisdom, has meanings as numerous as the flowers on a tree, and each fruit, a wonder of God’s workmanship and a poem dictated by His mercy, has wise purposes as numerous as the fruits of a tree. As for the fruit serving us as sustenance, it is merely one out of those many thousand wise purposes; it fulfils its purpose, expresses its meanings, and dies, being buried in our stomach.31 Since these transient beings yield eternal fruits in another place, leave there permanent forms of themselves, and express there everlasting meanings; since they engage in ceaseless glorification of the Maker; and since man becomes man by perceiving these aspects of things that are oriented to the hereafter, thus finding his way to eternity by means of the transient - since all of this is true, there must be some other purpose for all these beings that are cast around between life and death, that are first gathered and then dispersed.
There is no error in this comparison: the above-mentioned state of affairs resembles circumstances formed and arranged by way of imitation and representation. Brief gatherings and dispersions are arranged at great expense merely for the sake of taking pictures that can thereafter be shown in the cinema. So too, one of the reasons for our passage through individual and social life in this life, for a brief time, is to enable pictures to be taken and images formed, to enable the result of our deeds to be registered and recorded, for display on a day of accounting, for being shown at a vast gathering, and to yield the fruit of supreme happiness. The noble saying of the Prophet (Peace and blessing be upon him) “This world is the tillage for the hereafter,”32 indicates this meaning.
Since the world exists, and within this world wisdom, beneficence, compassion and justice also exist, with their numerous evidences, of a certainty the hereafter also exists, just as surely as does this world. Since one aspect of everything in this world is turned to that world and is proceeding toward it, to deny that world would be denying this world with all it contains. Just as the allotted hour and the grave await man, so too do Paradise and Hell, anxiously watching for his arrival.
31. If it be asked, "why do your parables consist chiefly of flowers, seeds and fruits," our answer is that they are the most wondrous, remarkable and delicate of the miracles of God's power. Moreover, since naturalists, philosophers and the people of misguidance have been unable to read the subtle script written upon them by the pen of destiny and power, they have choked on them, and fallen into the swamp of nature.
32. al-Ajluni, Kashf al-Khafa', i, 320.
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The Gate of Humanity, and the Manifestation of the Name of Truth
Is it at all possible that God Almighty, He Who is worshipped by right, should create man within creation as the most significant of all of His servants with respect to His absolute dominicality and with respect to His universal dominicality in all of His realms; that He should make him the most thoughtful recipient of His glorious address, the most comprehensive mirror to the manifestation of His Names; that He should create him as the most beautiful miracle of His power in the fairest of forms, in order to receive the manifestation of the Greatest Name, as well as that quality of the Greatest Name inherent in the other Names, in order for him to assess and perceive the contents of His treasuries of mercy; that He should make him an investigator of secrets equipped more than any other creature with balances and instruments; and He should make him the most needy of all creatures with respect to His infinite gifts, the one suffering most from annihilation and the one most desirous of immortality; that He should make him the most delicate, the poorest and neediest of animals, most wretched and subject to pain in his worldly life but most sublime in disposition, in the highest of forms and characters - is it possible that God Almighty should do all this with man and not send him to the Eternal Realm for which he is suited and fitted and for which he is longing? Is it possible that He should thus negate the whole essence of humanity, act in a manner totally contrary to His own veracity, and perform an act of injustice that the eye of truth must deem ugly?
Again, is it at all possible that He Who rules justly, Whose mercy is absolute, should bestow on man such a disposition that he took up the Supreme Trust, from which the heavens and mountains both shrank, in order to measure and know, with his slight and petty measures and crafts, the all encompassing attributes, the universal workings, and the infinite manifestations of the Creator; that He should create him as the most delicate, vulnerable, weak and powerless of beings, while yet entrusting him with the regulation of all the vegetal and animal life upon earth, and causing him to intervene in their modes of worship and glorification of God; that He should cause him to be a representation in miniature of His cosmic processes; that He should cause him to proclaim His glorious dominicality to all beings, in word and deed; that He should prefer him to the angels and give him the rank of vicegerent - is it at all possible that God should bestow all of this on man and not give him eternal bliss, the purpose, result and fruit of all of these duties? That He should cast him down to low degree, as the most wretched, ill-fortuned, humiliated and suffering of all His creatures; or that He should make of intelligence, a gift from His own wisdom and a most blessed and luminous tool for the attainment of happiness, an inauspicious and sombre tool of torment
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for that wretch, thus acting in total contradiction to His absolute wisdom and in opposition to His absolute mercy? No, it is by no means possible!
In short: Just as we saw by looking at the identity papers of an officer in our comparison that his rank, duty, wage, instructions and equipment prove that he exists not for the sake of some temporary battlefield, but rather that he is proceeding to some permanent kingdom, for the sake of which he is exerting himself - so too those to whom truth and certainty have been unveiled are unanimously agreed that the subtleties inscribed in the book of man’s heart, the senses written down in the notebook of his intellect, the equipment contained in his essential character, are all turned towards Eternal Bliss; they have been given to man and fashioned in accordance with this ultimate goal.
For example, if one servant and illustrator of the intellect called “the imaginative power,” is told that “you can have a million years of life and rule over the world, but in the end you shall become nothing,” it will react with sorrow instead of pleasure, unless deceived by vain fancy and the interference of the soul. The greatest of transient things cannot, then, satisfy the smallest faculty of man.
It is, then, this disposition of man -his desires extending to eternity, his thoughts that embrace all of creation and his wishes that embrace the different varieties of eternal bliss- that demonstrates he has been created for eternity and will indeed proceed to eternity. This world is like a hospice for him, a waiting-room for the hereafter.
The Gate of Messengerhood and Revelation,
and the Manifestation of
“In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.”
Is it at all possible that errant doubts, no stronger than the wing of a fly, could close the path to the hereafter and the gate to Paradise that have been definitively opened by the Most Noble Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him), with all of his might, relying upon the power of his thousand certified miracles as well as the thousands of decisive verses of the All-Wise Qur’an, a book miraculous in forty different ways - that Messenger whose words are affirmed by all of the other prophets, relying upon their own miracles, whose claim is affirmed by all of the saints, relying upon their visionary and charismatic experiences, and to whose veracity all of the purified scholars bear witness, relying upon their investigations of truth?
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From the previous truths it has become apparent that resurrection is so firmly rooted a truth that not even a power capable of lifting up the globe, breaking it and casting it aside, could shake it. For God Almighty Himself affirms this truth in accordance with the meaning of all His Names and attributes; His Noble Messenger confirms it with all of his miracles and evidences; the All-Wise Qur’an establishes it with all of its truths and verses; and the cosmos itself bears witness to it with all the creational signs it contains and all the wise processes that take place within it. Is it at all possible that the Necessary Being should unite with all of His creation (excepting only the unbelievers) on this question of resurrection, and doubts feebler than a whisker and satanic insinuations should shake and uproot that exalted and firmly-rooted truth which resembles a mountain? No, by no means!
Beware, do not imagine that the proofs of resurrection are restricted to the Twelve Truths we have mentioned. The All-Wise Qur’an alone, that instructed us in these Twelve Truths, indicates thousands of other aspects of the matter as well, each aspect being a sign that our Creator will transfer us from this transient realm to an eternal one.
Again, do not imagine that the Divine Names which logically require the existence of resurrection are only those we have discussed - Wise, Generous, Merciful, Just, Preserver. On the contrary, all the Divine Names manifest in the ordering of the cosmos logically require the existence of resurrection, indeed make it imperative.
Do not imagine, either, that the creational signs indicating resurrection are confined to those we have mentioned above. On the contrary, in the majority of beings, there exist different aspects and qualities that are like curtains opening to the right and the left: one aspect bears witness to the Maker, and the other aspect indicates resurrection. For example, the beauty of man’s being, fashioned as he is in the fairest of forms, demonstrates the existence of the Maker, while at the same time the fact that together with his comprehensive abilities, lodged in that fairest of forms, he soon declines and dies, demonstrates the existence of resurrection. Sometimes, if one looks at the same aspect in two different ways, one sees that it demonstrates the existence both of the Maker and of resurrection. For example, if one looks at the wise ordering, the just balance, the gracious adornment and the merciful favour inherent in most things, they are seen to demonstrate that they proceed from the powerful hand of a Wise, Generous, Just and Merciful Maker. So too, if one looks at the brief and insignificant life of the transient beings that are the manifestations of these qualities, despite their power and infinitude, the hereafter appears before one. In other words, all things silently recite and cause others to recite “I believe in God and the Last Day.”
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The preceding Twelve Truths confirm, supplement and support each other. Coming together in union, they demonstrate the required result. Does it lie in the capacity of any doubt to penetrate those twelve firm walls, each like steel or diamonds, in order to shake the belief in resurrection housed within their closed citadel?
The verse, Your creation and resurrection is but like a single soul,33 indicates the following meaning: “The creation and resurrection of all men is as easy for God’s power as the creation and resurrection of a single man.” Yes indeed. In a treatise entitled Nokta (Point), I explained in detail the truth expressed by this verse. Here we will indicate only a summary by means of a few comparisons. If you want more detail, then refer to Nokta.
For example, And God’s is the highest similitude,34 and there is no error in the comparison, if the manifestation of the sun were in accordance with its own will, it could be said that the sun bestows its mystery of manifestation on numerous transparent objects with the same ease as on a single particle.
In accordance with the mystery of transparency, the little pupil of a transparent particle is equal to the vast face of the ocean in receiving the reflection of the sun.
In accordance with the mystery of order, it overturns a huge battleship with the same ease as a child turning over his toy boat with his finger.
In accordance with the mystery of obedience, it causes a vast army to move with the same word that a commander uses to make a single infantryman move.
In accordance with the mystery of equilibrium, let us imagine there to exist in space a balance so sensitive and at the same time so large that were two walnuts to be placed in its pans it would feel them, and be equally able to hold and to weigh two suns. If two suns of equal weight were placed in the pans of the scale; the same power, which causes one of the walnuts to be lifted up to the heavens and the other walnut to descend to the ground, will move these heavenly bodies with the same ease. Since in this lowly, deficient and transient world of contingency, the greatest and smallest things are
33. Qur'an, 31:28.
34. Qur'an, 16:60.
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equal, and numerous, infinite things appear equal to a single thing, through the mystery of luminosity, transparency, order, obedience and balance, then of a certainty little and much, small and great, will be equal in the sign of the possessor of absolute power, and He will be able to summon all men to resurrection with a single blast on the trumpet, just as if they were one man - this, by virtue of the mysteries of the luminous manifestations of the infinite and utterly perfect power of His essence, the transparency of the inner dimension of things, the order decreed by wisdom and destiny, the complete obedience of all things to His creational commands, and the equilibrium existing in contingent being, that consists of the equivalence of the being and non-being of the contingent.
Furthermore, the degrees of strength and weakness that a thing possesses are determined by the intervention in that thing of its opposite. For example, degrees of heat are determined by the intervention of cold; degrees of beauty, by the intervention of ugliness; stages of light, by the intervention of darkness. But if something exists of itself, and is not accidental, then its opposite cannot interfere with it, for then a union of opposites would logically have to occur, and that is impossible. In something that exists of itself, there can then be no gradation. Now the power of the Possessor of Absolute Power pertains to His essence; it enjoys absolute perfection and is not accidental like contingent being. It is therefore impossible that its opposite, impotence, should intervene in it. Hence it is as easy for the Lord of Glory to create a spring as it is to create a flower. But if creation were ascribed to causality, then the creation of a single flower would be as difficult as that of a whole spring. For God it is as easy to resurrect and gather all men as it is to resurrect and gather one man.
All that we have expounded so far with regard to resurrection, the comparisons indicating it and its truths, is derived from the effulgence of the All-Wise Qur’an. Its sole purpose has been bringing the soul to surrender and the heart to acceptance. It is to the Qur’an that the right to speak belongs. It is true speech, and all speech is subordinate to it. Let us listen, then, to the Qur’an:
Say: “With God is the argument that reaches home: if it had been His will, He could indeed have guided you all.”35
Look upon the signs of God’s mercy, and see how He restores life to the earth after its death. Verily He it is Who shall bring to life the dead, and He is powerful over all things.36
And he makes comparisons for Us, and forgets his own [Origin and]
35. Qur'an, 6:149.
36. Qur'an, 30:50.
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Creation: he says, “Who can give life to [dry] bones and decomposed ones [at that]?”37
O mankind! Fear your Lord! For the convulsion of the Hour [of Judgement] will be a thing terrible!
The Day ye shall see it, every mother giving suck shall forget her suckling-babe, and every pregnant female shall drop her load [unformed]: thou shalt see mankind as in a drunken riot, yet not drunk: but dreadful will be the Wrath of God.38
God! There is no god but He: of a surety He will gather you together against the Day of Judgement, about which there is no doubt. And whose word can be truer than God’s?39
As for the righteous, they will be in bliss;
And the wicked - they will be in the fire.40
When the Earth is shaken to her [utmost] convulsion,
And the Earth throws up her burdens [from within],
And man cries [distressed]: “What is the matter with her!” -
On that Day will she declare her tidings:
For that thy Lord will have given her inspiration.
On that Day will men proceed in companies sorted out, to be shown the deeds that they [had done].
Then shall anyone who has done an atom’s weight of good, see it.
And anyone who has done an atom’s weight of evil, shall see it.41
The [Day] of Noise and Clamour:
What is the [Day] of Noise and Clamour?
And what will explain to thee what the [Day] of Noise and Clamour is?
[It is] a Day whereon men will be like moths scattered about,
And the mountains will be like carded wool.
Then, he whose balance [of good deeds] will be [found] heavy,
Will be in a life of good pleasure and satisfaction.
But he whose balance [of good deeds] will be [found] light,-
Will have his home in a [bottomless] Pit.
And what will explain to thee what this is?
[It is] a Fire blazing fiercely!42
To God belongs the mystery of the heavens and the earth. And the
37. Qur'an, 36:78.
39. Qur'an, 4:87.
40. Qur'an, 82:13-14.
41. Qur'an, 99:1-8.
42. Qur'an, 101:1-11.
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decision of the Hour is as the twinkling of an eye or even quicker: for God has power over all things.43
Listening to these and other clear verses of the Qur’an, let us say, “yes, we believe and give our assent.”
I believe in God, His angels, His books, His messengers and in the Last Day. I believe that both the good and evil of destiny are from God Almighty; that resurrection after death is a reality; that Paradise is a reality; that Hell-fire is a reality; that intercession is a reality; that Munkar and Nakir are reality; and that God will resurrect those who are in the tombs. I bear witness that there is no god but God, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.
O God, grant blessings to the most delicate, the most noble, the most perfect, the most beautiful fruit of the Tuba of Your mercy, him whom You sent as a mercy to all the worlds, and as a means for our attaining unto the most beauteous, the fairest, purest and most exalted of the fruits of that Tuba, the branches of which are outspread over the hereafter and paradise; o God, protect us and our parents against the fire, and cause us and our parents to enter Paradise with the pious, for the sake of Thy chosen Prophet. Amen.
O brother studying this treatise with an open mind! Do not say, “why cannot I immediately understand this ‘Tenth Word’ in all its details?” and do not be saddened by your failure to understand it completely. For even a master of philosophy such as Ibn Sina said that “resurrection cannot be understood by rational criteria.” His judgement was that we must believe in resurrection, but reason cannot aid our belief. Similarly, all the scholars of Islam unanimously have held that resurrection rests entirely on traditional proofs; it cannot be rationally examined. Naturally, so profound, and at the same time, so exalted a path cannot suddenly become a public highway for the exercise of the reason. But we would offer a thousand thanks that the Merciful Creator has bestowed upon us this much of the path, by means of the effulgence of the All-Wise Qur’an and His own mercy, in an age when belief by imitation is past and meek acceptance has disappeared. For the amount vouchsafed to each of us is enough for the salvation of our faith. Being content with the amount that we have been able to understand, we should reread the treatise and seek to increase our comprehension.
One of the reasons that it is impossible to approach a rational understanding of resurrection is that since the supreme gathering, resurrection, is
43. Qur'an, 16:77.
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through the manifestation of the Greatest Name, only through beholding and demonstrating the great deeds evident in the maximum manifestation of the Greatest Name of God as well as His other Names, is it possible to prove it as certain; and unshakeably believe that resurrection is as simple as the spring. Thus do matters appear and thus they are demonstrated in this ‘Tenth Word’ (Resurrection and the Hereafter), by means of the effulgence of the Qur’an. Were it not for this effulgence, and were our intelligence to be left to its own petty devices, it would be powerless, and condemned to believing in resurrection by way of imitation.
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The First Part of an Important Supplement and Addendum to the Tenth Word
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
So [give] glory to God, when you reach eventide and when you rise in the morning; Yea, to Him be praise, in the heavens and on earth; and in the late afternoon and when the day begins to decline.
It is He Who brings out the living from the dead, and brings out the dead from the living, and Who Gives life to the earth after it is dead: and thus shall you be brought out [from the dead].
Among His Signs is this, that He created you from dust; and then,- behold, you are men scattered [far and wide]!
And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your [hearts]: Verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.
And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colours: verily in that are Signs for those who know.
And among His Signs is the sleep that you take by night and by day, and the quest that you [make for livelihood] out of His Bounty: verily in that are Signs for those who hearken.
And among His Signs, He shows you the lightning, by way both of fear and of hope, and He sends down rain from the sky and with it gives life to the earth after it is dead: verily in that are Signs for those who are wise.
And among His Signs is this, that heaven and earth stand by His Command: then when He calls you, by a single call, from the earth, behold, you [straightway] come forth.
To Him belongs every being that is in the heavens and on earth: all are devoutly obedient to Him.
It is He Who begins [the process of] creation; then repeats it; and for Him it is most easy. To Him belongs the loftiest similitude [we can think of] in the heavens and the earth: For He is Exalted in Might, Full of Wisdom.44
44. Qur'an, 30:17-27.
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In this Ninth Ray will be expounded a supreme point of these sublime heavenly verses, which demonstrate one of the ‘poles’ of belief; these mighty sacred proofs of the resurrection of the dead will be explained. It is a subtle instance of dominical grace that thirty years ago at the end of his work entitled Muhâkemat (Reasonings), which was an introduction to Qur’anic commentaries, the Old Said wrote: “Second Aim: Two Qur’anic verses alluding to the resurrection of the dead will be expounded and explained. In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.” There he stopped and could write no further. Now, praise and thanks to my Compassionate Creator to the number of signs and indications of the resurrection, that after thirty years He has given me success. Yes, nine or ten years ago, He bestowed the Tenth and Twenty-Ninth Words, two brilliant and powerful proofs expounding the Divine decree of:
So look to the signs of God’s mercy, how He raises to life the earth after its death; He it is who will raise the dead to life, for He is Powerful Over All Things45
which was the first of the two verses. They silenced the deniers of resurrection. Now, nine or ten years after those two impregnable bastions of belief in the resurrection of the dead, He bestowed with the present treatise a commentary on the second of the above two sublime verses. This Ninth Ray, then, consists of Nine Elevated Stations, indicated by the above-mentioned verses, and an important Introduction.
[This consists of two Points comprising a concise explanation of one comprehensive result of the numerous spiritual benefits of belief in resurrection and of its vital consequences; a demonstration of how essential it is for human life and especially for the life of society; a summary of one universal proof out of numerous proofs of the tenet of belief in the resurrection; and a statement of how indubitable and self-evident is that tenet of belief.]
We shall indicate, as a measure, only four out of hundreds of proofs that belief in the hereafter is fundamental to the life of society and to man’s personal life, and is the basis of his happiness, prosperity, and achievement.
T h e F i r s t : It is only with the thought of Paradise that children, who
45. Qur'an, 30:50.
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form almost a half of mankind, can endure all the deaths around them, which appear to them to be grievous and frightening, and strengthen the morale of their weak and delicate beings. Through Paradise they find hope in their vulnerable spirits, prone to weeping, and may live happily. For example, with the thought of Paradise, one may say: “My little brother or friend has died and become a bird in Paradise. He is flying around Paradise and living more happily than us.” The frequent deaths before their unhappy eyes of other children like themselves or of grown-ups will otherwise destroy all their resistance and morale, making their subtle faculties like their spirits, hearts, and minds weep in addition to their eyes; they will either decline utterly or become crazy, wretched animals...
S e c o n d P r o o f : It is only through the life of the hereafter that the elderly, who form half of mankind, can endure the proximity of the grave, and be consoled at the thought that their lives, to which they are firmly attached, will soon be extinguished and their fine worlds come to an end. It is only at the hope of eternal life that they can respond to the grievous despair they feel in their emotional child-like spirits at the thought of death. Those worthy, anxious fathers and mothers, so deserving of compassion and in need of tranquillity and peace of mind, will otherwise feel a terrible spiritual turmoil and distress in their hearts, and this world will become a dark prison for them, and life even, grievous torment.
T h i r d P r o o f : It is only the thought of Hell-fire that checks the turbulent emotions of youths, the most vigorous element in the life of society, and their violent excesses, restraining them from aggression, oppression, and destruction, and ensuring that the life of society continues tranquilly. If not for fear of Hell, in accordance with the rule ‘might is right,’ in pursuing their desires, those drunken youths would turn the worlds of the wretched weak and powerless into Hell, and elevated humanity into base animality.
F o u r t h P r o o f : The most comprehensive centre of man’s worldly life, and its mainspring, and a paradise, refuge, and fortress of worldly happiness, is the life of the family. Everyone’s home is a small world for him. And the life and happiness of his home and family are possible through genuine, earnest, and loyal respect and true, tender, and self-sacrificing compassion. This true respect and genuine kindness may be achieved with the idea of the members of the family having an everlasting companionship and friendship and togetherness, and their parental, filial, brotherly, and friendly relations continuing for all eternity in a limitless life, and their believing this. One says, for example: “My wife will be my constant companion in an everlasting world and eternal life. It does not matter if she is now old and ugly, for she will have an immortal beauty.” He will tell himself that he will be as kind and devoted as he can for the sake of that permanent companionship, and treat his elderly wife lovingly and kindly as though she was a
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beautiful houri. A companionship that was to end in eternal separation after an hour or two of brief, apparent friendship would otherwise afford only superficial, temporary, feigned, animal-like feelings, and false compassion and artificial respect. As with animals, self-interest and other overpowering emotions would prevail over the respect and compassion, transforming that worldly paradise into Hell.
Thus, one of the hundreds of results of belief in resurrection is connected with the life of society. If a comparison is made between the above four proofs out of the hundreds of aspects and benefits of this single consequence and the rest, it will be understood that the realization of the truth of resurrection, and its occurrence, are as certain as the elevated reality of humanity and its universal need. It is clearer even than the evidence for the existence of food offered by the existence of need in man’s stomach, and tells of its existence even more clearly. And it proves that if the consequences of the truth of resurrection were to quit humanity, whose nature is extremely significant, lofty, and living, it would descend to being a corrupt corpse fed on by microbes.
The sociologists, politicians, and moralists, who govern mankind and are concerned with its social and moral questions should be aware of this! How do they propose to fill this vacuum? With what can they cure these deep wounds?
This explains in summary form a proof -one of many- proceeding from the testimony to the truth of resurrection of the other pillars of belief. It is as follows:
All the miracles indicating the Messengership of Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) and the evidences for his prophethood, and all the proofs of his veracity, together testify to the occurrence of the resurrection, and prove it. For after Divine unity, everything he claimed throughout his life was centred on the resurrection of the dead. Also, all his miracles and proofs affirming, and making affirmed, all the previous prophets attest to the same truth. Also, the testimony of the phrase “and in His Scriptures,” which makes completely clear the testimony of the phrase “and in His Prophets,” testifies to the same truth. Like this:
All the miracles, truths, and proofs proving foremost the veracity of the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition, testify to and prove the realization and occurrence of resurrection. For almost a third of the Qur’an is about resurrection, and at the beginning of most of its short suras are powerful verses about it. It expresses the same truth explicity and implicitly with thousands of its verses, and proves and demonstrates it. For example:
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When the sun is folded up.46
O men, fear your Sustainer; the trembling of the Hour
is an awesome event;47
When the earth is convulsed;48
When the heavens are torn asunder;49
When the heavens are torn apart;50
Concerning what they dispute;51
Has the story reached you, of the overwhelming event?52
Besides demonstrating with complete certainty at the beginning of thirty or forty suras that resurrection is the most important and necessary
truth in the universe, it sets forth various persuasive evidences for that truth in others of its verses.
Is there any possibility that belief in the hereafter should be false, which emerges like the sun from the thousands of declarations and
statements of a Book a single indication of one of the verses of which has yielded before our eyes the fruits of numerous learned and cosmic truths in the Islamic sciences? Is there any possibility of denying the sun, or the existence of the universe? Would it not be impossible and absurd? Is it at all possible that although an army may sometimes be plunged into battle so that a mere sign of the king should not be given the lie, to show as false the thousands of words, promises, and threats of that most serious, proud monarch? Is it possible that they should be false?
Although a single sign of that glorious spiritual monarch who for thirteen centuries without break has ruled over innumerable spirits, minds, hearts, and souls within the bounds of truth and reality, and trained and raised them, would be sufficient to prove the truth of resurrection, it has demonstrated it with thousands of explicit statements. Is the torment of Hell-fire not necessary then for the compounded idiot who does not recognize this fact? Is it not pure justice?
Moreover, by their definite acceptance of the truth of resurrection, which the Qur’an -prevailing over the future and all times- repeatedly proves in detail and elucidates, all the revealed scriptures and sacred books, each of which dominated a particular period, proved it according to their own times
46. Qur'an, 81:1.
47. Qur'an, 22:1.
48. Qur'an, 99:1.
49. Qur'an, 82:1.
50. Qur'an, 84:1.
51. Qur'an, 78:1.
52. Qur'an, 88:1.
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and centuries, but in undetailed, veiled, and summary manner, confirming with a thousand signatures what the Qur’an teaches.
Included here since it is related to this discussion is the testimony at the end of the Third Ray of the other pillars of faith and particulaly “the Prophets” and “Holy Scriptures” to “belief in the Last Day.” It forms a convincing proof of resurrection, and is in the form of a powerful yet succinct supplication, which dispels all doubts. It says in the supplication:
“O My Compassionate Sustainer!
“I have understood from the instruction of Your Noble Messenger (PBUH) and the teaching of the Qur’an, that foremost the Qur’an and the Messenger, and all the sacred scriptures and prophets, have unanimously testified and pointed out that the manifestations of the Names related to Your beauty and glory, examples of which are to be seen in this world, will continue even more radiantly for all eternity, and that Your bounties, samples of which are to be observed in this transitory world, will continue in the abode of bliss in more glittering fashion, and that those who long for them in this world will accompany them for all eternity.
“Also, relying on hundreds of evident miracles and decisive signs, foremost Your Most Noble Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) and the All-Wise Qur’an, and the prophets with their luminous spirits, and the saints, who are spiritual poles with their light-filled hearts, and the purified scholars with their enlightened intellects, relying on Your repeated threats and promises in all the sacred scriptures, and trusting in Your sacred attributes like power, mercy, favour, wisdom, glory, and beauty, and on Your functions, and the dignity of Your glory, and the sovereignty of Your dominicality, and in consequence of their illuminations and visions and beliefs at ‘the knowledge of certainty,’ give the glad tidings to men and jinn of eternal happiness and inform them of Hell for the people of misguidance; they firmly believe this and testify to it.
“O All-Powerful and Wise One! O Most Merciful and Compassionate! O Munificent One True to His Promise! O All-Compelling One of Glory, One of Dignity, Grandeur, and Wrath!
“You are utterly exempt from and exalted above giving the lie to so many loyal friends, and so many promises, and attributes and functions, and denying the certain demands of the sovereignty of Your dominicality and the endless prayers and supplications of Your innumerable acceptable servants, whom You love and who attract Your love by assenting to You and obeying You; and You are exempt from confirming the denial of resurrection by the people of misguidance and unbelief, who through their disbelief and rebellion and denial of Your promises, offend the magnificence of Your grandeur and affront Your dignity and glory and the
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honour of Your Godhead, and sadden the compassion of Your dominicality. We declare Your justice, beauty, and mercy to be exempt from such infinite tyranny, such ugliness. We believe with all our strength that the testimony of the prophets, purified scholars, and saints, who are those truthful envoys of Yours, those heralds of Your sovereignty, at the degrees of ‘absolute certainty,’ ‘knowledge of certainty,’ and ‘the vision of certainty,’ to the treasuries of Your mercy in the hereafter and the stores of Your bounties in the everlasting realm, and to the wondrously beautiful manifestations of Your Beautiful Names, which will be manifested totally in the abode of bliss, are absolutely true and veracious, and what they have indicated conforms absolutely with reality, and that what they have given glad tidings of is true and will occur. Believing that the supreme ray of Your Name of Truth, which is the source, sun, and protector of all realities, is this truth of the resurrection and Great Gathering, they teach it to Your servants.
“O God! For the sake of what they teach and in veneration of it, grant us and all students of the Risale-i Nur perfect belief and a happy death. And allow us to receive their intercession. Amen!”
Moreover, just as all the proofs demonstrating the veracity of the revealed scriptures, and all the miracles and evidences proving the prophethood of God’s Beloved (PBUH) and of all the prophets, indirectly prove the reality of the hereafter, which is what they teach above all else; so most of the evidences for the existence and unity of the Necessary Existent testify indirectly to the existence and opening up of an eternal realm of bliss, which will be the supreme manifestation of dominicality and divinity. For as is explained and proved in the following paragraphs, both the existence of the Necessarily Existent One, and most of His attributes, functions and Names, like dominicality, Godhead, mercy, grace, wisdom, and justice, necessitate the hereafter with the utmost certainty, and demand an eternal realm and the resurrection of the dead and Last Judgement for the granting of reward and punishment.
Since there is a pre-eternal and post-eternal God, most certainly there is the hereafter, the everlasting means of the sovereignty of His Godhead.
And since there is in the universe and in living beings a most majestic, wise, and compassionate absolute dominicality, and it is apparent; there is certain to be an eternal realm of happiness which will save the majesty of that dominicality from abasement, its wisdom from purposelessness, and its compassion from cruelty; and that realm shall be entered.
And since the unlimited bestowals, bounties, favours, gifts, and instances of grace and mercy which are to be seen, show to minds that are not extinguished and hearts that are not dead that behind the veil of the Unseen is
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One All-Merciful and Compassionate; surely there is an immortal life in an eternal realm which will save the bestowal from mockery, the bounties from deception, the favours from enmity, the mercy from torment, the grace and gifts from treachery, and will make the bounties bounty and the bestowal bestowal.
And since in the springtime on the narrow page of the earth, a pen of power writes a hundred thousand books without error tirelessly before our eyes; and since the Holder of the pen has promised a hundred thousand times: “I am going to write a fine, immortal book in a broad realm, easier than this book of the spring, which is written in this narrow realm, confused and intermingled, and I shall allow you to read it;” He mentions the book in all his decrees; certainly, the main part of the book has been written, and with the resurrection and Last Judgement its footnotes shall be added, and all the notebooks of people’s actions shall be recorded in it.
And since, with its multiplicity of creatures, and its being the dwelling, source, factory, exhibition, and gathering place of hundreds of thousands of constantly changing species of living beings and beings with spirits, and the heart, centre, summary, and result of the universe, and the reason for its creation, the earth has supreme importance, and is held equal to the mighty heavens despite its smallness; in the heavenly decrees, it is always said: Sustainer of the Heavens and Earth...
And since there is man, who rules over the earth, which is thus, has disposal over most creatures, and subjects most living beings gathering them around himself; and so orders, displays, and gathers each remarkable species together in one place like a list, adorning them, that he attracts not only the attention and admiration of men and jinn, but of the dwellers of the heavens and the universe, and the appreciative gaze of the universe’s Owner, thus gaining great importance and high worth; and who shows through his sciences and arts that he is the purpose of the universe’s creation, and its most important result, and most precious fruit, and the Divine vicegerent on earth; and who because with respect to this world, he has ordered and displayed excellently the miraculous arts of the world’s Maker, is left in this world despite his rebellion and disbelief, and whose punishment is postponed, and because of this work of his, whose term is prolonged and is allowed success...
And since there is an extremely powerful, wise, and compassionate Disposer, Who makes the mighty globe into a treasury of every sort of metal and mineral that man needs in a way entirely beyond his strength and will -who despite being weak, impotent, and wanting by nature and creation, has innumerable needs and is subject to innumerable pains- and a store of every sort of food, and a shop stocking goods of every kind that pleases
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man, and looks to man in this way, and nurtures him, and gives him what he wants...
And since there is a Sustainer Who is thus, Who both loves man, and causes man to love Him, and Who is enduring, and has eternal worlds, and Who performs every work with justice, and carries out everything with wisdom; and since the splendour of that Pre-Eternal Sovereign’s rule and His eternal rule cannot be contained in this brief worldly life, and in man’s fleeting span, and in the temporary and transient earth; and since the excessive wrongdoing and rebellion that occur among men, which are contrary to and opposed to the universe’s order, justice, balance, and beauty, and their denial, treachery, and disbelief towards their Benefactor, Who nurtures them tenderly, are not punished in this world, and the cruel oppressor passes his life in ease, while the unhappy oppressed live in hardship; and since the absolute justice whose traces are to be seen throughout the universe is entirely opposed to the cruel tyrant and despairing oppressed being equal in death, and would in no way permit it...
And since just as the universe’s Owner has chosen the earth from the universe, and man from the earth, and bestowed on him a high rank and importance; so out of mankind He has chosen the prophets, saints, and purified ones, true human beings who conform to the aims of His dominicality and through their belief and submission make Him love them; He has taken them as friends and addressees, and bestowed miracles and success on them and punished their enemies with heavenly blows. And out of these worthy and lovable friends He has chosen their leader and source of pride, Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him), and for long centuries has illuminated with his Light half the globe and a fifth of humanity; as though the universe was created for him, all its purposes become apparent through him and his religion and the Qur’an. And although he deserved to live for an infinite time in recompense for his infinitely valuable service, for millions of years, he only lived a brief sixty-three years of great hardship and striving. Is there any possibility then that he should not be resurrected together with all his peers and friends? That they should not now be living in the spirit? That they should have been annihilated eternally? God forbid, a hundred thousand times! Yes, all the universe and the reality of the world demand that he should be resurrected and they beseech the universe’s Owner that he should be living...
And since in the Seventh Ray, The Supreme Sign, each with the strength of a mountain, the thirty-three powerful consensuses have proved that the universe emerged from a single hand and is the property of a single being; and have demonstrated self-evidently His unity and oneness, the means of the Divine perfections; and through unity and oneness all beings become like soldiers under orders and subservient officials; and with the coming of
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the hereafter, perfections are saved from decline, absolute justice from mocking cruelty, universal wisdom from foolish absurdity, all-embracing mercy from jeering torment, and the dignity of power from abased impotence, and they are exonerated from this...
Certainly and without any doubt, as necessitated by the truths in these six ‘sinces’ -six out of hundreds of points of belief in God- the end of the world shall come and the resurrection of the dead occur. Abodes of reward and punishment shall be thrown open so that the above-mentioned importance of the earth, and its centrality, and man’s importance and value shall be realized, and the above-mentioned justice, wisdom, mercy, and sovereignty of the All-Wise Disposer, Who is the Creator of the earth and of man, and their Sustainer, shall be established; and the true and yearning friends of that eternal Sustainer shall be saved from eternal annihilation; and the most eminent and worthy of those friends receive the recompense for his sacred services, which have made all beings pleased and indebted; and the perfections of the Eternal Sovereign should be exempted and exonerated from all fault and deficiency, and His power from impotence, and His wisdom from foolishness, and His justice from tyranny.
In Short: Since God exists, so does the hereafter certainly exist.
Moreover, just as with all the evidences that prove them, the above three pillars of belief testify to and indicate resurrection; so do the two pillars “and in the angels, and in Divine Determining, that both the good of it and the evil of it are from God Almighty,” also necessitate resurrection and testify in powerful fashion to the eternal realm. It is like this:
All the evidences proving the existence of the angels and their duties of worship, and innumerable observations of them and conversations with them, prove indirectly the existence of the Spirit World, and the World of the Unseen, and the eternal realm and world of the hereafter, and the existence of an abode of happiness and Paradise and Hell, which in the future shall be populated with men and jinn. For with Divine permission, the angels can see these worlds and enter them. And all the high-ranking angels who meet with humans, like Gabriel, tell unanimously of the existence of these worlds and of their travelling round them. Just as we are certain, due to the information of those coming from there, that the continent of America exists, although we have not seen it, so due to information about the angels, which has the strength of a hundredfold consensus, we should believe in the existence of the world of eternity, the realm of the hereafter, and Paradise and Hell with the same certainty. And thus we do believe in it.
Furthermore, all the evidences proving the pillar of “belief in Divine Determining,” included in the Treatise on Divine Determining, the Twenty-Sixth Word, prove indirectly the resurrection of the dead, the balancing of
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deeds on the supreme scales, and the publishing of the pages of deeds. For the recording before our eyes of the appointed courses of all things on the tablets of order and balance, and the inscribing of the life-stories of all living beings in their faculties of memory, and the transcribing of the notebooks of deeds of all beings with spirits, and especially men, on the Preserved Tablet, such a comprehensive determining and wise apportioning and precise recording and preserving inscription could surely only be the result of a general judgement in a supreme tribunal set up to mete out permanent reward and punishment. That comprehensive and precise recording and preservation would otherwise be completely meaningless and purposeless, and contrary to wisdom and reality.
Also, if there was no resurrection, all the certain meanings of the book of the universe, written with the pen of Divine Determining, would be nullified, which is completely impossible. It is as impossible as denying the universe’s existence, indeed, is a delirium.
In Short: The five pillars of belief demand with all their evidences the occurrence of the resurrection and Last Judgement, and their existence, and the existence and opening up of the realm of the hereafter, and they testify to these and necessitate them.
Thus, it is because there are such vast and unshakeable supports and proofs of the resurrection, completely in conformity with its vastness, that almost one third of the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition is formed by resurrection and the hereafter, and it makes it the basis and foundation stone of all its truths, and constructs everything on it.
(The end of the Introduction)
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Second Part of the Addendum
The first of nine stations comprising the nine levels of proofs of resurrection miraculously indicated in the following verse:
Glory be to God in the evening and at daybreak, and praise is His in the heavens and earth, at nightfall and when the day begins to decline. It is He Who brings forth the living from the dead, and brings forth the dead from the living, and gives life to the earth after its death; thus, too, will you be brought forth.53
The manifest proof and brilliant evidence of God’s decree concerning resurrection contained in this verse will now be expounded and set forth, God willing.54
In connection with the twenty-eighth property of life it was explained that life looks upon the six pillars of faith and proves them; it contains a series of indications of their truth.
Now the most important result, substance and reason for the creation of the cosmos is none other than life, and life, that exalted verity, can in no way be restricted to this transient, brief, defective and painful worldly life. Rather the purpose and result of the tree of life, the splendour of which can be deduced from its twenty-nine properties, the fruit of that tree worthy of its splendour, is the eternal life of the hereafter; it is life in the eternal realm where even stones, trees and the soil will be endowed with life. Otherwise, it will follow that the tree of life, so plentifully decked out with significant instruments, yields no fruit, benefit or truth for animate beings, especially man; and man who in his substance and faculties is twenty times superior to the sparrow and is indeed the most important and elevated of all creation, will fall to a degree twenty times lower than that of the sparrow; with respect to the felicity of his life, he will be the most unfortunate and humiliated of wretches.
Similarly, intelligence, the most precious of gifts for man, will wound his heart through constant reflection of the pains of the past and the fears of the
53. Qur'an, 30:17-19.
54. The whole station has not yet been written and has been included here because of the relevance of the topic of life to resurrection. In addition, it contains a subtle and profound allusion to the pillar of Divine Determining at the end of the topic of life.
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future; it will mix nine pains with every pleasure and thus become a disaster to man. Now this is false to the hundredth degree. The life of this world thus proves decisively the pillar of faith that is belief in the hereafter and displays to our eyes every spring more than three hundred thousand specimens of resurrection.
Is it at all possible that an All-Powerful Agent Who promptly supplies and provides, with wisdom, solicitude and mercy, all the instruments and tools needed for your life, in your body, your garden and your homeland, Who hears and answers the private and particular prayer made for sustenance by your stomach, for the sake of its life and survival, Who shows His acceptance of that prayer by means of numerous delicious foods - is it at all possible that such a Being should not be aware of you or hear you, that He should not provide you with the means of life eternal, the greatest purpose of the human species? Is it possible that He should not accept the greatest, most significant, most worthy and most universal prayer for eternity of the human species by establishing eternal life and creating paradise? Is it possible that He should not heed the universal and insistent prayer of the human species, the most important creature in the cosmos, the monarch of the earth, a prayer that resounds throughout heaven and earth, and not pay it the same attention, or grant it the same gratification, as a little stomach? Is it possible that He should thus cause His perfect wisdom and infinite mercy to be denied? No, a hundred thousand times no!
Again, is it at all possible that He should hear the most secret voice of the most minute of beings, remedy its pain and succour its plaint; that He should nourish it with the utmost care and consideration and cause creatures greater than itself to serve it - is it at all possible that He should do all of this and not hear the thunderous cry of life, the greatest, most precious, most eternal and most delicate form of life? That He should pay no heed to its powerful prayer and supplications for eternity? It would be like equipping a single soldier with the utmost care and totally ignoring a vast and obedient army! Like seeing a speck and overlooking the sun! Like hearing the buzz of a fly and not hearing the roar of the thunder! No, a hundred thousand times no!
Again, can the intelligence at all accept that an All-Powerful and All-Wise Being, Whose mercy, love and solicitude are infinite, Who loves His own artistry, Who causes Himself to be loved, and Who greatly loves those that love Him - can it accept that such a Being would annihilate through permanent death a life that loves Him greatly, that is itself lovable and that instinctively worships its Maker; and, the essence and jewel of that life, the spirit? That He would offend and insult His lover and beloved for all eternity, that He would injure his feelings and deny Himself, and cause others to deny, the mystery of His mercy and the light of His love? No, a hundred thousand times no! An absolute beauty that adorns creation with its
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manifestation and the absolute mercy that makes all creatures rejoice are without doubt exempt and purified from such infinite ugliness, such utter abomination and pitilessness.
The result, then, is that considering the existence of life, those men who understand the purpose of life and who do not misuse their lives will become manifestations of eternal life in the realm of eternity and eternal Paradise. In this we believe. So, too, the shining of brilliant objects found on the earth through the reflection of sunlight, the brief glinting on the surface of the ocean of little bubbles through flashes of light, and the coming in their place of further bubbles that like them hold up a mirror to a whole series of imaginary suns - this demonstrates tangibly that those flashes are the reflectory manifestation of the one supreme sun. With their manifold tongues, they make mention of that one sun and they point toward it with their luminous fingers.
So, too, the fashion in which, through the supreme manifestation of the Name ‘Giver of Life’ of the Living and Self-Subsistent Being, all the animate beings on the face of the earth and in the depths of the sea shine through God’s power, and then disappear behind the veil of the unseen, saying, “O Eternally Living One!”, in order to make room for those that follow them - this represents a series of testimonies to and indications of the life and necessary existence of the Living and Self-Subsistent Being.
Similarly, all the proofs that bear witness to the Divine knowledge the traces of which are visible in the ordering of all beings; all the evidences that establish the existence of a power working its will throughout creation; all the arguments that point to a volition and purposefulness dominating the ordering and administering of the cosmos; all the signs and miracles that attest the messengerhood of the prophets, the means of dominical speech and Divine revelation, and the indications bearing witness to the seven attributes of Divinity - all of them point to, testify to, and indicate unanimously the life of the Living and Self-Subsistent Being. For if the faculty of vision is present in a thing, there must also be life. If there is hearing, this too is a sign of life. If there is speech, this also points to the existence of life.
Similarly, attributes the existence of which is proven and self-evident by virtue of their traces throughout the cosmos, attributes such as Absolute power, all-embracing will, and comprehensive knowledge, bear witness with all of their proofs to the life and necessary existence of the Living and Self-Subsistent Being. They attest His everlasting life, one shadow of which is enough to illumine the whole of the cosmos, and one manifestation of which suffices to give life to the hereafter, together with all of its particles.
The Divine attribute of life is also connected with the pillar of belief in the angels, and proves it by way of indication. For the most important of all
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goals of the cosmos is life, and animate beings constitute the most widespread form of creation, with its specimens multiplied on account of their value; they constantly animate the hospice of this world with the coming and going of their caravans. Further, the globe, which is filled with so many species of animate beings, is being constantly emptied and refilled as these various species are renewed and multiplied, and animate beings are created in multiplicity even in the vilest and most corrupt substances, so that there is -as it were- a constant resurrection of microbes. Finally, consciousness and intellect, which are the distilled essence of life, and the spirit, which is its subtle and stable substance, are also created everywhere on the globe in the utmost multiplicity, so that it is as if the globe were animated and caused to rejoice by life, intellect, consciousness and spirit. If we take into consideration all of the foregoing, it is totally impossible that the heavenly bodies, which are subtler, more luminous, greater and more significant than the globe, should be dead, rigid, lifeless, and dumb.
There must, then, exist and be provided with the property of life, conscious and animate beings that animate the skies, the suns, and the stars, bestow upon them their vitality, manifest the result of the purpose for the creation of the heavens, and receive address from the Glorious Creator. These creatures, of a nature suited to the heavens, are none other than the angels.
Similarly, the innermost essence of life symbolically proves the pillar of belief in the prophets. For the cosmos was created for the sake of life, and life is in turn one of the supreme manifestations of the Living, Self-Subsistent and Eternal One. It is one of His most perfect designs, one of His most beauteous arts. Further, the eternal life of God shows itself only through the sending of messengers and the revelation of books. If there were no books or prophets, then eternal life would remain unknown. When a man speaks, he is recognized to be alive. Similarly, it is the prophets and revealed books that make manifest the words and decrees of the Being Who, from behind the world of the unseen that is veiled by the cosmos, speaks, talks, and emits His commands and prohibitions. Just as the life existent in the cosmos bears decisive witness to the necessary existence of the Living and Eternal One, so too does it point to and indirectly confirm the pillars of belief in the sending of messengers and the revelation of scriptures, for these are the rays, the manifestations, and the relations of that eternal life. And especially the messengership of Muhammad -Peace and blessings be upon him- and the Qur’anic revelation, since they are like the very spirit and intellect of life, their veracity is as indisputable as the existence of this life.
Life is, then, the distilled essence of the cosmos; consciousness and feeling are the distilled essence of life; the intellect is the distilled essence of consciousness; and the spirit, finally, is the pure and unsullied substance, the
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stable and autonomous essence, that lies at the heart of life. So, too, the life of the Prophet Muhammad -Peace and blessings be upon him- in both its outer and its inner aspects is the distilled quintessence of life and the spirit of the cosmos, and the messengership of Muhammad -Peace and blessings be upon him- is the pure and distilled essence of the feeling, the consciousness and the intellect of the cosmos. Rather, the life of the Prophet Muhammad -Peace and blessings be upon him- in its outer and inner aspects is, as the centuries have borne witness, the very essence of the life of the cosmos, and the prophethood of Muhammad -Peace and blessings be upon him- is the very light and essence of the consciousness of the cosmos. The Qur’anic revelation is also the spirit of the life of the cosmos and the intellect of its consciousness.
If the light of the messengership of Muhammad -Peace and blessings be upon him- were to depart from the cosmos and vanish, the cosmos would die. If the Qur’an were to depart, the cosmos would lose its sanity, and the globe would lose its sense and its head. Its dizzy, uncomprehending head would collide with a planet, and the end of the world would result.
Life also looks to the pillar of belief in Divine Determining, and proves it indirectly. Because, since life is the light of the Manifest World, and it dominates it, and is the result and aim of existence, and since it is the most comprehensive mirror of the Creator of the universe and the most perfect sample and index of dominical activity, and -let there be no mistake in the comparison- is like a sort of programme, for sure, the mystery of life necessitates that the creatures in the World of the Unseen, that is, the past and the future, that is, that have been and will come, are predisposed to conform to order, regularity, being known and observed, specific individual existence, and the creative commands, which are their lives in one respect.
The original seed of a tree and its root, as well as the seeds contained in its fruit and final outcome, all manifest a sort of life, no less than the tree itself; indeed, they bear within themselves laws of life more subtle than those of the tree. Similarly, the seeds and roots left by last autumn, before the present spring, as well as the seeds and roots that will be left to subsequent springs after this spring has departed - they all bear the manifestations of life, just like this spring, and are subject to the laws of life. In just the same way, all the branches and twigs of the cosmic tree each have a past and a future. They have a chain consisting of past and future stages and circumstances. The multiple existences and stages of each species and each member of each species, existing in Divine knowledge, forms a chain of being in God’s knowledge, and both its external existence, and its existence in God’s knowledge, is a manifestation of universal life that draws all the aspects of its life from these meaningful and vital Tablets of Divine Determining.
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The fact that the World of Spirits -which is one form of the World of the Unseen- is full of the essence of life, the matter of life and the spirits, which are the substances and essence of life, demands and requires of a certainty that past and future -which are another form of the World of the Unseen and its second segment- should also receive the manifestation of life.
In addition, the perfect order, the meaningful circumstances and vital fruits and stages inherent in the existence of a thing within God’s knowledge, also demonstrate the manifestation of a sort of life. Such a manifestation of life, which is the light emitted by the sun of eternal life, cannot be limited to this manifest world, this present time, this external existence. On the contrary, each world receives the manifestation of that light in accordance with its capacity, and the cosmos together with all its worlds is alive and illumined through it. Otherwise, as the misguided imagine, beneath a temporary and apparent life, each world would be a vast and terrible corpse, a dark ruin.
One broad aspect of the pillar of faith in Divine Determining and Decree is, then, understood through the mystery of life and is established by it. Just as the life and vitality of the Manifest World and existent, visible objects becomes apparent from their orderliness and the consequences of their existence, so too past and future creatures -regarded as belonging to the World of the Unseen- have an immaterial existence and sort of life, and a spiritual presence in God’s knowledge. The trace of this life and presence is made manifest and known by means of the Tablet of Divine Determining and Decree and through all the stages and circumstances of their external lives and existences.
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Third Part of the Addendum
A question related to the resurrection of the dead:
The frequently repeated verse, It will be naught but a single cry,55 and the verse, The command of the Hour will be like the glance of the eye,56 show that the resurrection of the dead and Great Gathering will occur instantaneously, in a flash. But man’s narrow reason requires some tangible example so that it can conceive of this wondrous, extraordinary, and unparalleled event, and accept it.
T h e A n s w e r : At the resurrection there will be the return of spirits to their bodies, the revivification of the bodies, and the remaking of the bodies. It consists of three matters.
THE FIRST MATTER: An example for the return of spirits to their bodies is the mustering, at a loud bugle call, of the members of a well-disciplined army after they have dispersed to rest. Yes, the Sur of the Angel Israfil is no less powerful than an army bugle. The spirits, too, who, while in post-eternity, reply with “Yes, we accept” to the question “Am I not your Sustainer?”,57 which comes from pre-eternity, are infinitely more subjugated, disciplined, and obedient than the soldiers of an army. The Thirtieth Word has demonstated with decisive proofs that not only spirits, but all particles, form a Divine army and are its soldiers under command.
SECOND MATTER: An example for the revivification of bodies is the springing to life in an instant of the hundred thousand electric lights of a large city on a festival night, switched on from one centre. It would be possible to light up in the same way a hundred million lamps scattered over the face of the earth from one centre. Since through the training and instruction in regularity and order it has received from its Creator, a creature of Almighty God like electricity -a servant and candleholder in His guest-house- possesses this quality, surely the resurrection of the dead could occur in the twinkling of an eye within the bounds of the regular laws of Divine wisdom which thousands of luminous servants represent, like electricity.
55. Qur'an, 36:29,49,53; 38:15; 54:31.
56. Qur'an, 16:77.
57. Qur'an, 7:172.
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THIRD MATTER: An example for the remaking of bodies instantaneously is the perfect remaking within a few days of all the trees in the spring, which are far more numerous than all humanity, together with all their leaves, in exactly the same way as those of the previous spring; and the bringing into being, again like those of previous springs, all the blossoms, fruits and leaves of the trees with the speed of lightning; and the sudden awakening of the uncountable numbers of seeds, grains, and roots, which are the source of the spring, and their unfolding and being raised to life; and reflecting the meaning of “resurrection after death,” the sudden raising to life at a command of the upright skeleton-like corpses of the trees; and the reanimation of the innumerable members of all species of small animals; and the revivification of all the sorts of flying insects, particularly those which, continually cleaning their faces, eyes, and wings, remind us of our ablutions and cleanliness, and caress our faces -the resurrection and remaking of all the members of this tribe within a few days every spring before our very eyes together with all the other species, despite being greater in number than all mankind since the time of Adam, provides not one example of the remaking of all human bodies at the resurrection, but thousands.
Yes, since this world is the realm of wisdom and the hereafter the realm of power, numerous Divine Names like All-Wise, Arranger, Disposer, and Nurturer, and dominical wisdom, require that the creation of things in this world is gradual and in the course of time. In the hereafter, however, power and mercy will be manifested more than wisdom, and there being no need for matter, time, and waiting, things will be made instantaneously. Alluding to the fact that things which are made here in a day or in a year will be made in the hereafter in an instant or a flash, the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition states:
The command of the Hour will be like the glance of the eye, or briefer.58
If you want to be as certain about the occurrence of the resurrection of the dead as you are about the arrival of next spring, study the Tenth and Twenty-Ninth Words carefully, which are about this, and you will see! If you do not then believe that it will occur as you believe the coming of spring, come and stick your finger in my eye!
A FOURTH MATTER: The death of the world and Doomsday. The sudden collision with this globe, our guest-house, at a dominical command, of a planet or comet, could wipe out this dwelling-place of ours. Like the destruction in a minute of a palace the building of which had taken ten years.
58. Qur'an, 16:77.
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Fourth Part of the Addendum
He said: “Who shall give life to decaying bones?” Say: “He shall give them life who first gave them life, and He is All-Knowing concerning all creation.”59
As was illustrated in the third comparison in the Ninth Truth of the Tenth Word, some personage may one day summon together before your eyes a great army. If someone were then to say, “that personage is able to call together the troops in his army, who had dispersed to take rest, and assemble them again in battalions,” and you were to say, “I don’t believe it,” you know well how lunatic would be your denial. So too, an All-Powerful and All-Knowing Being Who out of nothing recorded and put in place, with the command of, “Be!”, and it is, all the particles and subtle aspects of the bodies of all animals and other animate beings, as if they were an army with the utmost orderliness and wise equilibrium, and Who creates each century, or rather each spring, the hundreds of thousands of different species and groups of animate beings that populate the face of the earth, each like an army - such a Being can gather together, with one blow on the trump of Israfil, all the fundamental particles and original components that enjoy mutual acquaintance through joint submission to the order of the body that corresponds to a battalion. Were you to say, “how can this be?” or consider it unlikely, it would be idiotic lunacy.
It sometimes happens in the Qur’an that, in order to impress upon the heart the wondrous deeds He will perform in the hereafter and to prepare the mind for acceptance of them, God Almighty mentions the wondrous deeds He performs in this world as a kind of preparation. Alternatively, He may sometimes mention the wondrous deeds He will perform in the future and the hereafter in such a fashion that we are convinced of them by analogy with the similar deeds we observe in this world. One example is furnished by the verse,
Has not man seen that We created him from a drop of sperm?
And then he becomes an open disputer.60
59. Qur'an, 36:78.
60. Qur'an, 16:4.
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and the remaining verses of the same sura. The All-Wise Qur’an thus proves the question of resurrection in seven or eight different forms.
It first directs man’s attention to his own origins. It says “you see how you advanced from a drop of sperm to a drop of blood, from a drop of blood to a formless lump of flesh, and from a formless lump of flesh to human form. How, then, can you deny your second creation? It is just the same as the first, or even easier of accomplishment for God.” God Almighty also refers to the great bounties He has bestowed on man with phrases such as:
He Who made fire for you from the green tree61
and says to man: “Will the Being Who thus bestowed bounty upon you leave you to your own devices, in such fashion that you enter the grave to sleep without rising again?” He also hints at the following: “You see how dead trees come to life and grow green again. Refusing to regard as a parallel the reanimation of your bones, that resemble dry wood, you dismiss the whole matter as improbable. Now is it at all possible that the One Who creates the heavens and earth should not be empowered over the life and death of man, the fruit of heaven and earth? Do you imagine that He would make fruitless and vain the tree of creation that He has moulded with wisdom in all its parts, by abandoning the supreme result of that tree?”
The Qur’an says further: “The Being That will restore you to life at resurrection is such that the whole cosmos is like an obedient soldier of His. It bows its head submissively whenever it hears the command,
“Be!”, and it is.62
To create a spring is easier for Him than the creation of a flower. To create the whole of the animal realm is as easy for His power as creating a fly. None may belittlingly challenge His power by saying to Him:
Who will give life to the bones?63
Then, from the verse,
Glory be to Him in Whose hand lies the sovereignty of all things,64
we see that the index of all things is in His hand, the key to all things is in His possession; He rotates night and day, winter and summer, with as much ease as if He were turning the pages of a book. He is an All-Powerful, Glorious Being Who closes the door on this world and opens it on the hereafter as if they were two stations. This being the case, as the result of the mentioned evidences,
61. Qur'an, 36:80.
62. Qur'an, 2:117.
63. Qur'an, 36:78.
64. Qur'an, 36:83.
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To Him you shall return,65
that is, He will bring you back to life from your graves, take you to the plain of resurrection, and judge you in His majestic presence.
Now these verses prepare the mind and make ready the heart to accept the reality of resurrection, for they have demonstrated parallels to resurrection in worldly processes. Sometimes it also happens that He mentions the deeds He will perform in the hereafter in such a way as to draw attention to their worldly parallels, so that no room should be left for doubt and denial. Examples are the Suras introduced by these verses:
When the sun is rolled up,66
When the heavens are torn asunder.67
In these Suras, God Almighty mentions resurrection and the vast revolutions and dominical deeds that shall take place at that time, in such a fashion that man thinks of their worldly parallels that he has seen in autumn and spring, and then, with awe in his heart, easily accepts what the intellect would otherwise refuse. Even to indicate the general meaning of the three suras just mentioned would take very long. Let us, then, take simply one word as a specimen of the whole. With the words,
When the pages are spread out,68
God Almighty expresses the following: “Upon resurrection, everyone’s deeds will be revealed on a written page. This appears to be very strange, and totally beyond the reach of reason. But as the Sura indicates, just as the resurrection of the spring is a parallel to other matters, so too the ‘spreading out of pages’ has a very clear parallel. Every fruit-bearing tree, every flowering plant has its deeds, actions and functions. It performs a certain kind of worship, depending on the fashion in which it glorifies God through the manifestations of His Names. Now all of its deeds and the record of its life are inscribed in all the seeds that are to emerge next spring in another plot of soil. With the tongue of shape and form, the seeds make eloquent mention of the origins of those deeds, and spread out the page of deeds together with branch, twig, leaf, flower and fruit. He Who says: “When the pages are spread out” is the same Being That performs, before our eyes, these wise, preserving, nurturing and subtle acts.
Compare other matters with this by analogy, and deduce the truth if you have the capacity. Let us aid you with the following. The verse, When the sun is folded up, refers to a brilliant similitude and hints at its parallel:
First: God Almighty has cast aside the curtains of non-being, the ether
65. Qur'an, 10:56.
66. Qur'an, 81:1.
67. Qur'an, 82:1.
68. Qur'an, 81:10.
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and the heavens to bring forth from His treasury of mercy and show to the world a jewel-like lamp illumining the world - the sun. After closing the world, He will wrap that jewel again in His veils and remove it.
Second: The sun may be depicted as an official entrusted with the task of distributing the commodity of light over the globe, and causing it and darkness to succeed each other. Every evening the official is ordered to gather up the light. It may sometimes happen also that his trade may be slackened when he is hidden by the veil of a cloud. At other times it may be that the moon will also form a veil, and hinder his task. Now just as that official has his goods and ledgers gathered up for inspection, so too he will one day be relieved of his duties. Even if there be no cause for his dismissal, there are two dark spots on the sun -now small, but liable to grow- that one day will grow to the point that the sun will take back, by dominical command, the light it now wraps around the head of the earth, and wrap it around its own head. It will then be told: “Come, your task on earth is now complete. Go to Hell, and burn there those who have worshipped you and thus mocked with faithlessness an obedient servant like you.” With its own dark and scarred face, it will read out the decree, “When the sun is rolled up.”
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Fifth Part of the Addendum
The hundred and twenty-four thousand prophets69, who are according to explicit prophetic tradition the choice part of humanity, have unanimously and with one accord reported, partly on the basis of direct vision and partly on the basis of absolute certainty, that the hereafter exists and that all beings will be taken to the hereaftre as the Creator has firmly promised.
Similarly, the one hundred and twenty-four million saints who confirm the reports of the prophets through unveiling and witnessing, give testimony to the existence of the hereafter in the form of certain knowledge, and also bear testimony to the existence of the hereafter. All the Names of the All-Wise Maker of the cosmos also necessitate the existence of an eternal realm through the manifestations they display in this world.
The existence of the hereafter is furthermore necessitated by the infinite Eternal Power, the unlimited and exact Everlasting Wisdom, that revives every spring the countless dead trees scattered all over the earth with the command of 'Be!', and it is,thus making of them manifestations of "resurrection after death," and that resurrects three hundred thousand different species of the various groups of plant and nations of animals, as hundreds of thousands of specimens of the supreme resurrection.
The existence of the hereafter is also necessitated by an Eternal Mercy and Permanent Grace that sustains in wondrous and solicitous fashion all animate beings that stand in need of nurture, and that display each spring, in the briefest of periods, infinite different varieties of adornment and beauty. Finally, there is the self-evident proof and indication given by the intense, unshakeable, and permanent love of eternity, yearning for immortality and hope of permanence that are lodged in man, the most beloved creation of the Maker of the cosmos, and whose concern with all the beings in the cosmos is the greatest.
69.Musnad, v.266; Tabrizi, Mishkat al-Masabih, iii, 122; Ibn Qayyim al-Jawzi, Zad al-Ma'ad(tahqiq, al-Arnavut), i, 43-4.
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All of the foregoing so firmly prove that after this transient world there will be an eternal world, a hereafter, a realm of felicity, that we are compelled to accept the existence of a hereafter as indisputably as we accept the existence of this world.70
One of the most important lessons taught us by the All-Wise Qur'an, is, then, belief in the hereafter. This belief is so firm and contains within itself so powerful a hope and a consolation that if a person be assailed by old age hundred thousandfold, the consolation derived from this belief will be fully enough. Saying, "Praise be to God for the perfection of belief," we old people should rejoice in old age.
70. It can be realized from this comparison how easy it is to make a positive affirmation and how difficult to make a denial and negation. If, for example, someone should say, "there exists somewhere on this earth a wondrous garden containing canned milk," and someone else should say, "there is not," the affirmer need only point to the place of that garden or show some of its fruits in order to prove his claim. The denier, by contrast, will have to inspect and display the whole world in order to justify his negation. So too the testimony of two veracious witnesses will be enough to establish the existence of Paradise, quite apart from the hundreds of thousands of traces, fruits and indications demonstrated by those who assert its existence. Those who deny it must examine, explore and sift the infinite cosmos and infinite time before they can prove their denial and demonstrate the non-existence of Paradise. So, o aged brothers of mine, understand how firm is belief in the hereafter.
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The Eleventh Word
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
By the sun and its glorious splendour; * By the moon as it follows it; * By the day as it shows [the sun’s] glory; * By the night as it conceals it; * By the firmament and its wonderful structure; * By the earth and its wide expanse; * By the soul and the order and proportion given it.1
Brother! If you want to understand a little about the talisman of the wisdom of the world and the riddle of man’s creation and the mystery of the reality of the prescribed prayers, then consider this short comparison together with my own soul.
One time there was a king. As wealth he had numerous treasuries containing diamonds and emeralds and jewels of every kind. Besides these he had other, hidden, wondrous treasuries. By way of attainment he had consummate skill in strange arts, and encompassing knowledge of innumerable wondrous sciences, and great erudition in endless branches of abstruse learning. Now, like every possessor of beauty and perfection wants to see and display his own beauty and perfection, that glorious king wanted to open up an exhibition and set out displays within it in order to make manifest and display in the view of the people the majesty of his rule, his glittering wealth, the wonders of his art, and the marvels of his knowledge, and so that he could behold his beauty and perfection in two respects:
The First Respect: so that he himself could behold them with his own discerning eye.
The Other: so that he could look through the view of others.
With this purpose in mind, the king started to construct a vast and majestic palace. He divided it into magnificent apartments and dwellings, and decorated it with every sort of jewel from his treasuries, and with his own hand so full of art adorned it with the finest and most beautiful works. He ordered it with the subtlest of the arts of his wisdom, and decked it out with the miraculous works of his knowledge. Then after completing it, he set up in the palace broad tables containing the most delicious of every kind of food
1. Qur’an, 91:1-7.
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and every sort of bounty. He specified an appropriate table for each group. He set out such a munificent and artful banquet that it was as though the boundless priceless bounties he spread out had come into existence through the works of a hundred subtle arts. Then he invited his people and subjects from all the regions of his lands to feast and behold the spectacle.
Later the king appointed a Supreme Commander (PBUH) as teacher, to make known the purposes of the palace and the meanings of its contents; to describe its Maker and its contents to the people, make known the secrets of the palace’s embellishments, teach what the arts within it were pointing to, and to explain what the well-set jewels were, and the harmonious embroideries; and to explain to those who entered the palace the way in which they indicated the perfections and arts of the palace’s owner, and to inform them of the correct conduct in beholding them, and to explain the official ceremonies as the king, who did not appear, wished them to be. The teacher and instructor had an assistant in each area of the palace, while he himself remained in the largest apartment among his students, making the following announcement to all the spectators. He told them:
“O people! By making this palace and displaying these things our lord, who is the king of the palace, wants to make himself known to you. You therefore should recognize Him and try to get to know Him. And with these adornments He wants to make Himself loved by you. Also, He shows His love for you through these bounties that you see, so you should love Him too by obeying Him. And through these bounties and gifts which are to be seen He shows His compassion and kindness for you, so you should show your respect for Him by offering thanks. And through these works of His perfection He wants to display His transcendent beauty to you, so you should show your eagerness to see Him and gain His regard. And through placing a particular stamp and special seal and an inimitable signet on every one of these adorned works of art that you see, He wants to show that everything is particular to Him, and is the work of His own hand, and that He is single and unique and independent and removed. You therefore should recognize that He is single and alone, and without peer or like or match, and accept that He is such.” He spoke further fitting words to the spectators like these concerning the King and this station. Then the people who had entered the palace separated into two groups.
The First Group: Since these people had self-knowledge, were intelligent, and their hearts were in the right place, when they looked at the wonders inside the palace, they declared: “There are great matters afoot here!” They understood that it was not in vain or some trifling plaything. They were curious, and while wondering: “I wonder what the talisman to this is and what it contains,” they suddenly heard the speech the Master and Instructor was giving, and they realized that the keys to all the mysteries were with
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him. So they approached him and said: “Peace be upon you, O Master! By rights, a truthful and exact instructor like you is necessary for a magnificent palace such as this. Please tell us what our Lord has made known to you!” First of all the Master repeated the speech to them. They listened carefully, and accepting it, profited greatly. They acted as the King wished. And because the King was pleased at their becoming conduct and manners, he invited them to another special, elevated, ineffable palace. And he bestowed it on them in a way worthy of such a munificent king, and fitting for such obedient subjects, and suitable for such well-mannered guests, and appropriate to such an elevated palace. He made them permanently happy.
As for the Second Group, because their minds were corrupted and their hearts extinguished, when they entered the palace, they were defeated by their evil-commanding souls and took notice of nothing apart from the delicious foods; they closed their eyes to all the virtues and stopped up their ears to the guidance of the Master (PBUH) and the warnings of his students. They stuffed themselves like animals then sank into sleep. They quaffed elixirs which had been prepared for certain other matters and were not to have been consumed. Then they became drunk and started shouting so much they greatly upset the other spectating guests. They were ill-mannered in the face of the Glorious Maker’s rules. So the soldiers of the palace’s owner arrested them, and cast them into a prison appropriate to such unmannerly people.
O friend who is listening to this story with me! Of course you have understood that the Glorious Creator built this palace for the above-mentioned aims. The achievement of these aims is dependent on two things:
The First: The existence of the Master (PBUH) whom we saw and whose speech we heard. Because if it was not for him, all these aims would be in vain. For if an incomprehensible book has no author, it consists only of meaningless paper.
The Second is the people listening the Master’s words and accepting them. That is to say, the Master’s existence is the cause of the palace’s existence, and the people’s listening to him is the cause of the continuation of the palace’s existence. In which case it can be said that if it was not for the Master (PBUH), the Glorious King would not have built the palace. And again it may be said that when the people do not heed the Master’s (PBUH) instructions, the palace will of a certainty be transformed and changed.
Friend! The story ends here. If you have understood the meaning of the comparison, come and behold its reality.
The palace is this world. Its roof is the heavens illuminated with smiling stars, and its floor, the face of the earth adorned from east to west with multifarious flowers. As for the King, he is the Most Holy One, the Pre-Eternal and Post-Eternal Monarch, Whom all things in the seven heavens and the
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earth glorify and extol, each with its particular tongue. He is a king so powerful He created the heavens and earth in six days, then abided on the Throne. One of Power and Majesty, Who, alternating night and day like two threads, one white and one black, writes His signs of the page of the universe; One to Whose command the sun, moon, and stars are subjugated. The apartments of the palace are the eighteen thousand worlds, each of which has been set in order and decorated in a fashion suitable to it. The strange arts you saw in the palace are the miracles of Divine power you see in this world, and the foods you saw there allude to the wonderful fruits of Divine mercy in this world, especially in summer, and above all in the gardens of Barla. The stove and kitchen there is the earth here, which has fire in its heart, and the face of the earth. While the jewels of the hidden treasuries you saw in the comparison are the similitudes of the manifestations of the sacred Divine Names. And the embroideries there, and the signs of the embroideries, are the well-ordered and finely worked beings and the harmonious impresses of the pen of power which adorn this world and point to the Names of the All-Powerful One of Glory.
As for the Master, he is our Master Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him). His assistants are the prophets (Peace be upon them), and his students, the saints and purified scholars. The ruler’s servants in the palace indicate the angels (Peace be upon them) in this world. And the guests invited to the banquet to spectate in the comparison are the jinn and mankind in this guest-house of the world, and the animals, who are the servants of mankind. As for the two groups, one of them here consists of the people of belief, who are the students of the All-Wise Qur’an, the interpreter of the verses and signs of the book of the universe. The other group are the people of unbelief and rebellion, who follow Satan and their evil-commanding souls; deaf and dumb, like animals, or even lower, they form the group of the misguided, who recognize the life of this world only.
FIRST GROUP: These are the felicitous and the good, who listened to the Master, ‘the Possessor of Two Wings.’ He is both the worshipping servant of God; in regard to worship he describes his Sustainer so that he is like the envoy of his community at the Court of Almighty God. And he is also God’s Messenger; with regard to Messengership he conveys his Sustainer’s decrees to men and the jinn by means of the Qur’an.
This happy community heeded the Messenger and listened to the Qur’an. They saw themselves invested with the prescribed prayers, which are the index of all the varieties of worship, and numerous subtle duties within elevated stations. Indeed, they saw in detail the duties and stations which the prayers point to with their various formulas and actions. It was like this:
Firstly: Since they observed the Divine works, and in the form of a transaction in the absence of the person concerned, saw themselves in the station
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of observing the wonders of the sovereignty of dominicality, they performed the duty of extolling and glorifying God, declaring: “God is Most Great!”
Secondly: Through being seen in the station of herald of His brilliant and wonderful works, which are the manifestations of the sacred Divine Names, exclaiming: “Glory be to God! All praise be to God!”, they performed the duty of hallowing and praising God.
Thirdly: In the station of perceiving and understanding with their inner and outer senses the bounties stored up in the treasuries of Divine mercy, they started to carry out the duty of thanks and praise.
Fourthly: In the station of weighing up with the scales of their spiritual faculties the jewels in the treasuries of the Divine Names, they began the duty of praise and declaring God to be free of all fault.
Fifthly: In the station of studying the Sustainer’s missives, written with the pen of power on the plan of Divine Determining, they began the duty of contemplation and appreciation.
Sixthly: With beholding the subtle, delicate, fine beauties in the creation of things and in the art in beings, in the station of declaring God to be free of all defect, they took up the duty of love and yearning for their All-Glorious Creator, their All-Beauteous Maker. That is to say, after looking at the universe and works and performing the duties in the above-mentioned stations through transactions in the object of worship’s absence, they rose to the degree of also beholding the transactions and acts of the All-Wise Maker, whereby, in the form of a transaction in the presence of the person concerned, they responded with knowledge and wonder in the face of the All-Glorious Creator’s making Himself known to conscious beings through the miracles of His art, and declared: “Glory be unto You! How can we truly know you? What makes You known are the miracles of the works of Your art!”
Then, they responded with love and passion to that Most Merciful One’s making Himself loved through the beautiful fruits of His mercy. “You alone do we worship and from You alone do we seek help!”, they declared.
Then they responded with thanks and praise to the True Bestower’s showing His mercy and compassion through His sweet bounties, and exclaimed: “Glory be unto You! All praise is Yours! How can we thank You as is Your due? You are utterly worthy of thanks! For all Your bounties spread through all the universe hymn Your praises and thanks through the clear tongues of their beings. All Your bounties lined up in the market of the world and scattered over the face of the earth proclaim Your praises and extol You. Through testifying to Your munificence and generosity, all the well-ordered and well-proportioned fruits of Your mercy and bounty offer You thanks before the gazes of Your creatures.”
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Then they responded, saying: “God is Most Great!” before the manifestation of Divine beauty, glory, perfection, and majesty in the mirrors of beings, ever changing on the face of the universe; they bowed reverently in their impotence, and prostrated in humility with love and wonder.
Then announcing their poverty and need, they responded with supplication and beseeching to the Possessor of Absolute Riches’ displaying the abundance of His wealth and breadth of His mercy, and declared: “From You alone do we seek help!”
Then they responded appreciatively to the All-Glorious Maker’s displaying the subtleties and wonders of His antique art in the exhibition of creatures, exclaiming: “What wonders God has willed!” Observing and applauding them, they declared, “How beautifully they have been made! What blessings God has bestowed!” Holding everyone witness, they said in wonder: “Come! Look at these! Hasten to the prayers and to prosperity!”
And they responded with submission and obedience to the Monarch of Pre-Eternity and Post-Eternity’s proclamation of the sovereignty of His dominicality in every corner of the universe and the manifestation of His unity. Declaring: “We hear and we obey!”, they affirmed His unity.
Then, before the manifestation of the Godhead of that Sustainer of All the Worlds, they responded with worship and humble veneration, which consists of proclaiming their poverty within need, and with the prescribed prayers, which are the summary of worship. Thus, through performing their various duties of worship in the mighty mosque known as the abode of this world, they carried out the obligations and duties of their lives, and assumed ‘the finest of forms.’ They ascended to a rank above all creatures by which, through the auspiciousness of belief and assurance and ‘the Trust,’ they became trustworthy Vicegerents of God on the Earth. And after this field of trial and place of examination, their Munificent Sustainer invited them to eternal happiness in recompense for their belief, and to the Abode of Peace in reward for their adhering to His religion of Islam. There, He bestowed on them out of His mercy bounties so dazzling that no eye has seen them, nor ear heard them, nor have they occurred to the heart of man2 - and so He does bestow these on them, and He gave them eternity and everlasting life. For the desirous, mirror-bearing lovers of an eternal, abiding beauty who gaze upon it will certainly not perish, but will go to eternity. The final state of the Qur’an’s students is thus. May Almighty God include us among them, Amen!
As for the other group, the sinners and the wicked, when they entered the palace of this world at the age of discretion, they responded with unbelief to
2. See, page 88, footnote 22.
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all the evidences of Divine unity, and with ingratitude towards all the bounties, and by accusing all creatures of being valueless, insulted them in an unbelieving manner. And since they rejected and denied all the manifestations of the Divine Names, they committed a boundless crime in a short time and became deserving of endless punishment. For the capital of life and the human faculties were given to man for the duties mentioned above.
O my senseless soul and foolish friend! Do you suppose your life’s duty is restricted to following the good life according to the requisites of civilization, and, if you will excuse the expression, to gratifying the physical appetites? Do you suppose the sole aim of the delicate and subtle senses, the sensitive faculties and members, the well-ordered limbs and systems, the inquisitive feelings and senses included in the machine of your life is restricted to satisfying the low desires of the base soul in this fleeting life? God forbid! There are two main aims in their creation and inclusion in your essential being:
The First consists of making known to you all the varieties of the True Bestower’s bounties, and causing you to offer Him thanks. You should be aware of this, and offer Him thanks and worship.
The Second is to make known to you by means of your faculties all the sorts of the manifestations of the sacred Divine Names manifested in the world and to cause you to experience them. And you, by recognizing them through experiencing them, should come to believe in them.
Thus, man develops and is perfected through the achievement of these two basic aims. Through them, man becomes a true human being.
Look through the meaning of the following comparison, and see that the human faculties were not given in order to gain worldly life like an animal.
For example, someone gave one of his servants twenty gold pieces, telling him to have a suit of clothes made out of a particular cloth. The servant went and got himself a fine suit out of the highest grade of the cloth, and put it on. Then he saw that his employer had given another of his servants a thousand gold pieces, and putting in the servant’s pocket a piece of paper with some things written on it, had sent him to conclude some business. Now, anyone with any sense would know that the capital was not for getting a suit of clothes, for, since the first servant had bought a suit of the finest cloth with twenty gold pieces, the thousand gold pieces were certainly not to be spent on that. Since the second servant had not read the paper in his pocket, and looking at the first servant, had given all the money to a shopkeeper for a suit of clothes, and then received the very lowest grade of cloth and a suit fifty times worse that his friend’s, his employer was bound to reprimand him severely for his utter stupidity, and punish him angrily.
O my soul and my friend! Come to your senses! Do not spend the capital
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and potentialities of your life on pleasures of the flesh and this fleeting life like an animal, or even lower. Otherwise, although you are fifty times superior with regard to capital than the highest animal, you will fall fifty times lower than the lowest.
O my heedless soul! If you want to understand to a degree both the aim of your life and its nature, and the form of your life, and the true meaning of your life, and its perfect happiness, then look! The summary of the aims of your life consists of nine matters:
The First is this: To weigh up on the scales of the senses put in your being the bounties stored up in the treasuries of Divine mercy, and to offer universal thanks.
The Second: To open with the keys of the faculties placed in your nature the hidden treasuries of the sacred Divine Names.
The Third: To consciously display and make known through your life in the view of the creatures in this exhibition of the world the wondrous arts and subtle manifestations which the Divine Names have attached to you.
The Fourth: To proclaim your worship to the Court of the Creator’s dominicality verbally and through the tongue of your disposition.
The Fifth: Like on ceremonial occasions a soldier wears all the decorations he has received from his king, and through appearing before the him, displays the marks of his favour towards him, this is to consciously adorn yourself in the jewels of the subtle senses which the manifestations of the Divine Names have given you, and to appear in the observant view of the Pre-Eternal Witness.
The Sixth: To consciously observe the salutations of living beings to their Creator, known as the manifestations of life, and their glorifications of their Maker, known as the signs of life, and their worship of the Bestower of Life, known as the aims of life, and by reflecting on them to see them, and through testifying to them to display them.
The Seventh: Through taking as units of measurement the small samples of attributes like the partial knowledge, power, and will given to your life, it is to know through those measures the absolute attributes and sacred qualities of the All-Glorious Creator. For example, since, through your partial power, knowledge, and will, you have made your house in well-ordered fashion, you should know that the Maker of the palace of the world is its Disposer, and Powerful, Knowing, and Wise to the degree it is greater than your house.
The Eighth: To understand the words concerning the Creator’s unity and Maker’s dominicality uttered by each of the beings in the world in its particular tongue.
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The Ninth: To understand through your impotence and weakness, your poverty and need, the degrees of the Divine power and dominical riches. Just as the pleasure and degrees and varieties of food are understood through the degrees of hunger and the sorts of need, so you should understand the degrees of the infinite Divine power and riches through your infinite impotence and poverty. The aims of your life, then, briefly, are matters like these. Now consider the nature of your life; its summary is this:
It is an index of wonders pertaining to the Divine Names; a scale for measuring the Divine attributes; a balance of the worlds within the universe; a list of the mighty world; a map of the cosmos; a summary of the vast book of the universe; a bunch of keys with which to open the hidden treasuries of Divine power; and a most excellent pattern of the perfections scattered over beings and attached to time. The nature of your life consists of matters like these.
Now, the form of your life and the manner of its duty is this: your life is an inscribed word, a wisdom-displaying word written by the pen of power. Seen and heard, it points to the Divine Names. The form of your life consists of matters like these.
Now the true meaning of your life is this: its acting as a mirror to the manifestation of Divine oneness and the manifestation of the Eternally Besought One. That is to say, through a comprehensiveness as though being the point of focus for all the Divine Names manifested in the world, it is its being a mirror to the Single and Eternally Besought One.
Now, as for the perfection of your life, it is to perceive the lights of the Pre-Eternal Sun which are depicted in the mirror of your life, and to love them. It is to display ardour for Him as a conscious being. It is to pass beyond yourself with love of Him. It is to establish the reflection of His light in the centre of your heart. It is due to this mystery that the Hadith Qudsi was uttered, which is expressed by the following lines, and will raise you to the highest of the high:
The heavens and the earth contain me not;
Yet, how strange! I am contained in the hearts of believers.3
And so, my soul! Since your life is turned towards such elevated aims and gathers together such priceless treasuries, is it at all worthy of reason and fairness that you should spend it on temporary gratification of the instinctual soul and fleeting worldly pleasures, and waste it? If you do not want to fritter away your life, ponder over the oaths in this Sura of the Qur’an, which allude to the above comparison and truths, and act accordingly:
By the sun and its [glorious] splendour; * By the moon as it
3. See, al-‘Ajluni, Kashf al-Khafa, ii, 165; Ghazzali, Ihya’l-‘Ulum al-Din, iii, 14.
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follows it; * By the day as it shows up [the sun’s] glory; * By the night as it conceals it; * By the firmament and its [wonderful] structure; * By the earth and its [wide] expanse; * By the soul and the order and proportion given it; * And its enlightenment to its wrong and its right. * Truly he succeeds that purifies it, * And he fails that corrupts it.4
O God, grant blessings and peace to the Sun of the Skies of Messengership, the Moon of the Constellation of Prophethood, and to his Family and Companions, the stars of guidance, and grant mercy to us and to all believing men and all believing women. Amen. Amen. Amen.
4. Qur’an, 91:1-10.
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The Twelfth Word
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
And he who has been given wisdom has been given great good.1
[This Word consists of a brief comparison between the sacred wisdom of the All-Wise Qur’an and the wisdom of philosophy and science, and a concise summary of the instruction and training which Qur’anic wisdom gives to man in his personal life and social life, and an indication of the Qur’an’s superiority to other Divine words, and to all speech. There are Four Principles in this Word.]
Look through the telescope of the following story which is in the form of a comparison, and see the differences between Qur’anic wisdom and that of philosophy and science:
One time, a renowned Ruler who was both religious and a fine craftsman wanted to write the All-Wise Qur’an in a script worthy of the sacredness in its meaning and the miraculousness in its words, so that its marvel-displaying stature would be arrayed in wondrous apparel. The artist-King therefore wrote the Qur’an in a truly wonderful fashion. He used all his precious jewels in its writing. In order to indicate the great variety of its truths, he wrote some of its embodied letters in diamonds and emeralds, and some in rubies and agate, and other sorts in brilliants and coral, while others he inscribed with silver and gold. He adorned and decorated it in such a way that everyone, those who knew how to read and those who did not, were full of admiration and astonishment when they beheld it. Especially in the view of the people of truth, since the outer beauty was an indication of the brilliant beauty and striking adornment in its meaning, it became a truly precious antique.
1. Qur’an, 2:269.
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Then the Ruler showed the artistically wrought and bejewelled Qur’an to a European philosopher and to a Muslim scholar. In order to test them and for reward, he commanded them: “Each of you write a work about the wisdom and purposes of this!” First the philosopher, then the scholar composed a book about it. However, the philosopher’s book discussed only the decorations of the letters and their relationships and conditions, and the properties of the jewels, and described them. It did not touch on their meaning at all, for the European had no knowledge of the Arabic script. He did not even know that the embellished Qur’an was a book, a written piece, expressing a meaning. He rather looked on it as an ornamented antique. He did not know any Arabic, but he was a very good engineer, and he described things very aptly, and he was a skilful chemist, and an ingenious jeweller. So this man wrote his work according to those crafts.
As for the Muslim scholar, when he looked at the Qur’an, he understood that it was the Perspicuous Book, the All-Wise Qur’an. This truth-loving person neither attached importance to the external adornments, nor busied himself with the ornamented letters. He became preoccupied with something that was a million times higher, more elevated, more subtle, more noble, more beneficial, and more comprehensive than the matters with which the other man had busied himself. For discussing the sacred truths and lights of the mysteries beneath the veil of the decorations, he wrote a truly fine commentary. Then the two of them took their works and presented them to the Illustrious Ruler. The Ruler first took the philosopher’s work. He looked at it and saw that the self-centred and nature-worshipping man had worked very hard, but had written nothing of true wisdom. He had understood nothing of its meaning. Indeed, he had confused it and been disrespectful towards it, and ill-mannered even. For supposing that source of truths, the Qur’an, to be meaningless decoration, he had insulted it as being valueless in regard to meaning. So the Wise Ruler hit him over the head with his work and expelled him from his presence.
Then he looked at the work of the other, the truth-loving, scrupulous scholar, and saw that it was an extremely fine and beneficial commentary, a most wise composition full of guidance. “Congratulations! May God bless you!”, he said. Thus, wisdom is this and they call those who possess it knowledgeable and wise. As for the other man, he was a craftsman who had exceeded his mark. Then in reward for the scholar’s work, he commanded that in return for each letter ten gold pieces should be given him from his inexhaustible treasury.
If you have understood the comparison, now look and see the reality:
The ornamented Qur’an is this artistically fashioned universe, and the Ruler is the Pre-Eternal All-Wise One. As for the two men, one -the European- represents philosophy and its philosophers, and the other, the Qur’an
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and its students. Yes, the All-Wise Qur’an is a most elevated expounder, a most eloquent translator of the Mighty Qur’an of the Universe. Yes, it is the Criterion which instructs man and the jinn concerning the signs of creation inscribed by the pen of power on the pages of the universe and on the leaves of time. It regards beings, each of which is a meaningful letter, as bearing the meaning of another, that is, it looks at them on account of their Maker. It says, “How beautifully they have been made! How exquisitely they point to their Maker’s beauty!”, thus showing the universe’s true beauty. But the philosophy they call natural philosophy or science has plunged into the decorations of the letters of beings and into their relationships, and has become bewildered; it has confused the way of reality. While the letters of this mighty book should be looked at as bearing the meaning of another, that is, on account of God, they have not done this; they have looked at beings as signifying themselves. That is, they have looked at beings on account of beings, and have discussed them in that way. Instead of saying, “How beautifully they have been made,” they say “How beautiful they are,” and have made them ugly. In doing this they have insulted the universe, and made it complain about them. Indeed, philosophy without religion is a sophistry divorced from reality and an insult to the universe.
A comparison between the moral training the wisdom of the All-Wise Qur’an gives to personal life and what philosophy and science teach:
The sincere student of philosophy is a pharaoh, but he is a contemptible pharaoh who worships the basest thing for the sake of benefit; he recognizes everything from which he can profit as his ‘Lord’. And that irreligious student is obstinate and refractory, but he is wretched together with his obstinacy and accepts endless abasement for the sake of one pleasure. And he is abject together with his recalcitrance and shows his abasement by kissing the feet of satanic individuals for the sake of some base benefit. And that irreligious student is conceited and domineering, but since he can find no point of support in his heart, he is an utterly impotent blustering tyrant. And that student is a self-centered seeker of benefit whose aim and endeavour is to gratify his animal appetites; a crafty egotist who seeks his personal interests within certain nationalist interests.
However, the sincere student of Qur’anic wisdom is a servant, but he does not stoop to worship even the greatest of creatures; he is an esteemed slave who does not take a supreme benefit like Paradise as the aim of his worship. And its student is humble; he is righteous and mild, yet outside the limits of his Maker’s leave, he would not voluntarily lower and abase himself before anything other than his Maker. And he is weak and in want, and he knows his weakness and poverty, but he is self-sufficient due to the
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wealth which his All-Generous Lord has stored up for him in the hereafter, and he is strong since he relies on his Master’s infinite power. And he acts and strives only for God’s sake, for God’s pleasure, and for virtue.
Thus, the training the two give may be understood from the comparison of the two students.
The training philosophy and science and Qur’anic wisdom give to human social life is this:
Philosophy accepts ‘force’ as its point of support in the life of society. It considers its aim to be ‘benefits’. The principle of its life it recognizes to be ‘conflict’. It holds the bond between communities to be ‘racialism and negative nationalism’. Its fruits are ‘gratifying the appetites of the soul and increasing human needs’. However, the mark of force is ‘aggression’. The mark of benefit -since they are insufficient for every desire- is ‘jostling and tussling’. While the mark of conflict is ‘strife’. And the mark of racialism -since it is nourished by devouring others- is ‘aggression’. It is for these reasons that it has negated the happiness of mankind.
As for the Qur’anic wisdom, its point of support is ‘truth’ instead of force. It takes ‘virtue and God’s pleasure’ as its aims in place of benefits. It takes the principle of ‘mutual assistance’ as the principle of life in place of the principle of conflict. And it takes ‘the ties of religion, class, and country’ to be the ties bonding communities. Its aim is to form a barrier against the lusts of the soul, urge the spirit to sublime matters, satisfy the high emotions, and urging man to the human perfections, make him a true human being. And the mark of ‘the truth’ is accord. The mark of virtue is ‘solidarity’. The mark of mutual assistance is ‘hastening to assist one another’. The mark of religion is ‘brotherhood’ and ‘attraction’. And the mark of reining in and tethering the soul and leaving the spirit free and urging it towards perfections is ‘happiness in this world and the next’.
If you want to understand the Qur’an’s superiority among all the Divine scriptures and its supremacy over all speech and writings, then consider the following two comparisons:
The First: A king has two forms of speech, two forms of address. One is to speak on his private telephone with a common subject concerning some minor matter, some private need. The other, under the title of sublime sovereignty, supreme vicegerent, and universal rulership, is to speak with an envoy or high official for the purpose of making known and promulgating his commands, to make an utterance through an elevated decree proclaiming his majesty.
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The Second: One man holds the mirror he is holding up to the sun. He receives light containing the seven colours according to the capacity of the mirror. He becomes connected to the sun through that relation and converses with it, and if he directs the light-filled mirror towards his dark house or his garden covered by a roof, he will benefit, not in relation to the sun’s value, but in accordance with the capacity of the mirror. Another man, however, opens up broad windows out of his house or out of the roof over his garden. He opens up ways to the sun in the sky. He converses with the perpetual light of the actual sun and speaks with it, and says in gratitude through the tongue of his disposition: “O you beauty of the world who gilds the face of the earth with your light and makes the faces of the flowers smile! O beauty of the skies, fine sun! You have furnished my little house and garden with light and heat the same as you have them.” Whereas the man with the mirror cannot say that. The reflection and works of the sun under that restriction are limited; they are in accordance with the restriction. Look at the Qur’an through the telescope of these two comparisons and see its miraculousness and understand its sacredness.
The Qur’an says: “If all the trees on the land were to become pens and all the seas ink, and if they were to write the words of Almighty God, they would never come to the end of them.” Now, the reason the Qur’an has been given the highest rank among the infinite words of God is this: the Qur’an has come from the Greatest Divine Name and from the greatest level of every Name. It is God’s Word in respect of His being Sustainer of All the Worlds; it is His decree through His title of God of All Beings; an address in regard to His being Creator of the Heavens and the Earth; a speech in regard to absolute dominicality; a pre-eternal address on account of universal Divine sovereignty; a note-book of the favours of the Most Merciful One from the point of view of His all-embracing, comprehensive mercy; a collection of communications at the beginnings of which are sometimes ciphers related to the sublime majesty of the Godhead; a wisdom-scattering holy scripture which, descending from the reaches of the Greatest Name, looks to and inspects the all-comprehensive domain of the Supreme Throne. It is for these reasons that the title of Word of God has been given with complete worthiness to the Qur’an.
In respect to the other Divine Words, they are speech which has become evident through a particular regard, a minor title, through the partial manifestation of a particular Name; through a particular dominicality, special sovereignty, a private mercy. Their degrees vary in regard to particularity and universality. Most inspiration is of this sort, but its degrees vary greatly. For example, the most particular and simple is the inspiration of the animals. Then there is the inspiration of the ordinary people; then the inspiration of ordinary angels; then the inspiration of the saints, then the inspiration of the
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higher angels. Thus, it is for this reason that a saint who offers supplications directly without means by the telephone of the heart says: “My heart tells me news of my Sustainer.” He does not say, “It tells me of the Sustainer of All the Worlds.” And he says: “My heart is the mirror, the throne, of my Sustainer.” He does not say, “It is the throne of the Sustainer of All the Worlds.” For he can manifest the address to the extent of its capacity and to the degree nearly seventy thousand veils have been raised. Thus, however much higher and more elevated is the decree of a king promulgated in respect of his supreme sovereignty than the insignificant speech of a common man, and however much more abundantly the effulgence of the sun in the sky may be benefited from than the manifestation of its reflection in the mirror, and however greater is its superiority, to that degree the Qur’an of Mighty Stature is superior to all other speech and all other books.
After the Qur’an, at the second level, the Holy Books and Revealed Scriptures have superiority according to their degree. They have their share from the mystery of that superiority. If all the fine words of all men and jinn which do not issue from the Qur’an were to be gathered together, they still could not attain to the sacred rank of the Qur’an and imitate it. If you want to understand a little of how the Qur’an comes from the Greatest Name and from the greatest level of every Name, consider the universal, elevated statements of Ayat al-Kursi and the following verses:
And with Him are the keys of the Unseen.2
O God! Lord of All Dominion.3
He draws the night as a veil over day, each seeking the other in rapid succession; He created the sun, the moon, and the stars, [all] subject to His command.4
O Earth, swallow up your water! And O Sky, withhold your rain!5
The heavens and the earth and all within them extol and glorify Him.6
The creation of you all and the resurrection of you all is but like that of a single soul.7
We did indeed offer the Trust to the heavens, and the earth, and the mountains.8
2. Qur’an, 6:59.
3. Qur’an, 3:26.
4. Qur’an, 7:54.
5. Qur’an, 11:44
6. Qur’an, 17:44.
7. Qur’an, 31:28.
8. Qur’an, 33:72.
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The Day that We roll up the heavens like a scroll rolled up for books [completed].9
No just estimate have they made of God, such as is due to Him: on the Day of Judgement the whole of the earth will be but His handful.10
Had We sent down this Qur’an on a mountain, you would indeed have seen it humble itself and cleave asunder for fear of God.11
And study the Suras which begin al-Hamdulillah, or Tusabbihu, and see the rays of this mighty mystery. Look too at the openings of the Alif. Lam. Mim.’s, the Alif. Lam. Ra.’s, and the Ha. Mim.’s, and understand the Qur’an’s importance in the sight of God.
If you have understood the valuable mystery of this Fourth Principle, you have understood that revelation mostly comes to the prophets by means of an angel, and inspiration is mostly without means. You will have also understood the reason why the greatest saint cannot attain to the level of a prophet. And you will have understood too the Qur’an’s sublimity and its sacred grandeur and the mystery of its elevated miraculousness. So too you will have understood the mystery of the necessity of the Prophet Muhammad’s Ascension, that is, that he went to the heavens, to the furthest Lote-tree, to the distance of two bow-lengths, offered supplications to the All-Glorious One, Who is closer to him than his jugular vein, and in the twinkling of an eye returned whence he came. Indeed, just as the Splitting of the Moon was a miracle of his messengership whereby he demonstrated his prophethood to the jinn and mankind, so the Ascension was a miracle of his worship and servitude to God whereby he demonstrated to the spirits and angels that he was God’s Beloved.
O God, grant blessings and peace to him and to his Family as befits Your mercy, and in veneration of him. Amen.
9. Qur’an, 21:104.
10. Qur’an, 39:67.
11. Qur’an, 59:21.
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The Thirteenth Word
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
And We send down [stage by stage] in the Qur’an that which is a healing and a mercy to those who believe.1 *
We have not instructed [the Prophet] in poetry, nor is it meet for him.2
If you want to compare the results yielded by the wisdom of the All-Wise Qur’an and of the sciences of philosophy, and their instruction and teaching and the degrees in their knowledge, then listen carefully to the following words:
With its acute expositions, the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition rends the veil of familiarity and the habitual cast over all the beings in the universe, which are known as ordinary things but are all extraordinary and miracles of Divine power, and reveals those astonishing wonders to conscious beings. It attracts their gazes and opens up before their minds an inexhaustible treasury of knowledge.
As for philosophy, it conceals within veils of the commonplace all the miracles of power, which are extraordinary, and passes over them in an ignorant and indifferent fashion. It only puts forward to be noted freaks, which have fallen from being extraordinary and deviated from the order of creation, and sheered away from the perfections of their true natures; it offers them to conscious beings as objects of wise instruction. For example, it says that man’s creation is ordinary, despite its being a comprehensive miracle of power, and looks on it indifferently. But then with cries of astonishment, it points out as an object of instruction a person who has diverged from the perfection of creation, and has three legs or two heads.
And for example, it considers ordinary the regular sustenance of infants and young, bestowed from the treasury of mercy, which is a most delicate and general miracle of mercy, and draws a veil of ingratitude over it. Whereas, on spotting an insect under the sea which is an exception from the general order and is alone and isolated from its fellows, being fed with green sea-weed, it wants to make the fishermen weep for it, because of the Divine favour and munificence manifested on it.3
1. Qur’an, 17:82.
2. Qur’an, 36:69.
3. Just such an event occurred in America.
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So see the wealth and riches of the Holy Qur’an in regard to knowledge, wisdom, and knowledge of God, and the poverty and bankruptcy of philosophy regarding learning, instruction, and knowledge of the Maker! See them, and take a lesson!
It is because of this, because the All-Wise Qur’an contains infinite brilliant, elevated truths, that it is free of the fancies of poetry. Another reason the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition is not in verse, despite the perfection of its word-order and orderedness and its expounding with its well-ordered styles the order and art of the book of the universe, is that by not entering under the restrictions of metre, each star of its verses can be a sort of centre to the most of the other verses, and be a brother to them, and each can form a connecting line with the verses within the sphere encompassing it in order to be a bond in the relationships which exist between them. It is as if each independent verse has an eye which looks to most of the other verses, and a face turned towards them. Thousands of Qur’ans are present within the Qur’an, each of which it offers to followers of the different paths. As is described in the Twenty-Fifth Word, in Sura al-Ikhlas is a treasury of knowledge about Divine unity comprising thirty-six Sura al-Ikhlas’s, formed of a compound of six phrases, each winged. Indeed, like with the stars in the sky which are apparently without order, each is unrestricted and as a sort of centre extends a line of connection to all the stars in the area surrounding it, indicating a hidden relation between beings. It is as if, like the stars of verses, each single star has an eye which looks to all stars and a face which is turned to them. See then the perfect order within the apparent lack of order, and take a lesson! Understand one meaning of the verse,
We have not instructed [the Prophet] in poetry, nor is it meet for him!4
Understand also from it that the mark of poetry is to adorn insignificant and dull facts with big and shining images and fancies, and make them attractive. Whereas the truths of the Qur’an are so great, elevated, shining and brilliant, that even the greatest and most brilliant imaginings are dull and insignificant in comparison with them. Innumerable truths like the following verses testify to this. For example:
The Day that We roll up the heavens like a scroll rolled up for books [completed].5 * He draws the night as a veil over the day, each seeking the other in rapid succession.6 * It will be no more than a single blast, when lo! they will all be brought up before Us!7
If you want to see and appreciate how, like shining stars, each of the
4. Qur’an, 36:69.
5. Qur’an, 21:104.
6. Qur’an, 7:54.
7. Qur’an, 36:53.
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Qur’an’s verses scatters the darkness of unbelief by spreading the light of miraculousness and guidance, imagine yourself in the age of ignorance and desert of savagery where everything was enveloped in veils of lifelessness and nature amid the darkness of ignorance and heedlessness. Then suddenly from the elevated tongue of the Qur’an, you hear verses like:
Whatever is in the heavens and earth declares the praises and glory of God, the Sovereign, the Most Holy One, the Mighty, the Wise.8
See how those dead or sleeping creatures of the world spring to life at the sound of declares the praises and glory in the minds of those listening, how they awake, spring up, and mention God’s Names! And at the sound of,
The seven heavens and the earth and all within them extol and glorify Him,9
the stars in those black skies, all lifeless pieces of fire, and the wretched creatures on the face of the earth, present the following view to those listening: the sky appears as a mouth and the stars each as wisdom-displaying words and truth-uttering lights. The earth appears as a head, the land and sea as tongues, and all animals and plants as words of glorification. Otherwise you will not appreciate the fine points and pleasure at looking from this time to that. For if when you consider its verses, you see them as having scattered their light since that time, and become like universally accepted knowledge with the passage of time, and as shining with the other lights of Islam, and taking their colour from the sun of the Qur’an, or if you look at them through a superficial and simple veil of familiarity, you will not truly see the darkness each verse scatters or how sweet is the recital of its miraculousness, and you will not appreciate this sort of miraculousness among its many varieties. If you want to understand one of the highest degrees of the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition’s miraculousness, listen to the following comparison:
Let us imagine an extremely strange and vast and spreading tree which is concealed beneath a veil of the unseen and hidden in a level of concealment. It is clear that there has to be a relationship, harmony, and balance between a tree and all its members like its branches, fruits, leaves, and blossom, the same as between man’s members. Each of its parts takes on a form and is given a shape in accordance with the nature of the tree. So if someone appears and traces a picture on top of the veil corresponding to the members of the tree, which has never been seen, then delimits each member, and from the branches to the fruit, and the fruit to the leaves draws a form proportionately, and fills the space between its source and extremities, which are an
8. Qur’an, 62:1.
9. Qur’an, 17:44.
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infinite distance from one another, with drawings showing exactly the shape and form of its members, certainly no doubt will remain that the artist sees the concealed tree with an eye that penetrates and encompasses the unseen, then he depicts it.
In just the same way, the discriminating statements of the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition concerning the reality of contingent beings (that is, concerning the reality of the tree of creation which stretches from the beginning of the world to the farthest limits of the hereafter, and spreads from the earth to the Divine Throne and from minute particles to the sun) have preserved the proportion between the members to such a degree and have given all the members and fruits a form so suitable that all investigative scholars have declared when they have concluded their researches into its depictions: “What wonders God has willed! How great are God’s blessings!” They have said: “It is only you who solves and unravels the talisman of the universe and riddle of creation, O All-Wise Qur’an!”
And God’s is the highest similitude10 -and there is no error in the comparison- let us represent the Divine Names and attributes, and dominical acts and deeds as a Tuba-tree of light, the extent of whose grandeur stretches from pre-eternity to post-eternity, and the limits of whose vastness spread through infinite, endless space, and encompass it, and the compass of whose deeds extend from,
It is God Who splits the seed-grain and date-stone,11 and, Comes between man and his heart,12 and, It is He Who shapes you in the wombs as He wishes,13
Who created the heavens and the earth in six days,14 and, And the heavens rolled up in His right hand,15 and, He has subjected the sun and the moon.16
The All-Wise Qur’an has described that luminous reality, the truths of those Names and attributes, and acts and deeds, together with all their branches and twigs and aims and fruits in a way so harmonious, so fitting for one another, so appropriate for one another, without marring one another or spoiling the decree of one other, or their being remote from one another, that all those who have discerned the reality of things and penetrated the
10. Qur’an, 16:60.
11. Qur’an, 6:95.
12. Qur’an, 8:24.
13. Qur’an, 3:6.
14. Qur’an, 7:54, etc.
15. Qur’an, 39:67.
16. Qur’an, 13:2, etc.
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mysteries, and all the wise and the sage who have journeyed in the realm of the inner dimension of things, have declared: “Glory be to God!” in the face of that Discriminating Exposition, and have affirmed it, saying: “How right, how conformable with reality, how fine, how worthy!”
Take, for example, the six pillars of belief, which resemble a single branch of those two mighty trees which look to the entire sphere of contingency and sphere of necessity: it depicts all the branches and boughs of those pillars -even the farthest fruits and flowers- observing such a harmony and proportion between them, and describes them in a manner so balanced, and illustrates them a way so symmetrical that the human mind is powerless to perceive it and stands astonished at its beauty. And the proof that a beauty of proportion and perfect relation and complete balance have been preserved between the five pillars of Islam, which are like one twig of the branch of belief, down to the finest details, smallest point of conduct, furthest aims, most profound wisdom, and most insignificant fruits, is the perfect order and balance and beauty of proportion and soundness of the Greater Shari‘a of Islam, which has emerged from the decisive statements, senses, indications, and allusions of the comprehensive Qur’an; they form an irrefutable and decisive proof and just witness that cannot be doubted. This means that the expositions of the Qur’an cannot be attributed to man’s partial knowledge, and particularly to the knowledge of someone unlettered. They rest rather on a comprehensive knowledge and are the word of One able to see all things together and observe in one moment all truths between pre-eternity and post-eternity. The verse:
Praise be to God, Who has revealed to His servant the Book, and has allowed no crookedness therein.17
concerns this fact.
O God! O Revealer of the Qur’an! For the sake of the Qur’an and for the sake of the one to whom You revealed the Qur’an, illuminate our hearts and our graves with the light of belief and the Qur’an. Amen. O One from Whom help is sought!
17. Qur’an, 18:1.
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The Second Station of the Thirteenth Word
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
[A conversation held with some young people who, though surrounded by temptation, had not yet lost their power of reason.]
Being assaulted by the deceptive, seductive amusements of the present time, a group of young people were asking: “How can we save our lives in the hereafter?”, and they sought help from the Risale-i Nur. So I said the following to them in the name of the Risale-i Nur:
The grave is there and no one can deny it. Whether they want to or not, everyone must enter it. And apart from the following three ‘Ways’, there is no other way it can be approached:
First Way: For those who believe, the grave is the door to a world far better than this world.
Second Way: For those who believe in the hereafter, but who approach it on the path of dissipation and misguidance, it is the door to a prison of solitary confinement, an eternal dungeon, where they will be separated from all their loved ones.
Third Way: For the unbelievers and the misguided who do not believe in the hereafter, it is the door to eternal extinction. That is to say, it is the gallows on which both themselves and all those they love will be executed. Since they think it is thus, that is exactly how they shall experience it: as punishment.
These last two Ways are self-evident, they do not require proof, they are plain for all to see. Since the appointed hour is secret, and death may come any time and cut off his head, and it does not differentiate between young and old, perpetually having such an awesome and serious matter before him, unhappy man will surely search for the means to deliver himself from that eternal extinction, that infinite, endless solitary confinement; the means to transform the door of the grave into a door opening on to an everlasting world, eternal happiness, and a world of light. It will be a question for him that looms as large as the world.
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The certain fact of death, then, can only be approached in these three ways, and one hundred and twenty-four thousand veracious messengers -the prophets, in whose hands are miracles as signs of confirmation- have announced that the three ways are as described above. And, relying on their illuminations and visions, one hundred and twenty-four million saints have confirmed and set their signatures on the prophets’ tidings. And innumerable exact scholars have proved it rationally with their categorical proofs at the level of ‘certainty at the degree of knowledge.’1 They have all unanimously declared it to be a ninety-nine per cent certain probability, saying: “The only way to be saved from extinction and eternal imprisonment, and be directed towards eternal happiness, is through belief in God and obedience to Him.”
If a person considers but does not heed the word of a single messenger not to take a dangerous road on which there is a one per cent danger of perishing, and takes it, the anxiety at perishing he suffers will destroy even his appetite for food. Thus hundreds of thousands of veracious and verified messengers announced that there is a one hundred per cent probability that misguidance and vice lead to the gallows of the grave, ever before the eyes, and eternal solitary confinement, and that there is a one hundred per cent probability that belief and worship remove those gallows, close the solitary prison, and transform the ever-apparent grave into a door opening onto an everlasting treasury and palace of felicity; and they have pointed out signs and traces of these. Confronted as he is, then, with this strange, awesome, terrifying matter, if wretched man -especially if he is a Muslim- does not believe and worship, is he able to banish the grievous pain arising from the anxiety he suffers as he all the time awaits his turn to be summoned to those gallows, ever-present before his eyes, even if he is given rule over the whole world together with all its pleasures? I ask you.
Since old-age, illness, disaster, and on all sides death open up the frightful pain and are a reminder, even if the people of misguidance and vice enjoy a hundred thousand pleasures and delights, they most certainly experience a sort of hell in their hearts, but a profound stupor of heedlessness temporarily makes them insensible to it.
Since for the people of belief and worship the grave, ever before their eyes, is the door to an everlasting treasury and eternal happiness, and since, by reason of the ‘belief coupon’, a ticket from the pre-eternal lottery of Divine Determining for millions upon millions of poundsworth of gold and diamonds has come up for each of them, they all the time await the word, “Come and collect your ticket” with a truly profound pleasure and real spiritual delight. This pleasure is such that if it materialized and the seed became a tree, it would be like a private paradise. However, one who abandons the
1. One of these is the Risale-i Nur. And it is there for all to see.
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delight and great pleasure due to the drives of youth, and chooses in a dissolute and licentious manner temporary illicit pleasures, which resemble poisonous honey polluted with those innumerable pains, falls to a degree a hundred times lower than an animal.
Furthermore, such a person will not be like unbelieving Europeans, for if they deny the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), they may recognize the other prophets. And if they do not know God, they may possess some good qualities which are the means to certain perfections. But a Muslim knows both the prophets, and his Sustainer, and all perfection by means of Muhammad the Arabian (PBUH). If one of them abandons the Prophet’s instruction and puts himself outside his fold, he will not recognize any other prophet, neither will he recognize God. Nor will he know any of the fundamentals within his spirit which will preserve his perfections. For, since Muhammad (PBUH) is the last and greatest of the prophets, and his religion and summons are for the whole of mankind, and since he is superior to all with regard to his miracles and religion, and acts as teacher to all mankind in all matters concerning reality, and has proved this in a brilliant manner for fourteen centuries, and is the cause of pride for mankind, a Muslim who abandons Muhammad (PBUH)’s essential training and the principles of his religion will most certainly be unable to find any light, or achieve any perfection. He will be condemned to absolute decline.
And so, you unfortunates who are addicted to the pleasures of the life of this world, and with anxiety at the future, struggle to secure it and your lives! If you want pleasure, delight, happiness, and ease in this world, make do with what is licit. That is sufficient for your enjoyment. You will surely have understood from other parts of the Risale-i Nur that in each pleasure which is outside this and is illicit, lies a thousand pains. If the events of the future -for example, of fifty years hence- were shown in the cinema in the same way that they show at the present time the events of the past, those who indulge in vice would weep filled with horror and disgust at those things which now amuse them.
Those who wish to be permanently, eternally happy in this world and the next should take as their guide the instruction of Muhammad (PBUH) within the bounds of belief.
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A Warning, Lesson and Reminder Given to a Number of Unhappy Youths
One day a number of bright youths came to me, seeking an effective deterrent in order to guard themselves against the dangers arising from life, youth, and the lusts of the soul. Like I had told those who had previously sought help from the Risale-i Nur, I also said to these youths:
Your youth will definitely leave you, and if you do not remain within the bounds of the licit, it will be lost, and rather than its pleasures, it will bring you calamities and suffering in this world, in the grave, and in the hereafter. But if, through Islamic training, you spend the bounty of your youth as thanks honourably, in uprightness and obedience, it will in effect remain perpetually and will be the cause of gaining eternal youth.
As for life, if it is without belief, or because of rebelliousness belief is ineffective, it will produce pains, sorrows and grief far exceeding the superficial, fleeting enjoyment it brings. Because, since, contrary to the animals, man possesses a mind and he thinks, he is connected to both the present time, and to the past and the future. He can obtain both pain and pleasure from them. Whereas, since the animals do not think, the sorrows arising from the past and the fears and anxieties arising from the future do not spoil their pleasure of the present. Especially if the pleasure is illicit; then it is like an altogether poisonous honey.
That is to say, from the point of view of the pleasure of life, man falls to a level a hundred times lower than the animals. In fact, life for the people of misguidance and heedlessness, and indeed their existence, rather their world, is the day in which they find themselves. From the point of view of their misguidance, all the time and universes of the past are non-existent, are dead. So their intellects, which connect them to the past and the future, produce darkness, blackness for them. Due to their lack of belief, the future is also non-existent. Furthermore, because they think, the eternal separations resulting from this non-existence continuously produce darkness for their lives.
Whereas, if belief gives life to life, then through the light of belief, both the past and the future are illuminated and find existence. Like present time, it produces elevated, spiritual pleasures and lights of existence for the spirit and heart-in respect of belief. There is an explanation of this truth in the ‘Seventh Hope’ in the Treatise For The Elderly. You may refer to that.
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Life is thus. If you want the pleasure and enjoyment of life, give life to your life through belief, and adorn it with religious duties, and preserve it by abstaining from sins.
Concerning the fearsome reality of death, which is demonstrated by deaths every day, everywhere, at all times, I shall explain it to you with a comparison, in the same way that I told the other youths.
For example, a gallows has been erected here in front of your eyes. Beside it is a lottery office, but one which gives tickets for truly huge prizes. We people here are ten people, whether we like it or not, we shall be summoned there; there is no other alternative. They will call us, and since the time is secret, any minute they may say either: “Come and collect the ticket for your execution! Mount the gallows!” Or: “A ticket to win a prize of millions of dollars’ worth of gold has come up for you. Come and collect it!” While waiting for them to say this, two people suddenly appear at the door. One of them is a scantily dressed woman, beautiful and deceiving. In her hand is some apparently extremely delicious, but in fact poisonous, candy, which she has brought wanting us to eat it. The other is an undeceiving and undeceivable serious person. He enters behind the woman, and says:
“I have brought you a talisman, a lesson. If you study it, and if you do not eat that candy, you will be saved from the gallows. With this talisman, you will receive your ticket for the matchless prize. Look, you see with your own eyes that those who eat the honey mount those gallows, and until that time they suffer dreadful stomach pains from the poison of the candy. And who it is that will receive the ticket for the large prize is not apparent; it seems that they too mount the gallows. But there are millions of witnesses who testify that they can enter the prize arena easily. So, look from the windows! The highest officials and the high-ranking persons concerned with this business proclaim with loud voices: ‘Just as you see with the clear certainty of your own eyes those mounting the gallows, so be certain as daylight, with no doubt or misgiving, that those with the talisman receive the ticket for the prize.’”
Thus, like the comparison, since the dissolute pleasures of youth in the sphere of the illicit, which are like poisonous honey, lose belief, which is the ticket for an eternal treasury and the passport for everlasting happiness, a person who indulges in them descends to death, which is like the gallows, and to the tribulations of the grave, which is like the door to eternal darkness. And since the appointed hour is unknown, its executioner, not differentiating between young and old, may come at any time to cut off your head. If you give up illicit desires, which are like the poisonous honey, and acquire belief and perform the religious duties, which are the Qur’anic talisman, one hundred and twenty-four thousand prophets (Peace be upon them) together
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with innumerable saints and people of truth have unanimously announced that you shall receive the ticket for the treasury of eternal happiness which comes up from the extraordinary lottery of human destiny. And they have pointed to traces of it.
In Short: Youth will go. And if it goes being squandered, it results in thousands of calamities and pains both in this world and in the next. If you want to understand how the majority of such youths end up in hospitals with imagined diseases arising from misspent youth and prodigality, and in prisons or hostels for the destitute through their excesses, and in bars due to the distress arising from their pain and suffering, then go and ask at the hospitals, prisons and graveyards.
For sure, just as you will hear from most of the hospitals the moans and groans of those ill from dissipation and debauchery resulting from the drives of youth, so will you hear from the prisons the regretful sighs of unhappy youths who are being punished for illicit deeds mostly resulting from the excesses of youth. And you will understand that most of the torments of the grave -that Intermediate Realm the doors of which continuously open and shut for those who enter it- are the result of misspent youth, as is testified to by those who have divined the life of the grave, and is affirmed by the people of reality.
Also, ask the elderly and the sick, who form the majority of mankind. Certainly, the great majority of them will say with sorrow and regret: “Alas! We wasted our youth on passion and fancy; indeed, harmfully. Be careful, do not do as we did!” Because, as a consequence of the illicit pleasures of five to ten years’ youth, a person suffers years of grief and sorrow in this world, torment and harm in the Intermediate Realm, and the calamities of Hell in the hereafter. And although such a person is in a most pitiable situation, he in no way deserves pity. For those who freely consent to indulge in harmful actions may not be pitied. They are not worthy of it.
May Almighty God save us and you from the alluring temptations of this time, and preserve us from them. Amen.
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A Footnote to the Second Station of the Thirteenth Word
In His name, be He glorified!
Those in prison are in great need of the true consolation of the Risale-i Nur. Particularly those who having suffered the blows of youth, are passing their sweet, young lives in prison; they need the Risale-i Nur as much as they need bread.
Indeed, youth heeds the emotions rather than reason, and emotions and desires are blind; they do not consider the consequences. They prefer one ounce of immediate pleasure to tons of future pleasure. They kill for the one minute pleasure of revenge, then suffer for eighty thousand hours the pain of prison. And one hour’s dissolute pleasure in questions of honour may result in life’s enjoyment being utterly destroyed due to distress at the fear of both prison and enemies. There are many other examples, many pitfalls for the unfortunate young because of which they transform their sweet lives into the most bitter and pitiable lives.
Consider a vast state to the north;1 it has gained possession of the passions of its young people and is shaking this century with its storms. For it has made lawful for its youths the pleasing daughters and wives of upright people, and these youths act only according to their feelings, which are blind to all consequences. By permitting men and women to go together to the public baths, they are even encouraging immorality. And they consider it lawful for vagabonds and the poor to plunder the property of the rich. All mankind trembles in the face of this calamity.
It is therefore most necessary in this century for all Muslim youths to act heroically, and to respond to this two-pronged attack with keen swords like the Fruits of Belief and the Guide For Youth from the Risale-i Nur. Otherwise those unfortunate youths will destroy utterly both their futures in this world, and their agreeable lives, and their happiness in the hereafter, and their eternal lives, and transform them into torment and suffering. And through their abuses and dissoluteness, they will end up in hospitals, and through their excesses in life, in prisons. In their old age, they will weep copiously with a thousand regrets.
1. Russia. [Tr.]
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If, on the other hand, they protect themselves with Qur’anic training and with the truths of the Risale-i Nur, they will become truly heroic youths, perfect human beings, successful Muslims, and in some ways rulers over animate beings and the rest of the animal kingdom.
When a youth in prison spends one hour out of the twenty-four each day on the five obligatory prayers, and repents for the mistakes that were the cause of his disaster, and abstains from other harmful, painful sins, this will be of great benefit for both his life, and his future, and his country, and his nation, and his relatives, and he will also gain with his fleeting youth of ten to fifteen years an eternal, brilliant youth. Foremost the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition, and all the revealed scriptures, have given this certain good news.
If such a youth demonstrates through moderation and obedience, his gratitude for the pleasing, delightful bounty of youth, it will both increase it, and make it eternal, and make it a pleasure. Otherwise it will be both calamitous, and become painful, grievous, and a nightmare, and then it will depart. It will cause him to become like a vagrant, harmful for both his relatives, and his country, and his nation.
If the prisoner has been sentenced unjustly, on condition he performs the obligatory prayers, each hour will be the equivalent of a day’s worship, and the prison will be like a recluse’s cell. He will be counted among the pious hermits of olden times who retired to caves in order to devote themselves to worship. If he is poor, aged, and ill, and desirous of the truths of belief, on condition he performs the obligatory prayers and repents, each hour will become the equivalent of twenty hours’ worship, and prison will become like a rest-house for him, and because of his friends there who regard him with affection, a place of love, training, and education. He will probably be happier staying in prison than being free, for outside he is confused and subject to the assaults of sins from all sides. He may receive a complete education from prison. On being released, it will not be as a murderer, or thirsting for revenge, but as someone penitent, proven by trial, well-behaved, and beneficial for his nation. In fact, the Denizli prisoners became so extraordinarily well-behaved after studying the Risale-i Nur for only a short time that some of those concerned said: “Studying the Risale-i Nur for fifteen weeks is more effective at reforming them than putting them in prison for fifteen years.”
Since death does not die, and the appointed hour is unknown, it may come at any time; and since the grave cannot be closed, and troop after troop enter it and are lost; and since it has been shown through the truths of the Qur’an that for those who believe death is transformed into the discharge papers releasing them from eternal annihilation, while for the corrupt and the
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dissolute it is disappearing for ever into eternal annihilation, and is unending separation from their loved ones and all beings, most certainly and with no doubt at all, the most fortunate person is he who with patience and thanks fully benefits from his time in prison, and studying the Risale-i Nur works to serve the Qur’an and his belief on the straight path.
O man who is addicted to enjoyment and pleasure! I am seventy-five years old, and I know with utter certainty from thousands of experiences, proofs, and events that true enjoyment, pain-free pleasure, grief-free joy, and life’s happiness are only to be found in belief and in the sphere of the truths of belief. While a single worldly pleasure yields numerous pains; as though dealing ten slaps for a single grape, it drives away all life’s pleasure.
O you unfortunate people who are experiencing the misfortune of prison! Since your world is weeping and your life is bitter, strive so that your hereafter will not also weep, and your eternal life will smile and be sweet! Benefit from prison! Just as sometimes under severe conditions in the face of the enemy, an hour’s watch may be equivalent to a year’s worship, so in the severe conditions you are experiencing, the hardship of each hour spent as worship becomes the equivalent of many hours, it transforms that hardship into mercy.
In His Name, be He glorified!
My dear and loyal brothers!
I shall explain in three ‘Points’ an effective solace for those who are experiencing the calamity of prison, and for those who kindly help them and faithfully supervise their food, which comes from outside.
First Point: Each day spent in prison may gain as much as ten days’ worship, and, with regards to their fruits, may transform those transient hours into enduring hours, and through five or ten years’ punishment may be the means of saving a person from millions of years of eternal imprisonment. For the believers, the condition for gaining this most significant and valuable advantage is to perform the obligatory prayers, repent for the sins that were the cause of their imprisonment, and offer thanks in patience. For sure, prison is an obstacle to many sins; it does not provide the opportunity for them.
Second Point: Just as the cessation of pleasure causes pain, so does the cessation of pain give pleasure. Yes, on thinking of past happy, enjoyable days, everyone feels a pang of regret and longing, and says: “Alas!”, and recalling calamitous, unhappy days of the past, experiences a sort of
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pleasure since they are passed, and says: “Praise and thanks be to God, that calamity has left its reward and departed.” He breathes a sigh of relief. That is to say, an hour’s temporary pain and sorrow leave behind a sort of pleasure in the spirit, while a pleasurable hour leaves a pain.
Since the reality is thus; and since past calamitous hours together with their pains are no longer existent, and future distressing days are at the present time non-existent, and there is no pain from nothing, to continually eat bread and drink water today, for example, because of the possibility of being hungry and thirsty in several days’ time, is most foolish. In just the same way, to think now of the past and future unhappy hours, which simply do not exist, and to display impatience, and ignoring one’s faulty self, to moan as though complaining about God is also most foolish. So long as the power of patience is not scattered to left and right, that is, to the past and future, and is held firm in the face of the present of hour and day, it is sufficient. The distress is reduced from ten to one.
In fact, but let it not be complaining, Divine favour pointed out the above fact to me while, during a few days of material and spiritual affliction, illness and trial the like of which I had never before experienced in my life, I was being crushed in particular by the despair and distress of the heart and spirit which resulted from my being unable to serve the Qur’an and belief with the Risale-i Nur. I was then content with my distressing illness and imprisonment. For, saying: “It is great profit for an unfortunate like myself who waits at the door of the grave to make one hour which might be passed in heedlessness ten hours’ worth of worship,” I gave thanks.
Third Point: There is great gain in compassionately aiding and assisting prisoners, in giving them the sustenance they need, and in soothing their spiritual wounds with consolation. Giving them their food which comes from outside is like alms-giving which, exactly to the amount of the food, is written in the book of good deeds of those, outside and inside, who do this, together with the warders concerned. Especially if the unhappy prisoner is old, ill, poor, or a stranger, then the reward of this alms-giving increases many times over.
The condition of this high profit is to perform the obligatory prayers so that such service is for God’s sake. Another condition is to hasten to their assistance with sincerity, compassion and joy, and in such a way as to not make them feel obliged.
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In His Name, be He glorified!
And there is nothing but it glorifies Him with praise.
My friends in prison and brothers in religion!
It occurred to me to explain a truth to you which will save you from both worldly torment and the torment of the hereafter. It is as follows:
For example, a person killed someone’s brother or one of his relatives. A murder which yields one minute’s pleasure of revenge causes millions of minutes of both distress for the heart and the anguish of prison. And the fear of revenge by the murdered man’s relatives, and anxiety of finding himself face to face with his enemy drives away all his pleasure in life. He suffers the torment of both fear and anger. There is only one solution for this, and that is reconciliation, which the Qur’an commands, and truth, reality, benefit, humanity, and Islam require and encourage.
Certainly, what is required in reality is peace, because the appointed hour is set, it does not change. Since his appointed hour had come, in any event the murdered man would have stayed no longer. As for the murderer, he was the means of God’s decree being carried out. So long as there is no reconciliation, both sides perpetually suffer the torments of fear and revenge. It is because of this that Islam commands that “one believer should not be vexed with another believer for more than three days.”1 If the murder was not the result of a vindictive grudge and enmity, and a two-faced trouble-maker instigated the discord, it is essential to make peace quickly. Otherwise, that minor disaster becomes a large one, and continues. If they make peace, and the murderer repents and prays continuously for the man he killed, then both sides will gain much and become like brothers. In place of one departed brother, he will gain several religious brothers. He will be resigned to Divine Decree and Determining and forgive his enemy. Especially since they heed the lessons of the Risale-i Nur, both individual and public peace and well-being, and the brotherhood that there is in the sphere of the Risale-i Nur, require that they put aside all the hard feelings that exist between them.
It was thus in Denizli Prison; all the prisoners who were enemies became brothers through the lessons of the Risale-i Nur. It was one reason for our acquittal, and caused even the irreligious and ungodly to say about those prisoners: “Masha’llah! Barakallah!” And it was an utter relief for those prisoners. I myself have seen here a hundred men suffer inconvenience on account of one man and not go out to take exercise together. It is oppression towards them. A manly believer of sound conscience will not cause hundreds of other
1. Muslim, Birr, 25.
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believers harm because of some insignificant and minor error or benefit. If he makes a mistake and does cause harm, he should repent immediately.
In His Name, be He glorified!
My loyal new brothers and old prisoners!
I have formed the firm conclusion that, in respect of Divine favour, you are an important cause in our entering here. That is to say, with its consolation and the truths of belief, the Risale-i Nur is to save both you from the distress of this calamity of prison and from much worldly harm, and your life from passing profitlessly and in vain through grief and sorrow and being wasted on the winds of fancy, and your hereafter from weeping like your world is weeping now; it is to provide you with true solace.
Since the reality of the matter is this, of course you must be brothers to one another, like the Denizli prisoners and Students of the Risale-i Nur. You can see that they examine all your possessions, food, bread, and soup which come from outside so that a knife does not get in among you and you do not attack one another. The warders who faithfully serve you suffer much trouble. Also, you do not go out to exercise together, as though you were going to attack one another like wild beasts. And so, new friends, who are by nature bold and courageous, with great moral courage you should say to the group at this time:
“If not knives, but Mausers and revolvers were given us, and the order to fire as well, we would not hurt our friends who are unfortunate and suffering this calamity like ourselves. Through the guidance and at the command of the Qur’an, and belief, and Islamic brotherhood, and our interests, we have decided to forgive them and to try not to offend them, even if formerly there were a hundred reasons for our enmity and hostility.” And so transform this prison into an auspicious place of study.
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AN IMPORTANT MATTER
which occurred to my heart on the Night of Power
(The Addendum to the Second Station of the Thirteenth Word)
I shall allude briefly to a most extensive and lengthy truth which occurred to my heart on the Night of Power.
Because of the extreme tyranny and despotism of this last World War and its merciless destruction, and hundreds of innocents being scattered and ruined on account of a single enemy, and the awesome despair of the defeated, and the fearsome alarm of the victors and their ghastly pangs of conscience arising from the supremacy they are unable to maintain and the destruction they are unable to repair, and the utter transitoriness and ephemerality of the life of this world and the deceptive, opiate nature of the fantasies of civilization becoming apparent to all, and the exalted abilities lodged in human nature and the human essence being wounded in a universal and awesome manner, and heedlessness and misguidance and deaf, lifeless nature being smashed by the diamond sword of the Qur’an, and the exceedingly ugly, exceedingly cruel true face of world politics becoming apparent, which is the widest and most suffocating and deceptive cover for heedlessness and misguidance, most certainly and without any shadow of a doubt, since the life of this world -which is the metaphorical beloved of mankind- is thus ugly and transient, man’s true nature will search with all its strength for eternal life, which it truly loves and yearns for, just as there are signs of this occurring in the North, the West, and in America.
Most certainly there is also no doubt that since the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition, which each century for one thousand three hundred and sixty years has had three hundred and fifty million students, and sets the seal on each of its pronouncements and claims through the affirmation of millions of profound, veracious scholars, and each minute has been present with its sacredness in the hearts of millions of hafiz’s and given instruction to mankind through their tongues, and which in a way unmatched by any other book conveys the good news of eternal life and everlasting happiness to mankind and heals all their wounds, -since the Qur’an has given this certain good news of eternal life and happiness with thousands of its insistent, powerful and repeated verses, and with its certain unshakeable proofs and innumerable indubitable arguments which invite and give news explicitly and implicitly tens of thousands of times, so long as human kind does not altogether lose its mind and a material or immaterial doomsday does not erupt over its head, the
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broad masses and great states in the world will search out the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition, and having grasped its truths, will embrace it with all their lives and spirits, just as there are [now] famous preachers in Sweden, Norway, Finland and England working to have the Qur’an accepted, and the important community of America is searching for the true religion. Because in view of this fact, the Qur’an by no means has -nor can have- any equal. Absolutely nothing can take the place of this greatest miracle.
SECONDLY: Since the Risale-i Nur has performed the service of a diamond sword in the hand of this greatest miracle and compelled its stubborn enemies to submit, and acts as a herald to the treasures of the Qur’an in a fashion that illuminates and heals completely both the heart, and the spirit, and the emotions, and has no source or authority other than the Qur’an and is its miracle, it performs that duty perfectly.
Furthermore it has completely routed the obstinate atheists and their fearsome propaganda against it, and smashed to pieces with the treatise Nature: Cause or Effect nature, which is the most impregnable bastion of misguidance, and, with the Sixth Topic of the treatise Fruits of Belief together with the First, Second, Third and Eighth Proofs all of which are included in the book The Staff of Moses, has banished heedlessness in a most brilliant fashion in its most dense, suffocating and extensive form beneath the wide-reaching veils of science and has demonstrated the light of Divine unity.
For sure, since religious instruction is now officially permitted and permission has been given to open private places of study, it is necessary for us and essential for the nation that, as far as is possible, Students of the Risale-i Nur should open a small ‘Risale-i Nur Study Centre’ in every place. Although everyone would benefit to some extent, not everyone would understand every matter completely. But since these matters are explanations of the truths of belief, they are both learning, and knowledge of God, and lead to a sense of God’s presence, and are worship.
God willing, these Risale-i Nur ‘Medreses’ will secure in five to ten weeks the results that the former medreses produced in five to ten years -and they have been so doing for twenty years.
Also, it is essential that the Government does not interfere with these flashes of the Qur’an, the Risale-i Nur, which is the Qur’an’s herald and is beneficial in many ways for the worldly and political life of this nation and country, and for its life in the hereafter. Indeed, it should work for its total spread and acceptance, so that it may atone for the grievous sins of the past, and form a barrier to the severe trials and anarchy of the future.
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THE SIXTH TOPIC FROM THE FRUITS OF BELIEF
[This consists of a single, brief proof of the pillar of belief, ‘Belief in God,’ for which there are numerous decisive proofs and explanations in the Risale-i Nur.]
In Kastamonu a group of high-school students came to me, saying: “Tell us about our Creator, our teachers do not speak of God.” I said to them: “All the sciences you study continuously speak of God and make known the Creator, each with its own particular tongue. Do not listen to your teachers; listen to them.
“For example, a well-equipped pharmacy with life-giving potions and cures in every jar weighed out in precise and wondrous measures doubtless shows an extremely skilful, practised, and wise pharmacist. In the same way, to the extent that it is bigger and more perfect and better stocked than the pharmacy in the market-place, the pharmacy of the globe of the earth with its living potions and medicaments in the jars which are the four hundred thousand species of plants and animals shows and makes known to eyes that are blind even -by means of the measure or scale of the science of medicine that you study- the All-Wise One of Glory, Who is the Pharmacist of the mighty pharmacy of the earth.
“To take another example; a wondrous factory which weaves thousands of sorts of cloth from a simple material doubtless makes known a manufacturer and skilful mechanic. In the same way, to whatever extent it is larger and more perfect than the human factory, this travelling dominical machine known as the globe of the earth with its hundreds of thousands of heads, in each of which are hundreds of thousands of factories, shows and makes known -by means of the measure or scale of the science of engineering which you study- its Manufacturer and Owner.
“And, for example, a depot, store, or shop in which has been brought together and stored up in regular and orderly fashion a thousand and one varieties of provisions undoubtedly makes known a wondrous owner, proprietor, and overseer of provisions and foodstuffs. In just the same way, to whatever degree it is vaster and more perfect than such a store or factory, this foodstore of the Most Merciful One known as the globe of the earth, this Divine ship, this dominical depot and shop holding goods, equipment, and
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conserved food, which in one year travels regularly an orbit of twenty-four thousand years, and carrying groups of beings requiring different foods and passing through the seasons on its journey and filling the spring with thousands of different provisions like a huge waggon, brings them to the wretched animate creatures whose sustenance has been exhausted in winter, -by means of the measure or scale of the science of economics which you study- this depot of the earth makes known and makes loved its Manager, Organizer, and Owner.
“And, for example, let us imagine an army which consists of four hundred thousand nations, and each nation requires different provisions, uses different weapons, wears different uniforms, undergoes different drill, and is discharged from its duties differently. If this army and camp has a miracle-working commander who on his own provides all those different nations with all their different provisions, weapons, uniforms, and equipment without forgetting or confusing any of them, then surely the army and camp show the commander and make him loved appreciatively. In just the same way, the spring camp of the face of the earth in which every spring a newly recruited Divine army of the four hundred thousand species of plants and animals are given their varying uniforms, rations, weapons, training, and demobilizations in utterly perfect and regular fashion by a single Commander-in-Chief Who forgets or confuses not one of them -to whatever extent the spring camp of the face of the earth is vaster and more perfect than that human army, -by means of the measure or scale of the military science that you study- it makes known to the attentive and sensible, its Ruler, Sustainer, Administrator, and Most Holy Commander, causing wonderment and acclaim, and makes Him loved and praised and glorified.
“Another example: millions of electric lights that move and travel through a wondrous city, their fuel and power source never being exhausted, self-evidently make known a wonder-working craftsman and extraordinarily talented electrician who manages the electricity, makes the moving lamps, sets up the power source, and brings the fuel; they cause others to congratulate and applaud him, and to love him. In just the same way, although some of the lamps of the stars in the roof of the palace of the world in the city of the universe -if they are considered in the way that astronomy says- are a thousand times larger than the earth and move seventy times faster than a cannon-ball, they do not spoil their order, nor collide with one another, nor become extinguished, nor is their fuel exhausted. According to astronomy, which you study, for our sun to continue burning, which is a million times larger than the earth and a million times older and is a lamp and stove in one guest-house of the Most Merciful One, as much oil as the seas of the earth and as much coal as its mountains or as many logs and much wood as ten earths are necessary for it not to be extinguished. And however much greater
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and more perfect than this example are the electric lamps of the palace of the world in the majestic city of the universe, which point with their fingers of light to an infinite power and sovereignty which illuminates the sun and other lofty stars like it without oil, wood, or coal, not allowing them to be extinguished or to collide with one another, though travelling together at speed, to that degree -by means of the measure of the science of electricity which you either study or will study- they testify to and make known the Monarch, Illuminator, Director, and Maker of the mighty exhibition of the universe; they make Him loved, glorified, and worshipped.
“And, for example, take a book in every line of which a whole book is finely written, and in every word of which a sura of the Qur’an is inscribed with a fine pen. Being most meaningful with all of its matters corroborating one another, and a wondrous collection showing its writer and author to be extraordinarily skilful and capable, it undoubtedly shows its writer and author together with all his perfections and arts as clearly as daylight, and makes him known. It makes him appreciated with phrases like, “What wonders God has willed!” and, “Blessed be God!” Just the same is the mighty book of the universe; we see with our eyes a pen at work which writes on the face of the earth, which is a single of its pages, and on the spring, which is a single folio, the three hundred thousand plant and animal species, which are like three hundred thousand different books, all together, one within the other, without fault or error, without mixing them up or confusing them, perfectly and with complete order, and sometimes writes an ode in a word like a tree, and the complete index of a book in a point like a seed. However much vaster and more perfect and meaningful than the book in the example mentioned above is this compendium of the universe and mighty embodied Qur’an of the world, which is infinitely full of meaning and in every word of which are numerous instances of wisdom, to that degree -in accordance with the extensive measure and far-seeing vision of the natural science that you study and the sciences of reading and writing that you have practised at school- it makes known the Inscriber and Author of the book of the universe together with His infinite perfections. Proclaiming ‘God is Most Great!’, it makes Him known. Uttering words like ‘Glory be to God!’, it describes Him. Uttering praises like ‘All praise be to God!’, it makes Him loved.
“Thus, hundreds of other sciences like these make known the Glorious Creator of the universe together with His Names, each through its broad measure or scale, its particular mirror, its far-seeing eyes, and searching gaze; they make known His attributes and perfections.
“It is in order to give instruction in this matter, which is a brilliant and magnificent proof of Divine unity, that the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition teaches us about our Creator most often with the verses, Sustainer of the
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Heavens and the Earth,1 and, He created the Heavens and Earth.”2 I said this to the schoolboys, and they accepted it completely, affirming it by saying: “Endless thanks be to God, for we have received an absolutely true and sacred lesson. May God be pleased with you!” And I said:
“Man is a living machine who is grieved with thousands of different sorrows and receives pleasure in thousands of different ways; and despite his utter impotence has innumerable enemies, physical and spiritual; and despite his infinite poverty, has countless needs, external and inner; and is a wretched creature continuously suffering the blows of death and separation. Yet, through belief and worship, he at once becomes connected to a Monarch so Glorious he finds a point of support against all his enemies and a source of help for all his needs, and like everyone takes pride at the honour and rank of the lord to whom he is attached, you can compare for yourselves how pleased and grateful and thankful and full of pride man becomes at being connected through belief to an infinitely Powerful and Compassionate Monarch, at entering His service through worship, and transforming for himself the announcement of the execution of the appointed hour into the papers releasing him from duty.”
I repeat to the calamity-stricken prisoners what I said to the schoolboys: “One who recognizes Him and obeys Him is fortunate even if he is in prison. While one who forgets Him is wretched and a prisoner even if he resides in a palace.” Even, one wronged but fortunate man said to the wretched tyrants who were executing him: “I am not being executed but being demobilized and departing for where I shall find happiness. But I see that you are being condemned to eternal execution and am therefore taking perfect revenge on you.” And declaring: “There is no god but God!”, he happily surrendered his spirit.
Glory be unto You! We have no knowledge save that which You have taught us; indeed, You are All-Knowing, All-Wise.3
1. Qur’an, 6:1.
2. Qur’an, 13:16.
3. Qur’an, 2:32.
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A Window onto Divine Unity
In His Name, be He glorified!
And there is nothing but it glorifies Him with praise.
My very dear and loyal brothers!
My brothers, I observed in a subtle point concerning God’s unity, which suddenly became clear while studying the page of the air on a journey of the imagination and mind, that is, in the word HE (HU) in the phrases THERE IS NO GOD BUT HE, and, SAY HE IS GOD, (and that was only in its material aspect) that the way of belief is infinitely easy, easy to the point of being necessary, and that the way of misguidance and associating partners with God is infinitely difficult, so difficult as to be impossible. I shall explain that long and extensive point with an extremely brief indication.
Yes, if soil, one handful of which can act as a flower-pot for hundreds of plants in turn, is attributed to nature or causes, it becomes necessary either for there to be present in such a handful hundreds of immaterial machines, indeed, machines and factories to the number of the plants, or for each particle of that small amount of soil to know how to make all those different plants together with their different characteristics and living organs; quite simply, each would have to possess infinite knowledge and limitless power like a god.
The same is true for the air, which is a place of maximum manifestation of the Divine will and command; either there would have to be present on a minute scale in each of its molecules, in each waft of wind, each breath, and in the tiny amount air expended with the word HE, the innumerable different exchanges, centres, receivers and transmitters of all the telephones, telegraphs and radios in the world so that each could perform those innumerable acts at the same time; or else, each particle of each molecule of air exhaled with HE, and indeed of the element air, would have to possess abilities and personalities to the number of all the different telephone users, telegraphers, and those who speak on the radio, and know all their different languages, and broadcast them to the other particles at the same time. For such a situation is actually apparent, and every bit of air possesses that ability. Thus, in
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the ways of the unbelievers, Naturalists, and Materialists not one impossibility, but impossibilities and difficulties are clearly apparent to the number of molecules of air.
If attributed to the All-Glorious Maker, however, the air together with all its particles becomes a soldier under His command. With its Creator’s permission and through His power, and through being connected to its Creator and relying on Him, and through the manifestation of its Maker’s Power, in an instant with the speed of lightning, and with the ease of uttering the word HE and the movement of the air in waves, its innumerable universal duties are performed as easily as an orderly, single duty of a single particle. That is to say, the air becomes a page for the endless, wonderful, and orderly writings of the pen of power, and its particles become the nibs of the pen, and their duties the points inscribed by it. The air functions as easily as the movement of a single particle.
Thus, while on my journey of contemplation prompted by the phrases THERE IS NO GOD BUT HE, and, SAY, HE IS GOD, and while observing the world of the air and studying the page of that element, I witnessed this brief truth with utter certainty and clarity, and in detail. And I understood with ‘knowledge of certainty’ that it was because there is in the word HE, in the air of its utterance, such a brilliant proof and flash of Divine unity, and also in its meaning and allusions such a luminous manifestation of Divine oneness and powerful proof of Divine unity, and in that proof an indication that since the pronoun HE is unconditional and indefinite, it suggests the question, “Who does it refer to?” that both the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition and those who constantly recite the Divine Names frequently repeat this sacred word in the station of unity.
If, for example, there is one point on a piece of white paper and two or three other points are jumbled around with it and then someone who already has numerous jobs tries to distinguish them, he will be confused; and if many burdens are loaded on a small creature, it will be crushed; and if numerous words issue from one tongue and enter one ear altogether at the same time, their order will be broken and they will be a muddle.
Despite this being the case, I saw with complete certainty that with the key and compass of HE, although thousands of different points, letters and words had been put in each molecule -and even in each particle- of the element air, through which I journeyed in my mind, neither did they become mixed up nor did they spoil their order; and although they performed a great many different duties, these were carried out without being confused in any way; and although very heavy loads were laid on each molecule and particle, they bore them in order without lagging or displaying any weakness at all. And I saw that thousands of different words of all different sorts enter and
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issue with perfect order from what is in effect those minute ears and tongues without being mixed up and spoilt in any way, they enter those minute ears and issue from those tiny tongues, and by performing these extraordinary duties, each particle and each molecule declares through the enraptured tongue of its being and its perfect freedom, and through the testimony and tongue of the above truth: THERE IS NO GOD BUT HE, and: SAY, HE IS GOD, THE ONE, and travels among air-clashing waves like storms and lightning and thunder without in any way spoiling their order or confusing their duties. One duty is not an obstacle to another duty. I observed this and was utterly certain.
That is to say, either every particle and piece of the air has to possess infinite wisdom, knowledge, will, and power, and the qualities for being absolutely dominant over all the other particles so that it can be the means of those functions being carried out, which is absurd and impossible to the number of particles, and no devil even could imagine it, or else, and it is self-evident to the degree of ‘knowledge of certainty,’ ‘vision of certainty,’ and ‘absolute certainty’ that the page of the air functions through the boundless, infinite knowledge and wisdom of the All-Glorious One, and is the changing page for the pen of Divine Power and Determining, and like a signboard for writing and erasing, known as a Tablet of Appearance and Dissolution, which has the function of the Preserved Tablet in the world of transformation and change.
Thus, just as the element of air demonstrates the above-mentioned wonders and manifestation of Divine unity in only the duty of transmitting sound and shows the impossibilities of misguidance, so does it perform other important duties with order and without confusing them, such as transmitting subtle forces and energy, like electricity, light, and the forces of attraction and repulsion. At the same time as conveying these, with perfect order, it carries out duties essential for the lives of plants and animals, such as respiration and pollination. It proves in decisive fashion that it is a place of maximum manifestation of the Divine will and command. I came to the firm conclusion that it proves that in no way is there any possibility of vagrant chance, blind force, deaf nature, confused and aimless causes, and powerless, lifeless, unknowing matter interfering in the writing and duties of the page of the air. And I understood that every particle and part of it says with the tongue of its being: SAY, HE IS GOD, THE ONE, and: THERE IS NO GOD BUT HE. Just as with the key of HE I saw these wonders in the material aspect of the air, so also, as a HE, did the element of air become a key to the World of Similitudes and the World of Meaning.
I saw that the World of Similitudes is all the time taking innumerable photographs without confusing them, and that each photograph contains innumerable events occurring in this world. I understood that it was a
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gigantic camera, and a vast cinema of the hereafter thousands of times larger than the world for showing the fruits of the transitory and impermanent states and lives of ephemeral beings in eternal theatres, for showing to those enjoying everlasting bliss in Paradise scenes from their old memories and adventures in this world.1
While the faculties of memory and imagination, which are two proofs, two small examples, and two points of both the Preserved Tablet and the World of Similitudes situated in man’s head, are as tiny as lentils, within them are written in perfect order and without being mixed up as much information as may be contained in a large library. This proves decisively that large examples of those faculties are the World of Similitudes and the Preserved Tablet.
It is definite and certain with ‘knowledge of certainty’ that the elements of air and water, and the element air and water like seminal fluid in particular, are far superior to the element of earth, and are written with more wisdom and will, and with the pen of Divine Determining and Power, and that it is completely impossible for chance, blind force, deaf nature, and lifeless and aimless causes to interfere in them, and that they are a page of the pen of Power and the wisdom of the All-Wise One of Glory.
1 .Since the time and place and conditions do not allow this to be proven with firm proofs and arguments like clear facts, it is cut short here.
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The Fourteenth Word
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Alif. Lam. Ra. [This is] a Book with verses fundamental [of established meaning]. Further explained in detail, from One All-Wise and Well-Acquainted [with all things].1
[In order to ascend to some of the elevated truths of the All-Wise Qur’an, and of Hadiths, which are the true expounder of the Qur’an, we shall point out a number of comparisons of those truths which are like steps to assist hearts deficient in submission and obedience, and shall explain in the Conclusion an object lesson and a mystery concerning Divine favour. Since from among those truths, comparisons of the Resurrection and the Day of Judgement have been mentioned in the Tenth Word, and its Ninth Truth in particular, there is no need to repeat them. Here we shall mention only five ‘Matters’ as examples of the other truths.]
THE FIRST: For example, in order to induce certainty about the verse,
He created the heavens and the earth in six days,2
and the elevated truth it alludes to through the Qur’anic days, which consist of a long period of time like perhaps a thousand or fifty thousand years, that man’s world and that of the animals will last six days, we draw attention to the travelling worlds, transient universes, and passing cosmoses which the Glorious Maker creates every day, every year, every century, each of which is like a day. It is as though these worlds are all guests like man. At the All-Glorious One’s command, each season the world is filled and emptied.
THE SECOND: For example, the verses,
Nor anything fresh or dry but is [inscribed] in a Record Clear.3 * And
1. Qur’an, 11:1.
2. Qur’an, 7:54.
3. Qur’an, 6:59.
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of all things have We taken account in a Clear Book.4 * From Whom is not hidden the least little atom in the heavens or on earth; nor is there anything less than that, or greater, but it is in the Record Clear.5
In order to be convinced of the elevated truth which these verses state, that, “All things together with all their states are recorded before they come into existence, when they come into existence, and after they have departed; and they are being recorded,” we point out to be observed the All-Glorious Inscriber’s including and preserving in immaterial fashion in the seeds and roots of the innumerable well-ordered creatures which He changes every season on the page of the earth, and particularly in the spring, the indexes of their beings, life-histories, and principles according to which they act; and when they die His inscribing in immaterial fashion with the same pen of Divine Determining those indexes, life-histories and principles in the simple seeds in their fruits; and every passing spring even His preserving them -whether fresh or dry- in perfect order in seeds like dry chips of wood and bones, limited and tiny. It is as if each spring is attached like a flower to the face of the earth in extremely orderly and balanced fashion by the hand of One All-Beautiful and All-Glorious, then plucked from it; each is placed on it, then removed. While the reality is this, one of the strangest forms of man’s misguidance is that he calls this natural writing, this inscribing full of art, this passive pattern of wisdom which is an index of dominical art and only a reflection and manifestation of the Preserved Tablet, ‘nature’, and considers it to be the source and active and effective. Can there be any comparison between the ground and the Pleiades? Can there be any comparison between reality and the views of the heedless?
THE THIRD: For example, in order to ascend to the truth which the Bringer of Sure News described concerning the Bearers of the Throne, the angels appointed to the earth and the skies, and other sorts of angels, stating that they glorify God with forty thousand heads, and with the forty thousand tongues in each head, and in forty thousand ways with each tongue, consider the following carefully. Through verses like,
The seven heavens and the earth and all within them glorify and extol Him.6 * It was We Who made the hills declare in unison with him Our praises.7 * We did indeed offer the Trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains,8
the All-Glorious One expresses clearly that even the greatest and most
4. Qur’an, 36:12.
5. Qur’an, 34:3.
6. Qur’an, 17:44.
7. Qur’an, 38:18.
8. Qur’an, 33:72.
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universal of beings demonstrate that they glorify Him in accordance with their universality and in a way appropriate to their vastness. And it appears to be thus. Just as the words of glorification of the heavens, which are an ocean glorifying God, are the suns, moons, and stars, so the words of praise of the earth, a flying thing praising and glorifying, are the animals, plants and trees. That is to say, just as the trees and stars all perform particular forms of glorification, so does the earth and every part of the earth, and all the mountains and valleys, and the land and the sea, and the spheres of the firmament and the constellations in the heavens all perform universal forms of glorification. The earth, which possesses these thousands of heads containing thousands of tongues, certainly has an angel appointed to it who translates and displays in the World of Similitudes the flowers of glorification and fruits of praise it performs with each, and who represents and proclaims them in the World of Spirits.
Indeed, if numerous things take on the form of a collectivity, a collective personality comes into being. If such a collectivity fuses and becomes a unity, it will have a collective personality and a sort of spirit which will represent it, and an appointed angel who will perform its duty of glorification. As an example, consider the plane-tree in front of my room here, a mighty word of the mouth of Barla and the tongue of this mountain: see how many hundreds of tongues of smaller branches there are on the three heads of the three main branches of its trunk. Study carefully how many hundreds of words of well-ordered and balanced fruits it has, and how many hundreds of letters of well-proportioned winged seeds; just as you hear and see how eloquently it praises and glorifies the All-Glorious Maker, the Owner of the command of “Be!” and it is, so too the angel appointed to it represents its glorification with numerous tongues in the World of Meaning. Wisdom necessitates that it is so.
THE FOURTH: For example, consider the elevated truth expressed by verses like:
Indeed, His command when He wills a thing, is, “Be!”, and it is.9 * And the decision of the Hour is as the twinkling of an eye.10 * And We are closer to him than his jugular vein.11 * The angels ascend to Him in a day the measure of which is fifty thousand years,12
which is that the Absolutely Powerful One creates things with such ease and speed, with such facility and lack of trouble, that it appears and is understood that He creates with a mere command. Also, although the All-
9. Qur’an, 36:82.
10. Qur’an, 16:77.
11. Qur’an, 50:16.
12. Qur’an, 70:4.
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Powerful Maker is infinitely close to beings, they are infinitely distant from him. Furthermore, despite His infinite might and glory, attaching importance to them, He also sets in order the most insignificant and lowly matters, and does not deny them the beauty of His art. Thus, the perfect order within absolute ease observed in beings testifies to the existence of this Qur’anic truth. The following comparison demonstrates its meaning and wisdom. For example, And God’s is the highest similitude, the duties the sun displays through the dominical command and Divine subjugation, which is like a dense mirror to the Divine Name of Light among the All-Glorious Maker’s Most Beautiful Names, brings this truth closer to the understanding. It is as follows:
Although through its elevatedness, the sun is infinitely close to all transparent and shining things, indeed, is closer to them than their own selves, and although it has an effect on them in numerous ways like through its manifestation, its image, and power of disposal, those transparent objects are thousands of years distant from it, they can in no way have an effect on it, they cannot claim to be close to it. Also, the sun’s being as though present and seeing in all transparent particles, and wherever its light enters even, is understood through the sun’s reflection and its image being apparent in accordance with the particles’ capacities and colours. Furthermore, the sun’s comprehensiveness and penetration increase to the vast extent of its luminosity. It is because of the greatness of its luminosity that the tiniest things cannot hide or escape from it. This means that through the mystery of luminosity its immense vastness does not exclude even insignificant and tiny things; on the contrary, it takes them within the sphere of its comprehension. Moreover, if to suppose the impossible we were to imagine the sun acted with will in the tasks and manifestations its displays, with Divine permission it would function with such ease and speed and breadth in everything from particles and droplets and the surface of the sea to the planets, that it would be supposed that it performed these mighty disposals through a mere command. A particle and a planet would be equal before its command. The effulgence it would bestow on the surface of the sea, it would bestow also with perfect order on a particle in accordance with the particle’s capacity.
Thus, we see that the sun, which is a luminous bubble in the seas of the skies and a small and dense mirror to the manifestation of the Absolutely Powerful One’s Name of Light, observedly displays examples of the three principles of this truth. So we surely believe with complete certainty as though witnessing it that the All-Glorious One, Who is the Light of Light, the Illuminator of Light, the Determiner of Light, and in comparison to Whose knowledge and power the sun’s light and heat is like earth, is all-present and all-seeing and infinitely close to all things with His knowledge and power, and that things are utterly distant from Him, and that He does
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things with such ease and facility that it is understood He creates with the ease and speed of a mere command, and that nothing at all, great or small, particular or universal, can escape from the sphere of His power, and that His magnificence encompasses all things. And this has to be believed.
THE FIFTH: While the limits of the vastness of the Monarch of Pre-Eternity and Post-Eternity’s dominicality and the tremendousness of His Godhead stretch from,
No just estimate have they made of God, such as is due to Him: on the Day of Judgement the whole of the earth will be but His handful, and the heavens will be rolled up in His right hand13
And know that God comes between man and his heart,14
God is the Creator of All Things, and He is the Guardian and Disposer of all affairs15
[God] knows what they hide as well as what they disclose,16
[Who] created the heavens and the earth17
God has created you and what you do,18
God has willed this! There is no power but with God19
But you will not, except as God wills,20
what is the purpose of His stern complaints and severe and awesome threats in the Qur’an against the sons of Adam, so
impotent and infinitely weak and utterly poor and endlessly needy, who possess only partial will and have no power to create? In what way is it conformable, and how is it appropriate? In order to be convinced of this profound and elevated truth, consider the following two comparisons:
First Comparison: For example, there was a royal garden in which were innumerable fruit-bearing and flowering things. Many servants were
13. Qur’an, 39:67.
14. Qur’an, 8:24.
15. Qur’an, 39:62.
16. Qur’an, 2:77, etc.
17. Qur’an, 7:54, etc.
18. Qur’an, 37:96.
19. Qur’an, 18:39.
20. Qur’an, 76:30.
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appointed to attend to it. The duty of one of the servants was only to open the water canal so that the water could spread throughout the garden and be benefited from. But the servant was lazy and did not open the canal, so harm came to the growth of the garden, or else it dried up. All the other servants had the right to complain, not about the Creator’s dominical art and the Sultan’s royal supervision and the obedient service of the light, air, and earth, but about that foolish servant, for their duties were all made fruitless, or else harm came to them.
Second Comparison: For example, if, through abandoning his minor duty on a mighty royal ship, a common man causes harm to come to the results of the duties of all the others employed on the ship, and some of them even are made to come to nothing, the ship’s owner will complain bitterly about him in the name of all the others. And the one at fault cannot say: “I’m just an ordinary person. I don’t deserve this severity because of my unimportant omission.” For a single instance of non-existence results in innumerable such instances, whereas existence yields results in accordance with itself. For although the existence of a thing is dependent on the existence of all the conditions and causes, its non-existence, its removal, occurs with the removal of a single condition and results from the non-existence of a single particular. It is because of this that ‘destruction is much easier than repair’ has become like a universally accepted principle. Since the bases of unbelief and misguidance, and rebellion and sin are denial and rejection, they are an abandoning and non-acceptance. However positive and possessing of existence they appear superficially, in reality they are removal and non-existence. In which case they are a contagious crime. Just as they cause harm to the results of the acts of other beings, so they draw a veil over the manifestation of the beauties of the Divine Names.
The Monarch of Beings, Whose right it is to make these innumerable complaints, therefore utters awesome complaints about rebellious man in the name of those beings. And to do so is perfect wisdom. Rebellious man is certainly deserving of His severe and awesome threats; without doubt he deserves them.
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In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
And what are the goods of this world but the goods of deception?21
[A slap for the heedless and a warning lesson]
O my wretched soul sunk in heedlessness, which sees this life as sweet, has forgotten the hereafter, and seeks only this world! Do you know what you resemble? An ostrich! It sees the hunter, but cannot fly, so sticks it head in the sand so the hunter will not see it. Its bulky body remains in the open, and the hunter sees it. Only, its eyes are closed in the sand and it cannot see him. O my soul, consider the following comparison, and see it!
Restricting one’s view to this world transforms a great pleasure into a grievous pain. For example, there are two men in this village, that is, in Barla. Ninety-nine out of a hundred of the friends of one of them have gone to Istanbul, where they are living in fine fashion. Only one has remained here, and he too will go there. For this reason, the man longs for Istanbul and thinks of it; he wants to join his friends. When he is told to go there, he is overjoyed and goes happily. As for the second man, ninety-nine of his friends have departed from here. But some have perished, and some have been put in places where they neither see nor are seen. He imagines that they have departed and disappeared in utter misery. This wretched man becomes friendly with a single guest in place of all of them, and wants to find consolation. Through him he wants to forget his grievous pain of separation.
O my soul! Foremost God’s Beloved, and all your friends, are beyond the grave. The one or two who remain will also depart for there. So do not be frightened of death, anxious at the grave, and avert your head. Look manfully at the grave, and listen to what it seeks. Laugh in death’s face like a man, and see what it wants. Beware, do not be heedless and resemble the second man.
O my soul! Do not say, “The times have changed, this age is different, everyone is plunged into this world and worships this life. Everyone is drunk with the struggle for livelihood.” For death does not change. Separation is not
21. Qur’an, 3:185.
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transformed into permanence and does not become different. Man’s impotence and poverty do not change, they increase. Man’s journey is not cut, it becomes faster.
Also, do not say, “I am like everyone else.” For everyone befriends you only as far as the grave, and the consolation of being together with everyone else in disaster has no meaning beyond the grave. And do not suppose yourself to be free and independent. For if you look at this guest-house of the world with the eye of wisdom, you will see that nothing at all is without order and without purpose. How can you remain outside the order and be without purpose? Events in the world like earthquak
es are not the playthings of chance. For example, you see that the extremely well-ordered and finely embroidered shirts, one over the other and one within the other, which are clothed on the earth from the species of animals and plants, are adorned and decked out from top to bottom with purposes and instances of wisdom, and you know that the earth revolves and is turned like an ecstatic Mevlevi in perfect order within most exalted aims. How is it then, as an atheist published, they suppose the death-tainted events of the earth, like the earthquake,22 which resembles the earth’s shaking off itself the weight of certain forms of heedlessness of which it disapproves from mankind, and especially from the believers, to be without purpose and the result of chance? How is it that they show the grievous losses of all those stricken to be without recompense and to have gone for nothing, and cast them into a fearsome despair? They are both making a great error and perpetrating a great wrong. Indeed, such events occur at the command of One All-Wise and All-Compassionate, in order to transform the transient property of the believers into the equivalent of alms, and make it permanent. And they are atonement for their sins arising from ingratitude for bounties. Just as a day will come when this subjugated earth will see the works of man, which are the adornment of its face, to be tainted by the attributing of partners to God and not to be the cause of thanks, and it will find them ugly. At the Creator’s command, it will wipe them off its entire face and cleanse it. At God’s command, it will pour those who attribute partners to God into Hell, and say to those who offer thanks, “Come and enter Paradise!”
22. This was written in connection with the Izmir earthquake.
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The Addendum to the Fourteenth Word
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
When the earth is shaken to its [utmost] convulsion, * And the earth throws up its burdens [from within], * And man cries [distressed] “What is the matter with it?” * On that Day will it declare its tidings. * For that your Sustainer will have given it inspiration.23
This Sura states definitely that in its movements and earthquakes the earth shakes at a command, on receiving revelation and inspiration. And sometimes it trembles.
[Prompted by an inspiration, the answers occurred to me to six or seven minor questions related to the current earthquakes, importantly from the point of view of their meaning. Although on several occasions I intended to write them in detail, permission was not given, so they have been written briefly and in short.]
• First Question: More distressing than the material disaster of the present severe earthquake are its immaterial aspects; the fear and despair at further earthquakes is destroying the nightly rest of most of the people in most areas. What is the reason for this terrible torment?
The Answer, again in regard to its Meaning: It has been said that the drunken, licentious songs, some of which were performed by girls, being broadcast rapturously by means of the radio during the tarawih prayers of the month of Ramazan in every corner of this blessed centre of Islam resulted in the torment of this fear.
• Second Question: Why aren’t these heavenly blows dealt at the unbelievers in their countries? Why are they visited on the unhappy Muslims?
The Answer: Just as the requital for big mistakes and crimes is postponed and made in big centres, and the requital for small crimes is made quickly in small centres, as a consequence of an important instance of wisdom, the recompense of the greater part of the unbelievers’ crimes is
23. Qur’an, 99:1-5.
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postponed and made in big centres, and the requital for small crimes is made quickly in small centres, as a consequence of an important instance of wisdom, the recompense of the greater part of the unbelievers’ crimes is postponed to the Last Judgement, while the punishment for the believers’ faults is in part given in this world.24
• Third Question: What is the reason for this disaster, which arises from the wrongdoing of a few individuals, occurring to a degree generally throughout the country?
The Answer: The general disaster results from the wrongdoing of the majority: most people in effect participate in the actions of those tyrannical individuals by supporting them either actively or morally or in some connection.
• Fourth Question: Since this disaster of an earthquake results from wrongdoing and is atonement for sins, why are the innocent and those not at fault struck by it? How does Divine justice permit this?
The Answer, again in regard to its meaning: Since this matter concerns the mystery of Divine Determining, we refer you to the Risale-i Nur and here only say this:
And fear tumult or oppression, which affects not in particular [only] those of you who do wrong.25
That is, beware of the calamity or disaster which when it occurs is not restricted to wrongdoers but strikes the innocent as well.
The meaning of the above verse is as follows: this world is a field of trial and examination, and a place of striving where man is accountable for his actions. Accountability and examination require that reality remains veiled so that through competition and striving the Abu Bakr’s may rise to the highest of the high and the Abu Jahl’s may enter among the lowest of the low. If the innocent remained untouched by such disasters, the Abu Jahl’s would submit just like the Abu Bakr’s, and the door of spiritual and moral progress through striving would be closed and the mystery of accountability spoiled.
Since Divine wisdom requires that oppressed and oppressor are together afflicted by disaster, what then is the share of the wretched oppressed of Divine mercy and justice?
It was said in reply to this question: for them there is a manifestation of mercy within the wrath and anger in the disaster. For just as the transient property of the innocent becomes like alms and gains permanence, the relatively little and temporary difficulty and torment is a form of martyrdom for them
24. Furthermore, in abandoning an abrogated and corrupted religion, people like the Russians do not incur Divine wrath to the extent of those who betray a true and eternal religion which may not be abrogated. Thus, the earth leaves them at present, and displays its anger towards those here.
25. Qur’an, 8:25.
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which also gains for their transient lives a permanent life. The earthquake earns for them a huge, perpetual profit, so for them is an instance of Divine mercy within the wrath.
• Fifth Question: Why does the One Who is All-Just and All-Compassionate, All-Powerful and All-Wise, not give particular punishments for particular wrongs, but inflicts a mighty element? How is this in keeping with the beauty of His mercy and His all-encompassing power?
The Answer: The All-Powerful One of Glory gives numerous duties to each element and through each duty causes them to produce numerous different results. If one result of one of an element’s duties is ugly, evil, or calamitous, the other good results make this result good also. If the element, which is angry at man, is prevented from that duty so that the single ugly result will not occur, then instances of good to the number of the good results will be abandoned, and so since not doing a necessary good is evil, instances of evil will be perpetrated to the number of the instances of good. A single evil not occurring would be extremely ugly, contrary to wisdom, contrary to reality, and a fault. And power, wisdom and reality are free of fault. Since certain errors constitute rebellion comprehensive enough to make the earth and elements angry, and are insulting aggression against the rights of numerous creatures, for sure, in order to demonstrate the extraordinary ugliness of such a crime, the command being given to a mighty element to “reprimand them” among its other general duties, is perfect wisdom and justice, and for the oppressed, perfect mercy.
• Sixth Question: The neglectful and heedless put it about that the earthquake resulted from a fault in the rock strata inside the earth, and look upon it as quite simply a chance event, natural, and without purpose. They do not see the non-material causes and results, so that they can come to their senses. Does ‘matter’, on which they base their views, have some reality?
The Answer: It has no reality other than misguidance for the following reason. Take the fly out of all the species on the earth, which each year is clothed in and changes more than fifty million finely embroidered well-ordered shirts: the intention, will, purpose, and wisdom manifested on the wing of a single fly, which is only one organ out of hundreds of one individual fly out of the countless numbers of all flies on the face of the earth, the fact that it is not neglected or left to its own devices, shows that the significant acts and states of the huge globe of the earth, which is the cradle, mother, place of recourse, and protector of innumerable conscious beings -no aspect of it whether particular or universal- can be outside the Divine will, choice, and purpose. However, as is required by His wisdom, the Possessor of absolute power makes apparent causes a veil to His disposals. When He wills an earthquake, and sometimes He does, He commands the
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movement of the strata and ignites them. Even if it results from this movement or a fault in the strata, it is still at the Divine command and in accordance with His wisdom; it cannot occur in any other way.
For example, one man shot another with a rifle. If the man who fired the shot is entirely disregarded, and only the gunpowder in the bullet igniting is taken into consideration, the rights of the wretched victim would be completely violated, and it would be the epitome of foolishness. In just the same way, to forget the dominical command concerning the earth, which is a docile official of the All-Powerful One of Glory, rather, a ship or an aeroplane of His: “Explode a bomb inside the earth prepared through wisdom and will in order to arouse the heedless and the rebellious;” to forget this and to deviate into ‘nature’, is the very peak of stupidity.
An Addition and Footnote to the Sixth Question: In order to defend their way and counter the awakening of the believers and hinder them, the people of misguidance and the atheists display an obduracy so strange and a stupidity so peculiar that it makes a person regret his humanity. For example, in order to make men give up their wicked and wrongful rebellion which recently has to a degree taken on a general form, and to arouse mankind and make it forego this awesome revolt and recognize the universe’s Sovereign, Whom it does not want to recognize, the Creator of the heavens and the earth -not on account of a particular title but as Sustainer and Ruler of the whole universe and all the worlds and through a widespread and general manifestation throughout the universe in the universal sphere of His dominicality- has struck mankind in the face with awesome and widespread calamities like earthquakes, storms, and world wars through the universal elements coming to anger -through water, the air, and electricity, which are matchless and constant- and has demonstrated through them in most clear fashion His wisdom, power, justice, and self-subsistence. Although this is the case, certain brainless satans in human form respond to these universal dominical signs and divine reprimands with a foolish obstinacy, saying:
“It’s nature. It’s the explosion of some strata under the earth and just chance. It’s the sun’s heat clashing with electricity, which happened in America and brought all machinery to a standstill for five hours, and also caused the atmosphere in Kastamonu Province to turn red and take on the appearance of a conflagration.” They utter meaningless nonsense like this. Due to a boundless ignorance resulting from misguidance and an ugly obduracy arising from aggressive atheism, they do not know that causes are only each a pretext and a veil. A small seed taking the place of a village full of factories and looms to weave and produce the members of a pine-tree as large as a mountain shows this. By saying, “The tree emerged from the seed,” they in effect deny the thousand miracles displayed in the pine tree, and put forward a number of apparent causes. They reduce to nothing a
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huge dominical act worked through the Creator’s will and wisdom. Sometimes they attach a scientific name to a most profound, unknowable, and important truth which has purposes in a thousand respects, as though through the name it has been understood. Whereas it is merely made commonplace, and without purpose, wisdom, or meaning.
So, come and see the innumerable degrees of stupidity and foolishness! They attach a name to a truth so profound and broad and unknown it could be completely understood only if it and its purposes and instances of wisdom were described in a hundred pages. As though it was something obvious they say: “It is this.” For example, “It is some substance in the sun clashing with electricity.” Furthermore, they ascribe a particular and intentional dominical event to one of the natural laws, which are each the titles of universal and all-encompassing will and universal sovereignty, and are known as ‘Divine laws.’ And by doing this they sever its connection with Divine will and choice, then refer it to chance and nature. They display an ignorance more profound than Abu Jahl. It is a rebellious foolishness like attributing the victorious battle of an individual soldier or a battalion to military regulations and discipline, and cutting its connection with the commander, king, government, and purposeful action.
Similarly, if a wonder-working craftsman produces a hundred okkas26 of various foodstuffs and a hundred yards of varying cloths from a chip of wood the size of fingernail, like the creation of a fruitbearing tree from a seed, and someone points to the chip of wood and declares that these things have come into being out of it ‘naturally’ and ‘through chance,’ reducing to nothing the craftsman’s wondrous arts and skills, what utter lunacy it would be. It is exactly the same as that....
• Seventh Question: What should be understood from this event of the earth’s happening to the Muslim people of this country and being aimed at them? And why are the areas of Erzincan and Izmir affected most?
The Answer: As is indicated by many signs, like the event occurring during a hard winter in the dark of night in severely cold weather, and its restriction to a region where due respect is not paid to the month of Ramadan, and the earthquakes continuing mildly in order to arouse the neglectful -it suggests the earthquakes are aimed at and look to the believers and are shaking the earth in order to warn them to perform the prayers and their supplications, and the earth itself is shaking. There are two reasons for places like unfortunate Erzincan being shaken more than other places:
One: Since its faults are few, their purification has been expedited.
The Second: Since there is the opportunity in places like that of strong
26. 1 Okka = approx. 2.8 lbs. or 1,300 grams.
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and loyal defenders of the faith and protectors of Islam being defeated to a degree or entirely and atheists establishing an effective centre of activity, it is possible that punishment has been visited on them first. None knows the Unseen save God.
All Glory be unto You, we have no knowledge save that which You have taught us; indeed You are All-Knowing, All-Wise.27
27. Qur’an, 2:32.
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The Fifteenth Word
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
And We have adorned the lowest heaven with lamps, and We have made them missiles to drive away the evil ones.1
Oh, modern-educated Sir whose brain has shrunk through studying the soulless matters of astronomy, whose mind can see no further than the tip of his nose, and who cannot squeeze the mighty mystery of the above verse into his constricted brain! The heaven of the verse may be reached by a stairway of Seven Steps. Come, let us climb them together!
FIRST STEP: Truth and wisdom require that the heavens have inhabitants appropriate to them as the earth has. According to the Shari‘a, those various beings are called angels and spirit beings. Reality requires it to be thus, for despite its small size and insignificance, the earth being filled with living and conscious beings, then emptied from time to time and once again repopulated suggests, indeed makes it clear, that the heavens too, in which are magnificent constellations and are like adorned palaces, should be filled with conscious and percipient creatures. Like men and jinn, those creatures are spectators of the palace of the universe, the observers of the book of creation, and the heralds of the sovereignty of dominicality. For the universe is arrayed and embellished with innumerable adornments, decorations, and ornaments, and self-evidently requires the thoughtful gazes of those who will appreciate it and wonder at it. Certainly, beauty requires a lover and sustenance is given to the hungry. However, man and jinn are able to perform only a millionth of this endless duty, this grand viewing, this extensive worship. That is to say, endless sorts of angels and spirit beings are necessary to perform these endless duties and diverse worship.
As is indicated by certain narrations and the wisdom in the order of the universe, some kinds of travelling bodies, from planets to drops of water, are the mounts of one kind of angel. It may be said that they mount them with
1. Qur’an, 67:5
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God’s permission and tour and gaze upon the manifest world. It also may be said that one type of animal bodies, from the birds of Paradise called “The Green Birds”2 in a Hadith, to flies, are the aircraft for a sort of spirit being. They enter them at God’s command, travel around the physical universe, observing the miracles of creation through the windows of the senses of the animals’ bodies.
The Creator, Who continuously creates subtle life and luminous percipient beings from dense earth and turbid water, surely also creates conscious beings suitable for spirit and life, from those seas of light and even from the oceans of darkness. And He creates them in great abundance. The existence of angels and spirit beings has been proved with the certainty of two plus two equals four in my treatise entitled Nokta (Point), and in the Twenty-Ninth Word. If you wish, you may refer to them.
SECOND STEP: The earth and the heavens are connected to one another like two countries under a single government. There are important relations and transactions between them. Things necessary for the earth like light, heat, blessings, and mercy in the form of rain come from the sky, that is, they are sent. According to the consensus of the revealed religions, which are founded on revelation, and the agreement of all those who uncover the mysteries of the universe, relying on what they have witnessed, the angels and spirit beings descend to the earth from the skies. From this it may be understood through a surmise so certain it can almost be felt that for the inhabitants of the earth there is a way to ascend to the heavens.
Indeed, everyone’s mind, imagination, and gaze perpetually rise to the skies. So too, having discarded all heaviness do the spirits of the prophets and saints rise there with God’s permission, and having stripped off their bodies, the spirits of the dead. Since those who become light and subtle rise to the heavens, for sure, one sort of the inhabitants of the earth and the air who are clothed in what resembles a body and are light and subtle like spirits may rise there.
THIRD STEP: The silence and tranquillity of the heavens, and their order and regularity, and vastness and luminosity, show that their inhabitants are not like those of the earth; they are obedient, they do whatever they are commanded. Because the country is vast there is nothing to cause overcrowding and disputes. Their natures are pure, they are innocent, their stations are fixed.
On the earth, opposites come together, evils are mixed with good, and disputes start between them. For this reason, conflict and suffering are born. And from them examination and competition are set. And from them progress and retrogression occur. The wisdom in these facts is as follows:
2. Muslim, Imara, 121; Tirmidhi, Tafsir Sura, iii, 19; Ibn Maja, Jana’iz, 4; Jihad, 16; Darimi, Jihad, 18; Musnad, vi, 386
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Man is the fruit of the tree of creation, its furthest part. It is well-known that the fruit of something is its most distant, most comprehensive, most delicate, and most important part. Therefore, since man, who is the fruit of the universe, is a most comprehensive, most wonderful, most powerless, most weak, and most subtle miracle of power, the earth, which is his cradle and dwelling-place, is the heart and centre of the whole universe as regards meaning and art, despite being physically small and insignificant in relation to the heavens; it is the exposition and exhibition-place of all the miracles of art; and the display and point of focus of all the manifestations of the Divine Names; the place of assembly and reflection of unending dominical activity; the means and market of boundless Divine creativity, whose liberality is especially evident in the numerous small species of plants and animals; the place, in a small measure, of samples of the artefacts to be found in the truly vast worlds of the hereafter; the speedily operating workshop for eternal textiles; the fast-changing place of imitation of everlasting panoramas; the narrow, temporary field and tillage rapidly raising the seeds for never-ending gardens.
Thus, it is because of this immaterial greatness of the earth,3 and its importance in regard to art, that the All-Wise Qur’an puts it on a par with the heavens, although it is like a tiny fruit of a huge tree. It places it in one pan of a pair of scales and the whole of the rest of the universe in the other. It repeatedly says,
Sustainer of the Heavens and the Earth.
Furthermore, the speedy, constant change and transformation of the earth, which arises from the instances of wisdom mentioned above, requires that its inhabitants undergo change in accordance with it. And, it is because this limited earth manifests unlimited miracles of power that according to their creation and unlike other animate beings, no natural limit or restriction has been
3. Despite its small size, the globe of the earth may be thought of as equal to the heavens, for it may be said that “a constant spring is greater than a lake with no inlet.” And, although a pile of grain the size of a mountain apparently seems to be thousands of times larger than a measure, since it has all passed through the measure and been transferred to another place, the measure may be seen as in balance with the grain. It is exactly the same with the globe of the earth; God Almighty has created it as a place for exhibiting His art, a place where His creativity is concentrated, as a pivot of His wisdom, a place for the manifestation of His power, a garden of His mercy, a field for His Paradise, the measure for uncountable universes and worlds of creatures, and like a spring flowing into the seas of the past and the World of the Unseen. Think of all those renewed worlds whose shirts woven of beings are changed every year, layer upon layer, in hundreds of thousands of different forms, how they fill the earth many times and being emptied into the past are poured into the World of the Unseen; consider those numerous shirts of the earth. That is, suppose all the past to be present, and then compare it with the somewhat monotonous and plain heavens: you will see that even if the earth does not weigh more than the heavens, it does not weigh less, either. Thus, you may understand the meaning of, Sustainer of the Heavens and the Earth.
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placed on the faculties and powers of man and jinn, who are its most important inhabitants. As a result of this they have manifested endless progress and endless retrogression. A great field of trial and examination has opened, from the prophets and the saints to the nimrods and the devils. Since this is so, of course, with their boundless evil, the pharaoh-like devils will throw stones at the heavens and its inhabitants.
FOURTH STEP: The All-Glorious One, Who is the Sustainer, Controller, and Creator of all the worlds, has numerous principles and rules, and very many appellations, titles, and most Beautiful Names, which are all different. Whichever Name and title necessitated sending angels to the ranks of the Prophet (PBUH)’s Companions in order to do battle against unbelievers also required that there should be battle between angels and devils, and contest between the good inhabitants of the heavens and the evil inhabitants of the earth. The All-Powerful One of Glory, Who holds within the grasp of His power the breathing-in and breathing-out of the unbelievers, does not wipe them out with a single command, a single trumpet-blast. With His title of universal Sustainer and Names of All-Wise and Controller, He inaugurates a field of examination and contest.
If the comparison is not mistaken, we see that a king has numerous different titles and names in respect of the different areas of his rule. For example, in the judicature he is known by the name of Wise Judge, in the army as Commander-in-Chief, in the office of the Shaykh al-Islam as Khalifa, and in the civil service as Sultan. His obedient subjects call him Gracious Sovereign, while the rebellious call him All-Compelling Ruler. You may think of further examples.
Thus, it sometimes happens that such an exalted king, whose subjects are all within his power, does not issue the command to execute an impotent and contemptible rebel; he sends him to court under his name of Wise Judge. Also, he knows a both capable and honest official who is worthy of being favoured, but he does not favour him with his particular knowledge by private telephone. Instead, under his titles relating to the majesty of sovereignty and expedients of government, he opens a field of competition in order to make public how deserving the official is of reward, and he gives the command to his minister and invites the people to watch. He has organized a welcoming ceremony, and, as a result of a grand, elevated trial and examination, favours him in a distinguished assembly; he proclaims his worthiness. You can think of further examples in the same way.
Thus, And God’s is the highest similitude, the Monarch of Pre-Eternity and Post-Eternity has numerous Most Beautiful Names. Through the manifestations of His glory and appearances of His beauty, He has many attributes and titles. The Name, title, and attribute which necessitate the existence of light and darkness, summer and winter, and Paradise and Hell, require
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also numerous general laws like the law of generation, those of competition and mutual assistance, and the making general to a degree also of the law of contest. From the contest of inspirations and satanic whisperings around the heart to the contest between angels and devils on the bounds of the heavens, they require that law to be all-embracing.
FIFTH STEP: Since there is coming and going from the earth to the heavens, and there is descent and ascent from the heavens to the earth and important necessities for the earth are sent from there; and since good spirits rise to the heavens, for sure, imitating the good spirits, evil spirits will also attempt to ascend to the realm of the heavens. For they are light and subtle in regard to their beings. However, they will doubtless be repulsed and expelled, for by nature they are evil and inauspicious. Moreover, there will doubtless be a sign, an indication, in the Manifest World of this important exchange, this contest outside the realm of materiality. For the wisdom of the sovereignty of dominicality requires that it should place a sign and leave an indication of these significant disposals in the Unseen for man in particular, whose most important duty is observation, witnessing, supervision, and acting as a herald; in the same way that it has made rain an indication of the endless miracles of spring, and made apparent causes signs of the wonders of Divine art. It thus summons the people of the Manifest Realm to witness them; indeed, it attracts the attentive gazes of all the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth to that wondrous exhibition. That is, it shows the vast heavens to be a castle or city arrayed with towers on which sentries are posted, so that they may reflect on the majesty of dominicality.
Since wisdom requires that there should be an announcement for this elevated contest, there is surely an indication of it. But -other than shooting stars- no event appropriate to this announcement is apparent among the events of the atmosphere and heavens; there is nothing more appropriate than this. For it may be understood clearly how suitable for the repulsion of devils are these stellar events, which resemble missiles and signal rockets fired from the sturdy bastions of towering castles. And there is no other known purpose, wisdom, and aim, no other purpose appropriate to these occurrences other than these. Other occurrences are not like this. Furthermore, this purpose of them has been well-known since the time of Adam, and has been witnessed by the people of reality.
SIXTH STEP: Since man and jinn are capable of infinite evil and exertion, they are infinitely obdurate and rebellious. It is because of this that the Holy Qur’an restrains them from rebellion and insubordination with an eloquence so miraculous, styles so elevated and clear, comparisons and stories so exalted and evident that they cause the universe to tremble. For example,
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observe carefully the awesome warning, fearsome threat, and severe restraining in the verses:
O you assembly of jinn and men! If you can pass beyond the regions of the heavens and the earth, pass beyond them! [But] you cannot pass beyond them, save by [God’s] authority. * Then which of the favours of your Sustainer will you deny? * On you will be sent a flame of fire, and smoke; no succour will you have,4
which has the meaning of “O man and jinn! If you are not going to obey my commands, come on, pass beyond the bounds of My realms if you are able!” With miraculous eloquence, it smashes the excessively conceited obstinacy of man and jinn. It proclaims their impotence, and shows just how powerless and wretched they are in relation to the immense grandeur of the sovereignty of dominicality. It is as though it says with that verse, and the verse,
And We have made them missiles to drive away the evil ones:5
“O man and jinn, proud and obstinate within your baseness, and obdurate and refractory within your weakness and poverty! How are you so bold as to oppose with your rebellion the commands of a Monarch so Glorious that the stars, moons, and suns obey His commands like soldiers under orders? Through your defiance you contest an All-Wise One of Glory Who has obedient soldiers so awesome that, if to suppose the impossible your devils could withstand them, they would drive them off with cannon-balls the size of mountains. And with your ingratitude, you revolt in the realm of a Lord of Glory Who has servants and troops so fearsome, it is not insignificant impotent creatures like you, if you were each infidel enemies the size of mountains or the earth, they would be able to hurl stars, flaming projectiles, and molten metal the size of mountains or the earth at you, and rout you. And you break a law that is such that those bound by it could if necessary strike your earth in your face, and rain down on you stars like cannon-balls the size of your globe.”
Yes, in the Qur’an are certain important ‘concentrations of forces’ which arise not from the enemies’ strength, but from reasons like the displaying of majesty and exhibiting the enemy’s wickedness. Then sometimes it mobilizes against the littlest and weakest thing, the largest and most powerful causes, in order to show its perfect order, infinite justice, vast knowledge, and power of wisdom, and holds them above it; but does not make them fall upon it or aggress against it. For example, look at this verse,
But if you uphold each other against him, truly God is his Protector, and Gabriel, and all the righteous among the believers, and furthermore, the angels, will back him up.6
4. Qur’an, 55:33-5.
5. Qur’an, 67:5.
6. Qur’an, 66:4.
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How respectful it is concerning the Prophet (PBUH), and how compassionate towards the rights of his wives! This important concentration of forces is only to express compassionately its tremendous respect for the Prophet and the importance of the complaints of two weak beings and the observance of their rights.
SEVENTH STEP: Like angels and fish, there are also numerous different varieties of stars. Some are extremely small, and some are extremely large. Everything that shines in the sky even is called a star. Thus, one sort of star the Glorious Creator and Beauteous Maker created are like the embossed decorations on the face of the delicate heavens, and the shining fruits of that tree, and the praising and extolling fishes of its seas. Others He made the places of excursion and thousands of dwelling-places for the angels. And one sort of small star He made the means for driving off devils. Thus, these shooting stars fired to repulse satans may have three meanings:
The First: They are a sign and indication that the law of contest is also in force in the vastest sphere.
The Second: There are vigilant guards and obedient inhabitants in the heavens. The shooting stars are a proclamation and indication that there are Divine forces found there who are displeased at the rebellion of evil dwellers on the earth, and their eavesdropping on them.
The Third: It is the rejection and repulsion with shooting stars like missiles and signal rockets of spying satans, which are the execrable representatives of the filth of the earth, from the portals of the heavens, so that they do not soil the pure and clean and the dwelling-place of the pure, the skies; to prevent them spying on account of evil spirits, and to scare off mannerless spies.
And so, Astronomer Sir, who relies on the torch in his head like a fire-fly and shuts his eyes to the sun of the Qur’an! Open your eyes, put aside the torch in your head, and see within the light of miraculousness as bright as daylight the meaning of the verse at the beginning! Take one star of truth from the heavens of that verse, cast it at the satan in your head, and drive away your own devil! And we must do the same. Together we should say,
O my Sustainer! I seek refuge with you from the suggestions of the Evil Ones.7
And God’s is the eloquent proof and the decisive wisdom.
All glory be unto You! We have no knowledge save that which You have taught us; indeed, You are All-Knowing, All-Wise.8
7. Qur’an, 23:97.
8. Qur’an, 2:32.
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The Addendum to the Fifteenth Word
[The First Topic of the Twenty-Sixth Letter]
In His Name be He Glorified.
And there is nothing but glorifies Him with praise.
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
And if a suggestion from Satan assails your mind, seek refuge with God; for He is All-Hearing and All-Knowing.9
A Proof of the Qur’an against Satan and His Party
This First Topic defeats in argument the Devil, silences the rebellious, and strikes them dumb by refuting in the most clear manner a fearsome and cunning stratagem of the Devil, which is to be ‘unbiased’. It concerns an event part of which I described in summary form ten years ago in my work entitled Leme’at. It is as follows:
Eleven years before this treatise was written in the month of Ramadan, I was listening to the Qur’an being recited in Beyazit Mosque in Istanbul. Suddenly, although I could not see anyone, I seemed to hear an unearthly voice which captured all my attention. I listened with my imagination, and realized that it was saying to me:
“You consider the Qur’an to be extremely elevated and brilliant. Be unbiased for a minute and consider it again. That is, suppose it to be man’s word. I wonder whether you would still see the same qualities and beauty in it?”
In truth, I was deceived by the voice; I thought of the Qur’an as being written by man. And just as Beyazit Mosque is plunged into darkness when the electric switch is turned off, I observed that with that thought the brilliant lights of the Qur’an began to be extinguished. At that point I understood that it was the Devil who was speaking to me. He was drawing me towards the abyss.
I sought help from the Qur’an and a light was at once imparted to my heart giving me firm strength for the defence. I began to argue back at the Devil, saying:
9. Qur’an, 7:200.
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“O Satan! Unbiased thinking is to take a position between two sides. Whereas what both you and your disciples from among men call unbiased thinking is to take the part of the opposing side; it is not impartiality, it is temporary unbelief. Because, to consider the Qur’an to be man’s word and to judge it as such is to take the part of the opposing side; it is to favour something baseless and invalid. It is not being unbiased, it is being biased towards falsehood.”
The Devil replied: “Well, in that case, say it is neither God’s Word nor man’s word. Think of it as between the two.” To which I rejoined:
“That is not possible either. For if there is a disputed property for which there are two claimants, and the claimants are close both to one another and to the property, the property will then either be given to someone other than them, or will be put somewhere accessible so that whoever proves ownership can take it. If the two claimants are far apart with one in the East and one in the West, then according to the rule, it will remain with the one who has possession of it, as it is not possible for it to be left somewhere between them.
“Thus, the Qur’an is a valuable property, and however distant man’s word is from God’s, the two sides in question are that far apart; indeed, they are infinitely far from one another. It is not possible for the Qur’an to be left between the two sides, which are as far apart as the Pleiades and the ground. For they are opposites like existence and non-existence or the two magnetic poles; there can be no point between them. In which case, for the Qur’an, the one who possesses it is God’s side. It will be accepted as being in His possession, and the proofs of ownership will be regarded in that way. Should the opposing side refute all the arguments proving it to be God’s Word, it may claim ownership of it, otherwise it may not. God forbid! What hand can pull out the nails fastening that vast jewel to the Sublime Throne of God, riveted as it is with thousands of certain proofs, and break its supporting pillars, causing it to fall?”
“And so, inspite of you, O Satan!, the just and the fair-minded reason in this equitable and rightful manner. They increase their belief in the Qur’an through even the slightest evidences. While according to the way shown by you and your disciples, if just once it is supposed to be man’s word and that mighty jewel fastened to the Divine Throne is cast to the ground, a proof with the strength of all the nails and the firmness of many proofs becomes necessary in order to raise it from the ground and fasten it once more to the Throne, and so be saved from the darkness of unbelief and reach the lights of belief. But because it is extremely difficult to do this, due to your wiles, many people are losing their faith at this time by imagining themselves to be making unbiased judgements.”
The Devil turned and said: “The Qur’an resembles man’s word. It is
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similar to the way men converse. That means it is man’s word. If it was God’s Word, it would be appropriate to Him and would be altogether out of the ordinary. Just as His art does not resemble man’s art, so also should His Word not resemble man’s word.”
I replied: “It may be understood as follows: apart from his miracles and special attributes, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was a human being in all his actions, conduct, and behaviour. He submitted to and complied with the Divine laws and commands manifested in creation. He too suffered from the cold, experienced pain, and so on. His deeds and attributes were not all made out of the ordinary so that he could be the leader of his community through his actions, its guide through his conduct, and instruct it through all his behaviour. If he had been out of the ordinary in all his conduct, he could not himself have been the leader in every respect, the total guide of everyone, the ‘Mercy to All the Worlds’ through all his attributes.
“In just the same way, the All-Wise Qur’an is the leader to the aware and the conscious, the guide of jinn and men, the teacher of those attaining to perfection, and instructor of those seeking reality. It is of necessity and of a certainty, therefore, in the same form as man’s conversation and style. For men and jinn take their supplications from it and learn their prayers from it; they express their concerns in its language, and learn from it the rules of social behaviour, and so on. Everyone has recourse to it. If, therefore, it had been in the form of the Divine speech which the Prophet Moses (Peace be upon him) heard on Mount Sinai, man could not have borne listening to it and hearing it, nor made it the point of reference and recourse. Moses (Peace be upon him), one of the five greatest prophets, could only endure to hear a few words. He said:
“‘Is Your speech thus?’ God replied: ‘I have the power of all tongues.’”
Next, the Devil said: “Many people speak of matters similar to those in the Qur’an in the name of religion. Is it not possible, therefore, that a human being did such a thing and made up the Qur’an in the name of religion?”
Through the light of the Qur’an I replied as follows:
“Firstly: Out of love of religion, someone who is religious may say, ‘The truth is thus, the reality of the matter is this. Almighty God commands that.’ But he would not make God speak to suit himself. Trembling at the verse,
Who, then does more wrong than one who utters a lie concerning God?,10
he would not overstep his mark to an infinite degree, imitate God, and speak on His behalf.
“Secondly: It is in no way possible for a human being to be successful in doing such a thing on his own, in fact, it is completely impossible. Individuals
10. Qur’an, 39:32.
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who resemble one another may imitate one another, those of the same kind may take on one another’s forms, those who are close to one another in rank or status may imitate one another and temporarily deceive people, but they cannot do so for ever. For in any event, the falseness and artificiality in their behaviour will show up their imposture to the observant, and their deception will not last. If the one who is attempting to imitate another under false pretences is quite unlike them, for example, if an uneducated man wants to imitate in learning a genius like Ibn-i Sina, or a shepherd assume the position of a king, of course, they will not deceive anyone at all, they will only make fools of themselves. Everything they do will proclaim, ‘This is an impostor.’
“Thus, to suppose -God forbid!, a hundred thousand times- the Qur’an to be man’s word is utterly impossible, no rational being can accept it as possible, to do so is a delirium like imagining to be possible something that is self-evidently impossible like a fire-fly being seen by astronomers as a real star for a thousand years; or a fly appearing to observers in the true form of a peacock for a year; or a bogus common private posing as a famous lofty field marshal, taking over his position and remaining in it for a long period without giving away his deception; or like a slandering, unbelieving liar affecting the manner and position of the most truthful, trustworthy, upright believer throughout his life and being completely unruffled before even the most observant while concealing his fraud from them.
“In just the same way, if the Qur’an is supposed to be man’s word, then it has to be supposed, God forbid, that that Perspicuous Book, which is considered to be clearly a most brilliant star, rather, a sun of perfections perpetually scattering the lights of truth in the heavens of the world of Islam, is like a fire-fly, a spurious sham made up by a counterfeiting human. And those who are closest to it and study it most carefully do not realize this, and consider it to be a perpetual, exalted star and source of truth. Together with this being impossible a hundred times over, even if you went a hundred times further in your diabolical machinations, O Satan, you could not make such an assertion, you could not deceive anyone of sound reason! Only sometimes you trick people by making them look from a great distance, thus making the star appear as small as a fire-fly.
“Thirdly: Also, if the Qur’an is imagined to be man’s word, it necessitates that the hidden reality of a criterion of truth and falsehood, which is miraculous in its exposition, and through the testimony of its fruits, results, and effects, is gilded with the most spiritual and life-giving, the most truthful and happiness-bringing, the most comprehensive and exalted qualities in the world of mankind, is, God forbid, the fabrication of a single unaided and unlearned man’s mind; and that the great geniuses and brilliant scholars who observed that being closely and studied him meticulously at no time
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saw any trace of counterfeit or pretence in him and always found him serious, genuine, and sincere.
“This is completely impossible, an idea so nonsensical as to shame the Devil himself, like dreaming up an utterly impossible situation. For it entails supposing one who throughout his life demonstrated and taught trust, belief, confidence, sincerity, seriousness, and integrity through all his conduct, words, and actions, and raised eminently truthful and sincere followers, and was accepted to possess the highest and most brilliant and elevated virtues to be the most untrustworthy, insincere, and unbelieving. Because in this question there is no point between the two.
“If, to suppose the impossible, the Qur’an was not the Word of God, it would fall as though from the Divine Throne to the ground, it would not remain somewhere between. While being the meeting-point of truths, it would become the source of superstition and myth. And if, God forbid, the one who proclaimed that wonderful decree was not God’s Messenger, it would necessitate his descending from the highest of the high to the lowest of the low, and from the degree of being the source of accomplishments and perfections to the level of being a mine of trickery and intrigue; he could not remain between the two. For one who lies and fabricates in God’s name falls to the very lowest of degrees.
“However impossible it is to permanently see a fly as a peacock, and to all the time see the peacocks’s attributes in the fly, this matter is that impossible. Only someone lacking all intelligence could imagine it to be possible.
“Fourthly: Also, if the Qur’an is imagined to be man’s word, it necessitates fancying that the Qur’an, which is a sacred commander of the community of Muhammad, mankind’s largest and most powerful army, is -God forbid- a powerless, valueless, baseless forgery. Whereas, self-evidently, through its powerful laws, sound principles, and penetrating commands, it has equipped that huge army both materially, and morally and spiritually, has given it an order and regularity and imposed a discipline on it that are such as to conquer both this world and the next, and has instructed the minds, trained the hearts, conquered the spirits, purified the consciences, and employed and utilized the limbs and members of individuals according to the degree of each. To imagine it to be a counterfeit necessitates accepting a hundredfold impossibility.
“This impossibility entails the further complete impossibility of supposing that one who, through his deliberate conduct throughout his life taught mankind Almighty God’s laws, and through his honest behaviour instructed man in the principles of truth, and through his sincere and reasonable words showed and established the straight way of moderation and happiness, and as all his life testifies, felt great fear of Divine punishment and knew God
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better than anyone else and made Him known, and in splendid fashion has for one thousand three hundred and fifty years commanded a fifth of mankind and half the globe, and through his qualities of renown is in truth the means of pride of mankind, indeed, of the universe, God forbid a hundred thousand times, neither feared God, nor knew Him, nor held back from lying, nor had any self-respect. Because in this matter there is no point between the two. For if, to suppose the impossible, the Qur’an is not the Word of God, if it falls from the Divine Throne to the ground, it cannot remain somewhere in between the two. Indeed, it then has to be accepted as the property of the very worst of liars. And as for this, O Satan, even if you were a hundred times more satanic, you could not deceive any mind that was not unsound, nor persuade any heart that was not corrupted.”
The Devil retorted: “How should I not deceive them? I have deceived most of mankind and their foremost thinkers into denying the Qur’an and Muhammad.”
I replied: “Firstly: When seen from a great distance, the greatest thing appears the same as the smallest. A star may even appear as a candle.
“Secondly: Also, when seen both as secondary and superficially, something which is completely impossible may appear to be possible.
“One time an old man as watching the sky in order to see the new moon of Ramadan when a white hair fell on his eye. Imagining it to be the moon, he announced: ‘I have seen the new moon.’ Now, it is impossible that the white hair should have been the moon, but because his intention was to look for just the moon and the hair was by the way and secondary, he paid it no attention and thought that impossibility was possible.
“Thirdly: Also, non-acceptance is one thing and denial is something quite different. Non-acceptance is indifference, a closing of the eyes to something, an ignorant absence of judgement. Many completely impossible things may be concealed within it, and the mind does not concern itself with them. As for denial, it is not non-acceptance, but an acceptance of non-existence; it is a judgement. The mind is compelled to work. So a devil like you takes hold of the mind of a person, then leads it to denial. And, showing the false as truth and the impossible as possible through satanic wiles like heedlessness, misguidance, fallacious reasoning, obstinacy, false arguments, pride, deception, and habit, you make those unfortunate creatures in human form swallow unbelief and denial, although they comprise innumerable impossibilities.
“Fourthly: Also, if the Qur’an is supposed to be the word of man, it necessitates imagining to be its opposite a book which has self-evidently guided the purified, veracious saints and spiritual poles, who shine like stars in the heavens of the world of mankind, has continuously instructed every level of the people of perfection in truth and justice, veracity and fidelity,
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faith and trustworthiness, and has ensured the happiness of the two worlds through the truths of the pillars of belief and the principles of the pillars of Islam, and through the testimony of these achievements is of necessity veracious, and pure, genuine truth, and absolutely right, and most serious - it necessitates imagining, God forbid, that this Book comprises the opposites of these qualities, effects, and lights. And that, regarding it as a collection of fabrications and lies, it is a frenzy of unbelief that would shame even the Sophists and the devils, and cause them to tremble.
“And this impossibility necessitates the further most ugly and abhorrent impossibility that One who, according to the testimony of the religion and Shari’a of Islam which he proclaimed, and the unanimous indications to the extraordinary fear of God and pure and sincere worship which he demonstrated throughout his life, and as necessitated by the good moral qualities unanimously witnessed in him, and according to the affirmation of the people of truth and perfection whom he reared, was the most believing, the most steadfast, the most trustworthy, and the most truthful, was -God forbid, and again, God forbid- without belief, that he was most untrustworthy, did not fear God, nor shrink from lying. To imagine this necessitates imagining the most loathsome form of impossibility and perpetrating the most iniquitous and vicious sort of misguidance.
“In Short: As is stated in the Eighteenth Sign of the Nineteenth Letter, the common people, whose understanding of the Qur’an is gained by listening to it, say, ‘Were the Qur’an to be compared with all the books I have listened to and the other books in the world, it would not resemble any of them; it is not of the same sort as them nor or the same degree.’ The Qur’an, then, is of a degree either above all of them or below all of them. To be below them is impossible, and no enemy nor the Devil even could accept it. In which case, the Qur’an is above all other books, and is therefore a miracle. In just the same way, we say according to the categorical proof called ‘residue’, taken from the sciences of method and logic:
“O Satan and O disciples of Satan! The Qur’an is either the Word of God come from the Supreme Throne of God and His Greatest Name, or, God forbid, and again, God forbid, it is a human forgery fabricated on earth by someone without belief who neither feared God nor knew Him. In the face of the above proofs, O Satan, you can neither say that, nor could you have said it, nor will you be able to say it in the future. Therefore, the Qur’an is the Word of the Creator of the universe. Because there is no point between the two; it is impossible and precluded that there should be. Just as we have proved in the most clear and decisive manner; and you have seen it and heard it.
“In the same way, Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) is either God’s Messenger and the highest of the prophets and the most superior
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of creatures, or, God forbid, he has to be imagined to be someone without belief having fallen to the lowest of the low because he lied concerning God, and did not know God, and did not believe in His punishment.11 And as for this, O Devil, neither you nor the philosophers of Europe and hypocrites of Asia on whom you rely could say it, nor could you say it in the past, neither shall you be able to say it in the future, for there is no one in the world who would listen to it and accept it. It is because of this that the most corrupting of those philosophers and the most lacking in conscience of the hypocrites, even, admit that ‘Muhammad the Arabian (PBUH) was very clever, and was most moral and upright.’
“Since this matter is restricted to these two sides, and the second one is impossible and no one at all claims it to be true, and since we have proved with decisive arguments that there is no point between them, for sure and of necessity, in spite of you and your party, Muhammad the Arabian (Peace and blessings be upon him) was God’s Messenger, and the highest of the prophets and the best of all creatures.”
Upon him be blessings and peace to the number of angels and jinn and men.
11. Relying on the fact that the Qur’an mentions the blasphemies and obscenities of the unbelievers, in order to refute them, trembling, I too have been compelled to use these expressions in the form of impossibilities in order to demonstrate the total impossibility and complete worthlessness of the blasphemous ideas of the people of misguidance.
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A SECOND, SMALL OBJECTION OF SATAN
Not a word does he utter but there is a sentinel by him, ready [to note it]. * And the stupor of death will bring the truth [before his eyes]: “This was the thing you were trying to escape!” * And the Trumpet shall be blown: that will be the Day whereof warning [had been given]. * And there will come forth every soul: with each will be [an angel] to drive, and [an angel] to bear witness. * “You were heedless of this; now have We removed your veil. And sharp is your sight this Day!” * And his companion will say: “Here is [his record] ready with me!“ * “Throw, throw into Hell every contumacious rejecter!”12
One time while reading these verses from Sura Qaf, the Devil said to me: “You consider the most important aspects of the Qur’an’s eloquence to lie in its clarity and fluency of style. But in this verse it jumps from one subject to another. It jumps from death agonies to the resurrection of the dead, from the blowing of the trumpet to the Last Judgement, and from that to the entry into Hell of the unbelievers. What fluency of style remains with this extraordinary switching about? In most places in the Qur’an, it brings together subjects that bear little relation to each other like this. Where is its eloquence and smoothness with such discontinuity?”
I answered as follows:
“After its eloquence, one of the most important elements of the miraculousness of the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition is its conciseness. Conciseness is one of the strongest and most important elements of the Qur’an’s miraculousness. Instances of this miraculous conciseness of the Qur’an are so numerous and beautiful that exacting scholars are left in wonder at it. For example:
Then the word went forth: “O earth! swallow up your water, and O sky! withhold [your rain]!“ And the water abated, and matter was ended. The ark rested on Mount Judi, and the word went forth: “Away with those who do wrong!”13
12. Qur’an, 50:18-24.
13. Qur’an, 11:44.
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“It describes the Great Flood and its consequences so concisely and miraculously in a few short sentences that it has caused many scholars of rhetoric to prostrate before its eloquence. And, for example:
The Thamud rejected [their prophet] through their inordinate wrongdoing. * Behold, the most wicked man among them was deputed [for impiety]. * But the apostle of God said to them: “It is a she-camel of God. And [bar her not from] having her drink!” * Then they rejected him, and they hamstrung her. So their Lord, on account of their crime, obliterated their traces and made them equal [in destruction, high and low]! * And for Him is no fear of its consequences.14
“In these few short sentences and with a miraculousness within the conciseness, fluency, and clarity, and in a way that does not spoil the understanding, the Qur’an relates the strange and momentous events concerning the Thamud people, together with the consequences and their calamitous end. And for example:
And remember Zun-Nun, when he departed in wrath: he imagined that We had no power over him. But he cried through the depths of darkness: “There is no god but You; glory be unto You; I was indeed among the wrongdoers.”15
“Here, many sentences have be ‘rolled up’ between the words ‘that We had no power over him’ and ‘but he cried out in the depths of the darkness,’ but these omitted sentences neither spoil the understanding, nor mar the fluency of the style. It mentions the most important elements in the story of Jonah (Peace be upon him), and refers the rest to the intelligence.
“And for example, in Sura Yusuf, the seven or eight sentences between the words “Send me” and “Joseph, O man of truth!”16 have been skipped in conciseness. It neither impairs the understanding, nor mars the smoothness of the style. There are a great many instances of this sort of miraculous conciseness in the Qur’an, and they are very beautiful indeed.
“However, the conciseness of the verses from Sura Qaf are particularly wonderful and miraculous. For they each point out the truly dreadful future of the unbelievers when each endless day will last fifty thousand years, and the grievous, dire things that will happen to them in the awesome revolutions of the future. It conveys the mind over them like lightning, presenting that long, long period of time to the mind’s eye as a single present page. Referring the events which are not mentioned to the imagination, it describes them with a most elevated fluency and smoothness of style.
14. Qur’an, 91:11-15.
15. Qur’an, 21:87.
16. Qur’an, 12:45-6.
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When the Qur’an is read, listen to it with attention, and hold your peace: that you may receive mercy.17
“And now if you have anything to say, O Satan, say it!”
Satan replied: “I cannot oppose what you say, nor defend myself. But there are many foolish people who listen to me; and many devils in human form who assist me; and many pharaohs among philosophers who learn things from me which flatter their egos, and prevent the publication of works like yours. Therefore I shall not lay down my arms before you.”
17. Qur’an, 7:204.
continue to Part 02