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The Sixteenth Word
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Indeed, His command when He wills a thing is, “Be!”, and it is. * So glory be unto Him in Whose hand is the dominion of all things, and to Him will you all be brought back.1
[This Word was written to afford insight and understanding to my blind soul by pointing out four Rays from the light of the above verse - to dispel the darkness and afford me certainty.]
O my ignorant soul! You say, “The Oneness of the Divine Essence together with the universality of the Divine acts, the Unity of Almighty God’s person together with His unassisted comprehensive dominicality, His Singleness together with His unshared all-embracing disposal, His being beyond space and yet present everywhere, His infinite exaltedness together with being close to all things, and His being One and yet Himself holding all matters in His hand, are among the truths of the Qur’an. Yet the Qur’an is All-Wise, and that which is Wise does not impose on the reason things which are unreasonable. And the reason sees an apparent contradiction between these things. I would like an explanation of them which will impel the reason to submit.”
The Answer: Since that is the way it is and you want to be certain and reassured, relying on the effulgence of the Qur’an, we say: the Divine Name of Light has solved many of my difficulties. God willing, it will solve this one too. Choosing the way of comparison, which brings clarity to the mind and luminosity to the heart, like Imam-i Rabbani, we say:
I am neither the night nor a lover of the night;
I am a servant of the Sun; it is of the Sun that I speak.
Since comparison is a most brilliant mirror to the Qur’an’s miraculousness, we too shall look at this mystery by means of a comparison. It is as follows:
1. Qur’an, 36:82-3.
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A single person may gain universality by means of various mirrors. While being a single individual, he becomes like a universal possessing general qualities. For example, while the sun is a single individual, by means of transparent objects, it becomes so universal it fills the face of the earth with its images and reflections. It even has as many manifestations as the number of droplets and shining motes. Although the sun’s heat, light, and the seven colours in its light comprehend, encompass, and embrace all the things which confront them, all transparent things also hold in the pupils of their eyes the sun’s heat, and its light and seven colours, together with its image. And they make a throne for them in their hearts. That is to say, with regard to Unity, the sun encompasses all the things which confront it, while with regard to Oneness, the sun is present together with many of its attributes in everything through a sort of manifestation of its essence. Since we have passed from the comparison to a discussion of representation, we shall indicate three of the many sorts of representation which will be a means to understanding this matter.
The First: This is the reflection of dense, physical objects. These reflections are both other than the thing reflected; they are not the same, and they are dead, without life. They possess no quality other than their apparent identity. For example, if you enter a store full of mirrors, one Said will become thousands of Said’s, but the only living one is you, all the others are dead. They possess none of the characteristics of life.
The Second: This is the reflection of physical luminous objects. This reflection is not the same as the thing reflected, but neither is it other than it. It does not hold the luminous object’s nature, but it possesses most of its characteristics, and may be considered as living. For example, the sun entered the world and displayed its reflection in all mirrors. Present in each of the reflections are light and the seven colours in light, which are like the sun’s qualities. Let us suppose the sun possessed consciousness, and its heat was pure power; its light, pure knowledge; and its seven colours, the seven attributes: the single sun would be present in all mirrors at one moment, and would be able to make each a throne for itself and a sort of telephone. One mirror would not be an obstacle to another. It would be able to meet with all of us by means of our mirrors. While we are distant from it, it would be closer to us than ourselves.
The Third: This is the reflection of luminous spirits. This reflection is both living, and the same as the spirits. But since it appears in relation to the capacity of the mirrors, it does not hold completely the spirit’s essence and nature. For example, at the moment the Angel Gabriel (Peace be upon him) is in the presence of the Prophet in the form of Dihya, he is prostrating with his magnificent wings in the Divine Presence before the Sublime Throne. And at the same moment he is present in innumerable places, and is relaying
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the Divine commands. One task is not an obstacle to another. Thus, it is through this mystery that the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him), whose essence is light and nature, luminous, in this world hears at the same time all the benedictions recited for him by all his community, and at the resurrection will meet with all the purified at the same time. One will not be an obstacle to another. In fact, some of the saints who have acquired a high degree of luminosity and are called ‘substitutes’ (abdal) have been observed in many places at the same time, and the same person has performed numerous different acts at the same time.
Indeed, just as things like glass and water act as mirrors to physical objects, so the air and ether, and certain beings of the World of Similitudes are like mirrors to spirit beings; they become like means of transport and conveyance of the speed of lightning and imagination. The spirit beings travel in those pure mirrors and subtle dwellings with speed of imagination. They enter thousands of places at the same time. Despite being restricted particulars, through the mystery of luminosity impotent and subjugated creatures like the sun and semi-luminous beings restricted by matter like spirit beings may be present in numerous places while being in one place, thus becoming like absolute universals, and with a limited power of choice being able to perform many matters simultaneously.
Thus, what thing may hide itself from address of Oneness which is within the manifestation of the attributes and acts of the Most Pure and Holy One through His universal will, absolute power, and all-encompassing knowledge? The Most Holy One, Who is far beyond and exalted above matter; free and exempt from any restriction or limitation and the darkness of density; of the sacred lights of Whose Names all these lights and luminous beings are but dense shadows; and of Whose beauty all existence and all life and the World of Spirits and the World of Similitudes are semi-transparent mirrors; Whose attributes are all-encompassing and Whose qualities, universal? What matter could be difficult for Him? What thing can be concealed from Him? What individual can be distant from Him? What person can draw close to Him without acquiring universality?
Although by means of its unrestricted light and immaterial reflection, the sun is closer to you than the pupil of your eye, since you are restricted, you are truly distant from it. In order to draw close to it, you have to transcend numerous restrictions and pass over many universal degrees. Simply, in effect you have to expand to the size of the earth and rise as far as the moon, then you may be able to approach directly to a degree the sun’s essential level, and meet with it without veil. In just the same way, the Glorious One of Beauty and Beauteous One of Perfection is infinitely close to you, and you are infinitely distant from Him. If your heart has strength, and your mind, eminence, try to put the points in the comparison into practice...
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O my senseless soul! You say that verses like,
Indeed, His command when He wills a thing is, “Be!”, and it is,2
It will be no more than a single blast, when lo! they will all be brought up before Us!3
show that the existence of things is instantaneous and merely through a command, and that verses like,
[Such is] the artistry of God, Who disposes of all things in perfect order,4
Who has created everything in the best way5
show that existence of things is gradual, through a vast power within knowledge, and a fine art within wisdom. What is the point of agreement between them?
The Answer: Relying on the effulgence of the Qur’an, we say:
Firstly: There is no contradiction. Some are like the former, like primary creation. And some are like the latter, like the repetition of creation...
Secondly: The infinite order and extreme skill, fine art, and perfect creation together with the ease, speed, multiplicity, and
extensiveness which are observed in beings testify decisively to the existence of the truths of these two sorts of verses. Since this is so, proving it to be true outside this and making that the point of discussion, is unnecessary. It should rather be asked: “What is the wisdom in them? What is their meaning and purpose?” Thus, we shall point to this wisdom with an analogy in the form of a comparison.
For example, a craftsman like a tailor creates something artistic with much difficulty and employing many skills, and makes a
model for it. Then he can make others similar to it quickly and without difficulty. Sometimes, even, it becomes so easy they are as though made at a command, and they acquire a powerful order in that way; like a clock, they function and work as though at
the touch of a command.
In just the same way, after making this palace of the world and all its contents originally, the All-Wise Maker and All-Knowing Inscriber gave everything, particular and universal, the whole and the parts, a specified measure
2. Qur’an, 36:82.
3. Qur’an, 36:53.
4. Qur’an, 27:88.
5. Qur’an, 32:7.
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and proportion through an ordering of Divine Determining, like a model. So, look! Making every century a model, the Pre-Eternal Inscriber clothes them with bejewelled new worlds through the miracles of His power. And making every year a scale, He sews skilfully fashioned new universes through the wonders of His mercy according to their stature. And making every day a line, He writes the decorated, constantly renewed beings in them through the subtleties of His wisdom.
Furthermore, just as that Absolutely Powerful One makes each century, each year, and each day a model, so He makes the face of the earth, and the mountains and plains, gardens and orchards, and trees each a model. He continuously sets up new universes on the earth and creates new worlds. He removes one world and replaces it with another, well-ordered world. Season after season He displays the miracles of His power and gifts of His mercy in all the gardens and orchards. He writes them all as wisdom-displaying books, establishes them as kitchens of His mercy, and clothes them in ever-renewed garments full of art. Every spring He arrays all trees in raiments of brocade and adorns them with fresh jewels like pearls. He fills their hands with the star-like gifts of His mercy.
Thus, the One Who performs these matters with infinitely fine art and perfect order and changes with infinite wisdom, bounty, and perfection of power and art the travelling worlds which follow on one after the other and are attached to the string of time, is certainly All-Powerful and All-Wise. He is All-Seeing and All-Knowing to an infinite degree. Chance cannot interfere in His works. He is the All-Glorious One Who decrees,
Indeed, His command when He wills a thing is, “Be!”, and it is,6
And the decision of the Hour is as the twinkling of an eye, or even closer,7
and both proclaims the perfection of His power, and that in relation to His power the resurrection and Great Gathering are most easy and free of trouble. Since His creational command comprises power and will, and all things are entirely subjugated and obedient to His command, and He creates with no difficulty or hindrance, in order to express the absolute ease in His creating, the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition decrees that He does this through a mere command.
To Conclude: Some verses proclaim the extremely fine art and infinite perfection of wisdom in beings, especially at the start of their creation. While others describe the extreme ease and speed and infinite obedience and lack of difficulty in the recreation and return of things in particular.
6. Qur’an, 36:82.
7. Qur’an, 16:77.
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O my soul full of doubts and evil suggestions and exceeding its bounds! You say that verses like,
There is not a moving thing, but He has grasp of its forelock,8
In Whose hand is the dominion of all things,9
And We are closer to him than his jugular vein,10
show that God is infinitely close to us. And yet, the verses,
And to Him shall you return.11
The angels ascend to Him in a day the measure of which is fifty thousand years,12
and, the Hadith which says: “God is beyond seventy thousand veils,”13 and truths like the Prophet’s Ascension show that we are infinitely
distant from Him. I would like an explanation which will bring this profound mystery closer to the understanding.,
The Answer: Then listen to the following:
Firstly: At the end of the First Ray we said that although with regard to its unrestricted light and immaterial reflection, the sun is closer to you
than the pupil of your eye, which is the window of your spirit and its mirror, since you are restricted and imprisoned in materiality, you are extremely distant from it. You can make contact with it only through some of its reflections and shadows, and meet with it through a sort of its minor and particular manifestations, and draw close to its colours, which are like a category of attribute, and to its rays and manifestations, which are like a class of its names. If you want to approach the sun’s essential level and meet with the sun’s essence directly in person, then you have to transcend very many restrictions and traverse very many levels of universality. Simply, after abstracting yourself from materiality, becoming enlarged to the extent of the earth, expanding in the spirit like the air, rising as far as the moon and resembling the full-moon, only then can you claim to meet with it in person without veil and to draw close to it to any degree.
In just the same way, the All-Glorious One of Perfection, the Peerless One of Beauty, the Necessarily Existent One, the Giver of Existence to All
8. Qur’an, 11:56.
9. Qur’an, 36:83.
10. Qur’an, 50:16.
11. Qur’an, 36:83.
12. Qur’an, 70:4.
13. al-Ghazali, Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din, i, 101; Musnad, iv, 401, 405.
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Beings, the Eternal Sun, the Monarch of Pre-Eternity and Post-Eternity, is closer to you than yourself. Yet you are infinitely distant from Him. If you have the power, put the fine points in the comparison into practice...
Secondly: For example, And God’s is the highest similitude, among many names, a king’s name of ‘Commander’ appears in many spheres, one within the other. It has a manifestation and appearance in spheres extensive and narrow, universal and particular, from the universal sphere of Commander-in-Chief, to those of Field Marshal and General, then those of captain and corporal. Now, in his military duties, a private soldier holds as his authority the minor point of commandership manifest in the rank of corporal; he is in touch with and connected to the Commander-in-Chief through this minor manifestation of his name. If he wishes to get in touch with him through his essential name and meet with him through that title, he will have to rise from the corporalship to the universal rank of Commander-in-Chief. That is to say, the king is extremely close to the soldier through his name, decree, law and knowledge, his telephone and regulations, and if he is luminous like a saint who is an abdal, with his presence in person. Nothing at all can be an obstacle or obstruction for him. Whereas the soldier is extremely distant. Thousands of degrees form obstructions, and thousands of veils intervene. But sometimes the king is compassionate, and contrary to his practice, receives a soldier into his presence and favours him with his grace.
In just the same way, although the All-Glorious One, the Lord of the command of, “Be!”, and it is, for Whom the suns and stars are like His soldiers under orders, is closer to all things than they themselves, all things are infinitely distant from Him. If you want to enter the presence of His grandeur without veil, you have to pass through seventy thousands of veils of darkness and light, that is, material and physical veils and the veils of the Divine Names and attributes, rise through the thousands of particular and universal degrees of manifestation of each Name, pass on through the most elevated levels of His attributes, and ascend as far as the Sublime Throne, which manifests His Greatest Name, and if you are not the object of favour and attraction, work and journey spiritually for thousands of years. For example, if you want to draw close to Him through His Name of Creator, you have to have a relationship through the particularities of your own Creator, then in regard to the Creator of all mankind, then through the title of Creator of all living creatures, then through the Name of Creator of all beings. Otherwise you will remain in shadow and only find a minor manifestation.
A REMINDER: Because of his impotence, the king in the comparison put means like Field Marshal and General in the degrees of his names. But the Absolutely Powerful One, in Whose hand is the dominion of all things, has no need of intermediaries. Intermediaries are only apparent; a veil to His dignity and grandeur. They are heralds and observers of the sovereignty of His dominicality within worship, awe, impotence, and want. They are not His assistants, and cannot be partners in the sovereignty of His dominicality.
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O my lazy soul! Like the soldier in the previous comparison was received into the royal presence as a pure favour, the reality of the five daily prayers, which are like a sort of Ascension, are a being received into the presence of the All-Glorious One of Beauty, the Beauteous One of Glory, Who is the True Object of Worship, as an instance of pure mercy. Declaring “God is Most Great!”, it is to traverse the two worlds either in fact, or in the imagination, or by intention, be divested of the restrictions of materiality, pass to a universal degree of worship or a shadow or form of universality, and being honoured with a sort of presence, it is to manifest the address of “You alone do we worship!” (everyone according to his own capacity); it is a most elevated attainment. The repetition of “God is Most Great! God is Most Great!” in the actions of the prayers indicates rising through the degrees of spiritual progress, and ascending from minor particulars to universal spheres, and is a concise title of the perfections of Divine sublimity which are beyond our knowledge. It is as if each “God is Most Great!” indicates traversing a step in the Ascension. To attain to a shadow or a ray of this reality of the prayers either in fact, or by intention, or with the imagination, is a great happiness.
The frequent declaring of “God is Most Great!” during the Hajj is for the above reason. For the blessed Hajj is worship at a universal level for everyone. Just as on a special day like a festival a soldier goes to the king’s celebrations like a General in the sphere of General, and receives his favours, in the same way, a Hajji, no matter how lowly, is turned towards his Sustainer under the title Mighty Sustainer of every region of the earth, like a saint who has traversed all the degrees. He is honoured with universal worship. For sure, the universal degrees of dominicality opened with the key of the Hajj, and the horizons of the tremendousness of Godhead which are visible to his eye through its telescope, and the spheres of worship which gradually unfold to his heart and imagination through its observances, and the heat, wonder, awe, and dread of dominicality caused by the levels of sublimity and last stage of manifestation, can only be quieted by “God is Most Great! God is Most Great!”, and those observed or imagined unfolded degrees can only be proclaimed by it. After the Hajj, this meaning is found in various exalted and universal degrees in the Festival (‘Eid) Prayers, the prayers for rain, and those recited at solar and lunar eclipses, and in prayers performed as a congregation. Thus, the importance of the marks and observances of Islam, also even if of the category of Sunna, lies in this reason.
Glory be unto the One Who has placed His treasuries between the Kaf and the Nun.
So glory be unto Him in Whose hand is the dominion
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of all things, and to Him will you all be brought back.14
Glory be unto You, we have no knowledge save that which You have taught us; indeed You are All-Knowing, All-Wise.15
O our Sustainer! Do not take us to task if we forget or unwittingly do wrong!16 * O our Sustainer! Let not our hearts deviate after You have guided us, and grant us Mercy from Your presence, for You are the Granter of bounties without measure.17
And grant blessings and peace to Your Most Noble Messenger, the manifester of Your Greatest Name, and to his Family, and Companions, and brothers, and followers. Amen. O Most Merciful of the Merciful!
A Short Addendum
The All-Powerful and All-Knowing One, the All-Wise Maker, shows His power and His wisdom and that chance can in no way interfere in His works through the system and order His rules and practices in the universe demonstrate in the form of laws. So too, through exceptions to the laws, the wonders of His practices, superficial changes, differences in individual characteristics, and changes in the times of appearance and descent, He shows His volition, will, choice, that He is the Agent with choice, and that He is under no restrictions whatsoever. Thus, rending the veil of monotony, and proclaiming that everything is in need of Him every moment for everything in every way and is obedient to His dominicality, He dispels heedlessness, and turns the gazes of man and jinn from causes to the Producer of Causes. The statements of the Qur’an look to this principle.
For example, in most places some fruit-bearing trees produce fruit one year, that is, it is given to their hands from the treasury of mercy, and they
14. Qur’an, 36:83.
15. Qur’an, 2:32.
16. Qur’an, 2:286.
17. Qur’an, 3:8.
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offer it. Then the following year while all apparent causes are present, they do not take it and offer it; that is, they do not produce fruit. Also, for example, contrary to other necessities, the times rain falls are so changeable that it has been included among ‘the Five Hidden Things.’18 For the most important position in existence is that of life and mercy. And rain is the source of life and pure mercy. Thus, the water of life and rain of mercy does not enter under a monotonous law, which is a veil and leads to heedlessness, rather, the All-Glorious One, Who is Most Merciful and All-Compassionate, and the Bestower of Bounties and Giver of Life, holds it in His hand directly, without veil, so that the doors of supplication and thanks will all the time be left open. And, for example, the giving of sustenance and determining of particular features are works of special favour, and their occurring in unexpected ways shows in excellent fashion the will and choice of the Sustainer. You may make further comparisons with other Divine acts, like the disposals of the air and weather and the subjugation of the clouds.____________________
18. Bukhari, ii, 41; ix, 142; Ibn Hibban, i, 144.
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The Seventeenth Word
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
That which is on earth We have made as a glittering show for the earth, in order that We may test them, as to which of them are best in conduct * Verily what is on earth We shall make but as dust and dry soil.1 * What is the life of this world but play and amusement?2
[This Word consists of two elevated Stations, and one brilliant Addendum.]
The All-Compassionate Creator, the Munificent Provider, the All-Wise Maker made this world in the form of a festival and celebration for the World of Spirits and spirit beings. Adorning it with the wondrous embroideries of all His Names, He clothes each spirit, great or small, elevated or lowly, in a body decked out with senses, suitable to it and appropriate for benefiting from the innumerable, various good things and bounties in the festival; He gives each a corporeal being and sends it to the spectacle once. And He divides the festival, which is most extensive in regard to both time and space, into centuries, years, seasons, and even days and their parts, and makes them all exalted festivals in the form of parades for all the groups of His creatures with spirits and for His plant and vegetable artefacts. Especially the face of the earth in spring and summer, it is a series of festivals for the groups of small beings so glittering it draws the gazes of the spirit beings and angels and the dwellers of the heavens in the high levels of the world. For those who think and contemplate it is a place for reflection so wonderful, the mind is powerless to describe it. But in the face of the manifestations of the Divine Names of Most Merciful and Giver of Life in this Divine feast and dominical festival, the Names of Subduer and Dealer of Death appear with death and separation. And this is apparently unconformable with the all-embracing mercy of,
My Mercy encompasses all things.3
However, in reality there are several ways in which it is conformable, and one of these is as follows:
After each group of beings has completed its turn in the parade and the
1. Qur’an, 18:7-8.
2. Qur’an, 6:32.
3. Qur’an, 7:156.
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desired results have been obtained from it, in a compassionate way the Most Generous Maker and Compassionate Creator makes most of them feel weariness and disgust with the world, and bestows on them a desire for rest and a longing to migrate to another world. And when they are to be discharged from their duties of life, He awakens in their spirits a compelling desire for their original home.
Moreover, it is not far from the infinite mercy of the Most Merciful that just as He bestows the rank of martyrdom on a soldier who perishes on account of his duty while fighting, and rewards a sheep slaughtered as a sacrifice by giving it an eternal corporeal existence in the hereafter and the rank of being a mount for its owner on the Bridge of Sirat4 like Buraq, so too with other animals and beings with spirits who perish while performing the dominical duties peculiar to their natures and in obeying the Divine commands, and who suffer severe distress, - it is not unlikely that there should be for them in the inexhaustible treasuries of His mercy a sort of spiritual reward and kind of wage suitable to their capacities, and that they should not be unduly troubled at departing this world, indeed, that they should be pleased. None knows the Unseen save God.
However, although man, the noblest of beings with spirits and the one who benefits most from the festivals with regard to both quality and quantity, is captivated by the world and absorbed in it, as a work of mercy, the Most Merciful induces in him a state of mind whereby he feels disgust at the world and a longing to travel to the eternal realm. A person whose humanity is not plunged in misguidance profits from that state of mind, and departs with a tranquil heart. Now, by way of example, we shall explain five of the aspects which produce that state of mind.
• The First: By showing with the season of old age the stamp of transience and decline on the beautiful and inviting things of this world, and their bitter meaning, it makes a person feel disgust at the world and causes him to seek a permanent beloved in place of the transient.
• The Second: Since ninety-nine per cent of all the friends to whom a person is attached have departed this world and settled in another, impelled by his heart-felt love, it bestows on him a longing for the place they have gone to, and makes him meet death and the appointed hour with joy.
• The Third: By means of certain things, it makes a person realize the infinite weakness and impotence in man, and understand how heavy are the burdens of life and responsibilities of living, and awakens in him a serious wish for rest and a sincere desire to go to another world.
• The Fourth: Through the light of belief, it shows to the heart of a believer that death is not execution, but a change of abode; that the grave is not the mouth of a dark well, but the door to light-filled worlds; and that for
4. Ibn Hajar, Talkhis al-Khabir, iv, 138; Suyuti, Jam’ al-Jawami’, No: 3017.
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all its glitter, the world is like a prison in relation to the hereafter. To be released from the prison of this world and enter the gardens of Paradise, and pass from the troublesome turmoil of bodily life to the world of rest and the arena where spirits soar, and to slip free from the vexatious noise of creatures and go to the presence of the Most Merciful is a journey, indeed, a happiness, to be desired with a thousand lives.
• The Fifth: By informing a person who heeds the Qur’an about the knowledge of reality it contains, and through the light of reality the world’s true nature, it makes him realize that love for the world and attachment to it are quite meaningless. That is, it says the following to man, and proves it:
“The world is a book of the Eternally Besought One. Its letters and words point not to themselves but to the essence, attributes and Names of another. In which case, learn its meaning and grasp it, but ignore its decorations, then go!
“The world is also a tillage; sow and reap your crop, and preserve it. Throw away the chaff, and give it no importance!...
“The world is also a collection of mirrors which continuously pass on one after the other; so know the One Who is manifest in them, see His lights, understand the manifestations of the Names which appear in them and love the One they signify. Cease your attachment for the fragments of glass which are doomed to be broken and perish!...
“The world is also a travelling place of trade. So do your commerce and come; do not chase in vain the caravans which flee from you and pay you no attention. Do not weary yourself for nothing!...
“The world is also a temporary exhibition. So look at it and take lessons. Pay attention, not to its apparent, ugly face, but to its hidden, beautiful face which looks to the Eternal All-Beauteous One. Go for a pleasant and beneficial promenade, then return, and do not weep like a silly child at the disappearance of scenes displaying fine views and showing beautiful things, and do not be anxious!...
“The world is also a guest-house. So eat and drink within the limits permitted by the Generous Host Who made it, and offer thanks. Act and behave within the bounds of His law. Then leave it without looking behind you, and go. Do not interfere in it in a delirious or officious manner. Do not busy yourself for nothing with things which part from you and do not concern you. Do not attach yourself to passing things and drown!..”
This Fifth Aspect shows the secrets in the world’s inner face through apparent truths like these, and greatly lightens the parting from it. Indeed, to those who are aware it makes parting desirable for them, and shows that there is a trace of mercy in everything and every aspect of it. The Qur’an indicates these Five Aspects, and its verses point to other particular aspects.
Woe to that person who has no share of these five Aspects!
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The Second Station of the Seventeenth Word 5
Cry not out at misfortune, O wretch, come, trust in God!
For know that crying out compounds the misfortune and is a great error.
* * *
Find misfortune’s Sender, and know it is a gift within gift, and pleasure.
So leave crying out and offer thanks; like the nightingale, smile through your tears!
* * *
If you find Him not, know the world is all pain within pain, transience and loss.
So why lament at a small misfortune while upon you is a worldful of woe?
Come trust in God!
* * *
Trust in God! Laugh in misfortune’s face; it too will laugh.
As it laughs, it will diminish; it will be changed and transformed.
* * *
Know, O arrogant one, happiness in this world is in abandoning it.
To know God is enough. Abandon the world; all things will be for you.
* * *
To be arrogant is total loss; whatever you do, all things will be against you.
So both states demand abandoning the world here.
* * *
Abandoning the world is to regard it as God’s property, with His permission,
in His Name...
If you want to do trade, it lies in making this fleeting life eternal.
* * *
If you seek yourself, it is both rotten and without foundation.
If you seek the world outside, the stamp of ephemerality is upon it.
* * *
That means there is no value in taking it; the goods in this market are all rotten.
So pass on... the sound goods are all lined up beyond it....
5. The pieces in this Second Station resemble poetry, but they are not poetry. They were not put into verse intentionally. They rather took on that form to a degree due to the perfect order of the truths they express.
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A FRUIT OF THE BLACK MULBERRY
[The Old Said spoke this with the tongue of the New Said under the blessed mulberry tree.]
The one I’m addressing isn’t Ziya Pasha, it’s those enamoured of Europe.
The one speaking isn’t my soul, it’s my heart in the name of the students of the Qur’an.
* * *
The previous words are all truth; beware, don’t lose course, don’t exceed their bounds!
Don’t heed the ideas of Europe and deviate, or they’ll make you regret it!
* * *
You see the most enlightened of them, in brilliance their standard-bearer,
Exclaim in bewilderment: Of whom, to whom can I complain?
* * *
The Qur’an says, and I say too - I won’t hold back:
I lodge my complaint with Him. I’m not confused, like you.
* * *
I cry out to the True God; I don’t slip away, like you.
I shout my cause from the ground to the skies; I don’t flee, like you.
* * *
For all the Qur’an’s cause is light upon light; I don’t renege, like you.
In the Qur’an is truth and wisdom; I’ll prove it. I count as nothing hostile philosophy.
* * *
In the Criterion are diamond truths; I take them to myself, not sell them, like you.
I journey from creation to Creator; I don’t lose the way, like you.
* * *
I pass over thorny paths, I don’t tread on them, like you.
From the earth to the Throne, I offer thanks; I don’t neglect it, like you.
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I look on death and the appointed hour as a friend; I am not frightened, like you.
I’ll enter the grave smiling, not trembling, like you.
* * *
I don’t see it as a monster’s mouth, a beast’s lair, descending to nothingness,
I look on death and the appointed hour as a friend; I am not frightened, like you.
I’ll enter the grave smiling, not trembling, like you.
* * *
It’s the door of Mercy, gate of Light, portal of Truth; I am not discomforted by it;
I won’t retreat.
Saying: In the Name of God, I’ll knock on it.6 I’ll not look behind me nor feel terror.
* * *
Saying: All praise be to God!, I’ll lay down and find ease. I’ll suffer no trouble
nor remain solitary.
Saying, God is Most Great!, I’ll hear the Call to the Resurrection and rise up,7
I won’t hang back from the Great Gathering, or the Mighty Mosque.
* * *
I’ll feel no distress, thanks to Divine favour, the Qur’an’s light,
and the effulgence of belief;
Not stopping, I’ll hasten, fly, to the shade of the Most Merciful’s Throne.
God willing, I won’t go astray, like you.
6. I won’t exclaim: “Alas!”, and flee.
7. I’ll hear the Call of Israfil on the dawn of the Resurrection, and declaring, “God is Most Great!”, shall rise up. I won’t hold back from the Great Gathering and Congress of Prayers.
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A SUPPLICATION WHICH OCCURRED
TO ME IN PERSIAN
[This supplication occurred to my heart in Persian, and was therefore written in
that language.8 It was first included in my published work, Hubab.]
O my Sustainer! Heedlessly not trusting in You but in my own power and will, I cast an eye over ‘the six aspects’ searching for a cure for my ills. Alas, I could find no cure for them, and I understood it was being said to me: “Are your ills not sufficient as cure for you?”
In heedlessness I looked to past time on my right to find solace, but I saw that yesterday appeared to be my father’s grave and past time as the huge tomb of all my forbears. It filled me with horror rather than consolation.(*)
(*) Belief shows that horrific vast grave to be a familiar and enlightened meeting and a gathering of friends.
Then I looked to the future on the left, but again I could find no cure. For tomorrow appeared as my grave and the future as the vast tomb of my contemporaries and the forthcoming generations; it afforded not a feeling of familiarity, but one of fright.(*)
(*) Belief and the peace of belief shows that terrible huge grave to be a feast of the Most Merciful in delightful palaces of bliss.
Since no good appeared from the left either, I looked at the present day, and I saw that it resembled a bier; it was bearing my desperately struggling corpse.(*)
(*) Belief shows the bier to be a place of trade and a glittering guest-house.
Thus, I could find no cure from this aspect either, so I raised my head and looked at the top of the tree of my life. But I saw that its single fruit was my corpse; it was looking down on me from the tree-top.(*)
(*) Belief shows the tree’s fruit to be not the corpse, but the worn out home of my spirit, which will manifest eternal life and is destined for everlasting happiness, from which it has departed in order to travel among the stars.
Despairing of that aspect too, I lowered my head. I looked and saw that the dust of my bones underfoot had mixed with the dust of my first creation. It afforded no cure, but added further pain to my ills.(*)
(*) Belief shows the dust to be the door leading to mercy and a curtain before the halls of Paradise.
8. The Supplication is included in the original together with an enlarged Turkish rendering, which is the basis of the translation here. [Tr.]
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I turned away from that too and looked behind me, where I saw a transient world without foundation revolving and departing in the valleys of nothingness and the darkness of non-existence. It was no salve for my ills, it rather added the poison of horror and fright.(*)
(*) Belief shows the world revolving in darkness to consist of missives of the Eternally Besought One and pages of Divine inscriptions, which, having completed their duties and expressed their meanings, have left their results in existence in their place.
Since I could see no good in that either, I switched my gaze to before me. I saw that the door of the grave stood open at the end of my road. The highway leading to eternity beyond it, struck my gaze from afar.(*)
(*) Since belief shows the door of the grave to open onto the world of light and the road to lead to eternal happiness, it was both a salve for my ills, and a cure.
Thus, rather than receiving consolation and a feeling of familiarity, I felt only horror and fear at these six aspects. And apart from the faculty of will I had nothing in my hand with which to withstand them and act in the face of them.(*)
(*) Belief gives a document for relying on an infinite power in place of the power of choice, which is like the smallest indivisible particle; indeed, belief itself is a document.
But the human weapon called the faculty of will both lacks power and its range is short. And it is inaccurate. It cannot create, and apart from ‘acquiring,’ can do nothing.(*)
(*) Belief causes the faculty of will to be employed in God’s name, and makes it sufficient before everything it may face. Like when a soldier employs his insignificant strength on account of the state, he can perform deeds thousands of times greater than his own strength...
It can neither penetrate the past nor discern the future, and in regard to my hopes and fears concerning these, was of no benefit.(*)
(*) Belief takes its reins from the hand of the animal body and hands them over to the heart and the spirit, and may therefore penetrate the past and the future. For the sphere of life of the heart and spirit is broad.
The arena of the faculty of will is brief present time and the passing present instant.
Thus, despite all my needs and weakness, want and poverty, and my wretched state induced by the horrors and terrors arising from the six aspects, clearly written on the page of my being by the pen of power, and included in my nature, were desires stretching to eternity and hopes spreading through eternity.
Indeed, whatever there is in the world, there are samples of it in my being. I am connected to everything. It is for them that I am caused to work.
The sphere of need stretches as far as the eye can see.
In fact, wherever the imagination goes, the sphere of need extends that far. There is need there too. Whatever man lacks, he is in need of. That
The Words / Seventeenth Word - Second Station - p.227
which he does not have, he needs. And what he lacks is endless.
But then the extent of his power extends only as far as his short arm reaches. That means my want and needs are as great as the world. Whereas my capital is as infinitesimal as an indivisible particle.
So, of what use is the faculty of will, worth twopence in relation to my needs which encompass the world and can only be obtained for millions of liras? They cannot be bought with it, and cannot be gained by it. In which case, one has to search for another solution.
The solution is this: to forego one’s own will and leave matters to the Divine will; to give up one’s own power and strength, and seeking refuge in the power and strength of Almighty God, to adhere to true reliance on Him.
“O my Sustainer! Since the way to be saved is this, I forego my own will in Your way, and I give up my egotism. Then Your grace may take me by the hand out of compassion for my impotence and weakness, and Your mercy may take pity on my need and indigence and be a support for me, and open its door for me.”
Yes, whoever finds the boundless sea of mercy, surely does not rely on his own mirage-like will and choice, which is like a mirage; he does not abandon mercy and have recourse to his will.
Alas! We have been deceived. We supposed the life of this world to be constant, and so have lost everything. Yes, this passing life is but a sleep; it passes like a dream. This frail life flies like the wind, and departs.
Arrogant man, who relies on himself and supposes he will live for ever, is doomed to die. He passes swiftly. The world, too, man’s house, tumbles into the darkness of non-existence. Hopes do not last, while pains endure in the spirit.
Since the reality is this, come, my wretched soul, which yearns for life, is enamoured of the world and afflicted with endless hopes and pains! Awake and come to your senses! As the fire-fly relies on its own miniscule light and remains in the boundless darkness of the night, and since it does not rely on itself, the honey-bee finds the sun of daytime, and observes all its friends, the flowers, gilded with the sunlight; if you rely on yourself and your being and your ego, you will resemble the fire-fly. Whereas if you sacrifice your transient being in the way of the Creator Who gave it to you, you will find an unending light of existence. So sacrifice it! For your being is a trust given to you for safekeeping.
Moreover, it is His property, and it is He Who bestowed it. So do not scorn it, sacrifice it unhesitatingly. Sacrifice it so that it will be made permanent. For negation of a negation is an affirmation. That is, if non-being is not, there is being. If non-being is negated, existence comes into being.
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The All-Generous Creator buys His own property from you, and gives you the high price of Paradise in return. Also, He looks after that property well for you, and increases its value. And He will return it to you in both enduring and perfect form. O my soul! Do not delay! Do this trade which is profitable in five respects, and be saved from five losses; make a fivefold profit all at once!
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
But when it set, he said: “I love not those that set.“9
It made me weep, the verse I love not those that set, which was uttered by Abraham (Peace be upon him), and announces the universe’s passing and death.
The eyes of my heart wept at it, pouring out bitter tear-drops. Each tear-drop was sorely sad as the eyes of my heart wept. The verse causes others to weep, and as though weeps itself. The following lines in Persian are my tear-drops, they are a sort of commentary of some words present within the Divine Word of God’s Wise One, the Prophet Muhammad.
A beloved who is hidden through setting is not beautiful, for those doomed to decline cannot be truly beautiful. They may not loved with the heart, which is created for eternal love and is the mirror of the Eternally Besought One, and should not be loved with it.
A desired one who is doomed to be lost on setting; such a one is not worthy of the heart’s attachment, the mind’s preoccupation. He may not be the object of desires. He is not worthy of being regretted with the sorrow and grief that follows. So why should the heart worship such a one and be bound to him?
One sought who is lost in ephemerality; I do not want such a one. For I am ephemeral, I do not want one who is thus. What should I do?
A worshipped one who is buried in death; I shall not call him, I shall not seek refuge with him. For I am infinitely needy and impotent. One who is impotent can find no cure for my boundless ills. He can spread no salve on my eternal wounds. How can one who cannot save himself from death be an object of worship?
9. Qur’an, 6:76.
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Indeed, the reason, which is obsessed with externals, cries out despairingly at seeing the deaths of the things it worships in the universe, and the spirit, which seeks for an eternal beloved, utters the cry: I love not those that set.
I do not want separation, I do not desire separation, I cannot abide separation...
Meetings followed immediately by separation are not worth sorrow and grief, they are not worthy of being longed for. For just as the passing of pleasure is pain, imagining the passing of pleasure is also a pain. The works of all the metaphorical lovers, that is, the works of poetry on love, are all cries at the pain arising from imagining this passing. If you were to constrain the spirit of all the works of poetry, from each would flow these grievous cries.
Thus, it is due to the pain and tribulations of those meetings stained with transitoriness, those sorrowful, metaphorical loves, that my heart weeps and cries through the weeping of, I love not those that set.
If you want permanence in this transitory world, permanence comes from transitoriness. Find transience with regard to your evil-commanding soul so that you may be enduring.
Divest yourself of bad morals, the basis of the worship of this world. Be transitory! Sacrifice your goods and property in the way of the True Beloved. See the ends of beings, which point to non-existence, for the way leading to permanence in this world starts from transitoriness.
The human mind, which plunges into causes, is bewildered at the upheavals of the passing of the world, and laments despairingly. While the conscience, which desires true existence, severs the connection with metaphorical beloveds and transient beings through crying like Abraham, I love not those that set, and it binds itself to the Truly Existent One, and Eternal Beloved.
O my ignorant soul! Know that the world and its beings are certainly ephemeral, but you may find a way leading to permanence in each ephemeral thing, and may see two flashes, two mysteries, of the manifestations of the Undying Beloved’s Beauty.
Yes, it is within the bounty that the bestowal is to be seen and the favour of the Most Merciful perceived. If you pass from bounty to bestowal, you will find the Bestower. Also, each work of the Eternally Besought One makes known the All-Glorious Maker’s Names like a missive. If you pass from the decoration to the meaning, you will find the One signified by way of His Names. Since you can find the kernel, the essence, of these ephemeral beings, obtain it. Then without pity you can throw away their meaningless shells and externals onto the flood of ephemerality.
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Among beings there is no work which is not a most meaningful embodied word and does not cause to be read numerous of the Glorious Maker’s Names. Since beings are words, words of power, read their meanings and place them in your heart. Fearlessly cast words without meaning onto the winds of transience. Do not concern yourself looking behind them, needlessly occupying yourself.
Since the chain of thought of the worldly mind, which worships externals and whose capital consists of ‘objective’ knowledge, leads to nothingness and non-existence, it cries out despairingly in its bewilderment and frustration. It seeks a true path leading to reality. Since the spirit has withdrawn from ‘those that set’ and the ephemeral, and the heart has given up its metaphorical beloveds, and the conscience too has turned its face from transitory beings, you too, my wretched soul, attract the assistance of I love not those that set, like Abraham, and be saved.
See how well Mawlana Jami expressed it, whose nature was kneaded with love and who was intoxicated with the cup of love:
Yaki khwah(1) Yaki khwan(2) Yaki ju(3) Yaki bin(4) Yaki dan(5) Yaki gu(6)10
1. Want only One; the rest are not worth wanting.
2. Call One; the others will not come to your assistance.
3. Seek One; the rest are not worth it.
4. See One; the others are not seen all the time; they hide themselves behind the veil of ephemerality.
5. Know One; knowledge other than that which assists knowledge of Him is without benefit.
6. Say One; words not concerning Him may be considered meaningless.
Yes, Jami, you spoke the truth absolutely. The True Beloved, the True Sought One, the True Desired One, the True Object of Worship is He alone...
For, in a mighty circle for the mentioning of the Divine Names, this world together with all its beings and their different tongues and various songs declares, There is no god but God; together they testify to Divine unity. And binding the wound caused by I love not those that set, point to an Undying Beloved in place of all the metaphorical beloveds, attachment to whom has been severed.
10. Only this line is Mawlana Jami’s
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[About twenty-five years ago on Yûsha Tepesi (Mount Joshua) above the Istanbul Bosphorus, at a time I had decided to give up the world, a number of important friends came to me in order to call me back to the world and my former position. I told them to leave me till the following morning so that I could seek guidance. That morning the following two Tables were imparted to my heart. They resemble poetry, but they are not. I have not changed them for the sake of that blessed memory, and they have been kept as they occurred to me. They were added to the Twenty-Third Word, and now have been included here on account of their ‘station’.]
THE FIRST TABLE
[The Table depicting the reality of the world of the heedless.]
Don’t call me to the world; - I came, and saw it was transitory.
Heedlessness was a veil; - I saw the light of truth was concealed.
All the beings in existence, - I saw were ephemeral, harmful.
If you say, being, I dressed in it; - Alas! It was non-being; I suffered much!
If you say, life, I tasted it; - I saw it was torment upon torment.
The mind became pure torture; - I saw permanence to be tribulation.
Life became pure whim; - I saw attainment to be pure loss.
Deeds became pure hypocrisy; - I saw hopes to be pure pain.
Union became parting itself; - I saw the cure to be the ill.
These lights became darkness; - I saw these friends to be orphans.
These voices became announcements
of death; - I saw the living to be dead.
Knowledge was transformed into fancy; - I saw in science a thousand ailments.
Pleasure became pure pain; - I saw existence to be compounded
If you say the Beloved, I found him; - Alas! On separation I suffered
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THE SECOND TABLE
[The Table indicating the reality of the world of the people of guidance, those with easy hearts.]
Then the heedlessness passed, - And I saw the light of truth clearly.
Existence became the proof of God; - See, life is the mirror of God.
The mind became the key to treasuries. - See, transience is the door to permanence.
The spark of perfection died, - But, behold the Sun of Beauty!
Separation became true union; - See, pain is pure pleasure.
Life became pure action; - See, eternity is pure life.
Darkness became the container of light; - See, there is true life in death.
All things became familiar; - See, all sounds are the mentioning of God.
All the atoms in existence - - See, each recites God’s praises
and extols Him.
I found poverty to be a treasury of
wealth; - See, in impotence is perfect strength.
If you find God, - See, all things are yours.
If you are the slave of the Owner of
All Things, - See, His property is yours.
If you are arrogant and claim to
own yourself, - See, it is trial and tribulation without end;
Experience its boundless torment; - See, it is a calamity most crushing.
If you are a true slave of God, - See, it is a limitless pleasure and ease.
Taste its uncountable rewards, - Experience its infinite happiness...
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[Twenty-five years ago in Ramadan after the Afternoon Prayer, I read Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir Geylani’s composition in verse about the Most Beautiful Names. I felt a desire to write a supplication with the Divine Names, and at that time only this much was written. I wanted to write a supplication similar to that of my holy master, but, alas! I have no ability to write poetry and it remained deficient. Nevertheless, the supplication was added to the Thirty-Third Letter of the Thirty-Third Word, known as the Thirty-Three Windows, then was included here on account of its ‘station’.]
He is the Enduring One
The Wise Judge of affairs, we are under His decree;
He is the Just Arbiter; His are the heavens and the earth.
The One Knowing of the secrets and hidden matters in His dominions;
He is the All-Powerful, Self-Subsistent; His is all from the Throne to the ground.
The Perceiver of the fine points and embroideries in His art;
He is the Creator, the Loving One; His is the beauty and the splendour.
The Glorious One Whose attributes are reflected in the mirrors in His creation;
He is the Lord, the Most Holy; His is the might and the grandeur.
The Originator of creatures; we form the embroideries of His art;
He is the Constant, the Enduring One; His is the dominion and eternity.
The Munificent Bestower of gifts; we are the caravan of His guests;
He is the Provider, the Sufficer; His is the praise and laudation.
The Beauteous Granter of gifts; We are the weavings of His knowledge;
He is the Creator, the Faithful; His is the munificence, the giving.
The Hearer of plaints and supplications in His creation;
He is the Merciful, the Healer; His are the thanks and the praise.
The Pardoner of the faults and sins of His servants;
He is the Oft Forgiving, the Compassionate; His is forgiveness and acceptance.
O my soul! Together with my heart, weep and cry, and say:
I am ephemeral; I do not want one such as that.
I am impotent; I do not want one such as that.
I have surrendered my spirit to Most Merciful; I do not want another.
I want one, but I want an eternal friend.
I am a mere speck, but I want an eternal sun.
I am nothing, but nothing, yet I want these beings, all of them.
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A FRUIT OF THE PINE, CEDAR, JUNIPER,
AND BLACK CYPRESS TREES
IN THE UPLANDS OF BARLA
[While being a part of the Eleventh Letter, this has been included here on account of its ‘station’.]
One time during my captivity while gazing at the majestic and wonderful forms of the pine, cedar, and juniper trees on the mountain top, a gentle breeze was blowing. Transforming the scene into a magnificent, delightful, and clamorous display of dancing and a rapturous performance of praise and glorification, the enjoyment of watching it was transformed into instruction for my eyes and wisdom for my ears. I suddenly recalled the Kurdish lines of Ahmad al-Jizri, whose meaning is:
“Everyone has hastened to gaze at You and Your Beauty; they are acting coyly before Your Beauty.”
My heart wept as follows, expressing their instructive meanings. The meaning of the verses in Persian written at Tepelice in the mountains of Barla about the fruit of the pine, cedar, juniper, and black cypress trees is this:
Living creatures have appeared from everywhere on the face of the earth, Your art, to gaze on You.
From above and below they emerge like heralds, and call out.
The herald-like trees take pleasure at the beauty of Your embroideries, and they dance.
They are filled with joy at the perfection of Your art, and utter most beautiful sounds.
It is as if the sweetness of their own voices fills them with joy too, and makes them perform a delicate melody.
In response the trees have started dancing and are seeking ecstasy.
It is through these works of Divine mercy that all the living creatures receive instruction in the glorification and prayer particular to each.
After receiving instruction, on high rocks the trees raise their heads to the Divine Throne.
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Each, like Shahbaz Qalandar,11 stretches out a hundred hands to the Court of God, and assumes an imposing position of worship.
They make their small tassel-like twigs and branches dance, so both they and those that watch them express their fine pleasure and elevated delight.
They give voice as though touching the most sensitive strings and veins of the veils of love: “Ah! It is He!”
From it a meaning such as this comes to mind: they recall both the weeping caused by the pain of the fading of metaphorical loves, and a profoundly sorrowful moaning.
They make heard the melancholy songs of all lovers parted from their beloveds, like Sultan Mahmud.
They seem to have a duty of making the dead hear the pre-eternal songs and sorrowful voices, who no longer hear worldly voices and words.
The spirit understands from this that beings respond with glorification to the manifestation of the Glorious Maker’s Names; they perform a graceful chant.
The heart reads the mystery of Divine unity from these trees, each like an embodied sign, from the elevated word-order of this miraculousness. That is, there is so wonderful an order, art, and wisdom in the manner of their creation, that if all the causes in existence had the power to act and choose, and they gathered together, they could not imitate them.
The soul, on seeing them, sees the whole earth as revolving in a clamorous tumult of separation, and seeks enduring pleasure. It receives the meaning: “You will find it in abandoning worship of this world.”
The mind discovers from the chanting animals and trees and the vociferous plants and air, a most meaningful order of creation, embroidery of wisdom, and treasury of secrets.
The desirous soul receives such pleasure from the murmuring air and whispering leaves that it forgets all metaphorical pleasures, and through abandoning these, which endow it with life, wants to die in the pleasure of reality.
The imagination sees that appointed angels have entered these trees like bodies, from whose branches hang many flutes. It is as though an Eternal Monarch has clothed the angels in the trees for a splendid parade accompanied with the sounds of a thousand flutes. Thus the trees show themselves to be not lifeless, unconscious bodies, but highly conscious and meaningful.
11. Shahbaz Qalandar was a famous hero who through the guidance of Shaykh Geylani took refuge at the Divine Court and rose to the degree of sainthood.
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The flutes are pure and powerful as though issuing from a heavenly, exalted orchestra. The mind does not hear from them the sorrowful plaints of separation, that foremost Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi and all lovers hear, but dominical praise and laudation and grateful thanks offered to the Most Merciful One, the Ever-Living, the Self-Subsistent.
Since the trees have all become bodies, their leaves have become tongues. At the touching of the breeze each recites over and over again: “It is He! It is He!” With the benedictions of their lives they proclaim their Maker to be Ever-Living and Self-Subsistent.
With the tongue of disposition they continuously declare “O God!”, and seek the necessities of their lives from Him, from the treasury of mercy. And through the tongue of their manifesting life from top to bottom, they recite His Name of “O Living One!”
O Ever-Living and Self-Subsistent One! Through the Names of Ever-Living and Self-Subsistent, endow the heart of this wretched one with life, and bestow sound direction on his confused mind. Amen.
<small>The Words / Seventeenth Word - Second Station - p.237
[One time at night in a high spot on ?amdagi (the Pine Mountain) near Barla I was looking at the face of the heavens when the following lines suddenly occurred to me. With the imagination I heard the speaking of the stars through the tongue of disposition, and that is how the lines were written. Since I do not know the rules of versification, they were not written accordingly, but as they occurred to me. The piece is taken from the Fourth Letter, and the last part of the First Stopping Place of the Thirty-Second Word.]
THE UTTERANCE OF THE STARS
Then listen to the stars, listen to their harmonious address!
See what wisdom has emblazed on the decree of its light!
* * *
Altogether they start to speak with the tongue of truth,
They address the majesty of the All-Powerful One of Glory’s sovereignty:
* * *
We are each of us light-scattering proofs of the existence of our Maker;
We are witnesses both to His Unity and His Power;
* * *
We are subtle miracles gilding the face of the skies
For the angels to make excursions on;
* * *
We are the innumerable attentive eyes of the heavens
That watch the earth, that study Paradise;12
* * *
12. That is, since innumerable miracles of power are exhibited on the face of the earth, which is the seedbed and tillage for Paradise, the angels in the world of the heavens gaze on those miracles, those marvels. And like the angels, the stars, which are like the eyes of the heavenly bodies, gaze on the finely fashioned creatures on the earth, and in so doing look at the world of Paradise. At the same time they look on both the earth and Paradise; they observe those fleeting wonders in an enduring form in Paradise. That is to say, there, there are prospects of both worlds.
The Words / Seventeenth Word - Second Station - p.238
We are the innumerable exquisite fruits that the hand of wisdom of the Beauteous One of Glory has fastened
To the celestial portion of the tree of creation, to all the branches of the Milky Way;
* * *
For the inhabitants of the heavens, we are each of us a travelling mosque,
a spinning house, a lofty home,
Each is an illumining lamp, a mighty ship, an aeroplane;
* * *
We are each of us a miracle of power of the All-Powerful One of Perfection, The All-Wise One of Glory;
Each a wonder of His creative art, a rarity of His wisdom, a marvel of
His creation, a world of light;
* * *
We demonstrated to mankind innumerable proofs, we made them hear with these innumerable tongues of ours;
But their accursed unseeing, unbelieving eyes did not see our faces, they did not hear our words; and we are signs that speak the truth;
* * *
Our stamp is one; our seal is one; we are mastered by our Sustainer;
We glorify Him through our subjugation;
We recite His Names; we are each of us in ecstasy, a member of the
mighty circle of the Milky Way.
<big>The Words / Eighteenth Word - p.239
The Eighteenth Word
[This Word consists of two Stations, of which the Second has
not yet been written. There are three Points in the First Station.]
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Think not that those who exult in what they have thus contrived, and who love to be praised for what they have not done - think not that they will escape suffering: for grievous suffering does await them.1
A Chastening Slap for my Evil-Commanding Soul:
O my foolish soul, charmed at glory, enamoured of fame, addicted to praise, and without equal in egotism! If it is a just claim that the source of the fig and its thousands of fruits is its tiny seed, and that all the grapes in their hundred bunches hanging from a dry branch of the vine are produced through the skill of the branch, and that those who benefit from them should praise and esteem the branch and the seed, then perhaps you have the right to be proud and conceited about the bounties with which you are loaded. But in fact you deserve to be constantly chided, because you are not like the seed and the branch: since you have the faculty of will, you reduce the value of those bounties through your pride. Through your conceit, you destroy them; through your ingratitude, you nullify them; through claiming them as your own, you lay hands on them unlawfully. Your duty is not to glory in your deeds, but to offer thanks. What is fit for you is not fame, but humility. Your right is not praise, it is repentance and to seek forgiveness. Your perfection lies not in self-centredness, but in recognizing God.
Yes, you in my body resemble ‘nature’ in the world. Both of you were created to receive good and be the thing to which evil is referred. That is to say, you are not the agent and source, but the recipient and passive. You have only an effect, and that is being the cause of evil because you did not accept as you should have done a good arising from absolute good. Also you
1. Qur’an, 3:188.
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were both created as veils, so that things that are apparently ugly, whose beauty is not obvious, would be attributed to you, and you would be means of the Most Holy Divine Essence being acknowledged free of defect. But you have taken on a form entirely contrary to the duty of your natures. Although out of your incapacity you have transformed good into evil, you as though act as partners to your Creator. That means one who worships himself and worships nature is extremely foolish and perpetrates a great wrong.
And do not say: “I am a place of manifestation, and one who manifests beauty becomes beautiful.” For since you have not assimilated it, you are not a place of manifestation but a place of passage.
And do not say: “Among people I was chosen. These fruits, these fine works, are shown through me. That means I have some merit.” No! God forbid! Rather they were given to you first because you are more bankrupt, needy, and sad than everyone else!2
This Point elucidates one meaning of the verse:
Who has created everything in the best way,3
and is as follows:
In everything, even the things which appear to be the most ugly, there is an aspect of true beauty. Yes, everything in the universe, every event, is either in itself beautiful, which is called ‘essential beauty,’ or it is beautiful in regard to its results, which is called ‘relative beauty.’ There are certain events which are apparently ugly and confused, but beneath that apparent veil, there are most shining instances of beauty and order.
Beneath the veil of stormy rains and muddy soil in the season of spring are hidden the smiles of innumerable beautiful flowers and well-ordered plants. And behind the veils of the harsh destruction and mournful separations of autumn is the discharge from the duties of their lives of the amiable small animals, the friends of the coy flowers, so as to preserve them from the blows and torments of winter events, which are manifestations of Divine might and glory, and under the veil of which the way is paved for the new and beautiful spring.
Beneath the veil of events like storms, earthquakes, and plague, is the unfolding of numerous hidden immaterial flowers. The seeds of many potentialities which have not developed sprout and grow beautiful on account of events which are apparently ugly. As though general upheavals and universal
2. Truly, I was extremely pleased at the New Said silencing his soul to this extent in this dispute, and said, A thousand bravo’s!
3. Qur’an, 32:7.
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change are all immaterial rain. But because man is both enamoured of the apparent and is self-centered, he considers only the externals and pronounces them ugly. Since he is self-centred, he reasons according to the result which looks to himself and judges it to be ugly. Whereas, if, of their aims one looks to man, thousands look to their Maker’s Names.
For example, man reckons to be harmful and meaningless thorned plants and trees, which are among the great miracles of the Creator’s power. Whereas they are the well-equipped heroes of the grasses and trees. And for example, hawks harrying sparrows is apparently incompatible with mercy, but through this harrying, the sparrow’s abilities unfold. And for example, he considers the snow to be very cold and uninviting, but under that chilly, unpleasing veil there are aims so warm and results so sweet they defy description. Also, since man is self-centred and worships the apparent and therefore judges everything according to the face that looks to him, he supposes to contrary to good manners many things that are perfectly polite and correct. For example, in man’s view, the discussion of his sexual organ is shameful. But this veil of shame is in the face which looks to man. Whereas the faces that look to creation, art, and its aims and purposes are veils which if considered with the eye of wisdom, are perfectly correct. Shame does not touch them at all.
Thus, certain expressions of the All-Wise Qur’an, the source of politeness and right conduct, are in accordance with these faces and veils. Beneath the apparent faces of creatures and events which seem to us to be ugly, are extremely fine, wise art and beautiful faces looking to their creation, which look to their Maker; so too there are numerous beautiful veils which conceal their wisdom, and moreover, great numbers of apparent instances of disorder and confusion which are most regular sacred writing.
If you do love God, follow me; God will love you.4
Since in the universe there is observedly beauty of art, and this is certain, it necessitates with a certainty as definite as actually witnessing it the Messengership of Muhammad (PBUH). For the beauty of art and finely ornamented forms of these beautiful creatures shows that their Fashioner possesses a significant will to make beautiful and powerful desire to adorn. And this will and desire shows that the Maker possesses an elevated love and sacred inclination towards the perfections of the art He displays in His creatures. And this love and inclination require to be most turned towards and concentrated on man, the most enlightened and perfect individual among beings. And man is the conscious fruit of the tree of creation. And the fruit
4. Qur’an, 3:31.
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comprehensive and furthest part, the part with the most general view and universal consciousness. And the one with the most comprehensive view and universal consciousness should be the most elevated and brilliant individual, who will meet with and be addressed by that Beauteous Maker; who will expend his universal consciousness and comprehensive view entirely on the worship of his Maker, the appreciation of His art, and offering thanks for His bounties.
Now, two signboards, two spheres appear. One is a magnificent, well-ordered sphere of dominicality and exquisitely fashioned, bejewelled signboard of art. The other is an enlightened and illumined sphere of worship and broad and comprehensive signboard of thought and reflection, admiration, thanks, and belief. This second sphere acts with all its strength in the name of the first sphere.
Thus, it will be clearly understood how closely connected with the Maker is the leader of the second sphere, which serves all the Maker’s art-cherishing aims, and how beloved and acceptable he is in His eyes.
Is it at all reasonable to accept that the munificent Fashioner of these fine creatures, Who so loves His art and even takes into consideration all the tastes of the mouth, would remain indifferent towards His most beautiful creature, who, in a clamour of admiration and appreciation which makes the Throne and earth reverberate and in a litany of thanks and exaltation which brings to ecstasy the land and the sea, is worshipfully turned towards Him? Would He not speak with him and want to make him His Messenger and wish his commendable conduct to pass to others? It is possible that He would not speak with him and not make him His Messenger... By no means!
Verily, the religion before God is Islam.5
Muhammad is the Messenger of God.6
5. Qur’an, 3:19.
6. Qur’an, 48:29.
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The Nineteenth Word
[About the Messengership of Muhammad (PBUH)]
I could not praise Muhammad with my words; rather, my words were made praiseworthy by Muhammad.
Yes, this Word is beautiful, but what makes it so is the most beautiful of all things, the attributes and qualities of Muhammad (PBUH).
Also being the Fourteenth Flash, this Word consists of fourteen ‘Droplets.’
· FIRST DROPLET
There are three great and universal things which make known to us our Sustainer. One is the book of the universe, a jot of whose testimony we have heard from the thirteen Flashes together with the Thirteenth Word of the Risale-i Nur. Another is the Seal of the Prophets (Peace and blessings be upon him), the supreme sign of the book of the universe. The other is the Qur’an of Mighty Stature. Now we must become acquainted with the Seal of the Prophets (PBUH), who is the second and articulate proof, and must listen to him.
Yes, consider the collective personality of this proof: the face of the earth has become his mosque, Mecca, his mihrab, and Medina, his pulpit. Our Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him), this clear proof, is leader of all the believers, preacher to all mankind, the chief of all the prophets, lord of all the saints, the leader of a circle for the remembrance of God comprising all the prophets and saints. He is a luminous tree whose living roots are all the prophets, and fresh fruits are all the saints; whose claims all the prophets relying on their miracles and all the saints relying on their wonder-working confirm and corroborate. For he declares and claims: “There is no god but God!” And all on left and right, that is, those luminous reciters of God’s Names lined up in the past and the future, repeat the same words, and through their consensus in effect declare: “You speak the truth and what you say is right!” What false idea has the power to meddle in a claim which is thus affirmed and corroborated by thousands?
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· SECOND DROPLET
Just as that luminous proof of Divine unity is affirmed by the unanimity and consensus of those two wings, so do hundreds of indications in the revealed scriptures, like the Torah and Bible,1 and the thousands of signs that appeared before the beginning of his mission, and the well-known news given by the voices from the Unseen and the unanimous testimony of the soothsayers, the indications of the thousands of his miracles like the Splitting of the Moon, and the justice of Shari‘a all confirm and corroborate him. So too, in his person, his laudable morals, which were at the summit of perfection; and in his duties, his complete confidence and elevated qualities, which were of the highest excellence, and his extraordinary fear of God, worship, seriousness, and fortitude, which demonstrated the strength of his belief, and his total certainty and his complete steadfastness, - these all show as clearly as the sun how utterly faithful he was to his cause.
· THIRD DROPLET
If you wish, come! Let us go to Arabian Peninsula, to the Era of Bliss! In our imaginations we shall see him at his duties and visit him. Look! We see a person distinguished by his fine character and beautiful form. In his hand is a miraculous book and on his tongue, a truthful address; he is delivering a pre-eternal sermon to all mankind, indeed, to man, jinn, and the angels, and to all beings. He solves and expounds the strange riddle of the mystery of the world’s creation; he discovers and solves the abstruse talisman which is the mystery of the universe; and he provides convincing and satisfying answers to the three awesome and difficult questions that are asked of all beings and have always bewildered and occupied minds: “Where do you come from? What are you doing here? What is your destination?”
· FOURTH DROPLET
See! He spreads such a Light of truth that if you look at the universe as being outside the luminous sphere of his truth and guidance, you see it to be like a place of general mourning, and beings strangers to one another and hostile, and inanimate beings to be like ghastly corpses and living creatures like orphans weeping at the blows of death and separation. Now look! Through the Light he spreads, that place of universal mourning has been transformed into a place where God’s Names and praises are recited in joy and ecstasy. The foreign, hostile beings have become friends and brothers. While the dumb, dead inanimate creatures have all become familiar officials and docile servants. And the weeping, complaining orphans are seen to be
1. In his Risale-i Hamidiye, Husayn Jisri extracted one hundred and fourteen indications from those scriptures. If this many have remained after the texts have become corrupted, there were surely many explicit mentions before
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either reciting God’s Names and praises or offering thanks at being released from their duties.
· FIFTH DROPLET
Also, through his Light, the motion and movement of the universe, and its variations, changes and transformations cease being meaningless, futile, and the playthings of chance; they rise to being dominical missives, pages inscribed with the signs of creation, mirrors to the Divine Names, and the world itself becomes a book of the Eternally Besought One’s wisdom. Man’s boundless weakness and impotence make him inferior to all other animals and his intelligence, an instrument for conveying grief, sorrow, and sadness, makes him more wretched, yet when he is illumined with that Light, he rises above all animals and all creatures. Through entreaty, his illuminated impotence, poverty, and intelligence make him a petted monarch; due to his complaints, he becomes a spoiled vicegerent of the earth. That is to say, if it was not for his Light, the universe and man, and all things, would be nothing. Yes, certainly such a person is necessary in such a wondrous universe; otherwise the universe and firmaments would not be in existence.
· SIXTH DROPLET
Thus, that Being brings and announces the good news of eternal happiness; he is the discoverer and proclaimer of an infinite mercy, the herald and observer of the beauties of the sovereignty of dominicality, and the discloser and displayer of the treasures of the Divine Names. If you regard him in that way, that is in regard to his being a worshipful servant of God, you will see him to be the model of love, the exemplar of mercy, the glory of mankind, and the most luminous fruit of the tree of creation. While if you look in this way, that is, in regard to his Messengership, you see him to be the proof of God, the lamp of truth, the sun of guidance, and the means to happiness. And look! His Light has lighted up from east to west like dazzling lightning, and half the earth and a fifth of mankind has accepted the gift of his guidance and preserved it like life itself. So how is it that our evil-commanding souls and satans do not accept with all its degrees, the basis of all such a Being claimed, that is, There is no god but God?
· SEVENTH DROPLET
Now, consider how, eradicating in no time at all their evil, savage customs and habits to which they were fanatically attached, he decked out the various wild, unyielding peoples of that broad peninsula with all the finest virtues, and made them teachers of all the world and masters to the civilized nations. See, it was not an outward domination, he conquered and subjugated their minds, spirits, hearts, and souls. He became the beloved of hearts, the teacher of minds, the trainer of souls, the ruler of spirits.
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· EIGHTH DROPLET
You know that a small habit like cigarette smoking among a small nation can be removed permanently only by a powerful ruler with great effort. But look! This Being removed numerous ingrained habits from intractable, fanatical large nations with slight outward power and little effort in a short period of time, and in their place he so established exalted qualities that they became as firm as if they had mingled with their very blood. He achieved very many extraordinary feats like this. Thus, we present the Arabian Peninsula as a challenge to those who refuse to see the testimony of the blessed age of the Prophet. Let them each take a hundred philosophers, go there, and strive for a hundred years; would they be able to carry out in that time one hundredth of what he achieved in a year?
· NINTH DROPLET
Also, you know that an insignificant man of small standing among a small community in a disputed matter of small importance cannot tell a small but shameful lie brazen-faced and without fear without displaying anxiety or disquiet enough to inform the enemies at his side of his deception. Now look at that Being; although he undertook a tremendous task which required an official of great authority and great standing and a situation of great security, can any contradiction at all be found in the words he uttered among a community of great size in the face of great hostility concerning a great cause and matters of great significance, with great ease and freedom, without fear, hesitation, diffidence, or anxiety, with pure sincerity, great seriousness, and in an intense, elevated manner that angered his enemies? Is it at all possible that any trickery should have been involved? God forbid! It is naught but Revelation inspired.2 The truth does not deceive, and one who perceives the truth is not deceived. His way, which is truth, is free of deception. How could a fancy appear to one who sees the truth to be the truth, and deceive him?
· TENTH DROPLET
Now, look! What curiosity-arousing, attractive, necessary, and awesome truths he shows, what matters he proves!
You know that what impels man most is curiosity. Even, if it was to be said to you: “If you give half of your life and property, someone will come from the Moon and Jupiter and tell you all about them. He will also tell you the truth about your future and what will happen to you,” you would be bound to give them if you have any curiosity at all. Whereas that Being tells of a Monarch Who is such that in His realm, the Moon flies round a moth like a fly, and the moth, the earth, flutters round a lamp, and the lamp, the sun, is merely one lamp among thousands in one guest-house out of thousands of that Monarch.
2. Qur’an, 53:4.
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Also, he speaks truly about a future in comparison with which the future in this world is like a tiny mirage. And he tells most seriously of a happiness in comparison with which all worldly happiness is but a fleeting flash of lightning in relation to an eternal sun.
· ELEVENTH DROPLET
For sure, wonders await us under the apparent veil of the universe which is thus strange and perplexing. So one thus wonderful and extraordinary, a displayer of marvels, is necessary to tell of its wonders. It is apparent from that Being’s conduct that he has seen them, and sees them, and says that he has seen them. And he instructs us most soundly concerning what the God of the heavens and the earth, Who nurtures us with His bounties, wants and desires of us. Everyone should therefore leave everything and run to and heed this Being who teaches numerous other necessary and curiosity-arousing truths like these, so how is it that most people are deaf and blind, and mad even, so that they do not see this truth, and they do not listen to it and understand it?
· TWELFTH DROPLET
Thus, just as this Being is an articulate proof and true evidence at the degree of the veracity of the unity of the Creator of beings, so is he a decisive proof and clear evidence for the resurrection of the dead and eternal happiness. Yes, with his guidance he is the reason for eternal happiness coming about and is the means of attaining it; so too through his prayers and supplications, he is the cause of its existence and reason for its creation. We repeat here this mystery, which is mentioned in the Tenth Word, due to its ‘station’.
See! This Being prays with a prayer so supreme that it is as if the Arabian Peninsula and the earth itself performs the prayers through his sublime prayer, and offers entreaties. See, he also entreats in a congregation so vast that it is as if all the luminous and perfected members of mankind from the time of Adam till our age and until the end of time, are following him and saying “Amen” to his supplications. And see! He is beseeching for a need so universal that not only the dwellers of the earth, but also those of the heavens, and all beings, join in his prayer, declaring: “Yes! O our Sustainer!
3. Qur’an, 81:1.
4. Qur’an, 82:1.
5. Qur’an, 101:1.
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Grant it to us! We too want it!” And he supplicates with such want, so sorrowfully, in such a loving, yearning, and beseeching fashion that he brings the whole cosmos to tears, leading them to join in his prayer.
And see! The purpose and aim of his prayer is such it raises man and the world, and all creatures, from the lowest of the low, from inferiority, worthlessness, and uselessness to the highest of the high; that is to having value, permanence, and exalted duties. And see! He seeks and pleads for help and mercy in a manner so elevated and sweet, it is as if he makes all beings and the heavens and the earth hear, and bringing them to ecstasy, to exclaim: “Amen, O our God! Amen!” And see! He seeks his needs from One so Powerful, Hearing, and Munificent, One so Knowing, Seeing, and Compassionate, that He sees and hears the most secret need of the most hidden living being and its entreaties, accepts them, and has mercy on it. For He gives what is asked for, if only through the tongue of disposition. And He gives it in so Wise, Seeing, and Compassionate a form that it leaves no doubt that that nurturing and regulation is particular to the All-Hearing and All-Seeing One, the Most Generous and Most Compassionate One.
· THIRTEENTH DROPLET
What does he want, this pride of the human race, who taking behind him all the eminent of mankind, stands on top of the world, and raising up his hand, is praying? What is this unique being, who is truly the glory of the cosmos, seeking? Listen! He is seeking eternal happiness. He is asking for eternal life, and to meet with God. He wants Paradise. And he wants all the Sacred Divine Names, which display their beauty and decrees in the mirrors of beings. Even, if it were not for reasons for the fulfilment of those countless requests, like mercy, grace, wisdom, and justice, a single of that Being’s prayers would have been sufficient for the construction of Paradise, the creation of which is as easy for Divine power as the creation of the spring. Yes, just as his Messengership was the reason for the opening of this place of examination and trial, so too his worship and servitude to God were the reason for the opening of the next world.
Would the perfect order observed in the universe, which has caused scholars and the intelligent to pronounce: “It is not possible for there to be anything better than what exists;” and the faultless beauty of art within mercy, the incomparable beauty of dominicality, - would these permit the ugliness, the cruelty, the lack of order of its hearing and responding to the least significant, the least important desires and voices, and its considering unimportant the most important, the most necessary wishes, and its not hearing them or understanding them, and not carrying them out? God forbid! A hundred thousand times, God forbid! Such a beauty would not permit such an ugliness; it would not become ugly.
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And so, my imaginary friend! That is enough for now, we must return. For if we remain a hundred years in this age in the Arabian Peninsula, we still would only completely comprehend one hundredth of the marvels of that Being’s duties and the wonders he carried out, and we would never tire of watching him.
Now, come! We shall look at the centuries, which will turn above us. See how each has opened like a flower through the effulgence it has received from that Sun of Guidance! They have produced millions of enlightened fruits like Abu Hanifa, Shafi‘i, Abu Bayazid Bistami, Shah Geylani, Shah Naqshband, Imam Ghazzali, and Imam Rabbani. But postponing the details of our observations to another time, we must recite some benedictions for that displayer of miracles and bringer of guidance, which mention a number of his certain miracles:
Endless peace and blessings be upon our master Muhammad, to the number of the good deeds of his community, to whom was revealed the All-Wise Criterion of Truth and Falsehood, from One Most Merciful, Most Compassionate, from the Sublime Throne; whose Messengership was foretold by the Torah and Bible, and told of by wondrous signs, the voices of jinn, saints of man, and soothsayers; at whose indication the moon split; our master Muhammad! Peace and blessings be upon him thousands and thousands of times, to the number of the breaths of his community; at whose beckoning came the tree, on whose prayer rain swiftly fell; and whom the cloud shaded from the heat; who satisfied a hundred men with his food; from between whose fingers three times flowed water like the Spring of Kawthar; and to whom God made speak the lizard, the gazelle, the wolf, the torso, the arm, the camel, the mountain, the rock, and the clod; the one who made the Ascension and whose eye did not waver; our master and intercessor, Muhammad! Peace and blessings be upon him thousands and thousands of times, to the number of the letters of the Qur’an formed in the words, represented with the permission of the Most Merciful in the mirrors of the airwaves, at the reciting of all the Qur’an’s words by all reciters from when it was first revealed to the end of time. And grant us forgiveness and have mercy on us, O God, for each of those blessings. Amen.
[I have described the Evidences for the Prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH) which I have here indicated briefly in a Turkish treatise called Suaât-i Mârifeti’n-Nebi and in the Nineteenth Letter (The Miracles of Muhammad). And there too aspects of the All-Wise Qur’an’s miraculousness have been mentioned briefly. Again, in a Turkish treatise called Lemeât and in the Twenty-Fifth Word (The Miraculousness of the Qur’an) I have explained concisely forty ways in which the Qur’an is a miracle, and indicated forty aspects of its miraculousness. And of those
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forty aspects, only the eloquence in the word-order, I have written in forty pages in an Arabic commentary called, Isharat al-I‘jaz. If you have the need, you may refer to those three works.]
· FOURTEENTH DROPLET
The All-Wise Qur’an, the treasury of miracles and supreme miracle, proves the Prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH) together with Divine unity so decisively that it leaves no need for further proof. And we shall give its definition and indicate one or two flashes of its miraculousness which have been the cause of criticism.
The All-Wise Qur’an, which makes known to us our Sustainer, is thus: it is the pre-eternal translator of the great book of the universe; the discloser of the treasures of the Divine Names concealed in the pages of the earth and the heavens; the key to the truths hidden beneath these lines of events; the treasury of the favours of the Most Merciful and pre-eternal addresses, which come forth from the World of the Unseen beyond the veil of this Manifest World; the sun, foundation, and plan of the spiritual world of Islam, and the map of the worlds of the hereafter; the distinct expounder, lucid exposition, articulate proof, and clear translator of the Divine Essence, attributes, and deeds; the instructor, true wisdom, guide, and leader of the world of humanity; it is both a book of wisdom and law, and a book of prayer and worship, and a book of command and summons, and a book of invocation and Divine knowledge - it is book for all spiritual needs; and it is a sacred library offering books appropriate to the ways of all the saints and veracious, the purified and the scholars, whose ways and paths are all different.
Consider the flashes of miraculousness in its repetitions, which are imagined to be a fault: since the Qur’an is both a book of invocation, and a book of prayer, and a book of summons, the repetition in it is desirable, indeed, it is essential and most eloquent. It is not as the faulty imagine. For the mark of invocation is illumination through repetition. The mark of prayer is strengthening through repetition. The mark of command and summons is confirmation through repetition. Moreover, everyone is not capable of always reading the whole Qur’an, but is mostly able to read one Sura. Therefore, since the most important purposes of the Qur’an are included in most of the longer Suras, each is like a small Qur’an. That is to say, so that no one should be deprived, certain of its aims like Divine unity, the resurrection of the dead, and the story of Moses, have been repeated. Also, like bodily needs, spiritual needs are various. Man is need of some of them every breath; like the body needs air, the spirit needs the word Hu (He). Some he is in need of every hour, like “In the Name of God.” And so on. That means the repetition of verses arises from the repetition of need. It makes the
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repetition in order to point out the need and awaken and incite it, and to arouse desire and appetite.
Also, the Qur’an is a founder; it is the basis of the Clear Religion, and the foundation of the world of Islam. It changed human social life, and is the answer to the repeated questions of its various classes. Repetition is necessary for a founder in order to establish things. Repetition is necessary to corroborate them. Confirmation and repetition are necessary to strengthen them.
Also, it speaks of such mighty matters and minute truths that numerous repetitions are necessary in different forms in order to establish them in everyone’s hearts. Nevertheless, they are apparently repetitions, but in reality every verse has numerous meanings, numerous benefits, and many aspects and levels. In each place they are mentioned with a different meaning, for different benefits and purposes.
Also, the Qur’an’s being unspecific and concise in certain matters to do with cosmos is a flash of miraculousness for the purpose of guidance. It cannot be the target of criticism and is not a fault, like some atheists imagine.
If you ask: “Why does the All-Wise Qur’an not speak of beings in the same way as philosophy and science? It leaves some matters in brief form, and some it speaks of in a simple and superficial way that is easy in the general view, does not wound general feelings, and does not weary or tax the minds of ordinary people. Why is this?”
By way of answer we say: Philosophy has strayed from the path of truth, that’s why. Also, of course you have understood from past Words and what they teach that the All-Wise Qur’an speaks of the universe in order to make known the Divine Essence, attributes, and Names. That is, it explains the meanings of the book of the universe to make known its Creator. That means it looks at beings, not for themselves, but for their Creator. Also, it addresses everyone. But philosophy and science look at beings for themselves, and address scientists in particular. In which case, since the All-Wise Qur’an makes beings evidences and proofs, the evidence has to be superficial so that it will be quickly understood in the general view. And since the Qur’an of Guidance addresses all classes of men, the ordinary people, which form the most numerous class, want guidance which is concise with unnecessary things beings vague, and which brings subtle things close with comparisons, and which does not change things which in their superficial view are obvious into an unnecessary or even harmful form, lest it causes them to fall into error.
For example, it says about the sun: “The sun is a revolving lamp or lantern.” For it does not speak of the sun for itself and its nature, but because it is a sort of mainspring of an order and centre of a system, and order and system are mirrors of the Maker’s skill. It says:
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The sun runs its course.6
that is, the sun revolves. Through calling to mind the orderly disposals of Divine power in the revolutions of winter and summer, and day and night with the phrase, The sun revolves, it makes understood the Maker’s tremendousness. Thus, whatever the reality of this revolving, it does not affect the order, which is woven and observed, and which is the purpose. It also says,
And set the sun as a lamp.7
Through depicting through the word lamp the world in the form of a palace, and the things within it as decorations, necessities, and provisions prepared for man and living beings, and inferring that the sun is also a subjugated candleholder, it makes known the mercy and bestowal of the Creator. Now look and see what this foolish and prattling philosophy says:
“The sun is a vast burning liquid mass. It causes the planets which have been flung off from it to revolve around it. Its mass is such-and-such. It is this, it is that.” It does not afford the spirit the satisfaction and fulfilment of true knowledge, just a terrible dread and fearful wonder. It does not speak of it as the Qur’an does. You may understand from this the value of the matters of philosophy, whose inside is hollow and outside, ostentatious. So do not be deceived by its glittering exterior and be disrespectful towards the most miraculous expositions of the Qur’an!
O God! Make the Qur’an healing for us, the writer of this and his peers, from all ills, and a companion to us and to them in our lives and after our deaths, and in this world, and in the grave, and at the Last Judgement an intercessor, and on the Bridge a light, and from the Fire a screen and shield, and in Paradise a friend, and in all good deeds a guide and leader, through Your grace and munificence and beneficence and mercy, O Most Munificent of the Munificent and Most Merciful of the Merciful! Amen.
O God! Grant blessings and peace to the one to whom the All-Wise Qur’an, the Distinguisher between Truth and Falsehood, was re-vealed, and to all his Family and Companions. Amen. Amen.
[NOTE: The Six Drops of the Fourteenth Droplet in the Arabic Risale-i Nur, and especially the Six Points of the Fourth Drop, explain fifteen of the approximately forty sorts of the All-Wise Qur’an’s miraculousness. Deeming those to be sufficient, we have limited the discussion here. If you wish, refer to them, and you will find a treasury of miracles...]
6. Qur’an, 36:38.
7. Qur’an, 71:16.
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The Twentieth Word
[This Word consists of Two Stations]
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
And when We told the angels: Prostrate before Adam, they prostrated, except Iblis.1 * God commands that you sacrifice a cow.2 * And yet after all this your hearts hardened and became like rocks or even harder.3
One day while reading this verses, three points were imparted to me from the effulgence of the Qur’an against the promptings of Satan. His suggestions took this form:
He said: “You say the Qur’an is a miracle, and of infinite eloquence, and that it is guidance for everyone at all times. So what is the meaning in its persistently repeating in historical form certain minor events like the following: how is it appropriate to mention an insignificant event like the slaughtering of a cow as though it was something significant, and even naming that important Sura, The Cow? Also the event of ‘prostrating before Adam;’ it occurred in the realm of the Unseen and cannot be understood rationally. It may be submitted to and accepted with certainty only after a strong belief has been attained. Whereas the Qur’an instructs those who use their reasons; in many places it says: So will you not think?, and refers what it says to the reason. Also, how is it guidance to show certain natural conditions of rocks to be important which are the results of chance?”
The Points with which I was inspired took this form:
FIRST POINT: In the All-Wise Qur’an are numerous minor events behind which are concealed universal principles, and which are shown as the tips of general laws. For example,
He taught Adam the Names, all of them.4
1. Qur’an, 2:34.
2. Qur’an, 2:67.
3. Qur’an, 2:74.
4. Qur’an, 2:31.
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This is the ‘teaching of the Names,’ which was a miracle of Adam before the angels because of his ability to be God’s vicegerent on earth, and was a minor event. But it forms the tip of a universal principle which is as follows: it was the teaching, due to man’s comprehensive disposition, of countless sciences, and numerous all-embracing branches of knowledge about the universe, and extensive learning about the Creator’s attributes and qualities, which afforded man superiority over not only the angels but also the heavens and earth and mountains in the question of the bearing of the Supreme Trust. And like the Qur’an states that through his comprehensive disposition, man is God’s spiritual vicegerent on earth, so the minor event in the Unseen of the angels prostrating before Adam and Satan not prostrating is the tip of a broad and universal observed principle; these hint at a extensive truth which is as follows:
Through mentioning the angels’ obedience and submission before the person of Adam, and Satan’s pride and refusal, the Qur’an makes understood that most of the physical beings in the universe and their representatives and appointed beings are subjugated to man, and that man’s senses are predisposed and amenable to benefiting from all of them. And pointing out what a fearsome enemy and serious obstacle in the path of man’s progress are evil matter and its representatives and evil inhabitants, which corrupt man’s nature and drive him down wrong paths, the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition, while speaking of a minor matter with Adam (Peace be upon him), converses in elevated fashion with the whole universe and all mankind.
SECOND POINT: Although the Land of Egypt is a part of the Greater Sahara Desert, through the blessing of the Nile, it has become like an extremely fertile arable field. Such a blessed heavenly place being found adjacent to the hellish Sahara has made its agriculture highly sought after by its people and has so fixed it in their characters that for them it has become sacred, and the cow and the bull, the means of agriculture, have also become sacred, and even objects of worship. The people of Egypt of that time considered the cow and bull to be so holy they worshipped them. Thus, it is understood from the question of ‘the Calf’ that the Children of Israel of that time, who grew up in Egypt, had come to have a share of that custom.
Thus, the All-Wise Qur’an makes understood through the sacrifice of a cow that through his messengership, Moses excised and destroyed the concept of cow-worship, which had become a part of that nation’s character and worked in their very natures.
Thus, through this minor incident, it expounds with an elevated miraculousness a universal principle which is essential instruction in wisdom for everyone at all times.
Making an analogy with this, you may understand that certain minor
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incidents in the Qur’an which are mentioned in the form of historical events, are the tips of universal principles. Even, in Lemeât, in the section on the Miraculousness of the Qur’an, taking the seven sentences of the Story of Moses, which is mentioned and repeated in many Suras, we have explained how each part of those particular sentences comprises an important universal principle. If you wish, you may refer to that treatise.
And yet, after all this your hearts hardened and became like rocks, or even harder: for, behold, there are rocks from which streams gush forth; and, behold, there are some from which, when they are cleft, water issues; and there are some that fall down for awe of God. And God is not unmindful of what you do.5
While reading the above verse, the Whisperer said: “What meaning is there in discussing and explaining as though they were the most important and significant of matters, certain natural states of rocks which are commonplace and everyone knows about? How is it fitting, and what need is there?”
In the face of this suggestion, the following point was imparted to me from the effulgence of the Qur’an:
Yes, it is fitting and there is need for it. And it is so fitting and there is a meaning so significant and truth so enormous and necessary that only through the Qur’an’s miraculous conciseness and guiding grace has it been simplified to a degree, and summarized. Yes, conciseness, one foundation of the Qur’an’s miraculousness, and guiding grace and fitting instruction, which are one light of its guidance, require that in the face of ordinary people, who form the majority of those whom the Qur’an addresses, universal truths and profound and general principles are shown in familiar and particular forms, and that, due to their simple minds, only the tips of vast truths are shown, and in a simple form, and, moreover, that the Divine disposals, which are wondrous and extraordinary beneath the veil of the commonplace and under the earth, are shown briefly. Thus, it is due to this mystery that the All-Wise Qur’an says the following with the above verse:
O Children of Israel and Sons of Adam! What has happened to you that your hearts have become harder and more lifeless than stone? For do you not see that those extremely hard, lifeless, huge rocks formed in vast strata under the earth are so obedient and subjugated before the Divine commands and so soft and tractable under the dominical works that to whatever degree the Divine disposals occur without resistance in the formation of trees in the air, orderly water channels and veins, like the circulation of blood in veins, occur with the same ease and order and with perfect wisdom in those hard,
5. Qur’an, 2:74.
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deaf rocks under the earth.6 And like the way the branches of trees and plants spread in the air with ease encountering no obstacles, the delicate veins of roots spread with the same ease in the rocks under the earth. The Qur’an indicates this and teaches an extensive truth with the verse, and thus by allusion says the following to the hard-hearted:
O Children of Israel and Sons of Adam! What sort of heart do you bear within your weakness and impotence so that with its hardness it resists the command of such a One? Whereas how perfectly and obediently the huge strata of hard rocks carry out their delicate duties in the darkness before His commands. They display no disobedience. Indeed, those rocks act as treasurers for the water of life and other means of life of all the living creatures above the earth, and are the means for their division and distribution. They do this with such wisdom and justice that they are soft like wax or air in the hand of power of the All-Wise One of Glory; offering no resistance, they prostrate before His mighty power. For just like well-ordered creatures and wise and gracious Divine disposals occur on top of the earth, which we observe, the same occur beneath it. Indeed, Divine wisdom and favour are manifest there in a more wondrous and strange way in regard to wisdom and order. See how like wax those hard, unfeeling mighty rocks display a softness towards the creational commands, and how they offer no resistance or hardness to the delicate waters, the fine roots, and silken veins, which are Divine officials. As though like a lover, the rock’s heart melts at the touch of those delicate, beautiful things, and becomes earth in their path.
And, behold, there are some that fall down for awe of God,
the Qur’an shows the tip of a vast truth which is like this: like in the event of ’Moses asking for the vision of God’ and the famous mountain crumbling at the Divine manifestation and the rocks being scattered, through the manifestations of Divine glory in the form of earthquakes and the mountains shaking, most of which are like great monoliths formed of solidified liquid, and certain other geological occurrences - through such awesome manifesta-
6. Yes, it is only fitting that the Qur’an should explain the three important duties of the rock strata, the foundation stone of the majestic travelling palace known as the earth, which are entrusted to it by the All-Glorious Creator.
Their First Duty: Just as earth acts as a mother to plants and raises them through dominical power, so through Divine power, the rocks act as a nurse to the earth and raise it.
Their Second Duty: They serve the orderly circulation of waters in the body of the earth, like the circulation of the blood.
Their Third Duty: This is to act as treasurer to the rising and continuous flow with regular balance of the springs and rivers, sources and streams. Indeed, the evidences of Divine unity which the rocks make flow with all their strength in mouthfuls in the form of the water of life, they write and sprinkle over the face of the earth.
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tions of glory, the rocks fall from the high summits of the mountains and are broken up. Some of these crumble and being transformed into earth, become the source of plants. Others remain as rocks, and rolling down to the valleys and plains, are scattered. They serve many purposes in the works of the earth’s inhabitants; by being utilized in their houses for example, and prostrating in submission before Divine wisdom and power for certain hidden instances of wisdom and benefits, they take on the form of being at the command of the principles of Divine wisdom. The evidence that their leaving their high places out of awe, choosing lower places in humble fashion, and being the means of those significant benefits, and that they are neither futile, nor acting of their own accord, nor are objects of chance, but that within the disorder, through the wise disposals of One All-Wise and All-Powerful they are within a wise order not apparent to the superficial eye -the evidence for this are the purposes and benefits attached to the rocks, and the perfect order and fine art of the shirts adorned and embossed with the jewels of fruits and flowers with which the body of the mountains down which they roll are clothed. These testify in a decisive fashion which cannot be doubted.
Thus, you have seen how valuable these three parts of the verse are from the point of view of wisdom. Now see the Qur’an’s subtle manner of exposition and miraculous eloquence. See how it shows through the three famous and observed events in the three parts of the verse, the tips of the above-mentioned extensive and important truths, and through recalling three further events, which are a warning lesson, it offers subtle guidance; its restrains in a way that cannot be resisted.
For example, in the second part of the verse, it says:
And, behold, there are some from which, when they are cleft, water issues;
By alluding through this sentence to the rock which split with perfect eagerness under the Staff of Moses (Peace be upon him) and poured forth twelve streams from twelve sources, it imparts the following meaning: O Children of Israel! Great rocks become soft and crumble before a single miracle of Moses (PUH). They shed tears in floods, pouring forth out of either awe or joy. How is it you are so unfair you are obstinate in the face of all Moses’ miracles, and not weeping, your eyes are lifeless and your hearts, hard?
And in the third part, it says:
And, behold, there are some that fall down for awe of God.
Through calling to mind with this part the famous event of the huge mountain crumbling and being scattered out of awe at the manifestation of Divine glory, which occurred on Mount Sinai at the supplications of Moses (Peace be upon him), and the rocks rolling down all round out again in awe, it
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teaches this meaning: O people of Moses (PUH)! How is it you do not fear God when the mountains which are composed of rocks are crushed and scattered out of awe of Him? Although you know that Moses climbed Mount Sinai above you in order to receive the Covenant, and that on his seeking the vision of God, the mountain crumbled, and you saw it, how is it you are so bold you do not tremble out of fear of God, and you make your hearts hard and unfeeling?
And, in the first part, it says:
For, behold, there are rocks from which streams gush forth;
Through recalling with this part rivers like the blessed Nile and the Tigris and Euphrates, which gush up out of mountains, the Qur’an makes understood the miraculous fashion rocks receive the creational commands and are subjugated to them. It infers the following meaning to vigilant hearts: it is certainly not possible that the mountains could be the actual source of such mighty rivers. For let us suppose the water was cut completely and the mountains each became a conical reservoir, they would only persist a few months before losing the balance to the swift and abundant flow of those large rivers. And the rain, which penetrates only about a metre into the earth, would not be sufficient income for that high expenditure. This means that the springs of these rivers are not something ordinary and natural arising from chance, but that the All-Glorious Creator makes them flow forth from an unseen treasury in truly marvellous fashion.
Thus, alluding to this mystery and stating this meaning, it is narrated in a Hadith: “Each of those three rivers is a drop from Paradise which continuously issues forth from Paradise, as a result of which they are sources of abundance.”7 And in another it is said: “The source of these three rivers is from Paradise.”8 The truth of these narrations is this: since physical causes are not capable of producing their abundant flow, their sources must be in an unseen world and must arise from a treasury of mercy; the equilibrium between their incomings and outgoings is maintained in this way.
Thus, through inferring this meaning, the All-Wise Qur’an gives the following instruction: O Children of Israel and Sons of Adam! With your hardness of heart, unfeelingness, and heedlessness you disobey and close your eyes to the commands and light of knowledge of the Pre-Eternal Sun, One so Glorious that He makes flow forth from the mouths of common, lifeless rocks mighty rivers like the blessed Nile, which transforms Egypt into a paradise and produces witnesses to His unity for the universe’s heart and earth’s mind as eloquent as the force, appearance, and abundant flow of those mighty rivers, and makes them flow to the hearts and minds of jinn and men.
7. Muslim, iv, 21283, No: 2839; Musnad, ii, 289, 440.
8. Muslim, Janna, 26; Bukhari, ii, 134; Tabrizi, Mishkat al-Masabih, No: 5628.
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How is it that while some unfeeling, lifeless rocks manifest the miracles of His power in such wondrous fashion,9 showing the All-Glorious Creator as the sunlight shows the sun, you are blind before the light of His knowledge, and do not see it?
So see what eloquence has been clothed on these three truths, and note carefully the eloquent guidance. What hardness of heart can withstand without melting the heat of this eloquent guidance?
If you have understood this from the beginning to here, behold one flash of the All-Wise Qur’an’s miraculous guidance, and offer thanks to Almighty God!
Glory be unto to You! We have no knowledge save that which You have taught us; indeed, You are All-Knowing, All-Wise.10
O God! Grant us understanding of the mysteries of the Qur’an as You love and is pleasing to You, and grant us success in the service of it. Amen. Through Your Mercy, O Most Merciful of the Merciful!
O God! Grant blessings and peace to the one to whom the All-Wise Qur’an was revealed, and to all his Family and Companions.
9. The blessed Nile rises in the Mountains of the Moon, the main stream of the River Tigris in a cave in the district of Müküs in the province of Van, and the main branch of the Euphrates, in the foothills of a mountain in the region of Diyadin. It is established by science that the origins of mountains are rocks solidified from liquid matter. One of the Prophet (PBUH)’s glorifications, Glory be to the One Who spread out the earth on solidified liquid is decisive evidence that the original creation of the earth was as follows: some liquid matter solidified at the Divine command and became rock. With Divine leave, the rock became earth. The word Earth (arz) in the glorification, means earth (soil). That is to say, the liquid matter was too soft to support anything, and the rock was too hard to be benefited from. Therefore, the All-Wise and Compassionate One spread the earth over the rock and made it the place of habitation for living beings.
10. Qur’an, 2:32.
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The Second Station of the Twentieth Word
[A flash of the Qur’an’s miraculousness which shines on the Miracles of the Prophets.]
Note carefully the two questions and answers at the end.
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Nor anything fresh or dry, but is in a Record Clear.11
Fourteen years ago (and now thirty years have passed) in my Qur’anic commentary called Isharat al-I‘jaz (Signs of Miraculousness), I wrote a discussion in Arabic about one of the mysteries of this verse. Now two of my brothers whose wishes are important in my view have asked for an explanation of that discussion in Turkish. And so, relying on Almighty God’s assistance, and on the effulgence of the Qur’an, I say this:
According to one interpretation, the Clear Book or Record consists of the Qur’an. The above verse states that everything, fresh or dry, is found within it, is that so? Yes, everything is found in it, but everyone cannot see this, for all the things it contains are found at different levels. Sometimes the seeds, sometimes the nuclei, sometimes the summaries, sometimes the principles, sometimes the signs, are found either explicitly, or implicitly, or allusively, or vaguely, or as a reminder. One of these is expressed according to need, in a manner suitable to the purposes of the Qur’an and in connection with the requirements of the position. For instance:
Things like the aeroplane, electricity, railways, and the telegraph have come into existence as wonders of science and technology as the result of man’s progress in science and industry. Surely the All-Wise Qur’an, which addresses all mankind, does not neglect these. Indeed, it has not neglected them; it indicates them in two ‘Ways’.
The First: In the form of the miracles of the Prophets...
The Second is this: it indicates them in the form of certain historical events. For instance:
11. Qur’an, 6:59.
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Woe to the makers of the pit [of fire] * Fire supplied [abundantly] with fuel * Behold! They sat over against [the fire] * And they witnessed [all] that they were doing against the believers * And they ill-treated them for no other reason than that they believed in God, the Mighty, the One to Whom all Praise is due.12
In the loaded ark * And We have created for them similar [vessels] on which they ride13, 14
Just as verses like these point to the railway, so the following verse alludes to electricity, as well as pointing to numerous other lights and mysteries:
God is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His Light is as if there were a niche, and within it a lamp; the lamp enclosed in glass: the glass as it were a brilliant star. Lit from a blessed tree, an olive, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil is well-nigh luminous, though the fire scarce touched it: Light upon Light!15 God guides whom He wills to His Light.16
Since numerous people have occupied themselves with this second sort, and they are in need of much care and elucidation, and since they are many, for now we shall content ourselves with these verses that allude to the railway and electricity, and shall not open that door.
As for The First Sort, it indicates them in the form of the Miracles of the Prophets. And we shall mention some of these by way of example.
INTRODUCTION: The All-Wise Qur’an sends the Prophets to man’s communities as leaders and vanguards of spiritual and moral progress. Similarly it gives all of them a number of wonders and makes them the masters and foremen in regard to mankind’s material progress, and commands men to follow them absolutely. Thus, just as by speaking of the spiritual and moral perfections of the Prophets, it is encouraging people to benefit from them, so too in discussing their miracles it is inferring encouragement to achieve similar things and to imitate them. It may even be said that like spiritual and moral attainments, material attainments and wonders were first given to mankind as a gift by the hand of miracles. Thus, what first gave man the gift of the ship, which was a miracle of Noah (Peace be upon him), and
12. Qur’an, 85:4-8.
13. Qur’an, 36:41-2.
14. This sentence indicates that the railway has taken the World of Islam prisoner. The unbelievers defeated Islam with it.
15. The sentence, whose oil is well-nigh luminous, though the fire scarce touched it: Light upon Light! illuminates that allusion.
16. Qur’an, 24:35.
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the clock, a miracle of Joseph (Peace be upon him), was the hand of miracles. It is a subtle indication to this truth that most craftsmen have a Prophet as the patron of their craft. For example, seamen have Noah (PUH), watchmakers have Joseph (PUH), tailors have Idris (PUH), and so on.
Indeed, investigative scholars and the science of rhetoric are in agreement that all the Qur’an’s verses contain numerous aspects of guidance and instruction. The verses of the miracles of the Prophets, which are the most brilliant of the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition’s verses, are not therefore mere historical stories, but comprise numerous meanings and sorts of guidance. Yes, in mentioning the Prophets’ miracles, it is tracing the final limit of man’s science and industry. It is pointing the finger at his furthest aims. It is specifying his final goals. And by striking the hand of encouragement on man’s back, it is urging him forward towards them. Just as the past is the store of the seeds of the future and mirror to its attributes, so the future is the arable field of the past and the mirror to its states. Now we shall explain only a few samples of that most extensive source as examples:
For example, the verse:
To Solomon [We made] the wind [obedient]: its early morning [stride] was a month’s [journey], and its evening [stride] was a month’s [journey],17
which describes one of Solomon’s (Peace be upon him) miracles, the subjugating of the air. This says: “Solomon traversed the distance of two months in one day by flying through the air.” It is thus suggesting that the road is open for man to cover such a distance in the air. In which case, O man! since the road is open to you, reach this level! And in meaning Almighty God is saying through the tongue of this verse: “O man! I mounted one of my servants on the air because he gave up the desires of his soul. If you too give up laziness, which comes from the soul, and benefit thoroughly from certain of my laws in the cosmos, you too may mount it...”
And the verse,
So We said: “Strike the rock with your staff.” Then gushed forth therefrom twelve springs,18
which explains a miracle of Moses (Peace be upon him). This verse indicates that the treasuries of mercy concealed under the earth may be profited from with simple tools. Even from places hard as rock, the water of life may be attracted with a staff. Thus, through this meaning the verse says to man: “You may find the subtlest effulgence of mercy, the water of life, with a staff. In which case, come on, work and find it!” And in meaning Almighty
17. Qur’an, 34:12.
18. Qur’an, 2:60.
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God says through the verse’s allusive tongue: “O man! I put in the hand of one of my servants who trusted in Me a staff that draws the water of life from wherever he wishes, if you too rely of the laws of My mercy, you may obtain an implement resembling it or close to it. So, come on and do so!” And one of the most important contributions to man’s progress was the creation of an implement that causes water to flow forth from most of the places it is struck. This verse traces farther goals and limits, and ends beyond that, just as the previous verse specified final points far ahead of today’s aeroplanes.
And for example,
I shall heal the blind and the leper and I shall quicken the dead, by God’s leave,19
which concerns a miracle of Jesus (Peace be upon him). Just as the Qur’an explicitly urges man to follow Jesus’ (Peace be upon him) high morals, so it allusively encourages him towards the elevated art and dominical medicine of which Jesus was the master. The verse indicates the following: “Remedies may be found for even the most chronic ills. In which case, O man!, O calamity-afflicted sons of Adam! Don’t despair! Whatever the ill, its cure is possible. Search for it and you will find it. It is even possible to give a temporary tinge of life to death.” And in meaning Almighty God is saying through the figurative tongue of this verse: “O man! I gave two gifts to one of My servants who abandoned the world for Me. One was the remedy for spiritual ills, and the other the cure for physical sicknesses. Moribund hearts were raised to life through the light of guidance, and sick people who were as though dead found health through his breath and cure. You too may find the cure for every ill in the pharmacy of My wisdom. Work to find it! If you seek, you will certainly find.” Thus, this verse traces the limit which is far ahead of man’s present progress in medicine. It hints at it, and urges him towards it.
And for example, the verses:
And We made the iron soft for him20 * And We gave him wisdom and sound judgement in speech and decision,21
which are about David (Peace be upon him), and,
And We made a font of molten copper to flow for him,22
which is about Solomon (Peace be upon him). These indicate that the softening of iron is one of the greatest of Divine bounties, through which is shown the virtue of one of the greatest Prophets. Indeed, softening iron, that is,
19. Qur’an, 3:49.
20. Qur’an, 34:10.
21. Qur’an, 38:20.
22. Qur’an, 34:12.
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making it soft like dough, and smelting copper, and finding minerals and extracting them is the origin and source, and basis and foundation of all man’s material industries. Thus, this verse indicates: “A great bounty bestowed on a great Messenger and God’s vicegerent on earth in the form of a great miracle was the softening of iron. Making it as soft as dough and fine as a thread and smelting copper are the basis of most of the general industries.” Since wisdom was given to the tongue of one who was both Messenger and vicegerent, that is, to one who was both a spiritual and material leader, and craft and industry were given to his hand. It is on the one hand explicitly urging men towards the wisdom on his tongue, and on the other is implicitly encouraging them towards the craft in his hand. Through the allusive tongue of this verse, in meaning Almighty God is saying:
“O Sons of Adam! I gave such wisdom to the tongue and heart of one of My servants who complied with my commands and obligations that he rendered judgement on everything with the finest distinction and made manifest the truth. And I gave him such art that he could mould iron into any shape in his hand as though it was wax. It was a significant means of power for his vicegerency and rule. Since it was possible, it was given. It is both important, and you are in much need of it in your social life. If you too obey my commands in creation, that wisdom and craft will be given you too. In the course of time you will reach it and draw close to it.” Thus, it is through the softening of iron and smelting of copper that man achieves his greatest progress in industry, and his greatest power and strength. In the verse, the word qitr is used to describe copper. These verses direct mankind’s sight towards this truth, and they sternly warned the people of former times who did not appreciate their importance, as well as the lazy in modern times...
And, for example, the verse,
Said one who had knowledge of the Book: “I will bring it to you in the twinkling of an eye!” Then when [Solomon] saw it placed firmly before him...,23
which points to the following wondrous event: in order to attract Bilkis’ throne to him, one of Solomon’s (Peace be upon him) ministers who was versed in the science of attraction said: “I’ll have the throne here before you before you can blink your eyes.” The verse suggests then that it is possible to bring either things themselves or their images to one instantaneously from far away, and it is a fact that Almighty God bestowed this ability on Solomon (PBH) in the form of a miracle, to establish his innocence and justice. For being honoured with rulership as well as his Messengership, Solomon could in this way himself be informed of events in all the regions of his extensive dominions, and see the condition of his subjects and hear of their ills. That
23. Qur’an, 27:40.
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means, if man relies on Almighty God, and asks it of Him with the tongue of his innate capacity, like Solomon (PBH) asked for it with the tongue of his chastity, and if he conforms to His laws of wisdom in the universe, the world may become like a town for him. That is to say, while Bilkis’ throne was in Yemen, it was instantaneously present in Damascus, or its image was, and it was seen. The images of the men around the throne were also certainly conveyed there, and their voices heard. This therefore indicates splendidly the attraction of images and sounds from long distances, and in effect says:
“O Kings and Rulers! If you wish to act with pure justice, endeavour to see and understand the face of the earth in all its details, like Solomon. For, by rising to the level of being informed whenever he wishes about every part of his realm, a just ruler and king who cherishes his subjects will avoid inequity, and may rule with complete justice.” And Almighty God in effect says through the allusive tongue of the verse:
“O Sons of Adam! I bestowed on one of My servants a broad realm, and so that he could act completely justly within it, I allowed him to know personally of all situations and events that occurred there. And since I have given all men the innate capacity to be vicegerent of the earth, I gave them also the ability to see, consider, and understand the whole face of the earth in accordance with that ability, for My wisdom requires this. If individuals do not reach that point, men may reach it as a race. And if they do not reach it physically, the saints may reach it in meaning. In which case, you may take advantage of this great bounty. Come on, let’s see you do it! On condition you do not neglect your duties of worship, strive to transform the face of the earth into a garden every part of which you may see, and the sounds of every corner of which you may hear. Heed the decree of the Most Merciful:
It is He Who has made the earth manageable for you, so traverse its tracts and enjoy of the sustenance which He furnishes, but unto Him is the Resurrection.24
The above-mentioned verse thus alludes to the farthest limit far in the future in the attraction of images and sounds, one of man’s finest arts, and hints encouragement.
And, for example, the verses,
And also others bound together in fetters...25 * And of the evil ones were some who dived for him, and did other work besides.....,26
state that Solomon (PBH) subjugated jinns, satans, and evil spirits, and preventing their evil, employed them usefully, and they say: the jinn, the most important intelligent inhabitants of the earth after man, may serve him.
24. Qur’an, 67:15.
25. Qur’an, 38:38.
26. Qur’an, 21:82.
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Contact may be made with them. Devils too may be compelled to give up their enmity and whether they want to or not made to serve. Thus, Almighty God subjected them to one of His servants who was obedient to His commands. Through the allusive tongue of the verses, in meaning Almighty God is saying: “O man! I made jinns, devils, and their evil obey one of My servants who obeyed Me. If you too are subjugated to my commands, numerous beings, and even jinns and devils, may be subjugated to you.”
These verses trace the final limits of the calling-up of spirits, and conversing with jinns, like spiritualism, which have been filtered from a blend of art and science and have arisen from man’s extraordinary physical and spiritual sensitivity. The verses specify the most beneficial form of these and open up the way to them. But it is not to be subjugated to jinns, devils, and evil spirits, who sometimes call themselves the spirits of the dead, and to become their playthings, and a laughing-stock, like nowadays, but to subjugate them through the talisman of the Qur’an, and be delivered from their evil.
Other verses about Solomon (Peace be upon him) which allude to spirits appearing in physical form, and his calling up demons and subjugating them, and other verses besides, such as,
Then We sent to her Our angel, and he appeared before her as man in all respects,27
indicate both the calling-up of spirits, and spirit beings assuming physical form. But the calling-up of good spirits alluded to here is not in the manner of ‘the cultured,’ to be disrespectful to spirits in that utterly serious world and attract them to their own places and games, but -like one group of the saints like Muhyiddin al-Arabi, who, most seriously and for a serious purpose, met with spirits when they wanted- to be attracted to them and to form a relation with them, and by going to their place and drawing close to their world to an extent, to benefit from their spirituality. It is this that the verses allude to, and within the allusion, make it understood that they are encouraging man to achieve it. They trace the furthest limit of occult arts and sciences of this sort, and point out their best form.
And, for example, the verses about David’s (Peace be upon him) miracles:
It was We that made the hills declare in unison with him Our praises, at eventide, and at break of day.28 * O you mountains! Sing you back the Praises of God with him! and you birds! And We made the iron soft for him.29 * We have been taught the speech of birds.30
These indicate that Almighty God gave to David’s (PBH) praises and glorifi-
27. Qur’an, 19:17.
28. Qur’an, 38:18.
29. Qur’an, 34:10.
30. Qur’an, 27:16.
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cations such strength and a sound so loud and agreeable they brought the mountains to ecstasy, which, each like a huge gramophone or a man, formed a circle on the horizon around the chief reciter, reciting also the glorifications. Is this possible, I wonder? Is it the truth?
Yes, it is the truth. Every mountain with caves can speak with man in man’s language like a parrot. By means of an echo. You say: “All praise be to God!” to the mountain before you, and the mountain will declare: “All praise be to God!”, exactly the same as you. Since Almighty God has given this ability to mountains, it can surely be made to develop, and that seed made to sprout.
Thus, since He gave to David (PBH) the vicegerency of the earth together with his Messengership in exceptional form, He so made the seed of that ability unfold -as a miracle- worthy of his extensive Messengership and magnificent rule that huge mountains followed him like soldiers, students, or followers, and at his command and in his tongue declared the praises and glorifications of the All-Glorious Creator. Whatever David (PBH) said, they repeated. Now at the present time, because the means of communication have multiplied and developed, a powerful commander could compel his large army dispersed in the mountains to declare: “God is Most Great!”, and could make the mountains speak, bringing them to tumult. Since a commander of men can make the mountains speak metaphorically in the tongue of those present in the mountains, surely a magnificent commander of Almighty God culd make them speak actually, and recite His praises. In addition, I have explained in previous Words that all mountains have a collective personality or corporate identity, and offer glorifications and worship in a way suitable to each. That is to say, just as through the mystery of echo all mountains recite glorifications in the tongue of men, so too they glorify the All-Glorious Creator in their own particular tongues.
Also, the verses,
And the birds gathered [in assemblies];31 * We have been taught the speech of birds,32
show that Almighty God bestowed on David and Solomon (Peace be upon them) knowledge of the tongues of the bird species, and of the tongues of their innate capacities; that is, of the things for which they would be useful. Yes, since it is the truth and since the face of the earth is a laden table set up by the Most Merciful in honour of man, most of the other animals and birds who benefit from it may be subjugated to man and serve him. Man employs some of the smallest of them, the honey-bee and silk-worm, and through Divine inspiration has opened up a beneficial highway, and by employing
31. Qur’an, 38:19.
32. Qur’an, 27:16.
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pigeons in various tasks and teaching birds like parrots to speak, he has added fine things to the virtues of human civilization. In the same way, if the tongues of innate capacities of other birds and animals were known, there are many species which could be employed in important tasks like their brothers, the domesticated animals. For example, against plagues of locusts: if the tongue of starlings was known, who eat and destroy locusts, and their movements could be regulated, what valuable services they could be employed in free of charge.
Thus, this verse traces the furthest limit in subjugating birds and benefiting from them in this way, and in making lifeless beings speak like a telephone or gramophone, and in profiting from birds. It specifies the most distant goal. It points a finger at it in majestic fashion and in a way urges man towards it. Through the allusive tongue of these verses, Almighty God is therefore saying in meaning:
“O men! In order to honour his prophethood and the complete justice of his rule, I subjugated to one of your fellow men who was totally submissive to me, the huge creatures in my dominions, causing them to speak, and I made most of my troops and animals his servants. In which case, since I have committed to each of you the Supreme Trust, from which the sky, earth, and mountains shrank, and I have given you the ability to be My vicegerent on earth, you should yield to Me, the One in Whose hand are the reins of these creatures, so that the creatures in My dominions may yield also to you, and you may obtain in the name of the One Who holds them, their reins, and rise to a position worthy of your abilities.
Since the truth is this, rather than listening to the gramophone, playing with pigeons and making them deliver letters, and teaching parrots to speak, you should strive to attain to the most agreeable and elevated amusement. Then the mountains may be huge gramophones for you like David’s, and the harmonious recitations of Divine praises may reach your ears from the trees and plants at the touching of the breeze, and the mountains may show their true nature as wondrous creatures who recite the Divine praises in thousands of tongues, and most birds may be clothed in the form of intimate friends or obedient servants, like Solomon’s Hoopoe. Then they may entertain you and drive you eagerly towards the perfections and attainments of which you are capable, and not make you fall from the position required by being a human being, like other amusements.“
And, for example, in the verse,
We said: “O fire! Be cool and [a means of] safety for Abraham,33
33. Qur’an, 21:69.
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which is about one of Abraham’s (Peace be upon him) miracles, are three subtle indications:
The First: Like other natural causes, fire does not act according to its own wishes and nature, blindly, but performs a duty under a command. Thus it did not burn Abraham (Peace be upon him), because it was commanded not to burn him.
The Second: There is a degree of heat which burns through its coldness. That is, it has an effect like burning. Through the word, Be cool!,34 Almighty God is saying to the coldness: “Do not burn him with your coldness, the same as your heat!” That is to say, through its coldness, fire at that degree has an effect like burning. It is both fire and cold. In fact, in natural science there is a degree of fire, the state of ‘white heat,’ the heat of which does not spread to its surroundings. It attracts the heat around it to itself and with this cold, freezes surrounding liquids such as water, in effect burning them through its cold. Thus, intense cold is a category of fire which burns through its cold. In which case, this intense cold is surely a part of Hell, for it contains all the degrees and sorts of fire.
The Third: Just as there is an immaterial substance like belief which counters the effects of Hell-fire and affords protection against it, the armour of Islam, so there is a physical substance which protects against the effects of worldly fire. For as is required by the Name of All-Wise, this world is the abode of wisdom, and Almighty God carries out His works under the veil of causes. Therefore, the fire burnt neither Abraham’s body, nor his garments; He imbued them with a state which resisted fire. Thus, by this allusion, the verse is in effect saying: “O nation of Abraham! Resemble Abraham, so that your garments may be your armour against fire, your greatest enemy both here and there. Clothe your spirit in belief in God, and it will be your armour against Hell-fire. Moreover, there are certain substances which Almighty God has hidden in the earth for you which will protect you from the evils of fire. Search for them, extract them, and clothe yourselves in them!” Thus, one of man’s important discoveries and a step in his progress was his finding a substance which fire does not burn; and he clothed himself in garments resistant to fire. So see how elevated, subtle, and fine a garment this verse weaves on the loom of Hanifan Musliman, which will not be rent in all eternity.
And, for example, the verse,
And He taught Adam the Names, all of them,35
34. One Qur’anic commentary states: If He had not said: Be cool!, it would have burnt him with its coldness. [See, for example, Ibn Hanbal, al-Zuhd, 101.- Tr.]
35. Qur’an, 2:31.
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which says: “Adam’s (Peace be upon him) greatest miracle in the question of the supreme vicegerency was the teaching of the Divine Names.” Like the miracles of the other Prophets each allude to a particular human wonder, the miracle of Adam, who was the father of all the Prophets and the ‘Inauguration of the Office of Prophethood,’ points almost explicitly to the final points of all human attainment and progress, and humanity’s final goals. Through the tongue of allusion, Almighty God (May His glory be exalted) is saying with this verse:
“O Sons of Adam! Since as a proof of their superiority over the angels in the question of the vicegerency, I taught your forefathers all the Names, you too, since you are his sons and the inheritors of his abilities, should learn all the Names and in your position as holder of the Supreme Trust demonstrate before all creatures your worthiness. For the way is open to you to rise to exalted rank such as holding the highest positions over all beings in the universe, and for vast creatures like the earth to be subjected to you. Come on, step forward, adhere to all the Names, and rise! But your forefather was once deceived by Satan, and temporarily fell to the earth from a position like Paradise. Beware! In your progress, do not follow Satan and from the heavens of Divine wisdom thus fall into the misguidance of ‘nature.’ Continuously raising your head and studying carefully My Most Beautiful Names, make your sciences and your progress steps by which to ascend to those heavens. Then you may rise to My dominical Names, which are the realities and sources of your sciences and attainments, and you may look to your Sustainer with your hearts through the telescope of the Names.”
A SIGNIFICANT POINT AND IMPORTANT MYSTERY
By describing under the title of ‘the teaching of the Names’ all the attainments of learning and scientific progress and wonders of technology which man manifests through his comprehensive disposition, this wondrous verse contains the following subtle and elevated allusion: all attainments and perfections, all learning, all progress, and all sciences, have an elevated reality which is based on one of the Divine Names. On being based on the Name, which is concealed under numerous veils and has various manifestations and different spheres, the sciences and arts and attainments find their perfection and become reality. They are not some incomplete and deficient shadow.
For example, engineering is a science; its reality and final point reaches to Almighty God’s Names of All-Just and Determiner, and observes with all their majesty the wise manifestation of those Names in the mirror of engineering.
And, for example, medicine is a science, and also an art; its final point and reality are based on the Absolutely Wise One’s Name of Healer, and through observing that Name’s compassionate manifestations in the vast
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pharmacy of the earth, medicine finds its perfection and becomes reality.
And, for example, the natural sciences, which discuss the reality of beings; through seeing the regulating, nurturing supreme manifestations of Almighty God’s (May His glory be exalted) Name of All-Wise in things, in their benefits and advantages, and through attaining to the Name, and being based on It, these sciences may contain true wisdom. Otherwise they are either transformed into superstition, or become nonsense, or open up the way to misguidance like Naturalist philosophy.
There, three examples for you! You may make analogies with these for the other sciences and attainments.
Thus, with this verse, the All-Wise Qur’an strikes the hand of encouragement on man’s back, urging him to the highest peaks, the furthest limits, the final degrees, which he is far behind at the present degree of his progress. It points its fingers at those degrees, saying: “Forward march!” Contenting ourselves for now with these jewels from the sublime treasury of this verse, we close this door.
Also, for example, the All-Wise Qur’an, the supreme miracle of Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him), the Seal of the Office of Prophethood, in the face of whose claim to Divine Messengership the miracles of all the former Prophets were like a single confirmatory miracle; the leader of the Prophets and cause of pride of the universe; who manifested in detail with all their degrees all the Names which were taught in brief to Adam (PBH); who, in raising his finger, through the manifestation of Divine glory split the moon, and lowering it, through the manifestation of Divine beauty poured water from it like the Spring of Kawthar; and who was verified and corroborated by a thousand miracles.36 Through numerous clear verses like,
Say: If all mankind and the Jinn were to gather together to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed up each other with help and support,37
which describes the purity of its exposition, the eloquence of its expression, the comprehensiveness of its meanings, and the elevatedness and sweetness of its styles concerning truth and reality, which are the most brilliant of the All-Wise Qur’an’s aspects of miraculousness - through verses like these, it directs the gazes of men and jinn to the clearest and most brilliant aspects of this pre-eternal miracle. It provokes all men and jinn. Arousing the eagerness of its friends and obstinacy of its enemies, it urges them with intense encouragement to imitate and copy it, to resemble it with their words. It also places that miracle before the eyes of creatures in such a way that it is as if the only aim in man coming into this world is to take that miracle as his goal
36. Bayhaqi, Dala’il al-Nubuwwa, i, 10; Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari, vi, 58, 583.
37. Qur’an, 17:88.
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and guiding principle, and studying it to understand the purpose of his creation, and to proceed towards it.
In Brief: The miracles of the other Prophets (Peace be upon them) all indicate a wonder of human art or craft, and Adam’s (Peace be upon him) miracle indicates in concise form, besides the bases of those crafts, the index of the sciences and branches of knowledge, and of the wonders and perfections, and urges man towards them. As for the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition, the supreme miracle of Muhammad (PBUH), since it shows in detail the reality of the teaching of the Names, it points clearly to the true goal of the sciences and branches of knowledge, which are truth and reality, as well as the perfections, attainments, and happiness of this world and the next. With truly powerful encouragement, it urges man towards them. It encourages and urges in a such way it says:
“O man! In the face of manifestations of dominicality, the elevated purpose of the universe is man’s universal worship and submission to God, while his furthest aim is to attain to that worship by means of those sciences and perfections.” In stating this, it hints:
“At the end of time, mankind will spill into science and learning. It will obtain all its strength from science. Power and rule will pass to the hand of science.”
Also, since the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition repeatedly puts forward its eloquence and beauty of expression, by allusion it says: “At the end of time, eloquence and beauty of expression, the most brilliant of the sciences and branches of knowledge, will be most sought after in all their varieties. Even, in order to make one another accept their ideas and carry out their word, men will find their most effective weapon in eloquent expression, and their most irresistible force in fine oratory.”
In Short: Most of the Qur’an’s verses are keys to a treasury of perfections and guides to a store of knowledge.
If you wish, you may reach up to the skies of the Qur’an and the stars of its verses by making the previous twenty Words a stairway of twenty steps.38 Through them you will see what a brilliant sun is the Qur’an! See how it sprinkles a pure light over the Divine truths and the truths of the contingent realm! See what a brilliant effulgence it spreads!
Conclusion: Since together with alluding to the wonders of present-day human progress, all the verses about the Prophets are also in a style which as though infers and traces their limits in the future; and since it is certain that all the verses point to numerous meanings, indeed, it is unanimously
38. Indeed, the thirty-three Words, thirty-three Letters, thirty-one Flashes, and thirteen Rays form a stairway of one hundred and twenty steps.
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agreed upon, and since there are categorical commands to follow and obey the Prophets, then together with the explicit meanings of the above verses, it may be said that they indicate in allusive fashion the important of man’s arts and sciences, and urge him towards them.
TWO IMPORTANT ANSWERS TO TWO IMPORTANT QUESTIONS THE FIRST
If you say: “The Qur’an was revealed for man, so why does it not describe the wonders of civilization explicitly, for they have the greatest importance in his eyes? Why does it suffice with secret signs, concealed allusions, slight indications, and slender reminders?”
The Answer: Because the rights of the marvels of human civilization can only claim that much in the Qur’an’s discussions. For the Qur’an’s basic duty is to teach about the perfections and acts in the ‘sphere of dominicality’ and the duties and circumstances in the ‘sphere of worship.’ So the rights of human wonders in those two spheres diminish to being only a weak sign and slight indication. For if they were to demand their rights from the ‘sphere of dominicality,’ they would receive very few.
For example, if man’s aeroplane39 was to say to the Qur’an: “Give me the right to speak and a place in your verses,” the planets, earth, and moon, which are the aeroplanes of the ‘sphere of dominicality,’ would reply in the name of the Qur’an: “You take a place in relation to your size.” And if man’s submarines were to ask for a place from the Qur’an’s verses, the submarines of that sphere, that is, the earth and stars which swim in the vast ocean of the atmosphere and the ether would say: “Your place beside us is so small as to be negligible.” And if the brilliant, star-like electric lights were to demand the right to speak and ask to be included in its verses, the electric lights of that sphere, the shooting stars, lightning, and stars and lamps which adorn the face of the skies, would say: “You may enter its discussions and explanations in relation to your light.” If the wonders of civilization were to demand their rights with a view to fineness of art and seek a place from its verses, then a single fly would bid them to be silent, saying: “Your rights are not equal to even one of my wings! For if all the fine arts and delicate instruments achieved through man’s faculty of will were to be gathered together, they could not be as wondrous as the fine art of my delicate members and tiny body.” The verse,
39. While writing this serious matter, involuntarily my pen adopted this subtle, though witty, style. So I left my pen free. I hope that the somewhat unserious style does not mar the seriousness of the subject.
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Those on whom you call besides God cannot create [even] a fly, if they all met together for the purpose....40
bids you to fall silent!”
If the marvels of civilization were to go to the ‘sphere of worship’ and demand their rights, they would receive a reply like this: “Your relations with us are very few, and you may not easily enter our sphere. For our programme is this: the world is a guest-house, and as for man, he remains there only a short time. He is a guest with many duties and in a brief lifetime is charged with preparing all the necessities for eternal life. The most important and essential matters will be offered to you. But most of you see this fleeting world through a veil of heedlessness, as an eternal abode, coloured and shaped by worldly feelings. So your share of worship, the basis of which is love of the truth and thinking of the hereafter, is very small. However, if there are among you respected craftsmen and artists and inspired inventors, who, purely for the benefit of God’s servants, serve the general interest and public well-being and betterment of social life, which is a valuable worship, these signs and indications of the Qur’an are surely sufficient for those sensitive people, who of course form a minority, in order to encourage their efforts and appreciate their art.”
THE ANSWER TO THE SECOND QUESTION
If you say: “None of my doubts remains now after these investigations, and I affirm that together with other wonders, in the Qur’an are allusions to and indications of the wonders of modern civilization, indeed, to further advancements. Everything necessary for man’s happiness in this world and the next is found within it in relation to its worth. But why does the Qur’an not mention them explicitly so that obstinate unbelievers would be compelled to confirm it, and our hearts also would be easy?”
The Answer: Religion is an examination, a test, proposed by God so that in the arena of competition elevated spirits and base spirits may be distinguished from one another. Just as materials are plunged in the fire so that diamonds and coal, gold and earth, separate out from one another, so too religion is a trial concerning the obligations placed on man by God and a driving to competition, which is what this abode of examination consists of. In this way the elevated jewels in the mine of man’s abilities become separated out from the dross. Since the Qur’an was revealed in this abode of examination for man to be perfected through trial in the arena of competition, it will surely only allude to the hidden events of the future pertaining to this world which everyone will see, and will only open the door to the reason to a degree that proves its argument. If it mentioned them explicitly, the
40. Qur’an, 22:73.
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mystery of man’s accountability would be negated. Simply, it would be as self-evident as writing There is no god but God clearly in stars on the face of the skies. Then everyone would have to affirm it whether they wanted to or not. There would be no competition, and the examination too would go for nothing. A spirit like coal would remain on the same level of a spirit like diamonds.41
In Short: The All-Wise Qur’an is wise. It affords everything a position in relation to its value. Thus, one thousand three hundred years ago, the Qur’an saw concealed in the darkness of the future, man’s hidden fruits and progress, and showed them in a form better than we see and shall see. That means the Qur’an is the Word of One Who sees at the same instant all time and all within it.
Thus, one flash of the Qur’an’s miraculousness which shines on the face of the miracles of the Prophets.
O God! Grant us understanding of the mysteries of the Qur’an and success in the service of it at every instant at all times.
Glory be unto You! We have no knowledge save that which You have taught us; indeed, You are All-Knowing, All-Wise.42
O God! Grant blessings and peace and benedictions and honour to our master and lord Muhammad, Your servant and Prophet and Messenger, the Unlettered Prophet, and to his Family and Companions and wives and descendants, and to all the Prophets and Messengers, and to the angels close to Your Throne, and the saints and the righteous; grant too the most excellent of blessings and the purest peace and the most abundant benedictions, to the number of the Suras of the Qur’an, and its verses, and words and letters, and its meanings and indications and signs and allusions, and grant us forgiveness, and have mercy on us, and be gracious to us, O God, Our Creator, to the number of those blessings, through Your mercy, O Most Merciful of the Merciful! And all praise be to God, the Sustainer of All the Worlds. Amen. Amen.
41. Abu Jahl the Accursed and Abu Bakr the Truthful would appear to be equal, and the mystery of the examination set by God, lost.
42. Qur’an, 2:32.
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The Twenty-First Word
[This Word consists of Two Stations.]
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
For such Prayers are enjoined on believers at stated times.1
One time, a man great in age, physique, and rank said to me: “The prayers are fine, but to perform them every single day five times is excessive. Since they never end, it becomes wearying.”
A long time after the man said these words, I listened to my soul and I heard it say exactly the same things. I looked at it and saw that with the ear of laziness, it was receiving the same lesson from Satan. Then I understood that those words were as though said in the name of all evil-commanding souls, or else they had been prompted. So I said: “Since my soul commands to evil, one who does not reform his own soul cannot reform others. In which case, I shall begin with my own soul.”
I said: O soul! Listen to five ‘Warnings’ in response to those words which you uttered in compounded ignorance, on the couch of idleness, in the slumber of heedlessness.
O my wretched soul! Is your life eternal, I wonder? Have you any incontrovertible document showing that you will live to next year, or even to tomorrow? What causes you boredom is that you fancy you shall live for ever. You complain as though you will remain in this world to enjoy yourself for ever. If you had understood that your life is brief and that it is departing fruitlessly, it surely would not cause you boredom, but excite a real eagerness and agreeable pleasure to spend one hour out of the twenty-four on a fine, agreeable, easy, and merciful act of service which is a means of gaining the true happiness of eternal life.
1. Qur’an, 4:103.
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O my stomach-worshipping soul! Every day you eat bread, drink water, and breathe air; do they cause you boredom? They do not, because since the need is repeated, it is not boredom that they cause, but pleasure. In which case, the five daily prayers should not cause you boredom, for they attract the needs of your companions in the house of my body, the sustenance of my heart, the water of life of my spirit, and the air of my subtle faculties. Yes, it is by knocking through supplication on the door of One All-Compassionate and Munificent that sustenance and strength may be obtained for a heart afflicted with infinite griefs and sorrows and captivated by infinite pleasures and hopes. And it is by turning towards the spring of mercy of an Eternal Beloved through the five daily prayers that the water of life may be imbibed by a spirit connected with most beings, which swiftly depart from this transitory world crying out at separation. And being most needy for air in the sorrowful, crushing, distressing, transient, dark, and suffocating conditions of this world, it is only through the window of the prayers that a conscious inner sense and luminous subtle faculty can breathe, which by its nature desires eternal life and was created for eternity and is a mirror of the Pre-Eternal and Post-Eternal One and is infinitely delicate and subtle.
O my impatient soul! Is it at all sensible to think today of past hardships of worship, difficulties of the prayers, and troubles of misfortune, and be distressed, and to imagine the future duties of worship, service of the prayers, and sorrows of disaster, and display impatience? In being thus impatient you resemble a foolish commander, who, although the enemy’s right flank joined his right flank and became fresh forces for him, sent a significant force to the right flank, and weakened the centre. Then, while there were no enemy soldiers on the left flank, he sent a large force there, and gave them the order to fire. No forces then remained in the centre, and the enemy understood this and attacked it and routed him.
Yes, you resemble this, for the troubles of yesterday have today been transformed into mercy; the pain has gone while the pleasure remains. The difficulty has been turned into blessings, and the hardship into reward. In which case, you should not feel wearied at it, but make a serious effort to continue with a new eagerness and fresh enthusiasm. As for future days, they have not yet arrived, and to think of them now and feel bored and wearied is a lunacy like thinking today of future hunger and thirst, and starting to shout and cry out. Since the truth is this, if you are reasonable, you will think of only today in connection with worship, and say: “I am spending one hour of it on an agreeable, pleasant, and elevated act of service, the reward for which is high and whose trouble is little.” Then your bitter dispiritedness will be transformed into sweet endeavour.
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My impatient soul! You are charged with being patient in three respects. One is patience in worship. Another is patience in refraining from sin. And a third is patience in the face of disaster.2 If you are intelligent, take as your guide the truth apparent in the comparison in this Third Warning. Say in manly fashion: “O Most Patient One!”, and shoulder the three sorts of patience. If you do not squander on the wrong way the forces of patience Almighty God has given you, they should be enough to withstand every difficulty and disaster. So hold out with those forces!
O my foolish soul! Is this duty of worship without result, and is its recompense little that it causes you weariness? Whereas if someone was to give you a little money, or to intimidate you, he could make you work till evening, and you would work without slacking. So is it that the prescribed prayers are without result, which in this guest-house of the world are sustenance and wealth for your impotent and weak heart, and in your grave, which will be a certain dwelling-place for you, sustenance and light, and at the Resurrection, when you will anyway be judged, a document and patent, and on the Bridge of Sirat, over which you are bound to pass, a light and a mount? Are their recompense little? Someone promises you a present worth a hundred liras, and makes you work for a hundred days. You trust the man who may go back on his word and work without slacking. So if One for Whom the breaking of a promise is impossible, promises you recompense like Paradise and a gift like eternal happiness, and employs you for a very short time in a very agreeable duty, if you do not perform that service, or you act accusingly towards His promise or slight His gift by performing it unwillingly like someone forced to work, or by being bored, or by working in half-hearted fashion, you will deserve a severe reprimand and awesome punishment. Have you not thought of this? Although you serve without flagging in the heaviest work in this world out of fear of imprisonment, does the fear of an eternal incarceration like Hell not fill you with enthusiasm for a truly light and agreeable act of service?
O my world-worshipping soul! Does your slackness in worship and remissness in the prescribed prayers arise from the multiplicity of your worldly occupations, or because you cannot find time due to the struggle for livelihood? Were you created only for this world that you spend all your time on it? You know that in regard to your abilities you are superior to all the animals, but in regard to procuring the necessities of worldly life you cannot compete with even a sparrow. So why can you not understand that your basic
2. Suyuti, al-Durar al-Muntathira, 46; Suyuti, al-Fath al-Kabir, ii, 200.
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duty is not to labour like an animal, but to strive for a true, perpetual life, like a true human being. In addition, the things you call worldly occupations mostly do not concern you, and are trivial matters which you meddle in officiously. You neglect the essential things and pass your time acquiring inessential information as though you were going to live for a thousand years. For example, you squander your precious time on worthless things like learning what the rings around Saturn are like or how many chickens there are in America. As though you were becoming an expert in astronomy or statistics.
If you say: “What keeps me from the prayers and worship and causes me to be lax is not unnecessary things like that, but essential matters like earning a livelihood,” then my answer is this: if you work for a daily wage of one hundred kurush, and someone comes to you and says: “Come and dig here for ten minutes, and you will find a brilliant and an emerald worth a hundred liras.” If you reply: “No, I won’t come, because ten kurush will be cut from my wage and my subsistence will be less,” of course you understand what a foolish pretext it would be. In just the same way, you work in this orchard for your livelihood. If you abandon the obligatory prayers, all the fruits of your effort will be restricted to only a worldly, unimportant, and unproductive livelihood. But if you spend your rest periods on the prayers, which allow your spirit to relax and heart to take a breather, you will discover two mines which are an important source, both for a productive worldly livelihood, and your livelihood and provisions of the hereafter.
First Mine: Through a sound intention, you will receive a share of the praises and glorifications offered by all the plants and trees, whether flowering or fruit-bearing, that you grow in the garden.3
Second Mine: Whatever is eaten of the garden’s produce, whether by animals or man, cattle or flies, buyers or thieves, it will become like almsgiving from you.4 But on condition you work in the name of the True Provider and within the bounds of what He permits, and see yourself as a distribution official giving His property to His creatures.
So see what a great loss is made by one who abandons the prescribed prayers. What significant wealth he loses, and he is deprived of those two results and mines which would otherwise cause him to work eagerly and ensure his morale is strong; he becomes bankrupt. Even, as he grows old, he will grow weary of gardening and lose interest in it, saying, “What is it to me? I am anyway leaving this world, why should I put up with this much difficulty?” He will sink into idleness. But the first man says: “I shall work harder at both worship and licit activities in order to send even more abundant light to my grave and procure more provisions for my life in the hereafter.”
3. This First Station was a lesson for someone in a garden, so it was explained in this way.
4. Bukhari, iii, 135; Muslim, ii, 1189; Ibn Hibban, v, 152; Musnad, iii, 184, 191.
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In Short: O my soul! Know that yesterday has left you, and as for tomorrow, you have nothing to prove that it will be yours. In which case, know that your true life is the present day. So throw at least one of its hours into a mosque or prayer-mat, a coffer for the hereafter like a reserve fund, set up for the true future. Know too that for you and for everyone each new day is the door to a new world. If you do not perform the prayers, your world that day will depart dark and wretched, and will testify against you in the World of Similitudes. For everyone, every day, has a private world out of this world, and its nature is dependent on the person’s heart and actions. Like a splendid palace reflected in a mirror takes on the colour of the mirror; if it is black, it appears black; if it is red, it appears red. Also it takes on the qualities of the mirror; if the mirror is smooth, it shows the palace to be beautiful, and if it is not, it shows it to be ugly. As it shows the most delicate things to be coarse, so you alter the shape of your own world with your heart, mind, actions, and wishes. You may make it testify either for you or against you. If you perform the five daily prayers, and through them you are turned towards that world’s Glorious Maker, all of a sudden your world, which looks to you, is lit up. Quite simply as though the prayers are an electric lamp and your intention to perform them touches the switch, they disperse the world’s darkness and show the changes and movements within the confused wretchedness of worldly chaos to be a wise and purposeful order and a meaningful writing of Divine power. They scatter one light of the light-filled verse,
God is the Light of the Heavens and the Earth5
over your heart, and your world on that day is illuminated through the light’s reflection. It will cause it to testify in your favour through its luminosity.
Beware, do not say: “What are my prayers in comparison with the reality of the prayers?”, because like the seed of a date-palm describes the full-grown tree, your prayers describe your tree. The difference is only in the summary and details; like the prayers of a great saint, the prayers of ordinary people like you or me, even if they are not aware of it, have a share of that light. There is a mystery in this truth, even if the conscious mind does not perceive it... but the unfolding and illumination differs according to the degrees of those performing them. However many stages and degrees there are from the seed of a date-palm to the mature tree, the degrees of the prayers and their stages are even more numerous. But the essence of that luminous truth is present in all the degrees.
O God! Grant blessings and peace to the one who said: “The five daily prayers are the pillar of religion,”6 and to all his Family and Companions.
5. Qur’an, 24:35.
6. Tirmidhi, Iman, 8; Ibn Maja, Fitan, 12; Musnad, v, 231, 237; al-Mustadrak, ii, 76.
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The Second Station of the Twenty-First Word
[This comprises five cures for five of the heart’s wounds.]
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
And say: “O my Sustainer! I seek refuge with You from the suggestions of the evil ones * And I seek refuge with you, O my Sustainer, lest they should come near me.”7
O one afflicted with the sickness of scruples! Do you know what your scruples resemble? A calamity! The more importance they are given, the more they grow. If you give them no importance, they die away. If you see them as big, they grow bigger. If you see them as small, they grow smaller. If you fear them, they swell and make you ill. If you do not fear them, they are light and remain hidden. If you do not know their true nature, they persist and become established. While if you do know them and recognize them, they disappear. And so, I shall explain only five ‘Aspects’ which, of the many sorts of these calamitous scruples, are those which most frequently occur. Perhaps it may be curative for you and for me, for these scruples are such that ignorance invites them and knowledge repulses them. If you do not recognize them they come, if you do recognize them they go.
FIRST ASPECT - FIRST WOUND
Satan first casts a doubt into the heart. If the heart does not accept it, it turns from a doubt into abuse. It depicts before the imagination some unclean memories and unmannerly, ugly states which resemble abuse, and causes the heart to declare: “Alas!”, and fall into despair. The person suffering from scruples supposes that he has acted wrongfully before his Sustainer and feels a terrible agitation and anxiety. In order to be saved from it, he flees from the Divine presence and wants to plunge into heedlessness. The cure for this wound is this:
O wretched man suffering from scruples! Do not be alarmed! For what comes to your mind is not abuse, but something imaginary. And like to imagine unbelief is not unbelief, to imagine abuse is not abuse either. For
7. Qur’an, 23:97-8.
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according to logic, an imagining is not a judgement, and abuse is a judgement. Moreover, those ugly words are not the words of your heart, because your heart is saddened and sorry at them. Rather they come from the inner faculty situated near the heart which is a means of Satanic whisperings. The harm of scruples is imagining the harm. That is, it is to suffer harm in the heart through imagining them to be harmful. For it is imagining to be reality an imagining which is devoid of judgement. Also, it is to attribute to the heart Satan’s works; to suppose his words to be from it. Such a person thinks it is harmful, so it becomes harmful. That is anyway what Satan wanted.
It is this: when meanings arise in the heart, they enter the imagination stripped of form; it is there that they are clothed in an image or form. The imagination, always affected by some cause, weaves images of a sort. It leaves on the way the images of the things to which it gives importance. Whatever meaning passes through it, it either clothes it, or wears it, or taints it, or veils it. If the meanings are pure and clean, and the images, dirty and base, there is no clothing, but there is contact. The man with scruples confuses the contact with being clothed. He exclaims: “Alas! How corrupted my heart has become. This lowness has made me despicable!” Satan takes advantage of this vein of his. The cure for such a wound is as follows:
Listen, O you unfortunate! Just as outward cleanliness, which is the means to the correct conduct of your prayers, is not affected by the uncleanness of the inside of your inner organs, and is not spoiled by it, so the sacred meanings being close to unclean forms does not harm them. For example, you are reflecting on some Divine signs when suddenly you feel ill, or an appetite, or a stimulation like a need to pass water. Of course your imagination will see whatever is necessary to cure the ill or answer the need, and will look at it, weave lowly forms appropriate to them, and the meanings that arise will pass between them. But there is no harm in their passing, nor soiling, nor error, nor injury. If there is any mistake, it is in paying them attention and imagining the harm.
It is this: there are certain hidden connections between things. There are even the threads of connections between things you least expected. They are either there in fact, or your imagination made them according to the art with which it was preoccupied, and tied them together. It is due to this mystery of connections that sometimes seeing a sacred thing calls to mind a dirty thing. As stated in the science of rhetoric, “Although opposition is the cause of distance in the outer world, it is the cause of proximity in the imagination.” That is, an imaginary connection is the means of bringing together the
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images of two opposites. The recollection which arises from this connection is called the association of ideas.
For example, while performing the prayers or reciting supplications before the Ka‘ba in the Divine Presence, this association of ideas takes hold of you and drives you to the furthest, lowest trivia, although you are reflecting on Qur’anic verses. If your head is afflicted with association of ideas in this way, beware, do not be alarmed. Rather, the moment you come to your senses, turn back. Do not say: “I’ve done a great wrong,” and keep playing with the trigger, lest through your attention, that tenuous connection strengthens. For the more you feel regret, the more importance you give it and that faint memory of yours becomes ingrained. It becomes an imaginary sickness. Do not be frightened, it is not a sickness of the heart. This sort of recollection is mostly involuntary. Especially in sensitive, nervous people it is more common. Satan works the mine of this sort of scruple a great deal. The cure for this wound is as follows:
The association of ideas is mostly involuntary. One is not answerable for it. In association there is proximity; there is no touching or intermingling. Therefore the nature of the ideas do not pass to one another and do not harm one another. Just as Satan and the angel of inspiration being in proximity to one another around the heart, and sinners and the pious being close to one another in the same house cause no harm, so too, if at the prompting of the association of ideas, dirty imaginings come and enter among clean thoughts, they cause no harm. Unless it is intentional, or by imagining them to be harmful, one is over-occupied with them. And sometimes the heart becomes tired, and the mind occupies itself with anything it encounters in order to entertain itself. Then Satan finds an opportunity, and scatters dirty things before it, and eggs it on.
This is a scruple arising from searching for the best form of an action. Supposing it to be fear of God, the more rigorous it becomes, the more severe the condition becomes for the person. It even reaches the point that while searching for even better forms of action, he deviates into what is unlawful. Sometimes searching for a Sunna makes him give up what is obligatory. He says: “I wonder if my act was sound?”, and repeats it. This state continues, and he falls into terrible despair. Satan takes advantage of this state of his, and wounds him. There are two cures for such a wound.
The First Cure: Scruples like this are worthy of the Mu‘tazilites, because they say: “Actions and things for which a person is responsible are either, of themselves and in regard to the hereafter, good, and because of this good they were commanded, or they are bad, and because they are bad they were prohibited. That means, from the point of view of reality and the
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hereafter, the good and bad in things is dependent on the things themselves, and the Divine command and prohibition follows this.” According to this school of thought, the following scruple arises in every action which a person performs: “I wonder if my action was performed in the good way that in essence it is?” While the true school, the Sunni School, says: “Almighty God orders a thing, then it becomes good. He prohibits a thing, then it becomes bad.” That is, goodness becomes existent through command, and badness through prohibition. They look to the awareness of the one who performs the action, and are established according to that. And this good and bad is not in the apparent face which looks to this world, but in the face that looks to the hereafter.
For example, you performed the prayers or took the ablutions and there was a cause that of itself would spoil them, but you were completely unaware of it. Your prayers and ablutions, therefore, are both sound and acceptable. However, the Mu‘tazilites say: “In reality it was bad and unsound. But it may be accepted from you because you were ignorant and did not know, so you have an excuse.” Therefore, according to the Sunni School, do not say about an action which is conformable with the externals of the Shari‘a: “I wonder if it was sound?”; do not have scruples about it. Say: “Was it accepted?”; do not become proud and conceited!
The Second Cure: This is: There is no difficulty in religion.8 Since the four schools of law are true; and since realizing a fault which leads to the seeking of forgiveness is preferable -for the person afflicted with scruples- to seeing actions as good, which leads to pride, that is, it is better if such a person sees his action as faulty and seeks forgiveness, rather than considering it to be good and falling into pride; since it is thus, throw away your scruples and say to Satan: “This state is a difficulty. It is difficult to be aware of the reality of things. It is contrary to the ease in religion expressed by: There is no difficulty in religion. It is contrary to the principle, Religion is facility. Certainly such an action is conformable with a true school of law. That is enough for me. And at least by admitting my inability to perform the worship in a way worthy of it, it is a means of taking refuge with Divine compassion through humbly beseeching forgiveness, and to meekly supplicating that my faulty actions be accepted.
In matters of belief, what occurs to one in the form of doubts are scruples. The unhappy man suffering from scruples sometimes confuses conceptions in his mind with imaginings. That is, he imagines a doubt that has occurred to his imagination to be a doubt that has entered his mind, and supposes that
8. Bukhari, i, 16; Ibn Hibban, Sahih, i, 280; Kanz al-Ummal, iii, 33, 36, 47; vi, 42, 47.
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his beliefs have been damaged. Sometimes he supposes a doubt he has imagined to have harmed his belief. Sometimes he supposes a doubt he has imagined to have been confirmed by his reason. Sometimes he supposes pondering over a matter related to unbelief to be unbelief. That is, he supposes to be contrary to belief his exercising his ability to reflect in the form of understanding the causes of misguidance, and his ability to study and reason in impartial fashion. Then, taking fright at these suppositions, which result from the whisperings of Satan, he exclaims: “Alas! My heart is corrupted and my beliefs spoiled.” Since those states are mostly involuntary, and he cannot put them to rights through his faculty of will, he falls into despair. The cure for this wound is as follows:
Just as imagining unbelief is not unbelief, neither is fancying unbelief, unbelief. And just as imagining misguidance is not misguidance, so too reflecting on misguidance is not misguidance. For both imagining, and fancying, and supposing, and reflecting, are different from confirmation with the reason and submission of the heart, they are other than them; they are free to an extent; they do not listen to the faculty of will; they are not included among the obligations of religion. But affirmation and submission are not like that; they are dependent on a balance. And just as imagining, fancying, supposing, and reflecting are not affirmation or submission, so they cannot be said to be doubt or hesitation. But if they are repeated unnecessarily and become established, then a sort of real doubt may be born of them. Also, continually taking the part of the opposing side calling it unbiased reasoning or being fair reaches the point that the person involuntarily favours the opposing side. His taking the part of the truth, which is incumbent on him, is destroyed. He too falls into danger. A state of mind becomes fixed in his head whereby he becomes an officious representative of Satan or the enemy.
The most important of this sort of scruple is this: the person suffering from it confuses something that is actually possible with something which is reasonably possible. That is, if he sees something which is of itself possible, he imagines it to be reasonably possible and reasonably doubtful. Whereas one of the principles of theology (kalâm) is that something which is of itself possible is not opposed to certain knowledge and does not contradict the demands of reason. For example, the Black Sea sinking into the earth at this moment is of itself possible, but we judge with certainty that the sea is in its place, and we know this without doubting it, and that possibility which is actually possible causes us no doubt and does not damage our certainty. And, for example, of itself it is possible that the sun will not set today or that it will not rise tomorrow. But this possibility in no way damages our certainty that it will rise and gives rise to no doubt. Similarly, unfounded suspicions arising from possibilities of this sort about, for example, the setting of
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the life of this world and rising of the life of the hereafter, which are among the truths of belief, cause no harm to the certainty of belief. Furthermore, the well-known rule, A possibility that does not arise from any proof or evidence is of no importance is one of the established principles of both the sciences of the principles of religion and the principles of jurisprudence (fiqh).
If you say: “What is the wisdom and purpose in scruples being visited on us, which are thus harmful and an affliction for believers?”
The Answer: On condition they do not lead to excess or overwhelm a person, essentially scruples are the cause of vigilance, lead to seeking the best way, and give rise to seriousness. They banish indifference and repulse carelessness. Therefore, in this realm of examination and arena of competition, the Absolutely Wise One put them in the hand of Satan as a whip of encouragement for us. He strikes it at our heads. If it hurts excessively, one must complain to the All-Wise and Compassionate One, and say: I seek refuge with God from Satan the Accursed.
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The Twenty-Second Word
[This Word consists of Two Stations]
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
So God sets forth parables for men, so that they may bear [them] in mind.1 * Such are the similitudes which we propound to men that they may reflect.2
One time two men were washing in a pool. Under some extraordinary influence they lost their senses and when they opened their eyes, they saw that it had transported them to a strange land. It was such that with its perfect order it was like a country, or rather a town, or a palace. They looked around themselves in complete bewilderment: if it was looked at in one way, a vast world was apparent; if in another, a well-ordered country; and if in another, a fine town. And if it was looked at in still another way, it was a palace which comprised a truly magnificent world. Travelling around this strange world, they observed it and saw that creatures of one sort were speaking in a fashion, but they did not understand their language. Nevertheless, it was understood from their signs that they were performing important works and duties.
One of the two men said to his friend: “This strange world must have someone to regulate it, and this orderly country must have a lord, and this fine town, an owner, and this finely made palace, a master builder. We must try to know him, for it is understood that the one who brought us here was he. If we do not recognize him, who will help us? What can we await from these impotent creatures whose language we do not know and who do not heed us? Moreover, surely one who makes a vast world in the form of a country, town, and palace, and fills it from top to bottom with wonderful things, and embellishes it with every sort of adornment, and decks it out
1. Qur’an, 14:25.
2. Qur’an, 59:21.
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with instructive miracles wants something from us and from those that come here. We must get to know him and find out what he wants.”
The other man said: “I do not believe it, that there is a person such as the one you speak of, and that he governs this whole world on his own.”
His friend replied to him: “If we do not recognize him and remain indifferent towards him, there is no advantage in it at all, and if it is harmful, its harm will be immense. Whereas if we try to recognize him, there is little hardship involved, and if there is benefit, it will be great. Therefore, it is in no way sensible to remain indifferent towards him.”
The foolish man said: “I consider all my ease and enjoyment to lie in not thinking of him. Also, I am not going to bother with things that make no sense to me. All these things are the confused objects of chance, they are happening by themselves. What is it to me?”
His intelligent friend replied: “This obstinacy of yours will push me, and a lot of others, into disaster. It sometimes happens that a whole country is laid waste because of one ill-mannered person.”
So the foolish man turned to him and said: “Either prove to me decisively that this large country has a single lord and a single maker, or leave me alone.”
His friend replied: “Your obstinacy has reached the degree of lunacy, and you will be the cause of some disaster being visited on us. So I shall show you twelve proofs demonstrating that this world which is like a palace, and country which is like town, has a single maker and that it is only he who runs and administers everything. He is completely free of all deficiency. This maker, who does not appear to us, sees us and everything, and hears our words. All his works are miracles and marvels. All these creatures whom we see but whose tongues we do not understand are his officials.”
A hidden hand is working within all these works. For something which has not even an ounce of strength,3 something as small as a seed, is raising a load of thousands of pounds. And something that does not have even a particle of consciousness4 is performing extremely wise and purposeful works. That means they are not working by themselves, but that a hidden possessor of power is causing them to work. If they were independent, it would necessitate all the works which we see everywhere in this land being miracles and everything to be a wonder-working marvel. And that is nonsense.
3. This alludes to seeds, which bear trees on their heads.
4. This indicates delicate plants like the grapevine, which themselves cannot climb or bear the weight of fruits, so throwing their delicate arms around other plants or trees and winding themselves around them, they load themselves onto them.
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Come, look carefully at the things which adorn all these plains, fields, and dwellings! There are marks on each telling of that hidden one. Simply, each gives news of Him like a seal or stamp. Look in front of your eyes: what does He make from one ounce of cotton?5 See how many rolls of cloth, fine linen, and flowered material have come out of it. See how many sugared delights and round sweets are being made. If thousands of people like us were to clothe themselves in them and eat them, they would still be sufficient. And look! He has taken a handful of iron, water, earth, coal, copper, silver, and gold, and made some flesh6 out of them. Look at that and see! O foolish one! These works are particular to such a one that all this land together with all its parts is under his miraculous power and is submissive to his every wish.
Come, look at these mobile works of art!7 Each has been fashioned in such a way that it is simply a miniature sample of the huge palace. Whatever there is in the palace, it is found in these tiny mobile machines. Is it at all possible that someone other than the palace’s maker could come and include the wondrous palace in a tiny machine? Also, is it at all possible that although he has included a whole world in a machine the size of a box, there could be anything in it that was purposeless or could be attributed to chance? That means that however many skilfully fashioned machines you can see, each is like a seal of that hidden one. Rather, each is like a herald or proclamation. Through their tongues of disposition they are saying: “We are the art of One Who can make this entire world of ours as easily and simply as He created us.”
O my stubborn friend! Come, I shall show you something even stranger. Look! All these works and things in this land have changed and are changing. They do not stop in any one state. Note carefully that each of these lifeless bodies and unfeeling boxes has taken on the form of being absolutely dominant. Quite simply it is as though each rules all the others. Look at this
5. This indicates a seed. For example, a poppy seed like an atom, the kernel of an apricot stone, and a tiny melon seed, produce from the treasury of mercy woven leaves finer than broadcloth, flowers whiter than linen, and fruits sweeter than sugar and more delicate and delicious than sweets and conserves, and they offer them to us.
6. This indicates the creation of animal bodies from the elements, and living creatures from sperm.
7. This alludes to animals and humans. For since animals are tiny indexes of the world, and man is a miniature sample of the universe, whatever there is in the world, a sample of it is in man.
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machine next to us;8 it is as though issuing commands; all the necessities and substances necessary for its adornment and functioning come hastening to it from distant places. Look over there: that lifeless body9 is as though beckoning; it makes the largest bodies serve it and work in its own workplace. Make further analogies in the same way.
Simply, everything subjugates to itself all the beings in this world. If you do not accept the existence of that hidden one, you have to attribute all his skills, arts, and perfections in the stones, earth, animals, and creatures resembling man everywhere in this land to the things themselves. In place of a single wonder-working being, which your mind deems unlikely, you have to accept millions like him, who are both opposed to one another, and similar, and one within the other, so they do not cause confusion everywhere and the order be spoiled. Whereas if two fingers meddle in a country, they cause confusion. For if there are two headmen in a village, or two governors in a town, or two kings in a country, the result is chaos. So what about an infinite, absolute ruler?
O my sceptical friend! Come, look carefully at the inscriptions of this vast palace, look at all the adornments of the town, see the ordering of this whole land, and reflect on all the works of art in this world! See! If these inscriptions are not worked by the pen of one hidden who possesses infinite miracles and skills, and are attributed to unconscious causes, to blind chance and deaf nature, then every stone and every plant in this land has to be an inscriber so wondrous it can write a thousand books in every letter and include millions of works of art in a single inscription. Because look at the inscription on these stones;10 in each are the inscriptions of all the palace, and the laws ordering all the town, and the programmes for organizing the whole country. That means that it is as wonderful to make these inscriptions as to make the whole country. In which case, all the inscriptions, all the works of art, are proclamations of that hidden one, and seals of his.
8. The machine indicates fruit-bearing trees. For they bear on their slender branches hundreds of workbenches and factories, and weave, adorn, and cook wonderful leaves, flowers and fruits, and stretch them out to us. And majestic trees like the pine and the cedar, even, set up their workbenches on dry rock, and work.
9. This alludes to grains, seeds, and the eggs of flies. For example, a fly leaves its eggs on the leaves of the elm. Suddenly the huge tree turns its leaves into a mother’s womb and a cradle for the eggs, and into a store full of a food like honey. Simply, in that way the tree, which is not fruit-producing, produces fruits bearing spirits.
10. This alludes to man, the fruit of the tree of creation, and to the fruit which bears its tree’s programme and index. For whatever the pen of power has written in the great book of the universe, it has written its summary in man’s nature. And whatever the pen of Divine Determining has written in a tree the size of a mountain, it has also included it in its fruit the size of a finger nail.
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Since a letter cannot exist without showing the one who wrote it, and an artistic inscription cannot exist without making known its inscriber, how is it that an inscriber who writes a huge book in a single letter and inscribes a thousand inscriptions in a single inscription, should not be known through his writing and through his inscribing?
Come, let us go out onto this broad plain.11 On it is a high mountain whose summit we shall climb to so that we can see all the surrounding country. We shall take with us a good pair of binoculars which will bring everything close, for strange things are happening in this strange land. Every hour things are taking place that we could not imagine. Look! These mountains, plains, and towns are suddenly changing. And how? In such a way that millions of things are being changed in a most regulated and orderly fashion one within the other. Truly wondrous transformations are being wrought, just as though millions of various cloths are being woven one within the other. Look! These flowery things which we know and are familiar with are disappearing and others have come in their place in orderly fashion which resemble them in nature but are different in form. It is quite simply as though this plain and the mountains are each a page, and within them are being written hundreds of thousands of different books. And they are being written faultlessly and without defect.
It is impossible a hundred times over that these matters should have come about on their own. Yes, for these works which are skilfully and carefully fashioned to an infinite degree to have occurred on their own is impossible a thousand times, for rather than themselves, they show the artist who fashioned them. Moreover, the one who did this displays such miracles that nothing at all could be difficult for him. It is as easy for him to write a thousand books as to write one book. Look all around you; he both puts everything in its proper place with perfect wisdom, and he munificently showers the favours on everyone of which they are worthy, and he draws back and opens general veils and doors so bountifully that everyone’s desires are satisfied. And he sets up tables so generously that a feast of bounties is given to all the people and animals of this land; each group and individual is given one particular and suitable for it, even. So, is there anything more impossible in the world than that there should be anything attributable to chance in these matters that we see, or that among these matters that we see there is anything
11. This indicates the face of the earth in the spring and summer. For the groups of hundreds of thousands of different creatures are created one within the other and written there. They are changed without fault or error and with perfect order. Thousands of tables of the Most Merciful One are laid out, then removed and replaced by fresh ones. All the trees as though bear trays, all the gardens are like cauldrons.
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purposeless or vain, or that many hands should be interfering in them, or that their maker should not be capable of everything, or that everything should not be subjugated to him? And so, my friend, find a pretext in the face of these if you can!
Come, my friend! Now we shall leave these particular matters and turn our attention to the mutual positions of the parts of this wondrous world in the form of a palace. Look! Universal works are being carried out and general revolutions are occurring in this world with such order that all the rocks, earth, trees, everything in this palace, observe the universal systems of the world, and conform to them as if each was acting with will. Things which are distant hasten to assist one another. Now look, a strange caravan12 has appeared, coming from the Unseen. The mounts in it resemble trees, plants, and mountains. Each bears a tray of provisions on its head. And look, they are bringing the provisions for the various animals awaiting them on this side. And see, the mighty electric lamp13 in that dome both furnishes them with light, and cooks all their food so well that the foods to be cooked are each attached to a string14 by an unseen hand and held up before it. And on this side, see these wretched, weak, powerless little animals; how before their heads are attached two small pumps15 full of delicate sustenance, like two springs; it is enough for those powerless creatures to only press their mouths against them.
In Short: Just as all the things throughout the world look to one another, so they help one another. And just as they see one another, so they co-operate with one another. And just as they perfect each other’s works, so too they support one another; standing shoulder to shoulder, they work together. Make analogies with this for everything; they are uncountable. Thus, all these things demonstrate as decisively as two plus two equals four that everything is subjugated to the maker of this wondrous palace, that is, to the owner of this strange world. Everything is like a soldier under his command. Everything turns through his strength. Everything acts through his command. Everything is set in order through his wisdom. Everything helps the others through his munificence. Everything hastens to the assistance of the others through his compassion, that is, they are made to hasten to it. Now, my friend, say something in the face of this if you can!
12. These are the caravans of plants and trees, which bear the sustenance of all the animals.
13. The mighty electric lamp indicates the sun.
14. And the string, and the food attached to it, are the slender branches of trees and their delicious fruits.
15. And the two small pumps allude to the breasts of mothers.
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Come, my foolish friend who thinks himself reasonable like my soul! You do not want to recognize the owner of this magnificent palace! But everything shows him, points to him, testifies to him. How can you deny the testimony of all these things? You have therefore to deny the palace as well, and say: “There is no world, no country.” Deny yourself, too, and disappear! Or else come to your senses and listen to me! Now, look, there are uniform elements and minerals inside the palace and encompassing the land.16 Simply, everything appearing in the country is made of those elements. That means, whoever those things belong to, everything made of them is also his. Whoever the field belongs to, the crops are his too. And whoever the sea belongs to, the things within it are also his.
And look, these textiles, these decorated woven materials, are being made out of a single substance. It is self-evidently the same person who brings the substance, prepares it, and makes it into string. For such a work would not permit the participation of others. In which case, all the woven, skilfully made things are particular to him.
And look! Every sort of these woven, manufactured goods is found in every part of the country; they have spread with all their fellows, and are being made and woven together and one within the other, in the same way, at the same instant. That means they are the work of the same person and the same act through a single command, otherwise their correspondence and conformity at the same instant, in the same fashion, of the same sort, would be impossible. In which case, each of these skilfully fashioned things is like a proclamation of that hidden one which points to him. As if each sort of flowered material, each ingenious machine, each sweet mouthful, is a stamp of that miracle-displaying person; a stamp of his, a mark, a decoration; each says through the tongue of disposition: “Whose-ever work of art I am, the boxes and shops where I am found are also his property.” Each inscription says: “Whoever wove me also wove the roll of cloth of which I am a part.” Every sweet mouthful says: “Whoever makes me and cooks me, the cauldron in which I am is also his.” And every machine says: “Whoever made me, also makes all those like me who have spread throughout the land, and the one who raises us in every part of it, is also he. That means he is also the country’s owner. In which case, whoever the owner of all this country and palace is, he may be our owner too.”
For example, in order to be the true owner of a single cartridge-belt or
16. As for the elements and minerals, these indicate the elements of air, water, light, and earth, which have numerous well-ordered duties; they hasten to the assistance of all needy beings with dominical leave, enter everywhere and bring help at the Divine command, and raise all the things necessary for life and suckle living creatures, and are the source of the weaving and inscribing of the Divine artefacts, and their progenitors and cradles.
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even a button belonging to the government, one also has to own all the factories in which they are made. If a bragging irregular soldier claims otherwise, he will be told: “They are government property.” And they will be taken from him, and he will be punished.
In Short: Just as the elements in this country all surround and encompass it, and their owner can only be one who owns the whole country, in the same way, since the works of art that are spread throughout it resemble one another and display a single stamp, they show that they are the art of a single person who governs everything.
And so, my friend! There is a sign of oneness, a stamp of unity, in this country, that is, this magnificent palace. For while being the same, certain things are all-encompassing. And while being numerous, some display a unity or similarity, since they resemble one another and are found everywhere. As for unity, it shows One of Unity. That means that its maker, owner, lord, and fashioner has to be one and the same. In addition, look carefully at this: from behind the veil of the unseen a thickish string has appeared.17 Now look, thousands of strings have hung down from it. And see the tips of the strings: a diamond, a decoration, a favour, a gift has been attached to each. Suitable presents are being given to everyone. Do you know what a lunatic action it is not to recognize or thank the one who stretches out from behind the strange veil of the unseen such wondrous favours and gifts. Because if you do not recognize him, you will be compelled to say: “These strings are making the diamonds and other gifts on their tips themselves and offering them.” Then you have to attribute to each string the meaning of a king. Whereas before our eyes an unseen hand is making the strings too, and attaching the gifts to them. That means, everything in this palace points to that miracle-displaying one rather than to themselves. If you do not recognize him, through denying them, you fall a hundred times lower than an animal.
Come, my unreasoning friend! You do not recognize this palace’s owner, and you do not want to recognize him because you deem his existence unlikely. You deviate into denial because you cannot comprehend with your narrow brain his wondrous arts and acts. Whereas the true unlikelihood, real difficulties, hardships, and awesome trouble lie in not recognizing him. For if we recognize him, this whole palace, this world, becomes as easy, as trouble-free as a single thing; it becomes the means to the abundance and plenty around us. If we do not recognize him and he does not exist, then everything becomes as difficult as this whole palace, because everything is as skilfully
17. The thickish string alludes to fruit-bearing trees, the thousands of strings, to their branch-es, and the diamonds, decorations, favours, and gifts, to the varieties of blossoms and fruits.
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made as the palace. Then neither the abundance nor the plenty would remain. Indeed, not one of these things which we see would pass to anyone’s hand, let alone ours. Look at just the jar of conserve attached to this string.18 If it had not emerged from his hidden, miracle-displaying kitchen, we could not have bought it for a hundred liras, although we buy it now for forty para.19
Yes, all unlikelihood, difficulty, trouble, arduousness, indeed, impossibility, lies in not recognizing him. For a tree is given life from one root, through one law, in one centre, and the formation of thousands of fruits is as easy as one fruit. But if the fruits were tied to different centres and roots, and different laws, each fruit would be as difficult to produce as the tree. And if the equipping of an entire army is in one centre, through one law, and from one factory, as regards quantity it is as easy as equipping a single soldier. While if each soldier is equipped from all different places, then to equip one soldier there would have to be as many factories as for the entire army.
Just like these two examples, if, in this well-ordered palace, this fine town, this advanced country, this magnificent world, the creation of all things is attributed to a single being, it becomes so easy, so light, it is the reason for the infinite abundance, availability, and munificence we see. Otherwise everything would become so expensive, so difficult, that if the whole world was given to someone, they could not obtain them.
Come, my friend, who has come a little to his senses! We have been here fifteen days20 now. If we do not know the regulations of this world and do not recognize its king, we shall deserve punishment. We have no excuse, because for fifteen days, as though given a respite, they did not interfere with us. Of course we have not just been left to our own devices. We cannot wander around among these delicate, well-balanced, subtle, skilfully made and instructive creatures like an animal and spoil them; they would not permit us to harm them. The penalties of this country’s august king are bound to be awesome. You can understand how powerful and majestic he is from the way he orders this huge world as though it was a palace, and makes it revolve like a machine. He administers this large country like a house, missing nothing. See, like filling a container and emptying it, he continuously fills this palace, this country, this town, with perfect order, and empties it with perfect wisdom. Like spreading out a table then clearing it away, varieties of foods are brought in turn and given to eat in the form of a great
18. The jar of conserve indicates the gifts of Divine mercy like melons, water melons, pomegranates, and coconuts, which are the conserves of Divine power, and like tins of milk.
19. 1 Para = 1/40th of a kurush; 100 kurush = 1 lira.
20. Fifteen days indicates the age of fifteen, the age of discretion. (See, Bukhari, iii, 232.)
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variety of tables21 being laid out by an unseen hand in every part of his vast country, and then being cleared away. The unseen hand clears away one, then brings another in its place. You see this too, and if you use your head, you will understand that within that awesome majesty is an infinitely munificent liberality.
And see, just as all these things testify to that unseen one’s sovereignty and unity, so too these revolutions and changes which pass on in succession like caravans and are opened and closed from behind that true veil, testify to his continuance and permanence. For the causes of things disappear along with them. Whereas the things which we attribute to them, which follow on after them, are repeated. That means those works are not theirs, but the works of one who does not perish. It is understood from the the bubbles on the surface of a river disappearing and the bubbles which succeed them sparkling in the same way that what makes them sparkle is a constant and elevated possessor of light. Similarly, the speedy changing of things and the things that follow on after them assuming the same colours shows that they are the manifestations, inscriptions, mirrors, and works of art of one who is perpetual, undying, and single.
Come, my friend! Now I shall show you a decisive proof as powerful as the ten previous ones. We shall board a boat,22 and sail to a peninsula, far away. For the key to this riddle-filled world will be there. Moreover, everyone is looking to that peninsula and awaiting something from it; they are receiving orders from there. See, we are going there. Now we have arrived and have alighted on the peninsula. There is a vast gathering, a great concourse, as though all the important people of the country have gathered there. Look carefully, this great community has a leader. Come, we shall draw closer; we must become acquainted with him. Look! What brilliant decorations he has, more than a thousand of them.23 How powerfully he speaks! How pleasant is his conversation! In these two weeks I have learnt a little of what he says. You learn them from me. See, he is speaking of this country’s miracle-displaying king. He is saying that the glorious king sent him to us.
21. The tables indicate the face of the earth in summer, during which hundreds of tables of the Most Merciful emerge fresh and different from the kitchens of mercy. Every garden is a cauldron, every tree, a tray-bearer.
22. The ship indicates history, and the peninsula, the Era of Bliss or Age of the Prophet (PBUH). Through casting off the dress of this low civilization on its dark shore, entering the seas of time, boarding the ship of history and alighting at the Arabian Peninsula and Era of Bliss, and visiting the Glory of the World (PBUH) at his duties, we know that he is a proof of Divine Unity so brilliant that he illuminates the entire globe and the two faces of the past and the future, and disperses the darkness of unbelief and misguidance.
23. The thousand decorations are the miracles of Muhammad (PBUH), which according to those who have investigated them, reach nearly a thousand. (Bayhaqi, Dala’il, i, 10.)
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And he is displaying such wonders that they leave no doubt that he is his special envoy. Look carefully, it is not only the creatures on this peninsula that are listening to what he says; he is making the whole country hear in wondrous fashion. For near and far everyone is trying to hear the speech here. It is not only humans that are listening, animals are listening too. Look, even the mountains are listening to the commands he brought so that they are stirring in their places, and the trees, too, move to the place that he indicates. He brings forth water from wherever he wishes. He even makes his fingers like a Spring of Kawthar, and gives to drink from them. Look, at his sign, an important lamp24 in the dome of this palace splits into two. That means this country together with all its beings recognizes that he is an official and envoy. They heed and obey him, as though knowing that he is the most eminent and true interpreter of an unseen displayer of miracles, and the herald of his dominicality, the discloser of his talisman, and a trustworthy envoy delivering his commands. All those with intelligence around him declare: “Yes, that is right!” about everything he says, and affirm it. Indeed, through submitting to his signs and commands, the mountains and trees in this country and the huge light25 that illuminates it, say: “Yes, yes, everything you say is true!”
My foolish friend! Could there be any contradiction or deception concerning the miracle-displaying king about whom this most luminous, magnificent, and serious being, who bears a thousand decorations particular to the king’s own treasury, is speaking with all his strength, confirmed by all the country’s notables, and concerning the king’s attributes which he mentions, and the commands which he relays? If there is anything contrary to the truth in these things, it will be necessary to deny this palace, these lamps, this community, both their reality and their existence. If you can, raise any objections against these; but you will see that they will be smashed by the power of the proof, and flung back at you.
Come, my brother, who has come to his senses a little! I shall show you a further proof of the strength of all the eleven preceding proofs. See this luminous Decree,26 which descends from above and which everyone looks
24. The important lamp is the moon, which split into two halves at his indication. That is, as Mawlana Jami said: “With the pen of his finger, that unlettered one who knew no writing, wrote an alif on the page of the skies and made one forty, two fifties.” That is, before it split, the moon resembled mim, the value of which is forty; and after splitting it became two crescents, and resembled two nu\ns, the value of which is fifty.
25. The huge light is the sun; when it reappeared from the East on the earth’s revolving backwards, Imam ‘Ali (May God be pleased with him), who had been unable to perform the prayers since the Prophet (PBUH) was sleeping in his arms, due to this miracle, was able to perform the prayers on time. (See, Qadi Iyad, al-Shifa’, i, 240; Suyuti, al-Khasa’is al-Kubra, ii, 342.)
26. The luminous Decree refers to the Qur’an, and the seal on it, to its miraculousness.
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on in rapt attention out of either wonder or veneration. The one with the thousand decorations has stopped by it and is explaining its meaning to everyone. The styles of the Decree so shine they attract everyone’s appreciative gaze, and it speaks of matters so important and serious that everyone is compelled to give ear to them. For it describes all the qualities, acts, commands, and attributes of the one who governs this whole land, who made this palace, and exhibits these wonders. Just as there is a mighty stamp on the Decree as a whole, look! there is an inimitable seal on every line and every sentence, and, moreover, the meanings, truths, commands, and instances of wisdom it states are seen to be in a style particular to him, thus bearing the meaning of a stamp.
In Short: The Supreme Decree shows the Supreme Being as clearly as the sun, so that anyone who is not blind can see it.
My friend! If you have come to your senses, this is enough for now. If you have something to say, say it.
In reply, the obstinate man said: “I can only say this in the face of these proofs of yours: All praise be to God for I have come to believe. And I believe in a way bright as the sun and clear as daylight that this country has a single King of Perfection, this world, a Single Glorious Owner, this palace, a Single Beauteous Maker. May God be pleased with you, for you have saved me from my former obstinacy and foolishness. Each of the proofs you showed was sufficient to demonstrate the truth. But because with each successive proof, clearer, pleasanter, more agreeable, more luminous, finer levels of knowledge, veils in acquaintanceship, and windows of love were opened and revealed, I waited and listened.”
The story in the form of a comparison indicating the mighty truth of Divine unity and belief in God has reached its conclusion. Through the grace of the Most Merciful, the effulgence of the Qur’an, and the light of belief, we shall now set out twelve ‘Flashes’ and an Introduction from the sun of true Divine unity corresponding to the twelve proofs in the story.
Success and Guidance are from God alone.
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The Second Station of the Twenty-Second Word
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
God is the Creator of all things, and He is the Guardian and Disposer of all affairs. * To Him belong the keys of the heavens and the earth.27 * So glory to Him in Whose hands is the sovereignty of all things, and to Him will you all be brought back.28 * And there is not a thing but its [sources and] treasures [inexhaustible] are with Us; but We only send down thereof in due and ascertainable measures.29 * There is not a moving creature, but He has grasp of its forelock. Verily it is my Sustainer that is on a Straight Path.30
In my treatise entitled Katre, which is about belief in God, the principal pole of the pillars of belief, I explained in brief the evidence to Almighty God’s existence and unity given by all beings through fifty-five tongues. Also, in the treatise Nokta, I mentioned four universal proofs out of the evidences of Almighty God’s existence and unity each of which has the strength of a thousand proofs. Moreover, since I have discussed in around twelve of my Arabic treatises hundreds of decisive proofs demonstrating Almighty God’s necessary existence and unity, I shall be content with those and not now undertake any profound investigations. Only, I shall try to explain in this Twenty-Second Word, twelve ‘Flashes’ from the sun of belief in God which I have written briefly in other places in the Risale-i Nur.
The affirmation of Divine unity is of two sorts. For example, if the goods of a rich man arrive in a market or a town, there are two ways in which one
27. Qur’an, 39:62.
28. Qur’an, 36:83.
29. Qur’an, 15:21.
30. Qur’an, 11:56.
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may know they are his. One is briefly and simply, as with ordinary people, which is: “No one apart from him is capable of owning this vast amount of goods.” But when under the supervision of a common man such as that, much of it may be stolen. Many others may claim ownership of parts of it. The second sort is this: through reading his writing on every packet, recognizing his signature on every roll, and seeing his seal on every bill, the man declares: “Everything belongs to that person.” Here, everything in effect shows the important man. Similarly, the affirmation of Divine unity is of two sorts:
One is the superficial and common affirmation of Divine unity which says: “Almighty God is One, He has no partner or like. This universe is His.”
The Second is the true affirmation of Divine unity which, through seeing on everything the stamp of His power, the seal of His dominicality, and the inscriptions of His pen, is to open a window directly onto His light from everything and to confirm and believe with almost the certainty of seeing it that everything emerges from the hand of His power and that in no way has He any partner or assistant in His Godhead or in His dominicality or in His sovereignty, and thus to attain to a sort of perpetual awareness of the Divine presence. In this Word, we shall mention rays demonstrating this pure and elevated true affirmation of Divine unity.
A Reminder within the First Point: O heedless worshipper of causes! Causes are a veil; for Divine dignity and grandeur require them to be thus. But that which acts and performs matters is the power of the Eternally Besought One; for Divine unity and glory require it to be thus, and necessitate their independence. The officials of the Pre-Eternal Monarch are not executives of the sovereignty of dominicality, they are the heralds of His sovereignty and the observers and superintendents of His dominicality. Their purpose is to make known the dignity of power and majesty of dominicality, so that power should not be seen to be associated with base and lowly matters. Not like a human king, tainted by impotence and indigence, who therefore takes officials as partners. That is to say, causes have been placed so that the dignity of power may be preserved in the superficial view of the mind. For like the two faces of a mirror, everything has an outer face that looks to this manifest world, which resembles the mirror’s coloured face and may reflect various colours and states, and an inner face which looks to its Maker, which resembles the mirror’s shining face. In the outer face which looks to the manifest world may be states incompatible with the dignity and perfection of the Eternally Besought One’s power, so causes have been put to be both the source and the means of those states. But in the inner face, that of reality, which looks to their Creator, everything is transparent and beautiful; it is fitting that power should itself be associated with it. It is not
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incompatible with its dignity; therefore, causes are purely apparent and in the inner face of things and in reality have no true effect.
A further instance of wisdom in apparent causes is this: causes have been put so that unjust complaints and baseless objections should be directed at them and not at the Absolutely Just One. For the faults arise from them, from their incapacity and lack of ability. A comparison is narrated which is in the form of a subtle example illustrating this mystery:
The Angel Azra’il (Peace be upon him) said to Almighty God: “Your servants will complain about me while I am carrying out my duty of taking possession of the spirits of the dying; they will be resentful towards me.” So Almighty God said to him through the tongue of wisdom: “I shall leave the veil of disasters and illnesses between you and my servants so that the complaints will be directed at them, and they will not be indignant at you.”31 So see, illnesses are a veil; what are imagined to be the bad things at the appointed hour are attributed to them, and what are in reality the good things in the spirits of the dying being seized are attributed to Azra’il (PBH) and his duty. Azra’il is also a veil; he is a supervisor of that duty and a veil to Divine power so that certain conditions when spirits are seized which are apparently unkind and are inappropriate to the perfection of mercy be attributed to him.
Yes, dignity and grandeur demand that causes are a veil to the hand of power in the view of the mind, while Divine unity and glory demand that causes withdraw their hands and have no true effect.
Look at this garden of the universe, this orchard of the earth; look carefully at the beautiful face of the heavens gilded with stars! You will see that on all the artefacts spread out and scattered over them are stamps particular to the Creator of All Things, and on all creatures are seals special to the Maker of All Things, and on the levels of being written on the pages of night and day, and summer and winter, all published by the pen of power, are inimitable, illustrious signatures of an All-Glorious Maker, an All-Beauteous Creator. We shall now mention a few of those stamps, seals, and signatures by way of example:
For example, of the innumerable stamps, consider this one out of many placed on life: “He makes everything out of one thing and makes one thing out of everything.” For He makes the innumerable members and systems of animals out of a fluid and also out of simple water which is drunk. Thus, to make one thing everything is surely the work of One possessing Absolute Power. And One Who with perfect order transforms into a particular body numerous substances from the innumerable foods eaten, whether plant or animal, and weaves from them a particular skin, and makes from them
31. Suyuti, al-Durr al-Manthur, v, 173-4.32. Qur’an, 112:1-2.
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members, is surely One Powerful over All Things and One Knowing of All Things. Indeed, the Creator of Life and Death administers life through His wisdom in this workshop of the world through a law issuing from His command so miraculous that only one Who holds the whole universe in the grasp of His power could apply that law and enforce it.
Thus, if your mind is not extinguished and your heart not blind, you will understand that what makes one thing with perfect ease and order, and makes everything one thing skilfully with perfect balance and order, is a stamp particular to the Maker of everything and a seal special to the Creator of All Things. For example, if you see that together with weaving a hundred rolls of broadcloth and various other cloths like silk or cambric from a single ounce of cotton, a wonder-worker makes many foods from it like helva and pastries, then you see that he takes a handful of iron and stone, honey and butter, water and earth, and makes some fine gold, you would certainly pronounce him to possess unique art, for all the elements of the earth are subjugated to his command and all the substances of the earth subject to his word. Indeed, the manifestation of power and wisdom in life is a thousand times more wondrous than this example.
Thus, one stamp on life out of many.
Look at the living creatures revolving in this flowing universe, in these flowing beings! You will see that on each are many seals placed by the Ever-Living and Self-Subsistent One. One of them is this: a living creature, for example a human being, is quite simply a miniature sample of the universe, a fruit of the tree of creation, and a seed of the world, for he comprises samples of most of the realms of beings in the world. It is as if the animate being is a drop filtered from the universe in an extremely fine measure. So to create it and be its Sustainer, one has to hold the whole universe in the grasp of one’s power.
Thus, if your mind is not submerged in delusions you will understand that to make a word of power, for example, a honey-bee, a minute index of most things, and to write in one page, for example in man, most of the matters in this book of the universe, and to include in one point, for example in a tiny fig seed, the programme of the mighty fig-tree, and to display in a single letter, for example in the human heart, the works of all the Divine Names manifested in the pages of the macrocosm which encompass it, and to make written in the human faculty of memory, which is situated in a place the size of a lentil, writings enough to fill a library, and to include in that tiny faculty a detailed index of all events in the cosmos -to do all things is most certainly a stamp particular to the Creator of All Things, the Glorious Sustainer of the universe.
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Thus, if one seal out of many dominical seals on living beings displays its light and makes read its signs thus, if you were able to see and consider all those seals at once, would you not declare: “Glory be to Him Who is concealed in the intensity of His manifestation!”?
Look carefully at the multicoloured, multifarious beings swimming in the seas of the heavens and scattered over the face of the earth! You will see that on each are inimitable signatures of the Pre-Eternal Sun. Just as the stamps on life and seals on living beings are apparent and we saw one or two of them, so are there such signatures on the giving of life. Since comparisons bring profound meanings closer to the understanding, we shall demonstrate this truth with a comparison.
For example, from the planets to droplets of water, to fragments of glass and sparkling snow-flakes, a signature from the sun’s image and reflection, a luminous work particular to the sun, is apparent. If you do not accept the tiny suns apparent in those innumerable things to be the manifestation of the sun’s reflection, you have to accept the actual existence of a true, natural sun in every droplet and fragment of glass facing the light, and in every transparent speck before it, thus descending to the depths of lunacy.
In just the same way, there is such a signature on all living beings in regard to the giving of life from among the luminous manifestations of the Pre-Eternal Sun, that supposing all causes were gathered together and had the power to act and possessed will, they still could not imitate that signature. For living beings, all miracles of Divine power, are points of focus of the Divine Names, which are like the rays of the Pre-Eternal Sun. If that strange inscription of art, that wondrous ordering of wisdom, that manifestation of the mystery of Oneness on living beings is not ascribed to the Single and Eternally Besought One, it necessitates accepting that concealed within each living creature, and even in a fly or a flower, is an infinite creative power, a knowledge encompassing all things, an absolute will with which to govern the universe, and even the eternal attributes particular to the Necessarily Existent One, thus falling to the most ludicrous degree of misguidance and superstition. Quite simply, it necessitates attributing Divinity to each particle of the flower or fly. For a state has been given to those particles, especially if they are seeds, whereby they look to the living being of which they are a part, and take up a position in accordance with its systems and ordering. The particle is even in a position to look to all members of the species to which its living being belongs, or to fly with wings in order to be planted in a place suitable to the continuation of its species and to plant the species’ flag. In fact, it holds a position whereby that living being’s transactions with all other beings may be continued, and its relations with them connected with sustenance. For it is in need of all of them.
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Thus, if that particle is not an official of a Possessor of Absolute Power, and if its relation with Him is severed, it has to be ascribed an eye which sees all things and a consciousness which encompasses all things.
In Short: If the miniature suns and various colours in droplets of water and fragments of glass are not attributed to the sun’s reflection and the manifestation of its reflection, one has to accept the existence of innumerable suns in place of the one sun; it necessitates accepting an utterly impossible superstition. In exactly the same way, if everything is not attributed to the Absolutely Powerful One, it necessitates accepting infinite gods instead of the Single God; indeed, gods to the number of particles in existence, thus falling to the degree of accepting a hundredfold impossibility.
To Sum Up: From every particle three windows open up onto the light of unity and necessary existence of the Pre-Eternal Sun:
• First Window: A soldier has a relation with each of the spheres of the military, that is, with his squad, his company, his battalion, his regiment, his division, and the army, and duties in accordance with those relations, and actions in accordance with the duties and army regulations. Particles have similar relations.
For example, a lifeless particle in the pupil of your eye has relations with your eye, your head, your body, your powers of reproduction, and attraction and repulsion, with your veins and arteries, and motor and sensory nerves, and with the rest of the human race, and it has duties in relation to each. This shows self-evidently to eyes that are not blind that it is the work of art and charged official of the Pre-Eternal All-Powerful One, and is under his regulation.
• Second Window: All molecules of air may visit all flowers and fruits. They may also enter them and work within them. If they are not the subjugated officials of an Absolutely Powerful One Who sees and knows all things, those wandering molecules would have to know all the systems and structures of the fruits and flowers and their art, and the tailoring of the all-different forms which clothe them with its perfect and all-embracing art. Thus those particles all display as clearly as the sun the rays of a light of Divine unity. You may compare light with air, and earth with water.
In any event, the original sources of things are these four substances. According to modern science they are hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen, the components of the former elements.
• Third Window: You fill a flower-pot with some earth, which is composed of particles and is the means of growth of any flowering or fruit-bearing plant, then put some seeds in it. The same as the seed of animals does not differ, but is a fluid, the seeds of all the flowering and fruit-bearing plants in the world do not differ from one another. Being composed of
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carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen, they only differ by virtue of the programme of their progenitors, deposited in them through the immaterial writing of the pen of Divine Determining.
Thus, if we put these seeds in turn in the flower-pot, we believe as though it has occurred that each plant will appear together with its wonderful forms and shapes and parts. If those particles are not officials under the orders of one who knows all the states and conditions of everything, is capable of giving everything a being suitable to it and everything necessary for it, and to whose power everything is subjugated with utterly facility, every particle of the earth would then have to contain immaterial factories and printing-presses to the number of all the flowering and fruit-bearing plants, so that it could be the source of all those various and different beings whose parts, members, and forms are all distant and different from one another. It is otherwise necessary to attribute to all those beings comprehensive knowledge and a power capable of forming them, so that they could be the means of the above.
That is to say, if the connection with Almighty God is severed, it becomes necessary to accept gods to the number of particles of earth, and this is an impossible superstition compounded a thousand times over. However, when they are officials, it becomes extremely easy. Just as, in his king’s name and through his power, a common soldier of a mighty king can make a whole country migrate, or join two seas, or take another king prisoner, so at the command of the Monarch of Pre-Eternity and Post-Eternity, a fly did away with Nimrod, and an ant destroyed Pharaoh’s palace, razing it to the ground, and a fig-seed bears the load of a fig-tree.
Moreover, in all particles are two further truthful witnesses to the Maker’s necessary existence and unity. One is that together with their absolute impotence, they all perform most important and various duties. The other is that despite their lifelessness, they all conform to the universal order and systems, thus displaying a universal consciousness. That is to say, through the tongue of its impotence each particle testifies to the necessary existence of the Absolutely Powerful One, and through its conforming to the order in the world, each testifies to His unity.
Just as every particle testifies in two ways to His being the Necessarily Existent One of Unity, so too on every living being there are two signs that He is the Single and Eternally Besought One.
Yes, on all living beings are a seal of Divine oneness and a stamp of ‘eternal besoughtedness.’ For each displays together in the mirror of its being most of the Divine Names, the manifestations of which are apparent in the universe. Quite simply, like a point of focus, each displays the manifestation of the Greatest Name of Ever-Living and Self-Subsistent One. Thus, since it
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shows a sort of shadow of the oneness of the Divine Essence under the veil of the Name of Giver of Life, it bears a stamp of Divine oneness. And since the living being is like a miniature sample of the universe and a fruit of the tree of creation, it shows a seal of Divine eternal besoughtedness, which conveys altogether with ease to the tiny sphere of its life its needs, which are as many as the universe. That is to say, this shows it has a Sustainer Whose regard and favour take the place of all things. Everything in existence cannot take the place of His regard.
Furthermore, this situation shows that its Sustainer is in need of nothing, nor does anything diminish His treasury, and nor is anything at all difficult for His power. This, then, is a sort of seal of ‘eternal besoughtedness.’
Thus, on every living being are a seal of Divine oneness and stamp of eternal besoughtedness. Yes, through the tongue of its life, every living being recites:
Say, He is God, the One, * The Eternally Besought.32
In addition to these two seals are several more important ‘windows’, but since they have been explained in detail in other places, our discussion here has been brief.
Seeing that each particle in existence at once opens up three windows and two openings onto the unity of the Necessarily Existent, and life too opens two doors, you can compare how all the levels of beings from particles to the sun spread the light of knowledge of the All-Glorious One.
Thus, you can understand from this the degrees of progress in knowledge of God, and the levels of awareness of His presence.
If a book is hand-written and in the form of a letter, a single pen is sufficient to write it, while if it is printed, pens, that is, pieces of print, are necessary to the number of the book’s letters so that it can be printed and come into existence. If most of the book is written in an extremely fine script within some of its letters, like Sura Ya. Sin. being written within the letters Ya. Sin., then for it to be printed all the small pieces of print are necessary for those single letters.
Similarly, if you say the book of the universe is the writing of the pen of power of the Eternally Besought One and the missive of the Single and Unique One, you travel a reasonable road so easy as to be necessary. But if you attribute it to nature and causes, you travel a road so difficult as to be impossible, and so full of superstition and delusion as to be unacceptable. For then there would have to be present in every bit of earth and every drop
32. Qur’an, 112:1-2.
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of water and every piece of air millions of metal printing-presses and innumerable immaterial factories, which could fashion and form the countless numbers of flowering and fruit-bearing plants. Otherwise one has to accept that they possess all-encompassing knowledge and power over all things so that they could be the true source of those creatures. For every piece of earth, water, and air can be the source of most plants. However, plants, whether flowering or fruit-bearing, are formed in so well-ordered and balanced a fashion, and are so distinctive and different from one another, that a different immate,rial factory or different printing-press would be necessary for each. That means, if nature ceases being a pattern and becomes the source, it necessitates that everything contains the machines to make everything else. Nature-worship is therefore based on an idea so superstitious that even those who subscribe to it are ashamed of it. See the infinitely delirious unreason of the misguided, who suppose themselves to be intelligent, and take a lesson!
In Short: All the letters of a book describe themselves to the extent of a letter and point to their own existence in one way, while they describe their writer with ten words and show him in many ways. For example: “The one who wrote me has fine hand-writing. His pen is red, and so on.” In just the same way, all the letters of the mighty book of the universe point to themselves to the extent of their own size and physical beings, but describe the Names of the Pre-Eternal Inscriber like odes, and testify to the One they signify and point to His Names with fingers to the number of their attributes. That means that even if one denies both oneself and the universe like the foolish Sophists, one still should not deny the All-Glorious Maker.
Just as the All-Glorious Creator has placed on the heads of all His beings and on the foreheads of all His creatures the seals of His oneness, some of which you have seen in the previous Flashes, so in brilliant fashion has He placed many stamps of oneness on all species and numerous seals of unity on all universals, as well as the various stamps of unity on the world as a whole. Of those many seals and stamps, we shall point out one on the page of the face of the earth in the springtime. It is like this:
The Pre-Eternal Inscriber’s raising to life in the spring and summer at least three hundred thousand species of plants and animals with complete distinction and differentiation and total order and separation amid infinite intermingling and confusion, is a stamp of Divine unity as clear and brilliant as the spring itself. Yes, anyone with an iota of consciousness will understand that to create with perfect order while raising to life of the dead earth in the spring, three hundred thousand samples of the resurrection of the dead, and to write without fault, error, mistake or deficiency, in most well-balanced, well-proportioned, well-ordered, and perfect fashion the individual
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members of three hundred thousand different species one within the other on the face of the earth, is a seal particular to an All-Glorious One, an All-Powerful One of Perfection, an All-Wise One of Beauty, possessing infinite power, all-encompassing knowledge, and a will capable of governing the whole universe. The All-Wise Qur’an decrees:
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 things.33
Yes, it is surely easy for the Creative Power which, within a few days, demonstrates examples of three hundred thousand resurrections in raising the earth to life, to raise men to life. For example, could it be said to a Displayer of Miracles Who at a sign will remove the mountains of Gelincik and Sübhan: “Are you able to remove from this valley this huge rock which is blocking our path?” Similarly, can it be said in a way that infers doubt to aî All-Wise and Powerful One, an All-Generous and Compassionate One, Who created the sky and the mountains and the earth in six days and continuously fills and empties them: “Can you remove from us this layer of earth which was prepared and laid out in eternity and is blocking our way to your banquet? Can you level the earth and let us pass on?”
You observed a seal of Divine unity on the face of the earth in the summertime. Now look! A stamp of unity is clearly obvious on the vast, wise and perspicacious disposals of the spring on the face of the earth. For that activity is on an absolutely vast scale, and the vastness is together with an absolute speed, and that speed is together with an absolute munificence, and together with these an absolute order and perfect beauty of art and exquisiteness of creation are apparent. These form a seal which could belong only to one possessing infinite knowledge and boundless power. Yes, we see that on the earth within an absolute extensiveness are a creation, disposal, and activity which are on an absolutely vast scale. And these are occurring within that vast scope with absolute speed. And together with that speed and vast scope an absolute munificence is apparent in the multiplication of individual beings. And together with that munificence, vast scope, and speed, an absolute ease is apparent. And to create the absolute order and exceptional beauty of art to be seen in all species and individuals, and the perfect differentiation within infinite intermingling, and the valuable works within extreme abundance, and the complete correspondence on an extensive scale, and the artistic marvels with the greatest ease, and to demonstrate a wondrous art and miraculous activity at one moment, everywhere, in the same fashion, in every individual - together with that munificence, ease, speed, and vast scope, is certainly and without doubt the stamp of One Who although He is
33. Qur’an, 30:50.
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nowhere is all-present and all-seeing everywhere. Nothing is hidden from Him, nor is anything difficult for him. Particles and stars are equal in relation to His power.
For example, in a garden of that All-Glorious and Compassionate One’s munificence, I counted the bunches hanging from a grape-vine of the thickness of two fingers, which I saw to be like one little pip among the bunches of His miracles: there were one hundred and fifty-five. I counted the grapes in one bunch: there were around one hundred and twenty. I thought: if this vine was a tap from which flowed honeyed water and it produced water continuously, it would only just be enough for the bunches which, in the face of this heat, suckle those hundreds of little pumps of the sherbet of mercy. However, it only occasionally obtains a little moisture. The One Who does this, then, must surely be powerful over all things. Glory be to Him at Whose art minds are bewildered!
Look! With little difficulty you can see the seals of the Single, Eternally Besought One on the page of the earth, so raise your head, open your eyes, and look too at the great book of the universe. You will see that on it as a whole a stamp of unity is read out which is as clear as it is big. For like the components of a factory or members of a palace or town, these beings support one another, stretch out their hands to assist one another, and answer the needs and requests of one another, saying: “Here I am, at your service!” Assisting one another, they work together in order. Joining efforts, they serve animate beings. Co-operating and turned a single goal, they obey an All-Wise Disposer. They conform to a rule of mutual assistance which is in force from the sun and moon, night and day, and winter and summer, to plants coming to the assistance of hungry and needy animals, and animals hastening to the assistance of weak, noble men, and even nutritious substances flying to assist delicate, weak infants and fruits, and particles of food passing to the assistance of the cells of the body. They show to anyone who is not altogether blind that they are acting through the strength of a single, most generous Nurturer, and at the command of a single most wise Disposer.
Thus, on the one hand this mutual support and assistance, this answering one another’s needs, this mutual embracing, this subjugation, this order, testify decisively that beings are administered and organized by a single Disposer and are being impelled and directed by a single Nurturer. And on the other hand, this perfect grace within the universal wisdom to be seen plainly in the art of things; and the all-embracing mercy which shines within the providence; and the sustenance spread over that mercy and scattered so as to answer the needs of all living beings needy for sustenance; -these form a stamp of Divine unity so brilliant that anyone whose mind is not altogether
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extinguished will understand it and anyone who is not altogether blind will see it.
Yes, a veil of wisdom demonstrating intention, consciousness, and will, has covered the whole universe, and upon that veil of wisdom has been spread a veil of grace and favour exhibiting beneficence, adornment, embellishment, and benevolence; and over that adorned veil of favour a garment of mercy displaying flashes of making known and loved, of bestowal and the granting of gifts has enveloped the universe; and spread over that illuminated veil of universal mercy is a table of general provisions showing kindness and bestowal and benevolence and perfect compassion and fine nurturing and dominical favour.
Yes, all beings from particles to suns, whether individuals or species, or large or small, have been clothed in a magnificent shirt of wisdom embroidered with fruits and aims, benefits and purposes. And over the wisdom-displaying shirt, a garment of favour embroidered with flowers of grace and beneficence has been cut out in accordance with the stature of things; and over that ornamented garment of favour, a general table of sustenance has been set up, lit up with flashes of love, bestowal, affection, and the granting of gifts, to which the decorations of mercy have been attached, and which, together with bestowing those illuminated and jewel-encrusted decorations, is sufficient for all the groups of living beings on the face of the earth, and meets all their needs. Thus, this matter points to an All-Glorious Provider Who is All-Wise, All-Generous, and All-Compassionate, and shows Him as clearly as the sun.
Is that so? Is everything in need of sustenance?
Yes, like individual beings are in need of sustenance and all the necessities to continue their lives, we see that all the beings in the world, and especially living beings, whether universal or particular, wholes or parts, have many desires and needs, material and otherwise, for their existence, their lives, and the continuation of their lives. But their wants and needs are for such things that their hands cannot reach the least of them and their power is insufficient for the smallest of them. Yet, we see that all their wishes and material and immaterial sustenance is given to them From where he could not imagine,34 from unhoped for places, with perfect order, at the appropriate time, in a suitable fashion, with perfect wisdom. And so, does this want and need of creatures and this manner of unseen help and assistance not show an All-Wise and Glorious Nurturer, an All-Compassionate Beauteous Disposer?
34. Qur’an, 65:3.
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Any sort of seed sown in a field shows that the field must be at the disposal of the seed’s owner, and that the seed too is under the disposal of the one who has control of the field. Similarly, the arable field of beings known as the elements and their universality and comprehensiveness as well as their sameness and uncomplex nature, and the plants and animals -these fruits of mercy, miracles of power, and words of wisdom known as creatures- and their spreading to most places and settling everywhere as well as their being similar and resembling one another, show that they are under the disposal of a single Miracle-Displaying Maker, and in such a way that it is as if every flower, fruit, and animal is a seal, stamp, and signature of its Maker. Wherever they are found, each says through the tongue of disposition: “Whose-ever seal I am, the place I am found is also of his making. Whose-ever stamp I am, this place is a missive of His. Whose-ever signature I am, this land too is of his weaving.” That means, to be Sustainer of the least creature is particular to the One Who holds all the elements in the grasp of His power. Anyone who is not blind can see that to regulate and govern the simplest animal is particular to the One Who has all beings in the grasp of His dominicality.
Indeed, through the tongue of similarity to other individuals, all individual beings say: “Only one who owns my species can be my owner. It cannot be otherwise.” And through the tongue of spreading over the face of the earth together with other species, each species says: “Only one who owns the whole face of the earth can be our owner. It cannot be otherwise.” And through the tongue of being bound to the sun and other planets and mutually supportive with the skies, the earth says: “Only one who is owner of the whole universe can be my owner. It cannot be otherwise.” Yes, supposing someone was to say to a conscious apple: “You are my work of art.” Through the tongue of disposition, the apple would reply: “Be silent! If you are capable of fashioning all the other apples on the earth; indeed, if you can have disposal over all my fellows, the other fruit-bearing trees, spread over the earth, and all the gifts of the Most Merciful proceeding from the treasury of mercy in boatloads, then you can claim to be my Sustainer.” The apple would say that and aim a slap at that foolish person.
We have pointed out some of the seals, stamps, and signatures on particulars and parts, universals and wholes, on the world as a whole, and on life, living beings, and raising to life. Now, we shall indicate one of the countless stamps on species.
Since the countless fruits of a fruit-bearing tree are administered from one centre, in accordance with one law and a single way of raising, the difficulty, hardship, and expense are transformed into ease. It is so easy the numerous
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fruits raised become equal to a single fruit. That means in regard to quantity, multiplicity and numerous centres necessitate the difficulty, expense, and equipment of the whole tree for a single fruit. The difference is only in regard to quality. Like all the factories required for the whole army are necessary to manufacture all the military equipment necessary for a single soldier. That is to say, if the matter passes from unity to multiplicity, in respect of quantity the difficulties increase to the number of individuals. Thus, the extraordinary ease to be seen clearly in all species is the result of the ease and facility arising from unity.
In Short: The conformity and similarity in basic members between all the individuals of a species, and all the species of a genus, prove that they are the works of a single Maker, because the unity of the pen and oneness of the seal requires this. Similarly, the observable absolute ease and lack of difficulty require -indeed, necessitate- that they are the works of One Maker. Otherwise difficulties rising to the degree of impossibility would doom the genus and the species to non-existence.
To Conclude: If all things are ascribed to Almighty God, they become an easy as a single thing, while if they are attributed to causes, they become as difficult as everything. Since it is thus, the extraordinary profusion observed in the universe and the boundless abundance before our eyes display a stamp of unity like the sun. If these fruits which we obtain in such plenty were not the property of the Single One of Unity, we would not have a single pomegranate to eat, even if we gave the whole world for it.
Just as life, which displays a manifestation of Divine beauty, is a proof of Divine oneness, and a sort of manifestation of unity, death too, which displays the manifestation of Divine glory, is a proof of Divine unity.
For example, And God’s is the highest similitude, by showing the sun’s light and reflection, the bubbles on a wide flowing river which sparkle in the sun and transparent objects which glisten on the face of the earth testify to the sun. On those tribes of bubbles and transparent objects disappearing, the continued magnificent manifestation of the sun and the uninterrupted and constant display of its light on the successive groups and tribes of bubbles and transparent objects which follow on after them, testify decisively that the little images of the sun and the lights and flashes which appear and sparkle, flare up and die away, and are changed and renewed, are the manifestations of an enduring, perpetual, elevated, single Sun whose manifestation is undying. That is to say, just as through their appearance and becoming visible, the shining droplets demonstrate the sun’s existence, so with their disappearance and extinction, they demonstrate its continuation, permanence, and unity.
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In exactly the same way, through their existence and lives these flowing beings testify to the necessary existence and oneness of the Necessarily Existent One, and with their deaths and disappearance, they testify to the His pre-eternity, everlastingness, and unity. Yes, the beautiful creatures and fine beings which are renewed and restored within the decline and disappearance that occur through the alternation of night and day, winter and summer, and the centuries and ages, surely point to the existence, continuance, and unity of an elevated, eternal possessor of continually manifested beauty. While the deaths and disappearance of those beings together with their apparent and lowly causes demonstrate that the causes are nothing but a mere veil. This situation proves decisively that these arts, these inscriptions, these manifestations, are the constantly renewed arts, the changing inscriptions, the moving mirrors of an All-Beauteous One of Glory, all of Whose Names are sacred and beautiful; that they are His seals which follow on one after the other, and His stamps that are changed with wisdom.
In Short: The mighty book of the universe both teaches us the creational signs concerning Divine existence and unity, and it testifies to all the attributes of perfection, beauty, and glory of that All-Glorious One. And they prove the perfection of the Divine Essence faultlessly and without defect. For it is obvious that perfection in a work points to the perfection of the act which is the source and origin of the work. And the perfection of the act points to the perfection of the name, and the perfection of the name, to the perfection of the attribute, and perfection of the attribute to the perfection of the essential qualities, and the perfection of the qualities point necessarily and self-evidently to the perfection of the essence possessing those qualities.
For example, the perfect inscriptions and adornments of a faultless palace indicate the perfection of a master builder’s acts behind them. And the perfection of the acts shows the perfection of that active master’s titles and names, which demonstrate his rank. And the perfection of the names and titles show the perfection of the other attributes qualifying the master builder’s art. And the perfection of the art and attributes show the perfection of the abilities and essential capacity of that craftsman, which are called the essential qualities. And the perfection of those essential qualities and abilities show the perfection of the master’s essential nature.
In exactly the same way, the faultless works observed in the world, which manifest the meaning of Do you see any flaw?,35 this art in the well-ordered beings of the universe, point observedly to the perfect acts of an active possessor of power. And those perfect acts point clearly to the perfect Names of a Glorious Agent. And that perfection necessarily points to and testifies to the perfect attributes of the Beauteous One signified by the
35. Qur’an, 67:3.
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Names. And certainly those perfect attributes point and testify to the perfection of the Perfect One qualified by the attributes. And those perfect qualities point with such absolute certainty to the perfect Essence of the One possessing the qualities that they indicate that all the sorts of perfection to be seen in the whole universe are but signs of His perfections, hints of His Glory, and allusions to His beauty, and pale, weak shadows in relation to His perfection.
THE ELEVENTH FLASH,
WHICH HAS THE STRENGTH OF SUNS
As is defined in the Nineteenth Word, our master Muhammad the Trustworthy (Peace and blessings be upon him) is the supreme sign of the mighty Book of the Universe and the Greatest Name of that mighty Qur’an, the seed of the tree of the universe and its most luminous fruit, the sun of the palace of the world and the radiant moon of the world of Islam, the herald of the sovereignty of Divine dominicality, and the wise discloser of the talisman of the universe, who flies in the levels of reality with the wings of Messengership, which take under their shade all the prophets, and the wings of Islam, which take under their protection all the world of Islam; who took behind him all the prophets and messengers, all the saints and veracious ones, all the purified and the scholars, and demonstrated Divine unity with all his strength and opened up the way to Divine oneness; has any doubt or suspicion, then, the power to conceal or obscure the belief in God which he demonstrated, or the Divine unity which he proved? Since in the Nineteenth Word and Nineteenth Letter we have defined and described briefly and to a small degree in Fourteen Droplets and Nineteen Signs from the water of life of that Clear Proof’s knowledge that miracle-displaying Being together with his various miracles, we shall here content ourselves with this indication, and conclude with a benediction for him:
O God! Grant blessings to the one who demonstrated Your necessary existence and unity, and testified to Your glory and beauty and perfection; the verified and veracious witness, the verifying articulate proof; the lord of the prophets and messengers, the bearer of the mystery of their consensus, affirmation, and miracles; the leader of the saints and veracious ones, the holder of the mystery of their accord, verifications, and wonder-working; the one with evident miracles, clear marvels, and decisive evidences which corroborated and affirmed him; who displayed exalted purity in his self, elevated morals in his duty, and lofty qualities in his Shari‘a, perfect and free of all contradiction, to whom according to the consensus of the revealed and the Revealer and the one who revealed it to him, dominical reve
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lation descended; the traveller through the Worlds of the Unseen and of the Inner Dimensions of Things; the observer of spirits, who conversed with the angels; the sample of the perfections of the universe, in regard to both individuals, and species, and realms of beings; the most luminous of the fruits of the tree of creation; the lamp of truth; the proof of reality; the embodiment of mercy; the exemplification of love; the discloser of the talisman of the universe; the herald of the sovereignty of dominicality; the sign that the elevatedness of his collective personality was before the eyes of the world’s Creator at the creation of the universe; the possessor of a Shari‘a that indicates through the breadth of its principles and strength that it is the order of the Orderer of the World, drawn up by the Creator of the Universe.
Yes, the One Who ordered the universe with this perfect and total order is He Who ordered this religion with its fine and beautiful order, our master, we are the community of the sons of Adam, our guide to belief, we are the community of believers, Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abd al-Mutallib, Upon him be the most perfect blessings and most complete peace as long as the heavens and earth subsist, for he is the veracious and verified witness who summoned the leaders of witnesses and has instructed the branches of mankind throughout the centuries and all the regions of the world in elevated fashion with all his strength, with complete seriousness and utter steadfastness, and with the power of his certainty and perfect belief, testifying:
“I testify that there is no god but God, the One, He has no partner.”
THE TWELFTH FLASH,
WHICH HAS THE STRENGTH OF SUNS
This Twelfth Flash of the Twenty-Second Word is such an ocean of truths that all the previous twenty-two Words form only twenty-two drops of it, and it is a source of such lights that they form only twenty-two flashes of that Sun. Yes, all the previous twenty-two Words are flashes of the stars of the verses shining in the skies of the Qur’an; all are single droplets from the river of a verse flowing from that ocean of discernment distinguishing truth and falsehood; each is but one pearl from a single of its verses, all of which are chests of jewels in the sublime treasury of God’s Book. Thus, the Word of God, which is in small part defined in the Fourteenth Droplet of the Nineteenth Word, has been revealed from the Greatest Name, the Sublime
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Throne, and the greatest manifestation of dominicality, and it repeatedly states with all its strength within a breadth and elevatedness that binds pre-eternity to post-eternity and ties the ground to the Divine Throne, and with the certainty of all its verses: There is no god but God!; it calls the whole universe to witness and makes it testify. Yes, altogether the world hymns: There is no god but God!
If you look at the Qur’an with the eyes of a sound heart, you will see that its six aspects are so brilliant and transparent that no darkness, no misguidance, no doubt or suspicion, no trickery could enter it or find a fissure through which to enter and violate its purity. For above it is the stamp of miraculousness; beneath it, proof and evidence; behind it, its point of support, pure dominical revelation; before it, the happiness of this world and the next; on its right, questioning the reason and ensuring its confirmation; on its left, calling on the conscience to witness and securing its submission; within it is self-evidently the pure guidance of the Most Merciful; its outside observedly consists of the lights of belief; and its fruits, with all certainty the purified and veracious scholars and saints, who are adorned with all the human perfections and attainments. If you fasten your ear to the breast of that tongue of the Unseen, you will hear from afar a most familiar and convincing, an infinitely serious and elevated heavenly voice equipped with proof which repeats “There is no god but God.” It states this so certainly it is at the degree of ‘absolute certainty’, and illuminates you with a ‘knowledge of certainty’ resembling ‘vision of certainty.’
In Short: Both God’s Most Noble Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) and the Most Decisive Criterion of Truth and Falsehood were suns. One, the tongue of the Manifest World, pointing with the fingers of Islam and Messengership and confirmed by all the prophets and purified ones supported by a thousand miracles, demonstrated this truth with all his strength...
And the other, like the tongue of the World of the Unseen, indicating with the fingers of right and guidance under the confirmation of all the creational signs in the universe within forty aspects of miraculousness, demonstrates the same truth with all seriousness. Is that truth then not clearer than the sun and more brilliant than sunlight?
Oh, obdurate little man sunk in misguidance!36 How can you oppose these suns with the lamp of your head, dimmer than a fire-fly? How can you show disdain for them? Are you trying to extinguish them by puffing? Pooh to your denying mind! How can you deny the words and claims which those two tongues of the Manifest and Unseen Worlds speak in the
36. This is addressing someone who was trying to abolish the Qur’an.
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name of the Sustainer of all the worlds and Owner of the universe; which they speak on His behalf? Oh, you wretch, lower and more impotent than a fly! Who are you that you attempt to give the lie to the universe’s Glorious Owner?
O friend, whose mind is alert and heart, attentive! If you have understood this Twenty-Second Word from the beginning up to here, take the Twelve Flashes together in your hand, and finding a lamp of truth as powerful as a thousand electric lamps, adhere to the below-mentioned verses of the Qur’an. Mount the steed of Divine assistance, ascend to the heavens of truth, rise to the Throne of Divine knowledge. Declare:
I testify that there is no god but You, You are One, You have no partner!37
I testify that there is no god but God, He is One, He has no partner; His is the dominion and His is the praise; He gives life and gives death, and He is ever-living and dies not; in His hand is all good, and He is powerful over all things,38
proclaim His unity over the heads of all the beings in the universe in this mighty mosque of the world.
Glory be to You! We have no knowledge save that which You have taught us; indeed, You are All-Knowing, All-Wise.39
O our Sustainer! Do not call us to task if we forget or fall into error. * Our Sustainer! Lay not a burden on us like that which you laid on those before us; * Our Sustainer! Lay not on us a burden greater than we have the strength to bear. * Blot out our sins. And grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Protector; help us against those who stand
37. Bukhari, i, 214; Ibn Hibban, Sahih, i, 272; iii, 136, 227, 229.
38. Baghawi, Sharh al-Sunna, v, 53, 75, 132; Ibn Hajar, Majma’ al-Zawa’id, iv, 86-115: x, 85, 114.
39. Qur’an, 2:32.
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against faith.40 * Our Sustainer! Let not our hearts deviate now after You have guided us, but grant us mercy from Your presence; for You are the Granter of bounties without measure. * Our Sustainer! You are He that will gather mankind together against a Day about which there is no doubt; for God never fails in His promise.41
O God! Grant blessings and peace to the one whom You sent as a Mercy to all the worlds, and to all his Family and Companions. And have mercy of us and have mercy on his community, through Your mercy, O Most Merciful of the Merciful. Amen.
And the close of their prayer will be: Praise be to God, the Sustainer of All the Worlds!42
40. Qur’an, 2:286.
41. Qur’an, 3:8-9.
42. Qur’an, 10:10.
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The Twenty-Third Word
[This Word contains Two Chapters]
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Indeed, We have created man on the most excellent of patterns, * Then sent him down to the lowest of the low, * Except those who believe and do good deeds.1
We shall explain in five ‘Points’ only five of the virtues of belief out of thousands.
Through the light of belief, man rises to the highest of the high and acquires a value worthy of Paradise. And through the darkness of unbelief, he descends to the lowest of the low and falls to a position fit for Hell. For belief connects man to the All-Glorious Maker; it is a relation. Thus, man acquires value by virtue of the Divine art and inscriptions of the dominical Names which become apparent in him through belief. Unbelief severs the relation, and due to that severance the dominical art is concealed. His value then is only in respect to the matter of his physical being. And since this matter has only a transitory, passing, temporary animal life, its value is virtually nothing. We shall explain this mystery by means of a comparison:
For example: among man’s arts, the value of the materials used and that of the art are entirely different. Sometimes they are equal, sometimes the material is more valuable, and sometimes it happens that five liras’ worth of art is to be found in material like iron worth five kurush. Sometimes, even, an antique work of art is worth a million while the material of which it is composed is not worth five kurush. If such a work of art is taken to the
1. Qur’an, 95:4-6.
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antiques market and ascribed to a brilliant and accomplished artist of former times, and announced mentioning the artist and that art, it may be sold for a million liras.2 Whereas if it is taken to the scrap-dealers, the only price received will be for the five kurush’s worth of iron.
Thus, man is such an antique work of art of Almighty God. He is a most subtle and graceful miracle of His power whom He created to manifest all his Names and their inscriptions, in the form of a miniature specimen of the universe. If the light of belief enters his being, all the meaningful inscriptions on him may be read. As one who believes, he reads them consciously, and through that relation, causes others to read them. That is to say, the dominical art in man becomes apparent through meanings like, “I am the creature and artefact of the All-Glorious Maker. I manifest His mercy and munificence.” That is, belief, which consists of being connected to the Maker, makes apparent all the works of art in man. Man’s value is in accordance with that dominical art and by virtue of being a mirror to the Eternally Besought One. In this respect insignificant man becomes God’s addressee and a guest of the Sustainer worthy of Paradise superior to all other creatures.
However, should unbelief, which consists of the severance of the relation, enter man’s being, then all those meaningful inscriptions of the Divine Names are plunged into darkness and become illegible. For if the Maker is forgotten, the spiritual aspects which look to Him will not be comprehended, they will be as though reversed. The majority of those meaningful sublime arts and elevated inscriptions will be hidden. The remainder, those that may be seen with the eye, will be attributed to lowly causes, nature, and chance, and will become utterly devoid of value. While they are all brilliant diamonds, they become dull pieces of glass. His importance looks only to his animal, physical being. And as we said, the aim and fruit of his physical being is only to pass a brief and partial life as the most impotent, needy, and grieving of animals. Then it decays and departs. See how unbelief destroys human nature, and transforms it from diamonds into coal.
Just as belief is a light which illuminates man and makes legible all the missives of the Eternally Besought One inscribed upon him, so too it illuminates the universe, and delivers the past and the future from darkness. I shall explain this mystery with a comparison I saw during a vision, which concerns one meaning of the verse:
God is the Protector of those who believe; He leads them out of darkness into light.3
2. See, page 295, fn 19.
3. Qur’an, 2:257.
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It was like this:
I saw in a vision an awesome bridge built between two high mountains situated opposite one another. Beneath the bridge was a valley of great depth. I was on the bridge. A dense darkness had enveloped every part of the world. I looked to my right and saw a vast grave swathed in an unending dense gloom, that is, I imagined it. I looked to my left and as though saw violent storms and calamities gathering amid terrifying waves of blackness. I looked beneath the bridge and imagined I saw a profound abyss. I had a dim torch in the face of this terrifying darkness. I used it and could see a little with its light. A most horrific situation appeared to me. In fact, such awful dragons, lions, and monsters appeared around me and on the bridge in front of me that I exclaimed: “Oh! This torch brings me only trouble!”, and I angrily cast it to the ground and broke it. Then on smashing it, the darkness suddenly dispersed as though I had turned on the switch for a huge electric lamp that lit up the whole world. Everywhere was filled with the lamp’s light. It showed everything as it was in reality.
I saw that the bridge I had seen was a highway through a plain passing over even ground. The vast grave I had seen on my right I realized consisted from top to bottom of beautiful, verdant gardens and gatherings for worship, service, conversation, and the rememberance of God under the direction of luminous men. The precipices and peaks on my left which I had imagined to be tempestuous and stormy I now saw fleetingly to be a vast, lovely, and elevated place of feasting, recreation, and enjoyment behind mountains that were adorned and pleasant. And the creatures I had thought to be terrifying monsters and dragons, I saw were familiar domestic animals like camels, oxen, sheep, and goats. Declaring, “All praise be to God for the light of belief,” I recited the verse,
God is the Protector of those who believe; He leads them out of darkness into light,
and I awoke from my vision.
Thus, the two mountains were the beginning and end of life; that is, this world and the Intermediate Realm. The bridge was the road of life. To the right was the past, and to the left, the future. As for the small torch, it was the human ego, which is egotistical, relies on what it knows, and does not heed the heavenly revelation. The things imagined to be the monsters were the the events and strange creatures of the world.
Thus, one who relies on his ego, who falls into the darkness of heedlessness and is afflicted with the blackness of misguidance resembles my first state in the vision, which, like with the pocket-torch and due to deficient and misguided knowledge, saw the past in the form a huge grave amid darkness imbued with non-existence. It showed the future to be a stormy and desolate
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wasteland governed by coincidence, and events and beings, which are all submissive officials of One All-Wise and All-Compassionate to be monsters. Such a person as though manifests the verse,
And those who reject belief, their protectors are the evil ones; they lead them out of light into darkness.4
But if such a man attains to Divine guidance and belief enters his heart, and if the tyranny of his soul is smashed and he heeds God’s Book, he will resemble my second state in the vision. Then the universe will suddenly take on the colour of day and be filled with Divine light. The world will recite the verse,
God is the light of the heavens and the earth.5
Then he will see with the eye of the heart that the past is not a vast grave, but where the groups of purified spirits who each century having performed their duties of worship under the leadership of a prophet or saint exclaim, “God is Most Great!” on completion of the duties of their lives, and fly to elevated abodes, moving on to the past. He will look to the left, and through the light of belief distinguish in the distance a feasting-place of the Most Merciful set up in palaces of bliss in the gardens of Paradise, beyond the mountainous revolutions of the Intermediate Realm and the hereafter. And he will realize that the storms and earthquakes and tempestuous events are all submissive officials, and understand that they are the means for instances of wisdom which though apparently harsh are in fact most gentle, like the storms and rains of spring. He will even see death to be the introduction to eternal life, and the grave, the door to everlasting happiness. You can deduce further aspects for yourself. Apply the reality to the comparison!
Belief is both light and strength. Yes, one who acquires true belief may challenge the whole universe and be saved from the pressure of events in accordance with the strength of his belief. Saying, “I place my trust in God,” he travels through the mountainous waves of events in the ship of life in complete safety. He entrusts all his burdens to the hand of power of the Absolutely Powerful One, voyages through the world in ease, then takes his rest in the Intermediate Realm. Later he may fly up to Paradise in order to enter eternal happiness. Otherwise, if he does not rely on God, rather than flying, the burdens of the world will drag him down to the lowest of the low. That is to say, belief necessitates affirmation of Divine unity, affirmation of Divine unity necessitates submission to God, submission to God necessitates reliance on God, and reliance on God necessarily leads to happiness in this
4. Qur’an, 2:257.
5. Qur’an, 24:35.
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world and the next. But do not misunderstand this, reliance on God is not to reject causes altogether; it is rather to know that causes are a veil to the hand of power and have recourse to them. Knowing that attempting causes is a sort of active prayer, it is to seek the effects only from Almighty God, recognize that the results are from Him alone, and to be thankful to Him.
Those who place their trust in God and those who do not, resemble the two men in this story:
One time two men loaded heavy burdens onto both their backs and heads, and buying tickets, boarded a large ship. As soon as they boarded it, one of them left his load on the deck, and sitting on it guarded it. The other, however, since he was both stupid and arrogant, did not put down his load. When he was told: “Leave that heavy load on the deck and be comfortable,” he replied: “No, I won’t put it down, it might get lost. I am strong, I’ll guard my property by carrying it on my head and back.” He was told again: “This reliable royal ship which is carrying you and us is stronger, it can protect it better than you. You may get giddy and fall into the sea together with your load. Anyway you will gradually lose your strength, and by degrees those loads will get heavier and your bent back and brainless head will not have the power to bear them. And if the Captain sees you in this state, he will either say that you are crazy and expel you from the ship, or he will think you are ungrateful, accusing our ship and jeering at us, and he will order you to be put into prison. Also you are making a fool of yourself in front of everyone. For the perceptive see that you are displaying weakness through your conceit, impotence through your pride, and abasement and hypocrisy through your pretence, and have thus made yourself a laughing-stock in the eyes of the people. Everyone’s laughing at you.” Whereupon the unfortunate man came to his senses. He put down his load on the deck and sat on it. He said to the other: “Ah! May God be pleased with you. I’ve been saved from that difficulty, from prison, and from making a fool of myself.”
O man who does not place his trust in God! You too come to your senses like that man and place your trust in Him, so that you may be delivered from begging before all the universe, trembling before every event, from pride, making a fool of yourself, misery in the hereafter, and the prison of the pressures of this world...
Belief makes man into man, indeed, it makes man into a king. Since this is so, man’s basic duty is belief and supplication. Unbelief makes man into an extremely impotent beast.
Out of thousands of proofs of this matter, the differences in the ways animals and man come into the world are a clear indication and decisive proof.
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Yes, these differences show that humanity becomes humanity through belief. For when animals come into the world, they come complete in all points in accordance with their abilities as though having been perfected in another world; that is, they are sent. They learn all the conditions of their lives, their relationships with the universe, and the laws of life in either two hours or two days or two months, and become proficient in them. Animals like sparrows and bees acquire in twenty days the power to survive and proficiency in their actions that man only acquires in twenty years; that is, they are inspired with them. This means that the animals’ fundamental duty is not to be perfected through learning and progress by acquiring knowledge, nor to seek help and offer supplications through displaying their impotence, but in accordance with their abilities to work and act. Their duty is active worship.
As for man, he needs to learn everything when he comes into the world; he is ignorant, and cannot even learn completely the conditions of life in twenty years. Indeed, he needs to go on learning till the end of his life. Also he is sent to the world in a most weak and impotent form, and can only rise to his feet in one or two years. Only in fifteen years can he distinguish between harm and benefit, and with the help of mankind’s experience attract things advantageous to him and avoid others that are harmful. This means that man’s innate duty is to be perfected through learning and to proclaim his worship of God and servitude to Him through supplication. That is to say, it is to know the answers of the questions: “Through whose compassion is my life so wisely administered in this way? Through whose generosity am I so kindly raised? Through whose graciousness am I so delicately nurtured and ministered to?” It is to beseech and supplicate the Provider of Needs through the tongue of impotence and poverty; it is to seek from Him. It is to fly to the high station of worship and servitude to God on the wings of impotence and poverty.
This means that man came to this world to be perfected by means of knowledge and supplication. In regard to his nature and abilities everything is tied to knowledge. And the foundation, source, light, and spirit of all true knowledge is knowledge of God, and its essence and basis is belief in God.
Furthermore, since man is subject to endless tribulations and afflicted with innumerable enemies despite his boundless impotence, and suffers from endless needs and has innumerable desires despite his boundless poverty, after belief, his fundamental innate duty is supplication. As for supplication, it is the basis of worship of God and servitude to Him. In order to secure a desire or wish he cannot obtain, a child will either cry or ask for it, that is, he will supplicate through the tongue of his impotence either actively or verbally, and will be successful in securing it. In the same way, man is like a delicate, petted child in the world of living creatures. He has to either weep at the Court of the Most Merciful and Compassionate One through his
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weakness and impotence, or supplicate through his poverty and need, so that the things he wants may be made subject to him, or he may offer thanks for their being made so. Otherwise like a silly child who creates a fuss over a fly, saying: “With my own strength I subjugate things it is not possible to subjugate and things a thousand times more powerful, and I make them obey me through my own ideas and measures,” he displays ingratitude for the bounties. And just as this is contrary to man’s innate nature, so he makes himself deserving of severe punishment.
Belief necessitates supplication as a certain means of securing needs, and both human nature has an intense desire for it, and Almighty God decrees,
Say: My Sustainer would not concern Himself with you but for your supplication,6
which has the meaning of: What importance would you have if you did not offer Me supplications? He also commands:
Call upon Me and I will answer you.7
If you say: We frequently offer supplications, but they are not accepted. But the verse is general, it states that every supplication is answered.
The Answer: To answer is one thing, to accept is something quite different. Every supplication is answered, but its being accepted and exactly what was sought being given is dependent on Almighty God’s wisdom. For example, if a sick child calls the doctor, saying: “Doctor! Doctor!”, and he replies: “Here I am, what do you want?”, and the child says: “Give me that medicine!”, the doctor will either give him exactly what he asks for or something better and more beneficial for him. Or knowing that medicine is harmful for his illness, he will give him nothing.
Thus, since Almighty God is all-present and all-seeing, He responds to the supplications of His servants. Through His presence and response, He transforms the desolation of loneliness and solitude into familiarity. But He does this, not in accordance with man’s capricious and importunate demands, but in accordance with the requirements of dominical wisdom; He gives either what is sought or what is better than it, or He gives nothing at all.
Also, supplication is a form of worship and recognition of man’s servitude to God. The fruits of this pertain to the hereafter. The aims pertaining to this world are the times of a particular sort of supplication and worship. For example, the prayers and supplications for rain are a form of worship.
6. Qur’an, 25:77.
7. Qur’an, 40:60.
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Drought is the time for such worship. Worship and supplications of this sort are not in order to bring rain. If they are performed with that intention alone they are not worthy of acceptance, for they are not sincere worship. Sunset is the time of the evening prayers. And eclipses of the sun and moon are the times of two particular prayers known as salat al-kusuf and salat al-khusuf. That is to say, with the veiling of the two luminous signs of the night and day, God’s tremendousness is proclaimed, so Almighty God calls his servants to a sort of worship at those times. The prayers are not so that the sun and moon will be revealed (whose appearance and how long the eclipses will continue have anyway been reckoned by astronomers).
In just the same way, drought is the time for the prayers for rain, and the visitation of calamities and infliction of harmful things the times of certain supplications when man realizes his impotence and through his supplication and entreaty seeks refuge at the Court of One Possessing Absolute Power. Even if the calamities are not lifted despite many supplications, it may not be said that they were not accepted. It should rather be said that the time for the supplication is not yet over. If through His graciousness and munificence Almighty God removes the calamity, light upon light, then the time for that supplication is over and done with. That is to say, supplication has the meaning of worship and man’s acknowledging his servitude to God.
As for worship and servitude to God, it should be purely and sincerely for God’s sake. Man should only proclaim his impotence and seek refuge with Him through supplication, he should not interfere in His dominicality. He should leave the taking of measures to Him and rely on His wisdom. He should not accuse His Mercy.
Indeed, what is in reality established by the Qur’an’s clear verses is that just as all beings offer their own particular glorification and worship, so what rises to the Divine Court from all the universe is supplication. This is either through the tongue of innate ability like the supplication of plants and animals, through they seek forms from the Absolute Bestower and to display and manifest His Names. Or it is through the tongue of innate need. These are the supplications for all their essential needs -beyond their power to obtain- offered by animate beings. Through this tongue, the animate beings seek certain things from the Absolutely Generous One for the continuance of their lives, like a sort of sustenance. Or it is supplication through the tongue of exigency, through which all beings with spirits who find themselves in some plight or predicament make supplication and seek urgent refuge with an unknown protector; indeed, they turn to the All-Compassionate Sustainer. If there is nothing to prevent it, these three sorts of supplication are always accepted.
The fourth sort of supplication is the most well-known; it is our supplication. This too is of two sorts: one is active and by disposition, and the other,
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verbal and with the heart. For example, having recourse to causes is an active prayer. To gather together causes is not in order to create the effect, but through the tongue of disposition to take up an acceptable position in order to seek the effect from Almighty God. To plough a field is to knock at the door of the treasury of mercy. Since this sort of active supplication is directed towards the Absolutely Generous One’s Name and title, it is accepted in the great majority of cases.
The second sort is to offer supplication with the tongue and the heart. It is to seek certain wishes which the hand cannot reach. The most important aspect, the most beautiful aim, the sweetest fruit of this is this: “The one who offers the supplications knows that there is Someone Who hears the wishes of his heart, Whose hand can reach all things, Who can bring about each of his desires, Who takes pity on his impotence, and answers his poverty.”
O impotent, needy man! Do not neglect a means like supplication, which is the key to the treasury of mercy and to an inexhaustible strength. Cling to it! Rise to the highest peaks of humanity! Include in your supplications those of all the universe, like a king! Say, From You alone do we seek help,8 like a servant and deputy representing all the universe! Be on the Most Excellent Pattern of creation!
8. Qur’an, 1:4.
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INCLUDING FIVE REMARKS WITH RESPECT TO
MAN’S HAPPINESS AND MISERY
[Since man has been created on the most excellent of patterns and has been given most comprehensive abilities, he has been cast into an arena of trial and examination in which he may rise or fall to stations, ranks, and degrees from the lowest of the low to the highest of the high, from the earth to the Divine Throne, and from minute particles to the sun. He has been sent to this world as a miracle of Divine Power, the result of creation, and a wonder of Divine art before whom have been opened two roads leading either to infinite ascent or infinite descent. We shall explain the mystery of this awesome progress and decline of man’s in five ‘Remarks’.]
Man stands in need of most of the varieties of beings in the universe and is connected to them. His needs spread through every part of the world, and his desires extend to eternity. Just as he wants a flower, so he wants the spring. Just as he desires a garden, so does he also desire everlasting Paradise. Just as he longs to see a friend, so does he long to see the All-Beauteous One of Glory. Just as in order to visit one he loves who lives somewhere else, he is in need for his beloved’s door to be opened to him, so too in order to visit the ninety-nine per cent of his friends who have travelled to the intermediate realm and so be saved from eternal separation, he needs to seek refuge at the court of an Absolutely Powerful One Who will close the door of this huge world and open the door of the hereafter, which is an exhibition of wonders, and remove this world and establish the hereafter in its place.
Thus for man in this position the only True Object of Worship will be One in Whose hand are the reins of all things, with Whom are the treasuries of all things, Who sees all things, and is present everywhere, who is beyond space, exempt from impotence, free of fault, and far above all defect; an All-Powerful One of Glory, an All-Compassionate One of Beauty, an All-Wise One of Perfection.
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O man, if you are the slave of Him alone, you will earn a place superior to all creatures. But if you hold back from this servitude to Him, you will become an abased slave to impotent creatures. If you rely on your ego and own power and abandoning reliance on God and supplication, deviate into pride and boasting, then you will fall lower than an ant or bee in regard to goodness and creation, and become weaker than a spider or a fly. You will become heavier than a mountain in regard to evil and destruction, and more harmful than a pestilence.
Yes, O man! You have two aspects: one is that of creation, good, acts, and positivity. The other is the aspect of destruction, non-existence, evil, negativity, and passivity. In regard to the first aspect, you are lower than a bee or sparrow, and weaker than a spider or fly. Whereas in regard to the second aspect, you surpass the mountains, earth, and skies; you take on a burden before which they expressed their impotence and from which they shrank, and you assume a sphere more extensive and vaster than them. For when you create and do good, you are able to do so only to the extent of your own power and strength and to the degree your hand can reach. But when you commit evil and destruction, then your evil overwhelms and your destruction spreads.
For example, unbelief is an evil, a destruction, an absence of affirmation. But that single evil comprises insulting the whole universe, belittling all the Divine Names, and abusing all humanity. For these beings have elevated positions and important duties; they are dominical missives, Divine mirrors, and Divine officials. But unbelief dismisses them from their rank of being mirrors, officials changed with duties, and bearing meanings, and reduces them to the level of futility and being the playthings of chance. And through the destruction of death and separation, it lowers them to the degree of being swiftly decaying ephemeral matter lacking all importance and value, to being nothing. So too through denial it insults the Divine Names, the inscriptions, manifestations, and beauties of which are to be seen throughout the universe and in the mirrors of beings. And it casts down to a position more abased and weaker, more powerless and needy than the lowliest transient animal the one who holds the rank of God’s vicegerent on earth, known as man. For man is a well-composed ode of wisdom proclaiming the manifestations of the Sacred Divine Names, and a seed-like self-evident miracle of Divine power containing all the members of an eternal tree, and who, with assuming the ‘Supreme Trust,’ rose to being higher than the earth, sky and mountains and gained superiority over the angels. It reduces him to the level of being a common sign-board lacking all meaning, confused, and swiftly decaying.
In Short: In regard to destruction and evil, the evil-commanding soul may commit infinite crimes, but concerning creativity and good, its power is
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extremely little and partial. Yes, he may destroy a house in one day, while it cannot be built in a hundred. However, if the soul gives up egoism and seeks good and existence from Divine assistance, and if it foregoes evil and destruction and relying on the soul, and seeking forgiveness becomes a true slave of God’s, then it will manifest the meaning of the verse,
God will change their evil into good.9
Its infinite capacity for evil will be transformed into an infinite capacity for good. It will acquire the value of the Most Excellent of Patterns and ascend to the highest of the high.
O heedless man! See Almighty God’s munificence and generosity! Although it would be justice to record one evil as a thousand and a single good deed as one or not at all, He records a single evil as one, and a single good deed as ten, and sometimes as seventy or seven hundred, or even sometimes as seven thousand. You will also understand from this Remark that to be sent to Hell, which is so dreadful, is retribution for the deed and pure justice, while to be sent to Paradise is pure generosity.
Man has two faces: one, concerning his ego, looks to the life of this world. The other, concerning worship and servitude to God, looks to eternal life. In respect to the first face he is a wretched creature whose capital consists only of the following: of will he has only a partial power of choice like a hair; of power, a weak ability to acquire; of life, a fast dying flame; of a life-span, a fleeting brief spell; and of being, a swiftly decaying small body. Together with this, he is one delicate, weak individual out of the innumerable individuals of the numberless varieties of beings dispersed through the levels of the universe.
In respect of the second face and especially his impotence and poverty, which are turned towards worship, man has truly great breadth and vast importance. For the All-Wise Creator has included in man’s nature an infinitely vast impotence and boundlessly huge poverty, so that he can be an extensive mirror containing the innumerable manifestations of an All-Powerful and Compassionate One Whose power is infinite, an All-Generous All-Rich One Whose wealth is boundless.
Indeed, man resembles a seed. This seed has been given significant immaterial members by Divine power and a subtle, valuable programme by Divine Determining, so that it may work beneath the ground, and emerging from that narrow world, enter the broad world of the air, and asking its Creator with the tongue of its disposition to be a tree, find a perfection worthy of
9. Qur’an, 25:70.
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it. If, due to bad temperament, the seed uses the immaterial members given it in attracting certain harmful substances under the ground, in a short time it will rot and decay in that narrow place without benefit. But if the seed conforms to the creational command of,
God is the Splitter of the seed-grain and date-stone10
and employs well those immaterial members, it will emerge from that narrow world, and through becoming a large fruit-bearing tree, its tiny particular reality and its spirit will take on the form of an extensive universal reality.
Similarly, significant members and valuable programmes have been deposited in man’s nature by Divine power and determining. If man uses those immaterial members on the desires of his soul and on minor pleasures under the soil of worldly life in the narrow confines of this earthly world, he will decay and decompose in the midst of difficulties in a brief life in a constricted place like the rotted seed, and load the responsibility on his unfortunate spirit, then depart from this world.
If, however, he nurtures the seed of his abilities with the water of Islam and light of belief under the soil of worship and servitude to God, conforms to the commands of the Qur’an, and turns his faculties towards their true aims, they will produce branches and buds in the World of Similitudes and the Intermediate Realm; he will be a seed of great value and a shining machine containing the members of an everlasting tree and permanent truth which will be the means to innumerable perfections and bounties in Paradise. And he will be a blessed and luminous fruit of the tree of the universe.
Yes, true progress is to turn the faces of the heart, spirit, intellect, and even the imagination and other subtle faculties given to man towards eternal life and for each to be occupied with the particular duty of worship worthy of it. Progress is not as the people of misguidance imagine, to plunge into the life of this world in all its minute details and in order to taste every sort of pleasure, even the basest, make subject to the evil-commanding soul all the subtle faculties and the heart and intellect, and make them assist it; to do this is not progress, it is decline. I saw this fact in a vision which is described in the following comparison:
I was entering a large town when I looked and saw it was full of large palaces. At the doors of some of these palaces was merry-making like a brilliant theatre; it captured and held everyone’s attention and was entertaining them. I looked carefully and saw that the lord of such a palace had come to the door; he was playing with a dog and assisting the merry-making. The ladies were indulging in sweet conversation with ill-mannered youths. Grown-up girls were organizing the children’s games. And the doorkeeper
10. Qur’an, 6:95.
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had taken the role of directing the others. I then realized that the inside of the huge palace was completely empty. Its refined duties all remained undone. The morals of its inhabitants had declined so that they had taken on these roles at the door.
I passed on until I came to another large palace. I saw that there was a faithful dog stretched out at the door and a stern and taciturn doorkeeper; it had an undistinguished appearance. I was curious: why was the other the way it was and this palace like this? I went inside. Then I saw that the inside was very merry. Apartment over apartment, the people of the palace were busy with their different refined duties. The men in the first apartment were overseeing the administration and running of the palace. In the apartment over that, girls were teaching the children. Above that the ladies were occupied with fine arts and beautiful embroideries. And on the top floor, the lord was exchanging news with the king, and was busy with his own elevated duties in order to maintain the peoples’ tranquillity and his own attainments and progress. They did not stop me since I was not visible to them, and I was able to wander around. Then I came out and looked around: everywhere in the town were these two sorts of palaces. I asked about this and they told me: “The palaces where there is merry-making at the door and whose insides are empty belong to the foremost of the unbelievers and people of misguidance. The others belong to honourable Muslim notables.” Then in one corner I came across a palace on which was written my name, SAID. I was curious. I looked more closely and I as though saw my image on it. Calling out in utter bewilderment, I came to my senses and awoke.
And now I shall interpret this vision for you. May God cause good to come of it.
The town was human social life and the city of man’s civilization. Each of the palaces was a human being. The people of the palaces were the subtle faculties in man like the eyes, ears, heart, inner heart, spirit, intellect, and things like the soul and caprice, and powers of lust and anger. Each of man’s faculties has a different duty of worship, and different pleasures and pains. The soul and caprice and powers of lust and anger are like the doorkeeper and the dog. Thus, to make the elevated subtle faculties subject to the soul and caprice and make them forget their fundamental duties is certainly decline and not progress. You can interpret the rest for yourself.
In regard to his acts and deeds and his labour man is a weak animal, an impotent creature. The extent of his power of disposal and ownership in this respect is so narrow that it is no greater than as far as his hand can reach. Domestic animals, even, the reins of which have been given to man, have each taken a share of his weakness, impotence, and laziness, so that if they
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are compared with their wild counterparts, a great difference is apparent. (Like domestic goats and cattle, and wild goats and cattle). But in regard to passivity, acceptance, supplication, and entreaty, man is an honoured traveller in this hostel of the world. He is the guest of One so generous that infinite treasuries of mercy have been opened to him and innumerable unique beings and servants subjugated to him. And a sphere so large has been prepared for this guest’s recreation, amusement, and benefit that half its diameter is as long and broad as the imagination can stretch.
Thus, if man relies on his ego, and making worldly life his goal, attempts to taste temporary pleasures while struggling to make his living, he becomes submerged within an extremely constricted sphere, then departs. All the members, systems, and faculties given him will testify against him at the resurrection and will bring a suit against him. Whereas if he knows himself to be a guest and spends the capital of his life within the sphere of permission of the Generous One of Whom he is the guest, he will strive for a long, eternal life within a broad sphere, then take his rest and ease. And later, he may rise to the highest of the high.
Moreover, all the members and systems given to man will be happy with him and testify in favour of him in the hereafter. For sure, all the wonderful faculties given to men were not for this insignificant worldly life, but for an everlasting life of great significance. For if we compare man with the animals, we see that man is very rich in regard to faculties and members, a hundred times more so than the animals. But in the pleasures of worldly life and in animal life he falls a hundred times lower. For in each pleasure he receives is the trace of thousands of pains. The pains of the past and fears of the future and the pain at each pleasure’s passing spoil the enjoyment to had from them, and leave a trace in the pleasure. But animals are not like that. They receive pleasure with no pains. They take enjoyment with no sorrow. Neither the sorrows of the past cause them suffering, nor the fears of the future distress them. They live peacefully, and offer thanks to their Creator.
This means that if man, who is created on the most excellent of patterns, restricts his thought to the life of this world, he falls a hundred times lower than a creature like a sparrow, although he is higher than the animals. I explained this fact in another place by means of a comparison. It is related to this, so I shall repeat it here. It was like this:
A man gave one of his servants ten pieces of gold and told him to have a suit of clothes made in a particular cloth. Then to a second one, he gave a thousand pieces of gold, and putting in the servant’s pocket a note on which certain things were written, sent him to a market. The first servant bought an excellent suit of the finest cloth with the ten pieces of gold. While the second servant did not use his head, and looking at the first servant and not reading the account-note in his pocket, he gave the thousand pieces of gold to a shop
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keeper and asked for a suit of clothes. The dishonest shopkeeper gave him a suit of the very worst-quality cloth. Then the wretched servant returned to his lord and received a severe reprimand and a terrible punishment.
Thus, even the most unintelligent will understand that the thousand pieces of gold given the second servant were not to buy a suit of clothes, but for some important trade.
In just the same way, each of the immaterial members and subtle faculties in man have expanded to a degree a hundred times greater than that of the animals. For example, consider faculties and members like man’s eyes, which can discern all the degrees of beauty, and his sense of taste, which can distinguish all the varieties of the particular tastes of foods, and his mind, which can penetrate to all the subtlest points of reality, and his heart, which yearns for every sort of perfection, and then consider the extremely simple members of the animals which have developed only one or two degrees. There is just this difference, that in animals a member particular to some function and special to a particular species develops more. But this development is particular.
The reason for man’s wealth in regard to faculties is this: by reason of the mind and thought, man’s senses and feelings have greatly developed and expanded. And numerous emotions have come into being because of the multiplicity of his needs. And his senses have become extremely diverse. And because of the comprehensiveness of his nature, desires have appeared turned towards numerous aims. And because he has numerous duties due to his nature, his members and faculties have expanded greatly. And since he has been created with a nature capable of performing every sort of worship, he has been given abilities which embrace the seeds of all perfections.
Thus, this great wealth in faculties and abundant capital was certainly not given for procuring this temporary worldly life. Rather, man’s fundamental duty is to perform his duties, which look to innumerable aims; and proclaim his impotence, poverty, and faults in the form of worship; and observing the glorifications of beings with a universal eye, to bear witness to them; and seeing the instances of the assistance of the Most Merciful One, to offer thanks; and gazing on the miracles of dominical power in beings, to contemplate on them as objects from which lessons may be drawn.
O man who worships this world, is the lover of worldly life, and is heedless of the meaning of ‘the most excellent of patterns’! The Old Said saw the reality of worldly life in a vision. It transformed him into the New Said. You too listen to it in the form of a comparison:
I saw that I was a traveller and was going on a long journey; that is to say, I was being sent. The one who was my lord gradually gave me some of the money from the sixty gold pieces he had allotted me. I spent them, and came
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to a hostel where there were amusements of all kinds. In one night in that hostel I spent ten pieces of gold on gambling, amusements, and the enjoyment of fame. In the morning I had no money left. Moreover I had done no trade nor bought any goods for the place I was going. All that remained to me from the money were sins and pains, and from the amusements, wounds and sorrow. While in that sorry state, a man suddenly appeared. He said to me:
“You have wasted all your capital and deserve punishment. You are going to your destination bankrupt and with your hands empty. But if you have any sense, the door of repentance is open. When you receive the fifteen pieces of gold that remain to you, keep half of them in reserve. That is, obtain the things necessary for you in the place where you are going.”
I looked, my soul did not agree to this.
So he said: “A third, then.”
My soul still did not obey him.
Then he said: “A quarter.”
My soul could not give up the habits to which it was addicted, so the man angrily turned his back on me and left.
Suddenly, the scene changed. I was in a train in a tunnel, which was travelling fast as though downwards vertically. I took fright. But what could I do, there was no escape anywhere. Strangely, attractive flowers and enticing fruits appeared on both sides of the train. And I, like the foolish and inexperienced, looked at them and stretching out my hand, tried to pick them. But they were covered in thorns and tore at my hands when I touched them making them bleed. With the movement of the train, my hands were lacerated at being parted from them. They cost me much. Suddenly a porter on the train said:
“Give me five kurush and I shall give you as much of the flowers and fruits as you want. You are caused the loss of a hundred kurush with your hands being torn, rather than five kurush. Also there is a penalty; you cannot pick them without permission.”
In distress I put my head out of the window and looked ahead to see when the tunnel would end. I saw that in place of the tunnel’s entrance were numerous holes. People were being thrown into them from the long train. I saw a hole opposite me. On either side of it was a gravestone. I looked in amazement. I saw that written on one of the gravestones was the name SAID. In my bewilderment and anxiety I exclaimed: “Alas!” Then suddenly I heard the voice of the man who had given me advice at the door of the hostel. He asked:
“Have you come to your senses?”
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I replied: “Yes, but it is too late now.”
So he said: “Repent and place your trust in God.”
I replied that I would. Then I awoke and saw myself as the New Said; the Old Said had disappeared.
So, that was the vision. May God cause good to come of it! I shall interpret one or two parts of it, then you can interpret the rest for yourself.
The journey was the journey which passes from the World of Spirits, through the mother’s womb, youth, old age, the grave, the Intermediate Realm, the resurrection, and the Bridge of Sirat towards eternity. The sixty pieces of gold were the sixty years of life. I reckoned I saw the vision when I was forty-five years old. I had nothing to guarantee it, but a sincere student of the All-Wise Qur’an advised me to spend half of the fifteen that remained to me on the hereafter. The hostel for me was Istanbul. The train was time, and each year a carriage. As for the tunnel, it was the life of this world. The thorny flowers and fruits were illicit pleasures and forbidden amusements which cause pain while indulging in them on thinking of their passing, and on separation lacerate the heart, making it bleed. They also cause a punishment to be inflicted. The porter on the train told me to give him five kurush so that he would give me as many as I wanted.
The meaning of this is as follows: the pleasures and enjoyment man receives through licit striving within the sphere of what is lawful are sufficient for him. No need remains to enter the unlawful. You may interpret the rest for yourself.
Man resembles a delicate and petted child in the universe. There is a great strength in his weakness and great power in his impotence. For it is through the strength of his weakness and power of his impotence that beings have been subjected to him. If man understands his weakness and offers supplications verbally and by state and conduct, and recognizes his impotence and seeks help, since he has offered thanks by exhibiting them, he achieves his aims and his desires are subjugated to him in a way far exceeding what he could achieve with his own power. Only, he sometimes wrongly attributes to his own power the attainment of a wish that has been obtained for him through the supplications offered by the tongue of his disposition. For example, the strength in the weakness of a chick causes the mother hen to attack a lion. And its newly-born lion cub subjugates to itself the savage and hungry lioness, leaving the mother hungry and the cub full. See this strength in weakness and manifestation of Divine mercy, which are worthy of notice!
Just as through crying or asking or looking unhappy, a child subjugates the strong to himself, and is so successful in getting what he wants that he
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could not obtain one thousandth of it with a thousand times his own strength. That is to say, since weakness and impotence excite compassion and a sense of protection towards him, the child can subjugate heroes to himself with his tiny finger. Now, should such a child with foolish conceit deny the compassion and accuse the protection saying: “I subjugate these with my own strength”, of course he will receive a slap.
In the same way, if, like Qarun, man says:
I have been given it on account of the knowledge I have,11
that is, “I gained this through my own knowledge and my own power” in a way that demonstrates ingratitude and denies his Creator’s mercy and accuses His wisdom, he will of course deserve a punishing blow. This means that man’s domination and human advances and the attainments of civilization, which are to be observed, have been made subject to him not through his attracting them or conquering them or through combat, but due to his weakness. He has been assisted because of his impotence. They have been bestowed on him due to his indigence. He has been inspired with them due to his ignorance. They have been given him due to his need. And the reason for his domination is not strength and the power of knowledge, but the compassion and clemency of the Sustainer and Divine mercy and wisdom: they have subjugated things to him. Yes, what clothes man, who is defeated by vermin like eyeless scorpions and legless snakes, in silk from a tiny worm and feeds him honey from a poisonous insect is not his own power, but the subjugation of the Sustainer and the bestowal of the Most Merciful, which are the fruits of his weakness.
O man! Since the reality of the matter is thus, give up egotism and arrogance. With the tongue of seeking help proclaim your impotence and weakness at the Divine Court, and with the tongue of entreaty and supplication, your poverty and need. Show that you are His slave. Say:
God is enough for us, for He is the Best Disposer of Affairs,12
and rise in degree.
Also, do not say: “I am nothing. What importance do I have that the universe should purposefully be made subject to me by an Absolutely All-Wise One, and universal thanks required of me?” Because for sure you are as though nothing with respect to your soul and form, but from the point of view of duty and rank, you are an observant spectator of this majestic universe, an eloquent, articulate tongue of these beings so full of wisdom, a discerning reader of this book of the universe, a supervisor of these creatures
11. Qur’an, 28:78.
12. Qur’an, 3:173.
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full of wonder at their glorifications, and like a foreman of these beings full of respect for their worship.
Yes, O man! In regard to your vegetable physical being and animal soul, you are a deaf particle, a contemptible atom, a needy creature, a weak animal, who, tossed on the awesome waves of the flood of beings, is departing. But being perfected through the light of belief, which comprises the radiance of Divine love, and through the training of Islam, which is enlightened, in regard to humanity and servitude to God, you are a king, and a universal within particularity, and within your insignificance, a world, and within your contemptibility, a supervisor of such high rank and extensive sphere that you can say: “My Compassionate Sustainer has made the world a house for me, the sun and moon lamps for it, and the spring, a bunch of flowers for me, and summer, a table of bounties, and the animals, He has made my servants. And He has made plants the decorated furnishings of my house.”
To conclude: If you heed Satan and your soul, you will fall to the lowest of the low. But if you heed Truth and the Qur’an, you will rise to the highest of the high and become the Most Excellent Pattern of the universe.
Man has been sent to this world as an official and guest, and has been given abilities of great significance. And he has been entrusted with important duties in accordance with those abilities. In order to employ man in fulfilling those aims and duties, powerful encouragement and severe threats have been made. We shall here summarize the fundamentals of worship and of man’s duties, which we have explained at length elsewhere, so that the mystery of ‘the Most Excellent of Patterns’ may be understood.
On coming into the universe man has two aspects of worship and being a slave of God’s. One is worship and contemplation in the absence of the Object of Worship. The other is worship and supplication in His presence and addressing Him directly.
First Aspect: It is to affirm submissively the sovereignty of dominicality apparent in the universe and to observe its perfections and virtues in wonder.
Then it is to proclaim and herald the unique arts which consist of the inscriptions of the Sacred Divine Names and to display them to others.
Then it is to weigh on the scales of perception the jewels of the dominical Names, which are all like hidden treasures; it is to appreciatively affirm their value with the discerning heart.
Then it is to study and ponder over in wonder the pages of beings and leaves of the earth and sky, which are like missives of the pen of power.
Then through beholding admiringly the adornment and subtle arts in beings, it is to feel love for knowledge of their All-Beauteous Creator, and to
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yearn to ascend to the presence of their All-Perfect Maker and to receive His favours.
Second Aspect: This is the station of presence and address wherein man passes from the work to the producer of the work and he sees that an All-Beauteous Maker wants to make himself known and acquainted through the miracles of His own art, and he responds with knowledge and belief.
Then he sees that an All-Compassionate Sustainer wants to make himself loved through the fine fruits of His mercy. So through confining his love and worship to Him, he makes himself love Him.
Then he sees that an All-Generous Bestower is nurturing him with the delights of bounties material and immaterial, and in return he offers Him thanks and praise with his actions, conduct, words, and as far as he can, with all his senses and faculties.
Then he sees that an All-Beauteous and Glorious One is announcing His tremendousness and perfections, and glory and beauty in the mirrors of these beings, and is drawing attentive gazes to them. So in response he declares: “God is Most Great! Glory be to God!”, and in humility prostrates in love and wonder.
Then he sees that a Possessor of Absolute Riches is displaying His boundless wealth and treasuries amid an absolute munificence. So in response, exalting and praising Him, he entreats and asks for them, expressing his utter need.
Then he sees that the All-Glorious Creator has made the face of the earth like an exhibition and displayed on it all His antique works of art. So in response he exclaims in appreciation: “What wonders God has willed!”, and in admiration: “What blessings God has bestowed!”, and in wonder: “Glory be to God!“, and in astonishment: “God is Most Great!”
Then he sees that in His palace of the universe a Single One of Unity has struck seals of unity on all beings with His inimitable signature, and with His stamps, signets, and cyphers particular to Him; that He inscribes the signs of His unity; and planting the banner of unity in every region of the world, He proclaims His dominicality. And he responds with assent, belief, submission, worship, and affirmation of His unity.
Thus, through worship and contemplation of this kind he becomes a true man. He shows that he is on the Most Excellent of Patterns. Through the auspiciousness of belief he becomes a reliable vicegerent of God’s on earth worthy of bearing the Trust.
O heedless man created on the Most Excellent of Patterns, who, through the misuse of his will is descending to the lowest of the low! Listen to me! In the heedlessness induced by the intoxication of youth I, like you, thought the world was fine and lovely. Then the moment I awoke in the morning of
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old age, I saw how ugly was the world’s face that was not turned towards the hereafter, which I had previously imagined to be beautiful. To see this and how beautiful was its true face, which looks to the hereafter, you may refer to the two ‘Signboards’ in the Second Station of the Seventeenth Word, and see for yourself.
The First Signboard depicts the reality of the world of the people of neglect, which long ago, like the people of misguidance, I saw through the veil of heedlessness, but without being intoxicated.
The Second Signboard indicates the reality of the worlds of the people of guidance. I left it in the form it was written long ago. It resembles poetry, but it is not truly that...
Glory be unto You! We have no knowledge save that which You have taught us; indeed You are All-Knowing, All-Wise.13
O My Sustainer! Expand for me my breast * Make easy for me my affair * And loosen the knot on my tongue * That they may understand my words.14
O God! Grant blessings to the subtle unitary Muhammadan essence, the Sun in the skies of mysteries and manifestation of lights, the centre of the orbit of glory and the pole of the sphere of beauty. O God! By his mystery in Your presence and by his journeying to You, succour my fear, and right my stumbling, and dispel my grief and my greed, and be mine, and take me from myself to Yourself, and bestow on me annihilation from myself, and do not make me captivated by my soul and veiled by my senses, and reveal to me all hidden secrets, O Ever-Living and Self-Subsistent One! O Ever-Living and Self-Subsistent One! O Ever-Living and Self-Subsistent One! And grant mercy to me and to my companions and to the people of belief and the Qur’an. Amen. O Most Merciful of the Merciful and Most Generous of the Generous!
And the close of their prayer will be: All Praise be to God, the Sustainer of All the Worlds.
13. Qur’an, 2:32.
14. Qur’an, 20:25-8.
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The Twenty-Fourth Word
[This Word consists of five ‘Branches’. Study the Fourth Branch carefully. And hold on to the Fifth Branch and climb it, then pluck its fruits!]
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
God, there is no god but He; His are the Most Beautiful Names.1
We shall indicate five branches of one of the many truths from the luminous tree of this glorious verse.
A sultan has different titles in the spheres of his government, and different styles and attributes among the classes of his subjects, and different names and signs in the levels of his rule, for example, Just Judge in the judiciary, Sultan in the civil service, Commander-in-Chief in the army, and Caliph in the learned establishment. If, making an analogy with these, you know the rest of his names and titles, you will understand that a single sultan may possess a thousand names and titles in the spheres of his rule and levels of government. It is as if, through his corporate personality and telephone, the ruler is present and knowing in every sphere; and through his laws and regulations and representatives, sees and is seen; and behind the veil in every degree, disposes and sees, governs and observes through his decree, knowledge, and power.
It is exactly the same for the Sustainer of All the Worlds, Who is the Ruler of Pre-Eternity and Post-Eternity; in the degrees of His dominicality He has attributes and designations which are all different but which look to each other; and in the spheres of His Godhead He has names and marks which are all different but which are one within the other; and in His magnificent activities He has representations and appellations which are all different but which resemble each other; and in the disposals of His power He
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has titles which are all different but which hint of one another; and in the manifestations of His attributes He has sacred appearances which are all different but which show one another; and in the displays of His acts He has wise disposals which are of numerous sorts but which complete one another; and in His multicoloured art and varieties of creatures, He has splendid aspects of dominicality which are all different but which look to one another. And together with this, in every world, in every realm of beings, the title of one of the Most Beautiful Names is manifested. In each sphere one Name is dominant and the other Names are subordinate to it, rather, they are there on account of it.
Furthermore, in every level of beings, many or few, great or small, particular or general, He has an appearance through a particular manifestation, a particular dominicality, a particular Name. That is to say, although the Name in question is general and encompasses everything, it is turned towards a thing with such intention and importance that it is as if it is special to that thing alone. Moreover, although the All-Glorious Creator is close to everything, there are almost seventy thousand luminous veils obscuring Him. You can compare how many veils there are from the particular degree of creativity of the Name of Creator which is manifested on you to the greatest degree and supreme title which is Creator of all the universe. That means, on condition you leave the whole universe behind you, from the door of creativity you may reach the limits of the Name of Creator and draw close to the sphere of attributes.
The veils have windows which look to one another, and the Names appear one within the other, and the acts look to one another, and the similitudes enter one within the other, and the titles hint of one another, and the manifestations resemble each other, and the disposals assist and complete one another, and the various dispositions of dominicality help and assist one another. It surely therefore necessitates not denying the other titles, acts, and degrees of dominicality when Almighty God is known through one of His Names, titles, or degrees of dominicality. Indeed, it is harmful if a transition is not made from the manifestation of any one Name to the others. For example, if the works of the Names of All-Powerful and Creator are seen, and not the Name of All-Knowing, a person may fall into heedlessness and the misguidance of nature. He should always keep in view and recite: “He!” and: “He is God!” He should listen, and hear from everything: “Say, He is God, the One!” His tongue should utter and proclaim: “All the world declares: There is no god but He!” Thus, through the decree of God, There is no god but He; His are the Most Beautiful Names, the Qur’an points to these truths we have mentioned.
If you want to observe these elevated truths from close to, go and ask a stormy sea or the quaking earth: “What are you saying?” You will hear that
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they are saying: “O Glorious One! O Glorious One! O One of Might, All-Compelling!” Then ask the small animals and their young being raised with kindness and compassion in the sea and on the land: “What are you saying?” They will surely reply: “O Beauteous One! O Beauteous One! O Most Compassionate and Merciful One!”2 Then listen to the skies; they say: “O Glorious One of Beauty!” And give your ear to the earth; it says: “O Beauteous One of Glory!” Listen carefully to the animals; they are saying: “O Most Merciful One! O Provider!” And ask the spring; you will hear many Names like: “O Gentle One! O Most Merciful One! O Most Compassionate One! O Most Generous One! O Gracious One! O Benevolent One! O Giver of Forms! O Giver of Light! O Bestower! O Adorner!” Then ask a human being who is a true human, and see how he recites all the Most Beautiful Names and how they are written on his forehead. If you look carefully, you too may read them. It is as if the universe is a huge orchestra celebrating the Divine Names. Mixing the faintest song with the most powerful refrains, it produces a sublime and subtle harmony. You may make further analogies in the same way.
For sure, man is the place of manifestation of all the Names, but the Names being various has resulted in the universe’s variety and the differences in the angels’ worship, and has also caused a degree of variety among men. The different laws of the prophets, the different ways of the saints, and the different paths of the purified scholars has arisen from this mystery. For example, together with the other Names, the Name of All-Powerful was predominant in Jesus (Peace be upon him). And in those who follow the path of
2. Even, one day I looked at the cats; all they were doing was eating, playing, and sleeping. I wondered: how is it these little monsters which perform no duties are known as blessed. Later, I lay down to sleep for the night. I looked; one of the cats had come. It lay against my pillow and put its mouth against my ear, and murmuring: “O Most Compassionate One! O Most Compassionate One!” in the most clear manner, as though refuted in the name of its species the objection and insult which had occurred to me, throwing it in my face. Then this occurred to me: I wonder if this recitation is particular to this cat, or is it general among cats? And is it only an unfair objector like me who hears it, or if anyone listens carefully, can they hear it?
The next morning I listened to the other cats; it was not so clearly, but to varying degrees they were repeating the same invocation. At first, “O Most Compassionate!” was discernible following their purring. Then gradually their purrings and meaowings became the same “O Most Merciful!” It became an unarticulated, eloquent and sorrowful recitation. They would close their mouths and utter a fine “O Most Compassionate!”
I related the story to the brothers who visited me, and they listened carefully as well, and said that they heard it to an extent. Later I wondered what this Name’s special feature was, and why they recite it in the way of men and not in animal tongue. Then it imparted to my heart that since these animals are very delicate and petted like children and are a friend of man, they are in much need of kindness and compassion. When they are stroked and paid attention to in the way they like, as praise and thanks for the bounty, and unlike dogs, they proclaim the mercy of their All-Compassionate Creator in their own worlds. They warn men in the sleep of heedlessness, and through their cry of “O Most Compassionate!”, they remind those who worship causes Who it is that help comes from and from Whom mercy may be awaited.
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love, the Name of Loving One prevails, and in those who follow the path of contemplation and reflection, the Name of All-Wise.
Thus, if someone is both a teacher, and a policeman, and a clerk of the court, and an inspector in the civil service, in each office he has both relations, and duties, and obligations, and salaries, and responsibilities, and promotion, and enemies and rivals who are the cause of his failures. He appears before the king with many titles, and he sees the king. He seeks help from him with many tongues. He has recourse to many of the ruler’s titles, and seeks his help in many forms in order to be saved from the evil of his enemies.
In just the same way, man, who manifests many Names and is charged with many duties and afflicted with many enemies, invokes many of the Names in his prayers and supplications. Like Muhammad the Arabian (Peace and blessings be upon him), the cause of pride of mankind and truly the most perfect man, supplicated with a thousand and one Names in his prayer, Jawshan al-Kabir. It is due to this mystery that the Sura,
Say, I seek refuge with the Sustainer and Cherisher of men, * The Sovereign of men, * The God of men, * From the evil of the whispering, elusive tempter3
commands that we take refuge with God through three titles, and,
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
shows the seeking of help through three Names.
This explains two mysteries which comprise the keys to many further mysteries.
FIRST MYSTERY: “Why do the saints differ greatly in their visions and illuminations although they are unanimous on the principles of belief? Why are their illuminations, which are at the degree of witnessing, sometimes opposed to reality and contrary to the truth? And why in their ideas which they consider to be the the truth, establishing them through decisive proofs, do thinkers and scholars see and show reality in a way that contradicts one another? Why does one truth take on numerous colours?”
SECOND MYSTERY: “Why did the early prophets leave some of the pillars of belief like bodily resurrection in brief form and not explain them in detail like the Qur’an, so that in the future some of their communities went as far as denying some of those concise pillars? Also, why did some of the saints only advance in the affirmation of Divine unity, and although they
3. Qur’an, 114:1-4.
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even progressed as far as the degree of ‘absolute certainty’ in Divine unity, some of the pillars of belief appear in their paths very little and in summary form? And as a result, those who followed them in the future did not give the necessary importance to the pillars of belief, and some of them even fell into error? Since true perfection is found through the unfolding of all the pillars of belief, why did some of the mystics advance significantly in them, while some remained very backward, whereas God’s Most Noble Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him), who manifested all the Divine Names at their maximum degree and was the chief of the prophets, and the All-Wise Qur’an, which is the luminous chief of all the sacred scriptures, described in detail all the pillars of belief, clearly, and in a most serious manner and deliberate way?”
Because in reality the most true and complete perfection is thus. Yes, the wisdom in these mysteries is this: for sure man is the place of manifestation of all the Names, but since his power is slight, his will partial, his abilities various, and desires different, he searches for reality among thousands of veils and barriers. So, in uncovering reality and witnessing the truth, barriers intervene. Some people cannot by-pass the barriers. Their abilities are all different. The abilities of some cannot support the unfolding of some of the truths of belief. Moreover, the colours of the Name’s manifestations vary according to the place they are manifested; they become all different. Some people who manifest them cannot be the means to the complete manifestation of a Name. Also, the manifestation of the Names takes on different forms in respect of universality, particularity, shadow, or originality. Some capacities cannot transcend particularity. And some cannot emerge from the shadow. In some capacities, sometimes one Name is predominant, and it carries out its word and rules in that capacity. Now we shall make a few indications to this profound mystery and this extensive wisdom with an enigmatical, comprehensive, true, but somewhat complex, comparison.
For example, let us suppose an adorned flower, a living droplet enamoured of the Moon, and a translucent atom which looks to the Sun. Each of these possesses consciousness and some perfection, and each has a yearning for that perfection. Together with indicating many truths, these three things also allude to the spiritual voyaging of the soul, the mind, and the heart. They also correspond to three levels of those who investigate reality.4
The First indicates those who follow the path of intellectual thought; those who follow the path of sainthood; and those who follow the path of prophethood.
The Second corresponds to those who approach reality by striving for
4. There are also three groups in each level. The three things given as examples in the comparison look to these three groups which are in each level. Indeed, they look to those nine groups, not the three levels.
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perfection through the bodily systems; and those who approach it by striving with the mind and refining the soul; and those who approach it through belief, submission, and purifying the heart.
The Third is the comparison of those who do not give up egotism, are plunged in works, and approach reality through deduction and reasoning only; and of those who search for reality through knowledge and science, reason and learning; and those who approach reality swiftly through belief and the Qur’an, poverty and worship. These comparisons point to the wisdom in the differences between the three groups, whose capacities are also different.
Thus, under the titles of Flower, Droplet, and Atom, we shall show by means of a comparison, the mystery and extensive wisdom in the progress of the three groups. For example, through its Creator’s permission and at His command, the Sun has three sorts of manifestation, reflection and radiance: one is its reflection on flowers, one its reflection on the Moon and the planets, and one its reflection on shining objects like glass and water.
The First is in three ways:
One is a universal and general manifestation and reflection whereby its radiance encompasses all flowers at once.
Another is a special manifestation whereby it has a special reflection for each species.
Another is a particular manifestation whereby its effulgence is in accordance with the individuality of each flower. This comparison of ours is in conformity with this statement, that the adorned colours of flowers arises from the changing reflections of the seven colours in the Sun’s light. According to this, flowers too are sorts of mirrors to the Sun.
The Second is the light and effulgence which, with the All-Wise Creator’s permission, the Sun gives to the Moon and planets. Having received this extensive, universal light and effulgence, the Moon, whose light is like a shadow of that light, profits from the Sun in a universal fashion. Then its radiance and effulgence shines in a particular way on the seas and air and shining earth, and partially on the bubbles on the sea and translucent particles of the earth and the molecules of the air.
The Third is, through the Divine command, a reflection of the Sun which, making the air and the surface of the seas into mirrors, is pure, universal, and without shadow. Then the Sun gives to each of the bubbles on the sea, the droplets of water, molecules of air, and snow-flakes, a particular reflection and tiny image of itself.
Thus, in the three forms mentioned above, the Sun bestows an effulgence and favour on every flower, the Moon, and all droplets and atoms. And these in turn are each in two ways:
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The First Way is direct, and without barrier or veil. This way represents the way of prophethood.
The Second Way: In this, barriers intervene. The capacities of the mirrors and places of manifestation add colour to the Sun’s manifestations. This way represents the way of sainthood.
Thus, on the First Way, ‘Flower’, ‘Droplet’, and ‘Atom’ can each say: “I am a mirror to the Sun of all the world.” But on the Second Way they cannot say that; they can rather say: “I am the mirror to my own Sun, or the mirror to the Sun which is manifested in my species.” For that is the manner in which they know the Sun. They cannot see a Sun which looks to the whole world; the Sun of that individual or species or genus appears to it within narrow confines and under limiting restrictions. And it cannot ascribe to that restricted Sun the works of the unrestricted, unconfined, absolute Sun. For within those narrow restrictions and limited confines it cannot attribute to the Sun with the certain witnessing of the heart its majestic works like furnishing the whole face of the earth with light and heat, stirring all plants and animals into life, and making the planets revolve around it. Indeed, even if those three things, which we suppose to have consciousness, ascribe those wondrous works to the Sun which they see under those restrictions, they can only do so with the mind and through belief, and through submitting to the fact that that restricted thing is absolute. Whereas these judgements of ‘Flower’, ‘Droplet’, and ‘Atom’, which we suppose to possess reason like a human being, that is, their ascribing those mighty works to the Sun, is through the mind and reason, it is not through illumination. Indeed, sometimes their judgements concerning belief clash with their illuminations about the cosmos. They can only believe them with great difficulty.
Now the three of us must enter into this comparison, which is narrow for reality, but in some of the corners of which the members of reality are to be seen and which is mixed with reality. The three of us shall suppose ourselves to be ‘Flower’, ‘Droplet’, and ‘Atom’. For the consciousness which we suppose them to have insufficient. We must add our reasons to theirs. That is to say, just as they receive effulgence from their physical Sun, we too shall receive effulgence from our immaterial Sun, and must understand it.
And so, my friend, who has not forgotten the world, is preoccupied with materiality, and whose soul is dense! You be ‘Flower’. ‘Flower’ takes on a colour dissolved from the Sun’s light, and it mixes the Sun’s image in with that colour and clothes itself in an adorned form. For your capacity resembles it as well. Then let this philosopher who has studied secular science and is plunged in causes like the Old Said be ‘Droplet’, which is enamoured of the Moon. For the Moon affords him the shadow of light it has received from the Sun, and it gives a light to the pupil of his eye. ‘Droplet’ too shines
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with the light, but he can only see the Moon with it, he cannot see the Sun. Rather, he can only see it through his belief. Then, let this poor man be ‘Atom’, who knows everything to be directly from Almighty God and considers causes to be a veil. He is such an ‘Atom’ that knows himself to be poor in his own self. He has nothing on which to depend so as to rely on himself like ‘Flower’. He possesses no colour that he should appear through it. And he does not recognize other things that he should turn towards them. He has a sheer purity by which he holds the Sun’s image directly in the pupil of his eye. Now, since we have taken the place of these three things, we must consider ourselves. What do we have? What must we do?
Thus, we look and see that through his favours a Most Munificent One is adorning, illuminating, and nurturing us. And man worships one who bestows favours on him. He wants to be close to one worthy of being worshipped, and desires to see him. In which case, in accordance with our capacities, each of us journeys through the attraction of that love. You who is like ‘Flower’, you are going, but go as a flower. See, you have gone. You have advanced and advanced till you have reached a universal degree, as though you have become like all flowers. But ‘Flower’ is a dense mirror; it dissolves and refracts the seven colours in light; it conceals the Sun’s reflection. You will not be successful in seeing the face of the Sun which you love, for the colours and characteristics, which are restricted, disperse it, draw a veil over it and obscure it. In this situation, you cannot be saved from the separation which occurs with the interposing of barriers. However, you can be saved on one condition, which is that you raise your head, which is sunk in love of your own soul, and withdraw your gaze, which glories and takes pleasure in its own merits, and cast it at the face of the Sun in the sky. But on condition you turn your face looking down to the earth to gain your livelihood, up to the Sun. For you are its mirror. Your duty is to act as a mirror to it. Whether you know it or not, your sustenance will anyway come from the earth, the door to the treasury of mercy. Yes, a flower is a miniscule mirror of the Sun, and the Sun too is merely a drop-like flash manifesting in the seas of the skies the Name of Light of the Pre-Eternal Sun.
O heart of man! Understand from this, of what sort of a Sun you are the mirror. After fulfilling this condition, you will find your perfection. But just as in actual reality you cannot see the Sun in that way, so you cannot understand this truth naked; the colours of your attributes give it a colour and your cloudy telescope imposes a form on it, and your limited capacity restricts it.
Now, wise philosopher who has entered into ‘Droplet’! You have advanced as far as the Moon with the telescope of your droplet of thought and by the stairway of philosophy. You have entered the Moon. Look, of itself the Moon is dense and dark; it has neither light nor life. Your
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endeavour has all been in vain and your knowledge has proved to be profitless. You can only be saved from the darkness of despair, the desolation of loneliness, the pestering of evil spirits, and the horrors of that bleakness through these conditions: that you give up the night of nature and turn to the Sun of reality, and you believe with complete certainty that the light of this night are the shadows of the lights of the daytime Sun. After fulfilling these conditions, you will find your perfection. You will find the majestic Sun in place of the poor and darksome Moon. But like your previous friend, you will not be able to see the Sun clearly; you will see it beyond the veils with which your reason and your philosophy are familiar and conversant, and behind the screens woven by science and learning, and within a colour conferred by your capacity.
And now our Atom-like third friend, who is both poor and colourless. He swiftly evaporates in the Sun’s heat, abandons his egotism, mounts the steam, and rises into the air. The dense matter within him takes fire with the flame of love and is transformed into light and radiance. He adheres to a ray proceeding from the manifestations of that light, and draws close to it. O you who resembles ‘Atom’! Since you act as a direct mirror to the Sun, at whatever degree you are, you will find an opening, a window, looking purely at the Sun itself in a fashion that affords absolute certainty. And you will experience no difficulty in attributing to the Sun its wondrous works. Without hesitation you will be able to ascribe to it the majestic attributes of which it is worthy. Nothing will be able to take you by the hand and make you forego ascribing to it the awesome works of its essential sovereignty. Neither the constriction of barriers, nor the limitations of your capacity, nor the smallness of mirrors will confuse you, nor impel you contrary to the truth. Because, since you look at it purely, sincerely, and directly, you have understood that what appears in the places of manifestation and is observed in the mirrors, is not the Sun, but manifestations of it of a sort, and coloured reflections of it of a sort. For sure those reflections are its titles, but they do not display all the works of its splendour.
Thus, in this comparison, which is mixed with reality, perfection is reached by means of three ways which are all different, and which differ concerning the virtues of those perfections and the details of the degrees of witnessing. But in conclusion and in submitting to the Truth and confirming the reality, they are in agreement. Just as a man of the night who has never seen the Sun and has only seen its shadow in the mirror of the Moon, cannot squeeze into his mind the resplendent light and awesome gravity particular to the Sun, but submits to those who have seen it and imitates them; similarly, one who cannot attain to the maximum degrees of Names like All-Powerful and Giver of Life through the legacy of Muhammad (PBUH), accepts the resurrection of the dead and Great Gathering imitatively, and declares it is not a
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matter that can be understood through the reason. For the reality of the resurrection and Last Judgement is the manifestation of the Greatest Name and of the supreme degree of certain other Names. Those whose gaze cannot rise there are compelled to believe it by way of imitation. While those whose minds can enter there, see the resurrection and Last Judgement as easily as day and night, and spring and winter, and accept it with an easy mind.
Thus, it is due to this mystery that the Qur’an speaks of the resurrection and Great Gathering at the highest level and in the most perfect detailed manner, and our Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him), who manifested the Greatest Name, taught it thus. And as required by the wisdom of guidance, the former prophets did not teach their communities, which were at a somewhat simple and primitive level, about the resurrection of the dead at the highest level and with the most extensive details. It is also due to this mystery that some of those who followed the path of sainthood did not see or could not demonstrate some of the truths of belief at the greatest degree. It is also due to this mystery that there are pronounced differences in the degrees of those who have knowledge of God. Numerous other mysteries like these unfold from this truth. Now, since both this comparison hints at the truth a little, and the truth is extremely extensive and profound, we also shall content ourselves with the comparison, and not attempt mysteries which are beyond our limit and capacity.
Since the Hadiths that speak of the signs of the end of time, the events at the end of time, and the merits and rewards of certain actions have not been well understood, some scholars who rely on their reason have pronounced some of them to be either weak or false. While some of the scholars whose belief was weak but whose egotism was strong have gone as far as denying them. For now we shall not attempt any detailed discussion, but shall only explain twelve ‘Principles’.
FIRST PRINCIPLE: This is a matter which we have explained in the question and answer at the end of the Twentieth Word. Its summary is this: Religion is an examination, a test, which distinguishes elevated spirits from base ones. It therefore speaks of matters that everyone shall see with their eyes in the future in such a way that they remain neither altogether unknown, nor self-evident so that everyone would be compelled to confirm them. They open the door to the reason but do not take the will from the hand. Because if a sign of the Last Day appeared completely self-evidently and everyone was compelled to affirm it, then a disposition like coal would remain equal to one like diamonds. The mystery of man’s accountability and results of examination would go for nothing. It is because of this that there has been much dispute over many matters like that of the Mahdi and Sufyan.
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Also, the narrations differ greatly; they have become pronouncements which contradict one another.
SECOND PRINCIPLE: There are various levels in the matters of Islam. If one requires certain proof, for another the prevailing opinion is sufficient. Others require merely assent and acceptance and not to be rejected. In which case, secondary matters or particular events in time which are not among the bases of belief do not require certain compliance and definite proof, just not to be rejected and to be submitted to, and not to be interfered with.
THIRD PRINCIPLE: In the time of the Companions of the Prophet (PBUH) most of the Jewish and Christian scholars entered Islam, and their former knowledge became Muslim along with them. Some of their former knowledge which was contrary to the truth was imagined to be a part of Islam.
FOURTH PRINCIPLE: Some of the words of the narrators of Hadith or the meanings they deduced were considered to be part of the texts of the Hadiths themselves. However, since man cannot be free of fault, some of their deductions or words which were contrary to the truth were supposed to be Hadiths and were pronounced to be weak.
FIFTH PRINCIPLE: According to the meaning of: Among my community are transmitters of Hadiths, that is, meaning, who are inspired,5 some of the meanings which were obtained through the inspirations of scholars of related Hadiths who followed the path of illumination and sainthood were supposed to be Hadiths. Whereas, due to certain obstructions, the inspiration of saints may be in error. Thus, some that are contrary to the truth may arise from this.
SIXTH PRINCIPLE: There are certain stories which, having become universally known, have become like proverbs. Their true meanings are not borne in mind. For whatever purpose they were spread, that is what is considered. Thus, some stories and fables which have become well-known among people in this way, God’s Noble Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) told in the form of comparisons and metaphors for the purpose of guidance. If there is any error in the true meanings of this sort of matters, it pertains to the customs and traditions of the people, and the way they have been passed among them.
SEVENTH PRINCIPLE: There are many similes and parables that with the passage of time or with passing from the hand of learning to the hand of ignorance have been supposed to be physical fact, and have become mistaken. For example, two angels of God in the World of Similitudes called ‘The Ox’ and ‘The Fish’,6 who are among the supervisors of the animals of
5. Bukhari, iii, 211; v, 15; Muslim, iv, 184; al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak, iii, 86; Ibn Hibban, ix, 21.
6. Suyuti, al-Durr al-Manthur, vi, 249; al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak, iii, 588; iv, 120, 203.
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the land and the sea and are represented as an ox and fish, were imagined to be huge ox and a physical fish, and the Hadith was wrongly interpreted. And for example, one time in the presence of the Prophet a deep rumbling was heard. God’s Messenger (PBUH) decreed: “That is the sound of a rock that has been rolling downhill for seventy years and only now has hit the bottom of Hell.”7 Thus, someone hearing this Hadith who does not know the truth may deviate into denial. But then, twenty minutes after the Hadith was spoken it was definitely established, for someone came and told God’s Messenger (PBUH): “The famous dissembler died twenty minutes ago.” God’s Messenger (PBUH) had described most eloquently how the dissembler’s seventy year lifetime of unbelief had been a continuous descent to the lowest of the low as a stone of Hell. Almighty God had made that rumbling heard at the moment of his death and given him a sign.
EIGHTH PRINCIPLE: In this arena of trial and realm of examination, Almighty God, the Absolutely Wise One, conceals most important things in the midst of numerous others, and this is tied to many purposes, benefits, and instances of wisdom. For example, He has hidden the Night of Power in the whole of Ramadan, and the hour when prayers are answered in the whole of Friday, and well-accepted saints among the people generally, and the appointed hour in a person’s life-time, and the time of Doomsday in the life of the world.8 For if the time of man’s death had been specified, the first half of his life would be passed in absolute heedlessness and the second, in terror, like going step by step to the gallows. Whereas for the balance between this world and the next to be preserved, and to remain perpetually between hope and fear, living and dying have to be possible every moment. In which case, twenty years of uncertain life are preferable to a thousand years of life that are specified.
Thus, the Last Day is the appointed hour of the world, the macroanthropos. If the time had been specified, all the early and middle ages would have been plunged into absolute heedlessness, and the latter centuries, into terror. Just as in his personal life man is concerned with the continued existence of his home and village, so in his social life and as a member of mankind he is concerned with the continued existence of the earth and the world. The Qur’an says,
The Hour has drawn nigh.9
That is, Doomsday is near. It still not having come after a thousand or this many years does not negate its closeness. Because Doomsday is the appointed hour of the world, and in relation to the life of the world one or
7. Muslim, iv, 3184, No: 2844; 2145, No: 2782; Musnad, ii, 271; iii, 341, 346, 360.
8. Ibn Hajar, Munabihhat, 25.
9. Qur’an, 54:1.
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two thousand years are like one or two minutes in relation to a year. The Hour of Doomsday is not only the appointed hour of mankind that it should be related to it and seen as distant. It is because of this that the Absolutely Wise One conceals Doomsday in His knowledge among the ‘Five Hidden Things.’ It is due to the mystery of this vagueness that every age including the Age of the Bliss, the Age of the Prophet, people have been frightened of the end of the world. Some of them even said that the conditions had all but appeared.10
Thus, unfair people who do not know this truth say: “Why did the Companions of the Prophet with their vigilant hearts and keen sight, who had been taught all the details of the hereafter, suppose a fact that would occur one thousand four hundred years later to be close to their century, as though their ideas had deviated a thousand years from the truth?”
The Answer: Because, through the effulgence of the Prophet’s conversation, the Companions thought of the hereafter more than anyone, and knowing the transience of the world and understanding the Divine wisdom in the hour of Doomsday being vague, they assumed a position of always awaiting the world’s appointed hour and worked seriously for the hereafter. God’s Noble Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) repeating: “Expect Doomsday. Wait for it”11 was prophetic guidance arising from this wisdom, it was not a pronouncement of revelation concerning the specific time of its occurrence and far from the truth. The cause is one thing and the wisdom is another. Thus, sayings of the Prophet (PBUH) of this sort arise from the wisdom in certain things being indefinite.
It is also due to this mystery that they expected the individuals who will come at the end of time like the Mahdi and Sufyan long beforehand, and even in the time of the generation succeeding the Prophet, and hoped to live long enough to see them. Some of the saints, even, said that they had passed. Like the end of the world, Divine wisdom requires that the times of these individuals are not specified either. Because every age is in need of the Mahdi’s meaning, for he strengthens morale and saves the people from despair. Every century has to have a share of this meaning. In order that people should not heedlessly follow evil and the reins of the soul should not be left free in indifference, every century the fearsome individuals who come to lead strife must be shrunk from and feared. If they had been specified, the benefits of general guidance would have been lost.
Now, the difference in the narrations about individuals like the Mahdi, and their meaning, is this: those who expounded Hadiths applied the text of the Hadiths to their own interpretations and commentaries. For example, since
10. al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak, iv, 545, 549; Musnad, ii, 298, 299.
11. Tirmidhi, Fitan, 39.
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the centre of power at that time was Damascus or Medina, they imagined the events connected with the Mahdi and Sufyan in places like Basra, Kufa, and Syria, which were in the region of those centres, and expounded them accordingly. Moreover, they imagined the mighty works belonging to the collective identity or community which those individuals represent to be in their persons and expounded them in that way, so that they ascribed a form to them whereby when those extraordinary individuals appear, everyone will recognize them. However, as we said, this world is the arena of trial. The door is opened to the reason, but the will is not taken from the hand. So, when those individuals, and even the terrible Dajjal, appear, many people and himself even will not know to start with that he is the Dajjal. Those individuals of the end of time will be known through the insight and the light of belief.
It is narrated in a Hadith about the Dajjal, who is one of the signs of the end of time: “His first day is like a year, his second day like a month, his third day like a week, and his fourth day like other days. When he appears the world will hear. He will travel the world in forty days.”12 Some unfair people have said about this narration that it is impossible, God forbid, and have gone as far as denying and declaring it null. Whereas, And the knowledge of it is with God, the reality of it must be this:
It indicates the appearance of an individual from the North who will come to lead a great current issuing forth from the godless ideas of Naturalism, in the North, where the world of unbelief is at its densest, and who will be atheist. There is an instance of wisdom in this, for in the latitudes close to the North Pole the whole year is one day and one night; there are six months of night and six months of day. “One day of the Dajjal is a year” alludes to his appearance close to those latitudes. What is meant from “His second day is a month” is that passing in this direction from the North, it sometimes happens that for a month in the summer the sun does not set. This suggests that the Dajjal will emerge in the North and invade southwards towards the civilized world. By attributing the day to the Dajjal, it points to this. He comes further in this direction, and the sun does not set for a week, and so it continues until there are three hours between its rising and setting. While being held as a prisoner-of-war in Russia, I was in such a place. Close to us was a place where the sun did not set for a week. They used to go there to watch it. As for the part, “When the Dajjal appears, all the world will hear of it,” the telegraph and radio have solved this. As for his travelling the world in forty days, the railway and aeroplane, which are his mounts, have solved. Deniers who formerly considered these two statements to be impossible, now see them as commonplace!
Since in another treatise I have written in some detail about Gog and
12. Muslim, iv, 2252, No: 110; Musnad, iii, 367; vi, 181; al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak, vi, 530.
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Magog and the Barrier, which are among the signs of the end of the world, I refer readers to those, and here only say this: there are narrations stating that the tribes known as the Manchurians and Mongols, who threw human society into chaos and were the cause of the building of the Great Wall of China, will again overturn human civilization close to Doomsday with an idea like anarchy.
Some atheists say: “Where are the tribes that perform these extraordinary acts and that will perform them?”
The Answer: A calamity like locusts appears in one season in enormous numbers, then on the change of the seasons, those numerous tribes which disrupt the country consign their reality to a few limited individuals. Then, when the time comes, at the Divine command, great numbers appear from those limited individuals and embark on the same corruption. As though the reality of their national identity is fined down, but not destroyed, and when the time arrives, it reemerges. In just the same way, those same tribes which overturned the world at one time will when the time comes again overturn human civilization with Divine permission. But what impels them will be in a different form. None knows the Unseen save God.
NINTH PRINCIPLE: The results of some of the questions of belief look to this restricted and narrow world, while others look to the world of the hereafter, which is broad and absolute. In order to give the appropriate effect of either encouraging or restraining, some Hadiths about the merits and rewards of actions are in an eloquent style, and some unthinking people have supposed them to be exaggerated. However, since they are all pure truth and reality, there is no exaggeration or overstatement in them.
For instance, there is this Hadith which has worried the heads of the unfair more than any. Its meaning is: “If the world had as much value as a fly’s wing for Almighty God, the unbelievers would not have had so much as a mouthful of water from it.”13 The reality of it is this: the phrase for Almighty God refers to the eternal realm. Yes, since a light from the eternal realm to the extent of a fly’s wing is everlasting, it is greater than a temporary light that fills the face of the earth. That means it is not to say that the huge world is equal to a fly’s wing, but that everyone’s private world which is situated within their short lives, is not equal to an everlasting Divine effulgence and bounty to the extent of a fly’s wing from the eternal realm.
Furthermore, the world has two faces, indeed, three faces. One is the mirror to Almighty God’s Names, another looks to the hereafter and is its arable field, and the third looks to transience and non-existence. This is the world of the people of misguidance which is not in accordance with the things that please God that we know. That is to say, it infers not that the vast world
13. Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 13; Ibn Maja, Zuhd, 3; al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak, iv, 306.
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which is the mirror to the Most Beautiful Names, and consists of missives of the Eternally Besought One, and is the tillage of the hereafter, but that the world of those who worship the world, which is opposed to the hereafter and is the source of all wrongs and spring of calamities, is not worth one everlasting particle which will be given to the believers in the hereafter. Thus, how can the way it is understood by the unfair atheists be compared with this most true and serious truth? What has the meaning which those atheists supposed to be the most exaggerated and overstated to do with this?
And, for example, others which the unfair atheists supposed to be exaggeration and even impossible overstatement are narrations about the rewards for actions and merits of some of the Qur’an’s Suras. For example, there are narrations that, “The merit of Sura al-Fatiha is equal to that of the Qur’an.”14 And, “Sura al-Ikhlas equals a third of the Qur’an,”15 “Sura al-Zilzal, a quarter,”16 “Sura al-Kafirun, a quarter,”17 “Sura Ya. Sin., ten times the Qur’an.”18 Unjust and unthinking people have said that these are impossible because Sura Ya. Sin. and the other meritorious Suras are within the Qur’an, which makes it meaningless.
The Answer: The reality is this: for each of the All-Wise Qur’an’s letters is a merit. Each is a good deed. Out of Divine grace the merits of those letters sprout and yield sometimes ten, sometimes seventy, and sometimes seven hundred, merits, like the letters of Ayat al-Kursi. Sometimes they yield one thousand five hundred, like the letters of Sura al-Ikhlas, and sometimes ten thousand, like verses recited on Laylat al-Bara‘a and those that coincide with other acceptable times. And sometimes they yield thirty thousand, like verses recited on the Night of Power, which are like poppy seeds in their multiplicity. The indication that that night is the equivalent to a thousand months makes it understood that on that night one letter has thirty thousand merits. For example, let us suppose there is a field planted with maize, one thousand plants of it. If some seeds produce seven shoots, and from each shoot a hundred grains, then a single seed becomes the equivalent of two thirds of the whole field. For example, if one seed produces ten shoots, and each yields two hundred grains, then a single seed is the equivalent of twice the original field. You can make further analogies in the same way.
Now, let us imagine the All-Wise Qur’an to be a luminous, sacred, heavenly field. Each of its letters together with its original merit is like a seed. Their shoots will not be taken into consideration. They may be compared with the Suras and verses about which are narrations concerning their merits,
14. Bukhari, Tafsir Sura, i, 1; xv, 3; Fada’il al-Qur’an, 9; Tirmidhi, Thawab al-Qur’an, 1.
15. Tirmidhi, Thawab al-Qur’an, 10, 11; Ibn Maja, Adab, 52.
16. Tirmidhi, Thawab al-Qur’an, 9; Musnad, iii, 147, 221.
17. Tirmidhi, Thawab al-Qur’an, 9; Musnad, iii, 147, 221.
18. Tirmidhi, Thawab al-Qur’an, 7; Darimi, Fada’il al-Qur’an, 21.
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like Ya. Sin., Ikhlas, Fatiha, Kafirun, Zilzal. For example, the Qur’an has three hundred thousand six hundred and twenty letters, and Sura al-Ikhlas together with Bismillah, sixty-nine. Three times sixty nine is two hundred and seven letters. Thus, if Sura Ya. Sin.’s letters are reckoned and compared with all the letters of the All-Wise Qur’an, and then multiplied ten times, it produces the following result: each letter of Sura Ya. Sin. has close on five hundred merits. That is, that many good deeds may be reckoned. And so, if you apply the others to this, you will understand what a subtle, fine, true, and unexaggerated truth it is.
TENTH PRINCIPLE: Like with most of the other sorts of creatures, among mankind are certain individuals who are extraordinary by virtue of their acts and deeds. If those individuals have advanced in good deeds, they have been the cause of pride of mankind. Otherwise, they have been the cause of their shame. Also, they are hidden. It is as though each becomes a collective identity, an imaginary goal. Other individuals try to emulate them, and it is possible. That means, being absolute and indefinite, it is possible for such a perfect, extraordinary person to be present everywhere. In regard to this indefiniteness, according to logic, his universality may be posited in the form of a possible proposition. That is, it is possible for all acts to produce the following result: for example, “Whoever performs two rak’ats of prayers at such and such a time has performed the equivalent of the Hajj.”19 It is thus the truth that at certain times two rak’ats of prayers may be the equivalent of a Hajj. Due to its universality, this meaning may apply to all prayers of two rak’ats. That means what narrations of this sort refer to is not in fact continuous and universal, because since there are conditions of acceptance, it disallows it being continuous and universal. It is either in fact temporary and absolute or possible and universal. That is to say, the universality in this sort of Hadith is in regard to possibility. For example, “Backbiting is like murder.”20 This means, someone who indulges in backbiting is more harmful than deadly poison, like a killer. And for example, “A good word is a deed so good it is like freeing a slave.”21
Here, in order to encourage and restrain, it points out the possibility of that indefinite perfect individual being present everywhere in absolute form as though it is actually the case, thus arousing eagerness for good and disgust for evil. Furthermore, the things of the eternal world cannot be measured on the scale of this world. The greatest thing here is not equal to the least thing there. Because the merits of actions look to that world, our worldly view is narrow for them. We cannot fit them into our minds. For example, Whoever reads this is given the reward of Moses and Aaron. That is to say:
19. Kanz al-‘Ummal, vii, 808; Tabarani, al-Mu’jam al-Kabir, 7740.
20. Musnad al-Firdaws, iii, 116, 117.
21. al-Manzari, al-Targhib wa’l-Tarhib, iii, 421, 434; Kanz al-‘Ummal, iii, 589.
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All praise be to God, Sustainer of the heavens and Sustainer of the earth * Sustainer of all the worlds, His is the might in the heavens and the earth, and He is the Mighty, the Wise. * All praise be to God, Sustainer of the heavens and Sustainer of the earths, * Sustainer of all the worlds, and His is the sublimity in the heavens and the earth, and He is the Mighty, the Wise. * And His is the dominion, Sustainer of the heavens, and He is the Mighty, the Wise.
What has most attracted the attention of the unfair and the unthinking is narrations like these. The reality of the matter is this:
With our narrow mind and short views in this world, we know how much we imagine the the rewards of Moses and Aaron (Peace be upon them) to be. The reward the Absolutely Compassionate One will give to one of His infinitely needy servants in the world of eternity and everlasting happiness, in return for a single invocation may be equal to the reward of those two, but equal to the rewards as we conceive of them and surmise them to be.
For example, there is a primitive, uncouth man who has never seen the king and does not know the majesty of his rule. He imagines a lord in a village, and with his limited ideas thinks of the king as a more exalted version of the lord. Long ago with us even, there was a simple-minded tribe who used to say: “Our lord knows what the Sultan does as he cooks his bulgur soup on his stove in a saucepan.” That is to say, they imagined the Sultan in such a narrow situation and so common a form that he cooked his own wheat soup; they supposed him to have the majesty of a captain. Now, if someone was to say to one of that tribe: “If you do this work for me today, I’ll give you as much majesty as you think the Sultan has, and give you a rank as high as a captain.” To say that is right, because, of the majesty of kingship, what enters the narrow bounds of his ideas is only the majesty of a captain.
Thus, with our worldly views and narrow minds, we cannot think as much as that primitive man of the true rewards which look to the hereafter. It is not the equivalent of the true rewards of Moses and Aaron (Peace be upon them), for according to the rule of similes and comparisons, the unknown is compared to the known; the true reward, which is unknown, for an invocation of one of God’s believing servants is compared with the rewards that we know and surmise. Moreover, the surface of the sea and the heart of a droplet are equal when it comes to holding the complete reflection of the sun. The difference is only in quality. The nature of the reward reflected in the mirrors of the ocean-like spirits of Moses and Aaron (Peace be upon them) is exactly the same in nature as the reward that a believing servant, who is like a droplet, receives from a Qur’anic verse. They are the same in nature and quantity, while their quality is dependent on capacity.
Also, it sometimes happens that a single word, a single glorification, opens
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a treasury of happiness that was not opened with sixty years of service. That is to say, it sometimes happens that a single verse may be as beneficial as the Qur’an. Also, the Divine effulgence which God’s Noble Messenger (PBUH), who manifested the Greatest Name, received from a single verse, may have been as much as all the effulgence one of the other prophets received. And it would not be contrary to the truth if it is said that a believer who through ‘the legacy of prophethood’ manifests the shadow of the Greatest Name, receives, in accordance with his own capacity and in regard to quantity, a reward as great as a prophet’s effulgence. Furthermore, reward and merit are from the world of light, and one world from that world may be contained in a speck. Just as the heavens and all its stars may appear in a tiny fragment of glass, so luminous reward and merit like the heavens may be situated in an invocation or verse which acquires transparency through pure intention.
Conclusion: O unfair, unthinking, self-centred, cavilling man whose belief is weak and philosophy, strong! Consider these Ten Principles, then do not make the pretext a narration you thought was contrary to the truth and definitely opposed to reality, and point the finger of objection at Hadiths thus casting aspersions on the Noble Messenger’s (PBUH) sinlessness! Because, firstly, these Ten Principles and what they entail will make you forego denial; they say: “If there is any real fault, it is ours,” it may not be referred to the Hadiths. They say too: “If the fault is not real, it springs from your misunderstanding.” In short; if one embarks on denial and rejection, one first has to deny these Ten Principles and show them to be false. Now, if you are fair, after pondering over these Ten Principles with due attention, do not attempt to deny a Hadith your reason considers contrary to the truth! Say, “There is either an explanation, or an interpretation, or an exegesis of this,” and do not criticize it.
ELEVENTH PRINCIPLE: Just as the Qur’an has obscure verses which are in need of interpretation or else require absolute submission, Hadiths also contain difficulties like the obscurities of the Qur’an. They are sometimes in need of extremely careful expounding and interpretation. The above examples may be sufficient for you.
Yes, someone who is awake interprets the dream of another who is sleeping, and sometimes one who is sleeping hears the words spoken by those near him who are awake, but gives them a meaning and interprets them in a way that applies to his own world of sleep. O man stupified by the sleep of heedlessness and philosophy! Do not deny in your dream what One saw, who manifested the meaning of, His eye never wavered nor did it swerve,22 and My eye sleeps, but my heart sleeps not,23 and who was truly awake and
22. Qur’an, 53:17.
23. Bukhari, Tahajjud, 16; Tarawih, 1; Manaqib, 24; Tirmidhi, Adab, 86; Musnad, i, 274.
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aware, interpret it. Yes, if a mosquito bites someone who is asleep, he sometimes dreams that he has received terrible wounds in war and this has a reality in sleep. If he was to be questioned, he would say: “Truly I have been wounded. Guns and rifles were fired at me.” Those sitting by him laugh at his anguish in sleep. Thus, the sleep-stained view of heedlessness and philosophical thought certainly cannot be the criterion for the truths of prophethood.
TWELFTH PRINCIPLE: Since prophethood, the affirmation of Divine unity, and belief all look to unity, the hereafter, and Divinity, they see truth and reality in accordance with those. While philosophers and scientists look to multiplicity, causes, and nature, and see in accordance with them. Their points of view are extremely distant from one another. The greatest aim of the people of philosophy is so small and insignificant as to be imperceptible among the aims of the scholars of religion and theology.
It is because of this that scientists have advanced greatly in detailed explanation of the nature of beings and their minutest states, but they are so far behind the exalted Divine sciences and sciences concerned with the hereafter, which are true wisdom and knowledge, that they are more backward than a simple believer. Those who do not understand this mystery suppose the investigative scholars of Islam to be relatively backward to the philosophers. But how can those whose minds see no further than their eyes and are submerged in multiplicity reach those who follow elevated sacred aims through ‘the legacy of prophethood’?
Furthermore, when something is considered from two points of view, it shows two different truths, and both of them may be the truth. No certain fact of science can touch the sacred truths of the Qur’an. The short hand of science cannot reach up to its pure sublimity. We shall mention an example to illustrate this:
For example, if the globe of the earth is considered from the point of view of the people of science, its reality is this: as a middle-sized planet, it revolves around the sun amid countless stars; it is a small creature in relation to the stars. But as is explained in the Fifteenth Word, if it is considered from the point of view of the people of the Qur’an, its reality is this: since man, the fruit of the world, is a most comprehensive, most wondrous, most impotent, most weak, and most subtle miracle of Divine power, the earth, his cradle and dwelling-place, is in regard to meaning and art, the universe’s heart and centre; despite its smallness and lowliness in relation to the heavens, it is the display and exhibition of all the miracles of Divine art; the place of reflection and point of focus of the manifestations of all the Divine Names; the place of display and reflection of infinite dominical activity; the means and market of boundless Divine creativity and especially the munificent creation of the numerous species of plants and small animals; and the
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place in small measure of samples of the creatures of the broad worlds of the hereafter; it is a rapidly working loom weaving everlasting textiles; the swiftly changing place producing views for eternal panoramas; and the narrow and temporary arable field and seed-bed producing at speed the seeds for everlasting gardens.
It is because of this vastness of meaning and importance of art of the earth that the All-Wise Qur’an holds it -like a tiny fruit of the vast tree of the heavens- equal to all the heavens, like holding a tiny heart equivalent to a huge body. It places it in one pan of a scales and places all the heavens in the other, and repeatedly says: Sustainer of the heavens and the earth. Compare other matters with this and understand that the soulless, dim truths of philosophy cannot clash with the brilliant, living truths of the Qur’an. Since the point of view is different, they appear differently.
Are you not aware that before God prostrate themselves all that are in the heavens and all that are on earth - the sun, and the moon, and the stars, and the mountains, and the trees, and the beasts, and a great number among mankind? But a great number are such as are fit for punishment; and such as God shall disgrace, none can raise to honour; for, verily, God does what He wills.24
We shall point out only a single jewel from the treasure of this extensive and sublime verse. It is as follows:
The All-Wise Qur’an states clearly that everything, from the heavens to the earth, from the stars to flies, from angels to fishes, and from planets to particles, prostrates, worships, praises and glorifies Almighty God. But their worship varies according to their capacities and the Divine Names that they manifest; it is all different. We shall explain one of the varieties of their worship with a comparison.
For example, And God’s is the highest similitude, when a mighty lord of all dominion builds a city or splendid palace, he employs four categories of workers.
THE FIRST CATEGORY are his slaves and bondsmen. This sort receive no wage or remuneration, but for each item of work that they carry out through their lord’s command, they experience a subtle pleasure and pleasant eagerness. Whatever they utter by way of praise and description of their lord increases their pleasure and eagerness. Knowing their connection with their holy lord to be a great honour, they content themselves with that. Also they find pleasure from looking to their work with the view of their lord, and
24. Qur’an, 22:18.
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for his sake and in his name. They are not in need of any wage, rank, or remuneration.
THE SECOND CATEGORY are ordinary servants. They do not know why they are working or that they are being employed by the glorious lord. He causes them to work through his own ideas and knowledge and gives them an appropriately small wage. These servants are unaware of what various and comprehensive aims and exalted matters result as a consequence of their work. Some of them even imagine that their work concerns themselves alone and has no aim besides their wage.
THE THIRD CATEGORY: The lord of all dominion has some animals which he employs in various jobs in the construction of the city and palace. He only gives them fodder, but their working at tasks suitable for their abilities gives them pleasure. For, if a potentiality or ability is realized in action and work, there is a breathing in and expansion and this results in pleasure. The pleasure to be had from all activity stems from this. The wage and remuneration of this sort of servant, then, is only fodder and that pleasure.
THE FOURTH CATEGORY are workers who know what they are doing, and why and for whom they are working, and why the other workers are working, and what the purpose of the lord of all dominion is, and why he is causing them to work. Workers of this category are therefore bosses and supervisors over the other workers. They receive remuneration that is graded according to their rank and degree.
In exactly the same way, the Sustainer of All the Worlds, Who is the All-Glorious Lord of the heavens and the earth and the All-Beauteous Builder of this world and the hereafter, employs both angels, and animals, and inanimate beings and plants, and human beings in the palace of this world, in this realm of causality. He employs them not out of need, for the Creator of everything is He, but for certain instances of wisdom, like the functioning of His might, sublimity, and dominicality. He causes them to worship and has charged these four categories with different duties of worship.
The First Category is the angels, who are represented in the comparison by the slaves. For the angels there is no endeavour and progress; they all have their fixed station and determined rank, and receive a particular pleasure from the work itself and an emanation from their worship. That is to say, the reward of these servants is found within their duties. Just as man is nourished by air, water, light, and food, and receives pleasure from them, so are the angels nourished by the varieties of remembrance, glorification, praise, worship, knowledge, and love of God, and take pleasure in them. For, since they are created out of light, light is sufficient for their sustenance. Fragrant scents, even, which are close to light, are a sort of nourishment for them which they enjoy. Indeed, good spirits take pleasure in sweet smells.
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Furthermore, there is in the tasks that the angels perform at the command of the One Whom they worship, in the work they accomplish for His sake, in the service they discharge in His name, in the supervision they execute through His favour, in the honour they gain through their connection with Him, in the immaculateness they attain through studying His dominion in both its outer face and its face which looks to Him, and in the ease they find through beholding the manifestations of His beauty and glory, such sublime bliss that the human mind cannot comprehend it, and one who is not an angel cannot perceive it.
One sort of the angels are worshippers, and the worship of another sort is in work. Of the angels of the earth, the sort that are workers have a kind of human occupation. If one may say so, one type are like shepherds and another like farmers. That is to say, the face of the earth is like a general farm and an appointed angel supervises all the species of animals within it through the command of the All-Glorious Creator, and with His permission, for His sake and through His power and strength. And for each species of animal there is a lesser angel who is is appointed to act as a special shepherd.
The face of the earth is also a place of cultivation; the plants are all sown in it. There is an angel charged with supervising them in the name of God Almighty and through His power, and there are angels who are lesser than him and who worship and glorify God by supervising particular species. The Archangel Michael (Peace be upon him), who is one of the bearers of the throne of sustenance, is the most important overseer of these.
The angels who are in the position of shepherd and farmer do not bear any resemblance to human beings, for their supervision is purely for the sake of Almighty God, and in His name and through His power and command. Their supervision of animals consists only of beholding the manifestations of dominicality in the species where they are employed; studying the manifestations of power and mercy in it; making known to that species the Divine commands by way of a sort of inspiration; and in some way ordering the voluntary actions of the species.
Their supervision of the plants in the field of the earth in particular consists of representing the plants’ glorification in the angelic tongue; proclaiming in the angelic tongue the salutations the plants offer to the All-Glorious Creator through their lives; and employing the faculties given to plants correctly and directing them towards certain aims and ordering them to some extent. These duties of the angels are meritorious actions of a sort by reason of the angels’ faculty of will. Indeed, they are a kind of worship and adoration. But the angels have no real power of disposal, for on everything is a stamp peculiar to the Creator of all things. Another’s hand cannot interfere in creation. That is to say, this sort of work of the angels forms their worship. It is not a custom like with human beings.
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The Second Category of workers in this palace of the universe are animals. Since animals also have an appetitive soul and faculty of will, their work is not ‘purely for the sake of God;’ to some extent, they take a share for their souls. Therefore, since the Glorious and Munificent Lord of All Dominion is all-generous, He bestows a wage on them during their work so that their souls receive a share. For example, the All-Wise Creator employs the famous nightingale,25 renowned for his love of the rose, for five aims.
First Aim: It is the official employed to proclaim in the name of the animal species the intense relationship that exists between them and the plant species.
Second Aim: It is a dominical orator from among the animals, who are like guests of the All-Merciful One needy for sustenance, employed to acclaim the gifts sent by the All-Generous Provider, and to announce their joy.
Third Aim: It is to announce to everyone the welcome offered to plants, which are sent for the assistance of his fellow animals.
Fourth Aim: It is to announce, over the blessed heads and to the beautiful faces of plants, the intense need of the animal species for them, which reaches the degree of love and passion.
Fifth Aim: It is to present with acute yearning at the Court of Mercy of the All-Glorious and Beauteous and Munificent Lord of All Dominion a most graceful glorification inspired by the truly delicate face of the rose.
There are further meanings similar to these five aims, and they are the purpose of the deeds the nightingale performs for the sake of Truth (All glory be unto Him and may He be exalted). The nightingale speaks in his own tongue, but we understand these meanings from his plaintive words. If he himself does not altogether know the meaning of his own song like the angels do, it does not impair our understanding. The saying, “One who listens understands better than the one who speaks” is well-known. Also, the nightingale does not show that he does not know these aims in detail, but this does not mean that they do not exist. At least he informs you of them like a clock informs you of the time. What difference does it make if he does not know? It does not prevent you from knowing.
However, the nightingale’s small wage is the delight he experiences from gazing on the smiling, beautiful roses, and the pleasure he receives from conversing with them and pouring out his woes. That is to say, his sorrowful song is not a complaint arising from animal grief, it is thanks in return for the gifts of the Most Merciful. Compare the bee, the spider, the ant, creeping insects, the male animals that are the means of reproduction, and the nightingales of all small creatures, with the nightingale: the deeds of all of them
25. Since the nightingale speaks poetically, our discussion also becomes poetic for a bit. But it is not imaginary, it is the truth.
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have numerous aims. For them, too, a particular pleasure, like a small wage, has been included in their duties. Through that pleasure, they serve the important aims contained in dominical art. Just as an ordinary seaman acts as helmsman on an imperial ship and receives a small wage, so do the animals employed in duties of glorification each receive a small wage.
An Addendum to the Discussion on the Nightingale: However, do not suppose this proclaiming and heralding and these songs of glorification are peculiar to the nightingale. In most species there is a class similar to the nightingale that consists of a fine individual or individuals which represent the finest feelings of that species with the finest glorification and finest poetry. The nightingales of flies and insects, in particular, are both numerous and various. Through their humming poetry they make all animals with ears, from the largest to the smallest, hear their glorifications, and give them pleasure.
Some of them are nocturnal. These poetry-declaiming friends of all small animals are their sweet-voiced orators when all beings are plunged into the silence and tranquillity of the night. Each is the centre of a circle of silent recollection, an assembly in solitude, to which all the others listen, and, in a fashion, recollect and extol the All-Glorious Creator in their own hearts.
Another sort are diurnal. By day, in spring and summer, they proclaim the mercy of the Most Merciful and Compassionate One to all animate beings from the pulpits of the trees with their ringing voices, subtle songs, and poetic glorifications. It is as if, like the leader of a gathering for the recitation of God’s Names induces the ecstasy of those participating, all the creatures listening start to praise the All-Glorious Creator each in its own special tongue and with a particular chant.
That is to say, every sort of being, and even the stars, have a chief-reciter and light-scattering nightingale. But the most excellent, the most noble, the most luminous, the most dazzling, the greatest and the most honourable nightingale, whose voice was the most ringing, whose attributes the most brilliant, whose recitation the most complete, whose thanks the most universal, whose essence was the most perfect, and whose form the most beautiful, who brought all the beings of the heavens and the earth in the garden of the universe to ecstasy and rapture through his subtle poetry, his sweet song, his exalted glorification, was the glorious nightingale of human kind, the nightingale of the Qur’an: Muhammad the Arabian, Upon whom and upon whose Family and those who resemble him be the best of blessings and peace.
To Conclude: The animals, who serve in the palace of the universe, conform with complete obedience to the creational commands and display perfectly in the name of Almighty God the aims included in their natures. The glorification and worship they perform by carrying out the duties related to
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their lives in this wonderful fashion through the power of God Almighty, are gifts and salutations which they present to the Court of the All-Glorious Creator, the Bestower of Life.
The Third Category of Workers are plants and inanimate creatures. Since they have no faculty of will, they receive no wage. Their work is ‘purely for the sake of God,’ and in His name, on His account, and through His will, power and strength. However, it may be perceived from their growth and development that they receive a sort of pleasure from their duties of pollination and producing seeds and fruits. But they experience no pain at all. Due to their will, animals experience pain as well as pleasure. Since will does not enter into the work of plants and inanimate beings, their work is more perfect than that of animals, who have will. Among those who possess will, the work of creatures like the bee which are enlightened by revelation and inspiration is more perfect than the work of those animals which rely on their faculty of will.
All the species of plants in the field of the face of the earth pray and ask of the All-Wise Creator through their tongues of disposition and potentiality: “O our Sustainer! Give us strength so that by raising the flag of our species in every part of the earth, we may proclaim the splendour of Your dominicality; and grant us prosperity so that we may worship You in every corner of the mosque of the earth; and bestow on us the power to spread and travel in order to exhibit through our particular tongue the embroideries of Your Most Beautiful Names and Your wonderful, antique arts.”
The All-Wise Creator answers their silent prayer and bestows on the seeds of one species tiny wings made of hair: they fly away spreading everywhere. They cause the Divine Names to be read in the name of their species. (Like the seeds of most thorned plants and some yellow flowers.) He gives to some species beautiful flesh that is either necessary or pleasant for human beings; He causes man to serve them and plant them everywhere. To some He gives, covering a hard and indigestible bone, flesh that animals eat so that they disperse the seeds over a wide area. On some He bestows small claws that grip onto all who touch them; moving on to other places, they raise the flag of the species and exhibit the antique art of the All-Glorious Maker. And to some species, like to the bitter melon, He gives the force of a buckshot rifle so that, when the time is ripe, the small melons which are its fruits, fall and fire out their seeds like shot to a distance of several metres, and sow them. They work so that numerous tongues will glorify the All-Glorious Creator and recite His Beautiful Names. You may think of other examples in the same way.
The All-Wise Creator, Who is All-Powerful and All-Knowing, has created everything beautifully and with perfect order. He has fitted them out beautifully, turned their faces towards beautiful aims, employed them in
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beautiful duties, caused them to utter beautiful glorifications and to worship beautifully. O man! If indeed you are a human being, do not confuse nature, chance, futility, and misguidance with these beautiful matters. Do not make them ugly. Do not act in an ugly fashion. Do not be ugly!
The Fourth Category are human beings. Human beings, who are servants of a sort in the palace of the universe, resemble both angels and animals. They resemble angels in universality of worship, extensiveness of supervision, comprehensiveness of knowledge, and in being heralds of Divine dominicality. However, man is more comprehensive in his worship, but since he has an appetitive soul that is disposed towards evil, contrary to the angels, he is subject to progress and decline, which is of great importance. Also, since in his work man seeks pleasure for his soul and a share for himself, he resembles an animal. Since this is so, man receives two wages: the first is insignificant, animal, and immediate; the second, angelic, universal, and postponed.
Now, man’s duty and his wages, and his progress and decline, have been discussed in part in all thirty-three of the Words, and have been explained in greater detail in the Eleventh and Twenty-Third Words in particular. We shall therefore cut short the discussion here and close the door. And beseeching the Most Merciful to open to us the gates of His mercy, and seeking forgiveness for our faults and errors, we conclude it here.
The Fifth Branch has five ‘Fruits’.
O my self-worshipping soul! O my world-worshipping friend! Love is the cause of the universe’s existence, and what binds it; and it is both the light of the universe and its life. Since man is the most comprehensive fruit of the universe, a love that will conquer the universe has been included in his heart, the seed of that fruit. Thus, only one possessing infinite perfection may be worthy of such an infinite love.
O soul and O friend! Two faculties, through which one may experience fear and love, have been included in man’s nature. This love and fear are bound to be turned towards either creatures or Creator. However, fear of creatures is a grievous affliction, while love for them is a calamitous tribulation. For you will fear people who will neither pity you nor accept your pleas for mercy. So fear is a grievous calamity. As for love, the one you love will either not recognize you or will depart without bidding you farewell. Like your youth and property. Or else he will despise you because of your love. Have you not noticed that in ninety-nine out of a hundred cases of metaphorical love, the lover complains about the beloved. For to love and idol
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ize worldly beloveds with the inner heart, which is the mirror of the Eternally Besought One, oppresses the beloved, and he finds it disagreeable and rejects it. Because man’s nature rejects and casts away things that are contrary to it and unworthy of it. (Physical loves are outside our discussion.)
That is to say, the things you love either will not recognize you, or they will scorn you, or they will not accompany you. They will part from you in spite of you. Since this is so, direct your fear and love to the One by Whom your fear will become pleasurable abasement, and your love, shadowless happiness. Yes, to fear the Glorious Creator means finding a way to His compassionate mercy, and taking refuge in it. Fear is a whip; it drives you into the embrace of His mercy. It is well-known that a mother gently scares her infant, for example, and draws it to her breast. The fear is most pleasurable for the child, because it drives him to her tender embrace. Whereas the tenderness of all mothers is but a flash of Divine mercy. That means there is a supreme pleasure in fear of God. If there is such pleasure in fear of God, it is clear what infinite pleasure there is to be found in love of God. Moreover, one who fears God is saved from the calamitous and distressing fear of others. Also, because it is for God’s sake, the love he has for creatures is not tinged with sorrow and separation.
Indeed, man loves firstly himself, then his relations, then his nation, then living creatures, then the universe, and the world. He is connected with all these spheres. He may receive pleasure at their pleasure and pain at their pain. However, since nothing is stable in this world of upheavals and revolutions swift as the wind, man’s wretched heart is constantly wounded. The things his hands cling onto tear at them as they depart, even severing them. He remains in perpetual distress, or else plunges into heedless drunkenness. Since it is thus, my soul, if you have sense, gather together all those loves and give them to their true owner; be saved from those calamities. These infinite loves are particular to One possessing infinite perfection and beauty. When you give it to its true owner, you will be able to love everything without distress in His name and as His mirrors. That means this love should not be spent directly on the universe. Otherwise, while being a delicious bounty, it becomes a grievous affliction.
There is another aspect besides, O soul! and it is the most important. You spend all your love on yourself. You make your own soul your object of worship and beloved. You sacrifice everything for your soul. Simply, you ascribe to it a sort of dominicality. Whereas the cause of love is either perfection, because perfection is loved for itself, or it is benefit, or it is pleasure, or it is goodness, or causes like these. Now, O soul! In several of the Words we have proved decisively that your essential nature is kneaded out of fault, deficiency, poverty, and impotence, and like the relative degree of darkness and obscurity shows the brightness of light, with regard to opposites, you act
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as a mirror through them to the perfection, beauty, power, and mercy of the Beauteous Creator. That means O soul, that it is not love you should have for your soul, but enmity, or you should pity it, or after it is at peace, have compassion on it. If you love your soul because it is the source of pleasure and benefit and you are captivated by their delights, do not prefer the pleasure and benefit of the soul, which is a mere jot, to infinite pleasure and benefits. Do not resemble a fire-fly. For it drowns all your friends and the things you love in the darkness of desolation and suffices with a tiny glimmer in itself. You should love a Pre-Eternal Beloved on Whose gracious favours are dependent all the pleasures and benefits of your soul together with all the benefits and bounties and creatures of the universe with which you are connected and from which you profit and through whose happiness you are happy, so then you may take pleasure at both your own and their happiness, and receive an infinite pleasure from the love of the Absolutely Perfect One.
Anyway, your intense love for yourself and your soul is love for the Divine Essence which you misuse and spend on your own self. In which case, rend the egotism in your soul and show Him. All your loves dispersed through the universe are love given to you to spend on His Names and attributes. You have used it wrongly and you are suffering the penalty. For the penalty for an illicit, mis-spent love is merciless torment. For sure, one particle of the love of a Pre-Eternal Beloved Who, through the Names of Most Merciful and Compassionate, has prepared a dwelling like Paradise adorned with houris for you in which all your bodily desires will be gratified, and through others of His Names has readied for you in that Paradise everlasting favours that will satisfy all the longings of your spirit, heart, mind, and other subtle inner faculties, and in all of Whose Names are contained many treasuries of grace and munificence - one particle of His love may take the place of the whole universe. But the universe cannot take the place of even a particular manifestation of His love. In which case, heed this Pre-Eternal Decree which that Pre-Eternal Beloved caused His own Beloved to announce, and follow it:
If you love God, follow me, and God will love you.26
O soul! Worship is not the introduction to additional rewards, but the result of previous bounties. Yes, we have received our wage, and are accordingly charged with the duties of service and worship. Because, O soul!, since the All-Glorious Creator, Who clothed you in existence which is pure good, has given you a stomach and appetite, through His Name of Provider, He has placed before you all foods on a table of bounties. Then, since He has given you a life decked out with senses, life too requires sustenance like a
26. Qur’an, 3:31.
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stomach; all your senses like eyes and ears are like hands before which He has placed a table of bounties as broad as the earth. Then, because He has given you humanity, which requires many immaterial foods and bounties, He has laid out before that stomach of humanity, in so far as the hand of the mind can reach, an extensive table of bounties as broad as the worlds of both the inner and outer dimensions of things. Then, since He has given you Islam and belief, which require infinite bounties and are nourished through countless fruits of mercy and are supreme humanity, He has opened up before you a table of bounties, pleasure, and happiness which includes the sphere of contingency together with the sphere of His sacred Names and attributes. Then, through giving you love, which is a light of belief, He has bestowed on you an endless table of bounties, happiness, and pleasure. That is to say, with regard to your corporeality you are an insignificant, weak, impotent, lowly, restricted, limited particular, but through His favour, you have as though risen from being an insignificant particular to being a universal, luminous whole. For by giving you life, He has raised you from particularity to a sort of universality; and by giving you humanity, to true universality; and by bestowing Islam on you, to an exalted, luminous universality; and by giving you knowledge and love of Him, He has elevated you to an all-encompassing light.
O soul! You have received this wage, and you are charged with the pleasurable, bountiful, easy, and light duty of worship. But you are lazy in this too. If you perform it half-heartedly, it is as though the former wages are insufficient for you and you are overbearingly wanting greater things. Also, you are complaining: “Why was my prayer not accepted?” But your right is not complaint, it is supplication. Through His pure grace and munificence, Almighty God bestows Paradise and eternal happiness. So seek refuge in His mercy and munificence constantly. Trust in Him and heed this decree:
Say: “In the bounty of God, and His mercy -in that let them rejoice;” that is better than the [wealth] they hoard.27
If you say: “How can I respond to these countless, universal bounties with my limited and partial thanks?”
The Answer: With a universal intention and boundless belief... For example, a man enters a king’s presence with a gift worth five kurush, and he sees that other gifts worth millions have arrived from acceptable people, and have been lined up there. It occurs to him: “My present is nothing. What shall I do?” Then he says suddenly: “My Lord! I offer you all these valuable gifts in my name. For you are worthy of them. If I had the power, I would have given you gifts equal to them.” Thus, the king, who has need of
27. Qur’an, 10:58.
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nothing and accepts his subjects’ gifts as a sign of their loyalty and respect, accepts that wretched man’s universal intention and wish, and the worthiness of his elevated belief as though it was the greatest gift.
In exactly the same way, while performing the five daily prayers an impotent servant of Almighty God declares: “Salutations be to God!” That is, “I offer You on my own account all the gifts of worship all creatures offer you through their lives. If I had been able, I would have offered You as many salutations as them, for You are worthy of them, and worthy of more besides.” Such an intention and belief comprise extensive universal thanks. The seeds and grains of plants are their intentions.
And for example, the melon utters a thousand intentions in its heart in the form of the nuclei of its seeds: “O my Creator! I want to proclaim the embroideries of Your Most Beautiful Names in many places on the earth.” Since Almighty God knows how future things will come about, He accepts their intention as actual worship. The rule, “A believer’s intention is better than his actions”28 alludes to this mystery. The wisdom in offering glorifications in also infinite numbers is understood from this mystery. For instance:
Glory and praise be unto You to the number of Your creatures, that may be as pleasing to You as the extent of Your Throne and the ink of Your words, and we glorify You with all the glorifications of Your prophets and saints and angels.29
Just as an officer presents all the duties of his soldiers to the king in his own name, so man, who acts as officer to other creatures, commands the animals and plants, has the capacity to be God’s vicegerent over the beings of the earth, and in his own world considers himself to represent everyone, declares:
You alone do we worship, and from You alone do we seek help;30
He offers the worship and seeking of help of all creation to the All-Glorious True Object of Worship in his own name. He also says:
O God! Grant blessings to Muhammad to the number of the particles in existence and all their compounds!
He offers benedictions for the Prophet (PBUH) in the name of everything. Because everything is connected with the Muhammadan Light. Thus, you may understand the wisdom in the countless numbers mentioned in the glorifications and benedictions for the Prophet (PBUH).
28. al-Manawi, al-Fayd al-Qadir, vi, 291, No: 9295.
29. Muslim, Dhikr, 79; Tirmidhi, Da’wat, 103; Nasa’i, Sahw, 94; Musnad, i, 258, 353.
30. Qur’an, 1:4.
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O soul! If, in a brief life, you want to do something that will profit you infinitely in the hereafter, and you want every moment of your life to be as beneficial as a life-time, and if you want to transform your habitual actions into worship and your heedlessness into awareness of the Divine presence, follow the Illustrious Practices of the Prophet (PBUH). For when you apply your actions to the rulings of the Shari‘a, it affords a sort of awareness of God’s presence; it becomes worship of a sort and yields many fruits for the hereafter. For example, you bought something. The moment you applied what is acceptable and required by the Shari‘a, that ordinary act of shopping acquired the value of worship. Recalling the injunctions of the Shari‘a calls to mind Revelation. And by thinking of the Lawgiver, you are turned towards God. And that makes you aware of His presence. That means, in applying the Illustrious Sunna to your actions, are advantages like making this fleeting life the means of gaining an everlasting life which produces eternal fruits. Heed the decree:
So believe in God and His Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, who believes in God and His Word: follow him that you may be guided.31
Try to reflect comprehensively the effulgence and manifestation of all of the Most Beautiful Names, whose manifestations are diffused within the ordinances of the Shari‘a and Illustrious Sunna...
O soul! Do not look at the worldly, and especially the dissipated and the unbelievers, and be deceived by their superficial glitter and illicit pleasures; do not imitate them. For even if you do imitate them, you will not be like them; you will decline immeasurably. You cannot be an animal even. For the intellect in your head becomes an inauspicious tool which constantly beats you over the head. For example, there is a palace and in one of its large apartments is a powerful electric lamp. Small electric lights which branch out from it and are attached to it have been divided among its small apartments. Now, someone touches the switch of the big light and turns it off; all the apartments are plunged into deep darkness and desolation. Another palace has small electric lights in all its apartments which are not connected to the large light. If the owner of the latter palace presses the switch of the large electric light and turns it off, there may still be lights on in the other apartments by which he can carry out his work, and which will not allow thieves to profit from the darkness.
O soul! The first palace is a Muslim and the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) is the large electric light in his heart. If he
31. Qur’an, 7:158.
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forgets him, or (I seek refuge with God from Satan the Accursed) he expels him from his heart, he will accept none of the other prophets, indeed, no place will remain in his spirit for any perfection. He will not even recognize His Sustainer. All the apartments and subtle faculties in his nature will be plunged into darkness, and there will be a terrible destruction and desolation in his heart. How will he profit in the face of this destruction and desolation, where will he find familiarity? What benefit will he secure which will repair the damage? However, Europeans resemble the second palace; even if they cast out from their hearts the light of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him), lights of a sort may remain, or they suppose they remain. They may continue to have a sort of belief in their Creator and in Moses and Jesus (Peace be upon them), which will allow them to attain good morals and character.
O my evil-commanding soul! If you say: “I am not a European and I want to be an animal,” how many times have I told you: “You cannot be an animal. For there is intelligence in your head, and it strikes your face, eyes, and head with the pains of the past and fears of the future, and beats you. It adds a thousand pains to one pleasure. Whereas animals receive pleasure without pain. So first pluck out your intelligence and throw it away, then be an animal! You will also receive the chastening slap of Like cattle, nay, they are further astray.”32
O my soul! As we have stated repeatedly, since man is the fruit of the tree of creation, he is a creature which, like a fruit, is the furthest and most comprehensive and looks to everything, and bears the seed of a heart which holds within it the aspects of unity of everything, and whose face looks to multiplicity, transience, and the world. As for worship, it is a line of union which turns his face from transience to permanence, from creation to Creator, from multiplicity to unity, and from the extremity to the source, or it is a point of union between the source and the extremity. If a valuable, conscious fruit which will form a seed looks to the living creatures beneath the tree, and relying on its beauty throws itself into their hands; if being heedless, it falls; it will fall to their hands and be smashed, and will go for nothing like a common fruit. But if the fruit finds its point of support, and it is able to think that by the seed within it holding the aspects of unity of the whole tree, it will be the means of tree’s continuance and the continued existence of the tree’s reality, then a single seed within that single fruit will manifest a perpetual universal truth within an everlasting life.
In the same way, if man plunges into multiplicity, is drowned in the
32. Qur’an, 7:179.
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universe and intoxicated by love of the world, is deceived by the smiles of ephemeral beings and casts himself into their arms, he certainly falls into infinite loss. He falls into both transitoriness, and ephemerality, and non-existence. In effect he sentences himself to death. But if he listens with the ear of his heart to the lessons in belief from the tongue of the Qur’an and raises his head and turns towards unity, he may rise through the ascension of worship to the throne of perfections. He may become an eternal man.
O my soul! Since the reality is thus, and since you are a member of the nation of Abraham (Peace be upon him), like Abraham, say: I do not love those that set.33 Turn your face to the Eternal Beloved and weep the following lines like me. The Persian verses to be included here have been included in the Second Station of the Seventeenth Word, and have not been repeated here.
33. Qur’an, 6:76.
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The Twenty-Fifth Word
The Miraculousness of the Qur’an
While there is a perpetual miracle like the Qur’an, searching for further proof appears to my mind as superfluous;
While there is a proof of reality like the Qur’an, would silencing those who deny it weigh heavily on my heart?
[At the start, our intention was to write this Word in the form of five ‘Lights’, but at the end of the First Light, we were compelled to write extremely fast in order to print it in the old [Ottoman] script.1 On some days even we wrote twenty to thirty pages in two or three hours. Therefore, writing three Lights in a brief and concise manner, we have for now abandoned the last two. I hope that my brothers will look fairly and with tolerance at any faults and defects, difficulties and mistakes, which may be attributed to me.]
Most of the verses in this treatise of The Miraculousness of the Qur’an have either been the cause of criticism by atheists, or have been objected to by scientists, or have been the subject of doubt and misgiving by satans among jinn and men. Thus, this Twenty-Fifth Word has explained the truths and fine points of those verses in such a way that the very points which the atheists and scientists imagined to be faults have been proved according to scholarly principles to be flashes of miraculousness and the sources of the perfections of the Qur’an’s eloquence. In order not to cause aversion, decisive answers have been given without mentioning their doubts. Only, in the first Station of the Twentieth Word their doubts have been stated concerning three or four verses, like, And the mountains [its] pegs,2 and, And the sun runs its course.3
1. According to a law passed in November 1928, the Arabic (Ottoman) alphabet was banned from the end of that year, and the Latin alphabet officially adopted. [Tr.]
2. Qur’an, 78:7.
3. Qur’an, 36:38.
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Also, although this treatise of The Miraculousness of the Qur’an was written very concisely and with great speed, with regard to the science of rhetoric and sciences of Arabic, it is explained in a way so learned and profound and powerful that it has caused wonder to scholars. Although everyone who studies it will not understand all the matters discussed, there is a significant share for everyone in this garden. In spite of the defects in the phraseology and manner of expression due to its being written very fast and under confused conditions, it explains the truth and reality of most important matters.
The Miraculousness of the Qur’an
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Say: If all mankind and all jinn were to come together to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like of it, even if they were to help and support each other.4
[Of the innumerable aspects of the miraculousness of the All-Wise Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition, the treasury of miracles and greatest miracle of Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him), I have pointed out close on forty in my Arabic treatises, in the Arabic Risale-i Nur, in my Qur’anic commentary called Isharat al-I‘jaz (Signs of Miraculousness), and in the preceding twenty-four Words. Now I shall explain to a degree only five of those aspects and include within them briefly the other aspects, and in an Introduction give a definition of the Qur’an and indicate its nature.]
The Introduction consists of Three Parts.
FIRST PART: WHAT IS THE QUR’AN? How is it defined?
Answer: As is explained in the Nineteenth Word and proved in other Words, THE QUR’AN is the pre-eternal translator of the mighty Book of the Universe; the post-eternal interpreter of the various tongues reciting the verses of creation; the commentator of the book of the Worlds of the Seen and the Unseen; the revealer of the treasuries of the Divine Names hidden in
4. Qur’an, 17:88.
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the heavens and on the earth; the key to the truths concealed beneath the lines of events; the tongue of the Unseen World in the Manifest World; the treasury of the post-eternal favours of the Most Merciful and of the pre-eternal addresses of the Most Holy, which come from the World of the Unseen beyond the veil of this Manifest World; it is the sun, foundation, and plan of the spiritual world of Islam; the sacred map of the worlds of the hereafter; the expounding word, lucid exposition, decisive proof, and clear interpreter of the Divine Essence, attributes, Names, and functions; it is the instructor of the world of humanity; the light and water of Islam, the macroanthropos; the true wisdom of mankind; and the true guide and leader urging humanity to prosperity and happiness; it is a both a book of law, and a book of prayer, and a book of wisdom, and a book of worship, and a book of command and summons, and a book of invocation, and a book of thought, and a unique, comprehensive sacred book comprising many books to which recourse may be had for all the needs of all mankind; it is a revealed scripture resembling a sacred library which offers treatises suitable for all the various ways and different paths of the all the saints and the veracious ones and the wise and the learned, which is appropriate for the illuminations of each way and enlightens it, and is suitable for the course of each path and depicts it.
SECOND PART and complement to the definition:
As is explained and proved in the Twelfth Word, since THE QUR’AN has come from the Sublime Throne and the Greatest Name, and from the highest degree of each Name, it is God’s Word in regard to His being Sustainer of All The Worlds; it is a Divine decree through His title of God of All Beings; it is an address in the name of the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth; it is a conversation in respect of absolute dominicality; it is a pre-eternal discourse on account of universal Divine sovereignty; it is a notebook of the favours of the Most Merciful from the point of view of all-embracing, all-encompassing Divine mercy; it is a collection of addresses at the start of which are certain ciphers in respect of the tremendousness of Divine majesty; and through its descent from the comprehensiveness of the Greatest Name, it is a holy scripture full of wisdom which looks to and inspects all sides of the Sublime Throne.
It is because of this mystery that with complete fitness the title of the Word of God has been given to the Qur’an, and is always given. After the Qur’an comes the level of the books and scriptures of the other prophets. However, those other innumerable Divine Words are each in the form of inspiration made manifest through a special regard, a partial title, a particular manifestation, a particular Name, a special dominicality, a particular sovereignty, a special mercy. The inspirations of the angels and man and the animals vary greatly with regard to universality and particularity.
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THIRD PART: THE QUR’AN is a revealed scripture which contains in summary the books of all the prophets, whose times were all different, the writings of all the saints, whose paths are all different, and the works of all the purified scholars, whose ways are all different. Its six aspects are all brilliant and refined of the darkness of doubts and scepticism; its point of support is certain heavenly revelation and the pre-eternal Word; its aim and goal is self-evidently eternal happiness; its inner aspect is clearly pure guidance; its upper aspect is necessarily the lights of belief; its lower aspect is undeniably evidence and proof; its right aspect is evidently the surrender of the heart and conscience; its left aspect is manifestly the subjugation of the reason and intellect; its fruit is indisputably the mercy of the Most Merciful and the realm of Paradise; and its rank and desirability are assuredly accepted by the angels and man and the jinn.
Each of the attributes in these Three Parts concerning the Qur’an’s definition have been proved decisively in other places, or they will be proved. Our claims are not isolated; each may be proved with clear proofs.
This Light consists of three ‘Rays’.
·FIRST RAY: This is the eloquence of the Qur’an, which is at the degree of miraculousness. Its eloquence is a wonderful eloquence born of the beauty of its word-order, the perfection of its conciseness, the marvels of its style, its singularity and pleasantness, the excellence of its expression, its superiority and clarity, the power and truth of its meanings, and from the purity and fluency of its language, which for one thousand three hundred years has challenged the most brilliant men of letters of mankind, their most celebrated orators, and the most profoundly learned of them, and invited them to dispute it. It has provoked them intensely. And although it has invited them to dispute it, those geniuses, whose heads touch the skies in their pride and conceit, have been unable to so much as open their mouths to do so, and have bowed their heads utterly humiliated. Thus, we shall point to the miraculousness in its eloquence in two ‘Aspects’.
First Aspect: It possesses miraculousness and its miraculousness exists for the following reasons. The great majority of the people of the Arabian Peninsula at that time were illiterate. Due to this, rather than in writing, they preserved the sources of their pride, historical events and stories encouraging good morality, by means of poetry and eloquence. Due to the attraction of poetry and eloquence, meaningful sayings would remain in people’s memories and be passed down the generations. In consequence of this innate need, therefore, the goods most in demand in the immaterial market of that people were eloquence and fine speech. A tribe’s poet or orator was like its greatest national hero. It was he who was their greatest source of
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pride. Thus, among the peoples of the world, the eloquence and rhetoric of that intelligent people, who due to their intelligence ruled the world after the establishment of Islam, was at the highest and most advanced degree. It was the thing most highly prized among them that they felt greatest need of, and was their cause of pride. They attached such value to eloquence that two tribes would do battle at the word of a poet or orator, and they would make peace at his word. They even wrote in gold on the walls of the Ka‘ba the seven qasidas of seven poets called the al-Mu‘allaqat al-Sab‘a, and took great pride in them. It was at such a time when eloquence was thus most sought after that the Qur’an was revealed. Just as at the time of Moses (Peace be upon him) it was magic that was most sought after and at the time of Jesus (Peace be upon him), it was medicine. The most important of their miracles were in those fields.
The Qur’an, therefore, invited the Arabian orators of that time to reply to even one of the shortest of the Suras. It challenged them with the decree of:
And if you are in doubt about what We have revealed to Our servant, then produce a Sura resembling it.5
It also said: “If you do not believe, you shall be damned and shall go to Hell.” It provoked them intensely. It smashed their pride in fearsome manner. It was contemptuous of their arrogant minds. It condemned them firstly to eternal extinction and then to eternal extinction in Hell, as well as to worldly extinction. It said: “Either dispute me, or you and your property shall perish.”
If it had been possible to dispute the Qur’an, is it at all possible that while there was an easy solution like disputing it with one or two lines and nullifying the claim, they should have chosen the most dangerous and most difficult, the way of war? Yes, is it at all possible that that clever people, that politically-minded nation, who at one time were to govern the world through politics, should have abandoned the shortest, easiest, and most light way, and chosen the most dangerous, which was going to cast their lives and all their property into peril? For if their literary figures had been able to dispute it with a few words, the Qur’an would have given up its claim, and they would have been saved from material and moral disaster. Whereas they chose a perilous, lengthy road like war. That means it was not possible to dispute in by word; it was impossible, so they were compelled to fight it with the sword.
Furthermore, there are two compelling reasons for the Qur’an being imitated. The first is its enemies’ ambition to dispute it, the other, its friends’ pleasure at imitating it. Impelled by these, millions of books in Arabic have
5. Qur’an, 2:23.
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been written, but not one of them resembles the Qur’an. Whether learned or ignorant, whoever looks at it and at them is bound to say: “The Qur’an does not resemble these. Not one of them has been able to imitate it.“ The Qur’an is therefore either inferior to all of them, and according to the consensus of friend and foe alike, this is completely non-valid and impossible, or the Qur’an is superior to all of them.
If you say: “How do you know that no one has tried to dispute it, and that no one has had sufficient confidence to challenge it, and that no one’s help for anyone else was of any avail?”
The Answer: If it had been possible to dispute it, most certainly it would have been attempted. For it was a question of honour and pride, and life and property were at risk. If it had been attempted, numerous people would have supported such an attempt. For those who obstinately oppose the truth have always been many. And if many people had supported it, they surely would have found fame. For insignificant contests, even, attracted the wonder of people and found fame in stories and tales. So an extraordinary contest and event such as that would never have remained secret. The most ugly and infamous things against Islam have been passed down and become famous, but apart from one or two stories about Musaylima the Liar, no such thing has been related. Musaylima was very eloquent, but when compared with the exposition of the Qur’an, which possesses infinite beauty, his words passed into the chronicles as nonsense. Thus, the miraculousness of the Qur’an’s eloquence is as certain as twice two equals four; and that is how it is.
Second Aspect: We shall now explain in five ‘Points’ the wisdom of the Qur’an’s miraculousness contained in its eloquence.
First Point: There is a wonderful eloquence and purity of style in the Qur’an’s word-order. From beginning to end, Isharat al-I‘jaz (Signs of Miraculousness) demonstrates this eloquence and conciseness in the word-order. The way the second, minute, and hour hands of a clock each complete the order of the others, that is the way all the sentences of the All-Wise Qur’an, and its words, and the order in the relationships between the sentences and words, have been expounded in Isharat al-I‘jaz, from it first page to its last. Whoever wishes may look at that and see this wonderful eloquence in the word-order. Here, we shall mention one or two examples in order to demonstrate the word-order in the parts of a sentence. For example:
But if a breath of your Sustainer’s punishment touches them.6
In this sentence, it wants to point out the punishment as terrible through showing the severity of the least amount. That is to say, it expresses littleness or fewness, and all the parts of the sentence look also to this littleness or fewness and reinforce it. Thus, the words, But if signify doubt, and doubt looks to littleness
6. Qur’an, 21:46.
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or fewness. The word touches means to touch lightly and expresses a small amount. And just as the word a breath is merely a whiff, so is it in the singular form. Grammatically it is a masdar marra and signifies once. Also the tanwin indicating indefiniteness in a breathe expresses littleness or fewness and means it is so insignificant that it can scarcely be known. The word of signifies division or a part; it means a bit and indicates paucity. The word punishment points to a light sort of punishment in relation to chastisement (nakal) or penalty (i‘qab), and suggests a small amount. And by alluding to compassion and being used in place of Subduer, All-Compelling, or Avenger, the word Sustainer indicates littleness or fewness. It says, if the small amount of punishment suggested in all this paucity has such an effect, you can compare how dreadful Divine chastisement would be. How much then do the small parts of this sentence look to one another and assist one another! How each reinforces the aim of the whole! This example looks to the words and aim to a small degree.
And spend [in God’s way] out of what We have bestowed on them as sustenance.7
The parts of this sentence point out five of the conditions which make almsgiving acceptable.
First Condition: This is to give only so much alms as will not cause the giver to be in need of receiving alms himself. It states this condition through the division or parts signified by out of in the words out of what.
Second Condition: It is not to take from ‘Ali and give to Wali, but to give out of a one’s own property. The words We have bestowed on them as sustenance express this condition. It means: “Give out of the sustenance that is yours.”
Third Condition: This is not to place an obligation on the recipient. The word We in We have bestowed on them as sustenance states this condition. That is to say: “I give you the sustenance. When you give some of My property to one of My servants, you cannot place them under an obligation.”
Fourth Condition: You should give it to a person who will spend it on his livelihood, for alms given to those who will squander it idly is not acceptable. The word spend points to this condition.
Fifth Condition: This is to give in God’s name. The words We bestow on them as sustenance states this. That is to say: “The property is Mine; you should give it in My name.”
7. Qur’an, 2:3.
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These conditions may be extended. That is, the form almsgiving should take, with what goods. It may be given as learning and knowledge. It may be given as words, or as acts, or as advice. The word what in out of what indicates these various sorts through its generality. Furthermore, it indicates this with the sentence itself, because it is absolute and expresses generality. Thus, with the five conditions in this short sentence describing almsgiving, it opens up a broad field before the mind, granting it to it through the sentence as a whole. Thus, in the sentence as a whole, the word-order has many aspects.
Similarly, the word-order between words encompasses a broad sphere and has many aspects. And between phrases. For example, Say: He is God, the One8 contains six sentences. Three of them are positive and three negative. It proves six degrees of Divine unity and at the same time refutes six ways of associating partners with God. Each sentence is both the proof of the other sentences and the result. For each sentence has two meanings. Through one meaning it is the result, and through the other the proof. That is to say, within Sura al-Ikhlas are thirty suras composed of proofs that demonstrate each another to be as well-ordered as the Sura itself. For example:
Say, He is God, because He is One, because He is the Eternally Besought, because He begets not, because He is not begotten, because there is none that is equal to Him.
And there is none that is equal to Him, because He is not begotten, because He begets not, because He is Eternally Besought, because He is One, because He is God.
He is God, so He is One, so He is the Eternally Besought, so He begets not, so He is not begotten, so there is none that is equal to Him.
You can continue in the same way.
A further example:
Alif. Lam. Mim. * This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those who fear God.9
Each of these four phrases has two meanings. With one meaning each is a proof of the other phrases, with the other, it is their result. From the sixteen threads of their relationships, a miraculous word-order embroidery is wrought. It is described thus in Isharat al-I‘jaz. Also, as is explained in the Thirteenth Word, it is as though all the Qur’an’s verses have eyes that see most of the other verses and faces that look to them, so that each extends to the others the immaterial threads of relationship; each weaves a miraculous
8. Qur’an, 112:1.
9. Qur’an, 2:1-2.
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embroidery. From beginning to end Isharat al-I‘jaz expounds this beauty and eloquence of the word-order.
Second Point: This is the wonderful eloquence in its meaning. Consider this example, which is explained in the Thirteenth Word. For example, if you want to understand the eloquence of the verse,
All that is in the heavens and on the earth extols and glorifies God, for He is the Tremendous, the Wise,10
imagine yourself in the Age of Ignorance in the deserts of barbarism before the Light of the Qur’an. Then, at a time everything is swathed in the darkness of ignorance and heedlessness and enveloped in the lifeless veils of nature, you hear verses from the heavenly tongue of the Qur’an like:
All that is in the heavens and on the earth extols and glorifies God,
The heavens and the earth and all within them extol and glorify Him.11
Now look! See how the dead or sleeping creatures in the world are raised to life in the minds of listeners at the sound of extols and glorifies Him; how they become conscious, and rise up and recite God’s Names. And how at the cry and light of extols and glorifies Him the stars, which had been lifeless lumps of fire in the black skies, all appear in the view of those who hear it as wisdom-displaying words in the mouth of the sky and truth-pronouncing lights. The earth, too, rather than being a desolate wasteland is seen to be a head with the land and sea as tongues, and animals and plants as words of glorification and praise.
Now consider this example, which is proved in the Fifteenth Word. Listen to these verses. What do they say?
O you company of jinn and men! If you can pass beyond the regions of the heavens and the earth, pass beyond them! But you will not be able to pass beyond them save with authority [given by God]. * Which then, of the blessings of your Sustainer do you deny? * A flash of fire, and smoke, will be sent on you, and no succour shall you have. * Which then of the blessings of your Sustainer do you deny?12
And We have adorned the skies nearest the earth with lamps, and made them missiles to drive away the evil ones.13
These verses say: “O men and jinn, arrogant and refractory in your impotence and baseness, and rebellious and obstinate in your weakness and poverty! If you disobey My commands and you have the power to do so, pass
10. Qur’an, 57:1; 59:1; 61:1.
11. Qur’an, 17:44.
12. Qur’an, 55:33-6.
13. Qur’an, 67:5.
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beyond the boundaries of My dominions! How can you dare to oppose the commands of a Monarch Whose commands the stars, moons, and suns obey as though they were soldiers under orders? In your rebelliousness you oppose an All-Wise and Glorious One Who has obedient soldiers which are thus awesome. Suppose your satans were to resist, His soldiers could rain down stones on them like cannon-balls. In your godlessness you revolt in the lands of a Sovereign so Glorious that among His forces are some which, it is not insignificant powerless creatures like you, but supposing the impossible you were infidel enemies the size of mountains or the globe, they could hurl down stars and flaming missiles on you of that magnitude and rout you. You infringe a law which binds beings such as those; if it was necessary, they could hurl the globe of the earth in your face and rain down stars and heavenly bodies on you as though they were missiles, with God’s permission.” You can compare with these the power, eloquence, and elevated manner of expression of other verses and their meanings.
Third Point: This is the wonderful uniqueness of its style. Indeed, the Qur’an’s style is both strange, and original, and wonderful, and convincing. It has imitated nothing and no one. And no one has been able to imitate it. Its style has always preserved the freshness, youth, and singularity it possessed when it was first revealed and continues to preserve it. For instance, the unique style of the cipher-like muqatta‘at, the ‘disjointed letters,’ like, Alif. Lam. Mim., Alif. Lam. Ra., Ta. Ha., Ya. Sin., Ha. Mim. ‘Ayn. Sin. Qaf., at the beginning of some of the Suras. We have described five or six of the flashes of miraculousness they comprise in Isharat al-I‘jaz.
For example, these letters at the start of certain Suras have taken half of each category of the many well-known categories of letters, like the emphatic letters (Kaf, Qaf, Ta, Alif, Jim, Dal, Ta, Ba), the sibilants, the stressed letters, the soft letters, the labiolinguals, and tremolo (qalqala) letters (Qaf, Ta, Dal, Jim, Ba). Taking more than half from the light letters and less than half from the heavy letters, neither of which are divisible, it has halved every category. Although the human mind would be capable of it, halving all those categories overlapping one within the other, hesitant among two hundred possibilities, in the only way possible, which was hidden to the human mind and unknown to it, and organizing all the letters on that way, over that broad distance, was not the work of the human mind. And chance could not have interfered in it. Thus, in addition to these letters at the beginning of the Suras -Divine ciphers- displaying five or six similar flashes of miraculousness, scholars versed in the mysteries of the science of letters and the authorities from among the saints deduced many secrets from these ‘disjointed letters.’ They discovered such truths that they declared that on their own these letters form a brilliant miracle. Since we are not party to their secrets and also we cannot provide proofs clear to everyone, we cannot open that door. We shall therefore suffice with referring
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readers to the explanation in Isharat al-I‘jaz of five or six flashes of miraculousness related to them.
Now we shall point out the Qur’anic styles with regard to Sura, aim, verse, phrase, and word.
For example, if the Sura About what are they disputing?14 is studied carefully, it shows the events of the hereafter, the resurrection of the dead, and Paradise and Hell in a style so unique and wonderful that it proves the Divine acts and dominical works in this world as though looking at each of those events of the next world, and convinces the heart. To expound the style of this Sura fully would be lengthy, so we shall merely indicate one or two points, as follows:
At the start of the Sura, to prove the resurrection, it says: “We have made the earth a beautifully decked-out cradle for you, and the mountains masts and poles full of treasure for your house and your lives. We have made you as couples, loving and close to one another. We have made the night a coverlet for your sleep of comfort, the daytime the arena in which you earn your livelihood, the sun a light-giving, heat-supplying lamp, and from the clouds We pour down water as though they were a spring producing the water of life. And We create easily and quickly from the simple water the various flower-bearing and fruit-bearing things which bear all your sustenance. Since this is so, the Day of Resurrection, the day when good and evil shall be separated out, awaits you. It is not difficult for Us to bring about that Day.” In a veiled way it points to proofs that after this at the resurrection, the mountains will be scattered, the skies shattered, Hell readied, and the people of Paradise given gardens and orchards. It says in effect: “Since He does these things related to the mountains and the earth before your very eyes, He shall do things resembling these in the hereafter.” That is to say, the ‘mountain’ at the beginning of the Sura looks to the state of the mountains at the resurrection, and the garden to the gardens and paradises in the hereafter. You may compare other points to this and see what a beautiful and elevated style it has.
And, for example:
Say: O God, Holder of All Power! You grant dominion to whomever You wish and You remove dominion from whomever You wish. You exalt whomever You wish and You bring low whomever You wish. In Your hand is all good. Indeed, You are Powerful over all things. * You enter the night into the day and enter the day into the night, and You bring forth the living from the dead and bring forth the dead from the living, and You grant sustenance to whomever You wish without measure.15
14. The Great News, Sura 78.
15. Qur’an, 3:26-7.
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These verses describe the Divine acts in human kind, and the Divine manifestations in the alternations of night and day, and the dominical acts of disposal in the seasons of the year, and the dominical deeds in life and death on the face of the earth and in the resurrections in this world in a style so elevated that it captivates the minds of the attentive. Since its brilliant, elevated, and wide-reaching style is clearly understood with little study, we shall not open that treasury for now.
And for example,
When the sky is rent asunder * Heeding [the command of] its Sustainer, as in truth it must. * And when the earth is levelled * And casts out what is within it and becomes empty * And it heeds [the command of] its Sustainer, as in truth it must.16
This explains in a truly elevated style the degree of submission and obedience to Almighty God’s command of the skies and the earth. It is like this: just as a commander-in-chief opens two offices to accommodate the matters necessary for fighting, like one for strategy and one for the enrollment of soldiers, and when those matters are accomplished and the fighting is over, he addresses himself to the two offices in order to convert them into something else for some other business, they both say, either through the tongues of those employed in them or through their own tongues: “O Chief! Give us a short respite so that we can clean up the bits and pieces of the former business and throw them out, then you may honour us with your presence. There, we have thrown them out, we await your command. Order what you wish. We hear and obey! Everything you do is true, good, and beneficial.”
In the same way, the heavens and the earth were opened as two arenas of obligation, trial, and examination. After the allotted period is finished, they will put aside the things pertaining to the arena of trial and say: “O our Sustainer! The command is Yours, employ us now in whatever You wish. Our right is only to obey You. Everything You do is right.” Consider carefully the majestic style of those sentences!
And for example,
Then the word went forth: “O earth, swallow up your water! And o sky withhold [your rain]!” And the water abated and the matter was ended. The ark rested on Mount Judi, and the word went forth: “Away with all those who do wrong!”17
In order to point to a mere drop from the sea of eloquence of this verse, we shall show one aspect of its style in the mirror of a comparison. On the victory being won in a great war, the commander says “Cease fire!” to one
16. Qur’an, 84:1-5.
17. Qur’an, 11:44.
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firing army and “Halt!” to another, assaulting, army. He issues the command, and at that moment the firing ceases and the assault is halted. He says: “It is finished, we have beaten them. Our flag is planted at the top of the high citadel at the enemies’ centre. Those mannerless tyrants have met with their reward and been cast down to the lowest of the low.”
In just the same way, the Peerless Sovereign issued the command to the heavens and the earth to annihilate the people of Noah. When they had carried out their duty, He decreed: “Drink up your water, O earth! Cease from your work, O skies! It is finished. Now the waters are receding. The Ark, which is a Divine official performing its duty as a tent, is settled on the top of the mountain. The wrongdoers have received retribution.” See the elevated nature of this style. It is saying: “The heavens and earth obey the command like two highly disciplined soldier.” It is thus alluding to the fact that the universe becomes angry at man’s rebellion. The heavens and the earth become incensed. And with this allusion it is saying: “One Whose commands the skies and the earth obey like two disciplined soldiers may not be rebelled against,” restraining man in awesome fashion. Thus, it describes a universal event like the Flood with all its consequences and truths in a few sentences in a concise, miraculous, beautiful, and succinct manner. You can compare this droplet from the ocean with other drops. Now consider the style displayed by the window of the words.
For example, consider the words like an old date-stalk, withered and curved in,
And the moon We have determined mansions for till it returns like an old date-stalk, withered and curved;18
see what a subtle style it displays. It is like this: one of the moon’s mansions is in the Pleiades. The Qur’an likens the moon when it is a crescent to a withered and whitened old date-stalk. Through this simile it depicts for the eye of the imagination a tree behind the green veil of the skies; one of its white, curved, luminous branches has rent the veil and raised its head; the Pleiades are like a bunch of grapes on the branch and the other stars all luminous fruits of that hidden tree of creation. If you have any discernment, you will understand what an appropriate, graceful, subtle, and elevated style and manner of expression this is in the view of the desert-dwellers, for whom the date-palm is the most important means of livelihood.
And for example, as is proven at the end of the Nineteenth Word, the words runs its course in,
And the sun runs its course to a place appointed19
opens a window onto an elevated style, as follows: with the words runs its
18. Qur’an, 36:39.
19. Qur’an, 36:38.
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course, that is, ‘the sun revolves,’ it puts in mind the Maker’s tremendousness by recalling the orderly disposals of Divine power in the alternations of winter and summer and day and night, and directs one’s gaze to the missives of the Eternally Besought One inscribed by the pen of power on the pages of the seasons. It proclaims the wisdom of the All-Glorious Creator.
And with the word lamp in,
And set the sun as a lamp,20
it opens a window onto the style like this: it makes one understand the Maker’s majesty and Creator’s bounty by recalling that the world is a palace and the things within it are adornments, food, and necessities prepared for man and living creatures and that the sun is a subservient candle, demonstrating that the sun is an evidence of God’s unity, and that the idolators’ greatest, most brilliant object of worship is merely a subjugated lamp, an inanimate creature. That is to say, the word lamp calls to mind the Creator’s mercy within the grandeur of His dominicality; it recalls His favours within the breadth of His mercy, and in so doing informs of His munificence within the majesty of His sovereignty, thereby proclaiming Divine unity, and saying indirectly: “An inanimate and subservient lamp is in no way fit to be worshipped.”
And in the course of runs its course it calls to mind the wondrous orderly disposals of Divine power in the revolutions of night and day and winter and summer, and in so doing makes known the grandeur of a single Maker’s power in His dominicality. That is to say, it turns man’s mind from the points of the sun and moon to the pages of night and day and winter and summer, and draws his attention to the lines of events written on those pages. For the Qur’an does not speak of the sun for the sake of the sun, but for the One Who illuminates it. Also, it does not speak of the sun’s nature, for which man has no need, but of the sun’s duty, which is that of mainspring for the order of dominical art, and centre of the order of dominical creativity, and a shuttle for the harmony and order of dominical art in the things the Pre-Eternal Inscriber weaves with the threads of day and night. You can compare others of the Qur’an’s words with these. While all are simple, ordinary words, each performs the duty of a key to treasuries of subtle meanings.
It is because the Qur’an’s style is for the greater part elevated and brilliant in the ways described above that on occasion Arab nomads were captivated by a single phrase, and without being Muslims would prostrate. One nomad prostrated on hearing the phrase:
Therefore proclaim openly what you are commanded.21
20. Qur’an, 71:16.
21. Qur’an, 15:94.
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When asked: “Have you become a Muslim?”, he replied: “No. I am prostrating at the eloquence of these words.”
Fourth Point: This is the wonderful eloquence in its wording; that is, in the words employed. Yes, just as the Qur’an is extraordinarily eloquent in regard to its style and manner of exposition, so is there a truly fluent eloquence in its wording. Clear evidence of the existence of this eloquence is the fact that it does not bore or cause weariness; while the testimony of the brilliant scholars of the sciences of rhetoric forms a decisive proof of the wisdom of the eloquence.
Yes, it does not weary even if repeated thousands of times; indeed, it gives pleasure. It is not burdensome for the memory of a small and simple child; children can memorize it easily. It is not unpleasant to the ear, pained by the slightest word, of someone extremely ill; it is easy on it. It is like sherbet to the palate of one in the throes of death. The recitation of the Qur’an gives sweet pleasure to the ear and mind of such a person just like Zemzem water to his mouth and palate. The reason for its not causing boredom, and the wisdom of it, is this: it is food and sustenance for the heart, strength and wealth for the mind, water and light for the spirit, and the cure and remedy for the soul. Everyday we eat bread, yet we do not tire of it. But if we were to eat the choicest fruit every day, it would cause boredom. That means it is because the Qur’an is truth and reality and truthfulness and guidance and wonderfully eloquent that it does not cause weariness and preserves its freshness and agreeableness as though preserving a perpetual youth. One of the Qurayshi leaders even, an expert orator, was sent by the idolators to listen to the Qur’an. He went and listened, then returned and said to them: “These words have such a sweetness and freshness that they do not resemble the words of men. I know the poets and soothsayers; these words do not resemble theirs. The best we can do is mislead our followers and say it is magic.”22 Thus, even the All-Wise Qur’an’s most obdurate enemies were amazed at its eloquence.
It would be very lengthy to explain the sources of the All-Wise Qur’an’s eloquence in its verses and words and sentences, therefore we shall keep the explanation brief and show by way of example the fluency and eloquence of the wording in one sentence obtained through the position of the letters and a single flash of miraculousness that shines forth from that positioning. Take the verse:
Then after the distress He sent down on you a feeling of peace and drowsiness, which overcame a group of you....23 [to the end of the verse]
In this verse, all the letters of the alphabet are present. But, see, although all the categories of emphatic letters are together, it has not spoilt the smooth
22. Suyuti, al-Itqan fi ‘Ulum al-Qur’an, ii, 117; Qadi Iyad, al-Shifa’, i, 264.
23. Qur’an, 3:154.
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ness of style. Indeed, it has added a brilliance and harmonious, congruent, eloquent melody issuing from varied strings. Also, note carefully the following flash of eloquence: of the letters of the alphabet, Alif and Ya, since they are the lightest and have been transposed with one another like sisters, they have each been repeated twenty-one times. And since Mim and Nun24 are sisters and have changed places, they have each been mentioned thirty-three times. And since Shin, Sin, and Sad are sisters in regard to articulation, quality, and sound, each has been mentioned three times. And although ‘Ayn and Ghayn are sisters, since ‘Ayn is lighter, it is mentioned six times, while because Ghayn is harsher, it is mentioned half as many, three times. And since Zay, Dhal, Za, and Ta are sisters in regard to articulation, quality, and sound, each is mentioned twice, while Lam and Alif in the form of LA have united and Alif’s share in the the form of LA is half that of Lam, Lam is mentioned forty-two times and as a half of it Alif twenty-one times. Since Hamza and Ha are sisters in regard to articulation, Hamza25 is mentioned thirteen times and being a degree lighter Ha is mentioned fourteen times. And Kaf, Fa and Qaf are sisters; since Qaf has an additional point, it is mentioned ten times, Fa, nine times, Kaf nine times, Ba nine times, and Ta twelve times. Since Ta comes third, it is mentioned twelve times. Ra is Lam’s sister, but according to their numerical value, Ra is two hundred, and Lam thirty, so since it has risen six times more, it has fallen six. Also, since Ra is repeated on pronunciation, it becomes emphatic and is only mentioned six times. And because Dad, Tha, Ha, and Kha are emphatic and gain additional qualities in connection with other letters, they have each been mentioned only once. Since Waw is lighter than Ha and Hamza, and heavier than Ya and Alif, it is mentioned seventeen times, four times more than heavy Hamza and four times less than light Alif.
Thus, the extraordinary positioning of the letters in the passage mentioned here and their hidden relationships, and the beautiful order and fine, subtle regularity and harmony show as clearly as twice two equals four that it would not be within the limits of human thought to have composed it. As for chance and coincidence, it is impossible that it should have interfered. And so, just as the strange and wonderful order and regularity in the position of these letters leads to a fluency and eloquence in the words, so may there be many other hidden instances of wisdom. Since such an order has been followed in the letters, surely in the words, sentences and meanings such a mysterious order, such a luminous harmony, has been observed that should the eye see it, it would declare: Ma’shallah!, and should the reason comprehend it, it would exclaim: Barakallah!
24. Tanwin is also a Nun.
25. Pronounced and unpronounced, Hamza is twenty-five, and three more than Hamza’s silent sister Alif, because its points are three.
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Fifth Point: This is the excellence in its manner of exposition; that is to say, the superiority, conciseness, and grandeur. Just as there is eloquence in the word-order, the wording, and the meaning, and a uniqueness in its style, so in its manner of exposition is there a superiority and excellence. Indeed, all the categories and levels of speech and address, like encouragement and deterring, praise and censure, demonstration and guidance, explanation and silencing in argument, are at the highest degree in the Qur’an’s exposition.
Of the innumerable examples of its manner of exposition26 in the category of encouragement and urging is that in Sura Has there not been over man a long period of time when he was nothing - [not even] mentioned?;27 this is as sweet as the water of Kawthar and flows with the fluency of the spring of Salsabil, it is as fine as the raiment of the houris.
Of the numerous examples of the category of deterring and threatening is the start of Sura Has the story reached you of the Overwhelming Event?28 Here the Qur’an’s exposition has an effect like lead boiling in the ears of the people of misguidance, and fire burning in their brains, and zaqqum scalding their palates, and Hell assaulting their faces, and like a bitter thorny tree in their stomachs. An official like Hell charged by someone with inflicting torment and torture in order to demonstrate his threats, and its splitting apart with seething rage, and its saying: well-nigh bursting with fury29 certainly show how awesomely dreadful that person’s threats are.
Of the thousands of examples in the category of praise, the Qur’an’s manner of exposition in the five Suras starting al-Hamdulillah is brilliant like the sun,30 adorned like the stars, majestic like the heavens and the earth, lovable like the angels, compassionate like tenderness towards young in this world, and beautiful like Paradise in the hereafter.
Of the thousands of examples in the category of censure and restraint, in the verse, Would any among you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother,31 it censures six times. It restrains from backbiting forcibly six times over. It is like this: as is known, the Hamza at the beginning of the verse is interrogative. This seeps through all the words of the verse like water. Thus, with the first Hamza it asks: Have you no reason, the seat of question and answer, that you do not understand how ugly it is?
With the second, it asks with the word like: Is your heart, the seat of love and hate, so corrupted that it loves the most despicable thing?
26. The style here has slipped into the clothes of this Sura’s meaning.
27. Qur’an, 76:1.
28. Qur’an, 88:1.
29. Qur’an, 67:8.
30. In these phrases is an allusion to the matters discussed in these Suras.
31. Qur’an, 49:12.
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With the third, it asks with the words one of you: What has happened to your social life and civilization, which receives its vitality from the community, that it finds acceptable an act which thus poisons your life?
With the fourth, it asks with the words to eat the flesh: What has happened to your humanity that you tear apart your friend like a savage beast?
With the fifth, it asks with the words your brother: Have you no compassion and fellow-feeling that you unjustly tear with your teeth at the character of the one injured, your brother in so many respects? Have you no reason that you bite at your own limbs like a madman?
And with the sixth it asks with the word dead: Where is your conscience? Is your nature so corrupted that you do the most repulsive thing to the most respected person, your brother, like eating his flesh? That is to say, backbiting is censured and despised by the reason, the heart, humanity, the conscience, human nature, and social and national solidarity. So see! How this verse restrains from this crime in six concise degrees, on six miraculous levels!
Of the thousands of examples of the category of proof and demonstration, is the verse:
So consider the signs of God’s mercy; how He gives life to the earth after its death. Indeed, it is He Who gives life to the dead, for He is powerful over all things.32
Its exposition is such in proving resurrection and banishing doubts that it could not be more clearly demonstrated. It is like this: it says that, as is proved and explained in the Ninth Truth of the Tenth Word and in the Fifth Flash of the Twenty-Second Word, every spring examples of resurrection are provided in three hundred thousand ways in the earth being raised to life with the utmost order and differentiation despite the innumerable species being all mixed up together in total confusion, thus demonstrating to the human observer that the resurrection of the dead would not be difficult for the One who does this. Also, since to write without fault or error with the pen of power hundreds of thousands of species on the page of the earth, all together and one within the other, is the seal of the Single One of Unity; with this verse it both proves Divine unity as the clearly as the sun, and it demonstrates the resurrection of the dead as easily and decisively as the rising and setting of the sun. Thus, the Qur’an demonstrates this truth in regard to manner, as described by the word how, just as it mentions it in detail in many Suras.
And for example, in Sura, Qaf. By the Glorious Qur’an,33 it proves
32. Qur’an, 30:50.
33. Qur’an, 50:1.
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resurrection in such a brilliant, fine, sweet, and exalted manner that it convinces as certainly as the coming of spring. Look: in answer to the unbelievers denying the raising to life of decomposed bones and saying: “This is extraordinary; it could not be!”, it decrees:
Do they not look to the skies above them; how we have made them and adorned them and how there is no flaw in them.... until: ... and thus will be the Resurrection.34
Its manner of exposition flows like water and shines like the stars. It gives both pleasure and delight to the heart like dates. And it is sustenance.
And in one of the most subtle examples of the category of demonstration, it says:
Ya. Sin.* By the All-Wise Qur’an * Indeed you are one of the Messengers.35
That is, “I swear by the Wise Qur’an that you are one of the Divine Messengers.” This oath indicates that the proof of Messengership is so certain and true, and its veracity is so worthy of honour and respect, that it is sworn by. By indicating this, it is saying: “You are the Messenger, for you hold the Qur’an in your hand, and the Qur’an is the truth and it is the word of Truth. For it contains true wisdom, and bears the seal of miraculousness.”
And one of the concise and miraculous examples of the category of proof and demonstration is this:
He says: Who will raise to life these bones when they are rotted? * Say: He will raise them Who created them in the first instance, for He has full knowledge of every kind of creation.36
That is, man asks: “Who will resurrect decayed bones?” You say: “Whoever made them in the first place and gave them life, He will resurrect them.” As was depicted in the third comparison of the Ninth Truth in the Tenth Word, if someone reassembles a large army in one day before your eyes, and someone else says: “At a bugle-call that person brought together the members of a battalion who had dispersed to rest; he is able to bring the battalion under order,” and you say, O man: “I do not believe it,” you can see what a foolish denial it would be.
In just the same way, the All-Powerful and All-Knowing One enrolls and unites anew with the command of “Be!” and it is, and with perfect order and the balance of wisdom, the particles and subtle faculties of the battalion-like bodies of all the animals -which are like an army- and other living creatures, and creates every century, and every spring even, all the hundreds of
34. Qur’an, 50:6-11.
35. Qur’an, 36:1-3.
36. Qur’an, 36:78-79.
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thousands of army-like species of living creatures on the face of the earth. Can it be questioned then how He can gather together at one blast of Israfil’s trumpet the fundamental parts and particles of a battalion-like body, which are already familiar with one another, through taking them under order? Can it be considered unlikely? If it is considered unlikely, it is a mindless foolishness.
In the category of guidance, the Qur’an’s manner of exposition is so moving and tender, and familiar and gentle that it fills the spirit with ardour, the heart with delight, the mind with interest, and the eyes with tears. Of thousands of examples is this verse:
And yet after all this your hearts hardened and became like rocks, or even harder... to the end of the verse.37
As is proved and explained in the discussion of the third verse in the First Station of the Twentieth Word, it says to the Children of Israel: “What has happened to you that although hard rock shed tears from twelve springs like eyes before a miracle like the Staff of Moses (Peace be upon him), you remain indifferent in the face of all his miracles, with your eyes dry and tearless and your hearts hard and without fervour?” Since this meaning of guidance is explained there, we refer you to that Word, and curtail this here.
Of thousands of examples in the category of making understood and silencing in argument, consider only the following two:
If you have doubts about the Qur’an We have revealed to Our servant Muhammad, then produce a Sura similar to it. And call upon all your helpers besides God to bear witness for you, if what you say is true.38
That is, “If you have any doubts, summon all your elders and supporters to help you and testify for you, then compose the like of a single Sura.” Since this has been explained and proved in Isharat al-I‘jaz, here we shall only point out a brief summary of it. It is as follows:
The Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition says: “O men and jinn! If you have any doubts that the Qur’an is the Word of God and imagine it to be man’s word, then come on, here it is, let’s see! You bring a book like this Qur’an from someone unlettered, who does not know how to read and write like the one you call Muhammad the Trustworthy, and get him to compose it! If you cannot do this, then he need not be untaught, let him be a famous man of letters and learned. And if you are not able to do this, alright, not on his own, take all the finest works of all your orators and men of eloquence, and indeed of all the literary geniuses of the past and all those of the future, and the assistance of all your gods. Work with all your strength, compose the
37. Qur’an, 2:74.
38. Qur’an, 2:23.
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like of a single Sura.” Since this has been explained and proved in Isharat al-I‘jaz, here we shall only point out a brief summary of it. It is as follows:
The Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition says: “O men and jinn! If you have any doubts that the Qur’an is the Word of God and imagine it to be man’s word, then come on, here it is, let’s see! You bring a book like this Qur’an from someone unlettered, who does not know how to read and write like the one you call Muhammad the Trustworthy, and get him to compose it! If you cannot do this, then he need not be untaught, let him be a famous man of letters and learned. And if you are not able to do this, alright, not on his own, take all the finest works of all your orators and men of eloquence, and indeed of all the literary geniuses of the past and all those of the future, and the assistance of all your gods. Work with all your strength, compose the like of this Qur’an. And if you cannot do this, leave aside the truths of the Qur’an and its many miraculous aspects, which it is not possible to imitate, and compose a work which is its equal in only the eloquence of its word-order!”
Through the silencing words of
Bring then ten Suras forged, like it,39
it says: “Come on, I do not want its true meaning from you, let it be fabrications and lies and false tales. You will not be able to do this. So it need not be as much as the whole Qur’an, just bring ten Suras like it. You will not be able to do this either, so bring a single Sura. This will be too much as well. So alright, make it the equivalent of a short Sura. You will not be able to do this either, although the need for you to do so is so great. For your honour and self-respect, your dignity and religion, your tribal honour and pride, your life and property, and your lives in this world and the next will all be saved by producing the like of it. Otherwise in this world you will remain in abasement, without honour, dignity, religion, or pride, and your lives and property will be destroyed and will perish, and in the hereafter, as is indicated by the verse,
Then give heed to Hell-fire, whose fuel is men and stones,40
you will be condemned to everlasting incarceration in Hell; together with your idols you will be fuel to its fires. Since your need is thus great, and since you have now understood your impotence in eight degrees, you should be certain eight times over that the Qur’an is a miracle. So either believe in it, or be silent and go to Hell!” So see the way the Qur’an forces them to accept the argument in this category of ‘silencing in argument’ which is within that of ‘making understood,’ and say: “There is no manner of exposition better than that of the Qur’an!” Indeed, after that of the Qur’an no need remains for further exposition.
Here is a second example:
Exhort then [O Prophet], for by your Sustainer’s grace you are neither a soothsayer nor a madman * Or do they say: A poet! - let us wait and see what time will do! * Say: Wait then, I too shall wait with you. * Is it that their faculties of understanding urge them to this, or are they but a people transgressing all bounds. * Or do they say: He fabricated this [Message]? Nay, they do not believe. * Let them then produce a recital like unto it - if they speak the truth. * Or were they created of nothing, or were they themselves the creators? * Or did they create the heavens and the earth? Nay, they have no firm belief. *
39. Qur’an, 11:13.
40. Qur’an, 2:24.
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Or are the treasuries of your Sustainer with them, or are they the managers [of affairs]? * Or have they a ladder by which they can [climb up to heaven and] listen [to its secrets]? Then let [such a] listener of theirs produce a manifest proof. * Or has He only daughters and you have sons? * Or is it that you ask for a reward, so that they are burdened with a load of debt? * Or that the Unseen is in their hands, and they write it down? * Or do they intend a plot [against you]? But those who defy God are themselves involved in a plot! * Or have they a god other than God? Exalted is God far above the things they associate with them.41
Here we shall explain only one of the thousands of truths of these verses as a further example of the category of silencing in argument. It is as follows: with the word, Or....Or..., it silences every group of the people of misguidance with a rhetorical question expressing surprise and stops up all the sources of their doubts. It leaves no satanic chink through which doubts might enter and hide themselves; it closes them all. It leaves no veil of misguidance under which they might creep and lurk; it rends all of them. It leaves not one of their lies; it crushes them. In each sentence it either demolishes the essence of the blasphemous ideas of one group with a short phrase, or since the falsity is obvious, it exposes it by silence, or since it is refuted in detail in other verses, it here alludes to it briefly. For example, the first sentence alludes to the verse:
And We have not instructed him poetry, nor is it meet for him.42
While the fifteenth sentence points to the verse:
Were there gods other than God in the heavens and earth, there surely would have been confusion in both.43
You can make further examples from the other sentences like these. It is like this: it says at the start: Announce the Divine decrees. You are not a soothsayer, for the words of soothsayers are confused and conjectural, while yours are true and certain. And you are not mad; your enemies even attest to your perfect sanity.
Or do they say: A poet - let us wait and see what time will do!44
Do they call you a poet, like the unreasoning, common infidels? Are they waiting for you to perish? You say to them: “Wait! I shall wait with you!” Your vast and brilliant truths are free of the imaginings of poetry and independent of their fancies.
41. Qur’an, 52:29-43.
42. Qur’an, 36:69.
43. Qur’an, 21:22.
44. Qur’an, 52:30.
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Or is it that their faculties of understanding urge them to this?45
Or like unreasoning philosophers who rely on their reasons, do they hold back from following you, saying: “Our faculties of reason are sufficient.” But reason commands that you are followed, because everything you say is reasonable. But again the reason on its own cannot reach it.
Or are they but a people transgressing all bounds?46
Or is the reason for their denial their not submitting to Almighty God like wicked tyrants? But the ends of the Pharaohs and Nimrods, who were the leaders of arrogant oppressors, are known.
Or do they say: He fabricated this [Message]? Nay, they do not believe.47
Or like lying dissemblers without conscience do they accuse you saying: “You have made up the Qur’an!”? But up to this time they have known you to be the most truthful among them and have called you Muhammad the Trustworthy. It means that they have no intention to believe. Otherwise let them find the like of the Qur’an among the works of men.
Or were they created of nothing?48
Or like the absurd philosophers who believed the universe to be without purpose and in vain, do they suppose themselves to be aimless and without wisdom, purpose, duty, or Creator? Have they become blind that they do not see that the universe is adorned from top to bottom with instances of wisdom and bears the fruit of aims, and that beings from particles to the suns are charged with duties and are subjugated to the Divine commands?
Or were they themselves the creators?49
Or do they imagine like the pharaoh-like Materialists that “They came into being by themselves, feed themselves, and themselves create everything they need,” so that they hold back from believing and worship? That means they all suppose themselves to be the Creator. Whereas the Creator of one thing has to be the Creator of everything. That is to say, their pride and conceit have made them so utterly stupid they imagine to be a Possessor of Absolute Power one who is absolutely impotent and may be defeated by a fly or a microbe. Since they have abdicated their reason and humanity to this degree and have fallen lower than the animals and even inanimate beings, do not be saddened at their denial. Consider them to be a variety of harmful animal and filthy matter! Ignore them and give them no importance!
45. Qur’an, 52:32.
46. Qur’an, 52:32.
47. Qur’an, 52:33.
48. Qur’an, 52:35.
49. Qur’an, 52:35.
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Or did they create the heavens and the earth? Nay, they have no firm belief!50
Or, like the mindless, confused Mu‘attila, who denied God all attributes and denied the Creator, do they deny God so that they do not heed the Qur’an? In which case, let them deny the existence of the heavens and the earth, or let them say: “We created them!” Let them lose their minds altogether and begin uttering the frenzied ravings of lunacy. For in the heavens as many proofs of Divine unity are apparent and are recited as the stars, and on the earth as many as the flowers. That means they have no intention of acquiring certain knowledge and finding the truth. Otherwise how do they suppose to be without inscriber the book of the universe, in one word of which is written a whole book, although they know that a letter cannot exist without the one who wrote it.
Or are the treasuries of your Sustainer with them?51
Or, like one group of misguided philosophers who denied Almighty God the power of choice, or like the Brahmans, do they deny the source of prophethood so that they do not believe in you? In which case, let them deny all the traces of wisdom and purpose, all the order and fruits which are apparent in all beings and demonstrate will and choice, let them deny all the works of mercy and grace, and all the miracles of all the prophets! Or let them say: “All the treasuries of the bounties given to creatures are with us and under our control.” Let them prove they are not fit to be addressed! Do not be grieved at their denial, say: “God’s unreasoning animals are many!”
Or are they the managers [of affairs]?52
Or, like the arrogant Mu‘tazilites, who made the reason dominant, do they imagine themselves to be rivals to and inspectors of the Creator’s works, and want to hold the All-Glorious Creator responsible? Beware, do not lose heart! Nothing can come of the denials of self-centred people like that! You do not be deceived either!
Or have they a ladder by which they can [climb up to heaven and] listen [to its secrets]? Then let [such a] listener of theirs produce a manifest proof!53
Or, like the spiritualists and phony soothsayers, do they follow Satan and the jinn and suppose they have found another way to the World of the Unseen? In which case, have they a ladder by which to ascend to the heavens which
50. Qur’an, 52:36.
51. Qur’an, 52:37
52. Qur’an, 52:37.
53. Qur’an, 52:38.
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are closed to the satans? Do they imagine that they can give the lie to your news from the heavens? The denials of such charlatans are worth nothing!
Or has He only daughters and you have sons?54
Or, like the polytheist philosophers who ascribed partners to God under the name of ‘the ten intellects’ and ‘the masters of the species,’ and the Sabeans, who attributed a sort of godhead to the stars and the angels, do they ascribe offspring to Almighty God? Like the heretics and misguided, do they ascribe a son to Him, which is contrary to the necessary existence, unity, eternity, and absolute self-sufficiency of the Single and Eternally Besought One? Do they ascribe femininity to that offspring, which is opposed to the angels’ worship, purity, and kind? Do they suppose it to be an intercessor for them, so that they do not follow you? Generation is the means of multiplying, mutual assistance, perpetuation, and life for creatures like man, who is contingent, transitory, and in need of perpetuating the species, is corporeal and divisible, capable of multiplying, impotent and needy for an heir to help him. So to ascribe offspring -and a sort of offspring that those impotent, contingent, wretched men did not themselves like and could not equate with their arrogant pride, that is, female offspring- to the All-Glorious One, Whose existence is necessary and perpetual, Who endures from pre-eternity to post-eternity, Whose essence is utterly remote from and exalted above corporality, Whose being is free of and exempt from division and multiplication, and Whose Power is far above and beyond all impotence, is indeed such a delirium, such a lunatic raving that the lies and denials of those wretches who subscribe to such an idea are worth nothing. You must not be deceived. The scatter-brained nonsense, the delirious ravings of every crazy lunatic, should not be heeded!
Or is it that you ask for a reward, so that they are burdened with a load of debt?55
Or, like the rebellious, overweening worshippers of this world, who have made a habit of greed and miserliness, do they find what you propose burdensome, so that they flee from you? Do they not know that you seek your wage and recompense from God alone? Is it a burden to give to their own poor one fortieth of the property given to them by God Almighty, or a part of it, and as a consequence both receive plenty, and be saved from the envy and curses of the poor? Do they consider the command to give zakat burdensome and therefore hold back from Islam? Their denials have no importance, and what they deserve is a slap, not an answer...
54. Qur’an, 52:39.
55. Qur’an, 52:40.
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Or is it that the Unseen is in their hands, and they write it down?56
Or, like Buddhists, who claim to be familiar with the Unseen, or the pseudo-intellectuals, who imagine their conjectures about its affairs to be certain, does what you said about the Unseen not appeal to them? That means they imagine that the World of the Unseen, which is disclosed to no one apart from the Divine Messengers, who receive revelation, and which no one has the ability to enter, is present and laid open before them, and that they obtain information from it and write it down. So do not be disheartened by the lies of these arrogant braggarts who have overstepped their mark to an infinite degree! For in a short while your truths will completely overturn their imaginings!
Or do they intend a plot [against you]? But those who defy God are themselves involved in a plot!57
Or, like two-faced dissemblers and cunning atheists whose natures are corrupted and consciences rotted, do they want to deceive the people and turn them away from the guidance which they cannot obtain, to trick them, and so call you either a soothsayer, or possessed, or a sorcerer? Do they want to make others believe what they do not believe themselves? Don’t think of these insidious charlatans as human beings, don’t be saddened at their wiles and denials, and lose heart. Rather, increase your efforts! For they only deceive their own souls and harm themselves. And their successes in evil are temporary; it is a Divine stratagem, drawing them to perdition by degrees.
Or have they a god other than God? Exalted is God far above the things they associate with Him!58
Or, like the Magians, who imagined two separate gods called the Creator of Good and the Creator of Evil, or like the idolators and worshippers of causes, who attribute a sort of godhead to different causes and imagine each of them to be a source of support for them, do they rely on other gods and contest you? Do they consider themselves free of any need of you? That means they have become blind and do not see the perfect order and flawless harmony throughout the universe, which is as clear as day. For in accordance with the decree,
Were there gods other than God in the heavens and the earth, there surely would have been confusion in both,59
if there are two headmen in a village, or two governors in a town, or two kings in a country, order is turned upside down and harmony spoilt. But from a fly’s wing to the lamps in the heavens, such a fine order has been observed that it leaves not so much space as a fly’s wing for partners to be
56. Qur’an, 52:41.
57. Qur’an, 52:42.
58. Qur’an, 52:43.
59. Qur’an, 21:22.
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associated with God. Since the above act in a manner so opposed to reason, wisdom, feeling, and what is obvious, don’t let their lies put you off proclaiming the Message!
Thus, of the hundreds of jewels of these verses, which constitute a series of truths, we have briefly explained only a single jewel of the Qur’an’s manner of exposition in the category of ‘giving to understand’ and ‘silencing in argument.’ If I had had the power and shown a few more jewels, you too would have said: “These verses are a miracle just on their own.” But the Qur’an’s manner of exposition in making understood and instruction is so wonderful, subtle, and fluent that the most simple ordinary person easily comprehends a most profound truth from the way it explains it. Yes, the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition simply and clearly teaches most abstruse truths in a way that caresses the view of people in general, and neither hurts their feelings, nor irritates their minds, nor tires them. Just as when speaking with a child, childish words are used, in the same way the Qur’anic styles come down to the level of those it addresses -called in the terminology of the scholars of theology, ‘Divine condescension to the mind of man’- it addresses them in that way; through comparisons in the form of allegories, it makes an illiterate common person understand abstruse Divine truths and dominical mysteries which the minds of the most learned philosophers cannot rise to.
For example, by means of a comparison, the verse,
The Most Merciful One on the Throne established60
depicts Divine dominicality as a kingdom, and the degree of that dominicality as that of a King seated on the throne of his sovereignty and exercising His rule. Indeed, as the speech of the All-Glorious Creator of the universe, the Qur’an proceeds from the ultimate degree of His dominicality, passes over all the other degrees guiding those who rise to them, and passing through seventy thousand veils, it looks to each and illuminates it. It scatters its radiance and spreads its light to the thousands of levels of those it addresses, the understanding and intelligence of whom are all different. Although it has lived through ages and centuries whose capacities are all different, and has broadcast its meaning to this great extent, it has not lost an iota of its perfect youth and juvenility, and retaining its total freshness and delicacy, it teaches every ordinary person in a most easy, skilful, and comprehensible manner. Whatever aspect of a wonder-displaying book which thus teaches, convinces, and satisfies with the same lesson, the same words, numerous levels of people whose understanding and degrees are all different - whatever aspect of such a book is studied, a flash of miraculousness will surely appear.
60. Qur’an, 20:5.
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In Short: Just as when some words of the Qur’an like “All praise and thanks be to God” are recited, they fill a cave, which is the ear of a mountain, in the same way that they fill the tiny ears of a fly, so too the Qur’an’s meanings satisfy ears like mountains in the same way that with the same words they teach and satisfy tiny simple minds, like a fly. For the Qur’an calls to belief all the levels of men and jinn. It teaches the sciences of belief to all. In which case, the most lowly of the common people kneels shoulder to shoulder with the most elevated of the elite, and together they listen to the Qur’an’s teachings and benefit from them. That is to say, the Holy Qur’an is a heavenly repast at which the thousands of different levels of minds, intellects, hearts, and spirits find their nourishment. Their desires are fulfilled and their appetites are satisfied. In fact, numerous of its doors remain closed and are left to those who will come in the future. If you want an example of this category, from beginning to end the Qur’an forms examples of it. All the Qur’an’s students and those who listen to its teachings, like the interpreters of the law, the veracious ones, the Islamic philosophers, the sages, the scholars of jurisprudence and scholars of theology, the saintly guides of those seeking knowledge of God, the spiritual poles of the lovers of God, the learned and exacting scholars, and the mass of Muslims, unanimously declare: “We understand thoroughly what the Qur’an teaches us.” In short, flashes of the Qur’an’s miraculousness sparkle in the category of ‘making understood and instruction’ just as they do in the other categories.
This Ray is the Qur’an’s extraordinary comprehensiveness. It consists of five ‘Flashes’.
The First Flash is the comprehensiveness in the words. This comprehensiveness is clearly apparent from the verses mentioned both in all the previous Words, and in this Word. As is indicated by the Hadith “Each verse has an outer meaning, an inner meaning, a limit, and an aim, and each has roots, and boughs, and branches,”61 the words of the Qur’an have been positioned in such a way that all its phrases, words even, and even letters, and sometimes even an omission, has many aspects. It gives to all those it addresses their share from a different door.
Take, for example, the verse,
And the mountains [its] pegs,62
a phrase which says, “I made the mountains as stakes and masts for that earth of yours.” An ordinary person’s share from this phrase would be this: he sees the mountains which appear like stakes driven into the ground, thinks of the benefits and bounties in them, and offers thanks to his Creator.
61. Ibn Hibban, Sahih, i, 146; al-Manawi, Fayd al-Qadir, iii, 54.
62. Qur’an, 78:7.
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A poet’s share from this phrase: he imagines the earth as the ground, on which is pitched in a sweeping arc the dome of the heavens like a mighty green tent adorned with electric lamps, and he sees the mountains skirting the base of the heavens to be the pegs of the tent. He worships the All-Glorious Maker in wondering amazement.
A tent-dwelling literary man’s share of this phrase: he imagines the face of the earth to be a barren desert, and the mountain chains as the multifarious tents of nomads, as if the soil layer had been cast over high posts and the pointed tips of the posts had raised up the cloth of the soil, which he sees as the habitation of numerous different creatures looking one to the other. He prostrates in wonder before the Glorious Creator, Who placed and pitched so easily these august and mighty beings like tents on the face of the earth.
The share of a geographer with a literary bent from this phrase: he thinks of the globe of the earth as a ship sailing the oceans of either the air or the ?ther, and the mountains as masts and posts driven into the ship to balance and stabilize it. He declares: “Glory be unto You! How sublime is Your glory!” before the All-Powerful One of Perfection, Who makes the mighty globe as an orderly ship, places us on it, and makes it voyage through the far reaches of the world.
A sociologist and philosopher of human society’s share of this phrase; his thoughts would go like this: the earth is a house, and the supporting post of the life of that house is animal life, while the supporting post of animal life are water, air, and earth, the conditions of life. And the supporting post of water, air, and earth are the mountains. For the mountains are the reservoirs for water, the combs for the air: they precipitate the noxious gases and purify it; they are the earth’s preserver: they preserve it from being transformed into a swamp, and from the encroachment of the sea. They are also the treasuries for other necessities of human life. In utter reverence he offers praise and thanks to the Maker of Glory and Kindness, Who made these great mountains as posts for the earth -the house of our life- in this way, and appointed them as the keepers of the treasuries of our livelihood.
The share of a scholar of natural science from this phrase would be this: he would think of the earthquakes and tremors which occur as the result of upheavals and fusions in the heart of the earth being calmed with the upthrust of mountains; that the emergence of mountains is the cause of the earth’s stable rotation on its axis and in its orbit and its not deviating in its annual rotation as a result of the convulsions of earthquakes; and that the anger and wrath of the earth is quieted through it breathing through the vents in the mountains. He would come to believe completely, and would exclaim: “All wisdom is God’s!”
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The heavens and the earth were joined together before We clove them asunder.63
A scholar untainted by the study of philosophy would explain the words joined together like this: while the skies were shining and cloudless, and the earth dry and without life and incapable of giving birth, the skies were opened up with rain and the earth with vegetation, and all living beings were created through a sort of marriage and impregnation. To do this was the work of One so Powerful and Glorious that the face of the earth is merely a small garden of His, while the clouds veiling the face of the skies, sponges for watering it. The scholar understands this and prostrates before the tremendousness of His power.
A searching philosopher would explain the same words in this way: while at the start of creation the heavens and earth were a formless mass, each consisting of matter like wet dough without benefit, offspring, or creatures, the All-Wise Creator both rolled them out and expanded them into a beautiful, beneficial form, and made them the source of adorned and numerous creatures. The philosopher would stand in wonder before the breadth of His wisdom.
A modern philosopher would explain the words thus: at first, our globe and the other planets which form the solar system were fused together in the form of an undifferentiated dough. Then the All-Powerful and Self-Subsistent One rolled out the dough, and placed each of the planets in its position; leaving the sun where it was and bringing the earth here, He spread earth over the globe of the earth and sprinkled it with rain from the skies, scattered light over it from the sun, and inhabited it placing us on it. The philosopher would pull his head out of the swamp of nature, and declare: “I believe in God, the One, the Unique!”
And another example:
And the sun runs its course to a place appointed.64
The Lam, translated here as ‘to’, expresses also the meaning of ‘in’. Thus, ordinary believers see it as meaning ‘to’ and understand that the sun, which is a mobile lamp providing light and heat for them, will certainly conclude its journeying and reach its place of rest, then take on a form which will no longer be beneficial. And pondering over the great bounties the All-Glorious Creator has attached to the sun, they declare: “Glory be to God! All praise and thanks be to God!”
A learned scholar would also show the Lam as meaning ‘to’, but he would think of it not only as a lamp, but also as a shuttle weaving the
63. Qur’an, 21:30.
64. Qur’an, 36:38.
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tapestries of the Sustainer on the loom of spring and summer, as an ink-pot whose ink is light for the letters of the Eternally Besought One written on the pages of night and day. And thinking of the order and regularity of the world, of which the apparent movement of the sun is a sign and to which it points, he would exclaim before His wisdom: “What wonders God has willed!”, and declare before the All-Wise Maker’s art: “How great are His blessings!”, and he would bow in prostration.
A geographer and philosopher would explain the La\m as meaning ‘in’, like this: through the Divine command and with a spring-like motion on its own axis, the sun orders and propels the solar system. Exclaiming in wonder and amazement before the All-Glorious Maker Who thus creates and sets in order this mighty clock: “All mightiness is God’s, and all power!”, he would cast away philosophy and embrace the wisdom of the Qur’an.
A precise scholar would consider this Lam as both causal and adverbial, and would explain it like this: “Since the All-Wise Maker has made apparent causes a veil to His works, through a Divine law of His called gravity, He has tied the planets to the sun like stones in a sling, and causes them to revolve with different but regular motions within the sphere of His wisdom; and He has made the sun’s spinning on its own axis an apparent cause giving rise to the gravity. That is, the meaning of (to) a place appointed, is ‘it is in motion in its own appointed place for the stability of the solar system.’ For it is a Divine rule, a dominical law like motion apparently giving rise to heat, and heat to force, and force to gravity.” Thus, on understanding this from a single letter of the Qur’an, the philosopher would declare: “All praise and thanks be to God! It is in the Qur’an that true wisdom is to be found. I consider philosophy to be worth virtually nothing!”
And the following idea would occur to a thinker of poetic bent from this Lam and the stability mentioned above: “The sun is a luminous tree, and the planets are its mobile fruits. But contrary to trees the sun shakes itself so the fruits do not fall. If it did not shake itself, they would fall and be scattered.” Then he would think to himself: “The sun is an ecstatic leader of a group reciting God’s Names. He recites in ecstasy in the centre of the circle and causing others to recite.” In another treatise, I described this meaning as follows:
Yes, the sun is a fruit-bearing tree; it shakes itself, so that the planets fall not, its fruits.
If it rested in silence, the attraction would cease; and they would weep through space, its ecstatics.
A further example:
It is they who shall prosper.65
65. Qur’an, 2:5.
continue to Part 03