319 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 First Chapter We shall explain in five ‘Points’ only five of the virtues of belief out of thousands. FIRST POINT 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. 320 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. SECOND POINT 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, footnote 19. 3 Qur’an, 2:257. 321 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 remembrance 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 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 322 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! THIRD POINT 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. 323 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... FOURTH POINT Belief makes man into man, indeed, it makes him into a king. Since this is so, man’s basic duty is belief and supplication. Unbelief makes him 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. 324 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 325 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. FIFTH POINT 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. 326 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 which 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, 327 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. 328 Second Chapter 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’.] FIRST REMARK 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. As he wants a flower, so he wants the spring. As he desires a garden, so does he also desire everlasting Paradise. 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. For it is He Who will close the door of this huge world and open the door of the hereafter, which is an exhibition of wonders, 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. 329 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 charged 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 vicegerent of the 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 330 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. SECOND REMARK 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. 331 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. 332 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. THIRD REMARK 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 333 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 334 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 335 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?” 336 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. FOURTH REMARK 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 337 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. 338 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. FIFTH REMARK 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 339 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 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 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 the 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 340 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. 341 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. FIRST BRANCH 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 1 Qur’an, 20:8. 342 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 343 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. 344 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 tempter 3 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. SECOND BRANCH 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. 345 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. 346 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: 347 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 348 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 349 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 350 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. THIRD BRANCH 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. 351 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. 352 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. 353 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. 354 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, 252, No: 110; Musnad, iii, 367; vi, 181; al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak, vi, 530. 355 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. 356 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 Layla 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; 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. 357 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. 358 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 359 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. 360 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 361 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. FOURTH BRANCH 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. 362 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. 363 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. 364 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. 365 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 366 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 367 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. FIFTH BRANCH The Fifth Branch has five ‘Fruits’. FIRST FRUIT 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 368 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 369 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 SECOND FRUIT 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. 370 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. 371 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 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-Qadr, 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. 372 THIRD FRUIT 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... FOURTH FRUIT 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. 373 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 FIFTH FRUIT 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. 374 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 love not 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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