In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Had there been gods beside God in either [of the earth and the heavens], both would certainly be in disorder. There is no god but God, He alone, no partner with Him. To Him belongs the Sovereignty and to Him belongs all praise. He gives life and He takes life away. And He is All-Living and does not die. By His Hand is all good. He is All-Powerful over every thing, and to Him is the return. (21:22)
Suppose a being who, on behalf of all sorts of unbelievers, whether they are unbelievers who attribute everything in the universe to nature or material causes or unbelievers who worship a plurality of gods or those who worship none at all, presumes to be an associate with God in one or other or all of those attributes that are God’s alone. This being alleges that he is the owner or sovereign or that he controls and disposes, some portion or the whole of creation. He comes upon the smallest particle of matter, let us call it an atom and, speaking to it in the language or according to the presumptions of materialistic science or natural philosophy, says to it that he is its true master and owner. The atom answers in the language of truth and revealed wisdom:
The atom speaks
I carry on numerous tasks, working within or alongside or upon an infinite variety of created, ever-evolving entities. Do you have the knowledge and the power to direct me in all these tasks? I work and move in a measured relationship with innumerable other atoms of a constitution like my own.1 Do you have the authority and the competence to command and employ all these? If indeed you own or arrange or manage the infinite complexity of entities, of, for example, red blood corpuscules, of which I am but one, and do so with perfect knowledge and discipline, then presume to be my master, only then presume me to be attributable to any other than God.
But you surely cannot do so, so be silent! You neither own me nor can interfere in my operation, for all my movements and activities are so purposed and arranged that only one with infinite wisdom and all-encompassing knowledge could have the running of them. If indeed any other had a hand in it, he would cause confusion. How can anyone who, like you, is powerless to give himself life, whose seeing and feeling are blind to truth, who sees himself as subject to chance and accidents of nature, presume so much as to even interfere in my functioning?
The pretender then responds as all materialists do: ‘Be your own master, then. Why do you claim to be in the service of some other power’?
To which the atom answers:
If I had a mind with knowledge as all-encompassing as the sun’s light, with power as intense as its heat; if I had a capacity for sense-impressions as varied as the myriad colors in light or in what light discloses; if I had faces and eyes to turn to every being and every place with which my being and my place are connected; and if I had authority in and over all these connections—then perhaps, perhaps, I might have claimed to be my own master. Yet even then, if I had done so, I would only have been as foolish as yourself. Now, get away from me, for you can have no business with me.
1 Every object which is in motion, from minute particles to the planets, displays the stamp of the Eternally Besought-of-All and His Unity. Also, by virtue of its motion, each takes possession of the places in which it enters in the name of Unity, thus adding them to the property of its true Owner. As for those entities not in motion, they are each, from plants to fixed stars, like a seal of Unity, showing their locations as missives of their Maker. Each plant and fruit is a stamp and seal of Unity which argues, in the name of Unity, that its habitat and native place is the missive of its Maker. In short, through its moving in the name of Unity, each entity takes possession of all entities, which means that one who does not have mastery of all the stars cannot have mastery of so much as a single particle either.
Discussion with a red blood corpuscle
The one who pretends to have some say, some association, in the sovereignty of the Creator, gives up on the atom. He looks for something larger. He looks for a particular and harmonious grouping of atoms in the cell of a living body. He comes upon a red blood corpuscle. (Thinking this cell is large enough for him to grasp its nature and control its workings,) he speaks to it in the name of material causality, and in the language of natural philosophy; he says: ‘I possess you, I am your master and you work for me.’
The red blood cell answers in the language of truth and Divine Wisdom:
But I am not alone. If you also possess all my comrades in the blood army with whom I share the same titles and colors of office, the same duties and functions, if you have the full and detailed knowledge, the awesome, subtle power, the perfect wisdom, to direct all the body cells through which we move about and in which we operate, there might be some sense to your pretensions. But as you depend only on deaf nature or natural forces that are all blind, you can have no influence over us, let alone having mastery of me. The order amongst us is indeed as perfect as it is intricate; only One Who sees and hears and knows all things, forward and backward in time, in all directions of space—only He Who governs the being and operation of all that is, only He could be our true sovereign and master. So go your way, I have better and more important things to do than answer your nonsensical pretensions!
The cell answers
Unable to deceive the red blood cell, the pretender moves on in his search. He comes upon an entity still larger, a body cell made up of many lesser cells, as a small room is made up of many distinct, smaller elements. And he addresses this cell in the familiar language of natural philosophy, and says: ‘True, the atom and the red blood corpuscle did not listen to me. I hope you can understand me. As I see, you are composed of several smaller elements, like things arranged in a room. Surely I can have a hand in this arrangement, surely I can arrange and re-arrange it. You can be my creature. I can surely have power over you.’
The body cell answers with wisdom and in the language of truth:
For all my small size, I do vital tasks. I have the subtlest and yet strongest connections with all my neighboring cells and with the whole organism of which I am a part. I perform vital functions with, for example, arteries and veins, sensory and motor nerves, with electrical forces of attraction and repulsion, and with the immaterial principles that determine my size, shape and reproduction. Now, if you have knowledge and power to form an entire organism, to order and regulate the arteries, veins and nerves, and to put to work all the diverse forces and principles that manage our form and function; if you have the ability to direct, with irresistible power and all-comprehending wisdom, the innumerable body cells similar to me in artistry and quality, then demonstrate your ability. Then perhaps, perhaps, you might claim to master or make me. But as you cannot, go from me—there are even now red blood cells carrying nourishment for me, white blood cells confronting diseases that might threaten me—I am busy, so do not waste my time any further with your vanity. No one as empty as you are of true understanding, of true hearing and seeing, could ever meddle in our being. Our order is so precise, delicate and perfect that only One who has absolute Wisdom, Knowledge and Power could have dominion over us.2 If it were otherwise, our cohesion and order would not exist or it would quickly fall into chaos.
2 The All-Wise Maker has created the human body analogously with a well-ordered city. Certain of the blood vessels function as telephones and telegraphs, others as pipe-work from a fountain through which blood, the water of life, flows. Within the blood are created two sorts of corpuscles: the red ones convey nutrients to the body’s cells, their sustenance, according to a Divine law (analogously to the activity of merchants and officers distributing food); the white corpuscles, fewer in number than the red, function (analogously to soldiers) to defend against invading forces such as disease—when actively engaged in defense, they perform two revolutions like Mawlawi dervishes and display a striking and rapid fluidity.
The two overall duties of blood as a whole are: one, to repair damage to the body’s cells, and, two, to clean the body by collecting out waste-matter from the cells. Of the two corresponding sorts of blood-vessels, veins and arteries, one form channels for transporting the purified blood, the other sort form channels for the unclear blood which gathers the waste-matter and conveys it in the blood to the lungs which breathe.
The All-Wise Maker created two elements in the air, nitrogen and oxygen. Oxygen, on coming into contact with the blood during respiration, draws to itself, like amber, the impure carbon element polluting the blood. It combines with carbon, and the two are transformed together into the substance now called carbonic acid gas. Oxygen also contributes to maintaining body temperature and purifies the blood. For, in the science of chemistry, the All-Wise Creator gave to oxygen and carbon a mutual ardor, a sort of chemical affection, such that according to the Divine law, as those two elements approach, they combine. Science has explained how, being a form of combustion, combining generates heat. It works in this way:
Particles of oxygen and carbon have distinct motions which, when they combine, become a single motion, each pair of particles now having the motion of a single particle: As, before, there were two motions, one of the two has been ‘lost’. That ‘lost’ motion is transformed into heat by a law of the All-Wise Creator. ‘Motion produces heat’ is an established principle. In consequence of this chemical combination, carbon being removed from the blood, the human body temperature is maintained while, at the same time, the blood is purified. When breathing in, oxygen cleanses the body’s water of life and kindles its fire for life. When breathing out, it enables words to form in the mouth which are miracles of Divine Power.
The human body refutes
Disappointed, the pretender seeks out a still larger entity and, confronting a human body, re-iterates his argument in the language of unenlightened nature and erring philosophy: ‘Of you, I can surely say: you are mine, I surely have a share in owning and managing you.’
The human body answers in the language of wisdom and truth and in the ‘natural’ tongue of its order:
Have you the knowledge and power to control and direct all the human bodies similar to me which manifest the same signs of supreme power and creation? Do you have dominion over the treasuries of light and air and water, and all plants and animals, which are the ground and store of my provision and sustenance? And do you have the boundless wisdom and infinite power by which such invaluable, immaterial entities as mind, intellect and soul are so securely disposed in a narrow, bodily envelope such as me and made to ‘worship’ by performing extremely important tasks? If you have such power, knowledge and wisdom, then demonstrate it—only then claim to own and manage me. But as you cannot, be silent! My Maker is One Who is the All-Powerful, All-Knowing, All-Seeing and All-Hearing—that is testified by the perfection with which I am organized and by the sign of the Oneness in my face. A being as ignorant and incompetent as you could never have the least hand in His art.
Encountering with the species
The pretender who advocates for himself the status of an associate in what belongs to God alone is nonplussed that he cannot find any point in the human body over which he can claim to have a say. He moves on, and surveys all human beings together as a species. He says to himself:
‘They live in such diverse and complex societies—I see that the devil finds a way to interfere in their affairs of will and in their social relations. May not I too find a means of entry in the creation and constitution of their bodies and in their operation? If I can find a point in their bodies in the operation of which I can interfere, then I will be able to have control over the body and the body cell which have turned me down.’
With this intention, he addresses the species in the familiar language of blind nature and erring philosophy:
– You appear very diverse and much at odds. I am your master and owner or, at the very least, I have a share in your making.
To this the species responds in the language of truth and reality, and in the tongue of wisdom and order:
Have you the power, knowledge and wisdom to create the rich texture that covers the face of the earth, woven with perfect wisdom from varied fabrics, thousands of mineral and plant and animal species, including mankind? Can you with a like wisdom renew this texture, and do so continuously? Do you possess the all-extensive power and all-comprehending science which manages the earth of which we are a fruit, and the universe of which we are the seed? Can you send us, in measured amounts, the provisions we need for our sustenance, from across the universe? Have you the capacity to generate all individuals of my kind, past and yet to come; whose faces bear the same sign of supreme majesty as me? If so, you might then, perhaps, claim mastery over me. But as that is not so, be silent! Do not dare to say that you have a hand in me just from remarking the diversity in my kind. For that diversity is a part of the perfection of our ordering. Diversity and multiplicity are copies made with a perfect harmony from the Book of Destiny [containing the origins of beings in a perfect order]. The diversity of appearance amongst us is a sort of revising of our forms [dictated by Destiny]—as the perfect diversity and order of plants and animals (which are inferior to us and under our vigilance and which we study) also testifies.
Is it at all plausible that the One Who weaves the diverse fabrics spread over and through the texture of this world with great skill is other than its Maker? That the Creator of a fruit is other than the Creator of the tree from which it grows? That the Creator of a seed is other than the Creator of the fruit it yields? You are blind in that you do not see the miracles of His Omnipotence in my face and the wonders of His Creation in my constitution. Had you seen, you would understand that nothing escapes the observation of my Maker, nor does anything task Him capriciously. He makes the stars as easily as He makes the individual atom. He creates the whole springtime as smoothly as He creates the individual flower. It is He who has placed the index of the vast universe in my constitution with perfect correspondence. Could anyone who is, as you are, corporeal, incompetent, blind, and deaf, have had a hand in the artistry of such a Being? Be silent therefore, and be gone!
Te texture of the earth responds
The pretender then turns to the widespread texture overlaying the face of the earth like an embellished cloak, and speaks to it in the name of causality and in the language of natural philosophy: ‘I can manage you. I own you, or at least have a share in you.’
The texture answers him3 in the name of truth and in the language of wisdom:
If you have the skill and power to create and weave all the textures that have been hung on the line of past time, laid, unlaid and relaid seamlessly throughout the years and ages, and that will be hung on the line of future time, according to programs and patterns pre-designed with the greatest precision and in accordance with the framework of Destiny, each elegant and purposeful, and each uniquely adorned; if you possess immaterial hands that can reach out from the creation of the earth to its destruction, or rather, from the eternity of no-beginning to the eternity that is to come; if you have the power and science to create all the individuals within this texture, restoring and renewing them in exact order and wisdom; if you are able to create and possess the earth itself which is, as it were, a model for me and puts me on like a veil—only if you can, only then claim mastery over me—if not, leave! You can have no business here! In my rich and harmonious diversity are demonstrated clear signs of the Oneness, and the clear stamp of His Uniqueness. Only He Who has the whole cosmos in His control, Who can do innumerable tasks in one and the same instant, Who can see all beings and their actions, whether inward or outward, in one and the same instant, Who is present and vigilant everywhere while He remains Himself unbounded by time or space or dimension, and who has infinite wisdom, science and power, only such a Being could ever own or have dominion over me.
3 In fact, the texture is animated, continuously giving the signs of life in a regular fashion. Its embroideries are being continuously renewed with perfect wisdom and order in order to display the various, ever-differing manifestations of its Weaver’s Names.
The earth reacts
The pretender then turns to the earth itself,4 imagining that he can deceive it and secure dominion for himself with it. He repeats the same argument in the name of causality and in the language of mere naturalism: ‘I see that you roam about idly in the universe. Certainly you can have no master; therefore, I claim you as mine.’
Upon hearing this, the earth roars like thunder in the name of truth:
Do not be foolish! How can I be roaming about without a master? Have you ever seen any disorder, want of wisdom or skill, in the making of my dress, or in any little point or fabric of it, that you dare to say that I am roaming about idly? Can you presume to own my orbit which, at a man’s pace would take some twenty-five thousand years5 to traverse, but which I complete in my annual round with perfect discipline and precision; can you claim to own my fellow planets which, as I do, carry on their appointed tasks along their individual orbits; and do you claim to have the unlimited science and power to create and control the sun which gathers and focuses our orbits, orbits to which we are bound through gravitation of mercy, and to make me and other planets revolve around it? But since you cannot plausibly make such a claim, be gone from me, I have work to do. Our awesome circling, our purposeful submission and magnificent discipline, show that our Maker is a Being to Whom all entities, from the least to the largest, from the atoms to the sun and stars, submit, and submit perfectly—as a dutiful soldier submits to his orders. He is the Wise and Absolute Ruler of Majesty Who holds the sun and the planets in their proper order as easily as He adorns each tree with its proper fruit.
4 Briefly: the particle or atom referred the pretender to the red blood corpuscle which referred him to the cell which referred him to the body which referred him to the human race which referred him to the earth’s outer garment which referred him to the earth as a globe which referred him to the sun which referred him to all the stars. Each in turn said: ‘Be off! If you are able to subjugate the next one up from me, do so, then return and seek to master me. If not, you are equally impotent to subjugate me.’ All of which means—one whose authority does not embrace the stars has no acceptable claim to mastery over even a single particle.
5 If half the diameter of a circle is roughly 180 million kilometers, the circle covers a distance of roughly twenty-five thousand years [to cover on foot, provided one covering five kilometers in an hour walks eight hours a day.]
The sun speaks
Having failed to find a place for himself in the government of the earth, the pretender turns to the sun expecting that he would be able to open a path for himself there. Since the sun is so great an entity, he hopes he can thereby gain control of the earth. He addresses the sun in the name of the way of associating partners with God Almighty and in the language of satanic philosophy, as the sun-worshippers do: ‘You are a monarch. You are your own master. You do whatever you will.’
The sun answers in the name of truth and reality and in the language of Divine Wisdom:
No, indeed! A thousand times, no! I am but an obedient officer, no more than a candle in the guest-house of my Master. I could not own so much as a fly, even the wing of a fly, for even in so small a thing as a fly, there are such immaterial faculties and fine, exquisite works of art like the eye and the ear that I do not have their like in any workshop of mine. I cannot make even the smallest of them.
Though rebuked by the sun, the pretender argues still in the manner of the pharaohs, arrogant creatures who promote themselves as gods: ‘I claim you as mine in the name of causality, since you are not your own master, but merely a servant.’
The sun replies in the name of truth and in the language of obedience to its Creator:
I cannot belong except to that Being Who has created me and all the resplendent stars like me, Who, having fixed them in their stations with perfect wisdom, rotates them in glory and adorns the wide heavens thereby.
The pretender then comes in among the stars and says to himself. ‘Perhaps I will win some among them for my client.’ He then says to them in the name of causality and his partners, in the language of corrupt philosophy, as star-worshippers do: ‘You must be under the control of many different rulers, seeing that you are situated at such vast distances from each other.’
Upon this, one star, speaking for all the others, answers him:
How senseless and mindless you must be, not to see or understand in our nature the signs of the Oneness of the Creator, the stamp of His Uniqueness. Do you not know how absolute is our organization, and how secure the laws that we obey? You fancy that we have no order. In fact, we are the handiwork and the servants of a Being Unique and Indivisible, Who holds the sky, our sea, the cosmos, our tree, and the vastness of space, our wide, maneuvering field, in His control. Like the many-colored lamps which indicate human festivities, we are luminous witnesses of His perfect Dominion, brilliant evidence, blazing across the boundlessness of space, of His Kingdom and His Lordship. Each of us is a shining servant displaying His Majesty, near and far, in this world and the next, and in the many worlds beyond, within the infinitude of His Creation. Each of us is a miracle from the Power of the One, a perfectly-ordered fruit on the tree of creation, bright manifestation of the Unity of God, a home and mount and a mosque for His angels, a lamp and a sun of higher worlds, an ornament, a flower, a palace of the celestial sphere, a luminescent fish in the heavenly ocean, and each an eye,6 itself beautiful, set in the face of the heavens. Throughout our vast community there exists profound silence amidst tranquility, movement in wisdom, light ornament with majestic grandeur, the most varied beauty in perfect harmony, the highest art in absolute balance. Since you accuse us, while we proclaim in innumerable tongues the Unity of our Majestic Maker and His being the Eternally Besought-of-All, together with His Attributes of perfection, grace and beauty—since you accuse us, whose purity is unstained, whose obedience and servanthood are perfect, of disorder and empty distances, of having no duty and no master, you merit a slap in the face in payment for your absurd effrontery!
The star strikes the pretender on the face, in a gesture like the stoning of the devil, and hurls him from the domain of the stars to the bottom of hell. It likewise hurls natural philosophy7 into the storms of uncertainties, and chance into the well of non-existence; it hurls all who arrogate to themselves some portion in the Dominion of the One God into the utter darkness of improbability and impossibility; and every argument against the true religion it hurls into the lowest of the low. Then the stars together recite the holy decree: Had there been gods in either (of the earth or the sky) besides God, both would certainly be in disorder. And they affirm: There is no place for any associate with God, neither in the interstices of a fly’s wing, nor amid the stars and spaces of the heavens.
7. I.e. we are pointers—ourselves beholding the wonders of the Almighty’s creation and pointing others to behold them also. The heavens are seen to be observing the wonders of Divine artistry on the earth with innumerable eyes. As angels do in the skies, the stars observe the earth, which is a display-hall of wonders, and the stars’ doing so urges conscious beings also to observe it attentively.
8. After its lapse, nature repented. It realized its proper purpose and obligation was not to be active and cause effects, but to receive and to be acted on. It realized that it was a sort of notebook of Divine Determining, susceptible of mutation and change; a sort of program of the Lord’s Power, analogous to the corpus of rules of creation instituted by the All-Powerful of Majesty, an assemblage of His laws. It took on its duty of worship in perfect submission, admitting its absolute powerlessness and therein achieved the title of God’s creation and the Lord’s handiwork.
Glory be to You! We have no knowledge save what You have taught us. Surely, You are the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.
O God, bestow peace and blessings on our master Muhammad, the lamp of Your Unity amidst the multiplicity of Your creatures, and the herald of Your Oneness in the display hall of Your universe, and on all of his family and Companions.
This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.