A king has different titles in respect of the different departments 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, he is the ‘supreme judge’ in the department of justice, ‘chief administrator’ in the civil service, ‘commander-in-chief’ in the army, and ‘supreme teacher’ in the education department. If, starting from these examples, you know the rest of his names and titles, you will understand that a single king may have numerous names and titles in respect of the departments of his government and levels of his rule. It is as if, by virtue of his public person and private system of communication, that king is present in every department, and through his laws, regulations, and representatives, he superintends all his officials and watches all his subjects, and is seen by them. Behind the veil at every level, he administers, executes his orders, and is watchful through his decree, knowledge, and power.
Similarly, the Lord of the Worlds, Who is the King of eternity, has at the levels of his Lordship’s manifestations reputations and designations which are all different but which correspond to each other. In the spheres of His Divinity, He has names and marks which are all different but whose manifestations are concentric with one another. He has in His majestic execution of His rule representations and appellations which are all different but which resemble one another, and in the operations of His Power He has titles which are all different but which are linked with each other. In the manifestations of His Attributes He has sacred ways of disclosing Himself which are all different but which point to one another. In His modes of acting, He has wise operations which are of numerous sorts but which perfect one another. In His colorful artistry and varied works of art, He has magnificent aspects of Lordship which are of different kinds but which correspond to each other. Besides, in every world, in every division of beings, each one of His Most Beautiful Names is individually manifested. In that world or sphere that Name is dominant, and the other Names are subordinate to it. Furthermore, in every level of beings, in every small or large division of them, whose individual members are large or small, God has a particular display of Himself, a particular manifestation of Lordship, and a particular manifestation of one of His Names. Although the Name in question has a universal manifestation, it concentrates on something particular in such a way that you think it is peculiar to that thing exclusively. In addition, although the All-Majestic Creator is nearer to everything than itself, He is separated from it through seventy thousand veils of light. For example, you can consider how many veils or degrees there are between the Name of Creator and the degrees of Its creativity manifested in you, between you and the greatest degree and supreme title which is the Creator of the Universe. That means, provided you transcend the outward dimensions of the universe, you may reach, through the door of being a creature, to the highest limit of the manifestations of the Name of Creator, and draw close to the sphere of Divine Attributes.
The veils have windows opening on each other, the Names appear concentric with each other, the designations correspond to each other, and the representations are like one another. The operations perfect one another, and the various dispositions of Lordship co-operate with one another. Then it is surely necessary for one who recognizes Almighty God by one of His Names, titles, or aspects of His Lordship, etc. that he does not deny His other titles, actions, and aspects of Lordship. Rather, if one does not make a transition from the manifestation of one Name to the other Names, one is in a loss. For example, if one does not notice the Name, the All-Knowing where he sees the works of the Names, the All-Powerful and the Creator, one may fall into heedlessness and the misguidance of regarding nature as self-originator. Therefore, one should always keep in view and recite ‘He!’ and ‘He is God!’ He should listen, and hear from everything: ‘He is God, the One!’ In unison with all the rest of the creation, he should proclaim: ‘There is no god but He!’ Thus, through the declaration, ‘God, there is no god but He; His are the Most Beautiful Names,’ the manifest Koran points to these truths which I have mentioned.
If you would like to observe those elevated truths more closely, go and ask a stormy sea or the quaking earth: ‘What are you saying?’ Surely, you will hear them repeating: ‘O Majestic One! O Majestic One, O Honorable One of Might! O All-Compelling One!’ Then ask the small creatures and their young that are maintained with care and compassion on the land and in the sea: ‘What are you saying?’ For sure they will hymn: ‘O Gracious One! O Gracious One! O Most Compassionate One!’3 Then listen to the heavens how they sing: ‘O Majestic One of Grace!’ Give ear to the earth, which says: ‘O Gracious One of Majesty!’ Pay attention to the animals and hear how they invoke: ‘O Most Merciful One! O Provider!’ When you ask the springtime, you will hear it reciting many Names such as ‘O Most Caring One! O Most Merciful One! O Most Compassionate One! O Most Munificent One! O Gracious One! O Affectionate One! O Fashioner! O Illuminating One! O Favoring One! O Adorner!’ Lastly, ask a human being who is truly human, and see how he recites and manifests all the Most Beautiful Names of God and how they are inscribed on his forehead. If you look carefully, you too may discern them one by one. It is as if the universe is a huge orchestra singing the Divine Names. With the songs sung in the least notes and tones mixed with the highest, the universe produces a magnificent harmony.
Man is the place of manifestation of all the Names
Man is the place of manifestation of all the Names. However, the Names being various and being manifested in various ways and degrees has caused variety in the universe, and variety in the angels’ worshipping; it is likewise responsible for varieties among human beings. This has also resulted in differences among the laws of the prophets, the ways of saints, and the paths of purified scholars. For example, the Name the All-Powerful was more predominant in Jesus upon him be peace) than the other Names manifested in him. In those who follow the path of love, the Name the All-Loving One prevails, and in those who follow the path of contemplation and reflection, the Name the All-Wise.
So, if someone is at the same time a teacher, an officer, a lawyer, and an inspector in the civil service, in each office he has relations and duties, salaries and responsibilities, and promotion, and enemies and rivals who try to cause him to fail in his services. He meets with the king with many titles, and having recourse to him through his many titles, seeks help from him in many ways.
In exactly the same way, man, who is the object of the manifestations of numerous Divine Names and is charged with many duties and is the target of many kinds of enmity, seeks refuge in God by invoking many of His Names. In fact, the Prophet Muhammad (upon him be peace and blessings), who is the pride of mankind and truly the most perfect man, prayed to God through a thousand and one of His Names in his supplication named Jawshan al-Kabir, and sought refuge in Him from Hellfire. It is because of this that God, in the sura, ‘Say, I seek refuge in the Lord of men, the Sovereign of men, the Deity of men, from the evil of the slinking whisperer, who whispers in the breasts of men, from jinn and men,’ God commands us to seek refuge in Him through three of His titles. In the phrase, ‘In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate,’ He teaches us to seek help from Him through three of His Names.
Reflections on beings’ praise and glorification of God
Once during my captivity, while watching on a mountain top the awe-inspiring forms of the pine cedar and juniper trees and the tremendous spectacle they made, a gentle breeze blew. Since it transformed the scene into a magnificent, delightful and noisy display of dancing and a rapturous performance of praise and glorification of God, the enjoyment of watching it changed into watching for instruction and listening for wisdom. I suddenly recalled these lines of Ahmed-i Jizri, the original of which are in Kurdish:
- Everyone has hastened from all around to gaze at your beauty; they are putting on airs due to your beauty.
- In order to express the meanings of the instruction it derived from the scene, my heart wept as follows:
- Lord, all living creatures appear from everywhere on the earth which is a work of Your art, to gaze on You.
- From above and below they emerge like heralds, and cry out.
- In pleasure at the beauty of Your inscriptions, those herald-like trees are dancing.
- Filled with delight at the perfection of Your art, they too are joyful and sing sweet melodies.
- It is as if the sweetness of their melodies fills them with renewed joy and makes them sway coyly.
- At last they have started dancing and are seeking ecstasy.
- Through the work of Divine Mercy all living creatures receive instruction in the glorification and prayer particular to each.
- After receiving instruction, each of the trees stands on a high rock and raises its head toward the Divine Throne.
- Each like Shahbaz-i Kalender,1 stretches out hundreds of hands to the Divine Court and takes up an imposing position of worship.
- They are making their twigs curl like love-locks dancing, and they arouse in those who are watching them fine ardor and exalted pleasures.
- As if their feelings were stirred up, they are singing touching love songs at a high pitch.
- From it a meaning such as this comes to mind: They recall the weeping caused by the pain of the fading of metaphorical love—human love for the opposite sex—and deeply touching sighs.
- They make heard the melancholy songs that lovers sing at the grave of their beloveds.
- They seem to have a duty of making the eternal tunes and sorrowful voices heard by the dead who no longer hear worldly voices and words.
- The spirit understands from this that things respond with glorification to the manifestation of the Majestic Maker’s Names; they perform a graceful chant.
- The heart derives the meaning of Divine Unity from these trees each like an embodied verse from the exalted, miraculous composition. There is so wonderful an order, art, and wisdom in their creation, that if all the ‘natural causes’ in existence had the power and authority to do whatever they wished, and they gathered together in co-operation, they could not imitate them.
- The soul on seeing them has the impression that the earth is revolving in a clamorous tumult of separation and seeks an enduring pleasure. It has received the meaning: ‘You will find it in abandoning adoration of the world.’
- The mind discerns from such chanting of trees and animals and the cheering of plants and air, a most meaningful order of creation, inscriptions of wisdom, and treasury of secret truths. It concludes that everything glorifies the All-Majestic Maker in various ways.
- The desirous soul receives such pleasure from the murmuring air and whispering leaves that, forgetting mundane pleasures, which are the basis of its life, wants to realize self-annihilation in this pleasure of truth.
- The imagination beholds the scene as if their appointed angels were embodied in these trees from each of whose branches hang many flutes. It is as though the Eternal Monarch has clothed the angels in the trees for a magnificent parade to the sounds of thousands of flutes. Thus the trees show themselves to be not insentient, unconscious bodies but most conscious and meaningful.
- The tunes produced through the flutes are pure and touching as if issuing from an elevated heavenly orchestra. The mind does not hear from them the sorrowful wails of separation that all lovers, including primarily Mawlana Jalal al-Din al-Rumi, hear, but the grateful thanks offered to the Ever-Living, Self-Subsistent One for His Mercy, and praises for His sustaining.
- Since the trees have all become bodies, with all their leaves being tongues, at the touch of the breeze, each tree is repeating with its thousands of tongues the recitation of ‘He! He!’ As the glorification and praise of their lives they proclaim their Maker to be Ever-Living and Self-Subsistent.
- Not only the trees but all things together form a universal circle to proclaim God’s Unity saying, ‘There is no deity but God,’ and perform their duties.
- In the tongue of disposition they frequently declare ‘O God!’ and ask the necessities of their lives from Him, from the treasury of Mercy. And through the tongue of being favored with life, all of them together continuously recite His Name, ‘O Ever-Living One!’
- Ever-Living, O Self-Subsistent One! For the sake of Your Names, the Ever-Living and Self-Subsistent, endow this wretched heart (of mine) with life, and show this confused mind the right direction. Amen.
1 Shahbaz-i Kalender was a famous hero who through the guidance of ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani took refuge at the Divine Court and attained to the degree of sainthood.
This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.