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    Questions and Answers from the Risale-i Nur Collection
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What are the Purposes Behind and Beauties in the Cycles of Death and Life in Nature?


In order to observe the functions and acts of God’s Lordship as if through a telescope, however little and dim it may be, a comparison will be written in each of the following five indications. These comparisons are incapable of expressing, or being a measure for, the truth of the acts and functions of God’s Lordship; they are permissible only so far as they serve to enable the reader to understand what is meant by them.

A flower passes away but leaves behind thousands of instances of its existence

For example, the colloquial meanings of pleasure and joy and gladness are far from expressing the sacred functions; they are used only to serve as an aid to reflection, as a means of meditation. Such comparisons may also serve, by enabling the reader to catch a glimpse of a comprehensive law of Divine Lordship, to prove the truth of the law in the functions of Lordship. By saying that, for example, a flower passes away but leaves behind thousands of instances of its existence, we point to a mighty law of Divine Lordship which is prevalent in all plants and flowers of spring as, indeed, in all the creatures in the universe.

In fact, the Compassionate Creator changes the robe of the earth every year by the same law as that by which He changes the feathered garment of a bird. It is again by the same law that He changes the appearance of the world every century, and He will also change, with the same law, the form and shape of the universe on the Last Day.

By the same law by which He disposes particles, He causes the earth to rotate and revolve like a Mawlawi dervish turning in ecstasy. He disposes, again by the same law, all the spheres and causes the solar system to move.

He renews your garden and vineyard every year and refreshes them every season by the same law by which He decomposes or repairs the cells in your body or renews them. Again, it is by the same law that He renews the face of the earth every season, arraying it in a new garment.

The All-Powerful Maker revives every spring that tree in front of us and the whole of the earth by the same law of Wisdom by which He revives an insect, and again by the same law, He will revive the creatures on the Day of Judgment. The Qur’an points to this truth in the declaration, Your creation and resurrection are as but a single soul. (31:28)

The laws of Divine Lordship operate in everything from particles to the whole of the universe

Like those mentioned, there are many other laws of Divine Lordship that are prevalent in everything from particles to the whole of the universe. Reflect on the might and comprehensiveness and unity of those laws in the acts of Divine Lordship, then, see how, being both comprehensive and unitary and manifestations of knowledge and will, they establish decisively the Knowledge and Will of God as well as His Unity.

Most of the comparisons and allegories we use point to the existence of Divine Laws by showing a single manifestation of each. By demonstrating the existence of a law through comparison or allegory, the thesis is proved as decisively as if through a logical proof. This means that most of the comparisons or allegories or parables can be regarded as decisive proofs.

There are in each flower and fruit on a tree as many instances of wisdom and purposes as the number of those flowers and fruits.

There are in each flower and fruit on a tree as many instances of wisdom and purposes as the number of those flowers and fruits. Those instances of wisdom are of three kinds:

  • Those related to the Creator Himself, demonstrating the inscriptions of His Names.
  • Those related to conscious beings, functioning as valuable, meaningful messages for them.
  • Those related to the fruits or flowers themselves, their life and maintenance, besides their benefits for mankind.

While I was once pondering over multiple purposes of such kinds for the existence of every creature, the following thoughts came to me in Arabic in a way that forms the main themes of the five indications to come, concerning the universal purposes:

All those objects receiving Divine manifestations are replaced by new ones, but after…

All that is before our eyes consists in objects in a flux, mirrors moving and acting so that the manifestations of the light of His creation, glory be to Him, may be renewed. This renewal takes place through the incessant changing of individual beings of relative existence, that is, all those objects receiving Divine manifestations are replaced by new ones, but after

  • their subtle meaning and metaphysical identities have gained permanence;
  • they have left behind truths pertaining to the Unseen World and forms recorded on the ideal tablets;
  • they have produced other-worldly fruits and everlasting scenes;
  • they have proclaimed glorifications of the Lord and manifested the requirements of His Names;
  • fifthly, they are replaced in order that the functions of the Glorious One and the objects of His Knowledge may be displayed.

As pointed out in those five paragraphs containing the main themes of the five indications to follow, there are in each creature, especially the living ones, five different kinds of wisdom and purposes. O mortal man! If you desire that the truth you possess as a little seed may grow into a permanent tree (with the fruits of purposes which will be explained in the five indications to come), try to acquire the true faith. Otherwise, besides being deprived of those fruits, you will be pressed into that seed and rot away together with it.

All those objects receiving Divine manifestations are replaced by new ones, but after their subtle meaning and metaphysical identities have gained permanence:

That is, when a being dies, it goes, in appearance, to non-existence, but the meaning it has expressed is kept permanently; its form, its nature and metaphysical identity, are all preserved in the World of Ideas and on the copies of this world – the guarded tablets – and in the memories, which are samples of the guarded tablets. Thus, it gains, in exchange for an apparent, material existence, hundreds of other types of existence, immaterial and related to knowledge.

For example, in order to print a page of a book in a printing machine, the types are first arranged and after the page is printed, the types are removed. This page is later multiplied to the number of the edition, thus gaining permanence in thousands of forms and, with its meaning, in thousands of memories, although the types are no longer there. In just the same way, the Pen of Divine Destiny determines a shape, a form and a period for the meanings in Divine Knowledge and, in the case of vegetation for example, Divine Power gives them external, material existence in spring. After their forms and identities are transferred to the register of the Unseen World, Divine Wisdom requires that they should be replaced with the new ones to come in the next spring so that they, too, can exhibit their meanings.

... after they have left behind truths pertaining to the Unseen World and forms recorded on the ideal tablets:

That is, when each thing, especially each living thing, whether of particular or universal nature, dies, besides bringing forth many truths pertaining to the Unseen World, leaves on the ideal tablets in the registers of the World of Ideas all the forms it has taken on during its life. These forms serve as words or sentences to make up its life-history consisting of the Divinely destined events of its life, and the spirit beings reflect on them.

A flower, for example, dies, but, besides depositing in hundreds of its seeds the essentials of its existence, it leaves thousands of its forms in little guarded tablets of the Unseen World and in thousands of memories – the miniatures of the guarded tablets. It goes only after it has shown to conscious beings how it has glorified the Lord and how it has manifested the inscriptions of His Names through the forms it has taken on during its life. Likewise, being a flower in the global pot, spring, too, decays and, in appearance, goes to non-existence. But, in exchange for itself, it leaves behind as many truths pertaining to the Unseen World as the number of its seeds, as many ideal identities as the number of its flowers, and as many instances of wisdom as the creatures contained in it. Also, it makes room for the next spring so that it, too, may come and fulfill its function. In short, spring is stripped of a garment of apparent existence in exchange for a thousand garments of immaterial existence.

...after they have produced other-worldly fruits and everlasting scenes:

That is, the world is a factory or an arable field where the products proper for the market of the Hereafter are obtained. As proved in several of The Words, just as the deeds of the jinn and mankind are being transferred to the market of the Hereafter, so too, the other creatures of the world perform many functions for the sake of the Hereafter and thereby produce many kinds of ’crops’. It may even be said that the earth, this Divine ship, which, through its revolution around the sun at a very great speed, draws the periphery of the Place of Mustering, makes this movement so that its inhabitants may reap the harvest of their work in the Hereafter. It is actually so, because, for example, the people of Paradise will desire to narrate to each other worldly experiences and take great pleasure in watching them as though on a cinema screen. That being the case, as indicated in the Qur’anic verse, (they recline) face to face on couches raised, (15:47) they will talk about the events of their worldly life and the images of those events will be present as ever-lasting scenes.

The world, thus, functions as a factory where, in order that those everlasting scenes may be formed, beautiful creatures appear one after the other and then disappear. In today’s civilized world, for example, strange and spectacular things and events are filmed and thus given a kind of permanence for future generations. Similarly, the All-Wise Maker of the creatures records, as a requirement of His Names, the All-Wise, the All-Com-passionate and the All-Loving, the outcomes of the functions fulfilled by the worldly creatures for the sake of the Hereafter and gives them permanence as ever-lasting scenes of the Eternal World.

... after they have proclaimed glorifications of the Lord and manifested the requirements of his Names:

That is, the creatures glorify God in many different ways through the stages of their life. As they glorify the All-Wise Maker to the number of the members of their bodies, they also display, through their life and existence, the requirements or functions of Divine Names, i.e. compassion required by the Name, the All-Compassionate, provision by the Name the All-Provider, favor by the Name the All-Favoring, and so on. A man eats delicious fruits and those fruits decompose, and apparently die away, in his stomach. But, besides the taste they produce in the mouth, they give some kind of pleasure to all the cells of the body coming from the activity of appropriating them and become the means of many purposeful functions such as the nourishment of the body and the maintenance of life. As sustenance, they themselves are promoted from the level of plant life to that of human life. It is just in the same way that when the creatures are concealed behind the veil of death, they entrust to the Names themselves the works and inscriptions of many Divine Names, thus obtaining permanence. I wonder, then, whether it is reasonable to lament over the death of a creature that has gained, through death, thousands of kinds of permanent existence in return for a transient one. One should think that (Divine) Compassion, Wisdom and Love have required it to be so; the preference of the reverse would mean to refuse thousands of benefits to avoid a single discomfort; such avoidance would result in thousands of kinds of harm. To conclude, the Names, the All-Compassionate, the All-Wise and the All-Loving, do not contradict death and decay, rather they necessitate them.

they are replaced in order that the functions of the Glorious One and the objects of His Knowledge may be displayed.

That is, the creatures, particularly the living ones, shed their apparent existence after they have left behind many permanent things.

The Necessarily-Existent Being feels, on account of the functions of His Lordship and in accordance with His Holiness and His absolute independence of all created things, infinite love and affection, and limitless pride, so to speak, endless sacred delight and pleasure, and boundless Divine cheer that, through the amazing activity required by those functions, the creatures are set moving in continuous changes and transformations from the visible, material world to the World of the Unseen.

Each mortal creature strips off a single existence but, in return, gains a thousand kinds of permanent existence.

Being in a continuous flux and restless movement, required by the functions of God’s Lordship, the creatures impress the people of misguidance with wails of death and separation, whereas they impress people of guidance with voices of Divine remembrance and glorification. For this reason, each creature leaves, before departure from the world, numerous meanings, qualities and states by means of which the permanent functions of the Necessarily-Existent Being may be manifested. That creature also leaves, through the forms and states it has undergone throughout its life, an expanded existence which represents its external, material existence in the spheres of Divine Knowledge like the Manifest Record, the Manifest Book and the Guarded Tablet. As a result, each mortal creature strips off a single existence but, in return, gains a thousand kinds of permanent existence.

Consider another example: Some raw materials are put in a factory. They burn away there but, consequently, many valuable chemical substances are precipitated in the factory’s stills. Also, the factory works with the thermal energy produced as a result of this process and manufactures the desired product. The combustion of raw materials thus results in many new things of greater value coming into existence. If this is so, is it at all reasonable to complain about the consumption of those raw materials, to wail that the manufacturer has shown no mercy to those lovely materials? It is in just the same way that – God’s is the highest comparison –  the All-Wise, All-Compassionate and All-Loving Creator, as a requirement of His Compassion, Wisdom and Love, sets the factory of the universe in motion to employ each mortal existent as a seed to grow into many kinds of permanent existence, making it the object of His functions of glory, the means for His purposes of Lordship, the ink for the Pen of His Destiny, and a shuttle for the textiles of His Power, in short, for these and many other sublime purposes unknown to us, He keeps the universe in constant operation. He sets particles in restless motion, the elements and plants in a continuous flux, the animals in an endless procession and the planets in a ceaseless revolution, thus making the universe speak and write expressively of His signs. He has made, on account of His Lordship, air, light, water and soil each an imperial medium for the operation of, successively, His commands and decrees, His Knowledge and Wisdom, His bounties and Mercy and of His preservation and revival, using them for the life of earthly creatures.

Know for certain that the bright, sublime truth pointed out in the foregoing lines can be discerned only through the light of the Qur’an and acquired through the power of faith. Otherwise, that eternal truth will be replaced by a dense, dreadful darkness. It is because of this that for the people of misguidance, the world is only a place of death and separations and where everything goes to absolute non-existence. The universe means for them, a kind of hell and everything in it is enveloped, after a twinkle of existence, by an overall non-existence. Both the past and the future are, for them, engulfed by layers of the darkness of non-existence; only in the twinkle of the present can a tragic life of existence be found. But, for the people of guidance all time is, thanks to the Qur’an and the light of faith, illumined by the light of existence, by means of which they gain eternal happiness.

In conclusion:

I pronounce in the manner of the poet, Niyazi Misri:

When my soul is annihilated in God

And the cage of my body breaks into pieces;

When my tongue is reduced to silence,

I call: O Truth, O Existent One, O Ever-Living, O Worshipped One

O All-Wise, O All-Loving, O All-Compassionate, O Desired One!

And I shout:

There is no deity but God, the Sovereign, the Evident Truth; Muhammad is the Messenger of God, true to what he promised and the Trustworthy.

Also, I believe and prove,

The raising of the dead is true, Paradise is true, Hell is true and the eternal bliss is true, and God is surely Compassionate and Wise and Loving; and surely Compassion, Wisdom and Love encompass all things and their functions.


[Those who have entered Paradise] say, ‘Praise be to God, Who has guided us to this. We could not truly have been led aright if God had not guided us. Verily the Messengers of our Lord did bring the truth.

Glory be to You, we have no knowledge save what You have taught us; surely You are the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

Our Lord! take us not to task if we forget, or make mistake. O God, bestow blessings on our master Muhammad in a way to please You and to perform his due, and on his family and Companions, and bestow peace also! Amen! And all praise be to the Lord of the Worlds.

Glory be to Him Who has made the garden of His earth a place where the works of His Art are exhibited, His creatures are assembled, His Power and Wisdom are manifested, His Mercy blooms, the seeds of His Paradise are sown, created beings appear and then disappear, existent things stream in and out, and creatures come and go according to a fixed measure. Adorned animals, embellished birds, fruitful trees, flowering plants are all the miracles of His Knowledge, wonders of His Art, gifts of His Munificence, proofs of His Grace, evidences of His Oneness, subtleties of His Wisdom and witnesses of His Compassion. Flowers smile because of fruits; birds sing because of the morning breeze; raindrops trill on the cheeks of flowers.

The finery displayed by fruits in these gardens and the compassion of all mothers, animal or human, for their young, all come from the recognition of the All-Loving, and the love of the All-Merciful, and the compassion of the All-Affectionate, and the affection of the All-Bounteous, toward the jinn, mankind, spirit, animals and angels, in short, toward all created beings.


This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.