• Q and A

    Questions and Answers from the Risale-i Nur Collection
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How Does Air Demonstrate God’s Existence and Unity?


He: a point of Divine Unity demonstrated by a molecule of air

It is a fact that a handful of soil serves as a flower-bed for hundreds of flowers one after another. If this process is attributed to ‘nature’ or ‘causality’, then it is necessary either for there to exist in such a handful of soil hundreds of the tiniest machines or factories [to produce the flowers] and also an immaterial ‘factory’ [to determine and govern their whole lives in place of the Divine Knowledge and Destiny], or for each particle of that small amount of soil to know how to make all those different flowers in their different characteristics and with their living elements. To put it simply: each particle would have to possess infinite knowledge and limitless power such as only God truly owns.

In just the same way, in each molecule of air (which is a conductor of Divine Will and Command) in each gust, each shift of air such as can be identified making the sound He, there must either be present, on the minutest scale, the centers, exchanges, receivers, and transmitters of all the telephones, telegraphs and radios in the world, so that each molecule of air could perform those countless acts at the same time; or each particle or molecule must dispose all the relevant faculties (of mind, spirit, personality, etc.) of all the different users of the telephones, telegraphs, radios, and must know all their different languages, and transmit them to the other particles at the same time. Just such an impossibility is required by the ways of the unbelievers, naturalists and materialists, in which not one impossibility, but impossibilities and difficulties to the number of particles of air are apparent.

If attributed to the Majestic Maker, however the air together with all its particles becomes a ‘soldier’ under His Command. Through the leave and Power of its Creator, and through connection to and reliance on Him, and through the manifestation of its Maker’s Power, in an instant with the speed of lightning, and with the ease of uttering the word He and the movement of air, its innumerable universal duties are performed as easily as the single duty of one individual particle. That is, the air becomes a ‘page’ for the endless, wonderful, orderly inscriptions of the Pen of Power; its particles become the ribs of the Pen, and the duties of those particles, the points inscribed by the Pen. It works as easily as the movement of a single particle.

If a few other points are jumbled around one point on a piece of white paper, it will be almost impossible to distinguish that point; and if a man does several different jobs at the same time he will be confused: and if a living creature is loaded with many burdens at the same time, it will be crushed; and if a man were to give ear to or utter numerous different words all at the same time, those words would be confused and muddled.

Despite this being the case, although thousands of different points, letters and words are deposited in each molecule, even in each particle, of the air, they are conveyed without any confusion and irregularity. Also, although the air performs a great many different duties at the same time, it carries them out without any confusion; each molecule or particle of the air is loaded with very heavy burdens, yet bears them without lagging or displaying any weakness at all. Again, thousands of different words of all different sorts and meanings enter into ears and issue out of mouths with perfect order and without being muddled. By carrying out all of its extraordinary duties, each particle and molecule of air proclaims in the tongue of its being and functioning and in ecstasy and perfect freedom, and through the testimony of the above truth: there is no deity but He, and, Say: He is God, the One. It travels among air-clashing waves like storms of lightning and thunder in perfect order without confusing its duties, not one of which prevents any other.

The deduction must be: either each particle or molecule of air necessarily has infinite wisdom, knowledge, will, and power, and other qualities through which to be absolutely dominant over all the other particles so that it can perform all those functions—a notion that is absurd and inconceivable to the number of particles, and no devil can ever conceive it—or else (and this is evident to the degree of certainty based on knowledge, certainty based on eye-witnessing or clear observation, and certainty based on personal experience) that the element of air functions in the world of transformations and changes as a changing ‘page’ for the Pen of Power and Destiny used by the All-Majestic One with infinite knowledge and wisdom, and as a signboard, known as the Tablet of Abrogation and Confirmation, on which a changeable copy of the Divine decrees on the Supreme Preserved  Tablet are reflected.

Thus, just as air demonstrates the above-mentioned wonders and manifestation of Divine Oneness in only the duty of transmitting sound and images and shows the infinite impossibility of the way of misguidance, so also does it perform such other important duties as transmitting subtle forces like electricity, light, and the forces of attraction and repulsion all at the same time as it performs the duty of transmitting sound. Also, with perfect order and without any confusion it carries out duties essential for the lives of all plants and animals, such as respiration and pollination. Air decisively proves that it is a very important means of conveying the Divine Will and Command, and that there is no way or possibility of random chance, blind force, deaf nature, confused, aimless causality, and powerless, lifeless, unknowing matter, taking part in or having any influence on the performance of the air’s duties. Also, each particle, each molecule proclaims in the tongue of its being and functioning: There is no deity but God, and, Say: He is God, the One.

Beings coming to life and being revived demonstrates God’s Unity

Look at the signature put on the acts of bringing to life and reviving. Out of innumerable possible examples, we mention only one: In each transparent or apparently transparent thing, from planets to drops and glass, there is a stamp—an image or reflection—specific to the Sun.

The Unique, Eternal Sun1 also sets on each living thing a seal, a stamp, of reviving and bringing to life, which reveals itself by manifesting all of His Names on that thing. If all material causes—supposing they had power and will—came together to produce the like of that stamp, they could not do so, even if they helped each other (The Koran, 17:88).

Assume that the images of the Sun reflected in drops, glass, or any transparent thing are not attributed to the Sun. If this were the case, one would have to accept that there is a real, tiny Sun in each drop facing the Sun, in each piece of glass reflecting the Sun’s light, and that every transparent thing has become a Sun.

Assume that every living thing and life, and every act of bringing to life, is not attributed to the manifestation of the Divine Names. Assume that the belief that life is the focus of the Divine Names’ manifestations, which could be regarded as the rays of the Eternal Sun, is not acceptable. If this were so, each living thing would have to have an infinite power of creation, all-encompassing knowledge, and absolute will, and attributes that it is impossible to be found in anything other than the Necessarily Existent Being.2 Also, each atom would have to have divinity, for the existence of everything would have to be ascribed to itself. Likewise, if the existence of everything is ascribed to causes, absolute divinity would have to be attributed to each cause. Thus there would be countless partners in Divinity, which necessarily requires absolute independence and rejection of any partnership.

Consider an atom or a seed. See how astonishing its well-arranged composition and relationships are. It has relationships with all parts of the living thing of which it is a part, as well as relationships with all members of its species and all other creatures. Its relationships and duties resemble those of a private with respect to military officers. If the atom’s or seed’s connection to the Absolute Power were severed, it would have to be admitted that it has eyes to see all things and an all-comprehensive consciousness.

In summary: If the Sun’s reflection in a drop is attributed to the actual Sun, many Suns would have to exist in the smallest things. It is the same with the Absolutely Powerful One, in relation to Whose Power all things that exist, without exception, are the same. Accepting the above assertion requires accepting countless divinities.

P.S: 1 & 2. God Almighty should be considered from five perspectives. One is His Essence as Divine Being―Zāt, in Islamic terminology. His Essence cannot be known by anyone except God Himself. A Prophetic Tradition says: Do not reflect on God’s Essence, instead, reflect on His works and acts. For God has no partners, likes and resemblance, which is pointed to by the verse: There is nothing like or compared  unto Him. The second perspective is God’s Essential, “Innate” Qualities as being God. These are the source of the Attributes. The third perspective is His Attributes. The Attributes have three kinds: one is His Essential Attributes, which are: Existence, Having No Beginning, Eternal Permanence, Being Unlike the Created, Self-Subsistence. The second is the Positive Attributes, which are: Life, Knowledge, Power, Speech, Will, Hearing, Seeing, Creating. The third is the “Negative” Attributes. The Negative Attributes are innumerable but can be summed up in a definition: God is absolutely free from any defective and shortcoming. The Attributes are the sources of Names. Life gives rise to the All-Living, Knowledge to All-Knowing, Power to All-Powerful, etc. God has many Names, about one thousand of which are known by human beings. The Names are the sources of the Acts. For example, giving life has its source in the All-Living; knowing everything down to the smallest originates in the All-Knowing, etc. God is “known” by His acts, Names and Attributes. Whatever exists in the universe, in the worlds, material and immaterial, is the result of the manifestation of God’s Names and Attributes. For example, the universal and individual provision points to His Name, the All-Providing; the All-Healing is the source of remedies and patients’ recovering from illnesses. Philosophy has its source in Wisdom, etc. The acts, Names and Attributes are the “links” between God and the created, or the “reflectors” with which to have knowledge of God.

Although we try to know or recognize God by His acts, Names and Attributes, since there is nothing resembling Him, we must refrain to think about Him in the terms associating likeness or comparison unto Him. First of all, He is absolutely One, Single, that is, He is God without any resemblance what or howsoever. In this sense, His Oneness is not in terms of number. However, He has also Unity. He has relations with the created. In order to have some knowledge of Him through His acts, Names and Attributes, some comparisons are permissible. This is pointed to in the verse: For God is the highest comparison. The writer’s using the Sun as a unit of comparison to understand God’s acts, Names and Attributes should be considered from this perspective.

All things in the universe are interrelated with one another

The universe resembles a tree, which has grown from a seed containing the program of the future full form of the tree. So, all things in the universe are closely interrelated with one another. Each particle in the body, for example, a particle in the pupil of the eye, has relations with the eye itself, as well as with the head, and the powers of reproduction, attraction and repulsion, with the veins and arteries, and with other veins, and motor and sensory nerves, which serve the circulation of blood and the working of the body, and with the rest of the body, and it has also duties in relation to each. This evidently shows one who is not blind that the whole of the body, including every particle, is a work of an Eternal, All-Powerful One and operates under His command.

Everything is in its exact place in creation and in close co-operation with everything else

The seeds of all flowering and fruit-bearing plants are the same in composition: they are all composed of carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen. They only differ on account of and in respect of the program of their progenitor deposited in them by Divine Destiny. If we put the seeds of various flowering and fruit-bearing plants one after another in a flower-pot filled with earth, which is composed of particular or certain elements, each plant will appear in the wonderful form and shape, the amazing members, peculiar to it. If those particles were not subjugated to, and under the command of, One Who knows each thing with all its features, structures, and life-cycles, and the conditions of its life, and is capable of endowing everything with a being suitable to it and everything necessary for it, and to Whose Power everything is subjected without the least resistance, then either there would have to be in each particle of the earth ‘immaterial factories’ determining all the future lives of the plants, and workshops to the number of all the flowering and fruit-bearing plants, so that each could be the origin for all those various beings, differing in form, taste, color, and members, or each of those plants should have an all-encompassing knowledge and a power capable of forming themselves. That means, if the connection of beings with Almighty God is severed, then it becomes necessary to accept gods to the number of the particles of earth. This is the most inconceivable of superstitions.

Every particle testifies to God in two ways

Also, in each particle are two further true witnesses to the necessary existence and Unity of the Maker: despite its absolute powerlessness, each particle is able to do a great variety of significant duties, and despite its lifelessness, by acting in conformity with the universal order, each particle displays a universal consciousness. That means, each particle testifies, through its impotence, to the necessary existence of the Absolutely All-Powerful One, and through acting in conformity with the order of the universe, to His Unity.

Attributing existence to One God is the easiest way to explain it

Writing a book requires only a writer and a pen. However, if it is printed on a printing press, there would have to be as many iron letters as actual letters in the book. Also, many people would be needed to make those letters and arrange them for printing the book. Sura Ya Sin is written in very small letters inside the two Arabic letters “Ya” and “Sin.” If a book is written in small, fine letters within a single word, then one would need as many iron letters as actual letters in the book to print that single word.

If you say that the universe is a book written with the pen of a Single One, then you are following the easiest and most reasonable path. If, by contrast, you attribute the universe’s existence to nature or material causes, you are following the most unreasonable and difficult way. In such a case,  “printing” a single living thing would require as many instruments as printing most of the universe would demand. This seems to be an impossible supposition.

Suppose different kinds of seeds have been buried in a soil-filled pot. Empty the pot and fill it with soil taken from the Earth’s surface. In both cases, the result will be almost the same. The same result can be observed all over the Earth. Despite the variety in shape, color, taste, and appearance, any soil can be used to produce all flowers and fruit-bearing trees. Thus each seed, despite their physical simplicity and similarity to each other, would have to have special machines or workshops to form the entire plant or tree.

Every created letter of the Book of the Universe points to God in many ways

Any letter in a book points to itself as a letter and in one respect only. However, it points to its writer in many respects. Similarly, every “created” letter of the Book of the Universe points to itself only as a letter. However, it points to its Maker in many respects, both individually and in the words and sentences in which it is included, and manifests its Maker’s titles, describing them as if it were a long, fine poem.

Absolute balance, orderliness and distinguishing despite things being almost infinitely mingled

The Glorious Maker puts His special stamp on each particular or individual thing, and His specific seal on each part of a whole. Likewise, He puts His special stamp on each species and each whole. He puts the stamp of His Unity on the whole of the universe, as well as on any part of it, thus demonstrating His Unity. By concentrating the manifestations of all or some of His Names on a single entity, He displays His Oneness.3

P.S. 3. Unity and Oneness are used to denote two different meanings. The original word which we translate as Unity is Wahidiya, meaning God’s manifesting all His Names throughout the universe or on any part of it. Oneness, the original of which is Ahadiya, means God’s concentrating all or some of His Names on a single entity. This second manifestationthe manifestations of Onenesscauses differentiation among species and individuals. In this book, we have used them sometimes interchangeably and sometimes each with its specific meaning.

Look at the stamp pointed out in: Look at the prints of God’s Mercy, how He revives the Earth after its death. He verily is the Reviver of the dead in the same way, and He is powerful over all things (30:50). The revival of the Earth is an astonishing “resurrection” or coming to life again. Hundreds of thousands of animal and vegetable species are raised to life. There are far more members of many non-human species than there are human beings. Nevertheless, to fulfill certain subtle purposes, most plants are not raised in their exact former identities, but in forms bearing a substantial and close resemblance to their previous ones. However they are revived, their revival indicates the ease of Resurrection [that will occur at the end of time after the universe’s destruction].

Despite their being infinitely mixed with each other, reviving those innumerable species without any confusion and with exact differentiation is a special stamp of the One of infinite Power and all-encompassing Knowledge.

Species are infinitely mixed and intermingled, and there is great similarity among them. On the “page” of the Earth, hundreds of thousands of “books” are written without confusion or mistake, with infinite order, and with absolute accuracy in distinguishing among them. This is also a special seal of the One in Whose hand are the kingdom and keys of all things. He is not prevented from doing one thing while simultaneously doing something else.

During spring, there is an exalted, subtly embroidered seal belonging to the Lord, one showing itself in absolute accuracy and orderliness, abundance and extensiveness, and with absolute speed and ease. You see that completely mixed things are perfectly distinguished and separated. This seal is particular to the One Who can do many things at once, from Whom nothing is hidden, and for Whom nothing is difficult.

In this same season, we see extraordinary art and activity on the Earth based on purposefulness, insight, wisdom, and munificence. This occurs everywhere, in exactly the same way, orderliness, and abundance. This art and activity are seals of the One Who, despite being nowhere, is present everywhere through His Power and Knowledge, Whom nothing wearies, and Who never needs help.

Mutual helping and cooperation in the universe

As the stamp of the Oneness of Him Who is Eternally Besought-of-All, is observed on the “page” of the Earth and throughout the heavens and the Earth, so also is the stamp of His Unity observed on the universe as a whole. The universe is like a magnificent palace, a well-ordered factory, a well-planned city, all of whose elements or parts work together for great purposes. Even over long distances, elements hasten to help each other when needed and do not get lost. Those who discern this truth see how some parts help other parts to meet their needs. It is as if they respond to each other’s requests for help and, in close cooperation and obedience to a single manager, work in orderliness and serve living beings for specific purposes.

Look at this principle of mutual helping and cooperation. The Sun and the moon, day and night, and summer and winter work with plants to help animals and to convey their food to them, which they take from the treasury of Mercy. Animals hasten to help human beings. For example, honeybees and silkworms take honey and silk from the treasury of the All-Merciful and carry them to humanity. Particles of soil, air, and water help fruits and vegetation, each of which have a different taste and quality of nourishment. In turn, they help the body’s cells in perfect orderliness and for great purposes.

This perfect, purposeful, and well-arranged mutual helping is manifested by all of those things, especially inanimate objects. It is also an evident proof and clear argument that they are servants of an All-Wise Sustainer, workers of a Munificent Manager who work by His command and leave, and by His Power and Wisdom.

Providing each being just on time and according to its need

The food needed by living things is distributed among them on time and according to their need. This well-arranged universal providence, contained in an all-encompassing mercy, implies love for and knowledge of those being supplied. Such all-encompassing mercy combined with perfect graciousness implies favoring and gratifying. Such graciousness combined with universal wisdom implies a certain purpose and consciousness. Such universal wisdom combined with a perfect arrangement makes all things dependent on each other. Such dependence requires mutual helping and solidarity among all parts of existence. All of this is a special stamp of the One Who is the Lord, Sustainer, Provider, and Director of all things. It is also a seal particular to the One to Whose Command the sun, the moon, and the stars are subjugated. He is the One Who has made all things good which He has created (32:7). When He wills a thing, He only says: “Be,” and it is (36:82).

One who cannot create, own and administer the universe cannot create, own and administer an atom

The stamp of Oneness is seen on all individual things and species, on the earth and the universe, and is distributed throughout the world on such universal elements as air, water, and soil.

Planting seeds in an arable land indicates that the land is controlled by the owner of the seeds, and that the seeds belong to the one who controls the land. All those universal elements [like water, air and soil implying an all-encompassing knowledge and wisdom] through their simplicity, uniformity, and comprehensiveness, and all the things “planted” in them—these fruits of Mercy, miracles of Power, and words of Wisdom—through their world-wide distribution for certain purposes, are evidence that the comprehensive and comprehended, as well as the “land” and the “seeds” planted in it, are at the disposal of a single Maker. Each species and element testifies that it belongs to the One Who owns everything. Each flower or fruit, each animal or micro-organism, is a seal proclaiming, a stamp pronouncing, a signature declaring in the tongue of perfect harmony, orderliness, and purpose: “The One Who owns me owns this space. Whoever created me created it. Whoever uses me as a letter “wrote” it. Whoever made me a stitch wove it.”

The One Who disposes of the smallest creatures and manages the life of the weakest beings has the supreme disposition of all elements. The One Who employs all elements manages the lives of all animals and plants, and holds them in His hand of Lordship. This is a stamp of Unity that is seen by anyone whose eyes are not blind and whose heart is not sealed.

Can you claim absolute ownership and disposal of anything in the universe? Ask an individual being, and it will reply: “Whoever is the absolute owner of my species can claim to own me; otherwise he or she cannot.” Ask the species, and they will reply: “Whoever has the absolute ownership of the Earth, both its exterior and interior, can claim to own me; otherwise he or she cannot.” Ask the Earth, and it will reply: “Whoever has the absolute ownership of the whole universe can claim to own me; otherwise he or she cannot.”

The extraordinary ease of creating so many species distributed world-wide comes from the Oneness of their Creator

We have pointed out some stamps of Unity put on parts, individual beings, and wholes; on the universe; and on life, living beings, and bringing to life. Among these innumerable seals of Oneness on species and wholes, let us look at another one.

The difficulty or ease of creating a tree and a fruit is the same, as both depend on the same law of growth and issue from the same center. Depending on the same law of raising and upkeep diminishes difficulty and expenditure, so much so that there is no difference between one person growing a tree with abundant fruit and many people raising a single fruit tree. A single fruit grown by many people requires as many tools as does growing a tree with abundant fruit. Similarly, the instruments, machines, and factories needed to equip an army would be the same if only a single soldier were to be equipped. The difference is only qualitative. Also, printing thousands of copies of a book is not much more expensive than printing a single copy. If each copy were printed on a different printing press, the amount paid would be thousands of times greater than that paid for thousands of copies from the same press.

In sum: If innumerably multiple things are not attributed to a single source, then—besides having to attribute a single thing to innumerably multiple things—the number of difficulties would equal the number of those things. So, the extraordinary ease of creating so many species distributed world-wide comes from the Oneness of their Creator.

The essential similarities among members of a species and species of a class

The essential similarities among members of a species and species of a class show the oneness of the stamp and the singleness of the “pen,” and testify that such similarities are the work of a Single One. Also, the absolute ease [of their creation in such abundance] and the small expenditure spent on them demonstrate that they are the work of a Single Being. If this were not so, their creation would be impossibly difficult. This observed ease and economy of means also shows that God has no partners in His Essence and acts, for such a condition would destroy the order, which, in turn, would ruin the universe.

Just as life proves Divine Oneness and the necessity of His Existence, death proves His Permanence and Eternity.

The images of the sun reflected in bubbles floating on a river and the sea, as well as in transparent things on the earth, bear witness to the sun. These images disappear when the sun sets or the river enters a tunnel, and new ones appear when the sun rises again or the river comes out of the tunnel. This testifies to the permanence of the sun’s light and demonstrates that these images are the work of a single sun. Their existence shows the sun’s existence; their disappearance shows that there is only one “eternal” sun.

Similarly, the existence of creatures shows the necessary existence of the Necessarily Existent Being. Their disappearance, together with the causes of their existence and their replacement with new creatures, bear witness to His Permanence, Eternity, and Oneness. For along with the alternation of day and night, seasons and years, beautiful beings are renewed, and fine creatures are replaced as they “set” while their likes “rise.” All of this testifies to the existence of an Eternally Beautiful One Who continuously manifests Himself, and to His Permanence and Oneness. The disappearance of causes and their effects, along with the succession of years and centuries and their being followed by their likes, bear witness that causes and their effects are created for subtle purposes. All of those fine beings coming in successively are creatures of the All-Majestic, All-Gracious, and Beautiful One, all of Whose Names are beautiful and holy. All of this activity testifies that they are His changing works, moving mirrors, and successive stamps and seals.

Just as creatures testify to the All-Glorious One’s necessary existence and Oneness, they also testify to His Attributes of Majesty, Beauty, and Perfection

Just as creatures testify to the All-Glorious One’s necessary existence and Oneness, they also testify to His Attributes of Majesty, Beauty, and Perfection; the perfection of His Essence; and the fact that His Being, essential “Qualities,” Attributes, Names, and acts have no defect or deficiency.

A work’s perfection points to the act’s perfection. The act’s perfection points to the title’s perfection. The title’s perfection points to the attribute’s perfection. The attribute’s perfection points to the being’s essential capacity or indispensable quality. The being’s perfection of the essential or indispensable quality points to the being’s perfection.

A palace’s perfect structure and decoration manifests the perfection of the engineer’s work. The work’s perfection shows the title’s perfection, meaning that the engineer is skillful, expert, and capable. The title’s perfection displays the perfection of the engineer’s qualities, meaning that the engineer is knowledgeable, intelligent, capable, and efficient. The perfection of the qualities displays these essential capacities, meaning that the engineer has fully realized his or her superior capacities and distinguished potential. The perfection of the capacities reveals one’s perfection as an engineer.

Similarly, the perfection of the works we observe in the universe bears witness to the perfection of the activity behind them, which, in turn, bears witness to the perfection of the titles of the one doing the work. The perfection of the titles testifies to the perfection of the qualities or attributes, for names or titles issue from attributes. The perfection of attributes reveals the perfection of the essential capacities that are the attributes’ sources. The perfection of the essential capacities testifies to the perfection of the All-Glorious Being.

Actually, compared to His glorious Perfection and majestic Beauty, all perfection or beauty in the universe is only a dim or vague shadow.


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