HOW CAN WE RECONCILE THE TENDER CARE, THE BENEFICIAL MANAGEMENT AND LOVING-KINDNESS REQUIRED BY SUCH OF THE GREATEST NAMES OF GOD AS THE ALL-COMPASSIONATE, THE ALL-WISE AND THE ALL-LOVING, WITH DECAY IN THE WORLD, WITH DEATH, SEPARATIONS, MISFORTUNES AND TROUBLES, WHICH CAN BE SO TERRIBLE AND FRIGHTENING?
Through Five Symbols that demonstrate the motive and necessary cause for, and Five Signs which show the purposes and benefits behind, the decay and death of living creatures, we will try to catch a glimpse of this profound and sublime truth.
Whatever God does is good and His is the kingdom of everything: He does whatever He wishes in His kingdom
A skilful clothes designer employs an ordinary man as a model to make a jeweled and artistically fashioned garment in return for wages. In order to display his skill and artistic ability, he gives a shape to the garment on that man and so makes him sit and stand. I wonder, then, if the man will have a right to object to the designer, saying, ‘Why do you continually change the shape of this garment, which makes me look good, and give me trouble by making me sit and stand?’ In the same way, the Majestic Creator takes each species of creatures as a model and, in order to display the manifestations of His Names and the perfection of His art, causes everything, especially the living creatures, to put on a garment of existence bejeweled with senses, and embellishes it with the Pen of Destiny and Decree. He gives, in return, to each being, as wages particular to it, a certain perfection and pleasure and bounteous gifts. That being the case, has anything the right to object to the Majestic Maker, the Owner of the Kingdom, Who has free disposal of everything in His Kingdom in whatever way He wills, saying, ‘You are giving me trouble and disturbing me!’? God forbid!
The creatures can make no claim to any rights against the Necessarily-Existent Being; rather, if they have a ‘right’, it is to fulfill the duty of thanksgiving for the level of existence that God has conferred on them. For all the levels of existence conferred are actual, concrete realities dependent on a necessary cause, whereas the levels not conferred are only possibilities. A possibility does not have an actual, external existence, and there are possibilities of infinite number for a thing to have existence. Besides, there is no necessary cause whereby something infinitely possible should attain existence.
It is an ingratitude to complain about God, as He is He Who has given existence to anything that exists
For example, minerals cannot complain, saying, ‘Why were we not created as plants?’ For there were possibilities of infinite number for them to have any level of existence, whether inferior or superior. So, what they must do is to thank their Creator for the mineral existence with which they were favored. Nor do the plants and animals have a right to complain to God why they were not granted a level of existence superior to theirs; rather, they must thank God, the plants for being favored with existence and life; the animals for being granted a precious ore of spirit as well as life and existence. As for you, O man of complaint! You were not left non-existent; you were favored with the garment of existence and experienced the pleasures of life. Further, you were made neither an inanimate object nor a plant nor an animal. You enjoy a healthful human existence. O man of belief, you were additionally favored, without being left in misguidance, with the blessing of Islam. And so on.
It is, then, an ingratitude to complain about God – when you should be grateful to Him for the level of existence He bestowed on you as a pure blessing – that He did not favor you with still greater blessings to which you aspire passionately, though wrongly, since they are of the order of possibilities and so non-existent.
Suppose a man elevated to a very high position – say, one made to climb a minaret as far as its pinnacle, and favored with a particular blessing at each step – were to complain that he had not been elevated still higher: would not even the most foolish people see that this is an attitude of great ingratitude and injustice on the part of that man?
O man of complaints, if you act in a greedy way, heedless of contentment and thrift, know for a certainty that contentment is a profitable thanksgiving, while greed is an ingratitude causing loss. Thrift shows a beneficial respect for bounties received, whereas extravagance means to make light of bounties in a harmful and shameless way. If, then, you are a sensible man, try to be content with, and show consent to, what you have. If you are suffering poverty impossible to endure, turn to the All-Patient One, and try to acquire a becoming patience, and do so without uttering complaints.
If you want, in any case, to have someone to find fault with, it is your carnal self, so complain to God Almighty about that.
Every creature is active because it has the yearning for, and takes pleasure in, activity. Further, in every activity lies a kind of pleasure; it may even be that activity itself is a pleasure.
One of the Divine purposes for the Majestic Creator’s continuous renewal and re-creation of beings through the awesome activities of His Lordship is as follows:
Every creature is active because it has the yearning for, and takes pleasure in, activity. Further, in every activity lies a kind of pleasure; it may even be that activity itself is a pleasure. Pleasure points to a perfection, indeed, is itself a kind of perfection. Since, then, activity points to perfection, pleasure and beauty, and again since the Necessarily-Existent Being, Who is the Perfect One of Majesty, has all kinds of perfection in His Being, Attributes and Acts, then He will certainly feel, in a manner fitting to His Necessary Existence and Holiness, that is, in accordance with His essential independence of the whole of the creation, and with His absolute Perfection and being free from deficiencies and any sort of likeness to any creatures, infinite sacred affection and infinite sacred love. This sacred affection and love are the cause of an infinite sacred enthusiasm, which is the origin of an infinite, sacred joy, in turn the source of infinite sacred pleasure. God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate, because of this pleasure as well as of His Compassion, feels infinite sacred gladness and infinite sacred pride for His creatures’ realization of their full potentials and attainment of their relative perfections through their deeds by His Power. It is thus this sacred gladness and sacred pride that require the incessant, infinite whirl of creation which, in turn, demands an incessant changing, renewal and transformation in the universe. Finally, this incessant changing, renewal and transformation call for decay, death and separation.
The comprehensive purposes for the creation of beings
Once in the past, the motives and causes set forth by human philosophies for the creation and life of beings seemed very insignificant to me. I inferred from this why such philosophies would inevitably result in the absurdity which leads prominent figures in philosophy either to the misguidance of naturalism or sophistry, or even to the denial of the Will and Knowledge of the Maker or to regard the Creator as self-compelled (to do what He does).
Just at that point, the Divine Compassion came to my aid with the Divine Name, the All-Wise, and showed me the comprehensive purposes for the creation of beings. Each creature is a Divine missive, such that all conscious beings study it. I remained content for one year with discovering this purpose, but later began to seek for some other great purposes. First, the wonder of Divine Art in beings became manifest to me and, afterwards, another great purpose showed itself: namely, the greatest of the purposes for the life and creation of beings are related to the Maker. I perceived that they present to Himself, in the manner of a mirror reflecting His Beauty and Perfection, the perfection of His art, the embellishment of His Names, the jewels of His Wisdom and the gifts of His Compassion. After a long while, I noticed the miracles of God’s Power and the functions of His Lordship in a very rapid change and renewal brought about through the amazing acts of His creativity. After that, not content with all those purposes, I thought that there should be another still greater purpose for the life of creatures, and the motives and purposes which have already been partly explained in the foregoing Symbol and which will come below became obvious to me. I knew for certainty that the actions of Divine Power in the universe and the incessant flux of things are so meaningful that, through that flux, the All-Wise Maker causes all the kinds of beings to speak. It is as if the individual active creatures in heavens and on the earth, and their actions are the words of the speeches of those kinds of beings, and each movement is an act of speech. That is, all creatures glorify God through their movements, including their birth and death.
Things do not go into absolute non-existence through death, rather they are transferred from the sphere of Power to the sphere of Knowledge, from the visible, material world, the world of changing and mortality, to the World of the Unseen, which is the world of light and permanence
Things do not go into absolute non-existence, rather they are transferred from the sphere of Power to the sphere of Knowledge, from the visible, material world, the world of changing and mortality, to the World of the Unseen, which is the world of light and permanence.
The beauty and perfection in things belong, in reality, to the Divine Names, being the manifestations of those Names. Since those Names are permanent with their never-ending manifestations, their inscriptions will almost certainly be renewed, freshened and become more and more beautiful. Not going into absolute non-existence, only their relative forms of existence change, with their real nature and identity, which are the source of beauty and the object of enlightenment and perfection, remaining permanently.
The inanimate beings owe their beauty to the Divine Names, so the admiration and love felt for them, belong to those Names, and their changing (since they are mirrors reflecting Divine Names) does not detract from the Names. As for the animate beings, the death of those without intelligence is not complete annihilation; rather, through death, they are freed from the corporeal body and the turbulence of life, and transfer the fruits of their duty to their permanent spirit, which, depending on a Divine Name, attains some kind of happiness peculiar to itself. The death of intelligent beings is a journey, through the All-Wise Maker’s stations of the Intermediate World of the grave and the worlds of ideas and spirits, which are more beautiful and illumined than this world, to the World of Permanence where eternal happiness and material and spiritual perfections are obtained.
In short: Since the Majestic Maker exists and is permanent with His Attributes and Names, the inscriptions and manifestations of those Names are constantly renewed in spiritual permanence; they are not subject to absolute non-existence.
As is well-known, man is, on account of his humanity, connected to most of the creatures. He derives pleasure from their happiness and grieves about their misfortunes. He rejoices especially over the happiness of animate beings, particularly over that of human beings and most particularly of the men of perfection whom he approves and loves, and shares their grieves. Moreover, like an affectionate mother, he may go so far as to sacrifice his own rest and happiness for their welfare. Thus, every believer may, according to the degree of his belief and through the light of the Qur’an and belief, be happy with the happiness and permanence of creatures, and their being saved from nothingness and their being valuable missives of the Lord, and thereby he may acquire so comprehensive a light as to fill the entire world. Everybody benefits from this light according to his capacity. But a man of misguidance who regards death as absolute annihilation, falls to despair and depression, and suffers pessimism due to the misfortunes and death of all creatures; he is obsessed, because of his unbelief, by fear of going to absolute non-existence, and suffers hellish torment even before he goes to Hell.
The Names of God Almighty have innumerable kinds of manifestation.
Just as there are many departments of a king’s government representing his functions as the supreme ruler, supreme judge, supreme commander and the supreme head of the religious office etc., so too, the Names of God Almighty have innumerable kinds of manifestation. The variety and difference of creatures result from the variety of those manifestations. Since every possessor of perfection and grace tends to see and show his perfection and grace, the various Names of God, too, would like, because permanent, to manifest themselves on behalf of the Most Sacred Being. That is, they desire to behold their inscriptions; they want to see and show the reflections of their perfection and grace in the mirrors of their inscriptions, and therefore they tend to renew or re-write in a most meaningful way, moment by moment, the great book of the universe and the various missives of creatures, or to write thousands of different letters on a single page and present it for the viewing of the Most Holy Being, as well as for the viewing of conscious beings to read and ponder. Look at the following stanza of truth, which expresses this point:
The sheets of the book of the universe are of innumerable kinds,
Its individual letters and words are also countless.
‘Written’ in the ‘printing house’ of the Guarded Tablet of Truth,
Each creature in the universe is a meaningful word.
Consider the lines of the books of the universe, for they are missives to you from the Highest Abode.
Since God exists, everything exists. Since everything is connected to God, each single thing is connected to everything.
Since God exists, everything exists. Since everything is connected to God, each single thing is connected to everything. For each thing has, through its connection to God, a connection to everything because of God’s Unity. And through this connection, each thing can be an object of the infinite light of existence. Decays and separations cannot impede this reality, so one can receive an infinite light of existence by living even for a moment in consciousness of this connection. If, on the other hand, this connection cannot be established or is ignored, one becomes the object of infinite separation and non-existence, for one will then experience endless despair and depression because of the decay and death of each creature to which one feels a connection. If one were to live, in this state, even for a million years, he would not be able to taste the true pleasure of a moment’s life lived in connection to God. It is for this reason that men of truth have concluded: a moment of life enlightened through connection to God is preferable to a million years of life devoid of such light. It is for the same reason that men of truth have drawn the conclusion that receiving the light of existence is only possible through recognition of the Necessarily-Existent Being.
In view of the one who recognizes God, the universe is, in the light of existence, filled with angels and other beings of spirituality and consciousness. But the one who does not recognize God sees the universe as a vast, dark, and desolate place where beings are waiting for death and separations.
In view of the one who recognizes God, the universe is, in the light of existence, filled with angels and other beings of spirituality and consciousness. But the one who does not recognize God sees the universe as a vast, dark, and desolate place where beings are waiting for death and separations. It is indeed so: consider the fact that each fruit on a tree has a connection to all the other fruits on that tree and thereby has as many kinds of secondary existence as the number of the other fruits, and that when it is picked, it is in fact separated from all the other fruits and enveloped by a darkness of non-existence. It is for this reason that, due to the connection to the Power of the One Eternally-Besought, for each being or thing everything has an actual existence; otherwise there are as many types of non-existence as the number of things.
Thus, through the telescope of this reality, consider how comprehensive is the light of faith and how frightful is the darkness of misguidance. What we call faith is, in fact, the essence of the sublime truth explained in this Symbol. Where there is no faith, everything means non-existence for an unbeliever, just as nothing exists for a person without senses.
There are three facets of the world and things:
- The facet turning to the Divine Names. Being the mirrors of those Names, this facet does not experience any decay and separation but is continually refreshed and renewed.
- The facet turning to the Hereafter – the world of permanence. Being like a field sown with the seeds of the Hereafter to grow into permanent trees with permanent fruits, this facet of the world is in the service of the World of Permanence; it causes transient things to acquire permanence. It is again not decay and death, but life and permanence, which are manifested in this facet too.
- The facet turning to us who are transient beings. People of desires and fancies love this facet of the world, which is, on the other hand, the market-place of sensible conscious persons and the stage of trial for the duty-bound. This facet is apparently the object of decay and death. However, there are, in its inward dimension, the manifestations of life and permanence to heal the sorrows coming from death, decay and separations.
Those streams of beings, that flux of creatures, are moving objects and ever-changing and renewed mirrors to renew and make more bright the lights of existence and creation of the Necessarily-Existent Being.
This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.