In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
By the sun and its brightness, and the moon when it follows it, and the day when it reveals it, and the night when it enshrouds it, and the heaven and Him Who built it, and the earth and Him Who spread it, and the soul and Him Who perfected it.
A parable to understand the purposes for the creation of man and his duty in the world
My brother in religion! If you desire some understanding of the Divine purposes behind the creation of man and the universe and the enjoining of the five daily prayers, heed, together with me, the following parable:
Once, there was a king. He had a vast treasury of precious stones, including diamonds and emeralds. He also had buried treasuries unknown to anybody. He was well versed in all kinds of industry and had a vast knowledge of arts and sciences and their different disciplines. It is natural that whoever has beauty and perfection [especially admirable by everyone and beneficial to others] would tend to show those qualities to others. So that king willed to construct a palace of exhibition where he might publicly display the magnificence of his kingdom, the splendor and extent of his wealth, the wonderful products of his artistry and skill. He desired to behold his beauty and perfection in two ways: one, with his own discerning eye; the other, through the eyes of others.
With this purpose in mind, the king began to build a very large, magnificent palace. He divided it into many apartments and rooms, decorating it with the finest and most beautiful works of his art, and embellishing it with all kinds of the precious stones in his treasure. He designed the palace according to the principles and disciplines of sciences and arts, and furnished it with the miraculous products of his knowledge. Then he prepared in the palace all kinds of delicious foods and drinks peculiar to each family of those that would inhabit it. He provided those foods and drinks so elaborately and generously, and so artistically that you would think that each food on each table was the result of at least a hundred separate skills.
Finally, the king willed that some certain part of his subjects should dwell in the palace and settled them in it. He sent them his aide-de-camp so that he should inform them of the purposes for which the king built that palace and what rules they should obey while staying in it. The aide-de-camp was also to describe to the dwellers what kind of being the king was and inform them about the architecture of the palace and all the decorations, furniture and ornaments therein. The king also ordered his aide-de-camp to tell the dwellers in what ways the palace, with its structures and designs and all its contents demonstrate the artistry and perfection of the king, and how they could please him while dwelling in it.
An eternal address to the whole mankind
The aide-de-camp had many assistants, each of whom was deputed for a certain apartment, and numerous students. Standing among his students, the aide-de-camp addressed the audience as follows:
O people! Our lord, who is the owner of this palace, would like, by building it, to make himself known to you. In return, know him, recognize him properly. He would also like to make himself lovable to you through these ornaments. In return, by appreciating his artistry and commending him upon his works, make yourselves loved by him. Through all his favors to you, he demonstrates his love for you. So, do you love him by obeying him! He also displays, through all these offerings of his, his care and compassion for you. Therefore, by thanking him, show your respect for him! Through the works of his perfection, the lord wants to show his beauty and grace to you. In return, exhibit a great desire to see him and secure his attention upon you! By setting his special stamp, which is impossible to copy, on all these things that you see, he would like to demonstrate to you that he is unique and absolutely independent, without any partners. This palace, with everything in it, is a work of his and belongs to him exclusively. In response to this, acknowledge his uniqueness, and absolute independence, without any partners.
The dwellers of the palace built by the Lord
The aide-de-camp continued his address in the same strain. The dwellers of the palace were two groups:
The first group consisted of those who were sensible and self-aware. Once they had beheld the wonders in the palace, they concluded that all that they witnessed could not be to no purpose. While thinking of the purposes behind them, they heard the aide-de-camp and understood what all those things were for. They acted in accordance with the desires of the king. In return, the king was pleased with them and invited them, to another, much bigger and indescribably beautiful palace, conferring on them all kinds of bounties and blessings from himself eternally.
The second group consisted of people who were morally corrupt and unaware, and devoid of sound reasoning. When they had entered the palace, they had noticed nothing other than the delicious foods, in complete blindness to the meaning of all the decorations and embellishments the palace contained. They gave no heed to the address and directives of the aide-de-camp and his assistants. They only ate and slept, and they drank of the beverages forbidden to them. Getting drunk, they caused disorder in the palace and created mischief. They troubled both the servants of the king and the guests who had been invited to see the palace and eat of some particular foods provided in it. They did not obey the rules laid down by the king and he put them in prison.
This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.