O friend, you have been listening to this parable together with me! You have certainly understood that the glorious king built the palace for the purposes explained by his aide-de-camp. The realization of these purposes depends on the following two things:
The first is the existence of the aide-de-camp, whose address you have heard. If he did not exist, all those purposes would go to naught. For a book unintelligible and without a teacher to explain it amounts to no more than a package of sheets.
The second is the necessity of obedience to what the aide-de-camp communicated to the dwellers. That is, the existence of the aide-de-camp is the motive for the existence of the palace and the obedience of the dwellers is the cause of its maintenance. It can therefore be argued that, but for the aide-de-camp, the master who made the palace known to the dwellers and conveyed to them the will of the king, the glorious king would not have built the palace. Also, it can be said that if the dwellers do not heed the instructions of that master, the palace will be destroyed.
O friend! The parable has ended. If you have understood what it means, then come and reflect upon its meaning:
The meaning of the parable
The palace is this world, whose roof is the heavens illuminated with smiling stars. Its floor is the surface of the earth embellished from east to west with numerous kinds of flowers. The king is the Most Holy One, the Eternal King, Whom the seven firmaments and the earth, together with everything they contain, glorify and extol in tongues particular to each. He is such a Powerful King that He created the heavens and the earth in “six days”. Seated on His Throne of Lordship, [that is, through continuous manifestations of His Lordship,] He alternates day and night like two threads, one white, the other black, to inscribe His signs on the vast sheet of the universe. Again, He is One, All-Majestic and Powerful, to Whom the sun, the moon and stars are all subjugated.
The apartments or divisions of the palace are the thousands of worlds, each designed, furnished and decorated in a way particular to it. The finest and most beautiful works of art you saw in the palace are all those things you see in the world, each of which is a miracle of the Divine Power. The foods stand for the wonderful fruits of the Divine Mercy that you see in the world, especially in summer. The kitchen of the palace stands for the fire in the center of the earth and the heat of the sun. The jewels or precious stones represent the manifestations of the Divine Sacred Names and the embellishments symbolize the well-ordered and finely-made beings and the perfectly proportioned inscriptions of the Pen of the Power that adorn this world and point to the Names of the Majestic All-Powerful One.
The aide-de-camp, the master who addressed the dwellers of the palace, is our master, the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings. His assistants are the other Prophets, and his students, the saints and purified scholars. The servants stand for the angels, upon them be peace; the dwellers, for the jinn and human beings, and the guests invited to the palace, for animals created to be of service to human beings.
Believers and unbelievers in the palace of the world
The first group of people are the believers. They are the students of the wise Qur’an, which is the interpreter of the verses of the book of the universe. The other group are the people of unbelief and rebellion. They are some “deaf and dumb” misguided people who, obeying their carnal selves and Satan, accept only the worldly life and therefore reduce themselves to a rank even below the animals.
The first group, comprising the good and spiritually prosperous people, heeded the master who brought the principles of both intellectual enlightenment and spiritual well-being, the path of prosperity in both worlds. That master is both a worshipping servant in regard to servanthood who describes his Lord and makes Him known to people, and he also functions as an envoy of his community in the court of Almighty God. He is a Messenger in regard to Messengership who communicates his Lord’s commandments to men and jinn by means of the Qur’an.
Believers find themselves in elevated stations, invested with many subtle and pleasing duties of the prescribed prayer, which is the index of all the varieties of worship:
That prosperous group heeded the Messenger and listened to the Qur’an. They found themselves in elevated stations, invested with many subtle and pleasing duties of the prescribed prayer, which is the index of all the varieties of worship:
- They observed the Divine works, and seeing themselves in the station of objective observers of the wonders of the Kingdom of Divine Lordship, declared “God is the Greatest” in performance of the duty of glorification and extolling.
- They saw themselves in the station of announcing the curious and precious manifestations of the Divine Sacred Names, and performed the duty of praising God and esteeming Him as the All-Holy, declaring: “Glory be to God! All praise be to God!”
- In the station of tasting and perceiving with their outer and inner senses the bounties stored up in the treasuries of the Divine Mercy, they performed their duty of giving thanks and praise.
- In the station of weighing with the scales of their spiritual faculties the jewels in the treasuries of the Divine Names, they carried out their duty of praise and declaring God to be free of all fault.
- In the station of studying the Messages of the Lord written on the lines of Destiny by the Pen of His Power, they performed their duty of contemplation and commending.
- In the station of observing the subtle beauties and delicacies in the creation of things and in the art of creation and declaring God to be free of all fault, they set out to fulfill their duty of loving and yearning for their Majestic Originator and Gracious Maker.
“You are One so worthy of thanks and praise that all Your favors scattered everywhere in the universe voice Your praise in the tongue of their disposition.”
Thus, in observation of the universe and all the works therein, they addressed God indirectly in the third person and performed all those duties of worship in all the stations mentioned above. Then, having attained to the rank of observing the actions of the Wise Maker and the way He acts, they were amazed by the realization of how the Majestic Creator makes Himself known to conscious beings through the miracles of His Art. In direct response, they proclaimed in His presence: “Glory be to You! We are unable to know You as required by Your knowledge, as the duty of knowing You requires! What makes You known are Your miracles displayed in Your creatures.”
Then, in response to the All-Merciful making Himself loved through the lovely fruits of His Mercy, they proclaimed in love and ecstasy: “You alone do we worship and from You alone do we seek help!”
After that, in response to the Real Giver of Bounties exhibiting His Care and Compassion through His decorous gifts, they thanked Him and praised Him, saying, “Glory be to You and all praise be to You!” By which they meant, “You are One so worthy of thanks and praise that all Your favors scattered everywhere in the universe voice Your praise in the tongue of their disposition. Again, all Your bounties arranged and exhibited in the market of the world and scattered on the face of the earth declare Your praise and commendation. Besides, the beautiful, well-proportioned fruits and produce of Your Mercy and Graciousness scattered on the earth in due measure and quantity, bear witness to Your Generosity and Magnificence, thereby carrying out the duty of thanking You before the eyes of all creatures.”
Then, in response to His displaying His Grace, Majesty, Perfection and Grandeur in the “mirrors” of creatures ever-recruited and renewed, they proclaimed “God is the Greatest!” and bowed before Him in due perception of their own impotence. Afterwards, they prostrated themselves in humility and with wonder and love. Then, before the All-Wealthy One’s exhibition of the abundance of His Wealth and comprehensiveness of His Mercy, they displayed their poverty and neediness and prayed, “From You alone do we seek help!”
After that, in response to the Majestic Maker’s exhibition of the subtleties and wonders of His Art through animate beings, they showed their appreciation, saying, “What (wonders) God has willed!” and their commendation, saying, “How beautifully they have been made!” Also, they continued their observation and said, “God bless them! How wonderfully they have been made!” and testified to Him by proclaiming their belief. Then, in full admiration, they called everyone else to witness the same, shouting, “Come and see! Attach yourselves to the way to prosperity!”
In response to the Eternal King’s declaration of the Kingdom of His Lordship and manifestation of His Oneness in all the spheres of the universe, they believed in and confirmed His Unity, and displayed their obedience and submission, saying, “We have heard and obeyed.” Also, to the manifestation of the Divinity of the Lord of the Worlds, they responded with worship, which consists in declaration of their impotence embedded in weakness, and their poverty embedded in neediness, and with the prescribed prayer, which is the essence of worship.
By spending their lives in that huge mosque of the world in performing these and other similar duties of worship, the prosperous group assumed the best pattern of creation.
By spending their lives in that huge mosque of the world in performing these and other similar duties of worship, they assumed the best pattern of creation. They became, above all other creatures, trustworthy vicegerents of God on the earth equipped with the blessing of faith and trustworthiness. After this world of trial and place of testing, their Munificent Lord invited them to eternal happiness in reward for their belief, and to the Abode of Peace in recompense for their devotion to Islam. There, He bestowed on them out of His Mercy bounties so dazzling that no eye has seen them, nor ear heard them, nor anybody conceived of them, and gave them eternity and everlasting life. For, the observing and reflecting lovers of an eternal, abiding beauty will certainly go to eternity. Such is the end, the final station, of the students of the Qur’an. May Almighty God include us among them. Amen!
As for the other group, the sinners and the wicked, they entered the palace of this world at the age of discretion. They responded with unbelief to all the evidences of Divine Oneness, and with ingratitude to all the bounties. They also insulted in an unbelieving manner all creatures by accusing them of being worthless and responded with rejection and denial to the manifestations of all the Divine Names. In sum, they committed a boundless crime in a short time and deserved an eternal punishment.
This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.