Is the verse, All things perish, except His ‘Face’ (28:88), also related to Paradise, Hell, and those within them?
This matter has long been discussed by scholars, saints and men of deep perception and insight, who have the authority to discuss this subject. Some of them have maintained that the people of the permanent world are not included in the meaning of the verse, while others have held that these people will also enter an annihilation though for so short a time that they will not feel this instant of perishing. By contrast, some people among those who are able to discover some hidden truths, have gone so far as to argue that the whole of existence except God will permanently perish—but this is not compatible with truth. The Divine Essence is permanent, and so are the Attributes and Names of God. It is thus impossible that the permanent beings in the World of Permanence will go into absolute annihilation since they are the manifestations of those permanent Attributes and Names, and the mirrors where they are reflected.
Let me here briefly write down two points which have just come to my mind from the infinite ocean of the meanings of the Qur’an. They are:
- The All-Mighty is Omnipotent: creation and destruction are equally easy for Him. As He can send the whole creation into annihilation in a moment, He can also bring it back into existence in an instant. In addition, there is no such entity as ‘absolute non-existence’. There cannot be because there is an encompassing knowledge: everything is contained, or, in other words, has a kind of existence, an ideal form, within the Divine Knowledge, which is infinite. There is, so to speak, no room for ‘non-existence’. As for the ‘relative non-existence’ within the encompassing circle of Divine Knowledge, it is, in essence, a nominal veil where the manifestations of Divine Knowledge are reflected. Some men of profound understanding have, however, called these ‘ideal forms’ of existence ‘archetypes’. Because of this, to go into non-existence means to take off an outer dress, namely, the body, and to return to the circle of spiritual existence or existence in Divine Knowledge. That is to say, those that are subject to perishing, by leaving their physical bodies, put on a spiritual body and, leaving the circle where the (Divine) Power operates, enter the circle of the (Divine) Knowledge.
- Everything does not actually exist by itself; its existence depends on God. It exists as a manifestation of the permanent Divine Names. It has, in this respect, a permanent, sublime reality because it reflects the Divine Name which is the cause of its existence. The verse, All things perish, except His Face also serves as a sword with which to liberate man from everything that is not God, i.e., the world, the flesh, and the vanities of life. Because of this, whatever man has or does for the sake of God is not included in the meaning of this verse so that it is subject to perishing.
In sum, if a man ‘finds’ God and does whatever he does only for His sake, then there will be left nothing to be included in the meaning of the verse, All things perish, except His Face. So man, if he wishes to eternalize his deeds and to be rewarded with a permanent happiness, he must seek God and spend his life for His sake and pleasure.
This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.