THE SIXTH WORD
The Supreme Transaction
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Verily God bought from the believers their selves and their possessions in exchange for Paradise. (9:111)
If you want to understand how profitable and honorable such a transaction is, listen to the following parable: A king entrusted two servants with one estate each, including all necessary workshops, machinery, horses, weapons, and other equipment. But as it was wartime, when everything is in flux, this merciful and compassionate king sent his noblest officer to them with the following message:
Sell me the entrusted property so that I may keep it for you. Don’t let it be destroyed in vain. After the war is over, I’ll return it to you in better shape than it was before. It’s your property in trust, and I’ll pay a higher price for it. The machinery and tools will be used in my name at my workbench. Both the price and the fee for their use shall be increased, maybe a thousand fold. I’ll give all the profit to you. You are weak and poor, and can’t pay for these great tasks.
Let me take care of the expenses and equipment, and give you the income and profit. You can use it until demobilization. Consider the five advantages of this transaction.
If you don’t sell the property to me, consider this. You can’t preserve what you possess, and so will lose what you now hold. It will go in vain, and you will miss out on the high price I offer you. All the delicate, precious tools and fine scales that are ready to be used will lose their value, since there are no metals worthy of their use. You’ll have to find some way to administer and preserve them. Moreover, you’ll be punished for betraying your trust. So consider the ways you may lose.
If you sell your property to me, you’ll become my soldier and act in my name. Far from being a mere recruit or irregular, you’ll be an honored and free officer of an exalted monarch.14
After the two men had listened to this gracious decree, one said: “I’m honored and happy to sell. Thank you so much.” The other was as proud, arrogant, selfish, and dissipated as Pharaoh. As if he would stay on that estate forever, he ignored the earthquakes and tumults and said: “No! Who is this king? I won’t sell my property or diminish my comfort.” After a while, the first man reached such a high rank that everyone envied his position. He had the king’s favor and lived happily in the king’s palace. The other one fell so low that everyone pitied him but realized that he deserved his position. As a result of his mistake, he forfeited his happiness and property, and suffered punishment and torment.
Now, O soul full of caprice, consider the truth shown here. The king is the Monarch, Eternal before and after eternity, your Lord and Creator. That which He has entrusted to you represent your body, spirit, and heart, and so on, as well as your outer and inner senses (e.g., sight, taste, intelligence, imagination). The officer is the Messenger; the compassionate decree is the Qur’an, which states: God has bought from the believers their selves and their possessions in exchange for Paradise (9:111). The surging battlefield is the tempestuous surface of a world in flux, and causes us to reflect.
People ask: “Everything will leave our hands, perish, and be lost. Maybe there is a way to make it eternal, to preserve it?” While engaged in such thoughts, they suddenly hear the Qur’an’s heavenly voice say: “There is a beautiful and easy way that offers five advantages or profits.” What is this way? To sell the trust to its real Owner. The resulting five profits are:
FIRST PROFIT: Transient property becomes everlasting. This waning life, when given to the Eternal and Self-Subsistent Being of Majesty and spent for His sake, is transmuted into permanence and gives everlasting fruits. The moments of one’s present life vanish and rot, as do kernels and seeds. But then the flowers of happiness open and bloom in the Realm of Eternity, and each presents a luminous and reassuring aspect in the Intermediate Realm.
SECOND PROFIT: The price paid is Paradise.
THIRD PROFIT: The value of each bodily limb and sense is increased a thousand fold. For example, if you use your intelligence for the sake of the self, it becomes an ill-omened, destructive, and debilitating instrument burdening you with sad sorrows of the past and terrifying fears of the future. This is why sinful people frequently resort to drunkenness or other frivolous pleasures. But if you sell your intelligence to its true Owner and use it on His behalf, it becomes like a mysterious key unlocking Compassion’s infinite treasure-house and wisdom-filled vaults, and elevates you to the rank of a pious and righteous guide deserving eternal happiness.
The eye is a window through which the spirit looks at this world. If you use it on behalf of the self, by gazing at transient, impermanent beauties and spectacles, it panders to lust and other carnal desires. But if you sell it to its All-Seeing Maker and use it on His behalf and within His limits, it rises to the rank of a reader of the Great Book of the Universe,15 a witness of the miracles of His creation, a blessed bee sucking on the blossoms of Mercy in the garden of this world.
If you use your taste on behalf of the self and for the sake of your tongue or stomach, it sinks to the level of a gatekeeper at the stomach’s stable, a watchman at its factory. But if you sell it to the Noble Provider, the sense of taste rises to the rank of a skilled overseer at Divine Compassion’s treasure house, a grateful inspector in the kitchens of the Eternally Besought’s Power.
O intelligence, be careful! Think of what is an instrument of destruction and what is a key to all being. O eye! See the difference between an abominable panderer and a learned overseer of the Divine Library! O tongue! Taste well the difference between a stable doorkeeper or a factory watchman and the trustee of the treasure house of God’s Mercy!
When you compare all other instruments, faculties, and limbs to these, you understand that believers acquire a nature worthy of Paradise and unbelievers a nature conforming to Hell. Each attains its respective value. Due to their belief, believers use what the Creator has entrusted to them on His behalf and within His limits. Unbelievers betray the trust and use it for the sake of the carnal self.
FOURTH PROFIT: You are helpless and exposed to misfortune, indigence, uncountable needs, and impotence. Life’s burden is very heavy. If you do not rely on the All-Powerful One of Majesty, trust in and submit to Him with full confidence, your conscience remains troubled by vain torment, pain and regret, all of which destroy your understanding. Eventually, you become beasts.
FIFTH PROFIT: Those who unveil the true nature of things and experience the truth agree that the reward for worshipping and glorifying God performed by your limbs, senses, and faculties will be given at the time of greatest need, in the form of Paradise’s fruits.
If you refuse, you suffer the following five-fold loss:
FIRST LOSS: Your beloved property and offspring, your adored self and its caprice, your foolishly loved youth and life all are replaced by pain and sin.
SECOND LOSS: You are punished for betraying the trust, for you wrong yourself by using the most precious tools on the most worthless objects.
THIRD LOSS: By debasing your precious faculties to a level much inferior to animals, you insult and transgress God’s Wisdom.
FOURTH LOSS: In your helplessness and poverty, you shoulder life’s heavy burden and continually groan under the blows of transience and separation.
FIFTH LOSS: You convert the Compassionate One’s fair gifts, meant to be used for laying the foundations of everlasting life and blessedness in the Hereafter, into ugliness. All they will be suitable for is opening the gates of Hell before you.
Why do many people not want to sell? Is it so hard? By no means! The resulting burdens are not hard. The limits of the permissible are broad and adequate for your desire, and so you do not need to indulge in what is forbidden. The duties imposed by God are light and few. To be His servant and soldier is an honor beyond description.
Your duty is to act and embark on all things in God’s name, like a soldier, to receive and give on God’s behalf, and to obey His permission and law. If you sin, seek His forgiveness by saying: “O Lord, forgive our sins and accept us as your servants. Entrust us with Your trust until the time of restitution arrives. Amen.” And petition Him.
14 Some may see a threat here. However, human existence here is a reality out of human will. Therefore it is much more than a bargain, for God’s creation of us is a pure blessing. How many people complain of being in the world? Is there anybody who does not love life? Only those misusing their willpower and engulfed in dissipation complain about life. No true believer complains. Whatever we do not like in life and in the world is due to the fact that we neglect our responsibilities as the most honored of beings. God’s informing us of how to act in life and then rewarding us with eternal happiness is as great and infinite a blessing as eternity. If some still see a threat, that threat is also pure blessing, as it compels us to find the straightway and attain happiness in both worlds, where a promise is not enough for weak-willed, spiritually corrupt, obstinate persons to change their ways. (Tr.)
15 In Said Nursi’s thought, God created the universe as a “book” to be “read” by those who want to learn of and draw close to Him. The universe’s order, regularity, interconnectedness, functioning, and so on display some of his Names and Attributes. Others are displayed through the animate and inanimate members of His creation, such as the All-Compassionate, All-Providing, All-Merciful, Forgiver, and so on. (Ed.)