Manifestations of Divine Names*
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
God, there is no god but He; His are the Most Beautiful Names. (20:8)
A sovereign has different titles by which he is known and mentioned in his government’s various departments, different designations and attributes among his subjects’ classes, and different names and signs for his rule’s levels. For example, he is the supreme judge (justice department), chief administrator (civil service), commander-in-chief (army), and supreme teacher (education department). If you know the rest of his names and titles, you will understand that he may have as many names and titles related to his government’s departments and levels of his rule.
It is as if, due to his public person and private system of communication, he is present in every department. Through his laws, regulations, and representatives, he superintends all officials, watches all subjects, and is seen by them. Behind the veil at every level, he administers, executes his orders, and is watchful through his decree, knowledge, and power.
Similarly, the Lord of the Worlds, the Sovereign of eternity, has reputations and designations at the levels of His Lordship’s manifestations. All of these differ but correspond to each other. His Names and marks differ in the spheres of His Divinity, but their manifestations are concentric with each other. In His majestic execution of His rule, His representations and appellations differ but resemble each other. In the operations of His Power, His titles differ but are linked with each other. In the manifestations of His Attributes, He has sacred ways of disclosing Himself that differ but point to each other. In His modes of acting, His wise operations are many but perfect each other. In His colorful artistry and varied works of art, His magnificent aspects of Lordship differ but correspond to each other.
In every world and division of beings, each of His Most Beautiful Names is manifested individually. In that world or sphere in which a particular Name is dominant, all other Names are subordinate. In every level and division of beings, regardless of size, God has a particular display of Himself, a particular manifestation of Lordship, and a particular manifestation of a Name. Although the Name in question has a universal manifestation, It concentrates on something particular in such a way that you think It is exclusive to that thing.8
In addition, although the All-Majestic Creator is nearer to everything than itself, He is separated from it through 70,000 veils of light. For example, consider how many veils are between the Name of Creator’s particular degree of creativity manifested in you and Its universal and greatest manifestation as the Creator of the Universe. This suggests that if you can go beyond the whole universe, you may reach, through the door of being created, to the highest limit of the manifestations of the Name of Creator and draw close to the Sphere of the Attribute of Creativity.
Since the veils have windows opening onto each other, the Names appear to be concentric with each other, the designations correspond to each other, the representations are like each other, the operations perfect each other, and Lordship’s various dispositions cooperate with each other, then it is surely necessary for one who recognizes Almighty God by one of His Names, titles, or aspects of His Lordship not to deny His other titles, actions, and aspects of Lordship. If we do not move from the manifestation of one Name to the other Names, we are in loss.
For example, if we do not see the All-Knowing where we see the works of the All-Powerful and the Creator, we may fall into heedlessness and misguidance by regarding nature as self-originated. Thus we always should recite “He” and “He is God,” and listen and hear from everything: “He is God, the One.” In unison with all creation, we should proclaim: “There is no god but He.” The manifest Qur’an, through the declaration: “God, there is no god but He. His are the Most Beautiful Names,” points to these truths.
If you want to observe those elevated truths closer, ask a stormy sea or the quaking Earth: “What are you saying?” You will hear them repeat: “O Majestic One. O Majestic One, O Honorable One of Might. O All-Compelling One.” Ask small creatures and their young who are maintained everywhere with care and compassion: “What are you saying?” They will hymn: “O Gracious One, O Gracious One, O Most Compassionate One.”9 Then listen to how the heavens sing: “O Majestic One of Grace.” Listen to Earth, which says: “O Gracious One of Majesty.” Pay attention to animals and hear them invoke: “O Most Merciful One, O Provider.” When you ask the spring, you will hear it reciting such Names as: “O Most Caring One, O Most Merciful One, O Most Compassionate One, O Most Munificent One, O Gracious One, O Affectionate One, O Fashioner, O Illuminating One, O Favoring One, O Adorner.”
Ask those who are truly human. See how they recite and manifest all of God’s Most Beautiful Names, and how they are inscribed on their forehead. If you look carefully, you may discern them one by one. It is as if the universe were a huge orchestra singing the Divine Names. With the songs sung in the least notes and tones mixed with the highest, the universe produces a magnificent harmony.
All of the Names are manifested on humanity. However there are many Names, and their manifestation in different ways and degrees has caused variety in the universe, in the angels’ worshipping, and among human beings. It also has caused It also has caused differences among the laws of Prophets, the ways of saints, and the paths of purified scholars. For example, the All-Powerful was more predominant in Jesus than the other Names manifested in him. The All-Loving One prevails in those who follow the path of love, and the All-Wise in those who follow the path of contemplation and reflection.
Consider the following: Someone is simultaneously a teacher, officer, lawyer, and civil service inspector. In each office, that person has relations, duties, salaries, responsibilities, promotions, enemies, and rivals. He meets with the sovereign under many different titles, and having recourse to him through these titles, seeks his help in many ways. Humanity, in exactly the same way and upon whom numerous Divine Names are manifested, has many duties and is the target of many kinds of enmity.
Thus we seek refuge in God by invoking many of His Names. In fact, Prophet Muhammad, the pride of humanity and the most perfect human being, prayed to God through 1,001 of His Names in his al-Jawshan al-Kabir supplication, and sought refuge in Him from Hellfire. This is why God commands us in Surat al-Nas to seek refuge in Him through three of His Titles, and via In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate, He teaches us to seek help from Him through three of His Names.
* The Twenty-fourth Word / First Branch
8 For example, God manifests almost all of His Names (e.g., the Merciful, Creator, Fashioner, All-Wise, All-Knowing, etc.) on every individual. However, a particular Name’s manifestation may be more apparent on one person than the others. If the Name the All-Wise is so manifested, that person may be a wise one. Thus people have different characters and everyone has a capacity and tendency toward a particular profession. (Tr.)
9 Once I watched some cats—they only ate, played, and slept. Why are cats, who have no duties, considered blessed? When I went to bed, a cat approached and, leaning against my pillow, put its mouth to my ear and clearly purred: “O Most Compassionate One. O Most Compassionate One.” It seemed that it was refuting, for its species, my objection about cats’ lovability and blessedness. I asked myself if that recitation were unique to that cat or general for all cats, and whether only I could hear it. The next morning I listened to other cats. All repeated this invocation, but not so clearly. At first I heard: “O Most Compassionate One” among their purring in an indistinct manner. Gradually, their purring and meowing became the same: “O Most Compassionate One” as a touching, well-articulated recitation.
I related this to some visitors. They listened carefully as well, and said that they heard it to a degree. Later, I wondered why they were reciting that Name and why they were reciting it in the way of people and not in an animal tongue. I thought: Since they are very delicate, petted like children, and live amicably with people, they need great care and compassion. When they receive it, they proclaim the All-Compassionate Creator’s Mercy in their own world as thanks for that grace. Cats regard this as a special favor of God, whereas dogs regard this as a special favor of people. Cats warn people in the sleep of heedlessness, and through their cry of: “O Most Compassionate One” remind those who attribute everything to apparent “material” causes who actually sends the help and who is the source of mercy.