Twelve pictures



FIRST PICTURE: Could such a magnificent kingdom not have a system of reward for those who obey and of punishment for those who rebel? As reward and punishment are virtually non-existent here, there must be a Supreme Tribunal somewhere else.

SECOND PICTURE: Look at this organization and administration. Everyone, including the poorest and the weakest, receives the most appropriate and perfect sustenance. The lonely and sick receive the best care. Notice the royal and delicious foods, dishes, jeweled decorations, embroidered clothes, magnificent feasts. Everyone takes their duties seriously, except for rebels like you, and do not transgress their bounds. The greatest people are engaged in modest and obedient service, and work in an attitude of fear and awe.

Given this, the ruler must have great generosity and an all-embracing compassion, great dignity, and the most exalted honor and high state. Generosity requires liberality, compassion cannot be dispensed without beneficence, and honor and high state require that the discourteous be chastised. But not even a minute part of what that compassion and high state require is visible here. The oppressor remains powerful and the oppressed humiliated. As they both depart and migrate from this realm, their affairs must be left to a Supreme Tribunal.

THIRD PICTURE: All affairs are managed with lofty wisdom and order; transactions are effected with true justice and balance. A wise polity requires that seekers of the state’s protecting wing receive favor. Justice demands that subjects’ rights be preserved so that the government’s dignity and the state’s authority and splendor are maintained. But only a minute part of that is fulfilled here. Disobedient people like you often leave this realm unpunished. Their affairs must be left to a Supreme Tribunal.

FOURTH PICTURE: Look at the innumerable and peerless jewels displayed like great dishes at a banquet. The ruler must have an inexhaustible treasury and infinite generosity, both of which deserve and require a bountiful and eternal display of all objects of desire as well as the eternal nature of those enjoying the feast, so that they will not suffer pain due to death or separation until eternity. Just as pain’s end brings pleasure, pleasure’s end brings pain.

Look at these displays and listen to the announcements. Heralds proclaim the miracle working monarch’s fine and delicate arts. They show his perfections, declare his matchless and invisible beauty, and tell of his hidden beauty’s subtle manifestations. Given this, he must have an amazing beauty and perfection that is not seen here. This hidden perfection requires one who will appreciate and admire it, who will gaze on it and exclaim: “What wonders God has willed!” thus displaying it and making it known.

Concealed and matchless beauty wills to see and be seen, to contemplate itself in mirrors and via the contemplations of ecstatic spectators and amazed admirers. It wills to see and be seen, to contemplate itself eternally, and to be contemplated without cease. It wills permanent existence for those who gaze upon it in awe and joy, for eternal beauty cannot be content with transient admirers.

Moreover, admirers destined to perish without hope of return will find their love changed into enmity whenever they imagine their death. Such admiration and respect will lean toward contempt, for we are enemies of what we do not know and cannot reach. However, we leave this guest-house quickly and vanish, after having seen, for only a moment, a dim light or shadow of that perfection and beauty. As this sight does not satisfy us, we know that we are moving toward an eternal realm of seeing.

FIFTH PICTURE: Given the above, that peerless being also has infinite mercy. He quickly sends aid to every afflicted or unfortunate one. He answers every request and petition, even the lowliest subject’s lowliest need. If, for example, the foot of a herdsman’s sheep should hurt, he provides medicine or sends a veterinarian.

Come on, let’s go to a great meeting being held in that land. All nobles of the land have assembled there. A most noble commander, one bearing an exalted decoration, is petitioning the compassionate king for certain things. Everyone is saying after him: “Yes, yes, we ask for the same.” They agree with and affirm his words. Now, listen to what that noble commander, who is best loved by the king, is saying:


Our Master, you who nurture us with your bounty, show us the origin and true form of these examples and shadows you have shown us. Draw us close to your seat of rule. Don’t let us perish in these deserts, but rather admit us to your presence. Have mercy on us. Feed us there on the true form of the exquisite bounty you have caused us to taste here. Don’t afflict us with despair and banishment, or leave your yearning, thankful, and obedient subjects to their own devices. Don’t cause us to be annihilated.


Having heard what he says, could such a merciful and powerful king deny the request of his most beloved and noble commander’s finest and highest aim? Remember that he fulfills his lowliest soldier’s lowliest desire. The commander and humanity have the same purpose. Moreover, its fulfillment is required by the king’s pleasure, compassion, and justice.

Such matters are as easy for him as creating these transient places of enjoyment. Having spent so much on this transient place, which lasts only 5 or 6 days, to show instances of his power and benevolence, he will display at his seat of rule true treasures, perfections, and skills in such a manner, and open before us such spectacles, that our intellects will be astonished. Those sent to this field of trial will not be left to their own devices; rather, palaces of bliss or dungeons of punishment await them.

SIXTH PICTURE: Come now, look! All these imposing trains, planes, machines, warehouses, and exhibitions show that a majestic king exists and governs behind a veil.3 Such a sovereign requires subjects worthy of himself. But his subjects are gathered in a guesthouse that is filled and emptied daily. Moreover, his subjects now are gathered on a testing ground for maneuvers, a ground that is changed hourly. Again, his subjects stay in an exhibition hall for a few minutes to behold examples of his beneficence, priceless products of his miraculous art. But the exhibition alters each moment. Whatever leaves does not return, and whatever comes is destined to go. All of this proves that there are permanent palaces and lasting abodes, as well as gardens and treasuries full of the pure and exalted originals of the samples, beyond what we see here. This is why we exert ourselves here. We work here, and he rewards us there with a form and degree of happiness suited to our capacity.

SEVENTH PICTURE: Let’s walk and see what is going on. Everywhere you see photographers taking pictures and scribes recording everything, no matter how insignificant or ordinary. The king’s supreme photographer, who is devoted to his service and photographs everything, is installed on a tall mountain.4 The king must have ordered that all transactions and deeds performed in his kingdom be recorded. One day, he will use these records to call his subjects to account.

Would such an All-Wise and All-Preserving Being not record His greatest subject’s—humanity’s—most significant deeds? Would He not call everyone to account in order to reward or punish them? After all, people do things that offend His glory, are contrary to His pride, and are unacceptable to His compassion. They remain unpunished in this world, and so must be called before a Supreme Tribunal (somewhere else).

EIGHTH PICTURE: Let me read the king’s decrees to you. He makes the following promises and threats many times: “I will take you from your present abode and bring you to the realm of my absolute rule so that I may bestow happiness on the obedient and imprison the disobedient. I will destroy that temporary abode and establish a different realm containing eternal palaces and dungeons.” He does what he promises with great ease, and these promises are very important for his subjects. His dignity and power do not allow him to break his promise.

So reflect, O confused one. Do not listen to your lying imagination, distressed intellect, and deceiving soul, all of which deny the words of one who cannot break his promise, whose high stature allows no deception, and to whose trustworthiness all visible deeds bear witness. You deserve to be punished, for you are like a traveler who closes his eyes to the sunlight in order to follow the light provided by his imagination. You want to illuminate this awesomely dark path with the light of your brain, although it is no more than a glowworm. The king fulfills all his promises, an act that is easy for him and necessary for creation as well as for himself and his kingdom. Thus, there is a Supreme Tribunal and a lofty happiness.

NINTH PICTURE: Look at these office managers and group leaders.5 Each has a private phone to speak personally with the king. Sometimes they go directly to his presence. All of them say that the king has prepared a magnificent and awesome place for reward and punishment. His promises are emphatic, and his threats are stern. His pride and dignity do not allow him to suffer the humiliation inherent in breaking a promise.

The bearers of this report, who are so numerous as to be universally accepted, unanimously report that the seat and headquarters of the lofty kingdom, some of whose traces are visible here, are located in another realm far from here. The buildings here are temporary and soon will be exchanged for eternal palaces. This world will change, for that magnificent and unfading kingdom, the splendor of which is apparent from its works, cannot be founded or based on something transient, impermanent, unstable, insignificant, changing, defective, and imperfect. It can be based only on matters worthy of it, and which are eternal, stable, permanent, and glorious. Thus there is another realm toward which we are heading.

TENTH PICTURE: Today is the vernal equinox.6

Certain changes will take place, and wonderful things will happen. On this fine spring day, let’s go for a walk on the green plain adorned with beautiful flowers. Other people also are heading for it. Some magic must be at work, for ruins suddenly have become buildings again, and this once-empty plain resembles a populous city. It shows a different scene every hour, just like a movie screen, and assumes a different shape. Note the perfect order among these complex, swiftly changing and numerous scenes, and that each item is put in its proper place. The imaginary scenes cannot be as well ordered as this, and millions of skilled magicians could not possess such artistry. Given this, the invisible king must have performed even greater miracles.

O obstinate one! You ask how this vast kingdom can be destroyed and re-established somewhere else. Are you blind to the numerous changes and revolutions that occur hourly, just like the transfer from one realm to another that you deny? This gathering in and scattering forth indicate that a certain purpose is concealed within these visible and swift joinings and separations, these compoundings and dissolvings. It is as if 10 years of effort is devoted to a joining together destined to last no longer than an hour. How can such circumstances be ends in themselves? They are no more than parables indicating or imitating something beyond themselves.

That exalted being brings them about in miraculous fashion, and then they are copied, preserved, and recorded, just as what happens on a battlefield is recorded. This implies that an infinitely vast gathering place will be built, and that what happens therein will be based on what happens here.

Furthermore, the results of what occurs here will be shown permanently at some supreme exposition. All transient and fluctuating phenomena seen here will yield the fruit of eternal and immutable form. Thus all variations observed in this world are for the sake of a supreme happiness, a lofty tribunal, and for exalted aims as yet unknown to us.

ELEVENTH PICTURE: So, my obstinate friend, let’s travel through time and see what miraculous works this king has accomplished in other places. We can see similar marvels wherever we go, although they differ with respect to art and form. But the order and harmony betokening manifest wisdom, indications of evident favoring, signs of lofty justice, and fruits of comprehensive mercy still are seen in these transient stations, impermanent spheres, and passing scenes.

Even those with limited insight understand that no one can equal or surpass this king’s perfect wisdom, beautiful providence, comprehensive compassion, and glorious justice. If you deny the permanent abodes, lofty places, fixed stations, and permanently resident and contented populations existing in his kingdom—if you deny the full manifestation of the truths of his wisdom, favoring, mercy, and justice in his realm—we would have to deny all that we see in this world.

Could we deny the sun, whose light is clearly visible? Could we consider the source of these wise measures, generous acts, and merciful gifts—all of which are clearly visible—as a trickster or a tyrant? We change truth into its opposite if we answer “yes,” although all rational beings say it is impossible. The only exception to this rule are Sophists, for they deny everything. Thus there is another realm that contains a supreme tribunal, a lofty place of justice, and an exalted place of reward. There, all this favoring, wisdom, mercy, and justice will be manifested fully.

TWELFTH PICTURE: Let’s visit the chiefs and officers of these groups, check out their equipment, and ask whether it was given so they could survive for a while here or to use it as a means to obtain a life of bliss in another realm. As we cannot do this with everyone, let’s look at this officer’s identity card and register.

We see that his rank, salary, duty, supplies, and instructions are recorded. His rank is not for just a few days. In fact, it might have been given to him for a prolonged period. It says on his card: “You will receive so much salary on such-and-such a day from the treasury.” But the date in question is far in the future, after this realm has been vacated.

Similarly, the duty mentioned on his card is not meant for this temporary realm alone, but rather for the sake of earning permanent happiness via some degree of nearness to the king. His supplies are not meant to ensure his survival here for a few days; they can be only for the sake of a long and happy life. The instructions explain that he is destined for a different place and that he is working for another realm.

Look at these registers. They explain how to use and dispose of these weapons and equipment. If there were no exalted and eternal realm, such a register of categorical instructions and an identity card with clear information would be meaningless. That respected officer, noble commander, and honored chief would be lower than anybody else, for he would be the most wretched, luckless, abased, afflicted, indigent, and weak person. Apply the same principle to everything. Whatever you see testifies to another and eternal world.

This temporary world is like a field, a training ground, a market that will be replaced by a supreme tribunal and ultimate happiness. If you deny this, you must deny all officers’ identity cards, equipment, and orders, as well as the country’s order, its government, and whatever the government does. If you do so, how can you be considered a true human being or even a conscious being?

The proof for this transfer of creation from one realm to another is not restricted to these Twelve Pictures. Countless other indications and proofs show that this impermanent, changing kingdom will be transferred to a permanent, immutable realm. Innumerable signs and evidences show that we will leave this temporary hospice and be sent to the eternal seat of rule of all creation. I will discuss one proof that is stronger than all Twelve Pictures taken together.

In the midst of the great assembly, the same noble commander we saw earlier is making an announcement. Let’s go and listen. He is conveying an imperial edict, hung high over there. He says: “Prepare yourselves. You will go to another and permanent realm, a realm that will make this one seem like a dungeon. You will go to the seat of our king’s rule, and receive his compassion and bounty, if you heed and obey this edict. If you rebel and disobey it, you will be cast into awesome dungeons.”

Such is the message he conveys. This decree bears a miraculous seal that cannot be imitated. Only obstinate, rebellious people like you do not understand that this is from the king. Moreover, the noble commander bears such bright decorations that everyone, except blind people, understands that he is the truthful conveyor of the king’s orders. How can the noble commander be doubted, for doing so would entail denying all that we have seen. So, my friend, what have you got to say for yourself?

My friend replied: “What can I say? What can contradict all of this? Who can speak against the sun at midday? I only can say: ‘Praise be to God,’ thank Him for saving me from my vain fancy and imagination, and for delivering me from an eternal prison. I believe that there is an abode of happiness in some degree of nearness to the king, one that is separate from this confused and impermanent hospice.”

Our parable indicating the truth of the Resurrection and the Hereafter ends here. Now, with God’s grace, we will pass on to the most exalted truth. We shall set forth twelve interrelated truths corresponding to the Twelve Pictures discussed above. By means of various indications, we also refer here to several matters also explained elsewhere.7


Bediuzzaman Said Nursi

3 When an army is told to “take up your weapons and fix your bayonets,” according to the rules of war while on maneuver, it resembles a forest of oaks. When a garrison’s soldiers are commanded on a festive day to wear their parade uniforms and medals, the army resembles an ornate garden full of flowers of every color. This is how it is with all of Earth’s species of unfeeling plants and trees that, like animals, jinn, humanity, and animals, are only one of the infinitely various armies of the Eternal King, when they receive the order Be! And it is in the struggle for life’s maintenance, and the command “Take up your weapons and equipment to defend yourselves and maintain your lives!” At that time, all those plants and trees fix their bayonets, in the form of trees and plants with thorns, and resemble a splendid army standing on the parade or battle ground.

Each spring day and week is like a festive day for each vegetable species. Each species presents itself to the Eternal King’s watching and witnessing gaze, with the jeweled decorations He has bestowed on them, as if on parade to display the precious gifts He has given them. It is as if they were obeying His command to “wear the garments produced by Divine artistry and put on the decorations (flowers and fruit) made by His Creativity.” At such a time, the face of Earth represents a garrison on a magnificent parade on a splendid festive day that is brilliant with the soldiers’ uniforms and jeweled decorations. Such a purposeful and well-arranged equipment and decoration demonstrates, to all who are not blind, that they occur only due to the command of a king with infinite power and unlimited wisdom.

4 Some of these truths are presented in the Seventh Truth: The photographer devoted to the king’s service indicates the Supreme Preserved Tablet. This Tablet’s reality and existence is proved in The Twenty-sixth Word as follows: A little portfolio suggests the existence of a great ledger; a little document points to the existence of a great register; and little drops point to the existence of a great water tank. Thus our retentive faculties, a tree’s fruits, a fruit’s seeds and kernels are like a little portfolio, a miniature guarded tablet, or a drop proceeding from the pen that inscribes the great Guarded Tablet. They all point to, indicate, and prove the existence of a Supreme Memory, a Great Register, an exalted Guarded Tablet.

5 Consult the Eight Truth. For example, we use office managers and group leaders for Prophets and saints, and phone for a link and relation with God that goes forth from the heart, and is Revelation’s mirror and inspiration’s receptacle. The heart is like the telephone’s ear-piece.

6 These aspects are explained in the Ninth Truth. The equinox represents the beginning of spring, while the green fields full of flowers represent Earth in spring. The changing scenes stand for the creatures, beings, and things in springtime and the provisions given to humanity and animals. These are brought forth in orderly succession, from the beginning of spring to the end of summer, by a Majestic, Powerful Maker, an All-Wise, Gracious Creator, Who renews them with utmost compassion and dispatches them continuously, one after the other.

7 In the Nineteenth, Twenty-second, and Twenty-sixth Words.