FIRST INDICATION: The two people mentioned above correspond to three other pairs:
- The instinct-driven self and the heart [the seat of spiritual intellect].
- Students of philosophy and students of the Wise Qur’an.
- Unbelievers and the community of believers [Muslims].
The worst error and misguidance of each group lies in not recognizing God. As the believer in our parable said: “There can be no letter without a scribe, no law without a legislator.” We affirm this.
How can a book, particularly one in whose every word a miniature pen has written another book, and in each letter of which a fine pen has composed a magnificent calligraphic work of praise, lack an author? As this universe is such a book, it must have an Author. Each page includes many books, every word a book, and every letter a praise. Earth’s surface represents only one page of that Book of the Universe, which comprises innumerable books. Every tree is a word, every fruit a letter, and every seed a dot containing an elaborate tree’s index. Such a book could have been inscribed only by the mighty pen of a Majestic One, Who is qualified by the attributes of Majesty and Grace and has infinite Power and Wisdom. Affirming the believer’s statement follows necessarily from observing this world, unless one is sunk in delusion.
A house must have an architect, particularly one displaying such astounding artistry, design, and subtle ornament. There is more art in one of its stones than in a whole palace. How could it not have an architect? Its rooms are reshaped and altered hourly, as easily and orderly as changing clothes, or shifting one scene to another on a movie screen. In addition, numerous little rooms are continually created in each scene.
The universe’s very existence requires an infinitely wise, all-knowing, and all-powerful maker, for it is a palace whose lamps are the sun and the moon, whose candles are the stars. Within it, time is like a suspended rope upon which the Majestic Maker threads a new world annually. He renews the world’s form or appearance daily with absolute orderliness and wisdom. He makes Earth’s surface a bountiful spread that, adorned each spring with countless plant and animal species, is filled with uncountable varieties of generous gifts. Despite their vast abundance, each creature is distinctly individualized and, at the same time, closely related and intermingled. Is it possible to miss the existence of the Maker of such a palace?
How can you deny the sun’s existence at noon on a cloudless day, when its presence is reflected in all transparent objects? To do so means you believe that each transparent object contains a miniature, real, and existent sun; that each minute particle contains a massive sun, although that particle has room enough only for itself. How can you logically deny the perfect Attributes of the Creator in His Majesty while witnessing this orderly universe, which continually changes in systematic, purposive ways and is ceaselessly renewed in a similar orderly manner? Denying the Creator means believing that every existent thing has God-like powers.
For example, an air atom somehow knows how to enter and work upon a flower, a fruit, or a leaf, for it can do so only if it knows the structure and form of all objects it penetrates and affects. Does it have that all-encompassing power and knowledge attributable only to God? Or, a soil atom enables countless different seeds to grow. Either it is acting under Divine command or it has the means and instruments appropriate to all trees and plants. Does each soil atom know each plant’s structure and all forms or have the power and artistry to fashion those forms? No. This also is true for all other levels and realms of creation.
There are many clear evidences of God’s Unity in all things. To create everything from one thing, and to make everything into one thing, requires a Power available only to the Creator of all. So, pay heed: There is nothing but glorifies Him with praise (17:44). If you reject a Single, Peerless God, you must accept as many gods as there are created beings.
SECOND INDICATION: The parable that we mentioned earlier cited a most noble commander. We pointed out that those who see his decorations and medals must know he is the king’s favored servant who acts according to the king’s commands. This commander is God’s Most Noble Messenger.8 The All-Holy, the Creator of so beautiful a universe, must send a noble Messenger, just as the sun must emit light. The sun cannot exist without emitting light, and Divinity cannot be without revealing itself by sending Prophets.
Could an absolute, perfect beauty not will to present itself through one who would demonstrate and display it? Could that perfectly beautiful artistry not will to make itself known through one who will draw our attention to it? Could the universal dominion of an all-embracing Lordship not will to make known its being One and the Eternally-Besought-of-All to all levels of multiplicity and particularity through a Messenger ennobled by his double authority? His worship’s universality makes him the Realm of Multiplicity’s envoy to the Divine Court, and his nearness to God and his being entrusted with His Message make him the Divine Court’s envoy to that realm.
Could the One of infinite essential Beauty not will to behold, and have others behold in many mirrors, His Beauty’s aspects and His Grace’s dimensions? His beloved Messenger holds up a mirror to Him via his worship. The bearer of God’s Message, he makes God Almighty beloved by us and shows us His Names’ beauty.
Could the Owner of treasuries filled with extraordinary miracles and priceless goods not will to show them to an appreciative humanity via the expert skills of a master jeweler and his descriptive eloquence, thereby revealing His hidden perfections? Could the One Who shows His Names’ perfection in a universe so adorned that it resembles a palace decorated with every variety of subtle, miraculous artistry not appoint a teacher and guide so that humanity might understand the wonders of His creation?
Could the Lord Who rules and sustains the universe not resolve, by means of His Messenger, our bewilderment over why there is constant change in the universe, and answer the questions on everyone’s mind: What is our origin? Where are we headed? What is our purpose [here]? Could the Majestic Maker, Who makes Himself known to conscious beings through His fair creation and loved through His precious gifts, not send a Messenger to convey to them what His Will demands from them in exchange? Could God create us with a disposition to suffer from multiplicity (this world and its charms) alongside an ability to engage in universal worship, without simultaneously wanting us to turn away from multiplicity and toward Unity by means of a teacher and guide?
Prophethood has many other functions, each of which is a decisive argument that Divinity necessarily implies Messengership. Has there ever been a person more worthy and qualified to fulfill these functions, more fitted to the rank of Messenger, more suited to the task of conveying God’s Message, than Prophet Muhammad? No. He is the master of Messengers, the foremost of Prophets, the leader of purified scholars, the nearest to God of those who have drawn near to Him, the most perfect of creatures, and the master of those who guide to righteousness.
Leaving aside the countless indications of his Prophethood seen in his recorded miracles and confirmed by all scholars, the supreme miracle of the Qur’an—an ocean of truth and a miraculous book in 40 different aspects—alone establishes his Prophethood. Since we discussed these aspects elsewhere,9 we limit our discussion here.
THIRD INDICATION: Is our rank too lowly and our being too trivial for this immense creation to be replaced only so we can be brought to account? No, for our slightness is only apparent. Our comprehensive nature makes us the master of all creatures and endows us with the capacity to herald God’s Dominion and offer Him universal worship. Given this, we are the most important being in creation.
If someone asks how such a transient being can deserve eternal punishment, consider that unbelief strives to make creation, which is as invaluable and exalted as a letter written by God, meaningless and pointless. It rejects the manifestations, imprints, and inscriptions of the His Holy Names, which are evident in all that is. It also seeks to deny the infinite proofs showing the truth of God. In short, unbelief insults existence and thus is a crime of infinite proportions deserving infinite punishment.
FOURTH INDICATION: The parable in the Twelve Pictures argued that a king who controlled one realm like a transient hostelry necessarily must have another, an eternal and permanent realm in which the majesty and sublimity of his being king are properly displayed. It is also impossible that the Eternal Creator of this transient world would not create an eternal realm; that the Maker of this beautiful but mutable universe, Himself Everlasting, would not create another permanent and everlasting universe; that the All-Wise, All-Powerful, All-Merciful Creator of a world that is like an arena of trial and exhibition, would not create a Hereafter in which this world’s purposes are manifested appropriately. The way into this truth consists of twelve gates that can be unlocked via twelve other truths. We begin with the shortest and simplest one.
8 In any publication dealing with Prophet Muhammad, his name or title is followed by “upon him be peace and blessings,” to show our respect for him and because it is a religious requirement. For his Companions and other illustrious Muslims: “May God be pleased with him (or her)” is used. However, as this might be distracting to non-Muslim readers, these phrases do not appear in this book, on the understanding that they are assumed and that no disrespect is intended. (Ed.)
9 Particularly in The Twenty-fifth Word.