The Second Treatise
Droplets from the ocean of the Prophet’s knowledge
A NOTE: Many things make our Lord known to us. The three greatest and most universal are:
- The universe, some signs of which [concerning our Lord’s Existence and Unity] have been discussed already.
- The Seal of the Prophets, upon him be peace and blessings, our Lord’s greatest sign and key to His hidden treasures.
- The Qur’an, which interprets the Book of the Universe and is God’s argument against creatures.
WE SHOULD RECOGNIZE THE SECOND SIGN, PROPHET MUHAMMAD, as an articulate, indisputable “argument” [for our Lord], and then listen to what he says.17 From the ocean of knowledge of this sign, we shall mention a few droplets.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that Prophet Muhammad, this indisputable, articulate argument for our Lord, has a universal personality. He can be described in the following terms:
As his person is universal in nature, Earth is his mosque, Mecca his place of worship, and Madina his pulpit. He leads all believers, who stand behind him in rows and follow his words on the principles of happiness [in both worlds]. The chief of all Prophets, he removes the lies and slurs leveled against them by their own people and affirms them and the essentials of their religions within Islam. The master of all saints, he guides and educates them via the light of his Messengership. He is the “pivot” around which turns a circle formed of the Prophets, the good, the truthful, and the righteous, who recite God’s Names and agree on his Message.
Muhammad is a luminous tree growing on the firm, healthy, and lively roots of the previous Prophets and the heavenly principles they preached. This tree shoots out green, fresh branches yielding the fine “fruit” of saints distinguished with knowledge of God. Whatever he claimed is confirmed by all Prophets based on their miracles, and by all saints based on their good or marvelous works. All his affirmations bear the seals of all perfected people. If one hears him declaring there is no god but God, thereby affirming Divine Unity, one will hear the same declaration from the past and the future, from the illustrious shining “suns” and stars of humanity reciting God’s Names in His circle. Despite their different approaches and temperaments, they agree with all of his affirmations, as if saying in unison: “You declare and speak the truth.”
How can one object to what has been affirmed by innumerable witnesses, whose miracles and marvelous good works display their pure characters and truthfulness?
KNOW, O FRIEND, that this illustrious person, who affirms Divine Unity and guides humanity to it, is confirmed by Prophethood and sainthood. Billions of people have agreed upon this for 14 centuries. Earlier revealed Scriptures (the Torah, the Gospels, the Psalms, etc.) predicted his coming and confirm his Prophethood. He is confirmed by marvels that, prior to his Prophethood, either he worked or that took place in connection with him. It is also reported through reliable channels that his coming was predicted.
He is affirmed by the hundreds of miracles he worked: splitting the moon; abundant water flowing from his fingers; trees moving in answer to his call; the coming of rain upon his prayer; satisfying many hungry people with very little food through his blessing; understanding the languages of rocks, trees, lizards, gazelles, camels, and wolves, and so on. All of these were narrated by truthful Traditionists and historians. He is also confirmed by the Islamic law, which enables people to find happiness in both worlds. You already have seen the rays from its “sun” diffusing happiness. If your eyes and heart are open, this will be enough for you.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that his very person or character proves his Prophethood. Like the Sun [showing itself through its light, heat, and other manifestations], all of the praiseworthy virtues concentrated in his person, as well as the merits and excellences he displayed while fulfilling his mission, confirm his Prophethood. Further proofs are his firm belief (demonstrated by his austere life), great awe of God, righteousness, and matchless servanthood to his Lord. The Prophet’s complete submission to God, to which his life testifies; the perfection of his earnestness, firmness, and courage; and his utmost certainty in his movements shown by his full confidence in his cause all confirm him. Just as green leaves, bright blossoms, and fresh fruits bear witness to a tree’s vigor, the Prophet’s full adherence to his cause and following it in total certainty and strictness confirm him in his claim.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that time and space greatly influence human reasoning and thought. So, let’s free ourselves of these constraints and travel back in time to the Arabian peninsula during the Age of Happiness. Putting on the clothes of that time, we will visit the “Axis of the Sphere of Divine Messengership” at work.
Open your eyes and look carefully. What catches our eyes first is an extraordinary man excelling all others in good looks and good conduct. He has a revealed book, and speaks in an extraordinarily concise and wise way while addressing creation, humanity, jinn, and all other creatures.
What strange things he speaks about: a very important affair, a very awesome tiding. He removes the veil from the universe’s creation, explains why it was created, and answers the questions that occupy the mind of every conscious being: Who am I? Where do I come from? What is my purpose or final destination?
Look at this man. See how he disseminates the truth with such light that our night is changed into daytime, our winter into spring. It is as if the universe changed form so that its vexed, distressful face became cheerful and smiling.
If we do not look at the universe according to the light [of the truth] that he brought, it seems full of sorrow, its living creatures like strangers and mutual enemies, and its inanimate objects like frightening corpses. We see animals and human beings as orphans weeping at the pain of death and separation. The world’s movements, changes, alterations, decorations, and adornments seem like meaningless playthings of chance. Our helplessness is a continuous source of trouble, and our poverty renders us powerless. Human reason or intellect continually upset us with sorrows of the past and anxieties of the future, causing us to be the lowest and most wretched of animals.
Now look at the universe with his light and observe it through the telescope of Islam. See how its appearance has changed. It is no longer a house of mourning, but a mosque in which all beings praise and thank the Creator and reflect [on His works]. Creatures that formerly seemed like strangers and mutual enemies have become friends, brothers, and sisters. Inanimate objects, seen as terrifying corpses, have become like amiable living beings fulfilling certain important functions. In the tongue of those functions or tasks, they articulate their Creator’s signs.
Living beings who were like orphans weeping with pain and complaints now appear as reciting the Creator’s Names throughout their lives and thanking him for discharging them from their duties (death). The universe’s movements, changes, and alterations are no longer subject to chance, but messages from the Creator’s rulership or mastership, “pages” on which He writes His signs of creation and rules of the universe, and mirrors in which His Names are reflected. In sum, the universe is a book of Divine Wisdom.
Now look at the past, that great tomb of darkness. See how it has been illuminated with the suns of Prophets and stars of saints. Look at the future, the darkest of nights. See how it has been illuminated with the Qur’an’s light and appears as gardens of Paradise.
Now look at people and see how they progressed from being helpless, destitute, and degraded animals to the rank of Divine caliphate on Earth.
They have progressed through the force of their weakness, the power of their helplessness, the motive of their poverty, the incentive of their destitution, the strength of their servanthood, the light of their heart, and the splendor of their intellect. Then look how the reasons for their descent (helplessness, poverty and weakness) have become the reasons for their ascension due to their being enlightened by the light brought by that luminous person: Prophet Muhammad.
Without his presence, the universe and everything in it (including humanity) would have been rendered worthless and meaningless. Had it not been for that wonderful, superior person who makes known the universe and its Creator, this beautiful universe would not have existed, for we could not have understood its meaning. How truthful is He Whose words are true, and for Whom is the kingdom of creation, in His declaration: But for you, I would not have created the worlds.
Look at and listen to him. He speaks of eternal happiness and brings good tidings of it. He unveils infinite mercy and calls everyone to it. He proclaims the beauties of Divine rule and upbringing, and reveals the secrets of the Divine Names’ treasuries.
Look at him from the viewpoint of his mission: He is the proof and lamp of the truth, the Sun of guidance, and the means of happiness. Look at him from the viewpoint of his person: He is the epitome of the All-Merciful’s love [of His creatures], the embodiment of the Lord’s mercy upon them, the honor of humanity, and the most radiant and illustrious fruit of the Tree of Creation. Now look at him and see how the light of Islam has reached the East and the West with the speed of lightning, how one-fourth of humanity has accepted the gift of his guidance wholeheartedly.
Given this, can the carnal self and Satan argue, with reason and without sophistry, against these affirmations, especially against the foundation of his affirmations: There is no god but God?
What stimulates him? Sacred power. Consider his accomplishments in that desert full of savage people who adhered fanatically to their customs, tribalism, and hostility. They were so hard-hearted that they buried their daughters alive without remorse or grief. How did he remove such things from them so quickly and equip them with high, laudable virtues? How did he make them teachers of humanity and masters of civilized peoples? Not by power and terror, as do most rulers, but by conquering hearts and minds; subjugating spirits and egos; and becoming the beloved of hearts, the teacher of reason, the educator of selfhood, and the ruler of spirits.
It is very difficult even for a powerful, determined ruler or government to remove an established bad habit from a small community. The Prophet removed many established bad habits from vast communities of people who adhered fanatically to their customs and traditions, with a small force, little effort, and very quickly. Moreover, he replaced them with praiseworthy virtues and exalted merits. Look at ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab [a leading person of pre-Islamic Mecca] before and after his conversion to Islam—after his conversion, the seed of virtue in his character became a “tall, excellent tree” [of most laudable merits].
Almost all of the Prophet’s accomplishments are extraordinary. Whoever denies this should go to the Arabian peninsula today and see what they can accomplish there. Let them take a hundred philosophers [psychologists and sociologists], and see if they can accomplish in 100 years even one-hundredth of what the Prophet accomplished in a year.
A basic understanding of human nature shows that people cannot lie easily about something that will embarrass them if they are caught. Even if it concerns an insignificant matter and is told to a small group, it is still hard. If they can lie comfortably without blushing or shame, they are compulsive liars, a trait that will be publicized by their enemies. Given this, how can someone, especially one famed for his trustworthiness and truthfulness and who carries the greatest responsibility, lie about the most important and greatest mission before humanity until the Last Day? How could he lie before people who hate him and are just waiting to expose him?
When the Prophet speaks, he has no fear of his opponents and neither hesitates nor is anxious. Rather, he speaks with absolute sincerity and enthusiasm, and in a way that confounds his enemies’ reason, arguments, and attitudes. How could he have lied and deceived people concerning his mission? No! [Whatever he says] is but a Revelation revealed (53:4).
Truth is free and independent of deception, and the eye that sees the truth is not deceived. Therefore the Prophet’s path is true, and he did not deceive others, just as his truth-perceiving eyes could not be deceived by illusions.
Listen to his words that inform and warn people of awesome events. He speaks about matters that captivate hearts and inspire minds to reflect, and brings humanity good tidings [of a happy future in this world and the Hereafter].
Many people would give almost anything to know the reality of things and events. If someone told you that a person had come from the moon or Jupiter and was saying very interesting things and foretelling the future, would you not give almost anything to find out what he was saying? It is very strange, then, that while you probably would do so in this case, you do not care what the Prophet says, despite the fact that the people of truth and expert knowledge (namely, Prophets, truthful and truth-seeking scholars, and saints) confirm him and agree on what he has said and predicted. He speaks about the acts of a Monarch in Whose kingdom the moon is no more than a fly circling a moth that, in turn, circles a lamp He has lit in one of the thousands of mansions He has prepared for His guests. He speaks of a world full of wonders and marvels, about a revolution so unusual and extraordinary that if Earth exploded and its mountains flew like clouds, this would not be equal in strangeness to one-thousandth of that revolution.
When the Sun is folded up, and when the stars fall, losing their luster, and when the mountains are moved, and when camels 10months pregnant are abandoned, and when the wild beasts are herded together, and when the seas are set boiling, and when souls are reunited, and when the girl-child that was buried alive is asked for what sin she was slain, and the records of all people’s deeds are laid open, and when heaven is torn away, and when Hell is set blazing, and when Paradise is brought near—then every soul will know what it has prepared. (81:1-14)
When the sky is cleft asunder, and when the planets are dispersed, and when the oceans are poured forth, and when the graves are overturned, each soul will know what it has sent forward and what it has kept back. (82:1-5)
When Earth is shaken with its earthquake and Earth yields up its burdens, and humanity asks: “What is the matter with it?” That day it will proclaim its tidings because your Lord inspired it. That day all people will come forth in scattered groups to be shown their deeds. Whoever does good an atom’s weight will see it then. And whoever does ill an atom’s weight will see it then. (99:1-8)
The Clatterer! What is the Clatterer? Would that you knew what the Clatterer is! A day when humanity will become like scattered moths, and mountains will become like carded wool. Then, as for those whose scales are heavy [with good deeds], they will be in a pleasing life. But as for those whose scales are light, the bottomless pit will be their home. What will convey to you what that is like! It is raging Fire. (101:1-11)
He gives tidings of a future, compared to which this world’s future is like a drop from a mirage of water as compared to a limitless ocean. He brings good tidings of contentment, compared to which worldly contentment is but a flash of lightning as compared to an ever-shining Sun.
Beneath the veil of this universe of wonders are extraordinary events totally beyond what we are used to. We can learn of such events only if an extraordinary person sees them and tells us about them. We see what he does and how he lives, and conclude that he witnesses them and thus either warns us or brings us good tidings [of the happy future awaiting us beyond them]. He tells us what pleases the Lord of the Worlds, what He wants us to do, about some awesome affairs we cannot escape, and about some strange realities we will face and without which happiness is impossible.
Can they really be blind and deaf to such truth and realities? How can people not care about such an extraordinary person?
KNOW, O FRIEND, that this man, known to us by his most sublime character and recognized by the world for his matchless accomplishments, who is an articulate and truthful argument for God’s Oneness and a most true evidence of His Unity, is a decisive argument and definite proof of eternal happiness. Through his call and guidance, he shows us how to gain eternal happiness, the creation of which he caused through his prayer and servanthood.
Look at him leading the most comprehensive prayer in front of the peninsula’s inhabitants, in front of the world’s inhabitants. Look again. All virtuous descendants of Adam, from the beginning until the end of time, stand in rows behind him and follow him. All down the centuries they follow him in worship and say “Amen” to his supplications. Be attentive to what he does and says, for he prays out of a deep, comprehensive, and mighty need. The world, the heavens, and all creatures accompany him and say in the tongues of their behavior and dispositions: “Yes, O Lord, accept his prayer. We ask what he asks of You, together with everything we have—our eyes, ears, tongues, hands, legs, hearts, minds, and so on. As the manifestations of Your Names, we ask of You whatever He asks.”
Look at his manners and see how he supplicates in utmost consciousness of his poverty before his Lord, in a most ardent desire and deep sorrow. He stirs the universe to tears, and it participates in his prayer. What does he ask for? The realization of a purpose that, if not realized, will reduce us and all creatures to a state without value or meaning. If this purpose is realized, however, all creatures will attain their rank of perfection according to their capacity.
See how he supplicates with such a deep yearning for help and such a moving request for mercy that the Divine Throne of Universal Rule and the heavens are moved to pity and love and say: “Amen, O God, Amen.” To whom does he address his request for the realization of his purpose? To the All-Powerful, All-Hearing, All-Munificent, All-Knowing, All-Seeing, and All-Compassionate One, Who hears everything’s most secret supplication and then satisfies it. He sees whatever any of His creatures desire, and enables them to realize their desire in a way they had not considered. He gives freely and shows compassion in such a wise, orderly, and regular way that one cannot doubt that such training, raising, and sustenance is the work of One All-Hearing, All-Knowing, All-Seeing, and All-Wise.
How extraordinary! What does he ask for, this man who stands with all the Prophets behind him and, raising his hand toward God’s Supreme Throne, offers a supplication to which humanity and jinn say “Amen”? We know by his acts that he is the honor of humanity, the pride of all beings, and the unique one of creation. He intercedes with God [for all beings] for the sake of all Divine Names manifested in the “mirrors” of beings. He asks for eternal existence, meeting with God, Paradise, and God’s pleasure. Eternal happiness is necessitated (among other reasons) by Divine Mercy, Favor, Wisdom, and Justice, as well as God’s Beautiful Names, almost all of which demand the existence of the other world. But even if it were not so, one prayer of the Prophet would suffice for his Lord’s creating Paradise for him and his followers, just as with each spring He builds for us Paradise-like gardens decorated with the miracles of His art. Just as his mission of Messengership caused the creation of this world for trial and worship, so the prayer he makes as a requirement and dimension of his servanthood would cause the construction of the other world for reward and punishment.
The universe’s matchless beauty is so perfect that it prompted the famous theologian Imam al-Ghazzali18 to say: “It is not possible for a creation more beautiful than the present one to come into existence.” Can such extraordinary order and harmony, all-inclusive mercy and faultless artistry, and matchless beauty be combined and marred with ugliness, injustice, and confusion?
The most insignificant petition is heard and answered most attentively. Would it not be an act of supreme ugliness (injustice) to be deaf to the loudest voice making a supplication for the greatest need, and not to accept the best request made with the most beautiful desire and longing? God is absolutely free of such ugliness, and the universe’s faultless beauty does not allow it.
O FELLOW TRAVELER, do you need to see more? Do you want to acquire complete knowledge of the Prophet? Even if we stayed in the Arabian peninsula for 100 years we still could not comprehend fully even one dimension of his mission and accomplishments. Let us return and, traveling through forward in time, see how each century “flourished” [with his Message] and to what extent it benefited from that Age of Happiness.
While doing so, we see that innumerable “flowers” opened in the “Sun” of that Age of Happiness, and that through the light of guidance he diffused, each century yielded thousands of illustrious fruits, such as Abu Hanifa,19 al-Shaifi‘i,20 Abu Yazid al-Bistami,21 Junayd al-Baghdadi,22 Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani,23 Imam al-Ghazzali, Muhiy al-Din ibn al-‘Arabi,24 Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili,25 Shah Naqshband,26 and Imam Rabbani.27
Let’s postpone our observations to call God’s peace and blessings upon that illustrious, miracle-working being, namely our master Muhammad:
O God, bestow peace and blessings on that illustrious being, on whom the wise Qur’an was sent down from the Supreme Throne of God by the All-Merciful, All-Compassionate. He is our master Muhammad, upon him be peace and uncountable blessings to the number of the good deeds of his Ummah.
Peace be upon him whose Messengership was predicted in the Torah, the Gospels, the Psalms, and other Divine Scriptures. His Prophethood was prophesied by miraculous events before his Prophethood, by seers among the jinn, humanity, and saints. By his gesture the moon split in half. He is our master and lord Muhammad, upon him be peace and uncountable blessings to the number of the breaths of his Ummah.
Peace and blessings be upon him whose call trees answered, at whose prayer rain came speedily, and whom the cloud shaded from heat. Hundreds of people were satisfied with a gallon of his food, and water flowed abundantly from his fingers. God made the lizard, the gazelle, the wolf, the camel, the mountain, the rock, and the tree speak to him [and he understood them]. He ascended as far as the seventh heaven and the Supreme Throne of God, and his eyes did not swerve. He is our master and intercessor Muhammad, upon him be peace and uncountable blessings to the number of the letters of the Qur’an’s words that have had forms by the All-Merciful’s leave in the “mirrors” of air molecules while being recited by reciters from the first day of its revelation until the end of time.
O God, for the sake of every blessing and peace called upon him, forgive us and have mercy on us. Amen, amen, amen.
The arguments for his Prophethood are uncountable. We related several in The Nineteenth Word and The Nineteenth Letter. The miracles manifested through him number one thousand. Moreover the Qur’an, whose approximately 40 miraculous aspects we explained in The Twenty-fifth Word, also testifies to his Prophethood, as do the universe and all its signs.28 Among the creatures distributed throughout the universe, there are innumerable signs of the Divine Being’s Unity and countless proofs of his Messengership.
For example, consider the fine artistry in creation. Such perfection is a decisive evidence of Muhammad’s Messengership, for the beauty of these ornamented creatures manifests a fine artistry in their creation. Their richly ornamented form and constitution show that the Maker has a boundless will to make all creation beautiful and ornamented. Such a will clearly indicates the Maker’s elevated love for His creation, His sacred desire to manifest the perfection of His art. This love and desire show that humanity— the most perfect and finest creature, the most comprehensive being—is the comprehensive and excellent object and focus of this love and desire. Thus we are the conscious fruit of the Tree of Creation, and are finer and more comprehensive than all other parts of creation.
All of these characteristics signify our all-encompassing view and universal consciousness, a full view of the Tree of Creation, and a full awareness of the Maker’s purposes. We are the direct, special addressee of the Maker, because we possess this all-encompassing view and universal consciousness. But one individual focuses his all-encompassing view and universal consciousness exclusively on servanthood to the Maker, on love of Him, and on appreciating this exhibition of His art. He uses all his consciousness, attention, and strength to thank that Maker, Who demands thanksgiving in return for His bounties, and in calling humanity to serve and thank to Him. Surely this individual will be the Maker’s first and foremost addressee, the nearest to Him, and the most beloved by Him.
How can it be said that this unique individual is not Prophet Muhammad? Is there another person more worthy of this position? Look at this world, and you will see two spheres and scenes facing each other. The first sphere is the infinitely magnificent and well-ordered Divine Lordship, manifested as the scene of the Maker’s infinitely perfect and splendid art. The second sphere is that of servanthood, radiant with utmost submission, integrity, and righteousness. This is the scene of utmost contemplation and appreciation, and the firmest belief and fullest thanksgiving.
After discerning these two spheres and scenes, look at the relationship between them. Notice how the second sphere moves thoroughly in the name of the first one, and works with all its strength for its sake. Then, notice how the scene of contemplation, thanksgiving, appreciation, and belief, with all its content and meanings, is turned wholly to the scene of art and favoring.
When you witness this reality, how can you deny the greatest relationship between the chief of the Sphere of Servanthood and the Owner of the Sphere of Lordship? By fully appreciating and exhibiting [the works of] His art, that chief serves the Maker’s purposes most sincerely. How can you remain unconvinced that he has the greatest relationship and connection with the Maker, that he speaks to the Maker directly, and that the Maker honors him with His Messengership? Indeed, he is accepted and beloved by the Lord of the Whole Domain [of the heavens and Earth]; he is the most beloved by Him and the nearest to Him.
Given this, could the Maker of these infinitely beautiful creatures, the Giver of all these bounties Who considers the delicacies of taste in all creatures’ mouths, ignore that most perfect and beautiful creature? Muhammad turns to Him with perfect yearning, servanthood, and love. He enraptures the heavens and Earth with his loud songs of applause and appreciation of the Maker’s art. He throws the land and sea into ecstasy with his chants of gratitude for the Creator’s favors, and with the splendor of his glorification and magnification of the Grandeur of the Creator and Giver of Bounties.
Could such a Benevolent and Omnipotent Maker ignore such an appreciative and grateful person? Would He not turn to him with affection and speak to him, love him and draw him near, desire that his good conduct and refined manners be approved and imitated by all people, make him an example to be followed by everyone, and send him as a Messenger to humanity? Could the Maker of these completely well-formed creatures, the delicacies of whose artistic design point to an infinite knowledge and boundless wisdom, be so unaware and unconscious of His creation’s most perfect and most beautiful member that He does not know, see, or speak to him?
Could the One Who makes Himself known and loved through the ornaments of His creatures not know and love the one who loves Him as much as He deserves and makes Him known as He must be known, who makes himself loved by Him through his faithfulness, and worships Him most truly?
This contains “driblets” from the ocean of the greatest miracle [the Qur’an].
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the arguments for Muhammad’s Prophethood are uncountable. Scholars have devoted many volumes to this topic. Once I humbly offered some “rays” from this “Sun” in my treatise The Rays. I briefly explained some aspects of the Qur’an’s miraculous nature in another treatise, The Flashes, and expounded upon its eloquence, which is only one aspect, in Signs of Miraculousness, an introduction to the interpretation of the Qur’an.
The Qur’an came from the Creator of everything. It is clear from the foregoing explanations that the Qur’an, which makes the Lord of the Worlds known to us, deals with many issues in different degrees of priority. We have described what the Qur’an is in The Twenty-fifth Word.
It is the eternal translation of the universe, the everlasting translator of the “languages” expressing the Divine Being’s natural signs, the interpreter of the Book of the Universe. It discloses the secrets of the Divine Names’ treasuries hidden on the “pages” of the heavens and Earth, and the key to the truths behind events.
It is the tongue of the World of the Unseen and the World of the Seen, the treasury of the eternal Divine Speech, and the eternal favors of the All-Merciful One. The Qur’an is the foundation and plan, the Sun of Islam’s spiritual and intellectual world, and the map of the Hereafter. It is the expounder, lucid interpreter, articulate proof, and clear translator of the Divine Essence, Attributes, Names, and acts; our educator and trainer, and the water and light of Islam, which is the true and greatest humanity. It is the true wisdom of humanity, the true guide leading us to the purpose of our creation.
The Qur’an is a book of law and wisdom, worship and servanthood to God, commands and invitation, invocation and contemplation, one book containing many books to answer our needs. It is like a sacred library of books and treatises from which saints, eminently truthful ones, purified and discerning scholars, and those distinguished with their knowledge of God derive their specific ways. It illuminates each way and answers their followers’ needs.
This section explains the gleam of miraculousness in the Qur’an’s repeated recitation.
FIRST POINT: Know, O friend, that as the Qur’an is a book of invocation, prayer, and invitation, its recitation is a necessity, for recitation enhances and strengthens these characteristics. Repeated invocations bring spiritual enlightenment, repeated prayers bring satisfaction and peace, and repeated invitations are strengthened through repetition.
SECOND POINT: Know, O friend, that the Qur’an is a [Divine] address to and cure for [the “diseases” of] all people, regardless of their intelligence or condition. Not everyone can recite the Qur’an, a cure for everybody at all times, from beginning to end. To make it easy, the All-Wise and All-Compassionate One included most of the Qur’an’s purposes in most of its chapters. It encourages people, declaring: In truth We have made the Qur’an easy for remembrance and warning. Is there any that will remember and take warning? (54:17).
THIRD POINT: Bodily needs vary. Air is always needed; water only when one is thirsty or hot. Food is needed daily; others items only monthly or yearly; and some, like medicine, only sometimes. In the same way, one’s spiritual needs vary. While some Qur’anic words and verses, like He and God are always needed; others, such as In the Name of God are needed regularly; and still others, such as There is no god but God, are needed very frequently.
Thus the repetition of certain verses and words is based on our need for them. Such repetition reminds us of this need and urges us to feel the need for a certain “spiritual sustenance,” namely, the certain verses and words repeated in the Qur’an.
FOURTH POINT: Know, O friend, that the Qur’an has established Islam firmly, and has laid down its foundations and those of the Muslim world. It has transformed human communities by uniting their inhabitants in a shared culture and civilization. Establishing something so firmly and extensively requires reinforcement, and thus repetition. The Qur’an also answers questions asked by all people, regardless of their condition or intelligence.
FIFTH POINT: Know, O friend, that the Qur’an mentions important matters and calls hearts to believe in them. It speaks of subtle truths and invites reason or intellect to gain knowledge of them. Obviously, securing belief and understanding requires repetition in different styles and contexts.
SIXTH POINT: The Qur’an’s verses have inner and outer meanings and dimensions, which serve an ultimate purpose for our inner and outer improvement. For example, it was intended that many legal injunctions and norms of conduct would be derived from various verses, and that their relative significance and applicability in different contexts would require the Qur’anic verses to be repeated in different ways and contexts. Similarly, the inner dimensions of meaning challenge the intellect’s effort to understand, and the recurrence of verses in different contexts enables an infinite variety and depth of nuanced meaning.
This section explains why the Qur’an does not mention certain issues of relevance to science, and why it refers to others implicitly and succinctly.
FIRST POINT: The Qur’an discusses the universe in terms and ways that differ from those of modern philosophy and science, for these disciplines approach the universe in reference to themselves and for their own sakes. But the Qur’an, which was revealed in truth and guides to truth, discusses the universe in reference to its Creator and for the sake of knowing and understanding Him.
Contrary to modern philosophy and science, which provide explicit information on heavenly objects and Earth, as well as on their shape and movements, the Qur’an deals with the universe in succinct and ambiguous ways. Why is this?
FIRST: The Qur’an mentions the universe only parenthetically, for its purpose is to make the Creator’s Essence and Attributes understandable to humanity. An argument should be explicit and understandable so that everyone can follow it through to its underlying purpose, which, for the Qur’an, is to provide us with sufficient knowledge of God’s Essence, Attributes, and Names. If it had proclaimed, as scientists desire: “Look at the Sun in its motionlessness and Earth in its movements, and see how their Creator is powerful,” the resulting argument and purpose would have remained beyond most people, regardless of the time in which they were living. The absolute majority, which includes any society’s small minority of scientists, philosophers, and intellectuals, should be given precedence in guidance by considering their level of knowledge and understanding. Giving precedence to the minority would deprive the majority [of benefiting from the Qur’an’s guidance].
SECOND: The rules of good speech in texts of guidance require that the intended audiences understand the words used. Thus their views, feelings, and levels of understanding should be considered, and they should be addressed in plain, general terms so that they feel comfortable with the subject and understand it easily. [As the Qur’an is designed to guide us for all time, its form of expression must be universally accessible to everyone.]
THIRD: The Qur’an mentions the universe and what happens in it in relation to its Creator, for the most important factor is that everything that exists and happens in the universe should point to its Creator. Science and modern philosophy deal with the universe for its own sake, for they believe that the most important factor is that everything that exists and happens in the universe should point to itself. These two attitudes have nothing in common.
In addition, the Qur’an is God’s Word made comprehensible to even the most common people. It considers the majority of people, so that they can acquire direct access to accurate knowledge of and belief in God. Science, however, speaks on behalf of scientists so as to force the masses to imitate and accept their views. And so it goes into detail—although its resulting “truth” is highly questionable—where the Qur’an speaks succinctly, ambiguously, or says nothing, according to if and how that knowledge will benefit humanity.
FOURTH: As the Qur’an is a guide for all classes of humanity, its speech must not persuade them to accept something through sophistry and vying for superiority. It is also pointless, except when absolutely necessary, to change their views of such facts [when those very facts are called into question]. Rather, it is better to keep silent or be succinct on matters that are not related directly to their essential duties to God or to each other.
For example, the Qur’an mentions the Sun only on account of the One Who has made it a light-giving lamp. It says that the sun functions as the “pivot” of the universal system, the center of creation’s order, and the shuttle of the loom by which the Eternal Designer’s works are woven on Earth’s face and the heavens with the threads of day and night and alternating seasons. The Qur’an shows us the magnificent system and arrangement in weaving, the extraordinary order and design of woven things, to show us the perfection of their All-Wise Creator, their All-Knowing Maker. It is not important to its purposes whether the Sun moves or not. The Divine weaving of things is obviously splendid; therefore if the sun does not move, as modern science asserts, this does not harm the Qur’an’s purposes or its expression of them. [In any case, as scientists tell us, the sun’s motionlessness is relative only to the motion of Earth and other planets; it is not absolute.]29
SECOND POINT: The Qur’an says: [He] has made the sun a lamp, (71:16) and: The sun runs on unto a resting-place for it (36:38). Why does the Qur’an say this, when scientists say that the sun is the center of a huge system of which Earth is only a part? These two views seem to contradict each other. However, consider these arguments.
By calling the sun a lamp, the Qur’an means that the universe resembles a palace containing furniture and other necessary items, such as food, which the All-Munificent and Compassionate One has prepared for His guests and servants. The sun is the palace’s lamp, and obeys the palace’s Owner. Describing it as a lamp suggests the Creator’s mercy in the grandeur of His Lordship, indicates His favor in His comprehensive Mercy, and His generosity in the majesty of His Sovereignty. By demonstrating that the sun, which often has been deified and worshipped, is only a lamp subjugated to God’s command, it declares Divine Unity.
The word runs implies God’s supreme, purposeful disposition and acts in the continuous alternation of day and night and the succession of summer and winter. It thereby reminds people of the Maker’s vast Power and that He is the Unique Lord of the universe. When the sun and moon are mentioned together, minds automatically go to day and night, summer and winter, and therefrom to events that occur during them. Thus runs implies all these meanings, not whether the sun really moves or not.
Look at the Qur’an’s words and expressions. See how they function, despite their apparent simplicity, as doors or keys to treasuries of subtle meanings. Then look at those used by science and see how, despite their apparent glitter, they are of little use spiritually, intellectually, or with respect to one’s main purposes in life. They cause human beings to fall from the heaven of illumining unity to the dark valleys of multiplicity. Listen to part of what modern philosophy and science say concerning the sun:
It is a huge mass of intense fire 1,300,000 times as big as Earth, and spins on its axis. The planets, including ours, were detached from it and, at different distances, fly around it attracted toward it through general gravity. If, after some unpredictable event in the heavens (e.g., collision with a passing comet), one planet leaves its orbit, it will result in the solar system’s collapse and our world’s destruction.
The probability of such an event fills people at times with terror. Is such information useful in our normal, ordinary life?
May God be glorified! See how misguidance assumes the form of truth. The sun and planets were created by the All-Wise Maker, entrusted with certain tasks, and obey the Command and Power of the Creator. Despite its huge size, the sun is nothing more than a single shining drop on the face of the “ocean” of the heavens, on which a ray of the Divine Name “the Light” is manifested.
If scientists and philosophers had said: “God uses these huge inanimate objects in important tasks for the order of the universe, and they obey Him,” their knowledge would have had some meaning. But since they attribute [these celestial objects’ creation, movements, and the tasks they perform] to the objects themselves or to nature and material causes, they are included in the meaning of the Qur’anic verse: One who serves other deities besides God is like the person who falls from the sky and the birds had snatched him, or the wind had blown him to a far-off place (22:31).
THIRD POINT: Know, O friend, that the Qur’an has four main purposes: Divine Unity, Messengership, Resurrection, and justice together with worship. The other issues it discusses are means for realizing these purposes. Good speech requires that detailed explanations of the means and unnecessary additions or arguments not defeat the main aim. Thus the Qur’an tends to omit, or adopt an ambiguous or succinct attitude toward, certain points of explicitly scientific import.
Most people cannot understand profound Divine truths without metaphors, comparisons, and parables. Since most scientific and philosophical issues require a long time to be understood, and since many scientific truths have been unveiled centuries after the Qur’an’s revelation, the Qur’an refers to most such issues through metaphors, similes, and parables, while remaining succinct on points to be understood with the passage of time (i.e., with progress in scientific inquiry).
FOURTH POINT: Know, O friend, that just as a clock ticks continuously due to its parts’ ceaseless functioning, so does the world, which can be considered a huge, continuously active clock. When time is included, centuries resemble the hour hand, years the minute hand, and day and night the second hand. When space is included, the movements of Earth and the formation of mountains resemble the hour hand; Earth, through the changes observed in its plants and animals and with respect to life and death, resembles the minute hand; and the atmosphere, through the speed of its changes, resembles the second hand. The heavens, through the changes occurring in them, the movements of their objects, the birth of new stars, and the death of old ones, resemble the “day” hand.
The world is based on certain basic elements (e.g., changing, alteration, day, night, year, century, soil, atmosphere, and heavens) that manifest the acts of the Divine Names and the inscriptions of the Pen of Divine Power and Destiny. Although this world is moving, perishing and transient, journeying and flowing like water, it is transformed into a veil covering the Hereafter through heedlessness and naturalism. By encouraging the excessive study of nature and philosophy, human-centered philosophy and civilization increases this world’s density and opacity.
The Qur’an’s verses, however, makes the world appear as carded wool, and its expressions make the world appear as transparent.30 The Qur’an melts the world through its rays, smashes its illusory eternity with reminders of death and eternal punishment, and removes the heedlessness caused by naturalism with its admonitions. With its essential character, the world convulsed in change recites: When the Qur’an is recited, give ear to it and pay heed, that you may obtain mercy (7:204).
This is why the Qur’an is brief where modern philosophy and science is detailed. In contrast, where philosophy and science are brief or negligent in [describing] the functions of things as obedient [servants of God] to His commands of creation and life, and as pointing to their Creator’s Names and acts, the Qur’an is detailed.
In short, the Qur’an explains the meanings of the Book of the Universe and what it refers to, while science describes the material structure of its “letters” and their positions and reciprocal relationships. Science does not tell us that all things or creatures are meaningful words. To see the difference between the attitude of philosophy and science and the wisdom of the Qur’an, refer to The Twelfth Word, where this difference is explained from the perspective of the Qur’anic verse: Whoever is given wisdom, has truly been given abundant good (2:269).
FIFTH POINT: This point is explained in the last chapter of this book (“A Light from the Lights of the Verses of the Qur’an”).
SIXTH POINT: Know, O friend, that the Qur’an stresses the aspects of things pointing to the All-Mighty’s acts and how they manifest His Names. It expounds how Divine acts originate from Divine Names, and how these Names, being rays of Divine Attributes, encompass things. In short, the Qur’an deals with how everything’s aspects point to their Creator, while science studies how these same aspects point to themselves and their causes, and what scientific or technological benefit they provide. Such a science and philosophy, long wedded to materialism, cannot judge sacred Qur’anic expressions.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that one virtue of the Qur’an, affirmed by semantics and rhetoric, is its combination of an excellent fluency of style, and a firm mutual support and coherence, harmony and assistance among its sentences and elements. There is an extraordinary correspondence among its verses and their meanings. Although revealed over 20 years on various occasions and sometimes in reply to specific questions, it is so harmonious and consistent that it could have been revealed all at once or in reply to one question. It came to establish certain rules, explain certain commandments for different cases, and penetrate the understanding of different peoples. But its wonderful arrangement and smooth style make it appear as if it had come for one case, and to satisfy one taste and level of understanding. Its clear expression, beautiful diction, and pure style make everyone think that it directly addresses him or her, although in reality it considers every level of understanding and knowledge.
Although it came to guide all people, each to his or her level of attainment, it preserves the balance so perfectly that it seems to have been directed at only one point of attainment in its guidance. Its viewpoint takes in the entire universe, and its inner and outer dimensions, as if it were viewing a single page. It unveils all of its meanings and teaches them to whoever seeks to understand them.
The Qur’an cannot be compared to any other book or speech.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that speech derives its power, beauty, and sublimity from the time, place, and occasion determining the manner of speaking and subject matter, and also from the speaker, audience, and purpose. All of these must be considered. Furthermore, if the speech contains a command or prohibition, the speaker should have a certain authority and power. The greater this authority and power, the more forceful and exalted is his or her speech.
Consider the authority of the Divine commands in: O Earth, swallow up your waters; O sky, withhold (your rain) (11:44); and: He said to it [the sky] and to Earth: “Come both of you, willingly or unwillingly.” They answered: “We do come willingly (41:11).” See how different they are from any human command, which has no authority over the sky and Earth. The difference resembles that between an order from a commander who is obeyed absolutely by a powerful, obedient army, and the order of someone to whom nobody pays attention. See the difference between: When He wills a thing, He only says unto it: “Be!” and it is (36:82), and human words. Listen to:
Have they not observed the sky above them, how We built it, and decked it out fair, and it has no cracks? And Earth—We stretched it forth, and cast on it firm mountains, and We brought forth in it all kinds of delightful plants. An enlightenment and reminder for every penitent servant. And We have sent down from the sky blessed water with which We have brought forth gardens and the harvest grain. And lofty date palms with ranged clusters: Provision for the servants; thereby giving new life to a dead land. Even so shall be the Resurrection. (50:6-11)
Listen to these Divine words. See the difference between the descriptions of the True Owner, Whose commands are absolutely influential and Who describes His acts by enumerating His favors, and the shallow, human descriptions unrelated with the Divine acts and favor.
How vast is the difference between the “angels” of the words of the Creator of the sun and the moon, which diffuse the light of guidance, and those of human beings “blowing on the knots” of their vain ambitions. How different are the words of the Qur’an, “mother-of-pearls” of guidance and sources of the truths of belief and the essentials of Islam having issued from the Supreme Throne of the All-Merciful. They comprise the eternal address embedded in Divine Knowledge, Power, and Will. How different are they from the hollow human words of fancy and desire.
The Qur’an is like a tree that has sent forth its branches, come to leaf, blossomed, and yielded the fruit of the Islamic world: its spiritual values, principles, perfections, and purified scholars and saints. Many seeds produced by this illustrious tree as principles of conduct have grown into fruit-bearing trees. About this, the Qur’an declares: Say: “If all humanity and jinn gathered together to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce one like it, though they were helpers of each other” (17:88).
The Qur’an is unique. The beauty of its order and composition; the originality and uniqueness of its styles; the superiority, excellence, and clarity of its explanations; the power and truth of its meanings; and the purity and fluency of its language are beyond compare. Its meaning is so comprehensive that all principles of exacting jurists, tastes of those famous for their knowledge of God, and paths of all purified, perfected scholars to God have all originated in it. It has remained original and fresh throughout the ages, becoming ever-fresher over time. It has satisfied all levels of knowledge and understanding in every age, and silenced those most distinguished in rhetoric and eloquence. Humanity has been unable to produce even one verse like it. So, the difference between it and human words is as great as that between the highest heaven and Earth; indeed, no human words can be compared with it.
O God, for the sake of the Qur’an and of him to whom it was revealed, illumine our hearts with its light. Make the Qur’an a cure for our illnesses, and a companion for us during this life and after death. Make it a confidant in the world, a friend in the grave, an intercessor on the Day of Judgment. Make it a light on the Bridge, a veil and cover from the Fire (of Hell), a companion to Paradise, and a guide and leader to all good. (Do this) through Your Grace, Mercy, Generosity, and Favor, O Most Munificent of the Munificent, Most Merciful of the Merciful. Bestow blessings and peace on the one to whom You sent it and who You sent as a mercy for all the worlds, and on his Family and Companions,31 as will please You and himself, and as will be approved, O Lord of the Worlds. O Revealer of the Qur’an. For the Qur’an’s sake, make this book say this prayer on my behalf when death has silenced me. Amen! A thousand times Amen!
- The three greatest and most universal things that make our Lord known to us are the universe, the Seal of the Prophets, and the Qur’an.
- Prophet Muhammad has a universal personality.
- His Prophethood and sainthood are confirmed by predictions in the earlier revealed Scriptures, the marvels he himself or were connected with him prior to his Prophethood, the approximately 1,000 miracles performed during his Prophethood, and his very person or character.
- Such questions as: Why was the universe created? Who are you? Where do you come from? What is your purpose or final destination? are answered in the Qur’an.
- If the Prophet had not lived, humanity would have no value and meaning, and would not know why the universe exists.
- The Prophet is the epitome of the All-Merciful’s love [of His creatures]
- and the embodiment of the Lord’s mercy for them.
- The Prophet transformed his hard-hearted people into teachers of humanity and masters of civilized peoples by conquering hearts and minds. He subjugated spirits and egos, and became the beloved of hearts, the teacher of reason, educator of selfhood, and ruler of spirits.
- The Prophet did not fear his opponents, for they could find no gap in his absolute sincerity and enthusiasm.
- He speaks of, and warns people of, awesome events, of matters that captivate hearts and inspire minds to reflect. He brings good tidings [of a happy future both in this world and the Hereafter].
- He is a decisive argument and definite evidence of eternal happiness.
- Following his guidance leads to eternal happiness.
- He seeks eternal existence, meeting with God, Paradise, and God’s good pleasure.
- Since that Age of Happiness, the Prophet’s guidance has yielded thousands of illustrious scholars in the religious and “natural” sciences as well as in religion’s inner dimension (Sufism).
- The arguments for his Prophethood are uncountable.
- The Qur’an, which makes the Lord of the Worlds known to us, deals with many issues in different degrees of priority.
- Answers to such questions as: What is the Qur’an? Why are its verses repeated? Does it mention scientific facts and, if it does, how are they mentioned? How do the Qur’an and science approach the universe? What are the Qur’an’s main purposes? and Why is the Qur’an so eloquent?
- The Qur’an is unique, beyond compare, eternally original and fresh.
17 In any publication dealing with Prophet Muhammad, his name or title is followed by the phrase “upon him be peace and blessings,” to show our respect for him and because it is a religious requirement to do so. A similar phrase is used for his Companions and other illustrious Muslims: “May God be pleased with him (or her).” However, as this practice 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.)
18 Imam Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazzali (d. 1111): A major theologian, jurist, and sage who was considered a reviver (of Islam’s purity and vitality) during his time. Known in Europe as Algazel, he was the architect of Islam’s later development. He wrote many books, the most famous being Ihya’ al-‘Ulum al-Din. (Ed.)
19 Nu‘man ibn Thabit Abu Hanifa (d. 768): Founder of the Hanafi School of Law and one of the greatest Muslim scholars of jurisprudence and deducers of new laws from the Qur’an and Sunna. He also was well-versed in theology. (Ed.)
20 Muhammad Idris al-Shafi‘i (d. 820): Founder of the Shafi‘i School of Law. He was well versed in Islamic jurisprudence, Hadith (the Prophet’s sayings and actions), language, and poetry. He wrote Al-Umm and Ahkam al-Qur’an. (Ed.)
21 Abu Yazid al-Bistami (d. 873): One of the most famous Sufi (Muslim spiritual masters) saints. (Ed.)
22 Junayd al-Baghdadi (d. 910): One of the most famous early Sufis. He enjoyed great respect and was known as “the prince of the knowers of God.” (Ed.)
23 ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (d. 1166): One of the most celebrated Sufi masters. A student of jurisprudence and Hadith, he became knows as the “spiritual axis” of his age and the “the greatest succor.” He wrote Kitab al-Ghunyah, Futuh al-Ghayb, and Al-Fath al-Rabbani. (Ed.)
24 Muhiy al-Din ibn al-‘Arabi (1165-1240): The “greatest Sufi master.” His doctrine of the Transcendental Unity of Existence, which most have mistaken for monism and pantheism, made him the target of unending polemics. He wrote many books, the most famous of which are Fusus al-Hikam and Al-Futuhat al-Makiyya. (Ed.)
25 Hasan al-Shadhili (d. 1258): Founded the Shadhiliyah, one of the most important Sufi brotherhoods. (Ed.)
26 Muhammad Baha’ al-Din Shah al-Naqshband (d. 1389): One of the most prominent Islamic spiritual masters and founder of the Sufi Naqshbandiyyah order. Among his books are Risalat al-Warida, Al-Awrad al-Baha’iyya, Hayatnama, and Tanbih al-Ghafilin. (Ed.)
27 Imam Rabbani, Ahmad Faruq al-Sarhandi (d. 1624): The “reviver of the second millennium.” Born in Sarhand (India) and well-versed in Islamic sciences, he removed many corrupt elements from Sufism. He taught Shah Alamgir or Awrangzeb (d. 1707), who had a committee of scholars prepare the most comprehensive compendium of Hanafi Law. (Ed.)
28 For all Words and Letters mentioned in this book, refer to Said Nursi, The Words, The Light, Inc., New Jersey: 2005, and The Letters, 2 vols., Kaynak, Izmir:1998.
29 In recent decades, solar astronomers have discovered that the sun quivers, shakes, and continually rings like a well-hit gong. These vibrations provide vital data about its deep interior and hidden layers, data that affects calculations of the universe’s age. [See M. Bartusiac, “Sounds of the Sun,” American Scientist (Jan.– Feb. 1994): 61-68]. Exact knowledge of the Sun’s internal spinning is important for testing Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Like many significant findings in astronomy, this discovery also was unexpected. Some astronomers say that the sun is like a symphony orchestra with all instruments being played simultaneously. At various times, all vibrations combine to produce a net oscillation on the solar surface that is thousands of times stronger than any individual vibration. (Tr.)
30 Said Nursi uses carded wool to indicate that the Qur’an removes and tears up the veil of materialism and the scientific worldview covering the Divine truths and the Hereafter. (Ed.)
31 The Prophet’s Family: The Prophet, ‘Ali, Fatima, Hasan, and Husayn. These people are known as the Ahl al-Bayt, the Family (or People) of the House. The Prophet’s wives are not included in this designation. The Companions: Those who gathered around the Prophet to receive instruction and follow his example as closely as possible. They are considered the Muslim nation’s elite and vanguard and are given the highest respect and admiration. (Tr.)