In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
All praise to God, the Lord of the Worlds. Blessings and peace be upon our master Muhammad and all of his Family and Companions.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that it is commendable [for believers] to perform each daily prayer at the beginning of its time and imagine themselves before the Ka‘ba. They imagine believers standing in prayer around the Ka‘ba as concentric circles, the first being the nearest to the Ka‘ba and the last encircling the Muslim world. They feel a strong yearning to join the others wholeheartedly. After joining, this huge community’s consensus and unity become a decisive proof for the truth of all meanings and causes contained in the prayer.
For example, when those praying say: “All praise be to God,” it is as if all believers praying in the mosque of Earth reply: “I agree. You say the truth.” All doubt and suspicion disappear from their hearts. Each sense and faculty derives belief and a pleasure unique to itself, and such questions as Why? and How? cannot become obstacles. The huge congregation of pious, God-conscious believers is formed when the prayer begins. Due to its uniform acts and recitations, regional time differences do not prevent such an imagination.
Wherever praying believers are, they turn to the Ka‘ba. While imagining the Ka‘ba in front of them and the community of believers standing in concentric circles around it, praying believers should not become distracted with this image. Rather, keep it simple. How do they know that Destiny, which neglects nothing, does not record every act and recitation of those orderly, blessed lines on the pages of the World of Symbols or Immaterial Forms, in which all things are preserved eternally?
KNOW, O FRIEND, that I have observed during my journeying in the “layers of darkness” that the Prophet’s sayings and practices, as well as the principles of Islamic law, are like stars that guide us among innumerable dark and misleading ways. Deviating from his way or Tradition [the Sunna] makes one a plaything of devils, an object of illusion and suspicion, a target of fear, and a mountain of unbearable burdens. Deliverance from such things comes only from following the Sunna.
I have also observed that the Sunna’s principles are like ropes hanging down from heaven. Whoever holds fast to even a part of them can be elevated. Whoever opposes them and relies on their own or even public reason is like one who desires to obtain the means of traveling through the heavens’ spheres in earthly vehicles and is ridiculed like Pharaoh, who said: O Haman. Build for me a tower to obtain the means [of traveling] in the heavens (40:36).
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the soul contains an important, obscure knot that causes something to give birth to its opposite, and by which the soul regards what is against it as in its favor.
For example, the sun puts out its “hand” to you and either caresses or slaps you. But you cannot put out your hand to it and influence it. It is nearer to you than yourself, despite its great distance from you. If you think your distance from it is so great that it cannot exert any influence on you, or so near to you that you can affect it, you are mistaken. Likewise, if the carnal self views its Creator as distant, despite His being nearer to it than itself, it is misguided.
When the carnal self encounters a great reward, it says: “If only I had done the same. If only I had behaved that way.” However, when it comes across a terrible punishment, it consoles itself by ignoring or denying it.
The acts of the Almighty are, first of all, concerned with Him, not with the carnal self and its narrow mind. The “wheel” of creation does not revolve according to the carnal self’s fancies, and it did not witness His creation of the universe. Surely, Imam Rabbani told the truth: “The gifts of the Sovereign can be borne only by those qualified for them.”
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the One Who decorated your head beautifully and embellished it with sight sees you better than you do. The Maker Who embellished your head with eyes, ears, and a tongue sees and hears you better than yourself, is nearer to you than yourself, and is more compassionate to you than yourself.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the prayers of those in great difficulty and under severe hardship produce great results. They cause the mightiest and greatest thing to be subjected to the weakest and smallest one. For example, a roaring sea may subside in answer to the prayer of a broken-hearted infant on a piece of wood floating on its surface. This means that the One Who answers prayers has absolute authority over all things and is Lord of creation.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that one important disease of a misguided human selfhood is that it seeks the whole’s splendor in each part, and a king’s glory in a private. Not finding it, it rejects the whole or the king. For example, it seeks to see all of the sun’s manifestations when it is reflected in a bubble, and when it cannot, refuses to accept that the image belongs to the sun.
The sun’s oneness does not require that its manifestations be one. A thing pointing to something else does not have to contain that something else. A thing describing something else with certain qualifications does not have to have the same qualifications. A minute, transparent object points to the sun and displays some of its qualities; a beehive exhibits the All-Wise Maker’s Attributes.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that following the way of unbelief is like walking on ice or underground, and therefore repugnant and very difficult for one inclined to follow it. One with a careless, imitative view cannot discern this difficulty. Following the way of belief, however, is like traveling in water, air, or light. It is essentially attractive, and therefore very easy for one inclined to follow it.
For example, if you want your six sides to benefit from the sun, either you expose your whole body to the sun by turning around and lying down, or have the sun come down to your level and turn around you. The first alternative illustrates the ease associated with belief in God’s Oneness; the second shows the difficulty associated with unbelief.
QUESTION: That being the case, why do so many people follow unbelief and reject belief?
ANSWER: Almost no one consciously follows unbelief. Rather, unbelief sticks to and dirties a person because of the apparent attractiveness of one’s bodily desires. Somebody who follows belief knowingly and consciously has belief established in their heart.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that it makes no difference if a spoken word is heard by one or millions of people. In relation to the Eternal Power, there is no difference between an individual and a species.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the Qur’an is infinitely comprehensive in meaning, encompasses all levels of understanding, and considers its audience’s feelings. For example, its words can be understood by ordinary people, for they are, after all, the absolute majority and the first to be addressed. Although this is one of the Qur’an’s perfections, carnal selves are misguided by it, for they seek the most exalted styles and most balanced ways of expressing in the simplest manner necessary for the topics discussed and the audience’s level. They make the style, which naturally should consider the audience’s feelings and level, a criterion and an “observatory” to see and judge the Speaker—the Almighty. This is why they go far astray.
The world has three facets. The first relates to God’s Names. With respect to its second facet, the world is the arable field of the Hereafter. These two facets are beautiful. The third facet relates directly and exclusively to the world itself, and is where people gratify their bodily desires and seek to meet the needs of this transient worldly life.
I am forced to wear a body that is essentially lifeless. Today is my coffin. Between yesterday and tomorrow, which are the graves of my father and “his son,” I am pressed between two dead bodies and graves. But be aware that, with respect to its facet as the arable field of the Hereafter, the world and viewing it with the light of belief give the spiritual pleasures of Paradise. How can one be pleased with the third facet and delight in it?
KNOW, O FRIEND, that your body is like a publicly owned rifle or horse entrusted to a soldier. Just as the soldier is responsible for the rifle or horse, you are charged with preserving your own trust—your body.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that I say this because my carnal self was proud of having virtues. I told it: “You own nothing.” It replied: “Then I do not care for what I do not own.” I said: “You should not fall behind a fly [in caring for your body]. Look at how the fly cleans its wings with its legs, and wipes its eyes with its hand.” Glory be to Him Who has inspired the fly to do so, and made it an instructor that silenced myself.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that error and deviation are one result of confusing the decrees and acts of the Divine Name “the Inward” with those of “the Outward,” and expecting from the former what one should expect from the latter. One also confuses the necessities of Divine Power with those of Divine Wisdom, and seeks to see in the former what one should seek to see in the latter.
Confusing the requirements of the realm where the law of causality has a certain role in God’s acts with those of belief in His absolute Unity, and the acts and ways of Divine Power’s manifestation with the manifestations of Divine Existence or other Divine Attributes, and trying to find the former’s rules and laws in the latter cause error and deviation. For example, your birth and growth in this world is gradual, but in the mirrors of the intermediate realms between this material realm and purely spiritual realms—as in dreams, for example—it is all at once. This is so because Divine Attributes vary in manifesting themselves, and creation and manifestation differ from each other.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that Islam is a universal mercy. Islam enables even unbelievers find some happiness in their worldly lives and ensures that their pleasure does not change into endless pain. Islam changes absolute unbelief and denial, which cause despair and pain, into doubt and hesitation. Influenced by its clear announcements, unbelievers may come to regard eternal life as probable. This relieves them from suffocating pain [arising from the thought of eternal extinction or punishment] and, since they are not convinced of eternal life, they consider themselves free of its obligations. Such people are like ostriches, camel-like birds that when told to fly reply: “I’m a camel, not a bird.” But when told to carry a burden, they answer like a camel: “I’m a bird, not a camel.”
Deluded by Satan, [paradoxically, with false hopes of salvation in the Hereafter while denying eternal life to be free of religious obligations], unbelievers and transgressors [of the Divine rules of conduct] find a superficial happiness, in contrast to atheists and sincere believers.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the ego, in order to maintain the dominion it claims in its own realm, does not wish to admit or conceive of something proceeding from itself that is less valuable than that created by the Creator’s Power. As long as the ego does not regard itself as the least creature or as nothing in essence, one cannot avoid denying the Creator’s Attributes or associating partners with God secretly.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the ego, out of indolence toward its duties, wishes that no one watches it and tries to remain hidden. It considers the non-existence of the Owner of all things and seeks absolute freedom. First it desires, then considers, and thereafter conceives. It now begins to believe in the non-existence of an Owner and Ruler above itself, and finally abandons its belief. However, if it knew what great, consuming suffering and unbearable pain are under the freedom and ease it aspires to and the irresponsibility it seeks, it would flee and keep away from them, repent of them or die.
Things differ according to their points of support. For example, a private connected with and supported by a great, powerful sovereign can do what a king cannot do. Thus this private is “seven degrees” greater than one who normally is “seventy degrees” greater than him. This is why a mosquito appointed by the Eternal Power defeated a most powerful and obstinate ruler.52 With the permission of God Almighty, the Splitter of Grains and Seeds, a seed contains whatever a huge palm tree needs. Factories built in an area the size of nine villages cannot manufacture what that tree needs.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the difference between the Qur’an’s way (which I followed in “The Drop”) and that of philosophers is this: I dig the ground wherever I am and water emerges. Philosophers try to open canals through the universe and lay pipes to provide water. They even go to the Divine Throne. Since they attach great importance to material causes, they should have millions of guards along the pipe’s path to protect it from attack and destruction. What the Qur’an has taught me is like the Staff of Moses: Wherever I strike with it, even if I am on a rock, the water of life gushes forth. I do not feel compelled to make a long journey beyond the world and protect very long pipes from breaking or destruction. The saying: “In each thing is a sign demonstrating that He is One,” clarifies this point.
The human ego or carnal self [the source of all defect and lust] is essentially blind. As long as it continues to exist [without being disciplined], even if it is only as small as a gnat’s wing, it remains a veil covering the truth. Since it concentrates on its own existence [and tends to appropriate for itself whatever the Creator gives it and seeks to deny a supreme dominant power over itself], when it sees a defect in one stone of a large castle built of stones of decisive proofs [of that Power’s existence], it denies the castle’s existence. From this, one can get an idea of the ego’s ignorance arising from its attachment to its own existence.
O EGO! You know that what belongs to you of yourself is miniscule, if indeed it really belongs to you at all! So put on that small, weak part that is your free will, as much as you can bear. Do not load your consciousness, as weak as a hair, with “huge rocks.” Do not put anything upon what does not belong to you, except with its Owner’s permission.
When you act heedlessly on your own behalf, do not overstep your limits. The field of your movement is as narrow as a hair. When you act on behalf of the Lord of all dominion, load yourself with whatever you see, provided it is according to His orders and Will and not according to your own will. You should learn His permission and Will from His Law—the Shari‘a.
O SEEKERS OF FAME AND REPUTATION! Know that fame is identical with show and ostentation, and it is poisonous honey that kills the heart. Only those who wish to be slaves to human beings seek it. If it happens to you, say: Surely we belong to God and are returning to Him (2:156).
- Consider anything other than God only on account of God Almighty.
- Good intention and correct viewpoint change evil acts into good ones.
- The importance of: I am not the owner or master of myself; death is inevitable; my Lord is One; and the human ego is a black dot, a point of comparison [to know and recognize God].
- Prophet Muhammad and the Qur’an are the most articulate proofs of Divine Existence and Oneness. Islam, other revealed religions, and every facet of life and order in the universe show God’s Existence and Unity.
- Despair, self-admiration, vanity, and suspicion are four diseases of heart.
- Four significant truths witnessed by Said Nursi, and reflections on Glory be to God, All praise be to God, and God is the Greatest.
- The Qur’an from the viewpoint of questions about a speech or a word: Who said it? To whom was it said? Why was it said? About what was it said?
- Belief establishes brotherhood and affinity, and does not allow strong greed, enmity, hatred, or desolation to enter a believer’s heart. Unbelief causes separation and alienation, making such people full of greed, enmity, self-preference, and self-reliance. As a result, unbelievers can succeed in this life, as they see the reward of their virtues mostly in the world, whereas believers suffer the consequences of some shortcomings and sins.
- Preoccupation with philosophy increases spiritual disease in the heart. The more one’s heart increases in spiritual disease, the more one is preoccupied with rational sciences.
- Intention changes ordinary acts and customs into acts of worship.
- Attachment to material causes results in humiliation and rejection.
- The universal significance of the letter nun [meaning we] in na‘budu [we worship].
- Why misfortunes that overtake innocent children and animals are usually not noticed by people.
- It is commendable [for a believer] to pray at the beginning of the prayer’s time and imagine the Ka‘ba in front of him or her.
- The Prophet’s sayings and practices and the principles of Islamic law guide us, and the Sunna’s principles elevate us.
- The soul contains an important but obscure knot that causes something to give birth to its opposite, and that causes the soul to see what is really for it as being against it.
- The One Who decorated your head and embellished it with the power of sight sees you better than you do.
- The prayers of those in great difficulty and severe hardship produce great results.
- A misguided human selfhood mistakenly seeks the splendor of a whole in each part.
- Following unbelief is like walking on ice or underground, and thus very difficult for those who follow it.
- In relation to the Eternal Power, there is no difference between an individual and a species.
- The Qur’an is infinitely comprehensive in meaning, encompasses all levels of understanding, and considers the feelings of all whom it addresses.
- The world has three facets. These are related to the Names of God Almighty, the Hereafter, and this world.
- Confusing the decrees and acts of the Divine Name “the Inward” with those of “the Outward,” and expecting from the former what one should expect from the latter, is a source of error.
- Islam is a universal mercy and enables even unbelievers find some happiness in their worldly lives.
- To maintain the dominion it claims in its own realm, the human ego does not wish to admit or conceive of something proceeding from itself that is less valuable than that created by the Creator’s Power.
- The human ego, not wishing to be overseen, seeks to remain hidden.
- Things differ according to their points of support.
- The difference between the Qur’an’s way (and that followed in “The Drop”) and that of philosophers.
- The human ego or carnal self is essentially blind. As long as it continues to exist [without being disciplined], even if it is as small as a gnat’s wing, it blinds itself to the sun of truth.
- Fame is identical to show and ostentation, and kills the heart. One who seeks it becomes a slave to others.
52 This refers to the mosquito that entered Nimrod’s body through one of his nostrils, thereby causing death of this tyrant who had cast Prophet Abraham into the fire. (Tr.)