The Eighth Treatise
A spark from the rays of the Qur’an’s guidance
O One Who has all dominion (over existence) and praise, bestow peace and blessings on the lord of humanity, whom You addressed as: “O Prophet” (who has all qualities of Prophethood in the most perfect degree) (8:64).
He responded: “Here I am, at your service.” His response reached even to the angels of the highest heavens. You ordered him: “Give good tidings and warn.” He called: “O humanity, worship your Lord” (2:21). His call has echoed throughout time and space, and he has become a bearer of good tidings and a warner (2:119). He sees and bears witness to the truth of what he sees, calls to all generations of humanity across time and space, and has been heard in all times and places, so that the world has been filled with the Qur’an’s call.
He has brought under his rule a considerable part of the world, which he has attracted to himself and the Qur’an by his perfect earnestness (attested to by his life and conduct) and his utmost trustworthiness and confidence in his Message (attested to by the simplicity of his life and his abstention from the world’s pleasures.) He also attracted these people with his infinite conviction and peace of mind and heart (attested to by the strength of his principles and teaching), and with the perfection of his belief (attested to by the fact that he was the most advanced in servanthood to God and most careful in avoiding sins).
KNOW, O IGNORANT SOUL! There are as many doors opened toward God as there are parts of the (Book of the) Universe and its pages, and as there are compounds. How mistaken it is to assume that all doors are closed when only one is closed to you! You are like one who, not seeing a soldier in a town, concludes that the country has no king and so ignores his rules and instructions. In reality, the country is full of the king’s soldiers, officials, and government offices.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that this proves that the inner existence is more perfect and excellent, vigorous in life, decorated, subtle, and better than whatever the outer existence displays in the name of life, consciousness, and perfection. All that is seen in the outer existence is only a sign of the inner existence’s life, consciousness, and perfection. If the inner existence were lifeless, the outer existence could not display life and consciousness. Your stomach is much more orderly than your house, your skin more excellently woven than your clothes, and your memory better designed than your book. Compare with these examples the material and immaterial worlds, the visible and invisible worlds, and this world and the next. Your carnal and evil commanding self looks with the eye of fancy and desire, and thus sees the outer existence as animated and lovely and spread over the lifeless, dark, and dreadful inner existence.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that your face has features that distinguish you from all other people, past and future, although all human faces have the same main parts and structure. It is as if unity has manifested itself within multiplicity. This shows the Maker’s Oneness, while the infinite differences that distinguish individuals indicate that the Maker is infinitely independent and Wise and has absolute free choice. This reality becomes more significant when people are considered individually. Such a wise distinguishing, fruitful differentiation, and beneficial distinction prove the purposeful choice of an All-independent, the will of an absolutely Willing, and the knowledge of an All-knowing One.
All glory be to Him Who includes and inscribes endless features on the page of your face. Although they cannot be comprehended by reason and beheld with a superficial look, they are discerned through insight and can be perceived in detail by a careful look. Such purposely arranged and beneficial human differences and the correspondent similarity among members of the same species cannot be due to blind chance and coincidence. Rather, they are the art of an All-Hearing and All-Seeing, All-Knowing and All-Wise One. There is no room for chance in such perfect multiplicity. It is not neglected and left to its own devices, but rather is the arena for the operation of an all-wise purpose and intention, an all-knowing free choice, and an all-hearing and seeing will. Thus there is no room for chance in God’s domain. It belongs, with its “brother” of naturalism and “father” of associating partners with God, in the hell of non-existence and eternal annihilation. The verse: Among His signs is the creation of the heavens and Earth and the variety of your tongues and colors (30:22) points to the first and last levels of Divine Wisdom’s manifestation.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that Satan whispers: “If a cow is a creature and design of the All-Knowing, Eternal Power, why is it such a poor animal? If the Pen of the Destiny of an All-Knowing One of absolute Will works under its skin and within its body, why is its outer skin (the apparent part of its body) so docile and ignorant, helpless and miserable?”
ANSWER: If the Eternal Power’s art did not clothe everything with what it needs, your donkey’s ear would be more intelligent and skillful than you and your teachers, and the inside of your fingers would excel you in consciousness and willing. In addition, your fingers would have greater consciousness and willpower than your present consciousness and willpower. Everything has been given a certain capacity and a potential to expand and develop.
Moreover, Divine Destiny appoints a certain measure for everything and a receptacle according to that measure. This determines the capacity of what is received from the absolute source of everything. What is emitted from inside to outside is in accord with the willpower and its capacity, in proportion to the need and its degree, and to the extent of the ability and according to the measure fixed by the Divine Names manifested on that thing. A cow is no exception, as the inside of another creature does not determine its outside. One who expects all of the sun’s qualities to be in its image reflected in a bubble is grossly deluded, for an image points to the original but does not possess all of the sun’s qualities.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that you are a conscious work of art made with wisdom, one indicating the Maker’s Attributes. Your being alive reflects the Wisdom that embroiders creation, the Knowledge with an absolute power of choice, and the Power that sees what you deserve. You are the fruit of a Mercy that hears the calls of your need, an embodiment of an act of the All-Willing that wills what your potential wills, and the favoring of an All-Knowing that knows your demands. You are a form of shaping, measuring Destiny that is aware of how you were constructed. How can you exclude yourself from the general rule of creation, with your partial will and consciousness, and then compare the whole to the part? How can you be heedless of your Lord and Owner, Who owns and exerts lordship over everything? How can you imagine, despite the knowledge encompassing all creation, that there is no one watching you, One All-Hearing and All-Seeing, All-Knowing and All-Answering (the calls and prayers), All-Helping, Who hears your crying, sees your destitution, and knows your sins?
O WRETCHED SOUL! Do you think that you are excluded from the sphere of Divine laws and thus wrong all other beings without attaching any importance to them, feeling constrained to bow before them, or seeing yourself as responsible for managing them? You cannot bear such a burden. Abandon associating partners with God, which signifies your separation from the primordial nature He has given to creation, and enter the sphere of God’s dominion, where you can find peace of mind and heart and become a respected brother or sister of all beings. Otherwise, you are like one charged with handling a steering wheel on a vessel carrying the king’s goods. Instead of putting the load on the ship and steering the wheel lightly, such a person carries the load on his or her back. Anyone with a bit of intellect would say: “I travel on this vessel, so I must place my load near the goods of the king, my lord and administrator.” In addition, O wretched soul, obtain rest and peace by placing the Islamic rules and principles on the vessel of the Muslim world’s mind.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the One Who created you also must have created the universe and its contents, for whatever is in you also exists in it. The One Who created you must be the Creator of all things, for the Creator of a melon is also the Creator of its seed, which is its miniature sample taken from and contained within it.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that as a restricted being, your body, lifetime, and power are all restricted. Do not waste your short, transient life on transient things; rather, spend it for what is permanent so that it may gain permanence. At most, your life here will last for 100 years, as if eating 100 dried dates. Without the tree that yields them, they give some benefit (but cause more hardship) only during your life. They are of no use to you after you die. If you seek the afterlife (and bury those dates in its soil) and water them with the Shari‘a, you can obtain 100 marvelous date palms. One who sells 100 excellent date palms for 100 dried dates deserves only to be wood for the Fire.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the carnal self’s belief that it is somehow excluded from the sphere of the manifestations of Destiny and Divine Attributes is the source of all illusion, doubt, and misguidance. This supposed exclusion leads the carnal self to think that it is free of Divine rule. And so it excludes from God’s Kingdom and His Power’s control whatever it comes across in existence, which depends on Divine Destiny and is ruled by one or more Divine Names. Through forced analogies and interpretations that will make it the teacher of devils, the carnal self reflects some of its states coming from associating partners with God to that innocent thing.
The carnal, evil-commanding self resembles an ostrich—it sees that which is against it as for it. Or it is like the Sophists, who say to one of two people arguing with each other: “Your opponent’s arguments reject you,” and then turns to the other and says: “Your opponent’s arguments invalidate yours. You are both wrong.”
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the carnal self supposes the other world to be an expansion of this one and seeks to continue its heedlessness. Thinking of the afterlife, although not convinced of its coming, it seeks relief from the terror of the world’s annihilation and the pain of decline. Taking refuge in heedlessness or doubt (about the afterlife), it seeks to be saved from the troubles of working for the afterlife. It looks upon deceased generations as living (but concealed) and learns nothing from death. Under the illusion of implanting its worldly expectations in the afterlife’s soil (using the afterlife as an excuse for clinging to worldly expectations) it thinks: “My expectations have two aspects: One relates to the world, which is impermanent and scatters like dust; the other relates to the afterlife, which is built on the same foundations as the world and its expansion.” For example, knowledge has two aspects: one illumined, the other dark. The devilish carnal self shows the illumined side and offers the dark one under its guise. By trying to convince people that knowledge will bear fruit in the Hereafter, it calls them to use it for worldly benefit. In short, the carnal self is like an ostrich or a devilish Sophist.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that I am absolutely convinced that if God is not accepted as the Creator of all things, then He is not the Creator of anything. Creation is a complete entity (like an organism), all parts of which are interlinked and related. As there is no room for division, whatever we acknowledge with respect to something necessitates doing the same for everything. Also, the Creator is either one or endless in number. If there were not a true Creator, (for the same reasons as requiring His being the Creator of the universe), there would have to be an infinite number of true creators. (There cannot be many beings with the same infinite attributes, and it is impossible that there should be more than one infinite being.) This would necessitate accepting many strange ideas and the non-existence of unity in absolute terms. Eventually, this would lead to accepting the impossibility of a sole Creator’s existence.
It is impossible for a being who gives light to be without light, who gives existence to be non-existent, and who makes the existence of something necessary to be unnecessary in existence. It is also inconceivable for a being who bestows knowledge to be without knowledge, who grants consciousness to be without consciousness, who gives willpower to be without willpower, and who gives perfection to be imperfect. Is it possible that one who shapes the eye and gives sight cannot see? All perfection shared by what has been created must originate in the Maker’s Perfection.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that what a human soul desires most is permanence and perpetuity. If it does not deceive itself with an illusive permanence, it cannot find pleasure in anything. O soul demanding permanence, continue to mention the Permanent One so that you may gain permanence. Be like a mirror reflecting His Light so that you may not be extinguished. Be a mother of His pearl so that you may be purified. Be a body for the breeze of His remembrance so that you may be eternally alive. Hold fast to a beam of one of His Name’s rays so that you may not fall into the bottomless pit of non-existence. If a fruit is heedless of what sustains and maintains it, and thus is attracted to a foreign light smiling at its face, it is disconnected from its stem and falls to the ground.
O SOUL! Hold fast to Him Who sustains and maintains you, for 999 parts of your being are in His charge; only one has been entrusted to you. Place that one part in the vessel carrying His property and find peace. If you cannot create and maintain yourself, if your hands are too short to bring you any good, then all other people and more distant causes or agents are even more unable to take part in your creation and maintenance. Can you make your tongue, which is a tree of words, a pool of tastes, and an exchange of communication? If not, and you will never be able to do so, do not ascribe partners to God, for that is a tremendous wrong (31:13).
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the world is a Divine shop with all kinds of cloth, food, and drink: thick and solid, thin, short-lived and perpetual, others in forms of kernels and fluids, and others as gaseous. Some are woven from nothing and created; others are fashioned through manifestations (of the relevant Divine Name or Names). (Most) philosophers have gone astray by seeing the existence of all as self-necessitated, and so confuse creating with fashioning.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that when associating partners with God in a veiled form arising from human egotism is solidified and condensed, it turns into associating material causes with God. (It sees itself as the originator and the real cause of its successes, or attributes its successes only to itself.) If this continues, it changes into attributing nothing to God with respect to its life. Beyond that, it changes—may God save us from such a state—into atheism.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that seeking light within darkness, by remaining under the carnal self’s influence and making that state one’s nature, causes severe pain and shows disrespect to and defilement of light. Instead, leave darkness and look toward light once you are away from it, not from within it.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that humanity was created to open and unveil (the treasuries of Divine Names and Attributes), be a luminous sign (guiding to God), receive and reflect (Divine manifestations), be a light-giving moon reflecting Eternal Power, and a mirror for the manifestations of Eternal Beauty. Humanity has gained greater refinement and purity, and become more polished by undertaking the Trust refused by the heavens, Earth, and the mountains.
One requirement of undertaking this Trust is that people should be a unit of comparison to understand God’s all-encompassing Attributes. The human ego, which becomes a dark point through heedlessness and associating partners with God, should be a switch to turn on those Attributes’ lights. (Contrary to these essential functions), why and how do most people become veils and barriers? People are charged with opening; why and how do they close? They must illuminate; why and how do they darken? They must believe in God’s Oneness; why and how do they associate partners with Him? They must view God through the observatory specially created for looking to Him, and acknowledge that His property and kingdom belong only to Him. Instead, viewing creation through the observatory of the human ego, people share His property among creatures, thus doing wrong and becoming ignorant.
KNOW, O SOUL, that if you please your Creator by abstaining from sin, obeying His commands, and doing righteous deeds, all that has been created also will be pleased. If the created are pleased with you on behalf of the Almighty, you will benefit; if they are pleased on behalf of themselves, there is no benefit, for they are impotent—just like you. Choosing the first alternative pleases your Lord; choosing the second causes you to associate partners with God. If you go to the capital to take care of some matter and please the king, your job will be done with great ease and you will gain the subjects’ love. But if you expect your job to be done by those under the king’s rule, many difficulties will be encountered, for all of them will have to be pleased and agree to fulfill your need. Moreover, even if this is accomplished, you still will have to obtain the king’s permission, which depends on pleasing him.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the Necessarily Existent Being does not resemble contingent things, which are absolutely dependent upon the Necessarily Existent Being for their existence, in His Essence, qualities, and acts. For example, in His view there is no difference between near and far, few and many, small and large, individual and species, and part and whole. Unlike the contingent, He acts with ease, in no time, and does not busy Himself with anything. This is why the intellect cannot understand the nature of the Almighty’s acts and goes so far as to deny the One Who does them.
A lion’s teeth and claws show that it was made to tear; a melon’s taste shows that it was made to eaten. A human being’s potential indicates that we were created to worship God. Our lofty spiritual dimension and longing for permanence and eternity point out that first we were created (in spirit) in a world more subtle and refined than this one, and then sent here to obtain the necessary equipment to return to our origin. As we are the fruit of the Tree of Creation, one person had to have been the seed of humanity from which the Maker grew the Tree of Creation. That seed only can be the most virtuous and greatest of the creation, upon whose identity all perfected people, nay, half of humanity—as creation has been painted in his spiritual color—have agreed: the master of all creation, Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings.