Human beings must perceive that, on account of their own selves, they are essentially non-existent and contingent, ephemeral and mortal—but only because they are mirrors reflecting the Maker’s Names. They exist, experience, and are experienced only for this reason. Here, purification can be attained by perceiving that non-existence lies in seeing themselves as self-existent, existence in confessing essential non-existence, and in being totally convinced that only the Almighty deserves existence and all praise.
Those who follow the way of the Unity of Existence (Wahdat al-Wujud) regard the universe as actually non-existent. Those who follow the way of the Unity of the Witnessed (Wahdat al-Shuhud) confine all existence within the prison of absolute oblivion. What I have inferred from the way of the Qur’an requires neither denying nor ignoring the universe’s actual existence, for it sees all things to show the Divine Names as mirrors reflecting them. It considers all existence on behalf of the Almighty, not on behalf of itself.
Each man and woman contains different spheres of existence and levels of creation—plant, animal, human, and being a believer. The first three are found in everyone; the fourth is found only in a believer.
The process of purification begins in the fourth level—that of belief— and continues downward to the plant one, where the most resistance is shown. During this treatment, which continues without interruption, people may confuse the levels and say: “Whatever is on Earth has been created solely for me.” They err by thinking that humanity is restricted to being plant or animal, by considering the purposes for things’ lives as restricted to his or her own benefit, and seeing them as valuable only to the degree that they benefit him or her. Therefore, they do not exchange a fragrant flower for Venus. [They are content with what is of little value since they are attached to the world. They cannot see what is beyond the world, which is much more valuable.]
KNOW, O FRIEND, that worship is the result and price of the bounties already given to humanity; it is not the means of any future, expected reward. O humanity, you have received your wages already, for He created you in the fairest form, as a pattern of existence, and made Himself known to you by bestowing belief on you.
By giving you a stomach, He has given you unlimited food and granted you life, which has made this visible, material world a table full of bounties for you. By giving you human selfhood, He has made the visible and invisible worlds a table filled with bounties. By bestowing belief on you, He has given you these tables plus others stored in the treasuries of His Names. By granting you His love, He has opened for you and bestowed on you indescribable bounties and blessings. Since you have received all of these already, you must serve Him. What He gives you after your service is purely from His Grace.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the infinite abundance of the members of species, especially of small creatures and without the least defect in structure and with perfect orderliness, shows that the Maker’s manifestations are unlimited, that He is absolutely different from all of them, and that all things are the same in relation to His Power and Necessary Existence. Such abundance and creation are the result and evidence of His Necessary Existence. The abundance of species pertains to His Majesty, while the firm and defect-free creation of members pertain to His Grace.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the ease (or difficulty) with which something is made depends upon the maker’s knowledge (ignorance) of it. This is especially true of small things with many tiny, delicate parts. The more knowledge the maker has of them, the easier they are to create. The absolute ease and swiftness observed in the creation of innumerable things in abundance and without defect show that their Maker has infinite knowledge. The verse: Our command (or doing something) is but one (word) (and it is fulfilled) in the twinkling of an eye (54:50) points to that ease.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that One who produces a delicately embroidered work of art and covers it with extremely delicate “garments” —like the derma and epidermis—woven of the same substance, hewing cavities in it to set different instruments so that its various parts can work close together, is its exclusive owner.
Similarly, the One Who most delicately creates innumerable varieties of species of almost the same simple things and clothes them in suitable garments, One Who includes them, especially animals that are miniature worlds, in the abdomens of worlds built to house those creatures that are their fruits or seeds—that One is One and Besought-of-All, manifesting Himself with all of His Names on each creature separately and on the worlds as a whole.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that just as a king’s different titles designate his authority in governmental departments and state offices and among his subjects, and denote his duties of kingship as if he were present everywhere, so God, the One with the All-Beautiful Names, manifests Himself in the departments of His Sovereignty with His Names. One Name is dominant in a department, and the others are subordinate. He executes His Lordship by manifesting a Name particular to each level, as if that Name were particular only to that level. In His Lordship’s levels, the All-Glorified One has essential controls corresponding to one another; in His Divinity’s spheres, He has Names reflecting one another; in His Splendor’s mirrors, He has different representations; in His Power’s operations, He has varied titles; in His Attributes’ manifestations, He has flowering ways of disclosing Himself; in His acting’s modes, He has corresponding controls; and in His division of creatures into species, He has His Lordship’s manifestations specified for each creature surrounded by manifestations on the species itself.
Prophet Muhammad, translator of the Eternal Tongue (the Qur’an), points to this reality in his al-Jawshan al-Kabir (The Great Armor) supplication. This supplication has 99 jewel box-like sections, each of which contains 12 gems of Divine Unity.81 When the Almighty is called by one of them, the Name or Attribute mentioned is specified for Him exclusively. For example, when we call: “O Perpetual,” we mean: “O One save Whom there is no perpetual in existence.” As is narrated from the Prophet, the All-Glorified One has as many as 70,000 veils of light.82 For an Existence penetrating all levels, Whose essential disposals correspond to one another, Whose Names reflect one another, Whose representations and titles are one within the other, Whose ways of closing Itself resemble one another, Whose ways of making Itself known support one another, Whose Lordship’s manifestations corroborate one another, and Whose Names’ manifestations concentrated on a thing are encompassed by their manifestations on a group of things as a whole—it is necessary for one who knows that Existence by one of those Names, Attributes, or ways of manifestations mentioned to know It also by the others.
Surely We have created humanity in the fairest creation. (95:4)
KNOW, O FRIEND, that it is a peculiarity of our comprehensive primordial nature that the All-Wise Creator included in that small object innumerable meters to measure what is endlessly stored in His Mercy, as well as countless faculties to understand the uncountable items in His All-Beautiful Names’ treasuries.
Look at your 10 senses and see how they make you aware of the worlds of the things seen, heard, tasted, and so on. He has given you highly restricted attributes or powers of will, knowledge, and hearing, among others, to understand His encompassing Attributes and essential, all-embracing Qualities. He has knit your ego with as many fibers (feelings and desires, faculties and senses) as there are things in the worlds so that you may know your ego’s nature. He has clothed your essential nature in as many garments as His Lordship’s veils so that you may rend them and realize intellectual and spiritual progress. He has given you such an amazing faculty of perception that it travels in your mustard seed-sized memory without stopping, as if it were an infinitely vast world whose frontiers could not be reached. Sometimes that vast world becomes so narrow that your perception encompasses it; at other times, your perception, together with all spheres through which it travels and the books it studies, is, in turn, encompassed by that tiny memory. Glory be to Him Who makes it so small despite its infinite vastness.
This amazing nature causes great differences among people. One is lost in a particle; the world is lost in another. One opens a vast World of Multiplicity with the key given to him or her and, straying, becomes lost and able to reach Unity and belief in Divine Unity only with great difficulty. People also differ greatly in the way they follow on their spiritual journeying. Some advance easily and attain peace and unity; others are overcome by fancies and heedlessness and, completely lost in multiplicity (of things), forget unity. Those “civilized” people who consider corruption and regression to be progress, ignorance to be certified knowledge, and the deepest sleep to be fully awake are among the second group.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the manifestation of Divine Oneness (Wahidiya)— a Name’s manifestation on a whole—shows that the Divine Name manifested encompasses all things. The manifestation of Divine Unity (Ahadiya)— the manifestation of many Names on a particular thing—points out that a living creature indicates all the Names relating to creation.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that groups, wholes, and species are objects of Divine Majesty’s manifestation, and thus necessitate the absolute abundance in species, while most of the “mirrors” manifesting Grace are individual parts of these wholes or members of those groups and species. The beauty of individuals and the radiance of “mirrors,” as well as their firmness in structure and orderliness, are due to that manifestation. Majesty arises from the manifestation of Divine Oneness (Wahidiya), and Grace comes from the manifestation of Divine Unity (Ahadiya). However, Grace also may arise from Majesty and Majesty from Grace. How beautiful is Majesty in the eye of Grace, and how beautiful is Grace in the eye of Majesty.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that “bejeweled” creatures are seen with the power of sight, and that the power of insight’s inability to see the Creator is due to its blindness, inability to perceive the matter’s importance, or the absence of necessary guidance. Denying the Creator would otherwise be much more ridiculous than denying the power of sight.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that seeds sown in a field cause the sower to protect them from the elements and from those who would harm them. Seeds thus function as an invisible wall around the field. In the same way, every plant and animal species is like a field sown and found throughout the world. It only allows the one who has “sown” it to assume control over it. All species, together and with their individual members, form such a strong wall that only the “sower” can assume control over them.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that if you want to see and display the matchless beauty and splendor of their Paradise-like gardens, (according to the principle that things are better known through their opposites), randomly place in them some shapeless rocks, crooked statutes, and other things, and dig some caves here and there. Their order or harmony seem to lie in their disorder.
However, one who studies these gardens concludes that their apparent disorder shows them as beautiful and orderly.
Similarly, (in the garden of Earth) the Hand of Control has scattered, seemingly at random, deserts, hills, and rocks of different sizes and shapes. In reality, the All-Wise Maker, All-Knowing Creator has added them purposefully to contribute to the general order and harmony of existence. Thorn bearing trees and plants use their thorns to defend themselves against plant eating animals.
Their amazing orderliness and delicate beauty is a sign that the All-Wise Maker has a special purpose for that apparent lack of orderliness, that things seemingly outside their species’ general order have a different size and shape. Difference shows purpose and rejects chance. (Human facial differences are clear evidence of this.)
KNOW, O FRIEND, that humanity’s comprehensive nature allows people to comprehend the salutations living beings offer to the Bestower of Life. This factor distinguishes people from animals. As people perceive their own speech, they also perceive with the ear of belief all words spoken by living beings and inanimate objects to glorify their Creator. A deaf person can speak inwardly only to himself or herself, and each being can perceive the speech of its own inner self. However, only human beings can speak and perceive all sounds produced by all creatures, at the same time, as signs of the Divine Beautiful Names. Every other being’s value is restricted to itself, whereas a believer is as valuable as all beings combined, for although an individual, he or she is like a species—even all species. God knows the truth.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that although the truth of something seems to consist in or be restricted to its outward aspect, there is a great distance between them. For example, an average person’s belief in God’s Unity involves attributing things only to the Almighty. This is a simple rejection of attributing anything to that which is not God. However, the belief of those who know the real meaning of Divine Unity involves attributing whatever they see and experience to the All-Glorified One. They see His stamp and notice His seal on everything. Such acknowledgment gives peace of mind and heart and prevents heedlessness.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the wisdom in God’s giving respite to unbelievers lost in the worldly life is that they unconsciously manifest various blessings of God by their labor and skill, and unknowingly arrange the beauty and excellence of the works of Divine art to display to others. Just as a clock is not aware of telling time, unbelievers are not aware of their function.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that one receiving God’s help can proceed from the outward to the truth without joining a spiritual order. I have seen in the Qur’an one way leading directly to truth without any such initiation, and another way leading to the attainment of desired (religious) sciences without studying instrumental sciences (such as logic, mathematics, and methodology). The all-embracing Divine Mercy is expected to grant the children of the present time—a time flowing too fast—a short, yet safe, way.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that a thing’s existence and life are decisive proofs of its Creator’s necessary Existence and Attributes, a radiant sign that the Creator is One to Whom all things belong, and that He holds all (material or natural) causes in His “hand.” In the same way, decay, death, and replacing things with their likes shows the permanence of the Originator, Returner, Heir to all, and Reviver. They also show that He has no partners in creation, and that only He controls the inner selves of things.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that Life says: “There is no god but He, the One,” and denies that causes have any part in it. Death says: “There is no god but He, having no partners at all,” and denies that the inner selves of things have any part in it.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that one duty of human life is that it should witness living beings’ praise to the Bestower of Life, the worship of all things, and announce it as if it represented all of them and their tongue proclaiming their deeds to their Master.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad inform us of awesome matters, establish tremendous truths, and lay down immense foundations. For example, they prove and establish the Oneness of the One:
He will roll up the heavens as rolling up scrolls for books. (21:104)
Earth altogether shall be His handful on Doomsday, and the heavens shall be rolled up in His right hand. (39:67)
The matter of the Hour is as a twinkling of the eye, or nearer. (16:77) The seven heavens and Earth and whoever is in them glorify Him.(17:44)
He has created the heavens and Earth in 6 days. (7:54)
He revives Earth after its death. (30:19)
During that revival, He resurrects countless plant and animal species, and “inscribes” them on the sheet of Earth, all mingled with (but unique from) one another. Humanity’s resurrection on the Day of Judgment is not harder than this annual resurrection. Remember that far more flies are brought to life during one summer than the number of people who have lived, and will live, from the creation of Adam until the Last Day.
The Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad also say:
God is the Creator of all things and He is Guardian over all things. His is the keys of the heavens and Earth. (39:62-63)
He creates you and what you do. (37:96) He has prepared a painful torment. (33:8)
Whoever does an atom’s weight of evil shall see it. (99:8)
The Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad do not view the universe in the same way as modern scientists, philosophers, and other people. Rather, they instruct in the arts or provide a skill with which to know the Maker, Who holds all creatures in His hand and controls them as He wills. They show the inner and outer dimensions of existence, together with the parts and what they mean for their Creator. They instruct through a book with all its meanings and connotations.
Modern scientists and philosophers describe creatures according to their literal and external senses, and not in their inner dimensions and meanings, of which they are unaware. Like a mind occupied with involuntary evil thoughts or Satan’s whisperings, they occupy your mind with superficial issues and, without understanding their meaning, instruct you in their outward forms and the parts thereof. They instruct you in a bejeweled book ornamented with explanations of its letters’ forms, structures, and positions with respect to one another.
You cannot judge the truths of the Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad by such standards, nor weigh them by their balances. Mountains fixed deeply in the ground are not weighed on the balances of jewels. The “earthly”— profane—principles of science and philosophy cannot appraise and confirm the Qur’an’s and the Prophet’s truths. Ignore critics of some small details of those truths, as they are misguided by modern science and philosophy.
O LONG-SUFFERING ONE! When a misfortune is sent to you, do not divide your patience by confronting both past and present misfortunes. Focus on the present one, for the painful past has joined with the remaining spiritual blessings and rewards they gained for you in the Hereafter. Do not use up your patience confronting possible future misfortune, for what the future brings depends on Divine Will. Use your patience for today, even for this hour. Reinforce it by smiling at misfortune and loving it so that it will join your patience and help you rely on your Owner, the All-Munificent, All-Compassionate, and All-Wise. When you do that, your weakest patience will suffice for the greatest misfortune.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that some people dismiss various Traditions as “exaggerated.” In fact, such traditions contain valuable truths. For example, the Prophet is recorded to have said: “If the world had as much weight in the view of God as a gnat’s wing, an unbeliever could not drink a sip of water from it.”83 This means that the world’s external face manifesting in the mirror of your fleeting life has no more weight than the wing of a gnat from the eternal world, just as a grain of corn attaining permanence by growing into a plant is preferable to the amount of straw needed to fill a vast threshing field—for it can only blow away. Everyone has his or her own particular world. If this particular world is considered to point to its true Owner rather than to itself, and to the tillage of the Hereafter and the area where the Divine Beautiful Names are manifested, it gains a great value. Otherwise, with respect to its fleeting aspect, its value is less than that of a single grain.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that one demonstration that life is based upon mutual assistance, not upon conflict, is that dense soil and hard rocks allow a plant’s delicate roots to penetrate them. Rocks crack their hardened hearts when touched by a plant’s silk-like fingers, and soil opens its hard breast for the plants’ veins. The universe’s parts cooperate with its sun and moon for the benefit of animals, plants serve as food for animals, elements of sustenance compete to be sustenance for fruits; fruits are adorned to attract those needing provision, particles (of soil, air, and water) cooperate to be food for the body’s cells, and so on. All of this is a decisive proof that life’s general principle is mutual assistance. Conflict is only a particular, exceptional principle, notably among some wild animals.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the absolute, observable ease of things coming into existence is one of the clearest proofs of God’s Unity, for everything, especially living things, requires for its existence that which is necessary for the whole to exist.84 If there were more than one Creator, the existence of one thing would be as difficult as the existence of the whole universe.85
KNOW, O CARNAL, EVIL-COMMANDING SELF, that you deserve condemnation even for your most “noble” demand. You deeply desire the things of the Hereafter, but only to be relieved from the gloom of transience and find consolation for the pain of mortality. How can a king serve a mortal creature? You build an inn on columns of jewels you have taken from the royal castle, so that some animals may stay in it overnight. [You use the precious faculties given to you for the Hereafter to satisfy your carnal, fleeting desires.] You cause the castle to collapse on you, and eat the fruits of the everlasting Paradise in the illusory paradise of the world.
KNOW, O SOUL ENAMORED of itself and relying on its physical existence. You became content with a drop from an imaginary ocean of the water of life, with a weak radiance at night from the sun of a clear day. The relation between your physical existence with the manifestations of your Creator’s Existence is like that of one soul with all creatures multiplied by the particles forming those creatures. Your existence points to itself only in that respect, while pointing to its Creator’s existence in endless respects, as does every creature. His existence, when compared with yours, is as manifest as the greatness of the universe.
You love your selfhood because it is the source of your carnal pleasure, the center of your existence, the mine of your interests, and because it is nearer to you than anything else. However, you confuse a dim, fleeting shadow with the very origin of all existence. If you love your selfhood for a transient pleasure, then you must love Him Who gives you infinite, eternal pleasure and creates everything that makes you happy. If your selfhood is the center of your existence, then your Lord is the One Who has given you that existence and maintains it, together with all those to whom your existence is related.
If your existence is the mine of your interests, then your Provider is He in Whose hand is all good. He is the Permanent, Benevolent One, and with Him are all your benefits as well as the benefits of those who are beneficial to you. If your selfhood is nearer to you (than anything else), then Your Creator is still nearer. His “hand” reaches what your selfhood cannot reach, and what is beyond the reach of its consciousness. So unite all your love now divided among creatures and, adding to it your love of your selfhood, direct it to the Almighty, the True Beloved One.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that what veils you from God and keeps you in heedlessness is seeing things and parts separately and attributing them to chance and causes. However, one who looks at the whole and universal with a comprehensive view cannot attribute even the least thing to the greatest cause. For example, you ascribe food to some causes. But when you see Earth’s wilderness and utter destitution in winter followed by its being adorned and filled with varieties of food by the Divine Power, you will be convinced that the one who provides for you could be none other than the One Who provides for all living things by reviving Earth after its death.
For example, you ascribe the illumination of your house and your (intellectual and spiritual) enlightenment to some apparent causes and say: What has been given to me is because of certain knowledge that I have (28:78). However, when you see that your light comes from the light of daytime and that your enlightenment depends on the Source of all lights, you will be convinced that only He Who alternates day and night by moving the solar system, Who allows the misguided to remain so, and Who guides whomever He wills by sending down Scriptures can illuminate your body and enlighten your mind and heart.
KNOW, O HUMANITY, that some awesome issues compel every conscious being to pay attention to them. Among them are death, separation from all that you love and the world, your journeying to eternity through awful circumstances, and your complete impotence and poverty both here and in the Hereafter. How can you behave as if oblivious of and blind to such issues? You are like an ostrich that buries its head in the sand so as not to see the hunter. How much longer will you be absorbed in transient, perishable drops and pay no attention to fearful oceans?
KNOW, O FRIEND, that God makes it possible to solve the greatest ontological problems by one linguistic rule: The meaning related to the letter and the meaning related to the name.86 This universe is a book; the creatures in it are its words. These words should be viewed only on their Inscriber’s behalf, for their only function is to serve as messages of the Lord manifesting His All-Beautiful Names. Considering creatures on behalf of themselves causes ignorance, ingratitude, and erroneous philosophy, while considering them on behalf of their Inscriber is the origin of knowledge, belief, and wisdom.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that God makes it possible to solve a tremendous matter pertaining to Divine Lordship via a rule of logic: the difference between a universal having particulars or individuals and a whole formed of parts.87
The manifestation of His Grace and Oneness—manifesting His Names on a single thing—may be compared to the universal having particulars or individuals.88 The manifestation of His Majesty and Unity—manifesting a Name on a group or a whole—may be compared to the whole formed of parts. The manifestations of Perfection and Grandeur encompass both. That is, Perfection in the view of Majesty is like the universal in the view of the whole, and the particular in the view of the part.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the world is the Hereafter’s “contents,” and has a bearing upon the most important matters connected with it. For example, consider the pleasure you take in eating and drinking. The One Who, in this fleeting abode that gives no true pleasure, has given you senses and feelings, systems and organs, parts and instruments to taste these material bounties and sense His Names’ manifestations on things pertaining to your physical existence—the Wise One Who has provided you with different senses—has prepared for His guests everlasting feasts in palaces underneath which rivers flow, and where they will remain forever (5:119).
O FEARFUL, HELPLESS SAID! When you fear or love the created, fear becomes a pain and love an affliction. The one you fear has no mercy for you or does not listen to your requests. The one you love does not recognize you, despises you because of your love, avoids you, and abandons you despite your desire. Rather, fear and love your All-Munificent and Compassionate Creator so that your love may become an innocent, eternal happiness without pain or humiliation, and your fear an agreeable humbling by taking refuge in the bosom of Mercy, just as an infant’s fear of its mother compels it to throw itself into her warm arms, where it finds pleasure.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that you are the Tree of Creation’s fruit or seed. Although physically a weak, impotent, and small individual being, the All-Wise Maker has favored you with a universal disposition. By giving you life, He has freed you from the confines of an insignificant, individual existence and enabled you to travel throughout the visible world so that your very developed, inquiring senses may obtain their particular nourishments. By making you human, He has endowed you with a potential to flourish, like a tree growing from a seed. He has bestowed on you belief and Islam, and thereby enabled you to acquire a universal existence. By favoring you with knowledge and love of Him, He has made you like a comprehensive light. Now you must choose. If you attach yourself to the world and bodily desires, you will become a weak, humiliated individual. But if you use the instruments of your life, senses, and faculties on behalf of the greatest humanity (Islam), you will acquire a universal existence and become a central, illuminating lamp.
KNOW, O ONE WHO LOVES worldly things as much as your restricted physical existence allows. Since you spend your love away from its proper place (God), you are distressed. But if you love the One of Unity and other things on His behalf and with His leave, you will be saved from the distress and pain of separation (from what you love). You will be like one who, faithfully serving a ruler with relations to everyone in his country, hears with his lord’s ears and sees with his lord’s eyes all that happens as if he or she were there. By using the ruler’s communicative systems, he or she hears all pleasant music and sees all beautiful scenes in the country.
KNOW, O ONE WHO SHOWS great curiosity about the moon and other planets. If you were told that someone has come from the moon to tell you about it, or to tell your future, you would give almost anything to hear his or her words. However, a man tells you about Him in the realm of Whose rule the moon is less than a moth flying around a light: It flies around the light among innumerable candles hanging from the ceiling of the house He has prepared for His guests. That man also tells you about eternity and eternal life, and fundamental truths and awesome matters, the least of which is more important than Earth’s and moon’s destruction.
Listen to the chapters of the Book he has brought, which begin with: When the sun is folded up (81:1), When the heaven is rent asunder (82:1), and others like them. He shows you a straight, leveled path leading to unity, and saves you from confusion in the twisted, crooked ways of misguidance. He extends the “firm handle,” a chain of ascension, that keeps those who hold on to it from drowning in the darkness of things’ bewildering multiplicity. He offers you the water of life (eternal life) from the pure source of belief so that you may be saved from the fire of separation from what you love. He informs you of what pleases your Creator—to Whose command the sun, moon, and stars are subjected and by Whose permission Earth was settled and stabilized—and what He commands you to do. He explains to you, an infinitely weak and poor creation, the communication and conversation of the King of Eternity, to Whose Power there is no limit.
Such being the truth, why not renounce yourself to perceive the Qur’an’s guidance, listen to the Messenger of the All-Merciful One, and welcome him with belief and submission. Love sincerely the one who has come with peace and salvation. Learn from him what our All-Affectionate Master, the All-Bounteous Owner, asks of us.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that We see the All-Wise Maker’s perfect Wisdom, and witness that His acts are free from waste and futility. He weaves extensive, enduring, and precious “textiles” from lowly and very small things. His acts are purposeful. For example, He charges each bodily organ or part (especially those in the head) with very important duties. If a tiny organ were required to perform each duty entrusted to your head’s organs, your head would be as big as Mount Sinai.
Look at the tongue. As one of its many important tasks, it inspects the bounties stored in the All-Merciful One’s treasury, as well as all food and beverage prepared in His Power’s kitchen. Its tasks are as many as the tastes of all foods. Does this purposeful activity not show that the Maker weaves (from the things moving in the flux of time) “textiles” for the Unseen and the Hereafter by moving the “shuttle” of day in order to produce day and night and change the seasons?
He does the same weaving in humanity, the index of the universe. He records and permanently preserves the minutes of each person’s life in the “textiles” or on the “sheets” of memory, and uses death to transport living beings from this visible, narrow world to the unseen worlds of purity and permanence. We hear from the sources of Revelation that these minutes return to each individual either darkened with heedlessness and sin or illuminated with lamps of good deeds hanging from their links.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the All-Beautiful, All-Wise Maker makes members of animal species, especially winged ones and fish, in different sizes, just as He does for angels and all other creatures. He makes the small a specimen of the large so that people will be guided to truth, reflect on His creation with ease, and read and understand His Power’s missives. He also does this to display that Power’s perfection and exhibit His two kinds of art, one originating in His Grace and the other in His Majesty.
Small things that are discerned only with difficulty usually remain unknown, and can be known only when “written” in “capital letters.” Large things that are too huge to be seen and comprehended also remain unknown until they are “written” in relatively “small letters.” Despite this, the carnal evil-commanding self, taught by Satan, thinks that smallness results from weakness or defect in artistry, and so attributes them to deaf and blind causes. It likewise claims that huge things show a lack of wisdom and purpose, and are thus attributable to chance.89
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the almost infinite multiplicity of things and absolute abundance of provisions do not mean futility and contradict wisdom. If a thing, especially a living being, had only one purpose, this charge might be true. But each existent thing has innumerable purposes, tasks, and fruits. Your tongue has as many tasks as the number of hairs on your head. There are endless purposes for that abundance and, with respect to each thing’s assigned tasks, there is no contradiction with wisdom. Although an army is mainly charged with guarding or defending borders, we have many troops, since an army also represents the government’s authority, guards against internal conflict, and performs other services.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that a human artist can be seen with his or her works of art, but there are 70,000 veils between God and His works. If only you could view all creatures of God together at the same instant, the veils of darkness might be lifted, leaving only the veils of light, which is very difficult. However, the most direct and shortest way to reach that level of vision is within you; it can be found in the outer world only by intense love.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that each member of most of the reproducing plant and animal species seeks to spread over Earth as much as possible so that it can use Earth as a place of worship by manifesting its Creator’s Names. Each worships its Creator, Who alone deserves worship, in its own way. Look at a melon and its seeds, fruit-bearing trees and their seeds, and fish and birds and their eggs. Since the world is too small for all of them to realize their “intention” fully, the all-encompassing Knowledge of the Knower of the seen and the Unseen, Who knows everything that happens regardless of when it happens, is expected to accept their intended worship.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that out of the purposes for things’ existence, the Qur’an sometimes mentions those related to humanity. This does not mean, however, that humanity was created only for the purposes mentioned. Rather, it draws our attention to their benefits, to the order and harmony they display, and thus to their Maker’s Names. We only pay attention to and prefer that which is related to us, even if it is microscopic, in preference to a “sun” with which we have no relation. For example: And the moon: We have determined stations (phases) for it (36:39), that you might know the number of years and the reckoning (10:5). This is only one of the moon’s thousands of purposes, and it is mentioned because it is the most evident one for humanity.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that one of the inimitable stamps and seals particular to Him, and one of the most evident signs of the unity of boundless Power and endless Knowledge observed in the absolute authority over existence, as well as the absolute firmness and ease in its creation and maintenance, is that innumerable different things are created from a simple single thing. For example, soil is the main element for all kinds of plants to come into existence and be maintained. Moreover, all animal and human organs, as well as their flesh and bones, blood and tissues, are made from simple food. Glory be to Him Who has absolute power to make all things from a single thing and a single thing from all things.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that: Or are We the sowers? (56:64) contains a profound meaning. Just as you store some seeds to sow later, so does the Heir to all things, the Reviver, the Preserver, Who revives the soil after its death, records the results of all plants’ “deeds,” and preserves them for later sowing in many areas according to certain measures. Then, He causes them to produce leaves and blossom, as if each recited: When the records are laid open (81:10).
Consider how careful you are to preserve the seeds you will sow, and try to understand how perfectly the Absolute Preserver preserves innumerable delicate cases containing their parents’ indexes, as determined by Destiny, from change and corruption, and distinguishes them from each other without confusion. Such preserving does not mean that you can do whatever you wish and then die for eternal rest. Does humanity think that it will be left to roam at will (75:36)? No! [He preserves your deeds, the seeds of your eternal life,] and you will be called to account for whatever you do.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that humanity’s particular attributes and essential qualities were given so that human beings could perceive the Creator’s Essential Qualities and Attributes. To understand His destroying and rebuilding of the universe, and resurrecting everything that has died with all of His other disposals in the other world, consider His revival of soil in spring and its death in autumn and winter. This will give you an idea of the Supreme Resurrection and interpretation of such verses as: When the sun is folded up (81:1).
KNOW, O FRIEND, that Islam’s essentials encompass everything, from the Owner’s Greatest Names and Attributes and creation of the Supreme Throne, the heavens and Earth together with their angels, down to the occurrences in your heart. They also encompass all that is between the heavens and Earth.
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81 Each section contains ten Names, each of which the writer likens to a jewel, so each section is like a box containing jewels. (Tr.)
82 Tabarani, Al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir, 2:580.
83 Related by al-Tirmidhi, who judged it authentic, in Al-Jami‘ al-Saghir, no. 5168.
84 A cherry’s existence requires the existence and cooperation of the sun and air, soil and water, and its tree’s elements. The ease with which it comes into existence shows that a single Creator has absolute control over these factors. (Tr.)
85 Since the creation and control of all things requires infinite knowledge and power, the existence of more than one creator with infinite knowledge and power is inconceivable. There cannot be two infinities at the same time. Second, it is inconceivable that a different creator could create and dispose of a certain part of existence, and that these creators would cooperate among themselves. Such a situation would lead to disagreement, for independence is an essential quality of divinity. The result would be the disorder of existence. Also, the unity and interrelatedness in existence require that all supposed creators know and control all existence, which makes the existence of multiple creators with the same qualities unnecessary. So, associating partners with God is illogical and mistaken. (Tr.)
86 A letter has no inherent meaning and so points to something else, such as the work of which it is a part and its author. A word, however, has a complete meaning in itself and so points primarily to itself. (Tr.)
87 Humanity has universality, and an individual human being is one specific or “particular” member of that universal entity as well as a whole entity formed of parts. A “particular” or individual carries all attributes of the species, while a part does not have all of the whole’s attributes. (Tr.)
88 God has two general kinds of manifestation: His Grace (the origin of mercy, forgiveness, provision, and the like) and His Majesty (the origin of glory, awe, wrath, chastisement, and so on). (Tr.)
89 Throughout his book, Said Nursi draws attention to many intrigues of the human carnal self and Satan. He does not mean that everyone is exposed to all of these intrigues. Rather, the carnal self deceives some with some of them, and others with others. By drawing the attention to all the deceptive ways of Satan and the carnal self, the author calls people to wake up and remain awake. (Tr.)