Everything glorifies Him with His praise. (17:44)
KNOW, O FRIEND, that every creature’s glorification and worship have innumerable aspects. The creature is not required to be conscious of all of them. For example, people working on a ship have to touch some of its pegs and nails. They do not know why the owner wants them to do this, only that if they do so they will be paid and feel the pleasure of earning. They even think that the work was decreed only for their pleasure. An animal is unconscious of why it mates, and does so only to satisfy its sexual desire. But this ignorance does not prevent reproduction and maintenance of its progeny and species.
For instance, while satisfying their greed, ants unconsciously clean the ground of the corpses of micro-organisms. A clock tells you how much more of your lifetime has passed, but “knows” only the pain of its own wear. A honeybee does what it does by the sweetness of Divine inspiration included in the particular pleasure it takes. Plant, animal, and even human mothers work due to the pleasure of affection, unconscious of the lofty purposes realized through them that embellish the home of the universe. It is as if their affection serves as a seed or measure for those purposes.
It is enough for those who glorify and worship God to know how to do their work. The Almighty declares: Do you not see that all that is in the heavens and Earth glorifies God, and the birds spreading their wings. Each knows (how to do) its prayer and glorification; and God knows what they do (24:41). They do not have to know that their actions glorify Him, or be conscious of the nature of their own specific prayer. It is enough that we, conscious beings, know that all creatures worship and glorify God. Indeed, it is enough that the Absolutely Worshipped One knows that. As non-human creatures do not have to worship God consciously, they do not have to have the intention to pray or glorify, or even be conscious of what they do. Actually, they are embodied words of glorification and, by their lives, perform another kind of glorification. They glorify (their Creator and Sustainer) in as many ways as willed by the All-Glorified, All-Pure One. There is no god but He.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the great variety of bounties and blessings sent to you reach you after passing through different veils and being filtered through diverse “nets” in a specific order.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that there is a very subtle point in selfhood. I think it serves as a window through which to look into eternity, for it tends to eternalize whatever it encounters. If worldly desire uses it, it attracts the building blocks of the Hereafter to the world, attempts to build a worldly palace with them, and eats up the Hereafter’s fruits in this transient world before they ripen.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that selfhood is a very strange thing. If it is purified and developed, it becomes a treasury of innumerable instruments and meters to perceive the manifestations of the Divine All-Beautiful Names’ treasuries. If it is seduced and stunted, it becomes a cave of snakes, scorpions, and vermin. It is preferable to maintain, rather than to annihilate, selfhood. Maintaining it in a purified form, as was done by the Prophet’s Companions, is more in keeping with wisdom than is its death or annihilation, the way followed by great saints.
Selfhood has a great hunger, immense need, and strange tastes. When it is trained and purified, its blameworthy greed changes into a zeal difficult to satisfy, its vicious conceit saves one from associating any partners with God, and its intense self love changes into love of its Lord, and so on. Its evil turns into virtue.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that believers derive their value from the artistry, distinguished coloring, and embroideries of the Divine Names manifested in them. Unbelievers and the heedless only have a physical value. The world, when considered on behalf of the All-Glorified One and as the place where Divine Names are manifested, becomes infinitely valuable. If considered on behalf of itself and from the viewpoint of natural causes, as taught by philosophy, its value is reduced to its changing and lifeless material substance.
The knowledge of the universe derived from the Qur’an is infinitely superior to that taught by modern science and philosophy. For example, the Qur’an says: He has made the sun as a lamp (71:16). What a broad, profound view the Qur’an gives you to look at the series of the Divine Names’ manifestations. Despite its huge size, the sun serves as a light to illuminate your home, a fire to ripen or cook your food, by the command of Him Who nurtures you. You have such a powerful and compassionate Owner that the sun and innumerable others like it are lamps in His guest-house.
Science or philosophy tell you that the sun is a huge mass of fire moving by itself. Our Earth and other planets were detached from it and move in their orbits determined by their attraction to the sun and gravity. This information gives you either a sense of fright or wonder.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that You cannot demand a right from the Truth. Rather, you must thank Him continually, for His is the kingdom and the creation, and all praise is for Him.
O God, All-Merciful, All-Compassionate, All-Munificent. Make this book a substitute for me to bear witness to You after my death as follows:
O God, Lord of the chosen Muhammad. O Lord of Paradise and Hell, of the Prophets and the good. O Lord of the truthful and pious, of the young and old. O Lord of seeds and fruits, of lights and flowers. O Lord of rivers and trees, of what is manifest and what is secret. O Lord of day and night. We have You as a Witness. Our witnesses also include those bearing Your Supreme Throne, all Your angels and creatures, all your Prophets and saints, all Your signs of creation and verses of speech, and all the universe’s particles and compounds.
As is also attested by Your beloved, upon him the best of blessings, the testimony containing all other witnesses, and Your Qur’an, that we all bear witness that You are God, Necessarily Existent, One and Single, Besought-of-All and Manifest Truth, All-Living and Self-Subsisting, All-Knowing and All-Wise, All-Powerful and All-Willing, All-Hearing, All-Seeing and All-Speaking. Yours are the All-Beautiful Names. We bear witness that there is no god but You, the One, without partner. Yours is the dominion and ownership of everything, and all praise is yours.
We ask You for forgiveness and turn in repentance to You. Again, we bear witness that Muhammad is Your servant and Prophet, Your Beloved and Messenger, whom You sent as a mercy for all worlds. Bestow peace and blessings on him, his Family, and His Companions until eternity. Amen. Amen. Amen.
This explains one jewel in the treasure of: I have not created jinn and humanity except to worship Me (51:56).
O SAID! You have forgotten yourself and your vital duty, and are unaware of the wisdom in creating humanity, ignorant of what the All-Wise Maker has placed in those adorned creatures. The building of this universe and including the human world within it can be explained through the following parable: A king has treasuries of different jewels and buried treasures. He skillfully makes novel and magnificent things, and specializes in almost all sciences and crafts. He also wants to display his kingdom’s magnificence, his wealth’s splendor, his artistry’s wonders, and his skills’ marvels. In short, he wills that both he and everybody else see his magnificence, perfection, and graciousness.
So he builds a huge, multi-floored palace, and divides each floor into different display rooms. He decorates the palace with his jewels and subtle artistry, and puts a mark or seal on each thing to display his miraculous skill, knowledge, and power. On the tables, he places innumerable kinds of delicious foods and beverages to exhibit his munificence. However, a few of the foods and beverages are forbidden for some of his subjects for certain purposes. He does many other things to show his hidden perfection.
Then he invites his subjects to have a good time. At the incomparable feast he has prepared, each morsel seems to be a product of hundreds of delicate skills and arts. Afterwards, he appoints a teacher to explain the displays and the palace’s embellishments and decorations. The teacher also describes how the furniture, jewels, and embellishments point to the owner’s perfection, and teaches the people how to enter the palace and how to behave toward its builder.
He says: “My master wills to make himself known to you through whatever is in this palace, so know him. He wills to make himself loved by you through these embellishments and bounties, so love him and display your love by appreciating them. He exhibits his mercy on you, so thank him. He manifests himself to you, so show zeal to enter into his presence.”
The teacher says many similar things. The people enter the palace and divide into two groups. One group looks at everything and event. Thinking that it all must signify something very important, they say to the teacher: “Peace be upon you. Everything must be as you tell us, so teach us what your master taught you.” He does so, and they act in a way to please the king.
The king, in return, calls them to his private, indescribably beautiful palace and, in a way befitting him, bestows all kinds of food and drink that resemble those in the other palace but which are infinitely more delicious.
The other group has eyes only for the food, and is blind and deaf to all other beauties and distinctions. They eat as if they were animals and then sleep. They drink the forbidden beverages and, getting drunk, swear and cause much harm. As a result, the king’s soldiers put them in a dungeon.
You know that the king built the palace for the purposes mentioned and made their realization dependent on the teachers’ existence and the people’s obedience to him. Thus one can say that if there were no teacher the king would not build the palace, and if the people ignored the teacher’s words, the palace would be destroyed and a new one built for other purposes.
If you understand this parable, you can see into the truth. The palace is the world, the ceiling of which is adorned with glittering lamps and the floor with smiling flowers. The king is the Monarch of Eternity. The seven heavens and Earth, and all that is in them, praise Him (17:44). God created the heavens and Earth in 6 days, then seated Himself on the Supreme Throne, covering the day with the night it pursues urgently, and the sun, the moon, and the stars subservient by His command (7:54).
The floors are the worlds within the world, and the jewels and embellishments are His Power’s miracles. The kinds of food are His Mercy’s wonderful fruits. The treasuries of jewels and hidden treasuries are the Sacred Divine Names and their manifestations. All the beauties, designs, and decorations point to those Names. The teacher is our master Muhammad. Other Prophets are his friends, and all saints are his students. There are many obedient servants in the palace, who are the angels. The people invited to the palace are human and other animate beings. The two groups are the people of belief and the Qur’an, which explains all “verses” of the Book of Creation, and the people of unbelief and rebellion following their carnal selves and Satan. Those in the second group are deaf, blind, and mute, more strayed than animals which have lost their way (25:44). They are aware only of the worldly life.
The prosperous, pious ones listened to the teacher who made his Lord known with his supplication, such as al-Jawshan al-Kabir, and communicated the Qur’an. They listened to the Qur’an and saw the beauty of the Divine Lordship’s sovereignty. They exalted and glorified God, and proclaimed the marvels of the Sacred Names’ manifestations. They glorified and praised God, recognizing the contents of His Mercy’s treasuries with their senses and thanking Him. They knew the jewels in the treasuries of the Names manifested in certain measures according to their capacity to receive them, and declared God All-Holy and extolled Him. They studied, appreciated, and reflected on the Pen of Power’s missives. They took great spiritual pleasure in observing creation’s beauties and, filled with love for the Creator, looked forward to entering into His Presence.
They responded to the Maker’s will to make Himself known through His art’s miracles, by trying to obtain knowledge of Him, and said in amazement: “Glory be to You. We cannot know You as required by knowing You, O Known One, through all Your miraculous creatures.” They responded to His will to be loved by loving Him through the adornments of Mercy’s fruits. They responded to His turning to them with the pleasure of His bounties, by praising and thanking Him, and said: “Glory be to You. We cannot thank You as required by thanking You, O Thanked One, through the praises of Your favors on creation, the exhibitions of Your bounties and their tastes in the market of the universe, and the testimonies of the melodies of the fruits of Your Mercy and Favoring.”
They responded by prostrating in love, amazement, and humility to His display of His Grandeur and Perfection, Beauty and Grace, and Majesty throughout the universe, in the mirrors of creatures coming to and departing from the world. His display of His all-inclusive Mercy and infinite Wealth caused them to acknowledge their destitution and beseech Him. They responded to His exhibiting His arts’ subtleties with appreciation and observation, and by bearing witness to them. To His proclamation of His Lordship’s sovereignty throughout the universe, they responded with belief in His Unity, obedience, and worship in acknowledgment of their helplessness, weakness, and poverty.
In short, they fulfilled their vital duties here and were perfected, more sublime than all other creatures, observing the Supreme Trust they had borne as trustworthy vicegerents. Then their Lord invited them to the Abode of Peace for eternal happiness and bestowed on them bounties and blessings beyond description.
The second group, which did not believe in the Maker, reduced creatures’ value to their material substance through their unbelief, denied all of the Names’ manifestations, and committed an infinitely great crime. Thus, its members deserve infinite punishment.
O WRETCHED SAID, do you think that your duty here is to maintain your life by satisfying your carnal self, your stomach and desires? Do you suppose that all of your senses and feelings, systems and faculties, organs and limbs are to be used by your carnal self in this fleeting life? They are not, for they were given to you so that you could perceive all the Almighty’s bounties and His Names’ manifestations. Use your senses and faculties as measures to appreciate the contents of His Mercy’s treasuries, to discover and open the hidden treasuries of His Names’ manifestations.
Your vital duty is to display His Names’ marvelous manifestations, proclaim your servanthood (verbally and actively) at His Lordship’s door, and then adorn yourself with the jewels of His Names’ manifestations and show yourself to the Eternal Witness. You must understand the reverent glorification of living beings for the Bestower of Life, testify to them, and call others to do the same. Use your attributes, qualities, and acts to compare and perceive your Creator’s Attributes and sacred Essential Qualities. Considering your poverty and impotence, you must understand the extent of His Power and Wealth’s manifestations.
Life serves as a treasury of senses and faculties, a map and a sample, an index and a measure to know the marvelous manifestations of the Names of the Creator of death and life. Your life is an inscribed, audible, and perceived word composed by the Divine Beautiful Names. It is a mirror for reflecting Divine Unity. Its perfection and happiness lie in its being conscious of what it embodies, and feeling love and yearning for the One Whom it serves. Other living beings have a share in some of these purposes, but not as much as you do, for you are a comprehensive mirror. The Creator Himself is said to have declare : “Neither the heavens nor Earth can contain Me, but the heart of My believing servant can.”94
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94 In Al-Fatawa al-Hadithiya, Ibn Hajar Haythami comments: “It is narrated by the Sufis.
However, it must not be taken literally in a way to associate union (with God) and incarnation” (as asserted in Christianity and other religions). This narration means that a believer’s heart is of such quality that it can know God with all His Attributes, Names, and acts and feel an overflowing love for Him. (Tr.)