The Tenth Treatise
A radiance from the sun of the Qur’an
Know that the All-Wise Creator gave you those senses, feelings, and systems to perceive His bounties and experience His Names’ manifestations. You were created to display His Names’ manifestations and exhibit their marvels. Your humanity lies in your consciousness of this duty, and your being a Muslim depends on your conviction of this honor conferred on you.
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Praise is from God and for God, as it is deserved by God. Praise be to God for “praise is for God.”
O God. In the presence of all bounties and works of mercy, all favoring and wisdom, life and death; all animals and plants, flowers and fruits and works of (Your) art and fashioning; universal order and harmony; and all movement and stop in all particles and compounds, we testify that there is no god but God. He is One with no partner. His is the kingdom of all existence and His is all praise. He gives life and death. All good is in His hand, and He is powerful over all things. We testify that Muhammad is His servant and Prophet, beloved and Messenger, whom He sent as a mercy for all worlds.
O God. Bestow blessings on Muhammad, the ocean of Your lights, the mine of Your mysteries, the sun of Your guidance, the spring of Your Favoring, the tongue of Your proof. He represents the work of Your Power and love, is the embodiment of Your Mercy, and Your most beloved creation. Bestow blessings on all other Messengers and
Prophets, their families and Companions, and on the angels made near to You. Bless Your righteous servants in the heavens and on Earth, for the sake of Your Mercy, O Most Merciful of the Merciful.
Glory be to You, O One Whom the universe both glorifies and praises with the tongue of Muhammad, upon him be Your best blessings and peace. Glory be to You, O One Whom the world glorifies with the works of Muhammad, upon him be the most abundant of Your blessings. Glory be to You, O One before Whom Earth prostrates under the Throne of Your Grandeur and glorifies with Your praise with the tongue of its Muhammad, upon him be the purest of Your benedictions. Glory be to You, O One Whom all the believers glorify with the tongue of their Muhammad, upon him be Your blessings forever. Glory be to You. I glorify You with the tongue of Muhammad, Your beloved, upon him be Your perfect blessings and radiant peace. Accept this from me for (the sake of) Your Mercy, as You accepted it from him.
KNOW, O FRIEND, THAT THE EXTREMELY COMPREHENSIVE MEANING of: The seven heavens and Earth and whoever is in them glorify Him. There is nothing that does not glorify Him with His praise (17:44), requires explanation. I tried to look into it and some words of explanation dropped into my heart. If you would like to absorb those words dripping from this verse’s ocean or descending from its very high heavens, listen to what follows:
Glory be to You. We, the communities of humanity, cannot know You as Your knowledge requires, O One known through Your works’ miracles, Your creatures’ descriptions, and the definitions of all existence. How immense is Your authority. How clear is Your proof.
Glory be to You. We cannot mention You as mentioning You requires, O One mentioned with all Your creatures’ and works’ tongues, and with the breaths of all the words of the book of Your creation. How majestic is Your mentioning.
Glory be to You. We cannot praise You as Your praise requires. You are praised through all the instances of Your Kindness displayed before the eyes of all who can see, and through exhibiting Your bounties in the market of the universe before all who witness them. You are praised through the joyful testimonies of all the fruits of Your Mercy, Which shapes them in the molds of the universal order and balance. Glory be to You. How vast is Your Mercy.
Glory be to You. We cannot worship You as Your worship requires, O One worshipped by all angels and other creatures of Yours in infinitely various ways of worshipping and praising.
Glory be to You. We cannot glorify You as Your glorification requires, O One Whom the seven heavens and Earth and whoever is in them glorify. There is nothing that does not glorify Him with His praise. Glory be to You, O One Whom all kinds of angels glorify in different tongues in various ways.
Glory be to You, O One Whom the universe glorifies with the mouths of its worlds, the limbs of its main parts, the cells of its limbs, and the particles of its cells, through the tongues of its purposeful order, magnificent balance, well-ordered working, and well-proportioned construction. Glory be to You, O One Whom Paradise glorifies with the mouths of its gardens through the songs of its houris, the praises of its palaces, the odes of its trees, and the hymns of its fruits resembling one another, as their resemblances in this world glorify Him.
Glory be to You, O One Who alternates day and night and subjugates the sun and the moon. You are the One Whom the heavens glorify with their systems, and the mouths of their suns or stars through the tongue of their order and harmony, well-designed adornment and majestic radiance, their absolute obedience and tranquility, and their purposeful movements.
Glory be to You, O One Whom the atmosphere glorifies with the mouths of its thunderbolts and lightning, winds and clouds, shooting stars and rain, through the words of its well-balanced order with many lofty purposes. Glory be to You, O One Whom Earth glorifies, prostrated before the immensity of His Power with its Muhammad and Qur’an, with the mouths of its seas and mountains, rivers and trees, and sounds and vibrations (the sounds of its plants and the movements of its animals). It glorifies You with its light-diffusing words and luminous letters (Prophets and saints) and through the tongue of its order and balance, life and death, poverty and dryness, rich adornment and wise art.
Glory be to You, O One Whom the seas glorify with their words of strange animals, and through their songs and the tongue of their order, balance, and the many purposes they serve. Glory be to You, O One Who has made Earth as a cradle and mountains as pegs. The mountains glorify You with their mouths of springs, rivers, and trees, and through the tongue of their balance, order, the purposes they serve, and their treasuries.
Glory be to You, O One Who has made every living thing from “water,” and Whom animate beings glorify with their mouths of senses and feelings, systems and organs, artistic structures and intellects, and hearts. They glorify through the tongue of their well-proportioned designs, and they ask through their potential and the tongue of their need, prayers, their being provided, the changes they undergo, and their lives and deaths.
Glory be to You, O One Whom flying insects glorify with Your praise with their chants of thanksgiving. Birds and their chicks glorify in their nests with their songs of gratitude, through the tongue of the order and balance in their creation and movements, and of their designs and adornment. They proclaim Your favors on them and thereby manifest their gratitude when tasting the fruits of Your Kindness and being fed with the works of Your Mercy. Vermin and wild animals also glorify You through the tongue of the excellent proportion and balance in their structures and forms, and being munificently fed. Glory be to You. How fine and subtle is Your art. How penetrating is Your rule and authority.
Glory be to You, O One Whom trees manifestly glorify when they blossom and give forth leaves and fruits. They glorify You through the tongue of their well-proportioned forms and designs, their taste and beautiful blossoms, fine smells, and rich adornment. They magnify You and proclaim Your Caring’s perfection, describe Your Attributes’ and Names’ manifestations, and interpret Your making Yourself loved by Your creatures. They do so with what comes out of their fruits’ limbs pertaining to the radiance of Your making Yourself loved by Your creatures and undertaking their provision. Glory be to You. How subtle is the proof of You originating in Your Kindness. How rich is Your Graciousness in making Yourself loved.
Glory be to You, O One Whom plants glorify with perfect clarity when they blossom and produce spikes and grain, with the mouths of their flowers and spikes and with the words of their seeds and grain, through the tongue of their subtly proportioned forms and structures. They magnify and make You known, show Your “Face” which makes Yourself loved, describe Your Attributes and mention Your Names, and interpret Your making Yourself loved and making Yourself known to Your servants. Glory be to You. How subtle and varied is the evidence of You. How radiant and enriched it is.
Glory be to You, O One Who sent down iron wherein is mighty power and uses for humanity; Whom minerals glorify with all their varieties and shapes, properties and uses, and embellishments through the tongue of their well-established order and special balance. Glory be to You, O One Whom elements glorify through their coming together to make compounds by Your command and Power.
Glory be to You, O One Whom particles glorify through their duties and the tongue of the order and balance they display. They glorify You in that, despite their absolute impotence, they perform mighty duties by Your Power. Each of them testifies to the necessity of Your Existence through the tongue of their essential impotence to carry out the lofty duties in creation’s subtle order. For example, a tiny seed bears a huge tree in itself. Every particle indicates Your Oneness with respect to its duties, and its movements contribute to the universal order. In short, a particle testifies to both Your necessary Existence and Oneness, and every incident indicates that You are One and the Eternally-Besought-of-All. Rather, each thing indicates and bears witness that You are necessarily existent, One and Single, and Eternally Besought-of-All. There is no god but You, One, with no partners at all.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that your body’s limbs, organs, and senses belong to its Maker, Who rears and governs it. Your share in it is only your duty [to maintain and use it according to His commands]. If you use it properly, you can obtain a ray of awareness of how your body really is, for it shows that its Originator has absolute knowledge of it and that His Names and Attributes are manifested on it.
If your body serves you in some way only at this moment, it does so because it serves its Maker at all times. It displays many of its All-Wise Creator’s marvelous works and, by fulfilling its “natural” tasks with perfect order and a wonderful mutual assistance, it exhibits the subtleties of the Almighty’s Mercy and the “fibers” of His Wisdom.
Your share in your body and the right to control it is proportional to your knowledge of it and your share in maintaining it. All its particles, compounds, life and properties show that it belongs to its Maker and is under His absolute control. So do not overstep your limits.
Your existence has a relation to the Almighty Truth and creation. With respect to the Truth, you are a subtle work of art, a pure, clean work of the Creator of the heavens and Earth. Based on your share in your existence and its worth and perfection, it is enough for you to know that you are a work of art of the Maker Who has adorned the heavens with stars, and that you have become a beloved, honorable brother (or sister) of the universe that serves you. As for your relation to the creation, you are composed of elements that have come together and soon will part company.
Do not wrong your body by using it unjustly and breaking its relation with the Truth, for this will make it worthless. Even if it were to last millions of years, a fruitless existence cannot equal one moment of a fruitful one [that receives the manifestations of an absolute, eternal Existence]. Your Originator took material elements and kneaded them with a perfect, most valuable part of creation, to give you a particular, definite existence out of the ocean of existence. How did they come together to form you? In the market of becoming and dissolving, is there a shop selling eyes, a store selling brains and tongues, or a machine making hearts and weaving skins? No. Rather, your Originator created you in an exquisite, comprehensive form from a thing resembling nothing—or from everything—so that not even the greatest thing can create the smallest thing. That which cannot create the heavens cannot claim to create a gnat.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the All-Skillful Maker controls matter and creates from it wonderful works of art. The value of matter cannot equal even a hundredth part of the art. An antique work of art may fetch a million dollars; its material is not even worth a few cents. If it is taken to the antiques market, it may be sold for its true value because of its art and the name of the artist who made it; in the blacksmiths’ market, it may be sold only for the price of its material (iron).95
All creatures are embodiments of art. Living creatures, particularly small ones, display perfect art despite the density of matter. So, everything has two aspects. With respect to its material aspect and worldly life, its provision keeps it alive and gives a particular, fleeting pleasure; with respect to its aspect of displaying the Maker’s manifestations, it is a wonderful treasure, a pure and marvelous treasury. It allows all the Maker’s bounties to be tasted and known, manifests the Names of the All-Munificent Provider to be experienced, and causes conscious beings to be enlightened by recognizing those Names.
Consider your tongue, only one of thousands of devices receiving and recognizing provision. Despite its small size, it contains as many instruments as the different types of food and drink. If its owner becomes conscious of its significance, he or she will give thanks with each subtle instrument for all the bounties that the All-Providing offers him or her to taste out of His Mercy. Being thankful for the bounties, which is more pleasant than the actual bounties themselves, shows that you are conscious of being provided with them and perceive the favor or kindness of the Giver of bounties.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that everything created by Almighty God is orderly and balanced. The Originator has made it sound and well-ordered. All that is seen in this transient world is ordered according to accurate calculation, delicate balance, and careful equilibrium. This balance and order indicate the Resurrection and the awesomeness of the reckoning and Supreme Balance [by which our deeds will be weighed] in the Hereafter. Whatever we witness here as seeds or foundations serves as indications, testimonies, and signs of what will flourish in the Hereafter.
All that we see in this world is made or created. Everything contingent is too weak and impotent to be the real Maker of anything, even of itself, for making anything requires instruments, tools, and balances like those used to prepare medicine. As no contingent thing has any of these, it does not know how to use them and so cannot create anything. Whatever nearby thing that is necessary for a thing’s existence and maintenance is but a radiance or manifestation of the Power of Him Whose treasures are between kaf and nun.96
Some Divine Names, such as All-Speaking, All-Providing, All-Granting, allow apparent means to manifest themselves through veils and from behind walls. Others, such as Creator, Inventor, Giver of Life, do not. Those that admit means do so because their dignity and grandeur require them to be manifested behind veils and means, not because they need means due to incompetence.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that I saw in the desert a tree with two kinds of fruits. One resembled green grains, the other a sort of finger-sized pea or bean. They were curved and hollow, as if waiting to receive “guests.” I opened one, and numerous insects flew out in lines. It was nearly sunset, and they began to dance in ecstatic movements of mentioning God Almighty—they were not playing; rather, they were rapturously mentioning the All-Merciful One Who keeps them in the air. These pods served as their nests, like a mother’s warm and fortified womb in which they found delicious food.
Neither those unconscious pods nor the insects had made such a nest for forming and growing these insects, as that was obviously beyond their ability. So someone else must have done it, someone with absolute knowledge of all beans and insects, who knows all their needs and relations. Such a one only can be the One Who has absolute knowledge of and power over all things.
I ask those of you who attribute control to others apart from God in His kingdom, who accept the role of chance in the existence of His subtle works: How can that tree hear, understand, or know the tongue of those insects that lay their eggs on its branches, entrusting them to their preservation? Yet that tree provides a warm home for them, just like a mother’s womb and a swinging cradle. The tree receives delicious, sufficient food from Divine Mercy’s treasury, stores it in the nests on its branches, and freely gives it to another species—the guests God entrusts to its safekeeping. Such mutual assistance is a clear sign that everything serves and is directed and instructed by a single Lord, a single Instructor, Who is the Besought-of-All.
LOOK, O FRIEND, at those insects carefully, and you will see them mentioning their Creator through their manners and dispositions, well-arranged decorations and well-proportioned structures—even if you cannot understand these particular languages. It is as if each insect were an articulate word. Like those insects, all vermin in the soil glorify their Creator through their designs and decorations made by the Pen of Power, as they glorify Him in their particular languages. This reality will provide you with four benefits:
FIRST: Confidence that you see yourself in a stronghold formed by new births and infants brought up and adorned by the All-Knowing’s Caring, the All-Wise’s Instruction, the All-Munificent’s Favoring, and the All-Compassionate One’s Compassion. You are always under the protection and consideration of that All-Knowing and All-Wise, All-Munificent and All-Compassionate One.
SECOND: Conviction that you are not left to do whatever you wish or left to your selfhood’s compassion, unable to meet even your least need, so that you sit rebuked and denuded, frightened of your absolute impotence and unlimited need. The perfect order and delicate balance you see in the life of small creatures prevail in the whole system. Do those delicate “inscriptions,” fine “books” inserted in big “letters” not tell you that you are dependent on the same order? Wake up and carefully observe the order or balance. Why do you play and amuse yourself as if trying to destroy the balance?
THIRD: Conviction that the One Whom you ask to meet your needs and of Whom you stand in awe is infinitely near to you although you are infinitely far from Him. He controls [all that is] in you and your environment through His Power, in relation to which everything, without exception, is the same. Nothing is difficult for Him, and His acts do not require that He be in direct contact with what He has created.
Does this mean that you should not feel awe? Wherever you are, His rules prevail; wherever you turn, there is His “Face.” You are at home, even if inside the soil. He sees you even in the belly of “non-existence.” The hands of compassion, munificence, and wisdom take you, by His command, from one state and stage to another. Before a hand leaves you, another is stretched to receive you in an orderly sequence. Chance cannot intervene during your journey. You are not wronged by non-existence, and mortality does not wrong you by eternal extinction. Wherever you are during your life, there is an instance of non-existence. But, also behind or beneath or within it is a treasury of Mercy full of the permanent original of that temporary and weak shadow of the thing that has perished.
FOURTH: Proof, provided by those small creatures, that One Maker creates or makes everything. This evidence is strengthened in proportion to their smallness, and becomes clearer in proportion to their invisibility, for what is encompassed cannot be excluded from the Creator’s control of what is encompassing. The sign of being created is clearer in small beings than in large ones.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that your heedlessness of the Creator comes from four things:
FIRST: You are so oblivious of your own self that your hair-like ego grows into a “thick rope.” When your fancies and desires cause you to forget God, He causes you to forget your own self, and so your ego grows thicker and thicker and gradually swallows you.
SECOND: You compare all living creatures to yourself. When you see an animal, even one innocent, secured, and happy in its life, you see it as a sorrowful person lost in thought and confused memories. You suppose its joyful dances to be no more than groaning with distress.
THIRD: You restrict yourself to the manifestations of the Divine Name “the Outward,” and think that whatever is “excluded” from this Name’s sphere of [authority and control] does not belong to the One called by It. This is false, for the One called by this Name has many other beautiful Names. As He is above all that is above, He is also the Most Inward of the inward. He is the First and the Last, the Outward and the Inward.
FOURTH: The Divine Manifestation of Oneness [the concentration of almost all or many Names on a single thing] is the highest manifestation, and also the most distant and most hidden. However, you want to see it clearly on all things. When you compare an animal to yourself, you think it suffers because it is separated from its loved ones or home, and is anxious about its future and provision. You are affected by it. However, if you consider it realistically, you see that your perception is mistaken.
Then you make a bigger mistake. When you see a honeybee, you unconsciously compare its Maker, the One, the All-Wise and Necessarily Existent Who needs no direct contact with His creatures and creates and governs with ease, to material and restricted contingent beings. Since they have to be near to and in touch with their works, and work with difficulty, this false comparison causes you to see this honeybee, on which the Maker’s Pen is working as It always does, as near the All-Holy, All-Transcendent Maker.
He, may His Essential Qualities be exalted, is near. He is nearer to you and every other thing than the nearest to you, nearer than your jugular vein, whereas you and that creature are infinitely distant from Him. Glass shines with the sunlight’s reflection, and becomes beautiful and adorned with the sunlight’s seven refracting colors. Due to its transparency, the “purity of its heart,” a window or way is opened from that glass to the sun, and the sun is seen in it. However, if you stretch out your hand (to touch the sun), you cannot touch it. Only one who cherishes love for the sun in one’s heart and lacks good sense wishes to reach the sun through its rays. Such people also want to see all of the original sun’s properties and functions in its reflection. If this is impossible, they deny the sun’s existence in its reflection or even the sun’s existence.
The human heart is the mirror of the One, Eternally-Besought-of-All. However, as Imam Rabbani explains, unlike other mirrors it is conscious of and has deeply felt relations with what is manifested in it. Thus the heart can feel countless instances of happiness.
If you ask how the wonderful activity in a living creature can be reconciled with the silence around it, as if nothing happens or shows the activity, my answer is as follows:
If the activity belonged to material or natural causes or the living creature itself, every animal would have to be an independent agent with all-encompassing knowledge, and every fruit a powerful maker who could create Earth and its contents with ease. Then one could hear and observe the activity from outside. Nevertheless, consider the security and safety observed in space; the silence and tranquility observed everywhere except in the human realm; and the obedience, peace, and restfulness that pervade the universe. All of this is the work and law of the One Who when He wills a thing, His command is but to say to it “Be!” and it is (36:21). He says: There is not a thing but its treasures are with Us, and We send it not down but in a known measure (15:21). The relation between actions done by your hand and actions done with the speed of your imagination may be likened to the relation between your imagined actions and the actions of the Originator’s Power.
O WRETCHED, ARROGANT SAID! You can meet only a few of your needs. The rest are committed to the care of your Creator, Who created you first like a lump of dough and then shaped you in a fluid, by His miraculous art, so that you might be a mirror reflecting His Names. He opened your ears and eyes through His Mercy so that you might hear the truth and, by seeing the created, know the Creator. He placed in your mouth, through His Favoring, a tongue so that you might mention Him. He placed your intellect in your head so that you could know Him, and entrusted your chest with a heart to love Him. He treated you kindly in the darkness of desolation (the womb) and controlled you, through His Lordship, however He wished. He formed in your body, through His Wisdom, all senses and organs so that you might perceive His bounties and recognize His Names’ manifestations.
Why, after He has favored you with such blessings, do you continue to blame Him and rely on your own extremely insignificant, partial power? How much longer will you commit your affairs to your own selfhood and wrong yourself with a burden you cannot carry? Why do you refuse to rely on Him Who holds you by the forelock and meets your needs? Rely on Him. Embark on His ship floating in the flood of events and say: In the Name of God is its course and its mooring (11:41) so that you can rest upon the Judi of Islam and on the shore of salvation.97 The sun of your life is about to set, the moon of your body is eclipsed by old age, and your head is full of gray hair. Only the Almighty can benefit you, for whatever is outside His permission harms you. Without Him, everything is harmful and hostile, while with Him you need nobody else. So, renounce whatever or whoever is other than Him.
Without Him, the pain lying in every pleasure is more acute than the pleasure; nay, pleasure is pure pain without Him. Therefore, flee to God (51:50), for with Him is everything permanent; whatever perishes is with you. It perishes here, whereas it lasts with Him there. Besides, time is very limited. You will suffer the intoxication of death,98 for your life passes in intoxication. Raise your head to free yourself from the world so that you may see Your Originator’s perpetual bounties, everlasting mercy, and eternal love.
O BEWILDERED THINKER SEARCHING FOR TRUTH! When your knowledge ends in something or when you see a sign of eternality in something, glorify the Almighty with His praise, for you have approached the Truth. Being unknowable and eternality are titles or signs of His absolute Lordship’s control.
O ONE IN DOUBT! When doubt attacks you, look to the right and see the spheres of His Creativity’s control, from the sphere of the solar system and planets to that of atoms and particles, from the creation of the heavens to that of fruits, from the building of Earth to the invention of worms eating trees. All of this points to the fact that the Pen “drawing” them is one, and that the stamp on them is also one. You are in the middle of the conical universe, bearing the Supreme Trust and having undertaken vicegerency—the responsibility to rule and improve Earth according to God’s laws. Then look to the left and see the universal order judging and ruling with justice, as well as the perfect balance preventing deviation. The reality of creation will blow away your doubt, and the universal order and balance will remove your confusion and bewilderment.
Afterwards look at yourself. See yourself and body made or created from head to foot, from the smallest of cells to the whole body, which is like a huge cell. Look at your heart and then upwards. You will see the lights of the Light of Lights, Who has created, illuminated, and formed the light. The lights of His manifestation penetrate everything.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that using the comparative or superlative form in some Divine Names (e.g., Most Merciful of the Merciful, Best of the Creators, God is the Greatest) does not contradict Divine Unity. Rather, this expresses the Almighty’s absolute, incomparable superiority over any other thing or person claimed to have Divine Attributes. Nor does this contradict the dignity of the One, the All-Overwhelming, for it does not compare the Almighty’s Attributes or acts with those of the created, for in relation to the Glorified One’s Perfection, all else is only a reflected shadow.
All perfection shared by the created has no right to be compared with that of the Almighty. This usage compares the particular effect of the Divine Names’ manifestations on things and the extent of the things being affected by the Divine Names, and the effect of apparent means on the same things and the degree of the things being affected. For example: A private sees his corporal as the greatest person, and is both respectful and thankful to him. He is told that the king is greater and more merciful than the corporal. This does not mean comparing the king with the corporal. Rather, it informs the private that the king is more worthy of respect and thanks, and that it is only by the king’s permission and to the extent of the corporal’s loyalty to him that the corporal deserves respect and thanks.
We say of the Almighty, for example, the Most Affectionate of the affectionate, the Most Munificent of the munificent, or the Most Dignified of the dignified. This expresses the fact that the affection received by you from anybody cannot equal the care you receive from the infinite ocean of God’s Mercy.
The One declared superior is Real, One, absolutely and incomparably superior. He has the Name or Attribute in question as essential to Him. Inferior ones are nominal or imagined, and represent what has been created. They have the attribute or name in question by accident, and appear as dim shadows or manifestations of the original possessed by the Almighty. Combined together, whatever the created has is not a real radiance of its original by itself, as God declares: Those whom they invoke, apart from God, will never create a fly even if they combine together for the purpose (22:73).
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the Name “God” contains the meaning of all Divine Beautiful Names and all Attributes of perfection, whereas the proper names of all other beings point only to the persons of the beings called by them. This does not include their attributes, for these are not indispensable to them, and thus their proper names do not point to their attributes or qualities. However, the All-Holy One’s Names and Attributes are indispensable when describing Him, and Divinity particularly requires them. So the Name (the One) “God,” the “Proper” Name of the Divine Being, necessarily contains the meaning of all other Divine Names and Attributes, points to them, and rejects all others to which divinity is attributed, as in: There is no god but God.
If you understand this, you can understand that There is no god but God declares absolute Divine Unity and contains all requirements or conclusions of Unity to the number of the Divine Beautiful Names. This phrase contains thousands of phrases, for such a phrase signifies confirmation and negation or rejection. Since God necessarily contains all other Divine Names, There is no god but God also means that there is no creator, provider, self-subsistent, owner, originator, overwhelming ... but God. Therefore, one who has progressed spiritually means all of this while saying: There is no god but God. This phrase implies such a person’s spiritual ranks and states, and its repetition increases and improves conviction.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that if you are convinced that all things and acts are from God, you should consent to what is pleasing and what is harmful. If you do not, you will experience difficulties, for God Almighty decreed apparent causes that blind eyes to the truth. Displeasing things and events outnumber those that are pleasing, for the universe was not built according to the plans and desires of the wishful. If people are heedless of the role of apparent causes that belongs to the Creator of causes, they would direct improper and unjust objections and opposition, hatred and wrath, and grudges to the All-Wise Creator, the All-Munificent Master. Such people aim for either Destiny or Satan, but usually hit their own heads or souls.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that when you give due, careful consideration (to existence), you will understand that any contingent thing or being is as far from creating as the infinitude of the Power necessary for creating anything.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that there are three kinds of prayer:
FIRST: That done verbally. This includes the cries of animals, uttered in their own tongues for the needs of which they are aware.
SECOND: That done in the tongue of need. This includes the prayers of all plants and trees, especially those in spring, and the prayers of animals for their needs of which they are not conscious.
THIRD: That done in the tongue of potential. This includes the prayers of those who have the potential to grow, change, and be perfected. As everything glorifies Him with His praise, everything prays and thanks Him verbally, in person, or in the tongue of disposition or state.99
KNOW, O FRIEND, that a seed grows into a tree, a sperm (and egg) into a person, an egg into a bird, and a seed into a plant only by the direction, command, and control of a perfect, penetrating knowledge. This knowledge belongs only to the Knower of the Unseen, Who fashions in the wombs as He wills and knows the past, present, and future. A seed, sperm, or egg is like a prototype or an outline copied from the Manifest Book (a book of Destiny); a table of contents extracted from the Manifest Record (a record of the Eternal Knowledge); a set or embodiment of principles deduced from the Mother Book (a book of eternal Destiny), particularly from that Book’s “chapters” of balance and order; a summary or synopsis formed by the All-Powerful, All-Knowing Lord of all things.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that a believer sees a creature as a letter meaning almost nothing by itself but serving as a complementary part of the word to which it belongs. An unbeliever considers it on behalf of itself by restricting his or her view of it to the creature itself.
Every creature has two aspects: one concerning itself and its attributes, and the other pointing to its Creator and His Names manifested on it. The second aspect is more comprehensive. Every letter in a book points to itself only as a letter, while in the book it points to and describes its author in many ways. In the same way, every creature, which is a letter from the book of Divine Power, points to itself and its apparent existence to the extent of its size, while pointing to its Eternal Designer in many respects, and sings the praises of His Names manifested on it.
A judgment cannot be given on the basis of a letter, and a letter cannot affirm or deny a conclusion. For this reason, the mind does not think about it. If the mind were to concern itself with a letter, that letter would “become” a word. This is why apparently sound and meaningful scientific or philosophical books written about the universe are of little significance concerning the Creator. By contrast, theologians use philosophical and scientific matters as arguments for the Creator’s Existence and Unity. It is enough for them that, for example, the sun is a lamp, Earth a cradle, night a covering, day a time to work, and the moon a luminous thing. It is enough for them that the mountains are as pegs for Earth’s stability and freshen air, store up water and minerals, protect the soil, and calm the quaking Earth’s wrath by enabling it to breathe.
However, science deals with the sun as the center of its system, a huge fire so intense that all its planets fly around it like scattered moths. The theologians’ view of the universe may sometimes be contrary to reality; however, since they usually conform to what is apparent and the general viewpoint, they should not be contradicted. For this reason, even if their philosophical or scientific views may be considered weak and insignificant, their views of theology’s essentials are stronger than iron.
As a result, at first the heedless and misguided may seem to have the upper hand in this world, for they incline to it with all their faculties and abilities, declaring: (The life) is only our life of the world (6:29). However, the end is for the righteous and God-conscious, for whom and for whose leader the Qur’an proclaims: What is to succeed will be better for you than what is foregoing, as will the Hereafter than the world (93:4); The life of the world is nothing but pastime and play. But best is the home of the Hereafter for those who keep their duty in fear of God. Still, will you not understand? (6:32); and The home of the Hereafter, that is life if they but knew (29:64). God is sufficient for us. What a good Trustee, Protecting Friend, and Helper He is.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that God’s forgiving is an act of extra grace, while His punishment is pure justice. If people swallow poison, they deserve to be ill according to God’s established law. If they do not become ill, it is because of God’s extra grace and extraordinary favoring.
The relation between sin and torment is so strong that it led the Mu‘tazilites to attribute, mistakenly, evil to something other than the Almighty, and to conclude that every evil deed will be punished. But [even if it cannot be said that the Almighty must punish every evil or sin], its deserving punishment does not contradict Divine Mercy’s perfection. The harm of evil, even though partial and small, affects all threads forming the universal order, which is of the absolute, great good to all. Forsaking such a good to shun a little evil or harm causes great evil or harm. This is contrary to the wisdom in the Justice of the All-Just, All-Wise, All-Munificent.
O WRONG-DOER AND IGNORANT ONE! Avoid evil as much as possible, or else you will be punished for abandoning good and not fulfilling the necessary conditions to obtain a result. Evil results in non-existence. The nonexistence of a necessary part of something causes its complete non-existence, which means nullifying all other parts, for the existence of something depends on all conditions. So, God’s forgiving an evil is purely an act of grace and points to His perfect graciousness. Moreover, He punishes evil with its like but rewards good tenfold, while their true deserts are otherwise. This shows the extent of our injustice, for we judge the other way.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that we forget, and the worst kind of forgetting is forgetting one’s self. In all cases, such forgetfulness is misguidance. But doing so when being paid and rewarded is a sign of perfection. The misguided and the guided differ in forgetting and remembering.
The misguided forget themselves while working and performing their duty, and recognize no limits to their unyielding self-conceit and arrogance. Yet they remember themselves when it is time to get the fruits. The guided purify their souls and remember themselves while doing their duty, as if they know that they must set a good example for others and are responsible for fulfilling a task. Yet they forget themselves when it is time to collect the rewards and the fruits, so much so that it seems as if they are slaves sincerely and happily working for their lord (not themselves), with the results of their work mostly belonging to their lord.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the believers’ solidarity and togetherness in their congregational worship and supplications has a deep meaning. Each believer resembles a brick (in a firm building) benefiting from the multiplied strength of innumerable fellow believers in their worship and supplication. When belief brings them together, each works for the whole, becomes an intercessor and supplicant for them, and asks mercy for them while declaring their innocence. Together, they extol the Prophet, their leader. Every believer takes pleasure in others’ happiness, just as a mother, although hungry, takes pleasure in satisfying her children, or like a compassionate brother who takes pleasure in his brother’s happiness. As a result, people can worship the Creator of the universe in a comprehensive way and earn eternal happiness.
Look at the Prophet. When he calls: “O Most Merciful of the merciful,” his entire community responds: “O God, bestow blessings and peace upon Your servant and beloved, Muhammad, the ocean of Your lights, the mine of Your mysteries, one diffusing remembrance of and gratitude to You, and openly proclaiming the beauty of Your Lordship’s sovereignty.” They declare his innocence before their Lord, make him loved by Him Who sent him as a mercy for them, and confirm his right and authority to intercede [for them with the Almighty].
They proclaim, in the tongue of their impotence and poverty, the Glorified One’s wealth in His absolute, perfect independence. They proclaim His Liberality in His majestic Dignity and His Lordship in the tongue of their servanthood. Through such exalted solidarity and mutual helping, a believer rises from complete insignificance and helplessness to being a vicegerent of God on Earth, bearing the Supreme Trust, and being an honored, respected part of creation to whom the heavens and Earth were subjugated.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that those who are far from something cannot understand it as well as those who are close to it, even if they are more intelligent. When they disagree, the closer one is preferred. European philosophers and scientists, engrossed in materialistic subjects, are extremely far from Islam, belief, and the Qur’an. Even the greatest of them cannot be on the same level as an ordinary Muslim who understands the Qur’an superficially.
This observation agrees with reality. Do not ask: “How could those who discovered such scientific realities as lightning’s and steam’s properties not understand the Qur’an’s mysteries of truth and lights?” They cannot understand them because their minds are restricted to their eyes, and eyes cannot see what the heart and spirit see, especially when the heart has died due to heedless absorption in naturalism. God has sealed their hearts, ears, and eyes (16:108).
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the greatest ingratitude for bounties is not thanking the Almighty for bounties that are common to all (like hearing and sight), constant (like light and fire), and abundant and encompassing (like air and water). One can thank God Almighty for his or her own bounties, for those that are renewed or given at the time of particular need, whereas bounties given uninterruptedly and abundantly are much more important and greater. Their abundance and encompassing nature, their utmost importance, and their constancy indicate their greater value.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that: He keeps count of all things (72:28) implies order and harmony, equality and proportion among nearby similar things, such as human fingers, the grains in spikes or ears, fruit seeds, and flower petals. Glory be to Him Who keeps count of all things and Whose Knowledge encompasses all things.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that fertilization and birth, together with compassionate rearing, are two tasks common to everything. An immediate reward or wage is given in return for them: the pleasure they provide. The comprehensive liberality of the All-Beneficent, All-Munificent, and the intense zeal of all reproducing things to carry out these two tasks show that fulfilling each task is rewarded with a particular pleasure.
The degree of rewarding, mercy, and justice, together with the Divine declaration: My Mercy encompasses all things (7:156) and many Prophetic Traditions, confirm that animals will be rewarded and punished on Judgment Day, and that their souls are preserved to receive their last reward for their perfect obedience to Divine rules.100 After settling mutual rights, their bodies will become dust. However, a whole species can be embodied in and represented by a blessed member, such as the camel and ram, dog and hoopoe, and ant mentioned in the Qur’an.
O WRETCHED SAID! You seek to maintain your material existence in this fleeting, decaying world that only the All-Permanent One can maintain. You can gain permanence only by turning toward the All-Glorified One and spending your life in His way. So why do you insist on seeking permanence here? Rather, say:
As regards permanence, it is enough for me that God, the Master, is the All-Permanent. As for the pleasure of permanence, it is enough that I know Him as the All-Permanent, Worshipped One. As for the aim in seeking permanence, it is enough that I know Him as my All-Permanent Lord. As for the perfection expected from permanence, my belief in His being the All-Permanent Inventor is enough. As for existence, it is enough that I am a work of the Necessarily Existent Being. As for the worth of existence, it is enough that I am a work of the art of the Creator of the heavens and Earth. As for the aim of existence, it is enough that I know that I am the painting of He Who adorned the heavens with stars and Earth with flowers.
With respect to the pleasure of existence, it is enough to know that I am His creature and He is my Lord and Inventor. In respect to life, it is enough that I am an object that manifests the Names of the Creator of death and life. As for life and its rights and aims, it is enough that, by virtue of my comprehensive existence, I exhibit among the perceptive people in the universe and announce in the market of the world the marvels of the works of the Names of the Creator of the heavens and Earth.
It is enough for the aim of life that I am a sample and embodiment of the works of the His Beautiful Names’ manifestations. It suffices for life and its perfection that, in the tongue of my disposition and manners, I reflect the manifestations of the Names of Him by Whose command the heavens rose high and by Whose permission Earth has gained stability. It suffices for the pleasure of life that I know that I am His slave, creature, and needy servant, and that He is my Creator and God, Lord and Originator, Owner and Merciful, and the One Who sustains me. With respect to perfection, belief in God is enough, and God is sufficient for me against everything.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that belief in Divine Unity and attributing things to the One God results in such ease that existence would almost become necessary. Associating partners with God and attributing creatures to multiple creators would result in so much difficulty that existence would become impossible. While existence gains infinite worth by being attributed to the One God, it loses all value by being ascribed to multiple pseudo-creators— to themselves or nature, matter or chance, and the like. What the soldier carries is regarded as great and valuable by being attributed to the king, the soldier’s speech about the king attracts attention and is given much importance, and it is easy to procure all necessities of life from the king’s treasuries. However, whatever the soldier has or speaks will lose all value and importance if he rebels against the king.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that whatever comes from the Almighty is the same, whether it brings harm or benefit, good or evil, or life or death by His Power and Destiny, for death is the beginning of another life, and evil and harm end, respectively, in good and benefit.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the human spirit, due to its comprehensive nature and numerous faculties, can experience limitless pleasure and pain. People take pleasure in the pleasures of their children, siblings, and other creatures, and suffer on account of their distress.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that if you look at things without regard for yourself, realities change, like things beside a pool or lake seen in it as upside down. Your ignorance leads you to regard yourself as knowledgeable.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that what requires repeating parts of the Qur’an also requires repeating (religious) recitations and prayers. The Qur’an, besides being a book of truth and law, as well as of Divine knowledge and wisdom, is also a book of recitation, prayer, and call. Recitation requires reiteration, prayer requires repetition, and call requires reaffirmation.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that one virtue of the Qur’an is that it arrives at Divine Unity after mentioning the realm of multiplicity, thus summarizing after explaining. After mentioning particular things, it concludes with the principles of absolute Lordship and the rules of the encompassing Divine Attributes of perfection. Such conclusions are the results of the main parts of verses or the effects of the causes discussed in them. Thus the listener’s or reciter’s mind is not lost in the particulars of existence and forgetful of the Divinity’s grandeur. It also shows the manner of “intellectual” servanthood to the One of Grandeur, Awe, and Greatness. It broadens your mind from those particulars to their resemblances, and teaches you that even the smallest thing contains a clear, straight way to knowing the Eternal King and observing the manifestations of the Names of the One, the Eternally Besought-of-All.
Through this style, the Qur’an shows the “sun” in a “drop of water” or the “colors manifested in sunlight” on a “flower.” It shows the sun shining with all its splendor at midday, and thereby lifts your head to the sun so that you are not bewildered amidst the multiplicity of things and do not despise the sun.
For example, after mentioning a specific minor event—Prophet Joseph’s plan to retain his brother—the Qur’an concludes: Over every man of knowledge there is one who knows (better) (12:76). Other examples of this style are: They do not esteem God His rightful measure (22:74); When the children among you come of age… to God is All-Knowing, All-Wise (24:59); and Surely the frailest of houses… to if they but knew (29:41).
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the blessing and help of saints and the enlightenment they diffuse are a sort of prayer done either through disposition or actively, for the One Who actually guides and helps is God. Each person has an innermost sense or faculty that, if he or she prays through it, the prayer will be answered regardless of spiritual condition. If they swear by God through it that [something will happen], God does not disprove them.
O ONE CONVINCED of (the occurrence of) past events but doubtful about the future! In your mind, go back in time and pretend you are one of your ancestors. Look at them and then look at your descendants. Is there any difference between these two wings? You cannot see the hand of chance or something else in them, for past and future generations are creatures of God and included in the Maker’s Knowledge and Sight. Resurrecting your ancestors is not stranger than creating your descendants; rather, it will be easier, as the All-Glorified One declares: It is easier for Him (30:27). If you compare all creation and events with this particular, minor incident, you will see that all past events are miracles testifying that their Creator brings about all events and creatures, that He has absolute knowledge of them, and encompasses them with His Sight.
All creatures and heavenly objects in the garden of the universe are miracles witnessing and clarifying that their Creator is powerful over and knows all things. Similarly, all flowering plants and adorned animals in the garden of Earth are marvels of His art, and testify that their Maker is powerful over and knows all things. In relation with His Power, creating particles and stars, causing trees to yield fruit, and resurrecting the dead are the same. Rebuilding human beings from their rotted bones is as easy for Him as causing tree blossoms to reopen on their thin branches every year.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that like the fruits of trees, drops of water, whose forms show perfect, delicate order and balance, are among God’s countless bounties. The One Who attaches infinite aims to a drop of water is He Who holds creation in His Grasp and Whose treasuries are between kaf and nun. A drop of water is the bounty of He Who made the order kun (be!) the infinitive (origin) of kawn (the creation). All thanks and gratitude are to Him, the All-Glorified.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the Qur’an’s frequent mentioning of Earth’s revival and drawing of our attention to soil inspired in me the ideas that Earth is the universe’s heart and that soil is Earth’s heart. The quickest way to the target is through “soil,” by way of the gate of humility and self-annihilation. Soil is nearer to the Creator of the heavens than even the highest heaven, for nothing else equals soil in receiving manifestations of Divine Lordship and the Names All-Living and Self-Subsistent, displaying Divine Creativity, and being the object of Divine Power’s activities.
As the Throne of Mercy is on water, the Throne of Life and Reviving is on soil, the most comprehensive mirror (reflecting the manifestations of life). However transparent the mirror of a dense thing is, it shows that thing more clearly. However dense the mirror of a luminous thing is, the Names’ reflection in it is more complete. Air receives only a dim light from the sun’s radiance, and water cannot reflect the sun’s colors, although it shows the sun to you with its light. Through its flowers, soil shows whatever is in the sunlight. Compared with the Eternal Sun’s Light, the sun is only a dense, shining drop. Soil’s adornment and display of its spring finery—its flowers of various forms and colors, and its beautiful animals testifying to the Divine Lordship’s perfection—are witnesses to the Creator. Look at a violet, and see how the hand of the All-Wise Maker disposes, colors, and adorns it.
Glory be to Him Who makes Himself known to us via His subtle Art, and makes His Power known to His creatures via the marvels of His control over soil. This explains the meaning of the Tradition: “A servant is nearest to his (her) Lord while prostrate before Him.”101 Such being the truth, do not be frightened of soil and entering into it, nor fear the grave and lying in it.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that my intellect accompanies my heart in its journey, and that the heart provides its findings to the intellect, which displays them in the form of parables. For example, the All-Wise Creator is infinitely near yet infinitely far (from His creatures), the most Inward of the inward (there is none that is more penetrating than Him), the most Outward of the outward (there is none that encompasses Him), and is neither within nor outside anything.
Look at His Mercy’s works on Earth’s face and His Power’s imprints or activities in the spheres of existence on Earth, so that you can see that manifest reality. Consider the two particles, flowers, fruits, or bees of exactly the same sort or identity but separated by great distance. With respect to apparent physical conditions, the Maker Who creates these two things at the same moment must be distant from them. From the viewpoint of creation’s ease and speed and the infinite abundance of creatures, together with their absolute firmness, the Maker is infinitely near to each. This is not like the nearness seen between a concentric center’s center and points, all of which have different degrees of nearness to the center; rather, all things are equally distant from the Maker Who makes everything infinitely firm and beautiful.
This arises from the Sphere of Necessity’s (Divinity) qualities, the inner dimension of existence’s abstraction and immateriality, and the Divine Attributes’ and acts’ unconditioned character. This is also due to the character of the Divine Names’ simultaneous manifestations on each creature and all existence, and the complete difference between the Original Agent and the object. For example, through its images in the mirrors of transparent objects and reflections on flowers, the sun is nearer to them than even themselves, while they are extremely distant from the sun. It is almost impossible to traverse the distance between the image (of the sun) in your mirror and its original.
Glory be to Him Whose Essence and Attributes are absolutely exempt from having likes. He is First and Last, Outward and Inward, and has absolute, perfect knowledge of all things.
O God, O All-Just, All-Wise, All-Knowing. Everything that exists testifies that You are Necessarily Existent, One and Single, Besought of-All, and that You are (the One) God, Knower of the Unseen, the One Who brings forth grains and subjugates hearts. Everything is under Your Power. Their hearts are in Your grasp, their forelocks in Your hand, and their keys with You. Nothing moves without your permission.
O God of those who have gone and those to come. O Lord of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, and Abraham, Gabriel and Michael, upon them be peace. I ask You, for the sake of Your Greatest Name, the Light of Your Noble “Face,” Your right religion, Your Straight Path, the Seven of the Twice-Repeated (Surat al-Fatiha), and the grand Qur’an; for the sake of uncountable “Say: ‘He is God, the One’,” infinite (recitations) of the Opening Chapter of the Book (Surat al-Fatiha); for the sake of Your All-Beautiful Names, Your Greatest Name, the Sacred Black Stone, and Your Honored House (the Ka‘ba); for the sake of the Night of Power and esteemed Ramadan; and for the sake of Your honored Prophets and Your noblest, beloved one, upon him be peace and blessings, I ask You to have mercy on Muhammad’s community. Open our hearts for belief and Islam, keep us safe against heretics, protect our religion, brighten the evidence of the Qur’an, and exalt the Shari‘a of Islam. Amen, O Most Merciful of the Merciful.
95 In the antiques market where its art is recognized, it is sold for the price of its art and its artist’s name or reputation. In the blacksmith’s market, however, the value of its art cannot be recognized and so they give it the price of its material.
96 Kaf and nun are the letters forming kun (be), and imply God’s command to anything He wills to do or create: His command, when He wills a thing, is but to say to it “Be,” and it is” (36:82).
97 Referring to Prophet Noah’s Ark, which after the Flood settled on al-Judi, probably a hill of Mount Ararat. (Tr.)
98 The state one feels during death is, probably because one is losing consciousness, likened to intoxication and called “the intoxication of death.” (Tr.)
99 Said Nursi divides the first kind of prayer into two categories: The first category consists of supplications made in desperation or connection with natural needs. Most such supplications are accepted. The second category consists of prayers that we say every day. These are also of two types: one is active and by disposition; the other verbal and from the heart. For example, plowing the ground is an active prayer and means to knock at the door of the treasury of God’s Mercy and Munificence, not to beg provision from Earth. What reaches the court of God from the whole universe is a kind of prayer. Causes are petitions to God to create the desired result. See Said Nursi, The Letters, vol. 2, Kaynak, Izmir: 1998. (Tr.)
100 Abu Hurayra relates that God’s Messenger declared: “Mutual rights will be settled on Judgment Day, to such an extent that a hornless sheep will restore (get) its right from another with horns.” Muslim, hadith no. 2585.
101 Muslim, hadith no. 482; Abu Dawud, hadith no. 875.