The Eleventh Treatise
A point from the light of knowledge of God, exalted be His Majesty
When I enter a garden, I choose its most beautiful flower or fruit. If it is difficult for me to pick it, [for] I take pleasure in looking at it. If I come across a rotten one, I pretend not to notice it, according to the rule: Take what pleases and leave what does not. This is my style, and I request my readers to behave in the same way.
People say that what I write cannot be understood clearly. I agree. I write whatever occurs to my heart in the way it occurs. I feel as if I sometimes speak from the top of a minaret and sometimes from the bottom of a well.
As you read this treatise, consider the following:
The one that speaks is my wretched heart.
The one I address is my rebellious selfhood.
The one who truly listens is one in search of the truth.
I believe in God, His angels, Books, Messengers, and the Last Day; and in Destiny, good and evil, being from Almighty God. Revival after death is true. I bear witness that there is no god but God, and that Muhammad is His Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings.
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Praise be to God, the Lord of the worlds, and peace and blessings be upon Muhammad, the Seal of the Prophets, and on all his Family and Companions.
Our aim and goal is God. There is no got but He, the All-Living, Self-Subsistent (2:255). Among countless proofs of Him, we give only four here.
- The first proof is Muhammad. We explained this proof in the treatise Gleams from Knowledge of the Prophet [and also in the second treatise of this book: Droplets from the Ocean of Knowledge of the Prophet].
- The second proof is the universe, the macro-cosmos or macro-human, the observed, great Book of Creation.
- The third proof is the Qur’an, the book in which there is no doubt and which is the Sacred Word.
- The fourth proof is the human conscience or consciousness, the juncture of the Unseen and the material, visible worlds. A human being’s consciousness or conscience influences the intellect from which the ray of belief in Divine Unity issues.
First proof: The Muhammadan Truth 103
This proof is furnished with Messengership and Islam. Messengership contains the testimony of the greatest consensus and most comprehensive agreement of all Prophets, and Islam bears the spirit of the Divinely revealed religions and their confirmation based on Revelation.
The noble Messenger explains the existence of God and His Unity to humanity. His truthful words are affirmed by his manifest miracles, the Prophets’ testimony, and the confirmation of all Divinely revealed religions. The Prophet manifests that light (of Divine Unity) in the name of those purified, excellent men and women who agree on this call. Falsehood cannot have a hand in this pure, clear, evident truth, which enjoys such strong confirmation and is discerned by eyes penetrating all truths.
Second proof: The Book of Creation
All letters and points of this book, individually and collectively and in its particular tongue, say: There is nothing that does not glorify Him with His praise (17:44), and proclaim the All-Great Creator’s Existence and Unity. Every particle testifies truthfully to the All-Wise Creator’s necessary existence. While hesitating among endless possible destinations, if they will constitute building blocks of a being and in what kind of being they will be put, each particle takes a particular route and assumes particular attributes. It is directed to a specific goal in accordance with certain established laws and ends in many amazing, purposeful consequences. It strengthens belief in God, which God implanted in our inner faculty so that we may find Him, and which is a sample in us of the unseen worlds.
Does a particle proclaim the purpose of its All-Majestic Maker and His manifest Wisdom in its particular tongue? Through its individual existence, particular attributes, and definite nature, every particle points and testifies to the All-Wise Creator. It acts as a building block in forming compounds; taking a route among countless possibilities, it assumes its proper position in a compound. This position has relations with all other positions, and the particle fulfills many tasks issuing from those relations. As there is a strict balance and perfect harmony among positions, each task the particle fulfills yields numerous, wise fruits.
As all of this corroborates the particle’s testimony of the Creator, the particle proclaims the proofs of its All-Majestic Maker’s necessary existence and displays its All-Wise Creator’s purpose in the tongue of its acts and the task it fulfills. It is as if it recites the verses declaring Divine Unity, just as a soldier is charged with particular duties and has relations with all army divisions in respect of those duties.
Then, are the proofs of Almighty God’s (Existence and Unity) not more than all of creation’s particles? The Tradition “The roads leading to God are as many as His creatures breaths” expresses a pure truth.
QUESTION: Why are we unable to find the All-Great Creator with our intellects?
ANSWER: Because of His manifestation’s perfection and His having no opposite.104
Reflect on the lines of the universe,
for they are missives to you from the High Abode.
The Book of Creation displays orderliness as clearly as the midday sun and exhibits Power’s miracle in every word or letter. Its composition is so miraculous that, even supposing that each natural cause were a free agent, each cause would prostrate humbly before this miraculousness, acknowledging: “Glory be to You. We have no power. Surely, You are All-Mighty, All-Wise.” This Book’s order is so subtle and delicate that inserting a new point in its exact place requires an absolute power that can create everything, for each letter—especially living ones—has inner relations with sentences and a strong connection with all other words. Thus, whoever created a gnat’s eyes created the sun, and whoever ordered a flea’s stomach ordered the solar system. Refer to: Your creation and resurrection are but as a single soul (31:28), and see how truthful a witness comes from a bee’s tongue, which is only one of Power’s miracles or represents a small word in this Book.
Ponder over a micro-organism that, although invisible to the naked eye, is a sample of creation. The One Who “wrote” it in that miraculous fashion also “wrote” the universe. If you study it and discern its subtle mechanisms and wonderful systems, you will be convinced that its existence and life cannot be attributed to lifeless, simple, natural causes that cannot distinguish between possibilities. Otherwise you must admit that each particle contains the consciousness of sages, the knowledge of scientists, and the genius of statesmen or administrators, and that they communicate with each other directly. Even the superstitious are ashamed of such a claim.
There is no explanation other than to regard it as a miracle of Divine Power, the invention of the One Who invented and arranged the universe. If this were not so, it would be impossible for the two most important natural causes or laws, gravity and repulsion, to come together in an atom. Gravity and repulsion, motion and similar phenomena, are names of Divine principles or ways of operating represented as laws. They may be accepted as laws, provided they are not promoted to being the foundation of an agent nature. Being only names or titles or having nominal existence, they should not be accorded real, external existence.
QUESTION: Why do people believe in matter’s eternity and attribute all species’ formation to random motions of particles or similar things?
ANSWER: Reasoning or rational judgment does not always lead to belief, as being rationally convinced does not mean believing in God. They cannot perceive their mistake, as their reasoning is based on a superficial view and imitation. If they were to pursue this line of reasoning, they would see how illogical and irrational such a belief is. If, despite this, they still hold such a belief, they are heedless of the Creator. Such a strange deviation! How can those who find it hard to accept the eternity of God, the Glorified, and attribute creation to Him—although eternity and creativity are among the Divine Essence’s indispensable Attributes—attribute eternity and creativity to countless particles and helpless things?
Recall this well-known incident: Once, people were scanning the sky for the new crescent moon to mark Ramadan’s beginning. An old man claimed he had seen it, when what he had really seen was a downward-curving white hair from his eyebrow. It is that hair-like thing that blinds people to the truth. Humanity is of noble character by creation. While pursuing truth, people sometimes encounter falsehood and keep it in their hearts. Other times, while digging out the truth they come across misguidance and, supposing it to be the truth, accept it.
QUESTION: What are those things called “nature,” “laws,” and “forces,” and how are people deceived by them?
ANSWER: Nature is the comprehensive Divine Shari‘a established for the order and harmony among everything contained in the visible, material world. This law of creation also is called the “way of God.” Nature is the result of all nominal laws in creation. Forces are the principles of this Shari‘a, and laws are elements of the same Shari‘a. The regularity of its principles and elements leads people to see it as “nature” with a real, external existence, and, after that, as an agent. Although the human heart or mind cannot be convinced that nature is a true agent, those who deny the All-Majestic Creator and refuse to understand the Divine Power’s miraculous works might begin to see this blind, ignorant nature as the origin of things.
Nature is something printed, not a printer; a design, not a designer; an object acted on, not an agent; a rule or measure, not an origin; an order, not an orderer. It is a principle without power, a set of laws without real or external existence that issues from the Divine Attributes of Will and Power.
Suppose a young person comes to this exquisite world from another one and enters a beautiful, richly adorned palace. No one to whom this building and decoration can be attributed is seen. So this person, after seeing a comprehensive book containing the blueprint and information on how the palace was built and furnished, and due to his or her ignorance and obsession with the builder, thinks that the book built the palace. In the same way, the heedlessness of some people concerning the All-Majestic Creator allows them to deceive themselves into accepting the natural world as its own originator.
God has two kinds of Shari‘a. One issues from the Divine Attribute of Speech and regulates or orders the acts of servants issuing from their free will. The other issues from the Divine Attribute of Will and Power, comprises the Divine commands of creation, and is the result of the Divine Way of acting. The first one comprises comprehensible laws, while the second one consists of nominal laws, wrongly called “laws of nature.” They have no creative or inventive part in existence, for that is unique to the Divine Power.
Everything that exists is connected to all other things; nothing can exist or survive by itself. The one who created a single thing created all things, and can only be the One, Eternally-Besought-of-All. By contrast, natural causes, to which the misguided ascribe creativity, are numerous, do not know one another, and are blind. Attributing creativity to them means accepting that innumerable blind, lifeless things have come together by chance and formed that vast, orderly universe, [the existence, order, and harmony of which manifestly require absolute knowledge and will, power and wisdom]. Then leave them to plunge and play (6:91).
To sum up: The Book of the Universe’s observed order and regularity, and the manifest miraculousness in its composition, are two proofs of Divine Unity showing that the universe and its contents are works of the absolute Power, infinite Knowledge, and eternal Will of God.
QUESTION: How can the order, harmony, and regularity be established?
ANSWER: Science functions as if humanity’s senses have discovered this order by deduction and induction. Each branch of science is based upon or studies one aspect of existence. Science’s universal principles originate in this order, harmony, and regularity. Each branch comprises the universal principles and rules prevalent in the species it studies. Those principles’ universality and uniformity point to the order’s magnificence, for without it universal rules could not be inferred. Scientists discover that order through science, and by it see that the macro-human being (the universe) is as orderly as themselves. There is wisdom in everything, for nothing is purposeless or left to its own devices.
The Book of Creation, with all its systems, worlds of living creatures and particles, proclaims Divine Unity. Altogether they declare: There is no god but God.
Third proof: The Qur’an
When you listen to this articulate proof, you will hear it repeat: There is no god but God. This proof is like an enormous tree whose branches hang down with innumerable, splendid fruits of truth. Since such a tree cannot grow from a rotten seed, all can see that its seed (Divine Unity) is sound and lively.
The branch of this tree stretching into the visible, material world bears fruits of the most sound and realistic commands and rules, while its other great branch, extending into the Unseen, is laden with ripe fruits yielded by Divine Unity and belief in the Unseen.
If this comprehensive proof is studied closely, one will have to admit that the one who communicated it was absolutely certain of its result (Divine Unity), and felt no hesitation about its truth. He based his other claims on this firm result, and made it a criterion to judge whatever exists. Such a basis, established so firmly and bearing a manifest seal of miraculousness, has no need for show and pretension, and is independent of being pronounced true by others. All that it says and declares, and all its tidings, are true.
All six sides of this luminous proof are transparent and clear. On it is the seal of manifest miraculousness, beneath it are logic and evidence, to its right is the assent of intellect, to its left is the testimony of conscience, in front of it is good and happiness in both worlds, and it is founded on pure Revelation. How can doubt enter such a formidable citadel?
There are four paths leading to the throne of perfection, which is knowledge of God:
FIRST: The path of Sufis, which is based on purifying the carnal self and spiritual illumination.
SECOND: The path of theologians who, to prove the Necessarily Existent-Being’s existence, depend on the argument that everything comes into existence contingently, in time and space. Thus its existence or non-existence is equally possible, which means that there is an Eternal One Who prefers their existence and brings them into existence by His Will.
Although both paths are deduced from the Qur’an, their followers have complicated them and thus caused doubt to enter.
THIRD: The path of philosophers contaminated with doubt, hesitation, and fancies.
FOURTH (AND BEST): The path of the Qur’an, which clearly shows the throne of perfection with its miraculous eloquence, beautiful style, directness, and incomparable comprehensiveness. It is the most direct and inclusive, as well as the shortest, path to God.
There are four means to reach that throne: inspiration, learning or study, purification, and reflection.
The Qur’an follows two ways to knowledge of God, glory be to Him, and to prove God’s Unity.
The first is the argument of favoring and purposiveness
All Qur’anic verses that mention the benefits or uses of things, and the wisdom in or purpose for their existence, “weave” this argument and serve as mirrors in which it is reflected. This argument can be summarized as follows: Everything is made firmly and artistically. The perfect orderliness in creation, which is for certain purposes and uses and is evident in everything’s existence, indicates that the All-Wise Creator created them for a purpose. Such clear will and intention leave no room for chance and coincidence. Any science dealing with creation testifies to this orderliness, points to the uses and fruits hanging from the branches of existence like clusters, and reveals the wisdom and beneficial results behind daily, monthly, and seasonal changes.
Take zoology and botany. The world contains hundreds of thousands (even millions) of plant and animal species, each of which had a first, original ancestor. For humanity, this was Adam. Each member of these species is like an exquisite, amazing mechanism. How can one claim that the so called laws of nominal existence and ignorant, blind natural causes could create these innumerable chains of beings? Each species and each member proclaim that they issued from the hand of the wise, Divine Power.
The Qur’an teaches us this argument: Return your gaze; do you see any fissure? (67:3). By commanding us to reflect on creatures and mentioning their uses or benefits as Divine bounties, the Qur’an seeks to establish this argument in the human mind, and then calls upon reason to ponder over them in the conclusions and divisions of verses. It illuminates the role of reason and stirs up conscience in such conclusions as: Do they not know? Will they not reflect and learn the lesson?
The second is the argument of invention
God Almighty has given each species and each member an existence particular to the tasks it will fulfill and the perfections it will achieve. No species comes from eternity, because every species has a beginning and its existence is not absolutely necessary. Everything exists by the Necessarily Existent One’s will and preference, while it was equally possible for it to exist or not. This truth cannot be changed.
Evolution is also impossible, for mutations occur only within a species, and there are no intermediary species. If God changed one species into another to punish it, that species did not survive. As matter is changeable and not independent of time and space, it has a beginning. Forces and forms are accidental and cannot be the origin of a species’ diverse essences or substances, for something accidental cannot be a thing’s essence or substance. Thus the substances of all species, with their diverse and distinguishing attributes, were created from non-existence. Generation or reproduction is only a later condition for their continuance.
How strange it is that those who deny the All-Majestic Creator’s eternity—although eternity is one of His indispensable Attributes—attribute it to matter, which is contained in time and space. Where can the tiniest blind, ignorant, and helpless particle find the power, stability, and firmness before which the universe bows in submission and veneration? How can creating and originating, attributes of Divine Power, be attributed to natural causes, the most impotent and weakest of things?
The Qur’an establishes this argument when mentioning creation and invention, and confirms that only God, the One, has creative power. Causes are only veils before the Divine Power and Its Grandeur to prevent the mind from drawing wrong conclusions about the All-Holy Divine Being by seeing with a superficial view the hand of His Power involved in mundane affairs.
Everything has two aspects. One is its apparent aspect, which is like a mirror’s dense, black face in which opposites—small and great, good and evil, beautiful and ugly—exist side by side. Here, causes display the Almighty’s Grandeur and Dignity. The other is the inner, immaterial aspect, which is like a mirror’s polished or transparent face. This aspect is pure and absolutely beautiful and, as required by Divine Unity, has no room for causes. Since things like life and spirit, as well as light and existence, were created by the hand of Power without the “help” of causes, both their outer and inner aspects are beautiful.
Fourth proof: The human conscience (Conscious nature)
FIRST: The natural or inborn qualities of things do not lie. A seed has an inclination to grow as if to say: “If I am planted, I will grow and yield fruit.” It says the truth. An egg has an inclination toward life as if to say: “I will become a chick,” and becomes so. When a handful of water has an inclination to freeze and then expand, it says: “I will cover a broader space” and cracks even iron, despite the latter’s hardness and firmness. Such inclinations manifest the commands of creation issuing from Divine Will.
SECOND: Human senses are not restricted to the five known ones. Each person has many “windows” opening on the Unseen, and many other senses of whose nature he or she knows or does not know. For example, drive and energy are two other senses that do not lie.
THIRD: Something imagined and only of nominal existence cannot be the origin of external, visible existence. The point of reliance (or support) and the point of seeking help, both of which people necessarily feel within themselves, are two essential aspects of their conscience or conscious nature. The absence of these two points, which is irreconcilable with the wisdom, order, and perfection in creation, would mean that human beings, noble creations with an essentially pure spirit, would be reduced to the lowest of the low.
FOURTH: Even if reason does not work properly and cannot see the truth, the human conscience does not forget the Creator. Even if one’s selfhood denies Him, the conscience sees Him, reflects on Him, and turns toward Him. Intuitive perception stirs it up, and inspiration illuminates it. Love of God urges the conscience to obtain knowledge of the Almighty. This love, one’s strong yearning for Him that issues from a strong desire based on a strong inclination, is innate in the human conscience. The attraction (toward Him) ingrained in this conscience is due to the existence of One Who really attracts.
After these preliminary notes, look into the conscience and see how it is a proof, entrusted to the soul of every person, proclaiming Divine Unity. Just as the heart pumps life throughout the body, knowledge of God, the source of its (spiritual) life, energizes and vitalizes all human ambition and inclinations. It also pours pleasure and joy into them, increases their value, expands or develops, and sharpens them. This is the point of seeking help.
Knowledge of God is a point of support and reliance upon which people base their lives. If people do not believe in the All-Wise Creator, Whose every act contains order and wisdom, but attribute things and events to blind coincidence (which cannot resist misfortune), they will live in a hellish state. This cannot be allowed, for humanity is a noble creation and has the potential to achieve perfection. This also goes against the universe’s prevailing, firm order. These two points are necessary for one’s spirit, because the All-Munificent Creator uses them to diffuse the light of His knowledge into the conscience of every person. Even if the eyes of reason are blind, the eyes of conscience are always open.
The testimony of these four comprehensive arguments show that as the All-Majestic Creator is the Necessarily Existent Being and Eternal, One and Single, Unique and Eternally-Besought-of-All, All-Knowing and All-Powerful, All-Willing and All-Hearing, All-Seeing and All-Speaking, All-Living and Self-Subsistent. He is also qualified with all Attributes of Majesty and Grace. Whatever creatures have in the name of perfection comes from the shadowy manifestation of the Majestic Creator’s Perfection. Beauty, Grace, and Perfection are infinitely greater than the sum of the beauty, grace, and perfection shared by creation. Also, the All-Glorified Creator has no defect, for defect originates from the imperfect inborn capacities of material beings. The All-Glorified One is free from materiality, and exempt from the qualities essential to the nature of the created.
There is nothing like Him; He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing. (42:11)
Glory be to Him Who keeps concealed because of the intensity of His manifestation, Who is hidden because of the lack of His opposite, and Who is veiled by natural causes because of His Dignity.
QUESTION: What about Unity of Being (Wahdat al-Wujud)?
ANSWER: Unity of Being comes from absorption in Divine Unity. This is experienced inwardly and deeply and is not restricted to theory and thought. Profound absorption in Divine Unity (following belief in God’s Unity as Lord and Deity) engenders belief in the Power’s unity (only God creates). Belief in the Power’s unity engenders belief in the unity of dominion and ruling, which, in turn, ends in seeing what is witnessed as united (Unity of the Witnessed) and finally in the Unity of Being. This leads to seeing existence as one or united, and then seeing what exists as united.
The ecstatic sayings of some Sufis that go beyond what is really intended must not be taken as proofs for this way’s truth. If people who have not saved themselves from the sphere of cause and effect, who organize their lives considering the law of causality, speak about the Unity of Being (inclusive of created entities), they exceed their limits. Those who really sense and speak about this unity restrict themselves to the Necessarily Existent Being in isolation from the created, and see God as the only truly existent being.
Seeing the result together with or contained in the evidence leading to it, that is, seeing the All-Majestic Maker as the only truly existent being, comes from absorbing the view and experience of the Divine Being’s existence. It is the result of seeing or perceiving Divine manifestations in the channels of existence and the flux of Divine effulgences in the inner dimension of things, and the manifestation of Divine Names and Attributes in the mirrors of creatures.
My personal view is as follows: This perception pertains to inner experience and sensing. However, as such belief or inner experience cannot be expressed exactly, those who follow the Unity of Being interpret it as pervading Divinity and permeating Life in creatures. Philosophers or those who try to find the truth with their intellects or sense impressions have made this way a philosophical or intellectual topic, and thus a source of false ideas and concepts.
Some materialist, pantheistic philosophers also believe in the Unity of Being. However, both groups understand this phrase in mutually exclusive terms. There are five significant differences between them:
FIRST: Sufi scholars restrict their view to the Necessarily Existent Being and reflect on Him so strongly that they do not accept the universe’s existence, for, in their words, only the Necessarily Existent Being truly exists; everything else is illusory. Materialist philosophers and those with weak belief concentrate on matter and are far from perceiving Divinity. They give priority to matter and say that only matter or material things exist. Due to their unbelief, they see Divinity as contained in or embodied by matter, or prefer to remain indifferent to Divinity by restricting their view to the universe.
SECOND: Sufis who believe in the Unity of Being see the universe as something witnessed or only sensed. However, the others regard the universe as really existent and believe in the unity of what exists materially.
THIRD: The way of Sufi saints pertains to inner experience, while the others follow a purely rationalistic way.
FOURTH: Sufi saints are lost in the Truth, the Almighty, and consider the universe from the viewpoint of Divinity. The others are absorbed in creatures and reflect on them for their sake and from within that absorption.
FIFTH: Sufi saints worship God and love Him deeply, while the others adore their selves and follow their fancies.
These two ways are as different as the highest heaven and Earth, bright light and thick darkness.
A note for further enlightenment
If Earth were made up of pieces of different-colored glass, each piece would receive sunlight and reflect it accordingly. Although a piece would not receive or reflect the sun or its light itself, if each piece could speak, it would say: “I am a sun.” Similarly, if the colors of those smiling, brilliant flowers were to speak, although they are manifestations of sunlight’s seven colors, each would say: “The sun resembles me” or “The sun belongs to me exclusively.”
Those illusions are traps for saints,
Whereas in reality they are reflections of the
radiant-faced in the garden of God.105
Those who believe in the Unity of the Witnessed (or sensed) in the name of existence follow sobriety, wakefulness, and discernment. As Unity of Being is a way of spiritual intoxication, the Unity of the Witnessed is a safer way.
Think about the bounties and blessings of God. Do not think about
the His Essence, because you are unable do that.106
The reality of humanity: While humanity cannot perceive it,
how can humanity perceive how
the Eternal All-Compelling is?
He is the One Who originated things and built them.
How can one who is a breath created perceive Him?
- Four proofs of God Almighty are Prophet Muhammad, the observed Book (of the Universe), the Qur’an, and the human conscience or consciousness, which is the juncture of the Unseen and the material, visible world.
- Can people find the All-Great Creator with their intellects?
- The Book of Creation’s order is so subtle and delicate that placing a point in its exact place requires an absolute power that can create everything.
- Gravity and repulsion, as well as motion and similar phenomena, are names of Divine principles or ways of operating represented as laws.
- Why do some believe in matter’s eternity and attribute the formation of all species to the random motions of particles or similar things?
- Humanity is a noble creation. While pursuing truth, people sometimes find falsehood and keep it in their hearts; sometimes they find misguidance and adopt it.
- God has two kinds of Shari‘a: one regulates or orders the acts done through one’s free will, and the other comprises the Divine commands of creation and is the result of the Divine Way of acting.
- How can the order, harmony, and regularity observed in creation be established?
- The Qur’an is like an enormous fruit-laden tree with two great branches: one in this world and the other in the Unseen.
- Four ways lead to the throne of perfection: that of the Sufis, theologians, philosophers, and the Qur’an.
- The Qur’anic arguments of favoring and purpose and invention.
- Everything has an apparent and an inner spiritual aspect.
- The natural or inborn qualities of things do not lie.
- The point of reliance (or support) and the point of seeking help are two essential aspects of the human conscience or conscious nature.
- People have many other senses, the nature of which they are aware or unaware.
- Knowledge of God is a point of support and reliance for people.
- The truth of the Unity of Being (Wahdat al-Wujud), and its difference from pantheism.
103 The Muhammadan Truth is the truth represented by Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, as a servant and Messenger of God Almighty, as well as the truth of which he is the unique embodiment. (Tr.)
104 Everything is known through its opposite. Only the Almighty has no equal or opposite. (Tr.)
105 Mawlana Jalal al-Din al-Rumi, Al-Mathnawi al-Kabir, 1:3.
106 A Prophetic Tradition. Tabarani, Al-Mu‘jam al-Awsat, 6456.