Man (and woman) was created a weakling. (4:28)



O HUMANITY! Do not be proud that you are superior to animals, for our superiority is based on our weakness and impotence, just as an infant commands its elders by its impotence and weakness. What animal is more unable than you to satisfy its needs? An animal can acquire what it needs to maintain its life in 20 days, 20 hours, or 20 minutes after its birth, while it takes you 20 years of study and experience. If you form a community and help each other, you can acquire only what it takes one animal to acquire for itself. But by virtue of the perfection you can attain by servanthood to God, you, an individual being, can equal a species of animals.

We have two alternatives: We will be either the lowest or the highest species. Choose whichever you wish. Be aware of your impotence and weakness, and know that your power and strength lie in prayer and weeping before your Owner. Whatever you take pride in is the work of His inspiration and favoring. He has made you a specimen of all species so that He may show His marvelous Beauty and Creativity through you and cause you to taste His bounties.

KNOW, O ONE WHO DOUBTS the authenticity of the Prophetic Traditions about the Mahdi,108 the approaching of the Last Hour, and the great tumults predicted to occur after the Prophet. Do you seek conviction in all issues, even secondary ones unconcerned with the fundamentals of belief? Some issues do not require conviction so that you need evident proof, as they are not concerned directly with belief. Simple acceptance or non-rejection is enough.

Just as the Qur’an’s profound, allegorical statements require interpretation, seemingly ambiguous, parable-style Traditions also require interpretation and commentary. When you find an apparently illogical narration attributed to the Prophet, consider the following: It may have been borrowed from commentaries on the Torah or related by Jewish converts whose narrations were mistakenly thought to belong to the Prophet. A narrator’s explanatory addition could, later on, have been taken as belonging to the Tradition itself. It may have been deduced from the Tradition by the narrators, a saying of an inspired Traditionist mistakenly attributed to the Prophet, or a proverb originally said by the Prophet for a certain occasion and purpose.

Such narrations should not be restricted to their apparent meaning. Rather, people should ponder over them and either accept them as sayings that guide to a truth, or think that they may have subtle meanings requiring interpretation. Your heedless interpretation will be like a sleeping person’s interpreting what is seen by a person who is not asleep. O awake one, you can interpret what a sleeping person sees [while asleep]. So too, asleep in the heedlessness of this life, you cannot interpret what was seen by one who was always awake, whose heart never slept, and about whom God says: The eye did not swerve nor waver (51:17).

Each person’s appointed hour is hidden so that he or she always will watch out for it and strive for the afterlife. The Last Hour, this world’s appointed hour, is kept hidden for the same reason. This is why the people in every century from the Age of Happiness to the present have watched for it. Thus we wait for it with alertness, a condition that removes our heedlessness.

Narrations concerning the Mahdi are ambiguous so that people in every age will expect him. This strengthens the believers’ resistance and morale, and removes their despair when misguidance spreads and gains strength. It also encourages Muslim scholars who strive to revive Islamic principles and guide people to truth in a way expected from the Mahdi, their illustrious leader.

KNOW, O MUSLIMS who are Muslim in name and appearance only. Your imitation of unbelievers and opposition to Islamic injunctions makes you resemble clan members who blame their clan, despise their chief, and scorn their customs because they see someone from a different and hostile clan who is proud of its virtues. Such people think that such misguided actions will make them like members of the other clan. They do not realize that such rejection and apostasy disgraces them and causes them to lose all support.

Westerners who reject Prophet Muhammad console themselves with Christianity and Western civilization, which contain elements of their nation’s customs. They can preserve in their spirits some laudable virtues and make praiseworthy efforts to improve their worldly life. This consolation keeps them from seeing the veils of darkness in their spirits and the loneliness they must otherwise feel.

KNOW, O APOSTATES, that those who deny Prophet Muhammad and his accomplishments cannot accept another Prophet, their Lord, or any real perfection. Look at the terrible ruin in their spirits. See the intense darkness in their conscience, and the gloom and despair in their heart. The ugliness of their inner world soon will become manifest, and it will become clear that the superficial attractiveness of apostasy is uglier than an unbeliever’s ugliness. They will be like carriers of poison, harmful to themselves and to the community.

KNOW, O YOU WHO FIND it hard to understand some of the Qur’an’s awesome truths, such as: He created the heavens and Earth in 6 days (10:3); The Hour’s affair is but like the eye’s twinkling (16:77); Your creation and resurrection are as (that of) one soul (31:28); Then it will be breathed into it a second time and lo! they have all stood up, staring (39:68); and That day We shall roll up the heavens like rolling up the scroll for books (21:104).

The Book of Creation interprets these Qur’anic verses clearly and offers them to your understanding by showing you many comparable physical realities that you observe regularly [as, for example,] in the alternation of day and night and the changes of seasons and centuries. If you seek conviction, open the treasure of: Look at the imprints of God’s Mercy, how He revives Earth after its death. Surely He is the Reviver of the dead (in the same way) (30:50), so that you can see innumerable examples of the awesome realities that you deem unlikely.

For example, each spring you witness the resurrection of thousands of plant and animal worlds that died during the winter. All are brought back to life within a few days, in a definite order, and in appointed particular measures. Most of them are found in and adorn almost all regions of Earth. There are innumerable other examples.

Consider the world of trees, which contain many kinds of apple trees, and each individual member of each kind. You will see three incidents of resurrection: The tree bursts into beautiful blossoms, produces well-proportioned leaves, and yields beautiful, delicious fruits. The One Creator does all these things on Earth’s face and, turning over winter’s sheet, fills thousands of sheets (each the size of Earth’s sheet) with marvelous “words.” He introduces Himself as the One Who created the heavens and Earth in 6 days, Who does all things mentioned in the verses above.

KNOW, O FRIEND, that everyone feels love and affection for their relatives; clan members; members of their nation, race, and species (humanity); and for all parts and particles of existence. Even if unconsciously, they are sad when others are sad and happy when others are happy. They feel that they are with the community of Prophets, saints, and pious people because of their perfection. A mother, for example, disturbs her rest and peace for a relative or a loved one.

However, due to what the surrounding world presents to them, the heedless cannot rid themselves of distress. They are crushed by spiritual pain and inner unrest. Even if placed in a paradise, they would be like a firefly that gives out a brief, dim flash of light and then is enveloped by darkness. Even this fleeting light harms them by illuminating the distressing scenes around them.

But if they get rid of this heedlessness and consider all things and events in the light of belief in the Owner of existence, Whose every act is good by itself or by its consequences, a window will open from their hearts to the lights of the Everlasting Sun that illuminates the past and the future. They will discern that their love for other things is really love for the One Who suffices and substitutes for all things, and causes them to forget all others. Nothing can substitute for Him or for one manifestation of His love. Even if believers convinced of this were placed in Hell, they would enjoy some feeling of Paradise knowing that all their loved ones were saved from eternal extinction and separation and blessed with perpetual happiness.

O HEEDLESS SAID! Give up the idea that you own yourself. Give your loved ones to their All-Munificent and All-Compassionate Owner, and secure their salvation and happiness.

KNOW, O FRIEND, that God creates everything. However, evil and defect, as well as fault and vice, are the result of the created thing’s nature and imperfect capacities. The All-Liberal Creator creates whatever the created things ask of Him in the tongue of their potential and disposition. Good and beauty are from Him, for He creates and requires them. He also creates ugliness and defect, but does not require them. All praise is due to Him, for asking Him for beauty and good is like an answer from Him and His Names. All glorification is due to Him, and He has no defect and ugliness. Creatures seek out and engage in vice and ugliness, and the Almighty creates them. However, He attaches many beautiful consequences to what seems ugly. Whatever good comes to you is from God, and whatever evil comes to you is from your selfhood (4:79).

KNOW, O FRIEND, that all species, especially plants and animals, are like threads of an embroidery spread like garments on Earth’s face. Some are thinner, shorter, or more loosely knitted, while others are torn in winter and renewed in spring. However, all are woven with perfect order and perfect proportions. All species embrace one another and help one another. Their members come together and separate on good terms.

Whatever exists is the textile of a Single Weaver and the servant of a Single Master. Everything is woven specifically for itself and with fibers fitted for itself, and without any confusion or flaw. This testifies, with a certainty based on observation, that it is a work of the art of the One Whose Power and Wisdom have no limit.

The purposeful, specific adornment and furnishing of all creatures shows that the One Who adorned and furnished the palace of the world with such different species is He Who created whatever is necessary to maintain the palace. One of the most important purposes for its rich adornment is making its Maker known, and that adornment is one of the most polished mirrors reflecting the truth that the Maker wills to make Himself known and loved.

Look at a yellow sunflower that closes at night and opens in daytime. Its Maker makes it a pleasant home for tiny organisms or animals glorifying their Creator. A group of them inhabit a sunflower, and it becomes like a garden, a palace, or a village for them.

Glory be to Him Who manifests His Grace in all things, makes His Power known by His creatures, and makes Himself loved by His servants through the rich adornment of His works of art. There is no god but He. His word is true, and for Him is the whole creation and His is the dominion over them (6:73). He is not questioned concerning what He does (21:23).

KNOW, O FRIEND, that no one has the right or a pretext to question Him. In His kingdom, He controls as He wills. He is All-Knowing, All-Wise, and knows what we do not. Our ignorance of an event’s or a creature’s wisdom does not mean that there is no wisdom in it, for the wisdom observed in the absolute majority of things testifies to its existence in all things and events.

For example, we grieve when living things die. We may not discern any beauty or good in the short lives of some fine beings, or perceive any mercy in the decay of living creatures in autumn or winter. However, such objections or grief arise from our ignorance of the reality that a living being is like a soldier or servant charged with many tasks that glorify and praise the Creator of life and death. The purposes for their lives pertain to Him. So, their short existence or their innate intention to fulfill their functions— like the intentions of seeds to grow into plants or trees—may be sufficient to perform what is expected of them.

Death is only a changing of abodes, a discharge from duties, and a call to the presence of the Creator, as the Creator Himself decrees: Then, they are resurrected and gathered in the presence of their Lord (6:38). It is a sign of His Mercy’s perfection that He usually does not allow His creatures to live to the unbearable period of old age and to remain in the most severe, troublesome hardships of life. He discharges lovers of flowers and those taking pleasure in vegetation from their duties. The Maker of those creatures, their Master, employs them during their lives according to the ease with which they fulfill their tasks. When the frown of life’s unbearable conditions, because of old age or winter, consume them and they no longer have any enthusiasm, the Mercy of the All-Merciful One discharges them. In their place, He dispatches their likes, woven after their example, so that they glorify their Master. These newcomers start their tasks where their predecessors completed theirs.

O HEEDLESS, CONCEITED ONES who think that you own your selves and your lives, and assume that happiness lies in a continuous, easy life—you are wrong. You compare your self-forgetting selfhood to an animal contented with its life. However, it fulfills its tasks. The shouts of joy caused by universal Mercy’s manifestations sound like lamentations to you. Do not grieve for them, because grief arises from compassion and pity. Rather, pity and grieve for yourself. Some animals are allowed to attack others so that the latter can develop their agility and potential or capacity to defend themselves, and learn to know their faculties. You see this clear wisdom when you compare domesticated and wild members of the same species.

WHY, O FRIEND, do saints differ in the conclusions they draw through inspiration and spiritual unveiling, while agreeing on the fundamentals of religion? Why did saints and Prophets preceding the Last One [Prophet Muhammad], only elaborate on Divine Unity, while the Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad explained all pillars of the religion so clearly that they need no further clarification? The reason is the intervention of certain veils between those pillars, saints, and previous Prophets. Another reason is each one’s capacity to receive the Divine Names’ varied manifestations.

For example, the sun has a universal manifestation on all flowers, as well as a particular manifestation upon each species and individual flower. According to a well-known theory, every flower receives its color from sunlight’s refraction. The sun has a universal manifestation of light on planets and the moon, which reflects the sun’s light on the sea and its bubbles and drops, on land and the transparent things on it, and on air and its particles. The sun also has a pure, universal reflection in the atmosphere’s “mirrors” and the sea’s surface, and particular reflections or images in the bubbles on the sea’s surface, drops of water, air molecules, and snowflakes.

The sun’s manifestation on all of these things takes two forms: direct (Prophethood) and indirect (sainthood), with the intervention of veils and media. In this way, its manifestations are received according to the capacity and nature of the “mirrors” (saints).

With respect to the first way, each thing can say: “I am a mirror of the sun of the world,” while, with respect to the second, they can only say: “I am a mirror of my particular sun or the sun of my species.” In the second way, the “sun” manifests itself behind or is obstructed by veils. Thus this manifestation cannot possess the properties of the sun of the world, which causes the planets to revolve around itself, heats and illuminates Earth, and moves the wheels of the lives of plants and other things.

O FRIEND, let’s imagine ourselves in their places. This dense carnal self will become the flower that assumes a color as an effect produced by a ray of sunlight. This philosopher drowned in natural causes will be the drop that receives from the moon a shadow of the sun’s light. The dewdrop, without color, will hold the sun’s image in the “pupil of its eyes.”

The love of Him Who, out of His Grace, illuminates and adorns us, has moved us to approach Him and see Him. You, the flower, represent all flowers. But as a flower is a dense mirror that refracts light and dissolves its seven colors, it veils the sun’s reflection. And so you cannot be saved from separation, are confused between the colors’ qualities, and suffer from the separation caused by interposing barriers. You can be freed if you give up your love of selfhood, stop looking at the merit and beauty you ascribe to your selfhood, and look at the sun. Also turn your face, which is fixed on soil to attract your sustenance although in reality it is hastened to you, up to the sun. You are a mirror of it, as it is a drop-like mirror shining in the heavens to a gleam from the lights of the Light, the Truth.109 You cannot see it in its real identity, but only painted with your own attributes’ colors and restricted by your limited capacity.

O drop, you have advanced as far as the moon by science and philosophy, and found it dense and dark, without light or life. Your endeavor has been in vain, and your knowledge has proven fruitless. You can be saved from the darkness of hopelessness, the desolation of loneliness, and the terror of that frightening solitude only if you abandon the night of naturalism and turn toward the sun of truth. Believe with certainty that the lights of that night are only shadowy reflections of the lights of the sun of daytime. However, you cannot see the sun clearly, but only from beyond the veils woven by your knowledge and philosophy, and in a color produced by your capacity.

As for you, O weak and poor dewdrop, you advance by evaporating and rising into the air. The dense matter in your structure burns and changes into light, after which you hold on to a ray of the light’s manifestations. In whatever station you reach, a window is opened to the sun. You see with certainty that it deserves the attributes it has, and no veil or barrier, limited capacity or smallness of mirrors can restrain you from attributing to it all the works of its essential sovereignty. You have understood that what appears in the objects and is observed in the mirrors is not the sun itself, but rather manifestations or colored reflections of it.

The three groups represented by the flower, drop of water, and dewdrop differ in the merits of the perfection they have obtained and in the rank of certainty they have reached. But they all agree on affirming the truth.

KNOW, O HUMANITY, that you serve as a unit of comparison in five ways:

FIRST: You are a comprehensive index of the marvelous works of the Divine Beautiful Names’ manifestations. With your attributes and supposed lordship in your own sphere, you are a measuring instrument to know God’s all-comprehensive Attributes.

SECOND: You are a measure to reject any association of partners with Him. When you are convinced that you belong only to Him and are His property, you believe that He has no partners. If you give a third of your existence to Him, a second third to natural causes, and the last third to your own selfhood, this sharing occurs throughout the universe. When you attribute even the smallest part of His property to your ego, you have to admit that every being and natural cause has a thing of the same size. Thus you share God’s property among others.

THIRD: When your ego is unveiled to you, the true map of the “natural” sciences and the knowledge of the outer world are opened to you. When you forget yourself, this knowledge becomes closed or changes into ignorance and sophistry.

FOURTH: You hold the keys of the Divine Names’ hidden treasuries. If you perceive your limitless impotence, you will discover that your Creator has limitless power; if you discover your infinite poverty, you will see that your Provider has infinite wealth. In such ways, His Names’ manifestations become luminous letters inscribed in the darkness of your existence. The more intense that darkness is, the more luminous they are.

With respect to these four ways, you can only receive—you have nothing (good) by yourself. You are a eulogy written in the language of “Be!” and it is.

FIFTH: You are an agent, an effective cause, asking in the tongue of potential and need, action and word. Concerning this aspect, you are the origin of all vice, defect, and sin; your Creator is the source of all good and beauty, perfection and light.

The first four ways manifest the essence of everything with respect to your Creator and your relation with Him, while the fifth one shows the degrees of His Names’ manifestations.

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Said Nursi

108 The Mahdi, literally meaning “one who guides,” is the Muslim Messiah who is expected to come toward the end of time to deliver the oppressed. (Tr.)

109 As the flower receives its sustenance from the soil, it turns its face to it. But its sustenance is sent to it through the soil. Therefore, since the real origin of its sustenance is not the soil, it should turn its face to the sun. The flower is a mirror of the sun, as the sun itself is a tiny mirror (tiny compared to the vastness of the heaven, to a gleam of the lights of the Light—God.)