The Sixth Word

The supreme transaction

In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.

God has bought from the believers their selves and their possessions in exchange for Paradise. (9:111)

If you want to understand how profitable a transaction, how honorable a rank, it is to sell one’s soul and property to God and to be His slave and soldier, listen to the following par able: Once a king entrusted two servants with one estate each, including all necessary workshops, machinery, horses, weapons, and other equipment. But as it was wartime, when everything is in flux, this merciful and compassionate king sent his noblest officer to them with the following message:

Sell me the entrusted property so that I may keep it for you. Don’t let it be destroyed in vain. After the war is over, I’ll return it to you in better shape than it was before. Furthermore, I’ll pay a great, higher price for it as if it was your own property. The machinery and tools will be used in my name at my workbench. Both the price and the fee for their use will be increased, maybe a thousand fold. I’ll give all the profit to you. You are weak and poor, and can’t pay for these great tasks. Let me take care of the expenses and equipment, and give you the income and profit. You can use it until demobilization. Consider these five advantages of this transaction.

If you don’t sell the property to me, consider this. As you see, no one is able to preserve what he possesses. You too will lose what you now hold. It will go in vain, and you will miss out on the high price I offer you. All the delicate, precious tools and fine scales that are ready to be used will lose their value, since there are no metals worthy of their use. You’ll have to find some way to administer and preserve them. Moreover, you’ll be punished for betraying your trust. So consider the five ways you will lose.

By selling your property to me, you will become my soldier and act in my name. Far from being a mere recruit or irregular, you will be an honored and free officer of an exalted monarch.

After the two men had listened to this gracious decree, one said: “I’m honored and happy to sell. Thank you so much.” The other was as proud, arrogant, selfish, and dissipated as Pharaoh. As if he would stay on that estate forever, he ignored the earth quakes and tumults and said: “No! Who is this king? I won’t sell my property or diminish my comfort.” After a while, the first man reached such a high rank that everyone envied his position. He had the king’s favor and lived happily in the king’s palace. The other one fell so low that everyone pitied him but realized that he deserved his position. As a result of his mistake, he forfeited his happiness and property, and suffered punishment and torment.

Now, O soul full of caprice, consider the truth displayed here. The king is the Monarch, Eternal before and after eternity, your Lord and Creator. That which He has entrusted to you represent your body, spirit, and heart, and so on, as well as your outer and inner senses such as sight, taste, intelligence, imagination. The noblest officer is the Messenger; the compassionate decree is the Qur’an, which states: God has bought from the believers their selves and their possessions in exchange for Paradise (9:111). The surging battlefield is the tempestuous surface of the world in flux, and causes everyone to reflect:

“Everything will leave our hands, perish, and be lost. Is there no way to make it eternal, to preserve it?” While engaged in such thoughts, the heavenly voice of the Qur’an is heard:

“There is a beautiful and easy way that offers five advantages or profits.”

What is this way?

To sell the trust to its real Owner. The resulting five profits are:

FIRST PROFIT: The transient property becomes everlasting. This waning life, when given to the Eternal and Self-Subsistent Being of Majesty and spent for His sake, is transmuted into permanence and gives everlasting fruits. The moments of one’s present life apparently vanish and rot, as do kernels and seeds. But then the flowers of happiness open and bloom in the Realm of Eternity, and each presents a luminous, lovely scene in the Intermediate Realm of the grave.

SECOND PROFIT: The price to be paid is Paradise.

THIRD PROFIT: The value of each bodily limb and sense is increased a thousand fold. For example, if you use your intelligence for the sake of your carnal soul, it becomes such an ill-omened, destructive, and debilitating instrument that it bur dens you with sad sorrows of the past and terrifying fears of the future. This is why sinful people frequently resort to drunkenness or other frivolous pleasures. But if you sell your intelligence to its true Owner and use it on His behalf, it becomes like a mysterious key unlocking the infinite treasure-houses of compassion and wisdom-filled vaults, and elevates you to the rank of a pious and righteous guide deserving eternal happiness.

The eye is a window through which the spirit looks at this world. If you use it on behalf of your carnal soul, without selling it to God Almighty, by gazing at transient, impermanent beauties and spectacles, it panders to lust and other carnal desires. But if you sell it to its All-Seeing Maker and use it on His behalf and within His limits, it rises to the rank of a reader of the Great Book of the Universe,11 a witness of the miracles of His creation, a blessed bee sucking on the blossoms of Mercy in the garden of this world.

Taste is another of the senses. If you do not sell it to your All-Wise Originator, but use it on behalf of your carnal soul and for the sake of your tongue or stomach, it sinks and declines to the level of a gatekeeper at the stomach’s stable, a watch man at its factory. But if you sell it to the All-Munificent Provider, the sense of taste rises to the rank of a skilled overseer at Divine Compassion’s treasure-houses, a grateful inspector in the kitchens of the Eternally Besought One’s Power.

O intelligence, be careful! Think of what is an instrument of destruction and what is a key to all being. O eye! See the difference between an abominable panderer and a learned overseer of the Divine Library! O tongue! Taste well the difference between a stable doorkeeper or a factory watchman and the trustee of the treasure house of God’s Mercy!

When you compare all other instruments, faculties, and limbs to these, you understand that believers acquire a nature worthy of Paradise and unbelievers a nature conforming to Hell. Each attains its respective value. Due to their belief, believers use what the Creator has entrusted to them on His behalf and within His limits. Unbelievers betray the trust and use it for the sake of the carnal soul.

FOURTH PROFIT: Man is helpless but exposed to misfortune; he is indigent but has uncountable needs; and he is impotent, but the burden of life is very heavy. If he does not rely on the All-Powerful One of Majesty, trust in and submit to Him with full confidence, his conscience will always be troubled. He finds himself caught in vain torments, pains and regrets, all of which suffocate him. They either intoxicate him or turn him into a beast.

FIFTH PROFIT: Those who unveil the true nature of things and experience the truth agree that the reward for worshipping and glorifying God performed by your limbs, senses, and faculties will be given at the time of greatest need, in the form of Paradise’s fruits.

If you refuse this transaction with its five-fold profit, in addition to being deprived of its profit, you suffer the following five-fold loss:

FIRST LOSS: Your beloved property and offspring, your adored carnal soul and its desires, and your foolishly loved youth and life all will vanish, burdening you with their sins and pains.

SECOND LOSS: You will be punished for betraying the trust, for you have wronged yourself by using the most precious tools on the most worthless objects.

THIRD LOSS: By debasing your precious faculties to a level much infe­rior to animals, you have insulted and transgressed against God’s Wisdom.

FOURTH LOSS: In your helplessness and poverty, you will shoulder life’s heavy burden and continually groan under the blows of transience and separation.

FIFTH LOSS: You convert the All-Merciful’s fair gifts, such as the intellect, the heart, the eye, the tongue, meant to be used for laying the foundations of everlasting life and happiness in the Hereafter, into an ugly form, fit to open the gates of Hell before you. We should make this bargain. Why do many people not want to make it? Is it so difficult? By no means! The resulting burdens are not hard. The limits of the religiously permissible enjoyment are broad and adequate for your desire, and so you do not need to indulge in what is forbidden. The duties imposed by God are light and few. To be His servant and soldier is an honor beyond description.

Your duty is to act and embark on all things in God’s name, like a soldier, to receive and give on God’s behalf, and to obey His permission and law. If you sin, seek His forgiveness by saying: “O Lord, forgive our sins and accept us as your servants. Enable us to remain faithful to Your trust until the time of restitution arrives. Amin.” And petition Him.

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi

11 The universe, man and the Qur’an are three books which make the Creator known to us. The universe and man are created books which have issued from God’s Attributes of Power and Will and are the collections of the manifestations of God’s Names, while the Qur’an is their revealed counterpart. These three books interpret each other. Like the Qur’an, by studying the universe and man or himself, man acquires knowledge of God and draws close to Him. (Tr.)