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ISSUES CONCERNING THE DIVINE ESSENCE, UNITY AND ACTS

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

But His command when He wills a thing, is only to say to it ‘Be!’ and it is. So glory be to Him in Whose hand is the dominion of all things, and to Him you are being brought back. (36:82-3)

 

First issue

You say that among the Quranic truths are these: Despite the universality of His acts, the Divine Being, God, is One. The Divine Person is One, yet the functions of His Lordship-sustaining, upbringing, administering-are universal and unassisted. He is One, yet His disposals are all-embracing and unshared. He is free of being contained in space, yet He is present everywhere; despite His infinite transcendence, He is close to all beings. He is One, yet He is dominant over everything at the same time. You say so but the Quran is wise, and that which is wise does not impose on the reason what is unreasonable. Reason sees an apparent contradiction between these ‘truths.’ I would like an explanation of them which will compel the reason to submit.

The Divine Name of The Light solves many difficulties with respect to the Divine Essence and acts.

Since you would like to be convinced, I say, relying on the enlightenment of the Quran: The Divine Name of Light has solved many of my difficulties. God willing, it will solve this one, too. Choosing the way to explain such subtle truths by means of comparison, I will explain this truth by way of comparison:

A single being may gain universality by means of various mirrors

A single being may gain universality by means of various mirrors; while being in reality a single individual, he may become like a universal with general functions. For example, the sun is a single individual, yet by means of transparent objects, it becomes such a universal that it fills the earth with its reflections and images. It even has as many manifestations as drops of water and shining objects. Although the sun’s heat, light and the seven colors in its light each encompass the things which confront them, each transparent thing contains the sun’s heat, and its light and seven colors, together with its image, and becomes a throne for it. This means that on account of unity-being manifested in all the objects with all its attributes-the sun encompasses all the things which confront it. While on account of oneness-being manifested in a single object with all or many of its attributes at the same time-the sun is present in each thing with many of its attributes.

How things manifest or reflect themselves

We have passed from comparison to discussion of a thing’s presence somewhere through some sort of manifestation of its being. Out of the many types of possible manifestation, I will point out only three which will be a means to understanding this phenomenon:

There is reflection of dense, material objects. Such reflections are other than the thing reflected, they are not of the same identity as it. They are also lifeless, having no quality other than their lifeless appearance. For example, if you enter a store full of mirrors, you will become thousands, but only the one living Said is Said. The others are dead, having no characteristics of life.

There is reflection of material, light-giving objects. Such reflections are neither identical with the original nor other than it. They are not of the same nature as the original but they have most of its features, and may be considered as living. For example, the sun is reflected in countless objects. In each of these reflections is present either the sun’s heat or its light, together with the seven colors in light. If the sun were a conscious being, with its heat as its power, its light its knowledge and its seven colors its seven attributes, then the single sun would be present in all objects at the same moment. It would be able to rule over or make contact with each freely, one without hindering the other. It would also be able to meet with all of us by means of our mirrors. While we are distant from it, it would be nearer to us than ourselves.

There is reflection of the pure spirits that were created from light and have been able to preserve their original purity. Such reflections are both living and identifiable with the original. However, since such spirits or pure spirit beings reflect or manifest themselves according to the capacity of the receptive object or the mirror, the reflections cannot be wholly of the same nature as the original. For example, at the moment the Archangel Gabriel, upon him be peace, was in the presence of the Prophet in the form of Dihya, a Companion, he was at the same moment prostrating with his magnificent wings in the Divine Presence before God’s Most Exalted Throne. Again at the same moment he was present in innumerable other places, relaying the Divine Commands. Any one duty that he performs is not an obstacle to another. It is just in the same way that the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, whose essence is light and whose identity is of light, in this world hears all the blessings called upon him at the same moment by all his community. On the Day of Judgment he will meet with all the purified at the same time. In fact, some of the saints who have acquired a high degree of purity and refinement and are called ‘substitutes’ (abdal) are observed in many places at the same time, and the same person is seen to be performing numerous different acts at the same time. Indeed, just as things like glass and water act as mirrors to material objects, so too, the air and ether, and certain beings of the world of ideas or immaterial forms, are like mirrors to spirit beings. They become like a means of transportation with the speed of lightning and imagination, by which spirit beings travel in those pure realms and refined abodes. They go through thousands of places at the same time.

Helpless subjugated objects like the sun, and creatures like spirit beings restricted by matter, can both be present in numerous places at the same moment simply by virtue of being either light-giving creatures or created of light

Thus, helpless and subjugated objects like the sun, and creatures like spirit beings restricted by matter, can both be present in numerous places at the same moment simply by virtue of being either light-giving creatures or created of light. Despite being particulars bounded by certain conditions, they become like absolute universals. With a limited power of choice they can do many things at the same time. As for the Most Holy Being, He is absolutely transcendent and free of matter, and exalted above and exempt from any restriction and from the darkness of density and compactness. All the lights in the universe and all the luminous beings-whether from among light-giving ones or those created of light-are but a dense shadow of the sacred lights of His Names. All existence and all life and the world of spirits and the world of ideas or immaterial forms, are but a semi-transparent mirror of His Beauty. Also, His attributes are all-embracing and His essential ‘functional’ qualities are universal. Now, what thing may escape or remain concealed from His manifestation with all His Attributes including particularly His universal Will, absolute Power, and all-encompassing Knowledge? What affair could be difficult for Him? What individual could be distant from Him? What person can draw close to Him without acquiring universality?

The All-Majestic One of Grace, the All-Gracious One of Perfection, is infinitely near to you, while you are infinitely distant from Him

Indeed, although through its unrestricted light and immaterial reflection, the sun is nearer to you than the pupil of your eye, because of your being bounded by certain conditions, you are very distant from it. In order to draw near to it, you have to transcend numerous restrictions and acquire many universal attributes. Simply, you have, in effect, to acquire an identity unaffected by heat and a form capable of receiving all the manifestations of the sun or of living in its vicinity. Only then may you be able, to a degree, to directly approach the sun in its essential identity, and meet with it without veil. In just the same way, the All-Majestic One of Grace, the All-Gracious One of Perfection, is infinitely near to you, while you are infinitely distant from Him. If you have enough intellectual and spiritual capacity, try to see the points in the comparison corresponding to the reality.

Second issue

‘His command, when He wills a thing, is to say to it ‘Be!,’ and it is’ and ‘It is only one blast; then behold, they will be all arraigned before Us,’ show that things happen instantaneously and merely through a command. Verses like ‘God’s handiwork, Who has made everything very well’ and ‘(He) has created everything in the best way’ point out that the existence of things is gradual through a vast power on the basis of knowledge, and a fine art depending on wisdom. How can they be reconciled?

Relying on the enlightenment of the Quran, I say:

There is no contradiction between those two kinds of Quranic expressions. Some things happen instantaneously, as in the original creation, and some are gradual, like the repetition of the original.

The infinitely perfect order and firmness and solidity, and extremely delicate and fine artistry and perfect creation vis-à-vis the ease, speed, multiplicity, and liberality which are observed in the universe, testify decisively to the existence of the truths contained in these two sorts of verses. Therefore, it is useless to make it a point of discussion whether the existence of things is both gradual and instantaneous. For this reason, with an analogy in the form of a comparison, I will point out why God does this so.

For example, a tailor, who is a craftsman, makes something with much difficulty but artistically and skillfully, and then cuts out a model for it. After that, he can make its likes quickly and without difficulty. Sometimes, even, it becomes so easy that it is as though made through a command, and acquires so perfect an order, like a clock, that it is brought about as though by the command of a single touch.

In just the same way, The All-Wise Maker, the All-Knowing Designer, destined for everything, particular and universal, the whole and the parts, a certain measure and proportion like a model. So, look! Making each century a model, the Eternal Designer clothes it with a new world bejeweled with the miracles of His Power. Making each year a measure, He ‘sews’ a new system artistically fastened with the wonders of His Mercy according to it. Finally, making each day a line, He inscribes on it recruited and renewed creatures adorned with the subtleties of His Wisdom. Furthermore, just as that Absolutely Powerful One makes each century, each year, and each day a model, so too, He makes the earth, each mountain and plain, each garden and orchard, and each tree a model, continuously setting up new systems on the earth and creating new worlds. Removing a world, He replaces it with a new, perfect one. Season after season He displays the miracles of His Power and gifts of His Mercy in all gardens and orchards, where He inscribes a new wisdom-displaying ‘book,’ and sets up a fresh kitchen of His mercy. He clothes each in an ever-renewed garment full of art. Every spring He dresses all trees in raiment of brocade and adorns them with fresh jewels like pearls. He fills their hands with the star-like gifts of His Mercy.

Thus, the One Who does these things with infinitely fine art and perfect order and varies with innumerable instances of wisdom and favor, and with perfection of power and art, the moving worlds following one another along the string of time, is, certainly, infinitely Powerful and Wise, All-Seeing and All-Knowing. Chance cannot interfere in His acts. By declaring, ‘His command, when He wills a thing, is only to say to it ‘Be!,’ and it is, and the affair of the Hour is as a twinkling of the eye, or nearer,’ the All-Majestic Being proclaims the perfection of His Power, and He proclaims that in relation to His Power the destruction of the universe and the raising of the dead are most easy and free of trouble. His command of creation consists in Power and Will, and all things are absolutely subjugated and obedient to His command, and He creates without any physical contact and gradual operation. In order to express the absolute ease in His creation, He declares in the Quran of Miraculous Explanation that He does every work of His with a mere command.

To conclude:

Some verses proclaim the extremely fine artistry and infinite perfection of wisdom in beings, especially at the start of their creation, while other verses describe the extreme facility and speed and infinite obedience and lack of difficulty, especially in repeating and renewing the created beings.

Third issue

You say that verses like ‘In His hand is the dominion of everything’ and ‘There is not a moving creature, but He has grasp of it by the forelock’ and ‘We are nearer to him than the jugular vein’ show that God is infinitely near to us. The verses, ‘To Him you are being brought back’ and ‘The angels and the spirit ascend to Him in a day the measure of which is fifty thousand years’ and the hadith which says, ‘God Almighty is beyond seventy thousand veils,’ and the truths such as those contained in the Prophet’s Ascension, point out that we are infinitely distant from Him. I would like an explanation which will shed light on this profound mystery.

Listen to the following:

At the end of the First Issue, I said: The sun is, through its unrestricted light and immaterial reflection, nearer to you than the pupil of your eye, which is the window of your spirit and its mirror. But because of your being bounded by certain conditions and imprisoned within the walls of matter, you are extremely distant from it. You can make contact with it only through some of its reflections and shadows. You can meet with it through some sort of its particular manifestations, and draw close to its colors which may be regarded as its attributes of some kind, and to its rays and images which may be considered as a grouping of its names. If you seek to approach and meet with the sun itself, you must transcend numerous restrictions and acquire many universal attributes. Simply, in spiritual transcendence, only after growing to the size of the earth, expanding in spirit like the air, rising as far as the moon and directly confronting the sun as the full-moon does, only then could you claim to meet with the sun in person without the veil and to draw near to it to some degree.

In just the some way, the All-Majestic One of Perfection, the Peerlessly Beautiful One, the Necessarily Existent One, the Creator of All Things, the Eternal Sun, and the Monarch with no beginning and end, is nearer to you than yourself, and you are infinitely distant from Him. If you have enough capacity, try to see the fine points in the comparison corresponding to the reality.

· For example, among many titles of a king, ‘Commander’ has a manifestation in many ranks or offices, one under or over the other. It manifests itself in offices high and low in rank, from the highest office of Commander-in-Chief, to those of Field Marshall and General, then those of Captain and Corporal. In his military duties, a private soldier admits a corporal as his superior or commander, and through the manifestation of that corporal in this lowest rank of command, he is in touch with one connected to the Commander-in-Chief. If he wishes to be in direct touch with the Commander-in-Chief in his proper person and function in the army, he will have to rise from being corporal to the high rank of Field-Marshal or General of some military force. This means that the king is extremely close to the soldier through his name, rule, law and knowledge, his telephone and regulations, and if he is purified spiritually enough, he may be overseeing every soldier at the same moment without being seen. Nothing can be an obstacle or obstruction to him. Whereas, the soldier is extremely distant from the king. Many ranks block his way, and many veils intervene between them. However, it sometimes happens that the king, contrary to his practice, admits a private to his presence out of his compassion, and favors him with his grace.1

In almost the same way-God’s is the highest comparison- the All-Majestic One, the Lord of the command ‘Be!,’ and it is, for Whom the suns and other stars are like soldiers, is nearer to all things than themselves, while all things are infinitely distant from Him. If one wishes to enter His Presence of Grandeur without veil, one will have to pass through seventy thousand veils of darkness and light, that is, material and physical veils and the veils of the Divine Names and Attributes. He will have to transcend thousands of particular and universal degrees of manifestation of each Name and rise through the most elevated levels of His Attributes. He will have to ascend as high as His Greatest Throne, which is favored with the manifestation of His Greatest Name, or the most universal manifestation of His Names. If one is not favored with Divine attraction-God’s direct attracting one to Himself-he will have to strive and journey spiritually for thousands of years.

For example, if you want to draw near to Him through His Name of Creator, you have to make a connection with Him first on account of His being your creator. Then you have to make a connection on account of His being the Creator of, in turn, all human beings, all living creatures, and all beings. Otherwise, you will remain in shadow and only find a particular manifestation.

1. Because of his relative impotence, the king in the comparison places intermediaries like Field-Marshal and General in the execution of his command. But the Absolutely Powerful One, in Whose hand is the dominion of all things, is absolutely independent of any intermediaries, and has no need for them at all. Intermediaries-like angels and natural causes-are only an appearance, a veil to His Dignity and Grandeur. They are heralds and observers of the sovereignty of His Lordship-being the Sustainer, Upbringer and Administrator-in worship, amazement, helplessness and want. They are not His assistants, and cannot be partners in the sovereignty of His Lordship.


Recommended Reading
The Way the Divine Names Manifest Themselves

Last Updated on August 01, 2000

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