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Why Religion?

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O people who believe in the Unity of God! You argue that the Creator of the universe is absolutely One, and Eternally Besought-of-All. He is Single, yet He has absolute and free disposition of everything. He is able to exercise His absolute authority over all things all at the same time, no one act of His preventing Him from doing the others. How should we believe in such a bewildering assertion. How can a single one do countless things in countless places at the same instant without any difficulty?

The answer to this question requires the analysis of an extremely profound and subtle and extremely elevated and comprehensive mystery of God’s being One and the Eternally Besought-of-All. The mind can discern that mystery only through the telescope of a comparison. God’s Essence and Attributes have no likes and equals, and are not comparable, but His acts may be considered by means of comparison.

First comparison

A single person can acquire universality through various mirrors; while being particular in essence, he can be universal in having numerous aspects at the same time. Just as things like glass and water become universal in those mirrors, so too, more refined and transparent matters like air and ether and certain objects from the world of symbols and immaterial forms become like mirrors to bodies of light and spirit beings, functioning as means of travel and transportation for them with the speed of lightning and imagination. Seated on them, those bodies of light and spirit beings travel with the speed of imagination in those clear realms like the world of immaterial forms and can be present in thousands of places at the same moment. By virtue of being of light, and since their reflections are identical with themselves, having exactly the same qualities, they act in every place as if they were present in each personally. While the reflections of solid, corporeal bodies are not identical with themselves and since they do not have the same qualities as themselves, they are lifeless.

For example, despite being a concrete particular object, the sun acquires universality by means of shining transparent objects. It lends its reflections and images to all shining things on the earth according to the capacity of each; even a single drop of water and a piece of glass has an image of the sun. It is present everywhere on the earth through either its light or heat or image or the seven colors in its light. Were the sun to have knowledge and consciousness, each object, especially the shining, transparent ones, would be like a seat or chair for it through which it could contact everything, and it could communicate with all conscious beings through mirrors or even through the eye of each one, without being prevented from communicating with others. While it would be present and acting everywhere on the earth through its knowledge, power and other attributes, it would be nowhere in person.

The sun is only like a solid, particular and lifeless mirror to the Name the Light out of the thousand and one Names of the Majestic Being. While the sun is being honored with such universal functions, why, despite His Being Single in Essence, should the Majestic Being not be able to do countless things at the same time?

Second comparison

Since the universe is like a tree, each tree may be an example of the realities of the universe. Taking that huge tree in front of my room as a tiny specimen of the universe, we shall demonstrate through it the manifestation of Divine Singleness in the universe.

That tree has at least one thousand fruits and each fruit has at least one hundred seeds. All those one thousand fruits and a hundred thousand seeds have all been created at the same time. However, that tree has the same single node of nucleus of life in its original seed, roots and trunk, which contains all the laws of its formation issuing from the Divine Will and Command, and it has permeated through all parts of the tree, being present in each fruit and seed. Unlike light, heat and air, that nucleus of life, which itself comprises a single manifestation of Divine Will and a law of Divine Command, does not dissipate. Without disintegration or diffusion, it is present in every part. Its manifold actions are not contrary to its singleness. It may even be said that that manifestation of Divine Will, that law of Divine Command, that nucleus of life, may be present both in every part and nowhere at the same time. It is as if that law of Divine Command had eyes and ears to the number of the fruits and seeds of that magnificent tree. Or it is as if in each part of the tree there was a control center for the ‘senses and feelings’ of that law of Divine Command. The veins and parts of the tree such as the branches are like telephone wires in facilitating the operation or functioning of that law.

Since, then, a single particular manifestation of God’s Attribute of Will observably functions to be the means of millions of acts in millions of places at the same time, we should certainly have as strong a conviction about it as if we were seeing it with the naked eye, that the Majestic Being is able to dispose the tree of creation with all its parts and particles through the manifestation of His Power and Will.

The Sacred Being is absolutely free of matter and exempt from any restrictions and the darkness of densities

Despite being single and in a fixed place, helpless luminaries like the sun which are restricted by matter and move according to certain laws of God, and the laws of God’s Command and manifestations of His Will such as comprise the nucleus of that tree’s life, can observably be in many places doing numerous actions at the same time, and although each is a particular thing restricted by matter, it becomes like a universal thing and can accomplish many different things at the same moment. You see this with your eyes, therefore you cannot deny it. However, the Sacred Being is absolutely free of matter and exempt from any restrictions and the darkness of densities. All those-lights, luminaries and all creatures of pure light-are a single shadow of the lights of His Sacred Names, and all existence and life, and the worlds of spirits, and immaterial forms and symbols, and the intermediary world of the grave, are each a semi-transparent mirror of His Beauty and Grace. Also, His Attributes are all-encompassing and His acts, universal. I wonder, then, what thing can be hidden from Him, Who is Single manifesting His Attributes and acting through His universal Will, absolute Power and all-encompassing Knowledge. What thing can be difficult for Him to do? What place can be concealed from Him? What individual can remain distant from Him? What person can draw near Him without acquiring universality? What thing can prevent Him from doing another? As Ibn ‘Abbas pointed out, why should He not have immaterial ‘eyes’ and ‘ears’ each looking at and hearing a creature? Why should chains of things not be like veins or wires in conducting His laws and commands speedily? Why should things you regard as obstacles and impediments, not be the means of His free disposition of the creation? Why should causes and means not be only apparent veils (to His direct disposition of the universe and free operations)? Why should He not be present everywhere while He is not contained by any place? Why should He need to take up an abode in a place? Why should distances or small size of things or the veils of the levels of existence constitute obstacles to His nearness to things and seeing them and disposing them as He wishes? Why should change, alteration, containment by space, and division, which are all the intrinsic qualities of physical, restricted, contingent, solid and multiplying beings, be accidental or necessary to the Sacred Being, the Light of Lights, the Single One of Unity, the Necessarily Existent One, Who is absolutely free of matter and any restrictions, and exempt from any defect and fault? Does impotence ever befit Him, and defect ever happen to His Honor and Dignity?


Recommended Reading
You frequently use analogies. Whereas according to logic, an analogy does not offer certainty, and the issues which require conviction to be believed in need to be based on logical proofs. Analogy is used by the scholars of jurisprudence for the propositions for the solution of which a fairly certain presumption is enough. Furthermore, you set forth the analogies and comparisons in the form of parables. Whereas parables are imaginary—not real.

Last Updated on July 27, 2000

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