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Fruits of Belief


The First Word


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


His aid alone do we seek..


Bismillah (in the name of God) is the beginning of all that is good. We too begin with it at the outset. Know, O soul, that in the same way that this blessed word is the emblem of Islam, so too it is the litany recited by all beings through their very mode of existence. If you wish to understand how inexhaustible a force, how endless a blessing Bismillah is, then heed the following parable.


For one who wishes to travel in the Beduininfested deserts of Arabia, it is necessary to invoke the name of the shaykh of some tribe and claim his protection. Only then may he escape the attentions of bandits and obtain his requirements. Otherwise, travelling alone, confronted with numerous enemies and privations, he will perish. Now two men one set out on such a desert journey, one of them modest and humble, the other arrogant. The modest one invoked the name of a shaky, the arrogant one failed to do so. The former travelled everywhere in safety. Whenever he encountered a highway robber, he would say, "I am travelling in the name of such and such shaky," and the bandit would move on without molesting him. He would be treated with respect in every tent he entered on account of that name. By contrast, the arrogant one suffered indescribable disasters throughout his journey. He trembled in constant fear and was obliged to beg for everything. He became vile and abject.


O arrogant soul! You are that traveller, and this world is the desert. Your weakness and poverty know no bounds. The enemies and privations to which you are exposed are countless. This being the case, invoke the name of the Eternal Lord and the Everlasting Judge of the desert. Only thus will you be delivered from begging from every being, and trembling in fear of every vicissitude.


The word Bismillah is so blessed a treasure that by binding you to the infinite power and mercy of the Omnipotent and Merciful One, it transforms your boundless weakness and poverty into the most heeded of intercessors at His Exalted Court. The one who acts uttering the word Bismillah is like one who enrolls in an army and then acts in the name of the state, fearing no one, doing all things in the name of the law and the state, and persisting against all odds.


We said at the beginning that all beings recite Bismillah through their very mode of existence. How is this?


Consider, for example, a man who, arriving alone, compels the entire population of a city to gather in a certain place and labor on retrain tasks. You may be certain that he is not acting on his account or with his own strength. Rather he is a soldier, acting in the name of the state, and relying on the strength of a king. So too all things are acting in the name of God Almighty. Seeds and grains, no bigger than atoms, bear huge trees on their heads, raise weights as heavy as mountains. Each tree says "Bismillah," and filling its hands with fruits from the Treasure of Mercy, offers them to us on a tray. Each garden also says "`Bismillah. " It is a cauldron from the kitchen of Divine power, in which are cooked countless different varieties of delicious food. All blessed animals sue as cows, camels, sheep and goats, also say "Bismillah. " They are like a spring from which gushes forth the milk of the effusion of God's mercy. They offer to us, in the name of God the Provider, the most delicate, pure and life-giving sustenance. Every plant and every grass with its roots and tendrils soft as silk also says "Bismillah. " It penetrates and passes through hard stones and earth; saying "In the name of God, in the name of the Compassionate One," it subjugates all things to itself. The spreading of a tree's branches in the sky, the unhindered diffusion of its roots in the midst of the hard stones and earth, its spontaneous generation beneath the earth, its delicate green leaves remaining moist for months despite intense heat-all this is like a heavy blow struck against the materialist. It jabs a finger into his blinded eye and says:


'That hardness and heat in whose power you place so much: trust is also obliged to act in accordance with Divine command; the silken tendrils of the plant, each like the Staff of Moses, upon whom be peace, obey the command of:


And We said, 'O Moses, strike the rock with your staff,''


and cleave through the rock."


Its paper-thin, delicate leaves, each like one of the limbs of Abraham, upon whom be peace, recite the verse:


O fire, be coolness and peace,


in defiance of the flame-splitting heat.


Since, then, all things are inwardly saying Bismillah, and delivering God's bounties to us in God's name, we too should say "Bismillah, " and give and take all things in God's name. We should accept nothing from those heedless men who do not give in God's name.


"We pay a certain price to men for what they bring us, even though they are only the traybearers. What price does Allah, the true owner of this property, demand?"


That true Bestower of Bounty requires from us the following three things in payment for His precious bounties and goods: remembrance, thanks giving, and reflection. To say Bismillah at the beginning of all things is a form of remembrance, and to say, "Praise and thanks be to God" at their end is a form of thanksgiving. As for reflection, this is to perceive and think of the precious and ingenious bounties we receive, as miracles of the power of the One Eternally Besought and as gifts received from His mercy, at all times between the beginning and the end. If you were to kiss the foot of some wretch who brought you a precious gift from a king, without recognising the true sender on the gift, what stupidity it would bet To praise and love the apparent bestowers of bounty, while forgetting the True Bestower of Bounty is stupidity ten thousand times worse.


Oh soul! If you wish to avoid such stupidity, give in the name of God, take in the name of God, begin in the name of God, and act in the name of God. That shall suffice you.


* * *


The Supplication of Yunus


In the name of God, the Compassionate,


the Merciful.




THE SUPPLICATION of Hazrat Yunus ibn Matta -peace and blessings be upon our prophet and upon him- is a most glorious supplication, a most effective means for obtaining answer to prayer. The gist of the celebrated story of Hazrat Yunus, peace be upon him, is as follows.


He was cast into the sea and swallowed by a large fish. The sea was stormy, the night turbulent and dark, and all hope exhausted. But it was in such a state that his supplication:


There is no god other than Thee, glory be unto Thee! Verily I was among the wrongdoers,


acted for him as a swift means of salvation. The mysterious property inherent in his supplication was this:


In that state all causes were suspended, for Hazrat Yunus needed to save him one whose command should constrain the fish and the sea, the night and the sky. The night, the sea and the fish were united against him. Only one whose command might subdue all three of these could bring him forth on the strand of salvation. Even if the entirety of creation had become his servants and helpers, it would have been of no avail-secondary causes were of no effect. Since Hazrat Yunus saw with the eye of certainty that there was no refuge other than the Primary Cause, his supplication arising from the mystery of Unicity and within the light of Unity, was able suddenly to subdue the night, the sea and the fish. Through the light of Unity he was able to transform the belly of the fish into a submarine; and the surging sea that in its awesomeness resembled an erupting volcano, into a peaceable plain, a place of delight and enjoyment. Through that light, he was able too to sweep the sky s countenance clear of all cloud, and to set the moon over his head like a lantern. Creation that had been pressing and threatening him from all sides now showed him a friendly face from every direction. Thus he reached the shore of salvation. Beneath the gourd tree he witnessed the grace of his Lord.


Now we are in a situation one hundred times more awesome than that in which Hazrat Yunus, upon whom be peace, first found himself. Our night is the future. When we look upon our future with the eye of neglect, it is a hundred times darker and more fearful than his night. Our sea is this spinning globe. Each wave of this sea bears on it thousands of corpses, and is thus a thousand times more frightening than his sea. Our fish is the caprice of our soul, which strives to shake and destroy the foundation of our eternal life. This fish is a thousand times more maleficent than his fish. For his fish can destroy a hundred-year lifespan, whereas ours seeks to destroy a life lasting hundreds of millions of years. This being our true state, we should in imitation of Hazrat Yunus-upon whom be peace-avert ourselves from all secondary causes and take refuge directly in the First Cause, that is, our Lord. We should say:


There is no god other than Thee, glory be unto Thee! Verily I was among the wrongdoers,


and understand with full certainty that it is only He who can repel from us the harm of the future, this world and the caprice of our souls, united against us because of our neglect and misguidance. For the future is subject to His orders, the world to His commands, and our soul to His determination.


What cause is there other than the Creator of the heavens and earth who can know the most subtle and secret thoughts of our heart, who can lighten the future for us by establishing the hereafter, who can save us from the myriad overwhelming waves of the world No, outside that Possessor of Necessary Being, there is nothing that can in any way give aid and effect salvation except by His consent and command.


This being the case, considering that as a result of his supplication the fish became for Hazrat Yunus a vehicle, or a submarine, and the sea, a peaceable plain; and the night became gently lit for him by the moon so, too, we should make the same supplication:


There is no god other than Thee, glory be unto Thee! Verily I was among the wrongdoers.


With the sentence "There is no god other than Thee," we draw the gaze of Mercy upon our future; with the words "Glory be unto Thee," we draw it upon our world; and with the phrase "Verily I was among the wrongdoers," we draw it upon our soul. Thus our future is illumined with the light of faith and the moonlike luminosity of the Qur’an, and the awe and terror of the night are transformed into tranquillity and joy. Then too, embarking on the ship of the truth of Islam, fashioned in the dockyard of the Most Wise Qur'an, we may pass safely over the sea of this earthly abode, where corpses unnumbered are borne on the waves of years and centuries, of the ceaseless alternation of life and death, down to destruction. Once aboard that ship, we may reach the shore of salvation and fulfil our life's duty. 'the tempest and surging of the sea will appear as a series of pleasing images on a screen, and instead of inspiring terror and dread, will delight, caress and illumine the reflective and the meditative gaze. By virtue of the mystery of the Qur'an, and the effect of that book of Discernment, our soul will no longer ride us, but instead become our mount. As we ride it, it will be for us a powerful means for the attainment of life everlasting.


To conclude: Man, in accordance with the comprehensive nature of his being, will suffer from the shaking and tremors of the earth, and the supreme convulsion of all beings on the day of resurrection, and begin himself to shake as if with malaria. As he fears the infinitesimal microbe, he will also fear the shooting star that appears among the heavenly bodies. As he loves his home, he will also love the wide world. As he loves his little garden, he will also love ardently infinite and eternal Paradise. The object of worship, the lord, refuge, saviour and goal of man must then of necessity be One in the palm of Whose power all beings lie, to Whose command atom and planet both will submit of necessity. Man should then constantly say, like Hazrat Yunus -upon whom be peace:


There is no god other than Thee, glory be unto Thee! Verily I was among the wrongdoers.


Glory be unto Thee! We have no knowledge save that which Thou hast taught us; verily Thou art All-Knowing, All-Wise.


[Qur’an 2:32]






* * *








The Affliction of Ayyub




When he called upon his Lord saying, "Verily harm has afflicted me, and Thou art the Most Merciful of the Merciful."


Qur’an 21:83




THIS SUPPLICATION of Hazrat Ayyub, upon whom be peace, the champion of patience, is both well- tested and effective. We should say in our supplication, drawing on the same verse:


O Lord, verily harm has afflicted me, and Thou art the Most Merciful of the Merciful.


The gist of the well-known story of Hazrat Ayyub, upon whom be peace, is as follows.


While afflicted with numerous wounds and sores for a long time, he recalled the great recompense to be had for his sickness, and endured it with utmost patience. But later, when the worms generated by his wounds penetrated to his heart and his tongue which were the organs for the remembrance and knowledge of God, he feared that his duty of worship woulli suffer, and so he said in supplication not for the sake of his own comfort, but for the sake of his worship of God:


"O Lordly Harm has afflicted me; my remembrance of thee with my tongue and my worship of Thee with my heart will suffer."


God Almighty then accepted this pure, sincere, disinterested and devout supplication in the most miraculous fashion. He granted to Hazrat Ayyub perfect good health and made manifest in him all kinds of compassion. This flash contains Five Points:




Corresponding to the outer wounds and sicknesses of Hazrat Ayyub, upon whom be peace, we have inner sicknesses of the spirit and heart. If our inner being is turned outward, and our outer being turned inward, we will appear more wounded and diseased than Hazrat Ayyub. For each sin that we commit and each doubt that enters our mind, inflicts wounds on our heart and our spirit.


The wounds of Hazrat Ayyub, upon whom be peace, were of such a nature as to threaten his brief worldly life. But our inner wounds threaten our infinitely Long life everlasting. We need the supplication of Hazrat Ayyub a thousand times more than he did himself. Just as the worms that arose from his wounds penetrated to his heart and tongue, so too the wounds that sin inflicts upon us and the temptations and doubts that arise from those wounds will-may God protect us!-penetrate to our inner heart, the seat of faith, and thus negate faith. Penetrating too the spiritual joy of the tongue, the proclaimed of faith, they cause it to shun in revulsion the remembrance of God, and reduce it to silence.


Sin, penetrating to the heart, will blacken and darken it until it extinguishes the light of faith. Within each sin is a path leading to unbelief. Unless that sin is swiftly obliterated by seeking God's pardon, it will grow from a worm into a snake that gnaws on the heart.


For example, a man who secretly commits a shameful sin will fear the disgrace that results if others become aware of it. Thus the existence of angels and spiritual beings will be hard for him to endure, and he will long to deny it, even on the strength of the slightest indication.


Similarly, one who commits a major sin deserving of the torment of Hell, will desire the non-existence of Hell with all of his spirit whenever he hears the threat on hellfire, and he will dare to deny Hell on the strength of a slight indication and doubt, unless he takes up in protection the shield of repentance and seeking forgiveness.


Similarly, one who does not perform the obligatory prayer and fulfil his duty of worship will be affected by distress, just as he would be in case of the neglect of a minor duty toward some petty ruler. His laziness in fulfilling his obligation, despite the repeated commands of the Sovereign of Pre-Eternity and Post-Eternity, will distress him greatly, and on account of that distress he will desire and say to himself, "Would that there were no such duty of worship!" In turn, there will arise from this desire a desire to deny God, and bear enmity toward Him. If some doubt concerning the Divine Being comes to his hear!, he will be inclined to embrace it like a conclusive proof. A wide gate to destruction will be opened in front of him. The wretch does not know that although he is delivered by denial from the slight trouble of the duty of worship, he has made himself, by that same denial, the target for millions of troubles that are far more awesome. Fleeing from the bite of the gnat, he welcomes the bite of the snake.


There are many other examples, which may be understood with reference to these three, so that the sense of:


Nay, but their hearts are stained


will become apparent.




As was set forth concerning the meaning of destiny and fate in the Twenty-Sixth Word, men have no right to complain in the case of disaster and illness for the following three reasons.


· The First Reason: God Most High has made the garment of the body in which man is clothed a manifestation of His art. He has made man to be the model on which He cuts, trims, alters and changes the garment on the body, thus displaying His Names in different ways. Just as the Name Healer makes it necessary that illness should exist, so too does the Name Provider require that hunger should exist.


· The Second Reason: It is by means of disasters and sicknesses that life is refined, perfected, strengthened and advanced; that it yields results, attains perfection and fulfils its own purpose. Life led monotonously on the mattress of comfort resembles not so much the absolute good that is being, as the absolute evil that is nonbeing; it tends in fact in that direction.


· The Third Reason: This worldly realm is a field of testing, an abode of service. It is not a place for pleasure, reward and requital. Considering, then, that it is an abode of service and a place of worship, sicknesses and misfortunes-as long as they do not affect faith and are patiently endured-conform fully to service and worship, and even strengthen it. Since they make each hour's worship equivalent to that of a day, one should offer thanks instead of complaining.


Worship consists in fact of two kinds, positive and negative. What is meant by the positive is obvious. As for negative worship, this is when one afflicted with misfortune or sickness perceives his own weakness and helplessness, and turning to his Compassionate Lord, seeks refuge in Him, meditates upon Him, petitions Him, and thus offers a pure form of worship that no hypocrisy can penetrate. If he endures patiently, thinks of the reward attendant of misfortune and offers thanks, then each hour that he passes will count as a whole day spent in worship. His brief life becomes very long. There are even cases where a single minute is counted as equal to a whole day's worship.


I once was extremely anxious because of an awesome illness that struck one of my brothers of the hereafter, Muhajir Hafiz Ahmad. But then a warning came to my heart, "Congratulate him! Each minute he spends is counted as a whole day's worship." He was in any event enduring his illness in patience and gratitude.




As we have pointed out in one or two of our Words, whenever one thinks of his past life, he will say in his heart or with his tongue either "Ah!" or "Oh!" That is, he will either experience regret, or say, "Thanks and praise be to God!" Regret is inspired by the pains arising from the cessation of former pleasures and separation from them. For the cessation of pleasure is a pain in itself. Sometimes a momentary pleasure will cause everlasting pain. To think upon it will be like lancing a wound, causing regret to gush forth.


As for the lasting spiritual pleasure that comes from the cessation of momentary pains experienced in the past, it inspires man to say, 'Thanks and praise be to God!" In addition to this innate tendency of man, if he thinks of the reward that results from misfortune and the requital that awaits him in the hereafter, if he realises that his brief life will count as a long life because of misfortune-then, instead of being merely patient, he should be thankful. He should say, "Praise be to God for every state other than unbelief and misguidance."


It is commonly said that misfortune is long-lasting. Indeed it is, but not because it is troublesome and distressing as people customarily imagine but rather because it yields vital results just like a long life.




As was set forth in the First Station of the Twenty-First Word, the power of patient endurance given to man by God Most High is adequate to every misfortune, unless squandered on mere fancies. But through the predominance of fantasy, man's neglect and his imagining this transient life to be eternal, he squanders his power of endurance on the past and the future. His endurance is not equal to the misfortunes of the present, and he begins to complain. It is as if-God forbid!-he were complaining of God Most High to men. In a, most unjustified and even lunatic fashion, he complains and demonstrates his lack of patience.


If the day that is past held misfortune, the distress is now gone, and only tranquillity remains; the pain is gone and the pleasure in its cessation remains; the trouble is gone, and the reward remains. Hence one should not complain but give thanks for enjoyment. One should not resent misfortune, but love it. The transient life of the past comes to be counted as an eternal and blessed life because of misfortune. To think upon past pain with one's fancy and then to waste part of one's patience is lunacy.


As far as days yet to come are concerned, since they have not yet come, to think now of the illness or misfortune to be borne during them and display impatience is also foolishness. To say to oneself, 'Tomorrow or the day after I will be hungry and thirsty," and constantly to drink water and eat bread today, is pure madness. Similarly, to think of misfortunes and sicknesses yet in the future but now non-existent, to suffer them already, to show impatience and to oppress oneself without any compulsion, is such stupidity that it no longer deserves pity and compassion.


In short, just as gratitude increases Divine bounty, so too complaint increases misfortune and removes all occasion for compassion.


During the first year of the First World War, a blessed person in Erzurum was afflicted with an awesome disease. I went to visit him, and he said to me, complaining bitterly:


"I have not been able to place my head on the pillow and sleep for a hundred nights."


I was much grieved. Suddenly a thought came to me, and I said:


"Brother, the hundred difficult days you have spent are now just like one hundred happy days. Do not think of them and complain; rather look at them and be grateful. As for future days, since they have not yet come, place your trust in your Compassionate and Merciful Lord. Do not weep before being beaten, do not be afraid of nothing, do not give nonbeing the colour of being. Think of the present hour; your power of patient endurance is enough for this hour. Do not act like the maddened commander who expects reinforcement on this right wing by an enemy force deserting to join him from his left, and then beings to disperse his forces in the center to the left and the right, before the enemy has joined him on the right. The enemy then destroys his center, left weak with a minimal force. Brother, do not be like him. Mobilize all your strength for this present hour, and think of Divine mercy, reward in the hereafter, and how your brief and transient life is being transformed into a long and eternal form. Instead of complaining bitterly, give joyful thanks.”


Much relieved, he said, “Praise and thanks be to God, my disease is now a tenth of what it was before.”


FIFTH POINT consisting of Three Matters.


First Matter


True and harmful misfortune is that which affects religion. One should at all times seek refuge in the Divine presence from misfortune in matters of religion and cry out for help. But misfortunes that do not affect religion are not at all misfortunes, when properly envisaged. Some of them are Divine warnings. If a shepherd throws a stone at his sheep when they trespass on another's pasture, they understand that the stone is intended as a warning to save them from a perilous action; full of gratitude they turn back. so too there are many apparent misfortunes that are Divine warnings and admonishments, others that constitute the penance for sin, and others again that dissolve man's state of neglect, remind him of his human helplessness and weakness, and thus inspire in him a form of tranquillity. As for the variety of misfortune that is illness, it is not at all a misfortune, as has already been said, but rather a favour from God and a means of purification. According to a certain tradition it is said that just as a tree drops its ripe fruit when shaken, so too do sins fall away through the shaking of fever.


Hazrat Ayyub, upon him be peace, did not pray in his supplication for the comfort of his soul, but rather sought cure for the purpose of worship, when disease was preventing his remembrance of God with his tongue and his meditation upon God in his heart. We too should make our primary intent, when making that supplication, the healing of the inward and spiritual wounds that arise from sinning.


As far as physical diseases are concerned, we may seek refuge from them when they hinder our worship. But we should seek refuge in a humble and supplicating fashion, not protestingly and plaintively. If we accept God as our lord, then we must accept too all that He gives us in His capacity of Lord. To sigh and complain in a manner implying objection to fate and destiny is a kind of criticism of fate, an accusation Levelled against God's mercy. The one who criticises fate strikes his head against the anvil and breaks it. Whoever accuses God's merry will inevitably be deprived of it. To use a broken hand to exact revenge will only cause further damage to the hand. So too a man who, afflicted with misfortune, responds to it with protesting complaint and anxiety, is only compounding his misfortune.


Second Matter


Physical misfortunes grow when they are seen to be large, and shrink when they are seen to be small. For example, a dream enters one's vision at night. If one pays it attention, it swells up and grows; if one does not, it disappears. So too if one attempts to ward off an attacking swarm of bees, they will become more aggressive; whereas if one pays them no attention, they will disperse. Thus if one regards physical misfortunes as great and grants them importance, they will grow, and because of anxiety pass from the body and strike root in the heart. 'The result will then be an inward affliction on which the outward misfortune fastens to perpetuate itself. But if the anxiety is removed by contentment with fate and reliance on God, the physical misfortune will gradually decrease, dry up and vanish, just like a tree whose roots have been severed. I once composed the following verses in description of this truth:


Abandon, O wretch, thy lamentation; reliance on God shall be thy refuge!


Lamenting is naugth but an increase of woe; woe itself, that is thy dirge!


Find thy way to the author of woe; thy woe shall then be pleasing as the green verge!


But if thou findest him not, then is the whole world one endless cruel image!


Thou who dost suffer from a worldful of woe -why complain from pain?


Make God thy refuge!


Smile thus in the face of thy woe; woe itself then shall smile, and smiling, shrink and quite change!


If in single-handed combat one smiles at an awesome enemy, his enmity will be changed to conciliatoriness; his hostility will become a mere joke, will shrink and disappear. If one confronts misfortune with reliance on God, the result will be similar.


Third Matter


Each age has its particular characteristic. In the age of neglect misfortune has changed its form. In certain ages and for certain persons, misfortune is not in reality misfortune, but rather a Divine favour. Since I consider those afflicted with illness in the present age to fortunate -on condition that their illness does not affect their religion- it does nor occur to me oppose illness and misfortune, nor to take pity on the afflicted. Whenever I encounter some afflicted youth, I find that he is more concerned with his religious duties and the hereafter than are his peers. From this I deduce that illness does not constitute a misfortune for such people, but rather a bounty from God. It is true that illness causes him distress in his brief, transient and worldly life, but it is beneficial for his eternal life. It is to be regarded as a kind of worship. If he were healthy, he would be unable to maintain the state he enjoyed while sick and would fall into dissipation, as a result of the impetuousness of youth and the dissipated nature of the age.




God Almighty, in order to display His infinite power and unlimited mercy, has made inherent in man infinite weakness and unlimited dependence. Further, in order to display the infinite variety of the impress of His Names, He has retard man like a machine receptive to pain and pleasure perceived from an infinite variety of directions. Within that human machine He has placed hundreds of instruments, and for each instrument He has appointed different pains and pleasures, duties and rewards. All of the Divine Names are equally manifest in the macroanthropos that is the world, and the microcosm that is man. Beneficial effects like good health, salubrity and pleasure are received by the human machine, causing it to emit thanks, and guiding it to the fulfilment of various functions. Thus man becomes like a factory producing gratitude.


Similarly, by means of misfortune, illness and pain, and other motion-inducing contingencies, the other cogs of the human machine are set in motion and revolution. The metal of weakness, helplessness and poverty inherent in human nature is refined. Not the tongue alone, but each limb transformed into a tongue, beings to seek refuge and aid. Thus by means of those contingencies man becomes like a moving pen containing thousands of other pens within itself. He inscribes the fated course of his existence on the page of his life, or rather on the primordial tablet; puts forth a declaration of the Divine Names; and becomes himself an ode to the glory of God, thus fulfilling the purpose of his creation.


* * *










The Trust Given to Man




Verily God has purchased from the believers their persons and their property that Paradise might be theirs.


[Qur’an 9:111]




If you wish to understand how profitable a trade it is, and how honourable a rank, to sell one’s person and property to God, to be His slave and His soldier, then listen to the following parable.


Once a king entrusted each of two of his subjects with an estate, including all necessary workshops, machinery, horses, weapons and so forth. But since it was a tempestuous and war-ridden age, nothing enjoyed stability; it was destined either to disappear or to change. The king in his infinite mercy sent a most noble lieutenant to the two men and by means of a compassionate decree conveyed the following to them:


"Sell me the property you now hold in trust, so that I may keep it for you. Let it not be destroyed for no purpose. After the wars are over, I will return it to you in a better condition than before. I will regard the trust as your property, and pay you a high price for it. As for the machinery and the tools in the workshop, they will be used in my name and at my workbench. But the price and the fee for their use shall be increased a thousandfold. You will receive all the profit that accrues. You are indigent and resourceless, and unable to provide the most on these great tasks. So let me assume the provision of all expenses and equipment, and give you all the income and the profit. You shall keep it until the time of demobilisation. So see the manifold ways in which you shall profit! Now in you do not sell me the property, you can see that no one is able to preserve what he possesses, and you too will lose what you now hold. It will go for nothing, and you will lose the high price I offer. The delicate and precious tools and scales, the precious metals waiting to be used, will also lose all value. You will have the trouble and concern of administering and preserving, but at the same time be punished for betraying your trust. So see the manifold ways in which you may lose! Moreover, if you sell the property to me, you become my soldier and act in my name. Instead of a common recruit or irregular, you will be the honored and free lieutenant of an exalted monarch."


After they had listened to this gracious decree, the more intelligent of the two men said:


"By all means, I am proud and happy to sell. I offer thanks a thousandfold."


But the other was arrogant, selfish and dissipated; his soul had become as proud as the Pharaoh. As if he was to stay eternally on that estate, he ignored the earthquakes and tumults of this world. He said:


"No! Who is the king? I won't sell my property, nor spoil my enjoyment."


After a short time, the first man reached so high a rank that everyone envied his state. He received the favor of the king, and lived happily in the king’s own palace. The other by contrast fell into such a state that everyone pitied him, but also said he deserved it. For as a result of his error, his happiness and property departed, and he suffered punishment and torment.


O soul full of caprices! Look at the face of truth through the telescope of this parable. As for the king, he is the Monarch of Pre- and Post-Eternity, your Lord and Creator. The estates, machinery, tools and scales are your possessions while in life's fold; your body, spirit and heart within those possessions, and your outward and inward senses such as the eye and the tongue, intelligence and imagination. As for that most noble lieutenant, it is the Noble Messenger of God; and that most wise decree is the Wise Qur'an, which describes the trade we are discussing in this verse:


Verily God has purchased from the believers their persons and property that Paradise might be theirs.


The surging field of battle is the tempestuous surface of the world, which ceaselessly changes, dissolves and reforms and causes every man to think:


"Since everything will leave our hands, will perish and be lost, is there no way in which we can transform it into something eternal and preserve it?"


While engaged in these thoughts, he suddenly hears the heavenly voice of the Qur'an saying:


"Indeed there is, a beautiful and easy way which contains five profits within itself."


What is that way?


To sell the trust received back to its true owner. Such a sale yields profit fivefold.


The First Profit: Transient property becomes everlasting. For this waning life, when given to the Eternal and Self-Subsistent Lord of Glory and spent for His sake, will be transmuted into eternity. It will yield eternal fruits. The moments of one's life will apparently vanish and rot like kernels and seeds. But then the flowers of blessedness and auspiciousness will open and bloom in the realm of eternity, and each will also present a luminous and reassuring aspect in the intermediate realm.


The Second Profit: The high price of Paradise is given in exchange.


The Third Profit: The value of each limb and each sense is increased a thousandfold. The intelligence is, for example, like a tool. If you do not sell it to God Almighty, but rather employ it for the sake of the soul, it will become an ill-omened, noxious and debilitating tool that will burdens your weak person with all the sad sorrows of the past and the terrifying fears of the future; it will descend to the rank of an inauspicious and destructive tool. It is for this reason that a sinful man will frequently resort to drunkenness or frivolous pleasure in order to escape the vexations and injuries of his intelligence. But if you sell your intelligence to its True Owner and employ it on His behalf, then the intelligence will become like the key to a talisman, unlocking the infinite treasures of Compassion and the vaults full of wisdom that creation contains.


To take another example, the eye is one of the senses, a window through which the spirit looks out on this world. If you do not sell it to God Almighty, but rather employ it on behalf of the soul, by gazing upon a handful of transient, impermanent beauties and scenes, it will sink to the level of being a pander to lust and the concupiscent soul. But if you sell the eye to your All-Seeing Maker, and employ it on His behalf and within limits traced out by Him, then your eye will rise to the rank of a reader of the Great Book of Being, a witness to the miracles of the Lord's creation, a blessed bee sucking on the blossoms of Mercy in the garden of this globe.


Yet another example is that of the tongue and the sense of taste. If you do not sell it to your Wise Creator, but employ it instead on behalf of the soul and for the sake of the stomach, it sinks and declines to the level of a gatekeeper at the stable of the stomach, a watchman at its factory.


But if you sell it to the Noble Provider, then the sense of taste contained in the tongue will raise to the rank of a skilled overseer at the treasure of Divine compassion, a grateful inspector in the kitchens of God's eternal power.


So look well, O intelligence! See the difference between a tool of destruction and the key to all being! And look carefully, O eye! See the difference between an abominable pander and the learned overseer of the Divine Library! And taste well, O tongue! See the difference between a stable doorkeeper or a factory watchman and the trustee of the treasure of God's mercy!


Compare all other tools and limbs to these, and then you will understand that in truth the believer acquires a nature worthy of Paradise and the unbeliever a nature conforming to Hell. The reason for each of them attaining his respective value is that the believer, by virtue of his faith, uses the trust of his Creator on His behalf and within the limits traced out by Him, whereas the unbeliever betrays the trust and employs it for the sake of the concupiscent soul.


The Fourth Profit: Man is helpless and exposed to numerous misfortunes. He is indigent, and his needs are numerous. He is weak, and the burden of life is most heavy. If he does not rely on the Omnipotent Lord of Glory, place his trust in Him and confidently submit to Him, his conscience will always be troubled. Fruitless torments, pains and regrets will suffocate him and intoxicate him, or turn him into a beast.


The Fifth Profit: Those who have experienced sapiental knowledge and had unveiled to them the true nature of things, the elect who have witnessed the truth, are all agreed that the exalted reward for all the worship and glorification of God performed by your members and instruments will be given to you at the time of greatest need, in the form of the fruits of Paradise.


If you spurn this trade with its fivefold profit in addition to being deprived of its profit, you will suffer fivefold loss.


The First Loss: The property and offspring to which you are so attached, the soul and its caprice that you worship, the youth and life with which you are infatuated, all will vanish and be lost; your hands will be empty. But they will Leave behind them sin and pain, fastened on your neck like a yoke.


The Second Loss: l you will suffer the penalty for betrayal of trust. For you will have wronged your own self by using the most precious tools on the most worthless objects.


The Third Loss: By casting down all the precious faculties of man to a level much inferior to the animals, you will have insulted and transgressed against God's wisdom.


The Fourth Loss: In your weakness and poverty, you will have placed the heavy burden of life on your weak shoulders, and will constantly groan and lament beneath the blows of transience and separation.


You will have clothed in an ugly form, fit to open the gates of Hell in front of you, the fair gifts of the Compassionate One such as the intelligence, the heart, the eye and the tongue, given to you to make preparation for the foundations of life everlasting and blessedness in the hereafter.


Now is it so difficult to sell the trust? Is it so burdensome that many people shun the transaction? By no means! It is not in the least burdensome. For the limits of the permissible are broad, and are quite adequate for man's desire; there is no need to trespass on the forbidden. The duties imposed by God are light and few in number. To be the slave and soldier of God is an indescribably pleasurable honor. One's duty is simply to act and embark on all things in God's name, like a soldier; to take and to give on God's behalf; to move and be still in accordance with His permission and law. If one falls short, then one should seek His forgiveness, say:


"O Lord! Forgive our faults, and accept us as Thy slaves; entrust us with Thy trust until the time of restitution arrives, amen!" and make petition unto Him.


* * *


Proofs of Resurrection


· A chapter on God's bestowal of life and death, and on the manifestation of the Names of Eternally Living and Self-Subsistent, and Giver of Life and Giver of Death.


IS IT AT ALL POSSIBLE that the One Who gives life to this vast dead and dry earth; Who in so doing demonstrates His power by deploying more than three hundred thousand different forms of creation, each of them as remarkable as man; Who further demonstrates in this deployment His all-embracing knowledge by the infinite distinctions and differentiations He makes in the complex intermingling of all of those forms; Who directs the gaze of all His slaves to everlasting bliss by promising them resurrection in all of His heavenly decrees; Who demonstrates the splendor of His lordship by causing all parts of His creation to collaborate with one another, to revolve within the circle of His command and His will, to aid one another and be submitted to Him; Who shows the importance He has given to man by creating him as the most comprehensive, the most precious and delicate, the most valued and valuable fruit on the tree of creation by addressing him without intermediary and subjugating all things to him-is it at all possible that so compassionate and powerful a One, so wise and all-knowing a One, should not bring about resurrection; should not gather His creatures together or be unable to do so; should not restore man to life, or be unable to do so; should not be able to inaugurate His Supreme Court; should not be able to create Heaven and Hell? Nay, indeed, by no means is any of this possible.


Indeed, the Almighty Disposer of this world's affairs creates in every century, every year and every day, on the narrow and transient face of the globe, numerous signs, examples and indications of the Supreme Gathering and the Plain of Resurrection.


Thus in the gathering that takes place every spring we see that in the course of five or six days more than three hundred thousand different kinds of animal and plant are first gathered together and then dispersed. The roots of all the trees and plants, as well as some animals, are revived and restored exactly as they were. The other animals are recreated in a form so similar as to be almost identical. The seeds which appear, in their outward form, to be so close to each other, nonetheless, in the course of six days or six weeks, become distinct and differentiated from each other, and then with extreme speed, ease and facility, are brought to life in the utmost order and equilibrium. is it at all possible that for the One Who does all of this anything should be difficult; that He should be unable to create the heavens and the earth in six days; that He should be unable to resurrect men with a single blast? No, by no means is it possible!


Let us suppose there were to be some gifted writer who could write out in a single hour the confused and obliterated letters of three hundred thousand books on a single sheet without any error, omission or defect, complete and in the best form. If someone were then to say to you that that writer could write out again from memory in the course of a single minute a book written by him that had fallen into the water and become obliterated, would you then say than he is unable, and would you not believe in his ability? Or think of some talented king who, in order to demonstrate his power or for the sake of providing a warning example, removes whole mountains with a single command, turns his realm upside down, and transforms the sea into dry And. Then you see that a great rock rolls down into a valley, so that the path is blocked for guests travelling to attend the king s reception and they are unable to pass. If someone should say to you, "That exalted one will remove or dissolve the stone, however great it may be, with a single command; he will not leave his guests stranded," would you then say that he will not remove the stone, or be unable to do so Or if someone one day should gather together a great army, and you are then informed that he will summon its battalions together with a blast of the trumpet after they had dispersed to rest, and the battalions will form up in disciplined shape, would you respond by saying, "I don’t believe it" Were you to say any of these things, your behavior would truly be madness.


If you have understood these three parables, now look further and see how the Pre-eternal Designer turns over in front of our eyes the white page of winter and opens the green page of spring and summer. Then He inscribes on the page of the earth's surface, the pen of Fate and Destiny in the most beautiful form, more than three hundred thousand species of creation. Not one encroaches upon another. He writes them all together, but none blocks the path of another. In their formation and shape, each is kept separate from the other, without any confusion. There is no error in writing. That Wise and Protecting One, Who puffiness’ and inserts the spirit of a great tree in the smallest seed, no bigger than a dot-is it permissible even to ask how He preserves the spirit of those who die That Powerful One Who causes the globe to revolve like a pebble in a sling-is it permissible even to ask how He will remove this globe from the path of His guests who are travelling to meet Him in the hereafter?


Again, the One of Glorious Essence Who from nonbeing recruits anew and inscribes into His battalions, with the command of:


"Be," and behold, it is,


and with utmost discipline, the troops of all living things, the very particles of all their bodies, and thus creates highly disciplined armies-is it permissible even to ask how He can make bodies submit to His discipline like a battalion, how He can gather together their mutually acquainted fundamental particles, their component members?


You can, moreover, behold with your own eye the numerous designs made by God as signs, similes and indications of resurrection, designs placed by Him in every age and epoch of the world, in the alternation of day and night, even in the appearance and disappearance of clouds in the sky. If you imagine yourself to have been living a thousand years ago, and then compare with each other the two wings of time that are the past and the future, then you will behold similes of the gathering and indications of resurrection as numerous as the centuries and days. If, then, after witnessing so many similes and indications, you regard corporeal resurrection as improbable and rationally unacceptable, know your behavior to be pure lunacy.


See what the Supreme Decree says concerning the truth we are discussing:


Look upon the signs of God's mercy, and see how He restores life to the earth after its death. Verily He it is Who shall bring to life the dead, and He is powerful over all things.


In short, there is nothing that makes impossible the gathering of resurrection and much that necessitates it. The glorious and eternal Lordship, the almighty and all-embracing Sovereignty of the he Who gives life and death to this vast and wondrous earth as if it were a mere animal; Who has made of this earth a pleasing cradle, a fine ship, for man and the animals; Who has made of the sun a lamp furnishing light and heat to. the hostelry of the world; Who has made of the planets vehicles for the conveyance of His angels-the Lordship and Sovereignty of such a One cannot rest upon and be restricted to the transitory, impermanent, unstable, insignificant, changeable, unlasting, deficient and imperfect affairs of this world. In other words, He has another realm, one worthy of Him, permanent, stable, immutable and glorious. He has another kingdom, and it is for the sake a: this that He causes us the labor, and to this :hat He summons is. All those of illumined spirit who have penetrated from outer appearances to truth, and have been ennobled with proximity to the Divine Presence, all the spiritual poles endowed with luminous hearts, all the possessors of lucent intelligence, all bear witness that He will transfer us to that other kingdom. They inform us unanimously that He has prepared for us there reward and requital, and relate that He is repeatedly giving us firm promises and stern warnings.


As for the breaking of a promise, it is baseness and utter humiliation. It cannot in any way be reconciled with the Glory of His Sanctity. Similarly, failure to fulfil a threat arises either from forgiveness or powerlessness. Now unbelief is extreme crime, and cannot be forgiven.* The Absolutely Omnipotent One is exempt from and exalted above all powerlessness. Those who bring us their testimony and report, despite all the differences in their methods, temperaments and paths, are totally unanimous and agreed on this basic matter. By their number, they have the authority of unanimity. By their quality, they have the authority of learned consensus. By their rank, each one is a guiding star of mankind, the cherished eye of a people, the object of a nation's veneration. By their importance, each one is an expert and an authority in the matter. In any art or science, two experts are preferred to thousands of non-experts, and two positive affirmers are preferred to thousands of negators in the transmission of a report. For example, the testimony of two men affirming the sighting of the crescent moon at the beginning of Ramadan totally nullifies the negation of thousands of deniers.


[* Unbelief denounces retain for alleged worthlessness and meaninglessness. lt is an insult to all of creation, a denial of the manifestation of the Divine Names in the mirror of bearings. It is disrespect to all the Divine Names, and rejection of the witness borne to the Divine Unity by al! beings. It is a denial of all of creation. It corrupts man's potentialities in such a way that they are incapable of reform and unreceptive to good. Unbelief is also an act of utter injustice, a transgression against all of creation and the rights of God's Names. The preservation of those rights, as well as the unredeemable nature of the unbeliever's soul, make it necessary that unbelief should he unpardonable. The words, 'To assign partners to God is verily a great transgression" (Qur’an 31:13) express this meaning.]


In short, in the whole world there is no truer report, no firmer claim, no more apparent truth than this. The world is without doubt a field, and resurrection a threshing floor, a harvest. Paradise and Hell are each storehouses for the grain.


* * *


Manifestations of God's Presence


This consists of a brief indication of one of the thousands of general proofs of the pillar that is belief in God, a matter which has been explained with an infinite variety of evidence at many places in the Risale-i Nur.


In Kastamonu, a group of high school students once came to visit me. 'Teach us concerning our Creator," they said. "Our teachers never mention God."


I replied: "Each of the sciences you study constantly makes mention of God and speaks to you of your Creator in accordance with the method of its own tongue. Do not listen to your teachers, listen to those sciences.


"For example, a well-equipped pharmacy, with vital cures and potions stored in every jar and weighed out in wondrous and sensitive balances, demonstrates without doubt the existence of a highly skilled chemist, a most wise pharmacist. So too life-giving cures and potions stored in the jars of the four hundred thousand types of plant and animal in the pharmacy of the world-a pharmacy far better equipped and greater than the pharmacy in this town-also demonstrates and makes known to the blindest of eyes the Wise Possessor of Glory Who is the pharmacist in the supreme pharmacy of the world. This is in accordance with the science of medicine that you study.


'To take another example, a wondrous factory that weaves thousands of different kinds of cloth from a single simple material proves without doubt the existence of a manufacturer and a skilled machine operator. So too this revolving machine of Divine construction called the earth, with its hundreds of thousands of workers, each employed in hundreds of thousands of factories, being infinitely greater and more perfect than any factory fashioned by man, proves and demonstrates the existence of the master craftsman and the possessor of this earth. This is in accordance with the science of engineering you study.


"Or, to take yet another example, a depot, a storehouse or shop, in which a thousand and one different kinds of foodstuff have been brought together, and been stacked and laid out in orderly fashion, proves without doubt the existence of an owner of a11 this foodstuff, an official or overseer in charge of it. So too this storehouse of the Compassionate One, like a train that each year traces out a circle lasting twenty-four thousand years, conveys hundreds of thousands of different classes of being and the separate kinds of sustenance that each requires, and traverses the different seasons on its journey, spring being like a large wagon full of different kinds of food for those wretches whose sustenance is exhausted in the winter-this storehouse, then, this glorious vessel, this depot and Divine store that contains a thousand and one kinds of equipment and goods and canned foods, being infinitely greater and more complete than that other storehouse, establishes definitely the existence of the owner, the administrator, the manager of the depot that is this world, and makes him known and familiar. This is in accordance with the science of economics that you study or will study.


"So too a gifted commander, whose army is recruited from four hundred thousand nations, each requiring different provisions to eat, different weapons to use, different garments to wear, different instructions to receive, different times for demobilization, will provide all the different foods, weapons, clothing and equipment that those different nations require, unaided and without forgetting or confusing anything. Then that wondrous army and its encampment will of a certainty demonstrate the genius and existence of that commander and inspire love for him. In the same way, the encampment that is- the earth every spring, with its new army of canticlers brought under arms and recruited from the four hundred thousand nations of fauna and flora, with each provided with its separate clothing, food and equipment, and each being recruited and discharged in a most perfect and regular fashion by a single generalissimo, without any omission or confusion this encampment, being infinitely greater and more complete than the human army and camp mentioned above, will make known to the reflective and intelligent the Governor, thc Lord, the Disposer and the Most Sacred Commander of the earth. It will make Him known by its wonders and its invocations of His sanctity, and make Him loved by its praise and glorification. This is in accordance with the military science that you will study.


"So too the millions of electric lights that move through a great city illuminating it, and the power plant that supplies them inexhaustibly make known a miracle-working craftsman, an extraordinarily capable electrician, who with unhesitating genius manages the electricity, constructs the moving lamps, and establishes the power plant and supplies it with fuel. Making him known, they also evoke cries of admiration, affection and congratulation for him. In the same way, in the city that is this globe, there are stars fixed to the roof of the world's palace, some of which, according to the science of cosmography, are a thousand times bigger than the earth and move seventy times faster than a cannonball. They never leave their appointed order, never collide, never are extinguished; their fuel is never exhausted. Again according to the science of cosmography that you study, liquid gas equal to the world's oceans and heaps of wood as high as the world's mountains would be needed every day for the sun to burn eternally and never be extinguished, that lamp and stove in the hospice of the Compassionate One a million times larger than the earth. Now the electric lamps and installations in the world's palace, in the glorious city of being, keep the sun and the lofty stars that resemble it burning without gas, wood or coal, never permitting them to be extinguished; they keep them in swift rotation, never permitting them to collide; and thus, with their fingers of light, they indicate an infinite power and sovereignty. Hence they are far greater and more perfect than the lights of a manmade city, and make known the Monarch, the Illuminer, the Disposer and the Maker of the supernal gathering, calling the luminous stars to give witness. They arouse love for Him with invocations of His glory and sanctity, and inspire worship of Him.


"Again, let us conceive of a book in each line of which a separate work is minutely inscribed and in each word of which a whole Qur'anic sura is traced out by a delicate pen; a compendium of profound truths each of which supports the other and demonstrates the skill and capacity of its scribe and its author. Such a book demonstrates and indicates, with utmost clarity, the existence of its scribe and its author, as well as their skills and accomplishments. It evokes sentiments of appreciation, and exclamations of "Mashallah, Barakallah.'" So too it is with this great Book of Being. On the earth's face, a single one of its pages, and in spring, a single one of its phrases, there arise three hundred thousand species of fauna and flora, like three hundred thousand separate books, all inscribed without any error or mistake, without confusion or mingling, perfectly and totally. We see a pen at work that writes an ode in the form of a tree, one word in the Book of Being, and draws up an index of the whole work in the form of a seed, one dot in that book. This compendium of being, this Supreme Cosmic Qur'an, each word of which contains infinite wisdom and truth, being greater, more perfect and truthful than the book mentioned above, demonstrates the existence of the Calligrapher and Scribe of this Book of Being, in all His boundless perfection. Proclaiming "Allahu akbar, " it indicates His existence; proclaiming "SubhanAllah,'' it defines Him in His exalted transcendence; and proclaiming "Alhamdulillah, " it praises Him and evokes love for Him. This is in accordance with the natural sciences that you study, and the arts of reading and writing that you practice at school, with their encompassing scope and penetrating gaze.


"Hundreds of other sciences, analogous to these, make known the Glorious Creator of being with all of His Names, proclaiming His attributes and perfections, by virtue of their encompassing scope, their ability to reflect like a mirror, their penetrating gaze and their meditative vision.


"It is in order to teach this lesson, supplying a glorious and brilliant of the Divine Unity, that the Qur'an of miraculous exposition constantly repeats the verses:


Lord of the heavens and the earth,




The created the heavens and the earth,


thus making our Creator known to us.'


It was in this fashion that I spoke to those students. They accepted all that I said and testified to its truth, saying, "Thanks without limit be to our Lord that we have been given a lesson fully sacred and true. May God be pleased with you."


I then said: "Although man is like a living machine, reacting with pain to thousands of different kinds of pain, and with pleasure to thousands of different kinds of pleasure; although he is exposed to the hostility of countless enemies, seen and unseen, and poverty without limit; although he is a pitiful creature suffering from boundless needs, inward and outward, and enduring the knocks and blows of constant cessation and separation-despite all this, he may attach himself by belief and worship to a Glorious Monarch Who shall serve him as a support against all of his enemies and a provider against all of his needs. If man first attaches himself to so All-Powerful and Merciful a Monarch and enters through worship into his service, and then turns fate's sentence of execution into a letter of discharge, imagine how contentedly, happily and gratefully will he take pride in his Lord in the manner of one who takes pride in the rank and nobility of his master!"


I repeat to these unfortunate prisoners what I said to the schoolboys: 'The one who knows and obeys Him is fortunate, even in prison; whereas the one who forgets Him is imprisoned and wretched, even in a palace. A wronged but fortunate man once said to his wretched oppressors just before his execution, 'I am not being executed, rather I am being discharged to go to the abode of bliss. I am amply avenged on you by seeing you condemned to execution for all eternity.' Saying 'There is no god but God,' he happily surrendered his spirit."


* * *


Evidences of God's Sovereignty


God sets forth parables for men that haply they may remember. (Qur'an 14:25)


Those are the parables We set for men that haply they may reflect. (Qur'an 59:21)


ONCE two men were washing in a pool. Under the influence of a mysterious force, they lost consciousness, and when they opened their, eyes again, they saw that they had been transported to a strange world, â world that in its perfect ordering and arrangement resembled first a kingdom, then a city, then a palace. They gazed around in utter amazement. Looking in one direction, they beheld a vast world; looking in another direction, they saw a well-ordered kingdom; looking in yet another direction, they were met by a perfect city; and looking in still one more direction, they were confronted by a palace that contained within itself a splendid and flourishing realm. Traversing the realm, they examined it further, and saw it to be peopled by a species of creatures with their own mode of speech. They did not know their language, but were able to understand from their gestures that they were performing important tasks and fulfilling a valuable function.


One of the two men said to his friend: "This remarkable world has without doubt its orderer; this well-ordered kingdom has its monarch; this perfect city has its master; this finely built palace has its designer. We should strive to make his acquaintance, for it seems that it is he who has brought us here. If we do not come to know him, who else will aid us? What can we expect from those powerless creatures of whose tongue we are ignorant and who pay us no heed? Then, too, the one who has made this vast realm in the form of a kingdom, in the shape of a city, in the mold of a palace, who has filled it from end to end with miraculous objects, decorated it with numerous adornments, and arrayed it with impressive wonders, no doubt desires something from us and from the others that come here. We should make his acquaintance and discover what he wishes of us."


The other man said: "I do not believe that a person exists such as you describe, administering this realm by himself." To which the first replied:


"If we do not come to know him and remain indifferent to him, it will benefit us nothing, and on the contrary cause us great harm. Whereas if we seek to know him, the effort involved will be slight, and the benefit very great. To remain indifferent toward him is therefore unwise."


That heedless man said: "I see my whole comfort and pleasure to lie in not thinking of him. I will not bother myself with matters my intelligence cannot comprehend. All that we see is the result of accident and confusion; it subsists of itself; there is nothing else to be said."


His intelligent friend retorted, "This rebellion of yours will cast me and maybe many others into disaster. It sometimes happens that a whole kingdom is ruined on account of one impudent man."


The heedless one replied, "Either prove to me decisively that this huge kingdom has a sole monarch and maker, or desist from troubling me."


His friend answered: "Since your obstinacy has reached the point of lunacy, you are liable to bring down wrath on us and the whole kingdom. 5o let me show to you with twelve proofs that this world like a palace, this kingdom like a city, has a single designer, and it is this designer who alone administers a11 things. He suffers from no deficiency in any respect; although invisible to us, he sees us and all things, and hears all that is said. All of his deeds are miraculous and wondrous; all of the creatures whom we see and of whose tongues we are ignorant are appointed by him to their tasks.


First Proof


"Come, gaze in every direction, look closely on all things! A hidden hand is at work in al1 of these tasks. For one object lighter than a drachm and as small as a seed is lifting a thousand-pound weight,* and another without a particle of consciousness is performing the wisest of tasks.** They cannot be operating alone; there must be a hidden possessor of power that sets them to work. If all things are autonomous, then all that we have seen in this kingdom from end to end must be a series of unconnected miracles, which would be an absurdity.


[*An allusion to the seeds that bear trees on their heads.


** An allusion to the way in which a delicate plant like the grapevine, which cannot grow upwards and bear the burden of fruit by itself, casts its delicate hands in embrace around a tm for the sake of support.]


Second Proof


"Come, look carefully at all that adorns these plains, squares and dwellings. In each of them there is something indicative of that mysterious being; each of them indicates his existence like a seal or a coin bearing his name. See what he fashions, in front of your eyes, from an ounce of cotton!* See how many rolls of broadcloth, cambric and chintz emerge from it! See too how many candies and sweetmeats, delicious grilled meat are produced there! Thus are many thousands of men like us clothed and fed, and it suffices them all. See too how they take possession of this iron, soil, water, coal, copper, silver and gold, like a prey hunted down in the world of the unseen, and make pieces of meat out of all those elements!** So O foolish man, look and see! A11 of these matters can indicate only a being under whose miraculous power the whole country stands with all of its elements, and to whose every wish all things submit.


[*An allusion to seeds. For example, an opium seed as small as an atom, an apricot pit as light as a drachm, or a melon seed, will bring forth from the Treasury of Mercy and offer to us leaves more finely spun than broadcloth, white and yellow flowers more brightly colored than cambric, and fruits sweeter than candy and more delicious than grilled meat and canned food.


** An allusion to the creation of the animal body from the elements and the bringing into being of living creatures from sperm.]


Third Proof


"Come, look at these precious and skillfully made moving objects!* Each is fashioned in such a way that it is like a copy in miniature of this vast palace. Whatever exists in this palace is to be found in these minute moving machines also. Is it at all possible that one other than the master who designed this palace should be able to compress this wonderful palace into a machine? Or is it at all possible that a machine no larger than a box should function by accident or to no purpose, while containing a whole world within it? All of the precious machines you see with your eyes are then each like a coin bearing the imprint of that hidden being. Indeed, they resemble a herald or a proclamation, declaring through their very mode of being, 'We are the work of a being able to fashion the whole of our world with the same ease with which he created and made us.'


[*An allusion to animals and men. For the animal is like a brief index of the world’s contents, while man in his essence is an example in miniature of all of creation; a specimen is present in man of whatever the world contains.]


Fourth Proof


"O obstinate friend! Come, 1et me show you something still stranger. See, all things and objects in this country have constantly changed and are still changing; they do not remain in one state. Look carefully, and you will notice that the solid bodies and insentiate boxes we see have all taken on the form of an absolute ruler; it is as if every object were ruling over all things. Look at the machine beside us: it appears to be giving orders.* The supplies and materials needed for its equipment and operation are brought swiftly from afar. And look over there: that insentiate body appears to be giving orders; it enrolls the greatest of bodies in its service and employs it in fulfilling its tasks.** Compare other things to these. It is as if everything were subduing all the creatures of the world to its own purposes. If you do not accept the existence of that secret being, then you must assign all the accomplishments, arts and perfections inherent in the stones, the soil, the animals and creatures like man found in the kingdom to those objects themselves. In place of the single miracle-working being that your intelligence rejects, you assume the existence of millions of miraculous beings, which are both similar to each other and dissimilar, which exist within each other and yet must remain in harmonious cooperation. In reality, however, if two hands sought to rule over this realm, disorder would ensue. For if there are two headmen in a village, two governors in a city, two monarchs in a country, confusion will reign. How, then, could any exist beside the infinite and absolute ruler of creation?


[* The machine is an allusion to fruitbearing trees. For such trees prepare, adorn, ripen and offer. to us wondrous leaves, flowers and fruits, as if there were hundreds of workshops and factories installed on their delicate branches. By contrast, stately trees like the pine and the cedar have set up their workshops on barreh stone, and are condemned to working there.


** An allusion to grains, seeds and insect eggs. For example, an insect deposits its eggs on the leaf of an elm. The huge elm then converts its leaves into a womb and a cradle for the eggs, a storehouse full of nourishment like honey. It is as if that tree, while not bearing fruit, is thus enabled to give birth to living fruit.]


Fifth Proof


"O querulous friend! Come, look carefully at the inscriptions of this great palace, regard the adornments of this palace, see the institutions of this city, ponder on the works of art of this world! If there were not at work the pen of this hidden being with infinite and miraculous power and skill, and these inscriptions were attributed to insentiate causes, blind chance or dumb nature, then every stone and every grass in the realm would have to be so miraculous an inscriber, so extraordinary a scribe, as to be able to write a thousand books with one letter, and to compress millions of arts into a single design. Look at the design on the stones: each contains the designs of the whole palace, all the ordinances of the whole city, a11 the institutions of the whole realm.* To make those designs is therefore as wondrous as making the whole country. This being the case, each design and each art is like a proclamation and a seal of that hidden being.


"If a letter cannot do otherwise than demonstrate the existence of its scribe, and an artistic design cannot do other than prove the existence of its designer, how could it be that the one who writes a vast book with a single letter, and elaborates a thousand designs from a single design, should not be known from his own book and design?


[*An allusion to man, the fruit of the tree of creation, and the fruit of his tree, which contains, as if were, an index to his being. For whatever the pen of God's power has written in thc great book of the cosmos, it has also inscribed in summary in the essence of man. Whatever the pen of fate has written in the trunk of the tree, as large as a mountain, it has also inscribed in the fruit of the tree, no bigger than a fingernail.]


Sixth Proof


"Come, let us walk on this broad plain.* In the middle of it a high mountain stands; let us climb it so that we can see the land and all around. Let us take fine telescopes with us to bring everything closer. For strange things are afoot in this strange land. Matters our intellects are unable to comprehend happen hourly. These mountains, plains and cities are suddenly changing, and changing indeed in such a way that millions of complex and intertwined matters change in the most orderly way. Remarkable changes take place that resemble the interweaving of millions of different kinds of cloth. See how all those flowers and plants, dear and familiar to us, have disappeared and been replaced by others resembling them in essence but separate in form. The plain and its mountains are each like a plain on which hundreds and thousands of different books are inscribed, without the Least error or mistake. It is impossible to the hundredth degree that these things should take place of themselves. It is rather impossible to the thousandth degree that these matters, infinitely precise and wondrous, should take place of themselves, for they demonstrate their maker more then themselves. The miracle-working being that brings all this about is of such a nature that no task is difficult for him. To write a thousand books is as easy for him as writing a single letter. In addition to this, look in every direction and see how wisely he places everything in its proper place, generously lavishes on everyone the bounties for which he is fitted, and draws back veils and opens doors in such a beneficent fashion that everyone's desires are fulfilled. He provides a hospitable spread in such a liberal fashion that a bounteous tray is presented to all the creatures and animals of this realm, fit and appropriate to each group, hearing the name and sign of each individual. Is there then anything more impossible in the world than this that all of these matters we observe should be characterized by accident; that they serve no purpose and be without benefit; that many hands should administer them; that their overseeing master should not be empowered over all things; or that all things should not be subjugated to him So, my friend, find an argument against this if you are able!


[*An allusion to the earth's surface during spring and summer. For hundreds of thousands of different classes of creature are brought forth together, intermingled with each other, and inscribed on the face of the earth. they are changed with the utmost orderliness, without any error or deficiency. Thousands of banquets of the Compassionate One are spread out and then gathered up: every tree becomes a servant bearing a tray, every orchard becomes a cauldron filled with cooked food.]




Seventh Proof


"Come now, O friend! Let us leave behind these particulars and examine instead the disposition with respect to each other of the component elements of this wondrous world that has the form of a palace. See how general concerns and universal changes take place with so high a degree of order that all the stones, the soil, the trees, indeed everything to be found in the palace, appear to observe the universal order of the world, as if each were a voluntary agent, and to move in conformity with it. Objects distant from each other hasten to each other's aid; it is as if some wondrous caravan were setting out from the world of the unseen, its mounts resembling trees, plants and mountains, and each of them carrying on its head a tray laden with provisions.* The caravan is bringing provision for the different animals waiting here in this world. Look again, and see that the vast electric lamp in the dome of the heavens not only lights the path of the caravan, but also cooks to perfection the foods that it bears;** it is as if a rope were attached by a hand in the world of the unseen to suspend the food that is to be cooked in the rays of the sun.*** Look yet again, and see how two pumps, filled with delicate nourishment have been set up like springs in the presence of these wretched, weak, feeble and powerless animals;**** it is enough for any powerless creature to place his mouth to one of these pumps.


In short, all the objects of this world aid each other and care for each other. Looking upon each other, they extend their hands to each other. In order to fulfil each others tasks, they strive and labor together, All that exists conforms to this principle; innumerable instances could be cited. Now this proves with the same certainty that twice two is four that all things are submitted to the master designer of this wondrous palace, to the lord of this remarkable world. Everything works for his sake; everything is like an infantryman awaiting his orders; everything turns by his power; everything moves by his command; everything is ordered by his wisdom; everything gives help through his generosity and rushes to offer assistance through his compassion and mercy. Now argue against this, O friend, if you are able!


[*By the caravans are meant the plants and trees that carry provision for all animals.


**An allusion to the sun.


*** By the rope and the food attached to it are meant the delicate branches and delicious fruits of the tree.


**** By the two pumps are meant the breasts of a mother.]


Eighth Proof


"Come, O foolish friend, who imagine yourself wise, as does my own soul! While you do not wish to recognize the master of this stately palace, alt things display him, indicate him and bear witness to him. I-how can you deny the witness of all things Why not deny the palace also, and say, 'There is no world, no kingdom, or even deny yourself and disappear If you do not wish to do that, then collect your senses and listen to me. Now see: there are uniform elements and minerals within this palace, encompassing this kingdom.* It is as if all that is produced in the kingdom were fashioned from those materials. Thus it follows that to the owner of those materials belongs also whatever is fashioned from them. The crops that grow in a field belong to the owner of the field, and whatever is to be found in a lake belongs to the owner of the lake. These woven materials and decorated spun cloth that you see are also made of a single material. It is of a certainty the same person who first furnishes and provides the material and then makes it into thread, for this is not a task admitting joint effort. Therefore all the ingenious textiles woven from this material belong to one person. Then too every kind of cloth that is woven and of object that is fashioned is to be found in every area of the kingdom and is disseminated with the other members of its own species; they are woven or fashioned together and intermingled, in the same fashion and at the same moment. Thus it must all be the work of a single being; all things move in obedience to a single command. For such conformity and concord, in the same fashion and at the same moment, in the same manner and form, would otherwise be impossible. Hence each of these ingenious objects displays that hidden being as if it were a proclamation he had issued. Every embroidered cloth, every ingenious machine, every delicious morsel of food, is like a coin, a seal, an emblem and a device of that hidden being, and proclaims through its very mode of existence, 'The chests and the shops in which I am found being to the one who skilfully made me.' Every design proclaims, 'The roll of cloth on which I am imprinted belongs to the one who embroidered me.' Every delicious morsel of food proclaims, 'The pot that contains me belongs to the one who cooked and prepared me.' Every machine proclaims, 'The one who made me makes also those like unto me that are distributed throughout the whole kingdom; he it is, too, who maintains all of us in every part of the kingdom. Hence he is the owner of this kingdom; and whoever is the owner of this kingdom, this palace, is also our owner.' Similarly, to be the true owner of a single bandoleer or button belonging to the state, it is necessary to own the workshops that produce them; and it is always possible to take away and redistribute the equipment of some boastful auxiliary soldier, reminding him that it is state property.


"In short, the elements of this kingdom are the materials that encompass it. Their owner can be only that single being who owns the whole country. All the ingenious objects disseminated over the face of the kingdom, resembling each other through the single imprint that they bear, demonstrate that they are the work of a being who reigns over all things.


"So, O friend! In this kingdom, this stately palace, there is a sign of unity, and a coin of unity is in circulation. Certain things are one and all- encompassing, while others, although multiple, demonstrate a unity of type through their mutual resemblance and omnipresence. Unity implies a being who is one; and therefore the fashioner, the owner, the master and the maker of that which is characterized by unity must also be one. See how a thick rope is suspended from behind the veil of the unseen, and how thousands of lesser ropes are in turn suspended from it. To the end of each rape has been attached a diamond, a decoration, a gift and a present.** An appropriate gift is offered to everyone. Do you not realize what madness it is not to recognize and give thanks to the being that extends these wondrous gifts and bounties from behind the veil of the unseen? For if you do not recognize him, you will be compelled to say, 'These ropes fashion and present the diamonds and other gifts attached to them themselves.' This will imply that each rope has the rank of a monarch, whereas in reality a hand from the unseen fashions the ropes and attaches the gifts to them in front of our eyes. In short, everything within this palace demonstrates that miraculous being even more than it does its own self. If you do not recognize him, you will fall to a rank a hundred times lower than that of the animals, by your multiple denial of all that the world contains.


[* By the elements and minerals are meant the elements of air, water, light and earth that fulfil their functions in disciplined form, hasten to offer assistance to the needy by their Lord's leave, enter every comer by their Lord's command, produce the necessities of life, suckle a0 living beings, end are the source, origin and cradle of the weave and design of God's creation.


**The thick rope is an allusion to the fruitbearing tree; the thousands of ropes allude to the branches; the diamonds, decorations, gifts and presents attached to them allude to different kinds of flower and species of fruit]


Ninth Proof


"Come, O undiscerning friend! You do not recognize the master of this palace, and do not wish to do so, since you regard his existence as impossible and are misled into denying his miraculous skills and his states by the fact that they transcend comprehension. Now that which is truly improbable, and the cause of real problems, genuine difficulties and awesome hardships, is indeed the failure to recognize him. For if we recognize him, the whole of this palace, this world, will become a place of ease and tranquillity for us; its goods will be cheap and abundant. But if we do not recognize him and he does not exist, then everything within the palace will become, problematic, for everything the palace contains is as complex as the palace itself. Its goods will be neither cheap nor abundant, and indeed nothing of all that we see will be accessible to us or anyone else. Look at the cans of food attached to each rope.* If they were not to come from the hidden and miraculous kitchen of the master of this world, we could not obtain them for a whole fortune, even though now they are to be had for a few coins.


"Yes, improbability, difficulties, problems, catastrophes-all these lie in not recognizing him; indeed it is an utter absurdity not to do so. A tree is given life at its root, in a single center and according to a single law. Thus the formation of thousands of fruits becomes as easy as that of a single fruit. If the fruits of that tree were each to be connected to a separate center and root, according to a separate law, then each fruit would become as complex as the whole tree. So too if the equipment of a whole army comes from a single factory, a single center and according to a single law, it becomes as easy to equip an army as a single soldier. But if the equipment of each soldier were to be manufactured and provided in different places, there would have to be established for each soldier as many factories as are required for the whole army.


"Just as in these two examples, when the creation of all the objects in this well-ordered palace, this perfect city, this flourishing kingdom, this stately world, is assigned to one being, it becomes so easy and light a task that the infinite cheapness, abundance and generosity we observe in this world are the result. Otherwise everything becomes so expensive and difficult of access that nothing could be obtained, even if the whole world's wealth were offered in exchange.


[*The cans of food are an allusion to strength-giving melons, watermelons, pomegranates. milk-filled coconuts and other gifts of God's compassion.]


Tenth Proof


"Come, O friend! You are now beginning to demonstrate some fairness. We have been here now for fifteen days.* If we do not learn the laws of this world and recognize its monarch, we will be deserving of punishment. We no longer have any excuse. For fifteen days none has held us responsible, as if we had been given a period of grace. But we have certainly not been left to our own devices. Finding ourselves surrounded by such delicate, ingenious, symmetrical, subtle and wise fruits of creation, we cannot rampage destructively through them like animals; we are not permitted to do so. The punishment exacted by the majestic king of this realm is bound to be awesome. You may understand how majestic and powerful a being he is by the way in which he orders this vast world like a palace and causes it to revolve like a wheel. He administers this great kingdom like a household, without permitting any deficiency to appear. See how from time to time he fills this palace, this kingdom, this city, with the utmost order, and then empties it with the utmost wisdom, just as if he were filling and emptying a cup. From one end of the kingdom to the other, different fruits are brought forth in turn to be eaten, as if different kinds of spread were being laid and then removed by a hand from the unseen, just like the spreading out and gathering up of a tablecloth.** He gathers up one and then brings out another; this you can see, and understand then, if you have any sense, that an infinitely bounteous generosity is contained within that awesome majesty. See too that just as all things bear witness to the sovereignty and unity of that unseen being, so too all the changes and transformations that succeed each other like an unending series of caravans and emerge from behind the veil that is continually opening and closing, also bear witness to his permanence and eternity. For together with all things that pass away the causes that produced them also vanish.


"But after they have departed, those things we had attributed to them are repeated. Therefore the effects we observed are not theirs, but rather of one who does not pass away. The bubbles on the surface of a river depart, but the new bubbles that come after them shine in the same way. Thus we conclude that the one who causes them to .shine is an exalted and eternal possessor of light. So too the swift changing of all things and the taking on of the same color by succeeding phenomena may be understood as the manifestation, the design and the mirror of a single and eternal being.


[*Fifteen days is an allusion to fifteen, the age of legal responsibility.


**The tablecloth is an allusion to the face of the earth in summertime, when hundreds of fresh and separate banquets are brought forth from the kitchen of Compassion. Every orchard becomes a cauldron, every tree a servant bearing a tray.]


Eleventh Proof


"Come, O friend! I will show you now a further decisive proof, as convincing as the ten preceding ones combined. Come, let us board a ship; there is an island in the distance, which is our destination, for the keys to our talismanic world are to be found there.* Everyone's attention and expectations are focused on that island, and everyone takes instruction from it. We travel to the island and disembark. See the great gathering here. All the dignitaries of the realm are assembled for an important ceremony. Look carefully, and you will see that this great gathering has a leader presiding over it. Let us go closer and make his acquaintance. See what luminous decorations he has, more than a thousand in number!** How powerfully and convincingly he speaks! How pleasingly he discourses! In the course of the past fifteen days, I have learned a part of what he is saying. Now learn it from me. See, he is discussing the miraculous sovereign of this country. He says that that glorious monarch has sent him, and he displays such wonders as to Leave no doubt that he is a chosen servant and envoy of the monarch. Be attentive, and you will see that it is not only the creatures of the island that are listening to his words; he is conveying them in a miraculous fashion to the whole of the kingdom. For everyone is straining to hear from afar the words spoken here. Not only men, but animals too are listening; even the mountains are heeding the commands he proclaims, for they remain immobile in place, and the trees go wheresoever he commands. He brings forth water wherever he pleases, and he makes of his finger a fountain from which the water of Paradise gushes forth, and gives men to drink of the water of Life. The lamp in the lofty dome of this palace is split into two at his command.*** All this shows that all the beings in the kingdom recognize his mission. As if knowing him to be the chosen and veracious spokesman of a hidden and miraculous being, the herald of his sovereignty, the uncoverer of his talisman and the messenger entrusted with the promulgation of his commands, they hear and obey him. Every word that he speaks evokes acceptance from all reasonable beings around him and exclamations that 'Yes, yes, it is true!' Indeed, the mountains and trees of the kingdom, and the great lamp that illumines all kingdoms,**** each bows it: head before the commands and orders of that person and confesses, 'Yes, all that you say is true.’


"So O distraught friend! Is it possible that there should be any kind of error or crookedness in the mention of miraculous being, the description of his attributes and the promulgation of his commands, made with all of his strength by that luminous, dignified and most earnest of men, adorned with a thousand decorations from the treasury of that monarch and verified by all the dignitaries of the kingdom If any untruth should be possible here, then one would have to deny the palace, the lamp, and the gathering of dignitaries, and reject both their material existence and their inward essences. Now raise the finger of objection, if you are able, and see how your finger, broken by the power of proof, will instead be thrust into your eye!


[*The ship is an allusion to history, and the island to the blessed age of the Prophet, upon whom be peace and blessings. From the dark shore of this age, laying off the garment in which we have been clothed by this savage civilization, we may enter the sea of time, and embarking on the ship of history and narrative, depart for the island of the Blessed Age and the Arabian peninsula, there to visit the Pride of the World, upon whom be peace and blessings, while engaged in his work. That exalted one is so brilliant a proof of the Divine unity that he has illumined the face of the earth from end to end, as well as past and future, the two faces of time, and dispelled the darkness of misbelieve and misguidance.


** The thousand decorations are the miracles of the Prophet, upon whom be peace, a thousand in number according to those who have investigated the matter.


*** The lamp is the moon, which split into two upon his command. As Maulana Jami said, 'That unlettered one, unable to write, inscribed an alif on the page of the heavens with the pen of his finger; he made of a forty two fifties." That is, the moon before being split resembled the letter mim which has the numerical value of forty; after being split, it became two crescent moons, each resembling the letter nun, which has the numerical value of fifty.


**** The great lamp is an allusion to the sun. Once the Prophet, upon whom be peace, was asleep in the arms of Imam Ali, may God be pleased with him, and hence Imam Ali was unable to perform the midafternoon prayer. But the earth turned back from the east, east that the sun became visible again, and Imam Ali was enabled by that miracle to perform his midafternoon prayer.]


Twelfth Proof


"Come, brother! Now that you are beginning to show a little more sense, I will show you one more proof, as powerful as the eleven that have preceded it. Look at the luminous edict that has descended from on high and at which everyone gazes with the utmost attention, on account of admiration and respect!* That envoy adorned with a thousand decorations stands beside the edict and proclaims its meaning to the totality of mankind. The expressions in the edict shine in such a fashion that they attract the admiring gaze of everyone, and it treats such grave and important matters that everyone is compelled to listen. For it proclaims one by one the states, acts, commands and attributes of the being that administers this realm, that fashions this palace, that manifests these wonders. Just as the total form of the edict is like a supreme seal or device, and in the same way that in each of its lines and sentences there is an inimitable sign and signature, the unique seal of that being may also be seen imprinted on all the meanings, truths, commands and fragments of wisdom that the edict contains.


"In short, that supreme decree demonstrates the Supreme Being, just like the sun; anyone who is not blind may open his eyes and see it.


"So O friend! If you have come to your senses, his should be enough. But if you have anything left to say, then say it."


That obstinate man replied: "Faced with these proofs you have brought, all I can say is, 'Praise be to God, I believe.' I have come to believe in a fashion as bright as the sun and as clear as the day, and I accept that this kingdom has only one Perfect King, this world has only one Glorious Master, this palace has only one Beauteous Maker. May God reward you for delivering me from my former obstinacy and aberration. Each of the proofs that you mentioned was enough to prove this truth by itself. But I listened to each proof as it came in succession, in the expectation of more lucent and luminous, more pleasing and perfect, layers of knowledge as the veils of cognition were drawn back, and the windows of love thrown open.”


Our parable demonstrating the supreme truth of the Divine unity and the faith that is implied in saying “I believe in God” is now complete.


[*The luminous edict is the Qur'an, and the seal or device that it bears is its miraculous inimitability.]


* * *


Belief in the Hereafter


IN THIS SECTION, we will summarize one hundredth part of the consequences of belief in the hereafter, and the benefits accruing from it for felicity both in this world and the hereafter. As for the benefits pertaining to life in the hereafter, the clarifications given in the Qur'an of Miraculous Exposition leave no need for further explanation. We will therefore leave discussion of them to the Qur'an, and assign to the Risale-i Nur the explanation of those benefits that pertain to happiness in this world. In a brief summary, we will set forth three or four of the hundreds of consequences of belief in the hereafter for man's individual and social life.


The first: In contrast to other animals, man is attached to the world as much as he is attached to his own household, and at the behest of his nature, he cultivates serious relations with his fellow humans, just as he does with his own kith and kin. Just as he desires a temporary state of apparent permanence in this world, so too he desires a real permanence in an eternal realm with an ardor that borders on love. Just as he seeks to satisfy the need of his stomach for food, so too he is obliged by his nature to struggle to provide his intelligence, heart and spirit, each Like a hungry stomach, with a form of food and nurture that is as wide as this world, and even extends as far as eternity. He has such desires and demands that nothing short of eternal bliss can satisfy him. As indicated in the Tenth Word, I once asked my imagination in my childhood, "Do you wish to be given a life lasting one million years and enjoy rule over the world, but afterwards to be cast into annihilation and nothingness Or do you wish for a life that shall be eternal, but base and full of torment" I saw that it desired the second, and sighed at the thought of the first. It said, "I wish for eternity, even if it be spent in Hell."


So if, then, the pleasures of this world cannot satisfy the imaginative faculty, which is a servant of the essence of man, then that most comprehensive essence is bound by its nature to seek a link with eternity.


While man is thus at the mercy of his infinite wishes and hopes, and his capital is naught but an infinitesimal and partial will, joined to absolute indigence, belief in the hereafter is so powerful, effective and rich a treasury for him, such a source of happiness and pleasure, such a succor and refuge and such a means of consolation for the unending sorrows of the world, that if he were to spend his whole life in acquiring this fruit and benefit, he would not have paid too high a price.


The second fruit of belief in the hereafter, a benefit pertaining to individual life: This consequence of belief, already explained in the Third Topic and in a footnote to A Guide for Youth, is of the utmost importance.


The most important anxiety facing every man in every age is the manner in which he, like his relatives and friends, will enter the place of execution that is the graveyard. Wretched man, who is ready to sacrifice himself for even a single friend, imagines that thousands, or even millions or billions, of his friends have been parted from him for eternity and sent to their execution, and this notion causes him a pain worse than the torment of hell. While he is enmeshed in these thoughts, belief in the hereafter comes, opens his eyes, and lifts up the veil. "Look!" it says, and, looking with faith, he experiences a spiritual pleasure-a foretaste of the pleasures of Paradise-and beholds his friends delivered from eternal death and decay, awaiting him joyfully in a luminous world. We curtail our discussion of this matter here, since it is adequately explained with various proofs elsewhere in the Risale-i Nur.


The third benefit of belief in the hereafter, also pertaining to individual life: The superiority and high rank man enjoys with respect to other living beings is by virtue of his lofty qualities, comprehensive faculties, numerous modes of worship and extensive areas of life and activity. Now man can acquire virtues such as honor, love, brotherliness and true. humanity only in the measure and amount permitted by the brief present, caught between the dead and dark past and the future. For example, man loves and wishes to serve the father, brother, wife, people and homeland that he did not know in the past and will not be able to see in the future. It is very rare that he is able to show complete devotion and sincerity, and hence his virtues and accomplishments will correspondingly suffer. It is when man is thus about to fall from the rank of the highest among the animals to that of the lowest, when he is about to become the most wretched and inferior of them with respect to intelligence, that belief in the hereafter comes to his aid. It transforms his present time, narrow like the tomb, into a broad and expansive time that embraces both past and future, and displays to him a sphere of existence as vast as the world, or rather one that extends from pre-eternity to post-eternity. Knowing that his father will still be in a paternal relationship with him, even while in the Abode of Bliss and the Realm of Spirits; knowing that his brother will cherish fraternal feelings for him unto eternity; and knowing that his wife will be his best companion, even while in Paradise-knowing all this, he will love, respect, aid and cherish them. He will not make of the services he performs to strengthen his relations in the great and vast sphere of life, tools for the worthless concerns of this world, or the instruments of petty purpose and profit. Being thus guided to true devotion and proper sincerity, his moral accomplishments and virtues will correspondingly increase and his humanity advance (according to the degree at which each man finds himself). The result will be that man, whose pleasures in life are less than those of a sparrow, becomes exalted I above all of the animals, and becomes the select and fortunate guest of all of creation and the most beloved and favored slave of the Lord of creation. We will curtail here discussion of this consequence of belief in the hereafter, since it too has been discussed with adequate proofs elsewhere in the Risale-i Nur.


The fourth benefit of belief in the hereafter, one pertaining to the social Life of man: The following is a summary of the discussion of this consequence of belief contained in the Ninth Ray of the Risale-i Nur. It is only by virtue of belief in the hereafter that children, who make up one fourth of humanity, can live in a truly human fashion and bear within them the potentialities of humanity. Otherwise, in order to forget and obliterate themselves and the painful anxieties to which they are subject, they will live an idle and childish life with their toys. For the death of children like himself all around him will leave such an effect on the sensitive mind of the child, on his poor heart that cherishes such hopes for the future and on his defenseless spirit, that his very life and intelligence will appear to the hapless child as an instrument of torment and torture. It is then that the lesson of belief in the hereafter will enable him to feel joy and relief instead of the thoughts from which he wished to hide behind his toys, and he will say: "My brother or friend has now died, and become like a bird in Paradise. Thus he has more enjoyment and amusement than us. My mother too has died, but she has gone to God's mercy; she will again embrace me and love me in Paradise, and I will see my kind mother again." Saying this, he will be able to live in a manner befitting humanity.


The aged, who make up another fourth of humanity, can find consolation in the face of the impending extinction of their lives, their burial beneath the soil and the closing to them of their beautiful and well-beloved world, only in belief in the hereafter and in no other source. Were it not for this consolation, those compassionate and venerable fathers, those self-sacrificing and solicitous mothers, would suffer such disturbance of the soul and tumult of the heart that the world would become a desperate prison for them, and life, a torturous pain. But belief in the hereafter tells them: "Do not fret. You have an eternal youth that is yet to come. A luminous and infinite life awaits you. You will be joyously reunited with the children and relatives you have lost. All of the good deeds you have performed have been kept for you; you will be rewarded for them." Belief in the hereafter thus gives them such consolation and relief that if each of them is weighed down suddenly by hundredfold dotage, he will still not despair.


As for the young who make up one third of humanity, their passions are in tumult and their tempestuous minds are often unquiet. If they lose belief in the hereafter and fail to remember the torment of Hell, the property and honor of respectable people, the tranquillity and dignity of the weak and the old, all this will be endangered in the life of society. Sometimes a youth will destroy the happiness of a household for the sake of a minute of pleasure, and then suffer four or five years in prison for his crime, descending to the level of a wild beast.


If belief in the hereafter comes to his aid, he will swiftly come to his senses. He will say to himself: "It is true that the spies of the government cannot see me and that I can hide from them, but the angels of that Glorious Monarch whose jail is hellfire see me and record all my evil deeds. t have not been left to my own devices; rather I am a traveller entrusted with a certain mission and duty. Moreover, I too will become old and weak like others." He will begin to feel compassion and respect for those he wished unjustly to attack. Since this matter too is set forth with various proofs elsewhere in the Risale-i Nur, we curtail our discussion of it here.


Another important segment of humanity is made up of the sick and the oppressed, of those like us who are poor, and who have suffered misfortune and been sentenced to imprisonment with hard labor. Were belief in the hereafter not to come to their aid, the death that appears to them through the constant reminder of sickness, the arrogant treachery of the oppressor upon whom they are unable to avenge themselves and from whom they are unable to protect their honor, the painful despair that comes from fruitlessly losing one's property and offspring in great misfortunes, the gloomy affliction that arises from suffering the torment of five or ten years of prison for the sake of one or two minutes or hours of pleasure-all of this would of a certainty turn the world into a prison for those wretches, and life into a torturous pain. But if belief in the hereafter comes to their aid, they will breathe a deep sigh of relief; their affliction, despair, anxiety and desire for revenge will disappear either partially or totally, in accordance with their degree of belief.


I can even say that if belief in the hereafter had not come to our aid, to tolerate for a single day this unjust imprisonment and appalling misfortune would have affected us as much as death itself and inclined us to resignation from life.* But thanks be to God without limit that although I have suffered the pain endured in this misfortune by many of my brothers who are as dear to me as my wan self; although I have suffered regret for thousands of copies of Risale-i Nur and my precious gilded and ornamented books, weeping as they were destroyed; although in the past I could never swallow the least insult or offense-I can swear to you that the light and strength of belief in the hereafter has endowed me with such patience and endurance, with such consolation and fortitude, indeed with such ardent desire to win through struggle a still greater reward in this trial and test, that I consider myself to be in a fine and beneficial school that deserves the title of Josephian School.** Were it not for occasional sickness and the nuisances arising from old age, I would work harder still on my teaching, with utter tranquillity of heart. This was a digression inspired by the present theme; may it be forgiven.


[* At the time these lines were written in 1944, Bediuzzaman was imprisoned in Denizli, awaiting trial on various false cha roes.


**An allusion to the beneficial imprisonment of Joseph, upon whom be peace, after the false accusation made by the wife of the Pharaoh.]


Now each man is a small world, and his household is like a small paradise. If belief in the hereafter does not predominate in the happiness of that household, the members of the family will suffer painful anxieties and torment in accordance with their degree of affection, love and attachment. The Paradise will be turned into Hell. Or it may happen that man will seek to deaden his mind by recourse to transient pleasure and dissipation. Like the ostrich, who upon seeing the hunter is unable to flee and fly away, and hence buries his head in the sand to avoid being seen, he too will bury his head in neglect so that death, destruction and separation shall not see him. In lunatic fashion, he will seek a temporary remedy through the deadening of his senses. For a mother will constantly tremble on seeing her offspring, for whom she has sacrificed herself, exposed to danger. Similarly, children, unable to save their fathers and brothers from the misfortunes that always arise, continuously experience sorrow and fear. Thus family life that is thought to be happy may soon lose its happiness in the tumultuous and unstable conditions of the life of this world. The relationships and affinities of this brief life may fail to produce true devotion, genuine sincerity and disinterested love and willingness to serve, and thus noble characteristics decrease or even disappear.


But if belief in the hereafter enters that household, it will suddenly illumine it, and noble characteristics such as sincere respect, love, tenderness, devotion and forbearance will prosper, for the relations and affinities, the love and affection, existing between the members of the household will no longer be measured by the brief life of this world, but rather by their continuance in the hereafter in a state of eternal bliss. Then the true happiness of humanity will begin to unfold in that household. Since this matter too has been set forth elsewhere in the Risale-i Nur with adequate proofs, we will curtail our discussion of it here.


Each city is similarly like a household for its inhabitants. If belief in the hereafter does not prevail among the members of that vast household, the place of qualities which are the foundations of good character, such as sincerity, devotion, virtue, honor, self-sacrifice, contentment with God's decree, and desire for reward in the hereafter, will be taken by evil qualities such as opportunism, partiality, wiliness, selfishness, hypocrisy, cunning, bribery and receipt. Behind the mask of apparent tranquillity and humanity, the reality of anarchy and savagery will reign, and the life of the city will be poisoned. Children will become idle, young men will take to drunkenness, the strong will embark on oppression, and the old will be left weeping.


Each country may in the same fashion be compared to a household: the fatherland is like a household populated by the family that is the nation. If belief in the hereafter reigns in these great households, sincere respect; earnest compassion, disinterested love and helpfulness, pure service and intercourse, virtue and generosity without hypocrisy, greatness and loftiness without egoism, will begin to unfold in the And. Belief in the hereafter will say to the child, "There is Paradise; abandon your idleness," and impart seriousness to the child through the lesson of the Qur'an. It will tell the young man, "There is Hell; abandon your drunkenness," and bring him to his senses. It will tell the oppressor, "Intense torment awaits you, and you will be beaten," and cause him to bow his head in submission to justice. It will say to the aged, "Bliss in the hereafter, and a new and eternal youth, more exalted and permanent than all the joys you have lost, await you; so strive to acquire these benefits " and thus turn their tears into laughter. Belief in the hereafter exercises an analogous beneficent effect on all other classes, great or small, and illumines each member of them. The ears of the sociologists and moralists who concern themselves with social life should now be ringing! If one deduces the remainder of the many thousands of benefits that are to be had from belief in the hereafter from the five or six examples we have alluded to, then it will be still more clearly established that the cause of happiness in both worlds and both lives is this belief and rotting else.


Since the feeble doubts that occur to man with respect to the corporeality of resurrection have received powerful answers in the Twenty-Eighth Word and other sections of the Risale-i Nur, here we will make only the following brief reference to the subject.


The most comprehensive mirror of the Divine Names consists of corporeality, and the most complex and active locus of the Divine purpose inherent in the creation of beings also consists of corporeality. The most varied and multifarious of God's dominical bounties are to be found in corporeality; and the most numerous seeds of man's prayer and thanks to his Creator, expressed with the tongue of need, have also been sown in corporeality. Then too, the most varied seeds of the inner and spiritual words have been placed in corporeality. It is because these and hundreds of similar universal truths have been concentrated in corporeality that the Wise Creator has, with swift and awesome activity, clothed unceasing caravans of being in bodies, in order to multiply corporeality on the face of the earth and to provide a field of manifestation for the truth's inherent in corporeality. He dispatches these caravans to the plane of manifestation and then dismisses them, sending others in their place. He keeps the workshop of being in unceasing operation. Raising a corporeal crop, He turns the land into a nursery of saplings for the hereafter and for Paradise. The fact that He brings forth most ingenious foods and precious gifts in infinite variety and manifold delicious form in order to satisfy the corporeal stomach of man, and to answer actively the prayer for sustenance which the stomach utters and to which He hearkens most earnestly-this Each shows, in the most obvious and indubitable form, that in the hereafter the most plentiful and varied of pleasures shall be corporeal, and the most important and most desired and familiar of bounties shall also be corporeal.


Is it at all probable ox even possible that One All-powerful and All-Merciful, Omniscient and Generous should accept the prayer for sustenance uttered by the stomach and gratify it with an infinite variety of miraculous and material food, thus answering its prayer consistently, intentionally and deliberately-is it at all possible that having done this, He should not accept the universal prayer of the generic stomach of humanity-the supreme result of creation, the Divine viceregent on earth, the chosen servant and worshipper of the Creator-for the continued bestowal in the hereafter of those universal and exalted corporeal pleasures which man constantly desires and seeks out in accordance with his essential natural Or that this prayer should not receive practical answer with the corporeal resurrection, or that man should not be eternally gratified? It would be like hearing the sound of a fly, and failing to hear the roar of thunder. It would be like paying the utmost attention to the equipment of an ordinary foot-soldier, and neglecting completely a whole army. This is excluded and impossible to the hundredth degree.


Yes, 'They shall have there all that their souls desire and delights their eyes." According to the unmistakably explicit sense of this verse, man will experience and taste, in a fashion appropriate to Paradise, the corporeal pleasures to which he is most accustomed and a specimen of which he has already received in this world. The reward for the sincere pronouncement of thanks and for the particular mode of worship engaged in by organs such as the tongue, the eye and the ear, will be given in the form of pleasures suited to each organ. The Qur'an of Miraculous Exposition expounds corporeal pleasures in so explicit a fashion that it is impossible to refuse the outward sense by means of hermeneusis.


The fruits and results of belief in the hereafter show then that just as the nature and needs of the stomach, one of man's organs, demonstrate decisively the existence of food, so too the true nature of man, his perfections, natural needs and eternal desire, as well as the truths and potentialities inherent within him, which require the above-mentioned benefits and results of belief in the hereafter-all of these indicate the hereafter, Paradise and eternal corporeal pleasure, and bear witness to their future realization in still more decisive fashion. Then also the essential perfections of creation, the purposive signs inherent in the cosmos, and all of the truths connected with the aforementioned truths inherent in man-these demonstrate and bear witness to the existence of the hereafter, its future realization, the coming of resurrection, and the opening of the gates of Paradise and Hell. All of this has been established with numerous proofs and in so brilliant a fashion as to leave no doubts in various sections of the Risale-i Nur, particularly in the Tenth, Twenty Eighth and Twenty-Ninth Words, the Ninth Ray, and the Treatise on Supplication. We will leave discussion of the matter to those sections, and cut the long story short.


As for the declarations of the Qur'an concerning Hell, they are so clear and manifest as to leave no need for further clarification. There are, however, one or two feeble doubts which need to be refuted by two or three points. We will leave a detailed exposition of these points to other parts of the Risale-i Nur and set forth here only the briefest of summaries.


First Point: The thought of Hell, with the fear that it implies, does not negate the pleasures of the fruits of the belief just mentioned. For the infinite dominical mercy says to fearful man,


"Come, enter by the gate of repentance." Then the existence of Hell will serve not to frighten you, but rather to communicate to you in full the pleasures of Paradise and to give you joy by seeing yourself and innumerable other creatures, whose rights have been denied, avenged on your oppressors. If you sink in misguidance and are unable to emerge from it, still the existence of Hell is a thousand times better for you than eternal annihilation. Indeed, it is even a form of mercy towards the unbeliever. For men, as well as childbearing animals, gain joy through the joy and happiness of their relatives, offspring and friends, and thus become partially happy. O atheist This being the case, because of your misguidance, you will either fall prey to eternal annihilation or enter Hell. Now as for annihilation, which is absolute evil, all your relatives and family whom you love, of whose joys you partake and who give you some share of happiness, will be annihilated together with you, and this will cause your spirit, your heart and your whole being to burn more intensely than will hellfire. For if there is no Hell, there is also no Paradise, and everything will fall prey to annihilation by virtue of your unbelief. But if you enter Hell, you will still remain in the sphere of being, and those whom you love and your relatives will either be blessed in Paradise, or at least partake some degree of mercy by remaining within the sphere of being. In short, from every aspect of the matter, you ought to maintain the existence of Hell. To be against Hell means to be in favor of annihilation, in favor of the effacement of the blessedness of innumerable friends.


As for Hell, it is a most awesome and majestic region of the sphere of being, which is absolute good, and it fulfils the function of the wisely and justly administered prison of the All-Wise Possessor of Glory. It has numerous functions in addition to being a prison, and serves the world of eternity in various ways: it is, for example, the majestic dwelling place of many living creatures, such as the angels of Hell.


Second Point: The existence of Hell and its intense torment in no way contradicts the infinite mercy, the true justice and the balanced and perfect wisdom of God. Indeed, it is precisely His mercy, justice and wisdom that require the existence of Hell. For to punish the oppressor who tramples on the rights of a thousand innocent men, and to kill a savage beast that tears apart a hundred meek animals, is a form of mercy for oppressed beings, one exercised in all justice. By contrast, to forgive the oppressor and let the savage beast roam free world mean showing mercy. to the criminal and mercilessness to hundreds of hapless creatures. So, too, the unbeliever who enters the prison of Hell has, by virtue of his unbelief, transgressed against the rights of the Divine Names through his denial of them; he has transgressed against the rights of those beings who bear witness to the Names by his rejection of them; he has transgressed against the rights of those creatures who proclaim God's glory by his spurning of their duty and function; and he has also transgressed against the rights of the whole of the cosmos, by denying its function of reflecting and mirroring, by way of worship, the manifestation of Divine dominicality, which is the purpose of creation, and the cause of all being and its preservation. All this constitutes so grave a crime and offense that there can be no possibility of forgiveness; and the sinner deserves the threat contained in the verse, "God does not forgive the assignment of partners unto Him." Not to cast him into hellfire would be a misplaced act of mercy to him, and multiple and infinite mercilessness to those countless plaintiffs whose rights have been outraged. Those plaintiffs not only demand the existence of Hell, but also require that it should be most majestic and utterly awesome.


If some arrogant rebel oppresses the people and insults the dignity of a majestic judge by telling him, "You cannot put me in jail or make a prison me," even if there is not a Jan in that city, the judge will have one constructed for that shameless criminal and have him cast into it. So, too, the absolute unbeliever insults the supreme majesty of God with his unbelief, challenges His ineffable power with his denial, and offends His perfect dominicality with his transgression. Even if Hell had not been created for various functions and numerous providential purposes, it would become incumbent on God's dignity and majesty to create Hell for such unbelievers and to cast them into it.


The very nature of unbelief in itself conveys an idea of the existence of Hell. In the same way that if the nature of faith were to take on external form, it would assume the shape of a miniature paradise, together with all of its pleasures, thus implicitly declaring the existence of Paradise, so too unbelief (and especially absolute unbelief), hypocrisy and apostasy contain within themselves such dark and awesome pains and inner torments that were they to take on outward form, they would become a private hell for the apostate, thus implicitly declaring the existence of Hell. Just as the minute truths and realities sown in the nursery of saplings that is the world grow to maturity in the hereafter, so too the poisonous seed of unbelief is the herald of the infernal tree of zaqqum. [A very bitter tree growing in Hell.] "I am the substance from which zaqqum is fashioned," it says. "And my fruit is a specimen of the tree of zaqqum, destined for that luckless individual who bears me in his heart."


If unbelief constitutes transgression against innumerable rights it follows that it is a crim.e of infinite proportions, and that it is deserving of a punishment of similarly infinite proportions. If maxi s sense of justice is able to accept and regard as being in the public interest the penalty of fifteen years' (or close to eight million minutes') imprisonment for a murder that takes but a minute, then it is in full conformity with justice that a minute of absolute unbelief, which is equivalent to one thousand murders, should be punished with a torment lasting almost eight billion minutes. Similarly, one who spends one year of his life in unbelief will be deserving of a torment lasting almost two trillion eight hundred and eighty billion minutes, and the sense of God's words:


They will dwell therein forever


will be made manifest in him.


The miraculous explanations of Paradise and Hell contained in the Wise Qur'an, and the proofs of the existence a£ Paradise and Hell to be found in the Risale-i Nur, which is a commentary upon the Qur’an and derived from it, leave no need for further clarification.


They reflect on the creation of the heavens and earth, saying, "O Lord! Verily Thou has not created this in vain; glory be unto Thee; and protect us from the torment of the fire!”


O Lord! Avert from us the torment of Hell; verily its torment is a grievous affliction, and evil it is as a resting place and abode.


The content of numerous verses such as the above, the frequent use by the Most Noble Messenger(upon whom be peace and blessings), all the prophets and the people of the truth, of phrases such as "Protect us from the fire; deliver us from the fire; save us from the fire!" in their prayers and their repetition of the plea "Preserve us from Hell" because of certainty based on visible revelation-a11 of this shows that the greatest concern of man is to escape the torment of Hell. Hell is an imperious, majestic and awesome truth for all beings; some, the people of witnessing, uncovering and realization, observe it directly, and others perceive only its traces and shadows, and awestruck by these, cry out "Deliver us!"


Yes, the opposition and interaction throughout the cosmos of good and evil, pleasure and pain, heat and cold, beauty and ugliness, guidance and misguidance, is inspired 'by great and wise purpose. Were there no evil, good could not bc known. Were there no pain, pleasure could not be perceived. Were -there no darkness, light would have no value. Degrees of heat can be established only by reference to cold. By means of ugliness, the essence of beauty, as well as its thousand degrees, comes into being. So too without Hell, many of the pleasures of Paradise would remain unknown, and in general it can be said that everything is made known by its opposite, and that from one truth, numerous truths blossom forth and emerge.


Now all of the complex phenomena that exist must depart from the transient realm for the realm of eternity. Things such as good, pleasure, light, beauty and faith are directed by their nature to Paradise, and harmful substances such as evil, pain, darkness, ugliness and unbelief are discharged into Hell. 'The torrents that ceaselessly pour forth from all beings flow into these two pools, and come to rest there. We will curtail our discussion of this matter here, referring the reader to the points made at the end of the Twenty-Ninth Word.


O fellow pupils of mine in this josephian school An easy way to escape from the awesome and eternal prison of Hell is now made available to us. We may make use of our imprisonment in this world by seeking forgiveness for our past sins (being in any event compelled to refrain from committing new sins), by performing our fundamental religious duties, by turning every hour of our life in prison into a day spent in worship, and thus come to save ourselves from eternal imprisonment and enter Paradise. If we squander this opportunity, we will weep both in this world and in the hereafter; and the verse:


He has lost this world and the hereafter


will be like a blow descending upon us.


While these lines were being written, the Festival of Sacrifice arrived, and it occurred to me, with absolute certainty, that the utterance of Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar by one fifth of humanity; the proclamation of Allahu akbar by three hundred million people; the re-echoing of this sacred phrase -Allahu akbar- by the vast earth, in a manner proportionate to its size, as if to convey the cry to its companions, the planets traversing the heavens; the proclamation Allahu akbar at Arafat, on the day of the Festival, by more than twenty thousand pilgrims; the utterance and propagation of this great phrase -Allahu akbar- by the Most Noble Messenger- upon whom be peace and blessings -together with his Family and Companions, thirteen hundred years ago- it occurred to me that these manifold declarations of Allahu akbar are like an echo of the universal manifestation of the Divine dominicality that is proclaimed under the title of "Lord of the earth" and "Lord of the worlds," like a cosmic response of servitude to that manifestation.


It then occurred to me that this sacred phrase might have some connection with the topic we are discussing. Suddenly it crossed my mind that all the sacred phrases that are called "permanent good deeds," headed by Allahu akbar (God is great) and including Subhanallah (Glory be to God), Alhamdulillah (Praise be to God), and La ilaha illallah (There is no god but God) do indeed contain an indication of our topic and its realization. For example, one part of the meaning of Allahu akbar is that God's power and knowledge age greater than and exalted above everything. Nothing can leave the sphere of His knowledge, and nothing can escape or be delivered from the grasp of His power. He is greater, too, than the greatest things that we fear, and greater than the resurrection He brings about, the salvation from annihilation He bestows upon us, and the eternal felicity with which He endows us. He is greater than every wondrous and incomprehensible object or act, for according to the explicit meaning of the verse:


Your creation and your resurrection is but as a single soul,


the gathering and resurrection of the whole of human race is as easy for His power as the creation of a single soul. It is on account of this truth that when faced with great misfortunes and afflictions, people repeat, as if it were a proverb, "God is great, God is great," thus gaining consolation, fortitude and support.


In the Ninth Word it was shown that this phrase together with its two companions is like the seed and the essence of prayer, which in turn is like an index of all the forms of worship. These three phrases occur within the prayer and in the recitations that follow it in order to emphasize and strengthen the sense of the prayer. They are, too, like powerful and convincing answers give to the questions that arise in man as a result of wonderment, pleasure and awe that he experiences from the numerous remarkable, beautiful and great phenomena that he beholds in the cosmos and induce those three states within him.


We explained, too, at the end of the Sixteenth Word, that just as on festive occasions an ordinary infantryman will enter the presence of a king together with a marshal, but grant him the respect due to his rank at all times, so too during the pilgrimage, everyone becomes to some degree like the saints, and begins to know God by His title of "Lord of the earth and the worlds." As those degrees of majesty begin to reveal themselves to his heart, he answers all the repeated and fervent questions that overwhelm his spirit simply by repeating Allahu akbar. .


At the end of the Thirteenth Flash, it was also explained that the decisive answer to be given to the most threatening stratagems of the Devil so as to cut them at the root is Allahu akbar. So too the phrase Al-hamdulillah is a brief but convincing answer to any question about hereafter, and a pointer to resurrection. For it tells us: "I have no meaning if there is no hereafter. I convey this sense, that 'from whomever and to whomever praise and thanks have gone forth, from pre-eternity to post-eternity, all of it in reality belongs to Him.' The foremost of all bounties, that which makes of them true bounties and saves all conscious beings from the innumerable catastrophes of annihilation, can therefore be none other than eternal felicity. It is also eternal felicity which corresponds to my general sense."


Now every believer says, "Al-hamdulillah, alhamdulillah" in obedience to Sacred Law, at least one hundred and fifty times a day. The phrase has the sense of extensive, indeed infinite expression of thanks and praise, from pre-eternity to post-eternity, and is therefore like a price paid in advance, a fee offered in expectation, for eternal felicity and Paradise. It cannot in any way be restricted to the brief bounties of this world, which are stained and polluted with transient pain. Rather thanks and praise are offered for them only insofar as they anticipate and are a bridge to eternal bounties.


As for the sacred phrase Subhanallah, it means to proclaim God Almighty free from and exalted above the possession of partner, defect, shortcoming, injustice, powerlessness, mercilessness, need, craftiness, and indeed all failings contrary to His majesty, beauty and perfection. Thus it points to eternal felicity, the hereafter and Paradise, because it is these that demonstrate the splendor of His majesty, beauty and perfect sovereignty. As already proven, if there were no eternal bliss, God's sovereignty, perfection, majesty, beauty and compassion would be disfigured by the stain of defect and lack.


These three sacred phrases, together with other blessed phrases such as Bismillah (in the name. of God) and La ilaha illallah (there is no god but God) are each like the core of one of the pillars of faith; they are the concentrated form both of the pillars of faith and of the truths of the Qur'an, and thus resemble the concentrated foods that have been invented in our time.


They are the seeds of prayer and of the Qur'an and also the true sources, foundation and seed of the Risale-i Nur, many inspired sections of which begin with the jewel-like proclamation of God's glory, just as do some chapters of the Qur'an.


They are also the litanies prescribed by the Muhammadan Path -upon its master be peace and blessings- in accordance with his sainthood and servitude of the Messenger for recitation after prayer in a vast circle of remembrance that embraces more than one hundred thousand believers, repeating Subhanallah, Al-hamdulillah and Allahu akbar thirty-three times, while passing a rosary through their fingers.


You will now be able to understand of a certainty how valuable and meritorious it is to repeat after prayer thirty-three times each, those three blessed phrases which are the essence and pith of the Qur'an, of faith and of prayer, to repeat them, moreover, in so glorious a circle of remembrance.


In the same way that the First Topic that introduced this part of the Risale-i Nur provided a fine lesson concerning prayer, its conclusion, without any thought or intention on my part, has come to be a valuable lesson concerning the recitations that follow prayer.


Praise to God for His bounties.


Glory be unto Thee! We have no knowledge save that which Thou has taught us; verily Thou art All-Knowing, All-Wise.


* * *


The Necessity of Prayer


Verily prayer at fixed times has been prescribed for the believers. (Qur'an 4:103)


A MAN advanced in age, stature and rank once said to me, "Prayer is indeed good. But to pray five times a day, day after day, is surely too much; does it not finally induce repugnance?"


Some time after he had thus spoken, I chanced to listen to my own soul and found it saying the same thing, and receiving the same instruction from the Devil through the ear of laziness. I then understood that that person had, in effect, spoken on behalf of the lowest state of the soul, or had been made to speak on its behalf. So I said to myself, "Since my soul is commanding me to evil, and the one who fails to reform himself can hardly hope to reform others, let me start with my own soul."


Addressing it, I said: "O soul! Listen to these Five Admonitions as a response to what you said in a state of compound ignorance, while sunk in the sleep of neglect on the mattress of torpor.


First Admonition


"O wretched soul of mine! Is your life eternal? Do you have any written guarantee that you will survive until next year, or even tomorrow? That which causes you repugnance from prayer is your illusion of immortality. You insist on your pleasure as if you were going to remain in the world forever. But if you were to understand that your life is brief and passing fruitlessly, to spend one out of the twenty-four hours of the day on a service to God that is beautiful, pleasing, easy and full of mercy, and will be a cause of bliss and truly eternal life, would inspire in you intense desire and enthusiasm instead of repugnance


Second Admonition


"O stomach-worshipping soul of mine! Do you not eat, drink water and breathe in the air every day, day after day, without it causing you repugnance? You feel pleasure instead of repugnance because the need for food, drink and air is constantly renewed.


"This being the case, prayer should also cause you no repugnance, because it provides nourishment for your companions, lodged in the dwelling of my body: it brings food to my heart, the water of life to my spirit, and ambrosial breezes to my dominical faculty. Yes, the nourishment and strength needed by a heart threatened and afflicted innumerable regrets and pains, infatuated and charmed by numberless pleasures and hopes, can be obtained only by knocking on the gate of the One Compassionate, Generous and Empowered over all things. The water of life needed by a spirit that is constantly lamenting swift separation in this transient abode, but still remains attached to all beings, can be drunk only by turning in prayer to the spring of mercy of the One Eternally Worshipped, Beloved and Adored. The inmost mystery of man, endowed with perception, and the dominical faculty, adorned with light, that by their nature seek eternity and have indeed been created for it, that are the mirror of a Being Pre-Eternal and Post-Eternal, that are delicate and subtle to the utmost degree-these need to be able to breathe while in the harsh, oppressive, grievous, transient, dark and stifling states of this world, and they can breathe only when the window of prayer is flung back.


Third Admonition


"O impatient soul of mine! Is it at all reasonable to think back anxiously today on the effort of worship you extended in the past, the toil and trouble of prayer? Or to imagine now and become impatient with the duty of worship and the task of prayer you are to perform in the future? In your impatience you resemble the confused commander of an army, the right wing of whose army is joined by the deserting right flank of the enemy. Although this represents a reinforcement, he sends a major part of his forces to the right, thus weakening his center. As if this were not enough, he sends another large force to his left and orders it to open fire, even though the enemy has no soldiers there and has not yet arrived, thus completely weakening his center. The enemy grasps the situation, attacks his center and totally destroys it. Yes, your state is similar to this. The effort you expended in the past has now been transformed into merry: the pain has departed and the pleasure remains. The toil and trouble have been transformed into generous reward. Instead of feeling repugnance, one ought therefore to experience a new eager desire and conceive a determined intention to persevere. Since the future, on the other hand, is not yet upon us, to think of it, and feel weariness and repugnance in advance, is as irrational as imagining Future hunger and thirst and then breaking forth in lament. This being the case, think only of today's worship, if you are wise, and tell yourself, 'I am devoting one hour of this day to a pleasing, beautiful and exalted act of devotion, the reward for which is great and effort of which is but slight.' Then your bitter weariness will be transformed into a sweet desire and longing.


"O impatient soul of mine! Three forms of patience are enjoined on you:


"First: patience in performing acts of worship and obedience.


"Second: patience in refraining from acts of disobedience.


"Third: patience in the face of misfortune.


"If you are possessed of intelligence, take as your guide this truth set forth in my third admonition. Say in manly fashion, 'O Most Patient One!' thus invoking God's aid, and lift up on your shoulders the three forms of patience. If you do not dissipate in false pursuits, the power of patience that God Almighty has bestowed on you, it will suffice you against all troubles and misfortunes. Rely, then, on that force.


Fourth Admonition


"O confused soul of mine! Is this duty of worship fruitless and without issue, or is its reward slight, that it inspires repugnance within you? If someone gives you a few coins or puts fear into you, he can have you toiling until evening, and you feel no weariness. How can prayer be to no purpose, or its reward be slight, when it provides food and sustenance for your weak and indigent heart in this hospice of the world; when it shall furnish you with both nourishment and Light in that halting place on your journey called the grave; when it shall be a document and testament in your hands on the Day of Resurrection, when you will be judged of a certainty; when it shall be a lamp and a mount for you when you are compelled to cross the Bridge of Sirat?


"If someone promises you a gift of one hundred gold liras, he can have you working for a hundred days. He may break his promise, but you trust him and work on without cease. Does it not then occur to you that if a Being, of Whom it is inconceivable that He should break His word, promises you a reward like Paradise, a gift like eternal bliss, and then sets you to work for a very short time on a most pleasing task; if you fail to serve Him, or doubt the truth of His promise and belittle His gift by serving Him unwillingly, halfheartedly, as if you were doing forced labor - does it not occur to you that you would be deserving of severe chastisement and awesome punishment? While you work unceasingly on the hardest of tasks in order to avoid the torment of jail in this world, does not the fear of eternal imprisonment in Hel1 inspire in you the desire to labor on the lightest and most pleasing of tasks?


Fifth Admonition


"O soul of mine, caught up in worship of this world! Does your weariness of worship, your deficiency in prayer, arise from excess of worldly concern? Or is it because concern for earning a livelihood leaves you no time? Have you been created exclusively for this world, so that you spend all your time on it? You know that on the one hand, you are superior to all the animals with respect to your inward potentialities, and that, on the other hand, you are less capable than the sparrow in providing for your worldly needs. How is it, then, that you do not understand that your true duty is not to toil like an animal, but rather to strive to gain a true and lasting life, like a true human being. In addition to this, much of what you call "worldly preoccupations” does not concern you; it consists of meaningless matters that you meddle in. You spend your time on acquiring totally useless information, while abandoning the most essential, as if a lifespan of millennia lay ahead of you. You spend your valuable time on asking valueless questions such as "What is the nature of the rings around Saturn?" or "How many chickens are there in America" as if your aim were to attain expertise in astronomy or statistics!


"If you were to say, 'It is not such inessentials that hinder me from performing prayer and worship and induce weariness within me, but the essential task of earning a livelihood,' then I would reply:


"Let us suppose you are working for a hundred kurush a day, and then someone comes and says to you, 'Come, dig here for ten minutes, you will find a jewel, an emerald worth one hundred liras'; if you then were to say, 'No, I won't come, my wage of ten kurush will be cut, and my livelihood will suffer,' would that not be the most idiotic of pretexts? You too are now working for your livelihood in the garden of this world. If you abandon the obligatory prayers, the whole fruit of your labors will consist of worldly livelihood, insignificant and devoid of blessedness. But if you devote your time of recreation and rest to prayer, which is the source of tranquillity for the spirit and peace for the heart, then you will have acquired not only a blessed livelihood for this world, but also two important sources for your livelihood and provision in the hereafter:


"First Source: By forming the proper intention, you will have a share in that proclamation of God's glory in which all the plants and trees you cultivate in your garden engage, whether they bear flowers or fruit.


"Second Source: Whoever eats the produce of your garden-.animal or man, cow or fly, buyer or thief-causes you to be credited with a cheritable act, on the condition only that you act in the name of the True Provider and within the limits traced out by His permission and regard yourself as a mere servant entrusted with the distribution of His wealth to His creatures.


"See then how great a loss is suffered by the one that abandons prayer, and what vast wealth he loses! He is deprived of those two consequences of prayer that induce great and enthusiastic desire to strive, those two sources of inner strength for the performance of good deeds; and being thus deprived he will end up bankrupt. As he advances in age, he will weary of cultivating the garden and become disgusted by it. He will say, 'What is it to me? I am leaving this world; why should I continue to toil?' and fall prey to laziness. but the other man will say, 'I will both augment my worship, and strive further in licit to, to increase the light in my tomb and my provision in the hereafter.'


"In sum, know then, O soul, that yesterday has now left your hands, and you hold no deed of possession guaranteeing that tomorrow will come. Know that your actual life consists of the day you are now living, and devote at least one hour of this day to your mosque or your prayermat; it will be like placing a prudently saved coin in a savings-box for the hereafter. Know too that every fresh day is like a door opening on to a new world, for you and for everyone. If you do not pray, your world for that day will pass in darkness and confusion and bear witness against you in the world of similitudes. Every day, a separate and particular world goes forth from that world to every human being, and takes on the shape and the color of the heart and deeds of the one that receives it. A stately palace reflected in a mirror will be colored by the hue of the mirror: if the mirror is black, the palace will appear to be black; if the mirror is red, the palace will appear to be ad. Again, if the glass of the mirror is smooth, the palace will take on a pleasing appearance; but if it is not smooth, the palace will appear to be make the most ugly. lust as the mirror can then make the most delicate of objects appear crude and unpleasing, so too you can change the shape of your world with your heart, your intelligence, your inward being, and your deeds. You can cause it to give witness either in your favor or against you. If you pray, and by virtue of that prayer direct yourself to the Majestic Maker of your world, that world gazing upon you, will be suddenly suffused with light. As if prayer were a lamp and your intention to perform the prayer a switch controlling the lamp, the darkness of your world will be scattered, and the light of prayer will show the apparently anarchic, chaotic and confused mutations and motions of this unstable globe to be in reality a wise and disciplined order, a purposive script penned by God's power A ray of light from the luminous verse:


God is the light of the heavens and earth.


will penetrate our heart, and the world that is yours for that day will be illumined by the reflection of that ray, causing it to bear witness in your favor by virtue of its luminosity.


"Beware, never say, 'How great a difference there is between the prayer I perform and the reality of true prayer!' For the reality of a datepalm is present in the seed as well as in the mature tree; the difference is only with respect to compression and expression. The prayer of a common, person like you and me has a portion of that light, just like the prayer of a saint, even though we are unaware of it; it has a share of that reality, even if our perception falls short of it. But the brilliance of that light and the unfolding of that reality, differ according to the spiritual degrees of men; just as there are limitless stages and steps that separate the seed of the datepalm from the mature tree, so too there are still more numerous degrees and stages of prayer. The essence of that luminous reality is however present in all degrees and at all stages."


O God, bestow peace and blessings on the one who said, "Prayer is the supporting pillar of faith", and upon all of his Family and Companions.




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The Transience of Life


A blow on the head designed to awaken the neglectful, an admonishing lesson


The life of this world is naught but the goods of deceit. (Qur’an 57:20)


O WRETCHED SOUL of mine, sunk in deeming this life to be sweet, forgetting the hereafter and desiring this world! Do you know what you resemble7 An ostrich, that sees the hunter approaching but being unable to fly away, buries its head in the sand so that the hunter should not see it. But its huge body remains visible, and is seen by the hunter; it is only the ostrich, with its eyes closed beneath the sand, that cannot see it.


O soul! Paying regard to this simile, see how exclusive concentration on this world transforms a cherished pleasure into a grievous pain. Imagine there to be two men here in this town of Barla. Almost all the friends of one of them have gone to Istanbul, where they are living in comfort. He alone has remained behind, but will be joining them soon. So he longs to go to Istanbul; he constantly thinks of the city, and looks forward to rejoining his friends there. When he receives the order to leave, he will depart smiling and joyful. Almost all the friends of the other man have also left Barla. Some of them have perished, and others become lost in the most remote and unknown places, so that he imagines them all to have been destroyed. This wretched man will then seek for a new companion to replace those who have departed and to console him for their loss, thus palliating the grievous pain of separation.


O soul All of your friends, headed by the Beloved of God, are on the other side of the tomb. Even those few that are left here will be leaving soon. So do not shy away from death, do not fear the tomb, do not avert your heart Look manfully at the grave, and listen to its demands! Smile courageously in the face of death, and see what it requires Do not be like that second, neglectful man!


O soul! Do not say, "Times have changed, the age is quite different, everyone is absorbed in worldliness, is worshipping life, is drunk with the concerns of making a livelihood." For death does not change, and separation does not transform itself into permanence. Human weakness and indigence do not change, only grow; man's journey does not stop, it only grows swifter.


Also do not say, "I am like everyone else." For others can keep you company only as far as the gate of the tomb, and as for the consolation of being together with others in your misfortune, it will not be of much service on the other side of the tomb.


Nor should you imagine yourself to have been left to your own devices! For if you look with wisdom on this hospice of the world, you will , be unable to see anything without an order and purpose. How then could yon be without order or purpose?


Even occurrences such as earthquakes are not chance games punctuating the processes of creation. You see that the world is provided and adorned with different species of plants and animals, each like a finely made and embroidered tunic worn by the earth, intermingled and superimposed; you see it pervaded from end to end by purposive wisdom; you see it revolving in the utmost order for the fulfillment of exalted ends like an ecstatic Mevlevi dervish, In this context, an earthquake resembles a shrugging of its shoulders by the earth, in order to shake off the burden of the traces of neglect that are repugnant to humanity, and especially the people of belief. How then can some atheist imagine these death-dealing occurrences to be accidental, and thus cast those afflicted by them into despair, by presenting their losses as irreplaceable and vain? It is a great error and misdeed. Such occurrences transform the transient goods of the people of belief into acts of charity, bestowing performance upon them, by virtue of a command of the One Wise and Compassionate. They are also a means of atonement for sins arising from ingratitude to God. So too a day will come when this meek earth shall look upon the works of man that adorn its face, and find them polluted by the absence of worship of God and of gratitude to God. Deeming them ugly, it will cleanse and purify its face with a vast earthquake, by the command of the Creator. By God’s command, it will empty into hellfire those who worship gods other than God and invite to Paradise those who worship Him with thanks.


The Requirements of Belief


An extract from a letter written to some students of the Risale-i Nur at Istanbul university


In His name, be He glorified!


AT the end of the Staff of Moses, there is the answer I gave to the question of one of our brothers, Kucuk Ali, small in name but great in spirit. Read it, for some critics said to him, in an effort to belittle the Risale-i Nur, "Everyone knows God, the common man believes in God just like the saint." They wished in this way to present the exalted, valuable and most essential discussions contained in the Risale-i Nur as superfluous. Now too in Istanbul, with a still more destructive intention, some hypocrites of anarchist persuasion, who have fallen prey to utter unbelief, wish cunningly to deprive everyone of the truths of the faith that are contained in the Risale-i Nur and that are essential to man as bread and water. They say, "Every nation and every individual knows God; we have no great need for new instruction in ;his matter." To know God, however, means to have certain faith in God's dominicality encompassing all beings, and in all things, particular and general, from the atoms to the stars, being in the grasp of His power, action and will; it means believing in the truths of the sacred words 'There is no god but God," and assenting to them with one's heart. But simply to say, "God exists," and then to divide His kingdom among secondary causes and nature and attribute it to them; to recognize secondary causes as sources of authority, as if-God forbid-they were the partners of God; to fail to perceive His will and knowledge as present with all things; to refuse to recognize His strict commands, and to reject His attributes, and the messengers and prophets He has sent-this has nothing to do with the reality of faith in God. Rather the person who does all this, says "God exists" only in order to find some relief from the torment he suffers in the world eater his unbelief has made it a hell for him. Not to deny, is one thing, and actually to believe is another.


No being endowed with consciousness, in the whole of creation, can indeed deny the Majestic Creator to Whom every particle of existence bears witness. Or if it. does make such a denial, it will be refitted by all of creation, and hence become silent and diffident. But believing in him is, as the Qur'an of Mighty Stature informs us, to assent in one's heart to the Creator with all of His attributes and names, in conformity with the testimony of all creation; to recognize the messengers He has sent and the commands He has promulgated; and to make sincere repentance and feel genuine regret for every sin and act of disobedience. Conversely, to commit every kind of sin, and then never to seek pardon for it or concern oneself with it, is a sure sign of the absence of any element of faith.


Thus any spiritual offspring, an important event has become the occasion for a brief exposition of a long and complex matter.


The Enemies of Aspiration


QUESTION: What is the reason for our falling into the pit of apathy?


Answer: Life consists of activity and motion, and eagerness and enthusiasm are the mount which you ride through your life. When your aspiration is seated on this mount and emerges into life's arena of combat, the first determined enemy it encounters is despair. Despair will attempt to break its morale, so wield the sword of:


Do not despair


against that enemy. Then the tyrannical force of personal ambition will attack, seeking to usurp the place of disinterested service to God. It will strike a blow at the head of aspiration, and throw it down from its mount. Send the truth of:


Be for God


against this enemy. Then haste will emerge, urging you to leap over the succession of intertwined causes, and cause the foot of your aspiration to slip. Make of:


Be patient, vie with each other in patience, and strengthen each other


a shield against this enemy. Next you will be confronted by individualism and self-centeredness, something which defeats the wishes of man, for he is by nature a social being and bound both to observe the rights of his fellow beings and to seek the fulfillment of his own rights among them. Send out to combat against it that champion of high aspiration:


The best of men is the one most useful to his fellows.


Then adherence to mere routine, taking advantage of the laziness of others, will attack and seek to paralyze aspiration. Make the impregnable fortress of:


Upon God, and none other, let them place their trust.


a shelter for your aspiration. Next comes the treacherous foe of abandoning tasks to other, a habit arising from weakness and lack of self-confidence; taking your aspiration by the hand, it will invite it to sit and be rested. Send out the luminous truth of:


The one who has gone astray cannot harm you once you are guided aright


against this enemy, so that its hand will be unable to reach the skirt of your aspiration. Then comes the irreligious enemy that would interfere with the performance of God's work; he will seek to strike aspiration in the face, and pluck out its eye. Send against it the long-laboring and conscientious truth of:


Be steadfast, as you have been commanded


And conspire not against thy master


so that he is brought up short. Next comes the mother of all trouble, the source of all evil, which is the desire for ease and tranquillity. It tries to bind aspiration and cast it into the dungeon of lowliness. Send against that bewitching but heartless enemy the champion of lofty fame that is:


Man possesses naught save that for which he strives.


For it is in toil that true tranquillity is to be found, for the ease of man, an unquiet being by nature, is to be found only in striving and struggle.


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