In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Allah does what He wishes, and decrees what He wills.
Q u e s t i o n : How can the solicitous nurturing, the purposeful and beneficial planning, the loving kindness of the Names of All-Compassionate, All-Wise, and Loving, which are among the greatest of the Divine Names, be reconciled with death and non-existence, decline and separation; and disaster and hardship, which are awesome and terrible?
Very well, man goes to eternal happiness, so we can tolerate his passing down the road of death, but for the delicate, lovely species of trees and plants, and the flowers, all living creatures, and the species of animals, which are worthy of existence, lovers of life, and desire permanent life – what compassion and kindness is there in their continuously, without exception, being annihilated, in their swiftly being dispatched to non-existence without being allowed to so much as open their eyes, in their being made to work and labor without being allowed to so much as take a breath, in their being changed by calamities with not one of them being left in peace, in their being killed without exception, in their dying with not one of them remaining, in their departing with not one of them being gratified – what wisdom and purpose, what favor and mercy are there in this?
T h e A n s w e r : Through Five Signs which show the necessitating cause and reason, and Five indications which point out the aims and benefits, we shall try to look from afar at the mighty truth which solves this question, and which is extremely broad, profound, and elevated.
[This consists of Five Signs]
– First sign
As is described at the end of the Twenty-Sixth Word, when making a precious bejeweled and embroidered garment, a Skillful Craftsman employs a poor man in return for a commensurate wage. In order to display his skill and art, he dresses the poor man in the garment, then measures it and cuts it, and lengthens and shortens it, and making the man sit down and stand up, he gives it various forms. So does the wretched man have the right to say to the craftsman ? :
“Why are you interfering with this garment which makes me beautiful, and altering and changing it? Why are you making me stand up and sit down, disturbing me and causing me trouble?”
In exactly the same way, in order to display the perfections of His art through the embroideries of His Names, the All-Glorious Maker takes the essential nature of every sort of being as a model, then He clothes everything and especially living creatures in the garment of a body bejeweled with senses, and inscribes it with the pen of Divine Decree and Determining; thus demonstrating the manifestation of His Names. In addition, He gives to every being a perfection, a pleasure, an effulgence, in a way suitable to it and as a wage.
Has then anything the right to say to the All-Glorious Maker, Who manifests the meaning of, the Lord of All-Dominion has free disposal over His realms as He wishes :
“You are giving me trouble and disturbing me.”? God forbid! In no way do beings have any rights before the Necessarily Existent One, nor can they claim them; their right rather is to carry out through offering thanks and praise, what is required by the degree of existence He has given them.
For all the degrees of existence that are given are occurrences, and each requires a cause. Degrees which are not given are possibilities, and possibilities are non-existent, as well as being infinite. As for instances of non-existence, they do not require a cause. For example, minerals cannot say: “Why weren’t we plants?” they cannot complain. Rather, their right, since they have received mineral existence, is to offer thanks to their Creator. And plants may not complain asking why they were not animals; their right is to offer thanks, since they have received life as well as existence. As for animals, they may not complain that they are not humans; the right over them rather, since they have been given the precious substance of spirit in addition to life and existence, is to offer thanks. And so on…
O complaining man! You did not remain non-existent; you were clothed in the bounty of existence, you tasted life. You did not remain inanimate, nor become an animal; you received the bounty of Islam; you did not remain in misguidance; you have experienced the bounties of good health and well-being!
O ungrateful one! Where did you win the right not to offer thanks in return for the degrees of existence which Almighty God has given you and are pure bounty (blessing). How is it that because exalted bounties which are contingencies and non-existent and which you do not deserve have not been given to you, you complain about Almighty God with meaningless greed, ungrateful for the bounties you have received?
If a man rises to an exalted degree like climbing to the top of a minaret and finds a high station, and on every step receives a large bounty, then does not thank the one who gave him the bounties and complainingly asks why he could not have risen higher than the minaret, how wrong he would be, what an ungrateful denial of the bounties, what great foolishness it would be; as even a lunatic would understand.
O discontented greedy, thriftless wasteful, unjustly complaining, heedless man! Know certainly that contentment is profitable thanks; greed is loss-causing ingratitude, and frugality, fine and beneficial respect for bounties. As for wastefulness, it is ugly and harmful contempt for bounties.
If you have intelligence, grow accustomed to contentment and try to be satisfied with little. If you cannot endure it, say: “O Most Patient One!” and seek patience. Be satisfied with your lot and do not complain. Understand who is complaining about whom, and be silent. If you have to complain, then complain about your soul to God Almighty, for the fault is its.
– Second sign
As is stated at the end of the final matter of the Eighteenth Letter, one instance of wisdom in the All-Glorious Creator constantly changing and renewing beings in an astonishing and awesome fashion through the activity of His Dominicality (Lordship) is as follows:
Activity and motion in creatures arises from an appetite, a desire, a pleasure, a love. It may be said that in all activity there is a sort of pleasure; even, that every activity is a sort of pleasure. Pleasure too is turned towards a perfection; it is even a sort of perfection. Since activity indicates a perfection, a pleasure, a beauty; and since the Necessarily Existent One, Who is Absolute Perfection and the Perfect One of Glory, unites in His essence, attributes, and Names every sort of perfection, for sure, in a manner fitting for the necessary existence and holiness of the Necessarily Existent Essence, in a form suitable to His absolute riches and the self-sufficiency of His essence, in a way appropriate to His absolute perfection and freedom from defect, He has a boundless sacred compassion and infinite pure love.
Of a certainty, there is an infinite holy eagerness arising from that sacred compassion and pure love; and from that holy eagerness arises an infinite sacred joy. And arising from that sacred joy, is, if the term is permissible, an infinite holy pleasure. And from this holy pleasure and from the gratitude and perfections of creatures which result from the emergence and development of their potentialities within the activity of His power, arise, if one may say so, an infinite sacred gratification and holy pride pertaining to that Most Merciful and Compassionate Essence; and it is these which necessitate a boundless activity.
And that boundless activity in turn necessitates boundless change, and transformation, and alteration, and destruction. And that boundless change and transformation necessitate death and extinction, decline and separation.
At one time, the benefits shown by human science and philosophy concerning the purposes of beings appeared most insignificant in my view. And I understood from this that such philosophy leads only to futility. It is for this reason that leading philosophers either fall into the swamp of Nature, or they become Sophists, or they deny Divine knowledge and choice, or they call the Creator “self-necessitating.”
At that point, Divine mercy sent the Name of All-Wise to my aid, and it showed me the great aims of creatures. That is to say, every creature, every artifact, is such a Dominical missive that all conscious beings study it.
This aim satisfied me for a year. Then the wonders in the art of beings were unfolded to me, and the former aim started to appear insufficient. Another, much greater aim became apparent. That is, the most important aims of all creatures look to their Maker. I understood that this aim is to present to His gaze the perfections of His art, the embroideries of His Names, the embellishments of His wisdom, and the gifts of His mercy; it is to be mirrors to His beauty and perfections. This aim satisfied me for a long time.
Then the miracles of Divine power and functions of Dominicality in the extremely swift changes and transformations within the astonishing activity in the art and creation of things became apparent. The former aim too began to appear insufficient. I understood that a necessitating cause, a motive, as great as this aim was necessary. It was then that the causes in this Second Sign and aims in the Indications to follow became apparent.
It was made known to me with complete certainty that “the activity of Divine Power in the Universe and the constant flood of beings is so meaningful that through it the All-Wise Maker causes all the realms of beings in the universe to speak.”. It is as if the beings of the earth and the skies and their motion and actions are the words of their speech; their motion is their speech. That is, the motion and decline arising from activity is speech glorifying God. And the activity in the Universe, too, is the silent speech of the Universe and that of the varieties of its beings..
– Third sign
Things do not go to non-existence, they rather pass from the sphere of power to the sphere of knowledge; they go from the Manifest World to the World of the Unseen; they turn from the world of change and transience to the worlds of light and eternity.
From the point of view of reality, the beauty and perfection in things pertain to the Divine Names and are their impresses and manifestations. Since the Names are eternal and their manifestations, perpetual, certainly their impresses will be renewed, refreshed, and made beautiful. They do not pass and depart for non-existence, only their relative positions change; their realities, essences, and identities, which are the means of beauty and loveliness, effulgence and perfection, are enduring.
The beauty and fineness in Beings with no spirits pertain directly to the Divine Names; the honor is their; praise is due to them; the beauty is their; Love goes to them; they suffer no harm on those mirrors changing.
If they are Beings with spirits but no intellect, their death and departure is not extinction and vanishing into non-existence, it is rather being saved from physical existence and the turbulent duties of life. Making over to their spirits, which are immortal, the fruits of the duties they have gained, each relying on a Divine Name, their immortal spirits persist, attaining a happiness worthy of them.
If they are Beings possessing both spirits and intellects, their demise is anyway a journeying to everlasting happiness, to the eternal realm, which is the means to perfections, material and non-material, and to the other dwelling-places of the All-Wise Maker, like the Intermediate Realm, the World of Similitudes, and the Spirit World, which surpass this World in beauty and luminosity. Their passing is not death and extinction, separation and non-existence, it is attaining perfection.
I n S h o r t : Since the All-Glorious Maker exists and He is Eternal and since His attributes and Names are perpetual and everlasting; certainly His Names’ manifestations and impresses are renewed, affording a sort of perpetuality; they are not destroyed and transitory, departing for non-being.
It is clear that by reason of his humanity, man is connected with most of the other beings; he receives pleasure at their happiness, and is grieved at their destruction. And he is more grieved at the suffering of living creatures, of mankind in particular, and particularly of those possessing perfection he loves and admires; and his happiness is greater at their happiness.
Like a fond mother, even, he sacrifices his own happiness and comfort for their happiness. Thus, in accordance with their degree, through the light of the Qur’an and mystery of belief, all believers may be happy at the happiness of all beings, and at their enduring and being saved from nothingness and their being valuable Dominical missives; they may gain a light as extensive as the world. Everyone may profit from this light according to his degree.
As for the people of misguidance, they are grieved at the destruction of all beings, at their transience and their apparent dispatch to non-existence – and if they have spirits, at their suffering, in addition to their own pains. That is to say, their unbelief fills their world with non-existence; it empties it over their heads, causing them Hell before they go there.
– Fourth sign
As we have said in many places, a Monarch has various different offices and departments proceeding from his titles like Sultan, Khalifah, Judge, and Commander-in-Chief, and in the same way, Almighty God’s Most Beautiful Names have innumerable different sorts of manifestations. The varieties and different sorts of creatures arise from the varieties of manifestations.
Thus, in accordance with the fact that every possessor of beauty and perfection has an innate desire to see and display his beauty and perfection, those various Names too – since they are constant and eternal – want to be displayed in permanent fashion on account of the Most Pure and Holy Essence. That is to say, they want to see their impresses; that is, to see the manifestation of their beauty and reflection of their perfection in the mirrors of their embroideries; that is, to renew every instant the mighty book of the universe and the different missives of beings; that is, to constantly write them anew; that is, to write thousands of different missives on a single page and to display each missive to the witnessing gaze of the Sacred Essence, the Most Pure and Holy One Who is Signified; and together with this, to exhibit them to the meditative gazes of all sentient beings, and cause them to read them.
Consider the following poem which alludes to this truth:
The leaves of the Book of the World are of variety incalculable.
Its letters and words, too, are of number infinite;
Inscribed on the workbench of the Preserved Tablet of Reality
An embodied meaningful word, is each Being in the Universe.
Study the lines of the Universe; they are missives to you from the Sublime Assembly.
– Fifth Sign
The Fifth Sign consists of Two Points.
F i r s t P o i n t : Since Almighty God exists, everything exists. Since there is a relation with Almighty God, all things exist for everything. For through the mystery of Unity, through the relation with the Necessarily Existent One, all beings become connected with all other beings. That means, through the mystery of Unity, every being which knows its relation with the Necessarily Existent One, or whose relation is known, becomes related with all beings which are related to Him. This means, from the point of view of the relation, every being may manifest endless lights of existence. There is no separation or death from that point of view. To live for a single passing second is the means to innumerable lights of existence.
Whereas if the relation does not exist or is not known, the being manifests infinite separations and deaths. For in that case, in the face of every being with which he could have been connected, he is exposed to a separation, a parting, a death. That is, he burdens his own personal existence with endless instances of non-existence and separation. Should he remain in existence for a million years even (without connection), it would not be as much as living for an instant being related in the former respect.
Those who have penetrated to the realities have said therefore:
“Illumined existence for even a passing instant is preferable to a million years of profitless existence.”
And it is also because of this that those who have researched into the realities of creation have said:
“The lights of existence become apparent through recognizing the Necessarily Existent One.”
That is to say: “In that case, the Universe is seen to be full of angels, spirit beings, and conscious beings within lights of existence. Whereas without them, the darkness of nonexistence and pains of death and separation encompass all beings. The world appears in such a man’s view to be an empty and desolate wasteland.”
Indeed, each one of a tree’s fruits has a relation with all the other fruits on the tree, and since through the relation, each is his friend and brother, he possesses accidental existences to their number. But when the fruit is plucked from the tree, a separation and death comes about in the face of all the other fruits; they all become as though non-existent for it; a darkness of external non-existence results for it.
In exactly the same way, in respect of being related to the Power of the Single Eternally Besought One, for everything, all things exist. lf not for that relation, there would be external non-existences for all things to the number of things.
And so, from this Sign you may see the vastness of the lights of belief, and the terrifying darkness of misguidance. That is, belief is the title of the essential reality of the elevated truth described in this Sign; and it may be benefited from through belief. In the absence of belief, just as everything is non-existent for someone who is blind, deaf, dumb, and stupid, so is everything non-existent and dark for one without belief.
S e c o n d P o i n t : The world and all things have three faces: The First Face looks to the Divine Names and is their mirror. Death, separation, and non-existence cannot intrude on this face; there is rather renewal and renovation.
The Second Face looks to the Hereafter and gazes upon the World of Eternity; it is like its arable field. Enduring fruits and produce are raised on this face. It serves eternity, and makes transitory things as though eternal. On this face too there is no death and decline, but the manifestations of life and eternity.
The Third Face looks to transient beings, that is, to us. It is the beloved of ephemeral beings and those who follow the caprices of their souls; the place of trade for the conscious; the arena of trial and examination for those charged with duties. Thus, the salve and cure for the pains and wounds of the transience and decline, the death and extinction, on this third face, are the manifestations of life and eternity in its inner face.
I n S h o r t : This flood of beings, these traveling creatures, are moving mirrors and changing places of manifestation for the renewal of the lights of creation and existence of the Necessarily Existent One.