Introduction

[ By means of a few indications, we refer here to several matters explained elsewhere, that is, in the Twenty-Second, Nineteenth and Twenty-Sixth Words. ]

• First Indication

The foolish man in the previous story and his trustworthy companion correspond to three other pairs:

The instinctual soul and the heart;

The students of philosophy and the pupils of the All-Wise Qur’an;

The people of unbelief and the community of Islam.

The worst error and misguidance of the students of philosophy, the people of unbelief and the instinctual soul, lies in not recognizing God. Just as in the preceding story the trustworthy man said, “there can be no letter without a scribe, no law without a legislator,” we too say the following:

A book, particularly one in each word of which a minute pen has inscribed another whole book, and in each letter of which a fine pen has traced a poem, cannot be without a writer; this would be entirely impossible. So too this cosmos cannot be without its inscriber; this is impossible to the utmost degree. For the cosmos is precisely such a book that each of its pages includes many other books, each of its words contains a book, and each of its letters contains a poem. The face of the earth is but a single page in the book of the cosmos. See how many books it contains. Every fruit is a letter, and every seed is a dot. In that dot is contained the index of the whole tree in its vastness. A book such as this can have been inscribed only by the mighty pen of a Possessor of Glory Who enjoys the attributes of splendour and beauty, and Who is the holder of infinite wisdom and power. Faith, then, follows inevitably on the observation of the world, unless one is drunk on misguidance.

Similarly, a house cannot arise without a builder, particularly a house adorned with miraculous works of art, wondrous designs, and amazing ornaments. As much art has been put into one of its stones as into a whole palace. No intelligence will accept that it could arise without a builder; definitely it needs a master architect. Moreover, within the building, veritable rooms take shape and change each hour with the utmost order and ease, just as if clothes were being changed, or as if scenes were passing across a cinema screen. We can say even that numerous little rooms are constantly being created in each of those scenes.

In like manner, the cosmos also requires an infinitely wise, all-knowing and all-powerful maker. For the magnificent cosmos is a palace that has the sun and the moon as its lamps and the stars as its candles; time is like a rope or ribbon hung within it, on to which the Glorious Creator each year threads a new world. And within the world that He thus threads on the string of time He places three hundred and sixty fresh and orderly forms. He changes them with the utmost orderliness and wisdom. He has made the face of the earth a bounteous spread that He adorns each spring with three hundred thousand species of creation, that He fills with innumerable kinds of generous gifts. This He does in such a fashion that they all stand apart from each other, quite separate and distinct, despite their being at the same time so close and intermingled. Is it possible to overlook the existence of the Maker of such a palace?

Again, to deny the existence of the sun, on a cloudless day at noon, when its traces are to be observed and its reflection is to be seen in every bubble on the surface of the ocean, in every shining object on dry land, and in every particle of snow — to make such a denial would be to rave like the deranged. For if one denied and refused to accept the existence of the single, unique sun, he would be compelled to accept the existence of a whole series of minor suns, each real and existent in its own right, as numerous as the drops and bubbles of the ocean, as countless as the particles of snow. It would be necessary to believe that each minute particle contains a huge sun, even though the particle is large enough only to contain itself. It would be an even greater sign of lunacy and misguidance to refuse one’s assent to the attributes of perfection of the Glorious Creator, even while beholding the well-ordered cosmos that is constantly changing in wise and regular fashion, that is being ceaselessly renewed in disciplined manner. This, too, would be like the ravings of a lunatic, since it would then become necessary to believe and accept that absolute divinity is present in all things, even a particle. For every particle of air is somehow able to enter and work its effects upon every flower, fruit and leaf, and unless the particle be entrusted with this task by a Creator, it must know of itself the structure and form of all the objects it penetrates and affects. In other words, it must possess all-encompassing power and knowledge.

Every particle of soil is potentially capable of giving rise to all the different seeds that exist. If it is not acting under command, it must contain within itself equipment and instruments corresponding to all the various trees and plants in the world. Or, to put it differently, one must attribute to the particle such artistry and power that it is aware of the structure of each of them, knows the forms that each of them is caused to assume, and is capable of fashioning those forms. The same is true with respect to the particle and other realms of creation.

From this you can understand that in all things there are numerous and manifest proofs of God’s Unity. To create all things from one thing, and to make all things into one thing, is a task possible only for the Creator of all things. Pay heed to the sublime declaration: “There is naught but proclaims His Glory with praise.” For if one does not accept God, the One and Unique, one must accept gods as numerous as created beings.

• Second Indication

In our story, we made mention of a Most Noble Commander and said that whoever is not blind and sees his decorations and medals will understand that he acts in accordance with the commands of a monarch and is his favoured servant. Now that Most Noble Commander is the Most Noble Messenger of God, may peace and blessings be upon him. The sacred Creator of so ornamented a cosmos must of necessity have a Noble Messenger, just as the sun must of necessity have light. For the sun cannot exist without giving light, and Divinity cannot be without showing itself through the sending of prophets. Is it at all possible that a beauty of utter perfection should not desire to manifest itself by means of one who will demonstrate and display it?

Is it at all possible that a perfection of beauteous artistry should not desire to make itself known by means of a herald that will draw men’s gazes upon it?

Is it at all possible that the universal monarchy of all-embracing dominicality should not desire to announce its unity and eternal besoughtedness throughout the different levels of multiplicity and particularity by means of an envoy possessing two aspects? By the two aspects, we mean that he is both the envoy of the realm of multiplicity to the Divine Court, by virtue of his universal worship, and also the messenger of the Divine Court to the realm of multiplicity, by virtue of his closeness to God and being entrusted with His message.

Is it at all possible that a possessor of infinite inherent beauty should not wish both to behold himself and to display to others, in numerous mirrors, the charms of his beauty and the allurements of his fairness? God’s Messenger is His beloved, making himself beloved of Him by means of his worship and holding up a mirror to Him, and he is also the bearer of His message, making Him beloved of men and demonstrating to them the beauty of His Names.

Is it at all possible that the owner of treasuries full of wondrous miracles, rare and valuable items, should not wish and desire to display them to men’s gaze by means of an expert jeweller, and eloquent describer, thereby revealing his hidden perfections?

Is it at all possible that the One Who manifests the perfection of all His Names in the cosmos by means of artful adornment for men to look upon, so that the cosmos comes to resemble a palace decorated with all kinds of wondrous and subtle art, should not also designate a teacher and a guide to the wonders of his creation?

Is it at all possible that the Lord of the cosmos should not solve, by means of a messenger, the complex talisman of the aim and purpose of all the changes that take place in the cosmos, and the riddle contained in the three difficult questions posed by all beings: “What is our origin? What is our destination? What is our purpose?”

Is it at all possible that the Glorious Maker Who makes Himself known to sentient beings by means of His fair creation, and Who makes himself loved by means of His precious bounties, should not also communicate to sentient beings, by means of a messenger, what His pleasure desires of them in exchange?

Is it at all possible that God should create mankind in a form predisposing it to suffer the consciousness of multiplicity but also containing the ability to engage in universal worship, without at the same time wishing to turn it away from multiplicity to unity, by means of a teacher and guide?

There are numerous other functions of prophethood, each of which is a decisive proof that Divinity necessarily implies messengership.

Did anyone ever appear in the world more worthy and more in possession of the abovementioned qualities and functions than Muhammad, the Arabian Prophet, may peace and blessings be upon him? Has time ever shown us one more fitting and suited to the rank of messengerhood and the task of conveying God’s message? No, by no means! He is the master of all messengers, the foremost of all prophets, the leader of all pure ones, the closest to God of all those who have drawn nigh unto Him, the most perfect of all creatures, the monarch of all guides to righteousness.

Quite apart from the countless indications of his prophethood deriving from more than a thousand miracles, such as the splitting of the moon and the flowing of water from his fingers, that all scholars unanimously confirm, the supreme miracle of the Glorious Qur’an —an ocean of truth and a book miraculous in forty different respects— is itself enough to demonstrate his prophethood as clearly as the sun. Since we discuss the forty different aspects of the Qur’an’s miraculousness in other treatises, particularly the Twenty-Fifth Word, we curtail our discussion of the matter here.

• Third Indication

Let it not be thought that petty man is too insignificant for this vast world to be brought to an end and another realm to be unfolded simply for the sake of his being brought to account. For apparently petty man bears great importance as the master of all creatures, by virtue of the comprehensiveness of his disposition, as the herald of God’s monarchy, and the manifester of universal worship. Also let nobody ask: “How can one earn eternal torment in the course of a very brief life?” For unbelief seeks to drag creation, something as valuable and exalted as a letter written by God, down to the depths of meaninglessness and purposelessness. It is an insult to all being, since it denies and rejects the manifestations and impresses of God’s Sacred Names that are visible in all being, and it seeks to negate all the infinite proofs that demonstrate the veracity and truthfulness of God Almighty. Hence, unbelief is a crime of infinite proportions, deserving of infinite punishment.

• Fourth Indication

In the story, we saw by means of twelve aspects that a king who had one realm resembling a transient hospice must of a necessity have another realm, one eternal and permanent, manifesting his splendour and the sublimity of his power. In the same way, it is not at all possible that the Eternal Creator of the transient world should not create also an eternal realm. It is not possible that the Everlasting Maker of this fine but unstable cosmos, should not create another cosmos, permanent and lasting. It is not possible that the Wise, Powerful and Merciful Creator of this world, which is like an exhibition, or a testing-ground, or a field, should not create also a hereafter in which the purposes of this world shall be made manifest. Entry is to be had to this truth by means of twelve gates, and the twelve gates are to be unlocked by means of twelve other truths. We will begin with the shortest and simplest of them.