The Gate of Generosity and Mercy,

the Manifestation of the Names of Generous and Merciful

Is it at all possible that the Lord of this world, Who in His works demonstrates infinite generosity, infinite mercy, infinite splendour and infinite glory, should not give reward in a manner befitting His generosity and mercy, and not punish in a manner befitting His splendour and glory?

If one looks at the disposition of affairs in this world, one sees that all animate beings —from the weakest to the most powerful— are given some fitting form of sustenance. (*)

{(*): All licit nourishment is obtained not through the exercise of strength, but through the existence of need. The decisive proof of this is that powerless infants enjoy the finest of livelihoods, while strong wild beasts suffer from all kinds of deficiency, and that fish, for all their lack of intelligence, wax fat, while the cunning fox and monkey remain thin in their quest for livelihood. There is, therefore, an inverse relationship between sustenance on the one hand and strength and will power on the other. The more one relies on strength and will power the more difficult it will be to sustain one's livelihood.}

Indeed, the weakest and most powerless are given the best form of sustenance. This largesse and bounty is distributed with such lofty generosity that a hand of infinite generosity is manifestly at work.

For example, in the spring, all the trees are garbed in clothes as fine as silk, just like the houris in Paradise; they are encrusted with flowers and fruits, as if with jewels, and caused to offer us numerous varieties of the choicest fruits, on branches delicately outstretched like the hands of a servant. Similarly, we are given wholesome and sweet honey to eat, from the hand of the bee with its sting; we are clothed in the finest and softest of clothes by means of an insect that has no hands; and within a small seed a great treasure of mercy is preserved for us. It is self-evident that all of this is the effect of a most beauteous generosity, a most delicate sense of mercy.

Then, too, the fact that, with the exception of man and certain wild animals, all things, from the sun, the moon and earth to the smallest of creatures, perform their functions with the utmost exactitude, do not overstep their bounds by an inch, and observe a universal obedience in a spirit of great awe — this shows that they act by the command of a Possessor of great glory and dignity.

It is also apparent that the fashion in which all mothers, in the vegetable, animal and human realms, succour their weak and powerless infants with the delicate nurture of milk, in tender compassion, is a manifestation of God’s all-embracing mercy.

{(*): The fact that a hungry lion will prefer its offspring to itself, and give to it a piece of meat it would otherwise have eaten; that the cowardly rabbit will attack a lion in order to protect its young; that the fig-tree contents itself with mud while giving pure milk to its offspring, the fruit - this shows to anyone not blind that they act in accordance with the commands of a Being infinitely merciful, generous and solicitous. Again, the fact that even unconscious plants and beasts function in the wisest and most conscious of fashions demostrates irrefutably that One Utterly Knowing and All- Wise has set them to work, and that they are acting in His name.}

Since the master of this world has, then, such infinite generosity, mercy, splendour and glory, it follows that His infinite glory and splendour require the chastisement of the discourteous; that His infinite generosity requires infinite bounty, and His infinite mercy requires a bestowal of favour worthy of itself. Now in this transitory world and brief life, only a millionth part of all this, like one drop from the ocean, establishes and manifests itself. There must therefore be a realm of blessedness appropriate to that generosity and worthy of that mercy. One would otherwise have to deny the existence of the mercy that is visible to us, and this would be like denying the existence of the sun that fills every day with its light. For irrevocable death would transform compassion into disaster, love into affliction, blessing into vengeance, intellect into a tool of misery, and pleasure into pain, so that the very essence of God’s mercy would vanish.

There must in addition be a realm of punishment appropriate to God’s glory and dignity. For generally the oppressor leaves this world while still in possession of his might, and the oppressed while still subjected to humiliation. These matters are therefore deferred for the attention of a supreme tribunal; it is not that they are neglected. It sometimes happens too that punishment is enacted in this world. The torments suffered by disobedient and rebellious peoples in previous centuries show that man is not left to his own devices, and that he is always subject to the blows that God’s splendour and majesty may choose to inflict on him.

Is it at all possible that man should have the most important duty in all of creation and be endowed with the most important capacities; that man’s Sustainer should make Himself known to him with all His well-ordered works, and man should then fail to recognize Him in return by way of worship — or that God should make Himself beloved of men through the numerous adorned fruits of His mercy, and man should then fail to make himself beloved of God through worship — or that God should demonstrate His love and mercy to man through His variegated bounties and man should then fail to respect Him with thanks and with praise — is it at all possible that man should remain unpunished, left to his own devices, or that that powerful Possessor of splendour and glory should not make ready for him a realm of requital?

Is it at all possible, on the other hand, that He should not prepare a realm of reward and eternal bliss for those believers who respond to the Merciful and Compassionate One’s making Himself known by recognizing Him in faith; to His making Himself beloved by loving Him in worship; and to His mercy by offering thanks and veneration?