Consider this: in the world of humanity, from the time of Adam up to now, two great currents, two lines of thought, have always been and will so continue. Like two mighty trees, they have spread out their branches in all directions and in every class of humanity. One of them is the line of prophethood and religion, the other the line of philosophy in its various forms. Whenever those two lines have been in agreement and united, that is to say, if the line of philosophy, having joined the line of religion, has been obedient and of service to it, the world of humanity has experienced a brilliant happiness and social life. Whereas, when they have become separated, goodness and light have been drawn to the side of the line of prophethood and religion, and evil and misguidance to the side of the line of philosophy. Now let us find the origin and foundations of those two lines.

The line of philosophy that does not obey the line of religion, taking the form of a tree of Zaqqum, scatters the darkness of ascribing partners to God and misguidance on all sides. In the branch of the power of intellect, even, it produces the fruit of atheism, Materialism, and Naturalism for the consumption of the human intellect. And in the realm of the power of passion, it pours the tyrannies of Nimrod, Pharaoh, and Shaddad on mankind.(*) And in the realm of the power of animal appetites, it nurtures and bears the fruit of goddesses, idols, and those who claim divinity.

{(*) It was the swamp of Naturalist philosophy that gave birth to idols and established goddesses in the heads of the ancient Greeks, that nourished and nurtured Nimrods and Pharaohs. It was again that same Naturalist philosophy that produced the philosophies of ancient Egypt and Babylon, which either reached the degree of magic or, since they were represented by the elite, were considered to be magic by the people generally. Most certainly, if man does not perceive the light of God Almighty because of the veil of Nature, he will attribute divinity to everything and will thus cause himself nothing but trouble. }

The origin of the tree of Zaqqum together with that of the line of prophethood, which is like the Tuba-tree of worship, are in the two faces of the ‘I’. The blessed branches of the line of prophethood in the garden of the globe of the earth are the following: in the branch of the power of intellect, it has nurtured the fruits of the prophets, the messengers, and the saints. In the branch of the power of repulsion, it has resulted in angelic kings and just rulers. And in the branch of the power of attraction, it has resulted in people of good character and modest and beautiful manner, both generous and gracious. So the line of prophethood has shown how mankind is the most perfect fruit of the universe. We shall explain the two faces of the ‘I’ as the root and pivot and as a principal seed of those two trees. That is to say, prophethood takes hold of one face of the ‘I’, and philosophy takes hold of the other, causing them to diverge.

The First Face, which is the face of prophethood: It is the origin of sheer worship. That is to say, the ‘I’ knows itself to be a bondsman. It realizes that it serves one other than itself. Its essence has only an indicative meaning. That is, it understands that it carries the meaning of another. Its existence is dependent; that is, it believes that its existence is due only to the existence of another, and that the continuance of its existence is due solely to the creativity of that other. Its ownership is illusory; that is, it knows that with the permission of its owner it has an apparent and temporary ownership. Its reality is shadow-like; that is, a contingent and insignificant shadow that displays the manifestation of a true and necessary reality. As to its function, being a measure and balance for the attributes and functions of its Creator, it is conscious service.

It is in this way that the prophets, and the pure ones and saints who were from the line of the prophets, regarded the ‘I’, they saw it in this regard, and understood the truth. They handed over the sovereignty to the Lord of All Sovereignty and concluded that that Lord of All Glory has no partner or like, neither in His sovereignty, nor in His dominicality, nor in His Divinity. He has no need of assistant or deputy. The key to all things is in His hand. He has absolute power over all things. They also concluded that causes are but an apparent veil; nature is the set of rules of His creation, a collection of His laws, and the way in which He demonstrates His power.

Thus, this shining, luminous, beautiful face is like a living and meaningful seed out of which the Glorious Creator has created a Tuba-tree of worship, the blessed branches of which have adorned with luminous fruits all parts of the world of humanity. By scattering the darkness of all the past, it shows that that long past time is not a place of non-existence and a vast graveyard as philosophy would have it, but is a radiant garden and a place of light for the luminous souls who have departed this world, who have cast off their heavy loads and remain free. It is a luminous, many-runged ascent and an orbit of lights for passing souls in order that they may jump to the future and eternal felicity.

As for the second face, it is represented by philosophy. And as for philosophy, it regards the ‘I’ as carrying no meaning other than its own. That is to say, it declares that the ‘I’ points only to itself, that its meaning is in itself. It considers that the ‘I’ works purely on its own account. It regards its existence as necessary and essential, that is, it says that it exists in itself and of itself. It falsely assumes that the ‘I’ owns its own life and is the real master in its sphere of disposal. It supposes it to be a constant reality. And it considers the ‘I’s’ duty to be perfection of self, which originates from love of self, and likewise, philosophies have constructed their modes of thought on many such corrupt foundations. We have given definite proof in our other treatises, especially in the Words, and more particularly in the Twelfth and Twenty-Fifth Words, of how baseless and rotten these foundations are.

Even men like Plato and Aristotle, Ibn-i Sina and Farabi, who were the most illustrious representatives and authorities of the line of philosophy, said that the ultimate aim of humanity is to liken themselves to the Necessary Being, that is to say, to actually resemble Him. They thus delivered judgement in the manner of Pharaoh, and, by whipping up ‘I-ness’ and allowing polytheism to run free in the valleys, opened the way to numerous different ways of associating partners with God, like worship of causes, idols, nature, and the stars. They closed the doors of impotence and weakness, poverty and need, deficiency and imperfection, which are intrinsic to human beings, thus obstructing the road to worship. Being immersed in Naturalism and being completely incapable of emerging from associating partners with God, they were unable to find the broad gate of thanks.

On the other hand, the line of prophethood considered, in the manner of a worshipper, that the aim of humanity and duty of human beings is to be moulded by God-given ethics and good character, and, by knowing their impotence to seek refuge with Divine power, by seeing their weakness to rely on Divine strength, by realizing their poverty to trust in Divine mercy, by perceiving their need to seek help from Divine riches, by seeing their faults to ask for pardon through Divine forgiveness, and by realizing their deficiency to be glorifiers of Divine perfection.

So, it is because the philosophy which does not obey the line of religion thus lost its way, that the ‘I’ took the reins into its own hands and ran into all sorts of misguidance. And out of the ‘I’ that was in this position, a tree of Zaqqum sprang forth and engulfed more than half of mankind.

Thus, in the branch of power of animal appetites of that tree, the fruits it has presented to mankind are idols and goddesses. Because, according to the principles of philosophy, power is approved. “Might is right” is the norm, even. It says, “All power to the strongest.” “The winner takes all,” and, “In power there is right.”(*) It has given moral support to tyranny, encouraged despots, and urged oppressors to claim divinity.

{(*) The principle of prophethood says: "Power is in right; right is not in power." It thus halts tyranny and ensures justice.}

Also, by appropriating the beauty in works of art and the fineness in the decoration and attributing them to the works of art themselves and their decoration, and by not relating them to the manifestation of the sacred and sheer beauty of the Maker and Fashioner, it says: “How beautiful it is,” instead of, “How beautifully made it is,” thus regarding each as an idol worthy of worship. Moreover, because it admires a fraudulent, boasting, ostentatious, hypocritical beauty that may be sold to anyone, it has acclaimed the hypocrites, and has made idol-like people monuments for its own worshippers.(*)

{(*) That is to say, in order to appear desirable to their worshippers and to gain their attention, those idol-like people display, through hypocritical ostentation, a sort of worshipful attitude.}

In the branch of power of passion of that tree, it has nurtured the fruits of greater and lesser Nimrods, Pharaohs, and Shaddads ruling over unfortunate mankind. In the branch of power of intellect, it has produced fruits like atheism, Materialism, and Naturalism in the mind of humanity, and has thrown it into confusion.

Now, in order to illuminate this truth, we shall compare the results which are born of the sound foundations of the line of prophethood with those originating from the rotten foundations of the way of philosophy, and shall mention three or four examples.