THE SECOND AIM

The representative of those who ascribe partners to God could in no respect prove that way, and so, although despairing, since he wanted to destroy the way of those who affirm Divine unity, he tried to sow doubts in their minds by asking the following question:

The Second Question: “O you who affirm Divine unity! You say, ‘Say: He is God, the One and Only. God, the Eternally Besought One;’1 that the Creator of the universe is one, He is single, He is eternally besought by all creatures; and that the Creator of everything is He. That He is one in essence and at the same time the reins of everything are directly in His hand, the key to everything is in His grasp; one thing cannot be an obstacle to another. And you say that at the same instant He has total disposal over all things and all their states. How can such a far-fetched fact be believed? How can a single individual be in innumerable places and do innumerable things at the same time with no difficulty?”

The Answer: This question may be answered through explaining an extremely profound, subtle, elevated, and comprehensive mystery concerning Divine oneness and eternal besoughtedness. Man’s mind can only look at this mystery through the telescope and observatory of comparison and allegory. While there is nothing similar or analogous to God Almighty’s Essence and attributes, the functions of His attributes may be looked at to an extent by means of comparison and allegory. So we shall point to that mystery through comparisons of a material nature.

First Comparison: As is proved in the Sixteenth Word, a single individual may attain universality or comprehensiveness through the means of different mirrors. While actually being a particular or part of something greater than itself, it is as though it becomes a universal with numerous qualities and functions.

Indeed, matter like glass and water may be a mirror to physical objects, and one such object may attain universality in such a mirror. In the same way, air, ether, and some creatures from the World of Similitudes are like mirrors to lucent objects and spirit beings. Those mirror-like creatures pass with the speed of lightning or imagination to being means of travel and spectating, so that the lucent and spirit beings travel with the speed of imagination in those spotless mirrors, those subtle dwellings. In the space of a single instant the spirit beings can enter thousands of places. And because they are lucent and because their reflections are the same as them and possess their qualities, they are as though present in person in every mirror, everywhere, as is contrary to the case with physical beings.

The reflections and likenesses of dense corporeal beings are not identical to the corporeality of those beings; they do not possess their qualities and may be thought of as dead. For example, although the sun is a particular and a single individual, it becomes like a universal by means of shining objects. It reflects its image, a sun like itself, in all shining objects, drops of water, and fragments of glass on the face of the earth, according to their capacity. The sun’s heat, light, and the seven colours in its light, a sort of likeness of the essential sun, is found in all shining physical objects.

Let us suppose the sun had knowledge and consciousness, then every mirror would be like a sort of dwelling-place or seat or chair for it, it would be in contact with everything in person. It would be able to communicate with all conscious creatures by means of mirrors, with the pupil of every eye, even, each of which would be like a telephone. One thing would not be an obstacle to another. Communicating with one thing would not be a barrier to communicating with another. While being present everywhere, it would be present nowhere.

If the sun, which is like a material, partial, and inanimate mirror to only the Divine Name of LIGHT out of innumerable Names, can therefore display universal activity in an unlimited number of places while being a single individual, should the All-Glorious One, with the oneness of His Essence, be unable to perform innumerable actions at the same time?

Second Comparison: Since the cosmos is like a tree, all trees may be likened to the truths of the universe. So we shall take the mighty and majestic plane-tree facing this room as a miniature example of the universe and demonstrate with it the manifestation of Divine oneness in the universe.

This tree has at least ten thousand fruits and each fruit has at least a hundred winged seeds. At one instant of time the ten thousand fruits and million seeds display altogether one art and creativity. While the centre of the laws of the tree’s formation is present in its roots and trunk, through a manifestation of Divine will and a condensing of the dominical command, which may be described as particular, individuated, and a ‘knot’ of life, it is also present at the ends of all its branches, within every fruit and every seed. No part of any member of the tree is lacking the laws, they are not obstacles to one another; the tree is formed through them.

And that single manifestation of will and law issuing from a command are not transmitted and radiated like light, heat, and air. For they leave no trace nor may any hint of them be perceived in the long distances and various beings between the places they go. If their being present in all the fruits and seeds had occurred through being transmitted and radiated, some trace or hint of them would be perceived. Rather, they are present in all those places without being fragmented or radiated.

The universal and general actions are not incompatible with His oneness and individuality. It may even be said that while the manifestation of will, and the law and life-source are present in all the places, they are present in none of them.

It is as if the law has as many eyes and ears as there are fruits and seeds of the majestic tree. Yes, each part of the tree is like a centre of the senses of the law, so that their long intermediaries are not a veil and do not form a barrier, but like telephone wires, are a means of facilitating and bringing things closer. The farthest is like the nearest.

Since, as is clear from observation, through a single partial manifestation of an attribute of the Single and Eternally Besought One like will, millions of events occur in millions of places without intermediary, one has to be certain, completely certain, that the All-Glorious One can have total disposal over the tree of the universe, together with all its parts and particles, through the manifestation of His power and will.

As is proved and explained in the Sixteenth Word, while being in one place and being particulars identifiable as single, through the mystery of luminosity, impotent and subjugated creatures like the sun, and semi-luminous creatures like spirit-beings, which are restricted by matter, and the laws issuing from a command and the manifestations of will which are the life-source and centre of direction of this plane-tree, which in turn are like its light and spirit, are clearly present in numerous places and in numerous events. While being particulars restricted by matter, it is as though they acquire an absolute universality, and through the exercise of will, in the space of one second may demonstrably perform a great number of works. You see for yourself and you will not be able to deny it.

The Single and Most Pure and Holy Essence, Whose attributes are all-comprehending and functions, universal, is far beyond and exalted above matter, and is utterly remote and free from any restriction and the darkness of density. All these lights and luminous beings are but obscure shadows of His Sacred Names; and all existence and life and the World of Spirits, the Intermediate Realm, and the World of Similitudes, semi-transparent mirrors reflecting His beauty.

What being can be hidden in the face of His oneness, which is within the manifestation of His attributes and actions, which in turn are evident through His universal will, absolute power, and all-embracing knowledge? What matter can be difficult for Him? What place can be concealed from Him? What object can remain distant from Him? What individual can draw close to Him without acquiring universality? Can anything at all be hidden from Him? Can any matter at all be an obstacle to another? Can any place at all be empty of His presence?

Ibn al-‘Abbas (May God be pleased with him) said: “In all beings are an immaterial eye that sees and ear that hears.” Is this not so? Are the chains of beings not each like a wire or vein for the swift conveyance of His commands and laws? Are obstacles and difficulties not means and intermediaries in His disposal of beings? Are causes and intermediaries not merely an apparent veil?

While He is present nowhere, is He not present everywhere? Does He have any need to be located in a place or situation? Can the veils of distance, smallness, and the degrees of existence be obstacles to His proximity, power of disposal, and witnessing?

Moreover, could the qualities pertaining to material, contingent, dense, numerous, restricted, and limited beings, and the states of change, transformation, division, and occupying space, which are their particular and confined necessary consequences, in any way touch the Most Pure and Holy Essence, Who is far beyond matter, is Necessarily Existent, the Light of Lights, and is Single, One, and free from any restriction or limitation and exalted above and pure of any fault or deficiency? Could impotence in any way be fitting for Him? Could any defect approach the skirt of His splendour and glory?