The Fifth Sign:

The Fifth Sign consists of five Points.

First Point: The representative of the people of misguidance said next: “The world is execrated in your Hadiths and called ‘carrion.’2 Also, all the saints and people of truth have contempt for the world, they say that it is pernicious and unclean. Whereas, you show it to be the means and proof of all Divine perfections and speak of it rapturously.”

The Answer: The world has three faces.

Its First Face looks to God Almighty’s Names; it displays their impress. It is a mirror to them, reflecting their meanings. This face of the world consists of innumerable letters or missives describing the Eternally Besought One. This face is utterly beautiful, and is worthy of love, not loathing.

Its Second Face looks to the hereafter. It is the seed-bed of the hereafter and arable field for Paradise. It is the flower-bed of mercy. This face is also beautiful like the first one and is deserving of love not contempt.

Its Third Face looks to man’s base appetites. It is a veil of neglect and a plaything for satisfying the desires of the worldly. This face is ugly because it is transient and mortal; it is full of pain and it deceives. The contempt described in the Hadith and the loathing of the people of truth, then, is for this face.

The importance and approbation which the All-Wise Qur’an demonstrates towards the universe and all beings is towards the first two faces. It is the first two faces of the world that the Companions of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) and other people of God seek.

There are four classes of people who have contempt for the world.

The First: Those who seek knowledge of God. They have contempt for it because it is a barrier to knowledge, love, and worship of God.

The Second: Those who look to the hereafter. They see the world as ugly either because unavoidable worldly matters prevent them from doing works pertaining to the hereafter. Or, due to their elevated degree of belief, they see it as ugly in relation to the perfections and beauties of Paradise.

Indeed, in the same way that a handsome man will appear ugly when compared to the Prophet Joseph (Peace be upon him), however valuable the qualities of this world, when compared to those of Paradise, they become as nothing.

The Third: These have contempt for this world because they cannot obtain it. This contempt arises not from loathing but from love.

The Fourth: These have contempt for the world because although they obtain it, it does not stay, it leaves them. And this vexes them. They insult it in order to console themselves and say it is foul. But this arises from love of the world, whereas acceptable contempt arises from love of the hereafter and the love that springs from knowledge of God.

That is to say, acceptable contempt is of the first two kinds. May God Almighty make us like those people. Amen.