The Twelfth Word

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.

And he who has been given wisdom has been given great good.1 [Qur'an, 2:269 ]

[This Word consists of a brief comparison between the sacred wisdom of the All-Wise Qur’an and the wisdom of philosophy and science, and a concise summary of the instruction and training which Qur’anic wisdom gives to man in his personal life and social life, and an indication of the Qur’an’s superiority to other Divine words, and to all speech. There are Four Principles in this Word.]


Look through the telescope of the following story which is in the form of a comparison, and see the differences between Qur’anic wisdom and that of philosophy and science:

One time, a renowned Ruler who was both religious and a fine craftsman wanted to write the All-Wise Qur’an in a script worthy of the sacredness in its meaning and the miraculousness in its words, so that its marvel-displaying stature would be arrayed in wondrous apparel. The artist-King therefore wrote the Qur’an in a truly wonderful fashion. He used all his precious jewels in its writing. In order to indicate the great variety of its truths, he wrote some of its embodied letters in diamonds and emeralds, and some in rubies and agate, and other sorts in brilliants and coral, while others he inscribed with silver and gold. He adorned and decorated it in such a way that everyone, those who knew how to read and those who did not, were full of admiration and astonishment when they beheld it. Especially in the view of the people of truth, since the outer beauty was an indication of the brilliant beauty and striking adornment in its meaning, it became a truly precious antique.

Then the Ruler showed the artistically wrought and bejewelled Qur’an to a European philosopher and to a Muslim scholar. In order to test them and for reward, he commanded them: “Each of you write a work about the wisdom and purposes of this!” First the philosopher, then the scholar composed a book about it. However, the philosopher’s book discussed only the decorations of the letters and their relationships and conditions, and the properties of the jewels, and described them. It did not touch on their meaning at all, for the European had no knowledge of the Arabic script. He did not even know that the embellished Qur’an was a book, a written piece, expressing a meaning. He rather looked on it as an ornamented antique. He did not know any Arabic, but he was a very good engineer, and he described things very aptly, and he was a skilful chemist, and an ingenious jeweller. So this man wrote his work according to those crafts.

As for the Muslim scholar, when he looked at the Qur’an, he understood that it was the Perspicuous Book, the All-Wise Qur’an. This truth-loving person neither attached importance to the external adornments, nor busied himself with the ornamented letters. He became preoccupied with something that was a million times higher, more elevated, more subtle, more noble, more beneficial, and more comprehensive than the matters with which the other man had busied himself. For discussing the sacred truths and lights of the mysteries beneath the veil of the decorations, he wrote a truly fine commentary. Then the two of them took their works and presented them to the Illustrious Ruler. The Ruler first took the philosopher’s work. He looked at it and saw that the self-centred and nature-worshipping man had worked very hard, but had written nothing of true wisdom. He had understood nothing of its meaning. Indeed, he had confused it and been disrespectful towards it, and ill-mannered even. For supposing that source of truths, the Qur’an, to be meaningless decoration, he had insulted it as being valueless in regard to meaning. So the Wise Ruler hit him over the head with his work and expelled him from his presence.

Then he looked at the work of the other, the truth-loving, scrupulous scholar, and saw that it was an extremely fine and beneficial commentary, a most wise composition full of guidance. “Congratulations! May God bless you!”, he said. Thus, wisdom is this and they call those who possess it knowledgeable and wise. As for the other man, he was a craftsman who had exceeded his mark. Then in reward for the scholar’s work, he commanded that in return for each letter ten gold pieces should be given him from his inexhaustible treasury.

If you have understood the comparison, now look and see the reality:

The ornamented Qur’an is this artistically fashioned universe, and the Ruler is the Pre-Eternal All-Wise One. As for the two men, one –the European– represents philosophy and its philosophers, and the other, the Qur’an and its students. Yes, the All-Wise Qur’an is a most elevated expounder, a most eloquent translator of the Mighty Qur’an of the Universe. Yes, it is the Criterion which instructs man and the jinn concerning the signs of creation inscribed by the pen of power on the pages of the universe and on the leaves of time. It regards beings, each of which is a meaningful letter, as bearing the meaning of another, that is, it looks at them on account of their Maker. It says, “How beautifully they have been made! How exquisitely they point to their Maker’s beauty!”, thus showing the universe’s true beauty. But the philosophy they call natural philosophy or science has plunged into the decorations of the letters of beings and into their relationships, and has become bewildered; it has confused the way of reality. While the letters of this mighty book should be looked at as bearing the meaning of another, that is, on account of God, they have not done this; they have looked at beings as signifying themselves. That is, they have looked at beings on account of beings, and have discussed them in that way. Instead of saying, “How beautifully they have been made,” they say “How beautiful they are,” and have made them ugly. In doing this they have insulted the universe, and made it complain about them. Indeed, philosophy without religion is a sophistry divorced from reality and an insult to the universe.