Eighth Quality of Eloquence

It sometimes happens that in order to impel the heart to accept Almighty God’s wondrous works in the hereafter and make the mind affirm them, the Qur’an mentions His amazing works in this world by way of preparation, or it mentions the wondrous Divine works of the future and hereafter in such a way that we acquire firm conviction about them through similar things which we observe here. For example:

Does man not see that We created him from sperm, and behold, he stands forth an open adversary?1... to the end of the Sura.

In this discussion of the resurrection of the dead, the Qur’an proves the resurrection in seven or eight different ways. Firstly it draws attention to the first creation, saying: “You see your creation from sperm to a blood-clot, from a blood-clot to a foetus lump, and from that to the human creation, so how is it that you deny the second creation, which is like it or even easier?”

And with the words:

Who produces for you fire out of the green tree,2

Almighty God indicates the mighty favours He bestows on man, saying: “The One Who bestows such bounties on you will not leave you at liberty to enter the grave and sleep never to rise again.” And by allusion it says: “You see the dead trees come to life and grow green, but you draw no conclusions from their bones springing to life when like dry fire-wood, and so deem man’s rising again unlikely. Also, could the One Who creates the heavens and the earth remain impotent before the life and death of man, the fruit of the heavens and the earth? Would the One Who administers the mighty tree attach no importance to its fruit and allow others to claim it? Do you suppose that He would abandon the result of all the tree, thus making purposeless and vain the tree of creation, which together with all its parts is kneaded with wisdom?” It says: “The One Who will raise you to life at the resurrection is such that the whole universe is like a soldier under His orders.” It is utterly submissive before His command of “Be!,” and it is. It is as easy for Him to create the spring as to create a flower. He is One for Whose power it is as easy to create all animals as to create a fly. Such a One may not be challenged with the words:

Who can give life to dry bones?,1

and His power belittled. Then, with the phrase:

So glory be unto Him in Whose hand is the dominion of all things,2

it says: “He is an All-Powerful One of Glory in Whose hands are the reins of all things, with Him are the keys to all things; He alternates winter and summer as easily as turning the pages of a book, and opens and closes this world and the hereafter as though they were two houses.” Since it is thus, the conclusion of all these evidences is:

And to Him will you all be brought back.3

That is, “He will raise you to life from the grave and bring you to the resurrection;there you will be called to account in the presence of the Almighty.”

Thus, all these verses have prepared the mind to accept the resurrection, and so have they prepared the heart, for they have pointed out similar deeds in this world.

It sometimes happens also that the Qur’an mentions Almighty God’s deeds of the hereafter in such a way that man may understand similar things in this world. Then no possibility remains to deny them or deem them unlikely. An example are the Suras which begin:

When the Sun is folded up;4 When the sky is cleft asunder;5 When the sky is rent asunder.6

In these Suras it mentions the mighty revolutions and dominical acts of disposal in the resurrection and Great Gathering in such a way that, since man sees things similar to them in this world, for example, in the autumn and spring, he accepts those revolutions easily, which cause dread to the heart and cannot be comprehended by the mind. To provide even a summary of the meaning of these three Suras would be very lengthy, so for now we shall point out a single phrase by way of example.

For example, the phrase:

When the pages are laid open1

expresses the following: at the resurrection all the deeds of everyone will be published written on pages. Being very strange on its own, the mind cannot grasp this matter. But as the Sura indicates, the same way as in the resurrection of the spring are things similar to other points, the things similar to this laying open of the pages are quite clear. For all fruit-bearing trees or flowering plants perform deeds, acts, and duties, and in whatever way they display the Divine Names and glorify God, they perform worship. All these deeds are written in their seeds together with their life histories, and emerge in another spring in another place. Just as they mention most eloquently the deeds of their mothers and stock through the tongues of the shapes and forms they display, so they publish the pages of their deeds through their branches, leaves, flowers, and fruits. Thus, the One Who carries out this Wise, Preserving, Planned, Nurturing, Benevolent work, is He Who says:

When the pages are laid open.

You can make analogies with other points from this and deduce them if you can. To help you, I shall say the following: the phrase:

When the sun is folded up

is a brilliant metaphor meaning ‘rolling up’ and ‘gathering up’; so too it alludes to things similar to it.

The First: Almighty God drew back the veils of non-existence, the ether, and the skies, and taking from the treasury of His mercy a lamp like a sparkling brilliant to illuminate the world, displayed it to the world. When the world is closed, He shall rewrap that brilliant in its veils and remove it.

The Second: The sun is an official charged with spreading out the wares of its light and wrapping the head of the earth alternately in light and darkness. Every evening it gathers up its wares and conceals them, and sometimes it does scant business due to the veil of a cloud, and sometimes the moon draws a veil over its face and somewhat hinders its transactions, then it adjusts the account books of its wares and transactions. Similarly, a time will come when this official will resign from its post. Even if there is no cause for its dismissal, due to the enlargement of the two black spots on its face, as has begun, with Divine permission the sun will take back the light that it spreads at a dominical command and wrap it around its own head. It will be told: “No work remains for you on earth. Go to Hell and burn those who worshipped you and insulted an obedient official like yourself by inferring you were disloyal!” It will read out the decree of When the Sun is folded up through its black-spotted face.