First Aim: The nature of “I” (ego).

First Aim

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

We did indeed offer the Trust to the heavens, and the earth, and the mountains; but they refused to undertake it being afraid thereof. But man assumed it; indeed, he is most unjust, most foaolish.1

We shall indicate a single jewel from the great treasure of this verse, as follows.

The ‘I’ is one component, one aspect, of the numerous aspects of the ‘Trust’, from the bearing of which the sky, earth, and mountains shrank, and of which they were frightened. Indeed, from the time of Adam until now, the ‘I’ has been the seed of a terrible tree of Zaqqum2 and at the same time, of a luminous tree of Tuba,3 which shoot out branches around the world of mankind. Before attempting to elucidate this vast truth, we shall give an explanation by way of an introduction which will facilitate the understanding of it.

Just as the ‘I’ is the key to the Divine Names, which are hidden treasures, so is it the key to the locked talisman of creation; it is a problem-solving riddle, a wondrous talisman. When its nature is known, both the ‘I’ itself, that strange riddle, that amazing talisman, is disclosed, and it discloses the talisman of the universe and the treasures of the Necessary World. We have discussed this problem as follows in my Arabic treatise, Semme (Intimations).

The key to the world is in the hand of man and is attached to his self. For while being apparently open, the doors of the universe are in fact closed. Allah Almighty has given to man by way of a Trust, such a key, called the ‘I’, that it opens all the doors of the world; He has given him an enigmatic ‘I’ with which he may discover the hidden treasures of the Creator of the universe. But the ‘I’ is also an extremely complicated riddle and a talisman that is difficult to solve. When its true nature and the purpose of its creation are known, as it is itself solved, so will be the universe.

The All-Wise Maker gave to man as a Trust an ‘I’ which comprises indications and samples that show and cause to recognize the truths of the attributes and functions of His dominicality, so that the ‘I’ might be a unit of measurement and the attributes of dominicality and functions of Divinity might be known. However, it is not necessary for a unit of measurement to have actual existence; like hypothetical lines in geometry, a unit of measurement may be formed by hypothesis and supposition. It is not necessary for its actual existence to be established by concrete knowledge and proofs.

Question: Why is knowledge of the attributes and Names of Allah Almighty connected to the ‘I’?

The Answer: Since an absolute and all-encompassing thing has no limits or end, neither may a shape be given to it, nor may a form be conferred on it, nor may it be determined; what its quiddity is may not be comprehended. For example, an endless light without darkness may not be known or perceived. But if a line of real or imaginary darkness is drawn, then it becomes known. Thus, since Allah Almighty’s attributes like knowledge and power, and Names like All-Wise and All-Compassionate are all-encompassing, limitless, and without like, they may not be determined, and what they are may not be known or perceived. Therefore, since they do not have limits or an actual end, it is necessary to draw a hypothetical and imaginary limit. The ‘I’ does this. It imagines in itself a fictitious dominicality, ownership, power, and knowledge: it draws a line. By doing this it places an imaginary limit on the all-encompassing attributes, saying, “Up to here, mine, after that, His;” it makes a division. With the tiny units of measurement in itself, it slowly understands the true nature of the attributes.

For example, with its imagined dominicality over what it owns, the ‘I’ may understand the dominicality of its Creator over contingent creation.

And with its apparent ownership, it may understand the true ownership of its Creator, saying: “Like I am the owner of this house, so too is the Creator the owner of the universe.” And with its partial knowledge, it may understand His knowledge, and with its small amount of acquired art, it may understand the originative art of the Glorious Maker. For example, the ‘I’ says: “As I made this house and arranged it, so someone must have made the universe and arranged it,” and so on. Thousands of mysterious states, attributes, and perceptions which make known and show to a degree all the Divine attributes and functions are contained with the ‘I’. That is to say, the ‘I’ is mirror-like, and, like a unit of measurement and tool for discovery, it has an indicative meaning; having no meaning in itself, it shows the meaning of others. It is a conscious strand from the thick rope of the human being, a fine thread from the raiment of the essence of humanity, it is an Alif from the book of the character of mankind, and it has two faces.

The first of these faces looks towards good and existence. With this face it is only capable of receiving favour; it accepts what is given, itself it cannot create. This face is not active, it does not have the ability to create. Its other face looks towards evil and goes to non-existence. That face is active, it has the power to act. Furthermore, the real nature of the ‘I’ is indicative; it shows the meaning of things other than itself. Its dominicality is imaginary. Its existence is so weak and insubstantial that in itself it cannot bear or support anything at all. Rather, it is a sort of scale or measure, like a thermometer or barometer, that indicates the degrees and amounts of things; it is a measure that makes known the absolute, all-encompassing and limitless attributes of the Necessary Being.

Thus, he who knows his own self in this way, and realizes and acts according to it, is included in the good news of,

Truly he succeeds who purifies it.4

He truly carries out the Trust, and through the telescope of his ‘I’, he sees what the universe is and what duties it is performing. When he obtains information about the universe, he sees that his ‘I’ confirms it. This knowledge will remain as light and wisdom for him, and will not be transformed into darkness and futility. When the ‘I’ fulfils its duty in this way, it abandons its imaginary dominicality and supposed ownership, which are the units of measurement, and it says: “His is the sovereignty and to Him is due all praise; His is the judgement and to Him will you all be brought back.” It achieves true worship. It attains the rank of ‘the Most Excellent of Patterns.’5

But if, forgetting the wisdom of its creation and abandoning the duty of its nature, the ‘I’ views itself solely in the light of its nominal and apparent meaning, if it believes that it owns itself, then it betrays the Trust, and it comes under the category of,

And he fails who corrupts its.6

It was of this aspect of the Trust, therefore, which gives rise to all ascribing of partners to Allah, evil, and misguidance, that the heavens, earth, and mountains were terrified; they were frightened of associating hypothetical partners with Allah.

Indeed, if the ‘I’ is not known for what it is, an insubstantial Alif, a thread, a hypothetical line, it may burgeon in concealment under the ground, gradually swelling. It will permeate all parts of a human being. Like a gigantic dragon it will swallow up the human being; that entire person with all his faculties will, quite simply, become pure ‘I’. Then too, the ‘I-ness’ of the human race gives strength to the individual ‘I-ness’ by means of human racialism and national racialism, and the ‘I’, gaining support from the ‘I-ness’ of the human race, contests the commands of the Glorious Maker, like Satan. Then, using itself as a yardstick, it compares everyone, everything even, with itself; it divides Allah Almighty’s sovereignty between them and other causes. It falls into ascribing partners to Allah on a vast scale, indicating the meaning of:

To assign partners to Allah is verily a great transgression.7

It is just like a man who steals a brass coin from the public treasury; he can only justify his action by agreeing to take a silver coin for each of his friends who is present. So the man who says: “I own myself,” must believe and say: “Everything owns itself.”

Thus, while in this treacherous position, the ‘I’ is in absolute ignorance. Even if it knows thousands of branches of science, with compounded ignorance it is most ignorant. For when its senses and thoughts yield the lights of knowledge of the universe, those lights are extinguished because such an ‘I’ does not find any material within itself with which to confirm, illuminate, and perpetuate them. Whatever it encounters is dyed with the colours that are within it. Even if it encounters pure wisdom, the wisdom takes the form, within that ‘I’ , of absolute futility. For the colour of an ‘I’ that is in this condition is atheism and ascribing partners to Allah, it is denial of Allah Almighty. If the whole universe is full of shining signs, a dark point in the ‘I’ hides them from view, as though extinguished.

The nature of man and the ‘I’ within his nature have been explained clearly and in detail in the Eleventh Word, as indicating something other than themselves. They are shown to be a most sensitive scale and accurate measure, an encompassing index and perfect map, a comprehensive mirror, and a fitting calendar and diary for the universe. Since we consider the explanation in that Word to be sufficient and it may be referred to, we curtail and conclude the introduction here. If you have understood the introduction, come, let us enter upon the truth.

***

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 Allah 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.8 And in the realm of the power of animal appetites, it nurtures and bears the fruit of goddesses, idols, and those who claim divinity.

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 Allah, 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 Allah, 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.”9 It has given moral support to tyranny, encouraged despots, and urged oppressors to claim divinity.

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.10 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.

First Example: According to the rule of: Be moulded by God-given ethics, which is one of the principles of the line of prophethood concerning individual life, there is the instruction: “Be distinguished by God-given morals and turn towards Allah Almighty with humility recognizing your impotence, poverty, and defectiveness, and so be a slave in His presence.” Whereas, the self-seeking rule of philosophy, “Try to imitate the Necessarily Existent One” is mankind’s aim for perfection. No, indeed, the essence of humanity has been kneaded with infinite impotence, weakness, poverty, and need, while the essence of the Necessarily Existent One is infinitely omnipotent, powerful, self-sufficient, and without need.

Second Example: Among the principles of the line of prophethood concerning social life are those of mutual assistance, magnanimity, and generosity. These have been harnessed for the help and assistance of all things from the sun and moon down to even plants. For the assistance of animals, for example, and the help of animals for human beings, and even that of particles of food for the cells of the body. Whereas, among the principles of the line of philosophy concerning social life is that of conflict, which springs from the misuse of their inborn dispositions by a number of tyrants, brutish men, and savage beasts. Indeed, they have accepted this principle at so fundamental a level and at such a general one that they have idiotically declared: “Life is a conflict.”

Third Example: One of the valuable results and exalted principles of the line of prophethood concerning Divine unity is: “If a thing has unity, it must proceed from only one.” That is, “Since each thing in itself and all things collectively have unity, they therefore must be the creation of one single being.”

Whereas, one of the beliefs of ancient philosophy is: “From one, one proceeds.” That is, “From one person, only one single thing can proceed. Everything else proceeds from him by means of intermediaries.”

This misleading principle of philosophy, which is stained by associating partners with Allah, presents the Absolutely Self-Sufficient and Omnipotent One as being in need of impotent intermediaries, and gives all causes and intermediaries a sort of partnership in His dominicality. It attributes to the Glorious Creator the title of ‘Prime Mover’, which in fact indicates the status of creature. Moreover, it allots the rest of His sovereignty to causes and intermediaries, thus opening the way to associating partners with Him in a most comprehensive manner. If the Illuminists (Ishraqiyyun), who were pre-eminent philosophers, uttered nonsense like this, you can imagine how much more absurd will be what inferior philosophers, like the Materialists and Naturalists, say.

Fourth Example: According to the meaning of,

There is nothing but extols His limitless glory and praise,11

which is one of the wise principles of prophethood, “If the purpose and wisdom of everything, in particular every living being, has one aspect which looks to the being itself, then the purposes which concern its Maker and the instances of wisdom which look to its Creator must be myriad. Each thing, a single fruit, for example, has as much wisdom and as many purposes as all the fruits of a tree.” This principle, which is pure truth, results from the joining of one of the forms of philosophy with the line of prophethood.

Whereas, the nonsensical principles of a deceiving philosophy that has not joined this line says: “The purpose of every living being looks to itself or is connected with benefits for mankind,” thus considering in it an extremely senseless futility and attaching a purpose, a tiny fruit, to a tree as huge as a mountain. Because this truth has been explained to some extent in the Tenth Truth of the Tenth Word and some parts have been mentioned in the treatise called Lemeât (Gleams), we have cut it short here. However, you can extend these four examples to thousands.

It is because of these rotten foundations and disastrous results of philosophy that geniuses from among the Muslim philosophers like Ibn-i Sina and Farabi were charmed by its apparent glitter and were deceived into taking this way, and thus attained only the rank of an ordinary believer. Hujjat al-Islam al-Ghazzali did not accord them that rank, even.

Also, the foremost of the Mu‘tazilites, who were among the most learned scholars of Islamic theology, being fascinated by the apparent glamour of the way of philosophy and being closely involved with it, assumed intellect to be self-sufficient. Because of this they could attain only the rank of deviating, novice believers. Moreover, because those famous literary figures of Islam, like Abu al-‘Ala al-Ma‘arri, who was renowned for his pessimism, and ‘Umar Khayyam, who was characterized by his pitiful weeping, took pleasure at the line of philosophy’s caressing their evil-commanding souls, they received contemptuous and condemnatory rebuffs and restraining and chastening slaps from the people of truth and perfection, who said: “You are being insolent, you are approaching heresy, and you are disseminating heresy.”

A further result of the rotten foundations of the line of philosophy is that although the ‘I’ has, in itself, an essence as insubstantial as air, because the inauspicious attitude of philosophy regards it as relating only to itself, it is as if that vapour-like ‘I’ becomes liquid; and then, because of its familiarity and preoccupation with materialism, it hardens. Next, through neglect and denial, that ‘I-ness’ freezes. Then, through rebelliousness it becomes opaque, losing its transparency. Then, it gradually becomes denser and envelops its owner. It becomes distended with the thoughts of mankind. Next, supposing the rest of humanity, and even causes, to be like itself, although they do not accept this and disclaim it, it gives to each of them the status of a Pharaoh. Then at this point it takes up its position contesting the commands of the Glorious Creator, it says:

Who could give life to bones that have crumbled to dust?12

and, as a challenge, accuses the Absolutely Omnipotent One of impotence. It even debases the attributes of the Glorious Creator. It either rejects or denies or distorts what does not suit its interests and does not please its Pharaoh-like evil-commanding soul.

One group of philosophers, by calling Almighty Allah ‘Self-Necessitating’, denied Him choice. They rejected the endless testimony of all creation, which proves that He has choice. Glory be to Allah! Although all the beings in the universe from the smallest particles to the sun show that the Creator has choice, each with its own appointed individuality, order, wisdom, and measure, this blind philosophy refused to see it. Moreover, another group of philosophers said: “Divine knowledge is not concerned with insignificant matters,” and denied its awesome comprehensiveness, and thus rejected the veracious witnessing of all beings.

Furthermore, by attributing effects to causes, philosophy has given nature the power to create. As has been definitely proved in the Twenty-Second Word, since philosophy does not see the evident stamp on everything as signifying the Creator of All Things, and assumes nature to be the originator, which is impotent, inanimate, unconscious, and blind, and whose apparent power is in the hands of chance and force which are also blind, it attributes to nature certain beings, each of which expresses thousands of instances of exalted wisdom and is like a missive from the Eternally Besought One.

In addition, the philosophers did not find the door to resurrection and the hereafter, which, as is proved in the Tenth Word, Allah Almighty with all of His Names, and the universe with all of its truths, and the line of prophethood with all of its verifications, and the revealed books with all of their verses demonstrate. They therefore denied the resurrection and ascribed pre-eternity to souls. You can deduce from these superstitions what their views on other matters would be. Indeed, the powers of evil have raised up the minds of atheistic philosophers as though with the beaks and talons of their ‘I’s and have dropped them in the valleys of misguidance. Thus, IN THE MICROCOSM, THE ‘I’ IS THE IDOL, LIKE THOSE IN THE MACROCOSM SUCH AS NATURE.

Hence, he who rejects idols and believes in Allah has indeed taken hold of a support most unfailing, which shall never give way: for Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.13

It is appropriate to mention here the meaning of a fictitious event that I described in semi-verse in Lemeât as an imaginary journey, which will illuminate the aforementioned truth.

Eight years before writing this treatise, in Istanbul during the month of Ramadan, when the Old Said, who was concerned with the study of philosophy, was about to be transformed into the New Said, while pondering over the three ways that are indicated at the end of Sura al-Fatiha,

The way of those upon whom You have bestowed Your grace, not those who have received Your wrath, nor those who go astray,14

I saw something resembling a dream or vision, an imaginary event, which was as follows.

I saw myself in a vast desert. A layer of murky, dispiriting, and suffocating cloud had covered the whole face of the earth. There was neither breeze, nor light, nor water, none of these was to be found. I imagined that everywhere was full of monsters, dangerous and dreadful creatures. It occurred to me that through on the other side of this land there should be light, breeze, and water. It was necessary to get there. I realized that I was being driven on involuntarily. Under the earth I wormed my way into a tunnel-like cave and gradually travelled through the earth. I saw that many people had passed along this subterranean way before me, on all sides they were submerged. I saw their footprints, and once I heard some of their voices, then later they ceased.

O my friend who is accompanying me on my imaginary journey! That land is nature and the philosophy of Naturalism. And the tunnel is the way that the philosophers have opened up with their thought in order to reach the truth. The footprints I saw were those of famous philosophers like Plato and Aristotle,15 and the voices I heard those of geniuses like Ibn Sina and Farabi. Indeed, I saw in various books some of the things Ibn Sina had said and some of his principles, but he had become stuck, he could go no further, he was submerged before reaching the truth. Anyhow, in order to save you from anxiety, I showed you a small part of truth. Now I return to my journey.

Gradually I realized that I had been given two things to use. One was a torch; it would scatter the darkness of that subterranean nature. The other was a device, which, by smashing mighty boulders and huge rocks, would open up a way for me. I was told: “This torch and device have been given to you from the treasury of the Qur’an.” So I carried on for a long time in this way. Then suddenly I realized that I had come out on the other side. I saw a world where everywhere there was rejoicing, bright sunshine in a most beautiful springtime and an invigorating breeze and delicious life-giving water. I said: “All praise be to Allah!”

Then I realized that I did not own myself, someone was testing me. As in the first part of the journey, I found myself in that vast desert under the suffocating cloud. And, though now on another way, still someone was driving me on. This time it was not under the earth; I was making this long journey on the face of the earth in order to reach the other side. I saw things in this part of my journey so strange and curious they cannot be described: the sea was raging, storms threatened me, everything caused difficulties for me. But once again, with the means of travel that had been given to me from the Qur’an, I overcame them and passed on. On the way I saw that there were corpses of travellers everywhere. Those who had completed the journey were one in a thousand. At any rate, having been saved from the cloud I had reached the other side of the earth and had come out in full view of the dazzling sun. Breathing in the invigorating breeze, I declared: “All praise be to Allah!”

I started looking round that heaven-like world. Then I saw that there was someone who would not let me stay there. In an instant he took me to that vast desert as though to show me another way. There I saw different sorts of things, some like aeroplanes, some like cars, some like hoists, which had descended exactly like lifts. Whoever, according to his power and capacity, jumped onto them, was taken up. I, too, jumped onto one of them, and in a trice it took me up above the cloud. I came out among the most beautiful green and spectacular mountain-tops. The layer of cloud came no more than half-way up the mountains. Everywhere was the gentlest of breezes, the most delicious water, and the softest of lights. I saw that on all sides were these lift-like allegorical vehicles. Even though I had seen them in the first two parts of my journey and on the other face of the earth, I had not understood what they were. Now I realized that they were manifestations of verses of the All-Wise Qur’an.

Thus, the first way, which is indicated by, Nor those who go astray, is that of those who are submerged in nature and those who are followers of the philosophy of Naturalism. You have seen in this first way how many difficulties there are in passing to the truth and the light. The second way, which is indicated by, Nor those who have received Your wrath, is that of those who worship causes and those who give the power to create and the effect to intermediaries, like the Peripatetic philosophers. These tried to open the way to the ultimate truth and knowledge of the Necessarily Existent One by means of the intellect and reason alone. As for the third way, which is indicated by, Those upon whom You have bestowed Your grace, it is the luminous highway of the people of the Qur’an, who are the people of the straight path. This luminous highway is a brilliant way revealed and bestowed by the Most Merciful One. It is the shortest, the easiest, the safest way, and it is open to everyone.

***

____________________

1. Qur’an, 33:72.
2. See, Qur’an, 37:62; 44:43; 56:52.
3. See, Qur’an, 13:29
4. Qur’an, 91:9.
5. Qur’an, 95:4.
6. Qur’an, 91:10.
7. Qur’an, 31:13.
8. 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 Allah Almighty because of the veil of Nature, he will attribute divinity to everything and will thus cause himself nothing but trouble.
9. The principle of prophethood says: “Power is in right; right is not in power.” It thus halts tyranny and ensures justice.
10. 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.
11. Qur’an, 17:44.
12. Qur’an, 36:78.
13. Qur’an, 2:256.
14. Qur’an, 1:7.
15. If you say: “Who do think you are to challenge these famous philosophers? You are like a mere fly and yet you meddle in the flight of eagles,” I would reply: “While having a pre-eternal teacher like the Qur’an, in matters concerning truth and the knowledge of Allah, I do not have to attach as much value as that of a fly’s wing to those eagles, who are the students of misguided philosophy and deluded intellect. However inferior I am to them, their teacher is a thousand times more inferior than mine. With the help of my teacher, whatever caused them to become submerged did not so much as dampen my toes. An insignificant private who acts in accordance with the laws and commands of a great king is able to achieve more than a great field marshal of an insignificant king...”

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