First Flash: The differences between the true and superficial oneness in knowing that Allah is one.
The affirmation of Divine unity is of two sorts. For example, if the goods of a rich man arrive in a market or a town, there are two ways in which one may know they are his. One is briefly and simply, as with ordinary people, which is: “No one apart from him is capable of owning this vast amount of goods.” But when under the supervision of a common man such as that, much of it may be stolen. Many others may claim ownership of parts of it. The second sort is this: through reading his writing on every packet, recognizing his signature on every roll, and seeing his seal on every bill, the man declares: “Everything belongs to that person.” Here, everything in effect shows the important man. Similarly, the affirmation of Divine unity is of two sorts:
One is the superficial and common affirmation of Divine unity which says: “Almighty Allah is One, He has no partner or like. This universe is His.”
The Second is the true affirmation of Divine unity which, through seeing on everything the stamp of His power, the seal of His dominicality, and the inscriptions of His pen, is to open a window directly onto His light from everything and to confirm and believe with almost the certainty of seeing it that everything emerges from the hand of His power and that in no way has He any partner or assistant in His Godhead or in His dominicality or in His sovereignty, and thus to attain to a sort of perpetual awareness of the Divine presence. In this Word, we shall mention rays demonstrating this pure and elevated true affirmation of Divine unity.
A Reminder within the First Point: O heedless worshipper of causes! Causes are a veil; for Divine dignity and grandeur require them to be thus. But that which acts and performs matters is the power of the Eternally Besought One; for Divine unity and glory require it to be thus, and necessitate their independence. The officials of the Pre-Eternal Monarch are not executives of the sovereignty of dominicality, they are the heralds of His sovereignty and the observers and superintendents of His dominicality. Their purpose is to make known the dignity of power and majesty of dominicality, so that power should not be seen to be associated with base and lowly matters. Not like a human king, tainted by impotence and indigence, who therefore takes officials as partners. That is to say, causes have been placed so that the dignity of power may be preserved in the superficial view of the mind. For like the two faces of a mirror, everything has an outer face that looks to this manifest world, which resembles the mirror’s coloured face and may reflect various colours and states, and an inner face which looks to its Maker, which resembles the mirror’s shining face. In the outer face which looks to the manifest world may be states incompatible with the dignity and perfection of the Eternally Besought One’s power, so causes have been put to be both the source and the means of those states. But in the inner face, that of reality, which looks to their Creator, everything is transparent and beautiful; it is fitting that power should itself be associated with it. It is not incompatible with its dignity; therefore, causes are purely apparent and in the inner face of things and in reality have no true effect.
A further instance of wisdom in apparent causes is this: causes have been put so that unjust complaints and baseless objections should be directed at them and not at the Absolutely Just One. For the faults arise from them, from their incapacity and lack of ability. A comparison is narrated which is in the form of a subtle example illustrating this mystery:
The Angel Azra’il (Peace be upon him) said to Almighty Allah: “Your servants will complain about me while I am carrying out my duty of taking possession of the spirits of the dying; they will be resentful towards me.” So Almighty Allah said to him through the tongue of wisdom: “I shall leave the veil of disasters and illnesses between you and my servants so that the complaints will be directed at them, and they will not be indignant at you.” (1) So see, illnesses are a veil; what are imagined to be the bad things at the appointed hour are attributed to them, and what are in reality the good things in the spirits of the dying being seized are attributed to Azra’il (PBH) and his duty. Azra’il is also a veil; he is a supervisor of that duty and a veil to Divine power so that certain conditions when spirits are seized which are apparently unkind and are inappropriate to the perfection of mercy be attributed to him.
Yes, dignity and grandeur demand that causes are a veil to the hand of power in the view of the mind, while Divine unity and glory demand that causes withdraw their hands and have no true effect.
(1) Suyuti, al-Durr al-Manthur, v, 173-4.
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- A Flower of Emirdağ: The answer given to the objections for the repetitions in the Qur’an.