The First: It mentions the wisdom behind the phrase “eighteen thousand realms”.

The First

S e c o n d l y : In your letter you mention that in explanations and interpretations of Sustainer of All the Worlds, it is said that there are eighteen thousand worlds, and you ask the wisdom in this number.

My brother, at the moment I do not know the wisdom in the number, but I can say this much, that the phrases of the All-Wise Qur’an are not restricted to a single meaning; rather, since the Qur’an addresses all the levels of mankind, it phrases are like universals or wholes which comprise meanings for each level. The meanings which are expounded are like the parts of the general law. Every Qur’anic commentator, every adept, mentions one part of the whole. Based on either his illumination, or his proofs, or his way, he prefers one meaning. Thus, in this verse too, one group uncovered a meaning which corresponded to that number.

For example, the verses,

He has let free the two bodies of flowing water, meeting together; * Between them is a barrier which they do not transgress,1

to which the people of sainthood attach importance, repeatedly reciting them in their invocations, are parts with meanings ranging from the sea of dominicality and sea of worship in the spheres of necessity and contingency respectively, to the seas of the World of the Unseen and the Manifest World, and to the oceans of the North, South, East, and West, and to the Adriatic and the Persian Gulf, to the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, and the Suez Canal, and to the freshwater and salt lakes, to the various lakes of fresh water under the soil layer and the salt lakes over it and contiguous with it, and to the small lakes called the great rivers, such as the Nile, the Tigris, and the Euphrates, and the salty seas into which they flow. Any of these may be intended or meant, and may be their literal and metaphorical meanings.

In the same way, All praise be to Allah, the Sustainer of All the Worlds, encompasses numerous truths. The people of illumination and of reality interpret them differently according to the meanings they uncover.

Personally, I think that in the heavens are thousands of worlds; some of the stars may each be worlds. On the earth too, every sort of creature is a world. Each human being is a small world also. As for the term, Sustainer of All the Worlds, it means “every world is administered, sustained, and governed directly through Almighty Allah’s dominicality.”

T h i r d l y : Allah’s Most Noble Messenger (Upon whom be blessings and peace) said: “When Allah wishes a people well, he causes them to see their own faults.”2 And in the All-Wise Qur’an, Joseph (Upon whom be peace) said:

Nor do I absolve my own self [of blame]; the [human] soul is certainly prone to evil.”3

Yes, one who is fond of himself and relies on himself is unfortunate. While one who sees his own faults is fortunate. So you are fortunate! Nevertheless it sometimes happens that the evil-commanding soul is transformed into ‘the blaming soul’ or ‘the tranquil soul,’ but it hands over its weapons and equipment to the nerves. And the nerves and veins of temperament continue its function till the end of life. Although the evil-commanding soul died long beforehand, the person’s nerves are still apparent. There have been many great saints and purified ones who have complained of their evil-commanding souls while their souls were ‘tranquil.’ They have lamented over sickness of the heart while their hearts were completely sound and illumined. Thus, what afflicts these persons is not the evil-commanding soul, but the evil-commanding soul’s function which has been handed over to the nerves. The sickness is not of the heart, but of the imagination. My brother, God willing, what is attacking you is not your soul and sickness of the heart, but the state which as we said, by reason of human nature and to perpetuate striving, has been transferred to the nerves and results in constant progress.

1. Qur’an, 55:19-20.
2. al-‘Ajluni, Kashf al-Khafa’ i, 8.
3. Qur’an: 12:53.

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