Third Principle: The wisdom and purpose of the Ascension.

Third Principle

What was the wisdom and purpose of the Ascension?

The Answer: The wisdom of the Ascension is so exalted that human thought cannot comprehend it. It is so profound that human thought cannot reach it, and so subtle and fine that the intellect cannot see it by itself. But even if the reality of the instances of wisdom in the Ascension cannot be comprehended, their existence may be made known through certain indications. For example, as follows:

In order to demonstrate the light of His unity and the manifestation of His oneness in these levels of multiplicity, the Creator of the universe chose an eminent individual to represent all creatures, and took him by means of an Ascension that was like a link from the furthest levels of multiplicity to the source of unity. There, addressing him as representing all conscious beings, He explained to him the Divine purposes and made them known through him, and observed through his gaze the beauty of His art and perfection of His dominicality in the mirrors of His creatures, and caused him to observe them.

Moreover, according to the testimony of His works, the Maker of the world possesses infinite beauty and perfection. The two of them, both beauty and perfection, are loved for themselves. Since this is so, the Possessor of that beauty and perfection has an infinite love for them, and His infinite love is manifested in many different ways in His works of art. He loves His works of art because He sees His beauty and perfection within them.

The most lovable and elevated among the works of art are animate beings. The most lovable and elevated among animate beings are conscious beings. And by reason of their comprehensiveness, the most lovable among conscious beings are to be found among human beings. The most lovable individual among human beings is the one who has most fully developed his potentiality and displayed the samples within it of the perfections manifested in all creatures and spread among them.

Thus, in order to see at one point and in one mirror all the varieties of His love spread through all creatures and to display, through the mystery of His oneness, all the varieties of His beauty, the Maker of beings will take a person who is at the degree of being a luminous fruit of the tree of creation and whose heart is like a seed containing the essential truths of that tree, and will demonstrate the belovedness of that individual, who represents the universe, through an Ascension that is like a thread linking the seed, which is the origin, with the fruit, which is the end. He will draw him to His presence and honour him with the beauty of the vision of Himself. And, in order to cause him to spread that sacred state to others, He will favour him with His Word and entrust him with His Decree.

In order to look at this exalted wisdom, we shall observe it through the telescope of two comparisons.

First Comparison: As is explained in detail in the story-comparison in the Eleventh Word, there was an illustrious king who had vast treasuries and in those treasuries many varieties of jewels were to be found. He had much skill in strange crafts, comprehensive knowledge of innumerable curious arts, and erudition and learning in numberless wondrous sciences. In accordance with the mystery that every possessor of beauty and perfection wants both to see and display his beauty and perfection, of course that skilful king wished to open an exhibition and to set up displays within it in order to reveal to the people the splendour of his sovereignty so they might gaze on it, and to manifest both the glitter of his wealth and the wonders of his art and the marvels of his knowledge. In this way he might observe his own transcendent beauty and perfection in two respects. The first was so that he himself might see with his own eyes, which were cognizant of reality, while the other was so that he might look through the gaze of others.

As a consequence of this wisdom, he began to build a huge and splendid palace. It was magnificently divided into apartments and mansions. He adorned it with every sort of bejewelled treasure from his coffers, and decorated it with the finest and most gorgeous arts of his own handiwork. He ordered it with the greatest refinements of his knowledge and science, and decked it out and completed it with the miraculous works of his learning. Next, he spread tables with varieties of bounties and the most delicious of foods worthy for each group and prepared a general banquet. Then, in order to display his perfections to his subjects, he invited them to the banquet and to behold the perfections.

Then he appointed one of them as the highest ranking general, invited him up from the lower levels and mansions to tour sphere after sphere in the levels rising one after the other. Showing him the successive machinery and workshops of his wonderful art and the storehouses for the produce coming from below, he brought him to his own particular sphere and private apartment. There, he honoured him through showing him the blessed person who was the source of all those perfections and taking him into his presence. He informed him of the true nature of the palace and of his own perfections. He appointed him as guide to the other spectators and sent him back. He was to describe to the people the palace’s maker by means of its contents, inscriptions, and wonders, and inform those who entered the palace of the allusive meanings of the inscriptions within it, what the works of art signified, and what the harmonious and well-proportioned inscriptions and works of art in its interior were, and how they pointed to the perfections and skills of the palace’s owner. He was also to teach them the correct behaviour and formalities in viewing the exhibition and describe the protocol and ceremonies which were in accordance with the pleasure and desires of the learned and skilful king, who did not appear.

In exactly the same way, And Allah’s is the highest similitude, the All-Glorious Maker, Who is the Monarch of Pre-Eternity and Post-Eternity, desired to behold and display His infinite perfections and boundless beauty. So He made this world in such a fashion that every being utters His perfections with numerous tongues and points to His beauty with many signs. The universe shows through all its beings the many hidden immaterial treasures in all of His Most Beautiful Names and the many veiled subtleties in all of His sacred titles. And it shows this in such a way that, although since the time of Adam, all sciences together with all of their laws have studied this book of the universe, only a tiny proportion of the book’s meanings and signs, which state and point to the Divine Names and perfections, have been read.

Thus, the wisdom of the All-Glorious One of Beauty, the All-Beauteous One of Glory, the Maker possessing Perfection, Who opens the palace of the world as though it was an exhibition in order to see and display His own transcendent beauty and perfections, requires that He should inform someone of the meaning of the palace’s signs so that they do not remain vain and without benefit for conscious beings on the earth. His wisdom requires that He should cause one of them to travel in the higher worlds, which are the sources of the wonders in the palace and are the treasuries of their results; that He should elevate him above all others, honour him with His close presence and cause him to tour the worlds of the hereafter, and entrust him with numerous duties, such as teacher to all His servants, herald of the sovereignty of His dominicality, announcer of those things pleasing to Himself, and expounder of the signs of creation in the palace of the world; that He should mark out his pre-eminence by conferring on him the decorations of miracles, and should make known through a decree like the Qur’an that that person is the truthful personal interpreter of the All-Glorious One.

Thus, by way of example, we have demonstrated through the telescope of this comparison one or two of the many instances of wisdom in the Ascension. Others may be thought of in the same way.

Second Comparison: If a knowledgeable and skilful person was to compose and write a miraculous book, and on all the book’s pages were as many truths as would fill a hundred books, and in all its lines as many subtle meanings as would fill a hundred pages, and in all its words as many truths as would fill a hundred lines, and in all its letters as many meanings as would fill a hundred words, and if all the meanings and truths of the book were to look to and point to the transcendent perfections of its miracle-displaying writer, he most certainly would not leave such an inexhaustible treasury closed and thus worthless. He would surely teach it to others so that such a valuable book would not remain meaningless and vain, and his own hidden perfections would become apparent and find their perfection, and his transcendent beauty be seen; and so that he too should be pleased, and that he should make himself loved. Moreover, he would cause someone to go through that wonderful book from the first page to the last and teach him all its meanings and truths so that the person would then teach them to others.

In exactly the same way, in order to display His perfections, His beauty, and the truths of His Names, the Pre-Eternal Inscriber has written the universe in such a way that all beings set forth and state His infinite perfections, Names, and attributes together with their innumerable facets and aspects. Of course, if a book’s meaning remains unknown, its value is reduced to nothing. However, a book like the universe, every word of which contains thousands of meanings, cannot lose its value or be made to do so.

Since this is so, the book’s Writer will certainly make it known and explain a part of it to each group according to their capacity. He will instruct in all the contents of the book the individual who has the most extensive and comprehensive view, the most universal consciousness, and the greatest ability. Wisdom requires that He should take the individual on a lofty journey in order to teach him all the contents of such a book and its universal truths. That is, He should cause him to travel from the furthest extreme of the levels of multiplicity, which is the first page, to the sphere of Divine oneness, which is the final page. Thus, through this comparison, you can look to an extent at the exalted instances of wisdom in the Ascension.

Now, we shall consider the atheist who is listening, and, listening to his heart, we shall learn what state it is in. And so it comes to mind that his heart would say: “I have begun to believe in it now, but I still do not have a clear understanding of it. I have three more important difficulties.

The First: Why was this mighty Ascension special to Muhammad the Arabian (Peace and blessings be upon him)?

The Second: How is he the seed of the universe? And you say that the universe was created from his Light, and also that he was its farthest and most illumined fruit. What does that mean?

The Third: In your explanations above you say that he made his Ascension in order to rise to the celestial realm and to see the machinery and workshops of the works of art found in the realm of the earth, and the treasuries of their results. What does this mean?”

The Answer

Your First Difficulty: It has been analysed in detail in the first thirty Words, so here we shall set out a concise list briefly indicating the perfections of Muhammad (PBUH), the signs of his prophethood, and the fact that he was the most worthy to make the Ascension. It is as follows.

Firstly: Despite numerous corruptions in the texts of Holy Scriptures like the Torah, Gospels, and Psalms, in recent times even, an exacting scholar like Husayn Jisri extracted one hundred and fourteen good tidings of Muhammad’s prophethood (PBUH), which he set forth in his Risale-i Hamidiye.1

Secondly: It has been proved historically that there were many predictions accurately forecasting the prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH), like those of the two soothsayers Shiqq and Satih, which, a while previously to his prophethood, gave news of it and the fact that he was to be the final prophet.2

Thirdly: There were hundreds of extraordinary happenings, famous in history, called irhasat, that is, signs forewarning men of a coming prophet, like, for example, on the night of Muhammad’s (PBUH) birth, the idols in the Ka’ba fell from their places and the famous palace of Khosroes the Persian was rent asunder.3

Fourthly: History and the Prophet’s biographies show that he satisfied the thirst of an army with water flowing from his fingers, that in the presence of a large congregation in the mosque, the dry wooden support against which Muhammad (PBUH) was leaning moaned like a camel and wept on being separated from him when he ascended the pulpit, and that he was distinguished by close on a thousand miracles attested to by the verses of the Qur’an, such as,

And the moon split,4

referring to the splitting of the moon, and verified by those who investigated them.

Fifthly: Anyone who considers the facts and is fair and just cannot hesitate to agree that, as is unanimously agreed by friend and foe alike, good moral qualities were to be found at the highest degree in his personality, and that, in accordance with the testimony of all his dealings and actions, attributes and character of the greatest excellence were apparent in the way he performed his duties and proclaimed Islam, and, in accordance with the fine qualities and conduct enjoined by the religion of Islam, laudable virtues of the highest order were to be found in the law he brought.

Sixthly: As is alluded to in the Second Indication of the Tenth Word, it is a requirement of wisdom that Divinity be manifested. And this desire of Divinity to be manifested is met at the highest level and most brilliantly by the comprehensive worship performed by Muhammad (PBUH) in the practice of his religion. Also, wisdom and truth require that the Creator of the world displays His beauty in its utter perfection through some means. And the one who met that wish, and displayed and described His beauty most perfectly was self-evidently the person of Muhammad (PBUH).

It was also clearly Muhammad (PBUH) who, in response to the desire of the world’s Maker to exhibit and attract attentive gazes towards His perfect art within infinite beauty, heralded that art with the loudest voice.

Again it was necessarily Muhammad (PBUH) who, in response to the desire of the Sustainer of All the Worlds to proclaim His unity in the levels of multiplicity, announced all the degrees of unity, each at the greatest level of unity.

And, as is indicated by the utter beauty in beings and as is required by truth and wisdom, the world’s Owner desires to see and display in mirrors, His infinite essential beauty and the subtleties and qualities of His exquisiteness. And again it was self-evidently Muhammad (PBUH) who, in response to that desire, acted as a mirror and displayed His beauty in the most radiant fashion, and loved it and made others love it.

Also, in response to the desire of the Maker of the palace of this world to exhibit His hidden treasuries, which are filled with the most wonderful miracles and priceless jewels, and through them to describe and make known His perfections, it was again self-evidently Muhammad (PBUH) who exhibited, described, and displayed them in the most comprehensive fashion.

Also, since the Maker of the universe has made it in such a way that He adorns it with different varieties of wonders and embellishments and has included conscious creatures in it so that they might make tours and excursions and ponder over it and take lessons, wisdom requires that He should desire to make known the meanings and value of the works of art to those who observe and ponder over them. And it was again self-evidently Muhammad (PBUH) who, in response to this desire of the universe’s Maker, by means of the All-Wise Qur’an, acted as guide in the most comprehensive fashion to jinn and man, indeed, to spirit beings and angels.

Also, the All-Wise Ruler of the universe wishes, by means of an envoy, to cause all conscious beings to unravel the obscure talisman containing the aims and purposes of the change and transformations in the universe and to solve the riddle of the three perplexing questions: “Where do beings come form?”, “What is their destination?”, and, “What are they?” And again it was self-evidently Muhammad (PBUH) who, in response to this wish of the All-Wise Ruler, by means of the truths of the Qur’an, unravelled the talisman and solved the riddle in the clearest and most comprehensive fashion.

Also, the All-Glorious Maker of the universe desires to make Himself known to conscious beings by means of all His fine artefacts and to make them love Him through all His precious bounties, and, most certainly, to make known to them by means of an envoy His wishes and what will please Him in return for those bounties. And again it was self-evidently Muhammad (PBUH) who, in response to this desire of the All-Glorious Maker, by means of the Qur’an, expounded those wishes and things that please Him in the most exalted and perfect fashion.

Also, since the Sustainer of All the Worlds has given to man, who is the fruit of the universe, a comprehensive disposition which encompasses the universe and has prepared him for universal worship, and since, because of his faculties and senses, multiplicity and the world afflict man, the Sustainer desires to turn man’s face from multiplicity to unity, from transience to permanence. And again it was self-evidently Muhammad (PBUH) who, in response to this desire, by means of the Qur’an, acted as guide in the most comprehensive and complete fashion, and in the best way, and carried out the duty of prophethood in the most perfect manner.

Among beings the most superior are animate beings, and among animate beings the most superior are conscious beings, and among conscious beings the most superior are true human beings. So the one among true human beings who carried out the above-mentioned duties at the most comprehensive level and in the most perfect manner would rise through an all-embracing Ascension to the distance of two bow-lengths, knock at the door of eternal happiness, open the treasury of Mercy, and see the hidden truths of belief. Again it would be him.

Seventhly: As is plain to see, beings are made beautiful with the utmost degree of fine embellishment and adornment. Such an embellishment and adornment clearly demonstrate that their Maker possesses an extremely strong will to make beautiful and intention to adorn. The will to make beautiful and adorn demonstrates that the Maker necessarily possesses a strong desire for and holy love towards His art. And among beings the one who displayed altogether in himself the most comprehensive and subtle wonders of art, and knew them and made them known and himself loved, and who appreciated the beauties to be found in other beings, declaring: “What wonders Allah has willed!”, and was most beloved in the sight of his Maker, Who nurtures and loves His art, would most certainly be him.

Thus, the one who, declaring: “Glory be to Allah! What wonders Allah has willed! Allah is most Great!” in the face of the exquisiteness that gilds beings and the subtle perfections that illuminate them, causes the heavens to ring out, and who, through the strains of the Qur’an, causes the universe to reverberate, and through his admiration and appreciation, his contemplation and display, and his mentioning of the Divine Names and affirmation of Divine unity, brings land and sea to ecstasy, is again self-evidently that one (PBUH).

And so, according to the meaning of ‘the cause is like the doer,’ it is pure truth and sheer wisdom that the one in whose scales shall be found the equivalent of all the good deeds performed by his community, and whose spiritual perfections draw strength from the benedictions of all his community, and who, as a result of the duties he discharged in his messengership, received immaterial recompense and boundless emanations of Divine mercy and love, should advance by the stairway of the Ascension as far as Paradise, the Lote-tree of the farthest limit, the Divine Throne, and the distance of two bow-lengths.

Your Second Difficulty: O you who is listening! This second truth that you make difficult is so profound and exalted that the mind can neither rise to it nor draw close to it. It may be seen only with the light of belief. However, the fact that this truth exists may be brought close to the understanding by means of allegory and comparison. In which case, we shall attempt to do that to some small degree.

Thus, when the universe is considered from the point of view of wisdom, it is seen to bear the meaning of a mighty tree. For just as a tree has branches, leaves, blossom and fruit, so in this lower world, which is one part of the tree of creation, there are elements, which are like its branches; plants and trees, which are like its leaves; animals, which are like its flowers; and man, which is like the fruit.

Furthermore, the Divine Name of All-Wise requires that a law of that All-Glorious Maker which is in force in trees generally will also be in force in the mighty tree of creation. Since this is so, wisdom requires that the tree of creation also be formed from a seed, and such a seed that contains the essentials and principles of other worlds besides the corporeal world. For the fundamental and original seed of the universe, which comprises thousands of different worlds, cannot be a scrap of desiccated matter.

Since before the tree of the universe there was no tree of the same kind, it is also a requirement of the Name of All-Wise that meaning and light, which are like a source and seed to it, should be clothed with the garment of a fruit on the tree of the universe. For a seed cannot remain permanently unclothed. And since at the beginning of creation it was not clothed in the garment of a fruit, it would surely be clothed in it at the end. And since that fruit is mankind; and since, as was proved above, the most famous fruit and sublime result from among mankind, who attracted the attention of all and confined to himself the gaze of a fifth of mankind, and with his moral and spiritual qualities caused the world to consider him with either feelings of love or of wonder, is the Person of Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him), most certainly, light, which was the seed from which the universe was formed, would become clothed in corporeality in his person and would appear in the form of an ultimate fruit.

O listener! Do not consider it improbable that this strange and mighty universe is created from the particular essence of a human being! Why should the All-Powerful One of Glory, Who creates a huge pine-tree -a sort of world- from a seed the size of a grain of wheat, not create the universe from ‘the Light of Muhammad’ (Peace and blessings be upon him)?5 Why should He not be able to do so?

Since, like the Tree of Tuba, the tree of the universe has its roots and trunk above and branches below, there is a luminous connecting line from the level of the fruit below to that of the original seed. Thus, the Ascension is the sheath and form of that connecting line, the way of which Muhammad (Peace and blessings by upon him) opened up. He went through his sainthood, returned through his messengership, and left the door open. The saints of his community following after him, travel that luminous highway with the heart and spirit in the shadow of the Prophet’s Ascension, and according to their abilities, rise to elevated ranks.

Also, as was proved above, the universe’s Maker made it and decked it out in the form of a palace for the aims demonstrated in the answer to the First Difficulty. Since Muhammad (PBUH) was the means of all those aims being realized, he must have been regarded with favour by the universe’s Maker before the universe was created, he must have been the first recipient of His manifestation. For the result and fruit of a thing is considered first. That is to say, material existence comes last and meaning comes first. However, since Muhammad (PBUH) was both the most perfect fruit, and the means of all other fruits acquiring value, and the means of all the aims becoming manifest, his Light must have received the first manifestation of creativity.

Your Third Difficulty: This is so extensive that those like us with straitened minds cannot contain and comprehend it. However, we can look at it from afar.

Yes, the immaterial workshops and universal laws of the lower world are in the higher worlds. And the fruits of the actions of jinn and men and the results of the actions of all the innumerable creatures on the earth, which is an exhibition of works of art, are also represented in the higher worlds. Moreover, a great many signs and the testimony of many narrations show that good deeds will take on the form of the fruits of Paradise and bad deeds the form of the bitter food of Hell. The wisdom in creation and the Divine Name of All-Wise necessitate this and the All-Wise Qur’an indicates it.

For sure, the multiplicity on the face of the earth is so widespread and the creation so ramified that far above all the beings dispersed throughout the universe are the species of creatures and classes of beings. These are to be found on the globe of the earth, ever changing, ever filling the earth and being emptied from it. Thus, the sources and mines of this multiplicity and these particulars are universal laws and universal manifestations of the Divine Names.

Those universal laws and universal, all-encompassing manifestations of the Names are to some extent sheer and undifferentiated and each forms a heaven which is like the Throne and ceiling of a world and its centre of direction. One of those worlds is Paradise, the Garden of the Abode at the Lote-tree of the farthest limit. It is established by accounts given by the Bringer of Sure News (PBUH) that the praise and glorification on the earth takes on the form of the fruits of that Paradise.6 Thus, these three points demonstrate that the treasuries of the results and fruits produced on the earth are there, in the heavens, and that the crops and produce of those results and fruits also return there.

Do not say: “How can it be that my words ‘All praise be to Allah!’, which are formed only of air, should become a corporeal fruit of Paradise?”,

because, sometimes while dreaming you eat in the form of a delicious apple a good word you uttered during the day while awake. And sometimes you eat at night in the form of something bitter, an ugly word you uttered during the day. If you slander and backbite, you are made to eat it in the form of putrid flesh. In which case, the good words and ugly words you say in the sleep of this world, you will eat in the form of fruits in the world of the hereafter, which is the world of consciousness. You should not consider it unlikely that you will eat them.

____________________

1. Husayn al-Jisri, al-Risalat al-Hamidiya [Turk. trans. Manastirli Ismail Hakki], Istanbul 1308, 4 vols.; Suyuti, al-Khasa’is al-Kubra, i, 26, 73.
2. Ibn Sayyid al-Nas, ‘Uyun al-A|thar, i, 29; Qadi Iyad, al-Shifa’, i, 364-6.
3. Qadi Iyad, al-Shifa’, i, 366-8; Bayhaqi, Dala’il al-Nubuwwa, i, 126.
4. Qur&an, 54:1.
5. Suyuti, al-Hawi li’l-Fatawa, ii, 545; Qastalani, al-Mawahib al-Ladunniyya, i, 25-83.
6. Kanz al-‘Ummal, i, 459-60; Manzari, al-Targhib wa’l-Tarhib, ii, 422-3.

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Fourth Principle: The fruits and benefits of the Ascension.

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