Third Step: The importance of man and the reason why the earth gains value as much as the heavens.
THIRD STEP: The silence and tranquillity of the heavens, and their order and regularity, and vastness and luminosity, show that their inhabitants are not like those of the earth; they are obedient, they do whatever they are commanded. Because the country is vast there is nothing to cause overcrowding and disputes. Their natures are pure, they are innocent, their stations are fixed.
On the earth, opposites come together, evils are mixed with good, and disputes start between them. For this reason, conflict and suffering are born. And from them examination and competition are set. And from them progress and retrogression occur. The wisdom in these facts is as follows:
Man is the fruit of the tree of creation, its furthest part. It is well-known that the fruit of something is its most distant, most comprehensive, most delicate, and most important part. Therefore, since man, who is the fruit of the universe, is a most comprehensive, most wonderful, most powerless, most weak, and most subtle miracle of power, the earth, which is his cradle and dwelling-place, is the heart and centre of the whole universe as regards meaning and art, despite being physically small and insignificant in relation to the heavens; it is the exposition and exhibition-place of all the miracles of art; and the display and point of focus of all the manifestations of the Divine Names; the place of assembly and reflection of unending dominical activity; the means and market of boundless Divine creativity, whose liberality is especially evident in the numerous small species of plants and animals; the place, in a small measure, of samples of the artefacts to be found in the truly vast worlds of the hereafter; the speedily operating workshop for eternal textiles; the fast-changing place of imitation of everlasting panoramas; the narrow, temporary field and tillage rapidly raising the seeds for never-ending gardens.
Thus, it is because of this immaterial greatness of the earth,(1) and its importance in regard to art, that the All-Wise Qur’an puts it on a par with the heavens, although it is like a tiny fruit of a huge tree. It places it in one pan of a pair of scales and the whole of the rest of the universe in the other. It repeatedly says,
Sustainer of the Heavens and the Earth.
Furthermore, the speedy, constant change and transformation of the earth, which arises from the instances of wisdom mentioned above, requires that its inhabitants undergo change in accordance with it. And, it is because this limited earth manifests unlimited miracles of power that according to their creation and unlike other animate beings, no natural limit or restriction has been placed on the faculties and powers of man and jinn, who are its most important inhabitants. As a result of this they have manifested endless progress and endless retrogression. A great field of trial and examination has opened, from the prophets and the saints to the nimrods and the devils. Since this is so, of course, with their boundless evil, the pharaoh-like devils will throw stones at the heavens and its inhabitants.
(1) Despite its small size, the globe of the earth may be thought of as equal to the heavens, for it may be said that ‘a constant spring is greater than a lake with no inlet.’ And, although a pile of grain the size of a mountain apparently seems to be thousands of times larger than a measure, since it has all passed through the measure and been transferred to another place, the measure may be seen as in balance with the grain. It is exactly the same with the globe of the earth; Allah Almighty has created it as a place for exhibiting His art, a place where His creativity is concentrated, as a pivot of His wisdom, a place for the manifestation of His power, a garden of His mercy, a field for His Paradise, the measure for uncountable universes and worlds of creatures, and like a spring flowing into the seas of the past and the World of the Unseen. Think of all those renewed worlds whose shirts woven of beings are changed every year, layer upon layer, in hundreds of thousands of different forms, how they fill the earth many times and being emptied into the past are poured into the World of the Unseen; consider those numerous shirts of the earth. That is, suppose all the past to be present, and then compare it with the somewhat monotonous and plain heavens: you will see that even if the earth does not weigh more than the heavens, it does not weigh less, either. Thus, you may understand the meaning of, Sustainer of the Heavens and the Earth.
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- Twelfth Principle: The distinctness of the point of view of the Qur'an and philosophy and the results that arise from this distinction.
- Fifth Step: The stoning of evils by angels.
- Second Step: Those who descend to the earth from the skies and ascend to the heavens.
- A short Addendum to the First Stopping-Place: The commentary of the verse “Do they not look at the sky above them?― How We have made it and adorned...” (Surah Qaf, 50:6)
- The Fifteenth Word: The living beings, angels, the Jinn and devils in space.
- The Fourteenth Word: Some verses and Hadiths which are difficult to understand: The creation of heavens and the earth in six days.
- The utterance of the stars: It describes the skies and the stars in a poetic way.
- Seventh Step: Three meanings for the stoning of devils.
- Where is Hell?
- The Third Question is a reasonable explanation of where Hell is situated.