What is Life?

The Details of the Question
What is Life?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Liveliness. Living. Being alive.
Life is an attribute of the spirit. Plants, which do not have a spirit, have a kind of life that is called semi-liveliness and functions as life. As Badiuzzaman Said Nursi points out, man has not been able to solve the mystery of the challenge of life in the seed. How can he explain the attribute of life? Life is created without any reason because all of the beings except it are lifeless; and it is a plain truth that a non-living thing cannot bring about a living thing.
The world is a realm of wisdom. Causes and their effects happen in a regular order, phase by phase. Life is an exception to that rule.
Scientists cannot determine a cause for life; they only list laws of nature, elements, and seasons. The building blocks of this realm of matter function in only our bodies. Our mind, memory, love and fear have nothing to do with the sky, earth, oxygen, nitrogen or any other element.
 The index-like answer to the questions "What is life?" "What is its true nature and purpose?", which are a greatest manifestation of the Names of Ever-Living and Giver of Life, is this:
 Life is:
(1) the most important aim of the universe;
(2) and its greatest result;
“As may be established empirically, matter is not essential so that existence may be made subject to it, and be dependent on it. Rather, matter subsists through a meaning, and that meaning is life, it is spirit.
Also, as may be established through observation, matter is not the thing served so that everything may be ascribed to it. Rather, it is the servant; it renders service to the process of the perfection of a truth. And that truth is life. And the fundament of that truth is spirit.
Also, as is self-evident, matter is not dominant so that recourse may be made to it or perfections sought from it. Rather, it is dominated; it looks to the decree of some fundament, it is in motion in the way that that decree dictates. And that fundament is life, it is spirit, it is consciousness.
Also, as is necessary, matter is not the kernel, it is not the fundament, it is not a settled abode so that events and perfections may be affixed to it or constructed on it. Rather, it is a shell prepared to be split, rent, dissolved; it is a husk, it is froth, it is a form.
Consider the following: a creature so minute it can only be seen with a microscope has such acute senses that it can hear its friend’s voice, and see its sustenance; it has extremely sensitive and sharp senses. This demonstrates that the effects of life increase and the light of the spirit intensifies in proportion to the reducing and refining of matter. It is as though the more matter is refined and the more we become distanced from our material existences, the closer we draw to the world of the spirit, the world of life, and the world of consciousness; and the more intensely the heat of the spirit and the light of life are manifested.
Is it therefore at all possible that there should be this many distillations of life, consciousness, and spirit within this veil of materiality, and that the inner world which is beyond this veil should not be full of conscious beings and beings with spirits? Is it at all possible that the sources of these numberless distillations, flashes, and fruits of meaning, spirit, life and the truth apparent in this material existence in the Manifest World should only be ascribed to matter and the motion of matter, and be explained by it? God forbid! Absolutely not! These innumerable distillations and flashes demonstrate that this material and manifest world is but a lace veil strewn over the inner and spirit worlds.” (1)
The Second Station: You know, as has been discussed, that life is the discloser of beings; indeed, it is its result. So how could endless space be devoid of inhabitants and the heavens lack their populace? All the intelligent have in effect agreed on the concept of the angels and their reality, even if their interpretations have differed. In fact, the Peripatetic philosophers called them "the disembodied spiritual essences of species;" and the Illuminists called them "the [ten] intellects and masters {arbdb) of the species:" and the followers of the religions have called the Mountain Angel, the Sea Angel, and the Rain Angel, for example. For the Materialists even, who believe only what they see, it has not been easy to deny the concept of the angels and they have associated them with the pervasive forces or power (al-qüwõt al-sdriyya) in the laws of creation. (2)
(3) and its most brilliant light;

Moreover, since, as is plain to see, Pre-Eternal Power creates innumerable animate beings and beings with spirits from the most common substances and densest matter, and giving it great importance, transmutes dense matter by means of life into a subtle substance; and since it strews the light of life everywhere in great abundance, and gilds most things with the light of consciousness, with such flawless power and faultless wisdom, the All-Wise and All-Powerful One would certainly not neglect the other floods of subtle matter like light and ether, which are close to and fitting for the spirit; He would not leave them without life, without consciousness, inanimate. Indeed, He creates animate and conscious beings in great numbers from light, which is also matter, and even from meanings, air, and even words. Just as He creates numerous different species of animals, so too from these torrents of subtle matter does He create numerous different spirit creatures. One kind of them are the angels, others are the varieties of spirit beings and jinn.
(4) and its subtlest leaven;
Just as water freezes to its own detriment, and ice melts to its own detriment, and a kernel gains strength to the detriment of the shell, and a word becomes coarse to the detriment of the meaning, and the spirit weakens on account of the body, and the body becomes finer on account of the spirit, so too this world, the dense world, becomes transparent and refined with the functioning of the machine of life on account of the Hereafter, which is the subtle world. Creative Power sprinkling the light of life on dense, lifeless, extinguished, dead objects with an astonishing activity is a sign that It dissolves, burns, and illuminates this dense world with the light of life on account of the subtle world. (3)
(5) and its distilled essence;
Yes, just as life is the distilled essence of the universe; and consciousness and sense perception are distilled from life and are the essence of life; and intelligence too is distilled from consciousness and sense perception and is the essence of consciousness; and spirit is the pure, unsullied substance of life, its stable and autonomous essence; so too, the physical and spiritual life of Muhammed•(PBUH) is the distilled quintessence of the universe; and the Prophethood of Muhammed (PBUH) is the very purest essence distilled from the senses, consciousness, and intelligence of the universe. Indeed, the physical and spiritual life of Muhammed (PBUH), is, through the testimony of its works, the very life of the life of the universe. And the Prophethood of Muhammed (PBUH) is the consciousness and light of the universe's consciousness. While the Qur'anic revelation, according to the testimony of its living truths, is the spirit of the universe's life and the intelligence of its consciousness.

Yes, yes, yes! If the light of the Prophethood of Muhammed (PBUH) was to depart from the universe, the universe would die. If the Qur'an was to depart, the universe would go mad, the earth would lose its head and its reason; it would even strike its now unconscious head on a planet and Doomsday would occur. (4)

(6) and its most perfect fruit;
(7) and its most elevated perfection;

"The perfection of existence is through life. Rather, the true existence of existence is through life. Life is the light of existence, and consciousness is the light of life. Life is the summit and foundation of everything."

(8) and its finest beauty
(9) and its most beautiful adornment;
(10) and the secret of its undividedness;

"Just as life, which displays a manifestation of Divine Beauty, is a proof of Divine Oneness, and a sort of manifestation of Unity, death, too, which displays the manifestation of Divine Glory, is a proof of Divine Unity."

For example, And God’s is the highest similitude, like by showing the sun’s light and reflection, the bubbles on a large flowing river sparkling in the sun and transparent objects glistening on the face of the earth testify to the sun, on those groups and tribes of bubbles and transparent objects passing and disappearing, the magnificent continuation of the sun’s manifestations and the uninterrupted and continual display of its light on the successive groups and tribes of bubbles and transparent objects which follow on after them, testifies decisively that the little images of the sun and the lights and flashes which appear and sparkle, flare up and die away, and are changed and renewed, are the manifestations of an enduring, perpetual, elevated, single Sun whose manifestation is undying. That is to say, just as through their appearance and becoming visible, those shining droplets demonstrate the sun’s existence, so too, with their disappearance and extinction, they demonstrate it’s continuation, permanence, and unity. (5)

(11)and the bond of its unity;
(12)and the source of its perfections;
(13)and in regard to art and nature, a most wondrous being endowed with spirit;
(14)and a miraculous reality which makes the tiniest creature like a universe;
(15)and in addition to its being the means of the universe being situated in a tiny animate creature, and its showing a sort of index of the huge universe in the creature, it is a most extraordinary miracle of Divine power which connects the animate creature to most beings and makes it a tiny universe;

Consider the following: a lifeless object, even if it is a great mountain, is an orphan, a stranger, alone. Its only relations are with the place in which it is situated, and with the things which encounter it. Whatever else there is in the cosmos, it does not exist for the mountain. For the mountain has neither life through which it might be related to life, nor consciousness with which it might be connected.

Now consider a tiny object like a bee, for example. The instant life enters it, it establishes such a connection with the whole universe that it is as though it concludes a trading agreement with it, especially with the flowers and plants of the earth. It can say: “The earth is my garden; it is my trading house.” Thus, through the unconscious instinctive senses which impel and stimulate it in addition to the well-known five external senses and inner senses of animate beings, the bee has a feeling for, and a familiarity and reciprocal relationship with most of the species in the world, and they are at its disposal. (6)

(16) and it is a wondrous Divine art which enlarges a tiny part to being the greatest whole and makes a particular like a universal or world, and shows that in regard to dominicality the universe is an indivisible whole or universal that cannot be broken into parts and which accepts no participation;

(17) and it is the most brilliant, the most decisive, the most perfect of proofs testifying to the necessary existence of the Ever-Living and Self Subsistent One; and among Divine artefacts is the lightest and most apparent, and the most valuable and the most abundant, and the purest, most shining, and most meaningful embroidery of dominical art;

‘He grants life.’
That is, the one who gives life, is He alone, in which case, it is also He alone Who creates all things. For the spirit, light, leaven, fundament, result, and summary of the universe is life, so whoever grants life must also be the Creator of the whole universe. The one who grants life, then, is certainly He; it is the Ever-Living and Self-Subsistent One. And so we point out the mighty proof of this degree in the profession of Divine Unity as follows.

As has been explained and proved in another Word, we see before us the truly magnificent army of animate beings with their tents pitched on the plain of the face of the earth. Indeed, every spring we see a new army emerging From the World of the Unseen freshly mobilized; one army of the innumerable armies of the Ever-Living and Self-Subsistent One. Looking at this army, we see within it more than two hundred thousand assorted and different nations from the plant families, and again more than one hundred thousand from the animal tribes. Although the uniforms of each tribe and family, as well as their provisions, drill, discharge, arms, and period of service arc all different, anyone who has eyes in his head will see, and having seen will be unable to deny, that a commander-in-chief provides all these different needs, with perfect orderliness and precise balance, at exactly the right time. And that He does this through His infinite power and wisdom, His boundless knowledge and will, His unending mercy, His inexhaustible treasuries, without forgetting a single one of them, or confusing or mixing-up or delaying any of them.

Is it at all possible, then, that anything could meddle, interfere, and have a share in this giving of life and administering, in this nurturing and sustaining, other than one who has an a11-comprehensive knowledge which encompasses the army together with all of its attributes, and one who has absolute power with which to administer the army and all of its necessities? God forbid! A hundred thousand times?

It is obvious that if there are ten tribes in one battalion, because the difficulty in equipping them all separately will amount to that of ten battalions, impotent human beings would be compelled to equip them in a single fashion. Whereas the Ever-Living and Self-Subsistent One provides the different equipment necessary for the life of the more than three hundred thousand tribes within that magnificent army. Moreover, He provides it with no trouble or difficulty, in a light and easy manner, most wisely and maintaining orderliness. And He causes the mighty army to declare with one tongue: "It is He Who gives life " and causes the vast congregation in the mosque of the universe to recite:

God, there is no god save Him, the Ever-Living and Self-Subsistent One. Neither slumber overtakes Him nor sleep. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is on earth. Who is there that could intercede with Him, except by His leave? He knows all that lies open before men and all that is hidden from them, whereas they cannot attain to ought of His knowledge save that which He wills. His Throne extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no weariness in preserving them. And He alone is Truly Exalted, Tremendous. (7)

(18) and it is the most brilliant, the most decisive, the most perfect of proofs testifying to the necessary existence of the Ever-Living and Self Subsistent One; and among Divine artefacts is the lightest and most apparent, and the most valuable and the most abundant, and the purest, most shining, and most meaningful embroidery of dominical art.

"Indeed, life is hidden and subtle, because the life of plants even, which is the lowest of the levels of life, and the awakening of the life-force in seeds, that is, their stirring, opening, and growth, which are the first steps in plant life, has remained unfathomed by human science since the time of Adam, despite being so evident and familiar, so ubiquitous and common. Man’s reason has been unable to discover its true reality. Moreover, life is so pure and unblemished that in both its aspects, that is in both its inner and outer faces, it is pure, translucent, transparent. Not veiling it with causes, the Hand of Power touches it directly. Whereas It made apparent causes a veil, to be the source of the insignificant aspects of things and their base external qualities, which are inappropriate to the dignity of Power" (8)

(19) and it is a graceful, refined, delicate manifestation of Divine mercy which makes other beings serve itself;

"We see in the creation of the world that its beings are arranged as though in a circle with life created as its central point. All beings look to life, and serve life, and produce the necessities of life. That is to say, the One Who created the universe chose life from it." (9)

(20) and it is a most comprehensive mirror of the Divine attributes.

"Yes, in every living being there are a seal of Divine Oneness and a stamp of Eternally Besoughtedness. For a living being displays together in its mirror most of the Divine Names the manifestations of which are apparent in the universe. Quite simply, like a point of focus, each displays the manifestation of the Greatest Name of Ever-Living and Self-Subsistent One. Thus, since it shows a sort of shadow of the Oneness of the Divine Essence under the veil of the Name of Giver of Life, it bears a stamp of Divine Oneness. And since the living being is like a miniature sample of the universe and a fruit of the tree of creation, it shows a seal of Divine Eternally Besoughtedness, which conveys altogether with ease to the tiny sphere of its life its needs which are as many as the universe. That is to say, this situation shows it has a Sustainer Who is such that His looking to it and regarding it takes the place of all things. All things cannot take the place of this regard.

Furthermore, this situation shows that like its Sustainer is in need of nothing, so too nothing diminishes His treasury and nothing at all is difficult for His power. This, then, is a sort of seal of Eternally Besoughtedness.

Thus, in every living being is a seal of Divine Oneness and stamp of Eternally Besoughtedness. Yes, through the tongue of its life, every living being recites: Say, He is God, the One, * The Eternally Besoughted.30

In addition to these two seals are several more important ‘windows’, but since they have been explained in detail in other places, here the discussion has been brief.

Seeing that each particle in existence at once opens up three windows and two openings onto the Unity of the Necessarily Existent, and life too opens two doors, you can compare how the levels of beings from particles to the sun spread the light of knowledge of the All-Glorious One.

Thus, you can understand from this the degrees of progress in knowledge of God, and the levels of awareness of His presence." (10)

(21) and it is a wonder of dominical creation comprising the manifestations of numerous Most Beautiful Names like Merciful, Provider, Compassionate, Munificent, and All-Wise, which subjects to itself many truths like sustenance, wisdom, grace, and mercy, and is the source and origin of all the senses like sight, hearing, and touch; 

"Life is the most luminous, the most beautiful of the miracles of Dominical Power. It is the most powerful and most brilliant of the proofs of Divine Unity. It is the most comprehensive and most shining of the mirrors displaying the manifestations of the Eternally Besought One.

Yes, on its own, life makes known a Living and Self-Subsistent One together with all his Names and acts. For life is a light, a medicament, like a potion blended from numerous attributes. Just as the seven colours are combined in light, and various drugs are blended together in a medicament, so also life is a reality made of numerous attributes. Some of the attributes in its reality expand by means of the senses; they unfold, and are differentiated. However the greater part make themselves perceived in the form of the emotions; they make themselves known by welling up out of life.

Furthermore, life comprises sustenance, mercy, grace, and wisdom, which are dominant in the planning and administration of the universe. It is as if life fastens them on behind it and draws them into the place it enters. For example, when life enters a body, the Name of All-Wise is also manifest; it makes its home well and orders it with wisdom. In the same way, the Name of All-Generous is manifest, and it organizes and decorates its dwelling according to its needs. At the same time, the manifestation of the Name of All-Compassionate is apparent; it bestows all sorts of bounties for the continuance and perfection of life. And again at the same time, the manifestation of the Name of Provider appears; it produces the sustenance, material and immaterial, necessary for the perpetuation and unfolding of the life, and in part stores them up within its body. That is to say, life is like a point of focus; various attributes enter one another, indeed, they become one and the same. It is as if in its entirety life is both knowledge, and at the same time power, and at the same time wisdom and mercy, and so on... Thus, with regard to this comprehensive essence, life is a mirror of the Eternally Besought One reflecting the essential Dominical attributes. It is due to this mystery that the Necessarily Existent One, Who is the Ever-Living and Self-Subsistent One, creates life in great abundance and plenitude, and scatters it far and wide and broadcasts it, and gathers everything around life and makes it serve it. For life's duty is great. Yes, it is not easy to be the mirror of the Eternally Besought One, it is not some petty duty.

Thus, the sudden and continuous coming into existence from nothing of these countless, numberless lives which we all the time see before our eyes - and of spirits, which are the origins and essences of lives - their being sent, demonstrate the necessary existence, sacred attributes, and Most Beautiful Names of a Necessarily Existent and Ever-Living and Self-Subsistent One as clearly as rays show the existence of the sun. Just as someone who does not recognize and accept the existence of the sun is compelled to deny the light which fills the day, so also one who does not recognize the Sun of Divine Oneness, Who is Ever-Living and Self-Subsistent and the Giver of Life and Death, has to deny the existence of the living creatures which fill the earth and even the past and the future; he has to fall a hundred times lower than an animal, to fall from the level of life to become something utterly ignorant and lifeless." (11)
(22) and life is a transformation-machine in the vast workshop of the universe which continuously cleanses everywhere, purifies, allows progress, and illuminates. And living bodies, the dwellings of life, are guest-houses, schools, barracks for instructing and illuminating the caravans of particles, enabling them to perform their duties. Quite simply the EverLiving Self-Subsistent One makes subtle this dark, transient, lowly world, illuminates it and gives it a sort of permanence, preparing it to go to another, everlasting world;
(23) and life's two faces, that is, its inner and outer faces, are both shining, elevated, and without dirt or defect. It is an exceptional creature on which apparent causes have not been placed, veiling the disposal of power, in order to show clearly that it has emerged directly without veil or means from the hand of dominical power.
(24) and the reality of life looks to the six pillars of belief, proving them in meaning and indirectly. That is to say, it is a luminous truth which looks to and proves,
(25) both the necessary existence of the Necessarily Existent One and His eternal life,
(26) and the realm of the Hereafter and everlasting life,
(27) and the existence of the angels,
(28) and the other pillars of belief
(29) Also, just as life is the purest essence of the universe, distilled from all of it, so is it a mighty mystery yielding thanks, worship, praise, and love, the most important Divine purposes in the universe and most important results of the world's creation.

(1) The Words, The Twenty-Ninth Word, First Fundamental Point
(2) Isharatul I'jaz, The Second Station
(3) The Words, The Twenty-Ninth Word
(4)The Thirtieth Flash, The Fifth Point
(5) The Words, The Twenty Second Word
(6) The Words, The Twenty- Ninth Word
(7) The Letters, The Twentieth Letter, The Second Station
(8) The Words, The Twenty-Ninth Word
(9) The Letters, The Twenty- Eighth Letter
(10) The Words, Twenty-Second Word, The Second Station
(11) The Words, The Thirty-Third Word, Twenty-Third Window

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