Third principle: What is the Ascension’s wisdom?
ANSWER: The wisdom here is so elevated that human minds cannot reach it, so profound that human minds cannot comprehend it, and so subtle and fine that the intellect cannot grasp it. However, even if we cannot know its wisdom or the exact Divine purposes for it, some indications allow us to show the existence of several purposes. They are as follows.
To show the light of His Unity and the manifestation of His absolute Oneness in the levels of publicity, the Creator of this universe distinguished an eminent individual with an Ascension in the form of a link between the realm of multiplicity and corporeality’s furthest limit and the Dominion of Pure Unity and spirituality’s starting point. Addressing him on behalf of all creatures, He explained all Divine purposes to him in the name of conscious beings, and made them known through him. He also willed to observe through his sight His Art’s beauty and His Lordship’s perfection in the mirrors of His creatures and to cause them to be observed by others.
Furthermore, His works testify that the Maker of the world has infinite beauty and perfection, both of which are loved because of themselves. Thus the One with infinite beauty and perfection has a boundless love for His Beauty and Perfection, a love that manifests itself in the works of His Art, which He loves because He sees His Beauty and Perfection in them. The most lovable and elevated of His works of Art are animate beings. The most lovable and elevated animate beings are conscious beings. By virtue of their comprehensiveness, the most lovable conscious beings are found among humanity. The most loveable person is the one who has developed his or her potentiality most fully and manifested the samples of the perfections observed in all creatures.
To see at one point and in one mirror all manifestations of His Love pervading all creatures, and to display all varieties of His Beauty focused on one individual, the Maker of beings chose one person, an illustrious, enlightened fruit of the tree of creation, one whose heart is like a seed containing all the essential truths contained in that trees. To demonstrate how He loves that individual in the name of the universe, He drew him to His Presence through an Ascension, which is like a thread linking the seed (the origin) with the fruit (the end), and honored him with the vision of His Essential Beauty. So that others could imitate his holiness and excellence, He favored him with His speech and entrusted Him with His decree.
To understand this exalted wisdom, consider the comparisons below.
First comparison: As explained in The Eleventh Word, imagine a glorious king with vast treasuries containing many varieties of jewels. He is well-versed in all industries, and had a vast knowledge of all artistic and scientific disciplines, and countless fine arts. As anyone with perfect beauty and perfection tend to see and show themselves, that glorious king wants to open up an exhibition and display his kingdom’s magnificence, his wealth’s splendor and extent, and the wonderful products of his artistry and skill. He so desires in order to behold his beauty and perfection with his own discerning eye and through the eyes of others.
And so he begins to build a very large, magnificent palace. Dividing it into many apartments and rooms, he decorates it with his finest and most beautiful works of art, and embellishes it with his precious stones. Designing it according to his artistic and scientific principles and disciplines, he furnishes it with the miraculous products of his knowledge. Finally, he sets up therein tables containing most delicious specific foods and drinks, and specifies an appropriate table for each tribe of his subjects. He prepares a general banquet.
Then, to show his perfection, the king invites his subjects to eat and see the palace. He appoints a representative or supreme commander and gives him the highest rank with himself. He invites him to rise above the bottom floor in order to tour all mansions and floors one after or above the other. Showing him the successive machinery, all workshops of his wonderful art and storehouses for the produce coming from below, he brings him to his private apartment. There he honors him with his presence and the vision of his blessed person, who is the origin of all those perfections, and informs him of the palace’s true nature and of his own perfections.
Appointing him to guide the rest of his subjects, he sends him back to describe the palace’s maker through its contents, inscriptions, and wonders. The guide also will explain the inscriptions’ meanings, what the works of art and well-proportioned and well-arranged furniture and decorations signify, and how they point to the perfections and skills of the palace’s owner. He will teach them the correct behavior and formalities when visiting the palace and beholding the exhibition, and describe the protocol and ceremonies that meet with the pleasure and desires of the learned and skillful king, who does not appear to them.
Similarly, the All-Majestic Maker, the Lord of Eternity, willed to see and display His infinite Beauty and Perfections. So He made the palace of this world in such a fashion that each creature voices His Perfections in numerous tongues and points to His Beauty with many signs. Through all its inhabitants, this universe shows how numerous immaterial treasuries are hidden in each of His All-Beautiful Names and how many subtleties are concealed in each sacred Title. It shows this in such a way that although scientists, together with all of science’s laws and principles, have studied this book of the universe since the time of Adam, they still have not discovered one-hundredth of that book’s meanings and signs concerning the Divine Names and Perfections.
Thus the Wisdom of the All-Majestic One of Beauty, the Beautiful One of Majesty, the Maker having infinite Perfection, Who has made that palace of the universe like an exhibition to see and display His Perfections and transcendent Beauty, requires that He inform someone of the meanings of His signs contained therein so that they do not remain useless and without benefit for conscious beings on the earth; that He have someone travel through the exalted worlds, which are the sources of the palace’s wonders and the store houses where the results of their lives accumulate; that He raise him above all others, honor him with nearness to Him in His Presence, have him tour the Hereafter’s worlds, and entrust him with such duties as teaching His servants, heralding His Lordship’s sovereignty, informing His servants of things pleasing to Himself, and expanding His signs in the universe’s creation and operation; that He should show his pre-eminence through the decorations of miracles; and that He should proclaim through a decree like the Qur’an that that person is a truthful personal interpreter of the All-Majestic One.
So far, we have demonstrated through this comparison a few instances of wisdom in the Ascension. You may infer others by analogy.
Second comparison: Suppose a knowledgeable, skillful person writes a miraculous book, each page of which contains as many truths as would fill a hundred books, each line of which contains as many subtle meanings as would fill a hundred pages, and each word of which would contain as many truths as would fill a hundred lines. If all the meanings and truths of such a book point to its miracle-displaying writer’s transcendent perfections, he surely would not leave it closed and therefore worthless. Rather, he would teach it to others so that others could benefit, so that his hidden perfections would be unveiled and his beauty (intellectual and spiritual excellence) would be seen, and so that he would be pleased and make himself loved. To this end, he would have someone go through that entire wonderful book, all the while instructing him in its meanings and truths so that the person would then instruct others in them.
Similarly, in order to show His Perfections, Beauty, and the truths of His Names, the Eternal Inscriber has “written” the universe in such way that all creatures proclaim and express His infinite Perfections, Names, and Attributes in innumerable ways. If a book’s meaning is not known, it has no value. But a book (such as the universe), each letter of which contains thousands of meanings, cannot be reduced to nothing. Given this, the One Who wrote it will make it known and cause it to be explained in parts according to the capacity of each group of creatures.
He will teach the whole of it to one with the most comprehensive view, most universal consciousness, and greatest capacity. But to teach such a book in its entirety and with all its universal truths requires that, starting from the furthest limits of the levels of multiplicity (the corporeal world, the book’s first page) as far as the Realm of Unity (its final page), the individual should make a most elevated and universal journey. Through this comparison, one can gain some understanding of the exalted instances of wisdom in the Ascension.
QUESTION: Those deniers who are beginning to believe still might face some confusion over such things as:
- Why is this Ascension special to Prophet Muhammad?
- What do you mean by saying that Muhammad is the seed of the universe, that the universe was created from his light, and that he is its farthest and most enlightened fruit?
- You say that he made his Ascension to rise to the elevated realm, to see the machinery and workshops whose produce or works are exhibited on the earth, as well as the storehouses where the results of those works are kept. What does this mean?
ANSWER: The first question was answered in previous Words, and so we give only a brief list of signs showing Muhammad’s Prophethood and perfections, and why he is the most worthy to make the Ascension.
Firstly: Despite the great corruption in the Torah, the Gospels, and the Psalms, Husain al-Jisri found in them one hundred and ten signs indicating Muhammad’s Prophethood. These are presented in his Risala al-Hamidiya.
Secondly: History also records the words of many pre-Islamic soothsayers, such Shiq and Satih, who accurately foretold the Prophethood of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, and that he was the Last Prophet.
Thirdly: Many extraordinary events before his Prophethood (irhasat) foretold his imminent advent. For example, on the night he was born, the Ka‘ba’s idols toppled over and the pinnacles of the famous palace of the Persian ruler Chosroes broke.
Fourthly: Prophet Muhammad was distinguished with approximately a thousand miracles, which have been related by historians and biographers. To cite only a few examples, he satisfied an army’s thirst with the water flowing from his fingers and split the moon (54:1). The dry wooden pole against which he leaned while preaching in the Mosque moaned like a camel in front of many people when it was separated from him.
Fifthly: Friend and foe who are fair agree that all good qualities were found in him to the highest degree, and that, as demonstrated by his con duct, all attributes and character of the highest excellence were apparent in the way he performed his mission. As testified to by Islam’s moral principles, praiseworthy virtues of the highest order are found in the Law he brought.
Sixthly: Wisdom requires that Divinity manifest Itself and be responded with worship. Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, manifested God’s Divinity at the highest level and in the most brilliant fashion through the most perfect and comprehensive way of worship contained in the religion that he brought. Due to the wisdom in the universe’s creation, the Creator of the world wants to display His most perfect Beauty and Grace through the most appropriate means. Clearly, Prophet Muhammad showed and described His Beauty and Grace in the most perfect fashion.
The Maker of the world wills to exhibit and draw attentive gazes toward His perfect Art of infinite beauty; Prophet Muhammad proclaimed that Art with the clearest voice. Muhammad, in response to the desire of the Lord of the worlds to proclaim His Oneness in the realms of multiplicity, most perfectly announced Unity with all Its aspects.
As a consequence of His Wisdom, the Owner of the world wills to see and show His infinite essential Beauty and Grace, with all their manifestations, in the mirrors of all beings; Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, reflected them in the most brilliant fashion and made others love them. Also, Muhammad, in response to the will of the Builder of the palace of the world to describe His Perfections by exhibiting His unseen treasuries of invaluable gems, most perfectly displayed and described them.
The Maker of the universe has decorated the universe with the most beautiful and exquisite embellishments, and has included therein His conscious creatures so that they may travel to receive enjoyment and reflect. As required by wisdom, He also wills to communicate the meaning and value expressed by the works of His Art to people who observe and reflect. Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, guided humanity, jinn, and angels in the most comprehensive way, in this respect, through the Qur’an.
The All-Wise Ruler of the universe wills to use an envoy to provide for all conscious beings the answers to three perplexing questions: Where do we come from? Where are we going? What are we?, and therefore to reveal the purpose of the changes and transformations in existence. By means of the Qur’an’s truths, Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, revealed this purpose and provided the answers in the clearest and most perfect way.
The Maker of this world wills to make Himself known to conscious beings through His exquisite works and to be loved by them through the precious bounties He bestows on them. Thus He wants to communicate to them, by means of an envoy, what He wants them to do and how they may obtain His approval and good pleasure in return for those bounties. By means of the Qur’an, Prophet Muhammad communicated the things that please God in the most exalted and perfect way.
The Lord of the worlds has endowed humanity, the fruit of the tree of creation, with a comprehensive disposition that can encompass the universe, and with a corresponding ability—and even need—to perform a universal worship. But humanity inclines to the world and its attractions. So God wills, by means of a guide, to turn humanity’s attention from worldly multiplicity to Divine Unity, from transience to eternity. In response to this will and by means of the Qur’an, Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, guided humanity to this goal in the most desirable fashion and performed the duty of Messengership in the most perfect way.
Thus the most superior members of creation are living beings, the most superior living beings are conscious beings, the most superior conscious beings are true human beings, and the true human being who carried out all of the duties mentioned in the most perfect and comprehensive way naturally would rise through an all-embracing Ascension to the nearness of the distance between the strings of two bows, the station nearest to God, to knock at the door of eternal happiness, open Mercy’s treasury, and witness directly belief’s unseen truths.
Seventhly: Everything displays the most pleasing instances of beauty and utmost degree of adornment, thereby demonstrating that their Maker wills to make things beautiful and adorn them. In turn, this shows that the Maker has a strong inclination and sacred love toward His Art. Therefore the person with the most comprehensive disposition to display this Art’s wonders in himself; one who knows them, makes them known, and thus makes himself lovable; and who deeply appreciates the beauties manifested in other beings in full appreciation of their coming from the Maker, will be the most beloved in the sight of the Maker, Who nurtures art and loves His Art greatly.
This same being, in full awareness of the exquisite beauties and qualities adorning all beings and of the perfections illuminating them, makes the heavens echo: “All-Glorified is God! What wonders God has willed!” and “All these are from God! God is the All-Great!” This same being causes the universe to reverberate with the sounds of the Qur’an, and enraptures land and sea with his appreciative reflections and glorification as well as with his proclamation and demonstration of Divine Unity.
Such a being, according to the principle of “The cause is like the doer,” receives a reward equivalent to his community’s good deeds. His spiritual perfections draw strength from the blessings invoked upon him by his community, and the duties he performed during his Messengership cause him to receive an immaterial recompense and infinite emanations of Divine Mercy and Love. Given this, the result of pure truth and absolute wisdom is that this being should advance by means of Ascension as far as Paradise, Sidratu’l Muntaha—the Lote-tree, contingency’s farthest limit—the Divine Throne, and to the nearness of the distance between the strings of two bows.
Answer to the second question: The truth behind the second question is so elevated and profound that the human mind cannot comprehend it. It can be discerned only through the light of belief. However, we will try to indicate it through comparisons.
This universe, when considered with regard to the wisdom in its purposes, appears to have the meaning of a mighty tree. Just like a tree, this world, which is a branch of the tree of creation, has branches (elements), leaves (plants), flowers (animals), and fruits (humanity). His Name the All-Wise requires that any law of the All-Majestic Maker that is prevalent in trees be prevalent in this supreme tree. Therefore, like any other tree, this tree of creation must also have been formed from a seed. It must have been such a seed that, besides those of this material world, it would encapsulate the models and foundations of all other worlds. For the origin and essential seed of the universe, which comprises thousands of different worlds, cannot be a dried, inanimate piece of matter.
Since there was not another tree prior to this tree of creation, the Divine Name the All-Wise requires that the meaning or light constituting its seed or origin be clothed within a fruit. A seed cannot remain naked forever. As it was not clothed within a fruit at the beginning of creation, it would certainly be clothed in it in the end. Since this seed is humanity, and since Prophet Muhammad, as pointed out earlier, is the best-known and illustrious among humanity—one who has attracted humanity’s attention to himself and has fixed the attention of half of the globe and one-fifth of humanity on himself, and one who, through his exceptional virtues and excellencies, has made the world consider him with love and amazement— for sure, the light constituting the universe’s seed would be clothed in Muhammad’s person and appear in the form of the final fruit.
Why should it be considered unlikely that this amazing, mighty universe was created out of a man’s nature? Why should the All-Powerful One of Majesty, Who creates a huge, world-resembling pine tree from a grain-sized seed, not create—or be unable to create—the universe from the light of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings? The tree of the universe being (like the Touba tree of Paradise) upside down, with its roots and trunk spreading upward and branches downward, contains a link of light and a link in meaning between the position of the fruit below and that of the essential seed above. The Ascension is that link’s form: Prophet Ahmad (Muhammad) opened the way of traveling along it; he ascended through sainthood, returned with Messengership, and left the door open to a sort of ascension. Saints travel in heart and spirit on that highway of light under the Prophetic Ascension’s shadow, and rise to the elevated stations according to their capacity.
While answering the first question, we saw that the Maker of the universe made it in the form of a palace for the purposes mentioned. Since the Prophet is the means for accomplishing those purposes, he would have to be under the eyes of the favor of the universe’s Maker and receive His Manifestation before the universe was created, for something’s result or fruit is considered first. Thus the latest in existence is the first in meaning and consideration. Since Prophet Muhammad is the most perfect fruit, the means for valuing all other fruits and the cause for realizing all purposes (for the universe’s creation), his light must receive the first manifestation of Divine creation.
As for the third question, it is so extensive that people like us cannot comprehend it. We can only glimpse it from afar. The “immaterial factories” producing the material world are in the celestial worlds and its governing laws are determined or issue from there. The results of the acts per formed by the earth’s innumerable inhabitants, and the consequences of what is done by humanity and jinn, also assume form in those worlds. Together with the testimony of many indications and Prophetic Traditions, the Qur’an suggests, and the wisdom in the universe and the Divine Name the All-Wise require, that the good deeds done by humanity and jinn assume the forms of Paradise’s fruits, while their evil deeds assume the forms of the bitter, poisonous fruits of the tree (Zaqqum) of Hell.
Creatures exist on the earth in such abundance, and creation has been divided into so many branches, that the groups and species of beings and divisions of creatures are found here in far greater numbers than anywhere else in the universe. These beings and creatures are replaced constantly by newer ones, for the world is filled and emptied of them continuously. All of these multiple beings and creatures have their sources and origins in the universal laws and manifestations of Divine Names, which are first reflected in and received by the heavens.
To some degree simple and pure, each heaven is like a different world’s roof, and represents a center for the administration of that world and regulation of its affairs. One of those worlds is the Garden of Refuge and Dwelling, an apartment of Paradise beside the Lote-tree of the farthest limit. The Truthful Reporter (the holy Prophet) says the praises and glorifications of God performed on the earth assume the forms of that Garden’s fruits. In other words, the storehouses containing the results or fruits of the works done here are located in those heavenly worlds; the harvest obtained here is sent there (to “reap” on a predetermined day.)
So do not say how an utterance, such as “All praise and gratitude are for God,” which is lost in the air, become embodied in a fruit of Paradise? Sometimes you say an agreeable word while awake and eat it in the form of a delicious apple in your dream at night. A disagreeable word said during the day returns at night as a bitter thing to swallow. If you backbite someone, they will make you eat it as decaying flesh. So whatever good or bad words you utter in this worldly sleep, you will eat them in the forms of fruits in the Hereafter, the world of being awake.
Bediuzzaman Said Nursi