The Nineteenth Letter: Appendix 4
About knowing the Prophet
A TRAVELER SETS OUT ON AN INTELLECTUAL JOURNEY TO FIND AND know the universe’s Creator. After traveling in the realms of creatures, he327 says to himself: “As I am seeking this universe’s Creator and Owner amidst these creatures, first I should visit
Muhammad and seek from him the answer to my quest.” Using his imagination, he enters the Prophet’s blessed age and sees that it really was an era of happiness, for even his enemies confirmed him as the most blessed of creation, the greatest and most accomplished commander, the most celebrated ruler, the most exalted in speech, and the most brilliant in intellect. He has enlightened 14 centuries with his virtues and the Qur’an.
After investigating, the traveler realizes how the Prophet quickly transformed his primitive and illiterate people into the world’s masters and teachers via the light that he brought. He finds numerous decisive proofs, in his character and mission, of the Creator’s Existence and Oneness. Here we briefly point out nine of the most general ones, as follows:
FIRST: The Prophet possessed all laudable virtues and excellent characteristics, as affirmed even by his enemies. In addition, hundreds of miracles were done through his hands, such as quenching an army’s thirst with water flowing from his fingers, splitting the moon with a gesture (and the moon split [54:1]), and causing many soldiers to flee by tossing a handful of soil at them (It was not you who threw when you threw, but God threw [8:17]). Learning of, or even witnessing them, the traveler says to himself: “One who performs such clear miracles and possesses such moral qualities and perfections must be the most truthful in speech. How could he ever lower himself to lies and trickery, which are vices of the vile?”
SECOND: He holds the decree of the universe’s Owner (the Qur’an), which has been accepted and affirmed in every century by hundreds of millions of people and is miraculous in seven ways and 40 aspects. The traveler thinks: “The translator, expounder, and proclaimer of such a Decree of pure truth could not lie, for that would violate the Decree and betray the Owner.”
THIRD: The like of the Sacred Law, religion, code of worship, way of prayer, message, and belief that he brought has never existed before. Nor could it exist (without him). The unequaled law brought by the unlettered Prophet has administered one-fifth of humanity for 14 centuries in a just and precise manner. Islam, which originated in and is represented by the Prophet’s sayings, precepts, and example, is also peerless. It has served hundreds of millions of people, regardless of time and place, as a guide and competent authority or source to decide every issue perfectly. It has trained their minds, illumined and purified their hearts, trained and refined their souls, and perfected their spirits.
Prophet Muhammad is the foremost practitioner of the worship prescribed by Islam and the most God-conscious person. He worshipped with the utmost care and attention to even the minutest details, even during times of great peril and throughout a life of constant struggle and activity. He imitated no one in his worship, and perfectly combined the beginning and end of spiritual evolution.
His prayers and knowledge of God are unparalleled, for with just the Jawshan al-Kabir, one of his thousands of supplicatory prayers, he describes his Lord with such a degree of knowledge that all saints and others foremost in knowledge of God since his time have never achieved a similar degree, despite their building upon their predecessors’ accomplishments. Those who glance at just one of this supplication’s 99 sections concludes that there can never be another one even remotely like it.
While preaching and calling his people to the truth, the Prophet displayed such steadfastness, firmness, and courage that he never faltered or hesitated. And this was despite the surrounding powers’ and religions’ hostility, as well as that of his own people, tribe, and even his uncle. He successfully challenged the world, thereby making Islam superior to all other religions and systems. This proves that no other person can equal him in his preaching of and calling humanity to the message of Truth.
His belief was so extraordinarily strong and certain, so miraculously evolved (developed, expanded, and ingrained in his heart),328 and so elevated and world-enlightening that no prevailing ideas and beliefs, philosophies or spiritual teachings engendered any doubt within him. Despite their opposition and hostility, they could not make him hesitate or become anxious about his cause. Moreover all saints (primarily his Companions) have benefited—and continue to do so—from his faith, which they admit to be of the highest degree. This proves that his belief is matchless. The traveler seeking God thus concludes that lying and deception have no place in the person who brought such a unique law and matchless religion; who displayed such wonderful worship, extraordinary excellence in prayer, and world-admired preaching; and who possessed a belief of such miraculous perfection.
FOURTH: The Prophets’ consensus is a very strong proof of God’s Existence and Oneness and a firm testimony to that exalted person’s truthfulness and Messengership. Even history confirms that he possessed to the utmost degree all of the sacred attributes, miracles, and functions that indicate a Prophet’s truthfulness and Messengership. The Prophets verbally predicted his coming by giving good tidings of him in the Torah, Gospels, Psalms, and Pages or Scrolls. Their missions and miracles affirmed and “put their signature” on the mission of this foremost and most perfect person’s Prophethood. The traveler perceives that all of the previous Prophets bear witness to this person’s truthfulness through the unanimity of their actions, just as they testify to God’s Oneness through verbal consensus.
FIFTH: Having attained truth, perfection, the rank of working wonders, insight into the reality of things, and spiritual discovery by following that person’s deeds and principles, thousands of saints bear witness to God’s Oneness and that person’s truthfulness and Messengership. The traveler realizes that they testify to that person’s truthfulness, which is as bright as the sun; that they witness, through the light of sainthood, some of the truths he proclaimed about the Unseen world; and that they believe in and affirm all of those truths through the light of belief to the degree of certainty by knowledge, certainty by sight, or certainty by experience.
SIXTH: Thousands of exacting pure scholars, meticulous truthful scholars, and believing sages, all of whom reached the highest station of learning through the teaching contained in the sacred truths brought by that unlettered person; the sublime sciences to which he gave birth; and the knowledge of God he discovered—all prove and affirm God’s Oneness, his mission's foundation, and bear witness to that greatest teacher’s and supreme master’s truthfulness and to the truth of his words.
SEVENTH: After the Prophets, his Family and Companions are the most renowned, respected, celebrated, pious, and keen-sighted members of humanity. Such a distinction is due to their insight, wisdom, and spiritual accomplishments. Having thoroughly examined and scrutinized all of the Prophet’s thoughts, they concluded unanimously that he was the most truthful, elevated, and honest person in the world. The traveler understands that such an unshakable affirmation of and firm belief in him from such extraordinary people proves the truth of his cause, just as daylight proves the sun’s existence.
EIGHTH: This universe indicates the Maker, Inscriber, and Designer Who has made it a palace, an exhibition, and a spectacle. Thus there should be a truthful unveiler who discovers the Divine purpose for the universe’s creation, an exalted herald who announces this great book’s meaning, and a discerning master and truthful teacher who teaches Divine Wisdom. He also should teach the meaning and outcome of the universe’s transformations and purposeful motions. The traveler gradually realizes that the one carrying out such duties most perfectly is the most truthful in his cause: serving as the Creator of the universe’s most exalted and trusted officer.
NINTH: Behind the veil of creation is One Who wills, through these purposeful and skilled works, to display His perfect skills and art; to make Himself known and loved through those countless adorned creatures; to evoke praise and thanksgiving in return for His boundless invaluable bounties; and to encourage worship with gratitude and appreciation for His Lordship by means of His affectionate and protective sustenance of life, as well as His satisfying all things’ varied tastes and appetites. He wills to demonstrate His Divinity through the creativity and purposeful activity displayed during the changing of seasons and the alternation of day and night, for example, so that humanity might believe in, submit to, and obey His Divinity. He also wills to manifest His justice and truthfulness by protecting virtue and the virtuous and destroying evil and the evil, and by annihilating oppressors and liars with heavenly blows.
Certainly the most beloved who, serving the Divine purpose to the highest degree, discloses creation’s mystery, always acts in the name of that Being (his Creator), and asks Him alone for help and success (and receives both), will be with Him. This is Prophet Muhammad.
The traveler tells his reason: “Since these nine truths testify to that person’s truthfulness, he must be the source of humanity’s honor and the world’s pride. Therefore he is worthy of being called ‘the pride of the world’ and ‘the glory of humanity.’” Moreover the Qur’an, the All-Compassionate’s miraculous exposition and Decree that he holds in his hand, has gathered half of the old world into its magnificent spiritual domain. Together with the Messenger’s personal perfections and elevated virtues, it shows that he is the most important being in the world, and accordingly, that his words about our Creator are the most important.
Come now and see! His sole cause was to prove and bear witness to the Necessarily Existent Being’s Existence and Oneness, to proclaim Him with all His Attributes and Names. Based on the strength of his hundreds of miracles and the thousands of sublime, established truths contained in his religion, He is the “spiritual sun” enlightening the world, our Creator’s most brilliant proof, the “Beloved of God.” Each of the following three forms of great, truthful, and unshakable consensus affirms and corroborates the witness that he bears:
FIRST: The unanimous confirmation of that illustrious community known and celebrated as Muhammad’s Family and descendants, among whom are thousands of spiritual poles and supreme saints of such keen sight as to penetrate into the Unseen, like Imam ‘Ali, who said: “Were the veil lifted from the Unseen, my certainty would not increase,” and ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, who “saw” God’s Mighty Throne and Archangel Israfil’s awesome form while still alive.
SECOND: The unanimous confirmation of the Companions, made with so strong a belief that they sacrificed their lives and properties, their parents and tribes for its sake. Although brought up among a primitive people and in a climate of ignorance devoid of any positive notions of social life and administration, without any Scripture and immersed in the darkness of the uncivilized era after the Prophets, these people began to follow the Prophet’s footsteps and soon became the masters, guides, and just rulers of the most civilized and socially and politically advanced peoples and states.
THIRD: The unanimous confirmation, made with the certainty of knowledge, by innumerable exacting and profound scholars. Each century has seen thousands of such people who became extraordinarily advanced in each branch of science and art.
Thus that person’s testimony to God’s Existence and Unity is so universal and unshakable that even if all beings hostile to it united, they still could not challenge it. Such is the conclusion reached by the traveler. In reference to the lesson learned in the School of Light while mentally visiting the Age of Happiness, we conclude:
There is no deity but God, the Necessarily Existent Being, the One and Unique, the necessity of Whose Existence in Unity is clearly demonstrated by the pride of the world and the glory of humanity, through the majesty of the Qur’an’s sovereignty, the splendor of Islam’s inclusiveness, his perfections’ multiplicity, and his moral qualities’ sublimity as confirmed even by his enemies.
Again, he bears witness and brings proof through the strength of his hundreds of miracles that prove his truthfulness and are established firmly; and through the strength of thousands of evident and decisive truths contained in Islam, as affirmed by the consensus of his illustrious, enlightened Family and descendants disseminating lights, and the agreement of his Companions with penetrating sight and prudence, and the concord all of his community’s scholars with enlightening proofs and insight.
327God declares in the Qur’an: I shall not allow to go to waste the deed of any one of you, whether male or female. You are one from the other (3:195). It is clear that Islam does not discriminate between men and women in religious responsibility. Each gender shares most of the responsibilities, but each one has certain responsibilities that are particular to it. The Qur’an usually uses the masculine form of address, for this is one of Arabic’s characteristics. In almost every language, the masculine form is used for a group comprising both men and women, like the English word mankind, which includes both men and women. So, brotherhood also includes sisterhood, and, since the believers comprise both male and female believers, the believers are brothers and sisters. However, in order to maintain the original text and avoid repetition, usually we do not mention the feminine forms in translation. (Tr.)
328 We first believe in something’s truth via simple acceptance or study and confirmation. As we learn the content of that in which we profess belief and experience belief’s taste, our belief becomes stronger and more ingrained in our hearts. We can consider this an expansion, development, or deepening in confirmation. The Prophet went through this same procedure for, like every other believer, he evolved spiritually in his own realm: Prophethood. (Tr.)