The Ranks in Manifesting Allahu akbar [God is the Greatest]*
In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate
Say: “All praise be to God, Who has never taken to Himself a son, and Who has no partner in sovereignty. Nor (needs) He any guardian due to weakness and humiliation. Magnify Him with all magnificence.” (18:111)
We believe and are at Your command. God is the greatest, greater than all things in power and knowledge, for He is the Fashioner Who made humanity and the universe by His Power, and inscribed humanity and the universe with the “pen” of His Destiny. Like the microcosm (humanity), this macrocosm (the universe) is something made by His Power, “inscribed” by His Destiny. He has made it a “mosque,” while making human beings worshippers in it. He has established the former as an abode, and the latter as a servant inhabiting it.
His art in the universe has been manifested as a book, while His coloring of humanity has flourished as speech. His Power in the universe displays His Majesty, while His Mercy toward humanity arranges His provision. His Majesty in the universe bears witness that He is One, while His provision of humanity announces that He is Single. His stamp on the universe, both on it as a whole and in its parts, shows itself in apparent calmness in never-ending motion, while His seal on humanity is on each part of as well as the entire human body.
Look at His works, which are firm and well-ordered. There is absolute order despite absolute abundance, absolute measure and balance despite absolute speed, absolute firmness despite absolute facility, absolute beauty of art despite absolute heterogeneity, absolute harmony and correlation despite absolute distance, absolute distinction despite absolute compositeness, and absolute worth and value despite infinite economy. This obvious quality of existence bears witness for a sensible person, and compels one who denies to admit that existence belongs to One Absolutely Powerful, the absolutely All-Knowing.
Existence can be explained with absolute ease by attributing it to One Divine Being. If you try to explain it by attributing it to various origins, you encounter insurmountable barriers. If you attribute it to the One Divine Being, the whole universe will be as easy to create as a honeybee, and a honeybee will be as easy to create as a fruit. If, by contrast, you ascribe it to multiple origins, creating a honeybee will be as difficult as creating the universe, and creating a fruit will be as difficult as creating all trees in the universe.
This is because a single being, with a single movement, can produce an effect and deal with a whole. If that effect or treatment is expected of multiple beings, it will be obtained, if at all, only with extreme difficulty and after many controversies. Which is easier or more difficult: managing an army by a single commander or the soldiers, constructing a building by a architect or the stones, having planets revolve around a single sun or vice versa?
When existence is attributed to One Divine Being, the connection between existence and that Being becomes like a boundless power, and causes do not have to be of the same power. Also, the effect produced becomes great in proportion to the Being to Whom it is attributed. Otherwise each cause would have to be so infinitely powerful that it could create existence, and the effect produced would be proportional to its own size only.
When all things are attributed to One Divine Being, they do not have to be created from absolute nonexistence, for creation means giving external, material existence to things that already exist in Divine Knowledge. It is like developing a form reflected in a mirror, putting in words the meaning in one’s mind, or rubbing a substance to make letters written in invisible ink visible. However, if things are ascribed to themselves or their causes, they have to be created from absolute non-existence. This is impossible.
The ease with which One Divine Being does this makes the existence of things as easy as absolutely necessary; the difficulty in the latter is beyond measure. A living being’s existence requires that the particles forming it, which are spread out in the soil, water, and air, should come together. Therefore each particle or atom would have to have universal knowledge and absolute will. Anything with such knowledge and will would be independent of and have no need for any partners. Nowhere in the universe has any sign of such things and partners been found. Creating the heavens and Earth requires a perfect, infinite power that has no partner. Otherwise, this power would have to be limited by a finite power, which is inconceivable. An infinite power does not need partners and is not obliged to admit them, even if they were to exist (they do not).
This Power has no partners, assistants, or ministers. Material causes are only a thin veil before the Eternal Power’s operation, and have no creative affect in the existence of things. Human beings, the noblest cause and equipped with willpower, have only a very small part in those of their actions done through free will. If we do not have complete control over ourselves, despite our free will, how can animals, plants, and inanimate objects [and the lifeless, blind, and deaf laws that only have nominal existence] be partners with the Creator of the heavens and Earth in creating and controlling things?
Obviously, the “envelope” in which the Sovereign puts His gifts, the “handkerchief” in which He wraps His offerings, or the “soldier” by whom He sends His bounties cannot be partners with Him in His Kingdom. Nature and causes, which are like “soldiers” through whom the Absolute Sovereign sends His bounties to us, envelopes or chests in which He stores His offerings to us, handkerchiefs in which He wraps His gifts for us, cannot be partners with Him or means of creative effect in executing His commands.
God is the greatest, greater than all things in power and knowledge. He is the Creator, All-Knowing, Maker, All-Wise, All-Merciful, All-Compassionate. All earthly creatures and heavenly objects are the miracles of an All-Knowing Creator’s Power. The multicolored and decorated plants and innumerable species of adorned animals distributed throughout the garden of Earth are the wonders of an All-Wise Maker’s Art. Its smiling flowers and bedecked fruits are gifts of Mercy from an All-Merciful, All-Compassionate One.
Everything proclaims that their Creator, Fashioner, and Giver of gifts is powerful over all things, knows everything, and encompasses all things in mercy and knowledge. In relation to His Power, everything without exception is equal. All past events are miracles of an All-Wise Maker’s art, and bear witness that that Maker is powerful over all future contingencies and that He can do whatever He wills in the future, for He is the All-Knowing Creator, All-Wise, and All-Mighty.
Glory be to Him Who has made the garden of Earth an exhibition of His art, the assembling ground of His Creativity’s products, a place where His Power and Wisdom are manifested, a garden where His Mercy blossoms, the field to be sown for Paradise, and a place where creatures come and depart in a continuous flux according to fixed measures.
Ornamented animals, bedecked birds, fruit-bearing trees, flowering plants—all are miracles of His Knowledge, marvels of His Art, gifts of His Generosity, and proofs of His Favor. Smiling flowers promising fruits, birds singing at dawn, raindrops splashing on flowers, a mother’s compassion for her infant— all are instances of an All-Loving One making Himself known, an All-Merciful One making Himself loved, imprints of the Compassion of an All-Pitying One, and the Pitying of a Most Kind One for jinn, humanity, spirit beings, angels, and animals.
Seeds, fruits, grains, and flowers are miracles of Wisdom, marvels of art, gifts of Mercy, proofs of [Divine] Oneness, and witnesses of His Bountifulness in the Hereafter. They proclaim that their Creator is powerful over and knows all things, and that He encompasses all things in mercy, knowledge, creativity, sustaining, making, and fashioning.
In relation to His Attributes of creating, arranging, maintaining, making, and fashioning, the sun is like a seed, a star like a flower, and Earth like a grain. Seeds and fruits mirror [Divine] Unity in the Realm of Multiplicity, and are signs of Destiny and indications of Power. The source of multiplicity (the universe and its contents) is the Realm of Unity. Multiplicity testifies to the Creator’s Oneness in originating and fashioning, and ends in Unity pointing out the Maker’s Wisdom in creating, sustaining, and maintaining.
As the universal view encompasses and considers all particulars, Wisdom manifests that the Creator of all things considers the particular. If the particular is a fruit, obviously it is the reason why the tree was created. We are the fruit of the universe, the Creator’s most manifest purpose [in creating the universe]. The heart is like a seed or the nucleus [of a person], and the brightest mirror of the Maker of creation. Thus we are the universe’s pivot upon which the wheel of creation turns, and for the sake of which the universe is continually destroyed and changed, transformed and renewed.
God is the greatest: O Great One! O God, You are One Whose Grandeur, Greatness, and Majesty cannot be grasped by intellects. All things announce in unison: There is no god but He, continually seek: O Truth, and eternally say: O Living One!
God is the greatest, greater than all things in power and knowledge. He is All-Powerful, All-Determining, All-Knowing, All-Wise, All-Fashioning, All-Munificent, All-Subtle and Favoring, All-Decorating, All-Loving, the One Making Himself Known, All-Merciful, All-Compassionate, All-Pitying, All-Beautiful, the One with Absolute Beauty and Perfection, and the Eternal Designer. The truths of the worlds (in whole and in parts) and of creation (in whole and in parts), and existence and maintenance all consist in the lines drawn by the “pen” of His Decree and Destiny according to a definite ordering, determining, knowledge, and wisdom, and in the designs made by the “compasses” of His Knowledge and Wisdom according to a definite art and fashion.
They consist of decorations made by the “bright hand” of His art, Fashioning, Decorating, and Illustrating with favor and munificence; in the flowers of His Favoring, Munificence, Making Known, and Loving with mercy and bountifulness; and in the fruits of the overflowing spring of His Mercy, Bountifulness, Pitying, and Affection with grace and perfection. They also consist of the radiations of an everlasting Beauty and perpetual Perfection, as attested to by the fact that the mirrors [reflecting those truths— that is, all creatures] are mortal and the reflections disappear, while manifestations of Beauty are permanent and continue to confer bounties despite their recipients’ mortality.
The mortality of mirrors and the decay of creatures, despite the perpetual manifestation [of Divine Names, Attributes, and acts] in utmost abundance, is a clear sign and convincing argument that the manifest Beauty and flowering Perfection do not belong to those on whom they are manifested. This is a most eloquent explanation and evident proof of the abstract Beauty and ever-renewed Benevolence, of the Necessarily Existent and the All-Loving, Permanent One.
A perfect work points to a perfect act. A perfect act indicates a perfect name and a perfect agent. A perfect name betokens a perfect attribute. A perfect attribute shows a perfect function or essential capacity. A perfect function or essential capacity demonstrates the perfection of the Being through what is befitting for that Being, Who is the Most Evident Truth.
May His Majesty be exalted. God is the greatest, for He is All-Just and the source of justice, the All-Judging, All-Ruling, and All-Wise. He founded the tree of this universe in 6 days by the principles of His Will and Wisdom, divided it into branches by the prescripts of His Decree and Destiny, arranged it by the rules of His way of acting, decorated it by the precepts of His Favor and Mercy, and illuminated it through the manifestations of His Names and Attributes. His creation’s orderliness and balance; His creatures’ decorations; the similarity, correct proportions, mutual assistance and answering among them; and the firm, conscious artistry in all things Destiny has determined for each, according to its capacity, attest to this.
There is a comprehensive, all-inclusive wisdom in creation’s ordering; a perfect favoring in equipping each thing with necessary parts and organs, as well as making it good-looking and well-proportioned; an all-encompassing mercy in gratifying each creature’s needs; an all-inclusive provision in each creature’s raising and breeding all these qualities in creation and the life conferred on each living thing or being to make it an exhibition of the Creator’s manifestations; and the beauties granted to it for certain purposes show that the Creator is One.
Members of a species die but the species remains. Each feels innate love for its Creator, Whom it adores, and an attraction toward Him. Its coming into existence, formation and life, and the perfect functioning of its bodily parts, are amazing. All such qualities in creation also show that the Creator and the Lord is One.
Plants and animals are sustained and nursed, and produce wisely and for many sublime purposes. There is a perfect and purposeful order in changes occurring on Earth, and each thing has amazing, perfect artistry and beauty despite its coming into existence as if all at once. All of this demonstrates that the Creator and Ruler is One.
Innumerable living creatures in the universe need provision. Creation is very diverse, and so meeting the needs of each part of creation requires great diversity. No creature can meet its needs. Seeing that a single grape costs almost as much as the universe, for the co-operation of all elements (especially the sun, soil, water, and the vine) is required to produce it, it is clear that no creature can fulfill even one of its needs. But the needs of every creature are met just on time from unexpected sources. This universal, precise provision shows that the Creator and Provider is One.
Every creature is essentially weak and helpless. It has nothing of its own. Whatever it has in the name of strength and wealth is from the Creator. Its acknowledgement of its weakness and helplessness attracts Divine help. Therefore its strength lies in its weakness, and its power derives from its helplessness. Inanimate matter and substances are equipped and radiated with life and consciences. They undergo numerous changes during their life-history. Their neediness, their innate capacity, is a prayer acceptable by God. All of this shows that the Creator is One, Immutable and Answerer of prayers.
A conscious, living being draws close to God through its supplications and acts of worship. Sincere, regular worship and supplications enable one to have deep insight and an “eye of the heart” by which one can penetrate into the meaning of things and events, and the Divine purposes in creation, and unveil some hidden truths in creation and pertaining to Divinity. Regular worship, prayer, and remembrance of God give one peace and tranquility and make one a perfect human being, a best pattern of creation—all such qualities of creation and many others unmentioned are witnesses that this universe is managed by a single All-Wise One; sustained and raised by a single, All-Munificent Lord, One Besought-of-All; serves a single Master; and is at the disposal of a single Ruler. Also, the origin of creation is a single Power, the stamps of Whose Oneness appear on each of Its “missives,” on each of Its “pages,” and as abundantly as the number of those missives and pages.
Every flower and fruit, plant and tree, animal and rock, sand particle and stone is a manifest seal demonstrating that the One Who placed it is the “Inscriber” of this space, the land and sea, and all their contents. He is the Designer of the sun and moon on the page of the heavens. May the Majesty of that Designer be exalted. He is God the greatest.
Whence the world sings in unison: There is no god but He.
God is the greatest. He is the Creator, All-Powerful, Fashioner, and All-Seeing. All celestial bodies and pearl-like stars are proofs of His Divinity and Grandeur, witnesses of His Lordship and Might. They attest to and proclaim the splendor of His Lordship’s Kingdom, the vastness of His Rule and Wisdom, and His Power’s magnificence and greatness.
Do they not look at the heaven above them, how We have built it and decorated it? (50:6). Look at the sky and see the serene silence, purposeful motion, and magnificent glittering smile with its orderly creation and well-proportioned art. Its “lamp” shines for the changing of seasons, its “lantern” radiates for the world’s illumination, its stars glitter for the worlds’ decoration. All proclaims the boundless Sovereignty in the universe’s organization and maintenance.
That All-Powerful Creator knows all things and has a Will so comprehensive that whatever He wills is, and whatever He does not will is not. He is powerful over all things by an absolute, all-encompassing Power essential to His Divine Being. Just as it is inconceivable for the sun to exist without light and heat, it is inconceivable for the God and Creator of the heavens to be without all-encompassing Knowledge and absolute Power. He knows all things by an all-encompassing Knowledge essential to His Divine Being. Nothing can escape this Knowledge, by virtue of Its relation with all things and Its penetrative capability and comprehensiveness.
Whatever is observed in creation (e.g., orderliness, balance, and harmony; all-inclusive wisdom, perfect favoring, well-established measures, well-arranged dispensation, fruitful decrees, appointed hours, regular provision, and pleasing care [given to all things]; and perfect, distinguishing measurement, order and firmness, and the absolute ease thereof) testifies to the all-encompassing Knowledge of the Knower of the Unseen and of all things. The verse: Should He Who creates not know? He is All-Subtle, All-Aware (67:14), points out that the existence of something requires knowing it. If the beauty of art in one’s work points to one’s consciousness to the extent of a small star’s brightness on a pitch-dark night, humanity’s creation indicates its Creator’s Knowledge to the extent of the sun’s splendor at noon.
As He knows all things, His Will encompasses all things. Nothing takes place without His Will. Power produces the effect, Knowledge distinguishes, and Will apportions and individualizes. This is how things come into existence. There are as many witnesses of the Almighty’s Will as there are characteristics, attributes, and states of things.
Creating and fashioning each thing with the distinguishing character and attributes purposefully chosen for it out of innumerable alternatives and potentialities; forming each most delicately and with most sensitive measures in an infinitely diverse flux; creating diverse, well-formed living beings from simple, inanimate elements (e.g., creating humanity with its senses and all other systems and bodily organs from a sperm [and an egg], a bird and its bodily systems from an egg, a tree with all its parts from a seed) witness that everything is given its individual character and attributes by the Almighty’s Will and Choice. Glory be to Him.
The correspondence in bodily structures and basic systems among a species’ members shows that their Maker is One and Single. However, the fact that each one is unique demonstrates that that One and Single Maker does whatever He wills and judges however He wishes. May His Majesty be exalted.
As the All-Knowing and All-Willing Creator has an all-encompassing Knowledge and all-inclusive Will, He has a perfect Power issuing from and essential to His Divine Being. That Power has no opposite, for that would require the agreement or combination of two opposites, which, by universal assent, is inconceivable. There can be no grades in that Power, for in relation to It everything, without exception, is equal. This is because the Power is not material.
The transparency of the immaterial dimension of existence with which It deals, the interrelation among things, the exact balance in creation, the perfect order of existence, and the utmost obedience of existence to It testify to this. The absolute order and harmony in creation, the absolute measuredness and distinctness observed in it, despite the speed and ease of creation and the created’s infinite multiplicity, individualization, and diversity, also testify to this fact.
The One Who has that Power can create anything, without exception, with great ease because He is One and Single, and because of the necessity of His existence and being totally different from the created (He is unrestricted, indivisible, and uncontained by space). Nothing impedes Him; rather, whatever seems to be an impediment serves as a means of ease, although He has no need for any help in conducting and executing His commands. He can do so because anything He creates, without exception, has the same quality of art as that seen in everything else. Whoever creates the latter creates the former. The One Who creates a seed, which is a small-scale copy of its tree into which the Creator has included the tree by the principles of His Knowledge, must undoubtedly be the Creator of the tree. It is not difficult for the Power That brings into existence the particulars to create the universals.
Just as the copy of the “Qur’an of wisdom” inscribed in an atom with ether particles has the same quality of beauty and art found in the copy of the “Qur’an of grandeur” written on the pages of the heavens in the ink of stars and suns, so creating a honeybee and an ant requires no less skill and artistry than creating a date palm. The art contained in a rose is not less than the art contained in a pearl-like star. While the utmost and perfect ease of creating things causes the misguided to confuse creation with self formation, which requires accepting impossibilities and superstitions that contradict sound reasoning and judgment, it leads people of truth to the certainty that planets and minute particles are the same in relation to the Power of the Creator of the universe. May His Majesty be exalted and His Name be extolled. There is no God but He.
God is the greatest, greater than all things in power and knowledge. He is the All-Just, All-Wise, All-Powerful, All-Knowing, One, Single, and Eternal Sovereign. All worlds are at the disposal of His “hands” of order and balance, arranging and measuring, Justice and Wisdom, and Knowledge and Power. They show His Oneness and Singleness. Nothing is excluded from His order and balance or His arranging and measuring, which are two “chapters” of the Manifest Record and the Manifest Book,10 which, in turn, are the titles to the Knowledge and Command of the All-Knowing and All-Wise, and the Power and Will of the All-Mighty and All-Compassionate. The order and balance in this Book, together with that Record, testify that all is at the All-Merciful’s disposal, the All-Pitying’s ordering, the All-Gracious’ decorating, and the All-Ruling’s measuring.
In sum: The manifestations of the Divine Names “the First” and “the Last” in creation refer to beginning and end, origin and issue, past and future, command and knowledge, and point to the Manifest Record. The manifestations of the Names “the Outward” and “the Inward” on things connected with God’s Attribute of Creation point to the Manifest Book.
The universe is like a huge tree, and each world in it is like a tree. The universe’s creation and division into worlds and species may be likened to a tree. A tree has an origin (its seed) and an issue that carries on its task after its death (the seed in its fruit). Its beginning and end manifest “the First” and “the Last.” Through its composition and the purposes it serves, the original seed is an index or code for the tree’s formation. Thus it manifests “the First.” The seeds in the tree’s fruits manifest “the Last.”
Seeds are like miniature chests containing the Pen of Destiny’s inscribed index and code for forming new trees that exactly resemble the original one. A tree’s exterior manifests the Name “the Outward.” Through its perfect, well-ordered structure, decoration, and purposes it serves, it is like a perfectly beautiful dress made with perfect wisdom and favor to fit the tree. The tree’s interior manifests the Name “the Inward.” Through its perfect, amazing organization and the way it is fed, its interior is like an extraordinary machine or factory working in perfect order and balance.
The tree’s beginning resembles an amazing code, its end an extraordinary index, and both point to the Manifest Record. Its exterior points to the Manifest Book, just as human memory indicates the Supreme Guarded Tablet. All trees’ original seeds and fruits indicate the Manifest Record, and their exteriors and interiors symbolize the Manifest Book. Compare with a particular tree the “tree” of Earth with its past and future, the “tree” of the universe with its beginning and future, and the “tree” of a person with his or her ancestors and descendants.
God is the greatest, greater than all things in power and knowledge. He is the Creator, Opener, All-Acting, All-Knowing, Giver of Gifts, Distributor of Blessings, and Eternal “Sun.”11 All worlds and their contents are shadows of His lights, works of His acts, colors of the embroidery of His Names’ manifestations, lines of the “pen” of His Destiny and Decree, and mirrors manifesting His Attributes of Beauty, Majesty, and Perfection. All of this is attested to by the Eternal Witness—the Almighty Himself—with all His Books, Pages, or Scrolls; by creation’s signs of and the Qur’an’s verses; by Earth, with its manifestations of absolute riches and wealth despite its essential destitution and need; and by the Prophets, saints and purified, exacting scholars with enlightened intellects and illumined hearts, their investigations, spiritual discoveries and supplications, and the blessings with which they are favored.
All of the above, with utmost certainty, accept the testimony of creation’s signs, the Qur’an’s verses, and the testament of the heavenly Books and Pages containing the testimony of the Necessarily Existent One. All of these witnesses agree that all creatures are works of His Power, inscriptions of His Destiny, mirrors of His Names, and images of His lights.
*From The Seedbed of Light / The Fourth Treatise / Fourth Chapter / Second Section
10 The Manifest Record and Manifest Book are explained in The Thirtieth Word: The Manifest Record and Manifest Book are repeated in several places in the Qur’an. Some interpreters maintain that the phrases are identical in meaning; others say they have different meaning and connotations. Although their explanations of the true meanings and contents differ, they agree that both describe Divine Knowledge. However, via the Qur’an’s enlightenment, I have this conviction:
The Manifest Record, which looks more to the Unseen world than to the visible, material world, expresses one aspect of Divine Knowledge and Commands. Looking more to the past and future than to the present, it is a book of Divine Destiny that contains the origin, the roots and the seeds of things rather than their flourishing forms in their visible existence.
The origins, sources, and roots from which God Almighty shapes things with perfect order and art, show that they are arranged according to a book of the principles contained in Divine Knowledge. The seeds and fruits, which contain the indexes and programs of beings that will subsequently come into existence, constitute a miniature register of Divine Commands. For example, a seed is said to be the program and index according to which a whole tree may be formed. Moreover, it is the miniature embodiment of the Divine principles that cause the tree to come into existence and that determine this program and index. In short, the Manifest Record is an index and program of the Tree of Creation as a whole, which spreads its branches through the past, future, and the Unseen world. In this sense, it is a book of Divine Destiny or a register of its principles. Through these principles’ dictates and demands, minute particles or atoms are used and managed to bring things into existence.
The Manifest Book looks more to the visible, material world than to the Unseen world, for it looks more to the present than to the past and future. It expresses Divine Power and Will, rather than Divine Knowledge and Commands or laws and principles of creation. If the Manifest Record is the book of the Divine Destiny, the Manifest Book is the book of Divine Power. The perfect art and orderliness in everything’s essence and existence, attributes and functions, demonstrate that everything is given existence according to the laws of an effective will and the principles of an absolute power. Also, it is specifically formed and given an appointed measure and particular shape. Therefore, this shows that Divine Power and Will have a universal, comprehensive register of laws, a great book, according to which a particular form and substance is determined for each entity.
It is curious that the people of neglect, misguidance and [corrupt] philosophy, although they have felt the existence of God’s Supreme Preserved or Guarded Tablet (Lawhun Mahfuz) and seen the manifestations and reflections of that book of Divine Wisdom and Will, have named it “nature,” and thus made it completely meaningless. In reality, however, through the dictates of the Manifest Record (the decree and instruction of Divine Destiny), Divine Power uses particles or atoms to created or manifest the chain of beings, each link of which is His sign, on the metaphorical page of time (the Tablet of Effacement and Confirmation). This means that particles or atoms are set to move so that beings may be transferred from the Unseen world to the material, visible world; from (the Realm of) Knowledge to the (Realm of) Power. (Tr.)
11 Using these Names to view the Divine acts and imprints behind creatures, one can move to the One called by these Names.