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Istanbul Eats Launch Review: Social Media Gets Real

July 30, 2010

Your two intrepid reporters have to do the legwork to get you the facts. Sometimes this means slogging through poorly written articles to find facts. Other times it means drinking free beer until the police kick us out of parties. You can imagine which one we prefer.

The Istanbul Eats Launch Party was the Anglophone event of the season in Istanbul, and quite honestly, something we need more of. The streets were full of quite honestly hundreds of partyers as well as live bands, street carts, and, as it turned out, police wagons. But the sheer numbers were staggering. A group of English teachers went up to me and said, “Umm, what’s going on here? We live above this street and just heard hundreds of people speaking English, so we came down.” Word of mouth sometimes is exactly that.

That said, the party was a social networking success as well. Later that night and early that morning Twitter was a flitter with the electronic handshakes and curtseys. Never before had I realized how passe Facebook was. As a neophyte to Twitter, I didn’t realize how many of these people were following each other online and not in person. There is this latent energy in the expat community that the Book Launch was really just an excuse to tap.

I’ve mentioned this in previous tweets and in the “About Us” on this site. I may be a primitive, I may be a Luddite, but I think that there’s a lot we can do with actual interpersonal interactions that the web doesn’t allow for us. What we want to do with this site is be a place for young (and young-at-heart) creative folk in Istanbul to meet, mingle, and create something beautiful. Not just online, but in reality.

Things like BLDGBlog’s Counterfeit University are ingenious. You just lock a lot of smart folks into a room full of booze and let the ideas flow. The Book Launch was just the beginning of this sort of thing. With the collective strength of our internet personas and our actual, real-life, good humor and strong livers we can hopefully create something cool. So I hope to see a whole lot more of these sorts of events, and the people we met there, in the near future.

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  1. March 13, 2011 5:31 am

    The Twenty-Sixth Word

    THE TREATISE ON DIVINE DETERMINING

    In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.

    And there is not a thing but its [sources and] treasures [inexhaustible] are with Us, but We only send down thereof in due and ascertainable measures. * And of all things have We taken account in a Clear Book.

    [Divine Determining [Divine Determinig (Qadar) is sometimes known as fate or destiny {Tr.}] and the power of choice [The power of choice or faculty of will {juz’î irâda, juz’i ikhtiyarî}, also known as free will {Tr.}] are two important matters. We shall try to disclose a few of their mysteries in Four Topics.]

    FIRST TOPIC

    Divine Determining and the power of choice are aspects of a belief pertaining to state and conscience which show the final limits of Islam and belief; they are not theoretical and do not pertain to knowledge. That is to say, a believer attributes everything to Almighty God, even his actions and self, till finally the power of choice confronts him and he is not saved from obligation and responsibility. It tells him: “You are responsible and under obligation.” Then, so that he does not become proud due to the good things and perfections which issue from him, Divine Determining confronts him, saying: “Know your limits; the one who does them is not you.” Yes, Divine Determining and the power of choice are at the final degrees of belief and Islam; the former has entered among the matters of belief to save the soul from pride, and latter, to save it from lack of responsibility. To cling to Divine Determining so that obdurate evil-commanding souls may save themselves from the responsibility of the evils they have committed, and to take pride and become conceited on account of the virtues bestowed on them and to rely on the power of choice, are actions totally opposed to the mystery of Divine Determining and wisdom of the power of choice; they are not matters pertaining to knowledge which give rise to such actions.

    Indeed, among ordinary people who have not progressed spiritually there are occasions when Divine Determining may be used, but those are calamities and disasters when it is the remedy for despair and grief. It should not be used for rebellion and in matters of the future so that it becomes a cause of dissipation and idleness. That is to say, the question of Divine Determining has not entered belief to save people from obligation and responsibility, but to save them from pride and conceit. While the power of choice has entered among the tenets of faith to be the source of evils, not to be the source of virtues, so that people become Pharaohs.

    Yes, as the Qur’an states, man is completely responsible for his evils, for the one who wishes the evils is he. Since evils are destruction, man may perpetrate much destruction with one evil act, and he becomes deserving of an awesome punishment – like burning a house with one match. However, he does not have the right to take pride in good deeds; his right in them is extremely small. For what wants and requires the good deeds is Divine Mercy, and what creates them is Dominical Power. Both request and reply, reason and cause, are from God. Man only comes to have them through supplication, belief, consciousness, and consent. But what wants evil acts is man’s soul, either through capacity or through choice. Like in the white and beautiful light of the sun some substances become black and putrefy, and the blackness is related to their capacity. But the one who creates the evils through a Divine law which comprises numerous benefits is again Almighty God. That is to say, the cause and the request are from the soul, so that it is the soul which is responsible. And as for the creation and bringing into existence, which belong to Almighty God, since they have other results and fruits which are good, they are good.

    It is for the above reason that to commit or desire evil is evil, but the creation of evil is not evil. A lazy man who receives damage from rain, which comprises many instances of good, may not say that the rain is not Mercy. Yes, together with a minor evil in the creation and giving of existence are numerous instances of good. To abandon that good for a minor evil becomes a greater evil. Therefore, a minor evil becomes like good. There is no evil or ugliness in Divine creation. They rather pertain to His servant’s wish and to his capacity.

    Furthermore, just as Divine Determining is exempt from evil and ugliness with regard to results and fruits, so too it is free from tyranny and ugliness with respect to reason and cause. Because Divine Determining looks to the true reasons and acts justly. Men construct their judgements on reasons which they see superficially and fall into wrong within the pure justice of Divine Determining. For example, a judge finds you guilty of theft and sends you to prison. You are not a thief, but you have committed a murder which no one knows about. Thus, Divine Determining also sentenced you to imprisonment, but it sentenced you for the secret murder and acted justly. Since the judge sentenced you for a theft of which you were innocent, he acted unjustly. Thus, in a single thing the justice of Divine Determining and Divine creation and the wrong of man’s acquisition were apparent in two respects; you can make analogies with it for other things. That is to say, with regard to origin and end, source and branch, cause and results, Divine Determining and creation are exempt from evil, ugliness, and tyranny.

    If it is said: “Since the power of choice does not have the ability to create and man has nothing apart from inclination or desiring, which are as though theoretical, how is it that in the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition, man is showed to be rebellious and hostile before the Creator of the heavens and the earth, Who complains greatly about him; He mobilizes Himself and all His angels to assist His believing servants against the rebellious, and attaches the greatest importance to them?”

    The Answer: Because unbelief, rebellion, and evil are destruction and non-existence. However, great destruction and innumerable instances of non-existence may result in a single theoretical matter and instance of non-existence. Just as, through the helmsman of a large ship abandoning his duty, the ship may sink and the labour of all those employed on it go for nothing, and all those instances of destruction result in a single instance of non-existence, so too, since unbelief and rebellion are non-existence and destruction, the power of choice may provoke them through a theoretical matter and cause awesome consequences. For although unbelief is only one evil, since it insults the whole universe as being worthless and futile, and denies all beings, which display proofs of Divine Unity, and is contemptuous towards all the manifestations of the Divine Names, Almighty God’s uttering severe complaints and awesome threats about the unbelievers in the name of the universe and all beings and the Divine Names is pure wisdom, and to give eternal punishment is pure justice. Since through unbelief and rebellion, man goes toward destruction, with a small act of service, he may perform a great many works. For this reason the believers are in need of Almighty God’s boundless grace in the face of them. For if ten strong men undertake the protection and repair of a house, in the face of one troublesome child who is trying to burn it down, they may be obliged to beseech and have recourse to the child’s parents, or even the king. In the same way the believers are in need of many Divine favours in order to withstand the unmannerly people of rebellion.

    In Short: If the one speaking of Divine Determining and the power of choice has perfect belief, he attributes the universe and himself to Almighty God and knows them to be under His disposal. Then he has the right to speak of them. For since he knows himself and everything to be from Almighty God, relying on his power of choice, he undertakes the responsibility. He accepts that it is the source of evils and proclaims his Sustainer free of fault. He remains within the sphere of worship and undertakes the obligations with which he is charged by Almighty God. Moreover, in order not to become proud at the perfections and good deeds which issue from him, he looks to Divine Determining, and offers thanks rather than taking pride in them. He sees Divine Determining in the calamities that befall him, and endures them in patience.

    However, if the one speaking of Divine Determining and the power of choice is one of the heedless and neglectful, then he has no right to speak of them. For, impelled by heedlessness or misguidance, his evil-commanding soul attributes the universe to causes and divides up God’s property among them. And he attributes the ownership of himself to himself. He ascribes his acts to himself and to causes. His responsibility and faults, he refers to Divine Determining. So then the discussion of the power of choice, which will finally be ascribed to Almighty God, and of Divine Determining, which will be considered last of all, becomes meaningless. It is only a trick of the soul which is entirely contrary to the wisdom in them, in order to be saved from responsibility.

    SECOND TOPIC

    This is a minute and scholarly investigation particular to scholars.5

    If you say: “How is Divine Determining compatible with the power of choice?”

    The Answer: In seven ways…

    • The First: The All-Just and Wise One, to Whose wisdom and justice the universe testifies with the tongue of order and balance, gave to man a power of choice of unknown nature which would be the means of reward and punishment for him. Just as we do not know many of the numerous aspects of the All-Just and Wise One’s wisdom, our not knowing how the power of choice is compatible with Divine Determining does not prove that it is not so.

    • The Second: Of necessity everyone perceives in himself a will and choice; he knows it through his conscience. To know the nature of beings is one thing, to know they exist is something different. There are many things which although their existence is self-evident for us, their true nature is not known by us… Thus, the power of choice may be included among these. Everything is not restricted to what we know. Our not knowing does not prove they do not exist.

    • The Third: The power of choice is not opposed to Divine Determining, indeed, Divine Determining corroborates the power of choice. Because Divine Determining is a sort of Divine Knowledge. Divine Knowledge is connected with our will and choice, in which case it corroborates it, it does not nullify it.

    • The Fourth: Divine Determining is a sort of knowledge. Knowledge is dependent on the thing known. That is, it is connected with however it will be. The thing known is not dependent on knowledge. That is, the principles of knowledge are not fundamental in order to direct the thing known from the point of view of external existence. Because the essence of the thing known and its external existence looks to will and relies on power. Also, pre-eternity is not the tip of a chain reaching into the past which may be taken as fundamental in the existence of things and a compulsion imagined in accordance with it. Rather, pre-eternity holds the past, the present, and the future all at once, looking at them from above like a mirror. In which case, to imagine an end to past time which stretches back within the sphere of contingency, to call it pre-eternity, and to suppose that things enter that knowledge of pre-eternity in sequence, and that oneself is outside it, and to reason in accordance with that is not right. Consider the following example in order to explain this mystery:

    If there is a mirror in your hand and the space to your right is supposed to be the past and the space to your left, the future, the mirror only holds what is opposite it. Then with a movement it holds both sides, but it cannot hold the greater part of them. However low the mirror is held, to that extent less will appear in it. But the higher it rises, the extent of what is opposite it expands, until it can hold both sides in their entirety at the same time. Thus, whatever occurs in the spaces depicted in the mirror in this position cannot be said to precede and follow one another, or to conform to or oppose one another. And so, Divine Determining is from pre-eternal knowledge, and in the words of the Hadith, pre-eternal knowledge is At an elevated station which from an elevated view-point encompasses everything that has been and will be from pre-eternity to post-eternity. We and our reasoning cannot be outside of it so we can be like a mirror to the space of the past.

    • The Fifth: Divine Determining has a connection with cause and effect. That is, this effect will occur through this cause. In which case, it may not be said that “Since so-and-so’s death is determined at such-and-such a time, what fault has the man who fired the rifle through his power of choice, for if he had not fired it, he still would have died?”

    Question: Why may it not be said?

    The Answer: Because Divine Determining specified that so-and-so’s death would occur through the man’s rifle. If you suppose that he did not fire the rifle, then you are supposing that Divine Determining had no connection with it, so with what would you decree his death? If you imagine cause and effect to be separate like the Jabriyya, or you deny Divine Determining like the Mu’tazilites, you leave the Sunni School and enter among the heretics. In which case, we people of truth say: “If he had not fired the rifle, we do not whether he would have died.” The Jabriyya say: “If he had not fired it, he still would have died.” While the Mu’tazilites say: “If he had not fired it, he would not have died.”

    • The Sixth: [This is a truth particular to precise and exacting scholars] According to Maturidî, inclination, the essence and foundation of the power of choice, is a theoretical matter and may be attributed to God’s servants. But since Ash’arî considered it to have existence, he did not attribute it to them. However, according to Ash’arî, the power of disposal in the inclination is a theoretical matter, in which case, the inclination and the disposal are a relative matter. They do not have a definite external existence. As for theoretical matters, they do not require total causes through which, for their existence, necessity would intervene and remove the will and power of choice. Rather, if the cause of the theoretical matters acquires the weight of preference, the theoretical matter may become actual and existent. In which case, at that juncture, it may be abandoned. The Qur’an may say to a person at that point: “This is evil; do not do it.” Indeed, if God’s servants had been the creators of their actions and had had the power to create, then their wills would have been removed. For an established rule in the sciences of religion and philosophy is: “If a thing is not necessary, it may not come into existence [of itself].” That is, there has to be a cause, then it may come into existence. The cause necessarily requires the effect. Then the power of choice would not remain.

    If you say: Preference without a cause or attribute to cause the preference is impossible. Whereas the theoretical matter we call human acquisition sometimes does a thing and sometimes does not; if there is nothing to cause the preference, preference without something to cause it would be necessary. As for this, it demolishes one of the most important bases of theology?

    The Answer: Preference without a cause or attribute to cause the preference is impossible. That is, a being preferable or superior without a cause or attribute to make it so is impossible. But preference without something to cause it is permissible and occurs. Will is an attribute, and its mark is to perform a work such as that.

    If you say: “Since the one who creates the murder is Almighty God, why do you call me a murderer?”

    The Answer: Because according to the rules of grammar, the active participle is derived from the infinitive, which is a relative matter. But it cannot be split from the verbal noun, which is an actual or existent matter. The infinitive is our acquisition; and we take the title of murderer. The verbal noun is Almighty God’s creature. Something which gives an inkling of responsibility cannot be derived from the verbal noun.

    • The Seventh: For sure, man’s faculty of will and power of choice are weak and a theoretical matter, but Almighty God, the Absolutely Wise One, made that weak and partial will a condition for the connection of His universal will. That is to say, He in effect says: “My servant! Whichever way you wish to take with your will, I will take you on that way. In which case the responsibility is your’s!” If the comparison is not mistaken: you take a powerless child onto your shoulders and leaving the choice to him, tell him you will take him wherever he wishes. The child wants to go to a high mountain so you take him there, but he either catches cold or falls. So of course you reprimand him, saying, “You wanted to go there”, and give him a slap. Thus, Almighty God, the Firmest of Judges, makes His servant’s will, which is utterly weak, a condition, and His universal will has it in view.

    In Short: O man! You have a will known as the power of choice which is extremely weak, but whose hand in evil acts and destruction is extremely long, and in good deeds extremely short. Give one of the hands of that will of yours to supplication, so that it may reach Paradise, a fruit of the chain of good deeds, and stretch to eternal happiness. And give its other hand to the seeking of forgiveness so that it may be short for evil deeds and will not reach the Zakkum-tree of Hell, which is one fruit of that accursed tree. That is, just as supplication and reliance on God greatly strengthen the inclination to good, so too repentance and the seeking of forgiveness cut the inclination to evil and break its transgressions.

    THIRD TOPIC

    Belief in Divine Determining is one of the pillars of belief. That is: “Everything is determined by Almighty God.” The certain proofs for Divine Determining are so numerous that they cannot be calculated. We shall show in an Introduction, in a simple and obvious way, how strong and broad this pillar of belief is.

    Introduction:

    Numerous verses of the Qur’an, like,

    Nor anything fresh or dry [green or withered] but is [inscribed] in a Clear Book,

    state clearly that before it comes into existence and after it passes from existence, everything is written. And through its creational signs like the order, balance, regularity, adornment, and the giving of form and distinction, the verses, the signs, of the mighty Qur’an inscribed by Divine Power and called the universe confirm these statements of the Qur’an. Indeed, the well-ordered missives and finely balanced verses of the Book of the Universe testify that everything is written. And the indication that everything is determined and written before it comes into existence are all beginnings, seeds, measured proportions, and forms; each of these testifies to this. For seeds and grains are subtle containers appearing from the workbench of Be! and it is in each of which is deposited a tiny index traced by Divine Determining. Divine Power employs minute particles according to that plan of Divine Determining, and constructs the mighty miracles of Power on the seeds. That is to say, everything that will happen to the tree is as though written in its seed. For in regard to their substance seeds are simple and the same as one another; materially they are nothing.

    Furthermore, the well-measured proportions of everything clearly show Divine Determining. Yes, whatever living creature is considered, it is apparent that each has a form and measure as though it has emerged from a most wisely and skilfully wrought mould. To receive such a measure, form, and shape, there either has to be a truly wondrous and infinitely intricate physical mould, or else Pre-Eternal Power cuts out the form and shape according to a well-proportioned immaterial mould that exists in knowledge and comes from Divine Determining, and clothes it in it. For example, look carefully at this tree or that animal, you will see that the particles, which are lifeless, deaf, blind, unconscious, and similar to one another, are in motion in its growth and development. In some of their intricate extremities, the particles halt, as though seeing, knowing and recognizing the place of fruits and benefits. Then in another place they change their direction as though following some important aim. That means they are in motion in accordance with the immaterial measured proportions of the tree or animal, which come from Divine Determining, and the immaterial commands of those proportions.

    Since there are the manifestations of Divine Determining to this extent in physical and visible things, for sure, the forms with which things are clothed with the passing of time and the states acquired through the motions they perform will also be dependent on the ordering of Divine Determining. Indeed, in a seed there are two manifestations of Divine Determining; one is self-evident and points to and tells of The Clear Book, which is a title of will and the creational commands; the other is theoretical, and alludes to and tells of The Clear Record, which is a title of Divine knowledge and the Divine command. Self-evident Divine Determining is the physical nature, states, and parts of the tree which the seed comprises. While theoretical Divine Determining is the stages, states, forms, motions, and glorifications which the tree will undergo and perform in the period of its life, and which are in the seed and will be created from it; these stages, states, forms, and acts, which constantly change and are called its life-history, each have a regulated measure in accordance with Divine Determining, like the tree’s branches and leaves.

    Since there is such a manifestation of Divine Determining in the most common and simple of things, it surely states that all things are written before they come into existence; this may be understood with small attention. Now, the evidence that the story of everything’s life is written after its existence is all fruits, which tell of The Clear Book and The Clear Record in the world, and all faculties of memory in man, which point to and tell of The Preserved Tablet; each of these hints and testifies to them. Indeed, all the appointed events of a tree’s life are written in its seeds, which are like the hearts of its fruits. And man’s life-history together with some of the past events of the world are written in his memory in such a way that, as though copying out with the hand of power and pen of Divine Determining in a faculty as tiny as a mustard seed a small note from the page of his actions, the memory gives the note to man’s hand and puts it in the pocket of his mind, so that at the time of reckoning he will call his actions to mind with it. And so too he may be confident that within this transience and death and these upheavals, there are numerous mirrors pertaining to eternity in which the All-Powerful and Wise One depicts and makes permanent the identities of transient beings. And there are truly numerous tablets pertaining to eternity in which the All-Knowing Preserver writes the meanings of transitory beings.

    In Short: Since plant life, the simplest and lowest level of life, is dependent on Divine Determining to this degree, for sure, human life, the highest level of life, has been drawn in all in its details according to the measuring of Divine Determining. Yes, just as raindrops tell of clouds, and drops of water point to the existence of a water-source, and notes and portfolios to the existence of a large ledger, so too, the evident Divine Determining which we observe and which is the physical order in living beings, shows the notebook of will and creational commands known as The Clear Book, and the fruits, seeds, grains, forms, and shapes, which are like the droplets, notes, and portfolios of theoretical Divine Determining, which is the immaterial order and pertains to life, shows The Preserved Tablet, one office of Divine Knowledge, which is called The Clear Record.

    To Conclude: We see clearly that at the time of their growth and development the particles of all living beings go to the intricate extremities and halt, then they change their path. At each of the extremities they produce the fruits of benefits, uses, and instances of wisdom. Self-evidently, the apparent measures of those things are drawn with a pen of Determining. Thus, observable, evident Divine Determining shows that in the immaterial states of living beings also are well-ordered, fruitful extremities and limits drawn with the pen of Divine Determining. Divine Power is the source, Divine Determining is the pattern. Power writes the meaningful book on that pattern. Since we understand clearly that the fruitful limits and purposeful extremities have been drawn with the pen of Divine Determining, material and immaterial, for sure, the states and stages which all living beings undergo in the course of their lives are also drawn with that pen. For their life-stories follow a course with order and balance; they change forms and receive shapes. Since the pen of Divine Determining thus rules in all living beings, surely the life-history of man, the world’s most perfect fruit and Divine vicegerent on earth and bearer of the Supreme Trust, is more than anything dependent on the law of Divine Determining.

    If you say: “Divine Determining has bound us like this. It has negated our freedom. Isn’t belief in it a burden and irksome for the heart and spirit, which yearn for expansion and to roam freely?”

    The Answer: Absolutely not! Just as it is not burdensome, so too it affords a light and joy which produce a lightness, ease, spirit, and sustenance, and ensure confidence and security. Because if man does not believe in Divine Determining, he is compelled to bear a burden as great as the world on the shoulders of his spirit within a narrow sphere, insignificant independence, and temporary freedom. For man is connected with the whole universe. He has infinite aims and desires. And since his power, will, and freedom are insufficient for a millionth of these, it may be understood how awesome and dreadful is the burden of the distress he suffers. Thus, belief in Divine Determining throws that burden in its entirety onto the ship of Divine Determining, and allows him to roam free within its perfections with perfect ease and perfect freedom of spirit and heart. It only negates the petty freedom of the evil-commanding soul and smashes its Pharaoh-like tyranny, its dominicality, and its acting as it wishes. Belief in Divine Determining is so full of pleasure and happiness it is beyond description. We shall just point to that pleasure and happiness with the following comparison.

    Two men travelled to the seat of government of a king, and there entered his private palace, a place of strange wonders. One of them did not recognize the king and laying hands on everything and stealing them, wanted to settle there. However, he experienced difficulties and hardships like having to administer and manage the park and palace, and oversee its revenues, work its machines, and feed the strange animals; he suffered constant distress. The paradise-like park became like Hell for him. He pitied everything. He could not govern them. He passed his time regretfully. And then this thieving, unmannerly man was cast into prison as a punishment. The second man recognized the king and knew himself to be his guest. He believed that all the matters in the park and palace occurred through the regulation of the law, and that everything functioned with perfect ease in accordance with a programme. Leaving the difficulties and hardships to the king’s law, he benefited with complete enjoyment from all the pleasures of that Paradise-like garden, and relying on the king’s mercy and the fineness of the administrative laws, he saw everything as agreeable and passed his life with perfect pleasure and happiness. He understood the meaning of the saying: He who believes in Divine Determining is saved from grief.

    FOURTH TOPIC

    If you say: “In the First Topic you proved that everything about Divine Determining is good and beautiful. Even the evil that comes from it is good, and the ugliness, beautiful. But the disasters and tribulations in this world refute that statement.”

    The Answer: O my soul and my friend who feel severe pain out of intense compassion! The fact that all virtues and perfections return to existence and that the basis of all rebellion, calamities, and defects is non-existence is a proof that existence is pure good and non-existence, pure evil. Since non-existence is pure evil, circumstances that either result in non-existence or give an inkling of it, also comprise evil. Therefore, life, the most brilliant light of existence, revolving in different circumstances, finds strength. It enters varying situations and is purified, and it takes on numerous qualities and produces the desired results, and enters many stages and displays comprehensively the impresses of the Bestower of Life’s Names. Thus, it is due to this fact that certain situations occur concerning living creatures in the form of griefs, calamities, difficulties, and tribulations whereby the lights of existence are renewed for their lives, and the darkness of non-existence draws distant and their are lives purified. Because arrest, repose, silence, idleness, rest, and monotony, are in quality and as conditions all non-existence. Even the greatest pleasure is reduced to nothing by monotony.

    In Short: Since life shows the impress of the Most Beautiful Names, everything that happens to life is good. For example, an extremely rich and infinitely skilful person who is proficient in many crafts, for an hour and in return for a wage, clothes a miserable wretch in a bejeweled, artistically fashioned garment he has made. This garment he made in order to make the miserable man act as a model and to display the works of his art and his valuable wealth. He works the garment on the man, gives it various forms, and alters it. And in order to display every variety of his art, he cuts it, changes it, and lengthens and shortens it. If the poor man receiving the wage says to the person: “You are giving me trouble. You are making me bow and stand up. By cutting and shortening this garment which makes me more beautiful, you are spoiling my beauty”, can he be justified? Does he have the right to tell him: “You are acting unkindly and unfairly”? Thus, like him, the All-Glorious Maker, the Peerless Creator, alters within numerous circumstances the garment of existence He clothes on living creatures, bejeweled with senses and subtle faculties like eyes, ears, the reason, and the heart, in order to display the impresses of His Most Beautiful Names. He changes it within very many situations. In order to show the meanings of some of His Names, there are circumstances in the form of suffering and calamity, and rays of Mercy within flashes of wisdom, and subtle instances of beauty within those rays of Mercy.

    * * *

    Conclusion

    [Five Paragraphs which silenced the Old Said’s rebellious, proud, vain, conceited, and hypocritical soul, and compelled it to submit.]

    FIRST PARAGRAPH: Since things exist and they are full of art, they surely have a maker. As is most decisively proved in the Twenty-Second Word, if everything is not one person’s, then each thing becomes as difficult and problematical as all things. Since someone made the earth and the heavens and created them, for sure, that most wise and skilful Being would not leave to others living beings, which are the fruits, results, and aims of the heavens and the earth, and spoil his work. Making it futile and without purpose, He would not hand over to other hands all His wise works and reduce them to nothing; He would not give their thanks and worship to others.

    SECOND PARAGRAPH: O my conceited soul! You resemble a grape-vine. Do not become proud! The vine itself did not attach the bunches of grapes. Someone else attached them to it.

    THIRD PARAGRAPH: O my hypocritical soul! Do not become vain, saying: “I have served religion.” According to the meaning of the saying, God strengthens this religion by means of sinful men, it was because you were not purified. Indeed, you should know yourself to be such a sinful man, and that your duty and worship is thanks for past bounties, the function of your nature, the obligation of your creation, and the result of art; know this and be saved from vanity and hypocrisy!

    FOURTH PARAGRAPH: If you want knowledge of reality and true wisdom, gain knowledge of Almighty God. For the true realities of all beings are the rays of the Divine Name of Truth and the manifestations of His Names and attributes. The reality of everything, material, immaterial, essential, nonessential, and the reality of all human beings, is based on a Name and relies on its reality. They are not merely insignificant forms without reality. There is a brief discussion concerning this mystery at the end of the Twentieth Word. O soul! If you long for the life of this world and flee death, know certainly that the conditions you suppose to be life are only the minute in which you are. All the time previous to the present minute and the things of the world within that time are dead in the present minute. And all the time subsequent to the present minute and all it contains is non-existent in it, and nothing. That means the physical life on which you rely is only one minute. Some of the learned, even, said it was a tenth of a minute, rather, the passing instant. Thus, it is due to this mystery that certain saints stated that with regard to this world, this world is non-existent. So, since it is thus, give up the physical life of the soul. Rise to the level of life of the heart, spirit, and inner faculties; see what a broad sphere of life they have. For them, the past and the future, which for you are dead, are Living; they are existent and full of life. O my soul! Like my heart, you too weep and cry out and say:

    I am ephemeral; I do not want another who is thus.

    I am impotent; I do not want another who is thus.

    I have surrendered my spirit to the Most Merciful; I do not want another.

    I want another, but let him be an eternal friend.

    I am a mere atom, but I desire an Everlasting Sun.

    I am nothing, yet I wish for these beings, all of them.

    FIFTH PARAGRAPH: Since this paragraph occurred to me in Arabic, it was written thus. Also, this Arabic paragraph indicates one of the thirty-three degrees of reflection in the recitation, God is Most Great.

    God is Most Great! The Eternal, All-Knowing, All-Wise, Most Generous, Most Compassionate, All-Beauteous, the Inscriber, the Pre-Eternal! What is the reality of the universe in its entirety and in its parts, and its pages and levels, and what is the reality of these beings altogether and singly, in their existence and continuation, but the lines of the pen of His Determining and Decree, and His setting in order and determining with knowledge and wisdom; and the skilful inscriptions of His knowledge and wisdom and regulating and forming, with art and favour; and the adornments of the shining hand of His art and favour and embellishing and illuminating, with grace and munificence; and the flowers of the subtleties of His favour and munificence and making known and loved, with mercy and bounty; and the fruits of the effusions of His mercy and bounty and pity and compassion, with beauty and perfection; and the flashes and manifestations of His Beauty and Perfection through the testimony of the transience of the mirrors and the ephemerality of the places of manifestation and the permanence of that transcendent, eternal Beauty, and Its constant manifestation and appearance throughout the passage of the seasons, centuries, and ages, and the perpetual bestowal of bounties throughout the passage of the creatures and days and people.

    Indeed, a perfect work points to one possessing intellect who performs a perfect act, and the perfect act points to one with understanding who possesses perfect names, and the perfect names point self-evidently to perfect attributes, and perfect attributes point necessarily to perfect qualities, and the perfect qualities point certainly to the perfection of the essence from which they proceed, and this is absolutely certain.

    Indeed, the ephemerality of the mirrors and death of creatures together with the perpetual manifestation and constant effulgence is the clearest of proofs that the apparent beauty does not belong to the places of manifestation; it is the most eloquent statement and clearest argument for a transcendent beauty, and renewed bestowal, to the Necessary Existent, to the Enduring One, the Loving One…

    O God! Grant blessings to our master Muhammed from pre-eternity to post-eternity to the number of things encompassed by Divine Knowledge, and to his Family and Companions, and grant them peace.

    * * *

    Addendum

    In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.

    [This short Addendum has great importance; it is beneficial for everyone.]

    The ways leading to Almighty God are truly numerous. While all true ways are taken from the Qur’an, some are shorter, safer, and more general than others. Of these ways taken from the Qur’an is that of impotence, poverty, compassion, and reflection, from which, with my defective understanding, I have benefited.

    Indeed, like ecstatic love, impotence too is a path which, by way of worship, leads to winning God’s love; but it is safer. And poverty too leads to the Divine Name of All-Merciful. And, like ecstatic love, compassion also leads to the Name of All-Compassionate, but it is a sharper and broader path. And also like ecstatic love, reflection leads to the Name of All-Wise, but it is a richer, broader, and more brilliant path. This path consists not of ten steps like the ‘ten subtle faculties’ of some of the tariqats employing silent recollection, nor of seven stages like the ‘seven souls’ of those practicing public recitation, but of Four Steps. It is reality [haqiqat], rather than a tariqat. It is Shari’a.

    However, let it not be misunderstood. It means to see one’s impotence, poverty and faults before Almighty God, not to fabricate them or display them to people. The method of this short path is to follow the Practices of the Prophet (PBUH), perform the religious obligations and give up serious sins. And it is especially to perform the prescribed prayers correctly and with attention, and following them to say the tesbihat.

    The verse, Therefore, do not justify yourselves, points to the First step.

    The verse, And be not like those who forget God, and He therefore makes them forget their own selves, points to the Second Step.

    The verse, Whatever good happens to you is from God, but whatever evil befalls you is from yourself, points to the Third Step.

    The verse, Everything will perish save His countenance, points to the Fourth Step.

    A brief explanation of these Four Steps is as follows:

    THE FIRST STEP: As the verse, Therefore, do not justify yourselves suggests, it is to not purify the soul. For on account of his nature and innate disposition, man loves himself. Indeed, he loves himself before anything else, and only himself. He sacrifices everything other than himself to his own soul. He praises himself in a manner befitting some object worthy of worship. He absolves and exonerates himself from faults in the same way. As far as he possibly can, he does not see faults as being appropriate for him, and does not accept them. He defends himself passionately as though worshipping himself. Even, using on himself the members and faculties given him as part of his nature in order to praise and glorify the True Object of Worship, he displays the meaning of the verse, Who takes as his god his own desires. He considers himself, he relies on himself, he fancies himself. Thus, his purification and cleansing at this stage, in this step, is to not purify himself; it is not to absolve himself.

    SECOND STEP: As the verse, And be not like those who forget God, and He therefore makes them forget their own selves teaches, man is oblivious of himself, and is not aware of himself. If he thinks of death, it is in relation to others. If he sees transience and decline, he does not attribute them to himself. And his evil-commanding soul demands that when it comes to inconvenience and service of others, he forgets himself, but when it comes to receiving his recompense, and to benefits and enjoyment, he thinks of himself, and takes his own part fervently. His purification, cleansing, and training at this stage is the reverse of this state. That is to say, when oblivious of himself, it is not to be oblivious. That is, to forget himself when it comes to pleasure, and ambition and greed, and to think of himself when it comes to death and service of others.

    THIRD STEP: As the verse, Whatever good happens to you is from God, but whatever evil befalls you is from yourself teaches, the nature of the evil-commanding soul demands that it always considers goodness to be from itself and becomes vain and conceited. Thus, in this Step, a person sees only faults, defects, impotence, and poverty in himself, and understands that all his good qualities and perfections are bounties bestowed on him by the All-Glorious Creator. He gives thanks instead of being conceited, and offers praise instead of boasting. According to the meaning of the verse, Truly he succeeds who purifies it,13 his purification at this stage is to know his perfection to lie in imperfection, his power in impotence, and his wealth in poverty.

    FOURTH STEP: As the verse, Everything will perish save His countenance teaches, the evil-commanding soul considers itself to be free and independent and to exist of itself. Because of this, man claims to possess a sort of dominicality. He harbours a hostile rebelliousness towards his True Object of Worship. Thus, through understanding the following fact, he is saved from this. The fact is this:

    According to the apparent meaning of things, which looks to each thing itself, everything is transitory, lacking, accidental, non-existent. But according to the meaning that signifies something other than itself and in respect of each thing being a mirror to the All-Glorious Maker’s Names and charged with various duties, each is a witness, it is witnessed, it gives existence, and it is existent. The purification and cleansing of a person at this stage is as follows:

    In his existence he is non-existent, and in his non-existence he has existence. That is to say, if he values himself and attributes existence to himself, he is in a darkness of non-existence as great as the universe. That is, if he relies on his individual existence and is unmindful of the True Giver of Existence, he has an individual light of existence like that of a fire-fly and is submerged in an endless darkness of non-existence and separation. But if he gives up egotism and sees that he is a mirror of the manifestations of the True Giver of Existence, he gains all beings and an infinite existence. For he who finds the Necessary Existent One, the manifestation of Whose Names all beings manifest, finds everything.

    Conclusion

    The Four Steps in this way of impotence, poverty, compassion, and reflection have been explained in the twenty-six Words so far written, which are concerned with knowledge of reality, the reality of the Shari’a, and the wisdom of the Qur’an. So here, we shall allude briefly to only one or two points, as follows:

    Indeed, this path is shorter, because it consists of four steps. When impotence removes the hand from the soul, it gives it directly to the All-Powerful One of Glory. Whereas, when the way of ecstatic love, the sharpest way, takes the hand away from the soul, it attaches it to the metaphorical beloved. Only after the beloved is found to be impermanent does it go to the True Beloved.

    Also, this path is much safer, because the ravings and high-flown claims of the soul are not present on it. For, apart from impotence, poverty, and defect, the soul possesses nothing so that it oversteps its mark.

    Also, this path is much broader and more universal. For, in order to attain to a constant awareness of God’s presence, a person is not compelled to imagine the universe to be condemned to non-existence and to declare: “There is no existent but He”, like those who believe in ‘the unity of existence’, nor to suppose the universe to be condemned to imprisonment in absolute oblivion and to say, “There is nothing witnessed but He”, like those who believe in ‘the unity of witnessing’. Rather, since the Qur’an has most explicitly pardoned the universe and released it from execution and imprisonment, one on this path disregards the above, and dismissing beings from working on their own account and employing them on account of the All-Glorious Creator, and in the duty of manifesting the Most Beautiful Names and being mirrors to them, he considers them from the point of view of signifying something other than themselves; and being saved from absolute heedlessness, he enters the Divine presence permanently; he finds a way leading to the Almighty God in everything.

    In Short: Dismissing beings from working on account of other beings, this way is to not look at them as signifying themselves.

    * * *

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