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No, Literally: İstanbul Altı

August 11, 2010

This needs no introduction, really:

Harem Nesin, a Turkish journalist for the Istanbul newspaper Dünya Gazetesi, began photographing concealed buildings in Istanbul sometime in 2007 for his personal records. The buildings captured by Nesin had recently been destroyed by a fire or evacuated due to some other instability of the structure, and were later covered by scaffolding, tarps, or screens. Nesin correlated his collection of photographs to a map of Istanbul, indicating the location of each abandoned building. Through the mapped locations Nesin discovered a triangular geometric pattern across a portion of the city on the European side, from the Golden Horn to the Bosphorus. Nesin used the Galata Tower as a place to survey the buildings in question, indicated by his collage of aerial photographs taken from the Tower. Additionally, in his observations Nesin recorded the means of concealment (tarp, wood, fence, screen) and the address for each structure.

And what did Nesin find?

“Harem Nesin’s map reveals strategic locations used by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality as injection points for Bacillus Pasteurii, a microbe able to transform sand into sandstone by depositing calcite (calcium carbonate) throughout the granules, fusing them together.”

The authorities, in other words, were earthquake-proofing the city from below, in “the first application of the bacteria, which had been under development since the mid 1970s through joint research between Germany and the US.”

This secret government project, finally completed just a bit too late, is an ingenious way to solidify the landmass under Istanbul before another earthquake comes using interconnected isosceles triangles. However, not everything is rainbows and unicorns. Nesin disappeared shortly after publishing the maps, and all memory of his publications and work has been destroyed.

All of this is courtesy of BLDGBlog and all of it, unfortunately, is 100% fictional (I changed the date from 2017 to 2007 in order to add a patina of conspiracy). What it actually is is an architecture project. Students were told to “investigate[s] potentials for future design through the creation and analysis of hyper-fictional documents. These document sets create evidence for future scenarios that string together a specific history of political, social, and technological developments.” This is an academic way to say “invent a historical dataset for the city you’d like to exist.”

There are a few interesting angles to this. The first is probably my favorite. If I walked around Istanbul explaining to people (in my butchered, Yankee-patois, Turkish) that the government has been injecting a bacteria into the ground throughout building sites in the city in a careful and top-secret bid to solidify the ground and God knows what else…I’m positive people would believe me. Gossip flies fast ’round here, especially without any real believable news sources. Government and anti-government conspiracies are taken as a matter of course. No matter what your political beliefs are, there is a shady organization with ties to someone in the government who is trying to subvert you. This much is assumed, and the Nesin Map easily falls under that.

Most interestingly to us here at İ6 is the fact that the Nesin Map is a map of what is literally under Istanbul. This is an old, old, city built of layers like a Jenga tower, and just as ready to collapse. One of the most memorable (and mocked) scenes of From Russia With Love is when they take the cisterns under the Russian Consulate. A lot of people make fun of this because, yeah right, no way you could go from Yerebatan to the Consulate. And they’re right, of course. Yerebatan is on the peninsula. But in a city that had so much smuggling going on for the past few thousand years, a city that 100 years ago had separate jails for European nationals and Ottoman subjects, a city that still has resource monopolies and the black market that goes with, a city that is literally the hub of heroin transport from Kabul to London (read this fantastic interview when you get the chance)…well, there is no way you could convince me the only way from Tünel to Beşiktaş is by bus. There have to be maps, in peoples’ heads, tattooed on backs, written on napkins that are just fascinating. I’d love to see ’em. Even if a few were fake.

Finally, I’m hardly a sci-fi sort of guy, but Istanbul is screaming for some sort of set-up. The reason I, for one, love this city is its healthy sense of “where are we going.” Say what you want about Neo-Ottomanism, but it is certainly more “Neo” than “Ottoman.” One of the first things I noted when I came here the first time around was that there’s this exciting feeling of optimism abound, the feeling that the city will be completely different, and hopefully much better, in only a few years. Coming, as I am, from a dying empire, it’s awfully neat.

And of course, in order to construct a future, one needs a past to base it on. That’s the idea behind the Nesim Map, and the reason I have no problem pouring out so many words for it. The Nesin Map is a detailed explanation of what never happened. Should a shadowy government agency doctor the bedrock of a city of ~15,000,000? Yeeeeah, probably not. But by entering an idea to the historical record, an argument is being made. There is so much going on in this city, be it officially, criminally, culturally, or whatever that even Istanbullus have absolutely no clue about. Yabancis don’t even stand a chance. News is in the eye of the beholder, and even if people are connected by geography, by identity as an Istanbullu or even *snort* taxpaying, there are many more divisions in this city than there are unifiers.

The Nesin Map, with its elegant triangles and clear evidence, represents a much more coherent city than the one Istanbul truly is. So in another way, its a unifying map of the city. I, for one, would much rather be able to explain “I live in Triangle 43e” than “OK, so you go to the Iskele, then uphill, past Kuzgun…” It is a map of, quite literally, a more stable Istanbul. But that wouldn’t be very much fun, would it?

NOTE: If this sort of thing (futurism, design, magical realism as history) is also your sort of thing, check out the Istanbul Design Week, going from September 9 to October 3 at the Beyoglu end of Ataturk Koprusu. Check it out.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 14, 2010 7:37 am

    If we believe that something like this can happen in a city by the city, then it might as well have happened. The three cities we explored can each potentially be the venue for such systematic exploits to occur. Istanbul, while completely opening itself out in front of your eyes, is very mysterious. What you point out about the new triangular grid reveals how much this city is looking for organization and wishes there were a grand scheme to lean on. What we explored in Berlin, for example, was ultimately the exact opposite: a city under central control that is looking for corruption.

    • istanbul6alti permalink*
      August 16, 2010 5:45 pm

      Looking for “order” is something I’m not sure about…I would say that it is looking for is greater connectivity. This could just be me speaking as a decidedly un-city sort of person, but I think that the literally millions of different narratives, all unconnected, are what call for the triangular grid.

      It may also be a bit too much of anthropological journalism of me to say it, but the story line, of the government secretly protecting its citizens from natural disaster, falls into a particular trope as well. There is a decided faith in “government as benevolent paterfamilias” in Turkey, that if we all just close our eyes and trust it, the government will protect its people and act in everyone’s best interest. This secret, magical, grid is an example of such a benevolent dictatorship.

      Of course, how would the government get this information without running into some shady people in the underground? There are all of these deep, mysterious, connections that the grid solves as a Deus Ex Machina. Fascinating stuff, as always from y’all.

  2. March 13, 2011 2:10 am
    The Tenth Word Resurrection and the Hereafter NOTE [The reasons for my writing these treatises in the form of metaphors, comparisons and stories are to facilitate comprehension and to show how rational, appropriate, well-founded and coherent are the truths of Islam. The meaning of the stories is contained in the truths that conclude them; each story is like an allusion pointing to its concluding truth. Therefore, they are not mere fictitious tales, but veritable truths.] In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Look, then, to the signs of God’s mercy – how He restores life to the earth after its death – verily He it is Who quickens the dead, for He is powerful over all things.1 Brother, if you wish for a discussion of resurrection and the hereafter in simple and common language, in a straightforward style, then listen to the following comparison, together with my own soul. Once two men were travelling through a land as beautiful as Paradise (by that land, we intend the world). Looking around them, they saw that everyone had left open the door of his home and his shop and was not paying attention to guarding it. Money and property were readily accessible, without anyone to claim them. One of the two travellers grasped hold of all that he fancied, stealing it and usurping it. Following his inclinations, he committed every kind of injustice and abomination. None of the people of that land moved to stop him. But his friend said to him: “What are you doing? You will be punished, and I will be dragged into misfortune along with you. All this property belongs to the state. The people of this land, including even the children, are all soldiers or government servants. It is because they are at present civilians that they are not interfering with you. But the laws here are strict. The king has installed telephones everywhere and his agents are everywhere. Go quickly, and try to settle the matter.” But the empty-headed man said in his obstinacy: “No, it is not state property; it belongs instead to some endowment, and has no clear or obvious owner. Everyone can make use of it as he sees fit. I see no reason to deny myself the use of these fine things. I will not believe they belong to anyone unless I see him with my own eyes.” He continued to speak in this way, with much philosophical sophistry, and an earnest discussion took place between them. First the empty-headed man said: “Who is the king here? I can’t see him,” and then his friend replied: “Every village must have its headman; every needle must have its manufacturer and craftsman. And, as you know, every letter must be written by someone. How, then, can it be that so extremely well-ordered a kingdom should have no ruler? And how can so much wealth have no owner, when every hour a train2 arrives filled with precious and artful gifts, as if coming from the realm of the unseen? And all the announcements and proclamations, all the seals and stamps, found on all those goods, all the coins and the flags waving in every corner of the kingdom – can they be without an owner? It seems you have studied foreign languages a little, and are unable to read this Islamic script. In addition, you refuse to ask those who are able to read it. Come now, let me read to you the king’s supreme decree.” The empty-headed man then retorted: “Well, let us suppose there is a king; what harm can he suffer from the minute use I am making of all his wealth? Will his treasury decrease on account of it? In any event, I can see nothing here resembling prison or punishment.” His friend replied: “This land that you see is a manoeuvering ground. It is, in addition, an exhibition of his wonderful royal arts. Then again it may be regarded as a temporary hospice, one devoid of foundations. Do you not see that every day one caravan arrives as another departs and vanishes? It is being constantly emptied and filled. Soon the whole land will be changed; its inhabitants will depart for another and more lasting realm. There everyone will be either rewarded or punished in accordance with his services.” That treacherous empty-headed one retorted rebelliously: “I don’t believe it. Is it at all possible that a whole land should perish, and be transferred to another realm?” His faithful friend then replied: “Since you are so obstinate and rebellious, come, let me demonstrate to you, with twelve out of the innumerable proofs available, that there is a Supreme Tribunal, a realm of reward and generosity and a realm of punishment and incarceration, and that just as this world is partially emptied every day, so too a day shall come when it will be totally emptied and destroyed. o First Aspect: Is it at all possible that in any kingdom, and particularly so splendid a kingdom as this, there should be no reward for those who serve obediently and no punishment for those who rebel? Reward and punishment are virtually non-existent here; there must therefore be a Supreme Tribunal somewhere else. o Second Aspect: Look at the organization and administration of this kingdom! See how everyone, including the poorest and the weakest, is provided with perfect and ornate sustenance. The best care is taken of the sick. Royal and delicious foods, dishes, jewel encrusted decorations, embroidered garments, splendid feasts – all are to be found here. See how everyone pays due attention to his duties, with the exception of empty-headed people such as yourself. No one transgresses his bounds by as much as an inch. The greatest of all men is engaged in modest and obedient service, with an attitude of fear and awe. The ruler of this kingdom must possess, then, great generosity and all-embracing compassion, as well as, at the same time, great dignity, exalted awesomeness and honour. Now generosity requires liberality; compassion cannot dispense with beneficence; and awesomeness and honour make it imperative that the discourteous be chastised. But not even a thousandth part of what that generosity and awesomeness require is to be seen in this realm. The oppressor retains his power, and the oppressed, his humiliation, as they both depart and migrate from this realm. Their affairs are, then, left to the same Supreme Tribunal of which we speak. o Third Aspect: See with what lofty wisdom and ordering affairs are managed, and with what true justice and balance transactions are effected! Now a wise polity requires that those who seek refuge under the protecting wing of the state should receive favour, and justice demands that the rights of subjects be preserved, so that the splendour of the state should not suffer. But here in this land, not a thousandth part of the requirements of such wisdom and justice is fulfilled; for example, empty-headed people such as yourself usually leave this realm unpunished. So again we say, matters are postponed for the consideration of a Supreme Tribunal. o Fourth Aspect: Look at these innumerable and peerless jewels that are displayed here, these unparalleled dishes laid out like a banquet! They demonstrate that the ruler of these lands is possessed of infinite generosity and an inexhaustible treasury. Now such generosity and such a treasury deserve and require a bounteous display that should be eternal and include all possible objects of desire. They further require that all who come as guests to partake of that display should be there eternally and not suffer the pain of death and separation. For just as the cessation of pain is pleasurable, so too is the cessation of pleasure painful! Look at these displays and the announcements concerning them! And listen to these heralds proclaiming the fine and delicate arts of a miracle-working monarch, and demonstrating his perfections! They are declaring his peerless and invisible beauty, and speaking of the subtle manifestations of his hidden beauteousness; he must be possessed, then, of a great and astounding invisible beauty and perfection. This flawless hidden perfection requires one who will appreciate and admire it, who will gaze on it exclaiming, Mashallah!, thus displaying it and making it known. As for concealed and peerless beauty, it too requires to see and be seen, or rather to behold itself in two ways. The first consists of contemplating itself in different mirrors, and the second of contemplating itself by means of the contemplation of enraptured spectators and astounded admirers. Hidden beauty wishes, then, to see and be seen, to contemplate itself eternally and be contemplated without cease. It desires also permanent existence for those who gaze upon it in awe and rapture. For eternal beauty can never be content with a transient admirer; moreover, an admirer destined to perish without hope of return will find his love turning to enmity whenever he imagines his death, and his admiration and respect will yield to contempt. It is in man’s nature to hate the unknown and the unaccustomed. Now everyone leaves the hospice of this realm very quickly and vanishes, having seen only a light or a shadow of the perfection and beauty for no more than a moment, without in any way being satiated. Hence, it is necessary that he should go towards an eternal realm where he will contemplate the Divine beauty and perfection. o Fifth Aspect: See, it is evident from all these matters that that peerless Being is possessed of most great mercy. For he causes aid to be swiftly extended to every victim of misfortune, answers every question and petition; and mercifully fulfils even the lowliest need of his lowliest subject. If, for example, the foot of some herdsman’s sheep should hurt, he either provides some medicine or sends a veterinarian. Come now, let us go; there is a great meeting on that island. All the nobles of the land are assembled there. See, a most noble commander, bearing exalted decorations, is pronouncing a discourse, and requesting certain things from that compassionate monarch. All those present say: “Yes, we too desire the same,” and affirm and assent to his words. Now listen to the words of that commander favoured by his monarch: “O monarch that nurtures us with his bounty! Show us the source and origin of these examples and shadows you have shown us! Draw us nigh to your seat of rule; do not let us perish in these deserts! Take us into your presence and have mercy on us! Feed us there on the delicious bounty you have caused us to taste here! Do not torment us with desperation and banishment! Do not leave your yearning, thankful and obedient subjects to their own devices; do not cause them to be annihilated!” Do you not hear him thus supplicating? Is it at all possible that so merciful and powerful a monarch should totally fulfil the finest and highest aim of his most beloved and noble commander? Moreover, the purpose of that commander is the purpose of all men, and its fulfilment is required by the pleasure, the compassion and the justice of the king, and it is a matter of ease for him, not difficulty, causing him less difficulty than the transient places of enjoyment contained in the hospice of the world. Having spent so much effort on these places of witnessing that will last only five or six days, and on the foundation of this kingdom, in order to demonstrate instances of his power, he will, without doubt, display at his seat of rule true treasures, perfections and skills in such a manner, and open before us such spectacles, that our intellects will be astonished. Those sent to this field of trial will not, then, be left to their own devices; palaces of bliss or dungeons await them. o Sixth Aspect: Come now, look! All these imposing railways, planes, machines, warehouses, exhibitions show that behind the veil an imposing monarch exists and governs.3 Such a monarch requires subjects worthy of himself. But now you see all his subjects gathered in a hospice for wayfarers, a hospice that is filled and emptied each day. It can also be said that his subjects are now gathered in a testing-ground for the sake of manoeuvers, and this ground also changes each hour. Again, we may say that all his subjects stay in an exhibition-hall for a few minutes to behold specimens of the monarch’s beneficence, valuable products of his miraculous art. But the exhibition itself changes each moment. Now this situation and circumstance conclusively shows that beyond the hospice, the testing-ground, the exhibition, there are permanent palaces, lasting abodes, and gardens and treasuries full of the pure and elevated originals of the samples and shapes we see in this world. It is for the sake of these that we exert ourselves here. Here we labour, and there we receive our reward. A form and degree of felicity suited to everyone’s capacity awaits us there. o Seventh Aspect: Come, let us walk a little, and see what is to be found among these civilized people. See, in every place, at every corner, photographers are sitting and taking pictures. Look, everywhere there are scribes sitting and writing things down. Everything is being recorded. They are registering the least significant of deeds, the most commonplace of events. Now look up at the tall mountain; there you see a supreme photographer installed, devoted to the service of the king;4 he is taking pictures of all that happens in the area. The king must, then, have issued this order; “Record all the transactions made and deeds performed in the kingdom.” In other words, that exalted personage is having all events registered and photographically recorded. The precise record he is keeping must without doubt be for the sake of one day calling his subjects to account. Now is it at all possible that an All-Wise and All-Preserving Being, who does not neglect the most banal doings of the lowest of his subjects, should not record the most significant deeds of the greatest among his subjects, should not call them to account, should not reward and punish them? After all, it is those foremost among his subjects that perform deeds offensive to his glory, contrary to his pride and unacceptable to his compassion, and those deeds remain unpunished in this world. It must be, therefore, that their judgement is postponed to a Supreme Court. o Eighth Aspect: Come, let me read to you the decrees issued by that monarch. See, he repeatedly makes the following promises and dire threats: “I will take you from your present abode and bring you to the seat of my rule. There I shall bestow happiness on the obedient and imprison the disobedient. Destroying that temporary abode, I shall found a different realm containing eternal palaces and dungeons.” He can easily fulfil the promises that he makes, of such importance for his subjects. It is, moreover, incompatible with his pride and his power that he should break his promise. So look, o confused one! You assent to the claims of your mendacious imagination, your distraught intellect, your deceptive soul, but deny the words of a being who cannot be compelled in any fashion to break his promise, whose high stature does not admit any such faithlessness, and to whose truthfulness all visible deeds bear witness. Certainly you deserve a great punishment. You resemble a traveller who closes his eyes to the light of the sun and looks instead upon his own imagination. His fancy wishes to illuminate his awesomely dark path with the light of his brain, although it is no more than a glowworm. Once that monarch makes a promise, he will by all means fulfil it. Its fulfilment is most easy for him, and moreover most necessary for us and all things, as well as for him too and his kingdom. There is therefore, a Supreme Court, and a lofty felicity. o Ninth Aspect: Come now! Look at the heads of these offices and groups.5 Each has a private telephone to speak personally with the king. Sometimes too they go directly to his presence. See what they say and unanimously report, that the monarch has prepared a most magnificent and awesome place for reward and punishment. His promises are emphatic and his threats are most stern. His pride and dignity are such that he would in no way stoop to the abjectness inherent in the breaking of a promise. The bearers of this report, who are so numerous as to be universally accepted, further report with the strong unanimity of consensus that “the seat and headquarters of the lofty monarchy, some of whose traces are visible here, is in another realm far distant from here. The buildings existing in this testing-ground are but temporary, and will later be exchanged for eternal palaces. These places will change. For this magnificent and unfading monarchy, the splendour of which is apparent from its works, can in no way be founded or based on so transient, impermanent, unstable, insignificant, changing, defective and imperfect matters. It is based rather on matters worthy of it, eternal, stable, permanent and glorious.” There is, then, another realm, and of a certainty we shall go toward it. o Tenth Aspect: Come, today is the vernal equinox.6 Certain changes will take place, and wondrous things will occur. On this fine spring day, let us go for a walk on the green plain adorned with beautiful flowers. See, other people are also coming toward it. There must be some magic at work, for buildings that were mere ruins have suddenly sprung up again here, and this once empty plain has become like a populous city. See, every hour it shows a different scene, just like a cinema screen, and takes on a different shape. But notice, too, that among these complex, swiftly changing and multifarious scenes perfect order exists, so that all things are put in their proper places. The imaginary scenes presented to us on the cinema screen cannot be as well-ordered as this, and millions of skilled magicians would be incapable of this artistry. This monarch whom we cannot see must, then, have performed even greater miracles. O foolish one! You ask: “How can this vast kingdom be destroyed and reestablished somewhere else?” You see that every hour numerous changes and revolutions occur, just like that transfer from one realm to another that your mind will not accept. From this gathering in and scattering forth it can be deduced that a certain purpose is concealed within these visible and swift joinings and separations, these compoundings and dissolvings. Ten years of effort would not be devoted to a joining together destined to last no longer than an hour. So these circumstances we witness cannot be ends in themselves; they are a kind of parable of something beyond themselves, an imitation of it. That exalted being brings them about in miraculous fashion, so that they take shape and then merge, and the result is preserved and recorded, in just the same way that every aspect of a manoeuver on the battleground is written down and recorded. This implies that proceedings at some great concourse and meeting will be based on what happens here. Further, the results of all that occurs here will be permanently displayed at some supreme exposition. All the transient and fluctuating phenomena we see here will yield the fruit of eternal and immutable form. All the variations we observe in this world are then, for the sake of a supreme happiness, a lofty tribunal, for the sake of exalted aims as yet unknown to us. o Eleventh Aspect: Come, o obstinate friend! Let us embark on a plane or a train travelling east or west, that is, to the past or the future. Let us see what miraculous works that being has accomplished in other places. Look, there are marvels on every hand like the dwellings, open spaces and exhibitions we see. But they all differ with respect to art and to form. Note well, however, what order betokening manifest wisdom, what indications of evident compassion, what signs of lofty justice, and what fruits of comprehensive mercy, are to be seen in these transient dwellings, these impermanent open spaces, these fleeting exhibitions. Anyone not totally devoid of insight will understand a certainty that no wisdom can be imagined more perfect than his, no providence more beauteous than his, no compassion more comprehensive than his, and no justice more glorious than his. If, for the sake of argument, as you imagine, no permanent abodes, lofty places, fixed stations, lasting residences, or resident and contented population existed in the sphere of his kingdom; and if the truths of his wisdom, compassion, mercy and justice had no realm in which to manifest themselves fully (for this impermanent kingdom is no place for their full manifestation) – then we would be obliged to deny the wisdom we see, to deny the compassion we observe, to deny the mercy that is in front of our eyes, and to deny the justice the signs of which are evident. This would be as idiotic as denying the sun, the light of which we clearly see at midday. We would also have to regard the one from whom proceed all these wise measures we see, all these generous acts, all these merciful gifts, as a vile gambler or treacherous tyrant (God forbid!). This would be to turn truth on its head. And turning a truth into its opposite is impossible, according to the unanimous testimony of all rational beings, excepting only the idiot sophists who deny everything. There is, then, a realm apart from the present one. In it, there is a supreme tribunal, a lofty place of justice, an exalted place of reward, where all this compassion, wisdom, mercy and justice will be made fully manifest. o Twelfth Aspect: Come, let us return now. We will speak with the chiefs and officers of these various groups, and looking at their equipment will inquire whether that equipment has been given them only for the sake of subsisting for a brief period in that realm, or whether it has been given for the sake of obtaining a long life of bliss in another realm. Let us see. We cannot look at everyone and his equipment. But by way of example, let us look at the identity card and register of this officer. On his card, his rank, salary, duty, supplies and instructions are recorded. See, this rank has not been awarded him for just a few days; it may be given for a prolonged period. It says on his card: “You will receive so much salary on such-and-such a day from the treasury.” But the date in question will not arrive for a long time to come, after this realm has been vacated. Similarly, the duty mentioned on his card has not been given for this temporary realm, but rather for the sake of earning a permanent felicity in the proximity of the king. Then, too, the supplies awarded him cannot be merely for the sake of subsisting in this hospice of a few days’ duration; they can only be for the sake of a long and happy life. The instructions make it quite clear that he is destined for a different place, that he is working for another realm. Now look at these registers. They contain instructions for the use and disposition of weapons and equipment. If there were no realm other than this, one exalted and eternal, that register with its categorical instructions and that identity card with its clear information, would both be quite meaningless. Further, that respected officer, that noble commander, that honoured chief, would fall to a degree lower than that of all men; he would be more wretched, luckless, abased, afflicted, indigent and weak than everyone. Apply the same principle to everything. Whatever you look upon bears witness that after this transient world another and eternal world exists. O friend! This temporary world is like a field. It is a place of instruction, a market. Without doubt a supreme tribunal and ultimate happiness will succeed it. If you deny this, you will be obliged also to deny the identity cards of all the officers, their equipment and their orders; in fact, you will have to deny too all the order existing in the country, the existence of a government in it and all the measures that the government takes. Then you will no longer deserve the name of man or the appellation of conscious. You will be more of a fool than the sophists. Beware, do not imagine that the proofs of the transfer of creation from one realm to another are restricted to these twelve. There are indications and proofs beyond counting and enumeration, all showing that this impermanent, changing kingdom will be transformed into a permanent and immutable realm. There are also innumerable signs and evidences that men will be taken from this temporary hospice and sent to the eternal seat of rule of all creation. I will show one proof in particular that is stronger than all the twelve aspects taken together. Come now, look, in the midst of the great assembly visible in the distance the same noble commander whom we previously saw on the island, adorned with numerous decorations, is making an announcement. Let us go and listen. See, that luminous and most noble commander is conveying a supreme edict, beautifully inscribed. He says: “Prepare yourselves; you will go to another and permanent realm, a realm such that this one will appear as a dungeon by comparison. You will go to the seat of rule of our king, and there receive his compassion and his bounty, if you heed this edict well and obey it. But if you rebel and disobey it, you will be cast into awesome dungeons.” Such is the message that he conveys. If you look at the decree, you will see that it bears such a miraculous seal that it cannot in any way be imitated. Everyone apart from idiots such as yourself knows of a certainty that the decree is from the king. Moreover, the noble commander bears such bright decorations that everyone except those blind like yourself understands full well that he is the veracious conveyer of the king’s orders. Is it at all possible that the teaching of transfer from one realm to another, challengingly conveyed by that noble commander in the supreme edict he has received, should at all be open to objection? No, it is not possible, unless we deny all that we have seen. Now, o friend, it is your turn to speak. Say what you have to say. “What should I say? What can be said to contradict all of this? Who can speak against the sun at midday? I say only: Praise be to God. A hundred thousand thanks that I have been saved from the dominance of fancy and vain imagination, and delivered from an eternal dungeon and prison. I have come to believe that there is an abode of felicity in the proximity of the monarch, separate from this confused and impermanent hospice.” Our comparison indicating the truth of resurrection and the hereafter is now complete. Now with God’s grace, we will pass on to the most exalted truth. We shall set forth twelve interrelated Truths, corresponding to the twelve Aspects discussed above, as well as an Introduction. Introduction [By means of a few indications, we refer here to several matters explained elsewhere, that is, in the Twenty-Second, Nineteenth and Twenty-Sixth Words.] o First Indication The foolish man in the previous story and his trustworthy companion correspond to three other pairs: The instinctual soul and the heart; The students of philosophy and the pupils of the All-Wise Qur’an; The people of unbelief and the Community of Islam. The worst error and misguidance of the students of philosophy, the people of unbelief and the instinctual soul, lies in not recognizing God. Just as in the preceding story the trustworthy man said, “there can be no letter without a scribe, no law without a legislator,” we too say the following: A book, particularly one in each word of which a minute pen has inscribed another whole book, and in each letter of which a fine pen has traced a poem, cannot be without a writer; this would be entirely impossible. So too this cosmos cannot be without its inscriber; this is impossible to the utmost degree. For the cosmos is precisely such a book that each of its pages includes many other books, each of its words contains a book, and each of its letters contains a poem. The face of the earth is but a single page in the book of the cosmos. See how many books it contains. Every fruit is a letter, and every seed is a dot. In that dot is contained the index of the whole tree in its vastness. A book such as this can have been inscribed only by the mighty pen of a Possessor of Glory Who enjoys the attributes of splendour and beauty, and Who is the holder of infinite wisdom and power. Faith, then, follows inevitably on the observation of the world, unless one is drunk on misguidance. Similarly, a house cannot arise without a builder, particularly a house adorned with miraculous works of art, wondrous designs, and amazing ornaments. As much art has been put into one of its stones as into a whole palace. No intelligence will accept that it could arise without a builder; definitely it needs a master architect. Moreover, within the building, veritable rooms take shape and change each hour with the utmost order and ease, just as if clothes were being changed, or as if scenes were passing across a cinema screen. We can say even that numerous little rooms are constantly being created in each of those scenes. In like manner, the cosmos also requires an infinitely wise, all-knowing and all-powerful maker. For the magnificent cosmos is a palace that has the sun and the moon as its lamps and the stars as its candles; time is like a rope or ribbon hung within it, on to which the Glorious Creator each year threads a new world. And within the world that He thus threads on the string of time He places three hundred and sixty fresh and orderly forms. He changes them with the utmost orderliness and wisdom. He has made the face of the earth a bounteous spread that He adorns each spring with three hundred thousand species of creation, that He fills with innumerable kinds of generous gifts. This He does in such a fashion that they all stand apart from each other, quite separate and distinct, despite their being at the same time so close and intermingled. Is it possible to overlook the existence of the Maker of such a palace? Again, to deny the existence of the sun, on a cloudless day at noon, when its traces are to be observed and its reflection is to be seen in every bubble on the surface of the ocean, in every shining object on dry land, and in every particle of snow – to make such a denial would be to rave like the deranged. For if one denied and refused to accept the existence of the single, unique sun, he would be compelled to accept the existence of a whole series of minor suns, each real and existent in its own right, as numerous as the drops and bubbles of the ocean, as countless as the particles of snow. It would be necessary to believe that each minute particle contains a huge sun, even though the particle is large enough only to contain itself. It would be an even greater sign of lunacy and misguidance to refuse one’s assent to the attributes of perfection of the Glorious Creator, even while beholding the well-ordered cosmos that is constantly changing in wise and regular fashion, that is being ceaselessly renewed in disciplined manner. This, too, would be like the ravings of a lunatic, since it would then become necessary to believe and accept that absolute divinity is present in all things, even a particle. For every particle of air is somehow able to enter and work its effects upon every flower, fruit and leaf, and unless the particle be entrusted with this task by a Creator, it must know of itself the structure and form of all the objects it penetrates and affects. In other words, it must possess all-encompassing power and knowledge. Every particle of soil is potentially capable of giving rise to all the different seeds that exist. If it is not acting under command, it must contain within itself equipment and instruments corresponding to all the various trees and plants in the world. Or, to put it differently, one must attribute to the particle such artistry and power that it is aware of the structure of each of them, knows the forms that each of them is caused to assume, and is capable of fashioning those forms. The same is true with respect to the particle and other realms of creation. From this you can understand that in all things there are numerous and manifest proofs of God’s Unity. To create all things from one thing, and to make all things into one thing, is a task possible only for the Creator of all things. Pay heed to the sublime declaration: “There is naught but proclaims His Glory with praise.” For if one does not accept God, the One and Unique, one must accept gods as numerous as created beings. o Second Indication In our story, we made mention of a Most Noble Commander and said that whoever is not blind and sees his decorations and medals will understand that he acts in accordance with the commands of a monarch and is his favored servant. Now that Most Noble Commander is the Most Noble Messenger of God, may peace and blessings be upon him. The sacred Creator of so ornamented a cosmos must of necessity have a Noble Messenger, just as the sun must of necessity have light. For the sun cannot exist without giving light, and Divinity cannot be without showing itself through the sending of prophets. Is it at all possible that a beauty of utter perfection should not desire to manifest itself by means of one who will demonstrate and display it? Is it at all possible that a perfection of beauteous artistry should not desire to make itself known by means of a herald that will draw men’s gazes upon it? Is it at all possible that the universal monarchy of all-embracing Dominicality should not desire to announce its unity and eternal besoughtedness throughout the different levels of multiplicity and particularity by means of an envoy possessing two aspects? By the two aspects, we mean that he is both the envoy of the realm of multiplicity to the Divine Court, by virtue of his universal worship, and also the messenger of the Divine Court to the realm of multiplicity, by virtue of his closeness to God and being entrusted with His message. Is it at all possible that a possessor of infinite inherent beauty should not wish both to behold himself and to display to others, in numerous mirrors, the charms of his beauty and the allurements of his fairness? God’s Messenger is His beloved, making himself beloved of Him by means of his worship and holding up a mirror to Him, and he is also the bearer of His message, making Him beloved of men and demonstrating to them the beauty of His Names. Is it at all possible that the owner of treasuries full of wondrous miracles, rare and valuable items, should not wish and desire to display them to men’s gaze by means of an expert jeweller, and eloquent describer, thereby revealing his hidden perfections? Is it at all possible that the One Who manifests the perfection of all His Names in the cosmos by means of artful adornment for men to look upon, so that the cosmos comes to resemble a palace decorated with all kinds of wondrous and subtle art, should not also designate a teacher and a guide to the wonders of his creation? Is it at all possible that the Lord of the cosmos should not solve, by means of a messenger, the complex talisman of the aim and purpose of all the changes that take place in the cosmos, and the riddle contained in the three difficult questions posed by all beings: “What is our origin? What is our destination? What is our purpose?” Is it at all possible that the Glorious Maker Who makes Himself known to sentient beings by means of His fair creation, and Who makes himself loved by means of His precious bounties, should not also communicate to sentient beings, by means of a messenger, what His pleasure desires of them in exchange? Is it at all possible that God should create mankind in a form predisposing it to suffer the consciousness of multiplicity but also containing the ability to engage in universal worship, without at the same time wishing to turn it away from multiplicity to unity, by means of a teacher and guide? There are numerous other functions of prophethood, each of which is a decisive proof that Divinity necessarily implies prophethood. Did anyone ever appear in the world more worthy and more in possession of the abovementioned qualities and functions than Muhammed, the Arabian Prophet, may peace and blessings be upon him? Has time ever shown us one more fitting and suited to the rank of messengerhood and the task of conveying God’s message? No, by no means! He is the master of all messengers, the foremost of all prophets, the leader of all pure ones, the closest to God of all those who have drawn nigh unto Him, the most perfect of all creatures, the monarch of all guides to righteousness. Quite apart from the countless indications of his prophethood deriving from more than a thousand miracles, such as the splitting of the moon and the flowing of water from his fingers, that all scholars unanimously confirm, the supreme miracle of the Glorious Qur’an – an ocean of truth and a book miraculous in forty different respects – is itself enough to demonstrate his prophethood as clearly as the sun. Since we discuss the forty different aspects of the Qur’an’s miraculousness in other treatises, particularly the Twenty-Fifth Word, we curtail our discussion of the matter here. o Third Indication Let it not be thought that petty man is too insignificant for this vast world to be brought to an end and another realm to be unfolded simply for the sake of his being brought to account. For apparently petty man bears great importance as the master of all creatures, by virtue of the comprehensiveness of his disposition, as the herald of God’s monarchy, and the manifester of universal worship. Also let nobody ask: “How can one earn eternal torment in the course of a very brief life?” For unbelief seeks to drag creation, something as valuable and exalted as a letter written by God, down to the depths of meaninglessness and purposelessness. It is an insult to all being, since it denies and rejects the manifestations and impresses of God’s Sacred Names that are visible in all being, and it seeks to negate all the infinite proofs that demonstrate the veracity and truthfulness of God Almighty. Hence, unbelief is a crime of infinite proportions, deserving of infinite punishment. o Fourth Indication In the story, we saw by means of twelve aspects that a king who had one realm resembling a transient hospice must of a necessity have another realm, one eternal and permanent, manifesting his splendour and the sublimity of his power. In the same way, it is not at all possible that the Eternal Creator of the transient world should not create also an eternal realm. It is not possible that the Everlasting Maker of this fine but unstable cosmos, should not create another cosmos, permanent and lasting. It is not possible that the Wise, Powerful and Merciful Creator of this world, which is like an exhibition, or a testing-ground, or a field, should not create also a hereafter in which the purposes of this world shall be made manifest. Entry is to be had to this truth by means of twelve gates, and the twelve gates are to be unlocked by means of twelve other truths. We will begin with the shortest and simplest of them: FIRST TRUTH The Gate of Dominicality and Sovereignty, the Manifestation of the Name of Sustainer Is it at all possible that the Glory of God’s Dominicality and His Divine Sovereignty should create a cosmos such as this, in order to display His perfections, with such lofty aims and elevated purposes, without establishing a reward for those believers who through faith and worship respond to these aims and purposes? Or that He should not punish those misguided ones who treat His purposes with rejection and scorn? SECOND TRUTH The Gate of Generosity and Mercy, the Manifestation of the Names of Generous and Merciful Is it at all possible that the Lord of this world, Who in His works demonstrates infinite generosity, infinite mercy, infinite splendour and infinite glory, should not give reward in a manner befitting His generosity and mercy, and not punish in a manner befitting His splendour and glory? If one looks at the disposition of affairs in this world, one sees that all animate beings – from the weakest and most powerless to the most powerful – are given some fitting form of sustenance.7 Indeed, the weakest and most powerless are given the best form of sustenance. This largesse and bounty is distributed with such lofty generosity that a hand of infinite generosity is manifestly at work. For example, in the spring, all the trees are garbed in clothes as fine as silk, just like the Houris in Paradise; they are encrusted with flowers and fruits, as if with jewels, and caused to offer us numerous varieties of the choicest fruits, on branches delicately outstretched like the hands of a servant. Similarly, we are given wholesome and sweet honey to eat, from the hand of the bee with its sting; we are clothed in the finest and softest of clothes by means of an insect that has no hands; and within a small seed a great treasure of mercy is preserved for us. It is self-evident that all of this is the effect of a most beauteous generosity, a most delicate sense of mercy. Then, too, the fact that, with the exception of man and certain wild animals, all things, from the sun, the moon and earth to the smallest of creatures, perform their functions with the utmost exactitude, do not overstep their bounds by an inch, and observe a universal obedience in a spirit of great awe – this shows that they act by the command of a Possessor of great glory and dignity. It is also apparent that the fashion in which all mothers, in the vegetable, animal and human realms, succour their weak and powerless infants with the delicate nurture of milk, in tender compassion, is a manifestation of God’s all-embracing mercy.8 Since the master of this world has, then, such infinite generosity, mercy, splendour and glory, it follows that His infinite glory and splendour require the chastisement of the discourteous; that His infinite generosity requires infinite bounty, and His infinite mercy requires a bestowal of favour worthy of itself. Now in this transitory world and brief life, only a millionth part of all this, like one drop from the ocean, establishes and manifests itself. There must therefore be a realm of blessedness appropriate to that generosity and worthy of that mercy. One would otherwise have to deny the existence of the mercy that is visible to us, and this would be like denying the existence of the sun that fills every day with its light. For irrevocable death would transform compassion into disaster, love into affliction, blessing into vengeance, intellect into a tool of misery, and pleasure into pain, so that the very essence of God’s mercy would vanish. There must in addition be a realm of punishment appropriate to God’s glory and dignity. For generally the oppressor leaves this world while still in possession of his might, and the oppressed while still subjected to humiliation. These matters are therefore deferred for the attention of a supreme tribunal; it is not that they are neglected. It sometimes happens too that punishment is enacted in this world. The torments suffered by disobedient and rebellious peoples in previous centuries show that man is not left to his own devices, and that he is always subject to the blows that God’s splendour and majesty may choose to inflict on him. Is it at all possible that man should have the most important duty in all of creation and be endowed with the most important capacities; that man’s Sustainer should make Himself known to him with all His well-ordered works, and man should then fail to recognize Him in return by way of worship – or that God should make Himself beloved of men through the numerous adorned fruits of His mercy, and man should then fail to make himself beloved of God through worship – or that God should demonstrate His love and mercy to man through His variegated bounties and man should then fail to respect Him with thanks and with praise – is it at all possible that man should remain unpunished, left to his own devices, or that that powerful Possessor of splendour and glory should not make ready for him a realm of requital? Is it at all possible, on the other hand, that He should not prepare a realm of reward and eternal bliss for those believers who respond to the Merciful and Compassionate One’s making Himself known by recognizing Him in faith; to His making Himself beloved by loving Him in worship; and to His mercy by offering thanks and veneration? THIRD TRUTH The Gate of Wisdom and Justice, the Manifestation of the Names of Wise and Just Is it at all possible9 that the Lord of Glory, Who demonstrates His Dominical sovereignty in the wisdom and order, the justice and equilibrium that pervade all things, from the atom to the sun, should not bestow favour on those believers who seek refuge beneath the protective wing of His Dominicality, who believe in His Wisdom and Justice, and whose acts are for the purpose of worshipping Him? Again, is it possible that He should not chastise those rude and discourteous men who disbelieve in His wisdom and justice, and rebel against Him in insolence? Now not even a thousandth part of that wisdom and justice is exercised with respect to man, in this transient world; it is rather deferred. Most of the people of misguidance leave this world unpunished, and most of the people of guidance leave it unrewarded. All things are, then, postponed for a supreme tribunal, an ultimate bliss. Yes, it is apparent that the Being Who controls this world does so in accordance with an infinite wisdom. Do you require a proof? It is the preservation of interest and benefit in all things. Do you not see that numerous wise benefits are intended in all the limbs, bones and veins of man, even in the cells of his brain and in every particle of his body? Do you not see that from certain limbs wise benefits are to be had as numerous as the fruits of a tree? All of this shows that matters are done in accordance with infinite wisdom. The existence of the utmost regularity in the making of all things is a proof of the same truth. The compression of the exact programme of development of a beautiful flower into a minute seed, the inscription on a small seed by the pen of destiny of the scroll of deeds of a tree, its life-history and list of equipment, show that a pen of utmost wisdom is at work. The existence of a high degree of fine artistry in all things proves that there exists also the impress of an infinitely Wise Maker. Further, the inclusion within the minute body of man of an index of all being, of the keys to all the treasuries of mercy, and of the mirrors of all the Divine Names, demonstrates the existence of wisdom within that infinitely fine artistry. Now is it at all possible that the wisdom that thus permeates the workings of Dominicality should not wish eternally to favour those who seek refuge beneath the wing of Dominicality and who offer obedience in faith? Do you wish for a proof that all things are done with justice and balance? The fact that all things are endowed with being, given shape and put in their appropriate place in accordance with precise equilibrium and in appropriate measure, shows that all matters are done in accordance with infinite justice and balance. Similarly, the fact that all things are given their rights in accordance with their disposition, that they receive all the necessities of their being and all the requirements of life in the most fitting form – this too is the sign left by a hand of infinite justice. Again, the fact that answer is always given to every petition and request made by the tongue of disposition, and of natural need or necessity, demonstrates the existence of infinite justice and wisdom. Now is it at all possible that the justice and wisdom that hasten to relieve the pettiest need of the smallest of creation should fail to provide immortality, the greatest need of man, the greatest of creatures? That it should fail to respond to his greatest plea and cry for assistance? Or that it should not preserve the dignity of God’s Dominicality by preserving the rights of His servants? Man, whose life is so brief, cannot experience the true essence of justice in this transient world; it is for this reason that matters are postponed for a supreme tribunal. For true justice requires that man, this apparently petty creature, should be rewarded and punished, not in accordance with his pettiness, but in accordance with the magnitude of his crime, the importance of his nature and the greatness of his function. Since this passing and transient world is far from manifesting such wisdom and justice for man, who is created for eternity, of necessity there will be an eternal Hell and everlasting Paradise of that Just and Awesome Possessor of Beauty, that Wise and Beauteous Possessor of Awe. FOURTH TRUTH The Gate of Generosity and Beauty, the Manifestation of the Names of Generous and Beautiful Is it at all possible that infinite generosity and liberality, inexhaustible riches, unending treasures, peerless and eternal beauty, flawless and everlasting perfection, should not require the existence of grateful supplicants, yearning spectators and astounded onlookers, all destined to stay an eternity in an abode of bliss, a place of repose? Yes, adorning the face of the world with all these objects of beauty, creating the moon and the sun as its lamps, filling the surface of the earth with the finest varieties of sustenance and thus making it a banquet of bounty, making fruit-trees into so many dishes, and renewing them several times each season – all this shows the existence of infinite generosity and liberality. Such unending liberality and generosity, such inexhaustible treasures of mercy, require the existence of an abode of repose, a place of bliss, that shall be everlasting and contain all desirable objects within it. They also require that those who enjoy such bliss should remain in that abode of repose eternally, without suffering the pain of cessation and separation. For just as the cessation of pain is a form of pleasure, so too the cessation of pleasure is a form of pain, one that such infinite generosity is unwilling to countenance. It requires, then, the existence both of an eternal paradise and of supplicants to abide in it eternally. Infinite generosity and liberality desire to bestow infinite bounty and infinite kindness. The bestowal of infinite bounty and infinite kindness require in turn infinite gratitude. This necessitates the perpetual existence of those who receive all the kindness so that they can demonstrate their thanks and gratitude for that perpetual bestowal and constant bounty. A petty enjoyment, made bitter by cessation, and lasting for only a brief time, is not compatible with the requirements of generosity and liberality. Look too at the different regions of the world, each like an exhibition where God’s crafts are displayed. Pay attention to the Dominical proclamations in the hands of all the plants and animals on the face of the earth10 and listen to the prophets and the saints, the heralds of the beauties of Dominicality. They unanimously display the flawless perfections of the Glorious Maker by demonstrating His miraculous arts, and thus invite the gazes of men. The Maker of this world has, then, most important, astounding and secret perfections. It is these He wishes to display by means of His miraculous arts. For secret, flawless perfection wishes to be manifested to those who will appreciate, admire and wonderingly gaze at it. Eternal perfection requires eternal manifestation. Such eternal manifestation in turn requires the perpetual existence of those who are to appreciate and admire it. The value of perfection will always sink in the view of its admirer if he is devoid of perpetual existence.11 Again, the beauteous, artistic, brilliant and adorned creatures that cover the face of the globe, bear witness to the fairness of a peerless, transcendent beauty, and indicate the subtle charms of an unparalleled, hidden pulchritude, just as sunlight bears witness to the sun.12 Each manifestation of that sacred, transcendent beauty, indicates the existence of countless hidden treasures in each of God’s Names. Now so exalted, peerless and hidden a beauty, just as it desires to view its own fairness in a mirror and to behold the degrees and measures of its beauty in an animate reflection, desires also to become manifest, in order to look on its own beauty through the eyes of others. That is, it wishes to look at its own beauty in two ways; firstly, by beholding itself in mirrors of variegated colour; secondly, through the gaze of yearning witnesses to itself, of bewildered admirers of its beauty. In short, beauty and fairness desire to see and be seen. Both of these require the existence of yearning witnesses and bewildered admirers. And since beauty and fairness are eternal and everlasting, their witnesses and admirers must have perpetual life. An eternal beauty can never be satisfied with transient admirers. An admirer condemned to irreversible separation will find his love turning to enmity once he conceives of separation. His admiration will yield to ridicule, his respect to contempt. For just as obstinate man is an enemy to what is unknown to him, so too he is opposed to all that lies beyond his reach, and love that is not infinite will respond to a beauty that deserves unending admiration with implicit enmity, hatred and rejection. From this we understand the profound reason for the unbeliever’s enmity to God. So endless generosity and liberality, peerless fairness and beauty, flawless perfection – all these require the existence of eternally grateful and longing supplicants and admirers. But we see in this hospice of the world that everyone quickly leaves and vanishes, having had only a taste of that generosity, enough to whet his appetite but not to satiate him, and having seen only a dim light coming from the perfection, or rather a faint shadow of its light, without in any way being fully satisfied. It follows, then, that men are going toward a place of eternal joy where all will be bestowed on them in full measure. In short, just as this world, with all its creatures, decisively demonstrates the existence of the Glorious Maker, so too do His sacred attributes and Names indicate, show and logically require, the existence of the hereafter. FIFTH TRUTH The gate of Compassion and Muhammedan Worship, the Manifestation of the Names of Answerer of Prayer and Compassionate Is it at all possible that a Lord possessing infinite compassion and mercy, Who most compassionately fulfils the smallest need of His lowliest creatures in the most unexpected fashion, Who heeds the muffled plea for help of His most obscure creature, and Who responds to all the petitions He hears, whether vocal or mute – is it at all possible that such a Lord should not pay heed to the greatest petition of the foremost among His servants, the most beloved among his creatures, that He should not hear and grant his most exalted prayer? The kindness and ease manifested in the feeding and nurturing of weak and young animals show that the Monarch of the cosmos exercises his Dominicality with infinite mercy. Is it at all possible that a compassion merciful to this degree in the exercise of Dominicality should not accept the prayer of the most virtuous and beautiful of all creation?13 This truth is explained in the Nineteenth Word, but let us repeat our statement of the matter here: O friend listening to these words together with my own soul! We said in the comparison that a meeting took place on a certain island, and a most noble commander delivered a speech there. In order to find out the truth indicated in the comparison, come, let us depart from this age, and in our mind and imagination travel to the Arabian Peninsula in the blessed age of the Prophet, in order to visit and watch him while he is performing his duties and engaging in worship. See, just as he is the means for the attainment of eternal bliss, by means of his messengerhood and guidance, so too he is the cause for the existence of that bliss and the means for the creation of Paradise, by means of his worship and prayer. Now see! That being is praying for eternal bliss in such supreme supplication, with such sublime worship, that it is as if this island, or even the whole world, were praying and supplicating together with him. For the worship he performs contains within itself not only the worship of the community that follows him, but also that of all the other prophets, in its essential form, by virtue of the correspondence existing between him and them. Moreover, he performs his supreme prayer and offers his supplications in such a vast congregation that it is as if all luminous and perfect men, from the time of Adam down to the present, were following him in prayer and saying “amen” to his supplications!14 He is praying for so universal a need – immortality – that not merely the people of this earth, but also the inhabitants of the heavens and the entirety of creation are participating in his supplications and silently proclaiming, “yes, o Lord! Grant his prayer; we too desire it.” He petitions for everlasting bliss with such touching sadness, in so yearning, so longing, and so pleading a fashion, that he causes the whole of the cosmos to weep and thus to share in his prayer. See, he desires and prays for bliss, for such a purpose and goal that he elevates man and all creatures from captivity in the abysmal state of utter annihilation, from worthlessness, uselessness, and purposelessness to the apex of preciousness, eternity, exalted function, and the rank of being a script penned by God. See, he makes his petition with such elevated plea for succour, makes his supplication with so sweet a request for mercy, that it is as if he caused all beings, the heavens and God’s throne itself to listen, and to echo his prayer ecstatically with cries of “amen, o Lord, amen!”15 See, he requests bliss and eternity from a Being, One so All-Hearing, Generous and Powerful, so All-Seeing, Merciful and Knowledgeable that He sees, hears, accepts and takes pity upon the most secret wish, the slightest desire of the most obscure of his creatures, this, in observable form. He answers all pleas even if they are silently proffered. He bestows all things and answers all pleas in so wise, percipient and merciful a fashion that no doubt remains that all that nurturing and regulating can derive only from One All-Hearing and All-Seeing, One Generous and Merciful. Let us listen to what the Pride of All Being is requesting, that source of honour for all of mankind, that one unique in all of creation, who bears on his back the burden of all men, who standing on this earth lifts up his hands towards God’s throne and offers up a prayer which in its reality contains the essence of the worship of all of mankind. See, he is asking for eternal bliss for himself and for his community. He is asking for eternity and Paradise. He is making his plea together with all the Divine Sacred Names that display their beauty in the mirrors of all created being. You can see, indeed, that he is seeking intercession from those Names. If there were not countless reasons and causes for the existence of the hereafter, a single prayer of that exalted being would be enough for the creation of Paradise, a task as easy for the power of the Merciful Creator as the creation of spring.16 Indeed, how could the creation of spring be difficult for the Possessor of Absolute Power Who each spring makes the face of the world into a plain of resurrection, and brings forth there a hundred thousand examples of resurrection? In just the same way that the messengerhood of the Prophet was the reason for the foundation of this realm of trial – the saying “were it not for thee, were it not for thee, I would not have created the spheres” being an indication of this – so too the worship he performed was the cause for the foundation of the abode of bliss. Is it at all possible that the flawless perfection of artistry, the peerless beauty of Dominicality expressed in the order of the world and the comprehensive mercy that reduce all to bewilderment, should not answer his prayer, and thus tolerate an extreme form of ugliness, cruelty and disorder? Is it possible that it would listen to the most petty and insignificant desires and grant them, but dismiss significant and important desires as worthless, and fail to fulfil them? No, a thousand times no! Such beauty can never accept such ugliness and itself become ugly.17 So just as the Prophet opened the gates of this world with his messengerhood, he opens the gates of the hereafter with his worship. May the blessings of the Compassionate One be upon him, to the extent of all that this world and paradise contain. O God, grant blessings and peace to Your servant and Messenger, that Beloved One who is the Master of both Realms, the Pride of all the Worlds, the source of life in both spheres, the means for the attainment of happiness here and in the hereafter, he who flies on two wings, who is the messenger to both men and jinn – to him, and to his Family, and all of his Companions, as well as his brethren from among the prophets and messengers. Amen. SIXTH TRUTH The Gate of Splendour and Eternity, the Manifestation of the Names of Glorious and Eternal Is it at all possible that the splendour of Dominicality that subdues and commands all beings, from suns and trees down to particles, just like obedient soldiers, should concentrate its entire attention on the wretched and transient beings that pass a temporary life in the hospice of this world, and not create an eternal and everlasting sphere of splendour, an unending manifestation of Dominicality? The display of Divine splendour in the changing of the seasons, the sublime motions of the planets in the heavens as if they were aeroplanes, the subjugation of all things and the creation of the earth as man’s cradle and the sun as his lamp, vast transformations such as the reviving and adornment of the dead and dry globe – all of this shows that behind the veil a sublime Dominicality exists, that a splendid monarchy is at work. Now such a Dominical kingdom requires subjects worthy of itself, as well as an appropriate mode of manifestation. But look at this hospice of the world, and you will see that the most significant class of its subjects, endowed with the most comprehensive of functions, are gathered together only temporarily and that, in the most wretched of states. The hospice fills and empties each day. All of the subjects stay only temporarily in this abode of trial for the sake of being tested in service. The abode itself changes each hour. Again, all of the monarch’s subjects stay only for a few brief minutes in order to behold the samples of the precious bounty of the Glorious Maker, to look on His miraculous works of art in the exhibition of the world with the eye of a buyer. Then they disappear. The exhibition itself changes every minute. Whoever leaves it, never returns, and whoever comes to it, will ultimately depart. Now this state and circumstance definitively shows that behind and beyond this hospice, this testing-ground, this exhibition, there are permanent palaces and eternal abodes that fully manifest and support God’s everlasting sovereignty; there are gardens and treasurehouses full of the pure and exalted originals of the forms and copies we see in this world. If we strive here in this world, it is for the sake of what awaits us there. We work here, and are rewarded there. Bliss awaits everyone there, in accordance with his capacity, as long as he does not squander his share. Yes, it is impossible that such eternal kingship should concentrate exclusively on these wretched transient beings. Consider this truth through the telescope of the following comparison. You are travelling along a road. You see a caravanserai ahead of you on the road, built by a great personage for people coming to visit him. Millions are spent on the decoration of the caravanserai so that guests should enjoy their one night’s stay there, and for their instruction. But the guests see very little of those decorations, look at them for a very short time; briefly tasting the joys of what is offered them, they go on their way without being satiated. But each guest takes a photograph of the objects in the caravanserai by means of his special camera. Also, the servants of that great personage record with great care the conduct of all the guests and preserve the record. You see, too, that he destroys every day most of the valuable decorations, and replaces them with fresh decorations for the newly arriving guests. After seeing all this, will any doubt remain that the personage who has constructed this caravanserai on the road has permanent and exa


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