Continues from Part 1
Sayyid Sahib has demanded from a rival of his the criteria for evaluating the standard of a commentary of the Holy Quran. Therefore, I, who consider it my foremost duty to show the way to one who has gone astray, deem it proper to serve him in this aspect as well. It, therefore, needs to be understood that:
The first and foremost criterion for an accurate commentary of the Holy Quran is the testimony of the Quran itself. One should bear well in mind that the Holy Quran is not like other books that are dependent upon extraneous sources for the proof or disclosure of their verities. The Holy Quran is like a perfectly balanced structure, the whole dynamics of which are disturbed by the displacement of a single block. The Holy Quran possesses no verity that is not supported by at least ten or twenty testimonies contained within itself. So, when we interpret a verse of the Holy Quran in a certain way, we should try to find out whether or not there are other testimonies present in the Holy Quran which support this interpretation. If there are no other testimonies, and the interpretation is found to be clearly opposed to some other verses, then we should conclude that this interpretation is false, for there is no possibility of contradiction in the Holy Quran. The touchstone of a true interpretation is that it should be supported by a host of clear and supporting testimonies of the Holy Quran itself.
The second criterion is the interpretation of the Holy Prophet(sa). There can be no doubt that our beloved and revered Prophet(sa) was the one who best understood the Holy Quran. Thus, if an interpretation made by the Holy Prophet(sa) is available, then a Muslim is duty-bound to accept it without any hesitation or reservation, otherwise he will appear to be feeble of faith and under the spell of philosophy.
The third criterion is the interpretation of the Companions of the Holy Prophet(sa). There is no doubt that the Companions(ra) were the first to inherit the light of the Holy Prophet(sa) and were the foremost inheritors of his knowledge. Allah blessed them abundantly and helped them in their understanding, for they practiced what they preached.
The fourth criterion is to meditate upon the meanings of the Holy Quran with the purity of one’s own self, because purity of the self has a certain affinity with the Holy Quran, as Allah says:
which means that the verities of the Holy Quran are disclosed only to a person of pure heart, for the two have an affinity with one another. Such a person recognizes these verities, and smells them, and his heart cries out that this indeed is the true way. The light of his heart is an excellent criterion for evaluating the truth. Unless a person is endowed with this quality and treads on the narrow path which the Prophets(as) have tread, it is only prudent that he should refrain from impertinently and arrogantly assuming the role of a commentator of the Holy Quran. Otherwise his commentary will be based upon his own inference, and this is something which the Holy Prophet(sa) has forbidden. He has said:
That is, he who interprets the Holy Quran based on his own inference, does an erroneous interpretation even though he thinks he has done well.
The fifth criterion is the Arabic lexicon. Since, the Holy Quran itself has provided sufficient means for its understanding, recourse to Arabic lexicon seems unnecessary. But there is no doubt that it helps in enhancing our understanding, and sometimes, when we consult the lexicon, our attention is drawn to some hidden subtleties of the Holy Quran and we discover some mystery.
The sixth criterion for understanding the spiritual order is the understanding of the physical order, for there is complete harmony between the two.
The Seventh Criterion is the revelation granted to saints and the visions of the Muhaddathin.13 This criterion comprehends all the other criteria because he who is granted the revelation of Muhaddathiyyat possesses all the qualities of the Prophet(as) he follows and is granted all that which was granted to him, with the exception of Prophethood and new commandments, and the true teaching is certainly made manifest to him. That is not all; as a bounty and reward he is given all that which was given to the Prophet whom he follows. Thus, his discourse is not mere conjecture, but he says what he has seen and speaks what he has heard. And this way is open for this umma, for it is not possible that there should be no true inheritor [of blessings of Prophethood], nor is it possible that one who is the creature of the world and is after worldly glory, honour and prestige, should inherit the Prophetic knowledge, because God Almighty has promised that it shall be given only to the pure. A person who claims to inherit the knowledge of a Prophet, in spite of his foul and corrupt condition, in fact makes mockery of the holy teaching. On the other hand, it is also gross ignorance to deny the existence of such inheritors and to contend that the profundities of Prophethood are mere tales of the past which do not and cannot exist today, and that we do not have any example of them before us.
This is not so, for in such a case Islam could not be called a living religion. It would be dead like other religions, and belief in Prophethood would only be a tale referable to times gone by. But this is not what God Almighty intended. He knew that in order to prove that Islam is an ever-living religion, and to establish forever the reality of Prophethood, which should silence the deniers of revelation for all times to come, it was necessary that revelation should continue forever through Muhaddathiyyat. This is what God has done. Muhaddathin are people who are honoured with Divine revelation and, in their inner power, bear a strong resemblance to inner power of Prophets. These special qualities serve as the lasting signs of Prophethood, so that the profound question of revelation should not at one time lose its credence and become a mere myth. It is wrong to believe that Prophets(as) passed away from the world leaving behind no one to inherit their blessings, and that to talk about them is no more than telling old tales.
On the contrary, their successors have appeared in every century, according to the need of the time. In this century God Almighty has sent this humble one for the reformation of this age, so that the errors which could not be removed except by special Divine help may be removed from the minds of the Muslims, and the proof of a True and Living God may be given to the disbelievers, and the superiority and truth of Islam may be proven with fresh signs. This is exactly what is happening. True knowledge of the Holy Quran is being revealed, and subtle and profound meanings of the Divine Word are being disclosed; heavenly signs and miracles are being shown, and God Almighty is manifesting afresh the beauty, the light and the blessings of Islam. One who has eyes should see and one who has true zeal should seek. One who has an iota of love for God and the Holy Prophet(sa) should rise up and test [my claim], and should join God’s chosen Jama‘at whose foundation God has laid with His own Holy Hand.
To say that the avenue of Wahi-e-Walayat14 has been blocked and signs cannot be shown and prayers cannot be accepted is the path of ruin and not the path of safety. Do not reject Divine bounty. Wake up and test it and scrutinize it! If you find that I am a person of ordinary understanding and intellect and what I say is of little consequence, then do not accept me. But if you witness the wonder of Divine power and see the shine of the same Hand, which manifested itself in those who had Divine support and received Divine revelation, then do accept me. Let it be understood that it is the great favour of God Almighty upon His servants that He does not wish Islam to be a dead faith but wants to keep open forever the ways of certainty, true knowledge and overcoming the adversary with superior arguments. Can there be better way to silencing a person who denies the existence of Prophetic revelation and considers it to be a mere conjecture, than to show him an example of it? Do tell me, is it a good news or evil tiding that Islam was the recipient of Divine blessings only for a few years and was then forsaken by God! Are these the signs of a true religion?
These, in short, are the criteria for the correct interpretation of the Holy Quran. There is no doubt that at most places Sayyid Sahib’s commentary falls quite short of these seven criteria. Right now it is not my aim to confront him on this point. Sayyid Sahib takes great pride in the law of nature but has completely disregarded it in his commentary. For instance, how opposed to the laws of nature is Sayyid Sahib’s belief that Prophetic revelation is no more than a special natural ability and that angels have no intermediary role to play between this ability and God Almighty. It is our everyday experience that we are dependent on heavenly means for the development of our physical faculties. God Almighty has made the Sun, the Moon, the Stars, and the elements subservient to us for the maintenance of our bodily functions and the achievement of our desired goals. Thus the beneficence of God, Who is the Cause of all causes, reaches us through many means and never ever without them. For instance, God Almighty alone sends light to our eyes for He is the Cause of all causes, but He does so by means of the Sun. In the observable order of the world, we do not find a single instance whereby God Almighty grants us something merely by stretching out His blessed Hand, rather everything is given to us through the means. Again, we observe that our physical faculties have not been created in a perfect condition, which means that the eyes, for instance, do not by themselves possess any light, and do not posses the ability — like the ability to receive revelation that you have proposed — which should make them independent of the intermediary of the Sun. How, then, can your vague concepts, which are against this natural order, stand up to the truth? Moreover, the testimony of personal experiences, which is the most outstanding testimony of all, strongly rejects this concept of yours. I have continued to be honoured with Divine revelation for the last eleven years, and I know full well that revelation does indeed descend from heaven. Revelation, if one could compare it to anything in the world, might perhaps be compared to the telegraph which automatically transmits every variation.
My own experience at the time of the descent of revelation — which comes to me in the form of Wahi-e-Walayat — is that I become aware of an external and very powerful hold over myself. At times this influence is so strong and its light so takes hold of me, and so forcefully do I find myself drawn towards it, that I am powerless to resist. Under this influence, I hear clear and manifest revelation. Sometimes I even see the angels15 and perceive the power and awe of the truth. Very often the revelation comprehends matters of the unseen. The external hold is so powerful that it gives evidence of the existence of God. To deny this would be the carnage of a self-evident truth.
It would be better for Sayyid Sahib to accept this truth prior to his death, and to abstain from blaspheming heavenly revelation. It is odd that he looks into the physical order but does not correlate it to the spiritual one. He does not understand that when God has fashioned our physical order in such a way that physical light comes down to us from heaven, and the True Benefactor sends down His bounties upon our physical faculties through heavenly means, and it is never His way to grant any beneficence without the intermediary of the means, why then would He cut us off from the channel of intermediaries when it comes to the spiritual order?
Have we been cut off from this chain in our physical order, or are we in fact bound in the chain of cause and effect which originates with the Cause of all causes and reaches down to us. To deliberate further upon this subject, one should read my books Taudih-e-Maram and A’ina-e-Kamalat-e-Islam. The latter, in particular, contains such a comprehensive discourse about the need for angels, that you will not find anything like it in any other book. As to how much knowledge Sayyid Sahib truly possesses about Divine matters, it is enough to know that he has declared the whole creation to be free from the control of the True Lord of Destiny. He does not even seem to realize that the Divinity of God Almighty demands that He should have all power and authority. It is God’s unlimited and unrestricted exercise of authority over His creation at all times that constitutes Divine omnipotence. If He is indeed the Creator, then, as He is unlimited in Himself, He must also have left enough room in His creation for the unlimited exercise of His control, so that at no point should His powers become dormant.16
If, God forbid, the assertion of Arya Hindus that Parmeshwar [God] is neither the creator of the particles of the universe nor of the souls, was correct, then such a weak Parmeshwar would govern poorly for a while and then cease to function, and He would be disgracefully exposed. But our All-Powerful and Omnipotent God is not such. He is the Creator of all the particles of the universe, the souls and all the creations. If one would enquire about His powers, then let him know that He has the power to do everything with the exception of that which is contrary to His perfect attributes and His true promises. To contend that though He may be All-Powerful He may not wish to exercise His power is completely absurd, for 17 is also one of His attributes.
Now, whereas it is not against His perfect attributes nor against His true promises to take away the cooling property of water or to strip the fire of its burning property, why then should someone unreasonably assert that He has forever been barred from exercising His control over the properties of these elements? Is there anything to prove this? And where is the need for this uncalled for compulsion which tarnishes the very image of Godhood?
It would seem that in this booklet Sayyid Sahib has realized the feebleness of his hypothesis. That is why, in order to defend his unsubstantiated assertion, he has taken recourse to yet another feeble argument. He says that God Almighty has hinted in the Holy Quran at the heat of fire, and the cooling effect of water, and the fact that the Sun moves from East to West — all which are meant to express the present state of these things — but Sayyid Sahib sees them as promises which admit of no change. If this indeed is the way to deduce arguments, then Sayyid Sahib is going to find himself in great deal of trouble, for he will have to declare that all the statements of the Holy Quran constitute promises. For example, God Almighty gave the following glad tidings to Hazrat Zachariah(as):
In accordance with Sayyid Sahib’s principle, Hazrat Yahya should always have remained a boy, because God Almighty has called him a boy and this [according to Sayyid Sahib] constitutes a promise. There can be countless other examples, but it will only be a waste of time to indulge in them. If, according to Sayyid Sahib, the mention of the current state of affairs becomes a mandatory promise for all times to come, then people should beware of him, for he might any time start accusing people on the same basis — taking every statement as an eternal promise. I believe it would be better if Sayyid Sahib would think of his last days and stay in my company for a few months. Having been appointed by God and being the bearer of glad tidings, I promise that I will concentrate [in supplication] so that Sayyid Sahib may be satisfied. I do hope that God Almighty will manifest such a sign that Sayyid Sahib’s proposed law of nature will be brought to naught in no time. Many such things have already happened which Sayyid Sahib considers to be against the law of nature. But it would be futile to mention them now since Sayyid Sahib will regard them as mere tales. Nor does Sayyid Sahib believe in such prophecies as are granted to men of God. In his view these prophecies are as much against the laws of nature as it is for the fire to forsake its property of burning. Sayyid Sahib likewise believes that the innate efficacy of prayer — by means of which the objective prayed for is attained — is also opposed to the law of nature.
If Sayyid Sahib is unable to come and stay with me, then he should — by undertaking to accept the truth in respect of these two matters — permit me to publish whatever is revealed to me by God Almighty in answer to my supplications regarding him. This will be a great service to the public at large. If Sayyid Sahib’s assertions are true, I will never achieve my objective, otherwise people of understanding will rid themselves of the evil beliefs of Sayyid Sahib and will recognize their Glorious God and turn to Him with love. They will not despair of His mercy when praying to Him, and will derive comfort when raising their hands for prayer. This, after all, is the very blessing of the presence of God, that He should hear our prayers and should Himself inform us of His existence; not that we should contrive in a thousand ways to establish in our hearts an imaginary god, like an idol, whose voice we cannot hear, and the manifestation of whose supreme power we cannot see. You should know for a certainty that the Omnipotent God, Who has power over everything, does exist.
(See above section)
Translation of Persian verses:
The face of the Beloved
Is not hidden from the seekers;
For it shines in the sun
And is reflected in the moon.
But that lovely Countenance is indeed hidden
From the eyes of the unaware;
It is only for a sincere lover
That the veil is lifted.
Arrogance can lead no one To His threshold;
There is no way to reach Him
But through the door of humility, pain and anguish.
Dangerous is the path
That leads to the Eternal Beloved;
Give up your ego
If you value your life.
The understanding and wisdom of the unworthy
Cannot fathom His words;
Only he finds the right path
Who loses his self to find it.
The secrets of the Holy Quran
Cannot be understood by the sons of the world;
Only he can appreciate the true taste of a wine
Who partakes of it.
O ye who have not been granted enlightenment,
I do not mind what you say about me;
I only say all this out of sympathy and as honest advice,
So that this ointment may heal the deep wounds.
Try to remedy with prayer
The loss you have incurred by rejecting prayer;
If you can’t get intoxicated,
Still more wine is the remedy.
You who say: Show me
If there is any power in prayer;
Run towards me, I will show you its power
As clear as the shining sun.
Beware! do not deny the wonders of Divine omnipotence;
Come now, let me show you how prayers are accepted!
11 Al-Waqi‘ah, 56:80 [Publishers]
12 Tirmidhi, Abwabu Tafsiril-Quran, Babu ma ja’a filladhi Yufassirul Qur’ana bi-Ra’yihi. [Publishers]
13 In his book, Sayyid Sahib does not consider revelation to be a criterion for recognizing the truth, and he has no intention of doing so. The apparent reason for this is that he does not view revelation with due reverence, regardless of whether the revelation has been granted to a Prophet(as) or a saint. Instead, he considers revelation to be merely an innate quality. Therefore I find it appropriate at this point to comment on his beliefs.
Let it be clear that it is gravely erroneous, mischievous and misleading of Sayyid Sahib to contend that Divine revelation is no more than a natural ability. Human nature is obviously endowed with different abilities and the nature and essence of one ability testifies to the nature and essence of other abilities. Some people, for instance, have a natural ability for arithmetic, while others are more suited to medicine, or logic or philosophy. But these innate abilities cannot by themselves make someone an accountant or an engineer or a physician or a logician. Rather he stands in need of a teacher. And when the wise teacher observes in him the aptitude for a certain branch of knowledge, he encourages him to study it. The following couplet is relevant to this point:
Every man is made for a special purpose; To which his nature is strongly inclined. [Publishers]
After having been educated in this way, the talent latent in him like a seed bursts forth and he begins to understand the subtleties of that particular branch of knowledge. And it will not be wrong to give the name of ‘revelation’ or ‘inspiration’ to all the novel and original ideas that God inspires in his heart. All useful knowledge which benefits mankind is disclosed to man by God Himself. This is exactly what God Almighty points out in the verse:
Al-Shams, 91:9 [Publishers]
This means that all the good and evil that inspires the human heart is revealed by God. A good person, because of his natural goodness, is qualified to receive good and pure inspirations; whereas an evil one, because of his evil nature, deserves that only evil thoughts and suggestions should cross his mind. It is in keeping with these natural abilities that many people have left behind good or evil writings, and holy or unholy sayings. But the question is: Is this also the nature of the revelation received by Prophets? Do they also continue to benefit from such inspirations merely on the basis of a natural ability? If so, then there is no more to say, for if we were to regard the revelation of Prophets merely as a natural ability, it would be impossible to distinguish between Prophets and other people.
Perhaps, at this point, Sayyid Sahib may assert that he does believe in verbal revelation, i.e., he believes the Holy Quran to have been revealed in the form of words. But I am only too aware of Sayyid Sahib’s tactics. The fact is that he does not believe in verbal revelation the way we understand it. It is obvious that there can be no inspiration without words, and the mind cannot conceive of an idea without the association of words. Here we also need to understand the distinction between the Holy Quran and Hadith. The words of Hadith cannot be considered as having originated from the same fountain as the Holy Quran, though they too originate from God in keeping with the general concept of inspiration and revelation. This is testified by the verse:
Nor does He speak out of his own desire. It is nothing but pure revelation that has been revealed by God. — Al-Najm, 53:4-5 [Publishers]
Let me stress that inspiration, of whatever kind, is always accompanied by words. For example, when a poet who is in need of a line to complete his verse receives some inspiration from God, it will always be in the form of words. It is therefore settled that all philosophers, mystics and poets receive inspiration from God Almighty, and that this inspiration is always accompanied by words, and that good and evil people are granted good and evil qualities respectively, in consonance with which they now and again receive some inspiration. For instance, the same sort of revelation was received by the person who invented the railway; and the person who invented the telegraph was also the recipient of revelation in the same sense. Having ascertained all this, Sayyid Sahib will now be confronted with the above mentioned objection. If he says that, in the matter of inspiration, Prophets, philosophers and even believers and non-believers are all equal, but the distinction of a Prophet’s revelation is that it is always true, then Sayyid Sahib will have to profess that there is no intrinsic difference between the revelation of Prophethood and the inspiration of the disbelievers, apart from the fact that the revelation of Prophets is ever flawless, while the inspiration of philosophers, such as Aristotle, Plato, etc., was not so. This would, however, be a baseless claim and would, in fact, amount to sheer audacity; for we would have to believe that a good many portions of the exhortations and moral teachings of the philosophers — which happen to be free from error and are in consonance with the Holy Quran — are also the word of God, equal in status to the Holy Quran, and have been revealed in the form of words. The rest which contain errors should be entered into the category of ‘error of interpretation’, just as the Prophets also, at times, commit errors of interpretation. According to this principle, therefore, such philosophers and even disbelievers should be regarded as Prophets. This concept is such that it might well end up destroying Sayyid Sahib’s faith and he might even at one time declare the inspiration of geniuses, such as Newton, to be superior to the revelation of the Holy Quran. Alas! had Sayyid Sahib adopted the Holy Quran itself as the criterion for understanding its verities, he would not have fallen in this pit of ruin. Nowhere does the Holy Quran liken its revelation to a fountain that gushes forth from the earth, rather it always likens it to the rain that falls from heaven. Sayyid Sahib would surely have saved himself from stumbling if, before writing his book, he had enquired from a person with first-hand experience of revelation about its nature and mode of descent. Because of this error, Sayyid Sahib has led astray a large number of Muslims and has brought them to the brink of heresy and atheism by undermining the sanctity of the revelation of Prophethood, and by confining it to a natural ability which is also shared by the faithless and the infidels.
I will now, merely for the sake of God, present my own testimony before Sayyid Sahib, hoping that God Almighty will have mercy on him.
My dear Sayyid Sahib! I swear in the name of God that revelation from heaven falls upon the heart just as the rays of the sun fall upon a wall. It is my daily experience that whenever the time comes for me to receive Divine converse, I all at once experience a trance-like state and become a wholly different entity. Although, at this stage, I remain in full possession of my senses and am fully conscious, yet I feel as if a most Powerful Being has taken my whole being in His grip and all the veins of my existence are in His hand, and whatever is mine is no longer mine but belongs to Him. At this point God Almighty brings before my mind those of my thoughts upon which He intends to focus the rays of His words. These thoughts then appear before my mind, one after the other, in a wonderful way; and it so happens that when a thought passes through my mind — for instance, whether a certain person will recover from his illness or not — a piece of Divine revelation at once falls upon it like a ray, and this often shakes up my whole body. Once this matter has been settled, another thought suddenly presents itself before me. No sooner does this happen, than another piece of Divine revelation falls upon my mind. It is much like an archer shooting whenever a quarry shows itself. At that moment I realize that while the chain of thoughts is generated by my own natural ability, the words that fall upon it descend from heaven.
Although it is true that poets and other such people also receive inspiration after thought and reflection, it is a gross insolence to relate it to Divine revelation, because inspiration is a result of one’s own deep reflection and is experienced while one is fully conscious and is in full control of his faculties; while Divine revelation is received only when the whole being of the recipient is under the control of God Almighty, and his own senses or reflections have no part to play in the revelation. At that instant one feels that his tongue is not his own and some Mighty Power is controlling it. From what I have stated, one can understand clearly the difference between the natural phenomena and what descends from heaven. Finally, I pray that God Almighty may wash away this cursed naturalism from the hearts of Muslims, so that no stain of it may be left. The eye which can see the blessings of Islam will not open unless this dark smoke has been cleared.
Translation of Persian verses:
O ye, mischievous nature worshiper! look what turmoil you have created;
Your hands have brought disorder all around.
No one who ever fancied your twisted way,
Ever returned to the right path.
But when I reflect deeply, I realize:
The turmoil is of our own making;
It is from the day we abandoned the Holy Quran,
That all these adversities have overwhelmed us.
The study of nature was not an evil itself,
It was the loss of faith that took away the light of wisdom.
All at once people fell for the drop,
And turned their backs to the flowing river.
They ridicule [the concept] of paradise and resurrection,
Calling it an absurd and illogical myth;
Upon the mention of angels,
They deem it contrary to intellect of the wise.
O Sayyid! the leader of such people!
Be warned, for you are off the right path.
Whatever has gone into your mind in your old age!
Do repent; the path you tread is not the right path.
I fear lest due to such thoughts,
You might one day reject the existence of God Himself!
Desist sire! for to delve in matters Divine
Is sheer madness.
Nothing comes of conjecture,
Do back away, for these are not matters to trifle with.
O dear sir, beseech Allah the Almighty to grant you spiritual sight!
Secrets of the Divine realm are not a bounty that can be acquired by force.
14 The revelation granted to saints. [Publishers]
15 I do not only see the angels, but at times even their intermediary role in the revelation is revealed to me. [Author]
16 An objection might be raised that belief in the limitless wisdom of God Almighty which has the power to bring about unlimited change would result in loss of faith in the properties of things. For example, if we believe that God Almighty possesses the power to change the physical form of water into that of air, or to convert the physical form of air into that of fire, or to change the tangible appearance of fire — by means known only to Him — into the apparent form of water, or to change clay into gold or gold into clay in some stratum of the earth by exercising His subtle control over things, all this would result in chaos and all skill and knowledge would become useless. The answer to this objection is that such an idea is totally misconceived, for we see that God Almighty keeps subjecting the elements to innumerable changes through the exercise of His hidden wisdom. Just look how the earth goes through all sorts of changes and turns into countless forms. It is the earth that brings forth arsenic and its antidotes as well, and it is the same earth that brings forth gold, silver and all kinds of jewels. Similarly, the vapour that rises from earth creates all kinds of things in the sky. The same vapour that causes snowfall and hailstorm also causes lightening and thunderbolts; even ash has at times been known to fall from the sky. Do these phenomena render knowledge useless, or do they cause chaos and disorder? If you say that God Almighty has already endowed the elements with the inherent property to undergo such changes, our reply will be that we never said that the elements under question have not been invested with this inherent property. In fact, the true faith is that God Almighty, Who is One in His being, has created all things as though they are one, so that they may serve as evidence of the Oneness of the True Creator. Thus, God Almighty, in view of His Oneness and the demand of His unlimited authority, has endowed the elements with the ability to undergo transformations. With the exception of the souls — which, because of their fortune or misfortune, are destined to abide in heaven or hell according to the following verse:
Wherein they will abide for a long, long period. — Al-Jinn, 72:24 [Publishers]
and for whom the Divine design has forever determined an unchangeable nature — nothing else from among the creations is free from change. If you observe carefully, each and every object is undergoing change all the time, so much so that scientific research has shown the human body to undergo complete change in three years and the previous body to dissipate through decay. Neither water nor fire is free from two kinds of transformation: The first results from the removal or addition of some particles, and the second is whereby the removed particles take on a new existence in consonance with their potential.
In short, to keep this mortal world riding the wheel of change is the way of God Almighty. Close observation reveals that all these things are like one in their original nature, because of having originated from the same One Originator. It is true that man cannot become the perfect alchemist, and how could it be when the Supreme Sage has not empowered anyone to comprehend the unlimited secrets of His wisdom. If you ask, where are the changes in heavenly bodies, then let me say that the heavenly bodies too possess the element of transformation and assimilation, though we may be unaware of it; and it is because of this inherent element of change that they are destined to suffer decline one day. Moreover, when we observe the process of transformation in thousands of things, it becomes obvious that nothing is free from change. You will have to deny the existence of change on earth before you talk of the heavens.
Have you set everything right upon the earth, That you now wish to interfere with the heavens? [Publishers]
Thus, the objection that all knowledge will become useless and chaos will result if we believe in the possibility of change, is extremely erroneous because we experience all sorts of changes and transformations everyday, and the Oneness of God demands that He should be the source of all these changes, and the Godhood of the Almighty cannot remain functional unless He has control over each and every particle. When we say that the Glorious God has the power to make water work like fire or make fire work like water, we do not mean that He acts arbitrarily without the use of His infinite wisdom, because no Divine act is, or should be, without some underlying wisdom. What we do mean is that when He wishes to make water work like fire or vice versa, He brings His eternal wisdom into service, which controls each and every particle of the universe, though we may or may not be aware of it. And there can be no doubt that any action based upon wisdom does not render knowledge useless, rather it becomes the means of the advancement of knowledge. Just see how water is artificially turned into ice and is used to produce electricity; but does this ever lead to chaos, or does it render knowledge to be useless?
Another subtle point that needs to born in mind is that, at times, when men of God show miracles, for instance, water is not able to drown them and fire is not able to harm them, the secret behind such manifestations is that at times when the friends of God focus their attention towards a particular thing, the All-Wise God — Whose infinite secrets man can never comprehend — shows a sign of His power, and their attention begins to exercise control in the universe. The convergence of the means which, for instance, cause the heat of the fire to cease casting its effect — whether these means are related to heavenly bodies, to some hidden properties of the fire itself, or to some subtle property of the body that is put in the fire, or whether it is a combination of all these — all such means come into operation through such attention and such prayer. It is thus that an extraordinary miracle is shown. But this does not cause us to lose faith in the reality of things, nor does it render knowledge useless, for it is itself a branch among the branches of Divine knowledge. It has its own dimension, just as, for instance, the burning quality of fire has its own. Let us understand it this way: these are spiritual elements that manifest themselves by subjugating the fire, and they are peculiar to their own time and place. Human intellect falls short of understanding the secret that the perfect man is the locus for the manifestation of the spirit of God Almighty. And when the time comes for the perfect man to display this manifestation, everything begins to fear him as it fears God. You may now throw him before a beast or into a fire, he will suffer no harm; for at such moments the spirit of God Almighty is upon him and everything is under obligation to fear Him. This is the ultimate secret of Divine knowledge, which cannot be understood without keeping company with the perfect ones. Being a very profound and rare phenomenon, every intellect is not aware of this philosophy. But, remember, everything listens to the voice of God Almighty. He has control over everything and He holds all the strings in His Hand. His wisdom knows no limit and it penetrates to the root of every particle. Nothing possesses properties that are in excess of His powers. All the qualities that things may possess are within the scope of His power. He who does not believe in this is among those about whom it has been said:
And they failed to respect Allah as He should be respected. — Al-An‘am, 6:92 [Publishers]
Since the perfect man is a perfect manifestation of the whole world, it is therefore drawn towards him from time to time. He is like a spider of the spiritual world and the whole world is his web. This is the secret behind miracles.
Those who possess true knowledge, influence the scheme of things; What has he seen of the world who has no experience of their world! [Publishers]
17 Every day He reveals Himself in a different state. — Al-Rahman, 55:30 [Publishers]
18 We give thee glad tidings of a son. — Maryam, 19:8 [Publishers]
19 And Allah’s hands are not tied by anything. On the contrary His hands are absolutely free. He spends as He pleases, and acts as He deems fit; And He has the power to do all that He wills. And in conclusion our call is: All praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of all the world. [Publishers]