Allah s Designation of a Specific Perfection to each existing thing
Source: Inner Secrets of the Path by Sayyid Haydar Amuli
The Second Principle: Allah's designation of a specific perfection to each existing thing whether spiritual or corporeal ‑ in both the phenomenal realm and the realm of inner meaning.
Know that the search after perfection is not a feature particular to man alone, but rather of all existent and created beings, be they of a sublime or base nature: they are all making for the object of their `search'; both the Qur'an, the traditions and the conclusions of the intellect bear witness to this fact. We may cite the words of Allah: `And there is no animal that walks upon the earth nor bird that flies with two wings but (they are) general like yourselves; We have not neglected anything in the Book, then to their Lord shall they be gathered' and His words: `Do you not see that Allah is He Whom obeys whoever is in the heavens and the earth, and the sun the moon and the stars, and the mountains and the trees, and the animals and many of the people...' and His words: `He knows the prayer of each one and its glorification, and Allah is Cognizant of what they do' and His words: `And there is not a single thing but glorifies Him with His praise, but you do not understand their glorification.'
These four ayat are conclusive proof that all beings have had duties entrusted to them by the Creator: they have all been commanded to worship in accordance with their receptivity and capability. The first ayah refers to the earth and its inhabitants, the second to the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, the third refers to all specific beings, and the fourth refers to all beings in an absolute way. Thus all are facing and moving towards Allah, engaged in a search for gnosis of Him.
The obeisance and prayer referred to in these ayat carry the meaning of worship and gnosis ‑ and not the prayer which is familiar to us in the code of the shari`ah. Likewise, their prayer and glorification are not like the praise and glorification of man; if they were, then we would understand them. That we do not understand their particular form of prayer or praise is shown in the words of Allah: `But you do not understand their glorification.' Thus the prayer, obeisance and praise of each being is in accord with its state.
When we examine the beings other than men, we realize that their ways of glorification are in fact the natural behaviour patterns of each. This is affirmed by Allah's words: `Every one acts according to his manner.' What is desired and sought by all is the same thing, namely gnosis of Him and worship of Him. As to gnosis it is referred to by Allah in the sacred hadith: `I was a hidden treasure and I desired to be known so I created the world.'
As for the aspect of worship, it is referred to when He says: `And I have not created the jinn and the men except that they should serve Me.' Consider how the soul of man, his body, limbs and physical strength are in prostration to Him, obeying His command and submitting to His laws. This is the prostration and prayer of inner meaning. The relationship of the whole world with regard to the soul of man is the same as we have just described for the world in its totality is the body of cosmic man or macrocosm: all its components are analogous to the members of the body; all man's praise, prayer and prostration are acts of obeisance in relation to Cosmic Man in accordance with that He prohibits or commands. The prostration and glorification of both man and the cosmic man are in truth a glorification of the Real and obeisance to Him, since the individual soul of man is the caliph (or deputy) of Allah in the body and the absolute soul of man is the caliph of Allah in the world. As Allah Himself says, `Whoever obeys the Apostle, he indeed obeys Allah' and `And as for these examples, We set them forth for men, and none understands them but the learned!'
In connection with the above, we should mention what has been related by one of the Imams, namely that true gratitude is the employment of each limb of the body for that for which it has been created. It has also been said, `Every existent being, be it of a sublime or base nature, stands in relation to the greater man and acts in accordance with that for which it has been created ‑ except man.' What we mean by this is that there is no being which contradicts His command or prohibition, no being which refuses to obey and worship but man. Indeed, he is in a state of opposition to Allah; he is not in a state of complete obedience to His command ‑ in the same way as we are not in complete obedience to our soul and intellect.
This opposition, however, is in fact in compliance with the decree of Allah for it is in accordance with Allah's knowledge of it from before eternity to eternity. Thus one of the gnostics has commented on this matter saying: `Whoever opposes the decree of Allah is not in fact opposing Him, and whoever opposes Him in that purpose for which he has designated is in fact in compliance with the general form in which Allah created him.'
The Commander of the Faithful has also indicated this in one of his sermons concerning Adam and his progeny: `And Allah brought him to reside in His garden and made his food plentiful for him therein. He then warned him concerning that which He had prohibited: He taught him that if he were to approach (that which He had prohibited), he would be exposing himself to an act of disobedience and would consequently place his position in the garden in jeopardy. Adam did, however, approach what had been forbidden him ‑ in accordance with Allah's foreknowledge ‑ and, after Adam had turned to Him in forgiveness, Allah caused him to descend from the Garden in order that he might fill the earth with his progeny.'
The Commander of the Faithful said on another occasion: `Know with certainty that Allah does not bestow on a slave more than what is intended for him in the foreknowledge of the Wise. Anyone who realizes this and acts accordingly is one of those who attain to the greatest ease and benefit; whoever ignores this or doubts its validity is of those who work hardest towards their own harm. Thus many a time it happens that blessings are given to him, and great ease and affluence is accorded to him (despite the obstinacy of the person), and many a time he is tried and afflicted by care.
Thus, O you who enjoy your benefits, increase your thanks, restrain your haste and be content when your provision comes to an end.' The Prophet is reported to have said, in a similar vein; `The pen has dried and with it (has been written) whatever exists in the cosmos' and `The growth and development of all creation is towards that for which is has been created.' Similarly, Allah says, `And everything they have done is in the writings.' We are not, however, attempting to affirm the doctrine of predestination, nor are we trying to assert as true the saying of the one who said, `Everything which is to occur and which Allah knows will occur must occur, and everything which is not to occur and which Allah knows will not occur cannot occur.' Rather what we mean is that nothing happens in existence which is in opposition to the knowledge of Allah ‑ whether it be in accordance (with the divine command) or in opposition to it.
This then is just a tiny drop from the ocean of the secrets of the Divine Decree; it is forbidden to divulge this Divine Decree as we have already seen from one of the most excellent and pertinent of traditions on the subject, namely that of the Commander of the Faithful mentioned above. It is incumbent upon the reader to reflect upon its meanings and take note of the secrets hidden therein.
Know that just as it may be ascertained that every existent being has its own form of prayer, praise and prostration, so it may also be ascertained that every existent being has life, speech and knowledge ‑ which in fact are expressions of the different degrees of perfection sought after by all. As for life, there is true life and superficial life. True life, as has been established is knowledge and gnosis of Allah and this, as we see from the following words of Allah, is possessed by all existent beings, `And if you asked them who created the heavens and the earth, they will certainly say: Allah.' This ayah affirms the divinity and Oneness of Allah ‑ and these words alone suffice to demonstrate how man is endowed with inherent gnosis (of his Lord). The following ayah also affirms this: `And there is not a single thing but glorifies Him with His praise.' Glorification of something is naturally preceded by knowledge of that thing: glorification without knowledge of what one is glorifying is impossible ‑ whether this knowledge be inherent in man's faculty or whether it be acquired.
As for the superficial life: it has been established that each existent being possesses life of itself and the following words of Allah testify to this: `And We have made from water every living thing.' Moreover, it is one of the elements of the phenomenal world, for the elements and form of every compound contain water and water itself is contained in and makes up the human body. Allah Himself says, `And He it is Who created man from the water, then He has made for him blood relationship and marriage relationship.' If we assert that it is of the simple elements, then this refers to the universal matter upon which the Throne stood before the bringing into being of the cosmos and all it contained. Allah speaks of this when He says, `And He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six periods ‑ and His dominion (Throne) extend over the water ‑ that He might manifest to you which of you it best in action.' In short, everything possesses life in accordance with its state. One may, if one wishes, call this (condition of life) knowledge of gnosis, or, if one wishes, elemental water or, if one wishes, universal matter: there is no dispute as to the general applicability of these terms.
As for speech, there is superficial or apparent speech, and true speech. Apparent speech is referred to by Allah when He says, `Allah, Who makes everything speak, has made us speak' and by the Prophet when he says, `Everything on earth, both green and dry, bears witness to the caller of the call to prayer (adhan) and all things, including even the fishes of the sea and the birds of the sky, asked forgiveness of Allah for the seeker of knowledge.' Thus these two statements are both evidence that everything possesses speech: indeed, an even clearer example of this is the occasion when the small stones in the hands of the Prophet praised Allah. These pebbles may be said to represent the mineral kingdom.
As for the plant kingdom, there is the example of the sighing of the tree and the occasion when the burnt arm spoke: all existent beings are therefore contained in these three kingdoms. As for the real or true speech, it is the understanding of the intellect as an absolute or pure process. Moreover, this process of understanding on the part of the essence of anything and of the Essence of the Creator of that thing is true speech. Besides, the proof that they know and glorify Him is that if they did not know Him, they would not be able to glorify Him ‑ something about which one is ignorant can never the praised or glorified by anyone.
As for gnosis, there is likewise real gnosis and apparent gnosis; I mean by this an inherent or naturally created gnosis, on the one hand, and an acquired or sought‑after gnosis, on the other. Inherent or real gnosis is referred to in the following ayah: `And should you ask them who created the heavens and the earth they would most certainly say: "Allah" ' and also His words: `Am I not Your Lord? They said: Yes!' If the reader were to object that it is the progeny of Adam who are being referred to here and not to all existent beings then we would reply that this is correct; however, Adam himself encompasses the greater and lesser man and, in this ayah, what is being referred to is the greater/cosmic man or Macrocosm, that is, the cosmos and all the existent beings contained therein. That all is descended from this cosmic man is shown by the following ayah: `O people, be careful of your duty to your Lord, Who created you from a single being and created its mate of the same (kind) and spread from these two many men and many women.' What is meant here by men and women is the male and the female which exist in all created beings both of the highest and lowest orders. This is also indicated in another ayah: `He has made it in two kinds', the two kinds referring to the male and the female. As for the statement of the one who said: `In everything there is an ayah ‑ or a sign ‑ of Him which demonstrates His Oneness', it also demonstrates the validity of this explanation of inherent or created gnosis.
Acquired or manifest gnosis is something which is particular to men, angels and jinn ‑ notwithstanding their inherent gnosis which precedes it. It has been established by the people of Allah, and supported by a consensus of opinion from amongst most of the men of intellect, that existence is one and that it is a cycle which turns about the lover and the loved one, the knower and the known, the seeker and the sought. This is affirmed by Allah's words: `Then Allah will bring a people, He shall love them and they shall love Him' and also His words: `Thus I desired to be known.' We realize, on investigation, that the true Loved One is only Allah and those who love Him are all things other than Him ‑ including thus the mineral, vegetable and animal realms and men, jinn and angels. This is expressed in the following verse: The goodness of each elegant thing is derived from His beauty, A beauty which is loaned to it and to all charming things
and also in the following: Allow your heart to pursue its desire as it wishes, for love is nothing but for the First Lover.
Thus it is true to say that all things feel love for Him and are facing and moving towards His Presence.
On examination, we realize that the one loved and those who love, the seeker and the sought, the knower and the known are one. Merely expressing this principle presupposes otherness, multiplicity and the witnessing of something which is not Him and is thus in opposition to true divine unity. As our aim is nothing but realization of this unity, it is incumbent upon us to perceive one existence, albeit expressed in two different ways. Firstly, it may be considered absolutely inconceivable to admit of another together with Him ‑ given the Presence of His Oneness, His station of Absoluteness and Unity ‑ and secondly, that He exists together with His Names, Attributes and Actions and the corresponding manifestations of these, expressed as the worlds of the phenomenal.
With respect to the first it has been said: I was Time itself before the veil was raised.
I was a brother to you ‑ indeed a rememberer of you and grateful.
So when the night lit up, I realized That You are the remembered, the remembrance and the one who remembers.
It has also been said that `No one loves Allah but Allah and no one knows Allah but Allah and no One remembers Allah but Allah.'
With respect to the second, it has been said, `There is nothing in existence except Allah, His Name, Attributes and Actions: thus all is Him, by Him, from Him and to Him.' He Himself has said, `He is the First, the Last, the Outward and the Inward, and He is cognizant of all things.' He has also said, `Is it not sufficient as regards your Lord that He is a witness over all things? Now surely they are in doubt as to the meetings of their Lord; now surely he encompasses all things.' The following verse refers to this matter: Your beauty pervades all realities; Indeed it only veils Your majesty. It radiates to the universe from behind its veil. And by being covered is revealed.
It has also been said: My Beloved appeared radiant to me from every aspect And so I witnessed Him in every meaning and form.
The import of all these words is one and the same, namely the affirmation that all things contain inherent paths of development and specific modes of conduct. We have thus drawn the general outlines of this subject and we shall now begin to describe these in a more detailed manner.
Know that for every existing thing there are two courses of development: that of form and that of inner meaning. As for the progress and development of form with regard to matter, it extends up to the level of the plant world in the form of coral ‑ in the latter we see that matter possesses branches and leaves like plants and trees. As for its progression in the realm ‑of inner meaning, it becomes, in one way or another, part of the human body ‑ I mean, for example, in the form of food, drink or potions.
Progression in the realm of form in regard to plants extends to the level of animals as, for example, in the case of the date‑palm which possesses ‑ like animals ‑ a tendency and inclination for reproduction with another date palm by the force of the affinity which exists between the two. There are other aspects of the date palm which affirm this relationship to the animal world, namely the fact that it the head of the palm is cut, then the tree dies and if it is submerged in water, then it also dies, as would animals under similar conditions. As for its progression in the realm of inner meaning, it is that it becomes part of the human body ‑ by becoming food for ictan, for example.
Progression in the world of form in regard to animals extends to the level of man and acquires the faculty of speech as, for example, in the case of the monkey or the parrot. As for the progression in the realm of inner meaning, it is that it becomes part of the body of man by one means or another. Indeed the whole secret is contained herein: the perfection of all existing things below man is in their arrival at man and the perfection of man is in his arrival at the Real; thus the totality of the different worlds are directed towards man both in the realm of form and inner meaning ‑ both with regard to the greater and lesser man ‑ so that they may attain to their specific perfection prescribed from before eternity. Man himself is constantly aiming for the Real in order to attain to his specific perfection. The following ayah indicates this: `And he has made what is in the heavens and what is in the earth subservient to you.' Yet a clearer indication of this meaning is expressed in the words addressed by Allah to the Prophet: `If it were not for you, I would not have created the planets' and here what is being referred to, is the whole cosmic system and all contained therein.
As for the progression of man in the realm of form, it is that he becomes angelic, thereby acquiring purification and elevation above the outer form which clothes him and above the baser aspects of his sensory natural attributes. As for his progression with respect to the inner meaning, it is that he attains to the rank of prophethood, messengership and sainthood, arriving thereby to the station of Pure Oneness, which is the elimination of duality and multiplicity leading to the all‑embracing unity referred to by Allah when He says, `Then he drew near, then he bowed, so he was the measure of two bows or closer still.'
As for the progression in the realm of form with respect to the jinn, it is that they attain to an angelic rank by rising above the earthly and by their glorification of Him. Most people believe that the jinn are earthly angels and that they are called jinn because they are hidden from people's sight. Allah Himself says when referring to Iblis (Satan): `He was of the jinn, so he transgressed the commandment of his Lord.' Some people, however, believe that they possess forms of fire, that their abode is the sphere of ether and that they also have access to the sphere of water, air and earth by virtue of their quality of tremendous diffusiveness. In the development of the jinn with regard to the realm of inner meaning they attain to the rank of man and to human gnosis and they believe in the code of the shari `ah and the Qur'an; this is expressed in the Qur'an itself `Say it has been revealed to me that a party of the jinn listened and they said: "Surely we have heard a wonderful Qur'an, guiding to the right way, so we believe in it and we will not set up anyone with our Lord" '.
As for the development in the realm of form in regard to the angels, they attain to the rank of proximity, of glorification of Allah and holiness. They reach the rank of cherubim by Allah's raising them above the rest of the angels; in this way He separates one particular kind of angel from the rest, in the same manner as Gabriel and Michael are brought to prominence from amongst the rest of the angels, or as man is distinguished from the general species of animal. In their development in the realm of inner meaning they come to a perception of some of the secrets of man which the latter has received from Allah. These are secrets which are particular to man and not shared by the angels: this is referred to by Gabriel when he says, `If I were to reach out with the tips of my fingers extended I would certainly have burnt them.' It is for this reason that the gnostic believes man to be greater and nobler than the angels: the angels have no share in the development which is particular to man, indeed, they have never tasted of man's secret in this respect.
We have now come to the end of our study of the various ranks of perfection with respect to each existent being, both of the highest and lowest orders of creation. If you have understood this science and have realized that man's perfection is of a higher and more noble rank than that of all other beings, then you should strive to attain your own perfection and to realize fully your own rank. You should avoid what is other than yourself, even if it is an angel, for being occupied with the rank of others prevents you from attaining your greater happiness and your highest rank: `And all We relate to you of the accounts of the apostles is to strengthen your heart therewith; and in this has come to you the truth and admonition and a reminder to the believers;' and Allah is more Knowing and more Wise, He it is Who says the truth and guides to the correct path.
1. The text of the copy in my possession as well those copies in the Mar'ashi and Consultative Assembly Libraries were all interrupted here; in the book Jami 'al‑Asrar, however, the text reads: (after `because') `the source of all, even if there are differences in the code of rules, according to circumstance and condition, is the one reality, namely the Prophetic Shari`ah and the Divine Rule imposed on man.' In all three copies there is an empty space of half a line. And Allah knows best.
2. A detailed Exposition of the Two Lives of this World and the Next with respect to the Obtaining of the Two Happinesses