[In this station three universal signs of the affirmation of Divine unity will be explained.]
The signs, proofs, and evidences of Divine unity are incalculable. Since thousands of them have been explained in detail in The Illuminating Lamp, in this Third Station three universal proofs are set forth briefly.
The First Sign and Proof
The phrase “He is One” is the conclusion of this. There is a unity in everything, and unity points to one. Yes, a work that has unity self-evidently proceeded from one maker. One proceeds from one. The fact that there is a unity in everything demonstrates that they are the works and artefacts of a single being. The universe is like a rosebud swathed in a thousand veils of unity. Or it is a single macroanthropos dressed in unities to the number of Divine Names and universal Divine works. Or it is a Tuba-tree of creation on the branches of which are hung unities to the number of realms of creatures.
Yes, the administration of the universe is one and the same; and its regulation is one and the same; its sovereignty is one and the same; its stamp is one and the same; a thousand and one things are all one and the same. Also, although the Names and acts which make the universe turn are one and the same, they each encompass the universe, or most of it. That is to say, the wisdom that works in it is one and the same; the bestowal in it is one and the same; its regulation is one and the same; the providing of sustenance in it is one and the same; the mercy which hastens to assist the needy is one and the same; the rain, which is that mercy’s dispenser of soft drinks, is one and the same, and so on; thousands of things are all one and the same. The sun, the universe’s stove, is one and the same; the moon, its lamp, is one and the same; fire, its cook, is one and the same; its mountains, which are its stores, treasuries, and masts, are one and same; its water dispensers are one and the same; its sponges which water the gardens are one and the same; a thousand and one things are all one and the same.
All these instances of unity in the world are proofs indicating the Single One of Unity, as clear and brilliant as the sun. Moreover, the elements and realms of beings of the universe each encompassing the face of the earth, as well as being one and the same, and their interpenetration and their uniting through their mutual relations and even mutual assistance, are clear signs that their Owner, Maker, and Master is one and the same.
The Second Sign and Proof
The conclusion of this is the phrase “He has no partners.” It is the fact that there is a faultless, perfect order in everything in the universe, from minute particles to the stars, and an utterly beautiful harmony that is free of defect, and a just balance that wrongs nothing. Perfect order and balanced harmony can occur only through unity. For numerous hands interfering in a single work cause only confusion.
Come now and behold the magnificence of this order: it has made the universe into a splendid mansion every stone of which is as full of art as a palace; and into a magnificent city whose endless incomings and outgoings, and boundless valuable goods and foods, arrive perfectly regularly at exactly the right time from unexpected places, from behind the veil of the Unseen. The order has also transformed the universe into a miraculous book so full of meaning that each of its letters expresses the meanings of a hundred lines, and each of its lines the meanings of a hundred pages, and each of its pages the meanings of a hundred chapters, and each of its chapters the meanings of a hundred books. Moreover, all its chapters, pages, lines, words, and letters look to each other and allude to each other.
Now come and look at the perfect ordering within this wondrous order: it has made the vast universe as clean as a modern city; or made it into a fine palace which is constantly swept and polished; or a houri of Paradise wearing seventy ornamented garments one on top of the other; or an immaculate rosebud enwrapped in seventy delicate, ornamented petals.
Now come and consider the perfect justice of the balance within the order and cleanliness; microscopic organisms that are visible only on a thousandfold magnification are weighed up on those scales and balances together with suns and stars a thousand times larger than the earth, and all are given their necessities without deficiency. Those minute creatures and those vast beings stand shoulder to shoulder before the scales of justice, despite there being among the large ones some that if they were to lose their balance even for a split second, it would destroy the equilibrium of the world and doomsday would occur.
Now come and behold the wondrously attractive beauty within the order, cleanliness, and balance; it has made the vast universe into a splendid festival, an exhibition of highly decorated works, and a springtime with freshly opened flowers. The vast spring too it has made into a beautiful flower-pot and gorgeous bunch of blooms, and to each spring it has given the form of a magnificent flower with hundreds of thousands of adornments which opens every season on the face of the earth. All the flowers of the spring it has beautified with every sort of decoration. Yes, through the beautiful manifestations of the Most Beautiful Names, which possess the utmost beauty and loveliness, all the realms of beings in the universe, and all the members of each, manifest such beauty according to their capacities that Hujjat al-Islam Imam Ghazali said: “There can be nothing better or more beautiful than what exists in the sphere of contingency.” Thus, this all-encompassing, captivating beauty, and general, wondrous cleanliness, and all-pervasive, exceedingly sensitive balance, and comprehensive and in every way miraculous order and harmony, are such proofs and signs of Divine unity that they are clearer and more brilliant than the light that indicates the sun at noon.
[There follows a very concise yet powerful reply to a two-part question related to this Station.]
The First Part of the Question: You are saying in this Station that beauty, good, and justice encompass the universe, so what do you say to all the ugliness, disasters, illness, tribulations, and death we see around us?
The Answer: A single instance of ugliness which results in or shows up numerous instances of beauty is indirectly an instance of beauty. While the non-existence of an ugliness, or its being invisible, which then conceals numerous instances of beauty and does not permit them to be seen, is not a single, but a manifold, ugliness. For example, if an ugliness which is a unit of measurement is non-existent, the beauty would be of only one sort, and its numerous degrees would remain concealed. For it is through the intervention of ugliness that the degrees of beauty unfold. Just as the degrees of heat become apparent through the existence of cold, and the degrees of light are known through darkness, so universal instances of good, universal benefits, universal bounties, and universal instances of beauty become apparent through there being minor instances of evil, harm, calamities and ugliness. This means that the creation of ugliness is not ugly, it is beautiful, because the majority of its results are beautiful. Yes, a lazy man who suffers loss due to the rain, cannot deny the good results it produces in the name of mercy; he cannot transform the mercy into harm.
As for transience and death, it is demonstrated with extremely powerful and decisive proofs in the Twenty-Fourth Letter that they are not contrary to general mercy, all-embracing beauty, and comprehensive good; in fact, they are necessitated by them. The creation of Satan, even, since he is the cause of striving and competition, the springs of man’s spiritual progress, is also good, as is the creation of his species; their creation is beautiful in that respect. Also, for unbelievers to suffer torments in Hell even is good, since through their unbelief they have transgressed the rights of all beings and insulted their honour. These two points have been explained in detail in other treatises, so here we are curtailing the discussion with this brief indication.
The Second Part of the Question:14 Alright, so we can accept the answer about Satan and the unbelievers from a general point of view, but how is it that the Absolutely Beautiful One, the Absolutely Compassionate One, the Absolutely Self-Sufficient One,Who is absolute good, inflicts evil, calamities, and ugliness on particular wretched individuals?
The Answer: Whatever good, beauty, and bounty there are, they come directly from the treasury of mercy of that Absolutely Beautiful and Compassionate One, and from His particular bestowal. Evils and calamities on the other hand are occasional results out of the many results of the general, universal laws which are called ‘adat Allah and represent His universal will. Since they are minor and required by those laws, He creates them in order to preserve and maintain the laws, which are the means to universal benefits. But in the face of those minor, grievous results, He responds with special, merciful assistance and particular dominical favours to the cries for help of individuals afflicted by misfortune and tribulations. And by showing that He acts as He wishes, and that all aspects of all things are tied to His will, and that universal laws too are always subject to His will and choice, and that a Compassionate Sustainer heeds the individuals who cry out at the constraint of the laws and responds to their cries for help with His favours, through exceptions to those universal Divine principles and general laws and their minor evil results and His particular favours and making Himself loved in special ways, He opens up an unrestricted infinite field for the unrestricted infinite manifestations of His Names, and opens too the doors of particular manifestations.
This second sign of the affirmation of Divine unity has been elucidated in perhaps a hundred places in The Illuminating Lamp, and here we suffice with a brief hint to it.
The Third Sign and Proof
This consists of the innumerable stamps of Divine unity alluded to by the phrases “His is the dominion and His is the praise.” Just as the manifestation of the sun in a mirror shows the sun, so on the faces of all things, whether particular or universal from minute particles to the planets, is a mirror-like stamp which, pointing to the Sun of Pre-Eternity and Post-Eternity, testifies to His unity. Since a great number of those stamps have been described in detail in The Illuminating Lamp, here with a brief indication, we shall take a look at only three of them. As follows: Just as on the face of the universe as a whole a large stamp of unity has been placed consisting of mutual assistance, co-operation, mutual resemblance, and interpenetration among the species of beings, so on the face of the earth is a stamp affirming Divine unity placed through the army of the Glorious One, composed of the four hundred thousand animal and plant species, all being given their different provisions, weapons, uniforms, instructions, and discharges with complete regularity and no confusion at exactly the right time. So too on man’s face a stamp of unity is placed through each having features distinguishing it from all other faces, as there is on the faces of all beings, whether particular or universal. Also, on the heads of all creatures, whether large or small, numerous or few, a seal of Divine oneness is to be observed. The stamps on living creatures are particularly brilliant; indeed, all living creatures are themselves each a stamp of unity, and seal of oneness, and a signature of Eternal Besoughtedness.
Yes, all flowers, all fruits, all leaves, all plants, all animals are such seals of Divine oneness and stamps of Eternal Besoughtedness that they transform all trees into being dominical missives, all species of creatures into books of the Most Merciful, and all gardens into Divine decrees, placing stamps on the letters of the tree to the number of its blossoms, and signatures to the number of its fruits, and seals to the number of its leaves. In order to show their scribe, stamps have been put on the species and groups of creatures to the number of individuals. And in order to announce and describe its ruler, stamps have been set on the decree of the garden to the number of the plants, trees, and animals it contains. In fact there are four stamps of Divine unity on trees; on their origins, ends, outsides and insides, alluded to by the Names of “He is the First, and the Last, and the Outward, and the Inward.”15
As the Name of First suggests, the original seeds16 of fruit-bearing trees are coffers containing the programmes, indexes, and plans of the trees. They are workbenches for the production of their formation, systems, and necessities; and machines regulating the tiny amounts they take in and expend.
As the Name of Last suggests, the results and fruits of trees are instruction sheets setting forth through the seeds in the fruits’ hearts, the trees’ shapes, attributes, and stages; they are proclamations stating their functions, benefits, and characteristics; and summaries announcing the trees’ peers and progeny.
As the Name of Outward suggests, the forms and shapes in which trees are clothed are skilfully fashioned and embroidered garments which have been cut out, trimmed, and decorated exactly according to the branches, members and parts of the trees. They are so fine, well-proportioned and full of meaning that they transform the trees into odes, missives, and books.
As the name of Inward suggests, the workbenches within trees are factories which produce all the parts and members of the trees, and manage and run them with the very finest balance. They despatch too with perfect regularity and order, the food and substances necessary for all the separate members. Those wondrous factories function with the speed of lightning, the ease of setting a clock, and the uniformity of commanding an army.
In Short: The origins of trees are coffers and programmes, their ends are instruction sheets and samples, their outer faces are artistically fashioned and embroidered garments, and their inner faces are factories and workbenches. These four aspects look to each other and as a whole form a supreme stamp. Indeed, a Greatest Name becomes apparent through them, for self-evidently none other than the Single Maker of Unity Who administers the whole universe could perform these works. Like trees, the origins, ends, and outer and inner faces of all animate creatures bear seals of Divine oneness and stamps of unity.
Making an analogy with the trees in these three examples, the spring is a tree laden with blossoms. The seeds and roots entrusted to the hand of the autumn bear the stamp of the Name of First. The fruits, grains, and vegetables poured into the lap of summer, filling its skirts, bear the seal of the Name of Last. The brocades and natural garments decorated with a hundred thousand designs which the spring wears one on top of the other like a houri bear the seal of the Name of Outward. While the factories of the Eternally Besought One working away in the springtime inside the earth, and the bubbling cauldrons of the Most Merciful and dominical kitchens cooking foods, each bear the signet of the Name of Inward.
All species, for instance the human species, are trees: just as, with its roots and seeds in the past and fruits and results in the future, the orderly laws regulating sexual life and the perpetuation of the species bears a stamp of unity; so its present circumstances bear a stamp of unity governed by the principles of individual and social life; humankind bears a hidden, orderly seal of unity under the apparent disorder; and under its confused circumstances, it bears a stamp of unity governed by the principles of Divine Determining and Decree, known as the appointed course of life.