In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
There is no god but God, He is One, He has no partner; His is the dominion, and His is the praise; He alone grants life, and deals death, and He is living and dies not; all good is in His hand, He is powerful over all things, and with Him all things have their end.
This sentence expressing divine unity consists of eleven phrases each of which conveys some good tidings. (news)
Who is God? (“There is no god but God”)
This phrase conveys the following good news to the human spirit, suffering as it does countless needs and the attacks of innumerable enemies. On the one hand, the spirit finds a place of recourse, a source of help, through which is opened to it the door of a treasury of mercy that will guarantee all its needs.
While on the other it finds support and source of strength, for the phrase makes known its Creator and True Object of Worship, who possesses the absolute power to secure it from the evil of all its enemies; it shows its master, and who it is that owns it. Through pointing this out, the phrase saves the heart from utter desolation and the spirit from aching sorrow; it ensures an eternal joy, a perpetual happiness
Who is God? (“God is One”)
This phrase announces the following good news, which is both healing and a source of happiness:
Man’s spirit and heart, which are connected to most of the creatures in the universe and are almost overwhelmed in misery and confusion on account of this connection, find in the phrase “He is One” a refuge and protector that will deliver them from all the confusion and bewilderment.
That is to say, it is as if “He is One” is saying to man: God is One. Do not wear yourself out having recourse to other things; do not demean yourself and feel indebted to them; do not flatter them and fawn on them and humiliate yourself; do not follow them and make things difficult for yourself; do not fear them and tremble before them; for the Monarch of the universe is One, the key to all things is with Him, the reins of all things are in His hand, everything will be resolved by His command. If you find Him, you will be saved from endless indebtedness, countless fears.
Who is God? (“God has no partner”)
Just as in His divinity and in His sovereignty God has no partner, He is One and cannot be many; so too He has no partner in His dominicality and in His actions and in His creating. It sometimes happens that a monarch is one, having no partner in his sovereignty, but in the execution of his affairs his officials act as his partners; they prevent everyone from entering his presence, saying: “Apply to us!”
However, God Almighty, the Monarch of Pre-Eternity and Post-Eternity, has no partner in His sovereignty, just as He has no need for partners or helpers in the execution of His sovereignty.
If it were not for His command and will, His strength and power, not a single thing could interfere with another. Everyone can have recourse to Him directly. Since He has no partner or helper, no one seeking recourse can be told: “Stop! It is forbidden to enter His presence!”
This phrase, therefore, delivers the following joyful announcement to the human spirit: the human spirit which has attained to faith may, without let or hindrance, opposition or interference, in any state, for any wish, at any time and in any place, enter the presence of the All-Beauteous and Glorious One, the One of power and perfection, who is the Pre-Eternal and Post-Eternal Owner of the treasuries of mercy, the treasuries of bliss, and may present its needs. Discovering His mercy and relying on His power, it will find perfect ease and happiness.
Who is God? “His is the dominion”
That is to say, ownership is altogether His. As for you, you are both His property, you are owned by Him, and you work in His property. This phrase announces the following joyful and healing news:
O man! Do not suppose that you own yourself, for you have no control over any of the things that concern you; such a load would be heavy. Also, you are unable to protect yourself, to avoid disasters, or to do the things that you must. In which case, do not suffer pain and torment without reason, the ownership is another’s. The Owner is both All-Powerful and All-Merciful; rely on His power and do not cast aspersions on His mercy! Put grief behind you, be joyful! Discard your troubles and find serenity!
It also says: You love and are connected to the universe, which is the property of the All-Powerful and Merciful One, yet although it grieves you by its wretchedness, you are unable to put it right. So hand over the property to its Owner, leave it to Him. Attract His pleasure, not His harshness. He is both All-Wise and All-Merciful. He has free disposal over His property and administers it as He wishes. Whenever you take fright, say “Let’s see what God does; whatever He does, it is best;” understand this thoroughly and do not interfere!
Who is God? “His is the praise”
Praise, and acclaim are proper to Him, are fitting for Him. That is to say, bounties are His; they come from His treasury. And as for the treasury, it is unending. This phrase, therefore, delivers the following good news:
O man! Do not suffer and sorrow when bounties cease, for the treasury of mercy is inexhaustible. Do not dwell on the fleeting nature of pleasure and cry out with pain, because the fruit of the bounty is the fruit of boundless mercy. Since its tree is undying when the fruit finishes it is replaced by more. If you thankfully think of there being within the pleasure of the bounty a merciful favor a hundred times more pleasurable, you will be able to increase the pleasure a hundredfold.
An apple an august monarch presents to you holds a pleasure superior to that of a hundred, indeed a thousand, apples, for it is he that has bestowed it on you and made you experience the pleasure of royal favor. In the same way, through the phrase “His is the praise” will be opened to you the door of a spiritual pleasure a thousand times sweeter than the bounty itself.
For the phrase means to offer praise and thanks; that is to say, to perceive the bestowal of bounty. This in turn means to recognize the Bestower, which is to reflect on the bestowal of bounty, and so finally to ponder over the favor of His compassion and His continuing to bestow bounties.
Who is God? “He alone grants life”
That is to say, He is the giver of life. And it is He who causes life to continue by means of sustenance. He also supplies the necessities of life. And it is to Him that the exalted aims of life pertain and its important results look, and His are ninety-nine out of a hundred of its fruits. Thus, this phrase calls out in this way to the ephemeral, impotent man, it makes this joyful announcement:
O, man! Do not trouble yourself by shouldering the heavy burdens of life. Do not think of the transience of life and start grieving. Do not see only its worldly and unimportant fruits and regret that you came to this world. For the life-machine in the ship of your being belongs to the Ever-Living and Self-Subsistent One, and it is He who provides for all its expenses and requirements. Also, your life has a great many aims and results, and they pertain to Him, too.
As for you, you are just a helmsman on the ship, so do your duty well and take the wage and pleasure that come with it. Think of just how precious is the life-ship and how valuable its benefits; then think of just how Generous and Merciful is the Owner of the ship. So rejoice and give thanks and know that when you perform your duty with integrity, all the results the ship produces will in one respect be transferred to the register of your actions, that they will secure an immortal life for you, will endow you with eternal life.
Who is God? “And deals death”
He is the one who causes death. He discharges you from the duty of life, changes your abode from this transitory world, and releases you from the labor of service. That is, He takes you from a transient life to an immortal one. This phrase, then, shouts out the following to ephemeral jinn and man:
Here is good news for you! Death is not destruction, or nothingness, or annihilation; it is not cessation or extinction; it is not eternal separation, or non- existence, or a chance event; it is not authorless obliteration. Rather, it is to be discharged by the Author who is All-Wise and All-Compassionate; it is a change of abode. It is to be dispatched to eternal bliss, to your true home. It is the door of union to the Intermediate Realm, which is where you will meet with ninety-nine per cent of your friends.
Who is God? “And He is living and dies not”
That is to say, the Possessor of a beauty, perfection, and munificence that are infinitely superior to the beauty, perfection, and munificence to be seen in the creatures of the universe, and that arouse love; and an Eternal Object of Worship, an Everlasting Beloved, a single manifestation of whose beauty is sufficient to replace all other beloveds, has an enduring life through pre-eternity and post-eternity – a life free from any trace of cessation or ephemeral and exempt from any fault, defect, or imperfection. Thus, this phrase proclaims to jinn and man, to all conscious beings, and the people of love and ardor:
Here is good news for you! There exists an Everlasting Beloved who will cure and bind the wounds caused you by countless separations from the ones you love. Since He exists and is undying, whatever happens do not fret over the others. Furthermore, the beauty and generosity, virtue and perfection to be seen in them, the cause of your love, are, passing through many veils, the shadows of the palest of shadows of the manifestation of the Ever-Enduring Beloved’s ever-enduring beauty. Do not grieve at their disappearance, for they are mirrors of a sort. The mirrors being changed renews and embellishes the manifestation of the Beauty’s radiance. Since He exists, everything exists.
Who is God? “All good is in His hand”
Every good action you perform is transferred to His register. Every righteous deed you do is recorded with Him. Thus, this phrase calls out to jinn and mankind with the following good news:
O wretched ones! When you journey to the grave do not cry out in despair, “Alas! Everything we owned is destroyed, all our efforts are wasted; we have left the beautiful broad earth and entered the narrow grave,” for everything of yours is preserved, all your actions written down, every service you have rendered recorded. A Glorious One in whose hand is all good and who is able to bring all good to fruition, will reward your service: drawing you to Himself, He will keep you only temporarily under the ground. Later, He will bring you to His presence. What happiness for those of you who have completed their service and duty; your labor is finished, you are departing for ease and mercy! Service and toil are over, you are going to receive your wage!
The All-Powerful One of Glory preserves seeds and grains, which are the pages of the register of last spring’s deeds and the deposit-boxes of its services, and publishes them the following spring in glittering fashion, indeed, in a manner a hundred times more plentiful than the originals. The results of your life He is preserving in the same way, and will reward your service in a truly abundant fashion.
Who is God? “And He is Powerful over all things”
He is One, He is Unique, He has power over everything. Nothing at all is difficult for Him. To create the spring is as easy for Him as to create a flower, and He creates Paradise with as much ease as He creates the spring. The innumerable artifacts which He continuously creates every day, every year, every century, witness with numberless tongues to His boundless power. Thus, this phrase too delivers good news:
O man! The service you have offered and the worship you have performed are not for nothing. A realm of reward, an abode of bliss, has been prepared for you. An unending Paradise is awaiting you in place of this fleeting world of yours. Have faith and confidence in the promise of the Glorious Creator whom you know and whom you worship, for it is impossible for Him to break His promise. In absolutely no respect is there any deficiency in His power; impotence cannot impede His works. Just as He creates your tiny garden, so He is able to create Paradise for you, and He has created it and promised it to you. And because He has promised, He shall, of course, admit you to it!
We observe every year on the face of the earth that He gathers together and disperses with perfect order and balance, with perfect timing and ease, more than three hundred thousand species and groups of animals and plants. Most certainly such an All-Powerful One of Glory is capable of carrying out His promise.
Since, being thus absolutely Powerful He creates samples of the resurrection and Paradise in thousands of forms every year; and since, promising eternal bliss through all His revealed scriptures, He gives the glad tidings of Paradise; and since all His actions and deeds are carried out with truth, veracity, and seriousness; and since, through the testimony of all His works of art, all perfections point to and testify to His infinite perfection, there being in absolutely no respect any defect or fault in Him; and since the breaking of a promise, lying, falsehood, and deception are the ugliest of qualities besides being defects and faults; then most decidedly and most certainly that All-Powerful One of Glory, that All-Wise One of Perfection, that All-Merciful One of Beauty, will carry out His promise; He will open the gate to eternal bliss; He will admit you, O people of faith, to Paradise, which was the original home of your forefather Adam.
Who is God? “And with Him all things have their end”
Human beings are sent to this world, the realm of trial and examination, with the important duties of trading and acting as officials. After they have concluded their transactions, accomplished their duties, and completed their service, they will return and meet once more with their Generous Master and Glorious Creator who sent them forth in the first place. Leaving this transient realm, they will be honored and elevated to the presence of grandeur in the realm of permanence. That is to say, being delivered from the turbulence of causes and from the obscure veils of intermediaries, they will meet with their Merciful Sustainer without veil at the seat of His eternal majesty. Everyone will find his Creator, True Object of Worship, Sustainer, Lord, and Owner and will know Him directly. Thus, this phrase proclaims the following joyful news, which is greater than all the rest:
O man! Do you know where you are going and where you are being driven? As is stated at the end of the Thirt y-Second Word, a thousand years of happy life in this world cannot be compared to one hour of life in Paradise. And a thousand years of life in Paradise cannot be compared to one hour’s vision of the sheer loveliness of the Beauteous One of Glory. You are going to the realm of His mercy, and to His presence.
The loveliness and beauty in all the creatures of this world and in those worldly beloveds by which you are so stricken and obsessed and for which you are so desirous, are but a sort of shadow of the manifestation of His beauty and of the loveliness of His names; and all Paradise with all of its subtle wonders, a single manifestation of His mercy; and all longing and love and allurement and captivation, but a flash of the love of the Eternal Worshipful One and Everlasting Beloved. You are going to the sphere of His presence. You are being summoned to Paradise, which is an eternal feasting place. Since this is so, you should enter the grave not weeping, but smiling in expectation.
The phrase announces this good news as well: O man! Do not be apprehensive, imagining that you are going to extinction, non-existence, nothingness, darkness, oblivion, decay, and dissolution and that you will drown in multiplicity. You are going not to extinction, but to permanence.
You are being impelled not to non-existence, but to perpetual existence. You are going to enter not darkness, but the world of light. And you are returning to your true owner, to the seat of the Pre-Eternal Monarch. You will not drown in multiplicity, you will take your rest in the realm of unity. You are bound not for separation, but for the union.”
From The 20th word by Master Said Nursi