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The Supreme Sign

by Bediüzzaman Said Nursi

Then, while that traveller was travelling in his mind through the mountains and plains, the gate to the arboreal and vegetable realm was opened before him. He was summoned inside: “Come,” they said, “Inspect our realm and read our incriptions.” Entering, he saw that a splendid and well-adorned assembly for the proclamation of God’s unity and a circle for the mentioning of His Names and the offering of thanks to Him, had been drawn up. He understood for the very appearance of all trees and plants that their different species were proclaiming unanimously, “There is no god but He.” For he perceived three great and general truths indicating and proving that all fruit-giving trees and plants with the tongue of their symmetrical and eloquent leaves, the phrases of their charming and loquacious flowers, the words of their well-ordered and well-spoken fruits, were testifying to God’s glory and bearing witness that “There is no god but He.”

The First: In the same way that in each of the plants and trees a deliberate bounty and generosity is to be seen in most obvious fashion, and a purposive liberality and munificence, so too it is to be seen in the totality of the trees and plants, with the brilliance of sunlight.

The Second: The wise and purposive distinction and differentiation, one that cannot in any way be attributed to chance, the deliberate and merciful adornment and giving of form — all this is to be seen as clearly as daylight in the infinite varieties and species; they show themselves to be the works and embroideries of an All-Wise Maker.

The Third: The opening and unfolding of all the separate members of the hundred thousand species of that infinite realm, each in its own distinct fashion and shape, in the utmost order, equilibrium and beauty, from well-defined, limited, simple and solid seeds and grains, identical to each other or nearly so — their emerging from those seeds in distinct and separate form, with utter equilibrium, vitality and wise purpose without the least error or mistake, is a truth more brilliant than the sun. The witnesses proving this truth are as numerous as the flowers, fruits and leaves that emerge in the spring. So the traveller said, “Praise be to God for the blessing of belief.”

In expression of these truths and the testimony given to them, we said in the Sixth Degree of the First Station:

There is no god but God, to the Necessity of Whose Existence in Unity points the consensus of all the species of trees and plants that are engaged in glorifying God and speak with the eloquent and well-ordered words of their leaves, their loquacious and comely flowers, their well-ordered and well-spoken fruits, by the testimony of the sublimity of the comprehensiveness of the truth of bestowal, bounty, and generosity, done in purposive mercy, and the truth of differentiation, adornment, and decoration, done with will and wisdom. Definite, too, is the indication given by the truth of the opening of all their symmetrical, adorned, distinct, variegated and infinite forms, from seeds and grains that resemble and approximate each other, that are finite and limited.

***

As this traveller through the cosmos proceeded on his meditative journey, with increased eagerness and a bouquet of gnosis and faith, itself like a spring, gathered from the garden of the spring, there opened before his truth-perceiving intellect, his cognitive reason, the gate to the animal and bird realm. With hundreds of thousands of different voices and various tongues, he was invited to enter. Entering, he saw that all the animals and birds, in their different species, groups and nations, were proclaiming, silently and aloud, “There is no god but He,” and had thus turned the face of the earth into a vast place of invocation, an expansive assembly for the proclamation of God’s glory. He saw each of them to be like an ode dedicated to God, a word proclaiming His glory, a letter indicating His mercy, each of them describing the Maker and offering Him thanks and encomium. It was as if the senses, powers, members and instruments of those animals and birds were orderly and balanced words, or perfect and disciplined expressions. He observed three great and comprehensive truths indicating, in decisive form, their offering of thanks to the Creator and Provider and their testimony to His unity.

The First: Their being brought into existence with wisdom and purpose and their creation full of art in a fashion that in no way can be attributed to chance, to blind force or inanimate nature; their being created and composed in purposive and knowledgeable manner; their animation and being given life in a way that displays in twenty aspects the manifestation of knowledge, wisdom, and will — all of this is a truth that bears witness to the Necessary Existence of the Eternally Living and Self-Subsistent, His seven attributes and unity, a witness repeated to the number of all animate beings.

The Second: There appears from the distinction made among those infinite beings and from their adornment and decoration in a fashion by which their features are different, their shapes adorned, their proportions measured and symmetrical, and their forms well-ordered — there appears from this a truth so vast and powerful that none other than the One Powerful over all things, the One Knowledgeable of all things, could lay claim to it, this comprehensive act which displays in every respect thousands of wonders and instances of wisdom; it is impossible and precluded that anything other than such a one could lay claim to it.

The Third: The emergence and unfolding of those countless creatures, in their hundreds of thousands of different shapes and forms, each of which is a miracle of wisdom, their emergence from eggs and drops of water called sperm that are identical with each other or closely resemble each other, and are limited and finite in number, all this in the most orderly, symmetrical and unfailing fashion, is so brilliant a truth as to be illumined with proofs and evidences as numerous as the animals themselves.

By the consensus of these three truths, all the species of animals are engaged together in testifying that “There is no god but He.” It is as if the whole earth, like a great man, were saying “There is no god but He” in a manner befitting its vastness, and conveying its testimony to the dwellers of the heaven. The traveller saw this and understood it perfectly. In expression of these truths, we said in the Seventh Degree of the First Station:

There is no god but God, to Whose Necessary Existence in Unity points the consensus of all animals and birds, that praise God and bear witness to Him with the words of their senses, their faculties and powers, words well-balanced, ordered and eloquent; with the words of their limbs and members, words perfect and persuasive; by the testimony of the sublimity of the comprehensiveness of the truth of bringing into being, making, and creating, according to will, the truth of distinction and decoration according to purpose, and the truth of proportioning and forming according to wisdom. Definite too is the indication given by the truth of the opening of all of their orderly, distinct, variegated and infinite forms, out of identical or similar eggs and drops of sperm, that are finite and limited.

***

That meditative voyager, in order to advance farther in the infinite degrees and countless luminous stages of knowledge of God, then wished to enter the world of men, the realm of humanity. Humanity, headed by the prophets, invited him, and he accepted the invitation. Looking first at the stopping-place of the past, he saw that all of the prophets (Peace and blessings be upon him), the most luminous and perfect of human kind, were reciting in chorus, “No god but He,” and making remembrance of God. With the power of their brilliant, well-attested and innumerable miracles, they were proclaiming God’s unity, and in order to advance man from the animal state to angelic degree, they were instructing men and summoning them to belief in God. Kneeling down in that school of light, he too paid heed to the lesson.

He saw that in the hand of each of those teachers, the most exalted and renowned of all celebrated human beings, there were numerous miracles, bestowed on them by the Creator of All Being as a sign confirming their mission. Further, a large group of men, a whole community, had confirmed their claims and come to belief at their hands; a truth assented to and confirmed by these hundreds of thousands of serious and veracious individuals, unanimously and in full agreement, was bound to be firm and definitive. He understood, too, that the people of misguidance, in denying a truth attested and affirmed by so many veracious witnesses, were committing a most grievous error, indeed crime, and were therefore deserving of a most grievous punishment. He recognized, by contrast, those who assented to the truth and believed in it, as being the most true and righteous, and a further degree of the sanctity of belief became apparent to him.

Yes, the infinite miracles bestowed by God on the prophets (Peace be upon them) each one being like a confirmation of their mission; the heavenly blows dealt to their opponents, each being like a proof of their truthfulness; their individual perfections, each one being like an indication of their righteousness; their veracious teachings; the strength of their faith, a witness to their honesty; their supreme seriousness and readiness to self-sacrifice; the sacred books and pages held by their hands; their countless pupils who through following their paths attain truth, perfection and light, thus proving again the truthfulness of the teachings; the unanimous agreement of the prophets —those most earnest warners— and their followers in all positive matters; their concord, mutual support and affinity — all of this constitutes so powerful a proof that no power on earth can confront it, and no doubt or hesitation can survive it.

Our traveller understood further that inclusion of belief in all the prophets (Peace be upon them) among the pillars of belief, represents another great source of strength. Thus he derived great benefit of faith from their lessons, in expression of which we said in the Eighth Degree of the First Station:

There is no god but God, to the Necessity of Whose Existence in Unity points the unanimity of all the prophets, through the power of their luminous miracles, that both affirm and are affirmed.

***

That questing traveller, having derived a lofty taste of truth from the power of belief, found himself invited, while coming from the assembly of the prophets (Peace be upon them) to the classroom of those profound, original, exacting scholars who affirm the claims of the prophets (Peace be upon them) with the most decisive and powerful proofs and who are known as the purified and most veracious ones.

Entering their classroom, he saw thousands of geniuses and hundreds of thousands of exact and exalted scholars proving all the affirmative matters connected with faith, headed by the necessity of God’s existence and His unity, with such profound demonstrations as to leave not the least room for doubt. Indeed, the fact that they are agreed in the principles and pillars of belief, despite their differences in capacity and outlook, and that each of them relies on a firm and certitudinous proof, is in itself such evidence that it can be doubted only if it is possible for a similar number of intelligent and perspicuous men to arrive at a single result. Otherwise the only way for the denier to oppose them is to display his ignorance —his utter ignorance— and his obstinacy with respect to negative matters that admit neither of denial nor affirmation. He will in effect be closing his eyes but the one who closes his eyes is able to turn day into night only for himself.

The traveller learned that the lights emitted in this vast and magnificent classroom by these respected and profound scholars had been illumining half of the globe for more than a thousand years. He found in it moral and spiritual force that the combined strength of all the people of denial would be unable to shake or destroy. In brief allusion to the lesson learned by the traveller in this classroom we said in the Ninth Degree of the First Station:

There is no god but God, to Whose Necessary Existence in Unity points the agreement of all of the purified scholars, with the power of their resplendent, certain and unanimous proofs.

Our contemplative traveller came forth from the classroom, ardently desiring to see the lights that are to be observed in the continuous strengthening and development of faith, and in advancing from the degree of the knowledge of certainty to that of the vision of certainty. He then found himself summoned by thousands or millions of spiritual guides who were striving toward the truth and attaining the vision of certainty in the shade of the highway of Muhammad (PBUH) and the ascension of Muhammad (PBUH). This they were doing in a meeting-place, a hospice, a place of remembrance and preceptorship, that was abundantly luminous and vast as a plain, being formed from the merging of countless small hospices and convents. Upon entering, he found that those spiritual guides —people of unveiling and wondrous deeds— were unanimously proclaiming, “No god but He,” on the basis of their witnessing and unveiling of the Unseen and the wondrous deeds they had been enabled to perform; they were proclaiming the necessary existence and unity of God. The traveller observed how manifest and clear must be a truth to which unanimously subscribe these sacred geniuses and luminous gnostics. For, like the sun is known through the seven colours in its light, the saints’ luminous colours, their light-filled hues, their true paths and right ways and veracious courses are manifested from the light of the Pre-Eternal Sun through seventy colours, indeed, through colours to the number of the Divine Names, and are all different. He saw that the unanimity of the prophets and the agreement of the purified scholars and accord of the saints forms a supreme consensus, more brilliant than the daylight that demonstrates the existence of the sun.

In brief allusion to the benefit derived by our traveller from the Sufi hospice, we said in the Tenth Degree of the First Station:

There is no god but God, to Whose Necessary Existence in Unity points the unanimity of the saints in their manifest, well-affirmed and attested divinations of the truth and wondrous deeds.

***

Now our traveller through the world, aware that the most important and greatest of all human perfections, indeed the very source and origin of all such perfections, is the love of God that arises from belief in God and the knowledge of God, wished with all of his powers, outer and inner, to advance still farther in the strengthening of his faith and the development of his knowledge. He therefore raised his head and gazing at the heavens said to himself:

“The most precious thing in the universe is life; all things are made subordinate to life. The most precious of all living beings is the animate, and the most precious of the animate is the conscious. Each century and each year, the globe is engaged in emptying and refilling itself, in order to augment this most precious substance. It follows, then, without doubt, that the magnificent and ornate heavens must have appropriate people and inhabitants, possessing life, spirit and consciousness, for events relating to seeing and speaking with the angels —such as the appearance of Gabriel (Peace be upon him) in the presence of Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) and in the view of the Companions— have been transmitted and related from the most ancient times. Would, then, that I could converse with the inhabitants of the heavens, and learn their thoughts on this matter. For their words concerning the Creator of the cosmos are the most important.”

As he was thus thinking to himself, he suddenly heard a heavenly voice: “If you wish to meet us and hearken to our lesson, then know that before all others we have believed in the articles of faith brought by means of us to the prophets, headed by the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him), who brought the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition.

“Then too all of the pure spirits from among us that have appeared before men have, unanimously and without exception, born witness to the necessary existence, the unity, and the sacred attributes of the Creator of this cosmos, and proclaimed this with one accord. The affinity and mutual correspondence of these countless proclamations is a guide for you as bright as the sun.” Thus the traveller’s light of faith shone, and rose from the earth to the heavens.

In brief allusion to the lesson learned by the traveller from the angels, we said in the Eleventh Degree of the First Station:

There is no god but God, to Whose Necessary Existence in Unity points the unanimity of the angels that appear to human gaze, and who speak to the elect among men, with their mutually corresponding and conforming messages.

***

Then, that ardent and inquisitive traveller, having learned from the tongues of various realms of creation in the Manifest Realm in their material and corporeal aspects, and from the utterance of their modes of being, desired to study and journey through the World of the Unseen and the Intermediate Realm, and thus to investigate reality. There opened to him the gate of upright and luminous intellects, of sound and illumined hearts, that are like the seed of man, who is the fruit of the universe, and despite their slight girth can expand virtually to embrace the whole of the cosmos.

He looked and saw a series of human isthmuses linking the realm of the Unseen with that of the Manifest, and the contacts between those two realms and the interchanges between them insofar as they affect man, taking place at those points. Addressing his intellect and his heart he said:

“Come, the path leading to truth from these counterparts of yours is shorter. We should benefit by studying their qualities, natures and colours concerning faith that we find here, not by listening to the lessons given by the tongues of disposition as was previously the case.”

Beginning his study, he saw that the belief and firm conviction concerning the Divine unity that all luminous intellects possessed, despite their varying capacities and differing, even opposing, methods and outlooks, was the same, and that their steadfast and confident certainty and assurance was one. They had, therefore, to be relying on a single, unchanging truth; their roots were sunk in a profound truth and could not be plucked out. Their unanimity concerning faith, the necessary existence and unity of God, was an unbreakable and luminous chain, a brightly lit window opening onto the world of the truth.

He saw also that the unanimous, assured and sublime unveilings and witnessings of the pillars of belief enjoyed by all those sound and luminous intellects, whose methods were various and outlooks divergent, corresponded to and agreed with each other on the matter of the Divine unity. All those luminous hearts, turned and joined to the truth and manifesting it, each a small throne of dominical knowledge, a comprehensive mirror of God’s Eternal Besoughtedness, were like so many windows opened onto the Sun of the Truth. Taken together, they were like a supreme mirror, like an ocean reflecting the sun. Their agreement and unanimity concerning the necessary existence and unity of God was an unfailing and reliable most perfect guide, most elevated preceptor. For it is in no way possible or conceivable that a supposition other than the truth, an untrue thought, a false attribute, should so consistently and decisively be able to deceive simultaneously so many sharp eyes, or to induce illusion in them. Not even the foolish Sophists, who deny the cosmos, would agree with the corrupt and dissipated intellect that held such a thing possible. All of this our traveller understood, and he said, together with his own intellect and heart, “I have believed in God.”

In brief allusion to the benefit derived from upright intellects and luminous hearts by our traveller, for knowledge of belief, we said in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Degrees of the First Station:

There is no god but God, to Whose Necessary Existence in Unity points the consensus of all upright intellects, illumined with congruent beliefs and corresponding convictions and certainties, despite differences in capacity and outlook. There also points to His Necessary Existence in Unity the agreement of all sound, luminous hearts, with their mutually corresponding unveilings and their congruent witnessings, despite differences in method and manner.

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