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PART I.--LIGHT, AND LIGHTS: PRELIMINARY STUDIES

1. "Light" as Physical Light; as the Eye; as the Intelligence

The Real Light is Allâh; and the name "light" is otherwise only predicated metaphorically and conveys no real meaning.

To explain this theme: you must know that the word light is employed with a threefold signification: the first [p. 4] by the Many, the second by the Few, the third by the Fewest of the Few. Then you must know the various grades of light that relate to the two latter classes, and the degrees of the reality appertaining to these grades, in order that it may be disclosed to you, as these grades become clear, that ALLAH is the highest and the ultimate Light: and further, as the reality appertaining to each grade is revealed, that Allâh alone is the Real, the True Light, and beside Him there is no light at all.


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Take now the first signification. Here the word light indicates a phenomenon. Now a phenomenon, or appearance, is a relative term, for a thing necessarily appears to, or is concealed from, something other than itself; and thus its appearance and its non-appearance are both relative. Further, its appearance and its nonappearance are relative to perceptive faculties; and of these the most powerful and the most conspicuous, in the opinion of the Many, are the senses, one of which is the sense of sight. Further, things in relation to this sense of sight fall under these categories: (1) that which by itself is not visible, as dark bodies; (2) that which is by itself visible, but cannot make visible anything else, such as luminaries like the stars, and fire before it blazes up; (3) that which is by itself visible, and also makes visible, like the sun and the moon, and fire when it blazes up, and lamps. Now it is in regard to this third category that the name "light" is given: sometimes to that which is effused from these luminaries and falls on the exterior of opaque bodies, as when we say "The earth is lighted up", or "The light of the sun falls on the earth", or "The lamp-light falls on


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wall or on garment"; and sometimes to the luminaries themselves, because they are self-luminous. In sum, then, light is an expression for that which is by itself visible and [p. 5] makes other things visible, like the sun. This is the definition of, and the reality concerning, light, according to its first signification.

We have seen that the very essence of light is appearance to a percipient; and that perception depends on the existence of two things--light and a seeing eye. For, though light is that which appears and causes-to-appear, it neither appears nor causes-to-appear to the blind. Thus percipient spirit is as important as perceptible light quâ necessary element of perception; nay, 'tis the more important, in that it is the percipient spirit which apprehends and through which apprehension takes place; whereas light is not apprehensive, neither does apprehension takes place through it, but merely when it is present. By the word light, in fact, is more properly understood that visualizing light which we call the eye. Thus men apply the word light to the light of the eye, and say of the weak-sighted that "the light of his eye is


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weak", and of the blear-eyed that "the light of his vision is impaired," and of the blind that "his light is quenched." Similarly of the pupil of the eye it is said that it concentrates "the light of vision, and strengthens it, the eye-lashes being given by the divine wisdom a black colour, and made to compass the eye every way round about, in order to concentrate its "light." And of the white of the eye it is said that it disperses the "light of the eye" and weakens it, so that to look long at a bright white surface, or still more at the sun's light, dazzles "the light of the eye" and effaces it, just as the weak are effaced by the side of the strong. You understand, then, that percipient spirit is called light; and why it is so called; and why it is more properly so called. And this is the second signification, that employed by the Few.

You must know, further, that the light of physical sight is [p. 6] marked by several kinds of defects. It sees others but not itself. Again, it does not see what is very distant, nor what is very near, nor what is behind a veil. It sees the exterior of things only, not their interior; the parts, not the whole; things finite, not


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things infinite. It makes many mistakes in its seeing, for what is large appears to its vision small; what is far, near; what is at rest, at motion; what is in motion, at rest. Here are seven defects inseparably attached to the physical eye. If, then, there be such an Eye as is free from all these physical defects, would not it, I ask, more properly be given the name of light? Know, then, that there is in the mind of man an eye, characterized by just this perfection--that which is variously called Intelligence, Spirit, Human Soul. But we pass over these terms, for the multiplicity of the terms deludes the man of small intelligence into imagining a corresponding multiplicity of ideas. We mean simply that by which the rational man is distinguished from the infant in arms, from the brute beast, and from the lunatic. Let us call it the Intelligence, following the current terminology. So, then, the intelligence is more properly called Light than is the eye, just because in capacity it transcends these seven defects.

Take the first. The eye does not behold itself, but the intelligence does perceive itself as


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well as others; and it perceives itself as endowed with knowledge, power, etc., and perceives its own knowledge and perceives its knowledge of its own knowledge, and its know, ledge of its knowledge of its own knowledge, and so on ad infinitum. Now, this is a property which cannot conceivably be attributed to anything which perceives by means of a physical instrument like the eye. Behind this, however, [p. 7] lies a mystery the unfolding of which would take long.

Take, now, the second defect: the eye does not see what is very near to it nor what is very far away from it; but to the intelligence near and far are indifferent. In the twinkling of an eye it ascends to the highest heaven above, in another instant to the confines of earth beneath. Nay, when the facts are realized, intelligence is revealed as transcending the very idea of "far" and "near," which occur between material bodies; these compass not the precincts of its holiness, for it is a pattern or sample of the attributes of Allâh. Now the sample must be commensurate with the original, even though it does not rise to the


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degree of equality[1] with it. And this may move you to set your mind to work upon the true meaning of the tradition: "Allah created Adam after His own likeness." But I do not think fit at the present time to go more deeply into the same.

The third defect: the eye does not perceive what is behind the veil, but the intelligence moves freely about the Throne, the Sedile, and everything beyond the veil of the Heavens, and likewise about the Host Supernal, and the Realm Celestial, just as much as about its own world, and its propinquate, (that is its own) kingdom. The realities of things stand unveiled to the intelligence. Its only veil is one which it assumes of its own sake, which resembles the veil that the eye assumes of its own accord in the closing of its eyelids. But we shall explain this more fully in the third chapter of this work.

The fourth defect: the eye perceives only the exterior surfaces of things, but not their interior; may, the mere moulds and forms, not the realities; while intelligence breaks through

[1. Reading ### which both sense and rhyme demand.]


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into the inwardness of things and into their secrets; apprehends the reality of things and their essential spirits; [p. 8] elicits their causes and laws--from what they had origin, how they were created, of how many ideal forms they are composed, what rank of Being they occupy, what is their several relation to all other created things, and much else, the exposition of which would take very long; wherein I think good to be brief.

The fifth: the eye sees only a fraction of what exists, for all concepts, and many percepts, are beyond its vision; neither does it apprehend sounds, nor yet smells, nor tastes, nor sensations of hot and cold, nor the percipient faculties, by which I mean the faculties of hearing, of smelling, of tasting. nay, all the inner psychical qualities are unseen to it, joy, pleasure, displeasure, grief, pain, delight, love, lust, power, will, knowledge, and innumerable other existences. Thus it is narrow in its scope, limited in its field of action, unable to pass the confines of the world of colour and form, which are the grossest of all entities; for natural bodies are in themselves the grossest of the


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categories of being, and colour and form are the grossest of their properties. But the domain of intelligence is the entirety of existence, for it both apprehends the entities we have enumerated, and has free course among all others beside (and they are the major part), passing upon them judgments that are both certain and true. To it, therefore, are the inward secrets of things manifest, and the hidden forms of things clear. Then tell me by what right the physical eye is given equality with the intelligence in claiming the name of Light? No verily! it is only relatively light; but in relation to the intelligence it is darkness. Sight is but one of the spies of Intelligence [p. 9] who sets it to watch the grossest of his treasures, namely, the treasury of colours and forms; bids it carry reports about the same to its Lord, who then judges thereof in accordance with the dictates of his penetration and his judgment. Likewise are all the other faculties but Intelligence's spies--imagination, phantasy, thought, memory, recollection; and behind them are servitors and retainers, constrained to his service in this present world of his. These, I say, he constrains,


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and among these he moves at will, as freely as monarch constrains his vassals to his service, yea, and more freely still. But to expound this would take us long, and we have already treated of it in the book of my Ihyâ` al-`Ulûm, entitled "The Marvels of the Mind".

The sixth: the eye does not see what is infinite. What it sees is the attributes of known bodies, and these can only be conceived as finite. But the intelligence apprehends concepts, and concepts cannot be conceived as finite. True, in respect of the knowledge which has actually been attained, the content actually presented to the intelligence is no more than finite, but potentially it does apprehend that which is infinite. It would take too long to explain this fully, but if you desire an example, here is one from arithmetic. In this science the intelligence apprehends the series of integers, which series is infinite; further, it apprehends the coefficients of two, three, and all the other integers, and to these also no limit can be conceived; and it apprehends all the different relations between numbers, and to these also no limit can be conceived; and finally it apprehends


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its own knowledge of a thing, and its knowledge of its knowledge of its knowledge of that thing; and so on, potentially, to infinity.

The seventh: the eye apprehends the large as small. It sees the sun the size of a bowl, and the stars like silver-pieces scattered upon a carpet of azure. But intelligence apprehends that the stars [p. 10] and the sun are larger, times upon times, than the earth. To the eye the stars seem to be standing still, and the boy to be getting no taller. But the intelligence sees the boy moving constantly as he grows; the shadow lengthening constantly; and the stars moving every instant, through distances of many miles. As the Prophet said to Gabriel, asking: "Has the sun moved?" And Gabriel. answered: "No--Yes." "How so?" asked he; and the other replied: "Between my saying No and Yes it has moved a distance equal to five hundred years." And so the mistakes of vision are manifold, but the intelligence transcends them all.

Perhaps you will say, we see those who are Possessed of intelligence making mistakes


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nevertheless, I reply, their imaginative and phantastic faculties often pass judgments and form convictions which they think are the judgments of the intelligence. The error is therefore to be attributed to those lower faculties. See my account of all these faculties in my Mî`âr al-`Ilm and Mahakk al-Nazar. But when the intelligence is separated from the deceptions of the phantasy and the imagination, error on its part is inconceivable; it sees things as they are. This separation is, however, difficult, and only attains perfection after death. Then is error unveiled, and then are mysteries brought to light, and each one meets the weal or the woe which he has already laid up for himself, and "beholds a Book, which reckons each venial and each mortal sin, without omitting a single one".[1] In that hour it shall be said unto him: "We have stripped from thee the Veil that covered thee and thy vision this day is iron."[2] Now that covering Veil is even that of the imagination and the phantasy; and therefore the man who has been deluded by his own fancies, his false beliefs, and his vain

[1. S. 50, 18.

2. S. 22, 50.]


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imaginations, replies: "Our Lord! We have seen Thee and heard Thee! [p.11] O send us back and we will do good.[1] Verily now we have certain knowledge!"

From all which you understand that the eye may more justly be called Light than the light (so called) which is apprehended by sense; and further that the intelligence should more properly be called Light than the eye. It would be even true to say that between these two there exists so great a difference in value, that we may, nay we must, consider only the INTELLIGENCE as deserving the name Light at all.

2. The Koran as the Sun of the Intelligence

Further you must notice here, that while the intelligence of men does truly see, the things it sees are not all upon the same plane. Its knowledge is in some cases, so to speak, given, that is, present in the intelligence, as in the case of axiomatic truths, e.g. that the same thing cannot be both with and without an origin; or existent and non-existent; or that the same proposition cannot be both true and false; or that the judgment which is true

[1. S. 12, 32.]


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of one thing is true of an identically similar thing; or that, granted the existence of the particular, the existence of the universal must necessarily follow.

For example, granted the existence of black, the existence of "colour" follows; and the same with "man" and "animal"; but the converse does not present itself to the intelligence as necessarily true; for "colour" does not involve "black", nor does "animal" involve "man". And there are many other true propositions, some necessary, some contingent, and some impossible. Other propositions, again, do not find the intelligence invariably with them, when they recur to it, but have to shake it up, arouse it, strike flint on steel, in order to elicit its spark. Instances of such propositions are the theorems of speculation, to apprehend which the intelligence has to be aroused by the dialectic (kalâm) of the philosophers. Thus it is when the light of philosophy dawns that man sees actually, after having before seen potentially. Now the greatest [p. 12] of philosophies is the word (kalâm) of Allah in general, and the Koran in particular.


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Therefore the verses of the Koran, in relation to intelligence, have the value of sunlight in relation to the eyesight, to wit, it is by this sunlight that the act of seeing is accomplished. And therefore the Koran is most properly of all called Light, just as the light of the sun is called light. The Koran, then, is represented to us by the sun, and the intelligence by the Light of the Eye, and hereby we understand the meaning of the verse, which said: "Believe then on Allâh and His Prophet, and the Light which We caused to descend;"[1] and again: "There hath come a sure proof from your Lord, and We have caused a clear Light to descend."[2]

3. The Worlds Visible and Invisible: with their Lights

You have now realized that there are two kinds of eye, an external and an internal; that the former belongs to one world, the World of Sense, and that internal vision belongs to another world altogether, the World of the Realm Celestial; and that each of these two eyes has a sun and a light whereby its seeing is perfected; and that one of these suns is external, the

[1. S. 64,8.

2. S. 4, 174.]


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other internal, the former belonging to the seen world, viz. the sun, which is an object of sense. perception, and the other internal, belonging to the world of the Realm Celestial, viz. the Koran, and other inspired books of Allah. If, then, this has been disclosed to you thoroughly and entirely, then one of the doors of this Realm Celestial has been opened unto you. In that world there are marvels, in comparison with which this world of sight is utterly condemned. He who never fares to that world, but allows the limitations of life in this lower world of sense to settle upon him, is still a( brute beast, an excommunicate from that which constitutes us men; gone astray is he more than any brute beast, for to the brute are not vouched the wings of flight, on which to fly away unto that invisible world. "Such men," the Koran says, "are cattle, nay, are yet further astray!"[1] [p. 13] As the rind is to the fruit; as the mould or the form in relation to the spirit, as darkness in relation to light; as infernal to supernal; so is this World of Sense in relation to the world of the Realm Celestial. For this

[1. S. 7, 178.]


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reason the latter is called the World Supernal or the World of Spirit, or the World of Light, in contrast with the World Beneath, the World of Matter and of Darkness. But do not imagine that I mean by the World Supernal the World of the [Seven] Heavens, though they are "above" in respect of part of our world of sense-perception. These heavens are equally present to our apprehension, and that of the lower animals. But a man finds the doors of the Realm Celestial closed to him, neither does he become of or belonging to that Realm unless "this earth to him be changed into that which is not earth, and likewise the heavens"[1]; unless, in short, all that comes within the ken of his sense and his imagination, including the visible heavens, cause to be his earth, and his heaven come to be all that transcends his sense. This is the first Ascension for every Pilgrim, who has set out on his Progress to approach the Presence Dominical. Thus mankind was consigned back to the lowest of the low, and must thence rise to the world of highest height. Not so is it with the Angels; for they are part of the World of the

[1. S. 14, 48.]


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Realm Celestial, floating ever in the Presence of the Transcendence, whence, they gaze down upon our World Inferior. Thereof spoke the Prophet in the Tradition: "Allâh created the creation in darkness, then sent an effusion of His light upon it," and "Allâh hath Angels, beings who know the works often better than they know them themselves." Now the Prophets, when their ascents reached unto the World of the Realm Celestial, attained the uttermost goal, and from thence looked down upon a totality of the World Invisible; for he who is in the World of the Realm Celestial is with Allâh, and hath the keys [p. 14] of the Unseen. I mean that from where he is the causes of existing things descend into the World of Sense; for the world of sense is one of the effects of yonder world of cause, resulting from it just as the shadow results from a body, or as fruit from that which fructuates, or as the effect from a cause. Now the key to this knowledge of the effect is sought and found in the cause. And for this reason the World of Sense is a type of the World of the Realm Celestial, as will appear when we explain the NICHE, the LAMP, and the TREE. For the thine, compared is in some sort parallel, and


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bears resemblance, to the thing compared therewith, whether that resemblance be remote or near: a matter, again, which is unfathomably deep, so that whoever has scanned its inner meaning had revealed to him the verities of the types in the Koran by an easy way.

I said that everything that sees self and not-self deserves more properly the name of Light, while that which adds to these two functions the function of making the not-self visible, still more properly deserves the name of Light than that which has no effect whatever beyond itself. This is the light which merits the name of "Lamp Illuminant",[1] because its light is effused upon the not-self. Now this is the property of the transcendental prophetic spirit, for through its means are effused the illuminations of the sciences upon the created world. Thus is explained the name given by Allâh to Mohammed, "Illuminant."[2] Now all the Prophets are Lamps, and so are the Learned-but the difference between them is incalculable.

[1. S. 33, 46.

2. S. 46, 33.]


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4. These Lights as Lamps Terrestrial and Celestial: with their Order and Grades

If it is proper to call that from which the light of vision emanates a "Lamp Illuminant", then that from which the Lamp is itself lit may [p. 15] meetly be symbolized by Fire. Now all these Lamps Terrestrial were originally lit from the Light Supernal alone; and of the transcendental Spirit of prophecy it is written that "Its oil were well-nigh luminous though fire touched it not"; but becomes "very light upon light" when touched by that Fire.[1] Assuredly, then, the kindling source of those Spirits Terrestrial is the divine Spirits Supernal, described by Ali and Ibn Abbas, when they said that "Allâh hath an Angel with countenances seventy thousand, to each countenance seventy thousand mouths, in each mouth seventy thousand tongues wherewith he laudeth God most High". This is he who is contrasted with all the angelic host, in the words: "On the day whereon THE SPIRIT ariseth and the Angels, rank on rank."[2] These Spirits Celestial, then, if they be considered as the kindling-source of the

[1. S. 24, 35; see p. [45] of translation.

2. S. 28, 78.]


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Lamps Terrestrial, can be compared alone with "Fire".[1] And that kindling is not perceived save "on the Mountain's side".[2]

Let us now take these Lights Celestial from which are lit the Lamps Terrestrial, and let us rank them in the order in which they themselves are kindled, the one from the other. Then the nearest to the fountain-head will be of all others the worthiest of the name of Light for he is the highest in order and rank. Now the analogy for this graded order in the world of sense can only be seized by one who sees the light of the moon coming through the window of a house, falling on a mirror fixed upon a wall, which reflects that light on to another wall, whence it in turn is reflected on the floor, so that the floor becomes illuminated therefrom. The light upon the floor is owed to that upon the wall, and the light on the wail to that in the mirror, and the light in the mirror to that from the moon, and the light in the moon to that from the sun, [16] for it is the sun that radiates its light upon the moon. Thus these four lights are ranged one above the other, each

[1. S. 28, 29.

2. S. 28, 29: also 19, 53.]


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one more perfect than the other; and each one has a certain rank and a proper degree which it never passes beyond. I would have you know, then, that it has been revealed to the men of Insight that even so are the Lights of the Realm Celestial ranged in an order; and that the highest is the one who is nearest to the Ultimate Light. It may well be, then, that the rank of Seraphiel is above the rank of Gabriel; and that among them is that Nighest to Allâh, he whose rank comes nighest to the Presence Dominical which is the Fountain-head of all these lights; and that among these is a Nighest to Man, and that between these two are grades innumerable, whereof all that is known is that they are many, and that they are ordered in rank and grade, and that as they have described themselves, so they are indeed--"Not one of us but has his determined place and standing,"[1] and "We are verily the ranked ones; we are they in whose mouth is Praise."[1]

5. The Source of all these Grades of Light: ALLAH

The next thing I would have you know is

[1. S. 37, 164-7.]


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that these degrees of light do not ascend in an infinite series, but rise to a final Fountain-head who is Light in and by Himself, upon Whom comes no light from any external source, and from Whom every light is effused according to, its order and grade. Ask yourself, now whether the name Light is more due to that which is illumined and borrows its light from an external source; or that which in itself is luminous, illuminating all else beside? I do not believe that you can fail to see the true answer, and thus conclude that the name light is most of all due to this LIGHT SUPERNAL, above Whom there is no light at all, and from Whom light descends upon all other things.

Nay, I do not hesitate to say boldly that the term "light" as applied to aught else than this primary light is purely metaphorical; for all [p. 17] others, if considered in themselves, have, in themselves and by themselves, no light at all. Their light is borrowed from a foreign source; which borrowed illumination has not any support in itself, only in something not-itself. But to call the borrower by the same name as the lender is mere metaphor. Think


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you that the man who borrows riding-habit, saddle, horse, or other riding beast, and mounts the same when and as the lender appoints, is actually, or only metaphorically, rich? Or is it the lender who alone is rich? The latter, assuredly! The borrower remains in himself as poor as ever, and only of him who made the loan and exacts its return can richness be predicated--him who gave and can take away. Therefore, the Real Light is He in Whose hand lies creation and its destinies; He who first gives the light and afterwards sustains it. He shares with no other the reality of this name, nor the full title to the same; save in so far as He calls some other by that name, deigns to call him by it in the same way as a Liege-Lord deigns to give his vassal a fief, and therewith bestows on him the title of lord. Now when that vassal realizes the truth, he understands that both he and his are the property of his Liege, and of Him alone, a property shared by Him with no partner in the world.

You now know that Light is summed up in appearing and manifesting, and you have ascertained the various gradations of the same. You


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must further know that there is no darkness so intense as the darkness of No-being. For[1] a dark thing is called "dark" simply because it cannot appear to anyone's vision; it never comes to exist for sight, though it does exist in itself. But that which has no existence for others nor for itself is assuredly the very extreme of darkness. In contrast with it is Being, which is, therefore, Light; for unless a thing is manifest in itself, [p. 18] it is not manifest to others. Moreover, Being is itself divided into that which has being in itself, and that which derives its being from not-itself. That being of this latter is borrowed, having no existence by itself. Nay, if it is regarded in and by itself, it is pure not-being. Whatever being it has is due to its relation to a not-itself; and this is not real being at all, as you learned from my parable of the Rich and the Borrowed Garment. Therefore, Real Being is Allâh most High, even as Real Light is likewise Allâh.

6. The Mystic Verity of Verities

It is from this starting-point that Allâh's gnostics rise from metaphors to realities, as one

[1. Reading ### for ###.]


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climbs from the lowlands to the mountains; and at the end of their Ascent see, as with the direct sight of eye-witnesses, that there is nothing in existence save Allâh alone, and that "everything perisheth except His Countenance, His Aspect"[1] (wajh); not that[2] it perisheth at some particular moment, but rather it is sempiternally a perishing thing, since it cannot be conceived except as perishing. For each several thing other than Allâh is, when considered in and by itself, pure not-being; and if considered from the "aspect" (wajh) to which existence flows from the Prime Reality, it is viewed as existing, but not in itself, solely from the "aspect" which accompanies Him Who gives it existence. Therefore, the God-aspect is the sole thing in existence. For everything has two aspects, an aspect to itself and an aspect to its Lord: in respect of the first, it is Not-being; but in respect of the God-aspect, it is Being. Therefore there is no Existent except God and the God-aspect, and therefore all things are perishing except the God-aspect from and to all eternity. These gnostics, therefore, have no need

[1. S. 88, 28.

2. Reading ###.]


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await the arising of the Last Uprising in order to hear the Creator proclaim, "To whom is the power this day? To ALLAH! the One, the Not-to-be-withstood"[1]; [p. 19] for that summons is.. pealing in their ears always and for ever. Neither do they understand by the cry "Allah is most great" (Allâhu akbar) that He is only "greater" than others. God forbid! For in. all existence there is beside Him none for Him. to exceed in greatness. No other attains so much as to the degree of co-existence, or of sequent existence, nay of existence at all, except from the Aspect that accompanies Him. All existence is, exclusively, His Aspect. Now it is impossible that He should be "greater"' than His own Aspect. The meaning is rather that he is too absolutely Great to be called Greater, or Most Great, by way of relation or comparison--too Great for anyone, whether Prophet or Angel, to grasp the real nature of His Greatness. For none knows Allah with a real knowledge but He Himself; for every, known falls necessarily under the sway and within the province of the Knower; a state:

[1. S. 16, 40.]


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which is the very negation of all Majesty, all "Greatness". The full proof whereof I have given in my al-Maqsad al-Asnâ fî ma`ânî asmâ'i llâhi-l Husnâ.

These gnostics, on their return from their Ascent into the heaven of Reality, confess with one voice that they saw nought existent there save the One Real. Some of them, however, arrived at this scientifically, and others experimentally and subjectively. From these last the plurality of things fell away in its entirety. They were drowned in the absolute Unitude, and their intelligences were lost in Its abyss. Therein became they as dumbfounded things. No capacity remained within them save to recall ALLAH; yea, not so much as the capacity to recall their own selves. So there remained nothing with them save ALLAH. They became drunken with a drunkenness wherein the sway of their own intelligence disappeared; so that one[1] exclaimed, "I am The ONE REAL!" and another, "Glory be to ME! How great is MY glory!"[2] and another, "Within this robe is nought but Allâh!"[2] ... But the words of

[1. Al-Hallâj.

2. Abû Yazîd al-Bistâmî. See Massignon's Hallâj, p. 513.]


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Lovers Passionate in their intoxication and ecstasy [p. 20] must be hidden away and not spoken of . . . Then when that drunkenness abated and they came again under the sway of the intelligence, which is Allâh's balance-scale upon earth, they knew that that had not been actual Identity, but only something resembling Identity; as in those words of the Lover at the height of his passion:--

"I am He whom I love and He whom I love is I;
We are two spirits immanent in one body."[1]

For it is possible for a man who has never seen a mirror in his life, to be confronted suddenly by a mirror, to look into it, and to think that the form which he sees in the mirror is the form of the mirror itself, "identical" with it. Another might see wine in a glass, and think that the wine is just the stain of the glass. And if that thought becomes with him use and wont, like a fixed idea with him, it absorbs him wholly, so that he sings:--

"The glass is thin, the wine is clear!
The twain are alike, the matter is perplexed:

[1. By al-Hallâj.]


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For 'tis as though there were wine and no wineglass there,
Or as though mere were wine-glass and nought of wine!"

He there is a difference between saying, "The wine is the wine-glass," and saying, "'tis as though it were the wine-glass." Now, when this state prevails, it is called in relation to him who experiences it, Extinction, nay, Extinction of Extinction, for the soul has become extinct to itself, extinct to its own extinction; for it becomes unconscious of itself and unconscious of its own unconsciousness, since, were it conscious of its own unconsciousness, it would be conscious of itself. In relation to the man immersed in this state, the state is called, in the language of metaphor, "Identity"; in the language of reality, "Unification." And beneath these verities also lie mysteries which we are not at liberty to discuss.

7. The "God-Aspect": an "advanced" Explanation of the Relation of these Lights to ALLAH

It may be that you desire greatly to know


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the aspect (wajh) [p. 21] whereby Allâh's light is related to the heavens and the earth, or rather the aspect whereby He is in Himself the Light of heavens and earth. And this shall assuredly not be denied you, now that you know that Allâh is Light, and that beside Him there is no light. and that He is every light, and that He is the universal light: since light is an expression for that by which things are revealed; or., higher still, that by and for which they are revealed; yea, and higher still, that by, for, and from which they are revealed: and now that, you know, too that, of everything called light, only that by, for, and from which things are revealed is real--that Light beyond which there is no light to kindle and feed its flame, for It is kindled and fed in itself, from Itself, and for Itself, and from no other source at all. Such a conception, such a description, you are now assured, can be applied to the Great Primary, alone. You are also assured that the heavens and the earth are filled with light appertaining to those two fundamental light-planes, our Sight and our Insight; by which I mean our senses and our intelligence. The first kind of light is


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what we see in the heavens--sun and moon and stars; and what we see in earth--that is, the rays which are poured over the whole face of the earth, making visible all the different colours and hues, especially in the season of spring; and over all animals and plants and things, in all their states: for without these rays no colour would appear or even exist. Moreover, every shape and size which is visible to perception is apprehended in consequence of colour, and it is impossible to conceive of apprehending them without colour. As for the other ideal, intelligential Lights, the World Supernal is filled with them--to wit, the angelic substance; and the World Inferior is also full of them--[p. 22] to wit, animal life and human life successively. The order of the World Inferior is manifested by means of this inferior human light; while the order of the World Supernal is manifested by means of that angelical light. This is the order alluded to in the passage in the Koran, "He it is Who has formed you from the earth, and hath peopled it with you, that He might call you Successors upon the earth" . . . and "Maketh you Successors on


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the earth," and "Verily I have set in the earth a Successor" (Khalîfa).[1]

Thus you see that the whole world is all filled with the external lights of perception, and the internal lights of intelligence; also that the lower lights are effused or emanate the one from the other, as light emanates or is effused from a lamp; while the Lamp itself is the transcendental Light of Prophecy; and that, the transcendental Spirits of Prophesy are lit from the Spirit Supernal, as the lamp is lit from fire; and that the Supernals are lit the one from the other; and that their order is one of ascending grades: further, that these all rise to the Light of Lights, the Origin and Fountainhead of lights, and that is ALLAH, only and alone; and that all other lights are borrowed from Him, and that His alone is real light; and that everything is from His light, nay, He is everything, nay, HE IS THAT HE is, none but He has ipseity or heity at all, save by metaphor. Therefore there is no light but He, while all other lights are only lights from the Aspect which accompanies Him, not from

[1. S. 61, 11; 55, 24; 62, 27; 30, 2. Cf. Mishkât, p.[34].]


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themselves. Thus the aspect and face of everything faces to Him and turns in His direction; and "whithersoever they turn themselves there is the Face of Allâh."[1] So, then, there is no divinity but HE; for "divinity" is an expression by which is connoted that towards which all faces are directed"[2] in worship and in confession--that He is Deity; but which I mean the faces of the hearts of men, for they verily are lights and spirits. Nay, more, just as "there is no deity but He," so there is no heity but He, [p. 23] for "he" is an expression for something which one can indicate; but in every and any case we can but indicate Him. Every time you indicate anything, your indication is in reality, to Him, even though through your ignorance of the truth of truths which we have mentioned you -know it not. Just as one cannot point to, indicate, sunlight but only the sun, so the relation of the sum of things to Allâh is, in the visible -analogue, as the relation of light to the sun. Therefore "There is no deity but ALLAH" is the

[1. S. 2. 115, see 144, 149, 150.

2. Gh.'s piece of amateur etymology here, by which he appears to derive the root 'lh ("god") from the root wty ("turn"), is about as absurd as my attempt to suggest it in the English.]


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Many's declaration of Unity: that of the Few is "There is no he but HE"; the former is more general, but the latter is more particular, more comprehensive, more exact, and more apt to give him who declares it entrance into the pure and absolute Oneness and Onliness. This kingdom of the One-and-Onliness is the ultimate point of mortals' Ascent: there is no ascending stage beyond it; for "ascending" involves plurality, being a sort of relatively involving two stages, an ascent from and an ascent to. But when Plurality has been eliminated, Unity is established, relation is effaced, all indication from "here" to "there" falls away, and there remains neither height nor depth, nor anyone to fare up or down. The upward Progress, the Ascent of the soul, then becomes impossible, for there is no height beyond the Highest, no plurality alongside of the One, and, now that plurality has terminated, no Ascent for the soul. If there be, indeed, any change, it is by way of the "Descent into the Lowest Heaven", the radiation from above downwards; for the Highest, though It may have mo higher, has a lower. This is the goal of


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goals, the last object of spiritual search, known of him who knows it, denied by him who is ignorant of it. It belongs to that knowledge which is according to the form of the hidden thing, and which no one knoweth save the Learned[1] is Allah. If, therefore, they utter it, it is only denied by the Ignorant of Him.

There is no improbability in the explanation given by these Learned to this "Descent into the Lowest Heaven", [p. 24] namely, that it is the descent of an Angel; though one of those Gnostics[2] has, indeed, fancied a less probable explanation. He, immersed as he was in the divine One-and-Onliness, said that Allah has "a descent into the lowest heaven", and that this descent is His descent, in order to use physical senses, and to set in motion bodily limbs; and that He is the one indicated in the Tradition in which the Prophet says, "I have become His hearing whereby He heareth, His vision whereby He seeth, His tongue wherewith He speaketh."' Now if the Prophet was Allah's hearing and vision and tongue, then Allah and He alone is

[1. Cf. S. 3, 7.

2. Al-Hallâjj.

3. A saying reported by Ibn Adham, d. 170.]


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the Hearer, the Seer, the Speaker; and He is the one indicated in His own word to Moses, "I was sick, and thou visitedst Me not."[1] According to this, the bodily movements of this Confessor of the divine Unity are from the lowest heaven; his sensation from a heaven next above; and his intelligence from the heaven next above that. From that heaven of the intelligence he fares upward to the limit of the Ascension of created things, the kingdom of the One-and-Onliness, a sevenfold way; thereafter "settleth he himself on the throne" of the divine Unity, and therefrom "taketh command"[2] throughout his storied heavens. Well might one, in looking upon such an one, apply to him the saying, "Allah created Adam after the image of the Merciful One"; until, after contemplating that word more deeply, he becomes aware that it has an interpretation like those other words, "I am the ONE REAL," "Glory be to ME!"[3] or those sayings of the Prophet, that Allah said, "I was sick and thou

[1. See St, Matt. xxv.

2. Ar. al amr. See on p. [55], Introduction, pp. 32-40. Or, "controlleth things." And see S, 32, 5.

3. M, p. [19].]


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visitedst Me not," and "I am His hearing, and His vision; and His tongue". But I see fit now to draw rein in this exposition, for I think that you cannot hear more of this sort than the amount which I have now communicated.

8. The Relation of these Lights to ALLAH:
Simpler Illustrations and Explanations

It may well be that you will not rise to the height of these words, for all your pains; it may be that for all your pains you will come short of it after all. Here, then, is something that lies nearer your understanding, and nearer your weakness. The meaning of the doctrine that Allah is [p. 25] the Light of Heavens and Earth may be understood in relation to phenomenal, visible light. When you see hues of spring-the tender green, for example-in the full light of day, you entertain no doubt but that you are looking on colours, and very likely you suppose that you are looking on nothing else alongside of them. As though you should say, "I see nothing alongside of the green." Many have in fact, obstinately maintained this. They have asserted that light is a meaningless term, and that there is nothing but colour with


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the colours. Thus they denied the existence of the light, although it was the most manifest of all things--how should it not be so, considering that through it alone all things become manifest?, for it is the thing that is itself visible and makes visible, as we said before. But, when the sun sank, and heaven's lamp disappeared from sight, and night's shadow fell, then apprehended these men the existence of an essential difference between inherent shadow and inherent light; and they confessed that light is a form that lies behind all colour, and is apprehended with colour, insomuch that, so to speak, through its intense union with the colours it is not apprehended, and through its intense obviousness it is invisible. And it may be that this very intensity is the direct cause of its invisibility, for things that go beyond one extreme pass over to the extreme opposite.

If this is clear to you, you must further know that those endowed with this Insight never saw a single object without seeing Allah along with it. It may be that one of them went further than this and said, "I have never seen a single object, but I first saw Allah"; for


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some of, them only see objects through and in Allah, while others first see objects and then see Allah in and through those objects. It is to the first class that the Koran alludes to in the words, "Doth it not suffice that My Lord seeth all?"[1] and to the second in the words, "We shall shew them our signs in all the world and in themselves." For the first class [p. 26] have the direct intuition of Allah, and the second infer Him from His works. The former is the rank of the Saint-Friends of God, the latter of the Learned "who are established in knowledge".[2] After these two grades there remains nothing except that of the careless, on whose faces is the veil.

Thus you see that just as everything is manifest to man's Sight by means of light, so everything is manifest to man's Insight by means of Allah; for He is with everything every moment and by Him does everything appear. But here the analogy ceases, and we have a radical difference; namely, that phenomenal light can be conceived of as disappearing with the sinking of the sun, and as assuming a veil

[1. S. 41, 53.

2. S. 3, 6.]


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in order that shadow may appear: while the divine light, which is the condition of all appearance, cannot be conceived as disappearing. That sun can never set! It abides for ever with all things. Thus the method of difference (as a method for the demonstration of the Existence of God from His works) is not at our disposal. Were the appearance of Allah conceivable, heaven and earth would fall to ruin, and thence, through difference, would be apprehended an effect which would simultaneously compel the recognition of the Cause whereby all things appeared. But, as it is, all Nature remains the same and invariable to our sight because of the unity of its Creator, for "all things are singing His praise"[1] (not some things) at all times (not sometimes); and thus the method of difference is eliminated, and the way to the knowledge of God is obscured. For the most manifest way to the knowledge of things is by their contraries: the thing that possesses no contrary and no opposite, its features being always exactly alike when you are looking at it, will very likely elude your

[1. See S. 17, 44.]


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notice altogether. In this case its obscureness results from its very obviousness, and its elusiveness from the very radiance of its brightness. Then glory to Him who hides Himself from His own creation by His utter manifestness, and is veiled from their gaze through the very effulgence of His own light!

But it may be that not even this teaching is intelligible to some limited intelligences, [27] who from our statement (that "Allah is with, everything", as the light is with everything) will understand that He is in every place. Too high. and holy is He to be related to place! So far from starting this vein imagining, we assert to you that He is prior to everything, and above everything, and that He makes everything manifest. Now manifester is inseparable from, manifested, subjectively, in the cognition of the thinker; and this is what we mean by saying. that Allah accompanies or is "with" everything. You know, further, that manifester is prior to, and above, manifested, though He be "with" it; but he is "with" it from one aspect, and "above" it from another. You are not to suppose, therefore, that there is


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here any contradiction. Or, consider, how in the world of sense, which is the highest to which your knowledge can rise, the motion of your hands goes "with" the motion of its shadow, and yet is prior to it as well. And whoever has not wit enough to see this, ought to abandon these researches altogether; for

"To every science its own people;
And each man finds easy that for which he has been created apt."


Mishk‚t Al-Anwar
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