1) The Seal of Divine Wisdom in the Word of Adam
When Allah - glory be to Him! - willed that the source of His most Beautiful Names ( Asmaul Husna = fakir ) - which are beyond enumeration - be seen (or you can equally say that He willed His source to be seen), He willed that they be seen in a microcosmic being which contained the entire matter, (1) endowed with existence, and through which His secret ( Sirr = Rahsia ) was manifested to Him. For how a thing sees itself through itself is not the same as how it sees itself in something else which acts as a mirror for it. So He manifests Himself to Himself in a form which is provided by the place in which He is seen. He would not appear thus without the existence of this place and His manifestation (tajalli) to Himself in it.
Allah brought the entire universe into existence through the existence of a form fashioned without a spirit (rûh), like an unpolished mirror. Part of the divine decree is that He does not fashion a locus without it receiving a divine spirit, which is described as being "blown" (2) into it. This is nothing other than the result of the predisposition of that fashioned form to receive the overflowing perpetual tajalli which has never ceased and which will never cease. Then we must speak of the container (qâbil). The container comes from nothing other than His most sacredly pure Overflowing. So the whole affair has its beginning from Him, and its end is to Him, and "the whole affair will be returned to Him" (11:123) as it began from Him. Thus the command decreed the polishing of the mirror of the universe. Adam was the very polishing of that mirror and the spirit of that form.
The angels are some of the faculties of that form which is the form of the universe, which the Sufis designate in their technical vocabulary as the Great Man (al-Insân al-Kabîr), for the angels are to it as the spiritual (rûhânî) and sensory faculties are to the human organism. Each of these faculties is veiled by itself, and it sees nothing which is superior to its own essence, for there is something in it which considers itself to be worthy of high rank and an elevated degree with Allah. It is like this because it has an aspect of the divine synthesis (jam'îya). In it is something which derives from the divine side and something which derives from the side of the reality of the realities.
This organism carries these attributes as determined by the universal nature which encompasses the containers of the universe from the most exalted to the basest. However, the intellect cannot perceive this fact by means of logical investigation for this sort of perception only exists through divine unveiling by which one recognises the basis of the forms of the universe which receive the spirits.
This being was called both a human being (insân) and khalif. As for his humanness, it comes from the universality of his organism and his ability to embrace all of the realities. He is in relation to Allah as the pupil, (3) being the instrument of vision, is to the eye. This is why he is called "insân". It is by him that Allah beholds His creatures and has mercy on them. So he is a human being, both in-time [in his body] and before-time [in his spirit], an eternal and after-time organism. He is the word which distinguishes and unifies.
The universe was completed by his existence. He is to the universe what the face of the seal is to the seal - for that is the locus of the seal and thus the token with which the King places the seal on his treasures.
Allah named him khalif for this reason, since man guards His creation as treasure is guarded with the seal. As long as the seal of the King is on the treasure, no one dares to open it without his permission. He made him a khalif in respect of safeguarding the universe, and it continues to be guarded as long as this Perfect Man is in it. Do you not see then, that when he disappears and is removed from the treasury of this world, nothing that Allah stored in it will remain? Everything that was in it will leave it, and all the parts will become confused, and everything will be transferred to the Next World.
Then Man will be the seal on the treasury of the Next World for endless time and after-time. All the Divine Names contained in in the divine form (4) appear in this human organism. Thus it possesses the rank of containing and integrating this existence. It was by this that Allah set up the proof against the angels, (5) so remember that! Allah admonishes you through others. Look at where that originates and where it ends up. The angels did not realise what was implied by the organism of the khalif, nor did they realise what the presence of the Truth demanded as 'ibâda (6) (worship).
Each one only knows from Allah what his essence accords him. The angels do not possess the universality of Adam, and they did not understand the Divine Names with which he has been favoured, and by which he praises Allah and proclaims His purity. They only knew that Allah had names whose knowledge had not reached them, so they could not praise Him nor proclaim His purity through them.
What we mentioned overcame them and this state overpowered them. They said about this organism, "Why put on it one who will cause corruption on it?" (2:30) This is only the argument which they were voicing.
What they said regarding Adam is exactly the state they were with regard to Allah. Had it not been that their nature was in accord with it, they would not have said what they said in respect of Adam, "and yet they were not aware." If they had had true recognition of themselves, they would have had knowledge, and had they been in possession of knowledge, they would have been protected and would not have resisted by belittling Adam and thus exceeding their claim of what they possessed of His praise and glorification.
Adam was in possession of Divine Names which the angels did not have, so that their praise and glorification of Him was not the same as Adam's praise and glorification of Him. Allah describes this to us so that we may ponder it and learn adab (7) with Allah, and so that we will not lay claim to what we have not realised or possessed by pinning down.
How can we allege something which is beyond us and of which we have no knowledge? We will only be exposed. This divine instruction is part of Allah's discipline of those of His slaves who are well-mannered, trusting and khalifs.
Let us return to the wisdom under discussion. Know that universal matters which have no existence in themselves are without a doubt intelligible and known in the mind. They are hidden and continue in their invisible existence. These universal matters have jurisdiction and effect on everything which has an individual existence. Indeed, they are the same thing and nothing else, i.e. the sources of existent individual things, and they continue to be intelligible in themselves.
They are manifest in respect of the sources of existent things just as they are hidden in respect of their intelligibility. Each individual existent thing depends on these universal matters which cannot be dislodged from the intellect, nor would their existence be possible in the source once they ceased to be intelligible, whether that individual existent is in-time or out-of-time.
The relationship of that which is in-time or out-of-time to this universal intelligible matter is the same. This universal matter only has jurisdiction in individual existent things according to what the realities of these individual existent things demand of it. It is like the relationship of knowledge to the knower, and life to the living. Life is an intelligible reality; knowledge is an intelligible reality. Knowledge is as distinct from life as life is distinct from knowledge.
So we say that Allah has knowledge and life, and that He is the Living, the Knowing. We also say that the angel has life and knowledge, and is living and knowing. We say that man has life and knowledge, and is living and knowing. The reality of knowledge is one thing and the reality of life is another, and their relationship to the knowing and the living is the same relationship.
We say that the knowledge of Allah is in non-time and the knowledge of man is in-time. So look at the evaluation that this relationship has brought about in this intelligible reality!
Examine this connection between individual intelligibles and stence is necessary, rather, it is necessary by another, not by itself. As knowledge determines the one who participates in it as he is called knowing so the one who is described by it can determine the knowledge. It is in-time in relation to the one in-time and non-time in relation to the one in non-time.
Each of the two is determining and determined. It is known that these universal matters, even if they are intelligible, lack a source although they still have an authority. When they are determined, since they are ascribed to an individual existent thing, they accept the principle in the existent sources and do not accept distinction or fragmenting, for that is impossible for them. They themselves are in everything described by them, as humanity is in every person of this particular species, without distinction or the numbering which affects individuals; and it continues to be intelligible.
Now, as there is a connection between that which has an individual existence and that which does not have one and it is a non-existent relationship so the connection of existents to each other is easier to conceive because, in any case, there is a common factor between them which is individual existence. In the other, there is no common factor, yet there is a connection despite the lack of a common factor.
So it is stronger and more real when there is a common factor. Without a doubt, the in-time establishes itself as being put into time and it needs something in time to put it into time. It has no place in itself so it exists from something other-than-it, and it is linked to That by the dependence of need. This dependence must be on That whose existence is necessary, which is independent in Its existence by Itself without need. It is That which, by Its own essence, gives existence to the in-time which depends on It.
Since the existence of Its essence is necessary and what appears from It depends on It for its essence, it nevertheless depends on its form for everything which is from a name or attribute, except for the essential necessity. That is not the property of it in-time, even if its existence is neceesary, rather, it is necessary by another, not by itself.
Since the matter is based on what we said about its manifestation in its form, Allah communicates to us knowledge of Himself through contemplation of the in-time. He tells us that He shows us His signs in the in-time, (8) so we draw conclusions about Him through ourselves. We do not describe Him with any quality without also possessing that quality, with the exception of that essential autonomy.
Since we know Him by ourselves and from ourselves, we attribute to Him all that we attribute to ourselves. For that reason, divine communications came down on the tongues of our interpreters, (9) and so He described Himself to us through ourselves. When we witness, He witnesses Himself. We are certainly numerous as individuals and species, yet we are based on a single reality which unites us. So we certainly know that there are distinctions between individuals. If there were not, there would be no multiplicity in the One.
Similarly we are described in all aspects by that by which He describes Himself, but there must be a disinction and it is none other than our need of Him in our existence. Our existence depends on Him by virtue of our possibility and He is independent of that which makes us dependent on Him. Because of this, one can apply before-timeness and timelessness to Him which negates that firstness which is the opening to existence from non-existence.
Although He is the First, firstness is not ascribed to Him, and for this reason, He is called the Last. Had His firstness been the firstness of the existence of determination, it would not have been valid for Him to be the Last of the determined because the possible has no last - for possibilities are endless. So they have no last. Rather, He is the Last because "the whole affair will be returned to Him" (11:123) after its attribution to us. So He is the Last in the source of His firstness and the First in the source of His lastness.
Then know that Allah has described Himself as the Outawrdly Manifest and the Inwardly Hidden; (10) He brought the universe into existence as a Visible world and an Unseen world so that we might know the Hidden by the Unseen and the Manifest by the Visible. He described Himself with pleasure and wrath, and so He brought the world into existence as a place of fear and hope so we fear His wrath and hope for His pleasure.
He described Himself with majesty and beauty, so He brought the universe into existence with awe and intimacy. It is the same for all that is connected with Him, may He be exalted, and by which He calls Himself. He designates these pairs of attributes by the two hands (11) which He held out in the creation of the Perfect Man. Man sums up all the realities of the universe and its individuals. So the universe is seen and the Khalif is unseen. It is with this meaning that the Sultan veils himself, even as Allah is mentioned and described as having with veils (12) of darkness, which are natural bodies, and luminous veils which are subtle spirits (arwâh). The universe is composed of both the gross and the subtle.
The universe is its own veil on itself and cannot perceive the Truth since it perceives itself. It is continuously in a veil which is not removed, since it knows that it is distinct from its Creator by its need of Him. It has no portion of that essential necessity which belongs to the existence of Allah, so it can never perceive Him. In this respect, Allah is never fully known by the knowledge of tasting and witnessing because the in-time has no hold on that.
Allah only applied "between His two hands" to Adam as a mark of honour, and so He said to Iblis, "What prevented you prostrating to what I created with My two Hands?" (38:76) That is none other than the union in Adam of the two forms - the form of the universe and the form of the Real: (13) and they are the two hands of Allah.
Iblis is only a fragment of the universe and does not possess this comprehensive quality. It is because of this quality that Adam was a khalif. Had he not had the form of the One who appointed him khalif, he would not have been khalif. If there were not in him all that is in the world, and what his flocks, over whom he is khalif, demand of him because of their dependence on him (and he must undertake all they need from him) he would not have been khalîf over them.
The khalifate is only valid for the Perfect Man, whose exterior form comes from the realities of the universe and its forms, and whose inner form is based on His form, may He be exalted! For that reason, Allah has said of him, "I am his hearing and his sight." (14) He did not say, "his eye and his ear." So He differentiated between the two forms. It is the same for every existent in the universe which appears according to what the reality of that existent demands of it.
Nonetheless no one totally comprehends what the khalif has. One only surpasses others by this comprehensiveness. If it were not for the diffusion of Allah into the existents by the form, the universe would not have any existence.
Similarly, were it not for these universal intelligible realities, no principle would have appeared in individual existent things. From this reality the universe depends on Allah for its existence. So all is in need, and nothing is independent.
This is the truth and we have not spoken metaphorically. If I speak of a something independent without any need, you will know Who I mean by it. The whole is tied to the whole and cannot be separated from it, so understand what I have said!
Now, you have learnt of the formation of the body of Adam his outer form and the formation of his spirit, his inner form, so he is the Real and a created being. Now you have learnt of the formation of his rank which is the comprehensiveness by virtue of which he is worthy of the khalifate.
Adam is the unique self from which the perfect human species was created according to His words, "O mankind, be fearful of your Lord who created you from a single self, and created its mate from it, and disseminated many men and women from the two of them." (4:1)
His words, "Be fearful of your Lord," mean to make of what has appeared from you a safeguard for your Lord and make what is concealed of you, which is your Lord, a safeguard for yourselves. The matter consists of blame and praise, so be His safeguard in the blame and your safeguard in the praise, so that you will be among those of knowledge and adab. Then He showed him what He had placed in him, and He put that in His two hands - one handful contained the universe and the other handful contained Adam and his descendants - and He showed them their ranks in Adam.
Then Allah informed me in my inner heart (sirr) of what He placed in this Imam, the great progenitor. I have put in this book some of what was allotted to me but not all of what I realised. A book could not contain that and not even the present existent universe could contain it. I have put some of what I have witnessed in this book, as the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, defined it. It was the divine wisdom in the word of Adam, that is, this chapter.
Then there is the wisdom of the breath of angelic inspiration in the word of Shith (Seth), the wisdom of divine inspiration in the word of Nuh (Noah), the wisdom of purity in the word of Idris, the wisdom of being lost in love in the word of Ibrahim (Abraham), the wisdom of truth in the word of Ishaq (Isaac), the wisdom of the elevation of the word in the name of Isma'il (Ishmael), the wisdom of the spirit in the word of Yusuf (Joseph), the wisdom of unity in the word of Hud, the wisdom of revelation in the word of Salih, the wisdom of the heart in the word of Shu'ayb, the wisdom of the power of the word of Lut (Lot), the wisdom of the decree in the word of 'Uzayr (Ezra), the wisdom of prophethood in the word of 'Isa (Jesus), the wisdom of mercy in the word of Sulayman (Solomon), the wisdom of existence in the word of Da'ud (David), the wisdom of the soul in the word of Yunus (Jonah), the wisdom of the unseen in the word of Ayyub (Job), the wisdom of majesty in the word of Yahya (John the Baptist), the wisdom of possession in the word of Zakariya (Zachariah), the wisdom of intimacy in the word of Ilyas (Elias), the wisdom of benevolence in the word of Luqman, the wisdom of the Imam in the word of Harun (Aaron), the wisdom of sublimity in the word of Musa (Moses), the wisdom of what one turns to in the word of Khalid, and the wisdom of uniqueness in the seal of Muhammad.
There is a seal for each wisdom. So I have condensed these wisdoms according to what is established in the Mother of the Book, and I complied with what was written out for me, and stopped at what was set as a limit for me.
Even if I had desired to do more than that, I would not have been able to do so. Indeed, the Presence forbids that, and Allah is the One who grants success. There is no Lord but Him.
Notes to Chapter 1:
1. al-Insân al-Kâmil, the Perfect Man.
2. Nafkh, Qur'an 32:9, etc.
3. Insan, as well as meaning human being, also means the pupil of the eye.
4. The form chosen by Allah for the human being.
5. Qur'an 2:30-33.
6. 'Ibada: All the acts of worship: giving, praying, fasting, etc..
7. Adab: Manners. Here meaning the much deeper quality of spiritual manners, that is a courtesy engendered in the ritual acts of worship, the prostrations of the prayer, the fast, and giving gifts to the needy. Such a quality is imbued with awareness that you are the dependent, and the Real is the independent. You are poor, He is rich.
8. Qur'an 41:53, "We will show them Our signs on the horizons and in themselves..."
9. i.e. the Prophets.
10. Qur'an: 57:3.
11. Qur'an 38:75, "What I created with My two hands."
12. Hadith: "Allah has 70,000 veils of light and darkness. If they were to be removed, the splendour of His face would consume."
13. Hadith: "Allah created Adam on His form."
14. ref. to hadith qudsî via Abu Hurayra, "My slave does not draw near Me with anything I love more than what I have made obligatory for him. My slave continues to draw near me with superogatory actions until I love him. When I love him, I am his hearing with he hears, his sight by which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks." (Sahih al-Bukhari, 81:38:2)