All that comes forth in the world is by decree, and what the prophet
speaks is also by decree; infidelity and faith, good and evil, old and new,--all is referable to Him; whatso exists, is under the command of the Almighty; all things work in accordance with the decree. All are in subjection,--His Omnipotence the subduer; His creative Power appears high above all. All is subject to His Omnipotence, dependent on His mercy; all were preceded in time by His eternal Omniscience. The man of the people, or he of the philosophers, he who is under command, or who is of the learned,--all must return to His Presence; whoso possesses power, it is of His favour. His causes have displaced Reason from her position; His methods of deriving one thing from another have cut off the soul's feet.
The soul's relation to the world of life is like a blind man and a pearl of `Ummân. One showed a pearl to a blind man; the greedy fool asked him, 'How much wilt thou give for this pearl?' He said, 'A round cake and two fishes; for no one can discern ruby or pearl, why be angry?--except by the pearl of the eye. So, since God has not given me this pearl, do thou take away that other pearl, and talk no more folly. If thou dost not wish to be laughed at by the ass, take thy pearl to one who is skilled in pearls; as soon as he puts the sole of his foot upon the oyster, his art knows well its value." Understanding is a tent before His gate, the soul a soldier in His army; the soul from fear of being rejected by Him sweeps not the dust of His Court except by permission; all in place and time are His property, from the 'Be' of His decree to the wicket of 'It was.' His decree has commanded the service of His Court to all intelligences in the words 'Obey God' from the vegetative to the reasonable soul all like slaves are seeking Him.
Well thou knowest that on the plain of eternity without beginning works the hand of the creative power of God, the Great and Glorious. God's decree has caused power in every sphere to become pregnant with act; so that when the way of the membranes is opened, there comes forth that wherewith they were pregnant. How shall Existence rebel against Him, to whom non-Existence is obedient? One word of command awakened the Universe; all things came together into the circle.
The soul that obeys the command, and commands; the intelligence that understands the Qur'ân and gives us our faith; wisdom, and life, and abstract form,--know that all proceed from the decree, and the decree from God. When the sun's light falls upon the water, the quiet water is stirred into activity; the sun's reflection from the water falls upon the wall and paints the ceiling with beauty; know that that too, that second reflection, of the water on the wall, is a reflection of the sun.
He has caused all things to return to Himself; for none can escape from Him. All things are, yet all are far from All; thou hast read in the Qur'ân "All things return." (Qur. 42:53) From Him are evil and good, power and might; 'the sentence is not changed' is His decree (Qur. 50:28). His decree changes not: man can only stand in wonder before it.
He is all-powerful to do whatso He shall desire; whatso He wills, He does, for His is the dominion. He who, invested with His authority, is in His secrets, and he whom He compels to be His slave,--all are subjected or exalted according to His decree. Mankind heed not the good or evil; as to whatso has been, and whatso shall be, that only can they do which He commands. All that the Master has written and set forth, the boy in school cannot but read; if from His records He has written out a certain alphabet, he cannot turn his head away from it. Whether thou existest or not is naught to the workings of God in the path of His might and power: all is God's work,--happy is he who knows it.
Reason became the pen, the soul the paper; matter received form, and body was transformed into individual shapes. To Love He said, 'Fear none but me'; to Reason, 'Know thyself.' Reason is
ever Love's vassal; Love's point of honour lies in scorning life. To Love He said, 'Do thou rule as king'; to human nature He said, 'Live thou in thy household; in sorrow make the elements thy food, and afterwards take in thy hand the water of life.' So that when the reasonable soul has made of it her riches, and expends it in the path of the Holy Spirit, that Holy Spirit rejoices in the soul, and the soul becomes pure as the Primal Reason. This is the soul's progress from life's beginning to its end.
In view of thy religion to fly from poetry is better,--to shatter thy verse as thou wouldst an idol; for religion and poetry, though at present they are on all equality, are utterly foreign to each other. The things that are permitted to us, are forbidden to one who is ignorant of both of these; he appreciates the difference between prohibition and permission who looks on ease in the light of a wound.