Know that the world’s elements are four: wind, fire, water, and dust. When these four elements found existence at the beginning of creation, they found it from these four words: name, God, All-Merciful, Ever-Merciful. Then, from the first age until the last era these four elements had the strength of nature, and the world was arranged through the compoundedness of their parts in keeping with the divine predetermination. In every era, these four elements showed an increase in strength. In the era of Noah, water was strong and rebellious, according to His words, “When the water rebelled” [69:11].
In the era of Hūd, the wind was strong and howling, according to His words, “by a howling, furious wind” [69:6]. In the era of Moses, the dusty earth showed increased strength until it made manifest its revenge by devouring Korah: “So We made the earth engulf him and his house” [28:81]. In the era of Jonah, the malice of fire gained the power of radiance in the air. So it went in every era whenever the wind blew, waves rose up in the sea and drowned a ship or destroyed a city, lightning flashed and burned a realm, and the earth quaked, making manifest sinking and deforming. Then came the era of the paragon of the world, the master of the children of Adam. The interval between prophets came to an end and day dawned for the creation of the religion of Islam. The earth took on light, the heaven found joy, the face of the stars became radiant, and Gabriel addressed out in the air, “in the name of God, the All-Merciful, the Ever-Merciful.” His shout permeated the parts of the world such that every mote of the world found a tongue in the passion of hearing these words. From each was heard a hum and a noise.
Ibn ʿAbbās said, “When in the name of God, the All-Merciful, the Ever-Merciful descended, the winds were stilled, the oceans threw up waves, the beasts gave ear, the satans fled from heaven, and the Exalted Lord swore this oath: ‘His names will not be pronounced over anything without its being blessed.’” Then each word of this formula gave beauty and perfection to one of the elements. By the word name, a tie was placed on the wind. From the awe of the name God, a brand was placed on the tongue of fire. From the mercy of All-Merciful, a trace was put in water. From the clemency of Ever-Merciful, a breeze was conveyed to dust. The wind put aside malice, fire calmed its sparks, water repented of rebellion, and dust put aside quaking and became straight. This was all because the era of justice had passed and the era of bounty had arrived. The era of swallowing down and deforming had passed and the era of clemency and mercy had come: We sent thee only as a mercy to the worlds [21:107].
50:1 Qāf! By the splendorous Qur’an!
Ibn ʿAṭāʾ said, “God swears an oath by the strength [quwwa] of the heart of His beloved, Muḥammad, inasmuch as he carried the discourse that left no trace in him, because of the elevation of his state.” When someone has a dear friend, in every state he seeks his approval. He always looks at him, he whispers his secrets to him, and he swears his oaths by his spirit and secret core. He speaks of him much, and he watches out for him at home and while traveling, in sleep and in wakefulness. He considers whatever he does beautiful, and he never holds back talk and “Peace!” from him. The generous Lord, the ever-merciful king, showered the realities of these meanings on His beloved, the Seal of the Prophets so that the world’s folk would know that in the Exalted Threshold, no one has the rank, level, and distinction held by that paragon.
The engendered beings and existent things are all for his sake, and His love for all is love for him. Your creation and your upraising are as but one soul [31:28]. It has been said that this means, “for one soul,” and what is meant by this soul is Muṣṭafā’s essence. In all states, He sought his approval, as He says, “And in the hours of the night glorify, and at the ends of the day, that perhaps thou mayest approve” [20:130]. He sought his approval in the kiblah: “Now We shall turn thee toward a kiblah that thou shalt approve” [2:144]. He sought his approval in intercession for the community: “Thy Lord shall bestow upon thee so that thou shalt approve” [93:5]. He swore by his life: ‘By thy life’ [15:72]. He swore by the strength of his heart: “Qāf! By the splendorous Qur’an!” He swore by the limpidness of his love: “Sād! By the Qur’an possessing the remembrance!” [38:1]. He swore by the place of his feet: “Nay, I swear by this land!” [90:1]. He swore by his face and hair: “By the bright morning! And by the night when still!” [93:1-2]. He never veiled him from His gaze: Surely thou art in Our eyes [52:48]. Who sees thee when thou standest [26:218]. In sleep and wakefulness, He kept him protected: And God will protect thee from the people [5:67]. He was his sufficiency in all of his states: Does God not suffice His servant? [39:36]. He joined him with the revelation everywhere and in every state. He was asleep when the revelation came: “O enwrapped in thy cloak! [74:1]. O enwrapped in thy robe! [73:1].” He was on a camel when the revelation came: “Today I have perfected for you your religion” [5:3]. He was in the road of battle when the revelation came: “O people, be wary of your Lord—surely the quaking of the Hour is a tremendous thing” [22:1]. He had come out of Mecca to Juhfah when the revelation came: “He who made the Qur’an obligatory upon thee shall restore thee to a place of return” [28:85]. He was in the cave when the Exalted Lord disclosed him as the second of two when the two were in the cave [9:40]. He was grieving when the revelation came: “We indeed know that thy breast is straitened by what they say” [15:97]. He was happy when the revelation came: “Surely We opened up for thee a clear opening” [48:1]. He was in Jerusalem on the night of the miʿrāj when the revelation came: “And ask those We sent” [43:45]. He was in the presence of Two-Bows’ Length on the carpet of joy when he heard without an intermediary, “Then He revealed to His servant what He revealed” [53:10].
The chevaliers of the Tariqah and lords of recognition have voiced another secret in the meaning of Qāf. They say that Mount Qāf, which is known to surround the world, is the work of the Qāf with which He has surrounded the hearts of the friends. In this world, when someone wants to pass beyond Mount Qāf, his feet are held back and it is said to him, “There is no road beyond Qāf and no way to pass over it.” In the same way, when someone has stepped into the realm of the heart and the desert of the breast and wants to take one step outside the attributes of the heart and the world of the breast, his foot is held in the heart’s station. It is said to him, “Where are you going? I am right here with you. ‘I am with those whose hearts are broken for Me.’”
This is a marvelous work—someone who gazes on Him and also seeks Him from Him. He is together with His seeker, so what use is seeking? This is why the Lord of the Worlds says, “We are nearer to him than the jugular vein” [50:16]. This verse alludes to the Real’s proximity to the servant. As for the servant’s proximity to the Real, that is as He says: “Prostrate thyself and draw near” [96:19]. Muṣṭafā said, reporting from the Real, “The servant never ceases drawing near to Me through supererogatory works until I love him.” At first, the servant’s proximity to the Real is through faith and assenting to the truth, and at last it is through beautiful doing and realization.
“Beautiful doing is that you worship God as if you see Him, for if you do not see Him, He sees you.” This report alludes to the heart’s encounter with the Real, the secret core’s convergence with the Unseen, and the spirit’s contemplation during hidden whispered prayer. The Real’s proximity to the servant is of two sorts. One is proximity with all creation through knowledge and power, as His words, “And He is with you wherever you are” [57:4]. The other is proximity with the elect of the Threshold through the characteristics of kindness and the marks bearing witness to gentleness, like His words, “We are nearer to him.”
First He gives the servant proximity to the Unseen so as to keep him back from the world. Then He gives him proximity through unveiling so as to keep him back from the world’s folk. Then He gives him true proximity so as to keep him back from water and clay. He decreases the marks bearing witness to the servant and increases the marks bearing witness to Himself such that, just as he was at first, so also he will be at last—attachments cut, causes dissolved, traces nullified, limits come to nothing, allusions ended, expressions negated, reports effaced, and the one Real subsisting in His rightful due. And God is better and more subsisting [20:73].