26:3 Perhaps thou tormentest thyself because they are not of the faithful.
Sahl ʿAlī Marwazī was asked, “What is the greatest of God’s generous gifts to the servant?”
He said, “That He empties his heart of everyone but Him.”
Junayd was asked, “When is the heart happy?”
He said, “When He is inside the heart.”
Shaykh al-Islām said, “He is not in the heart by His Essence. Rather the remembrance of Him is in the heart, love for Him in the secret core, and gazing upon Him in the spirit. In contemplation there is first the heart’s vision, then the heart’s proximity, then the heart’s finding, then the heart’s seeing face-to-face, then proximity’s mastery over the heart, then the heart’s dissolution in face-to-face vision. Beyond that, nothing can be expressed.”
26:22 And the blessing that you have laid on me as a favor is that you have enslaved the Children of Israel.
When Moses came to Pharaoh, inviting him to tawḥīd and making manifest a few signs and miracles for him, Pharaoh refused to accept tawḥīd, and then he laid gratitude and obligation on Moses: “Was it not I who brought you up from childhood and conveyed you to adulthood?”
In denial, Moses answered, “Why are laying gratitude on me for the fact that you took the Children of Israel into servanthood? Indeed, who can take servants and act as a lord other than the God of the world’s folk, the Enactor of the universe and its folk?”
26:23 Pharaoh said, “And what is the Lord of the worlds?”
“What and who is this ‘Lord of the worlds’?” Pharaoh asked this question in a discourteous manner, but Moses showed reverence and said, 26:24 “The Lord of the heavens and the earth and whatsoever is between the two.”
“Pharaoh, even if you do not know and do not have access to His tawḥīd, nonetheless the seven heavens, the seven earths, and everything in between is the mark and testimony of the Lord and His oneness. The engendered and newly arrived things are all the signs and banners of His power.”
In each thing, He has a sign showing that He is one. The chronicle of the Beginningless and the Endless is one instant at the beginning of His welcome, the blessings of both houses are a dust mote in the ray of the sun of His bounteousness, those prepared for service are the ones burned by His love, and those wounded by tribulation are the ones exalted by His presence. He is the Lord who is worthy of all laudations, with no equal in Essence and no companion in attributes. He does what He wants according to His choice, takes care of things without testing, forgives the disobedient, does the beautiful toward the destitute, brings forth the darknesses, brings out the lights, sees the states, and knows the secrets. Next to the color of your face, tulips are worthless; next to the scent of your tresses’ tips, perfume is trifling.
Know that in these verses, the Real ascribes creation to Himself in four places. He says, “the Lord of the worlds” [26:23], “the Lord of the heavens, the earth, and whatsoever is between the two” [26:24], “The Lord of you and your fathers, the first ones” [26:26], and “the Lord of the east, the west, and what is between the two” [26:28]. This sort of ascription—that is, of God’s Essence to His creation—comes in the Qur’an in two respects: one is partial ascription and the other is universal ascription. Thus He says to Muṣṭafā, “Remember thy Lord [7:205], And worship thy Lord [15:99], And when thy Lord said [2:30], And for thy Lord be patient [74:7], And thy Lord magnify [74:3], And thy Lord creates [28:68].” In the Qur’an, there are many examples of this, and all of them bestow eminence and honor on Muṣṭafā. The Real is the Lord of all created and newly arrived things, but He singled out Muṣṭafā by mentioning him in order to make him great in the hearts of the servants. In the same way, He is the king of all sites, but He singled out the Kaaba by mentioning it in order to make it great in the hearts of the servants: “Surely I have been commanded to worship the Lord of this city [27:91]. So let them worship the Lord of this house [106:3].”
As for the universal ascription, it is like what He says in these four verses, similar to which there are many more in the Qur’an. The purpose is to explain the power and to make manifest awesomeness and exaltedness.
26:61 And when the two hosts saw each other, the companions of Moses said, “We have been overtaken.”
Generous and great is the Lord who has everywhere a concealed artisanry and in everything a hidden gentleness! Look at what the concealed artisanry did with Pharaoh the enemy and what the hidden gentleness prepared for Moses the speaking companion. Moses fled from the enemy at night and turned his face toward the sea, and Pharaoh with his troops and retinue followed in his tracks. The Children of Israel said, “O Moses, the sea is before us and the enemy behind us. What can be done?” They have caught up to us, they are upon us.” Moses said, 26:62 “No indeed, surely with me is my Lord; He will guide me.”
Do not despair, for the hidden gentleness is our guide and the concealed artisanry is lying in wait for Pharaoh. Surely with me is my Lord. In this statement, Moses made himself solitary. He did not say “with us is our Lord,” because the decree had already gone forth that after the destruction of Pharaoh and the Egyptians, a group of the Children of Israel would become calf-worshipers. This is why he made himself solitary. Again, when Muṣṭafā was in the cave with Abū Bakr, the greatest of the sincerely truthful, he had recognized the realities and meanings of the states of that sincerely truthful man, so he joined him with himself in declaring with-ness. He said, “Surely God is with us” [9:40].
A subtle point: Moses brought forth with me because he was looking from himself to the Real. But Muṣṭafā said, “Surely God is with us” because he was looking from the Real to himself. This is like His words, “Dost thou not see thy Lord, how He stretched out the shadow?” [25:45]. He did not say, “the shadow, how thy Lord stretched it out.” Moses had the state of the desirers, but Muṣṭafā had the state of the desired. The former is the road of the travelers, the latter the attribute of those snatched away.
It has been said that when Pharaoh reached the shore and saw the sea split open and the roads apparent, he said to his people, “This sea has split in fear of me, and I am your Lord, the Highest [79:24].” When he said that, Gabriel wanted to chastise him, so he spread his wings to knock him to the ground. The command came from the Compeller of the World, “No, Gabriel. Only those who fear death should be hurried to punishment.”
It has also been said that Moses said about himself, “Surely with me is my Lord,” and the Exalted Lord said about the community of Muhammad, “Surely God is with those who are Godwary” [16:128]. God did not reject what Moses said about himself, for He showed him the road of deliverance and lifted the deceit of the enemy away from him. What then do you say about what the Real Himself said concerning the community of Muhammad? It is even more appropriate that He fulfills the promise He gave, delivers them from the sorrow of sins, and conveys them to His mercy and forgiveness.
26:77-78 Surely they are an enemy to me, save the Lord of the Worlds, who created me, so He is guiding me.
The mark of love is that, when the lover comes to the description of the Beloved, he turns his heart away from others. He remembers only the Beloved and speaks only in laudation of the Beloved. He does not become sated by remembering Him, lauding Him, and thanking Him, nor can he remain silent. This was the case when Abraham began to remember and praise God. Look how he clung to plentiful remembrance and laudation and much supplication and pleading! What a difference between these two groups—the owners of requests and the companions of the realities! The owners of requests strive, bring forth obedience, and count out litanies, and then, after that, they present their requests. Their hearts are attached to the reward, and they implore by supplicating and requesting what they want. A report has come: “Surely God loves those who implore in their supplications.” This is the station of the lords of the Shariah. Moses was in this station when he said, “My Lord, open my breast and ease my task!” [20:26] and so on.
Above this is the station of the companions of the realities. In remembering and lauding the Beloved they never turn to request what they want. Sometimes their tongues cling to laudation and sometimes their hearts are mixed with contemplation, their secret cores having reached union. Annihilated from themselves, they subsist through the Real. This was the state of Abraham when he said, “who created me, so He is guiding me.” In other words: “He is guiding me from me to Him, for my existence has been effaced, and none but the Object of my worship guides me in myself.”