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17:53 And say to My servants that they should say what is more beautiful.

“O Muḥammad, say to My servants that the words they speak should be more beautiful, more true, and more pleasing. That is remembering and lauding God, mentioning Him on the tongue, and keeping His remembrance in the heart.” 

It has also been said, “The most beautiful word of sinners is attesting to offenses, and the most beautiful word of recognizers is attesting to the incapacity to recognize. The Prophet said, ‘I do not number Thy laudations: Thou art as Thou hast lauded Thyself.’” The most beautiful words that a sinful man may say is to attest to his own offense and acknowledge his own sin so that the Exalted Lord may bestow on him the success of repentance and complete the work of his repentance for him by forgiving his sins, for that is the promise He has given: “And others who have acknowledged their sins. They mixed a wholesome deed with another, an ugly deed. Perhaps God will turn toward them” [9:102]. And the most beautiful word that a recognizing man may say is to attest to his own incapacity to recognize the Real. He knows that no one recognizes Him, nor can anyone do so, as is worthy of Him in the reality of His rightful due and the limits of His exaltedness. This is why Abū Bakr Ṣiddīq said, “Glory be to Him who made no path for the creatures to recognize Him save the incapacity to recognize Him!” Pure and faultless is the Lord, who considers the servant’s incapacity to recognize Him as recognition!

Abū ʿAlī Daqqāq said, “O God, he who recognizes You has not recognized You. What then about the state of him who in fact has not recognized You?!” Naṣrābādī and Shāh [Kirmānī] disagreed with each other. One said that He can be recognized and the other said that He cannot be recognized. Shaykh al-Islām Anṣārī said, “Both spoke the truth. When the one said that He cannot be recognized, that is the reality of the Real, which no one reaches but He, for He knows Himself and recognizes Himself in His reality. When the other said that He can be recognized, that is the general recognition that there is no god other than He, that He has no associate or partner, that He has no equal or need, and that there is no assertion of similarity or ineffectuality.”

This is the same as was said by Abu’l-ʿAbbās ʿAṭāʾ: “There are two recognitions, the recognition of the Real, and the recognition of the reality of the Real. The recognition of the Real is the recognition of His oneness and uniqueness, which people recognize from His names and attributes. The recognition of the reality of the Real is not within the capacity of creatures. No one perceives the bounds of His magnificence and qualities, and there is no access to encompassing Him. He says, ‘They encompass Him not in knowledge’ [20:110]. ‘They measured not God with the rightful due of His measure’ [22:74].”

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