20:7 Even if thou speakest aloud, yet surely He knows the secret and the most hidden.
The soul is not informed of what is in the heart, the heart is not informed of the secrets of the spirit, and the spirit has no access to the realities of the secret. As for that which is most hidden, no one is aware of it but the Real. What does the soul know of what is placed in the treasure-house of the heart? What does the heart know of the subtleties inside the sanctuary of the spirit? What does the spirit know of the deposits in the pavilion of the secret core? What does the secret core know of the realities in the most hidden?
The soul is the locus of the Trust, the heart the house of recognition, the spirit the target of contemplation, and the secret core the place where passion puts down its saddlebags. As for the most hidden, the Real knows what it is—people’s imaginations and understandings are empty of knowing it.
20:8 God, there is no god but He. To Him belong the most beautiful names.
Whenever a sultan is about to dismount at a house, a chamberlain must go beforehand and sweep the house. He cleans it of rubbish and refuse and puts down the sultan’s royal seat. Then, when the sultan enters, the work will be finished and the house ready. When the exalted sultan of but God descends into the breast of the servant, the chamberlain of no god comes beforehand. It sweeps the courtyard of the breast with the broom of disengagement and solitariness and destroys the rubbish and refuse of mortal nature and satanity and throws them out. It sprinkles the water of approval and spreads the carpet of loyalty. It lights up the sandalwood of limpidness in the incense-burner of friendship. It puts down the royal seat of felicity and the cushion of mastery. When the sultan of but God arrives, it leans on the sofa of the secret core in the cradle of the Covenant.
20:9-10 Hast thou received the story of Moses when he saw a fire?
Fire is a mark of munificence and a proof of generosity. The Arabs would light up a fire to bring guests. But no one has ever found a banquet through a fire like Moses, and no one has seen a host from a fire like God. Moses was seeking a fire to light up a tent. He found a fire that burns spirit and heart. All fires burn the body, but the fire of friendship burns the spirit. No one can be patient with a spirit-burning fire.
Fires are of different sorts: the fire of shame, the fire of yearning, the fire of love. The fire of shame burns away dispersion, the fire of yearning burns away patience, and the fire of love burns away the two worlds such that nothing remains but the Real.
The evidence of having found friendship is that the two worlds are burned away. The mark of the realizer is that he does not attend to anything other than the Real. The mark of nonbeing is to reach oneself. When rain reaches the ocean, it has reached it. He who reaches the Patron reaches himself.
20:12 Surely I am thy Lord. Take off thy shoes!
Moses had reached the head of tawḥīd’s drinking place when he heard the words, “Surely I am thy Lord.” He was commanded to step into the world of solitariness. He placed his feet on the two worlds and made his aspiration one for the Patron. Take off thy shoes! That is, empty your heart of talk of the two worlds and become disengaged for the Real with the attribute of solitariness. O Moses, be one for the One, first in the disengagement of the intention, and second in the breeze of closeness. Disown the two worlds so that the breeze of closeness may begin to blow from the desert of the Endless. The veil of division has been lifted, and the call of gentleness has reached the spirit.
20:17 What is that in thy right hand, O Moses?
When Moses heard the address, “Surely I am thy Lord,” the ruling power of awe began to attack and he fell into bewilderment and confoundedness. Because of the force of that awe, ease did not remain in its place. His body was not able to bear it with patience, and his heart was not able to busy itself with intellect. The Lord of the Worlds attended to his heart with the call of gentleness; He began speaking about his staff. He said, “What is that in thy right hand, O Moses?”He said, “It is my staff” [20:18]. The command came, “Throw it down, O Moses! [20:19]. Throw down this staff concerning
which you say that it is your staff.” Moses threw it down and it became a snake. When he saw that the snake aimed to come after him, he was frightened and fled. The call came, “Take it, and fear not! [20:21]. O Moses, pick up the snake and do not fear. This is that very staff of which you spoke, claiming it was your staff. O Moses, what do you have to do with making claims? The men of the road make no claims and ascribe nothing to themselves.”
It was the attribute of Moses’ own being and the traces of his claim that turned toward him in that Presence, for the claims of mortal nature were still staining his innate disposition. The stain appeared with the claim my staff, so it was said to him, “O Moses, there is still something of egoism in you.” It was a mercy from the Real to Moses that He said, “What is that in thy right hand, O Moses?,” for the claim appeared from his makeup, and when he was made aware of it, he left the claim behind and shook the dust from the cloak of his sinlessness.
20:22 Clasp thy hand to thy side. It will come forth white without ugliness, as another sign.
Moses had two miracles. One was outside of himself, namely the staff, and the other was within himself, namely the white hand. The staff was a sample of the signs of the horizons, and the white hand was a sample of the signs of the souls. The Lord of the Worlds built the road of tawḥīd on the recognition of these two. He says, “We shall show them Our signs on the horizons and in their souls until it is clear to them that He is the Real” [41:53].