Weekly Letter

Divine Speech, Divine Power and the Sacred Slopes of Paradise

When Divine Speech is mentioned, the first thing we remember is the Qur’an.
Followed by revelation that is not in the Qur’an but reported in the Prophetic Tradition.
Then we are reminded of the spiritual inspirations in the hearts of the friends of God; the Honourable Sage Bediüzzaman calls these reminders, some say inspirations and some Like Ismail Haqqi Bursawi talk about having talked to God directly.
These are all part of the Divine Speech and should be evaluated in the same way.
One must first understand Divine Speech.
Even in childhood we think about the Qur’an when Divine Speech is mentioned; ‘It is a Holy Book.
You must believe that first.
It is the Word of God.
All He says is true:
God, Prophet, Resurrection, Scales, Paradise and Hell.’
We believe this through reason.
I say ‘reason’, I might need to clarify this later on.
At the same time when say Divine Power we mean the creative commands in the universe; the Divine Power that we can comprehend.
In reality, Divine Power will manifest itself fully in the Hereafter.
In this world, Divine Power works with wisdom so that there is a reason behind everything.
Thus in this world Divine Power can be explained using reason.
But in the Hereafter, the overwhelming Divine Power and the Evident Supreme Will does not need reason to manifest itself.
In other words, the notion of ‘Be and it is’ unveils completely; in that place things happen without reason.
In Bediüzzaman’s words, God’s Dignity and Grandeur require apparent causes to prevent complaints and to veil them, from those who reason superficially, the hand of Power’s involvement in certain seemingly insignificant or vile things and affairs. At the same time, God’s Unity and Glory require that these apparent causes have no part in either the creation or disposition of things.
Why were causes placed in between Divine Power and our intellect?
So that we do not see the Divine Power directly executing unpleasant events.
There are such bad deeds that if you attribute them to God, it would be disrespectful towards God.
In fact one of them is the explanation of that matter, perhaps even its elaboration.
Therefore, when the Honourable Bediüzzaman elaborated on that matter, he said:
‘Silence!
The Qur’an reads the universe in the vast mosque of creation.
Let’s hear it.
Let us be illuminated with that light. Let us act according to its guidance, and let’s read it regularly!
It is ‘speech’ in the truest sense.
The Qur’an is the truth, coming from the Ultimate Truth. It guides to the truth, spreading its light everywhere.’
There is such a relationship between these two Books, these two truths.
One book entails the laws of creation, seemingly unconscious events.
But it still occurs through the disposal of Divine Power.
The other Book entails the essence of creation, and in a way, displays their analysis before you, and you view them as though in an exhibition.
Hence, one Book represents the theoretical part of the creation whereas the other one represents the practical part of it.
What does the ‘practical part’ entail?
One practical part is our actions and behaviours, and the other is our reflection, contemplation and deliberation. These should be considered within the practical part.
As a side note:
In his book The Critique of Pure Reason, the German philosopher Kant divides the reasoning into two categories; practical and theoretical.
It was one of the questions that I was asked in the preaching examination:
Kant divides the reasoning into two categories:
practical reasoning and theoretical reasoning.
He says that God can’t be contemplated with the theoretical reasoning; but He can be, through the practical reasoning.
The question was this:
‘How can you reply to a philosopher like Kant while explaining the accuracy and the shortcomings of such statements?’
In one aspect, it is a correct statement. The Divine Essence cannot be properly contemplated with the theoretical reasoning. When you do so, you cannot go beyond imitation.
You can only do what your cultural environment has taught you to do.
That’s what you gain by the theoretical reasoning.
It can even be said that you can’t go beyond imitation even when you read the Qur’an with that mindset.
There are many memorisers of the Qur’an; even those who understand its meaning. But they are far from having ‘God-consciousness’ or ‘complete sincerity’.
Furthermore, reaching the level of the mind, the heart and the spirit, the level of the Secret, apparent and concealed is not a matter for them; they keep crawling at a certain level.
Therefore, you cannot say, ‘Known’ but according to a certain age and maturity, in a sense, this has been accepted.
That is why theology scholars have said, ‘Belief based on imitation is acceptable.’
And some have said it is not acceptable, they have said, ‘The fundamentals must be known.’
If you belief in God, this incredible book of the universe is God’s book, He explains Himself through His book.
Each sentence, paragraph, one page, maybe one book; everything, they explain a lot.
As the Honourable Sage Bediüzzaman insistently upon, from mosquitoes and ants to massive systems, from the micro to the macro universe, everything is talking about Him in its own language.
If you aren’t able to comprehend this horizon, it means you are crawling at the level of ‘imitation’.
Therefore, from this perspective, Kant is speaking the truth.
The philosopher is speaking the truth, ‘God cannot be known via theoretical reason.’
But there is one correction to be made:
‘Known to the extent that He must be known’.
And many have declared their weakness and lack of comprehension by saying, ‘We were unable to fully comprehend you, O The One Known by His works.’
I think, this is the way to fully comprehend Him.
Remember Abu Bakr’s words; in a sense, you can explain it through Goethe’s words:
‘Understanding the Essence of the All-Holy Creator is impossible.’
A human cannot fully comprehend Him.
Understanding that he is incomprehensible is in reality comprehending Him, saying, ‘We could not fully comprehend You.’
‘O the One whom cannot be discerned but can discern, the All-Knowing and comprehending.
You are the All-Subtle and All-Aware.’
The word subtle means influencing without making it obvious; it is one of God’s Names.
His blessings are the same.
And you are All-Knowing, ‘You are aware of everything.’
Because nobody or nothing else is like that, ‘That is only You, that is particular to You’, therefore you need to continue with the following; as stated in the Qur’an, ‘Eyes comprehend Him not, but He comprehends all eyes.
He is the All-Subtle (penetrating everything no matter how small), the All-Aware’ (Al-An’am, 6:103).
Now, the actual matter, the reality, lies in the ‘action.’
Thus, with faith comes action.
The Qur’an is persistent in emphasising this in many places; for example it states,
Only those who have complete faith.
Those who crown their faith with knowledge of God.
Those who crown their knowledge with affection of God.
Those who crown their conversations with love and longing for God.
May God grant this to everyone.
Belief in God, knowledge of God, love of God, spiritual delight, a deep love and longing for God.
They are words that are repeated often and so I believe even when I use these terms you will understand.
Imam al-Ghazali also mentions the matter of love of God in his book Ihya that we read recently.
Using metaphors of love; ‘You love this for this reason; and this for this reason.
You are in love with beauty, in love with stature, enchanted by manners, enchanted by words and what have you not.
These are all things that tie a person and bring them towards the valleys of love,’ he says.
Then, ‘But think, all of these things come from the shadow of the shadow of the shadow of the manifestation of the Beauty of Beauties.
How can you not love Him?
How can you not be filled with love and longing for Him?’ He presents these questions.
Those who wander in the valleys of imitation will not understand this.
But they should desire the following:
‘Please my God!
After belief in God is knowledge of God.
I am in Your debt, after knowledge of God is love.
Let me sit and stand and be Your Leyla, Your Majnun; Your Shirin, Your Ferhat; whoever else I can be.
In fact, let me be like noble Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, to You.’
May God allow it to be so.
Deep love and longing for God.
What does it occur with?
Faith; firstly, to have faith.
And then to bring faith to a level of understanding.
If this word is looked up for its definition, it means to believe in God in such a way as to not recognise the possibility of the opposite existing.
Two plus two is four; nobody doubts this.
But I doubt this, as two numbers may not always have the same value or weight in all situations, so when you add them together they may not always make the same sum.
There may be some doubt about this as well.
There may be some doubt about two times two making four; but there should not be such doubt in your faith.
This is expressed through the word ‘iz’an’ (conviction).
Having doubt-free belief in the Almighty God…
It is such a belief that spiritual knowledge develops at its heart.
So when you take that step, you leap into knowledge of God.
Once you take a step towards knowledge of God, you dream about love of God.
Because now you know; when you know, you will love.
If you do not love, it means you do not know.
If you are not a lover, it means you do not know.
As a side note:
This does not mean, ‘You will not escape it, you will tumble into Hell’.
Schools of Islamic theology have accepted your imitated faith.
‘Go ahead, come on you misbehaved, enter,’ will be said to them as well.
‘Cross the Bridge over Hell like so, pass the Scales and judgement like so.’
Faith.
It is followed by performing good deeds without suspicions and murmurings; without being polluting with hypocrisy, showing-off, self-pride and self-conceit.
‘You should pursue God’s good pleasure in your actions.
If He is pleased with you, even if the whole world is displeased, it is of no consequence.
If He approves, it has no effect even if all others reject your ideas and actions.
When He is pleased and approves, even if you do not seek the approval of others, should He will it to be so and His Wisdom requires it, He will make others accept it and be pleased with you.
A valuable discourse from the Treatise of Sincerity…
Righteous deeds…
Fundamentally, ‘righteous’ means, firm, absolute, crystal clear and gleaming.
We sometimes speak about purity; this is only one part of the issue.
Such righteous deeds that are not tainted by the ego, pleasures, carnal desires, thoughts of position, rank, worldly merits, applause, hypocrisy and showing off.
Worshipping God because He is God.
Obligations independent of human reason.
We should be conscious of everything behind the scenes; but we are obligated to do what God wills.
And we should execute this with sincere and kind actions.
Is not mentioned in the Tradition that mentions Gabriel by the Prophet,
Faith, deeds, and the perfection of virtue.
When perfection of virtue is mentioned, we point to the Pride of Humanity.
‘Ihsan (God-consciousness) is to worship God as if you see Him, and if you do not achieve this state of devotion, then (take it for granted that) God sees you.’
If there is faith, deeds will follow; however faith without deeds is bound to dry up.
Indeed, faith without good deeds is condemned to dry; doomed to dry, like a tree without hydration, with no carbon dioxide.
Deeds will keep faith alive.
And now I assume you give reason to Kant, to his view God is unknowable.
How much can we know him?
As far as the culture in which you were raised allows you.
As much as an uneducated mother and father could provide you.
As much as the madrasa that does not develop spiritual knowledge is effective; it has lost its true essence as a place of scholastic thought.
As much as the dervish lodge that has lost its essence/spirit.
As much as the totally polluted markets, which have become quagmires can give.
Those who are away from all of these, who have surrendered themselves to the philosophical thought, there is Naturalism, there is Materialism, and other isms and there schools of thought.
It is impossible to arrive anywhere like that, they will not get anywhere; there is a new need, in fact, virtuous deeds are required.
Righteous deeds and righteous people, those who really know God Almighty.
The proverb ‘one is not known by theories but rather by deeds’ can be accepted to point towards this.
We should say, forget the theoretical and concentrate on deeds and action.
If framed like this, then is considers the basic principles of the Religion and the religious methodology.
Yes, a book comes from God’s characteristic of Divine Speech.
Life, Knowledge, Hearing, Sight, Will, Power, etc; and the Maturidis call these creative commands.
Divine Speech and the Qur’an come from the title of Divine Speech, Divine Speech-of God Almighty; the declaration of God.
For someone who can understand, it also comes in the form of hints.
Those who sit next to the Prophet do not feel or hear it; but with His influence upon the Prophet, even on a winter day, they understand by his sweat.
The Honourable Aisha, may I sacrifice all I have for her, says this:
‘On a winter day he was sweating heavily; shivering so much, when a revelation came down’
This is the Divine Truth; In a way, this comes from the Divine Speech of God.
Now regarding the ‘creative commands’, those also come from God; those are a book made by the ‘Knowledge’ attribute, within the plan, program and project of his ‘Power’ and ‘Willpower’.
‘The entire universe is a Sublime Book of God,
No matter which letter you investigate, you will see its meaning is God.’
When you analyse a tree, and you don’t remember God from it, you will not have constructed a reasonable foundation of understanding.
If you do not connect an ant to Him, you will not have constructed a reasonable foundation of understanding.
No matter what you learn, you will leave so many gaps and holes.
For example, relating to anatomy; when you look at it properly, the analyses you make will be for nothing, if you do not relate it to The Divine Essence.
As read in the Honourable Sage Bediüzzaman and al-Ghazali’s works, for example in the ‘Supplication’, when everything is given to Him, in a way a full moon emerges in its full meaning.
You will observe and say, ‘It was actually this and this’.
Saying something now may be a sign of egoism; My apologies.
I don’t have the ability to understand and contemplate, reflect and practice things from the Pride of Humanity regarding this topic; However based on what I have learned from what the Spokesman of our Age has taught, at times when I sometimes give myself fully to observations, I look at plants and flora and say: ‘You are also pages of the Book of The Lord; you are what He has written’ and kiss them.
I feel like kissing those plants.
Being careful to tread on ants.
You know I don’t look around my surroundings and focus in front of me, in case I may step on an ant.
That is why if there are crazy events happening right next to me when I am walking on a side road, I check in front of my foot in case I may accidently step on an ant or bug.
Because they are also an creations of God.
Almighty God’s ninety nine Names have different manifestations, in some ways that; in regards to having disclosure of those Attributes and understanding them from multiple aspects, it would be disrespectful to those Attributes to directly underestimate them.
Yes, biologists studying ecosystems will not be able to understand this concept.
The incredible book of the universe should be read from this perspective.
The meanings expressed in the previous two lines should be evaluated accordingly.
Everything on Earth says ‘There is no deity but God’.
Therefore, these are, in a sense, the words of the Divine Power.
These are part of the book of God, according to the knowledge of the Possessor of an all-overwhelming Power and Supreme Will.
Now, as these two books came from Him, if you separate these two concepts from each other I believe you will become ignorant of truths.
For this reason, remember what I said previously?
‘A school of theology that fell into the swamp of scholastic science.
These concepts will not be understood this way.
And the philosophical interpretation of others.
‘These are the characteristics of the universe.
Human anatomy consists of,
The functions of the eye, the ear, the mouth, the tongue, the functions of the sense of taste, the activities of the heart, the activities of the column and other senses and organs.
When you have a comprehensive perspective towards these, you will not be able to relate these to the Divine Essence.
And when you don’t relate these to the Divine Essence, you will leave a big gap.
You may strive in these matters, but whatever you do will be empty at the foundation.
To have a solid foundation, you need to relate to God.
As creation is a masterpiece of the Possessor of an all-overwhelming Power, it is also a different form of self-disclosure of the Divine Speech.
The Islamic world was exposed to losses as these two books were separated from each other.
We are referring this back to three concepts:
One:
‘Religious knowledge’…
The need to properly comprehend Arabic and at the same time methodology in order to properly understand religious knowledge…
Then reading the Miraculous Exposition, the Qur’an, in the right way.
Then being aware of the Illustrious Practices of the Prophet.
While focusing on the practices of the Prophet, one should transmit them word by word, experts will know what this means.
Knowing religious knowledge to this extent.
This was the function of the madrasa; but this was not its only function.
Until the 5th century, people that were educated there were educated with two wings.
For instance Khwarizmi. For a long time, his systems and knowledge were used in Andalusia.
Another example is Ibn Sina (Avicenna). Al-Ghazali criticises him in one respect; I believe in relation to the verse of An-Nur.
He dies at the age of 55 (57 or 58 according to some sources).
When you look at the things he put forth, some of it is beyond even our time. Your mind will be blown away.
He was educated in a madrasa. In addition to learning religious knowledge, he also reached a peak in the field of medicine. A highly distinguished individual.
You look at some of the things al-Ghazali talks about.
He was born in the year 1059.
Many centuries ago.
When you look at the things he talks about from the fields of medicine, or philosophy, you think he has observed and studied everything.
Thus, the madrasas that deviated from this system, in fact jumped into a pitfall of scholastic error.
Secondly, the Sufi lodges lost their spirit.
In one way they fell far away from the Islamic sciences, on the other they invented ‘caliphates’ that would be passed down from father to son. ‘If I die, you will continue with my son’.
‘If you are Naqshi, you will only do cycles of Hajagan’.
‘If you are Qadiri, or from another order such as Shadhili, you will do circles of dhikr. ‘
That is,
‘There is no deity but God.’ repeated
I witnessed both of these when I was a child. Both the Qadiri customs and the Naqshi ones.
Iman of Alvar used to turn off the lights sometimes to aid in concentration and perhaps to communicate the concept of being conscious of being seen at all times. He was a Spiritual Pole.
Darkening the room to improve concentration and awareness that God is witnessing him.
He would say, ‘the blessed (Chapter beginning with) “Have We not expanded for you your breast.”‘
And his voice would reflect his solemnity on the topic.
He would say ‘the blessed Chapter Al-Fatiha’.
Or ‘the blessed Salawat (invocation of peace and blessings upon the Prophet)’.
And everyone would offer peace and blessings, recite the Opening Chapter and the Relief Chapter many times.
There was also the Qadiri aspect to him; consequently they would sometimes hold hands, switch the lights off, he would turn in circles in his glorification, adding rhythm to them, as if leading a symphony.
That rhythm would give a unique pleasure to people.
At a certain period of time…
But this was the period of our death, the period of our movement to the gravestone.
It was something being lived that was inherited from a past era; our forefathers had lived that, they were living and inheriting bread crumbs of this spirit, this idea.
I saw the ones who grasped the leftovers of the bread crumbs; even that was enough to faint.
Yes, beside the point; even that was enough to faint.
Three, the worldly or natural sciences.
These are completely outside of religion.
It has nothing to do with the Sufi lodges, being a dervish, the life of the spirit and heart or the life of the Secret, the Hidden, the Most Hidden; neither does it have anything to do with the Islamic sciences; nor does it have anything to do with belief in God.
The three principals have been separated from each other.
For how many centuries?
Since the fifth century of migration until today.
In certain periods, there have been attempts to partially keep this tradition alive.
Like an attempt to revitalise a heart by massaging it; otherwise the heart has essentially stopped.
As there was no death of brain, they said, ‘let us try some CPR, it might come alive’.
They kept it partially alive.
So Mehmed Fatih (may his abode be heaven) brought Ali Kuşcu from Asia and asked; ‘What can we learn from him?
What can we learn from others?’ he said.
But the group of whom this matter began with was in the fifth century; nearly 1000 years ago.
A standstill.
Consequently, 1000 years ago, the truth of Islam’s three essentials were divorced.
The commands of creation, matters that relate to the natural sciences, the matters pertaining to the heart and spirit and also at the same time the Islamic sciences of which were essential to the madrasa; all of these were divorced from one another.
Later the doors of other things were knocked on.
At some point they went and sought help from Kant, from Descartes, from Pascal, sometimes from other thinkers.
Sometimes they went and sought aid from Aristotle; and then appeared the Illuminist school.
They sought aid from Plato, Socrates.
In this way they each school killed one of them; the lodges killed one of them and the madrasas killed one of them.
I call this the ‘divorce of the three’.
This is the joke:
I assume that after all these other relationships; the time has come to return to their original partners, the time has come for the three essentials to come back together.
The time has come to say, ‘For nine centuries we have not left a door unvisited, we have made many different relationships.
For God’s sake, that’s enough; let us stop making more and more relationships’.
Come, let us construct our own tents, our own little worlds in a way that these three essentials can once again come together.
Let us recall that this originated from God, found a foundation through the Prophet’s efforts, and has been protected and multiplied by the the Righteous Predecessors.
With God’s permission and grace let us work to bring it back to its former glory.
The essence of the matter is this.
Sufism is essentially based on knowing the commandments of the complete religion, reading the two aforementioned books in togetherness, and through the journey to the horizon of the heart and the spirit.
For this reason, Bediüzzaman says, ‘This being the nature of the worldly, carnal life and corporeal existence, be freed from corporality, restrict your carnal appetites, and enter the level of life of the heart and spirit!’
In other words, humanity does have an animalistic aspect; this is normal, and it remains with us while we sleep.
On the other hand, the humane aspect of our spirit travels as though travelling amongst the Intermediate Realm; it is this humane spirit that visits the realms of dreams as we sleep.
He says ‘To abandon the base desires and instincts, to rise to the degree of life of the spirit and the heart.’
This is the first level.
The degree of life of the heart and the spirit.
In a way, as you progress up these levels you will feel pleasure and fulfilment from within.
Because you will start to discover more and more bright lights in the distance, these are the ‘Secret’ clusters of light.
Once you reach those, you will then discover the ‘Hidden’ clusters of light.
And once you have reached those, you will become bedazzled by the knowledge of fortune, which is impossible to grasp, and you will say ‘I wonder if I will see that too?’
It is referred to as the state of ‘the Akhfa’ (the Most Hidden), which is a comparative form of the state prior to it: The ‘Khafi’ (the Hidden), and it come to mean the Hidden beyond the Hidden’.
It is not possible to comprehend.
Şemseddin Günaltay uses the following expression in his book The Ancient Philosophy, in reference to Goethe:
‘Understanding the essence of the Creator of All is impossible.’
That is, it is not possible for us to comprehend His transcendent Person.
And the Pride of Humanity’s explanation also focuses on this topic:
Question and research the rules of Creation as much as you can, but when it comes to the Divine Essence, know that that is the point to stop at. For, the human mind is not capable of fully understanding and comprehending Him.
But He (Almighty God) expresses Himself to us through His scriptures, His creation, His Oneness, His Prophets, His saintly servants, and through His creating you as a human in such a way that, there can be no better explanation.
Thus, be respectful towards Him.
Don’t you dare say ‘Now let us see you’.
Seeing Him is possible only in the other world, on the sacred slopes of Fridays in Paradise.
May God Almighty honour us with this favour.
Let me mention something else here as an aside.
The expression of observing Almighty God from the sacred slopes of Fridays in Paradise, we understand that the Divine Essence will be observed then.
It is not possible for a person to see and comprehend God Almighty in this world.
It seems a person has to reach such a great level for this to occur that, it is only possible on the sacred slopes of Paradise.
It is there that the heart becomes a clear mirror.
And even there, everyone will see Him depending on the level that their heart unveils, to the level that their heart reflects.
But God’s Messenger expresses with his allegorical expressions that:
‘Even though He will be seen to billions of people, not one person’s sighting of Him will block one’s ability to see Him. Just like the full moon high above the horizon.’
This is just an allegory expressing that no one’s right to see Him will be prevented by another person’s.
Of course God Almighty is not a full moon, nor is he a sun, nor is he trillions of suns; all of these are mere shadows of the shadow of the shadow of the shadow of His shadow.
In this respect, the topic of observing God from the sacred slopes of Fridays in Paradise alludes to a certain level of enlightenment and understanding.
In other words, it can be said that at that point in time one reaches the status between existence and possibility, a point when one can distinguish between temporary and everlasting life, and in the great development of one’s heart and the spiritual intellect, they are blessed with the observation of God Almighty.
And there, according to statements of verifying scholars, they will be blinded when they view Almighty God and forget the blessings of Paradise.
You know the Qur’an mentions the blessings of Paradise on many occasions; there is not much focus on the other one.
Because the other one is something ‘impossible-to-comprehend.’
There is mention of partners, mansions and villas.
There is mention of rivers and streams.
There is mention of sitting side by side and having a conversation about earthly things.
There is mention of adorable things, things that can mesmerise one, that are equal to thousands of years of life on earth in respect to understandings of pleasures.
However, when they observe the Divine Essence on a Friday. That’s why we feel the need to call that matter “The Sacred Slopes of Fridays” in our terminology, on The Sacred Slopes of Fridays…
And when they see Him, they forget all the blessings of Paradise.
And the Mu’tazilites who refuse the Vision of the Divine are at a loss.
It is stated poetically in ‘Bad’al-Amali’ by Imam Ali al-Ushi as ‘Frustration to you, disappointment to you, loss to you.’
Obviously, then, it is such an observatory.
Those Sacred Slopes transform into such an observatory that everyone gets the opportunity to observe the Divine Beauty, which is impossible-to-comprehend, depending on one’s ability and standing.
May God Almighty honour us with that honour.
‘O God, keep us far away from Hellfire, save us, protect us.
Include us in Paradise, among your righteous servants, and the intercession, blessing, and favour of your distinguished Messenger.
And send your peace and blessings upon Him.’