Allah The Exalted, Who is the Creator and Only Owner of the worlds, has sent Prophet Muhammad (asw), who is the mercy to the worlds, as a perfect guide to humans and jins. And Allah Jalla Jalaluhu has sent the Wise Qur’an, which clearly describes how to live a life that gains Allah’s consent in this world of test, by means of His Prophet (asw). The first message of this eternal address to its addressees has become the command “Read!”
Alright. But read what?
There two possible ways to understand this message:
First, it is to read the verses of the Qur’an.
Second, it is to read the book of universe which is called ‘big book’.
When it comes to this second type of reading, two questions come to mind:
Why and how?
Why to read? In order to understand the purpose and wisdom of Allah The Exalted Who has created the book of universe and every beings in it and the addressee of that command.
How to read? To read in the name of the Creator and for the sake of Him, which is called “trans-indicative meaning.” That is, to put Him in the centre and to read everything by connecting them to Him (their Creator).
Now, we will do this reading in a methodical way. And we will give an example in order to make some concepts more understandable.
First, it is necessary to recognize and know the Majestic Creator so that one can understand the purpose and wisdom in His creating this grand book of universe. For it is not possible to comprehend the reality of the things without knowing Allah The Exalted. All existing worlds are types of the manifestation of His Names and attributes. That’s why we need to know the Names, attributes and effects of the Author of the book of universe in order to be able to read its pages and understand its sentences.
Imam Bediuzzaman Said Nursi described the ways of recognizing and knowing Allah by opening different doors in many parts of the Risale-i Nur books. We understand from those books that the shortest and safest method of knowing the Creator is “reaching the causer through the effect”.
This method teaches us to see and read all the animate and inanimate effects of the book of universe that we observe just like the pages, sentences, words and letters of a book.
With this perspective, the study of the knowledge about recognizing and knowing Allah takes shorter time and becomes easier.
With this point of view we learn looking at every single thing for His sake. By considering everything as a letter, we start reading the letters in the universe by recognizing their writer.
Now let’s connect ‘the reading of the book of universe’ and ‘the concept of reaching the doer through the effect’ with one another. When we pay attention to and start reading the lines of the book of universe, we witness the following order in the chain of creation:
The perfection of the effect indicates the perfection of the action, the perfection of the action
the perfection of the name evidently, the perfection of the name the perfection of the attribute necessarily, [and] the perfection of the attribute to the perfection of the matters certainly. And the perfection of the matter (sha’n) shows the perfection of the personage with certitude. (Al-Mathnawi al-Nuri, 14th Flash)
Now we will explain the order of “Effect >> Action >> Name >> Attribute >> Matters (Shuunat)>> Personage (Doer)” by means of an example:
The sense that drives and encourages a talented painter to paint is the desire that his art is to be known by other people. His works’ being recognized and known directly serves the recognition of himself and his reputation. That desire and fervour to be recognized drives the painter to show a will to do the works that will introduce himself. This will is necessary for the works to appear, but it is not enough by itself. For along with showing a will, the painter also needs to have different attributes to reflect the subtleties of his artistic talent on his works. Moreover, along with the knowledge of fine details of the art of painting, he needs a power to perfectly use the brush which brings the work a form and identity. His will, knowledge and power’s performing their vocation together ensures him to be mentioned as a talented painter, which is an attribute. Eventually, the perfect work that has taken a final form becomes a means of our understanding the painter’s action, name, attribute and capabilities and of knowing him as a person.
Now, with the help of this example, let’s look at the purpose, wisdom and sequence in Allah’s writing (i.e. creating) the big book of universe.
The most important purpose of Allah in bringing this big universe that we see into existence is that He has wished to see and show the beauties and perfections of His manifestation. His Divine love for being recognized and known becomes understandable as Divine senses and capabilities that are called matters (shuunat). These Divine states and capabilities have necessitated willing the creation of universe. And the will, which is among the subjective attributes (sifat-i zati), has necessitated the manifestation of other attributes like knowledge and power. It is, then, the matters- which mean the divine source of attributes- that prompts the attributes.
We can say that countless, limitless actions arise from attributes. And from this great number of actions, countless, artful and miraculous works, from atom particles to the endless depths of the space, show up – which the human mind has great difficulty to understand. Every action certainly emerges from an actor or doer, and points at a subject or agent. The perfection of the actions points at the perfection of the names. All actions are dependent on the Names of Allah, Who is the absolute Doer, and on the light of these Names and their manifestation.
Humans, by means of the sequence and method mentioned above, can open a door that takes them to their Lord through whichever work they look at, whatever creature they see. In that way, they would obey the command of “Read!” by seeing the work and following the road of reflection that leads to the Creator of the works. This type of reading is a kind of beginning for establishing the existence, oneness and greatness of Allah into human mind. Thanks to this knowledge and wisdom that they acquire, they would start the action of reading, which is the first command of the Wise Qur’an, in the name of their Lord and by putting it in the centre.
We have asked in the beginning: why and how to read the book of universe? We can summarize the answers to these two questions as follows:
We must slowly read the book of universe in order to recognize and know Allah the Exalted, the Creator of the universe. The wisdom and knowledge acquired have vital importance concerning having the lifestyle which the Creator asks from us and is pleased with.
When it comes to how to do this reading: with the perspective that the Qur’an teaches us, we must read by accepting every work that Allah creates as being a letter each which needs to be read and understood.
Yes, what does our Holy Book say in its first command? Connect every created work with the possessor of real influence, Allah; in other words “Read, in the Name of your Lord Who created!”