Yes, we all have egos and our egos are the keys… Keys of our being…
Ego is not always something bad if you don’t feed it with evil. Ego in Islam called “ana” and it has good side and bad side. If it is fed on evil, it causes moral degradation of humanity but fed on good it leads to welfare and high morals.
“The key of the universe is in human’s hand and it is attached to their nafs (self). The doors of the universe are seemingly open whereas they are closed in reality. Allah the almighty has entrusted humans with such a key named “ana” (I-ego) that it opens the doors of the entire universe and he entrusted us with such a talismanic ananiyah (ego) that humans discover the hidden treasures of the Creator of the Universe. But ana (ego) itself is a mystery, enigma and a talisman difficult to open. The mysteries of the universe will be known and solved, if the ego’s true nature and purpose of creation is known.
Sani-i Hakim (The All-Wise Creator) entrusted each human being with an ego having clues and samples to urge and enable him/her to recognize the truths of His rububiyyah’s (Lordship) Attributes and essential qualities. So that this ego is a ‘measure’ that makes known the qualities of rububiyyah’s (Lordship’s) and functions of Divinity. A measure doesn’t have to have actual existence, for its posited or supposed existence can serve a measure, just like hypothetical lines in a geometrical proof..”
As we see above our ana, ego, self is from Allah and He refers it as “a trust” in Qur’an: “Lo! We offered the trust unto the heavens and the earth and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man assumed it. Lo! he hath proved a tyrant and a fool.” (Surah Azhab, ayah 72) Trust is the valuable belonging that we are responsible for. In this case we are to direct it in the right path as it is a reflection
of Allah’s divine names and attributes.
First of all to shed more light on the topic, I wish to quote from an essay titled “Asma’ul Husna” from the 9th issue of our magazine ‘The Pen’:
“Almighty Allah orders in the Qur’an: “The most beautiful names belong to Allah: so call on him by them.” (A’raf, 180)
Man is a small pattern and sample of the universe. Allah created man as an index and sample for the universe…
By virtue of this secret, all the names of Allah that are manifest on the universe are also manifest on man. That’s to say, man is a comprehensive mirror pointing to Almighty Allah as much as to the universe.
Man is a mirror of Allah in three aspects. First aspect: Through samples. That is, the limited senses such as knowledge, power, vision, hearing, ownership that are given to man act as mirrors for Almighty Allah. For example, man says and points to as a mirror, “Just like I built this house with my knowledge and power, and I see it, own it and manage it; in the same way, Allah is the creator, owner and manager of the universe. He sees and hears everything.”
Second aspect: Through contrasts. That is, just as the darkness at night shows the light; in the same way, man shows with his limitless impotence the infinite power of Allah and points with his limitless poverty to the infinite wealth of Allah, and so on.
Third aspect: With regard to being recipient, some of the names of Allah are manifest on man in the form of embroidery. For example, he shows the name of Creator in his being created the name of Maker in his being created artfully and the name of Generous in his being offered generously. Thus, he becomes a mirror.
Man becomes valuable and precious as much as he comprehends his being a mirror and reads and makes other read the beautiful names of Allah (SWT). With this secret, our Prophet (PBUH) became the most comprehensive and excellent mirror for Almighty Allah, thus becoming most beloved servant of Allah and received the title of Habibullah.
Let us explain the expression “passing from the appearance to reality”. Everything has both an apparent aspect and a true reality. The true reality behind everything is the Names of Allah.
At the beginning of the third station of the thirty-second word in the Risale-i Nur, this matter is explained as follows: “The reality of all beings and the universe is based on Divine Names. The reality of every being is based on one Name or many. Each art in every being is also based on a Name.” That is, the real aim is to attain the Names of Allah and understand them, thus reaching the true reality of everything.”
In this instance a question may knock on our head’s door, “Why did Allah make our ego a means to know His names and attributes?” The answer is easy to find for the wise:
“An absolute and all-encompassing entity has no limits or terms and therefore cannot be shaped or formed and cannot be determined in such a way that its essential nature can be comprehended. Fro example, lights undetermined by darkness cannot be known or perceived. However, light can be determined if a real or hypothetical bounding line of darkness is drawn. In the same way, the Divine attributes and names (e.g., knowledge, power, wisdom and compassion) cannot be determined, for they are all-encompassing and have no limits or like. Thus what they essentially are cannot be known or perceived. A hypothetical boundary is needed for them to become known. In this case, this hypothetical boundary is our ego. Ego imagines within itself a fictious lordship, power and knowledge and so posits a bounding line, hypothesizes a limit to the all-encompassing attributes and says: “This is mine and this is His.” Ego thus makes a division. By means of the miniature measure it contains, ego slowly comes to understand the true nature of the Divine names and attributes.
Through this imagined lordship, ego can understand the Lord-ship of the Creator (rububiyyah) of this universe. By means of its own apparent ownership, it can understand the real Ownership of its Creator, saying: “As I am the owner of this house, The Creator is the Owner of this creation.” Through its partial knowledge, ego comes to understand His Absolute knowledge. Through its defective, acquired art, it can intuit the Exalted Fashioner’s primary, originative art. For example ego says: “I built and arranged this house, so there must be One Who made and arranged this universe.”
Ego contains thousand of states, attributes and perceptions that, to some extent, disclose and make knowable the Divine attributes and essential Qualities. It is like a measure, a mirror or an instrument for seeing and finding out, an entity with an indicative function. It has no meaning in itself, but discloses meaning outside itself. It is a strand of consciousness from the thick rope of human existence, a fine thread from the celestial weave of humanity’s essential nature, an Alif from the book of human character.
That character has two aspects or faces. One face looks toward good and existence and only receives passively what is given; it cannot create. The other looks through evil and derives from non-existence. Here ego is active. Ego’s real nature is indicative –like a letter that has no meaning by itself- and points to the meaning of things other than itself. Its lordship is completely hypothetical, and its own existence is so weak and insubstantial that it cannot bear or support anything on its own. Rather, ego is a kind of scale or measure showing the degrees and quantities of what is measured. The necessary being’s absolute, all-encompassing and limitless attributes can become known through it.
Those who know and realize that this is the reality of their essential nature and act accordingly are included in: “Truly he succeeds and prospers that purifies it.” They truly carry out the trust and, through the telescope of ego, see what the universe is and what duties it is performing. They also see that their ego confirm the information which they have gathered about the universe. As a result, this information will retain the quality of light and wisdom for them, will not be changed into darkness and futility. When ego has performed its duty in this way, it renounces its claim to lordship and hypothetical ownership, which are merely devices of measurement, and it proclaims: “His is the sovereignty and ownership of all beings and to Him is due all praise and thanks. His is the judgment and rule and to Him you are returning.” Thus it achieves true worship and attains the rank of the best pattern of the creation.
But if ego forgets the Divine purpose of its creation, abandons the duty of its nature and views itself as a self-existing being independent of the Creator, it betrays the trust, falls subsequently into the class of those who are warned and threatened by: “And he fails that corrupts it.” This development is responsible for all kinds of polytheism, evil and deviation that have caused the heavens, Earth and the mountains were terrified of assuming the trust—lest they might be led to associate partners with God.
If ego, being as it is an insubstantial alif, a thread, a hypothetical line, is not perceived in its true essence, it grows and swells until it gradually permeates all parts of a human being. Like some huge monster, it swallows such people so that they and their faculties may consist of nothing more than an ego. Eventually, the ego of the human race gives strength to the individual ego through individual and national racism. This causes ego, swollen by support from the ego of the race, contests, like Satan, the commands of the Majestic Maker. Finally, taking itself as a yardstick, it compares everyone, everything with itself; divides the sovereignty of God between them and other ‘causes’. Thus it lapses into associating partners with God in the most grievous manner, being then the referent of the verse: “To associate partners with God is certainly the highest wrong-doing.”
Ego’s case is analogous to that of one who has stolen money from the public treasury—he attemps to justify his action by saying that he took a certain sum for each of his friends. That is why one who claims self ownership ends up believing and claiming that ‘everything owns it-self’.
Because of this betrayal ego sinks into absolute ignorance. Even if it has absorbed thousands of branches of science, its ignorance is only compounded by its knowledge. Whatever glimmers of knowledge of God ego may have obtained from the universe through its senses or its reflective powers are extinguished, for it can no longer find anything within itself with which to confirm, extend and maintain them. Whatever comes to ego is stained with the colors within it. Even if pure wisdom comes, it becomes absolutely futile within an ego stained with the colors of atheism, polytheism or other forms of denying the All-Mighty. If the whole universe were full of shining indications of God, a dark point in that ego would hide them from view, as though they were invisible.
In truth, however, the essential quality proper to human nature (and to ego within that nature), is to point outward to what is other than itself. True to that nature, ego is a most sensitive scale and accurate measure, a comprehensive index and perfect map, an all-reflecting mirror, and a fitting calendar and diary for the universe.”