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The Twelfth Word
Apr 1, 2003

This Word presents a brief comparison between the Qur'an's sacred wisdom and human philosophy, a concise summary of the Qur'anic instruction and training for humanity's personal and social life. 

First fundamental

Differences between the Qur'anic wisdom and human philosophy: A religious, skillful, and renowned ruler wanted to make a copy of the Qur'an as beautifully as required by its sacred meanings and miraculous wording in order to adorn its wonderful words in a worthy fashion. So, he wrote it in a truly wonderful fashion with all kinds of precious jewels. To point out the variety of its truths, he wrote some of its letters in diamonds and emeralds, others in pearls and agate, brilliants and coral, and gold and silver. He adorned and decorated it in such a way that everyone was full of admiration and astonishment. That Qur'an became a most precious artwork for the people of truth, for its outer beauty indicated its brilliant inner beauty and striking adornment.

The ruler showed this Qur'an to a foreign [non-Muslim] philosopher and a Muslim scholar. Seeking to test and reward them, he told each one to write about it. The two men complied. The philosopher discussed the letters' shapes, decorations, and interrelationships, and the jewels' properties and methods of use. He said nothing of its meaning, for he saw only an ornamented object and was unaware that it was an invaluable book with depths of meaning. As he was well-informed about engineering and chemistry, could describe things, and knew a great deal about jewelry but nothing about Arabic, he wrote his book accordingly. But the truth-loving Muslim scholar, understanding that it was the Clear Book (the Wise Qur'an), ignored its outward ornamentation and the letters' decorations and described the sacred truths and secret lights behind the veil of decorations, for they are far more valuable and worthy of respect, more useful and comprehensive.

Both men presented their books to the ruler, who began with the philosopher's book. Seeing that he had worked very hard, the ruler nevertheless refused his book and expelled him from his presence. Why? Because he had written nothing of the bejeweled Qur'an's true wisdom, understood none of its meanings, and showed his disrespect for it by thinking that this source of truths consists of meaningless decoration. Looking through second book, and seeing that the truth-loving scholar had written a very beautiful and useful interpretation, a wise and illuminating composition, he congratulated him. It was pure wisdom, and its author was a true scholar, a genuine sage. As a reward, the scholar was given 10 gold coins from the ruler's inexhaustible treasury for each letter of his book.

The meaning is as follows: The embellished Qur'an is this artistically fashioned universe; the ruler is the Eternal Sovereign. The first man represents the line of philosophy and philosophers; the second man represents the way of the Qur'an and its students. Indeed, the wise Qur'an is the most exalted expounder and a most eloquent translator of this universe (a macro-Qur'an). It is the Criterion that instructs jinn and humanity in the signs of creation”Divine laws regarding creation and the universe's operation”inscribed by the Pen of Power on the sheets of the universe and pages of time. It looks upon creatures, each a meaningful letter, as bearing the meaning of another (on account of their Maker) and says: How beautifully they have been made, how meaningfully they point to the Maker's beauty and grace. Thus it shows the universe's real beauty.

Philosophy, focused on the design and decorations of creation's letters, has lost its way. While it ought to look upon this macro-book's letters as bearing the meaning of another (on account of God), it looks upon them as signifying themselves (on account of themselves) and says: How beautiful they are, not How beautifully they have been made. Thus philosophers insult creation and cause it to complain. In truth, materialistic philosophy is a falsehood having no truth, an insult to creation.

Second fundamental

Moral training in one's personal life: Sincere students of philosophy are Pharaoh-like tyrants. They abuse themselves by bowing in worship before the meanest thing, if they perceive it to be in their interest to do so. These materialist students are stubborn, misleading, and unyielding, but so wretched that they accept endless degradation for one pleasure; unbending but so mean as to kiss the feet of devilish people for a base advantage. They are conceited and domineering, but, unable to find any point of support in their hearts, are utterly impotent and vainglorious tyrants. Such people are no more than self-centered egoists striving to gratify their material and carnal desires, pursuers of personal interests and certain national interests.

Sincere students of the Qur'an are worshipping servants of God. They do not degrade themselves by bowing in worship before even the greatest of the created. They are dignified servants who do not worship in order to obtain a benefit, even Paradise. They are modest students, mild and gentle, who only lower themselves voluntarily to their Creator, never exceeding what He has permitted. They are aware of their weakness and need, but are independent because the Munificent Owner provides them with spiritual wealth. Relying on their Master's infinite Power, they are powerful. They act and strive purely for God's sake and pleasure, and to be equipped with virtue. The training given by philosophy and the Qur'an may be understood through the above comparison.

Third fundamental

Moral training in human social life: Philosophy considers force to be the point of support in social life, and life as the realization of self-interest (its goal) and conflict (its principle). A community's unifying bonds are race and aggressive nationalism, and its fruits are the gratification of carnal desires and increased need. Force calls for aggression, seeking self-interest causes battles over material resources, and conflict brings strife. Racism feeds by swallowing others, thereby paving the way for aggression. This is why humanity is not happy.

The Qur'an accepts right as the point of support in social life. The aim is virtue and God's approval, and its principle is mutual assistance. The only community bonds it accepts are those of religion, profession, and country. Its aim is to control and thus weaken carnal desires by urging the soul to sublime matters, satisfying our exalted feelings so that we will strive for human perfection and true humanity. Right calls for unity, virtues bring solidarity, and mutual assistance means helping each other. Religion secures brotherhood, sisterhood, and cohesion. Restraining our desires and urging the soul to perfection brings happiness in both worlds.