The Seal of the Wisdom of Possession1 in the Word of Zakariyya (Zachariah)
Know that the mercy of Allah encompasses everything in existence and judgement, and the existence of wrath comes from the mercy of Allah by wrath. His mercy preceded His wrath, that is, the ascription of mercy to Him preceded the ascription of wrath. Then every source has an existence which demands that Allah's mercy encompass every source. For that reason, we say that the mercy of Allah encompasses all things in existence and principle.
The Divine Names are "things", but they derive from a single Source. The first thing that His mercy encompassed before time was its thingness, that source which gives existence to mercy by mercy. Thus the first thing that His mercy encompassed was itself, then the thingness indicated, then the thingness of every existent existing without end in this world and the Next, non-essential ('arad) and substance (jawhar), composite and simple. Neither the acquisition of a goal nor harmony of nature is taken into account rather, harmonious and inharmonious things are all encompassed by divine mercy in existence. We mentioned in The Makkan Revelations that effect only belongs to the non-existent, not the existent. If the existent had it, it is by the principle of the non-existent. It is a strange knowledge and a rare question. Only those who posess illusions (awhâm) know its realisation, and that is by their tasting (dhawq).2
The mercy of Allah pervades phenomenal beings, and circulates in essences and sources. The most ideal position of mercy is when it is known from witnessing with sublime thoughts. Everyone mercy designates is happy. There is only what mercy designates, and the mention of the mercy of things is the source of its bringing them into existence. Every existent thing has been shown mercy. O friend! Do not be veiled from the perception of what we have said by what you see of the troubles people experience and what you believe about the pains of the Next Abode which will not depart from the one whom they afflict.
First of all, know that mercy is in bringing-into-existence in general. In mercy by pains, only pains come into existence. So mercy has an effect in two ways - the first effect is by the essence, which is its bringing every existent source into existence. It does not regard desire or lack of it, suitability or lack of suitability. It looks at the source of every existent before its existence, or rather, it looks at its source-form. For this reason, it saw Allah-as-creature in creeds as a single source-form among the source-forms. Its mercy to itself is by bringing-into-existence. This is why we said that Allah-as-creature in creeds is the first thing shown mercy after its mercy to itself in its connection of bringing those shown mercy into existence.
It has another effect by request. Those who are veiled ask Allah to have mercy on them in their beliefs, and the people of unveiling ask for the mercy of Allah to settle on them. They ask for it by the name of Allah, and so they say, "O Allah! Have mercy on us!" and He only has mercy on them by carrying out mercy through them. It has authority because authority in reality belongs to the meaning based on place.
He is the Merciful in reality, so Allah is only merciful to His slaves, attentive to them by mercy. When mercy settles on them, they experience its authority through taste (dhawq). The one designated by mercy has had mercy known to him. The active participle is the Merciful (Rahîm) and the Mercy-Giver (Râhim), and this principle does not describe creatures because it is a matter of directing meanings to their essences.
States are neither existent nor non-existent they have no source in existence because they are relationships. They are not non-existent in principle because what knowledge establishes is called the "knower", and it is a state. The knower is an essence described by knowledge, but it is not the same as the essence nor is it the same as knowledge. There is only knowledge and the essence on which this knowledge is established. The being of the knower is a state of this essence when it is described by this meaning. The relationship of knowledge occurred to him, so he is called knowing. Mercy, properly speaking, is a relationship from the Mercy-giver, and it is necessarily part of the principle, so it is merciful. The One who brought it into existence in the one shown mercy did not bring it into existence in order to be shown mercy by it; He brought it into existence to show mercy to the one on whom it settled.
Allah is not in a place by events, so He is not in a place by bringing mercy into existence. He is the Mercy-Giver, and the Mercy-Giver is only Mercy-Giver by the establishment of mercy. He confirmed that He is the source of mercy. Whoever has not tasted this matter and has no part in it, does not dare to say that He is the source of mercy or the source of the attribute. Such a person says, "He is not the same as the attribute nor other than it." In his view, the attributes of Allah with Him are not Him, nor are they other-than-Him because he cannot deny them nor can he make them the same as Him. Thus he 3 moves to this interpretation, and it is a good interpretation. Yet there is another interpretation more appropriate to the matter than this one, and more likely to remove ambiguity. It is to deny the sources of the attributes any existence based on the essence of the one described. Rather, they are relationships and relative ascriptions between the one described by them and their intelligible sources. Although mercy is common to all of them, it is different in relationship to each Divine Name.4
For this reason, Allah is asked to show mercy by each Divine Name, so the mercy of Allah and its indirect reference, which is that which encompasses everything, has many branches according to the number of the Divine Names. It is not general in relation to that particular divine name in the statement of the one who asks, "O Lord, have mercy!" and other Divine Names, even the Avenger. So he says, "O Avenger, have mercy on me!" That is because these Names indicate the designated Essence and, by their realities, indicate different meanings. They call on Him by these Names in mercy with respect to their indication of the Essence called by that Name and no other not by what is indicated by that Name, separating it from another and distinguishing it. The Name is not distinguished from another, and with him it is the indication of the Essence. It is distinguished in itself from other-than-it by its essence, as it is generally agreed that, by any expression, this Name is a reality distinct in its essence from other-than-it. The whole is set forth to indicate one designated source. There is no disagreement that each name has an authority which another does not have. That also must be taken into account, as one takes into account their indications of the named essence.
For this reason, Abu'l-Qasim ibn Qasi said regarding the Divine Names that each Name is, in its isolation, designated by all of the Divine Names since they preceded in mentioning its description by all the Names, that is, by their indication of one source. Although the Names based on it are many and their realities differ, i.e. the realities of these Names, the mercy is obtained by two means. The first is the path of obligation, and it is His word, "I shall prescribe it for those who are godfearing and pay zakat," (7:156) and He binds them by it through the attributes of knowledge and action. The other path by which mercy is obtained is the path of divine graciousness which is not connected to action. It is His words, "My mercy embraces all things." Of this, it is said, "So that Allah may forgive you your earlier errors and any later ones." (48:2) And of this, there are His words, "Do what you want, I have already forgiven you."5 So know that!
1. Al-Mâlikiyya. His state was dominated by the name, al-Mâlik, the Master, who is the Strong. This strength was shown in his himma whose fruit was Yahya.
2. Because they connect the imagination (wahm) to things and bring them into existence and thus have experiential knowledge of this. As for the one on whom illusion has no effect, he is far from this question.
4. i.e. mercy by provision, mercy by knowledge, etc.
5. This refers to an incident involving Hatib ibn Abi Balta'a. When the Muslim army prepared to set out to conquer Makka, Hatib sent a letter to warn Quraysh which was intercepted. 'Umar wanted kill him, but the Prophet said, "O 'Umar, perhaps Allah has looked with favour on those who fought at Badr and said, 'Do what you want. I have already forgiven you.'"
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