Concerning the Bearers of the Throne
the Throne bears the Merciful, and they bear it -
this statement is intelligible.
power is there for a creature and what strength,
if it had not been for that which the intellect and Revelation brought?
and spirit and nutrients and rank.
There is nothing else which division arranges.
is the Throne, if you but realise its eminence!
The One who settles on it in the name of the Merciful is hoped-for.
are eight, and Allah knows them. Today there are four,
and there is no fault in them:
then Ridwan and Malik, Adam
and the Friend (Ibrahim) and then Jibril,
by Mika'il and Israfil. There are only eight here -
nourished by "there is no god but Allah".
(The Throne ('Arsh) in Arabic)
May Allah support the wali! Know that in Arabic 'the Throne' is a designation by which the kingdom is meant. It is said, "The king's throne is toppled," when there is a disturbance in his kingdom. Throne also designates and means the seat. When the Throne designates the kingdom, its bearers are its supporters. When the Throne is the seat, its bearers are the legs which support it, or whoever carries it on their sacks. Number enters into the bearers of the Throne. The Messenger said that they are four in this world, and eight on the Day of Rising. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, recited, "Upon that day eight shall carry above them the Throne of your Lord," (69:17) and then he said, "Today they are four," meaning in this world. Allah said, "Upon that day they shall be eight," meaning in the Next World.
(The Throne is contained in body, spirit, nourishment and rank)
We related from Ibn Masarra al-Jabali, one of the greatest of the People of the Path in knowledge, state, and unveiling, "The carried Throne is the kingdom. It is contained in body, spirit, nourishment and rank." Adam and Israfil belong to forms; Jibril and Muhammad to spirits; Mika'il and Ibrahim to provisions; and Malik and Ridwan to the Promise and the Threat. There is only in the kingdom what was mentioned. Nourishment, which is provision, is both sensory and spiritual. That which we will mention in this chapter is the one method, which has the meaning of kingdom, through which benefit is connected. "Its bearers" designates those who undertake its management. One manager is an elemental form or a luminous form; one manager is a spirit; one manager belongs to an elemental form; one manager is a spirit and one managed and compelled by a luminous form. Nourishment belongs to an elemental form and the nourishment of knowledges and gnoses of spirits. There is a sensory rank of happiness achieved by entering the Garden and a sensory rank of wretchedness achieved by entering Hellfire (Jahannam) and a spiritual rank of knowledge.
This chapter is based on four issues. The first question is form; the second is the spirit; the third is nourishment; and the fourth is the rank, which is the end. Each of these questions has two divisions, so there are eight. They are the bearers of the Throne, i.e. when the eight appeared, the kingdom was established and appeared, and its King sat on it.
(Luminous bodies and Archangels)
The first question concerns form and it has two divisions: an elemental bodily form which contains the imaginative bodily form, and the other division which is a luminous physical body. We will begin with the luminous body. The first bodies which Allah created were the bodies of the angelic spirits wandering with love in the majesty of Allah. They include the First Intellect and the Universal Self, and the luminous bodies created from the light of majesty end there. None of these angels exist by any other means than the Self which is below the Intellect. Every angel created after these angels is subject to the jurisdiction of nature. They are from the genus of the spheres from which they were created and which they inhabit. It is the same with the angels of the elements. The last rank of angels are the angels created from the deeds and breaths of the worshippers. We will mention them class by class in this chapter, Allah willing.
Know that Allah was before He created creation when there was no beforeness in time. That is an expression of connection which indicates a relationship by which the goal is obtained in the listener. Allah was in the Mist ('ama') below and above which there is no air. It was the first Divine manifestation to appear in which the light of the Essence flowed, as is clear in His words, "Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth." (24:35) When that Mist was coloured by light, He opened in it the forms of the angels bewildered with love who are above the world of natural bodies. No throne or creature preceded them. When He brought them into existence, He gave them a manifestation. That manifestation became unseen for them, and that unseen was a spirit for them, i.e. for those forms. He gave them a manifestation in His name, the Beautiful, so they wandered distraught with love in the majesty of His beauty, and they do not recover from it.
(The First Intellect is the Axis of the World of Registration and Recording)
When Allah wanted to create the world of recording and writing, He specified one of those Karubiyin angels. He was the first angel of that light called the Intellect and the Pen. He was given a presencing (tajalli) in the place where given (wahabi) knowledge is manifested according to the bringing-into-existence He desired for His creation, not for an end and a limit. By its essence, the Intellect accepted what will be and the Divine Names which desire the issuance of this created world. From this Intellect was derived another existent thing called the Tablet. He commanded the Pen to descend to it and entrust in it only all that will be until the Day of Rising. He gave this Pen 360 years of penness, i.e. being a Pen. From its being Intellect, Allah gave this Pen 360 presencings (tajalliyat) or raqa'iq (filaments). Every year or filament extracts 360 varieties of comprehensive knowledges, and the Pen details them in the Tablet. This encompasses the knowledges in the universe until the Day of Rising. The Tablet knows them when the Pen entrusts them to it. That is part of the knowledge of nature, and it is the first knowledge which this Tablet acquires of the knowledges of what Allah has willed for His creation. That is nature rather than the self. All of that is in the world of pure light.
(The Throne and its angelic inhabitants)
Then Allah brought into existence the pure darkness which is opposite this light, which is in the position of absolute non-existence opposite absolute existence. When He brought it into existence, that light flowed onto it with an essential outflowing with the help of nature. So that light repaired its disarray and the body appeared which is designated as the Throne. Then the name the Rahman settled on it by the name, the Outwardly Manifest. That was the first of the world of creation to appear. From that mixed light, which is like the light of dawn, He created the angels which encircle the Seat. That is His words, "You will see the angels encircling the Throne proclaiming the praise of their Lord." (39:75) They have no other occupation than to encircle the Throne, proclaiming His praise. We explained the creation of the universe in our book, 'Uqla al-Mustawfiz. We have used the principles for this chapter.
(The Footstool (Kursi) and the angels who inhabit it)
Then He brought the Footstool into existence inside this Throne and put angels of its own nature in it. Each sphere was the basis for its inhabitants which were created in it just like the elements from which its inhabitants were created. So Adam was created from earth and he and his sons filled the earth. In this noble Footstool the Word was divided into report and judgement: these are the two feet which descend from the Throne as reported in the report of the Prophet. Then inside the Footstool Allah created spheres, one inside the other. In each sphere He created a world from it which they inhabit which He named angels, i.e. messengers. He adorned the spheres with stars, and inspired every heaven with its command until He created the forms of products (muwalladat).
(The spirits and luminous forms, imaginative forms and elemental forms)
When Allah completed these luminous and elemental forms which were without spirits which were unseen by these forms, He gave a manifestation to every class of these forms according to what they are based in. The spirits of forms took on being from the forms and from the presencing (tajalli). This is the second question. Allah created the spirits and commanded them to manage the forms and He made them indivisible, a single essence but made them distinct from one another. They are distinct according to the forms they accept from that presencing. The forms do not belong to these spirits in reality according to "wherenesses". These forms belong to the spirits as the kingdom in respect of the elemental forms, and like places of manifestation in respect of all forms.
Then Allah originated the imaginative physical forms by another presencing between the lata'if (subtleties) and forms, and luminous and fiery forms appeared to the eye in those physical bodies. The sensory forms manifested carry forms of meaning in these physical forms in sleep, after death and before the resurrection - it is the interspace of form. It is a horn of light whose top is wide and bottom is narrow. Its highest part is the Mist and the lowest is the earth. These bodies of form in which the jinn and angels and inward part of man appear are outward in sleep and the forms of the Market of the Garden. It is this form which populates the earth of the imagination which we already spoke about in this proper chapter.
(The nourishment of the spirits and the nourishment of forms)
Then Allah appointed nourishment for these forms and these spirits. They are the subject of the third question. They subsist by that nourishment. It consists of sensory nourishment and nourishment of meaning. The nourishment of meaning is the nourishment of knowledges, presencings (tajalliyat) and states (ahwal). Sensory nourishment is well known. It is what the forms of food and drink bear of spiritual meanings, i.e. faculties. Each form, be it lumnious, animal or physical, is nourished by what is suitable for it. It would take too long to give the details of that.
(Ranks of the world in happiness and wretchedness)
Then Allah gave every world a rank in happiness and wretchedness and a station; and the details are innumerable. Its happiness is according to it: some of it is happiness of desire, happiness of perfection, happiness of being filled, and happiness of place, i.e. the Shari'a. Wretchedness is like that in division in what is not in accordance with desire, perfection, temperament (which is not being filled), and is not the Shari'a. All of that is sensory and intelligible. The sensory part of it is what is connected to the Abode of wretchedness, of pains in this world and the Next, and connected to the Abode of happiness of pleasures in this world and the Next. Some is pure and some mixed. The pure is connected to the Next Abode. The mixed is connected to this Abode. So the happy might appear in the form of the wretched and the wretched in the form of the happy while they will be distinct in the Next Abode. It may be that the wretched manifests his wretchedness in this world and it is connected to the wretchedness of the Next world. This is also the case with the happy. However, they are not known in this world, but they are distinct in the Next World: "Now keep yourselves apart, you wrongdoers, on this day!" (39:59) So there the ranks are connected to their people with a connection which is not broken nor changed.
(The bearers of the Throne is in this world and the Next)
So the meaning of the eight, which is the sum of the Kingdom designated by the Throne, has been made clear to you. This is the fourth question. The meaning of the eight is clear to you. These eight belong to the eight Divine ascriptions by which Allah is described. They are: life, knowledge, power, will, speech, hearing, sight, and the perfection of the tasted, smelt and felt with the attribute connected to him. This perception of them has a connection, like hearing perceiving heard things and sight perceiving seen things. Thus the Kingdom is contained in eight. Four of them are manifest in this world: form, food, and the two ranks. On the Day of Rising, all of the eight will be visible to the eyes. It is what Allah said, "Upon that day eight shall carry above them the Throne of Your Lord." (69:17) The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Today they are four." This is in the explanation of the Throne as the Kingdom.
As for the Throne, which is the seat, it belongs to Allah and the angels bear it on their backs. Today they are four, and tomorrow they will be eight in respect to bearing in the land of gathering. It is related of the forms of those four bearers what approximates what Ibn Masarra said. It is said that one has the form of man, one of a lion, one of an eagle and the fourth of a bull. It was what the Samiri saw and imagined that it was the god of Musa. So he built the calf for his people and said, "This is your god and the god of Musa" (20:88) in the tale. Allah speaks the truth and guides to the Path.
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