GOD (al-haqq) wanted to see the essences (al-a'yan)1 of His most perfect Names (a1-asmâ al-husnâ) whose number is infinite - and if you like you can equally well say: God wanted to see His own Essence ('ayn)2 in one global object (kawn) which having been blessed with existence (al-wujûd)3 summarized the Divine Order (al-amr)4 so that there He could manifest His mystery (sirr) to Himself.5
For the vision (ru'ya')6 that a being7 has of himself in himself is not the same as that which another reality procures for him, and which he uses for himself as a mirror: in this he manifests himself to his self in the form which results from the 'place' of the vision; this would not exist without the 'plane of reflection' and the ray which is reflected therein.
God first created the entire world as something amorphous8 and without grace,9 comparable to a mirror not yet polished10 but it is a rule in the Divine activity to prepare no 'place' without it receiving a Divine spirit as is explained (in the Koran) by the blowing of the Divine spirit into Adam11 and this is none other (from a complementary point of view to the former), than the actualization of the aptitude (al-isti'dâd) which such a form possesses, having already the predisposition for it, to receive the inexhaustible effusion (al-fayd)12 of the essential revelation (at-tajallî).13
There is not then (apart from the Divine Reality) other than one pure receptacle (qâbil) 14 but this receptacle itself comes from the Holy Effusion (al-fayd al-aqdas) (that is to say from the principial manifestation, meta-cosmic, where the 'immutable Essences' are Divinely 'conceived' before their apparent projection in the relative existence).15 For, the entire reality (al-amr)16 from its beginning to its end comes from God alone, and it is to Him that it returns.17 So, then, the Divine Order required the clarification of the nrirror of the world; and Adam became the light itself of this mirror and the spirit of this form.18
As for the Angels (of whom there is some mention in the Koran's account of Adam's creation),19 they represent certain faculties of this 'form'20 of the world which the Sufis call the Great Man (al-insân al-kabir) so that the angels are to it just as the spiritual and physical faculties are to the human organism.21 Each of these (cosmic) faculties finds itself as if veiled by its own nature; it conceives nothing which is superior to its own (relative) essence; for there is in it something which considers itself to be worthy of high rank and in the state nearest to God. It is thus because it participates (in a certain manner) in the Divine Synthesis (al-jam'iyat al-ilâhiyah)22 which governs that which appertains, be it to the Divine side (al-janâb al-ilâhî),23 be it to the side of the Reality of Realities (haqîqat al-haqâiq),24 be it again - and by this organism, support of all the faculties, - to the Universal Nature (tabî'at al-kull)25 ; this encompasses all the receptacles (qawabil) of the world, from its peak to its foundation.26 But this, logical reasoning will not understand, for this sort of knowledge is solely dependent on Divine intuition (al-kashf al-ilâhi); it is by that alone that one will know the roots of the forms of the world, in so far as they are receptive towards their ruling spirit.27
Thus, this being (Adamic) was called Man (insân) and God's Representative (khalifah). As for his quality as a man it designates his synthesised nature (containing virtually all other natures created) and his aptitude to embrace the essential Truths. Man is to God (al-haqq) that which the pupil is to the eye (the pupil in Arabic is called 'man within the eye'), the pupil being that by which seeing is effected; for through him (that is to say the Universal Man) God contemplates His creation and dispenses His mercy. Thus is man at once ephemeral and eternal, a being created perpetual and immortal, a Verb discriminating (by his distinctive knowledge) and unifying (by his divine essence).28 By his existence the world was completed. He is to the world that which the setting is to the ring; the setting carries the seal which the King applies to his treasure chests; and it is for this that (Universal) Man is called the Representative of God, Whose creation he safeguards, as one safeguards the treasures by a seal; as long as the King's seal is to be found on the treasure chests, nobody dares open them without his permission; thus man finds himself entrusted with the Divine safe-keeping of the world, and the world will not cease to be safeguarded as long as this Universal Man (al-insân al-kâmil) lives in it. Dost thou not see, then, that when he disappears and is taken away from the treasure chests of this lower world, nothing of which God kept in them will remain and all that they contained will go, each part joining its own (corresponding) part; everything will be transported into the other world, and (Universal Man) will be the seal on the coffers in the other world perpetually.
All that the Divine Form implies, that is to say the total of the names (or Universal Qualities) is manifested in this human constitution, which, by this means, distinguishes itself (from all other creatures) by the (symbolic) integration of all existence. From there comes the Divine argument condemning the Angels (who did not see the raison d'etre nor the intrinsic superiority of Adam); remember that, for God exhorts thee by the example of others and see from whence the judgement strikes that whom it strikes. The Angels did not realize what is implied by the constitution of this representative (of God on earth), and neither did they realize what is implied by the essential adoration (dhâtiyah) of God; for each does not know of God except that which he infers from himself. But, the Angels do not have the integral nature of Adam; so they did not comprehend the Divine Names, the knowledge of which is the privilege of this nature and by which this 'praises' Him (affirming His aspects of Beauty and Goodness) and 'proclaims' Him 'Holy' (attesting His essential Transcendence); they did not know that God possesses Names that were withdrawn from their knowledge and by which therefore they could not 'praise' Him nor 'proclaim' Him 'Holy'.
They were victims of their own limitations when they said, with regard to the creation (of Adam on earth); 'Wouldst Thou, then, create therein a being that sows corruption?'. Now, this corruption, what is it if not precisely the revolt that they themselves were manifesting? That which they were saying about Adam applies to their own attitude towards God. Moreover, if such a possibility (of revolt) was not in their nature, they would not have unconsciously affirmed it with regard to Adam; if they had had the knowledge of themselves they would have been exempt, by this very knowledge, from the limits to which they were submitted; they would not have insisted (in their accusation of Adam) so far as to draw vanity from their own 'praise' of God and from that by which they 'proclaimed' Him 'Holy', whereas Adam realised Names of which the Angels were ignorant, so that neither their 'praise' (tasbîh) nor their 'proclamation of Divine Holiness' (taqdîs) were the same as those of Adam.
This, God describes to us so that we should be on our guard, and that we should learn the right attitude towards Him - may He be exalted! - free from pretentiousness on matters which we have realised or embraced by our individual knowledge; moreover, how could we think we possess something which surpasses us (in its universal reality) and which we do not really know (essentially)? So pay attention to this Divine instruction on the way God punishes the most obedient and faithful of His servants, His closest representatives (according to the general hierarchy of beings).
But let us return now to the (Divine) Wisdom (in Adam). We can say of it that the Universal Ideas (al-umur al-kulliyah),29 which evidently have no individual existence as such, are none the less present, intelligibly and distinctly, in the mental state; they always remain interior with respect to individual existence, yet determine everything that pertains to this. Much more, that which exists individually is no more or less than (the expression of) these Universal Ideas without these latter ceasing, for all that, to be in themselves purely intelligible. They are, then, external in so far as determinations implied in the individual existence and, on the other hand, interior in so far as they are intelligible realities! Everything which exists individually emanates from these Ideas, which remain, however, inseparably united to the intellect and could not individually be manifested in such a way as to be removed from the purely intelligible existence, whether it is a question of individual manifestation in time or out of time30 for the relation between the individual being and the Universal Idea is always the same, whether or not this being be subject to temporal condition. Only, the Universal Idea assumes in its turn certain conditions pertaining to individual existences following the realities (haqâiq) which define these same existences. Thus for example is the relationship which unites the knowledge and he who knows, or life and he who lives; knowledge and life are intelligible realities, distinct from one another; so, we affirm of God that He knows and lives and we affirm equally of the Angel that he knows and lives, and we say as much of man; in all these cases, the intelligible reality of knowledge or that of life remain the same, and its relationship to he who knows and to he who lives is identical each time; and yet one says of Divine Knowledge that it is eternal, and of man's knowledge that it is ephemeral; there is then, something in this intelligible reality which is ephemeral by its dependence with regard to a (limiting) condition. Now, consider the reciprocal dependence of ideal realities and individual realities:31 in the same way that knowledge determines he who participates in it - for one calls him knowledgeable - so he who is qualified by knowledge determines in his turn the knowledge, so that it is ephemeral in connection with the ephemeral, and eternal in connection with the eternal; and each of these two sides is, in relation to the other, at once determining and determined. It is certain that these Universal Ideas, in spite of their intelligibility, have not, as such, (their own) existence but only a principial existence; likewise, when they apply themselves to individuals they accept the condition (hukm) without however assuming thereby distinction or divisibility; they are integrally present in everything qualified by them, like humanity (the quality of man), for example, is present integrally in each particular being of this species without undergoing the distinction nor the number which affects individuals, and without ceasing to be in itself a purely intellectual reality.
Now, as there is a mutual dependence between that which has an individual (or substantial) existence, and that which has not and is, to tell the truth, but a non-existent relationship32 as such, it is easy to conceive that beings are bound between themselves; for in this case there is always a common denominator, meaning existence as such, while in the former case the mutual relationship exists in spite of the absence of a common denominator.
Without doubt, the ephemeral is not conceivable as such, that is in its ephemeral and relative nature, except in relation to a principle from which it derives its own possibility, so that it has no being in itself, but derives it from another to whom it is tied by its dependence. And it is certain that this principle is in itself necessary, that it is subsistent by itself and independent, in its being, of any other thing. It is this principle, which by its own essence, confers the being to the ephemeral which depends on it.
But since (the principle) demands on its own account the (existence) of the ephemeral (being), this proves itself in this respect as (not only. 'possible' but also) 'necessary'. And since the ephemeral depends essentially on its principle it must also appear in the (qualitative) 'form' of the latter in everything that it derives from it, like the 'names' and the qualities, with the exception however of the principial autonomy which is not applicable to the ephemeral being, even though it be 'necessary'; that is, it is necessary by virtue of another, not of itself.
Since the ephemeral being manifests the 'form' of the eternal, it is by the contemplation of the ephemeral that God communicates to us the knowledge of Himself: He says to us (in the Koran) that He shows us His 'signs' in the ephemeral: ('We will show them Our signs to the horizons and in themselves...' XLI, 53). It is from ourselves that we conclude that He is; to Him we attribute no quality without ourselves having that quality with the exception of the principial autonomy. Since we know Him by ourselves and from ourselves, we attribute to Him all that we attribute to ourselves, and it is because of that, again, that the revelation was given by the mouth of the interpreters, (that is to say the prophets) and that God described Himself to us through ourselves. In contemplating Him we contemplate ourselves, and in contemplating ourselves He contemplates Himself, although we are obviously numerous as to the individuals and types; we are united, it is true, in a single and essential reality, but there exists none the less a distinction between individuals, without which, moreover, there would be no multiplicity in the unity.
In the same way, although we are qualified in every respect by the qualities which come from God Himself, there is (between Him and us) certainly a difference, that is to say our dependence towards Him, in so far as He is the Being, and our essential conformity to Him, because of our very possibility; but He is independent of all that which constitutes our indigence. It is in this sense that one should understand eternity without beginning (al-azal) and the antiquity (al-qidam) of God, which abolishes moreover, the Divine Primacy (alawwaliyah) signifying the passage from non-existence to existence; even though God be the First (al-awwal) and the Last (al-âkhir) He cannot be called the First in the temporal sense, because then He would in that sense be the Last; but the possibilities of manifestation have no end: they are inexhaustible. If God is called the Last, it means that all reality returns finally to Him after having been brought to us: His quality of the Last is thus essentially His quality of First and inversely. We also know that God has described Himself as 'Exterior' (al-zâhir) and as 'Interior' (al-bâtin) and that He manifested the world at the same time as interior and exterior, so that we should know the 'interior' aspect (of God) by our own interior, and the 'exterior' by our exterior. In the same way He has described Himself by the qualities of mercy and of anger, and He manifested the world as a place of fear and hope, so that we should fear His anger and hope for His clemency. He has described Himself by Beauty and Majesty and endowed us with a reverent awe (al-haybah) and intimacy (al-uns). It is thus for everything concerning Him, and by which He has designated Himself He symbolized these couples of (complementary) qualities by the two hands which He held out towards the creation of Universal Man; this latter reunites in himself all the essential realities (haqâiq) of the world in his totality, just as in each of his individuals. The world is the apparent, and the representative (of God in it) is the hidden. It is for this that the Sultan remains invisible and it is in this sense that God says of Himself that He hides behind the veils of darkness - which are natural bodies - and the veils of light - which are subtle spirits;33 for the world is made of crude (kathîf) and of subtle matter (latîf).
(The world) is to itself its own veil and thus cannot see God, due to the very fact that it sees itself; it can never by itself get rid of its veil, in spite of knowing that it is attached, by its dependence, to its Creator. The fact is the world does not participate in the autonomy of the Essential Being, so much so that it can never conceive Him. In this respect God remains always unknown, to the intuition as well as to the contemplation, for the ephemeral has no hold on that (that is to say the eternal).
When God says to Iblis 'What is it that prevents you from prostrating yourself before that which I have created with My two Hands?',34 the mention of two Hands indicates a distinction for Adam; God thus makes allusion to the union in Adam of the two forms, that is the form of the world (analogous to the passive Divine Qualities) and the Divine 'form' (analogous to the active Divine Qualities) which are the two Hands of God.35 As for Iblis, he is nothing but a fragment of the world; he did not receive the synthesised nature, by virtue of which Adam is a representative of God. If Adam had not been manifested in the 'Form' of the One who entrusted to him His representation towards the others, he would not be His representative; and if he did not contain all that which is needed by the herd that he has to guard -it is on him that this herd depends, and he must suffice to all their needs - he would not be representing God for the other (creatures).
The representation of God belongs only to the Universal Man, whose exterior form is created of realities (haqâiq) and of the forms of the world, and whose interior form corresponds to the 'Form' of God (that is to say to the 'total' of the Divine Names and Qualities). Because of that God has said of him 'I am his hearing and his sight'; He did not say 'his eye and his ear', but distinguished the two 'forms', one from the other.36
It is the same for all beings of this world with regard to each their own (transcendent) reality; however, no being contains the synthesis similar to the one which distinguishes the Representative and it is only by this synthesis that this one surpasses the others. If God did not penetrate existence by His 'form'37 the world would not be; in the same way as individuals would not be determined if they had not the Universal Ideas. According to this Truth, the existence of the world resides in its dependence with regard to God. In reality each depends (on the other: the 'Divine Form' on that of the world and inversely); nothing is independent (of the other); this is the pure truth; we are not expressing ourselves in metaphors. On the other hand when I speak of that which is absolutely independent thou wilt know what I mean by it (that is to say the infinite unconditioned Essence). Each, (the 'Divine Form' as the world), is then tied one to the other and one cannot be separated from the other; understand well what I tell thee!
Now, thou knowest the spiritual meaning of the creation of Adam's body, that is to say of his apparent form, and of the creation of his spirit, which is his interior 'form'. Adam is, then, at the same time, God and creature. And thou hast understood that which is his (cosmic) rank that is to say the synthesis (of all the cosmic qualities), synthesis by virtue of which he is the Representative of God.
Adam is the 'unique Spirit' (an-nafs a1-wâhidah) from which was created the human species according to the Divine Word, (in the Koran); 'O you, mankind, fear your Lord, who hath created you out of one soul and out of him created his wife, and from them hath deployed many men and women' (IV, I). The words 'fear your Lord' signify: make of your apparent form a safeguard for your Lord, and make of your interior - that is to say of your Lord - a safeguard for yourselves; every act (or every Divine Order) consists in blame or in praise (in negation or in affirmation); then be His safeguard in the blame (that is to say as limited creatures) and take Him for safeguard in the praise,38 so that you have, amongst all beings, the most just attitude (towards God).
After He had created him, God showed Adam all that He had put into him; and He held it all in His two Hands: one containing the world and the other Adam and his descendants, then He showed these the ranks that they occupied in the interior of Adam.39
Since God made me see that which He put in the primordial generator I have transcribed in this book the portion which was assigned to me, and not everything that I have realised; for that, no book in the present world could contain. But, among the things that I have contemplated and which could be transcribed in this book, as far as was assigned to me by' God's Messenger - May Benediction and Peace be on him! - was the Divine Wisdom in the Word of Adam: it is that which this chapter discusses.