WHAT IS THE REALITY OF THE ASCENSION
It is the journeying of the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, through the degrees of perfection. That is, Almighty God has various Names and titles manifested in the arrangement and disposition of creatures, and displays diverse works of His Lordship (His upbringing, training, sustaining and providing) as the results of execution of His absolute authority in invention and administration of creatures in the levels of the heavens where He executes His Lordship in different ways according to the conditions of each level.
Thus, in order to show those works of His Lordship to that special servant of His and thereby make him a being encompassing all human perfections and receiving all the Divine manifestations, one who would view all the levels of the universe and announce the sovereignty of His Lordship, and who would proclaim the things of which He approves and unveil the enigmatic meaning of creation, God Almighty mounted him on Buraq (a mount of Paradise) and had him travel through the heavens like lightning, promoted him to higher and higher ranks, and caused him to observe the Divine Lordship from mansion to mansion and from sphere to sphere, and showed him the Prophets, his brothers, whose abodes are in the heavens of those spheres, one after the other. Finally, He raised him to the station of the distance of two bows’ length and honoured him with the special manifestation of all of His Names to the fullest degree and with His Speech and the vision of Himself.
We may examine this sublime truth through the telescope of two comparisons.
First comparison: As is explained in The Twenty-fourth Word, a king has different titles in the departments of his government, different names and attributes vis-à-vis the different classes of his subjects, and different designations and marks in the spheres and offices of his rule. For example, just ruler in the department of justice, sovereign in the civil service, Commander-in-Chief in the army, chief teacher in the department of education, and so on. In each sphere and department he has a seat or chair, which has the meaning of a throne. That single king may have a thousand names and titles in the spheres of his sovereignty and departments of his government. He may have a thousand thrones of sovereignty one within or adjacent to the other.
It is as if that ruler is present, and knows what is going on, in every sphere through his collective personality and through his telephone. He sees and is seen in every department through his laws and regulations, and representatives, and he administers and observes from behind the veil in every level through his rule, knowledge and power. He has a different center and headquarters in every sphere. The rules of every sphere and department are different from one another. That king designates a person among his subjects, and showing him to all those spheres and departments of his government and making him witness his imperial dominion and commands special to each, brings him to his presence. Then he entrusts him with certain general and universal commands concerning all those spheres and departments and sends him back.
Likewise, the Lord of the Worlds, Who is the Sovereign of eternity, has attributes and qualities in the levels of His Lordship that are all different but that are related with one another; and Names and signs in the spheres of His Divinity that are all different but appear one within the other; and manifestations and inspirations in the performance of His majestic acts that are all different but resemble one another. He has also titles in the execution of His Power that are all different but hint at one another; and sacred revelations in the manifestation of His Attributes that are all different but point to one another; and operations in the manifestation of His actions that are all different but complement one another; and He has aspects of His majestic Lordship in His colorful art and multicolored creatures that are all different but observe one another.
It is because of this mysterious reality that He has organized the universe in an amazing and wonderful fashion with different formations one over the other from particles (which are the smallest level of creatures) to the heavens, and from the first level of the heavens to the Greatest Throne of God, each heaven being the roof of a different world, a chair for exercise of Divine Lordship, and a center for the Divine operations. Although on account of His Absolute Oneness, all the Divine Names may be found in all those spheres and levels, and He may manifest in them Himself with all His titles, just as in the department of justice the title of Just Ruler is dominant with the others subordinate, so too, in each level of creatures, in each heaven, a Divine title is dominant and the others are subordinate to it. For example, in whichever heaven the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, met with the Prophet Jesus, upon him be peace, who had been made distinguished with the manifestation of the Divine Name of the All-Powerful, Almighty God is in constant manifestation in that heaven primarily with His Name, the All-Powerful. Again, in the sphere of the heavens which is the Prophet Moses’ abode, upon him be peace, God’s title as Speaker, with which He distinguished Moses, is most predominant. And so on.
The Prophet Muhammad was connected to all the spheres of Divine Lordship
Finally, the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings (since he was honored with the manifestation of the Greatest Name of God and also with those of all His other Names, and since his Prophethood is universal) must certainly be connected with all the spheres of His Lordship. Also, it was certain that the reality of the Ascension would require the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, to meet with the Prophets whose seats are in those spheres, and to pass through all those levels.
Second comparison: The title of Commander-in-Chief, which is one of the titles of a king, is manifested in every rank in the army from that of the head of the military staff to that of a corporal. A private sees in the person of his corporal the sample of the imposing title of Commander-in-Chief, and so takes his orders from him and obeys him. When the private becomes a corporal, he sees the sergeant in the commanding position and obeys him. Then, if he becomes a sergeant, he sees a sample of the title of Commander-in-Chief and a manifestation of it in the lieutenant’s office. And so on. He will see the title in each of the spheres of captain, major, colonel, general, and field-marshal in proportion to the smallness or largeness of the sphere.
If the Commander-in-Chief wills to entrust a private with a duty connected with all the offices of military ranks, if he wills to accord him a rank where he can appear in every office and control it like an inspector, then, for sure, in order that the private should have the necessary knowledge of all the offices and be recognized by the personnel, he will cause him to make a tour of study and inspection of the offices from that of a corporal to the highest. Then he will admit him into his presence, and honoring him with private conversation and bestowing on him a decoration and decree, will send him back whence he came.
The following point must be noted in the comparison: if the king is not powerless and, besides governmental, has also spiritual power, he will not deputize persons like field-marshal, general and lieutenant to act in his name in different offices, but himself will be present everywhere in person and give orders directly, appearing in the form of those persons of certain ranks. In fact, there are narrations that certain kings who were saints of the highest level executed their rules in many spheres in the form of certain individuals. As far as the truth we are trying to explain in this comparison is concerned, since the Commander-in-Chief is in no way powerless, the decrees and commands come directly from him in every office and are executed through his command, will, and power.
So, as in the comparison, the Ruler of the heavens and the earth, Who is the Absolute Sovereign and the Lord of Eternity having the command of ‘Be!’ and it is, has a sphere of Lordship, a level of rulership in the levels of creatures and classes of beings, ranging from particles to the planets, from flies to the heavens, which, whether small or great, particular or universal, are all different but related with one another. In each of these spheres His regulations, statutes and commands are carried out in perfect order and obedience. Thus, in order to comprehend the elevated aims and tremendous results in the whole of the universe and, witnessing the duties of worship particular to each of those levels and classes and observing the sovereignty of Lordship of the One of Grandeur and the majesty of His rule, to understand what is pleasing to Him, and to be a herald of His sovereignty, one must make a journey through all those levels and spheres of His rulership until one reaches the Supreme Throne, which is the title of the greatest, all-encompassing sphere, and attain to the rank which is the ultimate one a servant can reach, and is called the distance of two bows’ length, and meet with the One of Majesty and Grace. This journey constitutes the reality of the Ascension.
Like ordinary human beings travelling in the mind with the speed of imagination and saints journeying in the heart with the speed of lightning, like angels, whose bodies are of light, circulating with the speed of spirit from God’s Throne to the earth, from the earth to God’s Throne, and like the people of Paradise who will rise from the Place of Gathering to Paradise covering a distance of five hundred years (a distance which is normally covered in five hundred years on foot) with the speed of Buraq, it is certain that the body of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, will go as far as God’s Throne together with his elevated spirit. For the body of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, is the store of the faculties of the spirit of Muhammad and the means for the performance of its duties, which is of pure light and has the abilities of light, and is more refined than the hearts of the saints, lighter than the spirits of the dead and the forms of angels, and finer than the energetic envelopes of beings.
Now, turning to the atheist who is in the position of listener, and says to himself: ‘I do not recognize God or know of the Prophet, so how should I believe in the Ascension?’, we say to him:
The universe must have an Author
Since there is the universe with all the creatures and many diverse acts in it, and a continual creation is observed, and since an orderly act cannot occur without an author, a meaningful book cannot be without a writer and a skilful design cannot be without a designer, for sure, the wise and purposeful acts that fill the universe must have an author, and the meaningful letters and amazing inscriptions or designs that cover the earth and which are renewed from season to season, must have a writer and designer. Also, since when two rulers interfere in the same affair, it causes disorder, and since there is a perfect order in everything from the wings of a fly to the lamp of the skies, then the ruler is One. For if He was not One, since the art and wisdom in everything are so wonderful and amazing that they require an All-Powerful and All-Knowing Maker, then there would have to be gods to the number of creatures. Since in this case those gods would be both opposite and similar to one another at the same time [because the acts and creatures in the universe are in infinite diversity and yet resemble one another in many ways], it is infinitely inconceivable that this amazing order would not be upset.
Again, since those creatures are clearly seen to be moving with a command in an order a thousand times more organized than an army; and since each group of creatures from the sun, the moon and stars to almond flowers, display in a perfect and organized manner and in a thousand times more orderly fashion than an army, the uniforms, decorations and other kinds of beautiful garments that the Eternal All-Powerful One has accorded them, and exercise the movements that He has assigned to them (since this is so, then this universe has an Absolute Ruler behind the veil of the Unseen, Whose commands all of the creatures heed and carry out.
Furthermore, since, as testified by both all of His wise acts and the majestic works He displays, that Ruler is a Majestic King; since, as is demonstrated by His favors, He is an extremely Compassionate Lord; since, as the most beautiful works of art He has produced bear witness, He is a Maker, Who is Lover of art and loves His own art; since, as is apparent from the decorations and curiosity-exciting arts He exhibits, He is a Wise Creator Who wants to attract the appreciative gaze of conscious beings to His works of art; since, as is understood that, due to the wisdom of His Lordship, He wants to inform conscious beings of the meaning of the amazing and wonderful decorations He has displayed in the creation of the universe, and of where creatures come from and where they are bound to go; then, for sure, this Wise Ruler and All-Knowing Maker wishes to demonstrate His Lordship. Also, since He wills to make Himself known to, and loved by, conscious beings through all those traces of grace and mercy and the wonders of art that He displays, then, of a certainty, He will by means of an envoy inform conscious beings of what He wants them to do and what is pleasing to Him. He will choose one among conscious beings and declare His Lordship by means of him. In order to exhibit His favorite arts, He will honor a herald with the nearness of His presence and employ him in exhibiting them. In order to display His perfections by informing conscious beings of His lofty purposes for the creation of the universe, He will appoint one among them as a teacher. He will certainly appoint a guide so that the mystery of creation, the enigma of existence do not remain meaningless. In order not to allow the beauties of art that He displays for the eyes to see, to remain useless, He will choose a guide who will teach the purposes contained in them. Also, He will pick out one among conscious beings and, in order to communicate to them the things that please Him, raise him to a rank above the others, and inform them of those things by means of him.
Since reality and wisdom require it to be so and the one most worthy to perform these duties was the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, because He actually performed them most perfectly, a fact to which the world of Islam that he founded and the light of Islam that he showed are truthful and just witnesses, then he would have to rise high above all other creatures and attain to a rank where he held a universal and elevated conversation with the Creator of the universe. This is what lies in the reality of Ascension.
In short: Since Almighty God has formed, organized and decorated this vast universe in this way for mighty purposes and great aims such as those mentioned above; and since among beings there is mankind to see the universal Divine Lordship with all its subtleties, and this mighty Divine sovereignty with all its truths, most certainly, that Absolute Ruler will speak to mankind and inform them of His purposes. However, since everyone is not able to free himself from being a simple individual occupied with low matters and rise to the highest, universal position to directly receive the Ruler’s universal address, then, for sure, certain special individuals among mankind will be entrusted with that duty. Those individuals should be from among mankind so that they can teach human beings, while, in order to be able to be the direct addressees of God, they should also be extremely exalted spiritually.
So, since among human beings the one who taught the purposes of the universe’s Maker most perfectly, unveiled the mysterious meaning of the universe and creation, and heralded the beauties of the dominion of His Lordship in the best way was Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, most certainly, in order to rise spiritually high above all other human beings to the most exalted and comprehensive rank, he would make an Ascension in the form of journeying through the corporeal world and then reaching beyond seventy thousand veils which consist in the manifestations of Divine Names, Attributes and acts, and all the levels of creation. This is the Ascension.