IN THE NAME OF GOD,
THE MERCIFUL, THE COMPASSIONATE
And from Him do we seek help.
All praise be to God, the Sustainer of All the Worlds,
and blessings and peace be upon our master Muhammad,
and on all his Family and Companions.
[Brother! You wanted a few words of advice from me, so listen to a few truths included in eight short stories, which since you are a soldier, are in the form of comparisons of a military nature. I consider my own soul to need advice more than anyone, and at one time I addressed my soul at some length with Eight Words inspired by eight verses of the Qur’an from which I had benefited. Now I shall address my soul with these same Words, but briefly and in the language of ordinary people. Whoever wishes may listen together with me.]
The First Word – Bismillah, “In the Name of God”
Bismillah, “In the Name of God,” is the start of all things good. We too shall start with it. Know, O my soul! Just as this blessed phrase is a mark of Islam, so too it is constantly recited by all beings through their tongues of disposition. If you want to know what an inexhaustible strength, what an unending source of bounty is Bismillah, listen to the following story which is in the form of a comparison. It goes like this:
Say Bismillah, “In the Name of God”
Someone who makes a journey through the deserts of Arabia has to travel in the name of a tribal chief and enter under his protection, for in this way he may be saved from the assaults of bandits and secure his needs. On his own he will perish in the face of innumerable enemies and needs. And so, two men went on such a journey and entered the desert. One of them was modest and humble, the other proud and conceited. The humble man assumed the name of a tribal chief, while the proud man did not. The first traveled safely wherever he went. If he encountered bandits, he said: “I am traveling in the name of such-and-such tribal leader,” and they did not molest him. If he came to some tents, he was treated respectfully due to the name. But the proud man suffered indescribable calamities throughout his journey. He both trembled before everything and begged from everything. He was abased and became an object of scorn.
My proud soul! You are the traveler, and this world is a desert. Your impotence and poverty have no limit, and your enemies and needs are endless. Since it is thus, take the name of the Pre-Eternal Ruler and Post-Eternal Lord of the desert and be saved from begging before the whole universe and trembling before every event (say bismillah).
Yes, this phrase is a treasury so blessed that your infinite impotence and poverty bind you to an infinite power and mercy; it makes your impotence and poverty a most acceptable intercessor at the Court of One All-Powerful and Compassionate. The person who acts saying, bismillah, “In the Name of God,” resembles someone who enrolls in the army. He acts in the name of the government; he has fear of no one; he speaks, performs every matter, and withstands everything in the name of the law and the name of the government.
At the beginning we said that all beings say “In the Name of God”, bismillah, through the tongue of disposition. Is that so?
Indeed, it is so. If you were to see that a single person had come and had driven all the inhabitants of a town to a place by force and compelled them to work, you would be certain that he had not acted in his own name and through his own power, but was a soldier, acting in the name of the government and relying on the power of the king.
In the same way, all things act in the name of Almighty God, for minute things like seeds and grains bear huge trees on their heads; they raise loads like mountains. That means all trees say: bismillah, “In the Name of God,” fill their hands from the treasury of mercy, and offer them to us. All gardens say: bismillah, “In the Name of God,” and become cauldrons from the kitchens of Divine power in which are cooked numerous varieties of different foods. All blessed animals like cows, camels, sheep, and goats, say: bismillah, “In the Name of God,” and produce springs of milk from the abundance of mercy, offering us a most delicate and pure food like the water of life in the name of the Provider. The roots and rootlets, soft as silk, of plants, trees, and grasses say: bismillah, “In the Name of God,” and pierce and pass through hard rock and earth. Mentioning the name of God, the name of the Most Merciful, everything becomes subjected to them.
The roots spreading through hard rock and earth and producing fruits as easily as the branches spread through the air and produce fruits, and the delicate green leaves retaining their moisture for months in the face of extreme heat, deal a slap in the mouths of Naturalists and jab a finger in their blind eyes, saying: “Even heat and hardness, in which you most trust, are under a command. For like the Staff of Moses, each of those silken rootlets conform to the command of, And We said, O Moses, strike the rock with your staff,1 and split the rock. And the delicate leaves fine as cigarette paper recite the verse, O fire be coolness and peace2 against the heat of the fire, each like the members of Abraham (UWP).
Since all things say: “In the Name of God,” and bearing God’s bounties in God’s name, give them to us, we too should say: “In the Name of God.” We should give in the name of God, and take in the name of God. And we should not take from heedless people who neglect to give in God’s name.
Bismillah, “In the Name of God”
Question: We give a price to people, who are like tray-bearers. So what price does God want, Who is the true owner?
The Answer: Yes, the price the True Bestower of Bounties wants in return for those valuable bounties and goods is three things: one is remembrance, another is thanks, and the other is reflection. Saying, bismillah “In the Name of God” at the start is remembrance, and, “All praise be to God” at the end is thanks. And perceiving and thinking of those bounties, which are priceless wonders of art, being miracles of power of the Unique and Eternally Besought One and gifts of His mercy, is reflection. However foolish it is to kiss the foot of a lowly man who conveys to you the precious gift of a king and not to recognize the gift’s owner, it is a thousand times more foolish to praise and love the apparent source of bounties and forget the True Bestower of Bounties.
O my soul! If you do not wish to be foolish in that way, give in God’s name, take in God’s name, begin in God’s name, and act in God’s name. And that’s the matter in a nutshell!
1. Qur’an, 2:60.
2. Qur’an, 21:69.