If you would like to understand this world and the human soul within it, and the nature and values of religion for the human being, and that this world is a prison if his religion is not true, and that “يا الله” [O Allah] and “لا إله إلا الله” [There is no god but Allah] are what reveal the mystery of this world [and] save the human soul from darkness, [then] observe and listen to the this short allegory:
In the past, two brothers go on a long journey together. As they traveled, the road forked into two. They saw a serious man at the fork. They asked him “which road is good?”. He said to them “On the road to the right, there is an obligation to follow the law and order. However, within that burden is safety and happiness. As for the road to the left, there is liberty and freedom. But within that liberty there is danger and misery. Now the choice of selection is yours’.”
After listening to this, the good-mannered brother took the road on the right saying “I put my trust in Allah” and accepted following the law and order. The other brother who was ill-mannered and corrupt chose the left road simply for liberty. Through imagination, we follow this man who travels in a state of apparent ease [but] spiritual burden.
So, this man traveled through streams and hills until he entered an empty desert. Suddenly, he heard an extraordinary sound. He saw a terrifying lion emerging from [behind] the oak trees and rushing towards him. And he ran until he came across a waterless well sixty yards deep. Out of fear, he threw himself into it. He fell halfway through [until] his hands came across a tree; [he] firmly held on [to it]. That tree, which had grown on the well’s wall has two roots. Two rats, one white and one black are holding on and cutting those two roots. He looked above [and] saw the lion waiting at the top of the well like a guard. He looked below and saw a terrifying dragon inside. It lifted its head, moving close to his feet 30 yards above. Its mouth is as wide as the well’s opening. He looked at the well’s wall and saw that stinging vicious insects had surrounded him. He looked at the tree top and saw that it was a fig tree. Yet miraculously it bears the fruits of many different trees from walnuts to pomegranates.
Thus, out of his poor understanding and his foolishness, this man does not understand that his is not an ordinary matter. These matters cannot be a coincidence. There are strange mysteries within these matters. And he did not understand that there is a highly great operator. However some of those fruits were poisonous and harmful. Now while his heart, soul, and mind secretly are crying and wailing from this painful situation, his nafs al-ammara [evil commanding self] acts as though there is nothing, covering his ears to the cries of his soul and heart, starts eating that tree’s fruits deceiving himself as though he is present in a garden. The Almighty Truth (Janab al-Haqq) has stated in a hadith qudsi “اَنَا عِنْدَ ظَنِّ عَبْدِى بى” [I am to my slave as he thinks of Me.] meaning “I will treat My slave the way he knows Me.”
So out of pessimism and foolishness, this unfortunate man considered what he saw as ordinary and actual truth, and [as a result] he was treated, is treated and will be treated in that manner. He does not die so that he may be saved, not does he live; he is tortured in this way. And we will leave this unfortunate (one) in this torment and return so that we may understand the situation of the other brother.
So this blessed intelligent man travels. But he does not suffer from distress like his brother since he thinks about beautiful things and imagines good things, as he is good mannered. He is content on his own. Also, he does not suffer from fatigue and hardship like his brother. Because he knows the law, follows [it], [and] finds ease. He travels with freedom within peace and safety. So, he comes across a garden. Within it, there are both beautiful flowers and fruits, and – since it is not taken care of – there are filthy things as well. His brother had also entered one like this. However, he had paid attention and busied himself with filthy things and made himself nauseous. He had left and gone on his way without taking any rest at all. This man, on the other hand, acted upon the rule “look at the good in everything” and paid no attention to the filthy things at all. He benefited from the good things. He takes good rest, leaves, and goes on his way.
Then, as he went on his way he too he entered a vast desert like his brother before [him]. Suddenly, he heard the sound of an attacking lion. He was frightened but not as frightened as his brother. For due to his positive thought and good view, he thought “This desert has a ruler and it is possible that this lion is a servant under the authority of that ruler.” and found consolation. But he still escaped until he came across a waterless well sixty yards deep, and threw himself inside it. Like his brother, his hands held onto a tree halfway [into the well] and he was suspended in the air . He saw two animals cutting the tree’s two roots. He looked above and saw a lion; he looked below and saw a dragon. Just like his brother, he saw a bizarre situation. He too was terrified. But a thousand times light than the terror of his brother. Because his good manners gave him a good view, and good view shows him the pleasant side of everything.
Thus, due to this reason he thought: “These bizarre works are connected with each other. Also, it seems that they act with a single command. Therefore, there must be a mystery within these works. Yes, these act under the command of a hidden ruler. So I am not alone, that hidden ruler is watching me; he is testing me, he drives and invites me somewhere for a purpose. A curiosity arises from this sweet fear and good view so [that he thinks]: I wonder who it is that tests me, wants to be introduce himself to me, and sends [me] to a purpose me through this bizzare path. Then, out of the curiosity to know him, a love arises towards the mystery’s owner; and out of that love, a desire to solve the mystery arose; and out of that desire arose a will to take on a beautiful form that will please and gratify the mystery’s owner. Then he looked at the tree top and saw that it was a fig tree. However, it has the fruits of a thousand trees on it. Then, his fear completely left. Because he understood for certain that this fig tree is a life, an index, an exhibition. That hidden ruler, through a mystery and a miracle, must have attached samples of the garden’s fruits to that tree and adorned that tree, making each of them in the form of tokens for the food he prepares to his guests. Otherwise, a single tree cannot produce the fruits of a thousand trees. Then he began supplication. Until the mystery’s key was revealed to him. He cried: “O ruler of these lands! I have fallen into the fate You have determined for me. I submit to you and I am your servant and I desire your approval and seek you.” And after this supplication, suddenly the walls of the well split and a door opened to a magnificent, pure and beautiful garden. Perhaps the dragon’s mouth transformed into that door and the lion and dragon took on the form of two servants and invite him inside. In fact, that lion took on the form of a horse that submitted to him.
Thus, o my lazy soul and o my imaginary friend! Come, let us compare the state of these two brothers. So we can see and know how good brings good and evil brings evil.
Look, the unfortunate traveler of the left path is constantly waiting to enter the dragon’s mouth [and] trembles. This fortunate one, on the other hand, is invited to a fruitful and dazzling garden. Also that unfortunate one’s heart crumbles in a painful terror and an extreme fear. And as for this fortunate one watches and observes peculiar things as a delightful lesson, a sweet fear, a loving knowledge. Also that unfortunate one suffers torment in desolation and hopelessness and loneliness. And this fortunate one, on the other hand, experiences pleasure in friendliness and hope and passion. Also, that unfortunate one sees himself in the form of a prisoner subject to the attacks of wild beasts.
And as for this fortunate one, [he] is an honorable guest such that he forms friendship and enjoys himself with the peculiar servants of the generous host of whom he is a guest. Also, that unfortunate one hastens his torment by eating the apparently delicious [but] spiritually poisonous fruits. Because those fruits are samples, there is permission to taste them so that one asks for their originals and becomes a customer. But there is no permission to swallow them like an animal. And this fortunate one, on the other hand, tastes [them], understands the matter, postpones eating them, and feels joy in waiting.
And that unfortunate one has harmed himself. Through his lack of perception, he has turned a truth as beautiful as day and a luminous situation into the form of a dark and gloomy suspicion, a hell. He is not deserving of compassion and nor does he have the right to complain about anybody.
For example just as a man – who is not content with the joy of a pleasant feast in a beautiful garden, among his friends in the season of summer; makes himself drunk with filthy intoxicants and starts screaming and crying, imagining himself hungry and naked among beats in the midst of winter – does not deserve compassion; he is harming himself, he sees his friends as beasts and insults them. Now, this unfortunate one is also like that.
And as for this fortunate one, he sees the truth. And the truth is beautiful. By understanding the beauty of truth, he respects the perfection of the truth’s owner and deserves his mercy. Thus the mystery of the Qur’an’s commandment “know that evil is from you and goodness is from Allah” becomes apparent. If you compare the rest of such differences, you will understand that the evil commanding self (nafs ul-ammarah) of the former one has prepared a spiritual hell for him. And the other’s good intention and good assumption & good character and good thought has made him a recipient of a great endowment and happiness and a luminous virtue & enlightenment.
O my soul (nafs)! And O man who is listening to this story with me!
If you do not want to become the unfortunate brother and desire to become the fortunate brother, then listen to the Qur’an and obey its commandments and cling to it and act by its commands.
If you have understood the truths of this allegorical story, you may apply to it the truth of religion, this world, the human being, and faith. I will say the important ones [and] you may deduce the details yourself.
So look! As for the two brothers, one is a believing soul and a good heart. The other a disbelieving soul and a sinful heart. And of the two roads, the right one is the road of the Qur’an and faith [while] the left one is the road of disobedience and disbelief. And the garden on that road is temporary social life within the society of mankind and human civilization in which goodness and evil, good and bad, pure and contaminated things are present together. The intelligent one is he who act by the rule خُذْ مَا صَفَا دَعْ مَا كَدَر [take what is pure and leave what is dirty] and travels with a peaceful heart. And that desert is this earth and world. And that lion is death and fate. And that well is the human body and the time of life. And that depth of sixty yards indicates the average lifetime and the life of the majority which is sixty years. And that tree is the period of life the substance of life. And those two black and white animals are night and day. And that dragon is the path of barzakh [i.e. life in the grave] and the door to the hereafter whose mouth is the grave. However, that mouth for a believer is a door from prison opening to a garden. And those vicious insects are the calamities of this world. However, for a believer they are in the form of sweet divine alerts and a courtesy from the Merciful One so as to not fall into the sleep of heedlessness (ghaflah). And the fruits on that tree are worldly blessings which The Almighty Ultimately Generous One has made in the form of a list and a reminder and an analogue for the blessings in the hereafter, and samples inviting customers to the fruits of paradise.
And for that tree to give a variety of different fruits despite being a single tree, it points to the stamp of [Divine] Self-Sufficiency’s power and the seal of Divine Godhead and the signet of Godly Soverneity. Because “to make everything from a single thing” – that is to make all plants and fruits from a single dirt, and to create all animals from a single water, and to create all animal organs from a simple food – while at the same time “to make everything into a single thing” – that is the art such as making a distinct flesh and weaving a simple skin for the living being from the very diverse foods the living being eats – is the specific stamp and the distinct seal and a signet which cannot be imitated of the Pre-eternal and Post-eternal Sultan Who is The One of Divine Oneness [and] Sufficiency . Indeed, to make a single thing everything and everything a single thing is a specific sign and token of the Creator of everything and distinct to the all-Powerful One.
And that mystery is the mystery of the purpose of creation revealed by the mystery of faith and that key is يَا اَللّٰهُ لَا اِلٰهَ اِلَّا اللّٰهُ ۞ اَللّٰهُ لَٓا اِلٰهَ اِلَّا هُوَ الْحَىُّ الْقَيُّومُ [O Allah; there is no god by Allah; Allah – there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence]. And for that dragon’s mouth to transform into a garden’s door is a sign that while for the people of misguidance and oppression the grave is a door opening to a grave as distressing as prison and as tight as a dragon’s stomach within brutality and oblivion, for the people of the Qur’an and faith it is a door opening to the garden of eternity from the prison of this world the garden of heaven from a field of examination and the mercy of the Merciful One from the struggle of life.
And for that wild lion to transform into a friendly servant and a subjugated horse is a sign that for the people of misguidance death is a painful eternal separation from all the loved ones. It is a removal from one’s deceptive heaven of earthly life, and an entrance into the dungeon of the grave in solitude and loneliness, and a prison; while for the people of guidance and the people of the Qur’an it is a means to reunite with old friends and loved ones who have departed to the other world. Also, it is a means to enter their true homeland and their eternal abode of happiness. Also, it is an invitation to the garden of paradise from the dungeon of earthly life. It is a time to receive a wage from the benevolence of The Merciful Compassionate One in exchange for one’s service Also it is a discharge from the burden of duties of life. Also, it is a break from the study and education of slavery [toward God] and examination.
Conclusion: Whoever makes the transient life the primary goal is spiritually in hell even if he may apparently be in heaven and whoever turns to the eternal life in seriousness is a recipient to the happiness of both worlds. However miserable and burdensome his worldly life may be he sees it as pleasant, endures it, [and] thanks [God] in patience; for he sees his worldly life in the form of a waiting room for heaven.
اَللّٰهُمَّ اجْعَلْناَ مِنْ اَهْلِ السَّعَادَةِ وَالسَّلاَمَةِ وَالْقُرْاٰنِ وَاْلاِيمَانِ اٰمِينَ – اَللّٰهُمَّ صَلِّ وَسَلِّمْ عَلٰى سَيِّدِناَ مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلٰۤى اٰلِهِ وَصَحْبِهِ بِعَدَدِ جَمِيعِ الْحُرُوفَاتِ الْمُتَشَكِّلَةِ فِى جَمِيعِ الْكَلِمَاتِ الْمُتَمَثِّلَةِ بِاِذْنِ الرَحْمٰنِ فِى مَرَايَا تَمَوُّجَاتِ الْهَوَاۤءِ عِنْدَ قِرَاۤئَةِ كُلِّ كَلِمَةٍ مِنَ الْقُرْاٰنِ مِنْ كُلِّ قَارِئٍ مِنْ اَوَّلِ النُّزُولِ اِلٰى اٰخِرِ الزَّمَانِ وَارْحَمْناَ وَوَالِدَيْناَ وَارْحَمِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ بِعَدَدِهَا بِرَحْمَتِكَ يَاۤ اَرْحَمَ الرَّاحِمِينَ – اٰمِينَ وَالْحَمْدُ ِللهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
O Allah make us among the people of happiness and security and Qur’an and faith. Ameen. O Allah grant peace and blessings on our Master Muhammad and his family and companions the number of all formed letters in all words reflected in the mirrors of the waves in the sky upon the recitation of every word of the Qur’an by every reciter since its first revelation until the end of time and grant mercy on us and our parents and grant mercy on the believing men and believing women that number of times by your mercy O The Merciful One of all merciful ones. Ameen. And all praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds.