The Sixth Word
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The Sixth Word
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Verily God has purchased from the believers their persons and their property
that Paradise might be theirs.
If you wish to understand how profitable a trade it is, and how honour-able a rank, to
sell one’s person and property to God, to be His slave and His soldier, then listen to the
Once a king entrusted each of two of his subjects with an estate, including all
necessary workshops, machinery, horses, weapons and so forth. But since it was a
tempestuous and war-ridden age, nothing enjoyed stability; it was destined either to
disappear or to change. The king in his infinite mercy sent a most noble lieutenant to the
two men and by means of a compassionate decree conveyed the following to them:
“Sell me the property you now hold in trust, so that I may keep it for you. Let it not
be destroyed for no purpose. After the wars are over, I will return it to you in a better
condition than before. I will regard the trust as your property and pay you a high price for
it. As for the machinery and the tools in the workshop, they will be used in my name and
at my workbench. But the price and the fee for their use shall be increased a
thousandfold. You will receive all the profit that accrues. You are indigent and
resourceless, and unable to provide the cost of these great tasks. So let me assume the
provision of all expenses and equipment, and give you all the income and the profit. You
shall keep it until the time of demobilization. So see the five ways in which you shall
profit! Now if you do not sell me the property, you can see that no one is able to preserve
what he possesses, and you too will lose what you now hold. It will go for nothing, and
you will lose the high price I offer. The delicate and precious tools and scales, the
precious metals waiting to be used, will also lose all value. You will have the trouble and
concern of administering and preserving, but at the same time be punished for betraying
your trust. So see the five ways in which you may lose! Moreover, if you sell the property
to me, you become my soldier and act in my name. Instead of a common prisoner or
irregular soldier, you will be the free lieutenant of an exalted monarch.”
1 Qur’an, 9:111.
After they had listened to this gracious decree, the more intelligent of the two men
“By all means, I am proud and happy to sell. I offer thanks a thousandfold.”
But the other was arrogant, selfish and dissipated; his soul had become as proud as
the Pharaoh. As if he was to stay eternally on that estate, he ignored the earthquakes and
tumults of this world. He said:
“No! Who is the king? I won’t sell my property, nor spoil my enjoyment.”
After a short time, the first man reached so high a rank that everyone envied his state.
He received the favour of the king, and lived happily in the king’s own palace. The other
by contrast fell into such a state that everyone pitied him, but also said he deserved it. For
as a result of his error, his happiness and property departed, and he suffered punishment
O soul full of caprices! Look at the face of truth through the telescope of this parable.
As for the king, he is the Monarch of Pre-Eternity and Post-Eternity, your Sustainer and
Creator. The estates, machinery, tools and scales are your possessions while in life’s fold;
your body, spirit and heart within those possessions, and your outward and inward senses
such as the eye and the tongue, intelligence and imagination. As for the most noble
lieutenant, it is the Noble Messenger of God; and the most wise decree is the Wise
Qur’an, which describes the trade we are discussing in this verse:
Verily God has purchased from the believers their persons and property that Paradise
might be theirs.
The surging field of battle is the tempestuous surface of the world, which ceaselessly
changes, dissolves and reforms and causes every man to think:
“Since everything will leave our hands, will perish and be lost, is there no way in
which we can transform it into something eternal and preserve it?”
While engaged in these thoughts, he suddenly hears the heavenly voice of the Qur’an
“Indeed there is, a beautiful and easy way which contains five profits within itself.”
What is that way?
To sell the trust received back to its true owner. Such a sale yields profit fivefold.
The First Profit: Transient property becomes everlasting. For this waning life, when
given to the Eternal and Self-Subsistent Lord of Glory and spent for His sake, will be
transmuted into eternity. It will yield eternal fruits. The moments of one’s life will
apparently vanish and rot like kernels and seeds. But then the flowers of blessedness and
auspiciousness will open and bloom in the realm of eternity, and each will also present a
luminous and reassuring aspect in the Intermediate Realm.
The Second Profit: The high price of Paradise is given in exchange.
The Third Profit: The value of each limb and each sense is increased a
thousandfold. The intelligence is, for example, like a tool. If you do not sell it to God
Almighty, but rather employ it for the sake of the soul, it will become an ill-omened,
noxious and debilitating tool that will burden your weak person with all the sad sorrows
of the past and the terrifying fears of the future; it will descend to the rank of an
inauspicious and destructive tool. It is for this reason that a sinful man will frequently
resort to drunkenness or frivolous pleasure in order to escape the vexations and injuries of
his intelligence. But if you sell your intelligence to its True Owner and employ it on His
behalf, then it will become like the key to a talisman, unlocking the infinite treasures of
compassion and the vaults of wisdom that creation contains. It will thus rise to being a
dominical guide preparing its owner for eternal bliss.
To take another example, the eye is one of the senses, a window through which the
spirit looks out on this world. If you do not sell it to God Almighty, but rather employ it
on behalf of the soul, by gazing upon a handful of transient, impermanent beauties and
scenes, it will sink to the level of being a pander to lust and the concupiscent soul. But if
you sell the eye to your All-Seeing Maker, and employ it on His behalf and within limits
traced out by Him, then your eye will rise to the rank of a reader of the great book of
being, a witness to the miracles of dominical art, a blessed bee sucking on the blossoms
of mercy in the garden of this globe.
Yet another example is that of the tongue and the sense of taste. If you do not sell it
to your Wise Creator, but employ it instead on behalf of the soul and for the sake of the
stomach, it sinks and declines to the level of a gatekeeper at the stable of the stomach, a
watchman at its factory. But if you sell it to the Generous Provider, the sense of taste
contained in the tongue will rise to the rank of a skilled overseer of the treasuries of
Divine compassion, a grateful inspector in the kitchens of God’s eternal power.
So look well, O intelligence! See the difference between a tool of destruction and the
key to all being! And look carefully, O eye! See the difference between an abominable
pander and the learned overseer of the Divine library! And taste well, O tongue! See the
difference between a stable doorkeeper or a factory watchman and the superintendent of
the treasury of God’s mercy!
Compare all other tools and limbs to these, and then you will understand that in truth
the believer acquires a nature worthy of Paradise and the unbeliever a nature conforming
to Hell. The reason for each of them attaining his respective value is that the believer, by
virtue of his faith, uses the trust of his Creator on His behalf and within the limits traced
out by Him, whereas the unbeliever betrays the trust and employs it for the sake of the
The Fourth Profit: Man is helpless and exposed to numerous misfortunes. He is
indigent, and his needs are numerous. He is weak, and the
burden of life is most heavy. If he does not rely on the Omnipotent One of Glory, place
his trust in Him and confidently submit to Him, his conscience will always be troubled.
Fruitless torments, pains and regrets will suffocate him and intoxicate him, or turn him
into a beast.
The Fifth Profit: Those who have experienced illumination and had unveiled to
them the true nature of things, the elect who have witnessed the truth, are all agreed that
the exalted reward for all the worship and glorification of God performed by your
members and instruments will be given to you at the time of greatest need, in the form of
the fruits of Paradise.
If you spurn this trade with its fivefold profit, in addition to being deprived of its
profit, you will suffer fivefold loss.
The First Loss: The property and offspring to which you are so attached, the soul
and its caprice that you worship, the youth and life with which you are infatuated, all will
vanish and be lost; your hands will be empty. But they will leave behind them sin and
pain, fastened on your neck like a yoke.
The Second Loss: You will suffer the penalty for betrayal of trust. For you will
have wronged your own self by using the most precious tools on the most worthless
The Third Loss: By casting down all the precious faculties of man to a level much
inferior to the animals, you will have insulted and transgressed against God’s wisdom.
The Fourth Loss: In your weakness and poverty, you will have placed the heavy
burden of life on your weak shoulders, and will constantly groan and lament beneath the
blows of transience and separation.
The Fifth Loss: You will have clothed in an ugly form, fit to open the gates of Hell
in front of you, the fair gifts of the Compassionate One such as the intelligence, the heart,
the eye and the tongue, given to you to make preparation for the foundations of
everlasting life and eternal happiness in the hereafter.
Now is it so difficult to sell the trust? Is it so burdensome that many people shun the
transaction? By no means! It is not in the least burdensome. For the limits of the
permissible are broad, and are quite adequate for man’s desire; there is no need to
trespass on the forbidden. The duties imposed by God are light and few in number. To be
the slave and soldier of God is an indescribably pleasurable honour. One’s duty is simply
to act and embark on all things in God’s name, like a soldier; to take and to give on God’s
behalf; to move and be still in accordance with His permission and law. If one falls short,
then one should seek His forgiveness, say:
“O Lord! Forgive our faults, and accept us as Your slaves. Make us sure holders of
Your trust until the time comes when it is taken from us. Amen!”, and make petition unto