Oriental Mysticism, by E.H. Palmer, , at sacred-texts.com
THE first thing that God created was the Primal The Primal Element. Element ( ), that is to say, the primal element of the entire Universe. This according to the Corán He created of Himself without any medium whatever, and in infinitely less space of time than the twinkling of an eye. "And it was not the business of an hour, but even as the twinkling of an eye, or quicker still." (Cor. cap. 16, v. 79.) 1 This Primal Element is designated by various other names, such as the Primal Intelligence, the Constructive Spirit, the Pen, the Mightiest Spirit, the Spirit of Mohammed (or the Laudable Spirit), and the like. It is so excellent
and subtle, that God alone knows its worth. It is the perfection of wisdom and propinquity to God, is ever yearning after Him, and ever present with Him; nor is there anything save this Primal Element that can directly approach Him, or become the direct recipient of His bounty.
The Primal Element is God's world, and the Universe is the world of the Primal Element. By this alone the Voice of God is heard, but its voice is heard throughout the whole Universe, conveying the behests of the Most High 1.
"The Pen."It is the Pen of God which at His command wrote down the Simple Natures, and in the twinkling of an eye they started into being, the Intelligences, Souls, Elements and Natures, the Heavens and the Stars 2. These then took up the task, and obeyed the second mandate by writing down the compound bodies, and straightway the Mineral, Vegetable and Animal Kingdoms sprung into existence.
This is the explanation of the words which begin the 68th Chapter of the Corán: "N, by the Pen, and what they write." The mystic letter represents the World of Power, the Inkstand 3 of God; the Pen is the Primal Element, and "what they write" refers to the Simple Natures. These are the scribes of God, and the words they write are the compound
bodies of nature. They are writing even now, and will write on for ever; for "were the sea ink it would not suffice for the words of my Lord 1." (Cor. cap. 18, v. 109.)
There are nine heavenly spheres, each higher than The Spheres. the preceding; the highest of all is called the Heaven of Heavens, or the Throne of God ( ). Each of these spheres possesses a Soul and an Intelligence, higher and more subtle in proportion to their order. The Intelligence of the Heaven of Heavens is called the Primal Intelligence, the Souls and Intelligences which occupy the other eight are identical with the Cherubim and Spirits of the religious account.
In point of time they precede the simple NaturesOrder Creation of above referred to, being eternal, while the latter are casual; in point of mental excellence, however, they rank after them. Their precedence over the Simple Natures is as the precedence of the Sun's Orb over its rays. The next in order of creation are the Threefold Offspring, i.e. the Mineral, Vegetable, and Animal Kingdoms. Both the metaphysical and the physical account agree concerning these last, that they are casual; but their account of what are called the Parents 2 differs.
Intelligence the beginning and the end.Because man was the final object of creation, and because when he has attained Intelligence he is complete, and because there is nothing beyond Intelligence, and Primal Intelligence was also the beginning of all things, ergo, Intelligence is the beginning and the end, and the circle is complete. This is proved as follows; a circle is traced by ascent and descent: descent is the attribute of the Simple Nature, and ascent the attribute of Compound Bodies; descent resides in Parents, ascent in Offspring; but both the Parents and the Offspring originated with Primal Intelligence, therefore Intelligence is both the beginning and the end, it refers alike to origin and return, to birth and dissolution, it refers to the Night of Power 1, and to the Day of Resurrection. Again, descent, the remoter it is from the origin, the coarser it becomes, and ascent, the remoter it is from the origin, the more refined it becomes; now the Primal Intelligence caused the descent of the lower world, and the ascent of the higher; therefore the former is much coarser than the latter; but they are still one and the same nature. But their nature originated from the Nature of God, therefore the true conclusion is that the Nature of God first was, and first returned, but was still the same Nature of God. "From Him was the origin, and to Him is the return" (cf. Cor. capp. 10, v. 4, &c.).
Some say that the originator of the Intelligences Degrees of Intellgences in the higher world of the lower world constitutes a tenth world, and call it the Intelligence of the Lunar Sphere, the Active Intelligence, or the Bestower of Form. Most philosophers, however, agree that there are ten Intelligences of the higher world, all active and originators of the Intelligences and souls of the lower world. The difference in the Intelligence of mankind is occasion degrees of Intelligence among mankind from this cause; Intelligences and Souls constitute the higher world, and the fixed stars and planets are their administrators in the lower world; through their influence, therefore, the differences observable in mankind are in, proportion to the differences existing between the various Souls and Intelligences of the higher world, and the differences existing between the fixed stars and the planets themselves. Now the various qualities of the last are innumerable; astrologers have discovered some of the properties of the seven planets, but no one can give any clue to those of the fixed stars.
Many of the differences of temperament observable Other Influences. among mankind are owing also to the influence of the seasons; accident of birth, health, fortune, longevity and the like again, are all considered as due to the influence of the Higher World; the method and means by which this influence is exerted is too mysterious and incomprehensible to be discussed.
In chapter 62, v. 7, of the Corán we find the The treasuries of the Universe. words, "To God belong the treasuries of the Heaven and the Earth;" these are then of two kinds, heavenly
and earthly. To the first class belong the heavens and the stars, every one of which is a treasury; to the second class of these treasuries belong earth, air, fire, and water; every plant and every animal, nay, every embryo, is a treasury in itself. "Verily there is nothing of which the treasury is not with Us." (Cor. cap. 15, v. 21). The treasuries of Heaven and Earth are countless; they may be called the Hosts of the Lord, as the Corán has it, "Verily to God belong the Hosts of the Heavens and the Earth." (Cor. cap. 48, v. 4.)
33:1 This passage is differently interpreted by the Arab commentators, and is made to refer to "the business of the last hour;" see Sale's translation.
34:1 Cf. Psalm xix. vv. 1-3.
34:2 The first two and the Heavens are denominated the Comptrollers: "and the Comptrollers for command." (Cor. cap. 79, V. 5.)
34:3 The letter N stands for the word nún, which is not only the Arabic name of the letter, but also signifies an inkhorn. Cf. AL BEIDHAWI'S commentary.
35:1 This idea of the Primal Element appears to have originated partly from a refinement on the ordinary interpretation of the text; "When He willeth aught He but sayeth to it, 'Be, and it is so'," where an undue significance is given to the pronoun it.
35:2 By these are meant the "seven climes," or "zones," (into which, according to the Mohammedan cosmography, the earth is divided), p. 36 and the four elements. They are called ‘Abá i haftána, "the sevenfold sires," and Ummát i Chahárgána, "the fourfold mothers."
36:1 The night on which the command Kun went forth, it is equivalent to the Chaos of the Mosaic cosmogony.