Mutual Assistance In The Universe
Life in the whole of the universe displays a symphony of mutual helping.
Just like the members, organs and systems, even cells, of a living animal body, all parts of the universe support and help one another. For example, for a single apple to come into existence, air, water, earth, the sun, even all the parts of the universe, give hand in hand and co-operate. Like the components of a factory or the building blocks of a palace, creatures support one another, come to one another’s aid and co-operate to meet one another’s needs. In a perfect orderliness they all work together. Joining efforts, they serve living beings. Elements in earth come to the aid of plants: they serve their coming into existence and maintaining their lives. Most animals live on plants and man lives on plants and animals. Thus, elements form the basic foundation of the physical constitution of living beings.
Truly, acting in accordance with the rule of mutual assistance which is in force in the whole universe – from the sun and moon, night and day, winter and summer, to plants coming to the aid of needy and hungry animals, and animals hastening to the help of weak, noble men, and even nutritious substances flying to the help of delicate, helpless infants, and fruits, and particles of food, moving to assist the cells of the body – they demonstrate to anyone who is not altogether blind that they are acting through the power of a single, Most Munificent Upbringer, and at the command of a single, Most Wise Administrator.
Each living thing has a collective identity and performs unique function
When we examine the creation carefully, we discern that each living thing, whether universal or particular, has a collective identity and performs a unique, universal function. As each flower displays a superlative design and symmetry and recites, in the tongue of its being, the Names of the Creator, so the whole earth performs a universal duty of glorification as though it was a single flower. A single fruit glorifies God within an order and regularity, and a tree does the same on a larger scale through the ‘words’ of its leaves, flowers, and fruits. Likewise, the vast oceans of the heavens give praise to and glorify the Majestic Maker through suns, moons and stars, which are like words, and so on. Even inert material bodies perform a vital function in praising God, although they are outwardly inanimate and unconscious. Angels are the representatives of such bodies in the world of the inner dimensions of things, and express praises on behalf of them, and these bodies are, in turn, the representatives, dwellings, and houses of worship of the angels in the material world.
The Majestic Maker of this palace of creation employs four kinds of laborers of which the first are the angels and other spirit beings. Second, there are inanimate things and the vegetable creation, which are quite important servants of God working without wages. Thirdly, animals serve unconsciously in return for a small wage, which is their food and pleasures, while, finally, mankind works in accordance with the purposes of the Majestic Creator. They take a lesson from everything and supervise the other servants in return for wages, which are paid in the form of a reward here and in the Hereafter.
Constituting the foremost category of these servants, the angels resemble mankind in that they know the purposes of the Creator and act in conformity with those purposes. They differ from man by working solely for the pleasure of God, asking no reward other than the spiritual pleasure and happiness of nearness to their Creator. Their worship varies according to their different natures and the variety of their functions as the representatives of most species, and the services they perform and praises they sing differ from each other, as do the duties performed by the different departments of a government. The Great Angel Michael, for example, superintends the growth of all kinds of corn and provision upon the earth by leave and Power of God, and, if one may say so, he is the head of all the angels that resemble farmers. There is another great angel who leads by God’s leave, command and power, the ‘incorporeal shepherds’ of all the animals.
Since there is an angel to represent every kind of creature in existence and present their service and worship to the Divine Court, the descriptions given by the Prophet, the Truthful Reporter, of the angels are entirely reasonable and credible. There are angels with forty thousand heads, each with forty thousand mouths, and forty thousand praises sung by forty thousand tongues in each mouth. This Prophetic tradition means that the angels serve for universal purposes, and some natural creatures worship God with forty thousand heads in forty thousand ways. The firmament, for example, praises the Majestic Creator through the suns and stars, whilst the earth, although a single body, worships with hundreds of thousands of heads, each with hundreds of thousands of mouths and each with hundreds of thousands of tongues. Thus, the angel who represents the earth in the world of the inner dimensions of things is to be regarded as referred to by this tradition.
Once I saw an almond tree of medium height, which had forty branches, the equivalent of forty heads, and each branch had forty twigs, the equivalent of forty tongues. Each twig had forty blossoms and each blossom forty stamens, each of a different color. These forties are each a manifestation of one of the Divine Names. Is it possible that the All-Wise One of Grace, the Majestic Maker of that almond tree, Who charged such a tree with so many duties, would not appoint an angel particular to it, to know it, and introduce it to the whole universe, and present it to the Divine Court?
By Bediuzzaman Said Nursi