By Muhiyy ad-Din Ibn 'Arabi

The second matter of importance for one who wishes to learn is the belief that Allah Most High is free from all resemblance to anything visible or invisible in the creation. He is free from all defect.

There are some who, wanting to see the image of their Creator, err, and liken Him to a human being. Let His own words be your guide in this. He says:

Nothing is like Him.... (Shura, 11)

Any thought, any word, any qualiy or attribute not corresponding to this principle is a falsehood, unworthy of the Divine. Therefore seek no further than the fact that none resemble or are like Him. That is His reality. This is also confirmed by the declaration of His messenger, who said, "At the beginning was Allah, and none with Him." The ones who followed him added to this statement, "It is now as it was." As it was before the creation, it is after the creation. From the time when matter was hidden under the veil of nonexistence and there was no form, nothing has been added or subtracted. Though He has created the creation, still there are none like Him. Nothing is like Him. Nothing is Him, but everything is from Him. The divine word that He is without likeness cancels all other thoughts, claims, and interpretations.

You must also accept, and believe, even if you do not understand, the allegorical verses of the Holy Qur'an and the ambiguous statement of the Messenger of Allah concerning the unity and the ultimate cause, as well as all the declarations of the prophets which have come to us unaltered. You must consider that the significance of these words is a part of divine knowledge and that as such, you accept them. The monumental meanings of these holy expressions are for the understanding of people who are close enough to Allah to be able to see His beautiful attributes.

There is no better proof of the perfection of the Divine, who is self-existent and whose existence is a necessity for the existence of all else, than the holy verse:

Nothing is like Him....

Allah declares with this verse His being, His essence, His divine nature, His limitless greatness, His glory. So write in your heart and mind this principle, this foundation of faith, and believe in Allah's prophet and the message that he brought from the Divine Truth, and in Allah's orders and justice. Furthermore, have faith in the true declarations of all the prophets known and unknown. Love their companions; accept the truth of their mission. Do not speak against them. Do not value one over another. Think of them with terms of praise, as they are described in the Holy Qur'an and in the words of other prophets, which can only be the truth. Show respect, as did the prophets, for the character that distinguishes the perfect man, and for holy places. Accept and believe in the deeds and the words of the saints, even though you may not understand their state and the miracles attributed to them.

Look upon the whole creation, and above all, mankind, with good will - accepting, approving, forgiving, serving, loving. Make that your nature in your dealings with the world. Listen to your conscience. Cleanse your heart. In that clean heart, keep up prayer for your faithful brothers. Help and serve, as much as you can, the people who hide their misery, who are content with their poverty, the travelers on the path to truth. Do not attribute to yourself virtue, goodness, and graciousness because of your service to the creation. Consider that you owe other people thanks for having humbly accepted your help. It is incumbent upon you to lighten the load of those who are burdened. If people whose pain you have helped to alleviate cause you pain in return - if their responses, their ways, their habits are dark and cast shadows upon you - show patience and forbearance. Do not forget that Allah says:

...surely Allah is with the patient. (Baqara, 153)

Do not spend your life in empty endeavors and your time in idle talk. Instead, reflect and remember Allah, read the Qur'an, guide the misguided to the enlightened path. Help others leave evil and turn to doing good. Mend broken friendships. Help others to help others.

Find the right friend, who will be a support for you, a good traveling companion on the path of truth. Faith is a seed. It grows into a tree with the beneficent watering and sunshine of faithful friends. Beware of being close to those who do not discriminate between the faithful and the unfaithful - not knowing either faith or the faithful, they do not care about them. They are either strangers to or enemies of the truth in which you believe.

Look for a perfect teacher who will lead you on the straight path. In your search for a guide, be sincere, because sincerity distinguishes the true seeker. It is certain that if you cling to sincerity and truthfulness, the Lord will manifest His attribute of the Ultimate Guide upon you and will guide you to a perfect teacher. Sincerity in the seeker is such a blessing that when it is present, Allah will even turn the accursed devil himself and the seeker's personal devil, his ego, into angels of inspiration serving him. Sincerity is such a catalyst that it turns lead into gold and purifies everything it touches.

Part 3