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The Supreme Barzakh

Nature in relation to the Real is like the female in relation to the male, since within it becomes manifest engendering, i.e., the engendering of everything other than God. It is an intelligible reality. When some people saw the power of Nature's authority and did not know that this power lies only in its reception to that which the Real engenders within it, they attributed and ascribed the engendering to Nature itself. "They forgot" God through Nature, "so He made them forget themselves" (Koran 59: 19), since He turned them away from the signs (ayiit) of their own souls. This is what is meant by God's words, "1 shall turn away from My signs those who wax proud ill the earth without the Real" (7:146). The neal possesses cntified and intelligible existence, while Nature possesses imclligibh: existence but not enrificd existence. Thereby creation's property may stand between existence and nothingness. Creation accepts nonexistence in respect of Nature and accepts existence from the side of the Real. Hence everything other than God is described by the reception of both nonexistence and existence. . . . Were this not so, it would be impossible for an existent created thing to accept nonexistence or a nonexistent thing to accept existence. In this manner you must understand the realities; and there is no way co do so except by not turning away from the: signs .... Nature possesses reception and the Real possesses bestowal (wahb) and the exercise of effects (ta'thir). Nature is the highest, greatest mother of the cosmos, of whom the cosmos never sees the entity, only the effects, just as it never sees anything of the Real but His effects, never His Enrity. (IV 150.1,9) A woman in relation to a man is like Nature in relation to the Divine Command (al-amr al-ildhl ], since the wornan is the locus of the existence of the entities of the children, just as Nature in relation to the Divine Command is the locus of the manifestation of the entities of the corporeal bodies. Through it they arc engendered and from it they become manifest. So there can be no Command without Nature and no Nature without Command. Hence engendered existence depends upon both .... He who knows the level of Nature knows the level of the woman, and he who knows the Divine Command knows the level of the man and the fact that the existence of all existent things other than God depends upon these two realities. (III 90.18,28)

The most specific properties of Nature arc the "four natures" (al-fallai' al-arba'a), that is, heat, cold, wetness, and dryness. Two of them are active and two receptive. Heat is active and its effects appear as dryness, while cold is active and displays its activity as wetness (II 439.10). Heat is the secondary cause or root of the existence of dryness, and coldness the root of wetness (I 122.25; Y 2,239.10). But all four natures arc receptive in relation to the Divine Command or the First like Nature itself they arc all "All of the natures are acted upon (infi'al) in relation to that from which they have emerged" (I 293.17). Heat and cold as well as wetness and dryness display opposition (taqiidtf) and mutual a version (tm1ii.fur). As a result, everything that displays the properties of Nature-that is, everything other than God-reflects this opposition and conflict. The "Dispute of the Angels" is but an early result of the innate characterIntellect; mothers.
istics of Nature. Know that subtlety (lUff) cannot possibly turn into density (kathaJa), since realities do not change. Hut that which is subtle can become dense, like a hot thing which becomes cool, or a cold thing which becomes hot. The spirits possess subtlety. When they become embodied (/ajassud) and are manifested ill rhe form of corporeal bodies, they become dense in the eye of him who looks upon them, for corporeal bodies, whether or not they arc translucent (sha_fJtif), 2' are dense .... The reason for the density of the spirits, even though they belong to the World of Subtlety, is that they were created from Nature. Though their bodies arc made of light, this is the light of Nature, like the light of a lamp. That is why they accept density and become manifest within the forms of dense bodies. In the same way. the property of Na-

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