The sale of one’s self to Allah is the most rewarding of transactions.
“The Sixth Word” from the Risale-i Nur Collection
In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate
إنّ أللّه اشترى من المؤمنين أنفسهم و أموالهم بأنّ لهم الجنّة
Surely Allah has bought from the believers their own selves and possessions, that Paradise might be theirs.1
What a rewarding transaction, and how honourable a rank, is the sale of one’s self and possessions to Allah, the Exalted Truth, and one’s becoming a slave and a soldier for Him! Should you wish truly to comprehend this, listen to this short allegory.
The allegory of a king’s entrusting his private farm to two of his subjects
Once, a king entrusted a farm to each of his two subjects. The farm incorporated everything, factories and machinery, horses and weapons. Yet the time was one of stormy war – and thus nothing was destined to endure, but would either perish – or change.
The king’s edict: Temporarily sell the farm
The king, in his perfect mercy, had sent them his closest and noblest lieutenant, who was now addressing them with a royal edict of overflowing compassion:
‘Sell for me this that is in your hands, my trust. Thereby, I will be preserving it for you, so that it does not perish in vain. After the war, I will return it to you in better condition, just as if this trust was in fact your own property. I will recompense you with plentiful money, and all the machines and tools of this factory will work in my own name, in my workshop. The price and the profit will increase from one to one thousand! I will give all of the profit to you. You are both powerless, and destitute, and you cannot yourselves take on the cost of works so great as these. I, then, will take care of all expenses and necessary equipment, whilst giving to you all income and profit. I will keep it in your hands until the time of military discharge. These then are the five degrees in which your profit will be lucratively multiplied!
The king’s threat
If you do not sell it for me – you are already seeing that no one is able to hold on to anything in their hands – it will escape from your hands, just as it would escape from anyone else’s hands. It too will go in vain, and you will be deprived of that high price. Due to the absence of precious metals, and of business suited to their operation, all of the valuable, precise, sensitive machines and balances will become completely worthless. The trouble of management, and maintenance, and all of the expenses will fall on your shoulders, yet you will still be given the punishment befitting those who have betrayed a trust. These then are the five degrees in which your loss will be devastatingly multiplied!
Selling for me entails military affiliation to me, and your acting in my name, so instead of being two common captives and irregular soldiers, you will become two free chamberlains of a great king.’
The righteous subject accepts the king’s command – but the egotist refuses
After they had listened to the royal compliments and address, the sagacious of the two said, ‘Your wish is my command! It would be my honour to make this sale; I am most thankful.’
The other fellow, a conceited, pharaonic2 egotist, and a selfish drunkard, seemed to have imagined that he would remain everlastingly in the farm; he was heedless of the earthquakes and tumult of this world. He said, ‘No! I do not recognise the king! I will not sell my own property, nor ruin my comfort and enjoyment!’
A short while later, the first man ascended to a rank that made him the envy of everyone. He won the benevolence of the king, and he ended up living happily in the king’s own palace.
The other fellow became afflicted with the type of state that made people pity him. At the same time, they would say, ‘He does deserves this. His happiness and wealth have only gone because of the blunder he made – thus is he suffering punishment and agony.’
The meaning of the allegory
Oh lower self, so full of fantasies and caprice! With the binoculars of this allegory, gaze into the face of reality!
The king represents your Lord and Creator, the Sovereign of beginningless and endless eternity.
The farms, machines, equipment and balances represent all that you possess in the sphere of your life. It also encompasses what of body, spirit and heart we each possess, and their entailments, the outer and inner senses such as the eye, the tongue, the intellect and the imagination.
The lieutenant is the Most Noble Prophet Muhammad.
The most wise royal address is the Wise Qur’an, since it states the great transaction that we are dealing with, in this verse:
إنّ أللّه اشترى من المؤمنين أنفسهم و أموالهم بأنّ لهم الجنّة
Allah has indeed bought from the believers their own selves and possessions, that Paradise might be theirs3
The surging theatre of war is the tempestuous countenance of this stormy world, in which nothing endures.
The participation of transient beings in eternity through the secret of taklif, personal religious responsibility
It tosses and turns and changes and corrupts, and to the mind of every human being, it intimates the following question:
‘Since everything is going to end up escaping from our hands, eventually to perish and disappear, is there no way to sustain it, and transform it so that it becomes eternal?’
As he was reflecting on this, suddenly a heavenly echo from the Qur’an was heard saying, ‘Yes, there is a way! It is a good way, and an easy way, and has five degrees of profit!’
A question: What is this way?
The answer: It is to sell back the trust4 to its True Owner, for that sale bears a fivefold profit.
The fivefold profit of selling one’s entire being to Allah
The first type of profit: Ephemeral wealth becomes ever-enduring – for if this evanescent life is given to and truly spent for the sake of the One who is the Ever-abiding,5 the Self-subsistent Sustainer,6 and the Possessor of Majesty, it transmutes into a life everlasting, and produces eternal fruits. Then, all the moments in one’s life will outwardly fade, and it will be as if they were mere seeds or kernels, rotting, yet blossoming flowers of happiness in the world of eternity that turn into a luminous, delightful vista in the Isthmus-world.7
The second type of profit: A price like Paradise is given.
The third type of profit: The value of each limb and sense increases a thousand-fold. The mind, for example, is an instrument. If you use it for the sake of the lower self, not selling it to Allah, it becomes an ominous, irritating and exhausting instrument, burdening your poor helpless head with painful memories from the past, and all the terrifying things that the future holds. It is reduced to the level of an accursed and harmful instrument. Most of the time, it is this that forces the open sinner to run to drunkenness, or frivolity – to be rid of the irritation and disturbance caused by the mind.
However, if it is sold to its True Owner, and used for His sake, the mind becomes a key to a talisman that will open up endless treasuries of mercy, as well as the limitless treasures of wisdom present in His universe. Through this, it will ascend to the station of a Divine guide, preparing its owner for eternal bliss.
Another example is eyesight – a window through which the spirit observes this world. If you were to use it only in the service of your own lower self, refusing to sell it to the service of Allah the Exalted, then all of the temporary, impermanent beauties and sights that it beholds only turn it into a servant of a degraded, shameless voyeur, of egomaniacal lust and caprice.
Yet if you sell the eye to its Artful Maker,8 the All-seeing,9 using it only for His sake and within the sphere for which you have His permission, that eye ascends to the station of reader of the great book of the universe, and of eyewitness to the Divine miracles of creation in this world; a blessed bee of the flowers of mercy, in the garden of this globe.
Yet another example: If you were not to sell the sense of taste in the tongue to its Wise Originator, using it instead in the service of the lower self and in the name of the stomach, you will descend to the level of a mere doorman for the factory and stable of the stomach – and its value will plummet.
Yet sell it to the Generous Provider and the sense of taste will ascend to the station of a skilled supervisor of the vaults of Divine Mercy, and a grateful appraiser of the kitchens of the power of the Independent and Eternally Besought.
O intellect! Take heed! What is an accursed instrument next to a key to the universe?
And O eye! Look well! What is a shameless voyeur next to a scholarly supervisor of the Divine library?
O tongue! Taste well! What is a stable-doorman and a sentry at a factory next to a supervisor of a private vault of mercy?
If you were to measure the rest of the organs and senses by the same standard, you would realise that the believer really does acquire a nature befitting Paradise, and the disbeliever really does acquire a nature congruous with Hell.
The reason that each of them acquires their value is that the believer, through his faith, uses his Creator’s trust in His name, and in the sphere only of that for which he has His permission, whereas the disbeliever uses it treacherously, and only in the service of his lower self.
The fourth type of profit: The human being is weak, and afflicted by many tribulations. He is destitute, and has a great number of needs. He is powerless, and the burden of his life is indeed very heavy. If he does not then rely on and have full trust in the Almighty, Possessor of Majesty, failing to completely depend on and submit to Him, his conscience will be in continuous torment, and he will be drowned in fruitless hardships, pain, and sorrows. He will become thereby either a drunkard, or a vicious, wild animal.
The fifth type of profit: The people of mystical unveiling and spiritual experience, and the people of special spiritual abilities and gnostic witnessing have all agreed that the worship of each of those limbs and senses, their glorification of Allah and the high price of your selling them to Allah – all will be given to you. All will be given to you, in your time of greatest need, in the form of the fruits of Paradise.
Thus, were you to reject taking on this rewarding trade, with its five degrees of profit, then quite apart from merely being deprived of any profit, you would plummet into five degrees of loss.
The fivefold loss of refusing to sell one’s entire being to Allah
The first loss: All will vanish, all will be lost. That which you have loved so much, your possessions, and your offspring. Your lower self and caprice, for whom your love has become a type of slavery. All your youth, your entire life by which you have been so charmed, will vanish, and be lost. All will escape from your hands, leaving you only with its sins and pain on your shoulders.
The second loss: You will be punished for betraying the trust, for you have indeed oppressed yourself, using your precious limbs and senses for the most degenerate and degraded of things.
The third loss: You have slandered and indeed wronged Divine Wisdom, by letting your precious human limbs and senses drop to a level much lower even than that of the animals.
The fourth loss: Forever you will be doomed to wail, crying over the blows of extinction and separation. For despite your helplessness and poverty, your weak back has been loaded with the terrible burden of life.
The fifth loss: Your mind, your heart, your eyes and your tongue. These gifts of the Merciful, that were given to you so that you might attain, by use of them, the foundations of eternal life and those things necessary for the happiness of the Hereafter, will transmute into a form hideous, that will open the gates of Hell for you.
Now we shall look to the sale. I wonder – is this sale really such a difficult, heavy burden such that so many people feel compelled to flee from it? No, absolutely not. No such burden exists! For the sphere of the permissible10 is very broad, and more than sufficient for the fulfilment of one’s desires. There really is no need to fall into prohibited things.11 The Divine commandments are light and few. Becoming a slave and soldier for Allah, on the other hand, is an honour so sweet that it cannot be described.
One’s duty is merely that one must, like a soldier, begin and act in the name of Allah, and give and take for the sake of Allah. One must move, and be still, within the limits of Divine permission and law. One must find peace. One must ask for forgiveness if one has made a mistake, humbly entreating Him saying, ‘Oh Lord! Forgive our shortcomings, and accept us as your slaves, and make us trustworthy holders of your trust, until You take Your trust from us!’ Amin.
1) Qur’an Al-Tawba 9/111
2) فرعوني (fir’awnī) Pharaonic
3) Qur’an Al-Tawba 9/111
4) أمانة (amānah) Here, the trust refers to one’s own being, that one has been ‘entrusted’ with by Allah.
5) الباقي (al-bāqī) The Ever-abiding – Allah, the Necessary Being, considered in terms of His eternal, endless existence.
6) القيّوم (al-qayyum) The Self-subsistent Sustainer – a name of Allah – He Who relies on no one for His subsistence, but Who sustains all, and in whom all beings subsist.
7) برزخ (barzakh) Isthmus. This is a Qur’anic term referring to the intermediary world between this life and the Hereafter – it is ‘the world between that of incorporeal meanings, and that of physical bodies’. In the Isthmus, the actions carried out by human beings in this life will take physical forms, either sublime or horrific. It will then be the case that, as the Blessed Messenger, upon whom be blessings and peace, said ‘The grave is either one of the gardens of Paradise, or one of the pits of Hell’
8) الصانع (al-sāni’) The Artful Maker – Allah, He who makes all things according to a miraculous, masterful design.
9) البصير (al-basīr) The All-seeing – A name of Allah – He who sees absolutely all things according to a mode that is transcendently free of any physical organ or apparatus.
0) حلال (halāl) Licit – something deemed permissible by the Sacred Law of Islam
11) حرام (harām) Prohibited – something deemed impermissible by the Sacred Law of Islam