Is God like a Great Soul of this Universe?
For the average person it is enough to realize that whatever God Almighty determines to create comes into being and that everything is His creation and has proceeded from His Power.
But this mystery of creation becomes plain to the men of understanding after their disciplinary exercises, through visions, and they seem to realize that all souls and bodies are words of God which, through perfect Divine wisdom, have been clothed as created objects. But the basic principle to be adhered to is the factor that is common to visions and reason, that is to say, that God is the Creator of everything and that souls and bodies could not come into being without Him. The phraseology of the Holy Qur’an in this context is multifaceted but that which the Holy Qur’an lays down conclusively and with certainty is that everything has come into being through God Almighty and nothing has come into being without Him, or on its own. This is enough for the elementary stage. Thereafter, to those who voyage through the different stages of understanding, the mystery would be disclosed after their striving, as Allah the Exalted has said:
“ And as for those who strive in Our path, We will surely guide them in Our ways” (Ch. 29:70)
Here it is necessary to explain that when God, Who is the Cause of causes and to Whose Being all beings are related, makes a move towards the creation of anything, then if that move is on a full scale it occasions a move in all creation, but when it is a partial move, it occasions a move in some sections of the universe. The relationship of the whole of creation and of all the worlds to God, the Lord of Honour and Glory, resembles the relationship which subsists between the soul and the body. As all the limbs of the body are subject to the designs of the soul and they all move in the direction in which the soul moves, the same relationship subsists between God Almighty and His creation. Although I do not say like the author of Fusus (a book of Shaykh-ul-Akbar Ibn Arabia) bout the Ultimate Being that:
“ He created things and that He is those very things”
yet I do say:
“ He created all things and He is like those very things. This universe is like a great hall paved smooth with slabs of glass. A Great Power flows underneath it and does whatever It wills. In the eyes of the short-sighted, everything appears as if it existed by itself. They imagine that the sun, the moon, and the stars exist on their own, but all existence belongs to Him”
The All-Wise has disclosed this mystery to me that the whole of this universe including all its sections is designed to carry out whatever is intended by the Cause of causes and is like the limbs which do not operate on their own, but are supplied with power all the time by the Great Soul as all the faculties of the body operate under the direction of the soul. This universe is a substitute for limbs for that Great Being. There are some things in it which are as the light of His countenance, which serve as light overtly or covertly according to His will. Some are like His hands, some are like His wings and some are like His breath. In short, this universe collectively is like a body for God Almighty and all the glory and the life of this body is derived from that Great Soul, Who is its Sustainer. Whatever movement is willed by that Sustainer, the same appears in all or some of the limbs of that body as may be desired by that All-Sustaining Being.
To illustrate this, we can imagine that the Sustainer of the universe is the Great Being, Who has numberless hands and feet and numberless other limbs possessing unlimited length and breadth and like an octopus this Great Being has tentacles which spread out to all corners of the living world and draw everything to themselves. These limbs are called the universe. When the Sustainer of the universe makes a move, full or partial, it necessarily creates movement in His limbs and He manifests His designs through these limbs and not in any other way. This is an easily understood illustration of the spiritual reality that every section of creation is subject to the designs of God Almighty and discloses His hidden designs in its countenance and carries them out with the utmost degree of obedience. This obedience is not at all based on governance and coercion. Everything is drawn towards God Almighty as if by a magnetic power and every particle is naturally inclined towards Him as the different limbs of a body are inclined towards that body. Thus, it is quite true that the whole of this universe is like the limbs of that Great Being and that is why He is called Sustainer of the universe. As the soul is the sustainer of the body, He is the Sustainer of the whole of creation. Had that not been so the whole system would have run out of order.
Everything willed by that Sustainer whether overt or covert, whether related to the faith or to the world, is manifested through the creation and none of His designs is manifested on earth except through that means. This is the eternal law of nature which is in operation since the beginning.
Note: This excerpt is taken from the book “The Essence of Islam Vol 1 pages 108–112”
The original book can be free download here: