O my soul full of doubts and evil suggestions and exceeding its bounds! You say that verses like,
There is not a moving thing, but He has grasp of its forelock,1
In Whose hand is the dominion of all things,2
And We are closer to him than his jugular vein,3
show that God is infinitely close to us. And yet, the verses,
And to Him shall you return.4
The angels ascend to Him in a day the measure of which is fifty thousand years,5
and, the Hadith which says: ‘God is beyond seventy thousand veils,’6 and truths like the Prophet’s Ascension show that we are infinitely distant from Him. I would like an explanation which will bring this profound mystery closer to the understanding.
The Answer: Then listen to the following:
Firstly: At the end of the First Ray we said that although with regard to its unrestricted light and immaterial reflection, the sun is closer to you than the pupil of your eye, which is the window of your spirit and its mirror, since you are restricted and imprisoned in materiality, you are extremely distant from it. You can make contact with it only through some of its reflections and shadows, and meet with it through a sort of its minor and particular manifestations, and draw close to its colours, which are like a category of attribute, and to its rays and manifestations, which are like a class of its names. If you want to approach the sun’s essential level and meet with the sun’s essence directly in person, then you have to transcend very many restrictions and traverse very many levels of universality. Simply, after abstracting yourself from materiality, becoming enlarged to the extent of the earth, expanding in the spirit like the air, rising as far as the moon and resembling the full-moon, only then can you claim to meet with it in person without veil and to draw close to it to any degree.
In just the same way, the All-Glorious One of Perfection, the Peerless One of Beauty, the Necessarily Existent One, the Giver of Existence to All
al-Ghazzali, Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din, i, 101; Musnad, iv, 401, 405.