only a container; a cover for the dominical works; a tray-bearer for the gifts of the Compassionate One.
Of course, the receptable for a king’s gift, or the handkerchief in which it is wrapped, or the individual who brings the gift, which is placed in his hand, can in no way be partners in the king’s sovereignty. Anyone who supposes that they are partners is imagining nonsensical absurdities. In the same way, apparent causes and intermediaries can have absolutely no share in God’s sustaining of His creatures. Their lot is only to perform a service of worship.
THE SECOND AIM
The representative of those who ascribe partners to God could in no respect prove that way, and so, although despairing, since he wanted to destroy the way of those who affirm Divine unity, he tried to sow doubts in their minds by asking the following question:
The Second Question: “O you who affirm Divine unity! You say, ‘Say: He is God, the One and Only. God, the Eternally Besought One;’1 that the Creator of the universe is one, He is single, He is eternally besought by all creatures; and that the Creator of everything is He. That He is one in essence and at the same time the reins of everything are directly in His hand, the key to everything is in His grasp; one thing cannot be an obstacle to another. And you say that at the same instant He has total disposal over all things and all their states. How can such a far-fetched fact be believed? How can a single individual be in innumerable places and do innumerable things at the same time with no difficulty?”
The Answer: This question may be answered through explaining an extremely profound, subtle, elevated, and comprehensive mystery concerning Divine oneness and eternal besoughtedness. Man’s mind can only look at this mystery through the telescope and observatory of comparison and allegory. While there is nothing similar or analogous to God Almighty’s Essence and attributes, the functions of His attributes may be looked at to an extent by means of comparison and allegory. So we shall point to that mystery through comparisons of a material nature.
First Comparison: As is proved in the Sixteenth Word, a single individual may attain universality or comprehensiveness through the means of different mirrors. While actually being a particular or part of something greater than itself, it is as though it becomes a universal with numerous qualities and functions.
Indeed, matter like glass and water may be a mirror to physical objects,