thousands of different kinds of animal, sustained and ordered, brought to life and caused to die, in so disciplined a fashion, their provision coming from mere sand and salt water, that it established irresistibly the existence of a Powerful and Glorious, a Merciful and Beauteous Being administering and giving life to them.
The traveller then looks at the rivers and sees that the benefits inherent in them, the functions they perform, and their continual replenishment, are inspired by such wisdom and mercy as indisputably to prove that all rivers, springs, streams and great waterways flow forth from the treasury of mercy of the Compassionate One, the Lord of Glory and Generosity. They are preserved and dispensed, indeed, in so extraordinary a fashion that it is said “Four rivers flow forth from Paradise.”1 That is, they transcend by far apparent causes, and flow forth instead from the treasury of a non-material Paradise, from the superabundance of an unseen and inexhaustible source.
For example, the blessed Nile, that turns the sandy land of Egypt into a paradise, flows from the Mountains of the Moon in the south without ever being exhausted, as if it were a small sea. If the water that flowed down the river in six months were gathered together in the form of a mountain and then frozen, it would be larger than those mountains. But the place in the mountains where the water is lodged and stored is less than a sixth of their mass. As for the water that replenishes the river, the rain that enters the reservoir of the river is very sparse in that torrid region and is quickly swallowed up by the thirsty soil; hence it is incapable of maintaining the equilibrium of the river. A tradition has thus grown up that the blessed Nile springs, in miraculous fashion, from an unseen Paradise. This tradition has profound meaning and expresses a beautiful truth.
The traveller saw, then, a thousandth part of the truths and affirmations contained in the oceans and rivers. The seas proclaim unanimously with a power proportionate to their extent, “There is no god but He,” and produce as witnesses to their testimony all the creatures that inhabit them. This, our traveller preceived.
Expressing and conveying the testimony of the seas and the rivers, we said, in the Fourth Degree of the First Station:
There is no god but God, the Necessary Existent, to the necessity of Whose Existence in Unity point all the seas and the rivers, together with all they contain, by the testimony of the sublimity of the comprehensiveness of the truth of subjugation, preservation, storing up, and administration, vast and well-ordered, and to be observed.
See, Muslim, Janna, 26. (The rivers, Sayhan, Jayhan, Euphrates, and Nile). [Tr.]