the meeting of minds and are perfected with the passage of time; many matters that were theoretical in the past are now commonplace; to compare the past and present is a false comparison [the difference between them is too great]; due to their simplicity and candour, desert-dwellers cannot hide trickery and deception, as they may be concealed beneath the veil of civilization; many of the sciences result only from instilling customs in human nature and teaching it events and circumstances, when the time and environment are favourable; the light of man’s vision cannot penetrate the future and he cannot perceive its particular circumstances; just as human life has a natural span which will come to an end, so too laws have a natural lifespan which comes to an end, of course; in terms of both time and place, the environment is vastly influential on people’s circumstances; very many wonders of the past have become commonplace through the perfecting of means; human intelligence, even if exceptional, is not capable of creating a science and perfecting all at once; the science is rather like a child; [its development] is gradual.
Now that you have settled these matters in your head and can picture them, free yourself from the fancies of the present and the delusions of its environment, and plunge into the sea of time from the shore of this century. Then pass under the sea till you emerge at the Age of Bliss and behold the Arabian Peninsula. Raise your head and dress yourself with the ideas that that time sews for you, and take a look at the boundless desert. What appears to you first is a single person who although without helper or power is challenging the whole world on his own. He is disputing everyone. He is bearing on his shoulders a truth more glorious than the globe. He is holding in his hand a Shari‘a that guarantees the happiness of all men. This Shari‘a of his is as though the sum and substance of all the divine sciences and the sciences of reality. It is living like a skin rather than like clothes, and expands as the human potentialities unfold, producing the fruits of happiness in this world and the next. It orders the affairs of humankind as if all men were the members of a single gathering. If its laws were to be asked from where they had come and where they were headed, they would reply through the tongue of their miraculousness: “We come from pre-eternal [divine] speech and we shall accompany human thought through all eternity. When the world ends we shall apparently part from men in respect of the religious obligations, but we shall always accompany them through the mystery of our meanings and shall nourish their spirits and assist and guide them.”