It is known that certain utterances or formulaic expressions have the power of the presence of God within them. This is especially true of the Name of Majesty or Master Name (also called the “All-comprehensive Name”) of God (that is, Allah), as well as the Ninety-Nine Beautiful Names and the innumerable other Names of God.
The divine Names are “hidden treasures”—the inner reality of things, the noumena behind phenomena. William Chittick has stated that “the divine names [are] the archetypes of every possibility of existence” (p. 2). According to the great Sufi Ibn Arabi, God’s Names weave this observable universe; the world is a web of their concrete manifestations. In his view, words we use to describe the Sacred—such as the Living, the All-knowing, and so on, in Arabic or any other language—are not the Names themselves, but the names we give to the Names. (Prof. Chittick has also stated that “we can compare the divine names to the Platonic ideas” (p. 10). This can be done, with two reservations: one, the Platonic ideas are not well understood by everyone, either. And two, matters having to do with God’s transfinity can hardly be measured in terms of finite concepts.)
Here’s a Sufic way to think about this: in the beginning of the process of Creation, the stage of Nondetermination or Nondelimitation (lâ ta’ayyun), God is in a nondifferentiated or unconditioned state. According to the Tradition of the Prophet, He is in an infinite cloud (amâ) without top or bottom. There is only an infinite-dimensional superspace, within which shines the Light of God (see 24:35). (Buddhists capture something of this with the expression: “the Clear Light of the Void.”) This is also called Nonspace (lâ maqân) or “space of spaces,” because it includes and transcends all other spaces.
At the highest stage, the Name and the Named are one (al-ism huwa ayn al-musamma). God and his Name are one. This is true particularly of the Master Name and the Names that describe God's Essential Attributes (the qualities belonging to His Essence, such as infinity, eternity, etc.).
At the level of the First Delimitation or Determination (ta’ayyun al-awwal), the Master Name differentiates or “branches” into a myriad other Names. At this stage, however, each Name is still identified with and indistinguishable from every other.
At the level of the Second Delimitation or Determination (ta’ayyun al-thâni), the Names become distinct from each other, each occupying an n-dimensional space. I should stress that this process is not temporal but ontological, so that it’s not at a “distance” of 14 billion years but right next door, so to speak. This is still prephysical, and there are a few more stages until the level of physical reality is reached.
When a Name is Invoked (dhikr), its effect is precipitated in the physical locale where it is uttered. Mentioning any Name attracts the Named. A short-circuit is formed, as it were, that bypasses other intermediate levels and connects physical space to the space of the corresponding Name at the second level of Determination. Thus, the effect of the Name manifests itself within phenomenal reality.
Since each Name expresses a different Quality or Attribute, the result is the appearance in physical reality of whatever quality is called upon by that Name.
What is true of the Names also holds for formulaic expressions of greater complexity. Their efficacy stands irrespective of the mouth that invokes them, although this is also a factor to be considered. (Not all mouths and not all human beings are the same.)
Now, one such expression is the famous Throne Verse in the Koran (Verse 2:255).
The Throne Verse
Let us first take a look at the Throne Verse:
There is no god but He,
the Living, the Everlasting.
Slumber seizes Him not, neither sleep;
To Him belongs
All that is in the heavens and the earth.
Who is there that shall intercede with Him
Save by His leave?
He knows what lies before them
And what is after them,
and they comprehend nothing of His knowledge
except what He wills.
His Throne comprises the heavens and the earth;
The preserving of them oppresses Him not;
He is the All-high, the All-glorious.
A Separate Reality
Let me relate some anecdotes. (All these examples are from Turkey.)
- I’m Mustafa,
I’m a shopkeeper from [the city of] Samsun. My daughter, Sevgi, was
crippled from birth. For ten years, we tried to find a remedy for her
defect. I spent [tens of thousands of dollars] for this cause. But what
can you do, my daughter didn’t improve. I was consumed by the pain of
her inability to walk, which was her dearest hope. I was distraught
because I couldn’t realize her wish.
The doctors spoke of an operation, but its risk of failure was 98 percent. That is, the probability was very high that my daughter would not survive the operation.
As we were living on in this state of dejection, my daughter came up to me one day and said: “Daddy, I’m going to get well. A grandpa appeared to me in my dream and told me I would be healed.”
I was surprised at my daughter’s words. That night, I woke up when an old man told me in my dream: “Sevgi is going to be OK. With God’s permission, the prayer of the Throne Verse is going to be her cure.”
As soon as I woke up, I began to repeat the Throne Verse. Somehow, I also recited the following Names of God many times: O Holy (Ya Quddoos), O Beautiful (Ya Jameel), O Affectionate (Ya Wadood). [The first and last are among God’s Ninety-Nine Beautiful Names. Note that the Throne Verse already includes four of the 99 Names, two at the beginning and two at the end.]
A little later, the door opened and Sevgi came in. I was dumbfounded by what I saw. Sevgi came to my side and said: “Daddy, that old man told me to recite the prayer of the Throne Verse. He also told me to repeat ‘O Holy, O Beautiful, O Affectionate.’ See, I’m healed now. Daddy, how wonderful it is to be able to walk!”
- [In 2009,]
I became involved in a very distasteful legal case. I was very sad and
didn’t know what to do. I cried and lamented, all to no avail. Finally, a
criminal record was thrust upon me. [After that] I had trouble finding a
job. This case pursued me wherever I went. I was terribly depressed.
Then, a wonderful job opportunity came up. But they were inquiring about criminal records. Despite everything, I applied for the job and obtained a list of the necessary paperwork. One of the required documents was the criminal record. I was distraught.
Then, surfing the Internet, I came upon the miracles of the Throne Verse. Early one Friday morning, I sat down and recited the Throne Verse 313 times. Later that morning, when I went to obtain my criminal record, the document said No Criminal Record. But all the earlier documents had stated that I did have one.
Thinking there was a mistake, I made a second request for the document. Again, it came out clean. Upon this, I called a lawyer and requested an inquiry into my court case. He took my first and last names. He called two days later and said there had been no such lawsuit.
I also overcame a pestilential disease with the Throne Verse.
The other day [this is being written on January 27, 2013,] our manager was calling everybody in and chewing them out. I knew my turn would come soon, because I too had mistakes and shortcomings. I began to recite the Throne Verse. Then the manager summoned me. It was like the cat had got his tongue. Finally he said: “Are you happy with us? With your job? Is there anything we can do for you? Is anyone in the workplace mistreating you?”
I almost had a fit of laughter. Because that manager was most unforgiving, and had scolded me a lot in the past.
To these first-person testimonies, let me add a case I myself know about. A friend of mine, Kerim (pronounced “Kareem”) used to live in an apartment. On the inside of the entrance there was a Throne Verse, inscribed in Arabic, hanging on the door. He was not a religious person, but saw no harm in keeping it there.
One day, there was a fire. Everything in the apartment was burnt to a cinder—with the sole exception of the door and, of course, the paper on which the Throne Verse was written. The sight of that made him think twice, and set him on a different course in his journey through life.
The bullets did not penetrate him
Finally, let me tell you about Nuri (pronounced “Noory”), one of the brethren who frequented the Master. I knew this man; he was of an older generation, and is now deceased. One day, he related the following to a mutual friend.
Decades ago, before his military sevice was due, he had a brief meeting with a sage. The sage taught him the following prayer:
By God, You are Light
Let five thousand Throne Verses
Stand on my four sides
A while later, the Korean War broke out. (This is 1950.) A call was issued for volunteers to participate in the war. Nuri said to himself: “Other people have mothers, fathers, children. I have none of these. If someone is going to die, let it be me.”
With this thought in mind, he volunteered and was shipped off to Korea on short notice. There, too, he became a driver.
As the war was going on, he had a dream one night in which the Prophet visited him in their soldiers’ tent.
The next day, he was driving soldiers from his company back from the war zone, when he realized they had left a soldier behind. He disobeyed the express orders of his commander and left the vehicle, deciding to go back to the battlefield in search of the man.
He went back alone. The enemy opened fire. The prayer above, which he had long forgotten, issued involuntarily from his lips. (Divine intervention is quite obvious at this point.) He found his fellow soldier and dragged him to safety. They took refuge in a cranny. There they remained until nightfall, and finally fell asleep.
The next morning, when he woke up and looked down at his uniform, he saw at least five or six blackened bullet holes across his chest and abdomen. Yet he did not feel any pain. He quickly examined his bare chest—there was not the slightest sign of damage.
He realized then what had happened.
The machine guns had sprayed him with bullets. Yet he had not even felt a thing. The bullets had not penetrated him. Somehow, they had vaporized after they tore through his uniform, which of course was not bulletproof, but before they touched his skin. He had been protected throughout the entire ordeal. In short, he had been invulnerable.
To paraphrase from the Tao Te Ching (Lin Yutang’s translation):
Those it would not see destroyed.