2 Preface يَعلَمُ ما يَلِجُ فِي الأَرضِ وَما يَخرُجُ مِنها وَما يَنزِلُ مِنَ السَّماءِ وَما يَعرُجُ فيها ۚ وَهُوَ الرَّحيمُ الغَفورُYusuf AliHe knows all that goes1 into the earth, and all that comes out thereof; all that comes down from the sky2 and all that ascends thereto and He is the Most Merciful, the Oft-Forgiving.An ignorant man may think that water absorbed in the soil or seed sown beneath the sod is lost, but it replenishes numerous rills and streams, and feeds and sustains numerous roots and forms of life, and throws up all kinds of vegetable life. So with things that come out of the earth who can count the myriad forms of herbs and trees that grow and perish, and yet sustain a continuous life for ages and ages? Yet these are symbolical of other things or entities beyond time or space, and beyond physical form. We see the birth and death of the animal part of man: when he is buried beneath the soil, the ignorant man thinks there is an end of him. But what countless stages still lie before him for his inner and spiritual life? And so with the Platonic Forms of Things: Goodness, Virtue, Mercy, and the various functions of the soul. They are never lost, but go up to God.The vapours that rise from the earth and ascend to the sky descend again as rain and snow and as symbols of God’s Mercy. So are the prayers of the devout and the call of those in agony for help and light, answered by the descent of mercy and guidance, help and light from the Throne of Majesty. The imagery indicated in the last note can be worked out to moral and spiritual forces, and they all centre in God. Do not forget that, just as there is the element of Mercy, so there is an element of Justice and Punishment?in the physical forces as well as in the moral and spiritual forces, all centering in God.