The Masnavi
Category: Islam
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The Masnavi, or Masnavi-ye-Ma'navi (Persian: مثنوی معنوی‎), also written Mathnawi, or Mathnavi ("The Spiritual Couplets"), is an extensive poem written in Persian by Jalal al-Din Muhammad Balkhi, also known as Rumi. The Masnavi is one of the most influential works of Sufism, commonly called "the Quran in Persian". It has been viewed by many commentators as the greatest mystical poem in world literature. It is a spiritual text that teaches Sufis how to reach their goal of being truly in love with God.
The Masnavi
The Spiritual Couplets of
Maulana Jalalu-‘D-Din Muhammad Rumi

Book I.

HEARKEN to the reed-flute, how it complains,
Lamenting its banishment from its home:
"Ever since they tore me from my osier bed,
My plaintive notes have moved men and women to tears.
I burst my breast, striving to give vent to sighs,
And to express the pangs of my yearning for my home.
He who abides far away from his home
Is ever longing for the day ho shall return.
My wailing is heard in every throng,
In concert with them that rejoice and them that weep.
Each interprets my notes in harmony with his own feelings,
But not one fathoms the secrets of my heart.
My secrets are not alien from my plaintive notes,
Yet they are not manifest to the sensual eye and ear.
Body is not veiled from soul, neither soul from body,
Yet no man hath ever seen a soul."

This plaint of the flute is fire, not mere air.
Let him who lacks this fire be accounted dead!
'Tis the fire of love that inspires the flute,
'Tis the ferment of love that possesses the wine.
The flute is the confidant of all unhappy lovers;
Yea, its strains lay bare my inmost secrets.
Who hath seen a poison and an antidote like the flute?
Who hath seen a sympathetic consoler like the flute?
The flute tells the tale of love's bloodstained path,
It recounts the story of Majnun's love toils.
None is privy to these feelings save one distracted,
As ear inclines to the whispers of the tongue.
Through grief my days are as labor and sorrow,
My days move on, hand in hand with anguish.
Yet,, though my days vanish thus, 'tis no matter,
Do thou abide, O Incomparable Pure One!
But all who are not fishes are soon tired of water;
And they who lack daily bread find the day very long;
So the "Raw" comprehend not the state of the "Ripe;"
Therefore it behoves me to shorten my discourse.
Arise, O son! burst thy bonds and be free!
How long wilt thou be captive to silver and gold?
Though thou pour the ocean into thy pitcher,
It can hold no more than one day's store.
The pitcher of the desire of the covetous never fills,
The oyster-shell fills not with pearls till it is content;
Only he whose garment is rent by the violence of love
Is wholly pure from covetousness and sin.
Hail to thee, then, O LOVE, sweet madness!
Thou who healest all our infirmities!
Who art the physician of our pride and self-conceit!
Who art our Plato and our Galen!
Love exalts our earthly bodies to heaven,
And makes the very hills to dance with joy!
O Iover, 'twas love that gave life to Mount Sinai,
When "it quaked, and Moses fell down in a swoon."
Did my Beloved only touch me with his lips,
I too, like the flute, would burst out in melody.
But he who is parted from them that speak his tongue,
Though he possess a hundred voices, is perforce dumb.
When the rose has faded and the garden is withered,
The song of the nightingale is no longer to be heard.

The BELOVED is all in all, the lover only veils Him;
The BELOVED is all that lives, the lover a dead thing.
When the lover feels no longer LOVE's quickening,
He becomes like a bird who has lost its wings. Alas!
How can I retain my senses about me,
When the BELOVED shows not the light of His countenance?
LOVE desires that this secret should be revealed,
For if a mirror reflects not, of what use is it?
Knowest thou why thy mirror reflects not?
Because the rust has not been scoured from its face.
If it were purified from all rust and defilement,
It would reflect the shining of the SUN Of GOD.
O friends, ye have now heard this tale,
Which sets forth the very essence of my case.

The Prince and the Handmaid.

A prince, while engaged on a hunting excursion, espied a fair maiden, and by promises of gold induced her to accompany him. After a time she fell sick, and the prince had her tended by divers physicians. As, however, they all omitted to say, "God willing, we will cure her," their treatment was of no avail. So the prince offered prayer, and in answer thereto a physician was sent from heaven. He at once condemned his predecessors' view of the case, and by a very skilful diagnosis, discovered that the real cause of the maiden's illness was her love for a certain goldsmith of Samarcand. In accordance with the physician's advice, the prince sent to Samarcand and fetched the goldsmith, and married him to the lovesick maiden, and for six months the pair lived together in the utmost harmony and happiness. At the end of that period the physician, by divine command, gave the goldsmith a poisonous draught, which caused his strength and beauty to decay, and he then lost favour with the maiden, and she was reunited to the king. This Divine command was precisely similar to God's command to Abraham to slay his son Ishmael, and to the act of the angel in slaying the servant of Moses, and is therefore beyond human criticism.

Description of Love.
A true lover is proved such by his pain of heart;
No sickness is there like sickness of heart.
The lover's ailment is different from all ailments;
Love is the astrolabe of God's mysteries.
A lover may hanker after this love or that love,
But at the last he is drawn to the KING of love.
However much we describe and explain love,
When we fall in love we are ashamed of our words.
Explanation by the tongue makes most things clear,
But love unexplained is clearer.

When pen hasted to write,
On reaching the subject of love it split in twain.
When the discourse touched on the matter of love,
Pen was broken and paper torn.
In explaining it Reason sticks fast, as an ass in mire;
Naught but Love itself can explain love and lovers!
None but the sun can display the sun,
If you would see it displayed, turn not away from it.
Shadows, indeed, may indicate the sun's presence,
But only the sun displays the light of life.
Shadows induce slumber, like evening talks,
But when the sun arises the "moon is split asunder."
In the world there is naught so wondrous as the sun,
But the Sun of the soul sets not and has no yesterday.
Though the material sun is unique and single,
We can conceive similar suns like to it.

But the Sun of the soul, beyond this firmament,
No like thereof is seen in concrete or abstract.
Where is there room in conception for His essence,
So that similitudes of HIM should be conceivable?
Shamsu-'d-Din of Tabriz importunes Jalalu-'d-Din
to compose the Masnavi.
The sun (Shams) of Tabriz is a perfect light,
A sun, yea, one of the beams of God!
When the praise was heard of the "Sun of Tabriz,"
The sun of the fourth heaven bowed its head.

Now that I have mentioned his name, it is but right
To set forth some indications of his beneficence.
That precious Soul caught my skirt,
Smelling the perfume of the garment of Yusuf;
And said, "For the sake of our ancient friendship,
Tell forth a hint of those sweet states of ecstasy,
That earth and heaven may be rejoiced,
And also Reason and Spirit, a hundredfold."
I said, "O thou who art far from 'The Friend,'
Like a sick man who has strayed from his physician,
Importune me not, for I am beside myself;
My understanding is gone, I cannot sing praises.
Whatsoever one says, whose reason is thus astray,
Let him not boast; his efforts are useless.
Whatever he says is not to the point,
And is clearly inapt and wide of the mark.

What can I say when not a nerve of mine is sensible?
Can I explain 'The Friend' to one to whom He is no Friend?
Verily my singing His praise were dispraise,
For 'twould prove me existent, and existence is error.
Can I describe my separation and my bleeding heart?
Nay, put off this matter till another season."
He said, "Feed me, for I am an hungered,
And at once, for 'the time is a sharp sword.'
O comrade, the Sufi is 'the son of time present.'
It is not the rule of his canon to say, 'To-morrow.'
Can it be that thou art not a true Sufi?
Ready money is lost by giving credit."

I said, "'Tis best to veil the secrets of 'The Friend.'
So give good heed to the morals of these stories.
That is better than that the secrets of 'The Friend'
Should be noised abroad in the talk of strangers."
He said, "Without veil or covering or deception,
Speak out, and vex me not, O man of many words!
Strip off the veil and speak out, for do not I
Enter under the same coverlet as the Beloved?"
I said, "If the Beloved were exposed to outward view,
Neither wouldst thou endure, nor embrace, nor form.
Press thy suit, yet with moderation;
A blade of grass cannot, pierce a mountain.
If the sun that illumines the world
Were to draw nigher, the world would be consumed.
Close thy mouth and shut the eyes of this matter,
That, the world's life be not made a bleeding heart.
No longer seek this peril, this bloodshed;
Hereafter impose silence on the 'Sun of Tabriz.'"
He said, "Thy words are endless. Now tell forth
All thy story from its beginning."

The Oilman and his Parrot.

An oilman possessed a parrot which used to amuse him with its agreeable prattle, and to watch his shop when he went out. One day, when the parrot was alone in the shop, a cat upset one of the oil-jars. When the oilman returned home he thought that the parrot had done this mischief, and in his anger he smote the parrot such a blow on the head as made all its feathers drop off, and so stunned it that it lost the power of speech for several days. But one day the parrot saw a bald-headed man passing the shop, and recovering its speech, it cried out, “Pray, whose oil-jar did you upset?” The passers-by smiled at the parrot’s mistake in confounding baldness caused by age with the loss of its own feathers due to a blow.

Confusion of saints with hypocrites.
Worldly senses are the ladder of earth,
Spiritual senses are the ladder of heaven.
The health of the former is sought of the leech,
The health of the latter from "The Friend."
The health of the former arises from tending the body,
That of the latter from mortifying the flesh.
The kingly soul lays waste the body,
And after its destruction he builds it anew.
Happy the soul who for love of God
Has lavished family, wealth, and goods!
Has destroyed its house to find the hidden treasure,
And with that treasure has rebuilt it in fairer sort;
Has dammed up the stream and cleansed the channel,
And then turned a fresh stream into. the channel;
Has cut its flesh to extract a spear-head,
Causing a fresh skin to grow again over the wound;
Has razed the fort to oust, the infidel in possession,
And then rebuilt it with a hundred towers and bulwarks.

Who can describe the unique work of Grace?
I have been forced to illustrate it by these similes.
Sometimes it presents one appearance, sometimes another.
Yea, the affair of religion is only bewilderment.
Not, such as occurs when one turns one's back on God,
But such as when one is drowned and absorbed in Him.
The latter has his face ever turned to God,
The former's face shows his undisciplined self-will.
Watch the face of each one, regard it well,
It may be by serving thou wilt recognize Truth's face.
As there are many demons with men's faces,
It is wrong to join hand with every one.
When the fowler sounds his decoy whistle,
That the birds may be beguiled by that snare,
The birds hear that call simulating a bird's call,
And, descending from the air, find net and knife.
So vile hypocrites steal the language of Darveshes,
In order to beguile the simple with their trickery.
The works of the righteous are light and heat,
The works of the evil treachery and shamelessness.
They make stuffed lions to scare the simple,
They give the title of Muhammad to false Musailima.
But Musailma retained the name of "Liar,"
And Muhammad that of "Sublimest of beings."
That wine of God (the righteous) yields a perfume of musk;
Other wine (the evil) is reserved for penalties and pains.

The Jewish King, his Vazir, and the Christians.

A certain Jewish king used to persecute the Christians, desiring to exterminate their faith. His Vazir persuaded him to try a stratagem, namely, to mutilate the Vazir himself, and expel him from his court, with the intent that he might take refuge with the Christians, and stir up mutual dissensions amongst them. The Vazir's suggestion was adopted. He fled to the Christians, and found no difficulty in persuading them that he had been treated in that barbarous way on account of his attachment to the Christian faith. He soon gained complete influence over them, and was accepted as a saintly martyr and a divine teacher. Only a few discerning men divined his treachery; the majority were all deluded by him. The Christians were divided into twelve legions, and at the head of each was a captain. To each of these captains the Vazir gave secretly a volume of religious directions, taking care to make the directions in each volume different from and contradictory to those in the others. One volume enjoined fasting, another charity, another faith, another works, and so on. Afterwards the Vazir withdrew into a cave, and refused to come out to instruct his disciples, in spite of all their entreaties. Calling the captains to him, he gave secret instructions to each to set himself up as his successor, and to be guided by the instructions in the volume secretly confided to him, and to slay all other claimants of the apostolic office. Having given these directions, he slew himself. In the event each captain set himself up as the Vazir's successor, and the Christians were split up into many sects at enmity with one another, even as the Vazir had intended. But the malicious scheme did not, altogether succeed, as one faithful band cleaved to the name of "Ahmad," mentioned in the Gospel, and were thus saved from sharing the ruin of the rest.

The Vazir's Teaching.
Myriads of Christians flocked round him,
One after another they assembled in his street.
Then he would preach to them of mysteries,
Mysteries of the Gospel, of stoles, of prayers.
He would preach to them with eloquent words
Concerning the words and acts of the Messiah.
Outwardly he was a preacher of religious duties,
But within a decoy call and a fowler's snare.
Therefore the followers of the Prophet ('Isa)
Were beguiled by the fraud of that demon soul.
He mingled in his discourses many secret doctrines
Concerning devotion and sincerity of soul.
He taught them to make a fair show of devotion,
But to say of secret sins, "What do they matter?"
Hair by hair and jot by jot they learned of him
Fraud of soul, as roses might learn of garlic.
Hair-splitters and all their disciples
Are darkened by similar preaching and discourse.
The Christians gave their hearts to him entirely,
For the blind faith of the vulgar has no discernment.
In their inmost breasts they planted love of him,
And fancied him to be the Vicar of Christ;
Yea, him, that one-eyed and cursed Dajjal!
Save us. O God! who art our only defender!
O God, there are hundreds of snares and baits,
And we are even as greedy and foolish birds;
Every moment our feet are caught in a fresh snare;
Yea, each one of us, though he be a falcon or Simurgh!
Thou dost release us every moment, and straightway
We again fly into the snare, O Almighty One!
Sleep of the body the soul's awakening.

Every night Thou freest our spirits from the body
And its snare, making them pure as rased tablets.
Every night spirits are released from this cage,
And set free, neither lording it nor lorded over.
At night prisoners are unaware of their prison,
At night kings are unaware of their majesty.
Then there is no thought or care for loss or gain,
No regard to such an one or such an one.
The state of the "Knower" is such as this, even when awake.
God says, "Thou wouldst deem him awake though asleep,
Sleeping to the affairs of the world, day and night,
Like a pen in the directing hand of the writer.
He who sees not the hand which effects the writing
Fancies the effect proceeds from the motion of the pen.
If the "Knower" revealed the particulars of this state,
'Twould rob the vulgar of their sensual sleep.
His soul wanders in the desert that has no similitude;
Like his body, his spirit is enjoying perfect rest;
Freed from desire of eating and drinking,
Like a bird escaped from cage and snare.
But when he is again beguiled into the snare,
He cries for help to the Almighty.
Laila and the Khalifa.

The Khalifa said to Laila, "Art thou really she
For whom Majnun lost his head and went distracted?
Thou art not fairer than many other fair ones."
She replied, "Be silent; thou art not Majnun!"
If thou hadst Majnun's eyes,
The two worlds would be within thy view.
Thou art in thy senses, but Majnun is beside himself.
In love to be wide awake is treason.
The more a man is awake, the more he sleeps (to love);
His (critical) wakefulness is worse than slumbering.
Our wakefulness fetters our spirits,
Then our souls are a prey to divers whims,
Thoughts of loss and gain and fears of misery.
They retain not purity, nor dignity, nor lustre,
Nor aspiration to soar heavenwards.
That one is really sleeping who hankers after each whim
And holds parley with each fancy.
The twelve volumes of theology.

He drew up a separate scroll to the address of each,
The contents of each scroll of a different tenor;
The rules of each of a different purport,
This contradictory of that, from beginning to end.
In one the road of fasting and asceticism
Was made the pillar and condition of right devotion.
In one 'twas said, "Abstinence profits not;
Sincerity in this path is naught but charity."
In one 'twas said, "Thy fasting and thy charity
Are both a making thyself equal with God;
Save faith and utter resignation to God's will
In weal and woe, all virtues are fraud and snares."
In one 'twas said, "Works are the one thing needful;
The doctrine of faith without works is a delusion."
In one 'twas said, "Commands and prohibitions are
Not for observance, but to demonstrate our weakness,
That we may see our own weakness (to carry them out),
And thereby recognize and confess God's power."

In one 'twas said, "Reference to thine own weakness
Is ingratitude for God's mercies towards us.
Rather regard thy power, for thou hast power from God.
Know thy power to be God's grace, for 'tis of Him."
In one 'twas said, "Leave power and weakness alone;
Whatever withdraws thine eyes from God is an idol."
In one 'twas said, "Quench not thy earthy torch,
That it may be a light to lighten mankind.
If thou neglectest regard and care for it,
Thou wilt quench at midnight the lamp of union."
In one 'twas said, "Quench that torch without fear,
That in lieu of one thou may'st see a thousand joys,
For by quenching the light the soul is rejoiced,
And thy Laila is then as bold as her Majnun.
Whoso to display his devotion renounces the world,
The world is ever with him, before and behind."
In one 'twas said, "Whatsoever God has given thee
In His creation, that He has made sweet to thee;
Yea, pleasant to thee and allowable. Take it, then,
And cast not thyself into the pangs of abstinence."
In one 'twas said, "Give up all thou possessest,
For to be ruled by covetousness is grievous sin."
(Ah! how many diverse roads are pointed out,
And each followed by some sect for dear life!
If the right road were easily attainable,
Every Jew and Gueber would have hit on it!)
In one 'twas said, "The right road is attainable,
For the heart's life is the food of the soul.

Whatever is enjoyed by the carnal man
Yields no fruit, even as salt and waste land.
Its result is naught but remorse,
Its traffic yields only loss.
It is not profitable in the long run;
Its name is called 'bankrupt' in the upshot.
Discern, then, the bankrupt from the profitable,
Consider the eventual value of this and that."
In one 'twas said, "Choose ye a wise Director,
But foresight of results is not found in dignities."
(Each sect looked to results in a different way,
And so, perforce, became captive to errors.
Real foresight of results is not simple jugglery,
Otherwise all these differences would not have arisen.
In one 'twas said, "Thyself art thy master,
Inasmuch as thou art acquainted with the Master of all;
Be a man, and not another man's beast of burden!
Follow thine own way and lose not thy head!"
In one 'twas said, "All we see is One.
Whoever says 'tis two is suffering from double vision."
In one 'twas said, "A hundred are even as one."
But whoso thinks this is a. madman.
Each scroll had its contrary piece of rhetoric,
In form and substance utterly opposed to it;
This contrary to that, from first to last,
As if each was compounded of poison and antidotes.

Another Tyrannical Jewish King.

A certain Jewish king, the same who is referred to in the Sura "Signs of the Zodiac," made up his mind to utterly exterminate the Christian faith, and with that view he set up a huge idol, and issued commands that all who refused to worship it should be cast into the fire. Thereupon his officers seized a Christian woman with her babe, and as she refused to worship it, they cast the babe into the fire. But the babe cried out to its mother, "Be not afraid, the fire has no power to burn me; it is as cool as water!"Hearing this, the rest of the Christians leapt into the fire, and found that it did not burn them. The king reproached the fire for failing to do its office, but the fire replied that it was God's servant, and that its consuming properties were not to be used for evil purposes. It then blazed up and consumed the king, and all his Jews with him.

Second causes only operate in subordination to,
and form the impulsion of, the First Cause.
Air, earth, water, and fire are God's servants.
To us they seem lifeless, but to God living.
In God's presence fire ever waits to do its service,
Like a submissive lover with no will of its own.
When you strike steel on flint fire leaps forth;
But 'tis by God's command it thus steps forth.
Strike not together the flint and steel of wrong,
For the pair will generate more, like man and woman.
The flint and steel are themselves causes, yet
Look higher for the First Cause, O righteous man!
For that Cause precedes this second cause.
How can a cause exist of itself without precedent cause?
That Cause makes this cause operative,
And again helpless and inoperative.
That Cause, which is a guiding light to the prophets,
That, I say, is higher than these second causes.
Men's minds recognize these second causes,
But only prophets perceive the action of the First Cause.
Praise compared to vapour drawn upwards,
and then descending in rain.

Though water be enclosed in a reservoir,
Yet air will absorb it, for 'tis its supporter;
It sets it free and bears it to its source,
Little by little, so that you see not the process.
In like manner this breath of ours by degrees
Steals away our souls from the prison-house of earth."The good word riseth up to Him,"
Rising from us whither He knoweth.
Our breathings are lifted up in fear of God,
Offerings from us to the throne of Eternity.
Then come down to us rewards for our praises,
The double thereof, yea, mercies from the King of Glory.
Therefore are we constrained to utter these praises
That slaves may attain the height of God's gifts.
And so this rising and descent go on evermore,
And cease not forever and aye.
To speak in plain Persian, this attraction
Comes from the same quarter whence comes this sweet savour.

The Lion and the Beasts.

In the book of Kalila and Damna a story is told of a lion who held all the beasts of the neighborhood in subjection, and was in the habit of making constant raids upon them, to take and kill such of them as he required for his daily food. At last the beasts took counsel together, and agreed to deliver up one of their company every day, to satisfy the lion's hunger, if he, on his part, would cease to annoy them by his continual forays. The lion was at first unwilling to trust to their promise, remarking that he always preferred to rely on his own exertions; but the beasts succeeded in persuading him that he would do well to trust Providence and their word. To illustrate the thesis that human exertions are vain, they related a story of a man who got Solomon to transport him to Hindustan to escape the angel of death, but was smitten by the angel the moment he got there. Having carried their point, the beasts continued for some time to perform their engagement. One day it came to the turn of the hare to be delivered up as a victim to the lion; but he requested the others to let him practice a stratagem. They scoffed at him, asking how such silly beast as he could pretend to outwit the lion. The hare assured them that wisdom was of God, and God might choose weak things to confound the strong. At last they consented to let him try his luck. He took his way slowly to the lion, and found him sorely enraged. In excuse for his tardy arrival he represented that he and another hare had set out together to appear before the lion, but a strange lion had seized the second hare, and carried it off in spite of his remonstrances. On hearing this, the lion was exceeding wroth, and commanded the hare to show him the foe who had trespassed on his preserves. Pretending to be afraid, the hare got the lion to take him upon his back, and directed him to a well. On looking down the well, the lion saw in the water the reflection of himself and of the hare on his back; and thinking that he saw his foe with the stolen hare, he plunged in to attack him, and was drowned, while the hare sprang off his back and escaped. This folly on the part, of the lion was predestined to punish him for denying God's ruling providence. So Adam, though he knew the names of all things, in accordance with God's predestination, neglected to obey a single prohibition, and his disobedience cost him dearly.

Trust in God, as opposed to human exertions.
The beasts said, "O enlightened sage,
Lay aside caution; it cannot help thee against destiny;
To worry with precaution is toil and moil;
Go, trust in Providence, trust is the better part.
War not with the divine decree, O hot-headed one,
Lest that decree enter into conflict with thee.
Man should be as dead before the commands of God
Lest a blow befall him from the Lord of all creatures."
He said, "True; but though trust be our mainstay,
Yet the Prophet teaches us to have regard to means.
The Prophet cried with a loud voice,
'Trust in God, yet tie the camel's leg.'
Hear the adage, 'The worker is the friend of God;'
Through trust in Providence neglect not to use means.
Go, O Quietists, practice trust with self-exertion,
Exert yourself to attain your objects, bit by bit.
In order to succeed, strive and exert yourselves;
If ye strive not for your objects, ye are fools."
They said, "What is gained from the poor by exertions
Is a fraudulent morsel that will bring ill luck.
Again, know that self-exertion springs from weakness;
Relying on other means is a blot upon perfect trust.
Self-exertion is not more noble than trust in God.
What is more lovely than committing oneself to God?
Many there are who flee from one danger to a worse;
Many flee from a snake and meet a dragon.
Man plans a stratagem, and thereby snares himself;
What he takes for life turns out, to be destruction.
He shuts the door after his foe is in the house.
After this sort were the schemes of Pharaoh.
That jealous king slew a myriad babes,
While Moses, whom he sought, was in his house.
Our eyes are subject to many infirmities;
Go! annihilate your sight in God's sight.
For our foresight His foresight is a fair exchange;
In His sight is all that ye can desire.
So long as a babe cannot grasp or run,
It takes its father's back for its carriage.
But when it becomes independent and uses its hands,
It falls into grievous troubles and disgrace.
The souls of our first parents, even before their hands,
Flew away from fidelity after vain pleasure.
Being made captives by the command, 'Get down hence,'
They became bond-slaves of enmity, lust, and vanity.
We are the family of the Lord and His sucking babes.
The Prophet said, 'The people are God's family;'
He who sends forth the rain from heaven,
Can He not also provide us our daily bread?"
The lion said, "True; yet the Lord of creatures
Sets a ladder before our feet.

Step by step must we mount up to the roof!
The notion of fatalism is groundless in this place.
Ye have feet why then pretend ye are lame?
Ye have hands why then conceal your claws?
When a master places a spade in the hand of a slave,
The slave knows his meaning without being told.
Like this spade, our hands are our Master's hints to us;
Yea, if ye consider, they are His directions to us.
When ye have taken to heart His hints,
Ye will shape your life in reliance on their direction;
Wherefore these hints disclose His intent,
Take the burden from you, and appoint your work.
He that bears it makes it bearable by you,
He that is able makes it within your ability.

Accept His command, and you will be able to execute it;
Seek union with Him, and you will find yourselves united.
Exertion is giving thanks for God's blessings;
Think ye that your fatalism gives such thanks?
Giving thanks for blessings increases blessings,
But fatalism snatches those blessings from your hands.
Your fatalism is to sleep on the road; sleep not
Till ye behold the gates of the King's palace.
Ah! sleep not, O unreflecting fatalists,
Till ye have reached that fruit-laden Tree of Life
Whose branches are ever shaken by the wind,
And whose fruit is showered on the sleepers' heads.
Fatalism means sleeping amidst highwaymen.
Can a cock who crows too soon expect peace?
If ye cavil at and accept not God's hints,
Though ye count yourselves men, see, ye are women.
The quantum of reason ye possessed is lost,
And the head whose reason has fled is a tail.
Inasmuch as the unthankful are despicable,
They are at last cast into the fiery pit.

If ye really have trust in God, exert yourselves,
And strive, in constant reliance on the Almighty."
Wisdom is granted often times to the weak.
He said, "O friends, God has given me inspiration.
Often times strong counsel is suggested to the weak.
The wit taught by God to the bee
Is withheld from the lion and the wild ass.
It fills its cells with liquid sweets,
For God opens the door of this knowledge to it.
The skill taught by God to the silkworm
Is a learning beyond the reach of the elephant.
The earthly Adam was taught of God names,
So that his glory reached the seventh heaven.
He laid low the name and fame of the angels,
Yet blind indeed are they whom God dooms to doubt!
The devotee of seven hundred thousand years (Satan)
Was made a muzzle for that yearling calf (Adam),
Lest he should suck milk of the knowledge of faith,
And soar on high even to the towers of heaven.

The knowledge of men of external sense is a muzzle
To stop them sucking milk of that sublime knowledge.
But God drops into the heart a single pearl-drop
Which is not bestowed on oceans or skies!"
"How long regard ye mere form, O form-worshippers?
Your souls, void of substance, rest still in forms.
If the form of man were all that made man,
Ahmad and Abu Jahl would be upon a par.
A painting on a wall resembles a man,
But see what it is lacking in that empty form.
'Tis life that is lacking to that mere semblance of man.
Go! seek for that pearl it never will find.
The heads of earth's lions were bowed down
When God gave might to the Seven Sleepers' dog.
What mattered its despised form
When its soul was drowned in the sea of light?"
Human wisdom, the manifestation of divine.
On his way to the lion the hare lingered,
Devising a stratagem with himself.

He proceeded on his way after delaying long,
In order to have a secret or two for the lion.
What worlds the principle of Reason embraces!
How broad is this ocean of Reason!
Yea, the Reason of man is a boundless ocean.
O son, that ocean requires, as it were, a diver.
On this fair ocean our human forms
Float about, like bowls on the surface of water;
Yea like cups on the surface, till they are. filled;
And when filled, these cups sink into the water.
The ocean of Reason is not seen; reasoning men are seen;
But our forms (minds) are only as waves or spray thereof.
Whatever form that ocean uses as its instrument,
Therewith it casts its spray far and wide.
Till the heart sees the Giver of the secret,
Till it espies that Bowman shooting from afar,
It fancies its own steed lost, while in bewilderment
It is urging that steed hither and thither;
It fancies its own steed lost, when all the while
That swift steed is bearing it on like the wind.
In deep distress that blunder head
Runs from door to door, searching and inquiring,
"Who and where is he that hath stolen my steed?"
They say, "What is this thou ridest on, O master?"
He says, "True, 'tis a steed; but where is mine?"
They say, "Look to thyself, O rider; thy steed is there."
The real Soul is lost to view, and seems far off;
Thou art like a pitcher with full belly but dry lip;
How canst thou ever see red, green, and scarlet
Unless thou seest the light first of all?
When thy sight is dazzled by colors,
These colors veil the light from thee.

But when night veils those colors from thee,
Thou seest that colors are seen only through light.
As there is no seeing outward colors without light,
So it is with the mental colors within.
Outward colors arise from the light of sun and stars,
And inward colors from the Light on high.
The light that lights the eye is also the heart's Light;
The eye's light proceeds from the Light of the heart.
But the light that lights the heart is the Light of God,
Which is distinct from the light of reason and sense.
At night there is no light, and colors are not seen;
Hence we know what light is by its opposite, darkness.
At night no colors are visible, for light is lacking.
How can color be the attribute of dark blackness?
Looking on light is the same as looking on colors;
Opposite shows up opposite, as a Frank a Negro.
The opposite of light shows what is light,
Hence colors too are known by their opposite.
God created pain and grief for this purpose,
To wit, to manifest happiness by its opposites.
Hidden things are manifested by their opposites;
But, as God has no opposite. He remains hidden.
God's light has no opposite in the range of creation
Whereby it may be manifested to view.

Perforce "Our eyes see not Him, though He sees us."
Behold this in the case of Moses and Mount Sinai.
Discern form from substance, as lion from desert,
Or as sound and speech from the thought they convey.
The sound and speech arise from the thought;
Thou knowest not where is the Ocean of thought;
Yet when thou seest fair waves of speech,
Thou knowest there is a glorious Ocean beneath them.
When waves of thought arise from the Ocean of Wisdom,
They assume the forms of sound and speech.
These forms of speech are born and die again,
These wa,ves cast themselves back into the Ocean.
Form is born of That which is without form,
And goes again, for, "Verily to Him do we return."
Wherefore to thee every moment come death and "return."
Mustafa saith, "The world endureth only a moment."
So, thought is an arrow shot by God into the air.
How can it stay in the air? It returns to God.

Every moment the world and we are renewed,
Yet we are ignorant of this renewing forever and aye.
Life, like a stream of water, is renewed and renewed,
Though it wears the appearance of continuity in form.
That seeming continuity arises from its swift renewal,
As when a single spark of fire is whirled round swiftly.
If a single spark be whirled round swiftly,
It seems to the eye a continuous line of fire.
This apparent extension, owing to the quick motion,
Demonstrates the rapidity with which it is moved.
If ye seek the deepest student of this mystery,
Lo! 'tis Husamu-'d-Din, the most exalted of creatures!

Omar and the Ambassador.

The hare, having delivered his companions from the tyranny of the lion, in the manner just described, proceeds to improve the occasion by exhorting them to engage in a greater and more arduous warfare, viz., the struggle against their inward enemy, the lusts of the flesh. He illustrates his meaning by the story of an ambassador who was sent by the Emperor of Rum to the Khalifa 'Omar. On approaching Medina this ambassador inquired for 'Omar's palace, and learned that 'Omar dwelt in no material palace, but in a spiritual tabernacle, only visible to purified hearts. At last he discerned 'Omar lying under a palm-tree, and drew near to him in fear and awe. 'Omar received him kindly, and instructed him in the doctrine of the mystical union with God. The ambassador heard him gladly, and asked him two questions, first, How can souls descend from heaven to earth? and secondly, With what object are souls imprisoned in the bonds of flesh and blood? 'Omar responded, and the ambassador accepted his teaching, and became a pure-hearted Sufi. The hare urged his companions to abjure lust and pride, and to go and do likewise.

God's agency reconciled with man's freewill.
The ambassador said, "O Commander of the faithful,
How comes the soul down from above to earth?
How can so noble a bird be confined in a cage?"
He said, "God speaks words of power to souls,
To things of naught, without eyes or ears,
And at these words they all spring into motion;
At His words of power these nothings arise quickly,
And strong impulse urges them into existence.
Again, He speaks other spells to these creatures,
And swiftly drives them back again into Not-being.
He speaks to the rose's ear, and causes it to bloom;
He speaks to the tulip, and makes it blossom.
He speaks a spell to body, and it becomes soul;
He speaks to the sun, and it becomes a fount of light.
Again, in its ear He whispers a word of power,
And its face is darkened as by a hundred eclipses.

What is it that God says to the ear of earth,
That it attends thereto and rests steadfast?
What is it that Speaker says to the cloud,
That it pours forth rain-water like a water-skin?
Whosoever is bewildered by wavering will,
In his ear hath God whispered His riddle,
That He may bind him on the horns of a dilemma;
For he says, 'Shall I do this or its reverse?'
Also from God comes the preference of one alternative;
'Tis from God's impulsion that man chooses one of the two.
If you desire sanity in this embarrassment,
Stuff not the ear of your mind with cotton.
Take the cotton of evil suggestions from the mind's ear,
That the heavenly voice from above may enter it,
That you may understand that riddle of His,
That you may be cognisant of that open secret.

Then the mind's ear becomes the sensorium of inspiration;
For what is this Divine voice but the inward voice?
The spirit's eye and ear possess this sense,
The eye and ear of reason and sense lack it.
The word 'compulsion' makes me impatient for love's sake;
'Tis he who loves not who is fettered by compulsion.
This is close communion with God, not compulsion,
The shining of the sun, and not a dark cloud.
Or, if it be compulsion, 'tis not common compulsion,
It is not the domination of wanton wilfulness.
O son, they understand this compulsion
For whom God opens the eyes of the inner man.
Things hidden and things future are plain to them;
To speak of the past seems to them despicable.
They possess freewill and compulsion besides,
As in oyster-shells raindrops are pearls.
Outside the shell they are raindrops, great and small;
Inside they are precious pearls, big and little.

These men also resemble the musk deer's bag;
Outside it is blood, but inside pure musk;
Yet, say not that outside 'twas mere blood,
Which on entering the bag becomes musk.
Nor say that outside the alembic 'twas mere copper,
And becomes gold inside, when mixed with elixir.
In you freewill and compulsion are vain fancies,
But in them they are the light of Almighty power.
On the table bread is a mere lifeless thing,
When taken into the body it is a life-giving spirit.
This transmutation occurs not in the table's heart,
'Tis soul effects this transmutation with water of life.
Such is the power of the soul, O man of right views!
Then what is the power of the Soul of souls?(God).
Bread is the food of the body, yet consider,
How can it be the food of the soul, O son?
Flesh-born man by force of soul
Cleaves mountains with tunnels and mines.
The might of Ferhad's soul cleft a hill;
The might of the Soul's soul cleaves the moon;
If the heart opens the mouth of mystery's store,
The soul springs up swiftly to highest heaven.

If tongue discourses of hidden mysteries,
It kindles a fire that consumes the world.
Behold, then, God's action and man's action;
Know, action does belong to us; this is evident.
If no actions proceeded from men,
How could you say, 'Why act ye thus?'
The agency of God is the cause of our action,
Our actions are the signs of God's agency;
Nevertheless our actions are freely willed by us,
Whence our recompense is either hell or 'The Friend.'"

The Merchant and his Clever Parrot.

There was a certain merchant who kept a parrot in a cage. Being about to travel to Hindustan on business, he asked the parrot if he had any message to send to his kinsmen in that country, and the parrot desired him to tell them that he was kept confined in a cage. The merchant promised to deliver this message, and on reaching Hindustan, duly delivered it to the first flock of parrots he saw. On hearing it one of them at once fell down dead. The merchant was annoyed with his own parrot for having sent such a fatal message, and on his return home sharply rebuked his parrot for doing so. But the parrot no sooner heard the merchant's tale than ho too fell down dead in his cage. The merchant, after lamenting his death, took his corpse out of the cage and threw it away; but, to his surprise, the corpse immediately recovered life, and flew away, explaining that the Hindustani parrot had only feigned death to suggest this way of escaping from confinement in a cage.

Saints are preserved from all harm
As to a "man of heart," he takes no hurt,
Even though he should eat deadly poison.
He who gains health from practicing abstinence is safe;
The poor disciple is safe in the midst of fever.
The prophet said, "O disciple, though you be bold,
Yet enter not into conflict with every foe."
Within you is a Nimrod; enter not his fire;
But if you must do so, first become an Abraham.
If you are neither swimmer nor seaman,
Cast not yourself into the sea out of self-conceit.
A swimmer brings pearls from the deep sea;
Yea, he plucks gain from the midst of perils.
If the saint handles earth, it becomes gold;
If a sinner handles gold, it turns to dust.
Whereas the saint is well-pleasing to God,
In his actions his hand is the hand of God.
But the sinner's hand is the hand of Satan and demons,
Because he is ensnared in falsity and fraud.
If folly meets him, he takes it for wisdom;
Yea, the learning gained by the wicked is folly.

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