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[ary] 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[ary] 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, yes, 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 neighbourhood 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 remonstrance.
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.' [l] 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. Yes, 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 [quibble] at and accept not God's hints, though ye count yourselves men, see, ye are women. The quantum [quantity] 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, i n order to have a secret or two for the lion. What worlds the principle of Reason embraces! How broad is this ocean of Reason! Yes, 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; yes 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 colours, these colours veil the light from thee. But when night veils those colours from thee, thou seest that colours are seen only through light. As there is no seeing outward colours without light, so it is with the mental colours within.
Outward colours arise from the light of sun and stars, and inward colours 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 colours are not seen. Hence we know what light is by its opposite, darkness. At night no colours are visible, for light is lacking. How can colour be the attribute of dark blackness? Looking on light is the same as looking on colours. Opposite shows up opposite, as a Frank or a Negro.
The opposite of light shows what is light, hence colours 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 waves 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 [Umar] 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, [l] 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 cognizant 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.'"