This blogspot is a medium to share my thoughts and adventures apart from promoting my books. Below are the books which have been written or authored and published by myself.

"Berpetualang ke Aceh: Mencari Diri dan Erti".

ISBN 983-42031-0-1, Jun 2006

"Berpetualang ke Aceh: Membela Syiar yang Asal"

ISBN 983-42031-1-x, May 2007

"Berpetualang ke Aceh: Sirih Pulang ke Gagang?"

ISBN 978-983-42031-2-2, November 2007

It is interesting to note that while these books were written in Malay it has gained enough attention to merit being part of the collections of the American Library of Congress and National Library of Australia. Look here and here.

While the first three books were published by my own company, the fourth titled "Rumah Azan" was published in April 2009 by a company called Karnadya with the help of the Malaysian national literary body Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. It features beautiful pictures along with stories behind selected mosques which could be related to the history of Islam and the Malays alongside the formation of the Malaysian nation. Look at the article A collaboration of old collegemates - the book "Rumah Azan".

My fifth book "Ahlul Bait (Family) of Rasulullah SAW and Malay Sultanates", an English translation and adaptation of the Malay book "Ahlul Bait (Keluarga) Rasulullah SAW dan Kesultanan Melayu" authored by Hj Muzaffar Mohamad and Tun Suzana Othman was published early 2010. Look here... My 5th book is out! Ahlul Bait (Family) of Rasulullah SAW and the Malay Sultanates... . For more information check out my Malay blogspot CATATAN SI MERAH SILU.

Like my fourth book "Rumah Azan", the sixth book "Kereta Api Menuju Destinasi" is also a coffee-table book which is published by the company Karnadya with the cooperation of Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (the main Malay literary body in Malaysia). Coming out January 2011 it features pictures and stories on the adventure travelling by train to all of Peninsular Malaysia along with the interesting places which could be reached this way.

My seventh book "Jejak keluarga Yakin : Satu sketsa sejarah" in turn is a coffee-table book which is written, editted, designed and has pictures taken by me. Coming out of the factory October 2011, this book which combines family history with history of places such as Singapura, Johor, Batu Pahat, Muar and in fact the history of the island of Java and England has been reviewed with me interviewed live in the program Selamat Pagi Malaysia at RTM1. Look at the article Siaran langsung ulasan buku "Jejak keluarga Yakin : Satu sketsa sejarah" dan temu ramah di Selamat Pagi Malaysia. Some selected contents have been featured in Sneak peek "Jejak keluarga Yakin : Satu sketsa sejarah".


The "Berpetualang ke Aceh" series of novels could be obtained in e-book form. Enter http://www.e-sentral.com/, click general novel and go to page 4. You can also type the word "Aceh" at the search box. Or click straight Book 1, Book 2 and Book 3.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Who is Datuk Matsita?

Somewhere in a corner behind Chow Kit Road, Kuala Lumpur, next to a parking lot, lies a small building which invites questions. The building is a small Chinese temple under a jejawi tree (a jungle tree with lots of roots and foliage), quite a normal sight in Malaysia. What is out of the ordinary is the sign-board at the temple bearing the name "Datuk Matsita"... Ait?? Came a big question mark when I first saw this a month ago. The name "Datuk Matsita" sounds Malay. Why is a Chinese temple named after it?
Before the story is continued, let there be some explanation for the picture above. Well, it is a picture of the temple mentioned. This afternoon, I feel like making a stop there and took 3 pictures. Too bad, the words "Datuk Matsita" on the sign-board (look at the shiny area) did not make it in my cheap digital camera. I tried playing with the colour composition, light and contrast using the Photoshop program in an attempt to bring-up the words but it didn't work. Instead, the result was the picture above which might have some art value!
This reminds of a picture that look no less like a warrior or a Malay king at a Chinese temple in Teluk Intan, Perak. For sure, the figure looks like an important official clad in Malay traditional clothings, sitting in a half-lotus postion ( a common sitting position for a Malay)! Not far from the temple, there was a smaller temple with pictures of three old men, with face looking like a Chinese, another almost like a Malay. It happened that there was a nyonya (an old Chinese lady) laying some clothes under the sun at the house next-door. So I asked whose pictures were these? Came the simple answer: "I don't know but people say these are pictures of Datuk Melayu (elderly important Malay officials of old)!"
While visiting Sabak Bernam, Selangor, I was told there is a big temple there where there was pictures and statues which clearly look like that of a Malay official of olden days. "So the Chinese there says, it is the statue of a Malay, the statue of a king. They say this man (the Malay) has many miracles and is the guardian of the area!" one Malay says.
The statue at the temple of "Datuk Matsita" behind Chow Kit Road, Kuala Lumpur looks more like a Chinese. So is "Datuk Matsita" a Chinese man? Who knows... As the word "Datuk" itself is usually given to a Malay with substantial influence. But that is in the olden times... Now, there are many from other races who got the title "Datuk" from the Malay royalty. But is there any Chinese Datuk of nowadays who have been elevated to become minor gods or venerated figures worthy of worship after they pass away? Don't think so... Me thinks, those who are worshipped at temples are those from days bygone... That of figures with much influence, with miracles or power at least over a certain province.
So who is this "Datuk Matsita"? Suddenly one is reminded of the name Matsushita... But that is the name of a Japanese eletrical company. What about the ustazah (female religious teacher) who became a Malaysian politician that is Datuk Dr Siti Mashitah? Is there any connection? Hehe! Just kidding... Hmm... Maybe the Mastika magazine (a famous Malaysian monthly touching on mysterious things including ghosts and spirits) should investigate, who is "Datuk Matsita" as mentioned?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mathnawi III


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 he 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.

[1] As to a "man of heart," he takes no hurt, even though he should eat deadly poison. He who gains health from practising 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. [2] 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. Yes, 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. Yes, the learning gained by the wicked is folly. Whatever a sick man eats is a source of sickness, but if a saint imbibe infidelity it becomes faith.
Ah! footman who contendest with horsemen, thou wilt not succeed in carrying the day!
The jealousy of God [3]
The whole world is jealous for this cause, that God surpasseth the world in jealousy. God is as a soul and the world as a body, and bodies derive their good and evil from souls. He to whom the sanctuary of true prayer is revealed deems it shameful to turn back to mere formal religion. He who is master of the robes of a king brings shame on his lord by petty huckstering. He who is admitted to the king's presence chamber would show disrespect by tarrying at the doorway. If the king grants him license to kiss his hand, he would err were he to kiss merely the king's foot. Though to lay head at the king's feet is due obeisance, in the case supposed it would be wrong to kiss the feet. The king's jealousy would be kindled against him who, after he had seen his face, preferred his mere perfume. God's jealousy may be likened to a grain of wheat, but man's jealousy is but empty chaff.
For know ye that the source of jealousy is in God, and man's jealousy is only an offshoot from God's. But, let me now quit this subject, and make complaint of the severity of that fickle fair one.
Complaints of God's harsh dealings with His adoring slaves
"Wherefore dost thou abandon thy creed and faith? What matters it if it be heathen or true? Why hast thou forsaken thy Beloved? What matters it if she be fair or ugly?" [4] Let me then, I say, make complaint of the severity of that fickle fair one. I cry, and my cries sound sweet in His ear. He requires from the two worlds cries and groans. How shall I not wail under His chastening hand? How shall I not be in the number of those bewitched by Him? How shall I be other than night without His day? Without the vision of His face that illumines the day?
His bitters are very sweets to my soul, my sad heart is a lively sacrifice to my beloved. I am enamoured of my own grief and pain, for it makes me well-pleasing to my peerless king. I use the dust of my grief as salve for my eyes, that my eyes, like seas, may teem with pearls.
The tears which are shed because of His chastening are very pearls, though men deem them mere tears. 'Tis "the soul of souls" of whom I am making complaint. Yet I do not complain; I merely state my case. My heart says, "He has injured me," But I laugh at these pretended injuries.
Do me justice, O Thou who art the glory of the just who art the throne, and I the lintel of Thy door! But, in sober truth, where are throne and doorway?
Where are "we" and "I?" There where our beloved is!
O Thou, who art exempt from "us" and "me," who pervadest the spirits of all men and women. When man and woman become one, Thou art that one! When their union is dissolved, lo! Thou abidest! Thou hast made these "us" and "me" for this purpose, to wit, to play chess with them by Thyself. [5]
When Thou shalt become one entity with "us" and "you." Then wilt Thou show true affection for these lovers. When these "we" and "ye" shall all become one soul, then they will be lost and absorbed in the "beloved."
These are plain truths. Come then, O Lord! who art exalted above description and explanation! Is it possible for the bodily eye to behold Thee? Can mind of man conceive Thy frowns and Thy smiles? Are hearts, when bewitched by Thy smiles and frowns, [6] in a fit state to see the vision of Thyself? When our hearts are bewitched by Thy smiles and frowns, can we gain life from these two alternating states? The fertile garden of love, as it is boundless, contains other fruits besides joy and sorrow.
The true lover is exalted above these two states, he is fresh and green independently of autumn or spring! Pay tithe on Thy beauty, O Beauteous One! Tell forth the tale of the Beloved, every whit! For through coquetry His glances are still inflicting fresh wounds on my heart. I gave Him leave to shed my blood, if He willed it. I only said, "Is it right? " and He forsook me.
Why dost Thou flee from the cries of us on earth? Why pourest Thou sorrow on the heart of the sorrowful? O Thou who, as each new morn dawns from the east, art seen uprising anew, like a bright fountain! What excuse makest Thou for Thy witcheries? O Thou whose lips are sweeter than sugar, thou that ever renewest the life of this old world, fear the cry of this lifeless body and heart!
But, for God's sake, leave off telling of the rose. Tell of the bulbul [a Persian nightingale] who is severed from his rose. My ardour arises not from joy or grief, my sense mates not with illusion and fancy. My condition is different, for it is strange. Deny it not ! God is all-powerful.
Argue not from the condition of common men, Stumble not at severity and at mercy. For mercy and severity, joy and sorrow, are transient, and transient things die; "God is heir of all." [7] "'Tis dawn! O protector and asylum of the dawn! Make excuse for me to my lord Husamu-'d-Din!
Thou makest excuses for universal teason and soul. [8] Soul of souls and gem of life art Thou!
The light of my dawn is a beam from Thy light, shining in the morning draught of Thy protection! Since Thy gift keeps me, as it were, intoxicated, what is this spiritual wine that causes me this joy? Natural wine lacks the ferment in my breast, the spheres lag behind me in revolutions! Wine is intoxicated with me, not I with it! The world takes its being from me, not I from it! I am like bees, and earthly bodies like wax, [9] I build up these bodies as with my own wax!


The Harper

In the time of the Khalifa 'Omar there lived a harper, whose voice was as sweet as that of the angel Israfil, and who was in great request at all feasts. But he grew old, and his voice broke, and no one would employ him any longer. In despair he went to the burial ground of Yathrib, and there played his harp to God, looking to Him for recompense. Having finished his melody he fell asleep, and dreamed he was in Paradise. The same night a divine voice came to 'Omar, directing him to go to the burial ground, and relieve an old man whom he should find there. 'Omar proceeded to the place, found the harper, and gave him money, promising him more when he should need it. The harper cast away his harp, saying that it had diverted him from God, and expressed great contrition for his past sins. 'Omar then instructed him that his worldly journey was now over, and that he must not give way to contrition for the past, as he was now entered into the state of ecstasy and intoxication of union with God, and in this exalted state regard to past and future should be swept away. The harper acted on his instructions, and sang no more.


Apology for applying the term "Bride" to God

Mustafa became beside himself at that sweet call, his prayer failed on "the night of the early morning halt." He lifted not head from that blissful sleep," [1] so that his morning prayer was put off till noon. On that, his wedding night, in presence of his bride, his pure soul attained to kiss her hands. Love and mistress are both veiled and hidden, impute it not as a fault if I call Him "bride."
I would have kept silence from fear of my beloved, if He had granted me but a moment's respite. But He said, "Speak on, 'tis no fault, 'tis naught but the necessary result of the hidden decree, 'tis a fault only to him who only sees faults. How can the pure hidden spirit notice faults?" Faults seem so to ignorant creatures, not in the sight of the lord of benignity.
Blasphemy even may be wisdom in the Creator's sight, whereas from our point of view it is grievous sin. If one fault occur among a hundred beauties 'tis as one dry stick in a garden of green herbs. Both weigh equally in the scales for the two resemble body and soul. Wherefore the sages have said not idly, "the bodies of the righteous are as pure souls." Their words, their actions, their praises, are all as a pure soul without spot or blemish.
'Omar rebukes the harper for brooding over and bewailing the past. Then 'Omar said to him, "this wailing of thine shows thou art still in a state of sobriety." Afterwards he thus urged him to quit that state and called him out of his beggary to absorption in God: "sobriety savours of memory of the past; past and future are what veil God from our sight. Burn up both of them with fire! How long wilt thou be partitioned by these segments as a reed? So long as a reed has partitions 'tis not privy to secrets, nor is it vocal in response to lip and breathing.
While circumambulating the house thou art a stranger; when thou enterest in thou art at home. Thou whose knowledge is ignorance of the Giver of knowledge, thy wailing contrition is worse than thy sin. The road of the 'annihilated' is another road; sobriety is wrong, and a straying from that other road.
O thou who seekest to be contrite for the past, how wilt thou be contrite for this contrition? At one time thou adorest the music of the lute, at another embracest wailing and weeping." While the "discerner" reflected these mysteries, the heart of the harper was emancipated. Like a soul he was freed from weeping and rejoicing, his old life died, and he was regenerated. Amazement fell upon him at that moment, for he was exalted above earth and heaven, an uplifting of the heart surpassing all uplifting. I cannot describe it; if you can, say on! Ecstasy and words beyond all ecstatic words. Immersion in the glory of the Lord of glory! Immersion wherefrom was no extrication, as it were identification with the very Ocean! Partial reason is as naught to universal reason, if one impulse dependent on another impulse be naught. But when that impulse moves this impulse, the waves of that sea rise to this point. [2]


The Arab and his Wife

An Arab lived with his wife in the desert in extreme poverty, so that they became a reproach to their neighbours. The wife at last lost patience, and began to abuse her husband, and to urge him to improve their condition. The Arab rebuked her for her covetousness, reminding her that the Prophet had said, "Poverty is my glory," and showing her how poverty was a better preparation for death than riches, and finally threatening to divorce her if she persisted in her querulous ways. The wife, however, by blandishments reduced her husband to obedience, as wives always do, and made him promise to carry out her wishes. She directed him to go and represent their case to the Khalifa at Baghdad, and to make him an offering of a pot of water, that being the only present they could afford to make. Accordingly the Arab travelled to Baghdad, and laid his offering at the feet of the Khalifa, who received it graciously, and in return filled the pot with pieces of gold, and then sent him back to his home in a boat up the river Tigris. The Arab was lost in wonder at the benignity of the Khalifa, who had recompensed him so bountifully for his petty offering of a drop of water. The story contains several digressions, on Pharaoh, on the prophet Salih, and on Adam and the angels, and the poet, apropos of its disconnectedness, compares it to eternity, as it has no beginning and no end.


Men subdued by women's wiles.

In this manner she pleaded with gentle coaxing, the while her tears fell upon her cheeks. How could his firmness and endurance abide when even without tears she could charm his heart?
That rain brought forth a flash of lightning which kindled a spark in the heart of that poor man. Since the man was the slave of her fair face, how was it when she stooped to slavish entreaties?
When she whose airs set thy heart a-quaking, when she weeps, how feelest thou then? When she whose coquetry makes thy heart bleed condescends to entreaties, how is it then? She who subdues us with her pride and severity, what plea is left us when she begins to plead? When she who traded in naught but bloodshed submits at last. Ah! what a profit she makes!
God has adorned them "fair in the sight of men." [1] From her whom God has adorned how can man escape? Since He created him "to dwell together with her," [2] how can Adam sever himself from his Eve? Though he be Rustum, son of Zal, and braver than Hamza, yet he is submissive to the behests of his dame. He by whose preaching the world was entranced was he who spake the two words, "O Humaira!" [3]
Though water prevails over fire in might, yet it boils by fire when in a cauldron. When the cauldron intervenes between these two, air (desire) makes as naught the action of the water. Apparently thou art the ruler of thy wife, like water. In reality thou art ruled by and suppliant to her. Such is the peculiarity of man, he cannot withstand animal desire. That is his failing.
The Prophet said that women hold dominion over sages and over men of heart, but that fools, again, hold the upper hand over women, because fools are violent and exceedingly froward. They have no tenderness or gentleness or amity, because the animal nature sways their temperament. Love and tenderness are qualities of humanity, passion and lust are qualities of animality. Woman is a ray of God, not a mere mistress, the Creator's self, as it were, not a mere creature!
Moses and Pharaoh, alike doers of God's will, as Light and Darkness -- Poison and Antidote
Verily, both Moses and Pharaoh walked in the right way, though seemingly the one did so, and the other not. By day Moses wept before God, at midnight Pharaoh lifted up his cry, saying, "What a yoke is this upon my neck, O God! Were it not for this yoke who would boast, 'I am?'
Because Thou hast made Moses' face bright as the moon, and hast made the moon of my face black in the face. Can my star ever shine brighter than the moon? If it be eclipsed, what remedy have I?
Though princes and kings beat drums, and men beat cymbals because of my eclipse, [4] they beat their brass dishes and raise a clamour, and make my moon ashamed thereby. I, who am Pharaoh, woe is me! The people's clamour confounds my boast, 'I am Lord Supreme!' [5] Moses and I are Thy nurslings both alike, yet Thy axe cuts down the branches in Thy woods.
Some of these branches Thou plantest in the ground, others Thou castest away as useless. Can branch strive against axe? Not so. Can branch elude the power of the axe? Nay, O Lord of the power that dwells in Thy axe, in mercy make these crooked things straight!" Man and wife types of the spirit and the flesh.
The dissension of this husband and wife is a parable. They are types of thy animal and rational souls. This husband and wife are the reason and the flesh, a couple joined together for good and for evil. And in this earthly house this linked pair day and night are ever at variance and strife.
The wife is ever seeking dainties for domestic needs, namely, bread and meat and her own dignity and position. Like the wife, the animal soul seeks comfort, sometimes carnal, sometimes ambitious. Reason has no care for these matters, in its mind is naught but regard to Allah. Though the secret moral hereof is a bait and snare, hear its outward form to the end. If spiritual manifestations had been sufficient, the creation of the world had been needless and vain. If spiritual thought were equivalent to love of God, outward forms of temples and prayers would not exist.
Presents which friends make one to another are naught but signs and indications, to give outward testimony and witness of the love concealed within the heart. Because outward attentions are evidence of secret love, O beloved! The witness may be true or false, now drunk with real wine, now with sour whey. He who drinks fermented whey displays drunkenness and makes a noise and reels to and fro.
That hypocrite in prayers and fasts displays exceeding diligence, that men may think him drunk with love of God. But if you look into the truth, he is drowned in hypocrisy. In fine, outward actions are guides to show the way to what is concealed within. Sometimes the guide is true, sometimes false, sometimes a help, and at other times a hindrance. O Lord, grant, in answer to my prayers, discernment, that I may know such false signs from the true! Know you how discernment accrues to the sense?
'Tis when sense "sees by the light of Allah." If effects are obscure, still causes testify. Kindred, for instance, shows that there is love. But he to whom God's light is the guide is no longer a slave to effects and causes. When the light of Allah illumines his senses, a man is no longer a slave to effects. When love of God kindles a flame in the inward man, he burns, and is freed from effects. He has no need of signs to assure him of love, for love casts its own light up to heaven.
Other details are wanting to complete this subject, but take this much, and all hail to you! Though reality is exposed to view in this form, form is at once nigh to and far from reality.
For instance, these two resemble water and a tree. When you look to their essence they are far apart. Yet see how quickly a seed becomes a high tree out of water, along with earth and sunshine! If you turn your eyes to their real essence, these two are far, far apart from each other!
But let us quit this talk of essences and properties, and return to the story of those two wealth seekers. How God made Adam superior to the Angels in wisdom and honour. He said, "By Allah, who knoweth hidden secrets, who created pure Adam out of dust. In the form, three cubits high, which He gave him, He displayed the contents of all spirits, all decrees!
Communicated to him the indelible tablet of existence, [6] that he might know all that is written on those tablets, All that should be first and last to endless eternity He taught him, with the knowledge of his own 'names,' [7] so that the angels were beside themselves at his instruction, and gained more sanctity from his sanctification.
The expansion of their minds, which Adam brought about, was a thing unequalled by the expansion of the heavens. For the wide expanse of that pure mind the wide space of the seven heavens was not enough."
The Prophet said that God has declared, "I am not contained in aught above or below, I am not contained in earth or sky, or even in highest heaven. Know this for a surety, O beloved! Yet am I contained in the believer's heart! If ye seek Me, search in such hearts!" He said also, "Enter the hearts of My servants [8] to gain the paradise of beholding Me, O fearer of God."
Highest heaven, with all its light and wide expanse, when it beheld Adam, was shaken from its place! Highest heaven is greatness itself revealed. But what is form when reality draws nigh? Every angel declared, "In times of yore we bore friendship to the plains of earth. We were wont to sow the seed of service on the earth, wherefore we bore a wondrous attachment to it.
What was this attachment to that house of earth when our own natures are heavenly? What was the friendship of lights like us to darkness? How can light dwell together with darkness?
O Adam! that friendship arose from the scent of thee, because the earth is the warp and weft of thy body. Thy earthly body was taken from there, thy pure spirit of light was shed down from here! But our souls were enlightened by thy spirit [9] long, long before earth had diverted it to itself. We used to be on earth, ignorant of the earth, ignorant of the treasure buried within it.
When we were commanded to depart from that place, we felt sorrow at turning our steps away from it so that we raised many questions, saying, 'O Lord! who will come to take our place? Wilt Thou barter the glory of our praises and homage for the vain babble (of men)?' The commands of God then diffused joy upon us. He said, 'What are ye saying at such length? What ye give tongue to so foolishly is as the words of spoiled children to their father. I knew of Myself what ye thought, but I desired that ye should speak it. As this boasting of yours is very improper, so shall My mercy be shown to prevail over My wrath O angels. In order to show forth that prevailing, I inspired that pretension to cavil and doubt. If you say your say, and I forbear to punish you, the gainsayers of My mercy must hold their peace.
My mercy equals that of a hundred fathers and mothers. Every soul that is born is amazed thereat. Their mercy is as the foam of the sea of my mercy. It is mere foam of waves, but the sea abides ever!
What more shall I say? In that earthly shell there is naught but foam of foam of foam of foam! God is that foam. God is also that pure sea, for His words are neither a temptation nor a vain boast. Plurality and partial evil, though seemingly opposed to Unity, subserve Good.
The story is now concluded with its ups and downs, like lovers' musings, without beginning or ending. It has no beginning, even as eternity, nor ending, for 'tis akin to world without end. Or like water, each drop whereof is at once beginning and end, and also has no beginning or end. But God forbid! This story is not a vain fable, 'tis the ready money of your state and mine, be sure! Before every Sufi who is enlightened whatever is past is never mentioned.
When his whole thoughts are absorbed in present ecstasy, no thought of consequences enters his mind. [l0] Arab, water pot, and angels are all ourselves! "Whatsoever turneth from God is turned from Him." [11] Know the husband is reason, the wife lust and greed. She is vested with darkness and a gainsayer of reason.
Learn now whence springs the root of this circumstance, from this, that the Whole has parts of divers kinds. These parts of the Whole are not parts in relation to it, not in the way that rose's scent is a part of the rose. The beauty of the green shoot is part of the rose's beauty, but the turtle-dove's cooing is a part of that Bulbuls music. But if I engage in doubts and answers, how can I give water to thirsty souls? Yet, if you are perplexed by Whole and finite parts, have patience, for "patience is the key of joy."
Be abstinent, abstinent from vague thoughts, since there are lions in that desert (of thoughts). Abstinence is the prince of medicines, as scratching only aggravates a scab. Abstinence is certainly the root of medicine. Practise abstinence, see how it invigorates thy soul!
Accept this counsel and give ear thereto, that it may be to thee as an earring of gold! Nay, not a mere earring, but that thou mayest be a mine of gold, or that thou mayest surpass moon and Pleiades.
First, know creation is in various forms. Souls are as various as the letters from Alif to Ya. In this variety of letters there seems disorder, though in fact they agree in an integral unity. In one aspect they are opposed, in another united. In one aspect capricious, in another serious.
The Day of Judgement is the day of the great review. Whoso is fair and enlightened longs for that review. Whoso, like a Hindu, is black (with sin), the day of review will sound the knell of his disgrace. Since he has not a face like a sun, he desires only night like to a veil! If his thorn puts not forth a single rosebud, the spring in disclosing him is his foe. But he who is from head to foot a perfect rose or lily, to him spring brings rejoicing. The useless thorn desires the autumn, that autumn may associate itself with the garden. And hide the rose's beauty and the thorn's shame, that men may not see the bloom of the one and the other's shame, that common stone and pure ruby may appear all as one.
True, the gardener knows the difference even in autumn, but the sight of one is better than the world's sight. That one person is himself the world, as He is the sun, and every star in heaven is a part of the sun. That one person is himself the world, and the rest are all His dependants and parasites, O man!
He is the perfect world, yet He is single. He holds in hand the writing of the whole of existence. Wherefore all forms and colours of beauty cry out, "Good news! good news! Lo! the spring is at hand!" If the blossoms did not shine as bright helmets, how could the fruits display their globes? When the blossoms are shed the fruits come to a head, when the body is destroyed, the soul lifts up its head. The fruit is the substance, the blossom only its form, blossom the good news, and fruit the promised boon.
When the blossoms fall, the fruit appears. When the former vanish the fruit is tasted. Till bread is broken, how can it serve as food? Till the grapes are crushed, how can they yield wine? Till citrons be pounded up with drugs, how can they afford healing to the sick?
OK! Enough Mathnawi for now... Cheers! :]

Mathnawi II


Another Tyrannical Jewish King

A certain Jewish king, the same who is referred to in the Sura "Signs of the Zodiac," [1] 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," [2] 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. [3]


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;' [2] 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,' [3] 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, [4] so that his glory reached the Seventh Heaven. He laid low the name and fame of the angels, [5] 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), [6] 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. [7] 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. [8] 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. [9] 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. [10] 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. [11] 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. [12] 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." [13]
Behold this in the case of Moses and Mount Sinai. [14] 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." [15]
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, [16] 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. [17]
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, [2] 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? [3]
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, [4] 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. [5] 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.'"

Mathnawi I

Good morning and peace be upon you readers. I don't know why, suddenly felt the urge to google for Rumi (the saint Jalaluddin Rumi) and his well-known work, the Mathnawi... Found some interesting stories that I could use to update this blogspot. So here goes...



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 he 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, [1] 'tis the ferment of love that possesses the wine. The flute is the confidant of all unhappy lovers; yes, 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 labour 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! [2]


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;" [3] 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 Lover, 'twas love that gave life to Mount Sinai, [4] [see Editor's Note] 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; [5] 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. [6] 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, [1] [see Editor's Note] 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 Samarkand. In accordance with the physician's advice, the prince sent to Samarkand 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 Ismail, and to the act of the angel in slaying the servant of Moses, [2] 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 hastened 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." [3] 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. [4] 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, yes, 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 inept 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 it would prove me existent, and existence is error. [5] 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.' [6] 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 near, the world would be consumed. [7] 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, [1] 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. Yes, 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 dervishes, 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 Vizier, and the Christians

A certain Jewish king used to persecute the Christians, desiring to exterminate their faith. His Vizier persuaded him to try a stratagem, namely, to mutilate the Vizier himself, and expel him from his court, with the intent that he might take refuge with the Christians, and stir up mutual dissension amongst them. The Vizier's suggestion was adopted. [1] 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 Vizier'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, [2] and were thus saved from sharing the ruin of the rest.


The Vizier'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. O that one-eyed and cursed Dajjal! [Satan] [3] 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. Yes, 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 erased 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, [4] "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, 'it would 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 diverse 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." [5]
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, [6] 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; yes, 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." [7] 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.