There is a great city within the borders of Rûm, where a large number of hawks have made their home. Fustât is the name of that
city of renown; it extends to the borders of Dimyât. Within it no house-sparrows fly, for the hawks hunt them through the air and leave no birds inside that city, for they devour them within an hour. The times are now become like Fustât; the wise are like the birds, despised and helpless.
I have hidden myself upon this height to be at peace from the evil of the world. The sage said, Who lives here with thee? How farest thou on this hill-top? Said the ascetic, My Self is in this house with me by day and night. The sage said, Then hast thou accomplished nothing; cease, O fool, to follow the path of asceticism. The ascetic said, They have fixed my Self within me, and sold me into his hands; I cannot separate myself from him--what means of escape could I contrive? Said that worthy philosopher to the ascetic, Thy Self instructs thee in evil deeds. The ascetic said, I have come to know my Self, and so I am able to get on with him; he is a sick man, and I am m it were his physician; day and night I look after him and am busy treating him, for he keeps saying he is indisposed. Sometimes I determine to bleed him, and open the vein before his eyes; as the blood spouts out, he subsides, and the bleeding calms him. Sometimes I give him a purge to clear out his distempers; and his love of the world, and hatred, and rancour, and envy, and treachery, and deceit are expelled from his body; on taking it he thrusts aside his natural inclinations and shuts the door of desire against himself. Sometimes I forbid him to indulge his appetites, that haply he may relinquish pleasure; I feed him on two beans, and make the room like a tomb upon him. Sometimes I put my Self to sleep, and then in
haste make one or two obeisances; but even before he awakes from his sleep he clings to me like a sick man; and when I have got through one or two obeisances without him, then my Self wakes up.
On hearing these words the sage tore his garments one by one upon his body and said, How excellent art thou, O ascetic! May God bless thy life, thou pious man! Such words are granted but to thee; thy wealth is not less than the kingdom of Jam. That which thou possessest today is adornment, and what thou mayest have tomorrow, impurity.
He is not stained who leaves his sins, from whom in sorrow a sigh of 'Alas' arises:, a woman nimbly adorns her eyebrows and her ringlets for a feast.
In three prisons, deceit and hatred and envy, thou hast made thy understanding captive to thy body. The five senses, having their origin in the four elements, are the five tale-bearers of these three prisons. The soul is a stranger here, and a fool, so long as it is in bondage to the four elements; how can the soul that is admitted to the treasury of the secret pay honour to spies and informers? But here wisdom empties the quiver, for persistence in one's purpose is useless at the Ka`ba. Haply a fool at the Ka`ba, will hear much philosophy about the direction of the qibla; but at the Ka`ba whoso should strive even till he died would but take fresh cuminseed to Kirmân.
His tongue the tongueless speak; some mark of Him those seek who have no mark. Cast in the fire all else besides the Friend, then raise thy head from out the water of Love. On the journey from this life to the next the slave has no ally in what he does of right or infamy; surrender not thy heart and thy desire to the companionship of men; cut thyself off from them, lest they cut thy throat. At the last day thou shalt weary of men, but thou art far off now, and it will take thee long to come; then wilt thou discover the onion's value, when thou art denied admittance to the straight road. Those who are not friends, yet whom thou deemest such, thou wilt see that they all break their faith with thee. The rose-tree of the garden of those who cherish Self is become as a boil, a malignant pimple. Understand well, the state of men will be no whit different at the resurrection; whatsoever he chooses, that will be set before him, and what he takes from here he will see there. When the second command of God has uttered four takbîrs upon thy three pillars, the cloth-weavers of the eternal world will recite thine own words and poems to thee.
The things the worthy shopkeeper sends to his house from the market, whatever they may be, his family bring before him at home in the evening; so whatever thou takest away from here is kept, and the very same is brought before thee at the resurrection. There is no change or substitution there; by no possibility can an evil become a good. Nothing will be given free to anyone there; what is due is given, and nothing besides. Rise and read, if thou knowest it not, the explanation of this in the Divine Word; 'thou shalt not find any change in the ordinance of God, thou shalt not find any alteration in His religion.' No alteration comes over His inexorable sentence, no change upon His all-embracing decree. Rise, and put away thy uncleanness, or thou wilt not receive thy pardon in that world; if now thou piercest thy Self with an arrow thou wilt throw into the fire thy sorrow and thy pain.