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The Secrets of the Self, by Muhammad Iqbal, tr. by Reynold A. Nicholson, [1920], at

p. 95


Story of a young man of Merv who came to the saint Ali Hujwírí—God have mercy on him!—and complained that he was oppressed by his enemies.

The saint of Hujwír was venerated by the peoples,
And Pír-i Sanjar visited his tomb as a pilgrim. 1
With ease he broke down the mountain-barriers loss
And sowed the seed of Islam in India.
The age of Omar was restored by his godliness,

p. 96

The fame of the Truth was exalted by his words.
He was a guardian of the honour of the Koran,
1090 The house of Falsehood fell in ruins at his gaze.
The dust of the Panjáb was brought to life by his breath,
Our dawn was made splendid by his sun.
He was a lover, and withal a courier of Love:
The secrets of Love shone forth from his brow.
1095 I will tell a story of his perfection
And enclose a whole rose-bed in a single bud.
A young man, cypress-tall,
Came from the town of Merv to Lahore.
He went to see the venerable saint,
1100 That the sun might dispel his darkness.
I am hemmed in," he said, "by foes;
I am as a glass in the midst of stones.

p. 97

Do thou teach me, O sire of heavenly rank,
How to lead my life amongst enemies!"
The wise Director, in whose nature 1105
Love had allied mercy with wrath,
Answered: "Thou art unread in Life's lore,
Careless of its end and its beginning.
Be without fear of others!
Thou art a sleeping force: awake! 1110
When the stone was anxious on account of the glass,
It became glass and got into the way of breaking.
If the traveller thinks himself weak,
He delivers his soul unto the brigand.
How long wilt thou regard thyself as water and clay? 1115
Create from thy clay a flaming Sinai!
Why be angry with mighty men?
Why complain of enemies?
I will declare the truth: thine enemy is thy friend;

p. 98

1120 His existence crowns thee with glory.
Whosoever knows the states of the Self
Considers a powerful enemy to be a blessing from God.
To the seed of Man the enemy is as a rain-cloud:
He awakens its potentialities.
1125 If thy spirit be strong, the stones in thy way are as water:
What reeks the torrent of the ups and downs of the road?
The sword of resolution is whetted by the stones in the way
And put to proof by traversing stage after stage.
What is the use of eating and sleeping like a beast?
1130 What is the use of being, unless thou have strength in thyself?
When thou mak’st thyself strong with Self,
Thou wilt destroy the world at thy pleasure.

p. 99

If thou wouldst pass away, become free of Self;
If thou wouldst live, become full of Self! 1
What is death? To become oblivious to Self. 1135
Why imagine that it is the parting of soul and body?
Abide in Self, like Joseph!
Advance from captivity to empire!
Think of Self and be a man of action!
Be a man of God, bear mysteries within!" 1140

I will explain the matter by means of stories,
I will open the bud by the power of my breath.
"’Tis better that a lovers’ secret
Should be told by the lips of others." 2


95:1 Hujwírí, author of the oldest Persian treatise on Sufism, was a native of Ghazna in Afghanistan. He died at Lahore about a.d. 1072. Pír-i Sanjar is the renowned saint, Mu’ínuddín, head of the Chishtí order of dervishes, who died in A. n. 1235 at Ajmír.

99:1 These lines correct the Súfí doctrine that by means of passing away from individuality the mystic attains to everlasting life in God.

99:2 I.e. allegorically. This verse occurs in the Masnaví.

Next: XII. The Bird that was Faint with Thirst