The Mesnavi and The Acts of the Adepts, by Jelal-'d-din Rumi and Shemsu-'d-Din Ahmed, tr. by James W. Redhouse, , at sacred-texts.com
FROM ‘Alī may we learn sincerity of meeds.
"God's Lion" we may hold free from all gross misdeeds.
In fight he'd conquered one who'd earned a hero's crown.
His sword he'd swiftly raised, his victim to hew down.
That champion spat in ‘Alī's face, to mark disdain;
The face of one, the Prophet's pride, all saints’ chieftain.
He spat upon a face to which the moon bowed low,
And offered adoration in the temple's show.
That instant ‘Alī dropped his sword, high poised in air,
5 And left the spitter harmless;—action debonnair.
This raised the foe's astonishment; called forth his awe.
That pardon, that forgiveness, grew not from war's law.
He said to ‘Alī: "Thou thy sword hadst raised to slay.
Why hast thou dropt it now,—prolonged my forfeit day?
What hast thou seen, surpassing prowess of my arm,
That thus thou hast repented,—left me free from harm?
What may it be has calmed the fury of thy breast,
Which as the lightning gleamed, and, straightway sank to rest?
What didst thou see, that, by reflection on me cast,
10 A spark has leapt to life in my despairing breast?
What was thy vision, far above the world of fact,
Than life far sweeter, whence my life receives new pact?
For bravery, 'God's Lion' art thou justly named.
For kindness, I now know, thou art too little famed.
For generosity, thou’rt Moses’ cloud divine,
From which poured forth the quails and manna, as from mine!"
The clouds rain wheat. Man, then, by labour and by skill,
Reduces this to food, when finely ground in mill.
But Moses’ cloud, more generous far, with open hand,
Sent down in plenty food prepared, by God's command. 15
For them who ate at Providence's table, free,
God's mercy was displayed;—a banner all could see.
For forty years that daily bread—abounding grace—
Failed not. Fond expectation's utmost stretch took place.
But satisfaction followed not. The thankless crew
Demanded "leeks and onions;" as of old they knew. 1
Ye who are Ahmed's people, graced beyond compare,
Are promised spiritual blessings till last judgment's blare.
Whoever says, at heart: "My trust is in the Lord," 2
God's promise: "Him I'll feed," will find a faithful word. 3 20
Without a twist accept this promise, as is meet;
You'll find it in your mouth as milk and honey sweet.
To twist a term, and so deny gift's incidence,
Is to invent a cloak to change the word's true sense.
To think th’ expression's wrong sad weakness shows of mind;
Wisdom divine's a kernel; human reason, rind.
Twist then thyself; change not the sense of words divine;
Conceive thy nose at fault; chide not the sweet woodbine.
O ‘Alī! Thou who mind and eye entirely art!
Relate a little of the knowledge in thy heart. 25
Thy calmness is a sword that cleaves our minds in twain;
The fountain of thy wisdom makes us whole again.
Speak out! I know these mysteries are Jehovah's own;
To kill without a sword's a power of God well known.
He is Creator, without limbs and without tools;
The Giver of all blessings, copious as sea's pools.
How many kinds of wine are savoured by our souls,
While eye and ear perceive not whence the wave that rolls!
Pray tell us, ‘Alī,—falcon, soaring in heaven's heights,—
30 What didst thou see that instant, to forego thy rights?
Thy eyes have learnt to catch seraphic visions’ gleam;
Around thee, all unconscious are, as in a dream.
Thou seest the moon, all brightly shining in the sky;
We see but darkness, clouds above us seem to fly.
Thou seest three moons together, shining bright, out-spread;
While three of us are scarcely sure one's overhead.
All three have eyes and ears fixed on thee, in suspense,
In keenest expectation. I'm stone of offence.
"Is this a spell to witch the eyes? Is it the truth?
35 To me thou art a wolf; I'm Joseph to thee, sooth.
Though worlds there may be, eighteen thousand globes, and more;
Not every eye has power to witness all their store.
Disclose thy secret, ‘Alī,—God's own 'Chosen One!' 1
How many 'judges’ errors' work God's will alone!
Pray tell me what, just now, has been revealed to thee;
Or I'll disclose the vision I've been made to see.
If thou the secret keep, I will declare its sense,
Moon-like, on me thy knowledge shines, with light intense.
But if the moon's bright disk break forth from ’neath the cloud,
40 Poor midnight travellers safely, then, pursue their road.
They then are safe from error, risk no wandering vain;
Protection of the moonlight shields from terror's chain.
The mutely-teaching promptings of the silvery moon,
If couched in words, would homewards guide us doubly soon."
Thou art "the Gate;" the Prophet, "Science’ City" is, 1
Thou art the ray that beams from lustrous sun of his.
Then open, Gate I Unfold thyself to those who seek!
Let rind of science overgrow their minds, all meek.
Stand open, Gate! Thou portal of God's mercy sure!
Thy court's the court of Him "who hath no peer," secure! 2 45
True, every breath and atom's watching to get in.
But if kept closed, who'd say there is a gate to win?
Unless the Keeper open wide the portal's wing,
No soul would dream an entry were an easy thing.
E’en when the gate is opened, lo! surprise is felt.
Hope and desire are scared; each suitor's heart must melt.
As one who finds a treasure in a ruined maze,
Seeks evermore for ruins;—treasures are his craze.
Unless a man receive a pearl from beggar's hand,
He'll never venture pearls from beggars to demand. 50
For years, should mere opinion wander up and down,
It never will outpass the rents of its torn gown.
Until a fragrance strike thy nostrils from above,
Thou’lt follow thy own nose, but never meet thy love.
Thus spake that new-converted warrior in surprise;
Expressing wonder, such as words may symbolise.
Then. added: "O! Command, of Faithful Church thou Prince. 3
That as a babe a spirit new I may evince."
The planets seven o’er every unborn babe keep watch,
55 Each for a stated period, ere its birth's despatch.
When life's infused into the nascent atom's form,
The sun takes charge, as watcher o’er the feeble worm.
The babe its life derives from Sol's all-quickening rays.
That radiant orb's the fount of life's all-wondrous ways.
The other planets help to modify its limbs;
Each, when the sun has life infused, then onward climbs.
What is the channel of connection with the sun,
Discovered in the womb by fœtus ere’t can run?
Deep-hidden from our senses, many an occult road
60 Leads to the sun in heaven, and needs nor whip, nor goad.
One road, by which gold draws its nutriment from thence;
Another, whence the ruby's colour grows intense.
A road, by which the garnet gathers igneous glow;
A path, pursued by lightning to the horseshoe low.
A channel, through which fruits their ripeness draw, select;
A track, for wit to flow, and senseless form inject.
"Declare, thou falcon, with thy glistening plumage, bright,
Our chief's companion, on his gauntlet sitting, light;—
Make known, thou phœnix-hunting bird of prey,—
65 Thou conqueror of foes,—sole,—clear of troops’ array.
A nation in its millions, one sole man art thou.
Speak! Speak! I cast myself upon thy mercy now!
Instead of anger, what has moved thee to relent,—
To proffer to a foe forgiveness transcendent?"
To him made ‘Alī answer: "For the truth I fight.
God's servant am I. Slave I'm not to fleshly might.
'God's lion' I've been named; not 'Ravening Wolf of Lust;'
My actions are the proof my faith is in the Just.
God is the Archer. I'm His bow;—and arrow, too.
70 He is the Smiter. I'm the weapon;—sword, bamboo.
'Thou castedst not, when stones thou castedst in the fight.' 1
God is the Warrior mighty. I'm dust in His sight.
Thought of myself I've banished, wholly, from my path.
Save God, all else as naught I hold;—a mower's swath.
I'm but a shadow; shadow cast by Sun of Truth.
Door-keeper am I;—veil, I'm not, to hide His sooth.
I'm a sword. My trenchancy's union with God.
In battle, life I give. I slay not whom's downtrod.
Blood does not soil the blade I wield in righteous cause;
Nor gusts of passion raise a craving for applause. 75
A straw I'm not. A mountain am I;—firm, staid, fast.
No whirlwind can remove me with its tearing blast.
’Tis sticks and straws, alone, are driven by the storm.
Their nature is to move;—to every breath conform.
The gust of anger, breath of lust, and blast of greed,—
Each agitates the man not anchored in Truth's creed.
Firm mountain am I. God it is that firmness gives.
Were I a straw, His whirlwind is the force that drives.
A breath from God alone has power to move my soul.
My love for God's the motive o’er me has control. 80
Their anger rules e’en kings. My anger is my slave.
My wrath I've bridled;—bitted;—leave, it aye must crave.
My anger's stifled by reflection's strong embrace.
God's wrath to me's a message of His pardoning grace.
My roof's a ruin, true; but light pours through the rent.
I'm dust. But from my soil flowers blow, and yield sweet scent.
"Just cause if I perceive, with foes when waging war,
I make no scruple, but my sword from blood debar.
For God's sake do I love. Such is my fame with men.
My hate's in Truth's sole cause. I'm raging lion then. 85
My generosity springs all from love of God.
For God's sake, too, I'm parsimonious as clod.
I'm avarice, munificence, to one sole end.
I'm God's in all things. To myself I ne’er attend.
That which I do, for God's sake flows; not from schedule.
’Tis not a guess, an inference;—’tis sight's safe rule.
I've no occasion to investigate, to seek.
God's prompting's what I follow, docile, meek.
"Is soaring my vocation? Heaven's my pinions’ goal.
90 Do I revolve? My centre's fixed in highest shoal.
If load I carry, I well know where this is due.
I'm but a moon; a Sun before me gives the cue.
I've no desire for converse with material things.
An ocean flows not from a meadow brook's scant springs.
I frame discourse to suit the feeble minds of men.
This system has no fault; it met our Prophet's ken.
"I'm free from prejudice; accept a free man's oath.
Against one free man, crowds of slaves possess no truth.
By law, in canon of Islām, the word of slaves
95 No value has, as evidence;—the chain depraves.
Ten thousand slaves may witness bear in court of law;
Their testimony weighs not in the scales one straw.
The slave to passion bondsman is, in sight of God.
He's lower than the captive ’neath taskmaster's rod.
A slave may be enfranchised by his owner's word;
Lust's victim, though freeborn, dies bound with strongest cord.
The slave to passion cannot loose his heavy chain.
God's mercy, special grace, can set him free again.
He's fallen into a pit, unfathomed, bottomless.
100 His own sin this. Compulsion ’tis not, fate, nor cess.
Into a pit he's cast himself, for which my mind
Cannot imagine sounding-line, its depth to find.
"It's useless to continue further in this strain.
Not hearts alone, but rocks, may weep at folly's train.
If men's hearts break not, ’tis that they are harder still,
Through carelessness, preoccupation, sloth, ill-will.
They'll break and bleed one day, when tears will not avail.
Be contrite, then, before repentance’ sighs must fail.
Since slavish testimony's not accepted there,
His word alone is valid who from lust is clear. 105
The Lord's Commissioned One's a valid witness. See!
Because, from all eternity, from slavery's stain he's free.
I, too, am free. Wrath cannot bind my soul with chains.
God's attributes, alone, have power to rule my brains.
"Come in, thou. Grace of God hath set thy spirit free.
A flint thou wert. Rich pearl henceforward shalt thou be.
Thou’rt plucked from blasphemy's vast thorny desert sands.
A flowering shrub henceforth in faith's rich garden lands.
Thou art become myself; I, thee; beloved friend!
Thou’rt ‘Alī. Can I ‘Alī slay? May heaven forfend! 110
Thy past transgression rank's as highest virtue's deed.
In twinkling of an eye heaven's bounds thou. mayest out-speed.
"How blest is the transgression pardoned of the Lord!
The rose, from thorny stem, He calls forth at a word!
Remember ‘Umer's guilt,—his murderous design 1
Against the Prophet! This brought him to faith benign.
Was’t not to practise magic Pharaoh called his priests?
The grace of God converted them to saints from beasts.
Had they not been magicians, he not obstinate,
They'd ne’er been made assemble, truth excogitate. 115
How would they e’er have seen the staff, the miracles?
Your sin proved your conversion, reprehensibles!
"The Lord can far remove our state of deep despair,
Our sin can change to righteousness; foulness to fair.
God can our worst offences purge away, make clean;
Imputing virtue to us, spite of vice's mien.
For this is Satan chased away with igneous bolts; 1
His proud inflation bursts in twain, from envy's jolts.
He strives to multiply the direful load of sin,
120 That, under its dead weight, he man in hell may pin.
And when he finds unrighteousness as service told,
His torment is redoubled, heartache twenty-fold.
"Come in! A door I've opened for thy entrance, wide.
Thou spattest on me. I reply with favour's tide.
On him who injured me I benefits bestow; 2
My head I lay before the feet of friends, below;
Thou mayest conceive what gifts I hold in store for them,
My faithful servants;—treasures, thrones, and diadem.
I'm such a man that whoso strives to shed my blood
125 Forgiven is, and overwhelmed with favour's flood.
The Prophet quiet notice whispered to my slave,
The day would come when he to take my life would crave.
Me, also, he informed, through revelation's voice,
That I should die, smote by a hand of my own choice.
That servant begged and prayed for instant death's release,
So he'd be spared from sin so heinous,—love's decease.
But I replied: 'Since ’tis decreed that by thy hand
My life be ta’en, why should I seek a countermand?'
Before me prone he fell, this prayer he warmly made:
130 'Hew me in twain! For love of God, let me persuade!
Pray save me from so vile, so villainous, a fate.
Remorse for ever as its prey will hold my hate.'
"Again I firmly answered him,—decidedly:
'No counsel will avail. Pen's mark must needs apply.
I bear no grudge against thee in my inmost soul;
I hold thee not responsible for deed so foul.
Thou’rt but the instrument, ’tis God that strikes the blow!
How can I chide His instrument,—His arrow's bow?'
"He asked: 'Why, then, this sentence sternly passed on me?'
My answer was: 'God knows the germ of His decree! 135
Should He find fault with what results from His resolve,
From reprehension's self He can a heaven evolve.
He hath a right to take exception to His deed.
He's Lord of grace. But Lord of wrath, also. Take heed
He's Prince of all within this sphere of new events.
He's Arbiter of all;—of kingdoms, as of tents.
If He see fit to break the weapon of His will,
The broken tool still hastens His word to fulfil.
"The mystery of His word: 'We abrogate, annul,' 1
Remember, straight is followed by: 'We better cull." 2 140
Whatever law the Lord hath abrogated yet,
Is but a weed plucked up;—a rose blooms where ’twas set.
The night He promulgates; day's work refrains from act.
Consider! Mind becomes like inorganic fact.
Again, night disappears; the light of day is spread;
And nature shows its marvels; reason wakes from dead.
With darkness comes the sleep that locks our reason fast,
But spirits know not darkness; life's stream still goes past.
Is’t not that mind's refreshed in darkest hours of night?
Its silence ’tis gives birth to every voice of light." 145
By contraries are contraries brought forth to view,
From out of darkness was the light created new.
The Prophet's wars have brought about the peace that reigns;
These tranquil latter days the fruits are of his pains.
How many heads lay low beneath that hero's blows,
That peace might be enjoyed by faith's true yoke-fellows!
’Tis thus the gardener prunes away the surplus twigs,
That fruitful boughs may prosper, yield their loads of figs.
Sagacity roots out all weeds from cultured space.
150 The orchard, thence, new vigour finds, and blooms apace.
A wise physician will extract a tooth decayed,
To give relief front pain to his beloved maid.
How much increase grows out of decrease here below.
The martyr gains eternal life by death in show.
Man, fed by bread, cuts down the harvest corn when ripe;
"Partakes the blessing joyfully," 1 with drum and pipe.
When brutes are slaughtered with due sense of wisdom's law,
Man's life is nurtured;—learning, science, vigour draw.
If man be slaughtered, see what woes from thence arise.
155 Compare the two;—their difference you'll recognise.
The vegetable world lives by God's sun and rain,
God's care takes charge of it. His care is not in vain.
The slaughtered beasts have food and drink as well as those.
They die, because they've throats. Those have no life to lose.
Withhold thy hand in season, man of little sense!
That so thy food suffice. Thy life's thy recompense.
Thou art as fruitless as the barren willow-branch,
Because thy honour's sacrificed mere bread to scranch.
If thy brute nature will not practise abstinence,
160 Administer the remedy. Bring it to sense.
If thou wouldst cleanse thy garments—free them from all soil,—
Despise not thou the bleacher, nor his useful toil.
If greed of food have fractured abstinence in thee;
Lay hold on Him who fractures heals. From self get free.
No sooner shall the fracture be by Him fast bound,
New union will take place,—the broken part grow sound.
If thou hadst made the fracture, it would thee invite
To make it whole again,—the sundered bones unite.
Thou canst not? Thence we see, the right is His to break
Who can unite the fractured limb—make strong whatever's weak. 165
Who knows to mend hath privilege a cloth to tear.
Who knows to sell, to buy hath also learnt, ’tis clear.
He may disturb a house, and turn it upside down,
Who can arrange it better than the whole wide town.
If God destroy one creature in His boundless might,
By thousands He creates, and brings again to light.
Had He not set a punishment for each offence,
Or had not said: "Lex talionis is life's fence," 1
Who'd had audacity, of his own will,
To put to death a man who should another kill? 170
He knows each creature by His power endued with sight.
And He's aware a slayer does but work His might.
If His command be set on mortal's head to slay,—
Albeit his own child,—he must the word obey.
Go! Stand in fear! Blame not, too much, the bad!
Know, thou art equally a slave with him who's mad!
The eye of Adam fell upon a demon foul,
Him viewed with proud disdain, with haughty scowl.
His self-esteem, his egotistic pride him drove,
With smile sarcastical, the cursed imp to reprove. 175
God's wrath was roused. He him addressed: "Ho! Adam! Ho!
Hast thou no insight into mysteries of woe?
If I tear fiercely off a hide from heels to head,
A mountain I can also wrench from its firm stead.
A hundred Adams of their fig-leaves I can strip;
A thousand demons into true believers whip."
In terms contrite and meek was Adam's answer couched:
"Forgive, Lord God! I stand reproved! My fault's avouched!
Henceforth, I vow, I never will repeat such fault.
180 Repentance I profess. Do Thou forego assault."
O Answerer of prayer! In mercy guide us right!
Our knowledge, as our riches, null is in Thy sight!
Lead not astray a heart enlightened by Thy grace! 1
Turn from us every evil threatening to take place! 2
Reprieve our souls from judgment merited, severe!
Repel us not from out the fold of saints, sincere!
More bitter is there naught than severance from Thee.
Without Thy shelter, naught but anguish can we see.
Our minds’ accomplishments impede our hearts’ advance.
185 Our flesh the deadly enemy that wrecks our souls’ best chance.
Our hands, like robbers, seize on all our feet may earn.
Unless Thou prove our refuge, life's not worth concern.
If we perchance escape with life from danger's snares.
Our fears and anguish make it prey to carking cares.
Should not our souls in union be with Thee, O Lord,
Eternal tears our eyes will blind, and mad discord.
A way shouldst Thou not open, lost must be our souls.
Without Thy presence, life is death;—all smiles are scowls.
Shouldst Thou find fault with service rendered unto Thee,
Thy chiding's merited, no doubt; as all may see. 190
If Thou be discontented with the sun and moon,
Or if Thou call the cypress "hunchback," "macaroon,"
Or if Thou say the skies and spheres are all too low,
Or find the mines, the seas, a paltry puppet-show,
All this, compared with Thy perfections, is the truth.
Thine is the kingdom; Thine the power to mend all ruth.
Thou art removed from danger, as from nullity.
To non-existences Thou givest being. Why?
He who makes all things grow, can make them wither, too.
For He can all repair, as He can ruin woo. 195
Each autumn, vegetation dwindles by His will;
Again ’tis He calls forth the flowers in dale, on hill.
His voice is heard: "Come forth, ye withered ones, anew;
Once more put on your beauty,—charm each mortal's view."
Narcissus' eye was blinded; lo! its twinkle's seen.
The reed, that down was mowed, becomes sweet music's queen.
We are but creatures. To create we have no power.
Our weakness we confess. Contentment's our best dower.
We're things of flesh. The flesh to vanity unites.
Unless Thou call us, we become rebellious sprites. 200
From Satan we escape, because Thou’st paid a price;
And bought our souls, to set us free from vice.
Thou art the Guide of all who live upon the earth.
Without his staff and guide, what is a blind man worth?
Besides Thee, all that's goodly, all that shocks our sense,
Is fatal unto man,—consuming fire intense.
If any seek the fire, to make thereof a shield,
A Magian he becomes, of Zoroaster's yield.
All else besides the Lord is vain, and of no worth.
205 The mercies of our God, a bounteous rain, poured forth.
Now turn again to ‘Alī and his destined foe.
His great forbearance contemplate; this wretch's woe.
He made remark: "My murderer's before my eyes,
All day and night. No anger towards him in me lies.
Death is to me as sweet as life;—as my own self;
My death and resurrection, two sides of one shelf.
A deathless death's a welcome change to loving heart;
A lifeless life has been its present counterpart."
Death to appearance, life is,—in the main;
210 Externally a loss;—intrinsically, gain.
Within its mother's womb a child's lot is to roam.
It has to blossom in the world, as ocean's foam.
I have a wish, a longing, towards the world of doom;
But God forbids: "Cast not your lives away," in gloom. 1
All prohibition's but a bar from what is loved;
No prohibition's needed from a thing reproved.
A grain with bitter kernel, still more bitter rind,
Full prohibition carries in itself, we find.
The fruit of death is savoury, in my esteem.
215 Nay more. "The slain do live" a blessed text must seem. 2
Then slay me, O my trusty friends, without reproach.
My death is life eternal. Let it, then, approach.
In death I'll find my love. My dearest friends, adieu!
How long shall I be barred from darling interview?
Unless our separation be from one we mourn,
Why should we say: "Forsooth, to Him we shall return?" 3
’Tis only he returns, who comes back to his home.
Our true return's from severance to union's dome.
That servant once again appealed and begged: "‘Alī!
Put me to death, that sin so heinous I may flee! 220
My life's at thy behest; forthwith pour out my blood!
So shall my soul escape the burden of crime's brood."
Then ‘Alī answered: "Should each sun-mote take a knife,
Or sword draw, with design to sacrifice thy life,
One single hair's-breadth could they not, yet, take effect,
Since Providence decrees ’tis thou must work that act.
But sorrow not! Thy intercessor I will be!
Lord of my soul am I;—not slave to fleshly fee.
My body frail no value has now in my sight;
From flesh when liberated shall my soul feel light. 225
The dagger and the sword may take root in my limbs.
Death's but a banquet; wounds, a flower that graceful climbs." 1
Now, who can thus despise his body in his heart,
And yet feel greed for empire, or for pontiff's part?
He strove, ’tis evident, upon the judgment seat,
To set a good example to all future great;
To breathe a righteous spirit into monarchs’ breasts;
Make sure that goodly fruit come from their deeds and gests.
The Prophet's high endeavour, Mekka to subdue,
Had no foundation in a lust for revenue. 230
He had refused the treasures of the lofty spheres;
On day of trial shut his heart to hopes and fears.
To catch a glimpse of him the blest angelic train
Had crowded heaven's bounds full as they could contain;
In dainty guise, to honour him themselves arrayed;
He took no note. On God alone his thoughts were stayed.
His heart was filled with sense of his great Maker's grace.
The angels, or the prophets, there could find no place.
He said: "I'm he whose eyes swerved not; "no crow, I! See! 1
235 "The Limner is my love; from juice of vine I'm free." 2
The treasures of "the spheres," their "animating souls,"
As rubbish were accounted, driven by breeze that rolls.
What, then, would Mekka weigh,—the Persian, Syrian lands,
That he should covet them, spoil make them for his bands?
Suspicion such as this springs from a jaundiced mind.
It judges by itself;—all, tinged as self must find.
Green spectacles who sets upon his foolish nose,
To view the sun, will find him green, we must suppose.
Take off the spectacles, the source of colour's tinge,
240 He straightway sees aright. Now, nature's hues impinge.
A horseman had stirred up the dust in clouds, not faint.
A distant looker-on supposed the dust a saint.
Thus Satan saw a dust; and cried: "This son of earth
Excites in me much envy, hatred, malice, wrath."
If thou, too, so observe God's saints with envy's eyes,
Be sure thy vision's tainted. Satan's hatching lies.
Thou obstinate! Art not one of that hell-hound's sons?
Then, whence this heritage of hate's foul orisons?
"I am no hound, God's Lion am I. God I love.
245 I'm 'Lion of the Truth.' Mere form I aye reprove."
A lion of the world may hunt for prey and spoil.
A lion of eternity, death's freedom from turmoil.
In death he sees a hundred thousand modes of life.
So, mothlike, death he courts; his candle, murderer's knife.
To court grim death's a collar round the true man's neck.
This was the text proposed, that wrought recusant's wreck.
God's word revealed hath said: "O men of human race!
Death to the faithful is a blessing, and a grace." 1
A love of gain is innate in the human breast.
To court death's doubtless profit, is to wish the best. 230
Then, O ye stiff-necked people, do, for honour's sake,
The wish for speedy death upon your tongues’ ends take.
No recusant was found who dared to lisp that prayer,
When thus Muhammed put it as the truth's assayer.
He knew that should they venture that ordeal to prove,
In all the world no recusant would thenceforth move.
They all preferred to pay their tribute for their lives,
And begged: "O lamp of truth, destroy us not, our wives!" 2
How many more examples could be pointed out!
But, if thou seest the truth, give me thy hand. Quit doubt. 255
Forsake thy dunghill. Enter our abode of bliss.
From darkness thee to guide, a light shines o’er th’ abyss.
Shake off all hesitation. Enter heaven's gate.
Avoid the pit that's bottomless! Be not too late!
The Prince of all Believers thus addressed that chief,
In tones serenest: "Know, that in our contest brief,
When thou didst spit upon me, giving scorn its vent,
My choler was aroused;—to wreck my patience went.
Half warmed with zeal for God, half stirred with anger's fire,
Unholy partnership was formed ’twixt truth and ire. 260
Thou wast designed and fashioned by a hand divine.
To God dost thou belong;—no creature art of mine.
Defacement of God's work should be by God's decree;
To break God's pitcher, man a stone of God should see."
The Magian heard. The light flashed on his heart and soul.
The clouds of misbelief, as fog, away did roll.
He spake: "The seed of wrongfulness is what I've sown.
Thou’rt altogether different from what I've known.
Thou art a balance, with an equitable soul;
265 Or rather, index art thou, of just balance-bowl.
Thou art become my kith and kin,—my brother true;
Thou art a ray to light the path I shall pursue.
The slave I have become of that fair Source of light,
From whence thou hast derived the beam that charms my sight.
The slave of every billow of that glorious Sea,
That casts such pearls ashore, as I admire in thee.
Teach me to formulate the motto of thy creed;
For, henceforth thou’rt my guide, of whom I stand in need."
Full fifty of his household,—of his stock and race,
270 With zealous love the noble law of Islām did embrace.
Thus ’twas, the hero, by decisive wisdom's stroke,
Averted death from many, slavery's fetters broke.
The sword of wisdom's sharper than the finest steel;
Its words more efficacious than an army's wheel.
m271:1 Qur’ān ii. 58.
m271:2 Qur’ān ix. 230, &c.
m271:3 Qur’ān lxv. 2.
m272:1 ‘Alīyyu-’l-Murtadzā—"in whom (God) is well pleased"—is the chiefest of the titles of ‘Alī, Prince of Princes, Captain-General of Saints.
m273:1 Mohammed is reported to have declared: "I am the City of Science, and ‘Alī is the Portal thereof;" alluding to the heavenly secrets he had intrusted to the latter, for communication to the worthy. See Anecdotes, chap. iii., No. 79.
m273:2 Qur’ān cxii. 4.
m273:3 "Commander of the Faithful;" but "Commander of the Believers" would be more correct.
m275:1 Qur’ān viii. 17.
m277:1 ‘Umer swore he would kill Muhammed, and went to execute his design. Arrived at the house of his own sister, who was already a secret Muslim, he heard chanted the twentieth chapter of the Qur’ān, and was immediately converted. He then went to Mohammed, and publicly professed the faith.
m278:1 The shooting stars.
m278:2 Shanfarà says: "The most excellent is he who confers a favour."
m279:1 Qur’ān ii. 100.
m280:1 Qur’ān iii. 163, 164.
m281:1 Qur’ān ii. 175.
m282:1 Qur’ān iii. 6.
m282:2 Qur’ān xxv. 66.
m284:1 Qur’ān ii. 191.
m284:2 Qur’ān ii. 149.
m284:3 Qur’ān ii. 151.
m285:1 All Muslim poets speak of wounds as "flowers."
m286:1 Qur’ān liii. 17. There is a pun here. The Arabic for "swerved" and the Persian for "a crow," are identical in orthography,—zāg. Muhammed has been called by other Persian poets: "The nightingale of the garden of mà zāg;" which really means "swerved not," but may be rendered: "we, the crows."
m286:2 The "Limner" is, here, God, of course. He was intoxicated with love, not wine.
m287:1 Qur’ān ii. 88.
m287:2 These were the Christian Arabs of Nejrān. They sent an embassy to Muhammed at Medīna. He proposed to them a trial by invocation of God's curse on the liars, their wives, and children. He uttered it; they shrank, and accepted submission to him, on condition of paying tribute.