Studies in Islamic Mysticism, by Reynold A. Nicholson, , at sacred-texts.com
(200) And I loaded her with tasks, nay, I took care that she should load herself with them, until I grew fond of my tribulation.
(201) And in correcting her I deprived her of every pleasure by removing her from her habits, and she became calm.
(202) No terror remained before her but I confronted it, so long as I beheld that my soul therein was not yet purged,
(203 203) And every stage that I traversed in my progress was an ubúdiyya which I fulfilled through ubúda.
When the soul is completely denuded of affections it is made one with God. In the first verse of the following passage the feminine pronoun, which has hitherto referred to the soul either as reproaching itself for its actions and desires or as being in passionless calm, undergoes a change of meaning, so that "she," who stood for an individual, now denotes the Universal Self.
(204 204) Until then I had been enamoured of her, but when I renounced my desire, she desired me for herself and loved me,
(205) And I became a beloved, nay, one loving himself: this is not like what I said before, that my soul is my beloved.
(206 206) Through her I went forth from myself to her and came not back to myself: one like me does not hold the doctrine of return.
(207) And in generous pride I detached my soul from my going forth, and consented not that she should consort with me again,
(208) And I was made absent from (unconscious of) the detachment of my soul, so that in my presence (union with God) I was not pushed (disturbed) by showing any attribute (of individuality).
In a passage of high eloquence and beauty the poet endeavours to analyse his experience of the unitive state and reveal the mystery, so far as it can be expressed in a symbolic form.
(209 209) Lo, I will unfold the beginning of my oneness and will bring it to its end in a lowly descent from my exaltation.
(210 210) In unveiling herself she unveiled Being to mine eye, and I saw her with my sight in every seen thing.
(211) And when she appeared, I was brought to contemplate that in me that is hidden, and through the displaying of my secret place I found there that I was she;
(212 212) And my existence vanished in my contemplation and I became separated from the existence of my contemplationeffacing it, not maintaining it.
(213 213) And in the sobriety following my intoxication I retained the object which, during the effacement of my self-existence, I contemplated in her by whom it was revealed,
(214 214) So that in the sobriety after self-effacement I was none other than she, and when she unveiled herself my essence became endued with my essence.
(215) When it (my essence) is not called "two," my attributes are hers, and since we are one, her outward aspect is mine.
(216 216) If she be called, tis I who answer, and if I am summoned,
she answers the one who calls me, and cries "Labbayk!" ("At thy service!").
(217) And if she speak, tis I who converse. Likewise, if I tell a story, tis she that tells it.
(218 218) The pronoun of the second person has gone out of use between us, and by its removal I am raised above the sect who separate (the One from the Many).
(219) Now if, through want of judgment, thy understanding allow not the possibility of regarding two as one and decline to affirm it,
(220) I will cause indications of it, which are hidden from thee, to demonstrate it like expressions that are clear to thee;
(221 221) And, since this is not the time for ambiguity, I will explain it by means of two strange illustrations, one derived from hearing and one from sight,
(222) And I will establish what I say by evidence, showing forth a parable as one who speaks the truthfor Truth is my stay
(223 223) The parable of a woman smitten with catalepsy, by whose mouth, whilst she is possessed by a spirit, anothernot shegives news to thee;
(224) And from words uttered on her tongue by a tongue that is not hers the evidences of the signs are shown to be true,
(225) Since it is known as a fact that the utterer of the wondrous sayings which thou heardest is another than she, though in the (material) sense she uttered them.
(226 226) Hadst thou been one, thou wouldst have come to feel intuitively the truth of what I said;
(227 227) But, didst thou but know it, thou wert devoted to secret polytheism with a soul that strayed from the guidance of the Truth;
(228) And he in whose love the unification of his beloved is not accomplished falls by his polytheism into the fire of separation from his beloved.
(229 229) Naught save otherness marred this high estate of thine, and if thou wilt efface thyself thy claim to have achieved it will be established indeed.
(230) Thus was I myself for a time, ere the covering was lifted. Having no clairvoyance, I still clave to dualism,
(231 231) Now losing (myself) and being united (with God) through contemplation, now finding (God) and being sundered (from myself) through ecstasy.
(232) My intellect, through being attached to my presence (with myself), was separating me (from God), while my deprivation
[paragraph continues] (of individuality), through the enravishment of my self-existence by my absence (from myself), was uniting me (with God).
(233 233) I used to think that sobriety was my nadir, and that intoxication was my way of ascent to her (the Beloved), and that my self-effacement was the farthest goal I could reach;
(234) But when I cleared the film from me, I saw myself restored to consciousness, and mine eye was refreshed by the (Divine) Essence;
(235) And at the time of my second separation I was enriched by a recovery from my impoverishment (self-loss) in drunkenness, so that (now) my union (jam) is like my unity (waḥda, individuality = tafriqa, separation).
(236) Therefore mortify thyself that thou mayst behold in thee and from thee a peace beyond what I have describeda peace born of a feeling of calm.
(237 237) After my self-mortification I saw that he who brought me to behold and led me to my (real) self was I; nay, that I was my own example,
(238 238) And that my standing (at `Arafat) was a standing before myself; nay, that my turning (towards the Kaba) was towards myself. Even so my prayer was to myself and my Kaba from myself.
(239) Be not, then, beguiled by thy comeliness, self-conceited, given over to the confusion of folly;
(240 240) And forsake the error of separation, for union will result in thy finding the right way, the way of those who vied with each other in seeking oneness (ittiḥád);
(241 241) And declare the absoluteness of beauty and be not moved to deem it finite by thy longing for a tinselled gaud;
(242) For the charm of every fair youth or lovely woman is lent to them from Her beauty.
(243) Twas She that crazed Qays, the lover of Lubná.; ay, and every enamoured man, like Laylá's Majnún or Azza's Kuthayyir.
(244) Every one of them passionately desired Her attribute (Absolute Beauty) which She clothed in the form of a beauty that shone forth in a beauty of form.
(245) And this was only because She appeared in phenomena. They supposed that these (phenomena) were other than She, whilst it was She that displayed Herself therein.
(246 246) She showed Herself by veiling Herself (in them), and She was hidden by the objects in which She was manifested, assuming tints of diverse hue in every appearance.
(247) At the first creation She became visible to Adam in the form of Eve before the relation of motherhood,
(248) And he loved Her, that by means of Her he might become a father and that the relation of sonship might be brought into existence through husband and wife.
(249 249) This was the beginning of the love of the manifestations for one another, when as yet there was no enemy to estrange them with (mutual) hate.
(250) And She ceased not to reveal and conceal Herself for some (divinely ordained) cause in every age according to the appointed times.
(251) She was appearing to Her lovers in every form of disguise in shapes of wondrous beauty,
(252) Now as Lubná, anon as Buthayna, and sometimes She was called Azza, who was so dear (to Kuthayyir).
(253) They (fair women) are not other than She; no, and they never were. She hath no partner in Her beauty.
(254) Just as She showed to me Her beauty clad in the forms of others, even so in virtue of oneness (ittiḥád)
(255) Did I show myself to Her in every lover enthralled by youth or woman of rare beauty;
(256 256) For, although they preceded me (in time), they were not other than I in their passion, inasmuch as I was prior to them in the nights of eternity;
(257) Nor are they other than I in my passion, but I became visible in them for the sake of clothing myself in every guise,
(258) Now as Qays, anon as Kuthayyir, and sometimes I appeared as Jamíl who loved Buthayna.
(259 259) In them I displayed myself outwardly and veiled myself inwardly. Marvel, then, at a revelation by means of a mask!
(260 260) The loved women and their loverstis no infirm judgmentwere manifestations in which we (my Beloved and I) displayed our (attributes of) love and beauty.
(261) Every lover, I am he, and She is every lover's beloved, and all (lovers and loved) are but the names of a vesture,
(262) Names of which I was the object in reality, and twas I that was made apparent to myself by means of an invisible soul.
(263) I was ever She, and She was ever I, with no difference; nay, my essence loved my essence.
(264) There was nothing in the world except myself beside me, and no thought of beside-ness occurred to my mind.
Having advanced in ittiḥád to a point where the "I" is indistinguishable from God, Ibnu l-Fáriḍ begins the promised sequel"a lowly descent from my exaltation" (see v. 209). He tells how he returned from the freedom of ecstasy to the bondage of piety, how he occupied himself with works of devotion and ascetic practices. He then makes a solemn declaration that his coming back to the normal life of the mystic was not due to any selfish motive, such as fear of disrepute or hope of honour, but was dictated solely by his anxiety to protect from attack the friends whom he revered. These friends (awliyá') were, no doubt, his spiritual masters or other Ṣúfís intimately associated with him. What was the danger which he foresaw and in which he would not have them involved? As the following verses show, it was the charge of heresy in
respect of a doctrine abominable to all Moslemsthe doctrine of incarnation (ḥulúl).
(277 277) If I recant my words, "I am She," or if I sayand far be it from one like me to say it!that She became incarnate (ḥallat) in me, (then I shall deserve to die the death).
(278 278) I am not referring thee to anything unseen; no, nor to. anything absurd which deprives me of my power (to demonstrate its truth).
(279 279) Since I am stablished on the Name of the Real (God) how should the false tales of error frighten me?
(280 280) Mark now! Gabriel, the trusted (messenger), came in the shape of Diḥya to our Prophet in the beginning of his prophetic inspiration.
(281 281) Tell me, was Gabriel Diḥya when he appeared in a. human form to the true Guide,
(282) Whose knowledge surpassed that of those beside him inasmuch as he knew unambiguously what it was that he saw?
(283) He saw an angel sent to him with a message, while the others saw a man who was treated with respect as being the Prophet's companion;
(284) And in the truer of the two visions I find a hint that removes my creed far from the doctrine of incarnation.
(285 285) In the Koran there is mention of "covering" (labs), and it cannot be denied, for I have not gone beyond the double authority of the Book and the Apostolic Traditions.
Ibnu l-Fáriḍ, no longer speaking in his own person but as the Logos (Mohammed) or as one merged in the Absolute, of which nothingnot even Love and Onenesscan be predicated, warns his disciple that he must not aim so high: let him fix his eyes on the glory of Love, and he will far excel those who worship God in hope or fear.
(286) I give thee knowledge. If thou desirest its unveiling, come into my way and begin to follow my law,
(287 287) For the fountain of Ṣaddá springs from a water whose abundant well is with me: therefore tell me not of a mirage in a wilderness!
(288 288) And take (thy knowledge) from a sea into which I plunged, while those of old stopped on its shore, observing reverence towards me.
(289) The text, "Meddle not with the substance of the orphan" (Kor. 6, 153), alludes symbolically to the palm of a hand that was holden when it essayed (to draw water).
(290 290) And except me none hath gained aught thereof, save only a youth who in constraint or ease never ceased to tread in my footprints.
(291) Stray not darkly, then, from the tracks of my journeying,
and fear the blindness of preferring another to me, and go in my very path;
(292) For the valley of Her friendship, O comrade of sober heart, is in the province of my command and falls under my governance,
(293 293) And the realm of the high degrees of Love is mine, the realities (thereof) are my army, and all lovers are my people.
(294 294) Love hath passed away! Lo, I am severed from it as one who deems it a veil. Desire is below mine high estate,
(295) And I have crossed Passion's boundary, for Love is (to me) even as Hate, and the goal that I reached in my ascension to Oneness is become my point of departure.
(296 296) But do thou be happy with love, for (thereby) thou hast been made a chief over the best of God's creatures who serve Him (by devotion and piety) in every nation.
(297) Win those heights and vaunt thyself above an ascetic who was exalted by works and by a soul that purged itself (of worldly lusts);
(298) And pass beyond one heavily laden (with exoteric knowledge)who, if his burden were lightened, would be of little weightone charged with traditional authorities and intellectual wisdom;
(299 299) And take to thyself through kinship (of love) the heritage of the most sublime gnostic, who made it his care to prefer (above all else) that his aspiration should produce an effect (upon mankind);
217:203 (203) Both ubúdiyya and ubúda (which literally signify the relation of a slave to his master) are phases of mystical devotion. In ubúdiyya the mystic is concerned with the means of drawing nigh to God, e.g. with asceticism, quietism, and the like; in ubúda, which is the fulfilment and consummation of ubúdiyya, he rises above egoism and loses himself in the will of his Lord.
217:204 (204-5) In ceasing to will for himself the mystic becomes an object of the Divine will, i.e. a beloved, and that which loves him is no other than his real self. The words "my soul (self) is my beloved" refer to verse 98 ("Thou art sworn to love, but to love of self"), in which the mystic is described as loving himself, because he still clings to his individuality.
217:206 (206-8) Separation from the self, i.e. union with God, is brought about by Divine grace, not by any act of the self.
218:209 (209) Perfect oneness ultimately involves "a descent from union (jam) to separation (tafriqa) and from the Essence to the Attributes, that the saint may repair the disorder of the phenomenal world and instruct those who seek the Truth, yet without losing real union with the Divine Essence; nay, he must unite in himself both union and separation, both Essence and Attributes" (K.). Cf. my Mystics of Islam, p. 163, and note on verse 218 infra.
218:210 (210) The beginning of oneness with God is God's revelation of Himself to the mystic, which causes faná, so that he sees the unveiled face of God (i.e. Real Being) in the mirror of phenomena.
218:212 (212) "I became separated from the existence of my contemplation," i.e. "I passed away from (became unconscious of) my contemplation."
218:213 (213) The object retained and unceasingly contemplated in the sobriety (mystical clairvoyance) following intoxication (ecstasy) is the inward and real selfthe hidden "I" which in the preceding moment of ecstasy was contemplated in God. Cf. note on vv. 233-5.
218:214 (214) Intoxication or self-effacement is only the beginning of oneness (ittiḥád). Perfect oneness is attained in sobriety, when the self, having been restored to consciousness, knows itself as the Divine Essence which reveals itself to itself. This is the state of "abiding after passing-away" (al-baqá bad al faná).
218:216 (216) Cf. p. 127 supra.
219:218 (218) Literally, "the ta (of the 2nd person singular in the past tense of the Arabic verb) has been removed (or 'has become tu, the sign of the 1st person singular') between us," i.e. "each of us is the 'I' of the other." "The sect who separate" are those who look at things from the aspect of separation (farq or tafriqa as opposed to union, jam), so that, for example, they view their acts of worship as proceeding from themselves, not as being done by God in them.
219:221 (221) The illustration drawn from hearing (oral tradition) is the Prophet's vision of Gabriel in the form of Diḥya (verse 280 foll.), while the parallel analogy from ocular experience is the case of "a woman smitten with catalepsy" (verse 223 foll.).
219:223 (223-5) It may be worth while to summarise the commentator's explanation of the argument. Ittiḥád, he says, means that Absolute Being overwhelms the being of the individual creature so as entirely to deprive him of the exercise of his faculties: he appears to will and act, when he is really the organ through which God wills and acts. To the objection that such a thing is impossible the poet replies by pointing to what occurs in catalepsy; and he makes a woman the subject of his illustration because the p. 220 female sex, on account of the weakness of their minds and their general passivity (infiál), are especially liable to seizures of that kind. Now, the body of a woman suffering from catalepsy is evidently controlled by the Jinn: her own personality (nafs) is, for the time, defunct (mazúl): otherwise, how could she foretell future events and speak in a language that she never knew, e.g. in Arabic though she be a foreigner, and in a foreign language though she be an Arab? If this relation can exist between a woman and a Jinni, notwithstanding the difference of their forms and qualities and notwithstanding that both of them are helpless contingent beings, surely none will deny that it may exist between the omnipotent Creator and the creature whom He has created in His own image.
220:226 (226) Although the possibility of ittiḥád can be proved from analogy, knowledge of its real nature depends on the unity (waḥda) or simplification (ifrád) of the self which is effected by stripping it of attributes and relations. Cf. verse 197 foll. K. renders munázalatan by "intuition" (contrasted with logical demonstration), but the word may be used here in its ordinary sense, namely, "a permanent state of mystical feeling." See the Glossary to my edition of the Kitáb al-Luma, p. 151.
220:227 (227) "Secret polytheism" (shirk), i.e. latent self-regard which hinders the mystic from becoming entirely one with God.
220:229 (229) "Otherness" is equivalent to "polytheism," i.e. thinking of one's self as something other than God.
220:231 (231-2) These verses can hardly be translated. The language of Islamic mysticism abounds in pairs of correlative terms, e.g. "losing" and "finding," "presence" and "absence," "intoxication" and "sobriety," which are not merely artificial antitheses but express the fact that, as has been well said, "the inner life of the Ṣúfí is in large measure a swinging to and fro between opposite poles" (R. Hartmann, Al-Ḳuschairîs Darstellung des Ṣûfîtums, p. 8). Cf. note on vv. 481-2.
221:233 (233-5) For the expressions used in v. 233 cf. Kor. 53, 9 and note on v. 729. Here Ibnu l-Fáriḍ, writing as an adept, declares that the state of ecstatic rapture, which Súfís call "intoxication" and "self-effacement," is inferior to the subsequent state of conscious clairvoyance, which they describe as "sobriety." Cf. Kashf al-Maḥjúb, transl., p. 184 foll. I cannot agree with Prof. Nallino, who thinks (op. cit. p. 73) that "sobriety" in v. 233 refers to normal and non-mystical consciousness. The meaning of the words "but when I cleared the film from me, etc." is explained by the commentator thus: "Existence (wujúd) is a veil (ḥijáb = ghayn, film) in the beginning of the mystic life, and also in its middle stage, but not in its end. The mystic is veiled in the beginning by the outward aspect of existence (i.e. created things) from its inward aspect (i.e. God), while in the middle stage (i.e. the period of 'intoxication' during which he has no consciousness of phenomena) he is veiled by its inward aspect (God) from its outward aspect (created things). But when he has reached his goal (i.e. 'sobriety'), neither do created things veil him from God nor does God veil him from created things, but God reveals Himself to the mystic in both His aspects at once (i.e. both as the Creator and as the universe of created things), so that he sees with his bodily eye the beauty of the Divine Essence manifested under the attribute of externality."
The meaning of "separation" (farq or tafriqa) has been explained in the note on verse 218: it is the state in which the mystic is conscious of himself as an individual. Passing away from himself in the ecstasy of "intoxication," he enters into the state of " union" (jam) in which he is conscious of nothing but God. According to Ibnu l-Fáriḍ, the final and supreme degree of "oneness" (ittiḥád) consists, not in "intoxication," but in "sobriety," i.e. the return to consciousness, "the second separation," when the mystic (who in the former "separation" knew himself as "other than God") knows himself as the subject and object of all action (cf. verses 237-8), and perceives that "union" and "separation" are the same thing seen from different points p. 222 of view. The interpretation of the concluding words in v. 215 is doubtful. Taking jam in a non-mystical sense, we might translate: "My plurality is like my unity."
222:237 (237) Self-mortification prepares the mystic for contemplation of God but does not precede it as the cause precedes the effect. In contemplation there is no duality, but only God, who reveals Himself to Himself. The poet describes this state of "union" (jam) symbolically in vv. 239-64.
222:238 (238) The "standing" on Mt Arafát near Mecca is one of the ceremonies observed by the pilgrims.
222:240 (240) "Separation" and "union" (farq and jam) are used in the technical sense which has been noted (cf. verses 218 and 233-5).
222:241 (241) The "tinselled gaud" is beauty regarded as an attribute of phenomena, i.e. beauty of form.
222:246 (246) The commentator illustrates this doctrinethat phenomena reveal or conceal Absolute Being according to the measure of spiritual p. 223 insight with which they are regardedby the following parable (cf. Plato's allegory of the prisoners in the cave in Book VII of the Republic). Imagine a house with no aperture except glass windows of various colours and shapes, so that when the sun falls on them, beams of corresponding shape and colour are reflected within. Imagine, further, that in the house are a number of persons who have never gone outside and have never seen the sun but have only been told that it is one simple universal light possessing neither colour nor form. Some, perceiving that the reflected beams resemble the glass in form and colour, will not recognise them as sunbeams. Others will divine the truth, namely, that those beams are the light of the sun endued with form and colour by the medium through which it is seen and preserving its unity unimpaired amidst all variety of appearance.
223:249 (249) The "enemy" is Satan, who caused Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, whereupon God said to them, "Get ye down (from Paradise), the one of you a foe to the other" (Kor. 2, 34).
223:256 (256) The commentator quotes the saying of the Prophet, "We are the last and the first," i.e. the last in material time, the first in spiritual time. Absolute Being, though logically prior to phenomena, is essentially identical with them.
224:259 (259) Absolute Being manifests its attributes through the phenomenal forms which conceal its essence.
224:260 (260-4) Love and beauty are aspects of the self-manifestation of the "invisible soul" underlying all phenomena, and since that soul is the One Real Being there can be no essential difference between the lover and the object of his love. The mystic who has attained to "the intoxication of union" (sukru l-jam) has no thought of "beside-ness," i.e. for him nothing exists beside his unconditioned self, which is God.
225:277 (277) "I am She," i.e. the doctrine of ittiḥád.
225:278 (278) Addressing the reader, Ibnu l-Fáriḍ says, "The God to whom I direct you is neither outside of the world and yourself nor within you in the sense of ' incarnate,' which is an absurdity."
225:279 (279) "False tales of error," i.e. baseless accusations of heresy.
225:280 (280) Gabriel, through whom the Koran was revealed to Mohammed, is said to have assumed the shape of Diḥya al-Kalbí, described as a very handsome man, on more than one occasion.
225:281 (281-4) As Gabriel was not incarnate in Diḥya, so God is not incarnate in the mystic "united" with Him.
225:285 (284-5) Labs (the act of covering) is attributed to God in the Koran (cf. 6, 9; 50, 14) and is implied in a group of traditions which record that Mohammed said, "I saw my Lord in such and such a form." For the meaning of the term, see A. J. Wensinck, The Etymology of the Arabic Djinn (Spirits) in Verslagen en Mededeelingen der Koninklijke Akademie van Wetenschappen, Afd. Letterkunde, 5e Reeks, Deel IV (1920), p. 506 foll., who says, "The action of covering is conceived in this way, that the spirit comes upon a man, takes p. 226 its abode in him and overpowers him, so that he is no longer himself but the spirit that is upon or within him." The monistic interpretation of labs adopted by Ibnu l-Fáriḍ differs essentially from ḥulúl. In the former case, God creates the "disguise" of phenomenality in order thereby to manifest Himself to Himself, and nothing exists beside Him; whereas ḥulúl (the "infusion" of the Divine element into the human) denotes a relation of immanence comparable to that of spirit and body.
226:287 (287) Ṣaddá was proverbial for the sweetness and wholesomeness of its water: cf. the saying, "Water, but not like Ṣaddá." The poet means that his knowledge flows from contemplation of the Divine Essence, so that he need not follow the mirage of intellectual speculation.
226:288 (288-9) The "sea" is an emblem of the Beatific Vision which was denied to Moses (Kor. 7, 139) but was granted to Mohammed (Kor. 53, 9). Ibnu l-Fáriḍ interprets the text, "Meddle not with the substance of the orphan," as an admonition to Moses that he must not encroach upon Mohammed's unique prerogative. When God revealed Himself in glory to Mt Sinai, Moses fell in a swoon; and on recovering his senses he heard a voice saying, "This Vision is not vouchsafed to thee, but to an orphan who shall come after thee." The orphan (yatím) is Mohammed (Kor. 93, 6). Cf. Kashf al-Maḥjúb, pp. 186 and 381.
226:290 (290) The commentator identifies the "youth " with Alí b. Abi Ṭálib, the Prophet's cousin and son-in-law. According to the belief of the Ṣúfís, Alí received from the Prophet an esoteric doctrine which was communicated to him alone.
227:293 (293) "The realities" (al-maání) are probably the real content of all expressions that belong to the language of love.
227:294 (294-5) To retain consciousness of an attribute is to be limited by it; to pass from it is to escape from limitation and break through to the Absolute, where all contraries are reconciled. In verse 294 some read fata l-ḥubbi, "O thrall of love," instead of fani l-ḥubbu.
227:296 (296-8) The lover of God is nearer to Him than the ascetic, theologian, or philosopher.
227:299 (299) The most sublime gnostic," i.e. Mohammed, from whom the Ṣúfís claim to have inherited not only their knowledge of religion (ilm) but also their mystical knowledge (marifa). In the highest degree of gnosis union (jam) is combined with separation (tafriqa), so that the mystic while continuing in the unitive state comes down once more to the world of plurality and uses his spiritual powers for the benefit and instruction of his fellow-creatures.