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The Tarjuman al-Ashwaq, by Ibn al-Arabi, tr. Reynold A. Nicholson, [1911], at


1. At Dhú Salam and the monastery in the abode of al-Ḥimá, are gazelles who show thee the sun in the forms of marble statues.

2. Therefore I watch spheres and serve in a church and guard a many-coloured meadow in the spring.

3. And at one time I am called the herdsman of the gazelles in the desert, and at another time I am called a Christian monk and an astrologer.

4. My Beloved is three although He is One, even as the (three) Persons (of the Trinity) are made one Person in essence.

5. So be not displeased, O friend, that I speak of gazelles that move round the marble statues as 'a shining sun',

6. Or that I use metaphorically the necks of the gazelles, the face of the sun, and the breast and wrist of the white statue,

7. Just as I have lent to the branches (spiritual) endowments and to the meadows moral qualities, and to the lightning laughing lips.


1. 'Dhú Salam': a station to which submission is rendered on account of its beauty.

'The monastery,' referring to a Syrian ecstasy (###).

'The abode of al-Ḥimá,' that which surrounds the most inaccessible veil of Divine glory.

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'Gazelles,' i.e. forms of Divine and prophetic wisdom which descend upon his spirit.

'Marble statues,' i.e. sorts of knowledge (###) with which neither reason nor lust is connected; hence he makes them inanimate (###).

2. 'I watch spheres,' i.e. the spiritual states in which these sorts of knowledge revolve, like the sun.

'And serve in a church,' because marble effigies are found in churches.

'And guard,' etc.: the meadows where these gazelles pasture are the scenes of devotional acts and Divine morals; they are described as 'many-coloured', i.e. adorned with the Divine realities, and spring-like, because that which is new and fresh is more delightful to the soul.

3. He refers to his ever-changing spiritual states, which bring with them manifold Divine influences and sciences. Although the spiritual experiences vary, the Divine substance (###) remains one. This is the 'transformation' (###) of which Muslim speaks in the chapter on Faith. Those who worship God in the sun behold a sun, and those who worship Him in living things see a living thing, and those who worship Him in inanimate objects see an inanimate object, and those who worship Him as a Being unique and unparalleled see that which has no like.

4. He says, 'Number does not beget multiplicity in the Divine substance, as the Christians declare that the Three Persons of the Trinity are One God, and as the Koran declares (xvii, 110): "Call on God or call on the Merciful; howsoever ye invoice Him, it is well, for to Him belong the most excellent Names."' The cardinal Names in the Koran are three, viz. Allah and ar-Raḥmán and ar-Rabb, by which One God is signified, and the rest of the Names serve as epithets of those three.

6. 'Necks,' indicating the Light (###), as in the Tradition 'The muezzins shall be the longest-necked of mankind on the Day of Resurrection'.

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'The face of the sun,' as in the Tradition 'Ye shall see your Lord as ye see the sun'.

'The breast and wrist of the white statue,' as in the Tradition which mentions the breast and fore-arm of the Almighty.

7. 'The branches,' i.e. the souls distraught by the majesty of God and turned away by love from the consciousness of their personality and from the contemplation of their phenomenal nature.

'The meadow,' i.e. the station of union (###) in which God has placed them.

'Moral qualities,' i.e. the scented breaths of Divine Mercy, viz. the goodly praise (###) of the kind mentioned in the Tradition 'Even as Thou dost praise Thyself'.

'The lightning,' i.e. a manifestation of the Divine Essence.

'Laughing lips,' as God is said in the Tradition to rejoice at the repentance of His servant, or to laugh (###).

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