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


1. O grief for my heart, O grief! O joy for my mind, O joy!

2. In my heart the fire of passion is burning, in my mind the full moon of darkness hath set.

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3. O musk! O full moon! O bough of the sand-hills! How green is the bough, how bright the moon, how sweet the musk!

4. O smiling mouth whose bubbles I loved! and O saliva ill which I tasted white honey!

5. O moon that appeared to us veiled in a red blush of shame upon thy cheek!

6. Had she removed her veil, it would have been a torment, and on this account she veiled herself.

7. She is the morning sun rising in a heaven, she is the bough of the sand-hills planted in a garden.

8. Fear made me watch her incessantly while I watered the bough with falling rain.

9. If she riseth, she will be a wonder to mine eye, or if she setteth she will be a cause of my death.

10. Since Beauty bound on her head a diadem of unwrought gold, I am in love with gold that has been wrought.

11. If Iblís had seen in Adam the brilliance of her face, he would not have refused to worship him.

12. If Idrís had seen the lines that Beauty limned on her cheeks, then he would never have written.

13. If Bilqís had seen her couch, the throne and the pavement would not have occurred to her mind.

14. O sarḥ tree of the valley and O bán tree of the thicket, deliver to us of your perfume, by means of the zephyr,

15. A musky odour which exhales its fragrance to us from the flowers of thy lowlands or the flowers of the hills.

16. O Wu tree of the valley, show us a branch or some twigs that can be compared with her tenderness!

17. The zephyr's breeze tells of the time of youth spent at Ḥájir or Miná or Qubá,

18. Or at the sand-hills and where the vale bends beside the guarded pasture or at La‘la‘, where the gazelles come to browse.

19. Do not wonder, do not wonder, do not wonder at an Arab passionately fond of the coy beauties,

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20. Who, whenever a turtle-dove moans, is thrilled by the remembrance of his beloved and passes away.


1. 'O grief for my heart': he fears that the anguish of love will destroy this body by the mediation of which he has acquired the Divine sciences. Although most souls desire to be stripped thereof and to return to their elemental world, yet in the opinion of profound theosophists abstraction from the body should only be sought through ecstasy and self-annihilation (###), not by dissolving the connexion of body and soul.

'O joy for my mind,' because the mind is the locus in which the Truth is contemplated.

2. 'The full moon of darkness hath set': in reference to the Tradition, 'Ye shall see your Lord as ye see the moon on the night when she is full.'

'Darkness,' i.e. the invisible world. He describes the moon as having set in the sensible world and risen in his mind.

3. 'O musk,' i.e. breathing Divine mercy.

'O full moon,' because her light is borrowed from the Light of God, and because she is a mirror for Him who manifests O Himself in her.

'O bough of the sand-hills,' referring to the quality of Self-subsistence (###).

'How green is the bough!' i.e. clothed with Divine Names.

4. 'Bubbles': as water is the source of all life, the bubbles signify the sciences of Divine mercy which appear from the Divine Life when the breaths (of mercy) flow.

'Saliva,' i.e. sciences of communion and converse and speech which leave a delicious taste in the heart.

5. God is described as bashful (###) in an Apostolic Tradition.

6. 'Had she removed her veil,' etc.: according to the tradition, 'God hath seventy thousand veils of light and darkness; if He were to remove them, the splendours of His face would consume all that His sight perceives.' Therefore

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[paragraph continues] He keeps Himself veiled in mercy to us, in order that our substance may survive, for in the survival of the substance of phenomenal being the Divine Presence and its lovely Names are manifested, and this is the beauty of phenomenal being; if it perished, thou wouldst not know, since all kinds of knowledge are divulged by means of forms and bodies.

7. 'In a heaven,' referring to the form in which the manifestation takes place. The form varies according to the variety of beliefs and cognitions; and this is what is called 'transformation' (###). Some gnostics, e.g. Qaḍíb al-Bán, attain to this station in a sensible form. Its spiritual form comprises all the mystical states (###) of mankind.

'The bough of the sand-hills,' the quality of Self-subsistence in the garden of the Divine Names.

'Planted' refers to the investiture (###) with this quality, a doctrine which is contrary to that of Ibn Junayd and others. We agree, however, as to its realization (###), although I deny the possibility of realizing anything which cannot be an object of such investiture, since it is not to be apprehended by feeling (###): it may be known symbolically, but not emotionally.

8. 'Fear made me watch her,' i.e. in fear of being veiled from her I began to behold her in everything and before everything, regarding everything as depending on her and immanent (in God) before its creation.

'I watered the bough,' in order that the Divine sciences which it contains might bear fruit in me.

9. 'She will be a wonder,' for it is wonderful that Man in his abasement should apprehend God in His glory.

10. 'Beauty,' i.e. a locus of ocular manifestation in the station of severance (###) in which Man is discriminated from God.

'Unwrought gold,' referring to her freedom from contact with phenomena.

'Gold that has been wrought': gold denotes the quality

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of perfection which is attained by completing the series of stations. It is described as wrought, because God's manifestation to us by means of ourselves is actual, whereas His manifestation to us by means of Himself is not.

12. Idrís typifies the speculative theologian.

13. 'Her couch,' i.e. her lofty degree.

'Her mind': ###, for ### (mind), because ###, (###), the second letter of the alphabet, signifies Universal Reason, which is the second category of Being.

15. 'From the flowers of thy lowlands,' i.e. the station of Divine Revelation (###) which descends in the Sunna of the Apostle and in the revealed scriptures.

'The flowers of the hills,' i.e. the most inaccessible veil of the Divine glory.

16. Man seeks God in want and in desire to receive, whereas God seeks Man in wealth and in desire to give.

17. 'The zephyr's breeze,' etc., i.e. the sciences wafted into the heart from the revelation and manifestation of God in diverse stations.

18. 'At the sand-hills,' i.e. the mount of Vision.

'Where the vale bends,' i.e. the station of Mercy, which allows the human essence to subsist 'beside the guarded pasture', i.e. at the manifestation of the Divine essence.

'At La‘la‘,' i.e. in the frenzy of love.

19. Do not wonder at a thing which yearns for its original home.

20. 'A turtle-dove,' i.e. the soul of a gnostic like himself, whose sublime utterance excites in him a longing for God.

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