Sacred Texts Journals Islamic Articles


Selections from Rumi (I)

translated by Edward Rehatsek










VOL. III.   1874

[Bombay, Education Society's Press]
{Reduced to HTML by Christopher M. Weimer, November 2002}

p. 64


From the Mesnavi of Jellal-aldyn Rûmi—2nd Duftur.

The light of God illumes the light of sense,
And then the soul aspires to meet its God;
A steed without a rider knows no way,
It wants a king to know the royal road.
Behold the sense which governed is by light,
A fine companion is this light to sense.
God's light adorns the sensual light,
This is the meaning of Light on light.*
Light physical drags down to earth beneath,
But light divine exalts to heavenly bliss.
All things of senses in a base world are,
God's light an ocean is, but sense a drop of dew.
Although this motor cannot be perceived,
Unless in virtuous effects and in speech.
The sensual light is ponderous, inert,
Concealed within the eye's recess.
As you the sensual eye-light cannot see,
How find you light which is not of the eye?
This world is swayed like chaff by the unseen wind,
Obeying helplessly the grace of God,
Which now conveys this chaff to sea and now to land;
Sometimes it moistened is and sometimes dry;
The hand unseen is; but see the writing pen!
The horse gallops, no rider does appear,
In mountains now it roams, and now in vales,
It now exalted is and now abased,
It now drives to the right and now to left,
Is now in rose-groves, now in thorny paths.
Behold, the arrow flies without a bow!
Life can be seen, but where is Life of life?
Break not the shaft, it is a royal one,
Although its nullity the mover knows;
God said: thou hast not cast it, but I cast.
The acts of God precede all other acts,
You must your anger break and not the shaft,
Your wrathful eye turns milk to blood.
O kiss the arrow, bear it to the king,
That shaft defiled, and moist with blood of yours.
The seen is weak, and mean and base,
But quick and strong the invisible is.
We are the game, but who is master of the net?
We are the ball, but cannot see the bat.
Where is the artist who now tears, now sews?
The naphtha-thrower who now quenches and now burns,
Who now an infidel will make Siddiq,
And now a saintly hermit of Zandiq?§

p. 91


Mesnavi of Jellâl-aldyn-Rûmi, 2nd Duftur.

Once Moses saw a herdsman on the road,
Who thus exclaimed:—"O God! O Allah mine!
Where do you live? May I your servant be
To sew your overcoat, to comb your head?
O God, my life I sacrifice to you,
With all my children, all my kin and goods!
Where do you live, that I your head may comb,
Your quilt may make, and thickly sew your coat;
And if some malady you overtake,
I would your comfort be, as kinsfolk should,
To kiss your hands, to rub your little feet;
When sleep you want, to sweep your little place;
Your house if I could see, I always would
Bring oil and milk each eve and morn to you,
p. 92 Likewise some cheese with bread and greasy cakes
So nice with leaven or with curdled milk.
These make and bring I would each morn and eve;
I would supply and you might eat the food;
My goats would all I sacrifice to you;
My exclamations all are prayers to you."
Thus senseless that poor shepherd spoke;
But Moses said:—"O man, whom do you mean?"
He answered:—"Him who has created us,
Who has produced this earth and wheeling sky!"
Moses replied:—"Your head is going daft:"
Eslám you left, an infidel you turned;
What idle and blasphemous words are these?
Your mouth with cotton ought to be gagged;
Your unbelief will fill the world with dust;
Your infidelity revives the Dibadin.*
In need of quilted coats and socks you stand.
How could such things befit the Sun?
If you these ravings do not cease,
The world will be consumed by flames;
If fire has not appeared, then whence this smoke,
This life so black and spirit so perverse?
If you believe that God a bounteous giver is,
How can you belch out such stolidity?
A stupid friend is like an enemy.
Such adoration God does not require.
To father's or to mother's brother do you speak?
Of body and necessities to God Most High?
Milk is the beverage of a growing youth,
And trowsers are required for the legs;
But if a human being you did mean,
Has not God said:—"I am he, and he I?
When I was sick ye visited me not:
Not only he; but I was sick also."
To him who neither sees nor hears your words,
To man, I say, they likewise nonsense are.
To speak unkindly to a bosom-friend
Deadens the heart and friendship kills.
If Fatimah a man you choose to call,
Though males and females both one genus are,
He will, should he be able, drink your blood.
In spite of his mild temper and religion;
Fatimah is a praise in female names,
Applied to men it is like wounds of spears.
To men their hands and feet all comfort bring;
The purity of God they would defile,
He unbegotten is, begetteth not,
But giveth life to parents and to sons.
All bodies must be witnesses of Him;
For everything produced here beneath
Created is and must corruption bear,
But made it is, and must a maker want."
He said:—"O Moses, you have sewed up my mouth,
By this repentance you have burnt my soul."
He rent his clothes and heaved a fervent sigh,
Towards the desert looking, sped his way.
A revelation Moses heard from God:—
"My servant you have driven away from me;
You have arrived the union to prepare,
And not for separation's sake:
If help you can, abstain from severing,
Divorce I hate more than all other things.§
On each man I his nature did bestow,
To everybody an expression I impart,
Which seems great praise to him, but blame to you;
He thinks it honey, you as poison deem;
It light to him must be, and fire to you;
But roses bright to him, and thorns to you,
What he deems good, as wicked you condemn;
What he applauds, you often disapprove;
We from pure and all impure things are free,
As well as from anxiety and speed.
I man have not produced for gain of mine,
But blessings to bestow on those who worship me.
To Hindus their expression serves for praise;
The Sindhis by their own expression laud;
Their adoration does not make me pure,
They also pure will be and shedding pearls.
Externals, words alone we disregard;
The soul within, its state, must give account;
At hearts we look, whether they humble are,
Though speech may perhaps too bold be;
For heart is essence, speech but accident:
Thus qualities are not essentials.
But why so many words and metaphors?
Flames, flames I want, comform yourself to them;
The fire of love you in your soul must raise,
Burn up your meditations, all your tropes.
O Moses, formalists quite different are
From those whose inmost souls do burn with fires!
Always to glow befits the lovers' hearts.
No taxes, tithes are asked from empty towns.
If sin he speaks, do not him sinner call;
If martyred and full of blood then wash him not:
Blood martyrs better fits than water does;
This wrong outweighs a hundred-fold reward.
In the Kabah the Qeblah cannot be looked at.
What matters it if divers do not jerk their feet?
You must not guidance seek from the inebriate,
Who rend their clothes; can they be asked to mend?
From all religions love's belief differs;
The lovers' sects and rites are God alone.

p. 268


From the Mesnavi of Jelâl-aldyn Rûmi.

{this selection was printed accidentally and removed in the errata;
it is not listed in the contents of the journal}

United are the senses five,
They all from one original spring:
The food of one is strength for all,
Each to the others drink supplies.
Sight by the eyes increases love,
Love in the heart will truth augment,
Truth every sense will rouse from sleep,
Taste friendship with the senses makes.
When an internal sense the bonds have opened,
Each other sense transfigured is;
When one sense things unfelt perceives,
To senses what's unseen revealed will be.
If one ram leaps a little from the flock,
All others follow in its track.
Impel the sheep of your perceptions
To graze in "pastures He produced,"*
To feed on basil sweet and hyacinths,
Ways to find, to rose-groves of truths divine;
Each sense to the others a herald will be,
And all to the heavenly paradise will go.
Your senses to your senses secrets tell
Without a tongue, a tale, or trope,
Although their story is the midwife of comments,
The surmise, source to speculate upon;
But things self-evident and plain
Admit no explanation or comment.
When all perceptions your senses have enslaved
The spheres cannot escape your ken;
When in the realm of husks questions arise
Its very kernel is proved to be but husk;
Amidst disputes of scarcity in blades
Their seeds you are to strive to find!
When spheres but husks will be, the spirit's light the grain,—
The one is seen, the other hid; start not:—
The body can be seen, the soul is hid;
But intellect is more concealed than the soul,
Therefore the spirit seeks the sense, and soars beyond:
You motion see and life perceive,
But that intellect fills it you forget;
Yet inspiration transcends intellect,
It is a mystery divine and unrevealed.

Journals Islamic Articles


p. 64

* Qorân, xxiv. 35.

Ibid. viii. 17.

Siddiq, epithet of the Khalyf Abu Bekr, here taken to represent piety.

§ Zandiq here means a heretic, but literally one who follows the Zand books, i.e. a Zoroastrian.

p. 92

* Alluding to pre-Islamitic times, when Dibadin was worshipped.

There is a tradition very closely corresponding to what occurs in Matt. xxv. 45: "Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me."

Qorân, cxii. 3.

§ There is a tradition that God said the above words.

Empty towns are persons who have received no religious instruction; and therefore no ritual worship, here expressed by taxes and tithes, can be required of them.

The Kabah is the Qeblah, i.e. direction in which Moslems look when they pray, therefore a person already within the Kabah cannot look towards it.

p. 268

* Qorân, lxxxvii. 4.