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


1. Halt at the abodes and weep over the ruins and ask the decayed habitations a question.

2. 'Where are the loved ones? Where are their camels gone?' (They answer), 'Behold them traversing the vapour in the desert.

3. Thou seest them in the mirage like gardens: the vapour makes large in the eyes the figure (of one who walks in it).'

4. They went, desiring al-‘Udhayb, that they might drink there a cool life-giving fountain.

5. I followed, asking the zephyr about them, whether they have pitched tents or have sought the shade of the ḍál tree.

6. The zephyr said, 'I left their tents at Zarúd, and the camels were complaining of fatigue from their night-journey.

7. They had let down over the tents coverings to protect their beauty from the heat of noon.

8. Rise, then, and go towards them, seeking their traces, and drive thy camels speedily in their direction.

9. And when thou wilt stop at the landmarks of Ḥájir and cross dales and hills there,

10. Their abodes will be near and their fire will be clearly seen—a fire which has caused the flame of love to blaze.

11. Make the camels kneel! Let not its lions affright thee, for longing love will present them to thine eyes in the form of cubs.'


1. He says to the voice of God (###) calling from his heart, 'Halt at the abodes,' i.e. the stations where gnostics

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alight in the course of their journey to infinite knowledge of their object of worship.

'And weep over the ruins,' i.e. the traces left by those gnostics, since I cannot accompany them.

'The decayed habitations,' because there is no joy in the abodes which have been deserted, and their very existence depends on those who dwell in them.

2. 'Their camels,' i.e. their aspirations.

'The vapour,' i.e. the evidences (###) of that which they seek, for its evidences are attached to its being found in themselves.

'The desert,' i.e. the station of abstraction (###).

3. 'Makes large,' i.e. they are grand because they give evidence of the grandeur of that which they seek. Hence it is said, 'In order that he who was not (namely, thou) may pass away, and He who never was not (namely, God) may subsist for ever.' And God said, 'Like a vapour in the plain (i.e. the station of humility) … when he cometh to it, he findeth it to be nothing, but he findeth God with him' (Kor. xxiv, 39), inasmuch as all secondary causes have been cut off from him. Accordingly the author says that the vapour makes large, etc., meaning that Man's superiority over all other contingent beings consists in his giving stronger evidence of God, since he is the most perfect organism, as the Prophet said, 'Verily he was created in the image of the Merciful.'

4. 'Desiring al-‘Udhayb,' i.e. seeking the mystery of life in the station of purity from the fountain of liberality.

'That they might drink': shurb is the second degree of Divine manifestation (###) dhawq being the first.

5. 'Whether they have pitched tents,' referring to knowledge acquired by them.

'Or have sought the shade of the ḍál tree,' referring to knowledge divinely bestowed, in which their actions have no part. Ḍál implies bewilderment (###).

6. 'At Zarúd,' a great tract of sand in the desert: inasmuch as sand is often tossed by the wind from one place

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to another, he indicates that they are in a state of unrest, because they are seeking that which is unimaginable, and of which only the traces are to be found in the soul.

7. 'Coverings to protect their beauty,' i.e. unless their faces, viz. their realities, were veiled, the intense radiance of this station would consume them.

8. 'Seeking their traces': he says, 'Seek to approach the degree of the prophets with thy aspiration (this he indicates by the word "camels"), but not by immediate experience (###), for only the Prophet has immediate experience of this station.' There is nothing, however, to prevent anyone from aspiring to it, although it is unattainable.

9. 'Ḥájir,' referring to the obstacle which makes immediate experience of this station impossible for us.

10. 'Their fire will be clearly seen,' i.e. the perils into which they plunged before they could arrive at these abodes. According to the Tradition, 'Paradise is encompassed with hateful actions.'

One of the illuminati (###) told me at al-Mawṣil that he had seen in a dream Ma‘rúf al-Karkhí sitting in the midst of Hell-fire. The dream terrified him and he did not perceive its meaning. I said to him, 'That fire is the enclosure that guards the abode in which you saw him seated. Let anyone who desires to reach that abode plunge into the fire.' My friend was pleased with this explanation and recognized that it was true.

11. 'Let not its lions affright thee,' i.e. if thou art a true lover be not dismayed by the dangers confronting thee. 'In the form of cubs,' i.e. innocuous and of no account.

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