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


1. Turn the camels aside towards the stony tract of Thahmad, where are the tender branches and the humid meadow,

2. Where the lightnings show to thee their flashes, where the clouds pass at eve and morn,

3. And lift thy voice at dawn to invoke the bright-faced damsels and the fair lissome virgins,

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4. Who murder with their black eyes and bend their supple necks.

5. Among them is she who loves and assails with glances like arrows and Indian swords every frenzied heart that loves the fair.

6. She takes with a hand soft and delicate, like pure silk, anointed with nadd and shredded musk.

7. When she looks, she gazes with the deep eye of a young gazelle; to her eye belongs the blackness of antimony.

8. Her eyes are adorned with languishment and killing magic, her sides are girt with amazement and incomparable beauty.

9. A slender one, she loves not that which I love and she does not fulfil her threats with sincerity. 1

10. She let down her plaited lock as a black serpent, that she might frighten with it those who were following her.

11. By God, I fear not death; my only fear is that I shall die and shall not see her to-morrow.


1. 'The camels,' i.e. the clouds.

2. 'The lightnings.' The author of these poems always uses the term 'lightning' to denote a centre of manifestation for the Divine Essence.

3. 'The bright-faced damsels,' i.e. intelligences derived from Idrís which have descended from the fourth heaven.

'Lissome,' i.e. inclining towards the phenomenal world, to replenish it. He means all realities that are connected with the phenomenal world, e.g. the Divine Names.

4. 'Who murder with their black eyes,' referring to the sciences of contemplation.

5. 'Indian,' because India is the place where Adam fell, and there the fountains of wisdom which were in Adam first gushed forth.

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6. 'Pure silk,' i.e. undyed, in reference to her being removed from all contamination.

'Anointed with nadd,' i.e. with mixed perfumes. He means that she is invested with Divine qualities.

9. 'She loves not that which I love,' i.e. she is not limited by the will of anyone, and if it happens that her will is in accord with mine, that is due to the effect produced by her upon me, not to the effect produced by me upon her.

'She does not fulfil,' etc., i.e. she is clement and forgiving.

10. 'Her plaited lock;' i.e. a chain of evidences and proofs. A black serpent,' referring to the science of the Divine majesty and awe.

11. He says that he is only afraid of missing the contemplation of his Beloved, and that he hesitated to follow her because he wished to acquire such Divine faculties as would enable him to face this manifestation.


92:1 The author expressly says in his commentary that ### (to promise) has here the meaning of ### (to threaten). This is a defiance of the established usage, just as ### (for ###) is a violation of grammar.