In the name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate
In the name of Him whose kingdom is unending, in describing whom the speech of the wise is reduced to dumbness.
His name is a joyous message to the souls of men; it appears at the head of the poets’ divans.
To think of His name is to cover the palate of the soul with sugar; to mention it is to cover the sword of the tongue with jewels.
Scent without mention of His name is but color; fame without mention of His name is downright disgrace.
He is a Lord beside whose being all that has existence is the essence of lowness.
Since His being is higher than all we know of, how then can we describe it? With the hand of creation He flung the ball of the terrestrial globe into the crook of the polo-stick of the celestial spheres.
Since no man’s intellect can rise above Him, no man can know the extent of His favors.
All negation of the world is affirmation of Him; the whole universe is proof of His being.
His attributes are His being and His being His attributes: if thou consider well He is all being.
All that exists is but the shadow of His presence; it is all the effect of His omnipotent creation.
An eloquent speaker said well of His being that the belief in God’s unity springs from the rejection of all accessories.
So lofty is His rank, that everything from the Moon to the Fish1 is to His eye as black as hair.
So great is His glory and His self-sufficiency, that all the minds and souls of men are but so many playthings to him.
Such is His majesty that were it to enter a man’s soul a hundred storms would spring up in every atom.
Such is His unity that it does not leave room for a single hair; beside His unity the whole world does not weigh a single hair.
Such is His mercy that did Iblis2 receive the smallest portion of it he would bear the palm from Idris.3
Such is His jealousy that if it fell upon the world in one moment the two worlds would clash together.
Such is the awe He inspires that if the sun had the slightest awareness of it it would be lost in an eternal shadow.
Such is the sanctity of His station that from reverence none but He may approach near to it.
Such is His empire that necessarily and inevitably it can neither decrease nor increase.
Such is His strength that, did He wish so. He could in a single instant turn the earth and the nine heavens into wax.
Such is the drink that ‘their Lord will give them to drink’4 that the soul will dip its bread in blood in hope thereof.
So vast is His realm that if the world ceased to exist its expanse would not be a single hair’s breadth less.
Such is His infinity that the eye of reason and comprehension falls to the ground incapable of traversing the distance.
Such is the term He has set for all that when its time comes the world itself will be ensnared by a single hair.
Such is the vigor with which He calls His creatures to account that they can neither be silent nor speak.
Such is His seclusion that of all the men and women that have run after Him none has found the way to His presence.
Great is the heedlessness that has enchained us, otherwise we should have committed no sin.
Great is the regret that we shall feel, but regret will not profit us.
Great is the endurance that we shall need to acquit ourselves of our charge without betraying it.
The world of love has neither beginning nor end; there is no guide to it save a bleeding heart.
He is a lover who from the first step he takes immerses himself from head to foot in blood becoming like so much mud.
0 Lord, I have said many foolish things; I have said much that was true and much that was not.
Though the sinner commit a hundred worlds of sins, yet one atom of Thy grace will efface them all.
We have nothing but sins to offer, no acts of devotion. What can we bring to counterbalance our sins? Only a small handful of things.
Since such is our case, 0 Lord, do not abandon us to ourselves.
Thou transcends the categories of quantity, quality, and cause; Thou art beyond and outside of the world.
0 Lord, Thy mercy is a universal sea; a single drop of it would suffice for us. If Thou were to wash the pollution of Thy sinful creatures in that sea, The water would not be darkened for a moment but the case of a whole world of people would be brighter.
What loss would that sea of mercy suffer if Thou gavest one drop of water to Thy creatures?
It is good that God should cry ‘ha’ and man should answer ‘hu’6 and that man and God should call to one another.
Thou hast no one in the whole world; why dost thou not weep bitterly over thyself?
For if thou have a hundred friends in thy house, when thou diest, thou wilt find them all strangers.
This grief is not given thee easily; straw will not give the strength of a mountain:
If thou wouldst have even an atom of this grief, thou must have the purity of the sea and the endurance of the mountains.
If thou die a moment before thy appointed time, in that one moment thou shalt conquer a whole world.
Forsaken and forlorn as thou art, if thou but knewest from Whose presence thou art kept at such a distance,
In regret thou wouldst brand thy side and bow thy head over thy knees in confusion.
If thou be worthy of the Road of God, extinguish the eye of desire.
When the eye of desire has been blinded, thou wilt see with God’s aid through the divine eye.
There is no limit to man’s bewilderment: who can find a needle in the sea?
The world is like a caravanserai with two doors: entering by one door thou passest out through the other.
Thou art sunk in heedless sleep and knowest of nothing; thou shalt die whether thou wilt or not.
Be thou beggar or king thou shalt take with thee two ells of linen and ten bricks.
The revolving heavens have exercised much cunning, and there is none that shall escape them.
Willy nilly thou must in the end be parted from all that thou hast.
Though thy realm stretch from the Fish to the Moon,7 thou must in the end pass through this gate.
And though thou be an Alexander, this transitory world will one day provide a winding-sheet for all thy Alexander-like glory.
My friend, the King without consulting thee has laid up a treasure in some spot.
If such be His will He will take it away or He will leave it where it is.
Why seek to know why He laid it up or why He will take it away?
This faithless world has no light, it has no feast that is not followed by mourning.
If it offer thee silver, it is stone, and if it offer thee an excuse it is a lame one. Union without separation is no man’s portion, for there is no rose without a thorn nor sugar without flies.
I know of no one who is without grief to whom I could look for comfort.
Be off with thee, resign thyself to thy heavy load; drudge away, and if thy life be asked give it.
I do not find thee brave or strong enough to ascend into heaven without first passing through the grave.
Did not Adam live in sorrow for six hundred years, shedding tears of blood on account of a grain of wheat?8
Since he could not take a grain of wheat without suffering a hundred misfortunes, neither mayst thou eat a morsel without the pangs of sorrow. All our gain, thine and mine, has turned to loss; woe to our birth and to existence!
0 world, who is there who rejoices an account of thy tyranny? All of thy tyranny and oppression is so much wind.
Since the world does not grieve for thee, why dost thou heap dust on thy head on its account?
The world has many bridegrooms like thee; it remembers many feasts and weddings.
All my life I have striven to find a friend to whom I could confide my secrets.
I can find no true friend; alas for these faithless companions!
Since thou wert born of thy mother for the dust, why being thus lowly dost thou rear up palaces and belvederes?
Since thy eye is destined to be rubbed in the dust, why dost thou raise up thy belvederes to the skies?
Though thou hast piled up a treasure of silver and gold thou wilt not without pain drink a single draught of water.
Grieve for thyself, for no one else concerns himself about thee, nay, thou dost not concern thyself.
Thy own place will be beneath the dust, but thy pure soul shall not be sullied by it.
Is not thy essence worshipped by the angels? Hast thou not on thy head the crown of God’s Vicarate?9
Thou art the son of God’s vicar, abandon the bath-furnace; abandon thy sluggish ways and enter the rose-garden.10
A king’s throne awaits thee in Egypt; why art thou, like Joseph, at the bottom of a well?
Thou hast no control over thy kingdom because the divs11 have taken the place of Solomon.
It is thou who art the king in the end and in the beginning, but the seer sees double.
Thou seest one as two and two as a hundred. One, two or a hundred, it is all thou.
Thou hast one heart, poor wretch, and a hundred friends: how canst thou, with one heart, accomplish a hundred tasks?
How long wilt thou concern thyself with food and clothing? How long with thy reputation with the vulgar?
In thy origin thou hast a wondrous nature, satin patched with rags.
If thou strive every moment to reach the Presence, thou shall be honoured with the words ‘Adore, and draw nigh’.12
With all thy foolish thoughts thou hast worn out thy original nature.
0 thou that sleepest, if thou be wise, close the door to thy desires.
Great is the greed in the heart of Adam’s son and great the perplexity in which he wanders around the world.
Thy heart is blinded with greed and so thou wilt remain to the brink of the grave.
Until thou die thy greed will not grow less, for only death is a balm to the wound of greed.
Thou hast drained to the dregs the cup of this world; what wouldst thou do with the wealth of the world?
In the eyes of the traveler along the Road all the goods of this world are not worth a single grain.
Fie upon these fly-eating spiders like so many vultures engrossed in carrion! Fie upon these ant-like talebearers, all of them like ants guideless and lost! Fie upon the greed of that crowd of bone-eaters, all of them doglike in nature and akin to rats!
0 thou who art careworn day and night, helpless in the clutches of greed, Greed has a bridle on thy head; it is to thee as the halter to the camel. Put thy trust in the Provider; be calm and patient.
He does not withhold his daily bread from the infidel; why should He withhold it from a wise man?
Being secure and healthy do not be slack in the morning.
If thou awake at dawn thou shalt receive what thou askest for.
The robe of honour bestowed at the Court of God is bestowed at the time of the dawn.
The gate of Paradise is opened at dawn; and it is then that His beauty is revealed to His lovers.
Wouldst thou be king at that moment? Then go and beg at the door of Mohammed.
In praise of the Prophet
Mohammed is the exemplar to both worlds, the guide of the descendants of Adam.
He is the sun of creation, the moon of the celestial spheres, the all-seeing eye; The torch of knowledge, the candle of prophecy, the lamp of the nation and the way of the people;
The commander-in-chief on the parade-ground of the Law; the general of the army of mysteries and morals;
The lord of the world and the glory of ‘But for thee’;13 ruler of the earth and of the celestial spheres;
The most loyal of the Prophets, the proof of the Way, the king without a seal, the sultan without a crown.
As a king he reared up a lofty palace, but he followed the principle of ‘Poverty is my pride’.14
His miracle was ‘We have won a victory’15 and his banner ‘help from God’.16 ‘As thou livest’17 was the crown on his musk-raining head and ‘have we not opened thy heart’18 the adornment of his life.
He is of a surety the crown of all sovereigns, he is in very deed the lord of the Prophets.
He, and only he, is without question the most excellent of mankind; he, and he only, is the confidant of God.
The seven heavens and the eight gardens of paradise were created for him, he is both the eye and the light in the light of our eyes.
He was the key of guidance to the two worlds and the lamp that dispelled the darkness thereof.
His tongue was the interpreter of kingship, his heart the scribe of divine inspiration.
Heaven and earth come under his sway; the two worlds are co-existent with his reign.
The Lord of the Worlds made him His depositary because before divine inspiration he was the most trustworthy man in the world. Light rose up to heaven because of his beauty, and divine inspiration descended to earth because of his perfection.
Because he walked only in the way of God he was settled in ‘an unfruitful valley’.19
With his mind he solved the difficulties of all mankind for his mind had seen the first design in Eternity Past.
He came in order that restless souls might quench their thirst every moment in the sea of his Law.
He was the greatest of the Prophets because though he came after he was also before.
When Adam opened his eyes for the first time, he saw from where he lay Mohammed’s name inscribed on the empyrean.20
He prostrated himself in the dust before his name, but since the dust became Mohammed he fell undefiled.
He was still a suckling when the flood broke over the fire-worshippers.
In every fire-temple, because of the Holy Prophet, the fire was at once utterly quenched.21
If fire was quenched for Abraham,22 it was quenched for the infant Prophet all over the world.
Dost thou not see how so hot a thing as fire flees before a single hair of his head?
So high were his sandals raised by his Faith that they knocked the diadem off the Chosroes’23 head.
The ringlets of his hair toppled the crown of the Caesar and over-threw with the curls the Emperor of China.24
When, in the beginning, he pulled his cloak over his head, the angel Gabriel descended and stood at his door.
He said to him: ‘Verily there is a great good hidden beneath that cloak.’25
The space of a single brick was absent from the Prophecy—a holy gap, indeed.
The Prophet has said: ‘That precious gap was closed by me for all eternity.’26 He was indeed the culmination of the Prophets; when he came, the Prophecy was complete.
Hast thou not seen how first the army comes and then the noble King arrives. The Prophets are like the army; they came only to announce the king. When the sultan of the Prophecy was born, the Prophecy came to an end for he was the culmination thereof.
When his religion illuminated the world, all other rites were abolished. God is all-knowing.
What becomes of the countless stars when the bright sun shines forth?
When the Prophet called himself a brick, it was as though every brick had become a paradise.
And if that brick was moulded from the seed of Adam, it was because one brick was the foundation of both worlds.
Since the bricks of this world have four sides, so this brick has as its four sides the Four Friends.27
When the Companion of the Cave set out with him, the world was filled with light from those two peerless ones.
When he came to the house of Umm Ma‘bad,28 he saw a she-goat that was unmated and without milk.
The goat gave her soul to him for she saw that the sun had arisen.
When the Master touched her udders milk flowed from them like rain.
His hand was whitened with her milk and thus did Predestination produce the White Hand.29
The Prophet was adult whilst he was still a suckling; Adam was plainly but a child beside him.
When, during the Flight, he entered the cave with the Friend, and there appeared the famous spider,
Which built its web across the entrance, weaving the warp and crossing it with the weft.30
When the web was finished an enemy arrived and sought to make his way through that screen.
He went proudly up to the spider, saying: ‘Remove the screen before these two lovers of the Faith.
Why dost thou make a screen for the lovers? Produce two tricks from behind this closed screen. Sing this song to the tune of truth.’31
The spider, realizing the enemy’s thought, thus made denial in dumb show: ‘Never will a Jamshid32 or a Faridun33 fall into a spider’s web. Thou hast not a whit of sense if thou seek a Simurgh34 in a fly-trap. The flesh of a fly is enough for me—how should a falcon fall into my snare? What effect could a talisman produced from a spider’s saliva have upon the one Immortal Being?’
If this miracle is not as I have related, my head is attached to my waist like a spider’s.
If his enemy were in the seventh earth, the seventh heaven would lay in wait for him; ,
To kill his enemy the sun would smite him in the eye with its sword.
Without love for him the heavens cannot revolve; without their longing for him the angels cannot breathe.
The Faith itself could have nothing without his support; no eye ever saw him knit his brow.
He was pure contentment with no feeling of anger; no eye ever saw him frown.
In the beginning the curves came from his knitted brow but they had all departed into his hair.
The curls in his hair were without number; to seek knowledge in them35 is the highest task.
When his hair fell in ringlets there sprang from it the seventy-two sects.86
When these curls and locks appeared on his shoulders, there appeared out of those sixty37 these seventy.
Each group coveted a ringlet and made a handle out of it.
None can ever hold back his hand from such a ringlet, for it is the ‘strongest handle’.
No one admitted to the Glorious Presence passed beyond self except Mohammed.
Since he passed entirely beyond self all speak for themselves there save only him.38
Mohammed was the eternal sun and Jesus the dawn that announced his coming.39
Since Jesus brought the glad tidings of the Chosen One, he was born in a single moment without a father.
Aye, since he brought the good news to the people, he was the evangelist and he came in great haste.40
As he was the first to bring the good news from God, so he shall return again at the end of time.
There will be but one purpose in his return, to announce Mohammed. 0 most glorious return!
As his pure heart was the main body of the army, so was the center of his soul the king.
Now at the time of a revelation, the six hundred thousand wings of Gabriel formed the flanks of this main army.
Now, a select throng of angels stood in ranks on either side thereof.
Patience was his buckler and sincerity his sword; his lance cast a shadow over the sky.
He held in his hand the bow of ‘the distance of two bow-shots’;41 he fought with the arrows of ‘when thou didst shoot’.42
He is the Prophet of the Sword43 with the crown of ‘as thou livest’,44 auspiciously mounted upon Buraq.45
What though he ruled the realm of the soul? Holy war was his trade, and hence all this.
Wishing to be slave to the Prophecy he asked God for two weeping eyes.46
He called himself ‘the son of the two slain ones’,47 from which it is clear to soul and mind.
That he sought glory of God in annihilation and was never attached even for a moment to any single thing.
Because he placed no hope in existence he was sealed with the seal of ‘his eye turned not aside’.48
And when his soul was seething with the turmoil of yearning, sometimes he would say:
‘Would that God the Wise, the Just had never brought Mohammed into existence!’49
This he said because the Lord of the World had called him his ever-shining light.
Though the wax produces a bright light, yet it is always in pain and suffering without the honey.
At first the wax was absorbed in the honey, and because of their oneness it had no thought of this and that.
Afterwards, when it was taken away and removed from union with the honey,
It whispered these words: ‘What have I in common with candles? I have lived in oneness; what have I in common with the crowd?
If I had not become a candle I should still be together with the honey.
When I became a candle and was parted from my beloved, God called me a light; but how long shall I burn?
If I had remained with the honey I should have been saved from all this burning.’
Because he was naked he sat on the sand; because he was hungry he tied a stone to his belly.50
These are proofs of his perfect poverty: the poverty of God is a very exalted stage.51
Had he had the slightest desire, how should he have been the leader of the poor?
He remained poor because it is ill-mannered to pick up the largesse scattered at one’s own wedding.
He had no wish for goods and chattels; one day he ate his fill and the next he went hungry.
What though this nine-chambered palace52 was raised up for him out of nothing, out of smoke?53
Often a month would pass without any one’s seeing smoke rise from his nine chambers.54
If those nine chambers were created out of smoke, it was because no smoke was to rise from these.
When he returned, with a hundred honors, from his ascension,55 his face never grew dark.
His stars56 relate that when he sat like the moon in their company,
He eclipsed that company with a light such as that with which the sun eclipses a candle.57
All his Companions, when they were near him, were lost to self because of the awe he inspired.
Faced by the sea, how shall a drop of water retain its separate self?
It was because of the awe he inspired that there was disagreement about those on whom the light shone.
As to whether the eyebrows of that leader of the two worlds were joined or not.
The people of the two worlds could not see his eyebrows, for it is not easy to see at a distance of two bows.58
The whole world was spread out like a tablecloth before his eyes,
So that the secrets of the universe were revealed to him and he had knowledge of both worlds.
When the divine mysteries were unveiled to him, because of what he had seen he said: ‘Thou art what thou wilt.’59
Seeing with the eye that had looked in the mysteries he could look through the wall at Paradise and Hell.
Paradise and Hell concealed themselves behind him; thou knowest then who were the beggars behind his wall.
They preferred their place behind the wall to the Hereafter because thus they could see the sun of his face.
They both of them strayed from the Hereafter because of their longing to gaze on such a sight.
Having met those that had lately been with God he hurried forwards to be received by God Himself.60
He went bareheaded before God, for one can approach God (only) when bareheaded.61
Blackhearted Satan does not dare to appear in his garb.62
His food was barley bread, yet he clove the breast of the loaf-like disc of the moon as though it were a grain of wheat.63
The food of his soul came from the table of poverty, but though poverty was his so was glory.64
When the light of his poverty shone forth Solomon would come to be his slave.
Now he would sweep the dust of the road out of his house; now he would take his rest in the dust of the road.
Now he would run to and fro with Aisha; now he would fetch bricks and mud to build a mosque.
Now he would stitch at sandals; now he would tell secrets to children.65
Now he would take part in a funeral procession; now he would visit the sick. Now he would collect fodder for the camels; now he would carry a hand-mill in his turban.
Now he would act as cupbearer at a banquet, standing in the place of ‘the lord of the people’.66
Now in the kindness of his heart he would pretend to be a camel to amuse those two intelligent children.67
When that Holy Prophet came into the world, babe though he was he at once prostrated himself in worship.
He came forth from the womb with his umbilical cord already severed; his mother bore him already circumcised.68
If he stood among a crowd of men he was taller by a head than the tallest of them.69
No one ever saw his excrement:70 the earth would swallow it up like ambergris.71
He could see both in front and behind equally well. Never did a fly settle on his person.
Since his shadow fell on the celestial spheres, how then could he cast a shadow on the ground?
Since his shadow covered the empyrean how then could it fall on the earth?72 One night he resolved to ascend into heaven and to rise above the two worlds.73
Buraq, who was pining for his master, had long been tethered to the tree called Tuba.74
Sniffing the scent of Mohammed he brayed loudly, broke his tether and galloped towards him.
Then Gabriel appeared and said: ‘Why art thou still on earth, 0 Pure One? Ascend into the heavens.
Thou art by right the lord of the empyrean; rise from the earth to its loftiest pinnacle.
Thou art the symbol of mercy in both worlds; thou art the host that dispenses it to both worlds.75
Thou hast regaled the earth for a while, and now it is the turn of the heavens.
Make of thy poverty an elixir for the peoples of the earth; make of the dust of thy feet a collyrium for the angels.’
When the Holy Prophet set out upon Buraq he rose with the speed of lightning to the seventh heaven.
He rose, thus mounted, up to the throne of God, for he was lord of Buraq and of the pulpit.
On his right stood the supporters of God’s throne and on his left the guardians of the earth.
Beneath the hooves of Buraq the heavens were as the earth, while Gabriel was as the servant at his door.
He unfurled his banner over the empyrean and took his stand on the ‘seat of truth’.76
There came a cry from the denizens of the heavens: ‘The Lord of the World has come to the trysting-place.
The orphan who followed Abu Talib is now a precious pearl sought by all seekers.’77
A hundred thousand lofty souls were brought from the Divine Presence to welcome him.
Jesus passed in front of him as Zulaikha had passed in front of Joseph, and he restored him from old age to youth as Joseph had done to Zulaikha.78 From the breath of his spirit Jesus the Pure received, as it were, new life in heaven.
Solomon came and offered him a crown; beggar-like he set a basket in front of him.
Moses, having paid his respects to him, departed in hopes of being received amongst his people.
Abraham brought his all to sacrifice before him, his son.79
Noah came from his Ark to meet him and was proud to find him on Mount Judi.80
Adam came and made merry; he questioned Mohammed about the secret of man’s nature.
Ridwan81 brought in wine and asked him about his long journey.
Because he had grown thirsty of that journey he brought him a draught from Salsabil;82
And because he was heated with the ardor of his love he tempered that draught with camphor;
And because he was affected with the coldness of certainty he tempered it likewise with ginger.83
And when his humors were restored to equilibrium he offered him honey tempered with milk.84
And because in Ta Ha85 he had been designated as the Pure One he received ‘a drink of pure beverage’.86
His drink was ‘choice sealed wine’,87 whereof the seal was known to none but God.
The sky, the master of the sun, had led Buraq that night.
The golden sun was the pommel of the Prophet’s saddle; the new moon kissed his feet like a stirrup.
The halo of the moon provided Buraq with barley from Gemini and straw from the Milky Way.88
As the Prophet galloped along the road that night Buraq cast one of his shoes upon the sky.
That shoe became the new moon; the sky fixed it in its ear and formed an archway for him.
Arcturus offered him a lance89 having cleared Medusa’s Head from the way. The houris stood all along the road from the Fish to the Moon. In that turquoise garden, despite the darkness of the night, thousands of eyes were brightened with the splendor of his face.
For gladness the empyrean reared up a pavilion for him and placed a throne in it.
Taking its support from his two tresses90 Tuba91 cast its shadow over Paradise.
When the Dragon’s Tail92 reared up93 against him, it was docked like Scorpio’s from fear of him.94
The heavens made Virgo95 into a broom, then bent to sweep the way for him. Cancer, recognizing his glory, flung himself headlong into the water. When Gemini96 girded his loins as his bodyguard. Libra came and balanced its beam.
Sagittarius unstrung his bow: it had two houses and offered them both to his soul.
Aries and Capricorn were roasted for him and a table laid that stretched from the Moon to the Ox-Fish.97
Leo became like a lion painted on his carpet and Aquarius like a wheel rolling after him.98
When the Two Sisters99 beheld his face, they threw back their veils in their longing for him.
The Two Vultures100 appeared without their attributes in order that there might be no evil omen.
Although the Seven Thrones101 were revolving around the Pole like the seven men.102
When they beheld his manliness and life, they became dead women carried upon a bier.103
Each angel came with his censer to burn aloes-wood as a token of sincere love.
Ridwan opened the eight gates104 of Paradise and washed the nine approaches105 with the water of Kauthar.106
The guardian of Paradise rejoiced the world by displaying a great company of houris.
Awed with his splendor the empyrean ceased to move; it stood as still as the eighth heaven.
When the Preserved Table107 saw the value of the dust under his feet, he made of it clay tablets such as the Shiites use when prostrating themselves in worship.108
When the world of light had been filled with his beauty, the ‘Frequented Temple’109 fell in ruins out of love for him.
The heavens scattered largesse in very deed, for they offered all they possessed.
Each sphere brought a hundred purses, lawful gifts, for they came from the Sidra tree.110
The firmament asked God for a present to offer him, and God adorned it every night with the stars.
And because such was the present offered him the faithful Companions of the Prophets were said to be ‘like the stars’.111
From the splendid sun that shone that night each star received a new light.
He gave Saturn the charge of the crops of the heavens; by decree he conferred upon Jupiter a cadi’s gown.
He honoured Mars with the office of executioner; with his hair he cast a shadow over the Sun.
On Venus he bestowed sweetness of language while to Mercury he gave supremacy in wisdom.
To the Moon he appeared like Joseph and caused her to cut both hand and orange.112
The Sun of the Law rose up with such speed that even Gabriel with his six hundred thousand wings.
Could not catch up with him or discover where he was.
When he had passed through the ranks of the angels he saw another world like one ‘level plain’;
A world in which there were none of the marks of a world, no sign of ‘level plain’113 or of’cushions’,114
A world devoid of nearness and farness, a ‘light upon light’115 because of his light.116
He found the earth of that world to be patience and all its running water knowledge.
His glory gave grandeur to the heavens, his beauty illuminated the sun.
So did his soul perspire with longing for God that he rent his robe into a hundred pieces.
Aye, since the sky was his robe he rent it all, for that night he could do nothing else.
The proof of this is the Milky Way, which is made up of small pieces of the nine curtains.117
Those nine curtains were rent to pieces during his ascension, because he was the intimate of God for ever.
There came a voice from God, saying: ‘Master, at last thou hast come to Our door. What is thy wish?
Thy heart is with all sinners, for thou art right when thou sayst: “Walk at the pace of the weakest among you”.’118
The Prophet said: ‘Lord, Thou knowest how I feel, Thou hast no need to question me.
Thy favors are so continuous that I cannot count them; my tongue is tied.
Nothing is left of my being; all is now sun, the shadow is gone.’
When the Lord of the Two Worlds felt weak. God strengthened his arm with the ‘two bows’.119
Mohammed was the mightiest man in the world; therefore it is that he holds those bows.
Better bows the black-eyed houris will never see that the ‘two bows’.
At that moment when he was immersed in knowledge he had, as it were, two qualities of the arrow:
One of them to stand straight upright and the other to fly through the air like an arrow.
And having in his being these two attributes of the arrow, the ‘two bows’ are the symbol of his two stations.
When, in the first place, he set out towards God, he sped upwards like an arrow from the bow.
And when, in the end, he was sent back to mankind, he was discharged like an arrow from the bow.
These two flights were from two bows, hence the parable of the ‘two bows’. And since Sagittarius is always in two houses, therefore there are always two parts to that bow.
One thou knowest as that of Ahad,120 and the other is that of the eternal Ahmad.121
The attraction of God shot forth like an arrow and split the mim122 of Ahmad in two like a hair.
The mim of Ahmad fell out and it became Ahad; and all duality became unity.123
In that night the Peacock of the Angels124 was utterly effaced by the raven of his hair.
See in his two tresses two ravens; see in the almonds of his eyes how they ‘turned not aside’.125
The ‘two bows’ are a symbol of his eyebrows; the ends of those bows are his two tresses.
Since his tresses were all light they gave rise to two rainbows.
I know of no one in the world who could wield the ‘two bows’.
When the ravens of his tresses grow restless, the Peacock of the Heavens is a fitting quarry for them.
Hurrah for the bow, the thumb and the bow-end! Hurrah for ‘is not’126 and ‘what He revealed9127 and ‘turned not aside’!128
It is because of its envy of the Prophet’s ‘two bows’ that the sky has two arcs around its axis.
God, Who to glorify Adam revealed to him the names of all things,129
Revealed to Mohammed the things themselves130 and therefore made him illiterate and poor.
Going beyond names to the nameless state of things he had no need to read and was therefore illiterate.
Since he went disembodied along the road of God he became from disembodiment absolutely poor.
Impelled by disembodiment and poverty he received from the Archetype of the Book131 the surname of ‘the Illiterate’.132
God first of all ordered that there should be fifty prayers a day but for his sake He reduced the number to five.133
If that night he passed beyond the whole and the part it was because purging himself of self he became wholly absorbed in God.
0 heart, see to the eternal good of thy soul; fasten thyself to this saddlebow. Gird thy lions before him as his servant so that thou mayst become a great lord.
What more can I say, 0 Prophet of God? Impotent wretch that I am, I know no more.
Great is Gabriel and yet he is but thy messenger; he does nothing but run thy errands.
When Michael saw that thou wert king he became a purveyor to thy army. With sword in hand and loins girt Izra’il134 stands ever ready to act as thy executioner.
The faithful Israfil135 stands sentry in thy doorway.
Of the angels that guard thy threshold two are the ‘illustrious recorders’.136
Father Adam is the scribe at thy court; many names has he written down describing thy nature.
Idris, recognizing thee in the stars, established thy worship in Paradise.137
Since thy sovereignty embraces the whole world Noah has chosen to be thy pilot.
Salih138 gladly became thy camel-driver and entertained thee with camel’s milk.
When Abraham became thy mason139 the whole of the Ka‘ba became thy sanctuary.
When Ishmael heard of thy faith, a son was sacrificed with uncut throat.
Jacob was filled with grief in his longing for thee; it was in search of thee that he withdrew into solitude.
Joseph escaped from prison and the well and with a hundred kinds of beauty sought a share of thine.
The noble Khidr140 waters the end of thy street from his fountain.
Elijah received a renewal of life from thee and so had chosen to guard thy life till Judgment Day.
Jonah became thy friend upon the way and he entered the sea in order to find thee again.
David felt a great longing for thy soul and he gave a hundred lives in his laments for thy love.
Job, seeing thee as the physician of love, dragged his body away from the worms towards his cell.
Solomon, seeing thee as the lord of the world, girded himself like his ring.
John141 offered his head to thy crown, and Aaron stood at thy door as a herald.
Moses was but thy guide upon the road and Jesus thy Indian slave Mubarak.142
Since thou hast such a companion as ‘Say: “He is God”’,143 draw a line through all else than God.
Though the wife of Abu Lahab, filled with annoyance, scattered thorns in thy path,144
Thou art a hidden rose: walk cheerfully on, for no rose will bloom without a thorn in its foot.
Some good chance befalls thee every instant, and as a protection against the evil eye it is sufficient for thee to repeat ‘Say: “I take refuge in God”‘.145 The seven celestial spheres have a lamp on every finger, the stars. They call to thee in pain and anguish, but who would seek the sun with a lamp?
Thou art the sultan of earth and heaven, the lamp of this world and the next. The sky is always rolling like a ball in order to catch sonic glimpse of thy majesty.
In that gathering in which there is scope for thy majesty the highest heaven is but a shoe-rank,
Although thy majesty is beyond computation, being higher than the nine heavens and hidden behind nine hundred screens,
Yet for envy of it this beautiful vault turns over and over, day and night.
A single beam of thy majesty shone on the heavens and from that one beam the sun and moon received their light.
What more can I say? For thy attributes are such that they would fill a hundred worlds beyond the ken of mind or soul.
Supposing the whole world were full of poppy seeds and there were a panegyrist inside each one of them,
I do not know whether thou wouldst be adequately praised or, if thou wert, whether thou wouldst accept it.
Thou knowest that none of the poets have sung such praise save only I.
This work is a young bride that seeks the protection of thy generosity and wishes for no jewels and adornment but thy acceptance.
If thou accept me my task is done, if not there is an end to my grief-stricken life.
If thou accept these words of mine, I shall with my art rebuild the ancient heavens.
Although thy presence is a mighty sea, yet this drop too is a precious pearl. For though the ocean has a vast mass of water, yet it also cherishes every individual drop.
Dost thou not see how the boundless sea lovingly assigns its place to every single drop?
What more can I say, 0 Prophet of God? I have said what I am capable of saying.
Thou art generosity itself and thou knowest all. If thou wouldst bestow a hundred favors on me, it is in thy power.
There was a prostitute in Mecca whose entire stock in trade was vice and depravity.
Whenever someone had a mind to debauchery that woman would offer herself as his partner.
She had a melodious voice, was graceful in her movements and pleasant of speech; and there was never a moment when she was not singing. When the Prophet went to Medina and war and hate were changed into love, The cause of Islam prospered and the Faith was strengthened by the overthrow of unbelief.
When none of the wicked was left in Mecca and they had been scattered on every side,
That woman went off to Medina in a state of great poverty; sore of heart she approached the Prophet.
The Prophet said: ‘Tell me, how is it that thou hast come? As a fugitive or to ply thy trade?
Hast thou come hither for the sake of the Faith or hast thou come to sell thy wares?’
Said the woman to the Lord of the World: ‘I have made the journey neither for this reason nor for that.
I have come hither because I heard tell of thy generosity.
Wretched and forsaken as I am, I have traveled this long way in the hopes of thy giving me a present.’
Said the Prophet: ‘Mecca is full of young men: it would be more fitting for thee to ask them.’
Said the woman: ‘Because of thy wars and battles and the fear of thy dagger and arrows,
The fame of thy strength and might, the greatness of thy miracles and thy renown,
The horsemen of Arabia have lost their strength—how then should anyone go to the singing-girls?’
The Prophet was pleased with her words and gave her his only cloak.
And he said to his Companions: ‘Let all of you who are my friends give her something from what you have.’
The Companions gave her a hundred different kinds of presents, and she became a person of wealth.
A lost woman, 0 Prophet of God, sunk in polytheism and depravity,
Because she once uttered a word or two in thy praise, became by thy generosity the owner of great riches.
Thou didst not cause her to despair; thou didst not deprive her of thy favor. Thou knowest that in his praising of thee Attar turned many times upon himself like a compass.
If he received as his reward the dust of thy street, he received in every mote of it a new sun.
He has praised with his soul the dust of thy street; admit him to it if thou canst.
He cannot do without thee, do not disappoint him; take the hand of one who has fallen.
Since the woman had a cloak from thee, I too should have a present.
Thou art king in both worlds and canst bestow divine robes of honour.
Honour his body with such a robe of which even his shirt will not be aware. Adorn his heart with a belief in God’s oneness such as cannot enter a specific body.
All that I seek is disembodiment, but why do I speak seeing that thou knowest and art able?
I am the slave of my heart because my heart is always thy faithful slave.
Upon thy road I have not even the power to say ‘Intercede for this beggar.’ If some poor wretch sets out without subsistence on the Pilgrimage, And if some man of rank sees him in his distress, how shall he refuse him water?
Since thou art a man of rank in both worlds, it is fitting that thou shouldst let a few drops of water fall on my lips.
My breast is filled with torment in this burning heat, and thou wilt refresh my heart with a draught of water.
And if I be not worthy of thy water, at least do not let me be carried off by the flood. And God knows best.
On the virtues of the Commander of the Faithful Abu Bakr146
He was the leader of the men of the Faith, the great Siddiq,147 the just Imam of all who shall appear on the Day of Judgment.
He was the greatest of those guided by God’s mercy, for he was the first to do good works in the Faith.
On the night of solitude he was the friend and companion of the cave;148 his largesse on the first day was forty thousand (dirhems).149
He that sets a good example will always be rewarded.
And since Abu Bakr set this example, he will receive the rewards due to all the world also.
His faith in the Purpose of Creation150 outweighed the faith of all others because of its precedence.151
He had a toothache for ten years but never told the Prophet.
When the Prophet learned of it in a revelation from God, he said to him: ‘0 man of truth,
Why didst thou never tell me?’ He answered: ‘It is not good to complain of God.’152
When a man keeps a secret of his body so well, who but God can penetrate the secrets of his soul?
He had put a stone in his mouth in order that his tongue might not scatter jewels.
I have heard of jewels hidden in stones but never saw a stone hidden amongst jewels.
So deeply was his soul absorbed in God that rarely would a word pass his lips.
Since his soul was occupied with meditation he has left on record only eighteen traditions.
But though there were eighteen thousand worlds those eighteen traditions would be a fitting monument to him.
His conversation was concerned only with the creation of the world; and the proofs he adduced were not to be contraverted.
See what wisdom and insight was his! He knew of the child while it was yet unborn.
When he prayed for a poor blind man, God granted his prayer and restored the man’s sight.
Never did he speak to excess, he would open his mouth only to say ‘Do not choose me.’153
When his time came to die they brought him to the shrine of Mohammed.154 Because of the loyalty of that key to the world of mysteries, the door opened and the bolt slipped out of the lock.
No one had laid his hand on the lock and yet the bolt leapt out of it to welcome him.
Even iron believed of his loyalty. Why then were the hearts of ins enemies as hard as iron?
A lock was moved by his loyalty. Why were the hearts of his enemies not unlocked?
When his companions entered the shrine they found a grave already dug. They laid him in it and withdrew, convinced of his loyalty to the One God. Of such a one that stands by thee though bitten by a snake it can indeed be said that he is a ‘friend of the Cave’.155
A snake must be venomous indeed to attack such a friend.
The Prophet called Abu Bakr and Umar his eye and his ear.156
And since he called them thus all who have not these qualities are blind and deaf.
On the virtues of the Commander of the Faithful Umar157
He was the Imam of Imams, the candle of the two worlds, the Commander of the Faithful, the great Faruq.158
God spoke through his tongue:159 therefore it is that Faruq comes from Furqan.160
When his heart saw God in its sanctuary, it was united with the very essence of justice.
And when his heart and justice came together, both worlds were inundated by his justice.
When he closed the door of tyranny for ever, with his justice he opened a hundred doors to the Persians.
By him the cause of the Arabs was strengthened and the Persians converted to the Faith.161
He that does not believe in this cause and effect is a foe of both the Persians and the Arabs.
Because of his firmness iron turned into wax: he undid the lock of Byzantium.162
Two shirts would have been so harmful to his body that he had but one.
When he embraced the Faith he had one shirt, and when he took it off it was his winding-sheet.
So often did he patch it that it came to weigh seventeen maunds.163
And yet for his seventeen patches164 he rent to pieces eighteen thousand worlds.
And having conquered eighteen thousand worlds, why did he dress in rags weighing seventeen maunds?
Since his entire property was one shirt, all his joy was in his belief.
Because of his valor and might Nakir and Munkir165 did not dare to approach his grave
When the noble Faruq was the muhtasib, no evildoer would prowl about.
As muhtasib he explained what was lawful and was famed for forbidding what was wrong.
The Prophet called him his eye.167 How great an honor! He also called him the lamp of Paradise.168 How high a title!
He is the lamp that lights the East and the West but whose oil comes from neither the East nor the West.
Since he is the eye and the lamp of God’s Court, how wilt thou journey thither without eye or lamp?
If thou have neither eye nor lamp, thou canst not tell a garden from a furnace.
Thou must always have thy eyes and a lamp too in front of thee.
For if thou travel without eyes or lamp thou wilt not know the road from the pit not the pit from the road.
If thou set out with either, thou wilt in the end in thy blindness fall into a pit.
When Mohammed called Umar his eye, his tongue acquired the speech of the Lord of the World.
If thou be not blind, take heed; give ear to such an eye and such a tongue. He that has not this light in his brain would find no lamp even in Paradise. The radiant sun in the lamp of the heavens; the great Faruq is the lamp of Paradise.
When the trumpet is blown on Judgment Day, the heavenly lamp will be extinguished.
But this other lamp which illuminates Paradise will shine brighter every day
On the virtues of the Commander of the Faithful Uthman169
The foundation of modesty on which the Faith is based was laid by the
Commander of the Faithful Uthman.170
The heavens are but vapor rising from the sea of his knowledge, the earth but dust from the mountain of his meekness.
He was a whole world of wisdom, a personified soul, possessed of two marrows in the two lights of the Prophet.171
Nay, what do I say? He had three marrows, two from those two lights and one from the Koran.172 What glory was his!
In a sanctuary lit with three such lights he was clearly seen even by his enemies unless they were blind.
If the sun have a stock of radiance it is only with the aid of Him of the Two Lights.
None but he has ever achieved such perfection, to be united to two daughters of the Prophet.
Since the Koran was revealed in pain, it is the proof that a man is worthy of it,
That he leaves this world in pain; and so it was with that Sun of the Two Lights.173
Since he received the favor of possessing the two eyes and lamps of the Prophet
And was, as the Possessor of the Two Lights, of the Prophets family, how could anyone doubt his loyalty to the Faith?
If a man receives two such lights from heaven, the sun and the moon are his servants.
If thou breathe the breath of hatred against such a man, thou besmirchest the moon and the sun.
He that broke his staff across his knees was struck with a cancer in his own knees.174
His staff was in fact, like that of Moses,175 the foe of his foes.
And if he had an enemy in the world he was in effect another Pharaoh.
He said: ‘Since I laid my hand in the Prophet’s hand to pledge allegiance to him,
Out of respect for his hand I have never touched anything unclean.’
He that showed such respect to the Prophet’s hands subdued the soul of all true believers.
His heart was a great sea of knowledge, his body a vast mountain of meekness.
He had in truth collected the Koran in his heart; all the mysteries of the universe were in his grasp.
Because he collected the Koran he was always composed; because of his application to the Furqan he could discriminate between the noble and the base.176
Being the Imam of noble and base why should he be wanting in the judgment of his likes?
All his life he never supped nor slept any night without having first recited the whole of the Koran
When there was a rising against him his slaves at once armed themselves for battle.
He said to them: ‘Every slave that shall today lay down his arms shall be free and victorious.’177
As he was always reading the Koran, it was his constant practice to collect the Jami‘.178
In the end he was martyred whilst reading it; and it was the Koran that caught his blood.
Loving the Koran more than all the world that Candle of Lovers was in the end absorbed in what he loved.
Though Faruq was the Candle of Paradise, yet like a candle he lost his head on the road to his Beloved.
On the virtues of the Commander of the Faithful Ali179
Were there an Imam from East to West it would be the Commander of the Faithful Haidar.180
With the thrust of his lance he conquered this present world; the tale of the three loaves passed beyond the other world.181
He was initiated in the mysteries of giving; and seventeen verses of the Koran are devoted to the three loaves.
Those three round loaves were like the discs of the moon and sun, and therefore like the moon and the sun he entertains the two worlds at his table for all eternity.
If thou be continually showered with arrows it is sufficient to know that ‘the love of Ali is a shield’.182
The Prophet said to him: ‘0 light of my eyes, we were both created from one light.’183
Since ‘All is of one light with the Prophet they are as one person with no trace of duality.
As gate to the city of knowledge he is with good reason the gatekeeper of Paradise.184
So absolutely was he given over to poverty that he was irrevocably divorced from gold and silver.
Though silver and gold were highly valued, they were as a calf to the people of Ali!185
How should a calf ever have dared to match itself against a lion such as he? It is related that he had a coat of armor of which the front and the back were simply a window.
If his back was as exposed as his face it was because he depended upon the Prophet as his armor.
He said once: ‘Though I should be slain, none shall see my back on the battlefield.’
If thou become the dust beneath his feet, this is an excellent place of refuge, for he is both the ‘Father of the Handsome One’186 and the ‘Father of Dust’.187 He said: ‘If by God’s command I were set up in a pulpit and given the office of judge,
I should always judge between the peoples of the world in accordance with the Four Books.’188
Whatever he said he uttered out of the sea of certainty. One day he opened his mouth and said:
‘”If the covering were uncovered”189 assisted me, otherwise how could I worship Him without seeing Him?5
Hurrah for that eye, that knowledge and those words! Hurrah for the Sun of the Law, that swelling sea!
The breath of the Lion of God penetrated to China; because of his knowledge the musk-deer produced the musk in its navel.
Therefore it is that they say: ‘If thou art just and pious, go from Yathrib190 to China191 in thy search for knowledge.9
Leo is the navel of the house of the sun, hence the pure musk in the breath of the musk-deer.
But I am wrong. I speak not of the musk of Cathay, but of that produced by the Lion of God.
Were his knowledge to take the form of a sea, the Black Sea would be but a single drop in it.
He could not endure to be in debt; therefore he hired himself to a Jew.
Someone said to him: ‘Why hast thou done this?’ He was angry and wielding his tongue like a sword he answered:
‘I had rather remove rocks from mountaintops than be in the debt of men.
They say to me: “It is shameful to work for one’s living.” But I say; “It is shameful to stoop so low as to beg.”‘192
That the four pillars of the Law are ever flourishing is due to the two fathers-in-law and the two sons-in-law of the Prophet.
Invocation of the Spirit193
Come, musk of the soul, open thy musk-bladder, for thou art the deputy of the Vicar of God.
The words ‘The Spirit proceedeth at my Lord’s command’194 were revealed concerning thee; the throne of the spiritual kingdom is thine. Both worlds together are but a handful of dust; the holy place is in a pure kingdom.
The whole universe is tied to thee; earth and heaven are joined to thee.
Thou art joined to us and yet severed from us; thou are far removed from our eyes and yet thou art in them.
Paradise, Hell and Judgment Day are all signs for thy name.
Thou givest the angels knowledge by means of a secret sign; thou givest God’s creatures attributes in a hundred different forms.
If thou shine like a hundred suns, each of thy rays creates a hundred suns.
Since the light of thy sun is ever increasing, one of its rays is the glorious Empyrean.
Thou art the eternal companion of the Almighty What more shall I say, for thou hast always been known?
Thou art a strange bird. I do not know what thou art, for thou art outside our affirmation and negation.
Since thou art neither on earth nor in heaven, where are thou? Thou art with the Lord of the Worlds
Thou art everything and also nothing. What do I say? Thou are straight and thou art crooked.
Breathe out a musk-laden breath from thy pure heart; for the Empyrean is the censer for that breath.
Thou art king and caliph for ever. Thou hast six sons, each of them without a peer.
Each of thy sons is a lord of the conjunction, each of them like a whole world in his own art.
One is the carnal soul, with his abode in the senses. One is Satan, with his thoughts fixed on vain imaginings.
One is intelligence, and speaks of intelligible things. One is knowledge and seeks after ascertainable things.
One is poverty and strives after privation, and one is the belief in God’s oneness and seeks to find the whole in every essence.
When these six shall have followed the commandment they shall attain to the Eternal Presence.
Since thou art caliph until eternity to come, it is by thy grace that the world is filled with subtleties.
Don the black robes of caliph like Adam; travel within thy breast as though it were the world.
Like Khidr195 set thy foot upon the road of the saints, so that the circling heavens may not overtake thee.
Thy place, 0 highest leader, is Noah’s ark, and thy time the Forenoon196 and the Night of Power.197
Take thy seat, like Solomon, upon the throne, but with the ring on thy finger.
Display the beauty of Joseph, but see with all thy seven limbs like Abraham. Like the Prophet David play this melody; like Jesus breathe the love of thy friend.
Being the companion of Moses, the son of Imran,198 drink the water of life from the cup of thy soul.
Spread thy wings in the shade of the Simurgh;199 sit down with Idris200 and practice alchemy.
After thou hast made endeavors without number, thou shall receive aid from the light of the Prophet.
When thou hast achieved this perfection in the Faith, thou shalt be allowed to utter words.
Do not look with the eye of contempt upon words, for both worlds are filled with the single word ‘Be!’201
The foundations of both worlds are nothing but a word for they were created with the word ‘Be!’ and can be destroyed with the words ‘Be not!5 The word was sent down by God almighty; it was the glory of the Prophets. If Moses is known as the Interlocutor,202 it is because the speech of God made him so.
And had not Jesus been the Word of God, how should he in his glory have been the Pure Spirit?
Mohammed also, he that was meant by the word ‘Be’ was king on the night of his ascension because of the power of the word.
Words are the currency of both worlds: marriages and divorces are effected with them, and sales also.
When the future generations of lovers were drawn up before God, words were the basis of their contract and covenant.
Whatever thou hast to do with, something seen or heard, something tasted of forbidden.
Something touched or smelt, something understood or imagined, Be it thought or idle fancy, possible or impossible,
It is all limited, except when put into words. The Preserved Table203 is all-embracing because of the power of words.
Appreciation and allusion can be expressed in a hundred different ways.
From this argument it is clear to the intellect that it is concerned no longer with things, but with words.
Since words are the basis of everything, do everything with words; beg with them, ask with them, seek with them.