Story of the Jewish king who for bigotry's sake used to slay the Christians.
Amongst the Jews there was a king who wrought oppression, an enemy of Jesus and a destroyer of Christians.
325. ’Twas the epoch of Jesus and the turn was his: he was the soul of Moses, and Moses the soul of him;
(But) the squint-eyed (double-seeing) king separated in the way of God those two Divine (prophets) who were (really) in
accord (with each other).
The master said to a squint-eyed (pupil), “Come on; go, fetch that bottle out of the room.”
Said the squint-eyed one: “Which of the two bottles shall I bring to you? Explain fully.”
“There are not two bottles,” replied the master; “go, leave off squinting and do not be seeing more (than one).”
330. “O master,” said he, “don't chide me.” Said the master, “Smash one of those two.”
The bottle was one, though in his eyes it seemed two; when he broke the bottle, there was no other.
When one was broken, both vanished from sight: a man is made squint-eyed by (evil) propensity and anger.
Anger and lust make a man squint-eyed, they change the spirit (so that it departs) from rectitude.
When self-interest appears, virtue becomes hidden: a hundred veils rise from the heart to the eye.
335. When the cadi lets bribery gain hold of his heart, how should he know the wronger from the wretched victim of wrong?
The king, from Jewish rancour, became so squint-eyed that (we cry), “Mercy, O Lord, mercy (save us from such an affliction)!”
He slew hundreds of thousands of wronged (innocent) believers, saying, “I am the protection and support of the religion of Moses.”
How the vizier instructed the king to plot.
He had a vizier, a miscreant and ogler (deceiver), who by reason of (his exceeding) guile would tie knots on water.
“The Christians,” said he, “seek to save their lives; they hide their religion from the king.
340. Slay them not, for slaying (them) is useless: religion hath no smell, it is not musk and aloes-wood.
The secret is concealed in a hundred coverings: its outward form is (in agreement) with thee, resembling thee, (but) the inward (reality) is (in) disagreement.”
The king said to him: “Tell (me), then, what is the (best) plan? What is the remedy against that deceit and imposture?—
So that there may not remain a single Christian in the world, neither one whose religion is manifest nor one who is concealed.”
“O king,” said he, “cut off my ears and hands, rip my nose by bitter (cruel) decree;
345. Then bring me under the gallows, that an intercessor may plead for me.
Do this deed in the place for (public) proclamation, on a highway where roads run in four directions.
Then banish me from thy presence to a distant land, that I may cast mischief and confusion amongst them.
How the vizier brought the Christians into doubt and perplexity.
Then I will say (to them), ‘I am secretly a Christian. O God who knowest (all) things hidden, Thou knowest me.
The king was informed of my (Christian) faith and from bigotry sought to take my life.
350. I wished to hide my religion from the king and profess his religion,
(But) the king got a scent of my inmost beliefs, and my words were suspected (when I stood) before the king.
He said, “Your words are like a needle in bread (specious but pernicious); there is a window between my heart and yours.
Through that window I have seen your (real) state: I see your state and will not heed your words.”
Had not the spirit of Jesus been my aid, he would in Jewish fashion have torn me to pieces.
355. For Jesus' sake I would yield my life and give my head and lay on myself (confess) myriads of obligations to him.
I do not grudge Jesus my life, but full well am I versed in the knowledge of his religion.
Grief was coming over me (it seemed to me a pity) that that holy religion should perish amongst those who are ignorant (of it).
Thanks be to God and to Jesus that I have become a guide to the true faith.
I have escaped from Jews and Judaism so (entirely) that I have bound my waist with a (Christian) girdle.
360. The (present) epoch is the epoch of Jesus. O men, hearken with your souls unto the mysteries of his religion!’”
The king did to him that deed (mutilation) which he had proposed: the people remained in amazement at his deed.
He (the king) drove him away to the Christians. After that, he (the vizier) began to proselytise.
How the Christians let themselves be duped by the vizier.
Myriads of Christian men gathered round him, little by little, in his abode,
(While) he secretly expounded to them the mysteries of Gospel and girdle and prayer.
365. Outwardly he was a preacher of (religious) ordinances, but inwardly he was (as) the whistle and snare (of the fowler).
On this account some Companions (of Mohammed) begged of the Prophet (that he would acquaint them with) the deceitfulness of the ghoul-like soul,
Saying, “What of hidden selfish interests does it mingle in acts of worship and in pure spiritual devotion?”
They were not seeking from him excellence of piety; they were not inquiring where lay the outward defect.
Hair by hair, speck by speck, they were recognising the deceitfulness of the fleshly soul as (plainly as the difference of) the rose from parsley.
370. Even the hair-splitters (the most scrupulous) of the Companions used to become distraught in spirit at the (Prophet's) admonition to them (the inquirers).
How the Christians followed the vizier.
The Christians all gave their hearts to him: what (how great), indeed, is the strength of the (blind) conformity of the vulgar!
They planted love of him within their breasts, they were regarding him as the vicar of Jesus.
He inwardly (in reality) was the accursed one-eyed Antichrist. O God, do Thou (hear and) answer the cry (of those in trouble)
—what a good helper art Thou!
O God, there are myriads of snares and baits, and we are as greedy foodless birds.
375. From moment to moment we are caught in a fresh snare, though we become, each one, (like) a falcon or a Símurgh.
Every moment Thou art delivering us, and again we are going to a snare, O Thou who art without want!
We are putting corn in this barn, (and then) we are losing the corn that has been garnered.
(Why), after all, do not we consider with intelligent mind that this damage to the corn arises from the deceitfulness of the mouse?
Since the mouse has made a hole in our barn, and our barn has been ravaged by its guile,
380. O soul, in the first place avert the mischief of the mouse, and then show fervour (zeal) in garnering the corn.
Hear (one) of the sayings related from the Chiefest of the Chief (the Prophet): “No prayer is complete without ‘presence’ (concentration of the mind on God).”
If there is no thievish mouse in our barn, where is the corn of forty years' works (of devotion)?
Why is the daily sincerity (of our devotions) not being stored, bit by bit, in this barn of ours?
Many a star (spark) of fire shot forth from the iron (of good works), and that burning heart received (it) and drew (it) in;
385. But in the darkness a hidden thief is laying his finger upon the stars,
Extinguishing the stars one by one, that no lamp may shine from the (spiritual) sky.
Though there be thousands of snares at our feet, when Thou art with us there is not any trouble.
Every night Thou freest the spirits from the body's snare, and dost erase (the impressions on) the tablets (of the mind).
The spirits are set free every night from this cage, (they are) done with ordinance and talk and tale.
390. At night prisoners are unconscious of their prison, at night governors are unconscious of their power.
There is no sorrow, no thought of gain or loss, no fancy of this person or that person.
This is the state of the ‘árif (gnostic), even without sleep: God said, (Thou wouldst deem them awake) whilst they slept. Shy not at this.
He is asleep, day and night, to the affairs of the world, like a pen in the hand of the Lord's control.
One who sees not the hand in the writing thinks (that) the act (of writing proceeds) from the pen by means of movement.
395. He (God) hath shown forth some part of this state of the ‘árif, (inasmuch as) the vulgar too are carried off (overtaken) by sleep of the senses.
Their souls are gone into the desert that is without description: their spirits and bodies are at rest;
And with a whistle thou leadest them back to the snare, leadest them all (back) to justice and to the judge.
Like Isráfíl (Seraphiel), He (God) who causes the dawn to break brings them all from those lands (of spirit) into (the world of) form.
He embodies the spirits divested (of body), He makes each body pregnant (laden) again (with actions and works).
400. He makes the steed of the souls bare of saddle: this is the inner meaning of “Sleep is the brother of Death”;
But in order that they may return in the daytime, He puts a long tether on its leg,
So that in the daytime He may lead it back from that meadow and bring it from the pasture (to go) under the load.
Would that He had guarded this spirit as the Men of the Cave or as the Ark of Noah,
That this mind and eye and ear might be delivered from the Flood of wakefulness and consciousness!
405. Oh, in the world there is many a Man of the Cave beside you, before you, at this time:
The Cave is with him, the Friend is in converse with him; but your eyes and ears are sealed, (so) what does it avail?