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(Masnavi Book 1: 14) The Caliph Umar and the Ambassador










How the ambassador of Rúm came to the Commander of the Faithful, ‘Umar, may God be well-pleased with him, and witnessed the gifts of grace with which ‘Umar, may God be well-pleased with him, was endowed.

1390. To ‘Umar in Medina there came through the wide desert an ambassador from the Emperor of Rúm.
He said, “O ye attendants, where is the palace of the Caliph, that I may take thither my horse and baggage?”
The folk said to him, “He has no palace: ‘Umar's (only) palace is an illumined spirit.
Though he has a (great) renown from being Commander (of the Faithful), he has (no dwelling except) a hut, like the poor.
O brother, how wilt thou behold his palace, when hair has grown in the eye of thy heart?

1395. Purge thy heart's eye of hair and defect, and then hope to behold his palace.
Whoever hath a spirit purged of (sensual) desires will at once behold the Presence and the Holy Porch.
When Mohammed was purged of this fire and smoke (of human passions), wheresoever he turned his face, was the Face of Allah.
Inasmuch as thou art a friend to the evil suggestions of the malign one (Satan), how wilt thou know (the true meaning of)
There is the Face of Allah?
Every one in whose breast the gate is opened will behold from every city the sun (shining).

1400. God is manifest amongst others as the moon amidst the stars.
Lay two finger-ends on thy two eyes, and wilt thou see aught of the world? Deal justly (confess that thou wilt see nothing).
If thou dost not see this world, (yet) it is not non-existent: the fault lies not save in the finger of thy evil self.
Come, lift the finger from thine eye, and then behold whatsoever thou wishest.
To Noah his people said, ‘Where is the Divine recompense?’ He said, ‘On the other side of they cover themselves with their garments.

1405. Ye have wrapped your faces and heads in your clothes: of necessity ye have eyes and see not.’
Man is eye, and (all) the rest is (worthless) skin: the sight of that (eye) is (consists in) seeing the Beloved.
When there is not sight of the Beloved, it (the eye) is better blind; the beloved who is not everlasting is better afar (away and out of sight).”
When the ambassador of Rúm admitted these fresh (spiritual) words into his hearing (gave ear to them), he became more full of longing.
He fixed his eye on seeking ‘Umar, he let his baggage and horse be lost.

1410. He was going in every direction after that man of (great) accomplishment, inquiring madly for him,
Saying, “Can there be in the world such a man, and he be hid, like the spirit, from the world?”
He sought him, that he might be as a slave to him: inevitably the seeker is a finder.
An Arab woman of the desert saw that he was a stranger-guest. “Look,” said she, “there is ‘Umar under that palm.
There he is under the palm-tree, apart from the people: behold the Shadow of God asleep in the shade!”
How the ambassador of Rúm found the Commander of the Faithful, ‘Umar, may God be well-pleased with him, sleeping under the palm-tree.

1415. He came thither and stood afar off; he saw ‘Umar and fell a-trembling.
An awe came upon the ambassador from that slumbering man, a sweet ecstasy lodged in his soul.
Love and awe are contrary to each other: he saw these two contraries united in his heart.
He said to himself: “I have seen (many) kings, I have been great (in esteem) and chosen (for honour) in the presence of sultans:
I had no awe or dread of kings, (but) awe of this man has robbed me of my wits.

1420. I have gone into a jungle of lions and leopards, and my face did not change colour because of them;
Often where the ranks are arrayed on the field of battle have I become (fierce) as a lion at the time when the affair is grievous (desperate);
Many a heavy blow have I suffered and inflicted, I have been stouter in heart than (all) the others.
This man is asleep on the earth, unarmed, (and yet) I am trembling in my seven limbs (my whole body): what is this?
This is awe of God, it is not from created beings, it is not awe of this man who wears the frock of a dervish.

1425. Whoever is afraid of God and has chosen fear of God (as his religion), the Jinn and mankind and every one who sees (him) are afraid of him.”
Thus meditating, he folded his hands reverently. After a while ‘Umar sprang up from sleep.
How the ambassador of Rúm saluted the Commander of the Faithful, may God be well pleased
with him.
He did homage to ‘Umar and salaamed: the Prophet said, “(First) the salaam, then the talk.”
Then he (‘Umar) said, “To thee (greeting),” called him (to come) forward, reassured him, and bade him sit down by his side.
Fear ye not is the hospitality offered to those who fear: that is proper (entertainment) for one who is afraid.

1430. When any one is afraid, they make him (feel) secure; they soothe (his) fearful heart.
How should you say “Fear not” to one who has no fear? Why give lessons (to him)?
He needs no lessons.
He (‘Umar) made that disturbed mind (be) of good cheer and made his desolate heart (be) flourishing (happy).
Afterwards he addressed to him subtle discourses and (spoke) of the holy attributes of God—how good a Friend is He!—
And of the loving kindnesses of God to the Abdál (saints), in order that he (the ambassador) might know (the meaning of) maqám (permanent station) and hál (passing state).

1435. The hál is like the unveiling of that beauteous bride, while the maqám is the (king's) being alone with the bride.
The unveiling is witnessed by the king and by others as well, (but) at the time of being alone (with the bride) there is no one
except the mighty king.
The bride unveils before commons and nobles (alike); in the bridal chamber the king is (alone) with the bride.
There is many a one of the Súfís who enjoys hál, (but) he that has attained to maqám is rare amongst them.
He (‘Umar) reminded him of the stages traversed by the soul, and he reminded him of the journeys of the spirit,

1440. And of the Time which has (ever) been void of time, and of the Station of Holiness which has (ever) been majestical,
And of the atmosphere wherein the Símurgh of the spirit, before this (material life), has flown and experienced (the bounty of Divine) grace,
Every single flight thereof (being) greater than the horizons (of this world) and greater than the hope and greed of the longing lover.
When ‘Umar found the stranger in appearance a friend (in reality), he found (that) his soul (was) seeking (to learn) the (Divine) mysteries.
The Shaykh (‘Umar) was adept and the disciple (the ambassador) eager: the man (rider) was quick (dexterous) and the beast
belonged to the royal court (was nobly bred and docile).

1445. That spiritual guide (‘Umar) perceived that he (the ambassador) possessed (the capacity for receiving) guidance: he sowed the good seed in the good soil.
How the ambassador of Rúm questioned the Commander of the Faithful, may God be
well-pleased with him.
The man said to him, “O Commander of the Faithful, how did the spirit come to the earth from above?
How did the infinite bird go into the cage?” He replied, “God recited spells and incantations over the spirit.
When He recites spells over the non-existences which have no eye or ear, they begin to stir.
Because of His spells the non-existences at that very moment are dancing joyously into existence.

1450. When, again, He recited a spell over the existent, at His word the existent marched (back) post-haste into nonexistence.
He spake into the ear of the rose and made it laughing (blooming); He spake to the stone and made it a cornelian of the mine.
He spake to the body a sign (message), so that it became spirit; He spake to the sun, so that it became radiant.
Again He puts into its ear a fearful saying, and upon the face of the sun fall a hundred eclipses.
Consider what that Speaker chanted into the ear of the cloud, so that it poured tears from its eye, like a waterskin.

1455. Consider what God has chanted into the ear of the earth, so that it became regardful and has (ever since) remained silent.”
Whosoever in perplexity is sorely troubled, God has spoken the riddle into his ear,
That He may imprison him in two (doubtful) thoughts, (namely), “Shall I do what He told (me) or the contrary thereof?”
From (the decree of) God also, one side obtains the preponderance, and from that (Divine) quarter he chooses one of the two (alternatives).
If thou wouldst not have the mind of thy spirit in (a state of) perplexity, do not stuff this cotton-wool into thy spiritual ear,

1460. So that thou mayst understand those riddles of His, so that thou mayst apprehend (both) the secret sign and the open.
Then the spiritual ear becomes the place where wahy (inspiration) descends. What is wahy? A speech hidden from senseperception.
The spiritual ear and eye are other than this sense-perception, the ear of (discursive) reason and the ear of opinion are destitute of this (inspiration).
The word “compulsion” (jabr) made me impatient (uncontrollable) for love's sake, while it confined in (the prison of) compulsion him who is not a lover.
This is union with God, and it is not compulsion: this is the shining forth of the moon, this is not a cloud.

1465. And if this be compulsion, it is not the compulsion of (suffered by) the vulgar: it is not the compulsion of (exerted by) the evil-commanding self-willed (soul).
O son, (only) they know (the real meaning of) compulsion in whose hearts God has opened the sight (of the spiritual eye).
To them the unseen things of the future became manifest; to them recollection of the
past became naught.
Their freewill and compulsion is different (from that of ordinary men): in oyster-shells drops (of rain) are pearls.
Outside (of the shell) it is a drop of water, small or great, (but) within the shell it is a small or big pearl.

1470. Those persons have the nature of the muskdeer's gland: externally they are (as) blood, while within them is the fragrance of musk.
Do not say, “This substance externally is blood: how should it become a musky perfume when it goes into the gland?”
Do not say, “This copper externally was despicable: how should it assume nobility in the heart (midst) of the elixir?”
In thee (the matter of) freewill and compulsion was a (mere) fancy, (but) when it went into them it became the light of (Divine) Majesty.
When bread is (wrapped) in the tablecloth it is the inanimate thing (so-called), (but) in the human body it becomes the glad spirit (of life).

1475. It does not become transmuted in the heart of (within) the table-cloth: the (animal) soul transmutes it with (the water of) Salsabíl.
O thou who readest aright, such is the power of the soul: what, then, must be the power of that Soul of soul?
The piece of flesh which is Man, endowed with intelligence and soul, cleaves mountain and sea and mine.
The strength of the mountain-riving soul is (shown in) the splitting of rocks; the strength of the Soul of soul in the moon was split asunder.
If the heart should open the lid of the wallet of (this) mystery, the soul would rush (in rapture) towards the highest heaven.
 

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