How the Prophet, on whom be peace, manifested a miracle by the speaking of the gravel in the hand of Abú Jahl—God's curse on him!—and by the gravel's bearing witness to the truth of Mohammed, on whom be God's blessing and peace.
There were some pebbles in the hand of Bú Jahl: “O Ahmad,” said he, “tell quickly what this is.
2155. If thou art the Messenger (of God), what is hidden in my fist? (Speak), since thou hast knowledge of the mysteries of Heaven.”
He said, “How dost thou wish (me to do)? Shall I say what those (hidden) things are, or shall they declare that I am truthful and right?”
Bú Jahl said, “This second (thing) is more extraordinary.” “Yes,” said the Prophet, “(but) God hath greater power than that.”
Without delay, from the middle of his (closed) fist every pebble began to pronounce the (Moslem's) profession of faith.
Each said, “There is no god” and (each) said, “except Allah”; (each) threaded the pearl of “Ahmad is the Messenger of Allah.”
2160. When Bú Jahl heard this from the pebbles, in his anger he dashed those pebbles on the ground.
The rest of the story of the minstrel, and how the Commander of the Faithful, ‘Umar, may God be well-pleased with him,
conveyed to him the message spoken by the heavenly voice.
Turn back and hear the plight of the minstrel, for the minstrel had (now) become desperate from waiting (so long).
The voice (of God) came to ‘Umar, saying, “O ‘Umar, redeem Our servant from want.
We have a servant, a favourite and highly esteemed one: take the trouble to go on foot to the graveyard.
O ‘Umar, spring up and put in thy hand full seven hundred dínárs from the public treasury.
2165. Carry them to him (and say), ‘O thou who art Our choice, accept this sum now and excuse (Us for offering such a small gift).
Spend this amount on the price (purchase) of silk: when it is spent, come here (again).’”
Then ‘Umar in awe of that voice sprang up that he might gird his loins for this service.
‘Umar set his face towards the graveyard with the purse under his arm, running in search (of God's favourite).
Long did he run round about the graveyard: no one was there but that poor old man.
2170. He said, “This is not he,” and ran once more. He became tired out and saw none but the old man.
He said, “God said, ‘We have a servant: he is a pure and worthy and blessed one.’
How should an old harper be the chosen of God? O Hidden Mystery, how excellent, how excellent art Thou!”
Once again he wandered about the graveyard, like the hunting lion about the desert.
When it became certain to him that none was there except the old man, he said, “Many an illumined heart is (to be found) in darkness.”
2175. He came and sat down there (beside him) with a hundred marks of respect.
‘Umar happened to sneeze, and the old man sprang to his feet.
He saw ‘Umar and stood fixed in amazement: he resolved to go and began to tremble (with fear).
He said within himself, “O God, help, I beseech thee! The Inspector has fallen upon a poor old harper.”
When ‘Umar looked on the old man's countenance, he saw him ashamed and pale.
Then ‘Umar said to him, “Fear not, do not flee from me, for I have brought thee glad tidings from God.
2180. How often has God praised thy disposition, so that He has made ‘Umar in love with thy face!
Sit down beside me and do not make separation (between us), that I may say into thine ear the secret (message) from (the Divine) favour.
God sends thee greeting and asks thee how thou farest in thy distress and boundless sorrows.
Lo, here are some pieces of gold to pay for silk. Spend them and come back to this place.”
The old man heard this, trembling all over and biting his hand and tearing his garment,
2185. Crying, “O God who hast no like!” inasmuch as the poor old man was melted with shame.
After he had wept long and his grief had gone beyond (all) bounds, he dashed his harp on the earth and broke it to bits.
He said, “O thou (harp) that hast been to me a curtain (debarring me) from God, O thou (that hast been) to me a brigand (cutting me off) from the King's highway,
O thou that hast drunk my blood for seventy years, O thou because of whom my face is black (disgraced) before (the Divine) perfection!
Have mercy, O bounteous God who keepest faith, on a life passed in iniquity!
2190. God gave (me) a life, the value of every single day whereof none knoweth except Him.
I have spent my life, breath by breath: I have breathed it all away in treble and bass.
Ah me, that in minding the (musical) mode and rhythm of ‘Iráq the bitter moment of parting (from this world) went out of my mind (was forgotten).
Alas that from the liquid freshness of the minor zírafgand the seed sown in my heart dried up, and my heart died.
Alas that from (my preoccupation with) the sound of these four-and-twenty (melodies) the caravan passed and the day grew late.”
2195. O God, help (me) against this (self of mine) that is seeking help (from Thee): I seek justice (redress) from no one (else, but only) from this justice-seeking (self).
I shall not get justice for myself from any one except, surely, from Him who is nearer to me than I;
For this “I-hood” comes to me from Him moment by moment: therefore when this has failed me, I see (only) Him,
As (when you are with) one who is counting out gold to you, you keep your gaze (directed) towards him, not towards yourself.
How ‘Umar, may God be well-pleased with him, bade him (the harper) turn his gaze from the stage of weeping, which is (self-) existence, to the stage of absorption (in God), which is non-existence (of self).
Then ‘Umar said to him, “This wailing of thine is also (one of) the marks of thy sobriety (self-consciousness).
2200. The way of him that has passed away (from self-consciousness) is another way, because sobriety is another sin.
Sobriety exists (arises) from recollection of what is past: past and future are to thee a curtain (separating thee) from God.
Cast fire on them both: how long, because of these twain, wilt thou be full of knots (joints) like a reed?
Whilst the reed is knotted, it is not a sharer of secrets: it is not the companion of the (flute-player's) lip and voice.
When thou art (engaged) in going about (seeking God) thou art indeed wrapped in (thy) going about: when thou hast come
home, thou art still with thyself (self-conscious).
2205. O thou whose knowledge is without knowledge of the Giver of knowledge, thy repentance is worse than thy sin.
O thou that seekest to repent of a state that is past, say, when wilt thou repent of this repentance?
At one time thou turnest to the (low) sound of the treble, at another thou dost kiss (art in love with) weeping and wailing.”
When Fárúq (‘Umar) became a reflector of mysteries, the old man's heart was awakened from within.
He became without weeping or laughter, like the soul: his (animal) soul departed and the other soul came to life.
2210. In that hour such a bewilderment arose within him that he went forth from earth and heaven—
A seeking and searching beyond (all) seeking and search: I know not (how to describe it); (if) you know, tell!
Words and feelings beyond (all) feelings and words—he had become drowned in the beauty of the Lord of majesty,
Drowned, not in such wise that there should be for him any deliverance, or that any one should know him except the (Divine) Ocean.
Partial reason would not be telling of (the mysteries of) the Universal (Reason), if there were not demand after demand
(perpetual Divine impulses necessitating the manifestation of these mysteries).
2215. Since demand after demand is arriving, the waves of that Sea (Universal Reason) reach this place (the world of partial reason).
Now that the story of the old man's (spiritual) experiences has come to this point, the old man and his experiences have withdrawn behind the veil.
The old man has shaken his skirt free from talk and speech: half of the tale has remained in our mouth (has not been told).
It behoves (us), for the sake of procuring (such) delight and enjoyment, to gamble away (sacrifice) hundreds of thousands of souls (lives).
In chase of the spiritual forest be (as) a falcon, be one who gambles his soul (life) away, like the sun of this world.
2220. The lofty sun is life-diffusing: every moment it becomes empty and is filled.
O Sun of Reality, diffuse spiritual life, show forth newness to this old world!
Soul and spirit are coming from the Unseen into human existence, like running water.