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(Masnavi Book 1: 39) The mystery of Moses and Pharaoh






Explaining that both Moses and Pharaoh are subject to the Divine Will, like antidote and poison and darkness and light, and how Pharaoh conversed in solitude with God, praying that He would not destroy his (good) reputation.



Moses and Pharaoh were servants (worshippers) of Reality, (though) outwardly the former keeps the way (is rightly guided), while the latter has lost the way.
In the daytime Moses was making lament (supplication) to God: at midnight Pharaoh would begin to weep, Saying, “O God, what shackle is this on my neck? Were it not for the shackle, who would say I am I’?


2450. By that (will) whereby you have made Moses to be illumined, by that (same will) you have made me to be darkened; By that whereby you have made Moses' face like the moon you have made the moon of my soul to be black-faced (eclipsed). My star was not better than a moon (so that it should be exempt from eclipse): since it has suffered eclipse, what help have I?
If they beat drums in my honour (proclaiming me) as Lord and Sultan, (it is like as when) the moon is eclipsed and the people beat bowls (of metal).

They beat those bowls and raise a clamour: they put the moon to shame by their blows.


2455. I, who am Pharaoh, oh, woe is me because of (what is being done by) the people: my (title of) ‘My supreme Lord’ is
(like) the blows on the bowl (since it proclaims my eclipse).

We (Moses and I) are fellow-servants (to You), but your axe is cleaving the sappy boughs in your forest; Then it makes one bough to be firmly planted, another bough to be left uncared for.
The bough has no power against the axe: no bough escaped from the power of the axe.

(I entreat You) by the truth of the might which belongs to your axe, do you graciously make these crooked (perverse) actions
(of ours) straight (righteous).
2460. Once more Pharaoh said to himself, “Oh, wonderful! Am not I (occupied) the whole night in (crying) ‘O our Lord’? In secret I am growing humble and harmonious: when I reach Moses, how am I becoming (so different)?
The colour (gilt) of base gold is (laid on) in ten coats: how is it becoming black-faced in the presence of the fire?

Is it not (true) that my heart (spirit) and body are under His control, (so that) at one moment He makes me a kernel, at another moment a rind?

When He bids me be a cornfield, I become green; when He bids me be ugly, I become yellow.


2465. At one moment He makes me a moon, at another black.” How, indeed, is the action of God other than this? Before the (blows of the) bat of His decree, Be, and it was,” we are running (like balls) in Space and beyond.
Since colourlessness (pure Unity) became the captive of colour (manifestation in the phenomenal world), a Moses came into conflict with a Moses.

When you attain unto the colourlessness which you (originally) possessed, Moses and

Pharaoh are at peace (with each other).
If it occurs to you to ask questions about this mystery, (I reply), how should (the world of) colour be devoid of contradiction?


2470. The marvel is that this colour arose from that which is colourless: how did colour arise to war with the colourless? Inasmuch as oil has been formed (by God) from water, why have oil and water become opposites?
Since the rose springs from the thorn, and the thorn from the rose, why are both of them at war and (engaged) in recrimination? Or is this not (really) war? Is it for (the Divine) purpose, (and is it) an artifice, like the bickering of those who sell asses?
Or is it neither this nor that? Is it bewilderment? The treasure must be sought and this (bewilderment) is the ruin (where it is hidden).


2475. That which you imagine to be the treasure—through that vain imagination you are losing the treasure. Know that fancies and opinions are like the state of cultivation: treasure is not (to be found) in cultivated spots.
In the state of cultivation there is existence and strife (contrariety): the non-existent is ashamed of (all) existent things.

It is not the case that the existent implored help against (sought to escape from) nonexistence; nay, (it was) the non-existent
(that) repelled the existent.

Do not say, I am fleeing from the non-existent”; nay, it is fleeing from you. Stop! (Do not fancy yourself to be fleeing.)


2480. Outwardly it is calling you towards itself, but inwardly it is driving you away with the cudgel of rejection.

O man of sound heart (mind), It is (a case of) reversed shoes: know that the rebelliousness of Pharaoh was (really) from (caused by) Moses.

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