The moral of the altercation of the Arab and his wife.
The heart of one who is sincere is seeking (to find) a moral for the altercation of the man and wife.
The altercation of the man and wife has been related (as a story): know that it is a parable of your own flesh (nafs) and reason. This man and wife, which are the flesh and the reason, are very necessary for (the manifestation of) good and evil;
And this necessary pair in this house of earth are (engaged) in strife and altercation day and night.
2620. The wife is craving requisites for the household, that is to say, reputation and bread and viands and rank.
Like the wife, the flesh, in order to contrive the means (of gratifying its desires), is at one time seeking (having recourse to)
humility and at another time to domination.
The reason is really unconscious of these (worldly) thoughts: in its brain is nothing but love of God.
Although the inner meaning of the tale is this bait and trap, listen now to the outward form of the tale in its entirety. If the spiritual explanation were sufficient, the creation of the world would have been vain and idle.
2625. If love were (only spiritual) thought and reality, the form of your fasting and prayer would be non-existent. The gifts of lovers to one another are, in respect of love, naught but forms;
(But the purpose is) that the gifts may have borne testimony to feelings of love which are concealed in secrecy, Because outward acts of kindness bear witness to feelings of love in the heart, O dear friend.
Your witness is sometimes true, sometimes false, sometimes drunken with wine, sometimes with sour curds.
2630. He that has drunk sour curds makes a show of intoxication, shouts ecstatically, and behaves like one whose head is heavy (with the fumes of wine);
That hypocrite is (assiduous) in fasting and praying, in order that it may be supposed that he is drunken with devotion (to God). In short, external acts are different (from internal feelings), (and their purpose is) to indicate that which is hidden.
O Lord, grant us according to our desire such discernment that we may know the false indication from the true.
Do you know how the sense-perception becomes discerning? In this way, that the sense-perception should be seeing by the light of God.
2635. And if there be no effect (outward sign), the cause too makes manifest (that which is hidden), as (for example) kinship gives information concerning love (enables you to infer the presence of love).
When the light of God comes into the sensorium (and becomes the medium of perception), you will not be a slave to effect or cause—
So that Love will throw a spark within, wax mighty, and make (the illumined one) independent of effect. He has no need for the signs of love, since Love has shot its radiance over the sky (of his heart).
There are detailed explanations (which I could give) in order to complete this subject; but seek them (for yourself), and (now)
2640. And as for him that perceived the inner meaning in this outward form, the form is (both) near to the meaning and far
In regard to indication, they (the meaning and the form) are like the sap and the tree; (but) when you turn to the quiddity, they are very far (removed from each other).
(Let me) take leave of quiddities and essential properties, and relate what happened to those twain with faces like the moon.
How the Arab set his heart on (complying with) his beloved's request and swore that in thus submitting (to her) he had no
(idea of) trickery and making trial (of her).
The man said, “Now I have ceased to oppose (you): you have authority (to do what you wilt): draw the sword from the sheath.
Whatsoever you biddest me do, I will obey: I will not consider the bad or good result of it.
2645. I will become non-existent in your existence, because I am your lover: love makes blind and deaf.”
The wife said, “Oh, I wonder if you art (really) my friend, or whether you art (bent on) discovering my secret by trickery?” He said, “(No), by God who knows the thought most deeply hid, who out of dust created Adam pure (chosen above all),
Who, in the body three cubits long which He gave him, displayed everything that was contained in the tablets (of destiny) and the (world of) spirits.
Through his He (God) taught him (Adam) the Names (through his God-given knowledge) he at the very first gave instruction
(to the angels) concerning everything that shall come to pass unto everlasting,
2650. So that the angels became beside themselves (in amazement) at his teaching, and gained from his glorification (of
God) a holiness other (than they possessed before).
The revelation that appeared to them from Adam was not (contained) in the amplitude of their heavens.
In comparison with the spaciousness of the range of that pure spirit (Adam), the expanse of the seven heavens became narrow. The Prophet said that God has said, ‘I am not contained in the jar of “high” and “low” (spatial dimensions);
I am not contained in earth or heaven or even in the empyrean—know this for certain, O noble one;
2655. (But) I am contained in the true believer's heart: oh, how wonderful! If you seekest Me, search in those hearts.’
He (God) said (also), ‘Enter among My servants, you wilt meet with a Paradise (consisting) of vision of Me, O God-fearing one.’
The empyrean, notwithstanding its wide (far-extending) light, when it beheld that (spirit of Adam), was confounded. Truly, the magnitude of the empyrean is very great, but who (what) is form when reality has arrived?
Then the angels were saying (to Adam), ‘Before this (time) we had a friendship (with you) on the dust of the earth.
2660. On the earth we were sowing the seed of service (worship): we were marveling at that connexion, Marvelling what connexion we had with that dust, inasmuch as our nature is of heaven.
(We said), Why (this) friendship in us, who are light, with darkness? How can light live with darkness?
O Adam, that friendship was owing to the scent of you, because earth was the woof and warp of your body. From this place (the earth) your earthly body was woven, in this place your pure light was found.
2665. This (light) that our souls have obtained from your spirit shone erstwhile from the dust. We were in the earth, and heedless of the earth, heedless of the treasure that lay buried there.
When He (God) bade us journey from that place of abode our palates were soured (we were bitterly grieved) by the change, So that we were arguing (and saying), ‘O God, who will come in our stead?
Wilt you sell the splendour of the praise with which we glorify and magnify you for babble and palaver?’
2670. The decree of God spread for us the carpet (of indulgence), (and He said), ‘Speak ye, in the way of boldness
(And) without fear, whatever comes upon your tongues, like only children with their father;
For what if these words (of yours) are unseemly? My mercy likewise is prior (superior) to My wrath. In order to manifest this priority, O angel, I will put in you incitement to perplexity and doubt,
That you mayst speak and I not take offence at you, (so that) none who denies My clemency may dare to utter a word.
2675. Within My (infinite) clemency (the clemencies of) a hundred fathers and a hundred mothers at every moment are born and vanish.
Their clemency is (but) the foam of the sea of My clemency: the foam comes and goes, but the sea is (always) there.’’
What indeed shall I say? Compared with that pearl (Divine clemency) this oyster-shell (human clemency) is naught but the foam of the foam of the foam of foam.
By the truth of that foam, by the truth of that pure sea, (I swear) that these words (of mine) are not (meant to make) trial of you and are not vain.
They are from (inspired by) love and sincerity and humbleness, (I swear) by the truth of that One to whom I turn.
2680. If this affection (which I am showing) seems to you a trial, do you for one moment put the (supposed) trial (of you)
to the test.
Do not hide your secret (but reveal it), in order that mine may be revealed: command anything that I am able to do.
Do not hide your heart (but reveal it), in order that mine may be revealed and that I may accept whatever I am capable of
How shall I do? What remedy is in my power? Look what a plight my soul is in.”
How the wife specified to her husband the way to earn daily bread and how he accepted (her proposal).
The wife said, “A sun has shone forth, a (whole) world has received light from him—
2685. The Vicar of the Merciful (God), the Khalífa of the Creator: through him the city of Baghdád is (gay and happy) as the season of spring.
If you gain access to that King, you wilt become a king: how long wilt you go after every (kind of) misfortune?” Companionship with the fortunate is like the Elixir: indeed, how is an Elixir like (to be compared with) their looks (of favour)? The eye of Ahmad (Mohammed) was cast upon an Abú Bakr: he by a single act of faith became a Siddíq.
Said the husband, “How should I go to meet the King? How should I go to him without a pretext?
2690. I must have some reference or device: is any handicraft right (possible) without tools?
As (to mention a similar case) the famous Majnún, when he heard from some one that Laylá was a little unwell,
Cried, ‘Ah, how shall I go (to her) without a pretext? And if I fail to visit her when she is ill, how (wretched) shall I be! Would that I were a skilled physician! I would have gone on foot to Laylá first of all (before any one else).’
God said to us, ‘Say, Come ye,’ in order to signify to us the (means of) vanquishing our feeling of shame.
2695. If bats had sight and means (ability to bear the sunshine), they would fly about and enjoy themselves by day.”
The wife said, “When the gracious King goes into the field (maydán), the essence of every lack of means (inability) becomes a means (ability),
Because the means (ability) is (involves) pretension and self-existence: the (pith of the) matter lies in lack of means (inability)
“How,” said he, “should I do business without means, unless I make it manifest that I (really) have no means? Therefore I must needs have attestation of my want of means, that he (the King) may pity me in want.
2700. Do you produce some attestation besides talk and show, so that the beauteous King may take pity, For the testimony that consisted of talk and show was (ever) invalidated before that Supreme Judge.
He requires truth (veracity) as witness to his (the indigent man's) state, so that his (inner) light shall shine forth (and proclaim his indigence) without any words of his.”
How the Arab carried a jug of rain-water from the midst of the desert as a gift to the Commander of the Faithful at
Baghdád, in the belief that in that town also there was a scarcity of water.
The wifè said, “When people with all their might (endeavour to) rise up entirely purged of self-existence—that is veracity. We have the rain-water in the jug: It is your property and capital and means.
2705. Take this jug of water and depart, make it a gift and go into the presence of the King of kings. Say, ‘We have no means except this: in the desert there is nothing better than this water.’
If his treasury is full of gold and jewels, (yet) he does not get water like this: It is rare.” What is that jug? Our confined body: within it is the briny water of our senses.
O Lord, accept this jar and jug of mine by the grace of “God has purchased (from the believers their lives and wealth in return for Paradise).”
2710. (It is) a jug with five spouts, the five senses: keep this water pure (and safe) from every filth, That there may be from this jug a passage to the sea, and that my jug may assume the nature of the sea, So that when you carry it as a gift to the King, the King may find it pure and be its purchaser;
(And) after that, its water will become without end: a hundred worlds will be filled from my jug.
Stop up its spouts and keep it filled (with water) from the jar (of Reality): God said, “Close your eyes to vain desire.”
2715. His (the husband's) beard was full of wind (he was puffed up with pride): “Who (thought he) has such a gift as this? This, truly, is worthy of a King like him.”
The wife did not know that in that place (Baghdád) on the thoroughfare there is the great stream (of water) sweet as sugar, Flowing like a sea through the city, full of boats and fishing-nets.
Go to the Sultan and behold this pomp and state! Behold the senses of (those for whom God has prepared gardens) beneath which the rivers flow!
Our senses and perceptions, such as they are, are (but) a single drop in those rivers.
How the Arab's wife sewed the jug of rain-water in a felt cloth and put a seal on it because of the Arab's utter conviction
(that it was a precious gift for the King).
2720. “Yes,” said the husband, “stop up the mouth of the jug. Take care, for this is a gift that will bring us profit. Sew this jug in felt, that the King may break his fast with our gift,
For there is no (water) like this in all the world: no (other) water is so pure as this.”
(This he said) because they (people like him) are always full of infirmity and half-blind from (drinking) bitter and briny waters. The bird whose dwelling-place is the briny water, how should it know where to find in it the clear (and sweet) water?
2725. O you whose abode is in the briny spring, how shouldst you know the Shatt and the Jayhún and the Euphrates?
O you who have not escaped from this fleeting caravanseray (the material world), how shouldst you know (the meaning of) “self-extinction” and (mystical) “intoxication” and “expansion”?
And if you knowest, It is (by rote, like the knowledge) handed down to you from father and grandfather: to you these names are like abjad.
How plain and evident to all children are abjad and hawwaz, and (yet) the real meaning is far away (hard to reach). Then the Arab man took up the jug and set out to journey, carrying it along (with him) day and night.
2730. He was trembling for the jug, in fear of Fortune's mischiefs: all the same, he conveyed it from the desert to the city
His wife unrolled the prayer-rug in supplication; she made (the words) Rabbi sallim (Save, O Lord) her litany in prayer, Crying, “Keep our water safe from scoundrels! O Lord, let that pearl arrive at that sea!
Although my husband is shrewd and artful, yet the pearl has thousands of enemies.
Pearl indeed! It is the water of Kawthar: It is a drop of this that is the origin of the pearl.”
2735. Through the prayers and lamentation of the wife, and through the husband's anxiety and his patience under the heavy burden,
He bore it without delay, safe from robbers and unhurt by stones, to the seat of the Caliphate (the Caliph's palace). He saw a bountiful Court, (where) the needy had spread their nets;
Everywhere, moment by moment, some petitioner gained (and carried away) from that Court a donation and robe of honour:
It was like sun and rain, nay, like Paradise, for infidel and true believer and good folk and bad.
2740. He beheld some people arrayed (with favour) in the sight (of the Caliph), and others who had risen to their feet (and were) waiting (to receive his commands).
High and low, from Solomon to the ant, they (all) had become quickened with life, like the world at the blast of the trumpet
(on the Day of Resurrection).
The followers of Form were woven (entangled) in pearls, the followers of Reality had found the Sea of Reality.
Those without aspiration—how aspiring had they become! and those of high aspiration—to what felicity had they attained!
Showing that, as the beggar is in love with bounty and in love with the bountiful giver, so the bounty of the bountiful giver is in love with the beggar: if the beggar have the greater patience, the bountiful giver will come to his door; and if the bountiful giver have the greater patience, the beggar will come to his door; but the beggar's patience is a virtue in the beggar, while the patience of the bountiful giver is in him a defect.
A loud call was coming (to his ears): “Come, O seeker! Bounty is in need of beggars: (it is needy) like a beggar.
2745. Bounty is seeking the beggars and the poor, just as fair ones who seek a clear mirror.
The face of the fair is made beautiful by the mirror, the face of Beneficence is made visible by the beggar.
Therefore on this account God said in the Súra ?a’d-Duhá, “O Mohammed, do not shout at (and drive away) the beggar.” Inasmuch as the beggar is the mirror of Bounty, take care! Breath is hurtful to the face of the mirror.
In the one case, his (the giver's) bounty makes the beggar manifest (causes him to beg), while in the other case he (the giver), (without being asked), bestows on the beggars more (than they need).
2750. Beggars, then, are the mirror of God's bounty, and they that are with God are (united with) the Absolute Bounty;
And every one except those two (types of beggar) is truly a dead man: he is not at this door (the Divine Court), he is (lifeless as) a picture (embroidered) on a curtain.