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(Masnavi Book 2: 02) The Caliph Umar ؓ and the man who thought he saw the new moon





How in the time of ‘Umar, may God be well-pleased with him, a certain person imagined that what he saw was the new moon.


The Fasting-month (Ramadán) came round in ‘Umar's time. Some people ran to the top of a hill,

In order to take (the appearance of) the new moon as a good omen, and one of them said, Look, O ‘Umar, here is the new moon!”

As ‘Umar did not see the moon in the sky, he said, “This moon has risen from your phantasy.


115. Otherwise, (since) I am a better seer of the heavens (than thou), how is it that I do not see the pure crescent? Wet your hand,” said he, “and rub it on yours eyebrow, and then look up towards the new moon.”
When he wetted his eyebrow, he did not see the moon. “O King,” he said, “there is no moon; it has disappeared.”

Yes,” said ‘Umar, “the hair of yours eyebrow had become (curved) like a bow and shot at you an arrow of opinion.”

When one hair became crooked, it waylaid him (hindered him from seeing truly), so that, making a false claim, he boasted to have seen the moon.


120. Inasmuch as a crooked hair veils the sky, how will it be when all your members are crooked?

Straighten your members by (the help of) the straight (the righteous). O you who (would) go straight, turn not your head aside from that threshold (where the righteous dwell).

Balance makes balance correct; balance also makes balance defective.
Whoever weighs the same (adopts the same standard) as the unrighteous falls into deficiency, and his understanding becomes dazed.

Go, be hard on the infidels, sprinkle dust on (renounce) fondness for the strangers.


125. Be as a sword upon the heads of the strangers: come, do not play foxy tricks, be a lion,

In order that the friends (of God), moved by (righteous) jealousy, may not break with you, because those thorns (the wicked) are the enemies of this rose (the friend of God).

Set fire to the wolves as (to) rue-seed, because those wolves are the enemies of Joseph.

Iblís calls you “father's soul” (darling son)—beware (of him)! The accursed Devil (does that) in order that he may beguile you with (vain) words.

He practised the like imposture on your father: this black-faced one checkmated an Adam.


130. This crow is busy on the chessboard; look not you upon his game with an eye that is half-asleep, Because he knows many formidable moves which will stick in your throat like a straw.
His straw will stay in your throat for years. What is that straw? Love of rank and wealth.

Wealth is the straw, since in your throat, O infirm one, it is an obstacle (barrier) to the Water of Life. If an artful enemy carry off your wealth, a robber will have carried off a robber.


How a snake-catcher stole a snake from another snake-catcher.


135. A petty thief carried off a snake from a snake-catcher and in his folly was accounting it a prize.

The snake-catcher escaped from the snake's bite; the man who had robbed him was miserably killed by the snake. The snake-catcher saw him (dead); then he recognised him and said, “My snake has emptied him of life.
My soul was desiring of Him (God) in prayer that I might find him and take the snake from him.

Thanks to God that that prayer was rejected: I thought it was loss, but it has turned out to be gain.”


140. Many are the prayers which are loss and destruction, and from kindness the Holy God is not hearing them.

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