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(Masnavi Book 2: 53) The stranger who reviled the Shaykh








How a stranger reviled the Shaykh and how the Shaykh's disciple answered him.

A certain man brought charges against a Shaykh, saying, “He is wicked and not on the path of righteousness; He is a wine-drinker and a hypocrite and a scoundrel: how should he be one to succour his disciples?


3305. One (of the disciples) said to him, “Observe respect: It is no light matter to think so ill of the great.

Far is it from him and far from those (saintly) qualities of his that his clear (spirit) should be darkened by a flood (of sin). Do not put such slander on the people of God! This is (mere) fancy on your part. Turn over (a new) leaf.
This (which you say) is not (true); and (even) if it should be, O land-fowl, what harm (comes) to the Red Sea from a carcase?

He (the Shaykh) is not less than the (statutory) two jugfuls or the small tank, so that a single drop (of impurity) should be able to disqualify him (for religious purposes).


3310. The fire is no damage to Abraham, (but) let any one who is a Nimrod beware of it!”

The fleshly soul is Nimrod, and the intellect and spirit are the Friend of God (Abraham): the spirit is concerned with reality itself, and the fleshly soul with the proofs.

These indications of the way are for the traveller who at every moment becomes lost in the desert.

For them that have attained (to union with God) there is nothing (necessary) except the eye (of the spirit) and the lamp (of intuitive faith): they have no concern with indications (to guide them) or with a road (to travel by).

If the man that is united (with God) has mentioned some indication, he has mentioned (it) in order that the dialecticians may understand (his meaning).


3315. For a new-born child the father makes babbling sounds, though his intellect may make a survey of the (whole) world. The dignity of the master's learning is not diminished if he say that (the letter) alif has nothing (has no diacritical mark).
For the sake of teaching that tongue-tied (child), one must go outside of one's own language (customary manner of speech). You must come into (adopt) his language, in order that he may learn knowledge and science from you.
All the people, then, are as his (the spiritual Teacher's) children: this (fact) is necessary for the Pír (to bear in mind) when he gives (them) instruction.


3320. Infidelity has a fixed limit and range—know (this for sure); (but) the Shaykh and the light of the Shaykh have no bound.

Before the infinite all that is finite is naught: everything except the Face of God is passing away.

Infidelity and faith do not exist in the place where he (the Shaykh) is, because he is the kernel, while these twain are (only)
colour and husk.
These fleeting things have become a veil over that Face, like a lantern concealed beneath a bowl.

So then, this bodily head is a screen to that (spiritual) head (source of mystic consciousness): before that head this bodily head is an infidel.


3325. Who is the infidel? One forgetful of the faith of the Shaykh. What is the dead? One ignorant of the (spiritual) life of the Shaykh.

(Spiritual) life is naught but knowledge in (the time of) trial: the more knowledge one has, the more (spiritual) life one has. Our spirit is more than the spirit of animals. Wherefore? In respect that it has more knowledge.
Hence the spirit of the angels is more than our spirit, for it is exempt from (transcends) the common sense;

And the spirit of mystical adepts is more than (that of) the angels. Cease from bewilderment (on this subject)!


3330. For that reason Adam is their object of worship: his spirit (spiritual life) is greater than their being.

Else, (why were they commanded to worship him?): it would not be at all a suitable thing to command the superior to worship an inferior.

How can the justice and kindness of the Maker approve that a rose should fall down in worship before a thorn?

Since the spirit (of the perfect saint) has become superior and has passed beyond the utmost limit (reached by men and angels), the soul of all things has become obedient to it—

Birds and fishes and Jinn and men—because it exceeds (them), and they are deficient (in comparison with it).


3335. The fish make needles for his (the saint's) mantle: (they follow him as) threads follow needles.

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