The statement of a certain individual that God most High would not punish him for sin, and Shu‘ayb’s answer to him.
In the time of Shu‘ayb a certain man was saying, “God has seen many a fault from me.
3365. How many sins and trespasses has He seen me commit! And (still), God in His kindness does not punish me.” In answer to him God most High by the mysterious way spoke clearly into the ear of Shu‘ayb,
Saying, “(Tell him), you have said, ‘How many sins have I committed! And (still) God in His kindness has not punished me for my trespasses.’
You art saying the opposite and reverse (of the truth), O fool, O you that have abandoned the road and taken to the wilderness!
How oft, how oft do I chastise you, and you unaware! you art lying (bound) in chains from head to foot.
3370. your rust, coat on coat, O black pot, has marred the visage of your heart.
Layers of rust have collected upon your heart, so that it has become blind to (the spiritual) mysteries.”
If that smoke should beat upon a new pot, the traces of it would show, though it were (only as much as) a barley-corn, Because everything is made manifest by (its) contrary: upon a white object the black becomes conspicuous;
(But) when the pot has been blackened, then after this who will at once perceive the effect of the smoke upon it?
3375. The ironsmith who is an Ethiopian—the smoke is of the same colour as his face;
The Greek who does the work of an ironsmith—his face, from gathering smoke, becomes piebald (spotted with black). Therefore he will quickly recognise the effect of sin, so that he will soon lament (and) say, “O God!”
(But) when he persists (in sin) and makes a practice of evil, and puts dust in the eye of meditation,
He thinks of penitence no more: that sin becomes so sweet to his heart that (in the end) he comes to be without the Faith (he turns infidel).
3380. That repenting and (crying) “O Lord!” are gone from him: fivefold rust has settled on the mirror (of his heart). The coats of rust have began to eat his iron (mirror): the rust has begun to lessen its sheen.
When you write upon white paper, that writing may be read at sight.
When you write script over that which has been (already) written, it is not understood: the reading of it will be erroneous;
For that (second) blackness has fallen (been made) upon blackness; (hence) both scripts have become obscure and have given no meaning.
3385. And if you write a third time on the top of it, then you make it black as the infidel's soul.
What help is there, then, but (to take) refuge with (God) the Helper? Despair is copper, and the elixir for it is (God's) regard. Lay your despairs before Him, that ye may escape from irremediable pain.
When Shu‘ayb had told him these deep sayings, at that breath of the spirit roses blossomed in his heart.
His soul hearkened to the inspiration from Heaven; he said, (however), “If He has punished me, where is the sign?”
3390. He (Shu‘ayb) cried, “O Lord, he rebuts me, he seeks the sign of that punishment.”
He (God) said, “I am the Coverer (of sins): I will not tell his secrets, (I will give) but one indication for the sake of trying him. One sign of My punishing him is this, that he has (to his credit) pious acts of fasting and orison
And ritual prayer and almsgiving et cetera, but he has not one atom of spiritual savour.
He performs high acts and deeds of devotion, but he has not one atom of (spiritual) relish.
3395. His devotions are good (in form), but the spirit is not good: the walnuts are many, but there is no kernel therein.”
Spiritual savour is required, in order that devotions may yield fruit: a kernel is required, in order that the berry may produce a tree.
How shall a berry without kernel become a sapling? The soulless form is naught but phantasy.