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(Masnavi Book 3: 14) Balam the son of Ba'ur








How Bal‘am the son of Báúr was (felt himself) secure, because the Lord had made
(many) tests (of him) and he had come through them honourably.

Bal‘am the son of Bá‘úr and the accursed Iblís were disgraced at the ultimate test.
He (the boastful hypocrite), by his pretension, desires to be (reputed) rich, (but) his belly is execrating his moustache,
Crying, “Display that which he is hiding! He has consumed me (with anguish): O God, expose him!”

750. All the members of his body are his adversaries, for he prates of spring (while) they are in December.
Vain talk repels acts of kindness and tears off the bough of pity from the trunk of the tree.
Bring forward (practise) honesty, or else be silent, and then behold pity and enjoy it. That belly became the adversary of his moustache and secretly had recourse to prayer, Crying,O God, expose this idle brag of the base, in order that the pity of the noble may be moved towards me.

755. The belly's prayer was answered: the ardency of need put out a flag.
God has said, Though you be a profligate and idolater, I will answer when you callest Me.”
Do you cleave fast unto prayer and ever cry out: in the end it will deliver you from the hands of the ghoul.
When the belly committed itself to God, the cat came and carried off the skin of that sheep's tail. They ran after the cat, (but) she fled. The child (of the braggart), from fear of his scolding,
changed colour (turned pale).

760. The little child came into (the midst of) the company and took away the prestige of the boastful man.
It said, The sheep's tail with which every morning you greased your lips and moustaches— The cat came and suddenly snatched it away: I ran hard, but the effort was of no use.” Those who were present laughed from astonishment, and their feelings of pity began to be
moved again.
They invited him (to eat) and kept him full-fed, they sowed the seed of pity in his soil.

765. When he had tasted honesty from the noble, he without arrogance (humbly) became devoted to honesty.

How the jackal which had fallen into the dyer’s vat pretended to be a peacock.

(In the fashion) that parti-colored jackal came secretly and tapped on the lobe of the rebukers ear.
“Prithee look at me and at my colour: truly the idolater possesses no idol like me.
Like the flower-garden I have become many-hued and lovely: bow in homage to me, do not withdraw from me (in aversion).
Behold my glory and splendour and sheen and radiance and colour! Call me the Pride of the
World and the Pillar of the Religion!

770. I have become the theatre of the Divine Grace, I have become the tablet on which the
Divine Majesty is unfolded.
O jackals, take heed, do not call me a jackal: how should a jackal have so much beauty?” Those jackals came thither en masse, like moths around the candle.
“Say then, what shall we call you, O creature of (pure) substance? He replied, A peacock
(brilliant) as Jupiter.”

Then they said to him, “The spiritual peacocks have displays (with the Beloved) in the Rose- garden:

775. do you display yourself like that? “No, said he: not having gone into the desert, how should I tread (the valley of) Mina?”
“Dost you utter the cry of peacocks? Nay, said he.
Then, Master Bu’l-Alam you art not a peacock.
The peacocks garment of honour comes from Heaven: how wilt you attain thereto by means of colours and pretences?

Comparison of Pharaoh and his pretence of divinity to the jackal which pretended to be a peacock.

You  art even as Pharaoh, who bejeweled his beard and in his asinine folly soared higher that
Jesus.
He too was born of the generation of the she-jackal and fell into a vat of riches and power.

780. Every one who beheld his power and riches bowed down to him in worship: he swallowed the worship of the idle mockers (worldlings).
That beggar in tattered cloak became miserably drunken with the people’s worship and feelings of amazement.
Riches are a snake, for therein are poisons; and popular favour and worship is a dragon.
Ah, do not assume a virtue (which you do not possess), O Pharaoh: you art a jackal, do not in any wise behave as a peacock.
If you appear in the direction of the peacocks, you art in capable of (their) display and you wilt
be put to shame.

785. Moses and Aaron were as peacocks: they flapped the wings of display upon your head and face.
Thy foulness and disgrace were exposed, you didst fall head-long from your height.
When you sawest the touchstone, you becamest black, like adulterated coin: the leonine figure vanished, and the dog was revealed.
O foul mangy dog, through greed and exuberant insolence do not clothe yourself in the lions skin.
The roar of the lion will demand from you the test (of your sincerity). The figure of a lion , and then the dispositions of dogs!

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