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(Masnavi Book 3: 47) The Thief who said he was beating a Drum







Story of the thief who was asked, What are you doing at the bottom of this wall at midnight? and replied, I am beating a drum.

Hear this parable—how a wicked thief was cutting a hole at the bottom of a wall.

2800. Some one half-awake, who was ill, heard the soft tapping of his (pick),
And went on the roof and hung his head down and said to him, “What are you about, O father? All is well, I hope. What are you doing (here) at midnight? Who are you? He said, A drummer,
O honourable sir.”

“What are you about? He said,I am beating the drum. He (the sick man) said, Where is the noise of the drum, O artful one?
He said, “You will hear this noise to-morrow, (namely) cries of ‘Oh, alas! and Oh, woe is me!’”

2805. That (story of the hare and the elephant) is a lie and false and made up; moreover, you have not perceived the secret (the esoteric meaning) of that falsehood.

The answer to the parable which the unbelievers related concerning the hare's being sent as ambassador with a message to the elephant from the Moon in heaven.

Know that the hidden nature of that hare is the insolent Devil who came as an ambassador to your soul,
In order that he might deprive your foolish soul of the Water of Life whence Khizr drank.
You have perverted its (the parable's) meaning, you have uttered blasphemy: prepare yourself for the sting (of Divine chastisement).
You have spoken of the moon's being disturbed in the limpid water, whereby the jackal (hare)
frightened the elephants;

2810. You relatest the story of the hare and the elephant and the water, and the elephant's fear of the moon when it was disturbed:
O ye half-baked blind men, pray, how does this bear any resemblance to the Moon to whom
(both) lords and commons are subject?
What is the moon and what is the sun and what is the sky? What are intelligences and souls and angels?
The Sun of the sun of the sun”: what is this I am saying (of God)? Surely I am asleep.
The wrath of the (spiritual) kings has overthrown hundreds of thousands of cities, O ye wicked who have lost the way.

2815. At their beck the mountain splits on itself into a hundred fissures; a sun goes round
(the sky) like an ass-mill.
The wrath of (holy) men makes the clouds dry; the wrath of (saintly) hearts has laid worlds waste.
Look, O ye unembalmed dead, upon the place where the city of Lot suffered punishment!
What is the elephant even? for three flying birds crushed the bones of those wretched elephants. The abábíl is the weakest of birds, and (yet) it rent the elephant irreparably.

2820. Who is there that has not heard of the Flood of Noah, or of the battle of Pharaoh's host with the Spirit?
The Spirit routed them and cast them pell-mell into the water: the water was shattering them to atoms.
Who is there that has not heard what happened to Thad and how the sarsar wind swept the
‘Ádites away?
Open yours eyes for once (and look) upon such elephants (mighty prophets), who were killers of elephants (tyrants) in war.
Such elephants and unjust kings as those are always in excommunication under the wrath of the
(prophet's) heart.

2825. Unto everlasting they go from a darkness to a darkness, and there is no succour, no mercy.
Perchance ye have not heard the name of good and evil. All have seen, and ye are seeing not.
Ye feign not to see the visible, but death will open your eyes well.
Suppose the world is full of sun and light: when you goest into a darkness like the grave,

You becomest without (any) share in that great light; you art window-shut to the bounteous moon.

2830. You have gone from the belvedere into the pit: how are the spacious worlds to blame
(for their being invisible to thee)?
The soul that has remained in the quality of wolfishness, how should it behold the face of
Joseph? Say!
The music of David reached (affected) rock and mountain, (but) the ears of those stony-hearted ones heard it not.
Blessing ever be on reason and justice!—and God best knoweth the right way.
Believe noble Messengers, O Sabá! Believe a spirit made captive by Him who captured it.

2835. Believe them—they are rising suns—and they will preserve you from the ignominies of al-Qári‘a.
Believe them—they are shining full-moons—ere they confront you with al- Sáhira.
Believe them—they are the lamps of darkness; honour them they are the keys of hope.
Believe those who hope not for your bounty; do not go astray, do not turn others away (from the
Truth).
Let us speak Persian: come, abandon Arabic. Be the Hindú (slave) of that Turcoman (the Divine
Beloved),
O (man of) water and clay.

2840. Hark, listen to the testimonies of the (spiritual) kings; the heavens have believed
(them): believe ye!

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