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(Masnavi Book 3: 71) Conventional and intuitive knowledge







The difference between knowing a thing by comparison and convention and knowing the quiddity of that thing.

3635. The effects and fruit of His mercy are manifest, but how should any one except Him know its quiddity?
None knows the quiddities of the attributes of (Divine) Perfection except through (their) effects
and by means of comparison.
The child does not know the quiddity of concubitus, except that you say, “It is like sweetmeat to you.”
How should the quiddity of the pleasure of sexual intercourse be like the quiddities of sweetmeat, O master?
But, since you are childish, that intelligent man offered you the analogy respecting the sweetness
(of it),

3640. In order that the child might know it by comparison, though he does not know the quiddity or essence of the matter.
Therefore, if you say I know, it is not far (from the truth); and if you say,I do not know, it is not a lie and a falsehood.
If some one say (to you), “Do you know Noah, the Messenger of God and the Light of the spirit?”—
And if you reply, “How should not I know (him)? for that (spiritual) Moon is more celebrated than the sun and moon:
The little children at school and all the Ims in the mosques

3645. Recite his name distinctly in the Qurán and tell plainly his story (as it has come down)
from the past

You, veracious man, know him by way of description, though the quiddity of Noah has not been revealed (to you).
And if you reply, “How should I know Noah? (Only) one like him can know him, O youth. I am a lame ant. How should I know the elephant? How should a gnat know Isráfíl?”—
This saying (answer) is also true in regard to the fact that you do not know him in his quiddity, O
so-and-so.

3650. To be unable to perceive the quiddity, uncle, is the condition of common men: do not say it absolutely,
Inasmuch as quiddities and their inmost secret are clearly visible to the eyes of the Perfect. Where in existence is (anything) more remote from understanding and mental perception than the consciousness and essence of God?
Since that does not remain hidden from (His) familiars, what is the essence and attribute that should remain concealed?
The intellect of the scholastic theologian says,This is far (from reasonable) and deeply involved
(in error): do not listen to an absurdity without some explanation.”

3655. The Qutb (the Head of the Saints) replies, To you, O infirm one, that which is above your (spiritual) state seems absurd.
The visions which are now revealed to you, is it not the case that at first they seemed absurd to you?
Inasmuch as the (Divine) Bounty has released you from ten prisons, do not make the (wide)
desert an oppressive prison to yourself.

How the negation and affirmation of one (and the same) thing may be combined and reconciled from the standpoint of relativity and difference of aspect.

It is possible to deny and affirm the same thing: when the point of view is different, the relation is twofold.
(The text) you didst not throw when you threwest is relative: it is negation and affirmation:
both are authorised.

3660. You threwest that (gravel), since it was on your hand; you didst not throw, for God manifested (His) power.
The strength of one born of Adam has a limit: how should a handful of earth become (the cause of) the rout of an army?
(O Mohammed), the handful is your handful, and the throwing is from Me: on account of these two relations (both) the denial and the affirmation of it (the throwing) are right.
The prophets are known by their enemies, just as their (the enemies') children are not doubtful
(to their parents).
The unbelievers know them (the prophets) as (they know) their children by a hundred indications and a hundred signs,

3665. But, from jealousy and envy, they conceal (their knowledge) and attach themselves to
(become addicted to saying) I do not know.”
Then, since He (God) has said, He (the unbeliever) knows, how has He said in another place?—“None knoweth them except Me, so leave off (seeking to know them);
Verily, they are hidden beneath My tents. None knows them by (immediate) experience except
God.
Regard also as (explicable) by means of relation this (subject) which was opened (above), (namely) that you know and do not know Noah.

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