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(Masnavi Book 4: 00) Preface (in prose)

BOOK IV

In the Name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful.

Reynold A. Nicholson
April 1930

The Fourth Journey to the best of abodes and the greatest of advantages: by its perusal the hearts of gnostics will be rejoiced as the meadows rejoice in the downpour of the clouds and as the eyes delight in the pleasantness of sleep. Therein is cheer for spirits and healing for bodies; and it is like what the sincere (in devotion to God) crave and love, and like what the travellers (on the Way to God) seek and wish for—a refreshment to eyes, and a joy to souls; the sweetest of fruits for them that cull, and the most sublime of things desired and coveted; bringing the sick man to his physician and guiding the lover to his beloved. And, to God be the praise, it is the grandest of gifts and the most precious of prizes; the renewer of the covenant of friendship (with God) and the easer of the difficulty of those in trouble. The study of it will increase the sorrow of them that are estranged (from God) and the joy and thankfulness of them that are blest. Its bosom holds a
cargo of fineries such as are not carried on the bosoms of young ladies, to be a compensation to followers of the theory and practice (of Súfism); for it is like a full-moon that hath risen and a fortune that hath returned, exceeding the hope of the hopeful and providing forage for the doers of (good) works. It raises expectation after depression and expands hope after contraction—like a sun that shone forth radiantly amidst clouds dispersed. It is a light to our friends and a treasure for our (spiritual) descendants. And we ask God to help us to give Him thanks, for indeed thanksgiving is a means of binding fast that which is already in hand and of capturing more besides, albeit naught comes to pass but what He purposes. “And one of the things that stirred me to love-desire was that I was sleeping, diverted (from my grief) by the sweet exhalations of the cool air, Till a grey dove in the boughs of a thicket called (to me), trilling beautifully with long-drawn sobs. And if, before her sobbing, I had sobbed from passion for Su‘dá, I should have healed my soul (of its pain) ere repenting (of my tardiness); But she sobbed before me, and (’twas) her sobbing (that) roused me to sob, and I said, ‘The pre-eminence belongs to him that leads the way.’” May God have mercy on those who lead the way and those who come behind and those who fulfil (their vows) and those who seek to fulfil (the same), (and may He bless them) with His grace and bounty and with His large benefits and favours! For He is the best object of petition and the noblest object of hope; and God is the best protector and the most merciful of them that show mercy, and the best of friends and the best of heirs and the best replacer (of what has been consumed) and provider for the devotees who sow and till (the soil of good works). And God bless Mohammed and all the Prophets and Messengers! Amen, O Lord of created beings!

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