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(Masnavi Book 4: 82) The Prophet’s ﷺ vision of Gabriel in his real form

How Gabriel, on whom be peace, showed himself to Musta (Mohammed), God bless and save him, in his own shape; and how, when one of his seven hundred wings became visible, it covered the horizon (on all sides), and the sun with all its radiance was veiled over.

3755. Mustafá said in the presence of Gabriel, Even as your shape (really) is, O friend,
Show it to me sensibly and visibly, that I may behold you as spectators (who fix their eyes on an object of interest).”
He replied, “You canst not (bear this) and have not the power to endure it; the sense (of sight)
is weak and frail: ’twould be grievous for you (to behold me).”
“Show yourself, said he, that this body may perceive to what an extent the senses are frail and resourceless.
Man's bodily senses are infirm, but he has a potent nature within.

3760. This body resembles flint and steel, but in quality (intrinsically) it is a striker of fire. Flint and steel are the birth-place whence fire is brought into being: (from them) fire is born, domineering over both its parents.
Fire, again, exercises sway over the bodily nature: it is dominant over the body and flaming; Yet again, there is in the body an Abraham-like flame whereby the tower of fire is subdued.
In consequence (of this) the all-accomplished Prophet said symbolically, “We are the hindmost
and the foremost.

3765. The material form of these twain (flint and steel) is vanquished by a (hammer and)
anvil, (but) in quality (intrinsically) they are superior to the mine of iron ores.
Therefore Man is in appearance a derivative of the world, and intrinsically the origin of the world. Observe this!
A gnat will set his outward frame whirling round (in pain and agitation); his inward nature
encompasses the Seven Heavens.
When he (the Prophet) persisted (in his request), he (Gabriel) displayed a little the awful majesty by which a mountain would be reduced to dust.
A single royal pinion (of his) covered the east and the west: Mustafá (Mohammed) became
senseless from awe.

3770. When Gabriel saw him senseless from fear and dread, he came and drew him into his arms.
That awe is the portion of aliens, while this fond affection is freely bestowed on friends.

Kings, when seated on the throne, have formidable guardsmen (around them) with swords in their hands,
Staves and lances and scimitars, so that (even) lions would tremble in awe;
The shouts of sergeants with their maces, by the terror of which (men's) souls are enfeebled.

3775. This is for the high and low in the street, to announce to them (the presence of) an emperor.
This pomp is for the sake of the vulgar, that those people may not put on the tiara of arrogance; That it may break their egoism and that the self-conceited carnal soul may not work mischief and
The country is preserved from that by the king's having force and authority to inflict punishment. Therefore those vain desires are extinguished in (men's) souls: awe of the king prevents that

3780. Again, when he (the king) comes to the private banquet, how should awe or retaliation be (in place) there?
There clemency on clemency is (shown) and mercies overflowing; you will hear no noise but that of the harp and flute.
In time of war there is the terrible drum and kettle-drum; in the hour of feasting with favourites
there is (only) the sound of the harp.
The Board of Audit is for the vulgar, while the fair ones resembling peris are for the cup- companion.
The coat of mail and the helmet are for the battle, while this silken raiment and music are for the

3785. This topic has no end, O generous one: conclude it, and God best knoweth the right course.
The (corporeal) senses in Ahmad (Mohammed), which are mortal, are now laid asleep under the soil of Yathrib (Medina),
But that mighty-natured part of him, which is unconquerable, dwells, without having suffered
corruption, within the abode of truth (in Paradise).
The bodily attributes are exposed to corruption; the everlasting spirit is a shining sun, Incorruptible, for it is not of the east; unchangeable, for it is not of the west.

3790. How was the sun (ever) dumbfounded by a mote? How was the candle (ever) made senseless by a moth?
The body of Ahmad was liable to that (corruption): know that this corruption belongs (only) to the body,
Such as sickness and sleep and pain; the spirit is untouched by these affections and wholly detached (from them).
Indeed I cannot describe the spirit, and if I describe it, quaking would fall upon this (world of)
phenomenal existence and spatiality.
If its fox (the body) was perturbed for a moment, belike the lion-spirit was then asleep.

3795. That lion which is immune from sleep was (apparently) asleep: lo, a complaisant terrible lion!
The lion feigns to be asleep so (well) that those curs think he is quite dead; Else, who in the
world would dare to rob a poor man (even) of a grain of turpeth mineral?
The foam (body) of Ahmad was torn (powerfully affected) by that sight (of Gabriel), (but) his sea
(spirit) surged up (displayed itself in action) for love of the foam.
The moon (the spirit of Ahmad) is entirely a bounteous light-diffusing hand: if the moon have no hand (with which to bestow light), let it have none!

3800. If Ahmad should display that glorious pinion (his spiritual nature), Gabriel would remain dumbfounded unto everlasting.
When Ahmad passed beyond the Lote-tree (on the boundary of Paradise) and his (Gabriel's)
place of watch and station and farthest limit,
He said to him (Gabriel), “Hark, fly after me. He (Gabriel) said, “Go, go; I am not your companion
(any farther).”
He answered him, saying, “Come, O destroyer of veils: I have not yet advanced to my zenith.He replied, O my illustrious friend, if I take one flight beyond this limit, my wings will be consumed.”

3805. This tale of the elect losing their senses in (contemplation of) the most elect is (naught but) amazement on amazement.
Here all (other) unconsciousnesses are (a mere) play. How long will you keep possession of your soul? for it is (a case of) abandoning your soul.
O Gabriel, though you are noble and revered, you are not the moth nor the candle either. When the candle calls at the moment of illumination, the soul of the moth does not shrink from
Bury this topsy-turvy discourse: make the lion contrariously the prey of the onager.

3810. Stop up your word-sweating water-skin, do not open the bag of your reckless talk.
He whose (intellectual and spiritual) parts have not passed beyond the earth this is absurd and reckless talk in his view.
Do not resist them, O my beloved; deal gently with them, O stranger lodging in their home.
Give (them) what they wish and desire, and satisfy them, O emigrant dwelling in their land.
Till (the hour of) coming to the king and to sweet delight, O man of Rayy be on good terms with the man of Merv.

3815. O “Moses, in presence of the Pharaoh of the time you must speak softly with mild words.
If you put water into boiling oil, you will destroy (both) the trivet and the kettle.
Speak softly, but do not speak aught except the truth: do not offer temptation in your mildness of address.
The time of afternoon is come: cut short the discourse, O you whose expression (of the hidden
truth) makes (the people of) the age acquainted (with reality).
Do you tell the clay-eater that sugar is better: do not show injurious softness, do not give him clay.

3820. Speech would be a spiritual garden to the soul, if it were independent of letters and sounds.
Oh, there is many a one in whom this donkey's head amidst the sugar plantation has fixed a
He, (seeing it) from afar, supposed that it (the sugar-plantation) is just that (donkey's head), nothing more; (so) he was retiring, like a ram vanquished in fight.
Know for sure that the (literal) form (of speech) is (like) that donkey's head in the vineyard and highest Paradise of the spiritual reality.
O Ziyáu ’l-Haqq Husámuddín, bring this donkey's head into that melon-field,

3825. In order that, when the donkey's head has died to (has passed beyond) the skinning- place, that kitchen may bestow on it another growth (a spiritual regeneration).
Hark, the shaping (of the poem) is from me, and the spirit (of it) from thee; nay, (I spoke) in
error: truly both this and that are from you.
You art glorified in Heaven, O conspicuous Sun: be you also glorified on earth unto everlasting,

That the inhabitant of the earth may become one in heart and one in aim and one in nature with the sublime celestial.
(Then) separation and polytheism and duality will disappear: in real existence there is (only)

3830. When my spirit (fully) recognises your spirit, they (both) remember their being one in the past,
And on the earth become (as) Moses and Aaron, sweetly mingled like milk and honey.
When it (my spirit) recognises (thy spirit) a little and (then) denies (it), its denial becomes a veil covering (the truth).
Many a one who recognised (part of the truth) averted his face: that Moon was angered by his
Hence the evil spirit became unable to recognise the spirit of the Prophet and turned on its heel.

3835. You have read all this: read (the Súra beginning with the words) Lam yakun, that you may know the obstinacy of that old infidel.
Ere the (bodily) form of Ahmad (Mohammed) displayed its glory, the description of him (in the
Pentateuch and the Gospel) was a phylactery for every infidel.
There is some one like this (they said): (let us wait) till he shall appear”; and their hearts were throbbing at the imagination of (seeing) his face.
They were prostrating themselves (in prayer), crying, O Lord of mankind, wilt You bring him
before our eyes as quickly as may be?”
(This they did) in order that, by asking (God) to grant them victory in the name of Ahmad, their enemies might be overthrown.

3840. Whenever a formidable war arose, Ahmad's pertinacity in onset was always their succour;
Wherever there was a chronic sickness, mention (invocation) of him (Ahmad) was always their healing medicine.
In (all) their way his form was coming into their hearts and into their ears and into their mouths.
How should every jackal perceive his (real) form? Nay, (they perceived only) the derivative of his form, that is to say, the imaginal idea (of it).
If his (real) form should fall on the face of a wall, heart's blood would trickle from the heart of
the wall;

3845. And his form would be so auspicious for it (would bestow such blessing on it) that the wall would at once be saved from having a double face.
Beside the single-facedness (sincerity) of the pure (in spirit), that double-facedness has become a fault (even) in the wall.
All this veneration and magnification and affection (which they had shown towards the Prophet)
the wind swept away, as soon as they saw him in (bodily) form.
The false coin saw the fire and immediately became black: when has there (ever) been a way for the false coin (of hypocrisy) to enter the (pure) heart?
The false coin was talking boastfully of its desire for the touchstone, that it might cast the
(sincere) disciples into doubt.

3850. A worthless one falls into the snare of its deceit; (for) from every base fellow the thought pops up,
That if this were not genuine coin, how should it have become eager for the touchstone?
It desires the touchstone, but one of such a kind that its falseness will not be clearly exposed thereby.
The touchstone that keeps hidden the quality (of that which is tested) is not a (true) touchstone,
nor (is it) the (discriminating) light of knowledge.

The mirror that keeps hidden the defects of the face to flatter every cuckold

3855. Is not a (true) mirror; it is hypocritical. Do not seek such a mirror so long as you can

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