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(Masnavi Book 5: 07) The Arab of the Desert and his Dog









Story of the Arab of the desert whose dog was dying of hunger, while his wallet was full of bread; he was lamenting over the dog and reciting poetry and sobbing and beating his head and face; and yet he grudged the dog a morsel from his wallet.

The dog was dying, and the Arab sobbing, shedding tears, and crying, Oh, sorrow!”
A beggar passed by and asked, What is this sobbing? For whom is your mourning and lamentation?
He replied, “There was in my possession a dog of excellent disposition. Look, he is dying on the road.

480. He hunted for me by day and kept watch by night; (he was) keen-eyed and (good at) catching the prey and driving off thieves.
He (the beggar) asked, What ails him? Has he been wounded? The Arab replied, Ravenous hunger has made him (so) lamentable.”
“Show some patience,said he, “in (bearing) this pain and anguish: the grace of God bestows a recompense on those who are patient.”
Afterwards he said to him, O noble chief, what is this full wallet in your hand?
He replied, My bread and provender and food left over from last night, (which) I am taking along (with me) to nourish my body.”

485. Why don't you give (some) bread and provender to the dog? he asked. He replied, I have not love and liberality to this extent.
Bread cannot be obtained (by a traveller) on the road without money, but water from the eyes costs nothing.”
He (the beggar) said, “Earth be on your head, O water-skin full of wind! for in your opinion a crust of bread is better than tears.”
Tears are (originally) blood and have been turned by grief into water: idle tears have not the value of earth. He (the Arab) made the whole of himself despicable, like Iblís: a piece of this whole is naught but vile.

490. I am the (devoted) slave of him who will not sell his existence save to that bounteous and munificent Sovereign,
(So that) when he weeps, heaven begins to weep, and when he moans (in supplication), the celestial sphere begins to cry, O Lord!”
I am the (devoted) slave of that high-aspiring copper which humbles itself to naught but the Elixir. Lift up in prayer a broken hand: the loving kindness of God flies towards the broken.
If you have need of deliverance from this narrow dungeon (the world), O brother, go without delay (and cast yourself) on the fire.

495. Regard God's contrivance and abandon yours own contrivance: oh, by His contrivance (all) the contrivance of contrivers is put to shame.
When your contrivance is naughted in the contrivance of the Lord, you wilt open a most marvellous hiding- place,
Of which hiding-place the least (treasure) is everlasting life (occupied) in ascending and mounting higher.

Explaining that no evil eye is so deadly to a man as the eye of self-approval, unless his eye shall have been transformed by the Light of God, so that “he hears through Me and sees through Me,and (unless) his self shall have become selfless.

Do not regard your peacock-feathers but regard your feet, in order that the mischief of the (evil) eye may not waylay you;
For (even) a mountain slips (from its foundations) at the eye of the wicked: read and mark in the Qur’án
(the words) they cause you to stumble.

500. From (their) looking (at him), Ahmad (Mohammed), (who was) like a mountain, slipped in the middle of the road, without mud and without rain.
He remained in astonishment, saying, “Wherefore is this slipping? I do not think that this occurrence is empty (of meaning),”

Until the Verse (of the Qur’án) came and made him aware that this had happened to him in consequence of the evil eye and enmity (of the unbelievers).
(God said to the Prophet), “Had it been any one except you, he would at once have been annihilated: he would have become the prey of the (evil) eye and in thrall to destruction;
But there came (from Me) a protection, sweeping along (majestically), and your slipping was (only) for a sign.”

505. Take a warning, look on that mountain, and do not expose your (petty) leaf (to destruction), O you who art less than a straw.

Commentary on And verily those who disbelieve wellnigh cause you to slip by their (malignant) eyes.”

O Messenger of Allah, some persons in that assembly (of the unbelievers) smite with their (evil) eye the vultures (flying aloft).
By their looks the head of the lion of the jungle is cloven asunder, so that the lion makes moan. He (such an one) casts on a camel an eye like death, and then sends a slave after it,
Saying, Go, buy some of the fat of this camel: he (the slave) sees the camel fallen dead on the road.

510. (He sees) mortally stricken by disease the camel that used to vie with a horse in speed;
For, without any doubt, from envy and (the effect of) the evil eye the celestial sphere would alter its course and revolution.”
The water is hidden and the water-wheel is visible, yet as regards (the wheel's) revolution the water is the source of action.
The remedy of the evil eye is the good eye: it makes the evil eye naught beneath its kick.
(Divine) mercy has the precedence (over Divine wrath): it (the good eye) is (derived) from (Divine) mercy, (while) the evil eye is the product of (Divine) wrath and execration.

515. His (God's) mercy overcomes His vengeance: hence every prophet prevailed over his adversary; For he (the prophet) is the result of (Divine) mercy and is the opposite of him (the adversary): that ill- favoured one was the result of (Divine) wrath.
The greed of the duck is single, (but) this (greed of the peacock) is fiftyfold: the greed of lust is (only) a snake, while this (greed for) eminence is a dragon.
The duck's greed arises from the appetite of the gullet and pudendum, (but) twenty times as much (greed) is included in (the ambition to) rule.
He (who is) in power (really) pretends to Divinity: how should one ambitious of co-partnership (with God)
be saved?

520. The sin of Adam arose from the belly and sexual intercourse, and that of Ibs from pride and power.
Consequently, he (Adam) at once besought pardon, while the accursed (Iblís) disdained to repent. The greed of the gullet and pudendum is in truth (a mark of) depravity; but it is not (headstrong like) ambition: it is abasement.
If I should relate the root and branch (the whole story) of dominion, another Book would be needed.
The Arabs called a restive (high-spirited) horse a devil (shaytán); (they did) not (give that name to) the beast of burden that stayed (quietly) in the pasture.

525. Devilry (shaytanat) in lexicology is (synonymous with) rebelliousness: this quality is deserving of execration.
There is room for a hundred eaters (guests) round a table, (but) there is not room in the (whole) world for two seekers of dominion.
The one is not willing that the other should be on the surface of the earth; so that a prince kills his father for partaking with him (in sovereignty).
You have heard (the saying) that kingship is childless: the seeker of sovereignty has cut (the ties of)
relationship because of (his) fear;
For he is childless and has no son: like fire, he has no kinship with any one.


530. Whatsoever he finds he destroys and tears to pieces: when he finds nothing, he devours himself. Become naught, escape from his teeth: do not seek mercy from his (hard) anvillike heart.
After you have become naught, do not fear the anvil: take lessons every morning from absolute poverty. Divinity is the mantle of the Lord of glory: it becomes a plague to any one who puts it on.
His (God's) is the crown (of sovereignty), ours the belt (of servitude): woe to him that passes beyond his proper bound!

535. your peacock-feathers are a (sore) temptation to you, for you must needs have co-partnership (with
God) and All-holiness.

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