In explanation of the saying of the Prophet, on whom be peace, “There is no monkery in Islam.”
“Do not tear out your feathers, but detach your heart from (desire for) them, because (the existence of) the enemy is the necessary condition for (waging) this Holy War.
575. When there is no enemy, the Holy War is inconceivable; (if) you have no lust, there can be no obedience (to the Divine command).
There can be no self-restraint when you have no desire; when there is no adversary, what need for your strength?
Hark, do not castrate yourself, do not become a monk; for chastity is in pawn to (depends on the existence of) lust.
Without (the existence of) sensuality it is impossible to forbid sensuality: heroism cannot be displayed against the dead.
He (God) has said ‘Spend’: therefore earn something, since there can be no expenditure without an old
(previously acquired) income.
580. Although He used (the word) Spend absolutely, (yet) read (it as meaning) ‘Earn, then spend.’ Similarly, since the King (God) has given the command ‘Refrain yourselves,’ there must be some desire from which you shouldst avert your face.
Hence (the command) ‘Eat ye’ is for the sake of the snare (temptation) of appetite; after that (comes) ‘Do not exceed’: that is temperance.
When there is no ‘predicate’ (relative quality) in him (any one), the existence of the ‘subject’ (the correlative term) is impossible.
When you have not the pain of self-restraint, there is no protasis: therefore the apodosis (recompense) does not follow.
585. How admirable is that protasis and how joyful is that apodosis (recompense), a recompense that charms the heart and increases the life of the spirit!
Explaining that God (Himself) is the reward bestowed by Him for the (devotional) work of the lover.
For (His) lovers He (alone) is (all their) joy and sorrow; He (alone) is their wages and hire for service.
If there be any spectacle (object of regard for them) except the Beloved, it is not love: it is an idle passion. Love is that flame which, when it blazes up, consumes everything else but the Beloved.
He (the lover) drives home the sword of Not in order to kill all other than God: thereupon consider what remains after Not.
590. There remains except God: all the rest is gone. Hail, O mighty Love, destroyer of polytheism! Verily, He is the First and the Last: do not regard polytheism as arising from aught except the eye that sees double.
Oh, wonderful! Is there any beauty but from the reflexion of Him? The (human) body has no movement but from the spirit.
The body that has defect in its spirit will never become sweet, (even) if you smear it with honey. This he knows who one day was (spiritually) alive and received a cup from this Soul of the soul;
595. While to him whose eye has not beheld those (beauteous) cheeks this smoky heat is (appears to be)
Inasmuch as he never saw ‘Umar (ibn) ‘Abdu ’l-‘Azíz, to him even Hajjáj seems just.
Inasmuch as he never saw the firmness (unshakable strength) of the dragon of Moses, he fancies (there is)
life in the magic cords.
The bird that has never drunk the limpid water keeps its wings and feathers in the briny water.
No opposite can be known except through its opposite: (only) when he (any one) suffers blows will he know (the value of) kindness.
600. Consequently the present life has come in front (first), in order that you may appreciate the realm of
When you are delivered from this place and go to that place, you will give thanks (to God) in the sugar- shop of everlastingness.
You will say, ‘There (in the world below) I was sifting dust, I was fleeing from this pure world.
Alas, would that I had died ere now, so that my (time of) being tormented in the mud might have been less!’
Commentary on the saying of the Prophet, on whom be peace, “None ever died without wishing, if he was a righteous man, that he had died before he (actually) died, in order that he might sooner attain unto felicity; and if he was a wicked man, in order that his wickedness might be less.”
Hence the wise Prophet has said that no one who dies and dismounts from (the steed of) the body
605. Feels grief on account of departure and death, but (only) grieves because of having failed (in good works) and missed his opportunities.
In sooth every one that dies wishes that the departure to his destination had been earlier:
If he be wicked, in order that his wickedness might have been less; and if devout, in order that he might have come home sooner.
The wicked man says, ‘I have been heedless, moment by moment I have been adding to the veil (of sin).
If my passing (from the world) had taken place sooner, this screen and veil of mine would have been less.’
610. Do not in covetousness rend the face of contentment, and do not in pride rend the visage of humility.
Likewise do not in avarice rend the face of munificence, and in devilishness the beauteous countenance of worship.
Do not tear out those feathers which are an ornament to Paradise: do not tear out those feathers which
(enable you to) traverse the Way.”
When he (the peacock) heard this counsel, he looked at him (the Sage) and, after that, began to lament and
The long lamentation and weeping of the sorrowful (peacock) caused every one who was there to fall a- weeping;
615. And he who was asking the reason of (the peacock's) tearing out his feathers, (he too being left)
without an answer repented (of having asked) and wept,
Saying, “Why did I impertinently ask him (that question)? He was full of grief: I made him distraught.” From his (the peacock's) moist eyes the water (of tears) was trickling to the earth: in every drop were contained a hundred answers.
Sincere weeping touches the souls (of all), so that it makes (even) the sky and heaven to weep.
Without any doubt, intellects and hearts (spirits) are celestial, (though) they live debarred from the celestial light.
Explaining that the intellect and spirit are imprisoned in clay, like Hárút and Márút in the pit of
620. Like Hárút and Márút, those two pure ones (the intellect and spirit) have been confined here (in this world) in a horrible pit.
They are in the low and sensual world: they have been confined in this pit on account of sin.
The good and the evil (alike) learn magic and the opposite of magic from these twain involuntarily; But first they admonish him, saying, “Beware, do not learn and pick up magic from us: We teach this magic, O such and such, for the purpose of trial and probation;
625. (But you art free to choose), for probation necessarily involves free-will, and you canst not have any (effective) free-will without the power (of action).”
Desires are like sleeping dogs: good and evil are hidden in them.
When there is no power (of action), this troop (of desires) are asleep and silent like faggots (smouldering in the fire),
Until (when) a carcase comes into view, the blast of the trumpet of greed strikes on (suddenly rouses) the dogs.
When the carcase of a donkey appears in the parish, a hundred sleeping dogs are awakened by it.
630. The greedy desires that had gone into the concealment of the Unseen rush out and display themselves.
Every hair on every dog becomes (like) a sooth, though they wag their tails (fawningly) for the sake of gaining their object.
His (the dog's) under-half is cunning, (while) the upper (half) is anger, like a poor fire that gets faggots
Flame on flame reaches (it) from (the realm of) non-spatiality: the smoke of its blaze goes up to the sky.
In this body (of ours) a hundred such dogs are sleeping: when they have no prey (in sight), they are hidden.
635. Or they resemble falcons with eyes sealed (covered); (yet) in the veil (hood) consumed with passion for a prey,
Till he (the Falconer) lifts the hood and it (the falcon) sees the prey: then it circles the mountains (in pursuit).
The appetite of the sick man is quiescent: his thoughts are going (are turned) towards health.
When he sees bread and apples and water-melons, his relish and his fear of injury (to himself) come into conflict.
If he be very self-restrained, the sight (of the food) is a benefit to him: that stimulation (of appetite) is good for his enfeebled constitution;
640. But if he have not self-restraint, then it were better he had not seen (the food): it is better the arrow should be far from the man who is without a coat of mail.
The answer of the peacock to his interrogator.
When he (the peacock) had finished weeping, he said, “Begone, for you art in pawn (bondage) to colour and perfume.
Do not you perceive that on account of these feathers a hundred afflictions approach me on every side? Oh, many a pitiless fowler always lays a trap for me everywhere for the sake of these feathers.
How many an archer, for the sake of my plumage, shoots arrows at me (when I am) in the air!
645. Since I have not strength and self-control (to preserve me) from this destiny and this affliction and these tribulations,
It is better I should be ugly and hideous, that I may be safe amidst these mountains and deserts.
These (feathers) are the weapons of my pride, O noble sir: pride brings a hundred afflictions on the proud.
Explaining that accomplishments and intellectual abilities and worldly wealth are enemies to (spiritual)
life, like the peacock's feathers.
Accomplishments, then, are a destruction to the (spiritually) ignorant man, for in his pursuit of the bait he does not see the trap.
Free-will is good for him (alone) who is master of himself in (respect of obeying the command) ‘Fear ye
650. When there is no safeguarding (of one's self) and piety, beware, put far (from you) the instrument
(that serves as a means to sin): drop free-will.
Those feathers are the object of my display (pride) and freewill: I will tear out the feathers, for they are in
quest of my head.
The self-restrained man deems his feathers to be naught, in order that his feathers may not cast him into calamity and bale.
Therefore his feathers are no harm to him: let him not tear them out, (for) if an arrow (of temptation) come
(against him) he will present the shield (of selfrestraint).
But to me my beauteous feathers are an enemy, since I cannot restrain myself from making a display.
655. If self-restraint and safeguarding had been my guide, my (spiritual) conquest would have been increased by (the exercise of) free-will;
(But) in (the case of) temptations I am like a child or a drunken man: the sword is unsuitable (out of place)
in my hand.
Had I possessed an intellect and conscience (to restrain me), the sword in my hand would have been (a
means of gaining) victory.
An intellect giving light like the sun is needed to wield the sword that never misses the right direction. Since I do not possess a resplendent intellect and righteousness (in religion), why, then, should not I throw my weapons into the well?
660. I now throw my sword and shield into the well; for (otherwise) they will become the weapons of my adversary.
Since I do not possess strength and aid and support, he (the adversary) will seize my sword and smite me with it.
In despite of this fleshly soul and evil-natured one who does not veil her face, I will rend my face,
That this beauty and perfection (of mine) may be impaired. When my face (beauty) remains no more, I
shall not fall into woe.
When I rend (my face) with this intention, it is no sin, for this face ought to be covered with wounds.
665. If my heart had a modest disposition, my handsome face would produce naught but purity
Since I did not see (in myself) strength and wisdom and righteousness, I saw the adversary and at once broke my weapons,
Lest my sword should become useful to him; lest my dagger should become hurtful to me.
I will continue to flee as long as my veins are running, (but) how should it be easy to escape from one's self?
He who is in flight from another obtains rest when he has been separated from him (the pursuer).
670. I, who am the adversary (of myself), it is I that am in flight (from myself): rising and departing is my occupation for ever.
He whose adversary is his own shadow is not safe either in India or Khutan.
Description of the selfless ones who have become safe from their own vices and virtues; for they are naughted in the everlastingness of God, like stars which are naughted (vanish) in the Sun during the daytime; and he who is naughted has no fear of bane and (is free from) danger.
When, through (spiritual) poverty, faná (self-naughting) graces him (such a one), he becomes shadowless like Mohammed.
Faná graced (the Prophet who said) ‘Poverty is my pride’: he became shadowless like the flame of a candle.
(When) the candle has become entirely flame from head to foot, the shadow has no passage (way of approach) around it.
675. The wax (candle) fled from itself and from the shadow into the radiance for the sake of Him who moulded the candle.
He said, ‘I moulded you for the sake of faná (self-naughting).’ It replied, ‘I accordingly took refuge in
This is the necessary everlasting radiance, not the radiance of the perishable accidental candle.
When the candle is wholly naughted in the fire (of Divine illumination), you will not see any trace of the
candle or rays (of its light).
Manifestly, in dispelling the darkness, the external (material) flame is maintained by a wax candle;
680. (But) the candle (which is) the body is contrary to the wax candle, since in proportion as that (the body) dwindles, the light of the spirit is increased.
This is the everlasting radiance, and that (bodily candle) is perishable: the candle of the spirit has a Divine flame.
Since this tongue of fire was (really) light, it was far from it to become a perishable shadow. The cloud's shadow falls on the earth: the shadow never consorts with the moon.
Selflessness is cloudlessness, O well-disposed one: in (the state of) selflessness you wilt be like the orb of the moon.
685. Again, when a cloud comes, driven along, the light goes: of the moon there remains (only) a phantom.
Its light is made feeble by the cloud-veil: that noble full-moon becomes less than the new moon.
The moon is made to appear a phantom by clouds and dust: the cloud, (which is) the body, has caused us to conceive phantasies.
Behold the kindness of the (Divine) Moon; for this too is His kindness, that He has said, ‘The clouds are
enemies to Us.’
The Moon is independent of clouds and dust: the Moon has His orbit aloft in the (spiritual) sky.
690. The cloud is our mortal enemy and adversary because it hides the Moon from our eyes. This veil makes the houri (to appear as) a hag: it makes the full-moon less than a new moon. The Moon has seated us in the lap of glory: He has called our foe His enemy.
The splendour and beauty of the cloud is (derived) from the Moon, (but) whoever calls the cloud the Moon is much astray.
Since the light of the Moon has been poured down upon the cloud, its (the cloud's) dark face has been transfigured by the Moon.
695. Although it is of the same colour as the Moon and is associated with (the Moon's) empire, (yet) in the cloud the light of the Moon is (only) borrowed (impermanent).
At the Resurrection the sun and moon are discharged (from their office): the eye is occupied in
(contemplating) the Source of (their) radiance,
In order that it may know (distinguish) the (permanent) possession from the (temporary) loan, and this perishable caravanseray from the everlasting abode.
The nurse is borrowed for three or four days: do you, O Mother, take us into your bosom!
My feathers are (like) the cloud and are a veil and gross: (only) by the reflexion of God's loveliness are they made lovely.
700. I will pluck my feathers and their beauty from the Way (to God), that I may behold the Moon's beauty (by immediate illumination) from the Moon.
I do not want the nurse; (my) Mother is fairer. I am (like) Moses: (my) Mother (herself) is my nurse.
I do not want (to enjoy) the loveliness of the Moon through an intermediary, for this link is perdition to the people;
Unless (the intermediary be) a cloud (that) becomes naughted in the Way (to God) in order that it may not
be a veil to the face of the Moon.
In the aspect of lá (self-negation) it (such a cloud) displays His (the Moon's) form, like the bodies of the prophets and saints.
705. Such a cloud is not veil-tying; it is in reality veil-tearing (and) salutary.
It is as when, on a bright morning, drops of rain were falling though there was no cloud above (in the sky). That water-skin was a miracle of the Prophet: from self-effacement the cloud (which replenished it) had become of the same colour as the sky.
The cloud was (there), but the cloud-nature had gone from it: the body of the lover (of God) becomes like this by means of renunciation.
It is body, but corporeality has vanished from it: it has been transfigured, colour and perfume have gone
710. (My) feathers are for the sake of others, while (my) head is for my own sake: (the head which is)
the abode of hearing and sight is the pillar (support) of the body.
Know that to sacrifice the spirit for the sake of catching others is absolute infidelity and despair of good. Beware! Do not be like sugar before parrots; nay, be a poison, be secure from loss;
Or (otherwise), for the sake of having a ‘Bravo’ addressed to you, make yourself (as) a carcase in the presence of dogs!
Therefore Khadir scuttled the boat for this purpose, (namely), that the boat might be delivered from him who would have seized it by force.
715. (The mystery of) ‘Poverty is my pride’ is sublime: (it is) for the purpose that I may take refuge from the covetous with Him who is Self-sufficient.
Treasures are deposited in a ruined spot to the end that they may escape the greed of those who dwell in places of cultivation.
(If) you canst not tear out your feathers, go, adopt (a life of) solitude, that you mayst not be entirely squandered (consumed) by that one and this one;
For you art both the morsel (of food) and the eater of the morsel: you art the devourer and the devoured. Apprehend (this), O (dear) soul!
Explaining that everything except God is devouring and devoured, like the bird that was in pursuit of a locust and occupied in chasing it and oblivious of the hungry hawk behind its own back, that was about to seize it. Now, O hunting and devouring man, be not secure against yours own hunter and devourer. Though with the sight of the (physical) eye you seest him not, (yet) see him with the eye of serious consideration till the opening of the eye of the inmost heart (oculus cordis).
A little bird was hunting a worm: a cat found its opportunity and seized it.
720. It (the bird) was a devourer and a thing devoured, and (being engrossed) in its hunting was ignorant of another hunter.
Although the thief is (engaged) in hunting articles of property, (yet) the prefect of police with (the thief's)
enemies is behind him (on his track).
His mind is occupied with chattels and lock and door: he is heedless of the prefect and of the outcry (that
will arise) at dawn.
He is so absorbed in his passion (for gain) he gives no heed to his seekers and pursuers. If the herbage is drinking pure water, (yet) afterwards an animal's belly will feed on it.
725. That grass is devouring and devoured: even so (is) everything that exists except God.
Since He is (the subject of the text) and He feedeth you and is not fed, God is not devouring and devoured, (like) flesh and skin.
How should that which is devouring and devoured be secure from a devourer who dwells in a (secret)
The security of those who are (liable to be) devoured brings mourning in its train: go to the Portal of Him who is not fed.
Every phantasy is devouring another phantasy: (one) thought feeds on another thought.
730. you canst not be delivered from any phantasy or fall asleep so as to escape from it (altogether). (your) thoughts are (like) hornets, and your sleep is (like) the water (in which you art plunged): when you awakest, the flies (hornets) come back,
And many hornet-like phantasies fly in and (now) draw you this way and (now) take you that way. This (mental) phantasy is the least of the devourers: the Almighty knows (how great are) the others. Hark, flee from the troop of huge devourers towards Him who has said, ‘We are your protector’;
735. Or towards one who has gained that (power of) protection, if you canst not hasten towards the
Do not surrender your hand save to the hand of the Pír (spiritual director); (for) God has become the aider of his hand.
The Pír (Elder), (which is) your intellect, has become childish from being a neighbour to the carnal soul which is in the veil (of sensuality).
Associate the perfect intelligence (of the spiritual director) with your (imperfect) understanding, in order that your understanding may return (withdraw itself) from that evil disposition.
When you layest your hand in his, then you wilt escape from the hand of the devourers,
740. And your hand will become one of the Covenanters above whose hands is the
Hand of Allah.
When you have put your hand in the hand of the Pír, the Pír of wisdom who is knowing and eminent, Who is the prophet of his own time, O disciple, so that the Light of the Prophet is manifested by him, By this means you have been present at Hudaybiya and have been associated with the Companions who took the Covenant.
Therefore you have become one of the ten Friends to whom the glad tidings were given, and have been made pure like sterling gold.
745. (This is) to the end that communion may be made perfect; for a man is united with that one whom he has made his friend.
He is with him in this world and in that (other) world; and this is the (meaning of) the Hadíth of sweet- natured Ahmad (Mohammed),
(Who) said, ‘A man is with him whom he loves’: the heart is not severed from its object of desire.
Do not sit in any place where there is a trap and bait: O you who regardest (others) as weak, go, consider
(what becomes of) those who regard (others) as weak.
O you who regardest the weak as weak (and at your mercy), know this, (that) there is a hand above your hand, O youth.
750. you art weak (yourself) and you regardest (others) as weak. Oh, wonderful! you art at once the prey and the hunter in pursuit (of the prey).
Be not (one of those described in the Verse) before and behind them (We will set) a barrier, so that you canst not see the enemy, though the enemy is manifest.
The greed of hunting makes (one) oblivious of being a prey: he (the hunter) tries to win hearts (though) he has lost his own.
Be not you inferior to a bird in (your) seeking: (even) a sparrow sees (what is) before and behind.
When it approaches the grain (bait), at that moment it turns its head and face several times to front and rear,
755. (As though to say), ‘Oh, I wonder whether there is a fowler in front of me or behind, so that for fear of him I should abstain from this food.’
Do you see behind (you) the story of (what happened to) the wicked; see before (you) the death of (many a) friend and neighbour,
Whom He (God) destroyed without (using) any instrument: He is close to you in every circumstance. God inflicted torment (on them), and there is no mace or hand (employed): know, then, that God is one who deals justice (inflicts chastisement) without hands.
He who was saying, ‘If God exists, where is He?’ was confessing on the rack (of pain) that it is He (God).
760. He who was saying, ‘This is far-fetched and marvellous’ was shedding tears and crying, ‘O you who art nigh!’
Since he has deemed it necessary to flee from the trap, (it is strange that) the trap for you is in fact stuck fast to your (gaudy) feathers.
I will tear out the pin of this ill-fated trap: I will not suffer bitter grief for the sake of (indulging) a desire.
I have given you this answer (which is) suitable to your understanding: apprehend (its meaning) and do not avert your face from seeking.
Snap this cord, which is greed and envy: remember (the text) on her neck a cord of palm-fibres.”