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(Masnavi Book 5: 12) Muammad Khwarizmshah and the people of Sabzawar










Story of Muhammad Khwárizmsháh who took by war (force) the city of Sabzawár, where all (the inhabitants) are Ráfizís (extreme Shíites). (When) they begged him to spare their lives, he said, I will grant (you) security as soon as ye produce from this city a man named Abú Bakr and present him to me.”

845. Muhammad Alp Ulugh Khwárizmsháh marched to battle against Sabzawár, (the city) full of refuge
(for the wicked).
His troops reduced them (the inhabitants) to straits; his army fell to killing the foe.
They prostrated themselves before him, crying, “Mercy! Make us your thralls, (but) spare our lives! Whatever you requirest (in the way of) tribute or presents will come to you from us with increase (abundantly) at every fixed time (of payment).
Our lives are yours, O lion-natured (prince): let them be on deposit with us for a (little) while.”

850. He replied, Ye will not save your lives from me unless ye bring an Abú Bakr into my presence. Unless ye bring to me as a gift from your city one whose name is Abú Bakr, O people who have fled (from righteousness),
I will mow you down like corn, O vile folk: I will accept neither tribute nor blandishments.
They offered him many sacks of gold, saying, Do not demand an Abú Bakr from a city like this. How should there be an Abú Bakr in Sabzawár, or a dry sod in the river?

855. He averted his face from the gold and said, O Magians (infidels), unless ye bring me an Abú Bakr as an offering,
It is of no avail. I am not a child that I should stand dumbfounded (fascinated) by gold and silver.”
Unless you prostrate yourself (in humble submission to God), you wilt not escape (from punishment), O
wretch, (even) if you traverse the (whole) mosque on your séant.
They (the inhabitants of Sabzawár) despatched emissaries, (to inquire) where in this desolate (corrupt)
place an Abú Bakr was (to be found).
After three days and three nights, during which they made haste (in searching), they found an emaciated
Abú Bakr.

860. He was a wayfarer and, on account of sickness, had remained in the corner of a ruin, in utter exhaustion.
He was lying in a ruined nook. When they espied him, they said to him hurriedly, “Arise! The Sultan has demanded you: by you our city will be saved from slaughter.”
He replied, If I had the foot (power to walk) or any (means of) arrival, I myself would have gone by my own road to my destination.

How should I have remained in this abode of my enemies? I would have pushed on towards the city of my friends.”

865. They raised the corpse-bearers' board and lifted our Abú Bakr (upon it).
The carriers were taking him along to Khwárizmsháh, that he (the Sultan) might behold the token (which he desired).
Sabzawár is this world, and in this place the man of God is wasted and goodfor- naught.
Khwárizmsháh is God Almighty: He demands from this wicked folk the (pure) heart.
He (the Prophet) said,He (God) doth not regard your (outward) form: therefore in your devising seek ye the owner of the Heart.”

870. (God says), “I regard you through the owner of the Heart, not because of the (external) marks of prostration (in prayer) and the giving away of gold (in charities).”
Since you have deemed your heart to be the Heart, you have abandoned the search after those who possess the Heart—
The Heart into which if seven hundred (heavens) like these Seven Heavens should enter, they would be lost and hidden (from view).
Do not call such fragments of heart as these “the Heart: do not seek an Abú Bakr in Sabzawár!
The owner of the Heart becomes a six-faced mirror: through him God looks upon (all) the six directions.

875. Whosoever has his dwelling-place in (the world of) six directions God doth not look upon him except through the mediation of him (the owner of the Heart).
If He (God) reject (any one), He does it for his sake; and if He accept (any one), he likewise is the authority.
Without him God does not bestow bounty on any one. I have told (only) one sample of (the sublimity of)
the possessor of union (with God).
He (God) lays His gift on the palm of his hand, and from his palm dispenses it to those who are the objects of His mercy.
The unitedness of the Universal Sea (of Bounty) with his palm is unqualified and unconditional and perfect.

880. A unitedness that is not containable in wordsto speak of it were a vain task, so farewell.
O rich man, (if) you bring a hundred sacks of gold, God will say, Bring the Heart, O you that art bent (in devotion).
If the Heart be pleased with you, I am pleased; and if it be averse to you, I am averse. I do not regard you, I regard that Heart: bring it, O soul, as a gift to My door! According as it is in relation to you, so am I: Paradise is under the feet of mothers.

885. It (the Heart) is the mother and father and origin of (all) the creatures: oh, blest is that one who knows the Heart from the skin.
You wilt say, Lo, I have brought unto you a heart: He (God) will say to you, Qutú is full of these hearts.
Bring the Heart that is the Qutb (Pole) of the world and the soul of the soul of the soul of the soul of
Adam.”
The Sultan of (all) hearts is waiting expectantly for that Heart full of light and goodness.
You mayst wander (many) days in Sabzawár, (but) you wilt not find (there) a Heart like that by (the most)
careful observation.

890. Then you wilt lay upon a bier the corrupt heart, whose soul is rotten, to carry (it) Yonder, And say, I bring you a heart, O King: there is no better heart than this in Sabzawár.”
He (God) will answer you, saying, O audacious man, is this a graveyard that you shouldst bring a dead heart hither?
Go, bring the Heart that is kingly, from which is (derived) the security of the Sabzawár of (mundane)
existence.
You may say that that Heart is hidden from this world, because darkness and light are opposites.

895. From the Day of Alast there is an hereditary enmity of that Heart to the Sabzawár of the carnal nature;
For it is a falcon, while this world is the city of the crow: the sight of one who is uncongenial inflicts pain upon him who is not his congener;
And if he (the worldling) behave with mildness (complaisance), he is acting hypocritically: he is seeking an advantage for himself by conciliating (the owner of the Heart).
He assents, not on account of sincere feeling, (but) in order that the admonisher may curtail his long
admonition;
For this vile carrion-seeking crow has a hundred thousand manifold tricks.

900. If they (the saints) accept his hypocrisy, he is saved: his hypocrisy becomes identical with the sincerity of him who benefits by instruction,
Because the august owner of the Heart is a buyer of damaged goods in our bazaar.
Seek the owner of the Heart, if you art not soulless: become a congener of the Heart, if you art not an adversary of the (spiritual) Sultan.
(But) that one whose hypocrisy pleases you, he is (only) your saint, (he is) not the elect of God. Whosoever lives in accordance with your disposition and nature seems to your (carnal) nature to be a saint and a prophet.

905. Go, renounce sensuality in order that the (spiritual) scent may be yours and that the sweet ambergris-seeking organ of smell may be yours.
Your brain (organ of smell) is corrupted by sensual indulgence: to your (olfactory) sense musk and ambergris are unsalable.
This discourse has no bound, and (meanwhile) our gazelle is running to and fro in flight in the stable.

The remainder of the Story of the gazelle in the donkey-stable.

During (many) days the sweet-navelled male gazelle was in torment in the donkey-stable,
Like a fish wriggling in the death-agony from (being kept on) dry ground, (or like) dung and musk tortured
(by being kept) in the same box.

910. One donkey would say to his neighbour, Ha! this wild fellow has the nature of kings and princes. Hush!”
And the other would mock, saying, By (constant) ebb and flow he has gained a pearl: how should he sell cheaply?”
And another donkey would say, “With this fastidiousness (of his), let him recline on the imperial throne!” A certain donkey became ill with indigestion and was unable to eat; therefore he gave the gazelle a formal invitation (to dine).
He (the gazelle) shook his head, (as though to say), Nay, begone, O such-and such: I have no appetite, I
am unwell.”

915. He (the donkey) replied, I know that you are showing disdain, or holding aloof in regard for your reputation.”
He (the gazelle) said to himself, That (which you offer me) is your food, whereby your limbs are revived and renewed.
I have been familiar with a (beauteous) pasture, I have reposed amongst (rivulets of) clear water and meadows.
If Destiny has cast me into torment, (yet) how should that goodly disposition and nature depart (from me)?
If I have become a beggar, (yet) how should I have the face (impudence and greed) of a beggar? And if my
(bodily) raiment become old, (yet) I am (spiritually) new.

920. I have eaten hyacinth and anemone and sweet basil too with a thousand disdains and disgusts.” He (the donkey) said, Yes; boast and boast and boast away! In a strange country one can utter many an idle brag.”
He (the gazelle) replied, “Truly my navel (musk-gland) bears (me) witness: it confers a (great) favour
(even) on aloes-wood and ambergris.

But who will hearken to (perceive) that? (Only) he that has the (spiritual) sense of smell. It is taboo for the donkey addicted to dung.
The donkey smells donkey's urine on the road: how should I offer musk to (creatures of) this class?

925. Hence the Prophet, (who was always) responsive (to the Divine command), spake, the parable, Islam is a stranger in this world,”
Because even his (the true Moslem's) kinsfolk are fleeing from him, though the angels are in harmony with
his essence.
The people deem his (outward) form homogeneous (with theirs), but they do not perceive in him that
(spiritual) fragrance.
(He is) like a lion in the shape of a cow: behold him from afar but do not investigate him!
And if you investigate, take leave of the cow, (which is) the body; for that lion natured one will tear the cow to pieces.

930. He will expel the bovine nature from your head, he will uproot animality from the animal (soul).
(If) you are a cow, you will become a lion (when) near him; (but) if you are glad to be a cow, do not seek to be a lion.

Commentary on Verily I saw seven fat kine which seven lean kine devoured.” God had created those lean kine with the qualities of hungry lions, to the end that they might devour the seven fat ones with avidity. Although (only) the forms of those kine were shown as phantoms in the mirror of dream, do you regard the reality!

The Lord of Egypt saw in dream, when the door of his inward eye was opened, Seven fat kine, exceedingly well-nourished: the seven lean kine devoured them.
The lean ones were lions within; else they would not have been devouring the (fat) kine.

935. The man of (holy) works, then, is human in appearance, but in him is concealed a man-eating lion. He (the lion) heartily devours the (carnal) man and makes him single: his dregs become pure if he (the lion) inflict pain upon him.
By that one pain he is delivered from all dregs: he sets his foot upon Suhá.
How long wilt you speak (caw) like the ill-omened crow? (Let me return to the parable and ask), O
Khalíl, wherefore didst you kill the cock?”
He replied, (Because of) the (Divine) command.” Tell (me) the wisdom of the (Divine) command, that I
may glorify that (wisdom) punctiliously.”

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