Parable of the world (really) existent that appears non-existent and the world (really) non-existent that appears existent.
He (God) has caused the non-existent to appear existent and magnificent; He has caused the existent to appear in the form of non-existence.
He has concealed the Sea and made the foam visible; He has concealed the Wind and displayed to you the dust.
The dust is whirling in the air, (high) as a minaret: how should the dust rise aloft of itself?
You seest the dust on high, O infirm (of sight): the Wind (you seest) not, except through knowledge given by induction.
1030. you seest the foam moving in every direction: without the Sea the foam has no turning-place. you seest the foam by sense perception and the Sea by induction: thought is hidden, speech manifest. We deemed negation to be affirmation: we had an eye that saw (only) the nonexistent.
The eye that appeared (came into being) in a state of slumber, how should it be able to see aught but phantasy and non-existence?
Necessarily we were bewildered by error, since Reality was hidden and Phantasy visible,
1035. (Wondering) why He (God) set up this non-existence in (full) view and why He caused that
Reality to be hidden from sight.
Praise (to you), O Master-weaver of magic who have made the dregs to seem pure (wine) to them that turn away (from the Truth).
Magicians quickly measure moonbeams in the presence of the merchant and receive gold as profit. (When) by artful tricks of this sort they take money, the money is gone from his (the purchaser's) hand, (but) there is no linen (to be seen).
This world is a sorcerer, and we are the merchants who buy from it the measured moonbeams.
1040. Magician-like, it hastily measures out by the ell five hundred ells of linen from the light of the moonbeams,
(Yet), when it takes the money, (which is) your life, O slave, the money is gone, there is no linen, and your purse is empty.
You must recite Say, I take refuge, crying, “O (You who art) One, come, save me from the witches and from (their) knots.
These sorceresses are blowing on the knots: help, O you whose help is besought against (the world's)
victory and checkmate.”
But invoke (Him) with the tongue of deeds also, for the tongue of words is weak, O honourable man.
1045. In the world you have three fellow-travellers: one is faithful and these two (others) are treacherous.
One (of the latter) is friends and the other is goods and chattels; and the third (fellow-traveller) is faithful, and that one is excellence in deeds.
(your) wealth will not come with you out of your palaces; (your) friend will come, but he will come (only) as far as your grave.
When your day of doom comes to meet you, your friend will say (to himself) in the language appropriate to his sentiments,
“(I have come) as far as here: I accompany you no farther, I will stand a (little) while at your grave.”
1050. your deeds (alone) are faithful: make of them your refuge, for they will come with you into the depths of the tomb.