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(Masnavi Book 5: 24) The People of Zarwán











Story of the people of Zarwán and their envy of the poor. Our father,” they said, “from (foolish) simplicity used to give to the poor the most part of the produce of his orchard.” When it was grapes, he would give a tithe; and when they were turned into raisins or syrup, he would give a tithe; and whenever he made hal or pálúda, he would give a tithe; and he would give a tithe of the corn-sheaves, and when he threshed (the corn), he would give a tithe of the unthreshed ears mixed (with straw); and when he

separated the wheat from the straw, he would give a tithe; and when he made flour, he would give a tithe; and when he leavened the dough, he would give a tithe; and when he made bread, he would give a tithe. Consequently God most High had laid such a blessing on his orchard and crops that all the (other) owners of orchards were in need of him, both for fruit and money, while he needed nothing from any of them. His sons saw the repeated payment of tithes, and did not see the blessing, velut illa femina infelix quae veretrum asini vidit, cucurbitam non vidit.

There was a righteous godly man: he had perfect intelligence and a (great) foresight as to the end.
In the village of Zarwán, near Yemen, (he was) renowned for (his) almsgiving and good disposition.

1475. His abode was the Kaba of the poor: the distressed were (always) coming to him.
He would give, unostentatiously, a tithe both of the ears of corn and of the wheat when it was separated from the chaff.
(If) it was made into flour, he would give a tithe of that too; if it was made into bread, he would give another tithe of the bread.
He would never omit (to give) the tithe of any produce: he would give (the tithe) four times on that which he sowed.
That (generous) young man was continually giving many injunctions to all his sons,

1480. Saying, For God's sake, for God's sake, after I am gone, do not on account of your covetousness withhold the portion of the poor,
So that the crops and fruit may remain (as a) permanent (blessing bestowed) on you under the safeguard of your obedience to God.
Without surmise or doubt, (it is) God (who) has sent all produce and fruits from the Unseen.
If you expend something in the place where the produce comes, it is the gateway to profit: you will obtain a
(great) profit (thereby).
The Turk sows the major part of the produce again in the field, because it (the sown field) is the source of the fruits (crops).

1485. He sows most of it and consumes (only) a little, for he has no doubt of its growing.
The Turk shakes (moves to and fro) his hand in sowing, because that (former) crop of his has been produced from the same soil.
Likewise the shoemaker buys hide and leather and morocco (with) the surplus left over from (what he spends on) bread,
Saying, These have (always) been the sources of my income: from these, accordingly, my means of livelihood are flowing.
His income has come from that place: consequently he bestows (it) in the same place with liberality and
generosity.

1490. This soil (that produces crops) and (this) morocco are only a veil (secondary cause): know that at every moment the (real) source of livelihood is in God.
When you sow, sow in the soil of the Origin, that for every single (seed) a hundred thousand (blessings)
may grow.
If just now (recently) you have sown seed, (as) I will suppose, in a soil which you thought (would be) a means (of producing crops)—
When it (the seed) does not grow during two or three years, how can you do aught but put your hand (to your head) in supplication and prayer?
You will beat your hand on your head in the presence of God: (your) hand and head bear witness to His
giving sustenance;

1495. So that you may know that He is the Source of the source of (all) sustenance, and that the seeker of sustenance may seek only Him.
Seek sustenance from Him, do not seek it from Zayd and Amr: seek intoxication from Him, do not seek it from beng and wine.

Desire wealth from Him, not from treasure and possessions: desire aid from Him, not from paternal and maternal uncles.
At the last you will be left without (all) these things: hark, unto whom will you call then? Call unto Him now, and leave (all) the rest, that you may inherit the kingdom of the world.

1500. When comes (the Day on which) a man shall flee from his brother and on such a Day the son will flee from his father,
In that hour every friend will become your foe, because (in the world) he was your idol and one who hindered (you) from (following) the (right) Way.
You were averting your face from the Painter of the face, since you were gaining heart's delight from a
(mere) picture.
If at this (present) time your friends become hostile to you and turn aside from you and quarrel (with you), Take heed and say, “Lo, my fortune is triumphant: that which would have happened to-morrow (at the Last Judgement) has happened to-day.

1505. The people of this caravanseray (the world) have become my enemies, in order that the
Resurrection might be made clearly visible to me beforehand,
Ere I should lose my time and associate with them to the end of my life.
I had bought defective goods: thanks (to God) that I have become aware of their defectiveness in time,
Ere the stock-in-trade should go out of my hands and finally come forth (be exposed) as defective.
My wealth was (all but) gone, my life was (all but) gone, O man of noble lineage: I had (all but) given away my wealth and life for damaged goods.

1510. I sold my merchandise, I received base gold: I was going home in great jubilation. Thanks (to God) that this gold was shown to be base now, before too much of my life had passed.
The base coin would have remained (as a shackle) on my neck for ever: to waste my life (thus) would have been an iniquity.
Since its (the coin's) baseness has been revealed earlier (in good time), I will step back from it very quickly.”
When your friend displays enmity (and when) the itch of his hatred and jealousy shoots forth (manifests itself),

1515. Do not bewail his aversion, do not make yourself (do not let yourself behave as) a fool and ignoramus;
Nay, thank God and give bread (alms), (in gratitude) that you have not become old (and rotten) in his sack, (But) have quickly come out of his sack to seek the true Eternal Friend,
The delectable Friend whose friendship's cord becomes threefold (thrice as strong) after your death.
That friend, in sooth, may be the (Divine) Sultan and exalted King, or he may be one accepted of the Sultan and one who intercedes (with Him).

1520. You are (now) delivered from the false coiner and (his) hypocrisy and fraud: you have seen his tumour (imposture) plainly before death.
If you understood (aright) this injustice shown towards you by the people in the world, it is a hidden treasure of gold.
The people are made to be thus evil-natured towards you, that your face may inevitably be turned Yonder. Know this for sure that in the end all of them will become adversaries and foes and rebels.
You will be left in the tomb, lamenting and beseeching the One (God), (and crying), Do not leave me
(here) alone!

1525. O you whose harshness is better than the troth of the faithful, the honey (kindness) of the faithful is also from your bounty.”
Hearken to your own reason, O possessor of a granary, and commit your wheat to the earth of Allah,
That it may be safe from thieves and weevils. Kill the Devil with the woodfretter (of reason) as quickly as possible;
For he is always frightening you with (the threat of) poverty: make him your prey like a partridge, O valiant hawk.

It would be a shame for the falcon of the mighty and fortunate Sultan to be made a prey by the partridge.

1530. He (the father) gave many injunctions (to his sons) and sowed the seed of exhortation, (but) as their soil was nitrous (barren), it was of no avail.
Although the admonisher have a hundred appeals, counsel demands a retentive ear.
You counsel him (the heedless man) with a hundred courtesies, and he turns aside from your counsel. A single person who obstinately refuses to listen will baffle a hundred (eloquent) speakers.
Who should be more persuasive in counselling and sweeter-tongued than the prophets, whose words made an impression (even) on stones?

1535. (Yet) the bonds of the ill-fated (infidel) were not being loosed by that whereby mountain and stone were moved.
Such hearts as had egoism were described (in the words of the Qur’án) nay, harder (than stone).

Explaining that the bounty of God and of the (Divine) Omnipotence is not dependent on receptivity, as human bounty is; for in the latter case receptivity is necessary. (In the former case it is not) because (the Divine) bounty is eternal, whereas receptivity is temporal. Bounty is an attribute of the Creator, while receptivity is an attribute of the creature; and the eternal cannot depend on the temporal, otherwise temporality (origination in time) would be absurd.

The remedy for such a heart is the gift bestowed by a Transmuter: receptivity is not a necessary condition for His bounty.
Nay, His bounty is the necessary condition for receptivity: Bounty is the kernel, and receptivity the husk. The change of Moses' rod into a serpent and the shining of his hand like a (resplendent) sun,

1540. And a hundred thousand miracles of the prophets which are not comprehended by our mind and understanding—
(These) are not derived from secondary causes but are (under) the (direct) control of God: how can receptivity belong to non-existent things?
If receptivity were a necessary condition for God's action, no non-existent thing would come into existence.
He (God) has established a (customary) law and causes and means for the sake of those who seek (Him)
under this blue veil (of heaven).
Most happenings come to pass according to the (customary) law, (but) sometimes the (Divine) Power breaks the law.

1545. He has established a goodly law and custom; then He has made the (evidentiary) miracle a breach of the custom.
If honour does not reach us without a (mediating) cause, (yet) the (Divine) Power is not remote from the removal of the cause.
O you who art caught by the cause, do not fly outside (of causation); but (at the same time) do not suppose the removal of the Causer.
The Causer brings (into existence) whatsoever He will: the Absolute Power tears up (destroys) the causes;
But, for the most part, He lets the execution (of His will) follow the course of causation, in order that a seeker may be able to pursue the object of his desire.

1550. When there is no cause, what way should the seeker pursue? Therefore he must have a visible cause in the way (that he is pursuing).
These causes are veils on the eyes, for not every eye is worYour of (contemplating) His work. An eye that can penetrate the cause is needed to extirpate (these) veils from root and bottom,
So that it may behold the Causer in (the world of) non-spatiality and regard exertion and earnings and shops as (mere) nonsense.
Everything good or evil comes from the Causer: causes and means, O father, are naught

1555. But a phantom that has materialised on the King's highway in order that the period of heedlessness
(the reign of ignorance) may endure for some (little) time.

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