On the beginning of the creation of the body of Adam, on whom be peace, when He (God) commanded Gabriel, on whom be peace, saying, “Go, take a handful of clay from this Earth,” or according to another relation, “Take a handful from every region.”
When the Maker willed to bring Man into existence for the purpose of probation with good and evil, He commanded Gabriel the true, saying, “Go, take a handful of clay from the Earth as a pledge.”
He girt his loins and came to the Earth, that he might execute the command of the Lord of created beings.
That obedient one moved his hand towards the Earth: the Earth withdrew herself and was afraid.
1560. Then the Earth loosed her tongue and made supplication, saying, “For the sake of the reverence due to the unique Creator,
Take leave of me and go! Spare my life! Go, turn aside from me the reins of your white steed!
For God's sake, leave me and do not plunge me into the troubles of (moral) obligation and danger.
(I beseech you) for the sake of the favour by which God chose you out and revealed to you the knowledge
(written) in the Universal Tablet,
So that you have become the teacher of the Angels and art conversing with God continually;
1565. For you wilt be the messenger sent to the prophets: you art the life of the inspired spirit, not (the life) of the body.
You (ever) hadst superiority over Seraphiel because he is the body's life, (while) you art the spirit's. The blast of his trumpet is (producing) the growth of bodies; your breath is (producing) the growth of the single heart.
The life of the heart is the soul of the soul of the body: therefore your gift is superior to his.
Again, Michael gives the sustenance (proper) for the body, (but) your labour gives the sustenance (proper)
for the illumined heart.
1570. He has filled his skirt with gifts (of sustenance dispensed) by measure, (but) your gifts of sustenance are immeasurable.
Moreover, you art better than Azrael the tyrannous and enraged, even as (Divine) Mercy is prior to Wrath. These four (Angels) are the bearers of the (Divine) Throne, and you (art their) king: you art the best of all of the four from being (spiritually) awake.
On the Day of the (Last) Congregation you wilt see that its bearers are eight: at that time also you wilt be the most excellent of its eight (bearers).”
Thus was she (the Earth) enumerating (his qualities) and weeping: she guessed what was the object of this
1575. Gabriel was a mine of reverence and respect: those adjurations barred the way against him. Inasmuch as she entreated and adjured him, he returned and said, “O Lord of your servants,
(I protest) that I have not been remiss in your affair, but you knowest what happened better (than I). She (the Earth) pronounced the Name from awe of which, O All-seeing One, the Seven Heavens would cease from their course.
(A feeling of) shame came over me, I was abashed by your Name; else, it is easy to convey a handful of
1580. For you have bestowed such a strength upon the Angels that they can tear these celestial spheres to shreds.”
The sending of Michael, on whom be peace, to take a handful of clay from the Earth for putting together the frame of the blessed body of the Father of Mankind, the Vicegerent of God, Adam, on whom be peace, the Adored of the Angels and their Teacher.
He (God) said to Michael, “Do you go down and seize, like a lion, a handful of clay from her.” When Michael reached the Earth, he put forth his hand to seize (the clay) from her.
The Earth trembled and began to flee (recoil): she became suppliant and shed tears.
Her breast burning (with grief), she made supplication and earnest entreaty: with bloody tears she adjured
1585. Saying, “(I beseech you) by the gracious incomparable God who has made you the bearer of the majestic Throne.
You art the overseer for measuring (and dispensing) the world's means of sustenance: you art the ladler to them that thirst for the (Divine) bounty”—
Because (the name) Míká’íl (Michael) is derived from kayl (measure), and he has become the measurer
(kayyál) in dispensation of the means of subsistence.
“Give me quarter, set me free! See how I am uttering words stained with blood.”
The Angel is a mine of God's mercy: he (Michael) said, “How should I sprinkle this salt on that wound?”—
1590. Just as the Devil is a mine of (God's) wrath, for he has raised up a roar (of lamentation) from the sons of Adam.
The precedence of Mercy over Wrath exists (as a fact), O youth: clemency was (eternally) predominant in the nature of God.
His (chosen) servants necessarily possess His disposition: their water-skins are filled from the water of His stream.
The Messenger of God and the Guide on the (mystic) journey said that men follow the usage of their kings. Michael went (back) to the Lord of the Judgement, with hand and sleeve empty of the object of his quest.
1595. He said, “O Knower of the secret, O peerless King, the Earth bound me (tied my hands) by lamenting and weeping.
Tears were (ever) precious with You: I could not feign not to have heard.
Moaning and wailing (ever) had great value with You: I could not leave their rights unheeded.
With you the moist eye is much prized: how should I have become quarrelsome in resisting (her)?”
There is a summons to the servant (of God) to lamentation five times a day— “come to (perform) the ritual prayer, and make lament.”
1600. The muezzin's cry is “hasten to welfare,” and that welfare is this lamentation and petitioning.
He whom you wishest to make sorrow-stricken—You do bar against his heart the way to lamentation, In order that affliction may descend (upon him) without (there being) anything to repel it, when there is no intercessor (in the form) of humble entreaty;
And (on the other hand) you do lead to humble entreaty the spirit of him whom you wishest to redeem from affliction.
You have said in the Qur’án that (as regards) those peoples on which that heavy vengeance fell,
1605. It was because at that moment they would not make humble entreaty that the affliction might be averted from them;
But since their hearts had been hardened, their sins appeared (to them) as obedient service (rendered to
Until the sinner deems himself rebellious, how can tears run from his eye?
The Story of the people of Yúnus (Jonah), on whom be peace, is a demonstration and manifest proof that humble entreaty and lamentation avert affliction sent from Heaven. And God most High acts by free choice: therefore humble entreaty and reverence avail with Him. The philosophers, however, say that He acts by (the necessity of His) nature and as a cause, not by free choice: therefore humble entreaty (is useless, for it) cannot alter nature.
When the affliction became visible to the people of Yúnus, a cloud full of fire departed (descended) from heaven.
It was shooting (flashes of) lightning, the rocks were burning; the cloud was roaring, cheeks were shedding colour.
1610. All (the people) were on the roofs at night, when that woe came into view from on high. All came down from the roofs and went bare-headed towards the open country.
Mothers cast out their children, that all might raise wailing and distressful cries.
From (the time of) the evening prayer till the hour of dawn, those folk were throwing dust on their heads.
(Then) all voices were hushed: the (Divine) mercy came upon that perverse people.
1615. After despair and unrestrained lamentation, little by little the cloud began to turn back.
The story of Yúnus is long and broad: it is time (to speak) of the Earth and (resume) the far-spread tale. Since humble entreaty has (such) value with God—and where (else) has lamentation the price (reward) that it has there?—
Oh, (take) hope! Now (to-day) gird your loins tight! Arise, O weeper, and laugh continually,
For the glorious King is ranking tears as equal in merit to the blood of the martyr.
The sending of Isráfíl (Seraphiel), on whom be peace, to the Earth with orders to take a handful of clay for moulding the body of Adam, on whom be peace.
1620. Our God said to Seraphiel, “Go, fill your hand with that clay and come (back).” Seraphiel, likewise, came to the Earth: again the Earth began to moan,
Saying, “O Angel of the trumpet (of Resurrection) and O Sea of life, by whose breaths the dead are revived,
You blowest one terrible blast from the trumpet, and the place of Judgement becomes full of people
(raised) from rotten bones.
You blowest on the trumpet and criest, ‘Hark, spring up, O ye slain of Karbalá!
1625. O ye who have perished by the sword of Death, put forth your heads from the earth (grave), like bough and leaf!’
From your bringing the dead to life this world is filled with your mercy and with that potent breath of yours. you art the Angel of mercy: show mercy! you art the bearer of the Throne and the qibla of (Divine) gifts.”
The Throne is the mine (source) of justice and equity: beneath it are four rivers filled with forgiveness: A river of milk and a river of honey everlasting; a river of wine and a river of running water.
1630. Then from the Throne they flow into Paradise; some little thing (offshoot) appears in this world too,
Although here those four (rivers) are defiled—by what? By the poison of mortality and indigestion.
From (each of) those four (rivers) a draught has been poured on the dark Earth and a temptation has been offered,
In order that these vile wretches may seek the source thereof; (but) these worthless folk are content with this (draught).
He (God) has given milk and nourishment for babes: He has made the breast of every wife a fountain (of milk).
1635. (He has given) wine to drive away grief and care: He has made of the grape a fountain to inspire courage.
(He has given) honey as a remedy for the sick body: He has made the inward part of the bee a fountain
He gave water universally to high and low for cleanliness and for drinking.
(The object is) that you may follow the track from these (derivatives) towards the origins; but you are content with this (offshoot), O trifler.
Now hear the story of the Earth and what she is saying to enchant the disturber (of her peace).
1640. With frowning (unsmiling) looks in the presence of Seraphiel, she is practising a hundred sorts of coquetry and blandishment,
Saying, “By the truth of the holy essence of the Almighty, (I beseech you), do not regard this violence to me as lawful!
I have a presentiment of this change: suspicious thoughts are running in my head.
You art the Angel of mercy: show mercy, for the humá will not harm any (common) bird.
O (you who art) healing and mercy to the sorrowful, do you the same as those two benefactors did.”
1645. At once Seraphiel returned to the King: in God's presence he excused himself and told what had passed,
Saying, “Outwardly (formally) you gavest (me) the command to take (the clay), (but) you didst inspire my conscience to do the opposite of that.
The command to take you didst address to my ear, the prohibition against hardheartedness you didst address to my understanding.
Mercy, being prior, prevailed over wrath, O Lord whose actions are incomparable and whose dealings are
The sending of Azrael, the Angel of firm resolution and strong mind, on whom be peace, to seize a handful of clay in order that the body of Adam, on whom be peace, might be quickened.
Straightway God said to Azrael, “Behold the Earth full of vain imagination!
1650. Find that feeble unjust old crone: hark, fetch a handful of clay and make haste!”
Azrael, the captain of the (Divine) Decree, went off towards the terrestrial globe for the purpose of requisition.
The Earth, according to rule, began lamenting loudly: she adjured him, she swore many an oath,
Crying, “O favourite youth (page-of-honour), O bearer of the Throne, O you whose command is obeyed in
heaven and earth,
Depart, for the sake of the mercy of the Merciful (God)! Depart, for the sake of Him who has shown kindness unto you!
1655. (Depart), for the sake of that King who alone is worshipped and with whom no one's lamentation is rejected!”
He replied, “These conjurations cannot move me to avert my face from (disobey) the Giver of (all)
commands secret or manifest.”
She said, “After all, He has commanded forbearance: both (severity and forbearance) are commanded:
take (choose) the latter on the ground of knowledge.”
He replied, “That would be an interpretation or an inference: do not seek to confuse the plain meaning of the command.
If you interpret (alter) yours own thought (so as to make it agree with the command), it is better than that you shouldst interpret (pervert) this unequivocal (command).
1660. My heart is burning (melting) at your supplication, my bosom is filled with blood on account of your salty tears.
I am not pitiless; nay, I have greater pity than those three holy ones for the sorrow of the sorrowful. If I am slapping an orphan, while a mild-natured person may put halwá (sweetmeat) in his hand,
Those slaps (of mine) are better (for him) than the other's halwá; and if he be beguiled by the halwá, woe to him!
My heart is burning at your lamentable cry, but God is teaching me (to know) a (great) kindness—
1665. The kindness concealed amidst cruelties, the priceless cornelian hidden in filth.
The cruelty done by God is better than a hundred clemencies of mine: to withhold the soul from God is agony to the soul.
His worst cruelty is better than the clemency of both worlds: how excellent is the Lord of created beings
and how excellent (His) help!
In His cruelty there are secret kindnesses: to surrender the soul for His sake increases (the life of) the soul. Hark, dismiss suspicion and error: make your head a foot (to hasten towards Him) since He has bidden you come.
1670. His ‘Come’ will give (you) exaltations; it will give (you) intoxication and (spiritual) brides and couches.
In short, never, never can I weaken (the force of) that sublime command and complicate it (by prevarication).”
The wretched Earth heard all this (counsel), (but) in her ear was a plug arising from that evil suspicion. Once more in another fashion the lowly Earth made entreaty and prostrated herself, like a drunken man. He said, “Nay, arise! There is no loss (to you) from this (thing), I lay my head and life as a pledge and guarantee.
1675. Do not think of entreating (me), do not make further entreaty except to that merciful and justice- dealing King.
I am a slave to (His) command, I dare not neglect His command which raised dust from the sea.
Save from the Creator of ear and eye and head I will hear (accept) neither good nor evil—not even from my own soul.
My ear is deaf to all words but His: He is dearer to me than my sweet soul.
The soul came from Him, not He from the soul: He bestows a hundred thousand souls free of cost.
1680. Who is the soul that I should prefer her to the Gracious (God)? What is a flea that I should burn the blanket on account of it?
I know no good but His good: I am deaf and dumb and blind to all but Him.
My ear is deaf to those who make lamentation, for I am as the spear in His hand.