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(Masnavi Book 1: 65) Luqman and his fellow-servants

How suspicion was thrown upon Luqmán by the slaves and fellow-servants who said that he had eaten the fresh fruit which they were bringing (to their master).

In the eyes of his master, amongst (in comparison with) the (other) slaves, Luqmán was despicable on account of his body (outward aspect).

3585. He (the master) used to send the slaves to the garden, that fruit might come (be brought to him) for his pleasure. Amongst the slaves Luqmán was (despised) like a parasite; (he was) full of (spiritual) ideas, dark-complexioned as night. Those slaves, being impelled by greed, ate the whole of the fruit with enjoyment,
And told their master that Luqmán had eaten it, (whereupon) the master became bitter and sorely displeased with Luqmán.

When Luqmán inquired (and ascertained) the cause (of this), he opened his lips to reproach his master.

3590. “O sire,” said Luqmán, “an unfaithful servant is not approved in the sight of God. Put us all to the test, O noble sir: give us our fill of hot water (to drink),
And afterwards make us run into a great plain, you being mounted and we on foot.
Then behold the evil-doer, (behold) the things that are done by Him who revealeth mysteries!” The master gave the servants hot water to drink, and they drank it in fear (of him).

3595. Afterwards he was driving them into the plains, and they were running amidst the cornfields. From distress they began to vomit: the (hot) water was bringing up the fruit from them.
When Luqmán began to vomit from his navel (belly), there was coming up from within him (only) the pure water. Inasmuch as Luqmán's wisdom can show forth this, then what must be the wisdom of the Lord of existence!
On the day when all the inmost thoughts shall be searched out, there will appear from you something latent, (the appearance of) which is not desired.

3600. When they shall be given hot water to drink, all the veils will be cut asunder (torn off) from that which is abhorred. The fire (of Hell) is made the torment of the infidels because fire is the (proper) test for stones.
How oft, how oft, have we spoken gently to our stony hearts, and they would not accept the counsel!

For a bad wound the vein gets (requires) a bad (severe) remedy: the teeth of the dog are suitable for the donkey's head.

The wicked women to the wicked men is wisdom: the ugly is the mate and fitting (consort) for the ugly.

3605. Whatever, then, you wish to mate with, go, become absorbed in the loved (object), and assume its shape and qualities.

If you wish for the light, make yourself ready to receive the light; if you wish to be far (from God), become self-conceited and far;

And if you wish (to find) a way out of this ruined prison, do not turn your head away from the Beloved, but bow in worship and draw nigh.

The remainder of the story of Zayd (and what he said) in answer to the Prophet, on whom be peace.

This discourse has no end. “Arise, O Zayd, and tie a shackle on the Buráq (steed) of your rational spirit. Since the rational spirit exposes faults, it is rending the curtains of concealment.

3610. Concealment is desired by God for awhile. Drive away this drummer, bar the road!

Do not gallop, draw rein, It is better it (your spirit) should be veiled; It is better that every one should be gladdened by his own fancy.

God is wishing that even His despairing ones should not avert their faces (refrain) from this worship (of Him).

Even on the ground of a hope they become ennobled: for a few days (a short time) they are running at its stirrup (following
Divine worship).

He wishes that that mercy should shine upon all, on the evil and the good, because of the universality of His mercy.

3615. God is wishing that every prince and captive should be hopeful and fearful and afraid.

This hope and fear are in the veil (separating the seen from the unseen), that they may be fostered behind this veil.

When you have rent the veil, where are fear and hope? Might and majesty and (the power to inflict) probation belong to the unseen.”

A young man on the bank of a river thought (to himself), “Our fisherman (here) is Solomon.

(But) if this is he, why is he alone and disguised? And if not, why has he the aspect of Solomon?”

3620. Thus thinking, he remained in two minds until Solomon (once more) became king and absolute ruler.

The demon departed and fled from his (Solomon's) kingdom and throne: the sword of his fortune shed that devil's blood. He put the ring upon his finger, the hosts of demons and peris assembled.
The men came to look, amongst them he who had the fancy (that the fisherman was Solomon in disguise).

When he opened his (Solomon's) hand and saw the ring, his pondering and seeking (to decide rightly) vanished all at once.

3625. Anxiety occurs (only) at the time when that (object of desire) is hidden: this searching is after the unseen. Whilst he was absent, fancy waxed strong in his breast: as soon as he was present, his fancy departed.
If the radiant sky is not without rain, neither is the dark earth without vegetation.

(God said), “I want (what is signified by the words) they believe in the unseen: on that account I have shut the window of the fleeting world.

If I open its window as on the day of the (last) trump, how should I say, Do you see any clefts therein?’”

3630. In order that in this darkness they may make endeavours (to find the way), they are turning, every one, their faces in some direction.

For awhile things are reversed: the thief brings the magistrate to the gallows,

So that many a sultan and man of lofty spirit becomes the slave of his own slave for awhile.

Service (performed) in absence (through faith in the unseen) is fair and comely; when service is demanded (by God from us),
it is pleasing (to Him) that the absent should be remembered (that we should remember to perform what is due to Him, though
He is unseen).

Where (in what position) is one that praises the king in his presence, compared with one that is shamefaced in absence (from him)?

3635. The governor of a fortress who, on the border of the kingdom, far from the sultan and the shadow (protection) of the sultanate,

Guards the fortress from enemies and will not sell it for boundless riches,

Who, though absent from the king on the outskirt of the frontiers, keeps faith (with him) like one who is present— He in the king's sight is better than the rest who are serving in his presence and ready to devote their lives.
Therefore half an atom of regard to one's duty in absence is better than a hundred thousand fold observance thereof in


3640. Obedience (to God) and faith are praiseworthy now; after death, when all is plainly shown, they will be spurned.

Inasmuch as the unseen and the absent and the veil are better, close your mouth: It is better for us to be silent.

O brother, refrain from speech: God himself will make manifest the knowledge that is with Him (in His possession). Witness enough for the sun is its face: what thing is the greatest witness (of all)? God.”
Nay, speak I will, since both God and the angels and the men of learning are allied in setting forth (this truth).

3645. God and the angels and those learned in the sciences (of divinity) bear witness that there is no Lord except Him who endureth for ever.”

Since God has given testimony, who are the angels, that they should be associated in the testimony?

(They are associated) because unsound (weak) eyes and hearts cannot support the radiance and (clear) testimony of the Sun, Like a bat, which cannot bear the glow of the sun and abandons hope.
Know, then, that the angels, as we also, are helpers (co-witnesses)—displayers of the sun in heaven—

3650. Who say, We have derived (our) light from a Sun, we have shone upon the weak, like vicegerents (of a mighty

(Whether they be like) the new moon or the moon seven days old or the full moon, every angel has his (particular) rank in respect of light and (spiritual) worth.

Every angel, according to their (different) degrees, has (a portion of) that radiance, consisting of three or four (pairs of)
luminous wings,

Just as the wings of human intellects, amongst which there is great difference (in quality).

Hence the associate of every human being in good and evil is that angel whose dignity is corresponding to his or hers.

3655. The stars shine, for the sake of guidance, upon the dim-sighted man who cannot bear even (the light of) the moon.

How the Prophet, on whom be peace, said to Zayd, “Do not tell this mystery more plainly than this, and take care to comply
(with the religious law).”

The Prophet said, “My Companions are (like) the stars, a candle to travellers (on the Way), and meteors to be cast at the devils.”

If every one had the eye and the strength to receive light from the sun of heaven,

No moon and stars would be needed to serve as witnesses to (the existence of) a sun.

The Moon (the Prophet) is saying to earth and cloud and shadow,I am a man, I am one like you, (but) it is revealed to me
(that your God is one God).

3660. Like you, I was dark in my nature: the Sun's revelation gave me such a light as this.

I have a certain darkness in comparison with the (spiritual) suns, (but) I have light for the darknesses of (human) souls.

I am faint (less bright than the Sun) in order that you mayst be able to bear (my beams), for you art not the man for (a man who can bear) the most radiant Sun.

I was woven (mingled) together, like honey and vinegar, that I might find the way to (cure) sickness of heart.

Since you have recovered from yours illness, O you (that wert) in thrall (to it), leave the vinegar and continue to eat the honey.”

3665. (If) the throne of the heart has become restored to soundness and purged of sensuality, thereon the Merciful God is seated on His Throne.

After this, God controls the heart without intermediary, since the heart has attained to this relation (with Him). This discourse has no end. Where is Zayd, that I may counsel him not to seek notoriety?

The (author's) return to the story of Zayd.

You will not find Zayd now, for he has fled: he has darted away from the shoe-row and dropped his shoes.

Who are you (that you should hope to find him)? Zayd cannot even find himself, (he has vanished) like the star on which the sun shone.

3670. You will find neither mark nor trace of him, you will not find a straw (star) in the straw-strewn Way (the Milky Way). Our senses and finite speech (reason) are obliterated in the knowledge and wisdom of our (Divine) King.
Their (the God-intoxicated mystics') senses and understandings within (them) are (tossed), wave on wave, in (the sea of) they are assembled before Us.

When night comes, It is again the time of (bearing) the burden: the stars, which had become hidden, go (again) to work.

God gives back to the senseless ones their (lost) senses: (they return to consciousness) troop after troop, with rings (of mystic knowledge) in their ears,

3675. Dancing, waving their hands in praise (of God), triumphing (and crying), “O Lord, you have brought us to life.” Those crumbled skins and bones have become (like) horsemen and have raised the dust:
At Resurrection both the thankful and the ungrateful rush along from non-existence towards existence.

Why do you turn away your head and pretend not to see? Did you not turn away your head at first, (when you were) in non- existence (and disbelieved that you would ever come into existence)?

You had planted your foot (firmly) in non-existence, saying, “Who will uproot me from my place?”

3680. Are not you beholding the action of your Lord, who dragged you (into existence) by the forelock, Until He drew you into (all) these various states (of being), which were not in your thought or fancy?
That non-existence is always His slave: work (in His service), O demon! Solomon is living.

The demon is making large bowls like watering-troughs: he dare not say a word in refusal or in retort.

Look at yourself, how you are trembling with fear (of non-existence): know that nonexistence also is constantly trembling (lest
God should bring it into existence).

3685. And if you are grasping at (worldly) dignities, It is from fear too that you are suffering agony of spirit.

Except love of the most beauteous God everything, though (outwardly) it is (pleasant like) eating sugar, is (in truth) agony of spirit.

What is agony of spirit? To advance towards death and not grasp the Water of Life.

People fix both their eyes on earth and death: they have a hundred doubts concerning the Water of Life.

Strive that the hundred doubts may become ninety (may decrease): go (towards God) in the night (of this world), for if you slumber, the night will go (from you).

3690. In the dark night seek that (shining) Day: put in front (follow) the darkness consuming Reason.

In the evil-coloured night there is much good: the Water of Life is the mate of darkness.

How is it possible to lift up the head from slumber, whilst you are sowing a hundred such seeds of slothfulness?
Dead (heavy) slumber and dead (unlawful) food became friends: the merchant fell asleep and the night-thief got to work. Do you not know who your enemies are? Those made of fire are enemies to the existence of those made of earth.

3695. Fire is the enemy of water and its children, even as water is an enemy to the life of fire. Water kills fire because it is the enemy and foe of the children of water.
To proceed, this fire is the fire of lust, wherein is the root of sin and error.

The external fire may be quenched by some water, (but) the fire of lust is bringing (you) to Hell.

The fire of lust is not allayed by water, because it has the (insatiable) nature of Hell in respect of (inflicting) torment.

3700. What is the remedy for the fire of lust? The light of the Religion: your (the Moslems') light is the (means of)
extinguishing the fire of the infidels.

What kills this fire? The Light of God. Make the light of Abraham your teacher,
That this body of yours, which resembles wood (faggots), may be delivered from the fire of the Nimrod-like flesh (nafs). Fiery lust is not diminished by indulging it: it is diminished, without any escape (inevitably), by leaving it (ungratified). So long as you art laying faggots on a fire, how will the fire be extinguished by a carrier of faggots?

3705. When you withholdest the faggots, the fire dies out, because fear of God carries (as it were) water to the fire.

How should the fire blacken the beauteous face (of a soul) which lays (on itself) rose colour (derived) from the fear of God that is in (men's) hearts?

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