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(Masnavi Book 2: 21) The philosopher who showed disbelief in the Quran

How a philosopher showed disbelief at the recitation of (the text), if your water shall have sunk into the ground.”

A teacher of Qur’án-recitation was reading from the page of the Book, “(if) your water (shall have) sunk into the ground: (that is, if) I stop the water from (reaching) the spring,

And hide the water in the depths, and make the springs dry and a place of drought,

1635. Who shall bring the water to the spring again except Me who have no like, the Gracious, the Glorious?” A contemptible philosopher and logician was passing beside the school at that moment.
When he heard the verse (of the Qur’án), he said in disapproval, “We bring the water (back) with a mattock; With strokes of the spade and (with) the sharpness of the axe we bring the water up from below.”
At night he fell asleep and saw (in dream) a lion-hearted man (who) gave (him) a blow on the face and blinded both his eyes,

1640. And said, “O wretch, if you are speaking the truth, bring up some light with an axe from these two springs of vision.” At (dawn of) day he jumped up and found (he had) two blind eyes: from both his eyes the overflowing light had vanished.
If he had moaned and asked pardon (of God), the departed light would have appeared (again) through (God's) kindness; But (the power of) asking pardon, also, is not in (our) hands: the savour of repentance is not the dessert of every inebriate.
The wickedness of (his) actions and the disastrousness of (his) denial (of the Truth) had barred the way of repentance to his heart.

1645. His heart became in hardness as the face of a rock: how should repentance cleave it for sowing? Where is one like Shu‘ayb, that by prayer he may make the mountain earth (fit) for sowing?
Through the supplication and (firm) belief of that Friend (Abraham) the thing that was hard and impossible became possible. Or, (to give another example), through the Muqawqis' begging the Prophet a stony ground became a goodly cornfield.
So, contrariwise, a man's disbelief turns gold into copper and peace into war.

1650. This falseness draws after it an evil transformation: it turns ground capable (of tillage) into stones and pebbles.

Nor is it granted to every heart to fall down in prayer: the wages of (Divine) mercy are not the (allotted) portion of every hireling.

Beware! Do not commit crime and sin in reliance on (the thought), I will repent and come to (take) refuge (with God).”

For (true) repentance, there must needs be a glow (of inward feeling) and a flood (of tears): (such) lightning and clouds are the condition indispensable to repentance.

There must needs be fire and water (rain) for the fruit: clouds and lightning are necessary for this accomplishment.

1655. Until there is the lightning of the heart and the rain-clouds of the two eyes, how shall the fire of (Divine) menace and wrath be allayed?

How shall the herbage grow, (the herbage) of the delight of union (with God)? How shall the fountains of clear water gush forth?

How shall the rose-beds tell their secret to the garden? How shall the violet make an engagement with the jasmine?

How shall a plane-tree open its hands (spread its leaves) in prayer? How shall any tree toss its head in the air (of love-desire)?
How shall the blossoms begin to shake out their sleeves full of largesse in the days of Spring?

1660. How shall the cheeks of the anemone flame like blood? How shall the rose bring gold out of its purse? How shall the nightingale come and smell the rose? How shall the dove say “coo, coo,” as one that seeks?
How shall the stork utter with (all) its soul the cry lak, lak? What is (the meaning of) lak? (It means) “Yours is the kingdom, O you whose help is invoked.”

How shall the earth show forth the secrets of its inmost mind? How shall the garden become radiant as the sky?

Whence have they fetched those garments (fair qualities)? (They have derived) all of them from One who is Bounteous and Merciful.

1665. Those graces are the signs of a Witness: they are the footprints of a man devoted to (God's) service.

(None but) that person that has seen the King is gladdened by the sign; when one has not seen Him, there is no recognition. The spirit of that one who at the time of Am not I (your Lord)? saw his Lord and became beside himself and intoxicated— He (that spirit) knows the scent of the wine because he drank it (before); when he has not drunk it, he cannot scent it.
For Wisdom is like a stray camel: like a go-between, it guides (those who find and recognise it) to (the presence of) kings.

1670. You behold in dream a person of pleasing countenance, who gives you a promise and a sign That your desire will come to pass; here is the sign—such and such a person will meet you to-morrow. One sign is that he will be riding; one sign is that he will clasp you to his breast;
One sign is that he will smile before you; one sign is that he will fold his hands in your presence;

One sign is that when the morrow comes you will not tell this dream to any one, though you would fain do so.

1675. Concerning that (last-mentioned) sign, He (God) said to the father of Yahyá (John the Baptist), “You shalt not begin to speak at all till three days (have passed).

For three nights keep silence as to your good and ill: this will be the sign that Yah will come (be born) to you. During three days do not breathe a word, for this silence is the sign of (the fulfilment) of your purpose.
Beware! do not you speak of this sign, and keep this matter hidden in your heart.”

He (the person dreamed of) will sweetly tell these signs to him (the dreamer). What are these signs (alone)? (He will tell him) a hundred signs besides.

1680. This (which follows) is the sign that you will gain from God the (spiritual) kingdom and power that you are seeking— That you weep continually in the long nights, and that you are always ardent in supplication at the hour of dawn;
That, in the absence of that (which you seek), your day has become dark; (that) your neck has become thin as a spindle;

And what you have given in alms (is) all that you possess, (so that) your belongings (are entirely bestowed in charity) like the alms of those who gamble all away;

(That) you have given up your belongings and sleep and the (healthy) colour of your face, and sacrificed your head (life) and become as (thin as) a hair;

1685. (That) you have sat—how often!—in the fire, like aloes-wood; that you have gone—how often!—to meet the sword, like a helmet.

A hundred thousand such acts of helplessness are habitual to lovers (of God), and (their number) cannot be reckoned. After you have had this dream at night, the day breaks; through hope thereof your day becomes triumphant.
You have turned your eye to left and right, (wondering) where is that sign and those tokens.

You are trembling like a leaf (and saying), “Alas, if the day depart and the sign come not to pass!”

1690. You are running in street and market and into houses, like one that should lose a calf.

(Somebody asks), “Is it good (news), Sir? Why are you running to and fro? Who belonging to you is it that you have lost here?”

It is good (news),” you tell him, “but none may know my good (news) except myself.
If I tell it, lo, my sign is missed, and when the sign is missed, the hour of death is come.” You peer into the face of every rider: he says to you, “Do not look at me like a madman.”

1695. You say to him, “I have lost a friend; I have set out to seek him. May your fortune be lasting, O rider! Have pity on lovers and excuse (them).”
When you have made search (and your) looking has been in earnest—earnest endeavour does not fail: so the Tradition has come down (from the Prophet)—

Suddenly comes a blessed rider; then he clasps you very closely to his breast.

You become senseless and fall to vaunting (ecstatically); the ignorant (uninitiated) man says, “Here is fraud and hypocrisy.

1700. How does he see what this enthusiasm in him (the enraptured person) is? He knows not (who it is) with whom that is the sign of union.

This sign concerns (only) him that has seen (before): how should the sign appear to the other one? Every moment that a sign was coming from Him, a (new) spirit was coming into that person's spirit.
Water has reached the helpless fish. These signs are (those mentioned in the text) those are the signs of the Book.

Hence the signs which are in the prophets are peculiar to (known exclusively by) him who is a friend (knower and lover of

1705. This discourse remains imperfect and unsettled; I have no heart (understanding), I am out of my mind: excuse me. How can any one number the motes, especially that one whose understanding has been transported by Love?
Shall I number the leaves of the garden? Shall I number the cries of the partridge and the crow? They come not into computation, but I enumerate them for the guidance of him that is put to trial.
The sinister influence of Saturn and the auspicious influence of Jupiter come not into computation, though you may enumerate;

1710. But still, some of these two (diverse) effects must be explained—that is, the benefit and injury (which they involve)— In order that some little part of the effects of the (Divine) decree may be made known to the good-fortuned and the ill-starred. He whose ascendant (ruling planet) is Jupiter will be rejoiced by vivacity (of disposition) and eminence;
And it will be necessary for him whose ascendant is Saturn to take precautions against every (kind of) mischief in his affairs.

If I should speak to one whose (ruling) planet is Saturn of his (Saturn's) fire, it (my discourse) would burn (torment) that hapless man.

1715. Our King (God) has given permission, (saying), Commemorate Allah”: He saw us in the fire and gave us light.

He has said, “Although I far transcend your commemoration (of Me), (and although) the pictorial ideas (of human speech) are not suitable to Me,

Yet he that is intoxicated with (pictorial) imagination and fancy will never apprehend My essence without (the help of) similitude.”

Bodily commemoration is an imperfect fancy: the Kingly attributes are remote from those (forms of speech).

If any one say of a king, “He is not a weaver, what praise is this? He (that person) is surely ignorant.

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