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(Masnavi Book 3: 65) Why Hamza in his old age refused to protect himself with a coat of mail

How Hamza, may God be well-pleased with him, came to battle without a coat of mail.

Whenever at the end (of his life) Hamza went into the ranks (on the battlefield), he would enter the fray (like one) intoxicated, without a coat of mail.

3420. Advancing with open breast and naked body, he would throw himself into the sword- bearing ranks.
The people asked him, saying, O uncle of the Prophet, O Lion that breakest the ranks (of the foemen), O prince of the champions,
Have not you read in the Message of God (the Qur’án) ‘Do not cast yourselves with your own
hands into destruction’?
Then why art you casting yourself thus into destruction on the field of battle?
When you wert young and robust and strongly-knit, you didst not go into the battle-line without a coat of mail.

3425. Now that you have become old and infirm and bent, you art knocking at the curtains
(doors) of recklessness,
And with sword and spear, like one who recks of naught, you art grappling and struggling and making trial (of yourself).
The sword has no respect for the old: how should sword and arrow possess discernment?”
In this manner were the ignorant sympathisers giving him counsel zealously.

The reply of Hamza to the people.

Hamza said, When I was young, I used to regard farewell to this world as death.

3430. How should any one go to death eagerly? How should he come naked (unarmed) to meet the dragon?
But now, through the Light of Mohammed, I am not subject to this city (the world) that is passing away.

Beyond (the realm of) the senses, I behold the camp of the (Divine) King thronged with the army of the Light of God,
Tent on tent and tent-rope on tent-rope. Thanks be to Him who awakened me from slumber!” That one in whose eyes death is destruction—he takes hold of (clings to) the (Divine) command, Do not cast (yourselves into destruction)”;

3435. And that one to whom death is the opening of the gate—for him in the (Divine) Allocution (the Qur’án) there is (the command), Vie ye with each other in hastening.” Beware, O ye who regard death! Surpass one another (in dread of death)! Quick, O ye who regard the Resurrection! Vie ye with each other in hastening!
Welcome, O ye who regard the (Divine) grace! Rejoice! Woe (to you), O ye who regard the
(Divine) wrath! Be sorrowful!
Whosoever deems it (death) to be (lovely as) Joseph gives up his soul in ransom for it;
whosoever deems it to be (like) the wolf turns back from (the path of) right guidance.
Every one's death is of the same quality as himself, my lad: to the enemy (of God) an enemy, and to the friend (of God) a friend.

3440. In the eyes of the Turcoman the mirror has a fair colour; similarly in the eyes of the
Ethiopian the mirror is (dark as) an Ethiopian.
Your fear of death in fleeing (from it) is (really) your fear of yourself. Take heed, O (dear) soul!
It is your (own) ugly face, not the visage of Death: your spirit is like the tree, and death (is like)
the leaf.
It has grown from you, whether it is good or evil: every hidden thought of yours, foul or fair, is
(born) from yourself.
If you are wounded by a thorn, you yourself have sown; and if you are (clad) in satin and silk, you yourself have spun.

3445. Know that the act is not of the same complexion as the requital: the service is nowise of the same complexion as the payment given (in return for it).
The labourers' wage does not resemble the work, inasmuch as the latter is the accident, while
the former is the substance and permanent.
The former is wholly hardship and effort and sweat, while the latter is wholly silver and gold and trays (of food).
If suspicion fall upon you from some quarter, (the reason is that) the person whom you wronged has invoked (God) against you in an affliction (which you have brought upon him).
You say, I am free (from guilt): I have not laid suspicion on any one.”

3450. (No; but) you have committed another form of sin; you sowed the seed: how should the seed resemble the fruit?
He (the celibate) committed adultery, and the penalty was a hundred blows with the stick.
“When, says he, “did I strike any one with wood?”
Was not this infliction the penalty for that adultery? How should the stick resemble adultery
(committed) in secret?
How should the serpent resemble the rod, O Kalím (Moses)? How should the pain resemble the remedy, O doctor?
When you, instead of (casting down) the rod, semen ejecisti (in uterum), that (semen) became
(eventually) a fine (human) figure.

3455. That semen of yours became a friend (to you) or (like) a (noxious) serpent: why (then)
is this astonishment at the rod (of Moses) on your part?
Does the semen at all resemble that child? Does the sugar-cane at all resemble the candy?

When a man has sown a prostration (in prayer) or a genuflexion, in yonder world his prostration becomes Paradise.
When praise of God has flown from his mouth, the Lord of the daybreak fashions it into a bird of
Your praise and glorification does not resemble the bird, though the bird's semen is (naught but)
wind and air.

3460. When altruism and almsgiving have grown up (proceeded) from your hand, (the act of) this (generous) hand becomes on yonder side (in the world hereafter) date-palms and (fresh) herbage.
The water (semen), (namely) your renunciation, became a river of water in Paradise; your love and affection (for God) is a river of milk in Paradise.
Delight in devotion became a river of honey; behold your (spiritual) intoxication and longing as a river of wine.
These causes did not resemble those effects: none knows how He (God) installed it (the effect)
in the place of that (cause).
Since these causes were (obedient) to your command, the four rivers (of Paradise) likewise showed obedience to you.

3465. You make them flow in whatever direction you wish: (even) as that quality (of disposition) was (in this world), such do you make it (the effect) to be (in the next world),
As (for example) your semen, which is at your commandthe progeny thereof are ready to
(obey) your command.
Your young son runs (obediently) at your command, saying, I am the part of you which you didst deposit (in my mother's womb).”
That (praiseworthy) quality was (obedient) to your command in this world: likewise (in the next
world) those rivers flow at your command.
Those trees (of Paradise) are obedient to you, because those trees are (made) fruitful by your
(good) qualities.

3470. Since these qualities are (obedient) to your command here, so your recompense is at your command there.
When blows proceeded from your hand against the victim of injustice, they became a tree (in
Hell): the Zaqqúm grew from them.
When in anger you threw fire into (people's) hearts, you became the source of Hell-fire.
Since here (in this world) your fire was burning mankind, that which was born of it was kindling men (in Hell).
Your fire (of anger) makes an attack on the people (here): the fire that sprang from it rushes
against the people (there).

3475. Your words resembling snakes and scorpions have become snakes and scorpions and are seizing your tail (assailing you from behind).
You kept the friends (of God) waiting: (hence) you will be kept waiting at the Resurrection.
Your promise, To-morrow and “the day after to-morrow, has become your waiting on the Day of Congregation: alas for you!
You will remain waiting on that long Day, (engaged) in rendering an account (of your actions)
and (standing) in the soul-consuming sun,
Because you were wont to keep Heaven waiting and sow the seed ofI will go on the Way to- morrow.”

3480. Your anger is the seed of Hell-fire: take heed, extinguish this Hell of yours, for this is a trap.

The extinction of this fire is not (to be effected) save by the Light: “thy light has put out our fire, we are the grateful.”
If you are devoid of the Light and do an act of clemency, it is evil: your fire (of anger) is (still)
alive and is (still lurking) in the embers.
Beware! That (clemency) is (mere) ostentation and masking (the truth): nothing will extinguish the fire (of anger) except the Light of Religion.
Do not be secure till you behold the Light of Religion, for the hidden fire will one day become manifest.

3485. Deem the Light to be a water, and cleave to the water withal: when you have the water, be not afraid of the fire.
The water will extinguish the fire, because the fire by its nature burns up its (the water's)
progeny and children.
Go, for a while, to those water-birds, that they may lead you to the Water of Life.
The land-bird and the water-bird have the same body (outward appearance), but they are
(really) opposites: they are (like) water and oil.
Each (of them) is devoted to its own origin; have a care (in discriminating between them): they resemble each other (externally),

3490. Just as both (Satanic) suggestion and Divine inspiration are intelligible, and yet there is a (great) difference (between them).
Both (these) brokers in the market of Conscience extol their wares, O prince.
If you are a spiritual money-changer, one who recognises thought, distinguish the real nature of the two thoughts which resemble slave-dealers (commending the slaves they hope to sell);
And if from (your own) opinion you do not know (the true nature of) these two thoughts, say,
“No deception! and be not in a hurry and do not push forward.

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