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(Masnavi Book 3: 88) The Prophet ﷺ and the Captives

How the Prophet, on whom be peace, looked at the captives and smiled and said, I
marvel at folk who are dragged to Paradise in chains and shackles.”

The Prophet saw a troop of captives being taken along, and they were in loud lamentation. That wary Lion saw them in chains: (he saw them) looking askance at him,

4475. So that each (of them) was gnashing his teeth and chewing his lips in anger against the veracious Prophet;
(But) notwithstanding that anger, they dare not utter a word, because they are in the ten-maund chain of violence.
Their custodian is marching them along to the city: he is taking them by force from the land of the infidels.
(They say to each other), “He (the Prophet) will not accept any ransom or any gold: no
intercession is coming from any prince.
He is called a mercy to the world, and he is cutting the throats and gullets of a (whole) world (of people).”

4480. With a thousand (feelings of) disbelief they marched along, railing under their breath at the actions of the (spiritual) king,
(Saying), “We remedied (our former troubles), but in this case there is no remedy: truly this
man's heart is not inferior (in hardness) to a rock.
We, thousands of men brave as lions, (fighting) with two or three feeble and half-dead naked fellows,
Are left helpless like this: is it on account of (our) wrong-doing or (unlucky) stars, or is it sorcery? His fortune tore up our fortune; our throne was overturned by his throne.

4485. If his cause became mighty (was made to prevail) by sorcery, we too practised sorcery:
how did not it succeed?

[Commentary on the verse (of the Qur’án), If ye ask for a decision, the decision has indeed come to you. O railers, ye were saying, Give the decision and victory to us or to Mohammed, whichever is in the right’; and ye were saying this in order that it might be supposed that ye were seeking the right disinterestedly. Now We have

given the victory to Mohammed, to the end that ye may see the champion of the right.”]

We besought the idols and God, saying, ‘Destroy us if we are untrue.
Whichever is right and true, between us and him, give the victory to that one and desire him to be victorious.
Ofttimes we made this invocation and (bowed down in) prayer before Lát and Uzzá and Manát, Saying, If he is in the right, make him manifest; if he is not in the right, make him subject to us.’

4490. When we recognised (what had come to pass), he was the one to whom victory was given: we all were darkness, he was the light.
This is our answer (from God)—‘(Concerning) that which ye desired (to know), it has become
evident that ye are the untrue.’”
Then, again, they were blindfolding (hiding) this thought from their reflective faculty and banishing it from their memory,
Saying, “This thought too has arisen from our ill-luck, (namely, the thought) that his being in the
should be perfectly established (proven beyond doubt) in our minds.
What, indeed, does it matter if he has prevailed (against us) several times? Time (Fortune)
brings every one to predominance (now and then).

4495. We also were made successful by the Days (Fortune), and at times became victorious over him.
(But) again they were saying (to themselves), “Although he was defeated, it was not disgraceful and vile like our defeat,”
Because in (the hour of) defeat (his) good fortune gave him underhand a hundred secret joys;
For he did not at all resemble one defeated, as he felt no sorrow or distress thereat,
Since to be vanquished is the mark of the true believers; yet in the true believer's defeat there is goodness.

4500. If you crush some musk or ambergris, you will fill a (whole) world with
(a scent like) the exhalation of sweet herbs;
And if you suddenly crush the dung of an ass, the houses will be filled to the top with stench.
At the moment of the (Prophet's) ignominious return from Hudaybiya, the empire of Lo, We have opened (to you the way to a conspicuous) victory proclaimed itself.

The hidden reason why God most High gave the title of victory to the return of the Prophet, on whom be peace, from Hudaybiya without having gained his purpose: as (God said), Lo, We have opened (to you the way to) victory; for it was a locking in appearance (only), and in reality an opening, just as the crushing of musk is apparently a crushing, but really the confirmation of its muskiness and the exhibition of its virtues in their perfection.

From the (Divine) empire came to him the message, “Go, be not saddened by the withholding of this victory,
For in this present abasement of you there are victories: lo, such and such a fortress, such and such a town, are (given) to you.

4505. Consider, after all, when he retreated in haste, what (great things) he did against
Qurayza and Nadír.
The fortresses, also, round those two settlements submitted (to him), and (many) advantages (in the shape) of spoils (came into his hands).

And if that be not so, consider that this class (of persons) are sorrowful and woeful and distraught and enamoured (of God).
They eat the poison of abasement, like sugar; they feed, like camels, on the thistle of sorrows. (This they do) for the sake of the sorrow itself, not for the sake of relief (from sorrow): in their eyes this lowliness is as a ladder.

4510. So glad are they at the bottom of the pit that they are afraid of the throne and the tiara.
Every place where the Beloved himself is their companion is above the sky, not below the earth.

Commentary on the Tradition that Mustafá (Mohammed), on whom be peace, said, “Do not declare me to be more excellent than Yúnus ibn Mattá.”

The Prophet said, No preference is (to be given) to my ascension as being superior to the ascension of Yúnus (Jonah).
Mine was up to heaven, and his was down below (in the belly of the Fish), because nighness
unto God is beyond calculation.”
To be nigh (unto God) is not to go up or down: to be nigh unto God is to escape from the prison of existence.

4515. What room has non-existence for up and down? Non-existence has no “soon or
“far” or “late.
The laboratory and treasure of God is in non-existence. You art deluded by existence: how shouldst you know what non-existence is?
The sum of the matter (is that) this defeat of theirs, O sire, does not resemble our defeat at all.
They rejoice in being abased and destroyed, just as we (rejoice) in the hour of success and honour.
The provision of unprovidedness is all (that has been assigned to the Prophet as) his fief: poverty
and lowliness are his pride and glory.

4520. One (of the captives) said, If that adversary (of ours) is such (as you describe), how did he laugh when he saw us bound (in chains)?
Since (as you assert) he has been transmuted, and (since) his joy is not caused by this (worldly)
prison and this freedom of his (from worldly embarrassments),
How, then, did he rejoice at the subjection of (his) enemies? How was he puffed up by this victory and conquest?
His soul rejoiced because he easily gained the (Divine) help and the upper hand and the victory over fierce lions (like us).
Hence we knew that he is not free (from the bondage of the flesh), and that only on account of this world is he happy and glad at heart.

4525. Else, how should he laugh (at us)? for the otherworldly are compassionate and kind to the evil and the good (alike).”
Thus did those captives mutter to each other under their breath in discussing that (question), (Saying, “Beware) lest the custodian hear (us) and spring upon us and personally carry our words to the ear of that (spiritual) Sultan.”

How the Prophet, on whom be peace, became aware of their chiding him for his exultation.

Though the custodian did not hear those words, they entered into the ear that was (hearing)
from the presence (of God).
The scent of Joseph's spirit was not perceived by its keeper, but Jacob inhaled it.

4530. The devils on the high front of Heaven do not hear the secret of the mystery-knowing
(But when) Mohammed went to sleep and reclined (on his bed), the secret came (to him) and circled round him.
He whose allotted portion is open (for him to take) eats the sweetmeat, not he whose fingers are
The gleaming star became a watchman and drove the devils away, saying, “Abandon theft and receive the secret from Ahmad (Mohammed).”
O you whose eyes from early (in the day) are (turned) towards (your) shop, hark, go to the mosque and seek the portion allotted by God.

4535. The Prophet, then, apprehended their words and said, “That laughter of mine was not from hostility.
They (the captives) are dead and rotted by decay: in my judgement it is not the part of a (true)
man to kill the dead.
Who are they indeed? for the moon is split when I plant my foot on the battlefield.
At the time when ye were free and powerful, I was seeing you bound (in chains), like this.
O you that pridest yourself on your possessions and household, in the view of the intelligent you art (as) the camel on the water-spout.

4540. (Ever) since the bowl, (which is) the bodily form, fell from the roof, there has rolled before my (inward) eye (the reality denoted by the words) ‘Everything that is (destined) to come shall come.’
I look on the unripe grape, and I see the wine clearly; I look on nonentity, and I see the entity clearly.
I look on the inmost consciousness, and I see a universe hidden, (with) Adam and Eve not (yet)
arisen from the world.
You I have seen, fettered and overthrown and abject, at the time (when mankind were assembled in the shape) of ants (on the Day) of Alast.
That which I had (already) known was not increased by the coming into existence of the pillarless heaven.

4545. I have ever seen you (fallen) headlong, ere I grew from the water and the clay.
I did not see (anything) new, that I should rejoice thereat: I used to see this (same thing) during your former prosperity.
Bound in (the chains of) invisible Wrathand then what (a fearful) Wrath! ye were eating sugar wherein poison was contained.
If your enemy delight in eating such a poisonous sugar, what envy of him would come to thee? Ye were eating that poison with glee, (while) Death had secretly laid hold of both your ears.

4550. I did not make war for the sake of gaining victory and conquering the world,
For this world is a carcase and carrion and vile: how should I be covetous of such carrion as this? I am not a dog that I should tear off the top-knot of the dead; I am (like) Jesus: I come to make
him (the dead) living.
I was cleaving the battle-ranks for the purpose that I might deliver you from destruction. I do not cut men's throats in order that power and glory and followers may be mine,

4555. (But) I cut some throats in order that a (whole) world (of people) may obtain deliverance from those throats,
For ye in your ignorance make a habit of rushing thus, like moths, at the fire,
(While) I, (furiously) as a drunken man, drive you away with both hands (to save you) from falling into the fire.

That which ye deemed victories for yourselves—(thereby) ye were sowing the seed of your damnation.
Ye were calling one another most earnestly (to fight against me), (and by doing so) ye were riding your horses towards the dragon.

4560. Ye were overpowering (me), whilst in the very act of overpowering ye yourselves were being overpowered by the lion (which is) Time.

Showing that the rebellious sinner in the very act of overpowering is overpowered, and in the very moment of victory is made captive.

The robber overpowered (murdered) the merchant and carried off the gold: he was just engaged in that (business), (when) the magistrate arrived.
If at that time he had fled from the merchant, how should the magistrate have set the police on him?
The robber's overpowering (the merchant) was (in reality) his being overpowered (and
punished), because his act of violence took away his head (life).
(His) prevailing over the merchant becomes a trap for him, in order that the magistrate may arrive and take retaliation (on the murderer).

4565. O you that have become mighty over the people and art steeped in warfare and victory,
That One (God) has purposely caused them to be routed, that all the while drawing you on He
may (at last) bring you into the net.
Beware, draw rein! Do not push on in pursuit of this fugitive, lest you have your nostrils pierced with a nose-ring.
When by this device He has drawn you into the trap, after that you wilt see the onset (of the people) pressing in crowds (upon thee).
When did the intellect (ever) rejoice in this victory, inasmuch as in this victory it saw ruin?

4570. The intellect is keen-eyed, possessed of foresight, for God has powdered it with His own collyrium.
The Prophet said that the folk of (destined for) Paradise are feeble (worsted) in quarrels, because
of (their noble) accomplishments—
Because of the perfection of their prudence and thinking ill (of themselves), not from deficiency
(of intellect) and cowardice and weakness of (religious) faith.
In giving the advantage (to their enemies) they have hearkened in secret to the wisdom of (the text), Had not there been true-believing men
To keep their hands off the accursed infidels became a duty for the sake of delivering the true believers.

4575. Read the story of the covenant of Hudaybiya: (it was) He (who) restrained your hands
(from them): from that (saying) perceive (what is the meaning of) the whole (story).
Even in victory he (the Prophet) deemed himself subdued by the snare of Divine Majesty. “It is not because I suddenly marched against you before dawn (and took you captive) that I laugh at your chains;
I laugh because I am dragging you in chains and shackles to the cypress garden and the roses
(of Paradise).
O wonder, that we are bringing you in bonds from the merciless fire to the place abounding in verdure;

4580. With heavy chains I am dragging you from the direction of Hell to the everlasting

Every blind follower in this Way, be he good or evil, He (God) is dragging, bound like that, into
His Presence.
All go along this Way in the chains of fear and tribulation, except the saints.
They are dragged along this Way reluctantly, except those persons who are acquainted with the mysteries of the (Divine) action.
Endeavour that your (inward) light become radiant, so that your travelling (in the path of devotion)
and service (to God) may be made easy.

4585. You take children to school by force, because they are blind to the benefits (of knowledge);
(But) when he (the child) becomes aware (of the benefits), he runs to school: his soul expands
(with joy) at going.
A child goes to school in sore distress because he has seen nothing of the wages for his work; When he puts in his purse a single dáng earned by his handiwork, then he goes without sleep at night, like the thief.
Endeavour that the wages for obedience (to God) may arrive: then you will envy the obedient.

4590. (The command) come against your will is for him that has become a blind follower (of religion); come willingly is for him that is moulded of sincerity.
The former loves God for the sake of some (secondary) cause, while the other has indeed a pure disinterested love.
The former loves the Nurse, but for the sake of the milk, while the other has given his heart for the sake of this Veiled One.
The child (the blind follower) has no knowledge of Her beauty: he has no desire of Her in his heart except for milk,
While the other is, truly, the lover of the Nurse: he is disinterested, single-minded in (passionate)

4595. Hence he that loves God because of hope and fear reads studiously the book of blind conformity,
While he that loves God for God's sake—where is he? for he is apart from (all) self-interests and
(secondary) causes.
Whether he be like this or like that, inasmuch as he is a seeker (of God), God's attraction is drawing him towards God.
Whether he love God for something other than He, that he may continually partake of His good,
Or whether he love God for His very Self, for naught besides Him, in fear of separation from

4600. The quests and seekings of both (these lovers) are from that Source: this captivation of the heart is from that Heart-ravisher.

How the Beloved attracts the lover in such wise that the lover neither knows it nor hopes for it, nor does it occur to his mind, nor does any trace of that attraction appear in the lover except the fear that is mingled with despair, though he still perseveres in the quest.

We came to this point (in the tale), that if the attraction of that lover had not been hidden in the
Sadr-i Jahán,
How would he (the lover) have been impatient of separation, and how would he have come running back to his home?
The desire of loved ones is hidden and veiled; the desire of the lover is (accompanied) with a hundred drums and trumpets.

Here is (the place for) a story (worthy) of consideration, but the man of Bukhárá has become desperate from waiting expectantly;

4605.  (So) we omit it, for he is (engaged) in search and seeking, that before death he may see the face of his beloved,
To the end that •he may escape from death and gain deliverance, because the sight of the
beloved is the Water of Life.
Any one the sight of whom does not repel death is not the beloved, for he has neither fruit nor leaf.
The (essential) matter, 0 intoxicated longing lover, is that matter in which death, if it you, is sweet.
O youth, the token of sincerity of faith is that (matter) in which death comes sweet to you.

4610. If your faith, O (dear) soul, is not like this, it is not perfect: go, seek to make (your)
religion perfect.
Whosoever in (this) matter of yours has become death-loving (and desires your death) without dislike (without being hateful) to your heart, he is (your) beloved.
When dislike is gone, verily it is not death: it is (only) the semblance of death, and (in reality) it is a
When dislike is gone, dying becomes advantageous; hence it comes true that death is repelled. The beloved is God and the person to whom He has said, You art Mine and I am yours.

4615. Now listen, for the lover is coming whom Love bound with a cord of palm-fibre.
When he beheld the countenance of the Sadr-i Jahán, you might say the bird, his spirit, flew out of his body.
His body fell like dry wood: his vital spirit became cold from the crown of his head to his toes. Whatsoever they applied of incense and rose-water, he neither stirred nor spoke.
When the Kong saw his saffron-coloured (pallid) face, he dismounted from his steed (and came)
towards him.

4620. He said, The lover hotly seeks the beloved: when the beloved comes, the lover is gone.”
You art a lover of God, and God is such that when He comes there is not a single hair of thee
At that look (of His) a hundred like you vanish away: me-thinks, sire, you art in love with self- naughting .
You art a shadow and in love with the sun: the sun comes, the shadow is naughted speedily.

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