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(Masnavi Book 4: 05) The Sufí who caught his wife with a strange man

Story of the Súfí who caught his wife with a strange man.

Afí came (back) to his house in the daytime: the house had (only) one door, and his wife was with a cobbler.
Uxor copulata erat cum servo (amatore) suo in illo uno cubiculo propter corporis libidinem.

160. When in the forenoon the Súfí knocked on the door with all his might, both (the lovers)
were at a loss (what to do): (there was) neither device nor way (of escape).
It was never known (it was unprecedented) for him to return home from the shop at that time, But on that day the alarmed man purposely returned to his house at an unseasonable hour, because of a fancy (suspicion).
The wife's confidence was (based) on the fact that he had never come home from his work at
this time.
By (Divine) destiny, her reasoning did not come (turn out to be) right: though He (God) is the
Coverer (of sins), still He will impose the penalty.

165. When you have done evil, be afraid, do not be secure, since it (the evil) is seed, and God will cause it to grow.
For awhile He covers it up, to the end that sorrow and shame for (having committed) that evil
may come to you.
In the time of ‘Umar, that Prince of the Faithful gave a thief over to the executioner and officer of police.
The thief cried out, saying,O Prince of the land, this is my first offence. Mercy!’
‘God forfend, said Umar, ‘that God should inflict severe punishment the first time.

170. He covers up (the sin) many times in order to manifest His grace; then again, He chastises (the sinner) in order to manifest His justice,
To the end that both these attributes may be displayed, and the former be hope-inspiring and the latter deterrent.’
The woman, too, had committed this wickedness many times: it passed lightly (over her) and seemed light to her.
The feeble intelligence (which she had) was unaware that the pitcher does not for ever come
(back) whole from the brook.
That (Divine) destiny brought her to such straits as sudden death does (in the case of) the
(religious) hypocrite,

175. (When there is) neither way (of escape) nor comrade (to help) nor (hope of) quarter, (and when) the Angel (of Death) has put out his hand to (seize) the soul.
(Such is the state of the hypocrite), even as this woman in that chamber of iniquity was paralysed, she and her companion, by the tribulation.
The Súfí said to himself, O ye two miscreants, I will take vengeance on you, but with patience.
(I will not act in haste) but at this moment I will feign ignorance, that every ear may not hear this bell.’
He (God) who manifests the right takes vengeance on you secretly, little by little, like the malady
of phthisis.

180. The man suffering from phthisis dwindles incessantly like ice, but at every moment he thinks he is better.
(He is) like the hyena which they (the hunters) are catching, and which is duped by their saying,
‘Where is this hyena?
That woman had no secret room; she had no subterranean cellar or passage, no way to the top
(of the house),
No oven where he (her lover) might be concealed, nor any sack that might be a screen for him.
It was like the broad plain of Resurrection Day—no hollow or hillock or place of refuge.

185. God has described this distressful place, (which is) for the scene of the (Last) Congregation, (in the words) you wilt not see therein any unevenness.

How the wife, for the sake of imposition, hid the beloved one under her chádar and offered a false excuse, for verily, great is the cunning of you (women).”

She quickly threw her chádar upon him: she made the man a woman and opened the door. Beneath the chádar the man was exposed to view and clearly seen—very conspicuous, like a camel on a staircase.
She said, It is a lady, one of the notables of the town: she has her share of wealth and fortune.
I bolted the door, lest any stranger should come in suddenly unawares.

190. The Súfí said, Oh, what service is there (to be done) for her, that I may perform it without (expecting) any thanks or favour (in return)?’
She (the wife) said, ‘Her desire is kinship and alliance (with us): she is an excellent lady, God knows who she is.
She wished to see our daughter privily; (but) as it happens, the girl is at school; (So) then she
said, Whether she (the daughter) be flour or bran, with (all my) soul and heart I will make her
(my son's) bride.
She has a son, who is not in the town: he is handsome and clever, an active lad and one that earns a living.’

195. The Súfí said, We are poor and wretched and inferior (in station); this lady's family are rich and respected.
How should this (girl) be an equal match for them in marriage?one folding door of wood and another of ivory!
In wedlock both the partners must be equal, otherwise it will pinch, and (their) happiness will not endure.’

How the wife said that she (the lady) was not bent upon household goods, and that what she wanted was modesty and virtue; and how the Súfí answered her (his wife) cryptically.

She (the wife) said,I gave such an excuse, but she said, No, I am not one who seeks (worldly)
We are sick and surfeited with possessions and gold; we are not like the common folk in regard to coveting and amassing (wealth).

200. Our quest is (for) modesty and purity and virtue: truly, welfare in both worlds depends on that.’
The Súfí once more made the excuse of poverty and repeated it, so that it should not be hidden.
The wife replied, I too have repeated it and have explained our lack of household goods;
(But) her resolution is firmer than a mountain, for she is not dismayed by a hundred poverties. She keeps saying, What I want is chastity: the thing sought from you is sincerity and high- mindedness.

205. The Súfí said, ‘In sooth she has seen and is seeing our household goods and possessions, (both) the overt and the covert—
A narrow house, a dwelling-place for a single person, where a needle would not remain hid. Moreover, she in (her) guilelessness knows better than we (what is) modesty and purity and renunciation and virtue.
She knows better than we (all) the aspects of modesty, and the rear and front and head and tail
of modesty.
Evidently she (our daughter) is without household goods and servant, and she (the lady) herself is well-acquainted with virtue and modesty.

210. It is not required of a father to dilate on (his daughter's) modesty, when in her it is manifest as a bright day.’
I have told this story with the intent that you mayst not weave idle talk when the offence is glaring.
O you who art likewise excessive in your pretension, to you (in your case) there has been this
(same hypocritical) exertion and (vain) belief.
You have been unfaithful, like the Súfí's wife: you have opened in fraud the snare of cunning, For you art ashamed before every dirty braggart, and not before your God.

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