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(Masnavi Book 5: 00) Preface (in prose)


In the Name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful.

Reynold A. Nicholson
April 19, 1933

Whose help we implore and in whom we trust, and with whom are the keys to our hearts. And God bless the best of His creatures, Mohammed, and all his Family and Companions!

This is the Fifth Book of the Poem in rhymed couplets and the spiritual Exposition, setting forth that the Religious Law is like a candle showing the way. Unless you gain possession of the candle, there is no wayfaring; and when you have come on to the way, your wayfaring is the Path; and when you have reached the journey's end, that is the Truth. Hence it has been said, “If the truths (realities) were manifest, the religious laws would be naught.” As (for example), when copper becomes gold or was gold originally, it does not need the alchemy which is the Law, nor need it rub itself upon the philosophers' stone, which (operation) is the Path; (for), as has been said, it is unseemly to demand a guide after arrival at the goal, and blameworthy to discard the guide before arrival at the goal. In short, the Law is like learning the theory of alchemy from a teacher or a book, and the Path is (like) making use of chemicals and rubbing the copper upon the philosophers' stone, and the Truth is (like) the transmutation of the copper into gold. Those who know alchemy rejoice in their knowledge of it, saying, “We know the theory of this (science)”; and those who practise it rejoice in their practice of it, saying, “We perform such works”; and those who have experienced the reality rejoice in the reality, saying, “We have become gold and are delivered from the theory and practice of alchemy: we are God's freedmen.” Each party is rejoicing in what they have.

Or the Law may be compared to learning the science of medicine, and the Path to regulating one's diet in accordance with (the science of) medicine and taking remedies, and the Truth to gaining health everlasting and becoming independent of them both. When a man dies to this (present) life, the Law and the Path are cut off (fall away) from him, and there remains (only) the Truth. If he possess the Truth, he will be crying, “Oh, would that my people knew how my Lord hath forgiven me”; and if he possess it not, he will be crying, “Oh, would that I had not been given my scroll and had not known my reckoning! Oh, would that it (death) had been the (final) decision! My riches have not availed me, my authority hath perished from me.” The Law is knowledge, the Path action, the Truth attainment unto God. Then whoso hopeth to meet his Lord, let him do good works and associate none other in the service of his Lord. And God bless the best of His creatures, Mohammed, and his Family and his Companions and the people of his House, and grant them peace!

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