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(Masnavi Book 5: 18) The Man who claimed to be a Prophet

Story of the person who claimed to be a prophet. They said to him, “What have you eaten that you have become crazy and art talking in vain?” He replied, “If I had found anything to eat, I should not have become crazy and talked in vain”; for whenever they (the prophets and saints) speak goodly words to

people unworYour to hear them, they will have talked in vain, although they are (divinely) commanded to talk thus in vain.

A certain man was saying, I am a prophet: I am superior to all the prophets.”

1120. They bound his neck and took him to the king, saying, This man says he is a prophet sent by
The people (were) gathered round him (thick) as ants and locusts, crying, “What deceit and imposture and trap is (this)?
If he that comes from (the realm of) non-existence is a prophet, we all are prophets and grand (in spiritual eminence).
We (too) came hither as strangers from that place (realm): why shouldst you be specially endowed (with prophecy), O accomplished one?”
(He replied), “Did not ye come like a sleeping child? Ye were ignorant of the way and the destination.

1125. Ye passed through the (different) stages asleep and intoxicated, unconscious of the way and (its)
ups and downs;
(But) we (prophets) set out in wakefulness and well (aware) from beyond the five (senses) and the six
(directions) to (this world of) the five and six,
Having perceived (all) the stages from the source and foundation, possessed of experience and knowing the way like (skilled) guides.”
They said to the king, “Put him to the rack, that a person of his sort may never (again) speak such words.The king saw that he was very thin and infirm, so that such an emaciated man would die at a single blow.

1130. (He thought to himself), How is it possible to torture or beat him, since his body has become as
(fragile as) a glass?
But I will speak to him kindly and say, Why do you boast of (this) high estate?
For here harshness is of no use: it is by gentleness that the snake puts forth its head (is induced to come forth) from the hole.
He caused the people to withdraw from around him (the claimant): the king was a gracious man, and gentleness was his way.
Then he bade him be seated, and asked him concerning his dwelling-place, saying, “Where have you your
means of livelihood and refuge?”

1135. He replied, O king, I belong to the Abode of Peace: I have come from the road (after having journeyed) to this Abode of Blame.
I have neither home nor any companion: when has a fish made its home on the earth?
Again the king answered him, saying by way of jest, “What (food) have you eaten and what provision have you (made) for the morning meal?
Have you appetite? What didst you eat at daybreak that you art so intoxicated and boastful and blustering?”
He replied, If I had bread, (whether) dry or moist, how should I lay claim to prophecy?

1140. To claim to be a prophet amongst these people is like seeking a heart from a mountain.
No one (ever) sought intellect and heart from mountains and rocks: none sought (from them) understanding and apprehension of a difficult point of discourse.
Whatever you say, the mountain replies the same: it makes a mock (of you) like the scoffers.
What relation exists between this folk and the (Divine) message? Who can hope for (spiritual) life from a soulless thing?
If you bring (them) a message concerning a woman or gold, they will all lay before you their money and lives (in entire devotion)—

1145. (The message), A sweetheart in such and such a place invites you (to come to her): she is in love with you, she knows you.

But if you bring (them) the honey-like message of God, Come to God, O you who have a good covenant
(with Him);
Go from the world of death towards the (eternal) provision: since everlastingness is possible, do not be perishing’—
They will seek (to shed) your blood and (take) your life, not in zeal for religion and (spiritual and moral)

The reason why the vulgar are at enmity with, and live in estrangement from, the saints of God who call them unto God and the Water of Life everlasting.

Nay, but on account of their sticking to house and goods it is bitter (hateful) to them to hear this exposition
(given by the prophets).

1150. (Suppose) a rag is stuck fast upon the donkey's sore: when you wish to tear it off, bit by bit,
The donkey, because of the pain (inflicted on him), will certainly kick: happy the man who abstained from
(touching) him!
Especially (when there are) fifty sores, and a soaked rag stuck on the top of them in every case.
House and goods are like the rag, and this greed (of yours) is the sore: the greater the greed, the greater the sore.
The wilderness alone is the house and goods of the owl: he (the owl) will not listen to descriptions of
Baghdád and Tabas.

1155. If a royal falcon come from the road and bring to these owls a hundred reports of the King,
(With) a full account of the imperial city and the orchards and the riversthen a hundred enemies will jeer at him,
Saying, What has the falcon brought? An old story. He is weaving words of vanity and idle brag.’ (’Tis) they (that) are old and rotten unto everlasting; otherwise (they would know that) that breath (of prophetic inspiration) makes the old new.
It gives life to the old dead (spirits): it gives the crown of reason and the light of faith.

1160. Do not steal your heart away from the spirit-bestowing heart-ravisher, for he will mount you on the back of Rakhsh.
Do not steal your head away from the crown-giving one whose head is exalted, for he will untie a hundred knots from the foot of your heart.
Whom shall I tell? Where in the village is any (spiritually) living one? Where is any one that runs towards the Water of Life?
You art fleeing from Love because of a single humiliation: what do you know of Love except the name? Love has a hundred disdains and prides: Love is gained by means of a hundred blandishments.

1165. Since Love is loyal, it purchases (desires) him that is loyal: it does not look at a disloyal comrade. Man resembles a tree, and the root is the covenant (with God): the root must be cherished with all one's might.
A corrupt (infirm) covenant is a rotten root and is cut off (deprived) of fruit and grace.
Although the boughs and leaves of the date-palm are green, greenness is no benefit (when conjoined) with corruption of the root;
And if it (the bough) have no green leaves, while it has a (good) root, at the last a hundred leaves will put forth their hands.

1170. Be not duped by his (the learned man's) knowledge; seek (to know whether he keeps) the covenant: knowledge is like a husk, and his covenant is its kernel.

Explaining that when the evil-doer becomes settled in evil-doing and sees the effect of the (spiritual) fortune of the doers of righteousness, he from envy becomes a devil and preventer of good, like Satan; for he whose stack is burnt desires that all (others) should have their stacks burnt: ‘have you seen him who forbids a servant (of God) when he performs the (ritual) prayer?’

When you see that the loyal have profited, thereat you become envious, like a devil.
Whenever a man's temperament and constitution is feeble, he does not wish any one to be sound in body.
If you dislike (to have) the jealousy of Ibs, come (away) from the door of pretension (and advance) to the portal of loyalty.
When you have not loyalty, at least do not talk (presumptuously), for words are for the most part self- assertion—‘we and I.’

1175. These words, (whilst they stay) in the breast, are an income consisting of (spiritual) kernels: in silence the spiritual kernel grows a hundredfold.
When it (the word) comes on to the tongue, the kernel is expended: refrain from expending, in order that the goodly kernel may remain (with you).
The man who speaks little has strong thoughts: when the husk, namely speech, becomes excessive, the kernel goes.
(When) the rind is excessive, the kernel is thin: the rind becomes thin when it (the kernel) becomes perfect and goodly.
Look at these three (fruits) when they have passed beyond immaturity: the walnut and the almond and the pistachio.

1180. Whoever disobeys (God) becomes a devil, for he becomes envious of the fortune of the righteous. When you have acted loyally in (keeping) your covenant with God, God will graciously keep His covenant with you.
You have shut your eyes to keeping faith with God, you have not hearkened to (the words) remember Me, I
will remember you.
Give ear, listen to (the words) keep My covenant, in order that (the words) I will keep your covenant may come from the Friend.
What is our covenant and loan, O sorrowful one? (It is) like sowing a dry seed in the earth.

1185. From that (sowing) neither do glory and grandeur accrue to the earth, nor riches to the owner of the earth.
(It is nothing) except an indication, as though to say, ‘I need this kind (of produce), the origin whereof
You didst create from non-existence.
I ate, and (now) I bring the seed as a token, begging you to send to us such bounty (as before).’
Abandon, then, the dry (verbal) prayer, O fortunate one; for the tree demands (presupposes) the scattering of seed.
(But) if you have no seed, on account of that prayer God will bestow on you a palm-tree, saying, How well did he labour!’

1190. Like Mary: she had (heartfelt) pain, but no seed: an artful One made green that (withered) palm- tree (for her sake).
Because that noble Lady was loyal (to God), God gave unto her a hundred desires without desire on her part.
The company who have been loyal are given superiority over all (other) sorts (of men).
Seas and mountains are made subject to them; the four elements also are the slaves of that class.
This (miraculous power) is only a favour (conferred on them) for a sign, to the end that the disbelievers may see it plainly.

1195. Those hidden graces of theirs, which come not into (the perception of) the senses or into description
Those are the (real) matter: those are enduring for ever, they are neither cut off nor reclaimed.


O Giver of (spiritual) nutriment and steadfastness and stability, give your creatures deliverance from this instability.

Grant unto the soul—for it is bent (crooked)—to stand upright (to persevere with rectitude) in the work wherein it ought to be stable.
Bestow patience upon them and heavy balance-scales: deliver them from the guile of impostors;

1200. And redeem them from envy, O Gracious One, lest from envy they be devils accursed. How do the vulgar burn with envy for the fleeting happiness of riches and (pleasures of) the body! Behold the kings, how they lead armies (to battle) and slay their own kinsmen because of envy. The lovers of filYour dolls (darlings) have sought each other's blood and life.
Read Wís and Rámín and Khusraw and Shírín: (you will see) what those fools did because of envy.

1205. (You will see) that the lover perished and the beloved too: they are naught and their passion also is naught.
Holy is the god who brings non-existence into collision with itself and makes non-existence to be in love with non-existence.
Envies arise in the heart that is no (real) heart: thus doth Being subject not being to compulsion.
These women, who are kinder than all (other creatures)—(even amongst them) two fellow-wives devour each other from envy,
So that (you may judge) in what degree of envy are the men who indeed are stony-hearted.

1210. If the Law had not exercised a gracious spell (over them), every one would have torn the body of his rival to pieces.
The Law makes a plan for repelling evil: it puts the demon into the bottle of (legal) proof—
Witness and oath and shrinking (from the oath)till (at last) the insolent demon goes into the bottle
(The Law is) like the balance whereby the two adversaries are surely united in contentment, (whether) in
jest or earnest.
Know for sure that the Law is like the measure and scales by means of which the litigants are saved from wrangling and enmity.

1215. If there be no pair of scales, how shall the litigant escape from disputing when he suspects fraud and deceit?
(If), then, there is all this jealousy and litigation and injustice in respect of this foul faithless carcase,
How, then, must it be when genies and men become envious in respect of that fortune and felicity
Truly those devils are envious of old: never for a moment do they cease from waylaying;
And the sons of Adam who have sown (the seed of) disobediencethey too have become devils from enviousness.

1220. Read in the Qur’án how by Divine transformation the devils of mankind have become homogeneous with the Devil.
When the Devil fails to tempt (any one), he seeks aid from these human (devils).
Saying, Ye are my friends: (perform) an act of friendship towards me; ye are on my side: (perform) an act of partiality.’
If they waylay any one in the world, both kinds of devils come off rejoicing;
And if any one has saved his soul and become eminent in religion, those two jealous (parties) keep up lamentation.

1225. Both gnash their teeth in envy at any one upon whom the (spiritual) Teacher has bestowed wisdom.”

How the king asked the man who claimed to be a prophet, saying, The person who is a true Messenger (of God) and becomes established (as such)what has he to give to any one, or what gifts will people obtain by consorting with him and serving him, except the counsel which he utters with his tongue?”

The king questioned him, saying, After all, what is inspiration, or what has he got who is a prophet?”

He replied, “What is there indeed that he has not got, or what fortune is left whereunto he has not attained?
I will suppose (for argument's sake) that this prophetic inspiration is not a treasurer (of Divine Revelations);
still, it is not inferior to the inspiration in the heart of the bee.
Since (the words) God has inspired the bee have come (in the Qurán), the dwelling-place of its (the bee's)
inspiration has been filled with sweets.

1230. Through the light of the inspiration of God the Almighty and Glorious, it filled the world with wax and honey.
This one who is (the object of) We have honoured (the sons of Adam) and is ever going upwardhow should his inspiration be inferior to (that of) the bee?
Have not you read (the words) We have given you Kawthar? Why, then, are you dry and why have you remained thirsty?
Or perchance you are (like) Pharaoh, and for you Kawthar, like the Nile, has turned to blood and (become)
impure, O sick man.
Repent, renounce every enemy (of God) who has not the water of Kawthar in his cup.

1235. Whomsoever you see flushed (with joy) by Kawthar, he has the nature of Mohammed: consort with him,
That at the Reckoning you may become (one of those who) love for God's sake; for with him are apples from the tree of Ahmad (Mohammed).
Whomsoever you see with lips unmoistened by Kawthar, always deem him an enemy like death and fever,
Though it is your father or your mother; for in truth he is a drinker of your blood.
Learn these ways of acting from the Friend of God (Abraham), who first renounced his father,

1240. That in the presence of God you may become (one of those who) hate for God's sake, lest the jealousy of (Divine) Love take offence at you.
Until you recite (There is) not (any god) and except Allah, you will not find the plain track of this Way.

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