By Dr A Q Khan
July 06, 2015
Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi
Rumi’s Masnavi is full of interesting anecdotes and guidance. In my previous column I already mentioned that the Masnavi is considered to be the Quran in the Persian language.
The following story is courtesy Maulana Shah Hakim Muhammad Akhtar. “Hazrat Musa (AS) asked Firaun (Pharaoh) to accept one proposal (Islam) from him, in return for which he would get four blessings. Firaun asked him to explain. Musa (AS) told him that there is no God but Allah, that He is the creator of the heavens, earth, mountains, rivers, forests and deserts and the creatures therein. His Kingdom is infinite; He is Unique, Incomparable and Unequaled. He gives food to all living creatures. He knows all that human beings think of. He is supreme over all rebellious chieftains and can take them to task. He is king of all kings.
“He says: ‘Be’ and all is done instantly. After hearing all this, Firaun asked what he was to get in return for ridding himself of all worldly enticements and becoming a Muslim. ‘O Musa! Please hurry up and tell me how the door of true guidance may be opened for me’. Hazrat Musa (AS) said: ‘If you embrace Islam, the first reward would be that you would always keep good health and will never get sick, but you would desire death to enjoy the life hereafter. Oh Firaun! The second blessing is that, just as a green leaf entices a worm away from the grapes, so is this world distracts you from your creator.
“A person behaves like a worm that is totally absorbed in eating the flesh of a corpse, but when he leaves it after a warning from the Almighty, he totally gets intoxicated with love for Allah and is oblivious of all the worldly luxuries. The third blessing you will be getting is in the shape of more country in addition to the one you already have, in spite of your disobedience and haughtiness. The fourth blessing you will get is that your hair will always stay black. But I am dealing with a person here who is like a child being promised a walnut (candy) if he went to school, not knowing that a walnut is nothing compared to the knowledge (gained at school). After hearing these promises, Firaun was inclined to accepting Islam and said he would first consult his wife. He went to the palace and discussed the matter with his wife, Asya (who had secretly accepted Hazrat Musa (RA) as the Prophet of Allah and his religion [i.e. Islam]). Asya told him to accept the offer immediately, even at the cost of his life. This conversation is the beginning of many blessings, she said, and you must hurry to grab it. The time spent so far was all in vain. She then cried and said: ‘Oh bald-headed Firaun, your luck has hit the jackpot. Musa (AS) has covered up all your faults and vices and he wants to give you inner spirituality. The ugliness of baldness can easily be covered by a small cap, but your faults and vices can only be covered and hidden by the blessings of Allah.
“Oh Firaun! Don’t consult anybody. My advice to you is to immediately accept the offer of Musa (AS). It is not such an offer that you should seek advice from others. Do you know what it means? Oh Firaun! This kindness to you is as if the Almighty was being kind to the devil (Satan). It is not a small favour that the Almighty is doing to you. I am surprised that you have not died of heart failure (from happiness).’”
Maulana Rumi commented that whenever righteous people fall to the mercy of incompetent people, the latter try to convert them to their bad habits. If they refuse, they are subjected to ill treatment. And when the innocent weep, the angels collect their tears and rub them on their bodies and those tears become as valuable as the blood of a martyr.
Hazrat Asya (RA) asked Firaun not to hesitate and immediately accept the offer. The Almighty has been very kind to you that Musa (AS) has given it. If you are unable to decide, then obey the advice of Musa (AS) without a moment’s hesitation. Do not doubt the validity of the promise and do not consider it to be false or a trap. When it is the Almighty himself who is inviting you, then don’t hesitate or delay. Put yourself in submission to Allah. How long will you indulge in wrongdoing and sins and be haughty? The Almighty is not putting you to shame, so be thankful to Him for this magnanimity. Listen and see, Firaun! In spite of your horrendous sins, the Almighty is showing His Mercy and Benevolence. Don’t you think this magnanimous offer is very generous?
Again Maulana Rumi steps in and laces the story with wisdom by saying that all the pleasures of the world are worth nothing compared to the pleasure one gets from reaching the 7th sky, thus becoming an angel.
After hearing Hazrat Asya, Firaun said that he also wanted to consult his vizier, Haman. Asya asked him not to discuss the matter with Haman as he was not intelligent enough to understand the implications. It is like expecting a blind old woman to judge a royal falcon. Firaun did not listen to her and went to seek Haman’s advice.
Here Maulana Rumi wisely commented: “The advisers and colleagues of an incompetent ruler are also stupid and incompetent. Our Holy Prophet (pbuh) had Hazrat Abu Bakar Siddiq (RA) as his adviser and colleague and Abu Jahal had Abu Lahab. It is like birds of a feather flocking together.
When Haman heard what Firaun had to say, he showed great agitation – pulling his hair, tearing his shirt – and started shouting and crying. He flung his cap and turban on the ground asking how Musa (SA) dared to utter such insulting words to His Majesty. “You are an Emperor”, he said. “All kings and emperors send you Khiraj (tribute) annually and they bow and kiss your hands. You are a god to the world. If you accept Musa’s offer, you would become like a servant to him. If you want to accept this religion (Islam), then please kill us first so that we don’t see this insult. Please chop off my head so that I don’t see you being a servant and he (Musa) our master.”
Now Rumi (RA), in his traditional style, reprimands Haman, calling him a rascal and disbeliever and reminds him of the many vast kingdoms which existed from east to west and which are now no longer there. When Firaun, misled by Haman, refused the offer made by Musa (AS), the latter remarked that he had tried to do a great favour to Firaun, but it had not been written in his destiny and nothing could be done about it.