By Dr A Q Khan
January 23, 2017
Recently I have been writing about Rumi’s Masnavi. While the stories and events quoted by him may not be 100 percent correct, they do contain excellent advice on morality. The particular translation I am quoting excerpts from here is by Reynold A Nicholson and published by Darul Ishaat, Karachi.
“How the writer of the (Quranic) Revelation fell into apostasy because (when) the ray of the Revelation shot upon him, he recited the (revealed) verse before the Prophet, on whom be peace; then he said, ‘So I too am one upon whom Revelation has descended’.
“Before Uthman there was a scribe who used to be diligent in writing down the Revelation. The beams of that Revelation would shine upon him, and he would find Wisdom within him. The substance of that Wisdom was dictated by the Prophet: by this (small) amount (of reflected Wisdom) that meddling fool was led astray. Thinking, ‘I have in my conscience the Truth of that which the illumined Prophet is saying.’
“The ray of his thought struck the Prophet: the wrath of God descended on his (the scribe’s) soul. He abandoned both his work as a scribe and the Religion (Islam). Mustafa said: ‘O obstinate miscreant, if the Light was from thee, how shouldst thou have become black (with sin)? His (a sinner’s) heart is being darkened; hence he is unable to repent. He (the scribe) was crying: ‘Alas’, but ‘Alas’ was of no use to him when the sword came on and took off his head. Pride and infidelity have barred that way of repentance that he (the sinner) cannot utter a sigh. God said: ‘We have put shackles on their necks (chin-high) and thereby they are forced to lift up their heads, and We have put behind them a barrier, and a covering (of darkness) over them’
“The barrier that arose has the appearance of open country: he does not know that it is the barrier of the Divine destiny. Oh, many are the infidels that have a passionate longing for the Religion: his stumbling-block is reputation and pride. The chain is hidden, but ‘tis worse than iron: the iron chain can be removed: none knows how to cure the invisible chain. If a man is stung by a wasp, he extracts the sting, but since the stinging wound is inflicted by your self-existence, the pain continues with violence and the anguish is not relieved. Do not despair: make yourself cheerful, call for help to Him who comes at the call, saying: ‘Forgive us, O Thou who lovest to forgive, O Thou who has a medicine for the old gangrenous disease!’
“The reflexion of Wisdom led astray that miserable one (the Prophet’s scribe); be not self-conceited, lest it destroy you. Although the house (your heart) has found a light within it, that (light) has shone forth from a light-giving neighbour. Render thanks, be not beguiled by vanity, do not turn up your nose, hearken attentively, and do not show any self conceit. I am the devoted slave of him who does not regard himself at every stage in his spiritual progress as having attained the privilege of sitting at the table with God. Many is the caravanserai that must be quitted, in order that one day the man may reach home. Though the iron has become red, it is not red by nature: the redness is borrowed from something that strikes fire.
“If the window or the house is full of light, do not deem aught luminous except the sun. The season of summer says: ‘O peoples, behold yourselves when I depart!’ The body is boasting of its beauty and comeliness, (while) the spirit, having concealed its glory and pinions and plumes, says to it: ‘O dunghill, who art thou? Through my beams thou hast come to life for a day or two. Thy coquetry and prideful airs go beyond all bounds, (but) wait till I spring up. They whose love warmed thee will dig a grave for thee, they will make thee a morsel for ants and reptiles. The beams of the spirit are speech and eye and ear: the beam (effect) of fire is the bubbling in the water. As the beam of the spirit falls on the body, so fall the beams of the Abdail on my soul.
“For that reason I am laying my head (humbly) on the earth, so that she may be my witness on the Day of Judgement, for she will plainly declare what she knows: earth and rocks will begin to speak. The philosopher becomes disbelieving. The speech of water, the speech of earth, and the speech of mud are apprehended by the senses of them that have hearts (the mystics).
The philosopher who disbelieves in the moaning pillar is a stranger to the senses of the saints. The philosopher comes to deny the existence of the Devil, and at the same time he is possessed by a devil. Whosoever hath doubt and perplexity in his heart, he in this world is a secret philosopher.
“He is professing firm belief, but some time or other that philosophical vein will bring him to shame. Take care, O ye Faithful! For that is in you: in you is many an infinite world. In thee are all the two-and-seventy sects: woe if one day they gain the upper hand. From fear of this, everyone who has the fortune of this Faith is trembling. Thou hast laughed at Iblis and the devils because thou hast regarded thyself as a good man. When the soul shall turn its coat inside out (and be revealed as it really is), how many a ‘Woe is Me’ will it extort from the followers of the Religion! O Coverer (of faults), do not lift up the veil from us, be a protector to us on the Day of Judgement. Hundreds of thousands of years the accursed Iblis was a saint and the prince of true believers; on account of the pride which he had, he grappled with Adam and was put to shame.”
I would like to mention here that I have not been able to find reference to this in any other reliable source. Maybe Maulana heard it from someone and thought it appropriate to mention in his own way.