Jalal al-Din Rumi, surely
the greatest mystical poet in the history of mankind.
I am affectionate to such a degree that when these
friends come to me, for fear that they may be wearied I
speak poetry so that they may be occupied with that.
Otherwise, what have I to do with poetry? By Allah, I care
nothing for poetry, and there is nothing worse in my eyes
than that. It has become incumbent upon me, as when a man
plunges his hands into tripe and washes it out for the sake
of a guest's appetite, because the guest's appetite is for
If a man is
alongside of his own need, he will also be alongside of the
one who gives him that need; if he is constantly attached to
his own toggle, he will be constantly attached to the one
who draws the toggle. Except that his eyes are fixed on the
toggle, so that he is without might and strength; if his
eyes were fixed on him who draws the toggle, he would escape
from the toggle, the toggle now being the one who draws his
toggle. For he was toggled so that he should not proceed
towards the toggle-drawer without the toggle. His eyes are
not fixed upon Him who draws the toggle, so of course we
shall brand him upon the muzzle. We shall fix a toggle upon
his nose and draw him against his will, since without a
toggle he does not come towards Us.
wonderfully gracious He is! He sets a seal on him, who
listens and does not understand, argues and does not
understand. God is gracious, and His wrath is gracious, and
His lock is gracious, but not like His lock is His
unlocking, for the grace of that is indescribable. If I
break myself into pieces, that will be through the infinite
grace and will of His unlocking and incomparable opening.
So it is not necessary to become wholly preoccupied with
worldly affairs. One must take them easily, and not be in
bondage to them, lest this should fret and that should fret.
The treasure must not fret; for if these things should fret,
that will transform them; whereas if that frets (we seek
refuge with God!) who then will transform that? If for
instance you have many kinds of cloth of every sort, when
you are absorbed, why, which of them will you clutch? Though
all are indispensable, yet it is certain that in the bundle
you will lay hands on something precious and to be
treasured; for with one pearl and a single ruby one can make
a thousand decorations.
Though they are powerful, pluck out their beards politely;
Firmly break their necks, though they are high and mighty.
By enduring and putting up
with the tyranny of women it is as though you rub off your
own impurity on them. Your character becomes good through
forbearance, their character becomes bad through domineering
and aggression. When you have realised this, make yourself
clean. Know that they are like a garment; in them you
cleanse your own impurities and become clean yourself.
If you cannot succeed with
yourself, deliberate with yourself in a rational way as
follows. 'Let me pretend that we have never been married.
She is a whore. Whenever lust overmasters me I resort to
her.' Thus rid yourself of manly pride and envy and
jealousy, until such time that beyond such deliberation you
experience pleasure in struggling and enduring, and in their
absurdities discover spiritual joy.
A certain dervish
had a disciple who used to beg for him. One day
out of the yield of his begging he brought some food to his master. The
dervish ate the food. That night he experienced nocturnal emission.
'From whom did you
bring that food?' he asked the disciple.
'A lovely girl
gave it to me,' the disciple answered.
rejoined the dervish, 'it is twenty years since I had a
nocturnal emission. This was the effect of her morsel.'
This shows that
the dervish must be cautious and not eat the morsel
of everyone. For the dervish is delicate; things have their effect on
him and become visible, just as a little blackness shows on a clean
white gown; as for a black gown which has become black with grime
for many years and has lost all whiteness, if a thousand kinds of filth
and grease should trickle on it it would not appear on it to the people.
This being so, the dervish must not eat the morsel of sinners and those
who live on iniquity, and of materialists. For the morsel of such a man has an effect on the dervish, and corrupt thoughts manifest under the
influence of that strange morsel -- so that the dervish had nocturnal
emission through consuming the food of that girl.
The Koran is as a bride who does not disclose her face to
you, for all that you draw aside the veil. That you should
examine it, and yet not attain happiness and unveiling, is
due to the fact that the act of drawing aside the veil has
itself repulsed and tricked you, so that the bride has shown
herself to you as ugly, as if to say, 'I am not that
It is related that a certain Jew lived next door to
one of the Companions of God's messenger. This Jew lived in
an upper room, whence descended into the Muslim's apartment
all kinds of dirt and filth, the piddle of his children, the
water his clothes were washed in. Yet the Muslim always
thanked the Jew, and bade his family do the same. So things
continued for eight years, until the Muslim died. Then the
Jew entered his apartment, to condole with the family, and
saw all the filth there, and how it issued from his upper
room. So he realised what had happened during the past
years, and was exceedingly sorry, and said to the Muslim's
household, 'Why on earth didn't you tell me? Why did you
always thank me?' They replied, 'Our father used to bid us
be grateful, and chided us against ceasing to be grateful.'
So the Jew became a believer.
[ON WARFARE, MURDER AND TORTURE]
The Prophet, God bless him and grant him peace, had defeated
the unbelievers, slaying and plundering and taking many
prisoners whom he had fettered hand and foot. Amongst the
prisoners was his uncle 'Abbas, may God be well pleased with him. They were weeping and
wailing all the night through in their chains and helpless humiliation
and had given up all hope of their lives, expecting the sword and
slaughter. The Prophet, upon whom be peace, looked at them and
'Did you see?' the
prisoners exclaimed. 'He has the attributes of a
man after all. That claim of his, that he was superhuman, was contrary
to the truth. There he is; he looks at us and sees us prisoners in these
chains and fetters, and rejoices. So it is with all men governed by
passions -- when they get the victory over their enemies and see them
vanquished to their will, they rejoice and make merry.'
'Not so,' answered
the Prophet, God's blessings be upon him, perceiving
what was in their hearts. 'Far be it from me that I should laugh
because I see my enemies vanquished to my will, or because I see you
come to grief. It is for this reason that I rejoice, indeed I laugh,
I see with the inward eye that I am dragging and drawing a people by
main force, by collars and chains, out of the fiery furnace and black
smoke of Hell unto Paradise and Ridwan and
the Eternal Garden of
Roses; while they lament and cry aloud, saying, "Why are you drawing
us out of this pit of destruction into that rose-bower and place of
security?" So laughter overcomes me. For all that, inasmuch as you
have not yet been given the vision to discover and behold this that I
say, God commands me: "Say to the prisoners: First you gathered
together your hosts and mustered much might, trusting completely in
your virtue and valour and panoply. You said amongst yourselves, so
we will do; we will conquer the Muslims so, and will vanquish them.
You did not see One Omnipotent who is more powerful than yourselves,
you did not know of One All-forceful above your force. So
inevitably all that you planned to do turned out opposite to your
designs. Even now that you are in fear, you have not repented of your
old distemper; you are in despair, and do not see One Omnipotent over
you. Therefore it behoves you forthwith to behold My might and
strength, and to know yourselves to be vanquished to My will, so that
all things may be made easy for you. Do not despair of Me, even in
your present fear; for I am able to deliver you out of this fear and to
make you secure. He who is able to produce out of a white bullock a
black bullock is also able to bring forth out of a black bullock a white
bullock. [He] brings forth the dead from the living.
Therefore the Prophet, God's blessings be upon him, said, 'I
laugh as I slay.' That is, 'I have no enemy' -- that he
should be angry in chastising him. He kills the unbeliever
in one way, so that the unbeliever may not kill himself in a
hundred manners. So of course he laughs as he slays.
some time the Companions prayed secretly and pronounced in
secret the name of Muhammad, God bless him and give him
peace. Then after a while the revelation came: 'You too
unsheathe the sword and make war!'
So realise that in this world things happen as He wills,
that His is the design and that the purpose is subject to
'Umar was a mighty and powerful and manly man; any army he
marched against he surely vanquished, exposing their
decapitated heads; so much so, that the Prophet declared
always, God bless him and give him peace, 'God, succour my
religion by means of 'Umar or Abu Jahl.' For those two were
famous in his time for strength and manliness and
Having become a Muslim, ['Umar' said, 'Now, in thanksgiving
for having come against you with a naked sword and in
expiation therefor, henceforward I will give quarter to no
man whom I hear speaking improperly of you. With this sword
I will strike his head apart from his body.' Coming out of
the mosque, he suddenly encountered his father. His father
said, 'You have changed religion.' Immediately he struck off
his head, and walked on holding in his hand the bloodstained
This way of poverty is a
way in which you attain all your desires. Whatsoever thing
you have longed for will certainly come to you on this way,
whether it be the shattering of armies, victory over the
enemy, capturing kingdoms, reducing people to subjection,
excelling your contemporaries, elegance of speech,
eloquence, and all that is like to this.
Just now we have
been discussing this question: if one man has a
family and another man has none, should one cut away from the former
and give to the latter? Literalists say that you cut away from the poor
family man and give to the other; when you consider the matter well,
he himself in reality is a poor family man. It is the same with the
who possesses a jewel. He strikes a man and breaks his nose and
jaw. Everyone says that the latter is the wronged party. But in reality
the wronged party is the one striking the blow; the man doing wrong is
he who does not act in his best interests. The one who has been punched
and got his head broken is the wrongdoer, and the striker is assuredly
the wronged party. Since he is the owner of the jewel, since he is
in God, his actions are God's actions. God is not called a
wrongdoer. The Prophet too,
God bless him and give him peace, killed and
spilled blood and raided; yet they were the wrongdoers, and he was the
[ON SADISM AND MASOCHISM]
Master said: It is good if you are helpless all the time and
at every moment, and see yourself helpless in the state of
capacity just as in the state of incapacity. For above your
capacity there is a greater Capacity, and you are vanquished
to God's will in every state. You are not divided into two
halves, now capable and now helpless. Pay regard to His
Capacity, and know yourself to be helpless always, without
hand and foot, poor and utterly incapable.
'Love continues so long as reproof continues': one reproves
friends, but one does not reprove a stranger....When a
carpet is beaten to get rid of the dust, men of sense do not
call that a 'reproof'; but if a man beats his own child and
darling, then that is called a 'reproof' and is a proof of
love. Therefore so long as you perceive pain and regret
within yourself, that is a proof that God loves you and
cares for you.
the saints seek worldly rank and elevation, it is for this
purpose: they desire to snare the worldlings, who have not
the vision to behold their true elevation, in the trap of
worldly rank so that they may find their way to that other
elevation and fall into the trap of the world to come....The
saints beguile men in order to bestow gifts on them, not in
order to take anything from them.....
When a man lays a trap and by cunning catches little birds
in his trap so as to eat them and sell them, that is called
cunning. But if a king lays a trap so as to capture an
untutored and worthless hawk which has no knowledge of its
own true nature, and to train it to his own forearm so that
it may become ennobled and taught and tutored, that is not
called cunning. Though to outward seeming it is cunning, yet
it is known to be the very acme of rectitude and bounty and
generosity, restoring the dead to life, converting the base
stone into a ruby, making the dead sperm into a man and far
more than that. If the hawk knew for what reason men seek to
capture it, it would not require any bait; it would search
for the trap with soul and heart and would fly on the king's
Those infidels who are fixed in unbelief -- after all, they
suffer because of their unbelief. Yet when we look at the
matter again, that suffering too is itself a Divine grace.
When the unbeliever is left at ease he forgets the Creator;
so God reminds him by means of suffering. Therefore Hell is
a place of worship, and is the mosque of the infidels, for
there the unbeliever remembers God; just as in prison and
suffering and toothache -- when the pain comes, it tears
away the veil of forgetfulness. The sufferer acknowledges
God and makes lamentation, saying, 'O Lord, O Compassionate
One, a God!' He is healed; then the veils of forgetfulness
descend again and he says, 'Where is God? I cannot find him.
I cannot see Him. What should I look for?'
How is it that when you were suffering you saw and found,
and now you do not see? Since therefore you see when you
suffer, suffering is made to prevail over you to the end
that you may recollect God. The inmate of Hell was forgetful
of God in the time of his ease and did not remember God; in
Hell he recollects God night and day. God created the world,
heaven and earth, moon and sun and stars, good and evil,
that they might remember Him and serve Him and proclaim His
praise. Inasmuch as the unbelievers in the time of their
ease do not do this, and since their purpose in being
created was to recollect God, therefore they go to Hell in
order that they may remember Him. Believers however have no
need to suffer; in their time of ease they are not unmindful
of that suffering and see that suffering constantly present.
In the same way once an intelligent child has had its feet
put in the stocks that is enough, he never forgets the
stocks. The stupid child however forgets, and must therefore
be put in the stocks every moment. So too the clever horse,
once it has felt the spur, does not require the spur again;
he carries the rider for many leagues and does not forget
the sting of the spur. The stupid horse however requires the
spur every moment; he is not fit to carry a man, so they
load him with dung.
Evil character and wickedness of soul and the vilenesses
which are in man are according to a secret essential element
which is in him. Those characteristics and vilenesses and
evil are a veil over that element. The more precious and
venerable and noble that element is, the greater are its
God's presence two I's cannot be contained. You say 'I' and
He says 'I': either do you die before Him, or He will die
before you, so that duality may not remain. But as for God's
dying, that is both impossible and inconceivable; for He is
the Living, the Immortal. So gracious is He, that if it were
at all possible He would die for your sake, so that duality
might vanish. Now since it is not possible for Him to die,
do you die so that He may reveal Himself to you and so that
duality may vanish.
two birds together, and despite their congeneity and the
fact that their two wings have been changed to four they
will not fly. That is because duality persists. But if you
tie a dead bird to a living bird it will fly, because
duality no longer remains.
sun is so gracious that it would gladly die before the bat.
But as that is not possible the sun says, 'O bat, my grace
is universal. I desire to favour you too. So do you die,
since it is possible for you to die, so that you may partake
of the light of my glory and be metamorphosed out of your
bathood and become the Simurgh of the Mount Qaf of
There was a servant of God who had the power to destroy
himself for the sake of a friend. He prayed to God for such
a friend, but God did not accept his petition. 'I do not
wish that you should see him,' came a voice. That servant of
God persisted, and would not refrain from his petition,
saying, 'O God, Thou hast implanted this desire for him, and
it does not depart out of me.' Finally a voice came saying,
'Do you desire that this should come to pass? Sacrifice your
self, and become nothing. Do not tarry, and depart out of
the world.' 'Lord, I am well content,' that servant cried.
So he did: he gambled away his life for the sake of that
Friend, so that his desire was accomplished.
Shaikh Sar-razi, God's mercy be upon him, was seated one day
amongst his disciples. One of the disciples had a longing
for some roasted sheep's head. The Shaikh signalled, saying,
'You must bring him some roasted sheep's head.'
did you know that he wanted some roasted sheep's head?' the
'Because it is now thirty years that no desire has remained
in me,' the Shaikh answered. 'I have cleansed and purified
myself of all desires and have become clear as an
unscratched mirror. When the thought of roasted sheep's head
entered my mind and whetted my appetite and became a desire,
I knew that that belonged to our friend yonder. For the
mirror is without any image of itself; if an image shows in
the mirror, it is the image of another.'
If a man runs, when he runs for the sake of the world to
come he is truly seated; if he is seated, if he is seated
for the sake of the present world he is running.
Do you not see that when a man is awakened, he becomes
indifferent to the world also and grows cold; he also melts
The human being is like a dunghill, a heap of manure.
Why now do you regard this body? What connexion have you
with this body? You subsist without it. You are always
without it. If it is night, you have no care for the body;
while if it is day, you are preoccupied with your affairs.
You are never with the body. So why do you tremble over this
body, seeing that you are not with it for a single hour, but
are always elsewhere? Where are you, and where is the body?
'You are in one valley, and I am in another.' This body is a
great deception; it thinks that it is dead, and it is dead
too. Why, what connexion have you with the body? It is a
great hoodwink. Pharaoh's magicians, inasmuch as they had
paused like a mote, sacrificed their bodies, for they
perceived themselves to be subsisting without this body and
that the body had no connexion with them. In the same way
Abraham and Ishmael and all the prophets and the saints,
having paused, were indifferent to the body and whether it
existed or no.
[W]hen Mansur's friendship with God reached its utmost goal,
he became the enemy of himself and naughted himself. He
said, 'I am God'; that is, 'I have passed away, God alone
has remained.' This is extreme humility and the utmost limit
of servanthood, for it means 'He only is.' Pretension and
arrogance consists in your saying, 'Thou art God, and I am
Thy servant.' For by saying this you have affirmed your own
existence, and dualism ensues necessarily. If you say, 'He
is God,' that too is duality; for until 'I' exists 'He' is
impossible. Therefore it was God who said, 'I am God,' since
other than He was not in existence and Mansur had passed
away. Those words were God's words.
Die before you die'
Why indeed should I speak only of things that have being?
Not-being too is in commotion, expectant that He will give
them being. Non-entities are just like four persons ranged
before a king. Each one desires and expects that the king
will confer on him a special rank, and each one feels shy of
the other because his expectation is contrary to the other.
So the non-entities, being ranged in expectation of being
brought into being by God -- 'Make me to be!' -- and
desiring of the Creator each to be the first to be brought
into being, therefore feel shy of one another. If the
non-entities are in such a case, how should the things which
have being be?
There is no doubt that this world is a world of winter. Why
is the name 'solid' given to inanimate things? Because they
are all solidified. These stones and mountains, and the
garments worn by the entity, are all solidified. If this
world is not a world of winter, why are they solidified? The
inner substance of this world is elementary; though itself
invisible, by its effects it can be known that it is wind
and bitter cold.
is like the season of winter, when all things are
solidified. What manner of winter is it? Winter of the
reason, not of the senses. When that Divine zephyr comes
along the mountains begin to melt, the world turns to water;
just as when the warmth of July comes along, all things
solidified begin to liquefy. On the resurrection day when
that zephyr blows, all things will melt away.
Now all these other men are as bodies
in relation to the saints and the prophets, who are the
heart of this world. First they journeyed to the other
world, coming out of their human attributes, the flesh and
the skin. They surveyed the depths and heights of that world
and this and traversed all the stages, so that it became
known to them how one must proceed on that way. Then they
came back and summoned mankind, saying, 'Come to that
original world! For this world is a ruin and a perishing
abode, and we have discovered a delightful place, of which
we tell you.'
'This world is as the dream of a sleeper.' This world and
its delights is as though a man has eaten a thing whilst
asleep. So for him to desire worldly needs is as if he
desired something whilst sleeping and was given it; in the
end, when he is awake, he will not be profited by what he
ate whilst asleep'.
God has bought from the believers their selves and their
possessions against the gift of Paradise.
Intelligent men fly on the wings of their aspirations away
from all directions.
saw him in the form of a wild animal, upon him the skin of a
fox. I made to seize him, and he was on a small balcony,
looking down the stairs. He raised his hands, leaping about
like this and that. Then I saw Jalal al-Tibrizi with him in
the form of a stoat. He shied away, and I seized him, while
he was making to bite me. I put his head under my foot and
squeezed it hard, until all its contents came out. I looked
at the fineness of his skin and said, 'This deserves to be
filled with gold and precious stones, pearls and rubies, and
things even more excellent than that.' Then I said, 'I have
taken what I wanted. Shy away, shy one, where you will, and
leap in whatever direction you see fit!'
leaped about because he feared to be mastered; and in being
mastered his true happiness resided.
Many a man there is who is outwardly a wreck, who
has neither good looks nor elegance of speech nor eloquence,
yet there is in him that vital element which is immortal. It
is by that element that man is ennobled and honoured, and by
means of that he is superior to all other creatures.
Leopards and crocodiles, lions and the rest of creatures,
all have their peculiar skills and accomplishments; but that
vital element which will survive for ever is not in them.
In man are many things. There is mouse, and there is bird.
The bird carries the cage upwards, while the mouse drags it
downwards. A hundred thousand different wild beasts are
together in man, except that they are proceeding to the
point when the mouse will renounce its mousehood and the
bird its birdhood and all become one.
Outside this world of which we are speaking there is another
world for us to seek. This world and its delights cater to
the animality of man; these all feed his animality, whilst
the root principle, man, goes into a decline. After all,
they say, 'Man is a rational animal.' So man consists of two
things. That which feeds his animality in this material
world is these lusts and desires. But as for that which is
his true essence, its food is knowledge and wisdom and the
sight of God. The animality in man flees away from God,
whilst his humanity flees away from this world.
Truly, when I renounce all thought of silver and
food and raiment and the fire of lust, my daily portion will
come to me. But when I run after those daily portions, the
quest of them pains and wearies me and distresses me; if I
sit in my own place with patience, that will come to me
without pain and distress. For that daily portion is also
seeking after me and drawing me; when it cannot draw me it
comes to me, just as when I cannot draw it I go after it.'
Since therefore God's bountifulness is so renowned and all
the world is aware of His graciousness, why do you not beg
of Him and hope to receive from Him a robe of honour and a
rich gift? You sit in indolence saying, 'If He wills, He
will give to me'; and so you importune Him not at all. The
dog, which is not endowed with reason and comprehension,
when it is hungry and has no bread comes up to you and wags
its tail as if to say, 'Give me bread, I have no bread and
you have bread.' That much discrimination it possesses.
After all, you are not less than a dog, which is not content
to sleep in the ashes and say, 'If he wills, he will give me
bread of himself,' but entreats and wags its tail. So do you
wag your tail, and desire and beg of God; for in the
presence of such a Giver, to beg is mightily required. If
you have no good fortune, ask for good fortune from One who
is not niggardly, One who possesses great wealth.
[ON GNOSTICISM, AUTHORITARIANISM & FIRE WORSHIP]
God most High is
far too exalted to have kith and kin. He has not
begotten, and has not been begotten. No man has ever found the way
to Him save through servanthood. God is the All-sufficient; you are the
needy ones. It is not feasible for you to say of the person who has
found the way to God, 'He was more God's kin, more His familiar,
more connected with Him than I.' So nearness to God is not to be
attained save through servanthood.
you cannot go by the Muhammadan way, at least go by the way
of Jesus, that you may not remain altogether outside the
Whoever says evil of
the gnostic in reality says
of the gnostic; for the gnostic shies away from that quality, blame for
which might settle on him. The gnostic is the enemy of that quality;
he who speaks evil of that quality speaks evil of the enemy of the
gnostic and praises the gnostic; for the gnostic shies away from such
a blameworthy thing, and he who shies away from the blameworthy is
himself praiseworthy. Things become clear through their opposites.'
Hence the gnostic knows that the critic is not really his enemy and his
God does not speak to everyone, just as the kings of this
world do not speak to every weaver; they have appointed a
vizier and a deputy to show the way to the king. God most
High also has chosen a certain servant, so that whosoever
seeks God, God is in him. All the prophets have come for
this reason, that only they are the way.
'He created Adam in His likeness,' that is, in the likeness
of His rules.
Every moment we receive a slap from the unseen world.
Whatever we propose to do, we are kept away from it by a
slap and we take another course. As the saying goes, 'We
have no power of our own, it is all a swallowing up and a
vomiting.' It is also said, 'It is easier to cut the joints
than to cut a connexion.' The meaning of 'swallowing' is
descending into this lower world and becoming one of its
people; the meaning of 'vomiting' is dropping out of the
heart. For instance, a man eats some food and it turns sour
in his stomach, and he vomits it. If that food had turned
sour and he had not vomited it, it would have become a part
of the man.
Even so a disciple courts and dances service so as to find a
place in the heart of the shaikh. Anything issuing from the
disciple (God be our refuge!) which displeases the shaikh
and is cast forth out of his heart is like the food which
the man eats and then vomits. Just as that food would have
become a part of the man, and because it was sour he vomited
it and cast it forth, so that disciple with the passage of
time would have become the shaikh, and because of his
displeasing conduct he cast him out of his heart.
Thy love made proclamation to the world
And every heart into confusion hurled,
Then burnt all up and into ashes turned
And to the indifferent wind those ashes spurned.
In that wind of indifference the atoms of the ashes of those
hearts are dancing and making lament. If they are not so,
then who ever conveyed these tidings and who is it that
every moment anew brings these tidings? And if the hearts do
not perceive their very life to consist in that burning up
and spurning to the wind, how is it that they are so eager
to be burned? As for those hearts which have been burned up
in the fire of worldly lusts and become ashes, do your hear
any sound or see any lustre of them?
of the fiery furnace roses and a rose-bower sprang up.
Into thy hands we have given the reins
of our heart;
Whate'er thou declarest cooked, we declare it is burnt!
Every acquisition such a man has made in corrupting thought
now becomes a power in reforming thought. Thus, a cunning
thief repented and became a policeman. All the trickeries of
thieving which he practised now became a power for
beneficence and justice. He is superior to all other
policemen who were not thieves to begin with; for the
policeman who has committed acts of theft knows the ways of
thieves; the habits of thieves are not hidden from him. If
such a man becomes a shaikh, he will be perfect, the Elder
of the world and the Mahdi of the age.
Thoughts have their effect, since through one feeble and
muddled thought so many thousands of men and worlds are
prisoners.... where do they stand, compared with thoughts
mighty, infinite, weighty, holy, sublime?