Stars Beyond The Stars

Mathnawi I: 754-768

754 There are stars beyond the stars (of this world) in which there
is no (risk of) being burnt up,1 or misfortune2--

755 (Astral) wanderers3 in other heavens besides the seven
honored heavens4 (of this world).

Durable ones among the shining lights of God, not joined or
separate5 from each other.

Whoever's rising sign6 is from those stars, his soul burns (and
drives away) the rejecting deniers7 (who are) stoned8 [by flaming

His anger isn't (like) the anger of a Mars-born person9-- going
upside-down10 (from having) a dominating nature and (then) a
dominated one.11

The victorious light12 (of the saints) is safe from defect and
darkness (because it is) in between the two fingers13 of the Light of

760 (Although) God scatters that light14 upon (all) souls, (only)
those who are fortunate have held up (their) robes (to receive it);

And they have understood15 that scattering of light (and have)
turned (their) faces from (anything) other than God.

Whoever is without (such) a robe of love16 ends up without a share
of that scattering of light.

The particulars have (their) faces toward the universal,17 (just as)
nightingales are in love with the rose's face.18

The bull's color (is seen) from the outside. But in regard to man,
seek (his) red and yellow colors from the inside.19

765 Good colors are from the (dyeing) vat of purity. (But) the
color of the ugly (wrongdoers) is from the black water of injustice.

The name of that fine color is "the hue of God,"20 (but) the stench
of this thick color is "the curse of God."

That which (is) from the sea is going to the sea; it is going to the
same place from which it came:21

768 The fast-going flood, from the top of the mountain and the
departing soul mixed with love, from our body.

--From "The Mathnawî-yé Ma`nawî" [Rhymed Couplets of
Deep Spiritual Meaning] of Jalaluddin Rumi.
Translated from the Persian by Ibrahim Gamard (with
gratitude for R. A. Nicholson's 1926 British translation)
Ibrahim Gamard (translation, footnotes, & transliteration)
First published on "Sunlight" (, 6/8/00

Notes on the text, with line number:

1. (754) (risk of) being burnt up: " astronomical term for the
conjunction of one of the five planets (Venus, Mercury, Mars,
Jupiter and Saturn) with the sun in the same degree of the zodiac."
(Nicholson, Commentary). In other words, the apparent danger (as
seen by the human eye) that one of the planets might become burnt
up by coming too close to the sun.

2. (754) misfortune: an astrological term referring to an "unlucky"
conjunction of planets (understood in ancient times as "wandering
stars"). Just prior to this line, Rumi had said (as translated by
Nicholson): "Another king... addressed himself to the destruction
of the people of Jesus. If you desire information about this second
outbreak, read the chapter of the Qur'án (beginning): 'By Heaven
which hath the (zodiacal) signs.... because the sun goes from sign
to sign of the zodiac. Any one who has affinity with a star (planet)
has a concurrence (of qualities) with his star. If his ascendant star
be Venus, his whole inclination and love and desire is for joy;/
And if he be one born under Mars, one whose nature is to shed
blood, he seeks war and malignity and enmity." (740-41, 750-753)
Rumi mentions astrological images and beliefs sometimes in a
poetic way, and sometimes due to the current belief that God rules
the universe directly as well as indirectly (through angels and stars
and constellations). As a Muslim, of course, Rumi did not believe
that the stars control or influence fate apart from the Divine Will.

3. (755) (Astral) wanderers: refers to planets (see previous note)--
meaning here orbiters near the Divine Throne beyond the physical

4. (755) the seven honored heavens: refers to the orbital layers
"ruled" by the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and
Saturn. In the earliest manuscript, the word "honored" [mu`tabar]
has a correction written above it ["well-known"-- mushtahar].
Nicholson chose this latter term in his translation but wrote that,
"This reading entails either a bad rhyme or a fault in grammar
(mushtahar for mushtahir)." (Commentary) He later changed his
translation to, "Not these seven heavens (which are) held in high
regard" (from, "not these seven heavens known to all").

5. (756) not joined or separate: refers to the Divine Names of God.
"For the comparison of the Divine names and attributes to stars,
see IV 514 sqq., VI 3180. These names and attributes, in so far as
they are diverse in their effects, are not inseparable; but in so far as
they inhere in the Divine Essence, which is beyond all
distinctions, they are identical with each other." (Nicholson,

6. (757) rising sign: an astrological term, meaning the planet which is the
first to rise on the day a particular person is born.

7. (757) rejecting deniers [kuffâr]: often mistranslated as "infidels."
Means here, those who, because of their disbelief in God and
following His Will, may lead true believers astray and into

8. (757) stoned [rujûm]: means driven off by being pelted by stones.
This is a reference to passages in the Qur'an in which devils are
depicted as being driven away by missiles (57:5) and a flaming
fire, so that they cannot get close enough to hear what the angels
are saying in their "exalted assembly" (37:6-10). "The radiant soul
of the Perfect Man, acting under the direct influence of Divine
grace, consumes infidelity in the same way as shooting stars burn
the devils who are pelted with them." (Nicholson, Commentary)

9. (758) the anger of a Mars-born person: means a person born under
the influence of the "rising star" of Mars, which (according to
astrology) would cause him to tend toward "martial," or war-like,
anger. Here, such a person is described as being subject to anger,
both when feeling powerful and powerless.

10. (758) going upside-down: Nicholson translated this as "perverse,"
but later changed his explanation of it and said that the footnote in
his translation should be deleted ("Literally, 'with face inverted,'
i.e. directed towards base ends.").

11. (758) a dominated (one): means from becoming dominated by his
own anger, or else caught between being powerfully angry at
others and then becoming powerless because of the anger of

12. (759) The victorious light: "i.e. the illumined heart of the saint."
(Nicholson, Commentary)

13. (759) between the two fingers: "... refers to the Tradition qalbu 'l-
mu'mini bayna isba`ayni min asáb`i 'l-Rahmán, "the true believer's
heart is between the two fingers of the Merciful God'. The 'two
fingers' are the Divine attributes of Majesty (Jalál) and Beauty
(Jamál)." (Nicholson, Commentary)

14. (760) God scatters that light: "according to the Hadíth [= saying of
the Prophet Muhammad]: inna 'lláha khalaqa 'l-khalqa fí zulmat-in
thumma rashsha `alayhim min núrihi fa-man asábahu min dhálika
'l-núr ihtadá wa-man akhta'ahu dalla `an sawá'i 'l-sabíl, 'God
created the creatures in darkness, then He sprinkled some of His
light upon them. Those whom some of that Light reached took the
right way, while those whom it missed wandered from the straight
road.'" (Nicholson, Commentary)

15. (761) understood: Nicholson later stated that his translation ["And
he (that is fortunate), having gained that strown largesse of light"]
needed to be corrected, based on the earliest manuscripts (which
had "wâ yâfta" instead of "ô yâfta"). He did not, however, add the
correction, but explained instead: "The blessed souls received the
Light in proportion to the capacity (isti`dád) with which they were
created." (Commentary)

16. (762) (such) a robe of love: "The blessed are they whom God loves
and who love Him (Qur. V 59). There is no light where the gift of
Divine Love is withheld by eternal fore-ordainment." (Nicholson,

17. (763) toward the universal: means that particular qualities seek to
return to their universal source. For example, a particular light
(such as that from the burning wick of a candle) is derived from
Universal Light, and "seeks" to return to its origin.

18. (763) nightingales are in love with the rose's face: "Everything
returns to its source: the part seeks union with its whole, the Divine
spark in the mystic's heart with the Universal Light, the nightingale
(lover) with the rose (beloved). Those created for damnation love
only false lights, because they lack the inner light of the Truth."
(Nicholson, Commentary) Nicholson later corrected his
translation, based on the earliest manuscript, to: "nightingales are
in love with the face of the rose" (from, "nightingales play the
game of love with the rose").

19. (764) from the inside: "If you would discriminate the righteous
from the wicked, you must ignore externals and look within: all
depends on the purity or foulness of the original natures as God has
made them." (Nicholson, Commentary)

20. (766) the hue of God: refers the verse, "(Say: 'Our religion is) the
hue of God. And who can give a better hue than God? And we are
His worshippers" (2:138) "'God's dyeing, i.e. 'God has imbued us,
the true believers, with faith and knowledge of His Unity, in which
our hearts are steeped like garments in the vat of the dyer.'"
(Nicholson, Commentary) Nicholson pointed out that this
metaphor is not connected with "baptism" (since this verse is
sometimes translated as "the baptism of God"-- referring to the
Arab Christian practice of putting a colored dye in the baptismal
water). The "hue of God" is contrasted with the "curse of God,"
a phrase also from the Qur'an.

21. (767) the same place from which it came: "These verses illustrate
v. 763 [= "The particulars have (their) faces toward the universal"].
All existence proceeds from, and returns to, the One Being. As the
torrent ultimately rejoins the sea from which it sprang, so the spirit
impelled by love is re-united with its Lord." (Nicholson,


754 akhtar-ân-and az warây-é akhtar-ân
ke iHtirâq-o naHs na-b'w-ad andar ân

755 sâyir-ân dar âsmân-hây-é degar
ghayr-é în haft âsmân-é mu`tabar

râsikh-ân dar tâb-é anwâr-é khodâ
na ba-ham paywasta, na az ham jodâ

har ke bâsh-ad Tâli`-é ô z-ân nujûm
nafs-é ô kuffâr sôz-ad dar rujûm

khashm-é mirrîkhê na-bâsh-ad khashm-é ô
munqalib-raw ghâlib-o maghlûb-khô

nûr-é ghâlib îman az naqS-o ghasaq
dar meyân-é iSba`ayn-é nûr-é Haqq

760 Haq fashân-ad ân nûr-râ bar jân-hâ
muqbil-ân bar dâshta dâmân-hâ

w-ân niSâr-é nûr-râ wâ yâfta
rôy az ghayr-é khodâ bar tâfta

harke-râ dâmân-é `ishqê nâ-boda
z-ân niSâr-é nûr bê-bahra shoda

juzw-hâ-râ rôy-hâ sôy-é kul-ast
bolbol-ân-râ `ishq bâ rôy-é gol-ast

gâw-râ rang az berûn-o mard-râ
az darûn jô rang-é sorkh-o zard-râ

765 rang-hây-é nêk az khumm-é Safâ-st
rang-é zesht-ân az seyâh-âba-yé jafâ-st

Sibghatu 'llâh nâm-é ân rang-é laTîf
la`natu 'llâh bôy-é în rang-é kaSîf

ân-che az daryâ ba-daryâ mê-raw-ad
az ham-ân-jâ k-âmad ân-jâ mê-raw-ad

768 az sar-é koh sayl-hây-é têz-raw
w-az tan-é mâ jân-é `ishq âmêz-raw

(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)