When You Become Sugar

Mathnawi I: 1975-1985, 1992-2011

1975 But there is no dread for the soul from (being named in) the
feminine gender, (because) the spirit has no association with (the
qualities of) man or woman.

(For) it is higher than feminine and masculine. It isn't the spirit
which is (in the form) of dry and moist.1

(And) it isn't the spirit which increases by (eating) bread,2 or is
sometimes like this, sometimes like that.

(Rather,) it is a doer of sweet (actions),3 and (it is) sweet and
the very substance of sweetness. Without [the substance of]
sweetness there is no sweetness,4 O bribed one!5

When you are sweet because of sugar, it is (possible) that
sometime the sugar may become absent from you.

1980 (But) when you become sugar6 as a result of being faithful,7
then sugar will never be separated from sugar.

When the lover (of God) finds nourishment from (within)
himself8 (in the form of) "pure wine," the intellect will become
lost there, lost, O companion.9

The partial intellect10 is the denier of Love, although it may appear
that it is the companion of (Love's) secrets.

It is smart and learned, but it is not non-existent.11 As long as the
angel has not become nothing, it is a devil.12

It is our friend in (helping us with) words and actions, (but) when
you come to the dominating power of the (spiritual) state,13 (then) it
is nothing.14

1985 It is nothing since it did not become nothing beyond (its)
existence;15 since it did not become nothing willingly, there are (a
great) many (who do so) unwillingly!16

. . . . . . .

1992 Both love and soul are hidden and veiled. Although I have
called Him "Bride,"17 don't consider (it) a fault.

I would have kept quiet from (care not to risk) the Friend's
annoyance18 if He had also given (me time to) delay for a moment.

But He keeps saying, "Speak! Hurry up! There is no fault (in it); it
is nothing except the prompting of mysterious Destiny."

1995 The (real) fault is regarding the one who doesn't see
(anything) except faults, (for) the pure invisible spirit never sees

Faults appear in relation to the ignorant creature, not in regard to
the accepting Lord.

Blasphemy is also wisdom in regard to the Creator, (but) if you
make it in relation to us, blasphemy is calamity.19

And if there is a single fault together with a long life,20 it is
like the wood in the (sugarcane) plant;

Both are carried to the scales just the same, because both of them
are sweet, like body and soul.

2000 Therefore, the great ones [among the sufis] have not
exaggerated by saying, "The bodies of the holy ones are pure,
(like) the substance of the soul."

Their words, individualities, and forms became absolute spirit,21
free of (any) sign or trace.

The souls of those who hate them are only bodies, like the
"addition"22 in (the game of) backgammon-- it is only a name.

That one went into the earth and became entirely earth, and this
one went into the salt23 and became entirely pure--

(Meaning) the salt (mine) by which Muhammad is more
(spiritually) lovely (than anyone); he is (even) more eloquent than
that elegant saying (of his).24

2005 This "salt" is continuing by means of his heritage, (and) those
heirs25 of his are with you. (So) seek them!

He (is) seated26 in front of you, but where is "front"? He is before
you, (but) where is a soul (which is) concerned about "before?"27

If you have a assumption about your having a "before" and
"behind," (then) you are bound to the body and excluded from the

"Below" and "above," "in front" and "behind," are bodily
qualities, (and) the essence of the luminous soul is without
(physical) sides and directions.

Open (your) vision28 by means of the pure light of the (spiritual)
King, so that you may not imagine (things), like a short-sighted
(person does),

2010 (Such as believing) that you are only this29 (bodily existence)
in sorrow and happiness. O non-existent one! Where are "in front"
and "behind" in relation to non-existence?

2011 It's a rainy day. Go on (traveling) until the evening-- not
(refreshed) by this (physical) rain,30 (but) by the rain of (our)
Sustaining Lord!31

--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" (yahoogroups.com), 12/23/99

Notes on the text, with line number:

1. (1976) dry and moist: "The animal or vital spirit (rúh-i hayawání)
is described as 'a subtle body' (jism latíf) originating in the heart
and thence conveyed by the carotid arteries to the brain. Having a
corporeal basis, it may be said to be a product of the elements and
their four 'natures', viz. dryness, moisture, heat, and cold."
(Nicholson, Commentary)

2. (1977) by eating bread: Rumi is still talking about the "animal
spirit," which gives life to the body and which is more energetic
after food is consumed.

3. (1978) the doer of sweet (actions): "The human spirit (rúh-i insání
comes directly from God (min amri Rabbí). In the Perfect Man it is
'the soul of goodness', dispensing good to all the world."
(Nicholson, Commentary)

4. (1978) there is no sweetness: "i.e. without real intrinsic goodness
there can be no lasting joy and felicity." (Nicholson, Commentary)

5. (1978) bribed one: chosen here for the rhyme. It means "bribed by
the apparent sweetness of worldly enjoyments. Nicholson
explained: "The 'taker of bribes' is he who takes pleasure in
anything other than God" (footnote); and: "i.e. one whose
happiness depends on the extraneous means whereby it is
procured." (Commentary)

6. (1980) when you become sugar: "i.e. 'when by keeping faithfully
[to] the Primal Covenant ["before the Creation between God and
his creatures"] you shed the attributes of the lower self and assume
the nature of the Spirit who is the Absolute Goodness and Love.'"
(Nicholson, Commentary)

7. (1980) as the result of being faithful: Nicholson later changed his
translation, on the basis of the earliest manuscript, to: "from the
effect produced by faithfulness" (from, "from abundance of

8. (1981 from (within) himself: "i.e. from his real self." (Nicholson,

9. (1981) O companion: Nicholson later changed his translation, on
the basis of the earliest manuscript, to: "there reason becomes lost,
lost, O comrade" (from, "there reason will remain lost and

10. (1982) the partial intellect: "the particular, individual, discursive
reason as opposed by Plotinus to the universal, super-individual,
spiritual reason. Hence it is contrasted, as the distinctive quality of
Iblís [= Satan], with Love, which is characteristic of Adam."
(Nicholson, Commentary)

11. (1983 not nonexistent: Nicholson translated, "but it is not naught
(devoid of self-existence." This means it has not become
annihilated of self-centered preoccupation.

12. (1983) a devil: "The nature of Reason, like that of the Angels, is
'the purest light of heaven' (III 3193, 4054); but egoism turns an
angel into a devil." (Nicholson, Commentary)

13. (1984) the (spiritual) state [Hâl]: this word is a technical term in
sufism, sometimes translated as "ecstasy." "i.e. when it is a
question of mystical experience, the discursive reason has nothing
positive to say: it can only deny." (Nicholson, Commentary)

14. (1984) (then) it is nothing: Nicholson translated, "when you come
to the case of inward feeling (ecstasy), it is naught (of no
account)." He explained, "i.e. when it is a question of mystical
experience, the discursive reason has nothing positive to say: it can
only deny." (Nicholson, Commentary)

15. (1985) it did not become nothing from (its) existence: "lam yafna
`an wujúdihi" [= "it did not pass away from its existence"].
(Nicholson, Commentary)

16. (1985) unwillingly: refers to the inevitability of death, when
intellect ceases, and the soul/spirit continues onward.

17. (1992) "Bride": in the previous verse, Rumi referred to the
presence of God by saying, "the presence of the Bride," which
involves a word-play.

18. (1993) the Friend's annoyance: may also be translated "the
Beloved's annoyance," which would risk a period of separation of
the mystic lover from the Beloved.

19. (1997) blasphemy is calamity: "In relation to God, who is the
Absolute Good, nothing is absolutely evil (IV 65 sqq., VI 2597
sqq.). The same things are 'evil' in so far as they lack some positive
quality that would make them good, and 'good' in so far as they
cause that quality to be manifested (II 2927 sqq., V 574 sqq., VI
1747 sqq.). God has created nothing without a purpose: the
existence of 'evil' serves to demonstrate His omnipotence and
display the infinite perfections of His nature (II 2535 sqq.). But
though He wills, decrees, and creates all actions quâ actions, He
does not will, decree, and create them quâ good or evil. These are
names given by God or by us to actions which are approved or
condemned on religious grounds. Infidelity, in respect of its being
Divinely ordained, 'is wisdom'; but in relation to human creatures it
is disobedience to God's law and a deadly sin. Cf. III 1362 sqq.)."
(Nicholson, Commentary)

20. (1998) a long life: literally "a hundred life-times." This does not
refer to reincarnation (rejected by Islam and Islamic sufism), but is
an idiom meaning a lengthy life. Nicholson translated, "together
with a hundred advantages (excellences)..."

21. (2001) became absolute spirit: "The transfiguration of the body of
the prophet and saint by the Divine Light (Spirit) is finely
described in VI 3058 sqq." ["Through the (Divine) omnipotence
the bodies of (holy) men have gained ability to support the
unconditioned Light" (VI: 3066-- Nicholson's translation)]
(Nicholson, Commentary)

22. (2002) the "addition": "From the obscure definitions given in the
Persian lexx. it would seem that the terms ziyád and naqsh-i ziyád
denote an imaginary and merely nominal addition which is
sometimes made to the numbers thrown by the dice in the game of
nard (Oriental backgammon)." The meaning here is that such
people "have souls only in name" and are like mere bodies because
they reject the saints, who are the opposite: their bodies are more
like pure souls.

23. (2003) went into the salt: "i.e. it assumed the Divine attributes of
purity and loveliness (maláhat). for salt (milh) as an emblem of
spiritual regeneration, cf. II 1344" ["When the dead ass felt into the
salt-mine, it put aside asininity and mortality"-- Nicholson's
translation] (Nicholson, Commentary)

24. (2004) that elegant saying of his: there are word plays here, since
the word for salt [milH] also means beauty, elegance, and grace.
Nicholson had, "The (spiritual) salt through which Mohammed is
more refined (than all others): he is more eloquent than that
salt-seasoned (elegantly expressed) Hadíth." "The commentators
quote two Traditions of the Prophet: ana amlahu min akhi Yúsufa
a-Yúsufu ajmalu minní, 'I am (inwardly) more lovely than my
brother Joseph, though Joseph is (outwardly) more lovely than I';
and ana afsahu 'l-`Arabí, 'I am the most eloquent of the Arabs'."
(Nicholson, Commentary)

25. (2005) those heirs: "i.e. the perfect saints, who are the heirs of the
Haqíqatu 'l-Muhammadiyyah" [= the "Reality of Muhammad"].
(Nicholson, Commentary)

26. (2006) He is seated: meaning, "such an heir of the Prophet, such a
saintly inheritor of the Prophet's grace and refinement.

27. (2006) thinking about "before": "The saints are hidden from the
eyes of the vulgar; in order to see them, you must rise from the
plane of spatiality to contemplation of the Infinite (lá-makán), but
how should the soul that thinks 'before' and 'behind', i.e. the animal
soul, be capable of this?" (Nicholson, Commentary)

28. (2009) Open your vision: means open your inward vision by means
of the spiritual light via spiritual contact with one of the saints
{"the spiritual king"). The connection between eyesight and light
relates to the ancient Greek psychophysiological theory that vision
is possible because of an inner light within the eye.

29. (2010) only this: "Man is essentially immaterial: his spirit, being
non-existent externally, transcends all spatial relations."
(Nicholson, Commentary)

30. (2011) this (physical) rain: In Islamic tradition, rain is viewed as a
blessing from God, and symbolizes grace. Nicholson had "not
(sped) by this (earthly) rain."

31. (2011) the rain of (our) Sustaining Lord: "I.e. 'thy day of life is a
journey to God, who sheds on thee the rain of His inspiration if
thou wilt open thy heart to receive them.'" (Nicholson,


1975 lêk az ta'nîS jân-râ bâk nêst
rûH-râ bâ mard-o zan ishrâk nêst

az mu'annaS w-az muZakkar bar-tar-ast
în nay ân jân-ast k-az khoshk-o tar-ast

în na ân jân-ast k-afzây-ad ze-nân
yâ gahê bâsh-ad chon-în, gâhê chon-ân

khôsh-kon-anda-st-o khôsh-o `ayn-é khwashî
bê-khôshî na-b'w-ad khôshî ay murtashî

chûn tô shîrîn az shakar bâsh-î, bow-ad
k-ân shakar gâhê ze-tô ghâyib shaw-ad

1980 chûn shakar gard-î ze-ta'Sîr-é wafâ
pas shakar kay az shakar bâsh-ad jodâ?

`âshiq az khwad chûn ghiZâ yâb-ad raHîq
`aql ân-jâ gom shaw-ad, gom ay rafîq

`aql-é jozwî `ishq-râ munkir bow-ad
gar-che be-n'mây-ad ke SâHib-sir bow-ad

zêrak-o dânâ-st, ammâ nêst nêst
tâ fereshta lâ na-shod, âharmanê-st

ô ba-qawl-o fa`l yâr-é mâ bow-ad
chûn ba-Hukm-e Hâl ây-î lâ bow-ad

1985 lâ bow-ad, chûn ô na-shod az hast nêst
chûn-ke Taw`-an lâ na-shod kurh-an basê-st

. . . . . . .

1992 `ishq-o jân har dô nehân-and-o satîr
gar `urûs-ash khânda-am `aybê ma-gîr

az malûlî-yé yâr khâmosh kard-am-y
gar ham-ô muhlat be-dâd-î yak-damê

lêk mê-gôy-ad be-gô hîn `ayb nêst
joz taqâZây-é qaZây-é ghayb nêst

1995 `ayb bâsh-ad k-ô na-bîn-ad joz ke `ayb
`ayb kay bîn-ad rawân-é pâk-é ghayb?

`ayb shod nisbat ba-makhlûq-ê jahûl
nay ba-nisbat bâ khodâwand-é qabûl

kufr ham nisbat ba-khâliq Hikmat-ast
chûn ba-mâ nisbat kon-î, kufr âfat-ast

w-ar yakê `aybê bow-ad bâ Sad Hayât
bar miSâl-é chûb bâsh-ad dar nabât

dar tarâzô har dô-râ yak-sân kash-and
z-ân-ke ân har dô chô jism-o jân khwash-and

2000 pas bozorg-ân în na-goft-and az gozâf
jism-é pâk-ân ayn-é jân oftâd Sâf

goft-eshân-o nafs-eshân-o naqsh-eshân
jomla jân-é muTlaq âmad bê-neshân

jân-é doshman-dâr-eshân jism-ast Sirf
chûn zeyân az nard, ô ism-ast Sirf

ân ba-khâk andar shod-o kul khâk shod
w-în namak andar shod-o kul pâk shod

ân namak k-az way muHammad amlaH-ast
z-ân HadîS-é bâ namak ô afSaH-ast

2005 în namak bâqî-st az mîrâS-é ô
bâ-tow-and ân wâriS-ân-é ô be-jô

pêsh-é tô shesta to-râ khwad pêsh kô
pêsh hast-at, jân-é pêsh-andêsh kô?

gar tô khwad-râ pêsh-o pas dâr-î gomân
basta-yé jism-î-wo maHarûm-î ze-jân

zêr-o bâlâ pêsh-o pas waSf-é tan-ast
bê-jihat-hâ Zât-é jân-é rôshan-ast

bar goshâ az nûr-é pâk-é shah naZar
tâ na-pendâr-î tô chûn kôtah-naZar

2010 ke ham-în-î dar gham-o shâdî-wo bas
ay `adam kô mar `adam-râ pêsh-o pas?

2011 rôz-é bârân-ast mê-raw tâ ba-shab
na az-în bârân az ân bârân-é rab

(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)