She Is a Ray of The Beauty of God

Mathnawi I: 2429-37

2429 Water overpowers fire by (its) terror, (yet) it boils when it is
inside a partition.

2430 (For) when a pot becomes the screen between (these) two,1 it
makes the water vanish (and) turns it (into) air.

If you dominate women outwardly, like water (over fire), you are
dominated inwardly and you are seeking [and boiling in desire for]

This is such a special quality in mankind, (since) love is lacking
in animals,2 which is due to (their) deficiency.

The Prophet said,3 "Women become very dominant over wise and
pious (men),

"Yet ignorant (men) become dominant over women"-- because
they go (about) in a rash and very hot-tempered (manner).4

2435 They are lacking tenderness, kindness, and love because
animality dominates over (their) nature.

Love and tenderness are qualities of humanity, (while) anger and
lust are qualities of animality.

2437 She is a ray of [the Beauty of] God;5 she is not a beloved.
She is a creator; you may say that she is not created.6

--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" (, 7/1/99

Notes on the text, with line number:

1. (2430) between these two: this is the first half of the couplet in the
earliest manuscript of the Mathnawi, which Nicholson later
corrected (from "When a cauldron comes between (them), O

2. (2432) love is lacking in animals: "Although animals relatively to
man are deficient in love, they 'know what love is' and 'he that is
blind to love is inferior to a dog' (V 2008)" (Nicholson,

3. (2433) the Prophet said: refers to a saying of the Prophet
Muhammad, "Truly, they dominate the wise man and the ignorant
man dominates them."

4. (2434) hot-tempered manner: this is the second half of the couplet
in the earliest manuscript, which Nicholson later corrected (from
"for in them the fierceness of the animal is imprisoned").

5. (2437) a ray of God: "Woman is the highest type of earthly beauty,
but earthly beauty is nothing except in so far as it is a
manifestation and reflexion of Divine attributes" (Nicholson,

6. (2437) not created: "The expressions used in the second hemistich
are remarkable. Sweeping aside the veil of form, the poet beholds
in woman the eternal Beauty which is the inspirer and object of all
love, and regards her, in her essential nature, as the medium par
excellence through which that uncreated Beauty reveals itself and
exercises creative activity. From this point of view she is a focus
for the Divine tajallí [manifestation] and may be identified with the
life-giving power of its rays." "...the context here, together with
other passages in the Mathnawí, leaves no doubt that what the poet
has in view is not the physical functions of woman but the spiritual
and essentially Divine qualities in her which 'create' love in man
and cause him to seek union with the true Beloved." (Nicholson,


2429 âb ghâlib shod bar âtash az nahîb
z-âtash ô jôsh-ad chô bâsh-ad dar Hijâb

2430 chûn-ke dêgê Hâ'îl âm-ad har dô-râ
nêst kard ân âb-râ kard-ash hawâ

Zâhirâ bar zan cho âb ar ghâlib-î
bâTinâ maghlûb-o zan-râ Tâlib-î

în chon-în khâSîyatî dar âdamî-st
mehr Haywân-râ kam-ast, ân az kamî-st

goft payghâmbar ke zan bar `âqil-ân
ghâlib ây-ad sakht-o bar SâHib-del-ân

bâz bar zan jâhil-ân chîra shaw-and
z-ân-ke îshân tond-o bas khîra raw-and

2435 kam bow-ad-shân raqqat-o luTf-é wadâd
z-ân-ke Haywânî-st ghâlib bar nehâd

mehr-o raqqat waSf-é insânî bow-ad
khashm-o shahwat waSf-é Haywânî bow-ad

2437 partaw-é Haqq-ast ân ma`shûq nêst
khâliq-ast ân gô'îyâ makhlûq nêst

(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)