The Visions of Zayd (part one)

Mathnawi I: 3500-3542

(About) the Prophet's asking, may God bless him and give
(him) peace, of Zayd, "How are you this morning and how did
you (feel when you) rose (from sleep)?" And his reply, saying,
"O Messenger of God, this morning I am a (true) believer."1

3500 The Prophet said to Zayd one morning, "How are you this
morning, O good (hearted) friend?"2

(Zayd) answered, "A faithful servant (of God)." He asked him
again, "Where is the sign from the garden of Faith, if it has

(Zayd) replied, "I've been thirsty (during) the days, (and) I
haven't slept at night because of love and the burnings (in my heart)--

"To such an extent that I've passed through3 the days and nights
in the same way that the tip of a spear passes through a shield.

"For from that side, all religions are one,4 and a hundred
thousand years and a single hour are one.

3505 "Pre-eternity and post-eternity are united.5 The intellect has
no way to that side by means of search and investigation."

(The Prophet) said, "Where is a gift brought (home) from this
road6 (which you travelled)? Bring (it forth)! --(something)
suitable for the understanding and intellects of these regions."7

(Zayd) replied, "When people are looking at the sky, I see the
Throne (of God),8 together with those (in the vicinity) of the

"The eight Paradises (and) the seven Hells9 are visible in front
of me, just like the idol in front of the idolater.

"I'm recognizing the people, one by one, just like wheat from
barley in the mill,

3510 "So that whoever is (to be) one of Paradise or whoever is (to
be) an outsider is clear to me,10 jut as a snake and a fish are (clearly

(During) this (present) time (the verse), "The Day11 when faces
will turn white and (others) will turn black" has become manifest
to this band of people.12

Prior to this,13 although the soul was full of defects, it was
hidden in the womb (of the body) from the people (and) was

The miserable persons are the ones who were (decreed to be)
miserable in the mother's womb.14 Their condition is known from
the signs on (their) bodies.15

The body (is) like a mother, pregnant with the infant of the soul.
(And) death is the suffering and turmoil of being "born."

3515 All the souls (who have) passed on16 are waiting so that (they
may see in) what manner that insolent soul will be born (into the
next world).

The (dark spirits of the) Ethiopians say, "It is ours." (And) the
(light spirits of the) Anatolians17 say, "It is very beautiful."18

When it is born into the world of spirit and generosity, then
disagreement (among) the white and black (spirits) no longer
remains. If it is an Ethiopian (spirit), the Ethiopians drive it (forth).

(And) the Anatolian also carries off (any spirit from) Anatolia19
from amidst (the arriving souls).

As long as it isn't "born" (into the Hereafter), it is (presenting)
difficulties for the world-- (since) the one who can recognize (the
destiny of) the "unborn" is scarce.

3520 But he [who is able] sees by the light of God, since he has a
way (to see) underneath the skin.

The essence of sperm juice is white and good.20 But the
reflection of the Anatolian or (of) the Ethiopian spirit

Gives color to "the best of upright forms" (in the one case and)
carries this (other) half (down) to "the lowest (of the low)."21

This speech does not have (an) end. Ride back, so we aren't left
(behind) by the train (of camels) in the caravan.

"(On) the Day when faces will turn white and (others) will turn
black,"22 it will make23 the (difference between the pale) "Turk"
and the (dark) "Hindu" generally known among the people24
[gathered on the Day of Judgment].

3525 In the womb (of the body the difference between) "Hindu"
and "Turk" is not clear. (But) when one is "born" (into the
Hereafter), (the observer there) can see him as (either) miserable or

(Zayd continued): "I see clearly all of the men and women26
revealed [as to their fate], just as (it will be on) the Day of

"Look, shall I (keep) talking or shall I shut (my) breath?" The
Prophet bit his (own) lip, meaning, "Enough!"27

(Zayd continued): "O Messenger of God, shall I tell the secret of
the Gathering (on the Day of Judgment)? Today, shall I make
public to the world (the mystery of) the Revival (of the dead)?

"Leave me (unhindered), so that I may tear up the (concealing)
veils, (and) so that my pearl-like nature may shine like a sun.

3530 "So that the sun may become eclipsed by me, (and) so that I
may reveal (the difference between) the date palm and the willow

"I will reveal the mystery of the Resurrection, of the true coin,
and of the true coin mixed with counterfeit,

"(And of) the People of the Left Hand29 (with their) hands
severed.30 I will reveal openly the color of denying unbelief and the
color of fraud and deceit.31

"I will open (the mystery) of the seven pits of hypocrisy32 in the
light of the Moon which has no eclipse or waning.33

"I will openly reveal the coarse clothing of the wretched34 and
contemptible, (and) will make audible the tambourines and kettle
drums of the prophets.

3535 "I will bring clearly before the eyes of the rejecting
disbelievers (the sight of) Hell, Paradise, and the intermediate
(state)35 in between (them).

"I will reveal the surging Fountain of Kawthar,36 which splashes
(refreshingly) against their faces,37 (while) its sound pulsates in
(their) ears.

"And I will reveal clearly (in) this moment those persons who have
been made to run, (remaining) thirsty, around it.38

"(I can feel) their shoulders rubbing against my shoulder, (and)
their (desperate) shouts are coming into my ears.

"The people of Paradise are drawing one another into [joyful]
embraces, out of free choice, (right) before my eyes.

3540 "(And) they are visiting each other's seats of honor, (and)
also robbing kisses from the lips [of the maidens of Paradise].39

"These ears of mine have become deaf from the (miserable) shouts
of 'Oh, oh!' from the vile and corrupt ones (in Hell), and by (their)
screams of, 'Oh misery for me!'40

3542 "These are (only) indications. I would speak (further) from
the depths (of my experience), but I'm afraid of the disapproval
and censure of the Messenger (of God)."

--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" (, 8/24/00

Notes on the text, with line number:

1. (Heading) I am a (true) believer: "Zayd b. Háritha... was the
freedman and adopted son of the Prophet, and is mentioned by
name in Qur. XXXIII 37. The Hadíth to which the Heading refers
is generally known as the Hadíth of Hárithah and runs as follows....
'One morning the Prophet said to Zayd, "How art thou this
morning, Zayd?" He answered, "O Prophet of Allah, this morning I
am a true believer." The Prophet said, "Verily, everything has an
essence (haqíqah): what is the essence of thy faith?" Zayd
answered, "I have separated (`azaltu-- or, refrained, azaftu) myself
from the world: I have passed my days in thirst and my nights in
wakefulness, and me seems [= it seems to me] I behold the Throne
of my Lord before mine eyes, and the people of Paradise enjoying
their pleasures and delights, and the people of Hell-fire howling at
one another like dogs (yata`áwawna-- or, being tormented,
yu`adhdhabúna)." The Prophet said, "Thou hast attained (unto real
faith): hold it fast."'" (Nicholson, Commentary)

2. (3500) good (hearted) friend: Nicholson later corrected his
translation, on the basis of the earliest manuscript of the Mathnawi,
to "sincere friend" (from "sincere Companion").

3. (3503) I've passed through: Nicholson translated, "passed through
(and beyond) day and night..."

4. (3504) all religions are one [jumla-yé millat yakî-st]: Nicholson
later corrected his translation, on the basis of the earliest
manuscript of the Mathnawi, to "For beyond (the realm of
contraries) all religion is one" (from, "... contraries, nativity and
continued growth are one").

5. (3505) Pre-eternity and post-eternity are united: Nicholson
translated, "Everlastingness and eternity are unified (yonder)."
Beginninglessness [azal] is the eternity before the beginning of
time and the creation of the universe. Endlessness [abad] is the
eternity following the end of time.

6. (3506) a gift brought (home) from this road: refers to the custom in
which a traveller was expected to bring home gifts from his travels.

7. (3506) these regions: Nicholson later corrected his translation, on
the basis of the earliest manuscript of the Mathnawi, to "Produce (a
gift) suitable to the understanding of (intelligible to) the minds of
this country (the phenomenal world)" (from, "Produce it. Where is
the token of sincerity (that thou hast brought) from yon fair

8. (3507) the Throne (of God): Nicholson later corrected his
translation to "the Throne of God" (from "the Empyrean").

9. (3508) the Seven Hells: Nicholson referred to I:779 (which he
translated), "Read the story of Hell with its seven gates"], and the
source of this in the Qur'an (15:44). (Commentary)

10. (3510) is clear to me: "Zayd claims knowledge of the mystery of
the Divine decree (sirru 'l-qadar) concerning salvation and
damnation." (Nicholson, Commentary)

11. (3511) The Day: a quote from the Qur'an, slightly altered for
metrical purposes: "(On) the Day (of Judgment) when (some) faces
will turn white (with joy) and (some) faces will turn black (with
gloom). And regarding those whose faces turn black, (they will be
told), 'Did you reject and disbelieve after (attaining) your faith?
Then taste the punishment for what you have rejected (of the
Truth).' But regarding those whose faces turn white, they will be in
the Mercy of God, to dwell therein forever." (Qur'an 3:106-107)
The commentators on the Qur'an make it clear that "white" and
"black" are symbolic of light, purity, virtue, and happiness, versus
darkness, defilement, sin, and misery. According to Arabic
grammar, a man is called "white" to mean that he is free from
moral defects.

12. (3511) this band of people: means the sufis. Nicholson later
corrected his translation, on the basis of the earliest manuscript, to
"At the present time there hath been made manifest to this
(illuminated) class of men (what shall come to pass) 'on the Day
when'" (from, "The day of birth for Anatolians and Ethiopians and
every race (of mankind) is 'the Day...'"). And he commented about
the meaning of "this (illuminated) class of men": "i.e. to the perfect
Súfís it is manifest in this world what will be the fate of every soul
at the Resurrection." (Commentary)

13. (3512) Prior to this: means before the nature of souls became
visible on the Day of Judgment, or "in the present time" "to this
band of people"-- the sufis. Nicholson translated, :Before this
(birth)..." and he explained: "i.e. before entering on the next life.
So long as the soul is 'in the womb', i.e. confined in the present
world, its good or evil nature remains hidden from the vulgar,
though known to the elect. Some commentators explain písh az-ín
[Before this] as referring to the pre-existence of the soul 'in the
womb' of the Invisible; its nature is revealed only after it has been
born into the world." (Commentary)

14. (3513) (decreed to be) miserable in the mother's womb:
"According to the Hadíth [= saying of the Prophet]: 'the blest is he
who is blest in his mother's womb, and the damned is he who is
damned in his mother's womb.' The alternative interpretation of fí
batni 'l-umm [= in the mother's womb] is 'in the Ummu 'l-Kitáb,
i.e. in the Book of Divine Destiny and eternal Foreknowledge'."
(Nicholson, Commentary)

15. (3513) the signs on (their) bodies: Nicholson later corrected his
translation, on the basis of the earliest manuscript of the Mathnawi,
to "their state is known from the bodily marks" (from "all of them
are known by the marks of God"). And he explained that this
"alludes to Qur. LV 41: yu`rafu 'l-mujrimúna bi-símáhum, 'the
guilty will be known by their marks', i.e. by the anguish expressed
on their faces." (Commentary)

16. (3515) All the souls (who have) passed on: "i.e. the spirits of the
blest and damned in the intermediate state (barzakh) between death
and resurrection." (Nicholson, Commentary)

17. (3516) Anatolians: literally, the "Rumis," meaning the light-
skinned, Greek-speaking, people of the Eastern Roman, or
Byzantine, Empire (half-conquered by the Turks in Rumi's day).
Here, the "Anatolians" symbolizes the spirits of light in the next
world, and the "Ethiopians" symbolize the spirits of darkness.
Nicholson translated, "The Ethiopians (the damned spirits).... the
Anatolians (the blessed spirits)..."

18. (3516) It is very beautiful: Nicholson later corrected his
translation, on the basis of the earliest manuscript of the Mathnawi,
to "It is very comely" (from, "Nay, it is comely").

19. (3518) (any spirit from) Anatolia: Nicholson acknowledged that
two of the earliest manuscripts had a different line, but he did not
correct the translation he had for the second half of this line: "and
if it is an Anatolian (a blessed spirit), the Anatolians lead it away."

20. (3521) The essence of sperm juice is white and good: Nicholson
translated this into Latin. It refers to the colorless [maZî] that is
produced when a man is sexually aroused, yet does not ejaculate
sperm. According to Islamic law, this fluid is considered pure and
does not end the state of ritual purity (in contrast to ejaculation,
which causes a state of "major ritual impurity" for which a full
bath is required before a man can do the next ritual prayer).

21. (3522) the lowest (of the low): Rumi here quotes a verse from the
Qur'an, interpreting the first part of the verse as pertaining to the
noble and pure souls who are the best of creation (the
"Anatolians"), and the second part of the verse as applying to the
base and ignoble souls (the "Ethiopians"). In the verse, the One
God speaks in the plural form (indicative of a Divine Majesty
which transcends human understanding): "Certainly, We have
created mankind in the best of upright forms. Then, we reduce him
to the lowest of the low." (95:4-5) Nicholson translated, "... Is
giving colour (glory) to 'those (the Anatolians) who are most
excellent in their (original) constitution,' (while) it is bearing this
(other) half (i.e. the Ethiopians) down to the lowest depth." And he
commented: "The soul, though essentially it belongs to the world
of Unity and pure colourlessness (`âlam-i bí-rangí), is 'created half
to rise and half to fall'. It descends into the world of colour
(plurality) in order that it may exhibit the diversity of the Divine
attributes which in this world is reflected in the form of good and
evil..... 'Verily We created Man in the best proportion; then We
reduced him to the lowest of the low.' The meaning... is that the
reflexion of the 'Rúmí's' [= the Anatolian's] soul bestows (on the
'Rúmí' [= the Anatolian] the capacity for spiritual perfection
denoted by the words ahsanu 'l-taqwím [= best proportion, best of
moulds, best of upright forms], while the reflexion of the
'Ethiopian's' soul brings him to the lowest depth of degradation;
one mounts to Paradise, the other sinks to Hell. The Translation
should be corrected accordingly." (Commentary)

22. (3524) and some will turn black: see footnote 11.

23. (3524) it will make: means that the Day of Judgment will make the
distinction clear between those who deserve to go to Paradise and
those who deserve to go to Hell.

24 (3524) among the people: Nicholson later corrected his translation,
on the basis of the earliest manuscript of the Mathnawi, to "Turk
and Hindú shall become manifest (shall be clearly discerned) from
among that company" (from, "by whom shall reverence still be
paid to Turk and Hindoo (alike)?"). And he commented: "i.e.
among those gathered for the Judgement it will be easy to see who
is blest and who is damned." (Commentary)

25. (3525) miserable or great: Nicholson translated, "In the womb (of
this world) Hindoo and Turk are not distinguishable, (but) when
each is born (into the next world) he (the seer) sees that each is
miserable or glorious (according to his spiritual nature)." As for the
poor rhyme, Nicholson noted: "This seems to be the only instance
in the Mathnawí of 'k' rhyming with 'g.'" (Commentary)

26. (3526) all of the men and women: Nicholson later corrected his
translation, on the basis of the earliest manuscript, to "I am seeing
them all plainly and with ocular vision, as (they shall be) on the
Day of Resurrection" (from, "I am seeing them all plainly, as (they
shall be) on the Day of Resurrection, like (multitudes of) people,
men and women."

27. (3527) Enough: Nicholson later corrected an error in his
translation, to "Mustafá (Mohammed) bit his lip (in anger at him
(Zayd) , as though to say, 'Enough!'" (from, "Mustafà
(Mohammed) bit his (Zayd's) lip...").

28. (3530) the date palm and the willow tree: Nicholson translated,
"(the difference between) the (fruitful) date-palm and the (barren)
willow." And he explained, "Nakhl [= the date-palm tree] and bíd
[= the willow tree] typify the righteous and the wicked
respectively." (Commentary)

29. (3532) the People of the Left Hand: the name of those who are to
be punished in Hell (Qur'an 56:41).

30. (3532) with their hands severed: the Islamic punishment for
repeated theft (not applied in cases of starvation and mass famine).
The hand that is punished in this manner is the one which stole, the
right hand. Loss of the right hand is also shameful because
greetings are with the right hand only (since the left hand is used
when wiping after defecation).

31. (3532) the color of fraud and deceit: Nicholson translated, "the
colour of the (Prophet's) folk." And he commented that one of the
commentators of the Mathnawi explained the word "âl" as from
"the Traditions álu 'l-Qur'án álu 'lláh, 'the people of the Qur'án are
the people of Allah', and álu Muhammad-in kullu taqiyy-in naqiyy-
in, 'the family of Mohammed includes every one who is God-
fearing and pure'. But it seems very doubtful whether ál can have
this meaning here. I don not believe that rang-i âl [= the color of
the descendants of the prophet, physically and spiritually] is
equivalent to rang-i ímán [= the color of true faith]. Al is far more
likely to be the Persian word, in which case rang-i âl will mean 'the
colour of deceit'." (Commentary)

32. (3533) the seven pits of hypocrisy: "i.e. the seven vices of the
carnal soul (pride, greed, lust, envy, anger, avarice, and malice),
which are compared to the seven gates of Hell." (Nicholson,
Commentary) See footnote 9.

33. (3533) the Moon which has no eclipse or waning: "i.e. in the
splendour of mystic illumination." (Nicholson, Commentary)

34. (3534) the coarse clothing of the wretched: "Palás [= course
clothing] is an emblem of misery and squalor, tabl u kús [=
tambourines and kettle drums] of glory and magnificence."
(Nicholson, Commentary)

35. (3535) the intermediate (state) [barzakh]: the state of souls
following physical death until the Resurrection.

36. (3536) Fountain of Kawthar: a blessed fountain in Paradise
(mentioned in Qur'an 108:1), which satisfies all thirsts.

37. (3536) which splashes (refreshingly) against their faces: Nicholson
translated, "which dashes water on their (the blessed ones')

38. (3537) around it: means around the Fountain of Kawthar-- those
who are not allowed near it, and are thus denied the refreshing
reward of being in Paradise. Nicholson later corrected his
translation, on the basis of the earliest manuscript of the Mathnawi,
to "And those who have been made to run athirst round it I will
show clearly at this moment" (from, "And those who are running
athirst round Kawthar I will name one by one (and tell) who they

39. (3540) robbing kisses from the lips [of the maidens of Paradise]:
Nicholson translated, "snatching kisses from the lips (of the
houris)." These are the "houris," or virgins, of Paradise (Qur'an
44:54; 52:20--one of a number of Qur'anic metaphors of Heavenly

40. (3541) Oh misery for me [wâ Hasratâh]: slightly modified from a
term in the Qur'an: "And turn toward your Sustaining Lord and
surrender (your will) to Him, before the punishment (of your
rejection) comes to you. For then (after that) you will not be
helped.... So that a soul will exclaim, "Oh misery for me [yâ
Hasratà!], for what I disregarded (of my obligations) toward
God!...." (39: 54, 56).


porsîdan-é payghambar-- Sallà 'llâhu `alay-hi wa sallim-- mar
zayd-râ ke emrôz chûn-î wa chûn bar-khâst-î wa jawâb-goftan-é
ô ke "aSbaHtu mû'min-an yâ rasûla 'llâh"

3500 goft payghâmbar SabâHê zayd-râ
kayfa aSbhaHt ay rafîq-é bâ-Safâ?

goft `abd-an mû'min-an, bâz ô-sh goft
kô neshân az bâgh-é îmân gar shegoft?

goft teshna bûda-am man rôz-hâ
shab na-khoft-ast-am ze-`ishq-o sôz-hâ

tâ ze-rôz-o shab goZar kard-am chon-ân
ke ze-espar be-g'Zar-ad nûk-é sinân

ke az ân sô jumla-yé millat yakî-st
Sad hazâr-ân sâl-o yak sâ`at yakî-st

3505 hast azal-râ-wo abad-râ ittiHâd
aql-râ rah nêst ân sô z-iftiqâd

goft az-în rah kô rah-âwardê? be-y-âr
dar khwor-é fahm-o `aqûl-é în diyâr

goft khalq-ân chûn be-bîn-and âsmân
man be-bîn-am `arsh-râ bâ `arshiy-ân

hasht jannat haft dôzakh pêsh-é man
hast paydâ ham-chô bot pêsh-é shaman

yak ba-yak wâ mê-shenâs-am khalq-râ
ham-chô gandom man ze-jaw dar âseyâ

3510 ke beheshtê kî-st-o bêgâna kiy-ast
pêsh-é man paydâ chô mâr-o mâhiy-ast

în zamân paydâ shoda bar în gorôh
yawma tabyaZZu wa taswaddu wujûh

pêsh az-în har-chand jân por `ayb bûd
dar raHim bûd-o ze-khalq-ân ghayb bûd

ash-shaqiyyu man shaqî fî baTni 'l-'um
min simâti 'l-jismi yu`raf Hâlu-hum

tan chô mâdar Tifl-é jân-râ Hâmila
margh dard-é zâdan-ast-o zalzala

3515 jumla-yé jân-hây-é goZashta muntaZir
tâ che-gûna zây-ad ân jân-é baTir

zangiy-ân gôy-and khwod az mâ-st ô
rûmiy-ân gôy-and bas zîbâ-st ô

chûn be-zây-ad dar jahân-é jân-o jûd
pas na-mân-ad ikhtilâf-é bîZ-o sûd

gar bow-ad zangî, be-rand-ash zangiy-ân
rûm-râ rûmî bar-ad ham az meyân

tâ na-zâd ô mushkilât-é `âlam-ast
ân-ke nâ-zâda shenâs-ad ô kam-ast

3520 ô magar yanZur bi-nûri 'llâh bow-ad
k-andarûn-é pôst ô-râ rah bow-ad

aSl-é âb-é nuTfa ispîd-ast-o khwash
lêk `aks-ê jân-é rûmî-wo Habash

mê-deh?ad rang aHsanu 't-taqwîm-râ
tâ ba-asfal mê-bar-ad în nîm-râ

în sokhon pâyân na-dâr-ad bâz rân
tâ na-mân-êm az qiTâr-é kârawân

qawma tabyaZZu wa taswaddu wujûh
tork-o hendû shohra kard-ad z-ân gorôh

3525 dar raHim paydâ na-bâsh-ad hend-o tork
chûn-ke zây-ad bîn-ad-ash zâr-o sotorg

jumla-râ chûn rôz-é rastâ-khêz man
fâsh mê-bîn-am `ayân az mard-o zan

hîn be-gôy-am yâ ferô band-am nafas?
lab gozîd-ash muSTafà ya`nî ke bas

yâ rasûla 'llâh be-gôy-am sirr-é Hashr
dar jahân paydâ kon-am emrôz nashr?

hel ma-râ tâ parda-hâ-râ bar der-am
tâ chô khworshêdê be-tâb-ad gawhar-am

3530 tâ kusûf ây-ad ze-man khworshêd-râ
tâ nomây-am nakhl-râ-wo bêd-râ

wâ nomây-am râz-é rostâkhêz-râ
naqd-râ-wo naqd-é qalb-âmêz-râ

dast-hâ bo-brîda aSHâb-é shimâl
wâ nomây-am rang-é kufr-o rang-é âl

wâ goshây-am haft sôrâkh-é nifâq
dar Ziyây-é mâh-é bê-kasf-o muHâq

wâ nomây-am man palâs-é ashqiyâ
be-sh'nawân-am Tabl-o kôs-é anbiyâ

3535 dûzakh-o jannât-o barzakh dar meyân
pêsh-é chashm-é kâfir-ân âr-am `ayân

wâ-nomây-am HawZ-é kawSar-râ ba-jôsh
k-âb bar rô-shân zan-ad bâng-ash ba-gôsh

w-ân kas-ân ke teshna bar-gerd-ash dawân
gashta-and în dam numây-am man `ayân

mê-be-sây-ad dôsh-eshân bar dôsh-é man
na`ra-hâ-shân mê-ras-ad dar gôsh-é man

ahl-é jannat pêsh-é chashm-am z-ikhtiyâr
dar-kashîda yak degar-râ dar kenâr

3540 dast-é ham-dîgar ziyârat mê-kon-and
az lab-ân ham bôsa ghârat mê-kon-and

kar shod în gôsh-am ze-bâng-é âh-âh
az khas-ân-o na`ra-yé wâ Hasratâh

3542 în ishârat-hâ-st gôy-am az noghôl
lêk mê-tars-am ze-âzâr-é rasûl

(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)