The Visions of Zayd (part two)

Mathnawi I: 3543-3583

3543 (Zayd) was talking in this (ecstatic) manner,1 very "drunk"
and "smashed." (Then) the Prophet gave (Zayd's) collar a twist.2

He said, "Be careful, (and) draw in (your reins)! For your horse
has become (over-) heated. (Your sense of) shame left (you) when
the reflection of (the verse) 'God is not ashamed (of speaking the
Truth)'3 struck (upon your heart).

3545 "Your mirror has jumped out of (its) covering. The mirror
and the scales can never speak contrary (to the truth).

"The mirror and the scales can never close the breath (of their
speech) for the sake of (avoiding) harm and shame to anyone.

"The mirror and the scales (are) sublime and venerable
touchstones,4 so even if you perform services (to bribe them)5
for two hundred years,

"Saying, 'Hide the truth, for my sake! Show increase and don't
show decrease!'--

"(They) will say to you, 'Don't laugh at (your own) beard and
moustache!6 (Can there be) a mirror and scales, and then fraud
and (biased) advice?7

3550 "'Since God has elevated us (in rank) for the (end result) that
one is able to recognize the truth by (means of) us,

"'If this was not (the case), young man, what (would be) our
worth? We would never be a decoration for the faces of the

(The Prophet continued), "But you should draw the mirror into
(its) felt (covering) when He has made (your) chest a (Mount)
Sinai by means of (spiritual) illumination."8

(Zayd) said, "But the Sunlight of Truth and the Sun of Eternity
can never be contained under the armpit--

"(Since) it tears up both deceit as well as armpit,9 (and) neither
craziness nor reason can remain before it."

3555 The Prophet replied, "If you place a single finger over an eye,
it sees the world10 devoid of the sun.

"(Similarly), a single tip of the finger becomes the moon's veil,
and this is a sign of the veiling (power) of the King--11

"So that He can cause the world to be covered12 (by) a (little)
spot, (and) the sun can become eclipsed by some (small piece of)
rubbish (in the eye)."13

Close your lips and observe the depths of an ocean (within you),
(for) God made the ocean subject to the power of mankind--14

Just as the Fountain of Salsabeel and the (cups of Heavenly)
ginger 15 are (going to be) under the control of the majestic
inhabitants of Paradise.

3560 And) the four rivers of Paradise16 are (going to be) under
our control. (Yet) this (will) not (be) by our power, but by the
Command of God.

We maintain them flowing (toward) anywhere we wish,17 just
like magic, according to the magician's desire.

(And) just as these two flowing fountains of (our) eyes are under
the control of the heart and (under) the command of the soul.

If (the heart) wishes, (the person) goes toward poison and snakes.
And if it wishes, (the person) goes toward trustworthy counsel.

If it wishes, (the person) goes toward objects perceived by the
senses. And if it wishes, (the person) goes toward objects wearing

3565 If it wishes, (the person) rides toward universals. And if it
wishes, (the person) remains confined to particulars.19

Likewise, each of the five senses (are) like the spout (of a
jug);20 (its water) is allowed to pass at the will and command of
the heart.

All of the five senses go along, dragging (their) gowns (toward)
any direction which the heart directs them.

The hands and feet are, in public (view for all to see), under the
heart's command, just like the staff in the hand of Moses.21

(If) the heart wishes, the foot starts dancing by means of it. Or it
escapes from deficiency (and goes) toward abundance.

3570 If the heart wishes, the hand begins considering and
estimating together with the fingers, so that it may write (the words
for) a book.

(And) the hand is in (the control of) a hidden hand;22 (from)
inside, it has appointed (actions for) the body, outside.

If it wishes,23 the (outward) hand becomes a snake to the
enemy. And if it wishes, it becomes a friend to the saint.24

And if it wishes, (the outward hand becomes like) a spoon for
(eating)25 food; and if it wishes, (it becomes) like a mace of ten

What is the heart saying to those (members of the body)? Oh
(how) amazing (it must be)! (Such) a wonderful connection!
(Such) a wonderful hidden cause!

3575 Perhaps the heart has obtained the Seal of Solomon,27 so
that it can twist the (nose) toggle28 of the five senses.

Five outward senses are easy for it (to control); five inward
senses29 are (also) under its command.

(Thus) there are ten senses and seven limbs (of the body), and
other (numbers of parts). You may count whatever (else) isn't
(included) in (this) speech.

O heart, since you are (like) Solomon in dominion, strike (the
power of your magic) seal ring upon the genies and demons.30

If you are free from deceit in this kingdom of yours, the three
demons won't seize the seal (ring)31 from your hand.

3580 After that, your name will conquer the (whole) world (and)
this world and the next (will be) subject to your power, like your

And if the demon takes the seal ring from your hand, (your)
kingship will have passed away (and) your good fortune will be

After that, O servants (of God), "Oh misery for me!"32 will
become decreed for you (as a lament) until the Day of being called

3583 (And) if you are presenting (an appearance of) denial of your
deceit,34 (your) soul (will never be) guiltless from (the judgment
of) the (Divine) Scales35 and the Mirror [of Truth].

--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" (, 8/31/00

Notes on the text, with line number:

1. (3543) Zayd) was talking in this (ecstatic) manner: in the previous
lines (I: 3500-3542), Zayd, a freed slave who became the adopted
son of the Prophet, was telling the Prophet about how he was able
to see vividly, as if it were occurring in the present moment, which
people's souls would be in Paradise and which would be in Hell.
And in the line just prior to this, Zayd said about his descriptions
of these visions, "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)."

2. (3543) gave (Zayd's) collar a twist: means the upper hem of the
shirt or gown, near the throat. Nicholson translated, "the Prophet
twitched his collar."

3. (3544) God is not ashamed (of speaking the Truth): a modification,
for metrical purposes, of the verse which has the words, "Certainly,
that (behavior) of yours might offend the Prophet, and he might
feel bashful of (asking) you (to leave). But God is not ashamed of
(revealing) the truth [about the situation]" (Qur'an 33:53).
Nicholson explained: "This Divine quality is reflected by the
prophets and saints, but may be displayed too boldly in moments
of ecstasy." (Commentary)

4. (3547) touchstones: a touchstone is a kind of stone which
demonstrates the presence of real gold (by changing color) when
rubbed against it. Used for centuries by assayers as a test for
genuine gold.

5. (3547) even if you perform services (to bribe them): Nicholson
referred to Mathnawi I: 572-73, which he translated: "If desire
were to arise in the mirror, that mirror would be like us in (respect
of) hypocrisy. If the balance had desire for riches, how would the
balance give a true description of the case?"

6. (3549) beard and moustache: laughing at another's beard or
moustache is a Persian idiom, meaning making fun of someone's
vanity or foolishness.

7. (3549) fraud and (biased) advice: Nicholson later corrected his
translation, on the basis of the earliest manuscript of the Mathnawi,
to "deceit and (plausible) advice" (from, "deceit and trickery").
And he explained, "I.e. 'The idea that mirror and balance should
deceive is absurd.'" (footnote)

8. (3552) by means of (spiritual) illumination: Nicholson translated,
"if (Divine) illumination has made thy breast a Sinai." There is a
word-play here between "chest" or "breast" [sîna] and "Sinai"
[sînâ]. Nicholson also referred to a line from Rumi's Divân, which
ends with "sína-i Síná-yi `ishq." (Commentary) This is line 13878,
from Ghazal 1311: "See the (Holy) Mountain in (your) belly; (see)
a chest (containing) the Sinai of Love."

9. (3554) both deceit as well as armpit: a word play between "armpit"
[baghal] and "deceit," or "false pretence" [daghal]. Nicholson later
corrected his translation, based upon the earliest manuscript of the
Mathnawi, to "both imposture (daghal) and armpit (baghal)" (from
"armpit (baghal) and imposture (daghal)."

10. (3555) it sees the world: Nicholson later corrected his translation,
based upon the earliest manuscript of the Mathnawi, to "it (the eye)
sees the world" (from, "thou seest the world").

11. (3556) a sign of the veiling (power) of the King: Nicholson later
corrected his translation, based upon the earliest manuscript of the
Mathnawi, to "a symbol of the King's covering" (from "a symbol
of God's covering"). The term here is "sâtir," which is one of the
Attributes of God meaning His power to conceal His mysteries
from humanity, as well as to conceal an individual's sins
(temporarily or forever). Nicholson commented: "God is the
Concealer of faults (Sattáru 'l-`uyúb). He mercifully covers up the
sins of His creatures and leaves them in ignorance of their final
destiny, so that they may have hope and faith in the Unseen. The
muríd [= spiritual seeker, disciple] for whom the veil is lifted must
not divulge the mystery. It behoves him to exercise self-control:
by moving a finger he can make himself blind to the sun: cannot he
be dumb when the Divine revelation shines forth in his heart? The
perfect mystic keeps his experiences under control: he is hákim-i
hál [= commander of (spiritual) states], not mahkúm-i hál [=
commanded by (spiritual) states]. In verse 3557 the literal
translation of the first hemistich is: 'so that He (God) causes a
single point to conceal the (whole) world.'" (Commentary)

12. (3557) can cause the world to be covered: Nicholson translated,
"the (whole) world may be covered (hidden from view)..."

13. (3557) by some (small piece of) rubbish (in the eye): Nicholson
translated, "by a splinter." He commented: "Comparison with v. 92
supra [= I: 92, which he translated, "By reason of irreverence the
sun was eclipsed"] suggests that az saqta-í [= "by a splinter"] might
be translated: 'because of a single deviation from its course.'"

14. (3558) God made the ocean subject to the power of mankind:
"Look within, contemplate silently the deep, still ground of your
real self, the infinite sea of mystic knowledge in the heart (qalb).
'God hath made the sea subject to you' (Qur. XVI 14, XLV 11).
The owner of this knowledge is master not only of himself but of
everything in earth and heaven." (Commentary) "And He has made
the night and the day subservient to you [for sleeping and seeing],
and the sun and the moon (also). And the stars are subjugated by
His Command.... And He is the one who has made the ocean
subservient, so that you may eat fresh meat from it, and bring forth
from it ornaments to wear." (Qur'an 16: 12, 14; see also 14:33) The
meaning here is that, by the command of God, mankind has some
(limited) power over nature in ways which result in benefits.

15. (3559) the Fountain of Salsabeel and the (cups of Heavenly)
ginger: "And [in Paradise] they will be given to drink therein a cup
(of wine) which is mixed with ginger [Zanjabîl], (and there is) a
fountain therein named Salsabîl." (Qur'an 76: 17-18) Nicholson
translated, "the fountains of Salsabíl and Zanjabíl."

16. (3560) the four rivers of Paradise: "The four rivers of Paradise
(Qur. XLVII 16-17) are under our control, since they are the
effects of our actions and qualities, as manifested in the present
life." (Nicholson, Commentary) "A parable of the Garden which
the righteous are promised: in it are rivers of incorruptible water;
and rivers of milk, the taste of which never changes; and rivers of
wine delightful to those who drink; and rivers of purified honey."
(Qur'an 47:15)

17. (3561) anywhere we wish: Nicholson made a reference to a similar
line, Book III: 3464-69, which he translated: "Since these causes
were (obedient) to your command, the four rivers (of Paradise)
likewise showed obedience to you. You make them flow in
whatever direction you wish: (even) as that quality (of disposition)
was (in this world), such do you make it (the effect) to be (in the
next world), As (for example) your semen, which is at your
command-- the progeny thereof are ready to (obey) your
command. Your young son runs (obediently) at your command,
saying, 'I am the part of thee which thou didst deposit (in my
mother's womb).' That (praiseworthy) quality was (obedient) to
your command in this world: likewise (in the next world) those
rivers flow at your command. Those trees (of Paradise) are
obedient to you, because those trees are (made) fruitful by your
(good) qualities."

18. (3564) objects wearing clothes: Nicholson translated, "things
clothed (in the forms of thought and phantasy)."

19. (3565) remains confined to particulars: a philosophical term, which
means the specifications of universals. For example, someone
limited to a particular object of love (a woman, a valuable
possession, etc.) who then loses it, is left with nothing. But
someone who discovers Universal Love has found something
which transcends particular loves and which is their Source.
Nicholson later corrected his translation, based on the earliest
manuscript of the Mathnawi, to "they remain in bondage to
particulars" (from, "they remain turned towards particulars").

20. (3566) the spout (of a jug): the senses are compared to a jug with
five spouts. The "water" is not allowed to flow (into perception)
from any particular spout unless allowed by the heart. Nicholson
later corrected his translation, to "like the spout" (from, "like the
spool (in the hand of the weaver)"). And he made a reference to an
earlier passage which he translated: "What is that jug? Our
confined body: within it is the briny water of our senses.... ('Tis) a
jug with five spouts, the five senses: keep this water pure (and
safe) from every filth..." (I:2708, 2710)

21. (3568) the rod in the hand of Moses: The miraculous staff of the
Prophet Moses (Qur'an 7:107) which he cast down on the ground.
It became a snake, which then swallowed up the deceptions
(7:117) that were the (illusory) snakes produced by Pharaoh's

22. (3571) a hidden hand: "i.e. the heart." (Nicholson, Commentary)

23. (3572) If it wishes: Nicholson translated, "If it (the hidden hand)
will, it (the external hand) becomes a snake..."

24. (3572) it becomes a friend [yârê] to the saint [walî]: Nicholson
translated an alternative meaning-- "it becomes a helper to the

25. (3573) like) a spoon for (eating): in Islamic cultures, food us
generally eaten with the right hand.

26. (3573) like a mace (weighing) ten maunds: means, in this case, a
hand can become as powerful as a mace in battle: a club-like
weapon with spikes, used for breaking the armor of the enemy.

27. (3575) the Seal of Solomon: Solomon was given (by God) control
over the jinn (genies) and demons, who became builders and divers
for him (Qur'an, 38:36-37). According to later legend, it was said
that Solomon had a magic seal (as on a ring), which he used to
exert control over jinn, demons, birds, and men.

28. (3575) the (nose) toggle: a piece of wood inserted into the
(perforated) nose of a camel, twisted (by hand, or reins) to make
the camel follow the directed course.

29. (3576) five inward senses: "The five 'internal senses' are the
common sense (hiss-i mushtarak), phantasy (khayál), judgment
(wahm), and the faculties of memory (háfizah) and imagination
(mutasarrifah)." (Nicholson, Commentary)

30. (3578) your magic) seal ring upon the genies and demons: see note
27 above. The word translated as "genies" [parî] originally meant
"fairy" in Persian, but later was used to translate the Arabic word
"jinn" (genie).

31. (3579) the three demons won't seize the seal (ring): According to
later Islamic legend, Solomon lost his seal ring to the demons, one
of which used it in order to impersonated him on the throne for a

32. (3582) Oh misery for me: "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!...." (Qur'an 39: 54, 56). (

33. (3582) the Day of being called together [yawmu 't-tanâd-- shortened
form, for metrical purposes, of yawmu '-tanâdî]: the Day of

34. (3583) denial of your deceit: the first half of this line in
Nicholson's text is slightly different from that in the earliest
manuscript, but because the meaning is the same, he did not offer a
correction in his translation. Following this line, Rumi tells the
story of Luqman, who was accused by his fellow slaves of eating
their master's fruit (when they ate it, instead of delivering the fruit
as the master commanded). Luqman asked the master to order all
the slaves to drink hot water and then force them to run into the
desert. As a result, the other slaves vomited fruit, and Luqman
vomited pure water. Rumi likens this to the Day of Judgment,
when all hidden sins will be revealed. Then he continues the rest of
the story of how the Prophet answered Zayd.

35. (3543) the (Divine) Scales: refers to a passage in the Qur'an, where
God says (in the plural form, expressing Transcendent Majesty
beyond human understanding), "We will set up Scales of Justice on
the Day of Judgment, so that no soul will be wronged any
(amount)." (21:47)


3543 ham-chon-în mê-goft sar-mast-o kharâb
dâd payghâmbar gerîbân-ash ba-tâb

goft hîn dar kash ke asb-at garm shod
`aks-é Haq lâ yastaHî zad sharm shod

3545 ây'na-yé tô jast bêrûn az ghilâf
ây'na-wo mîzân ko-jâ gôy-ad khilâf?

ây'na-wo mîzân ko-jâ band-ad nafas
bahr-é âzâr-o Hayây-é hêch kas?

ây'na-wo mîzân miHak-hây-é sanî
gar dô Sad sâl-ash tô khidmat-hâ kon-î?

k-az barây-é man be-pôshân râstî
bar fozûn bo-n'mâ-wo ma-n'mâ kâstî

ô-at gôy-ad rêsh-o sablat bar-ma-khand
ây'na-wo mîzân-o ân-gah rêw-o pand?

3550 chûn khodâ mâ-râ barây-é ân farâkht
ke ba-mâ be-t'wân Haqîqat-râ shenâkht

în na-bâsh-ad mâ che arz-êm ay jawân
kay shaw-êm âyîn-é rôy-é nêkow-ân?

lêk dar-kash dar namad âyena-râ
k-az tajallî kard sînâ sîna-râ

goft âkhir hêch gonjad dar baghal
âftâb-é Haqq-o khworshêd-é azal

ham daghal-râ ham baghal-râ bar-dar-ad
na junûn mân-ad ba-pêsh-ash na kherad

3555 goft yak iSba` chô bar chashmê neh-î
bîn-ad az khworshêd `âlam-ra tahî

yak sar-é angosht parda-yé mâh shod
w-în neshân-é sâtirîy-é shâh shod

tâ be-pôshân-ad jahân-râ nuqTa'yê
mehr gard-ad munkhasif az saqTa'yé

lab be-band-o ghawr-é daryâyê negar
baHr-râ Haq kard maHkûm-é bashar

ham-chô chashma-yé salsabîl-o zanjabîl
hast dar Hukm-é beheshtîy-é jalîl

3560 châr jôy-é jannat andar Hukm-é mâ-st
în na zûr-é mâ ze-farmân-é khodâ-st

har ko-jâ khwâh-êm dâr-êm-ash rawân
ham-chô siHr andar murâd-é sâHir-ân

ham-chô în dô chashma-yé chashm-é rawân
hast dar Hukm-é del-o farmân-é jân

gar be-khwâh-ad raft sôy-é zahr-o mâr
w-ar be-khwâh-ad raft sôy-é i`tibâr

gar be-khwâh-ad sôy-é maHsûsât raft
w-ar be-khwâh-ad sôy-é malbûsât raft

3565 gar be-khwâh-ad sôy-é kullîyât rând
w-ar be-khwâh-ad Habs-é juzwîyât mând

ham-chon-în har panj His chûn nâyeza
bar murâd-o amr-é del shod jâyiza

har Taraf ke del ishârat kard-eshân
mê-raw-ad har panj His dâman kashân

dast-o pâ dar amr-é del andar malâ
ham-chô andar dast-é mûsà ân `aSâ

del be-khwâh-ad, pâ dar ây-ad z-ô ba-raqS
yâ gorêz-ad sôy-é afzûnî ze-naqS

3570 del be-khwâh-ad, dast ây-ad dar Hisâb
bâ aSâbi` tâ nawîs-ad ô kitâb

dast dar dast-é nehânê mânda-ast
ô darûn tan-râ berûn be-n'shânda-ast

gar be-khwâh-ad bar `adû mârê shaw-ad
w-ar be-khwâh-ad bar walî yârê shaw-ad

w-ar be-khwâh-ad kaf-cha'yê dar khwordanî
w-ar be-khwâh-ad ham-chô gorz-é dah manî

del che mê-gôy-ad ba-d-êshân ay `ajab?
Turfa wuSlat, Turfa penhânî sabab

3575 del magar mohr-é sulaymân yâft-ast
ke mahâr-é panj His bar-tâft-ast?

panj Hissê az berûn maysûr-é ô
panj Hissê az darûn ma'mûr-é ô

dah His-ast-o haft andâm-o degar
ân-che andar goft n-ây-ad mê-shomar

chûn sulaymân-î del-â dar meh-tarî
bar parî-wo dêw zan angoshtarî

gar dar-în mulk-at barî bâsh-î ze-rêw
khâtam az dast-é tô na-s'tân-ad se dêw

3580 ba`d az ân, `âlam be-gîr-ad ism-é tô
dô jahân maHkûm-é tô chûn jism-é tô

w-ar ze-dast-at dêw khâtam-râ be-bord
pâdshâhî fawt shod, bakht-at be-mord

ba`d az ân yâ Hasratâ shod yâ `ibâd
bar shomâ maHtûm tâ yawma 't-tanâd

3583 makr-é khwad-râ gar tô inkâr âwar-î
az tarâzû-wo ây'na kay jân barî?

(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)