Mathnawi, Preface to Book II

Some explanation about the wisdom for delaying this second
volume:1 If all the Divine wisdom were made known to the
servant (of God) about the benefits of an action, the servant would
remain helpless to (do) the action; the endless Wisdom of God
would destroy his understanding (and) he would not (be able to)
perform the action (at all). Therefore, God Most High makes a tiny
amount of that endless wisdom as a ring for his nose and draws
him to (do) that action. If He doesn't give him any information
about the benefits (of the action), he won't move-- because
intentional movement is (only done) for human advantages, for the
sake of which we act in (our) interest. But if He pours down (all)
the wisdom about that (action) onto him, he will similarly be
unable to move.2 For if there is no nose ring3 for the camel, it
won't go, and if it is too big it will just lie down (and refuse to
move). "And nothing exists except (that) its storehouses4 are with
Us, and We do not send it down (in created form) except according
to a measure known (to Us)."5 A clod of earth won't become a
brick without water, and if there is (too) much water it also won't
become a brick. "And He raised up the heavens and He set up the
Balance6 (for measuring all things)." He gives to everything [a
certain amount] according to the Balance. (And this is) not without
measuring and weighing-- except for those who have become
transformed from [their former condition in] the realm of creation
and have become (like those referred to in the verse), "And (God)
gives sustenance to whom He wishes, without measure."7 But "he
who doesn't taste, doesn't know."8

Someone asked, "What is (it like) to be a lover?
I said, "When you become me, you'll know!"9

Passionate love10 is love11 without measure. Because of that, it has
been said that in reality it is an Attribute of God, and in relation to
Him, it is (only a) superficial (quality) in the servant (of God). The
whole (summary) is (the verse), "He loves them" Who are (the
ones referred to in the verse), "they love Him"?12

--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" (, 8/5/99

Notes on the text, with line number:

1. (Heading) delaying this second volume: "On the authority of
Aflákí [Rumi's hagiographer] (see note on I 3990) it is generally
supposed that owing to the death of the wife of Husámu'ddín
[Rumi's closest disciple, to whom he dictated the Mathnawi] an
interval of two years elapsed between the completion of Book I
and the resumption of the work in 1263-1264." (Nicholson,

2. (Heading) unable to move: "In this passage the 'postponement' is
explained as an act of Divine Wisdom. God provides all the
advantages for the sake of which men are impelled to act, and He
bestows upon them just so much knowledge of these advantages as
will produce the actions which He has decreed; otherwise they
would be unable to act at all, for His knowledge is infinite, and
none but Perfect Men possess the capacity for receiving it in full
measure. Apparently the poet means to imply that his powers as a
medium were intermittent and subject to conditions over which he
had no control. At times God veils His glory even from prophets
and saints." (Nicholson, Commentary)

3. (Heading) nose ring: a piece of wood placed through the nostrils of
a camel, in order to control it

4. (Heading) storehouses: "i.e. everything that God has decreed He
keeps, as it were, in store, ready to be brought forth and actualised
whenever He pleases." (Nicholson, Commentary)

5. (Heading) measure known to Us: from Qur'an 15:21. The terms
"We" and "Us" in the Qur'an are "pronouns of majesty" and do not
mean any plurality in the Divine Unity of God.

6. (Heading) the Balance: from Qur'an 55:7.

7. (Heading) without measure: from Qur'an 2:208

8. (Heading) doesn't know: an Arabic saying, which sufis interpret in
the sense of mystical experience and knowledge.

9. (Heading) you'll know: "Real knowledge can only be gained
through the passing away (faná) of the knower in the Known."
(Nicholson, Commentary)

10. (Heading) passionate love (`ishq): a word often used by sufis,
which means intense passionate love, as well as "love-sickness."

11. (Heading) love (muHabbat): a word which occurs in the Qur'an
(20:39), and means benevolent affection and love, and is also used
to mean Divine Love. "Many of the older Súfís held that the
ascription of `ishq to God was not permissible." (Nicholson,

12. (Heading) they love Him: refers to Qur'an 5:57: "God will soon
bring forth [in your place] a people whom He loves [yuHibbu-
hum] and they will love Him [yuHibbûna-hu]." The verbs for love
here have the same root as the noun meaning love referred to
above [maHabbat]. "Man's love of God is no more than the
reflexion of God's love, which is an essential attribute of the
Divine nature." (Nicholson, Commentary)


bayân-é ba`Zê az Hikmat-é ta'khîr-é în mujallad-é dowom ke agar
jomla-yé Hikmat-é ilâhî banda-râ ma`lûm shaw-ad dar fawâ'îd-é ân
kâr banda az ân kâr ferô mân-ad wa Hikmat-é bê-pâyân-é Haqq
idrâk-é ô-râ wîrân kon-ad ba-d-ân kâr na-pardâz-ad, pas Haqq-é
ta`âlà shamma-yê az ân Hikmat-é bê-pâyân mihâr-é bînî-yé ô
sâz-ad wa ô-râ ba-d-ân kâr kash-ad ke agar ô-râ az ân fâ'îda hêch
khabar na-kon-ad hêch na-jonb-ad, z-î-râ jonbânanda az bahrah-
hây-é âdamiy?ân-ast ke az bahr-é ân maSlaHat kon-êm wa agar
Hikmat-é ân bar wây ferô rêz-ad ham na-tawân-ad jonbîdan
chon-ân-ke agar dar bînî-yé oshtor mihâr na-bow-ad wa agar
mihâr-é bozorg bow-ad ham ferô khosp-ad "wa in min shay-in illâ
`inda-nâ khazâ'inu-hu wa mâ nunazzilu-hu illâ bi-qadar-in
ma`lûm," khâk bê âb kolôkh na-shaw-ad wa chûn âb besyâr
bâsh-ad ham kolôkh na-shaw-ad, "wa 's-samâ'a rafa`-hâ wa waZa`
'l-mîzân," ba-mîzân de-had har chêzê-râ na bê-Hisâb wa bê-mîzân
illâ kasânê-râ ke az `âlam-é khalq mubdal shoda-and wa "yarzuqu
man yashâ'u bi-ghayri Hisâb-in" shoda-and. wa man lam yaZuq
lam yadri.

porsîd yakê ke `âshiqî chîst?
goft-am ke chô mâ shaw-î bi-dân-î

`ishq maHabbat-é bê-Hisâb-ast jehat-é ân gofta-and ke Sifat-é
Haqq-ast ba-Haqîqat wa nisbat-é ô ba-banda majâz-ast "yuHibbu-
hum" tamâm-ast "yuHibbûna-hu" kodâm-ast