The Mirror of the Heart

Mathnawi IV: 2460-2486

2460 If you are watchful and awake, you may see the
response1 to your actions (in) every moment.

(For) if you are observant and take hold of the rope,2 you won't
need the Resurrection to come [in order to see where the end is].

The one who knows for certain (the meaning of) a hidden sign has
no need to be told openly (about it).

These misfortunes are coming to you from (your own) stupidity,
since you have not understood the subtle significance and

When (your) heart has become black and dark from wrongdoing,
understand (that) one should not become impudent and stubborn

2465 For otherwise, that darkness itself will become an arrow,
(and) the punishment for (your) stubbornness will reach you.

And if the arrow doesn't come, it is from (Divine) Mercy-- it is not
because of (His) not seeing (your) corruption.

Take care (and) be watchful, if you need an (aware) heart,3 since
something is born to you as the result of every action.

And if you have more determination than this, the work may go
(even) higher than (the stage of) observation.4

Then, even if you are dark in appearance, like iron, make
(yourself) polished, polished, polished!5

2470 So that your heart may become a mirror full of images, (and
so that) within it (there may be) an attractive silver-breasted6
beauty (in) every part.

Even though the iron is dark and without (any) light, polishing
cleaned the darkness from it.

The iron experienced the polishing and (how its) face was made
lovely,7 so that images could be seen in it.

If (your) earthy body is unrefined and dark, polish it, since it is
receptive to polishing,

So that the forms of hidden (things)8 may appear in it, (and so
that) the reflections of the virgins of Paradise9 and the angels may
leap into it.

2475 God has given you the polishing (quality) of the intellect for
that (purpose), (so) that the pages of the heart10 may become
shining by (means of) it.

You put the polisher [of the intellect] in chains, O neglecter of
prayer,11 and you have set free the two hands of craving and desire

(But) if (your) desires become placed in chains, the hands of the
polisher will become loosened and freed.

(If) a piece of iron were to be a mirror for hidden things, all the
forms [in existence] would be let loose in it.

(But) you have made (your heart) dark (and) have given rust to
(your) disposition. This is (the meaning of the verse), "They strive
to spread corruption on earth."12

2480 You have done such as this up to the present time; now, don't
do it (any more). You have made the water dark; don't increase (it).

Don't stir (it) up, so that the water may become clear-- and (so
that) you may see the moon and the stars circling13 within it!

Because mankind is like the water of the stream: you can't see its
bottom if it becomes dark (and muddy).

The bottom of the stream is full of jewels and pearls. Be careful
(and) don't darken it, for it is (naturally) pure and free.

The souls of mankind are like the air: if it becomes mixed with
dust, it becomes a (dark) veil for the sky,

2485 (And) it becomes an obstacle to seeing the sun; (but) if its
dust goes (away), it becomes clear and pure.

2486 In spite of (your state of) complete darkness, God is showing
you visions,14 so that you may travel on the road of salvation.

--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 1930 British translation)
Ibrahim Gamard (translation, footnotes, & transliteration)
First published on "Sunlight" (, 10/28/99

Notes on the text, with line number:

1. (2460) the response: may also be translated, "the answer," "the
reply." It means the response of Divine Justice.

2. (2461) take hold of the rope: so that you can see where the rope
leads to-- meaning that you can see the recompense of your actions
before the Day of Judgment occurs.

3. (2467) if you need an (aware) heart: Nicholson later corrected his
translation to: "if you have need of the (understanding) heart"
(from, "if thou wouldst have a (pure) heart"). Nicholson also
explained: "This is gained by means of muráqabah [= watchful
observation], i.e. knowing that God oversees us and keeping Him
constantly before our eyes." (Commentary)

4. (2468) observation: "I.e. 'if thou aspire to mystical contemplation
of God (musháhadah), an experience reserved for adepts.'"
(Nicholson, Commentary)

5. (2469) polished: a reference to the Traditional saying of the
Prophet Muhammad, "saqqálatu 'l-qulúb dhikru 'lláhi" (quoted in
Nicholson, Commentary)-- "There is a polish for everything, and
the polish for the heart is the remembrance of God."

6. (2470) silver-breasted: an idiom meaning a beautiful and pure
young woman. Here it symbolizes beautiful and pure spiritual
qualities within the heart and soul.

7. (2472) (its) face was made lovely: "Fa [= the Turkish commentator
Anqaravi] takes sayqalí in the sense of saqqâl and translates the
first hemistich of v. 2472: 'the polisher saw the iron and beautified
its surface.'" (Nicholson, Commentary)

8. (2474) hidden (things): means dimensions of reality nor ordinarily
perceived by human beings, such as advanced ideas and wisdom,
and things from the realm of supernatural beings (such as genies
and angels), as well as other kinds of heavenly realities.

9. (2474) virgins of Paradise: the "hourees," or beautiful pure
maidens promised to faithful believers as a reward in Paradise
(Qur'an, 44:54; 52: 20), and which symbolize Heavenly bliss.

10. (2475) pages of the heart: Nicholson translated, "the leaf (the
surface) of the heart." This word means a leaf of a tree, of paper, of
a book or scroll, as well as a sheet of metal. In other words, the
image here is of a thin outer layer of the heart which shines when

11. (2476) neglecter of prayer: literally, "lacking, without, destitute of,
the ritual prayer." Means someone who fails or neglects to do the
required five daily Islamic prayers. And here, it means someone
who fails to seek strength from God (by surrendering to His Will,
symbolized by prostrating one's forehead to the ground) in order to
control worldly desires and, instead, gives strength to cravings and
desires (by surrendering to them instead).

12. (2479) corruption on earth: from Qur'an 5:36.

13. (2481) circling: this word [Tawâf] is usually used to mean the
ritual circumambulations around the Ka'ba in Mecca. So it refers to
how the whole creation worship God (a theme in the Qur'an).

14. (2486) visions: this word (literally, "occurrences, events;
misfortunes, calamaties") is a technical sufi word for spiritual
experiences, and has to mean "visions" here because of its use in
the story immediately following. It may also related to
"indications" in the earlier verses.


2460 gar murâqib bâsh-î-wo bêdâr tô
bîn-î har dam pâsokh-é kardâr tô

chûn murâqib bâsh-î-wo gîr-î rasan
Hâjat-at n-ây-ad qiyâmat âmadan

ân-ke ramzê-râ be-dân-ad ô SaHîH
Hâjat-ash n-ây-ad ke gôyand-ash SarîH

în balâ az kûdanî ây-ad to-râ
ke na-kard-î fahm nukta-wo ramz-hâ

az badî chûn del seyâh-o têra shod
fahm kon, în-jâ na-shây-ad khêra shod

2465 w-ar-na khwad tîrê shaw-ad ân têragî
dar ras-ad dar tô jazây-é khêragî

w-ar na-y-ây-ad tîr az bakhshâyesh-ast
na pay-é nâ-dîdan-é âlâyesh-ast

hîn murâqib bâsh gar del bây-ad-at
k-az pay-é har fa`l chêzê zâyad-at

w-ar az-în afzûn to-râ himmat bow-ad
az murâqib kâr bâlâ-tar raw-ad

pas chô âhan gar che têra-haykal-î
Sayqalî kon, Sayqalî kon, Sayqalî

2470 tâ del-at âyîna gard-ad por Suwar
andar-ô har sô malîHê sîmbar

âhan ar-che têra-wo bê-nûr bûd
Sayqalî ân têragî az way zedûd

Sayqalî dîd âhan-o khôsh kard rô
tâ ke Sûrat-hâ tawân dîd andar-ô

gar tan-é khâkî ghalîZ-o têra-ast
Sayqal-ash kon, z-ân-ke sayqal-gîra-ast

tâ dar-ô ashkâl-é ghaybî rô deh-ad
`aks-é Hûrî-wo malak dar way jahad

2475 Sayqal-é `aql-at ba-d-ân dâd-ast Haq
ke ba-d-ô rôshan shaw-ad del-râ waraq

Sayqalî-râ basta-î ay bê-namâz
w-ân hawâ-râ karda-î dô dast bâz

gar hawâ-râ band be-nehâda shaw-ad
Sayqalî-râ dast be-goshâda shaw-ad

âhanê k-âyîna-yé ghaybî bod-y
jomla Sûrat-hâ dar-ô mursal shod-y

têra kard-î, zang dâd-î dar nehâd
în bow-ad yas`awna fî 'l-arZi 'l-fasâd

2480 tâ konûn kard-î chon-în, aknûn ma-kon
têra kard-î âb-râ, afzûn ma-kon

bar ma-shûrân tâ shaw-ad în âb Sâf
w-andar-ô bîn mâh-o akhtar dar Tawâf

z-ân-ke mardom hast ham-chûn âb-é jô
chûn shaw-ad têra, na-bîn-î qa`r-é ô

qa`r-é jô por gawhar-ast-o por ze-dur
hîn ma-kon têra ke hast ô, Sâf-é Hur

jân-é mardom hast mânand-é hawâ
chûn ba-gard âmêkht, shod parda-yé samâ

2485 mâni` ây-ad ô ze-dîd-é âftâb
chûn-ke gard-ash raft, shod Sâfî-wo nâb

2486 bâ kamâl-é têragî Haq wâq`i-ât
mê-namûd-at tâ raw-î râh-é najât

(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)