Not Every Male Is A True Ma

Mathnawi VI: 1430-1449

1430 In sum, masculinity1 doesn't match every male. Take care
(and) fear [the company of] the ignorant, if you are a wise man.

Don't listen to the friendly affection of the sweet-spoken ignorant
man, because it is (deadly) like old poison.2

He speaks to you (like a mother, saying), "(O) mother's dear
one!' (and) '(O) light of (my) eyes!"3 (But) nothing is increased for
you [by these words] except sorrow and regret.

That (foolish) mother speaks loudly to (your) father: "My child
has become much too thin because of (going to) school.

"If you had produced him by another wife,4 you would have acted
with less injustice and cruelty5 toward him."

1435 (But he replies), "If this child of mine were from another
besides you, that woman also6 would have spoken this vain talk."

Take care, (and) jump (away) from this (kind) of mother and her
endearments. The slaps of (your) father are better7 than her sweet

The mother (here) is the base ego. And the father is the
virtue-restoring (faculty of) reason: its beginning is narrow
confinement, but (its) end is a hundred spacious openings.8

O Giver of intelligent understandings and Protector of those who
cry for help! No one can will (anything) unless You will (it)!

The seeking is from You, as well as the benefit [of what is found].
Who are we, (since) You are the First (and) You are the Last!9

1440 May You [alone] speak, may You [alone] listen, and may
You [alone] be! (For) we are entirely nothing, (despite) all these
adornments10 (of ours).

(And) because of this entrusting of (our) power [to You], increase
(our) longing [for You] during the prostrations (of prayer)! Don't
send (us) the laziness and the reduction (of our inward fire
because) of predestination!

(Now) predestination11 is the wings and feathers of the (spiritually)
complete; it is also the prison and chains of those who are lazy.

Know that predestination is like the water of the Nile: (it is pure)
water for the believer and blood for the unbeliever.12

Wings take falcons to the king, but they (also) take crows to the

1445 (But) now turn back to the description of non-existence,14 for
it is like a kind of antidote,15 yet you think it (is) poison.

Hurry up (and) go, O fellow-servant, like the Hindu boy-- (and)
don't be afraid of the (King) Mahmood of non-existence.16

(But) be afraid of an existence17 in which you are now, (because)
that imaginary phantom of yours18 is nothing and you are (also)

A nothing has become the lover of some (other) nothing! (But) a
nothing has never robbed [the heart of] some (other) nothing.19

1449 When these vain fantasies have gone out from (your) midst,
your misunderstandings will become clear.

--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 1934 British translation)
Ibrahim Gamard (translation, footnotes, & transliteration)
First published on "Sunlight" (, 3/16/00

Notes on the text, with line number:

1. (1430) masculinity: Nicholson referred here to a comment he made
on another line (I: 90), that true men [mard-ân] have self-control;
whoever does not, as Rumi said, "is no man." He also referred to
where Rumi says, "It is (true) manliness and the nature of
prophethood to abandon anger and lust and greed" (V: 4026,
translated by Nicholson)

Just prior to this (lines 1424-1429), Rumi had said the following
(most of which was translated by Nicholson into Latin, first
translated into English by Afzal Iqbal, "The Life and Work of
Rumi," 1956, p. 310): "If an ignorant man appears sympathetic and
cordial to you, in the end he will hurt you out of ignorance. He is
(like) a hermaphrodite [khunSà] (and) has two organs [dô âlat]; the
function of both is obvious, without doubt. He keeps (his) penis
[Zakar] hidden from women so that he can make himself (seem
like) a sister to them. (And) he hides (his) vagina [sholla] with
(his) hand from men so that he can make himself (seem like) the
(same) gender as men. (But) God said, 'Because of that hidden
vagina [kos-é maktûm] of his, We will make a slit [shollayê] on his
nose [khurTûm],* so that Our seeing ones may not become
deceived by the skill of that (deceitful) flirt.'"
[*"We will make a slit on his nose" (literally, "a vagina on his
trunk" [sholla'yê sâz-êm bar khurTûm-é ó]): a reference to the
Qur'anic verse: "Soon We will brand him on the snout" (68:16).
The word "snout" is the trunk of an elephant or the nose of a beast
of prey and is an idiom meaning the ugly nose of a man.
Commentators of the Qur'an have said that this verse as a whole,
has the meaning of earning permanent disgrace. Nicholson added
that this verse was also believed to be a prophecy which was later
fulfilled against an enemy of the Prophet Muhammad, who "in
fact, had his nose slashed while fighting in the ranks of the
Quraysh at Badr and bore this conspicuous mark of ignominy [=
disgrace] for the rest of his life." (Commentary)]

2. (1431) old poison: Nicholson translated, "like old (virulent)

3. (1432) light of (my) eyes: lit., "shining eye." An idiom meaning
happiness. The ignorant man here speaks like a foolish mother,
with whom Rumi compares him.

4. (1434) another wife: up to five are allowed in Islam, unless the
bride has a marriage contract which stipulates that she is to be the
only wife.

5. (1434) injustice and cruelty: means by making him go to school.

6. (1435) that woman also: the husband's exasperation with his wife
is expressed here. Rumi's criticism is not of wives in general, but
of ignorant men (symbolized here by very foolish wives) who are
not "real men" of self-control, self-discipline, and virtue.

7. (1436) The slaps of (your) father are better: means, "The discipline
given to you by your father is better than the indulgences given to
you by your mother-- which will cause you to fail to learn self-
control over your ego and thereby end up becoming unmanly."

8. (1437) a hundred spacious openings: Nicholson translated, "a
hundred expansions (of the spirit)."

9. (1439) the First, the Last: "He is the First and the Last [huwa
'l-awwalu wa 'l-âkhir], the Outward and the Inward, and He is the
Knower of everything" (Qur'an, 57:3).

10. (1440) adornments [tarâsh]: literally, shaving, carving. An idiom
meaning elegant appearance, decoration. Nicholson translated this
as "hewing," and explained it as meaning "effort and exertion"

11. (1442) predestination [jabr]: the meaning here is that for the
spiritually complete [kâmil-ân-- a word related to the sufi term
"insânu 'l-kâmil," the completed or perfected human being], their
attitude toward compulsion of the Divine Will is to surrender so
completely that God may see, hear, and act through them-- which
is the function of sainthood. Whereas for ordinary and ego-driven
people, their attitude often leads to a passive and lazy fatalism. In
the Mathnawi, Rumi strongly advocates making efforts and
striving to reach closer to God, and rejects passive fatalism. "For
the distinction between jabr-i mahmúd [= praiseworthy
predestination] and jabr-i madhmúm [= blamable predestination],
see I: 470-471, 637-641, 1068-1075, 1463, and the notes ad loc."
(Nicholson, Commentary) Nicholson's notes describe the heretical
interpretation, called necessitarianism, according to which human
beings have no power at all over their actions and no power to
fulfil the commandments of God. He refers to Rumi's verse which
says that the prophets do not accept free will in regard to the works
of this world, but do in regard to the next world-- whereas
unbelieving worldly people have the opposite attitude. "Elsewhere
(IV 401 sqq., V 3095 sqq.) Rúmí asserts that although the power to
choose good and reject evil is not annulled by Divine omnipotence,
complete freedom belongs only to the Perfect Men whose self-will
has been extinguished and submerged in the will of the Beloved."

12. (1443) blood for the unbeliever: refers to one of the plagues sent
by God to the Egyptians, who would not release the children of
Israel. This plague is mentioned in a list of the plagues in the
Qur'an (7:130, regarding the story from Exodus 7:17-25, well-
known to the Arabs in the time of the Prophet Muhammad). See
also Mathnawi IV: 3430-3456.

13. (1444) crows to the graveyard: common images in Persian
literature. The trained falcon symbolizes the saintly soul which
longs to return to the (gloved) hand of the king-- meaning to return
to God. The crow (as well as the owl) symbolizes lowly people
who desire base material pleasures.

14. (1445) non-existence [`adam]: the spiritual realm which transcends
material existence and separate ego-identity.

15. (1445) a kind of antidote [pâzahr, from "pâd-zahr," poison-
protecting]: refers to the powder from the bezoar stone, or a type of
sweet treacle, believed to be an antidote against poison.

16. (1446) the (King) Mahmood of non-existence: refers to Rumi's
story just prior to this section, about how the Muslim king,
Mahmood of Ghazna (now in Afghanistan), had invaded India and
placed a Hindu boy on his throne, preferred him over all his
officers, and called him "son." The boy wept from joy at the king's
noble generosity, and explained that his mother used to frighten
him into obedience by saying, "May you fall into the hands of the
lion Mahmood" (if you don't obey me)! Rumi interpreted:
"(Spiritual) poverty is your Mahmúd, O man without affluence:
your (sensual) nature is always making you afraid of it. If you
come to know the mercifulness of this noble Mahmúd, you will cry
joyously, 'May the end be praised (mahmúd)!' Poverty is your
Mahmúd, O craven-hearted one: do not listen to this mother,
namely, your misguiding nature. When you become a prey to
poverty, you will certainly shed tears (of delight), like the Hindú
boy, on the Day of Judgement. Although the body is (like) a
mother in fostering (the spirit), yet it is more inimical to you than a
hundred enemies." (VI: 1400-1404, translated by Nicholson)

17. (1447) be afraid of an existence: an unreal existence based on the
ego's fantasies about the material world.

18. (1447) that imaginary phantom of yours: "I.e. the illusion of your
existence." (Nicholson, footnote)

19. (1448) some (other) nothing: Nicholson later changed his
translation to, "a mere nothing has waylaid (captivated) a mere
nothing" (from, has any naught ever waylaid (and attacked) any
other naught?" He also explained his change of interpretation:
"Hích ní = lá shay'." (Commentary)


1430 HâSil ân-k az har Zakar n-ây-ad narî
hîn ze-jâhil tars agar dân-sh-war-î

dôstî-yé jâhil-é shîrîn-sokhon
kam shenô, k-ân hast chûn samm-é kahon

jân-é mâdar, chashm-é rôshan gôy-ad-at
joz gham-o Hasrat az ân n-afzôy-ad-at

mar pedar-râ gôy-ad ân mâdar jihâr
ke ze-maktab bachcha-am shod bas nizâr

az zan-é degar gar-ash âward-î'iy
bar way în jawr-o jafâ kam kard-î'iy

1435 az joz-é tô gar bod-y în bachcha-am
în foshâr ân zan be-goft-y nêz ham

hîn be-jeh z-în mâdar-o tibây-é ô
saylê-yé bâbâ beh az Halwây-é ô

hast mâdar nafs-o bâbâ `aql-é râd
awwal-ash tangîy-o âkhir Sad goshâd

ay dehanda-yé `aql-hâ faryâd-ras
tâ na-khwâh-î tô, na-khwâh-ad hêch kas

ham Talab az to-st-o ham ân nêkô'î
mâ key-êm awwal tow-î, âkhir tô-î

1440 ham be-gô tô, ham tô be-sh'naw ham tô bâsh
mâ hama lâsh-êm bâ chand-în tarâsh

z-în Hawâla, raghbat afzâ dar sujûd
kâhiliy-é jabr ma-frest-o khumûd

jabr bâ-shad parr-o bâl-é kâmil-ân
jabr ham zendân-o band-é kâhil-ân

hamchô âb-é nîl dân în jabr-râ
âb mû'min-râ-wo khûn mar gabr-râ

bâl bâz-ân-râ sôy-é sulTân bar-ad
bâl zâgh-ân-râ ba-gûrestân bar-ad

1445 bâz gard aknûn tô dar sharH-é `adam
ke chô pâzahr-ast-o pendâr-î-sh sam

hamchô hendô-bachcha hîn, ay khwâja-tâsh
raw ze-maHmûd-é `adam tarsân ma-bâsh

az wujûdê tars k-aknûn dar way-î
ân khayâl-at lâshî-o tô lâshiy-î

lâshiyê bar lâshiyê `âshiq shod-ast
hêch nayê mar hêch nayê-râ rah zad-ast

1449 chûn berûn shod în khayâlât az meyân
gasht nâ-ma`qûl-é tô bar tô `ayân

(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)