Moses and the Shepherd (part two)

Mathnawi II: 1750-1764

The reprimanding by God Most High of Moses-- peace be upon
him-- for the shepherd's sake

1750 A revelation from God came to Moses: "You separated Our
servant from Us.1

"Did you come for the sake of uniting2 or did you come
for the sake of separating and cutting off?

"As much as you are able, do not step in (the direction
of) separation. The most hateful of (lawful) things to Me is

"I have given to every person a (particular) nature and
temperament, (and) I have given to every person a
(particular) form of speech and idiomatic expression.

"It is praiseworthy in regard to him, but blameworthy in
regard to you; it is (like) honey in regard to him, but
(like) poison in regard to you.4

1755 "We5 are (utterly) free from every (form of) purity or
impurity6 (and) from every (kind of) sluggishness or

"I did not command (something)8 so that I might make a
profit,9 but so that I might do a generous kindness for (My)

"The idiomatic speech of (the country of) Hind10 is the (mode of)
praise (of God) for the Hindians,11 (and) the idiomatic speech of Sind
is the (mode of) praise for the Sindians.12

"I do not become pure and holy by their praise, but they
become purified and shining (by it).

"We do not regard the tongue and (outward) speech, (but)
We regard the soul and the (inward) state.13

1760 "We are the Observer of the heart, (to see) if it is
humble, even though the spoken words may not be humble.

"Because the heart is the substance, (but) talking (is
only) the outward quality. Therefore, the substance (is) the
desired object (and) the outer quality is dependent.14

"So many of these phrases, ideas, and metaphors! I want
burning, burning. Become harmonious with that burning!15

"Ignite a fire of love in (your) soul16 (and) burn up
thoughts and explanations, completely!17

1764 "O Moses! Those who know polite manners18 are one kind.
(And) those who are inflamed of soul and spirit are another

--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" (, 2/8/01

Notes on the text, with line number:

--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" (, 2/1/01

Notes on the text, with line number:

1. (1751) Our servant from Us: Rumi here uses the "majestic
plural," which is a characteristic of the speech of the One
God in the Qur'an (as well as the first person singular--
"I" and "Me"). Nicholson translated, "Thou hast parted My
servant from Me."

2. (1752) Did you come for the sake of uniting: Nicholson
translated, "didst thou come (as a prophet) to unite..."
"(It means), 'Did you come for the sake of making My
servants close to Me...?'" (Translated here from a Persian
translation of Anqaravi's famous 17th century Turkish
commentary on the Mathnawi)

3. (1753) The most hateful of (lawful) things to Me is
divorce: "referring to the Hadíth [= saying of the Prophet
Muhammad]: 'God has not created any lawful thing more
pleasing to Him than the emancipation of a slave (`atáq),
and God has not created any lawful thing more hateful to Him
than divorce (taláq).'" (Nicholson, Commentary)

4. (1754) (like) poison in regard to you: "Forms of worship
vary according to the spiritual capacity of the worshipper;
and one man's meat is another man's poison. As Junayd [=
famous early sufi master, died 910] said, 'the water takes
its colour from the vessel containing it.'" (Nicholson,

5. (1755) We: the One God, speaking again in the "majestic

6. (1755) (utterly) free from every (form of) purity or
impurity: "i.e. tanzíh [= transcendence beyond the created
universe] and tashbíh [= immanence within the universe]."
(Nicholson, Commentary) "The orthodox hold that Allah is
beyond comparison (tashbíh), that in His absolute Unity He
is remote (munazzah) and different (mukhálif) from all
created things, and that the qualities ascribed to Him in
the Qur'án are not to be understood in the sense in which
they are applicable to any of His creatures. Pantheistic
Súfís, while accepting the doctrine of Divine transcendence
(tanzíh), regard it as only one half of the truth: the whole
truth, they say, consists in combining tanzíh with tashbíh,
the doctrine of Divine immanence. The former doctrine, by
itself, leads to the duality of God and the world; the
latter, by itself, is polytheism; the true worshippers of
Allah are those who see Him as the One Real Being in all
forms of existence-- at once transcending all and immanent
in all." (Nicholson, Commentary)

7. (1755) from every (kind of) sluggishness or quickness:
Nicholson translated, "of all slothfulness and alacrity (in
worshipping Me)."

8. (1756) I did not command (something): Nicholson
translated, "I did not ordain (Divine) worship) ..."

9. (1756) so that I might make a profit: "God is absolutely
self-sufficient (ghaní). He does not need the 'slaves'
(`ibád) whom His mercy brings into existence. The text (Qur.
LI 56), 'I created the Jinn and mankind only that they might
worship Me', signifies that they were created in order that
by worshipping God they might make themselves perfect."
(Nicholson, Commentary)

10. (1757) Hind: Hindustan, the land of the people who lived in the countries along the Indus River; now called India.

11. (1757) the (mode of) praise (of God) for the Hindians:

means here, "the manner of praising Me" (= God). This famous verse has been misunderstood as referring to the sincere prayers of worshippers of the religion of Hinduism. As pointed out by Ravan Farhadi (Aghan scholar and professor of Persian Literature), the word "Hindians" [hendow-ân] is correctly understood as referring to the Muslims of India who spoke different languages: "...the (mode of) praise (of God) for the [Muslim] Hindians, (and)... for the [Muslim] Sindians." After all, Islam had been established in the countries along the Indus River in India for over five hundred years before Mawlânâ's time. The word "Hendû" meant, in Persian, an Indian Muslim or, sometimes, an Indian slave owned by a Muslim (as in Masnavi III: 2839); only later did it come to mean a member of the religion of Hinduism. This is shown by Mawlânâ's verse, "(If) you are a man of (intention to go on) the Pilgrimage [Hajj], seek (another) pilgrim [Hajjî] (as your) companion, whether Hendû, Turk, or Arab" (Masnavi I: 2894). Here, Mawlânâ is referring to fellow Muslims from different Muslim countries. Another example is the story of the elephant brought from India (Masnavi III: 1259) and kept in a dark house by "Hindus" [Hunûd, the Arabic plural of "Hendû"], a reference to Muslims from India who were earning money by exhibiting their elephant. Otherwise, it is hard to believe that people from India who were viewed as polytheist idolators [hendow-ân-e mushrik] would have been depicted as traveling freely in Muslim countries far from India. In addition, Mawlânâ must have chosen the words "Hendow-ân" and "Sendiy-ân" for the sake of the rhyme, not out of acceptance of non-Muslim religions. (See also Gamard, "Rumi and Islam: Selections from His Stories, Poems, and Discourses; Annotated and Explained," 2004, pp. xiv, 187.)

Nicholson translated differently: "In the Hindoos the idiom of Hind
(India) is praiseworthy." He explained "idiom" as: "I.e. the
local and traditional forms of speech used in the practice
of religion."

"Therefore, if Hindians exhibit humility and worship in the Court of
God in the language of Hind, and Sindians utter gratitude and
praise and glorification of Him in the language of Sind, (and if)
they are praisers of Him (using) the purest speech of any
language, it is not forbidden in the (Islamic) religious
law, or according to reason. Although the best of languages
(for prayer) is the Arabic language, yet if someone speaks
(to God) with a language other than Arabic he is not
considered a wrongdoer.... It is in accordance with this
that Imâm Abû Hanîfa [= the founder of the Hanafi school of
Islamic law] has understood that saying the congregational
prayer [namâz] in the Persian language is lawful."
(Anqaravi, Commentary)

12. (1757) Sindians: refers to to the peoples of western
India, living along the Sind river, also called the Indus.

13. (1759) We regard the soul and the (inward) state: the
Divine "majestic plural" again. Nicholson later corrected
his translation, based on the earliest manuscript of the
Mathnawi/Masnavi, to "I look at the spirit and the state (of
feeling)" (from, "I look at the inward (spirit)..." Related
to this is the well-known saying of the Prophet, "Actions
will be judged (by God) according to the intention
[niyyah]." "Just as it is related that the Prophet of God--
may God bless him and give him peace-- said: 'Truly God does
not look at your appearance or at your actions'-- and in
another narration, 'and not to your speech,' 'but He looks
to your hearts and your intentions.'" (Anqaravi, Commentary)

14. (1761) dependent: Nicholson translated, "... speech
(only) the accident; so the accident is subservient, the
substance is the (real) object."

15. (1762) Become harmonious with that burning: there is a
word play here between "burning" [sôz] and "become
harmonious" [sâz].

16. (1763) Ignite a fire of love in (your) soul: "Ignite a
fire of love for God in your soul and heart." (Anqaravi,

17. (1763) burn up thoughts and explanations, completely:
"(It means), 'And make the pretensions of words and speech
(your) enemy. Because the desire of the hypocritical ego is
(manifested) through these eloquent expressions.'"
(Anqaravi, Commentary)

18. (1764) Those who know polite manners: Nicholson
translated, "they that know the conventions..."

19. (1764) are another kind: here the revelation containing
God's rebuke of Moses ends.


`itâb kardan Haqq-é ta`âlà mûsà-râ -- `alay-hi 's-salâm --
az bahr-é ân shobân

1750 waHî âmad sôy-é mûsà az khodâ
banda-yé mâ-râ ze-mâ kard-î jodâ

tô barây-é waSl-kardan âmad-î
yâ barây-é faSl-kardan âmad-î?

tâ tâwân-î pâ ma-neh andar firâq
abghaZu 'l-'ashyâ'i `ind-î 'T-Talâq

har kasê-râ sîratê be-n'hâda-am
har kasê-râ iSTilâHê dâda-am

dar Haq-é ô madH-o dar haqq-é tô Zam
dar Haq-é ô shahd-o dar Haqq-é tô sam

1755 mâ barî az pâk-o nâ-pâkî hama
az gerân-jânî-wo châlâkî hama

man na-kard-am amr tâ sûdê kon-am
bal-ke tâ bar banda-gân jûdê kon-am

hendow-ân-râ iStilâH-é hend madH
sendey-ân-râ iSTilâH-é send madH

man na-gard-am pâk az tasbîH-eshân
pâk ham êshân shaw-and-o dur-feshân

mâ zabân-râ na-n'gar-ém-o qâl-râ
mâ rawân-râ be-n'gar-êm-o Hâl-râ

1760 nâZir-é qalb-ém agar khâshi` bow-ad
gar-che goft-é lafZ nâ-khâZi` bow-ad

z-ân-ke del jawhar bow-ad, goftan `araZ
pas Tufayl âmad `araZ, jawhar gharaZ

chand az-în alfâZ-o iZmâr-o majâz
sôz khwâh-am sôz, bâ ân sôz sâz

âteshê az `ishq dar jân bar forôz
sar ba-sar fikr-o `ibârat-râ be-sôz

1764 mûsiy-â âdâb-dânân dîgar-and
sôkhta-jân-o rawân-ân dîgar-and

(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)