The Greatness of the Soul of the Saint (part two)

Mathnawi II: 3398-3423

The rest of the story of the stranger who vented blame
against the (spiritual) Master

3398 That vile man was speaking vain nonsense about the
(spiritual) Master. The distorted-viewing mind is always
seeing crookedly.1

(He was) saying, "I saw him among a (shameful) gathering
(of people). He is one (who is) stripped and bankrupt of
pious fear of God.2

3400 "And if there is no acceptance (of this) on your part,
get up (these) nights (and go), so that you may clearly see
the immorality of your master."

(During) the night he brought him to the side of a
window. He said, "Observe the immoral and pleasure
(-seeking) behavior!

"Observe the hypocrisy (during) the daytime and the
immorality at night! (During) the day (he is) like Muhammad,
(but like the Prophet's enemy) Bu Lahab3 at night.

"He has been named God's servant4 (during) daytime. (But
at) night-- (and) we seek refuge in God (from this)-- (there
is) a wine cup in (his) hand!"

(The disciple) saw a glass in the hand of that
(spiritual) Master (which was) full. He said, "O Master, is
there a (diseased) tumor on the neck5 even in your case?

3405 "Didn't you say 'The Devil pisses into the wine cup
sooner or later'?6

(The Master) said, "They have made my goblet so full
that a single wild rue seed can't be contained in it.7

"Look here! There's no room for an (extra) mote. Some
deceived person has heard (about) this situation wrongly."8

This is not (about)9 the external goblet or the outward
wine. Consider this (outward appearance to be) far from the
(spiritual) master (capable of) perceiving the Invisible

O fool! The "goblet of wine" is the (spiritual) being of
the master, within which the urine of the Devil can't find
(any) room.11

3410 He is filled and overflowing with the Light of God
(and) has broken the goblet of the body. He is Pure Light.12

If the light of the sun falls upon excrement, it is (still) the
same light;13 it doesn't receive (any) impurity
(from it).

The Master said, "This is itself not a goblet and not
wine. Take care, O unbeliever! Come down (and) look at it!"

(The accuser) came and saw (that) it was pure honey.14
That miserable enemy became blind.15

(In) that moment, the Master told his disciple, "Go
(and) seek wine for me, O hero!

3415 "Since I have such a suffering (and) have become
afflicted by necessity. I have passed beyond extreme

"In (times of) necessity, any carcass is "pure" (and
lawful to eat)17-- may dust (full) of curses be upon the head
of the denier (of this)!"18

The disciple went around the taverns (and) tasted from
every (wine) jar for the Master.

(But) he didn't find wine in all the taverns: the wine
jars had become full of honey.

He said, "O drunkards! What is this situation? What (is)
the matter? I'm not finding wine in any jar."

3420 All the drunkards came to the Master, (they were)
weepy-eyed (and) were beating on (their) heads (with their)

(They said), "(O) most excellent Master, you came into
the tavern (and) all the wines became honey because of your

"You have transformed the wine from being filthy.19
Transform our souls also from being impure!"

3423 Even if the (entire) world (were to be) full (and)
overflowing with blood, the servant of God would never
consume (anything) except (what is) lawful.20

--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" (, 2/8/02

Notes on the text, with line number:

1. (3398) The distorted-viewing mind is always seeing
crookedly: Nicholson translated, "the squinting (envious)
man is always of distorted understanding." He later
corrected his translation, based on the earliest manuscript
of the Mathnawi, to "the perverted intellect is always
squinting (envious)." "(It means),'The careless and foolish
mind of man is always seeing crookedly and understanding
crookedly.'" (Anqaravi, the 17th century Turkish
commentator, translated here into English from a Persian

2. (3399) stripped and bankrupt of pious fear of God
[taqwà]: means lacking in the reverential awe of God's
Majesty and pious dread of God's Justice that strengthens a
religious person's ability to lead a righteous and, in the
case of a sufi master of saintly reputation, holy life.

3. (3402) like the Prophet's enemy) Bu Lahab: Abu Lahab
(literally, "Father of Flame") was the nickname given to one
of the Prophet Muhammad's worst and most dangerous pagan

4. (3403) He has been named God's servant [`abdu 'llâh]:
means one who is the surrendered slave of God, a Muslim
(literally, "surrenderer) who is obedient to God's Will.

5. (3404) a (diseased) tumor on the neck: "'tumor',
'goitre', and metaphorically 'malady', 'vice'. See IV 3107."
(Nicholson, Commentary)

6. (3405) Didn't you say, 'The Devil pisses into the wine
cup sooner or later: This line was translated by Nicholson
into Latin. He commented: "i.e. quickly, yet deliberately
and with the determination to achieve his object..."

7. (3406) so full that a single wild rue seed can't be
contained in it: means that the Master's cup is protected
from being "poisoned" by any addition of the "Devil's

8. (3407) has heard these words (of mine) wrongly:
Nicholson translated less literally, "has wrongly
apprehended this matter."

9. (3408) This is not (about): Rumi comments here.

10. (3408) the Invisible (world) [ghayb]: means the
non-physical world, where the hidden realities of all things
can be seen by those given the gift of such vision by God,
as well as the dimension where spirits, angels, etc. dwell.

11. (3409) within which the urine of the Devil cannot find
room: these words were translated by Nicholson into Latin.

12. (3410) He is Pure Light: "The master [shaykh] broke the
cup of his (worldly) existence by erasing and annihilating
(it). Therefore he became the essence of pure Light. The cup
of the master's existence had become so subtle and rarefied
that he had become the wine of absolute Light." (Anqaravi,

13. (3411) If the light of the sun falls upon excrement, it
is (still) the same light: Nicholson referred to similar
lines in the Mathnawi: "Cf. V 1258 sqq. and vv. 3343-3344
supra" [= Book II]. (Commentary)

14. (3413) (The accuser) came and saw (that) it was pure
honey: Nicholson referred here to a similar line in the
Mathnawi: II: 3569-72. (Commentary)

15. (3413) became blind: Nicholson translated, "became
blind (with shame and confusion)."

16. (3415) I have passed beyond extreme hunger: Nicholson
translated, "beyond starvation." And he explained:
"Literally, 'the condition of one whose stomach is empty.'"
(Footnote) In the case of starvation, Islamic law allows one
to eat forbidden food in order to survive, such as the meat
of a carcass or pig. Likewise, if one was in a state of
extreme thirst and in danger of dying and the only liquid
available was wine, it would be allowed.

"It means, 'I'm going to faint from extreme agony.'"
(Anqaravi, Commentary)

17. (3416) In (times of) necessity, any carcass is "pure"
(and lawful to eat): "Qur. XVI 116: "He hath made unlawful
to you only carrion and blood and swine-flesh and that which
hath been slaughtered in the name of any other than Allah
but whosoever is driven (to eat thereof), neither craving
nor (willfully) transgressing. lo, then Allah is forgiving
and merciful.'" (Nicholson, Commentary)

18. (3416) may dust (full) of curses be upon the head of the
denier (of this): "(It means), "May dust (full) of curses be
upon the head of the one who is unaware of (what) Islamic
Law [sharî`at] (states about this).'" (Anqaravi, Commentary)

19. (3422) You have transformed the wine from being filthy:
means from having an Islamic legal status as an "unclean"
beverage, since the drinking of wine is forbidden in Islam
and judged as sinful.

20. (3423) he servant of God would never consume (anything)
except (what is) lawful: Rumi comments here at the end of
the story, asserting that the true saint is protected by God
from eating or drinking anything forbidden as sinful in
Islam. Nicholson interprets the "servant of God [banda-yé
khodâ] to mean the "Perfect Man" (a term used in the sufi
philosophy of Ibnu 'l-`Arabi, died 1240). He referred to his
commentary on this term in I: 423, as one who "serves none
other than God and loses himself in the Object of his
devotion." And he referred to what he said on I: 1936:
"According to Kásháni (Istiláhát, 91), it [= the Arabic
name, `abdu 'llâh, "the servant of God"] is properly applied
to none but Mohammed (to whom God has applied it:
Qur. LXXII 19), and to the heads of the Súfí hierarchy
(Aqtáb) as his spiritual heirs." (Commentary)


baqiyya-yé qiSSa-yé Ta`na-zadan-é ân mard-é bêgâna dar

3398 ân khabîS az shaykh mê-lâyîd zhâzh
kazh-negar bâsh-ad hamêsha `aql-é kâzh

ke man-ash dîd-am meyân-é majlisê
ô ze-taqwà `âriy-ast-o muflisê

3400 w-ar ke bâwar nêst-at khêz embshab-ân
tâ be-bîn-î fisq-é shaykh-at-râ `ayân

shab be-bord-ash bar sar-é yak rôzanê
goft be-n'gar fisq-o `ishrat-kardanî

be-n'gar ân sâlûs-é rôz-o fisq-é shab
rôz ham-chûn muSTafà, shab bû lahab

rôz `abdu 'llâh ô-râ gashta nâm
shab na`ûZu bi-'llâh-o dar dast jâm

dîd shêsha dar kaf-é ân pîr por
goft shaykh-â mar to-râ ham hast ghor

3405 tô na-mê-goft-î ke dar jâm-é sharâb
dêw may mê-zad shetâbân-nâ-shetâb

goft jâm-am-râ chon-ân por karda-and
k-ândar-ô andar na-gonj-ad yak sepand

be-n'gar în-jâ hêch gonj-ad Zarra'ê?
în sokhon-râ kazh shenîda ghirra'ê

jâm-é Zâhir khamr-é Zâhir nêst în
dûr dâr în-râ ze-shaykh-é ghayb-bîn

jâm-é may hastîy-é shaykh-ast ay felêw
k-andar-ô andar na-gonj-ad bawl-é dêw

3410 porr-o mâl-â-mâl az nûr-é Haq-ast
jâm-é tan be-sh'kast, nûr-é muTlaq-ast

nûr-é khworshêd ar be-y-oft-ad bar HadaS
ô ham-ân nûr-ast, na-paZîr-ad khabaS

shaykh goft în khwad na jâm-ast-o na may
hîn ba-zêr â munkir-â be-n'gar ba-way

âmad-o dîd angabîn-é khâS bûd
kôr shod ân doshman-é kôr-o kabûd

goft pîr ân dam murîd-é khwêsh-râ
raw barây-é man be-jô may ay keyâ

3415 ke ma-râ ranjê-st, muZTar gashta-am
man ze-ranj az makhmaSa be-g'Zashta-am

dar Zurûrat hast har mordâr pâk
bar sar-é munkir ze-la`nat bâd khâk

gerd-é khum-khâna bar-âmad ân murîd
bahr-é shaykh az har khumê ô mê-chashîd

dar hama khum-khâna-hâ ô may na-dîd
gashta bod por az `asal khumm-é nabîd

goft ay rend-ân che Hâl-ast în, che kâr?
hêch khummê dar na-mê-bîn-am `uqâr

3420 jumla-yé rend-ân nazd-é ân shaykh âmad-and
chashm-geryân dast bar sar mê-zad-and

dar kharâbât âmad-î shaykh-é ajal
jumla may-hâ az qudûm-at shod `asal

karda-î mubdal tô may-râ az HadaS
jân-é mâ-râ ham badal kon az khabaS

3423 gar shaw-ad `âlam por az khûn mâl-mâl
kay khwor-ad banda-yé khôd illâ Halâl?

(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)