Moses and Pharaoh (part two)

Mathnawi IV: 2366-2383

2366 (Moses said to Pharaoh): "Certainly, you bear suspicion
toward me because you are flying on the wings of (worldly)

"Anyone whose actions are (like those of) domesticated or
wild animals has bad opinions about those who are noble.

"(And) since you are part of the world, however you are,2
you view everything as (having) the same quality as yourself.3

"If you spin around, and your head spins around, your sight
will see the house (as) spinning.

2370 "And if you travel in a boat riding on the sea, you will view
the shore of the see (as) running (by).

"If you are distressed of heart because of (being in) a
bloody battle, you will view all the world (as) distressed and

"And if you are happy as wished by (your) friends, this world
will appear to you like a rose garden.

"Oh, how often has someone gone to Syria and Iraq (and)
hasn't seen anything except denial (of religion) and hypocrisy.5

"And how often has someone gone to India and Herat,6 (and)
hasn't seen (anything) but selling and buying.

2375 "And how often has someone gone to Turkestan7 and China,
(and) hasn't seen anything except trickery and ambush?

"Since he has no understanding except (by means of worldly)
colors and smells, tell (him) to search all the regions (of the

"If a cow suddenly comes into Baghdad (and) passes from this
end to that end (of the city),

"She won't notice (anything) but a watermelon rind out of
all the pleasures, delights, and flavors (therein).

"(And if) grass or hay has fallen onto the road, it is fit
for her cow or donkey manner of traveling.9

2380 "His soul (will) never grow (if it hangs) dry on the nail of
(his animal) nature like stripped meat, bound to causes.10

"But that spacious place11 torn (free) from (worldly) causes
and accidents is "God's earth,"12 O excellent chief.

"Every moment it is changing like a picture. The soul sees an
ever-new world in manifestation.13

2383 "(But) even if it is Paradise and Heavenly rivers, it will
become ugly [in when (it appears) frozen (into only) one aspect."14

--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" (,11/30/00

Notes on the text, with line number:

1. (2366) the wings of (worldly) craving: Nicholson translated,
"Since thou art soaring on the wings of sensuality." "(It means),
'Since you... have become enamoured of selfish desires [hawây-é
nafs]....' It means, 'A person (such as you who) is a plotting
trickster and inclined to magicians will bear suspicion to me-- as
also (being) a magician and a trickster in opposition to you.'"
(Translated here from a Persian translation of Anqaravi's famous
17th century Turkish commentary on the Mathnawi)

2. (2368) however you are: "'in whatsoever state of mind thou art'. Fa
[= Anqaravi] translates the second hemistiche: 'thou deemest all
(the world) to be astray in thine own fashion'; but this misses the
point. The victim of illusion does not perceive that all appearances
are illusory." (Nicholson, Commentary)

3. (2368) you view everything as (having) the same quality as
yourself: Nicholson translated, "thou deemest all to be of the same
description as thyself, misguided man." He read the last word as
"ghawî," which means "led astray," "seduced." However, he noted
(in his text) that this word was altered in the earliest manuscript of
the Mathnawi-- which has "sawî" (meaning "the same," "equal")
written above it as a correction. And Nicholson commented: "The
reading sawí, 'on a par with', 'uniform with', makes good sense."
(Commentary) However, he did not suggest a correction of his
translation. "(It means), 'You also view everything wrongly,
according to the same quality as yourself. And you have no power
to see rightly and truly.'" (Anqaravi, Commentary)

4. (2371) distressed and disturbed.: Nicholson translated, "If thou art
narrow (oppressed)... thou deemest the whole atmosphere of the
world to be narrow."

5. (2373) denial (of religion) and hypocrisy: these are Qur'anic terms,
which mean denial, rejection, and disbelief in God and pretending
to be a faithful and believing Muslim when one is not. "Because
you yourselves are among the people of denial and hypocrisy.
Therefore, wherever you travel, you won't see anything except
denial and hypocrisy." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

6. (2374) Herat: a city located presently in western Afghanistan.
Nicholson translated, "India and Hirá." And his text has "Hirà"
rhyming with "shirà" (buying).

7. (2375) Turkestan: the Turkish-speaking areas of Central Asia,
presently located in the countries of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan,
Kazakstan, Kyrgistan, as well as Chechneya, Daghistan in the
Caucasus and Uiguristan in western China.

8. (2376) tell (him) to search all the regions (of the world): Nicholson
translated, "let him seek (through) all the climes, (he will see
nothing spiritual)." "Haven't they travelled the earth, so that their
hearts might understand [== the ancient view that thinking occurs
in the heart] and (their) ears might hear? Truly, (their) eyes are not
blind, but (it is their) hearts in (their) chests (which) are blind."
(Qur'an 22:46) "It means, Tell that person who is a traveller: 'If
you wander all the regions (of the world), you will not gain
anything other than (worldly) colors and smells. You will not
experience essential spiritual matters.'" (Anqaravi, Commentary)

9. (2379) it is fit for her cow or donkey manner of traveling:
Nicholson translated, "(it is) suitable to his (such a one's) bovine or
asinine disposition." And he explained: "literally, 'it is (food)
suitable for his bovine or asinine way of talking a walk and seeing
things'." (Commentary) "Likewise, whenever a man of bovine
temperament or donkey nature travels to a city he will never have
any inclination except for sensual (and greedy) eating and bodily
pleasures." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

10. (2380) bound to causes: Nicholson translated, "(Hanging) dry on
the nail of (his bestial) nature, like strips of meat (exposed to the
sun), his spirit, bound with (the cords of) secondary causes does
not grow."

11. (2381) that spacious place: "(It means)... arrival to that
spaciousness of the world of Reality [`âlam-é Haqîqat] by means
of abandoning and tearing away (worldly) causes and means-- just
as 'God's earth is spacious.'" (Anqaravi, Commentary)

12. (2381) God's earth: Nicholson translated, "But the spacious realm
where means and causes are torn to shreds (transcended) is 'the
earth of God'...." The latter phrase is quoted from the Qur'an:
"God's earth is spacious. Truly those who persevere with patience
will receive a reward without measure." (39:10) Nicholson
explained: "i.e. 'let them emigrate, if necessary, for the sake of
obtaining liberty to practise their religion'. So must the mystic fly
to 'God's earth', i.e. the infinite realm of Divine Unity and
Transcendence." (Commentary) "Just like the spacious earth of
God which the Prophets-- peace be upon them, and the noble saints
travelled the plains (of). They had abandoned (worldly) causes and
means, arrived to that sacred earth, and had witnessed its miracles
and wonders. (This is) the inner meaning of the noble verse: 'And
God's earth is spacious.'" (Anqaravi, Commentary)

13. (2382) an ever-new world in manifestation: Nicholson translated,
"It is ever changing, like a (fleeting) picture: the spirit beholds in
clairvoyance a world (appearing) anew and anew." And he
explained: "God is revealed in all His infinite variety of aspects
and manifestations (tajalliyát) to the mystic who has entered the
spiritual world and experienced 'a new creation' (khalq jadíd).
(Commentary) The latter phrase is from the Qur'an, where God
speaks in the "majestic plural": "Were We weary with the first
creation? Yet they are in doubt about a new creation?" (50:15) "In
the Qur'án the 'new creation' refers to the resurrection of the body
at the Last Judgement, but here the words are used to describe the
creation of new life in the mystic's heart..." "The world has only
the semblance of duration; in truth all phenomena are annihilated
and re-created at every moment by the eternal manifestation of
Divine energy." (Nicholson, Commentary) "Just as... you gain one
kind of pleasure from each (piece of) fruit which you ate once.
And if you eat from it again, you will find a different enjoyment
than the first pleasure." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

14. (2383) frozen (into only) one aspect: Nicholson translated,
"(Everything), though it be Paradise and the rivers of Eden,
becomes ugly when it is congealed (fixed permanently) in one
aspect." "But if (the soul) becomes aware of the world of Reality
and gains a portion of spiritual food, illuminations, and Divine
delights, this natural world will appear to its eyes as old and
frozen." (Anqaravi, Commentary)


2366 chûn tô bâ parr-é hawâ bar mê-par-î
lâ-jaram bar man gomân ân mê-bar-î

har ke-râ af`âl-é dâm-o dad bow-ad
bar karîm-ân-ash gomân-é bad bow-ad

chûn tô juzw-é `âlam-î har chûn bow-î
kull-râ bar waSf-é khwad bîn-î sawî

gar tô bar-gard-î-wo bar-gard-ad sar-at
khâna-râ gardanda bîn-ad manZar-at

2370 w-ar tô dar kashtî raw-î bar yam rawân
sâHil-é yam-râ hamê bîn-î dawân

gar tô bâsh-î tang-é del az malHama
tang bîn-î jumla dunyâ-râ hama

w-ar tô khwash bâsh-î ba-kâm-é dôst-ân
în jahân be-n'mây-ad-at chûn gol-estân

ay basâ kas rafta tâ shâm-o `irâq
ô na-dîda hêch joz kufr-o nifâq

way basâ kas rafta tâ hend-o harî
ô na-dîda joz magar bay`-o sharî

2375 way basâ kas rafta torkestân-o chîn
ô na-dîda hêch joz makr-o kamîn

chûn na-dâr-ad madraké joz rang-o bô
jumla-yé aqlîm-hâ-râ gô be-jô

gâw dar baghdâd ây-ad nâgahân
be-g'Zar-ad ô z-în sar-ân tâ ân sar-ân

az hama `aysh-o khwashî-hâ-wo maza
ô na-bîn-ad joz ke qishr-é kharboza

kah bow-ad oftâda bar rah yâ Hashîsh
lâyiq-é sayrân-é gâwî yâ kharî-sh

2380 khoshk bar mêkh-é Tabî`at chûn qadîd
basta-yé asbâb jân-ash lâ-yazîd

w-ân faZây-é kharq-é asbâb-o `ilal
hast arZu 'llâh, ay Sadr-é ajal

har zamân mubdal shaw-ad chûn naqsh jân
naw ba-naw bîn-ad jahânê dar `ayân

2383 gar bow-ad fardûs-o anhâr-é behesht
chûn fasorda-yé yak Sifat shod, gasht zesht

(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)