Pharoaoh and His Wife's Advice (part one)

Mathnawi IV: 2595-2625

2595 In this manner, Moses was mentioning (to Pharaoh)1 the
(Divine) favor [he would receive from accepting true faith],
saying, "The pure (wine) of your good-fortune will [then] not
change to dregs."

(Pharaoh) replied, "You've done well and you've spoken well, but
(wait) so that I may consult with a good friend.

The consulting of Pharaoh with (his wife) Asiya2 about accepting
faith (in God) with Moses

He repeated these words to Asiya, (and) she said, "Scatter (your)
soul upon this (opportunity),3 O black-hearted one,

"(For) there are so many kind favors in the background of these
words (of Moses).4 Perceive (it) quickly, O king of good

"The time for planting has come. (And) what a planting full of
benefit and gain!" She said this, wept, and became ardently

2600 (Then) she jumped up from (her) place and said, "May
greatness be yours! O mere bald man, a sun has become your

"A cap will cover the disgrace of the bald man-- especially if the
cap is the sun and the moon.

"Also, when you heard these (words of Moses) in that gathering,
why didn't you say, 'Yes!' and (offer) a hundred approvals and

"If these words had gone into the ear of the sun, it would have
descended upside-down in hope of this (opportunity).8

"Don't you know anything (about) what the promise is and the gift?
(It is as if) God is inquiring kindly about Satan!9

2605 "When that Generous One called you back with such
kindness, how did your heart remain in (its) place?19 How strange!

"(And how) was your heart not torn,11 so that there would have
been a (full) share (of blessings) for you in both this world and the
next because of your (torn) heart?

"A heart which is torn up from (desiring) a share of (the
blessings of) God enjoys the fruits of this world and the next, like
the martyrs.12

"There is also (a certain) wisdom13 (in this) negligence and this
blindness (toward the Divine), so that one may endure (in this
world)14 -- but why to this extent?

"(And) there is (a certain) wisdom and blessing (in) negligence
(toward the Divine), so that assets may not suddenly fly from
(one's) hand15--

2610 "Yet not so much (negligence) that it becomes a festering
wound16 (and) becomes poison for the soul and mind of one who is
(already) sick.17

"But who can find such markets as this, where you may buy an
(entire) rose garden with a single rose?18

"(And where you may buy) a hundred groves of trees in exchange
for a (single) seed? (Or where) a hundred mines (of gold) may
come to you in exchange for a (single) particle?

"The giving of (that) particle is (the first part of the saying),
'(Whoever) belongs to God'-- so that (the second part of) 'God
belongs to him' may be obtained.

"Because this weak and impermanent (human) he-ness became
existent from the permanent He-ness of the Lord.

2615 "(But) when the transient he-ness has (completely) submits
itself to Him, it becomes lasting forever and never dies.21

"Just like a drop (of water which is) fearful of wind and soil--
since it may become annihilated and destroyed by both of these--

"When it has jumped into the ocean, which was its source, it
escaped from the corrupting (influence) of the sun, wind, and

"(Then) its outwardness has become lost in the ocean, but its
essence (remains) protected, permanent, and good.23

"Hurry, O drop! Give yourself (away) without regret, so that you
may win the ocean for the price of a (single) drop.

2620 "Hurry, O drop! Give yourself this noble dignity: in the
hands of the Ocean become safe24 from perishing.

"But who should come into possession of such good-fortune? (For)
an ocean has become the urgent solicitor for a drop.

"For God's sake, quickly sell and buy! Give (away) a drop (and)
win an ocean full of pearls.

"For God's sake, don't make any delay, because these words (of
Moses) came from the Ocean of Kindness.

"(Ordinary) kindness becomes confused and lost in this (Divine)
Kindness25-- that something most lowly26 might go upon the
Seventh Heaven.27

2625 "Hurry, since an amazing falcon has fallen (as a gift) to you;
no seeker will find (one such as) this in (his) search."

--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" (,7/12/01

Notes on the text, with line number:

1. (2595) Moses was mentioning to Pharaoh: refers to the main story,
in which Moses explained to Pharaoh that the door to repentance is
always open, and about the excellent rewards he could receive
from God by becoming a true believer.

2. (2596) (his wife) Asiya: according to Islam, the three women
possessed of perfect faith and virtue were Mary, the mother of
Jesus; FâTima, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad; and âsiya,
the wife of Pharaoh. Pharaoh's wife is mentioned twice in the
Qur'an, very favorably: "And God made the wife of Pharaoh as an
example of those who believe.... And (also) Mary..." (66:11-12;
see also 28:9). "Asiyah, the wife of Pharaoh.... is not mentioned by
name in the Qur'an, though reference is made to here in two
passages, which depict here as an Israelite, true to her faith and
praying for deliverance from her husband and all his works."
(Nicholson, Commentary)

3. (2597) Scatter (your) soul upon this (opportunity): Nicholson
translated, "Offer up thy soul to this..." And he explained:
"Literally, 'strew thy soul (as an offering) upon this.'" (Footnote)

4. (2598) in the background of these words (of Moses): Nicholson
translated, "At the back of this speech (of Moses)." And he
explained: "i.e. 'hidden beneath.'" (Footnote) "The word 'matn' [=
background] has the meaning of 'capacity' and 'room.' And the
intended meaning [here] is the sense of the back (part) of the
words." (Anqaravi, the famous 17th century Turkish commentator,
translated here into English from a Persian translation)

5. (2598) O king of good qualities: "This epithet makes a flattering
appeal to Pharaoh's better self." (Nicholson, Commentary)

6. (2599) ardently inflamed: Nicholson translated, "hot (in urging

7. (2600) a sun has become your crown: "i.e. 'the glorious crown of
Faith, which Moses offers you, will cover your multitude of sins.'"
(Nicholson, Commentary)

8. (2603) it would have descended upside-down in hope of this
(opportunity): "It means), 'If it had understood, it would have
descended from its (high) rank and become a disciple and servant
of that holy man.'" (Anqaravi, Commentary)

9. (2604) (It is as if) God is inquiring kindly [iftiqâd] about Satan:
Nicholson translated, "God is showing solicitude [= the state of
being concerned] for Iblís" [= a name of Satan]. And he explained:
"In the second hemistich it is implied that Pharaoh represents the
Devil." (Commentary) "(It means), 'The invitation of Moses-- upon
whom be peace-- to you (when he said), "O Pharaoh" to obedience
and worship (of God) is just as if God Most High were to call to
Satan out of compassion and kindness.'"

10. (2605) how did your heart remain in (its) place: literally, "how did
your gall bladder remain in place?" Nicholson translated, "how thy
heart remained unmoved." (It means), 'How amazing that your gall
bladder and your soul remained intact.'" (Anqaravi, Commentary)

11. (2606) (And how) was your heart not torn: "(It means), '(How) did
your gall bladder not burst...?'" (Anqaravi)

12. (2607) like the martyrs: a reference to the verse, "And those who
have forsaken their homes in the path of (serving) God, then are
killed or die, God will provide them with an excellent provision."
(Qur'an 22:58)

13. (2608) There is also (a certain) wisdom: "Worldliness has its uses:
one cannot always be contemplating God, but why ignore Him
entirely?" (Nicholson, Commentary) Nicholson referred to
Mathnawi I:2066-70, which he translated," Forgetfulness (of God),
O beloved, is the pillar (prop) of this world: (spiritual) intelligence
is a bane to this world. Intelligence belongs to that (other) world,
and when it prevails, this world is overthrown.... If the trickle from
the Unseen should become greater, in this world neither virtue nor
vice will be left."

14. (2608) so that one may endure (in this world): Nicholson
translated, "True, (this) heedlessness and this blindness is (a
manifestation of) Divine Wisdom, in order that he (the heedless
man) may endure..." "(It means), 'Being forgetful of God and being
blind in some manner to the real state is the substance of wisdom
and utter prudence for this sake: that human existence may
continue to remain for some moments [in certain situations] during
the effects of moderate inattentiveness...'" (Anqaravi,

15. (2609) so that assets may not suddenly fly from (one's) hand:
Nicholson translated, "True, heedlessness is (a manifestation of)
Divine Wisdom and Bounty, in order that (his) stock-in-trade may
not suddenly fly out of (his) hand." And he explained: "i.e.
existence (wujúd) regarded as capital without which the acquisition
of spiritual perfection (kasb-i kamál) would be impossible."
(Commentary) "(It means), 'So that the supply of right guidance
may not immediately fly from your hand.'" (Anqaravi,

16. (2610) a festering wound: Nicholson translated, "an incurable
sore." Anqaravi interpreted: "becomes unreceptive to healing."

17. (2610) one who is (already) sick: "i.e. one already suffering from
ghaflat [= negligence, heedlessness]." (Nicholson, Commentary)

18. (2611) where you may buy an (entire) rose garden with a single
rose: Nicholson referred here to Mathnawi I: 2709, which he
translated, "... by the grace of 'God hath purchased (from the
believers their lives and wealth in return for Paradise).'" [= Qur'an
9:111] And he commented: "...the price to be paid for union with
God is world-abandonment and self-sacrifice." (Commentary)
"The intended meaning is attesting and uttering the 'words of
witnessing' [= that there is no divinity but God and Moses-- in the
time of Pharaoh-- is His messenger], for this is price of the rose
garden of Paradise." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

19. (2613) (Whoever) belongs to God: a saying of the Prophet
Muhammad. Nicholson referred to his comments on Mathnawi I:
1939: "The mystical interpretation of the hadíth man kána lilláhi
kána 'llâhu lahu [= Whoever belongs to God, God belongs to him]
is that he who gives himself up entirely to God in faná [= passing
away of self] is united with Him in baqá [= everlastingness]."

20. (2614) became existent from the permanent He-ness of the Lord:
"In the view of the people of verification [= the sufis] the Divine
He-ness [huwiyyat] is flowing within everything. And the
existence of every person is continuing by means of the Divine
Being. And the Everlastingness of God is the maintainer of the
continuance and existence of every existent thing." (Anqaravi,

21. (2615) it becomes lasting forever and never dies: "Our huwiyyah
[= he-ness] is only a fleeting reflexion, a finite mode of the infinite,
all-pervading Divine Huwiyyah: by dying to our individual selves
we find the Universal Self which is the essence and source of our
being." (Nicholson, Commentary) "Because the one who has
become lasting with God, and his heart and spirit have been made
living through Divine Love [`ishq-é ilâhî], will never die."
(Anqaravi, Commentary)

22. (2617) it has escaped from the corrupting (influence) of the sun,
wind, and earth: "Faná fi'lláh [= annihilation of self in God]
secures the spirit against corruption by hawá-yi nafsání [= egoistic
cravings] and khák-i jismání [= bodily dirt]." (Nicholson,

23. (2618) its essence (remains) protected, permanent, and good: "If
someone, by means of his will and choice, becomes liberated from
the level of 'wind' and 'earth' and returns to the ocean of Reality--
which is his origin-- that moment he will become freed from the
burning and severity of the sun of Truth [khworshêd-é Haqîqat],
from the attracting and absorbing (power) of egotistical cravings,
and from harm. Then he will perceive the rank of those people, in
regard to the reality of whose (situation) it has been said, 'No fear
will be upon them, nor shall they grieve' [= Qur'an 10: 62]."
(Anqaravi, Commentary)

24. (2620) safe [âmin]: this is the term here, according to Dr. Tawfîq
Subhânî's edition of the earliest text of the Mathnawi. However,
Nicholson's text, based on the same has it spelled differently

25. (2624) (Ordinary) kindness becomes confused and lost in this
(Divine) Kindness: Nicholson translated, "(All other) grace is lost
(vanishes away) in (comparison with) this grace..."

26. (2624) something most lowly: Nicholson translated, "one of the

27. (2624) the Seventh Heaven: the heaven, or orbit, ruled by Saturn,
considered the highest of the seven heavenly spherical zones.
"Therefore, if a person becomes the follower of a Prophet of God
and acknowledges his (spiritual) perfection, the rank of such a
person will be higher than the Seventh Heaven." (Anqaravi,


2595 ham-chon-în mûsà karâmat mê-shomord
ke na-gard-ad Sâf-é iqbâl-é tô dord

goft aHsant-o nekô goft-î wa-lêk
tâ kon-am man mashwarat bâ yâr-é nêk

mashwarat kardan fir`awn bâ aysiya dar îmân âwardan
ba-mûsà-- `alay-hi 's-salâm

bâz goft ô în sokhon bâ aysiya
goft jân-afshân bar-în ay del-seya

bas `inâyat-hâ-st matn-é în maqâl
zûd dar-yâb ay shah-é nêk-khiSâl

waqt-é kasht âmad, zehî por sûd kasht
în be-goft-o gerya kard-o garm gasht

2600 bar jahîd az jâ-wo goftâ bakhkha la-k
âftâbê tâj gasht-at ay kalak

`ayb-é kal-râ khwad be-pôshân-ad kolâh
khâSa chûn bâsh-ad kolah khworshêd-o mâh

ham dar ân majlis ke be-sh'nîd-î tô în
chûn na-goft-î ârî-wo Sad âferîn?

în sokhon dar gôsh-é khworshêd ar shody
sar-negûn bar bôy-é în zêr âmady

hêch mê-dân-î che wa`da-st-o che dâd
mê-kon-ad iblîs-râ Haqq iftiqâd?

2605: chûn ba-d-în luTf ân karîm-at bâz khwând
ay `ajab chûn zahra-at bar jây mând?

zahra-at na-d'rîd tâ z-ân zahra-at
bûdy andar har dô `âlam bahra-at

zahra-yê k-az bahra-yé Haq bar der-ad
chûn shahîd-ân az dô `âlam bar khwor-ad

ghâfilî ham Hikmat-ast-o în `amà
tâ be-mân-ad lêk tâ în Had cherâ?

ghâfilî ham Hikmat-ast-o ni`mat-ast
tâ na-parr-ad zûd sarmâya ze-dast

2610 lêk ney chand-ân-ke nâsûrê shaw-ad
zahr-é jân-o `aql-é ranjûrê shaw-ad

khwad ke yâb-ad în chon-în bâzâr-râ
ke ba-yak gol mê-khar-î golzâr-râ

dâna'yê-râ Sad derakht-estân `awaZ
Habba'yê-râ âmad-at Sad kân `awaZ

kâna li-llâh dâdan-é ân Habba-ast
tâ ke kâna 'llâhu la-h ây-ad ba-dast

z-ân-ke în hûy-é Za`îf-é bê-qarâr
hast shod z-ân hûy-é rabb-é pâydâr

2615 hûy-é fânî chûn-ke khwad fâ ô sepord
gasht bâqî dâyim-o hargez na-mord

ham-chô qaTra-yé khâyif az bâd-o ze-khâk
ke fanâ gard-ad ba-d-în har dô halâk

chûn ba-aSl-é khwad ke daryâ bûd jast
az taf-é khworshêd-o bâd-o khâk rast

Zâhir-ash gom gasht dar daryâ wa-lêk
Zât-é ô ma`Sûm-o pâ-bar-jâ wa nêk

hîn be-deh ay qaTra khwad-râ bê-nadam
tâ be-yâb-î dar bahây-é qaTra yam

2620 hîn be-deh ay qatra khwad-râ în sharaf
dar kaf-é daryâ shaw âmin az talaf

khwad ke-râ ây-ad chon-în dawlat ba-dast?
qaTra-râ bahrê taqâZâ-gar shod-ast

allâh allâh zûd be-f'rôsh-o be-khar
qaTra'yê deh, baHr-é por gawhar be-bar

allâh allâh hêch ta'khîrê ma-kon
ke ze-baHr-é luTf âmad în sokhon

luTf andar luTf-é în gom mê-shaw-ad
k-asfalê bar charkh-é haftom mê-shaw-ad

2625 hîn ke yak bâzê fotâd-at bû 'l-`ajab
hêch Tâlib în na-yâb-ad dar Talab

(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)