The Mouse and the Frog (part three)

Mathnawi VI: 2714-2725

The mouse plead with the frog, saying, "Don't consider
excuses, and don't start delaying the accomplishment of my
wsh. For, "There are misfortunes in procrastination" and,
"The sufi is the son of the (present) moment."1 And a
(young) son doesn't hold back (his) hand from (the hem of
his) father's robe. And the sufi's kind father-- who is the
(present) Moment-- doesn't make him needful in (regard to)
looking toward tomorrow. (Rather), unlike common people, he
keeps him so immersed in (observing) the garden of his quick
judgment of accounts.2 (The sufi) is not waiting for the
future. He is a (presently flowing) river not (involving)
time.3 For, "With God, there is no morning and no
evening"4-- there is no past, future, beginningless time, or
endless time5 there. (There), Adam is not before (in time)
or the Antichrist6 later (in time). Because these
conventions (of thought) are (within) the (narrow) limits of
the partial intellect7 and the animal soul.8 These
conventions are not (existent) in the world of No-Place and
No-Time.9 Therefore, he is the son of a particular (present)
moment, which is not to be understood as (something coming)
from it-- (but) only (as) the negation of the distinction of
(different) times. Similarly, (saying) "God is One"10 is
understood as the negation of any duality, not (as
communicating) the reality of (Divine) Oneness.

2714 A (wealthy) gentleman (known for) silver-scattering
(generosity) said to a sufi, "My soul is a carpet for your
(blessed) feet!11

2715 "O my king, do you wish for one silver coin today or
three silver coins tomorrow morning?"

"He anwered, "I am more content with half a silver coin
(received) yesterday than this (offer) today or (an offer
of) a hundred silver coins tomorrow."12

(The mouse said), "A slap of immediate payment is better
than a gift (which is) postponed. Now I have placed the back
of (my) neck in front of you,13 (so) give (me) the ready

"Especially (better is) the slap which is from your
hand, since the back of the neck as well as its slap are
(ecstatically) drunk with you.14

"Hurry! Come (forward), O soul of (my) soul and (soul
of) a hundred words! Happily take advantage of (offering)
the ready cash of this moment.15

2720 "Don't steal that face of (yours lovely as) the (full)
moon from night travelers. (And) don't draw your head from
[casting its reflection upon] this river,16 O flowing

"So that the river bank may smile because of the flowing
water18 (and so that) every bank of the river may raise up
jasmine flowers."

When you look at the river bank (full) of (ecstatically)
drunk vegetation, then you may know from a distance that
water exists there.

The Creator said, "Their marks (are upon their) faces"19
-- since the green meadow is the tale-bearer of the
(presence of) rain.

If it rains (at) night, no one ever sees (it) since
every person and breath20 is in (a deep) sleep.

2725 (Yet) the freshness of every lovely flower garden is
proof of the rain hidden (by the night).

--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" (, 11/8/01

Notes on the text, with line number:

1. (Heading) "The sufi is the son of the (present) moment":
Nicholson referred to his note on VI: 2406, "Here the
Moslem, speaking as a true Súfí, upholds immediate exerience
(waqt) [= (the present) time] against procrastination..."
And also to his note on I: 133, "The Súfí is 'the son of the
moment', i.e. subject to an dependent on the dominant state,
mood, or emotion of the 'moment.' Cf. III 1426 sqq., VI 2714

2. (Heading). The former passage describes one who has not yet
attained, the latter [= this very passage here] an adept who
lives in the eternal Now. Shiblí [= an early sufi, died 846]
said, 'A thousand past years multiplied by a thousand years
to come are present (naqd) to thee in this 'moment' (waqt)
in which thou art. Try not to be deceived by appearances.'"
And in regard to I: 132, he explained: "Waqt [= Time] is
used here in one of its technical senses, viz. the moment of
immediate experience of being under Divine control (tasríf),
and this moment is compared to a sharp sword because 'it
cuts the root of the future and the past and obliterates
care of yesterday and to-morrow from the heart' (Kashf, Eng.
369 [= Nicholson's translation of Hujwiri's
"Kashf-al-Mahjûb]), or because it comes irresistibly to
execute the Divine decree." (Nicholson, Commentary)

"The sufi, like a small child who doesn't remove (his)
hand from (the hem of) the robe of (his) father, he has
strongly grabbed on the (present) Moment and will never
remove his hand from (the present) Moment (and) will not
look at the past or the future. Since (his) father is (so)
loving-kind, the sufi has no need to be expectant towar
tomorrow." (Anqaravi, the 17th century Turkish commentator,
translated here into English from a Persian translation)

3. (Heading): in (observing) the garden of his quick
judgment of accounts: Nicholson translated, "in
(contemplation of) the garden of his (the father's) swift
(immediate) reckoning." And he added: "The phrase dar
gulzár-i sarí`u 'l-hisábi-yi khwísh [= the above] in
combination with nahrí [= a River] suggests that Rúmí may
have had in mind Qur. LIV 54-55: inna 'l-muttaqína fí
jannát-in wa-nahar-in fí maq`adi sidq-in `inda malík-in
muqtadir-in." [= Qur'an 54:34-35, "Truly, those who have
pious fear and awe (of God) will be among Gardens and Rivers
in the seat of Truth in the presence of an All-Powerful

4. (Heading) He is a (presently flowing) river not
(involving) time: "'River' symbolises the indivisible
continuity of the spiritual world, where all things
'co-exist in an eternal Now'."(Nicholson, Commentary)

5. (Heading) With God, there is no morning and no evening:
Nichoilson referred here to his note on I: 2201, "In the
higher planes of mystical experience all relations,
including those of time and space, are found to be unreal."

"It means, 'The sufi is a person who isn't looking to
the past or (expecing) the future, like the common people.
Instead, he is shining and holy and tranquil in nearness
to God. And there is no night or day, past or future time,
in nearness to God.'" (Anqaravi, Commentary)

6. (Heading) there is no... beginningless time, or endless
time [azal wa abad]: these are two technical terms used in
sufism. "Azal: that which has no beginning, but has an end.
Abad: it is said that it has a beginning but has no end."
(Anqaravi, Commentary)

7. (Heading) the Antichrist [dajjal]: According to sayings
[ahâdîth] attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, among the
signs of the coming of the Day of Judgment will be the
return of the Prophet Jesus (not Muhammad, interestingly).
Jesus (who was taken bodily into Heaven) will descend to
earth, kill the "one-eyed Antichrist," and die a natural

"On that level, there is no Adam preceding and no
Antichrist following. In other words, Adam (who was) the
father of humanity-- (may) the peace (of God) be upon
him--preceded all human beings. And the Antichrist, at the
end of time, will come at the moment of the overthrowing of
humanity [= on the Day of Resurrection of all who have died
since the first man]. But 'before' or 'afterward' have no
importance on that level-- for these are only the custom
within the realm of the partial intellect and the animal
soul." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

8. (Heading) the partial intellect [`aql-é juzw]: means the
limited mind of man, which is a particularization of the
Universal Intellect [`aql-é kull].

9. (Heading) the animal soul (rûH-é Haywânî): the base
emotions and desires which human beings share with animals,
such as gross greed, lust, and vioilent rage.

10. (Heading) "God is One" [allâhu wâhid-un]: this is not a
quote from the Qur'an, but is similar to the recurring
words, "For God is One God" [allâhu ilâh-un wâHid-un] (as in

11. (2714) My soul is a carpet for your (blessed) feet: "In
other words, 'My spirit is the carpet-path and way for you,
O my king.'" (Anqaravi, Commentary)

12. (2716) I am more content with half a silver coin
(received) yesterday than this (offer) today or (an offer
of) a hundred silver coins tomorrow: "The intended meaning:
That which has been given yesterday is more substantial cash
than someting promised." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

13. (2717) in front of you: Nicholson translated, "A slap
(given) in cash (immediately) is better than a donation
(paid) on credit (hereafter): lo, I put the nape of my neck
before thee..."

14. (2718) the back of the neck as well as its slap are
(ecstatically) drunk with you: "This is regarded as
metaphorical. It is attributed to the drunkenness of the
companions of a drunken person." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

15. (2719) Happily take advantage of (offering) the ready
cash of this moment: Nicholson translated, "gladly take the
oportunity of (seizing) the cash of this (present) moment.)

16. (2720) (And) don't draw (your head) from [casting its
reflection upon] this river: Nicholson translated, "do not
withdraw thyself from this river-bed..."
17. (2720) O flowing water (âb-é rawân): a pun with "night
travellers" [shab-raw-ân].

18. (2721) So that the river bank may smile because of the
flowing water: the image of "smiling" and "laughing" of
roses and other flowers symbolizes blossoming in Persian
literature. Nicholson translated, "in order that the
river-bank may laugh (may be made to blossom)..."

19. (2723) "Their marks (are upon their) faces": "Their
marks are upon their faces of the traces of (their)
prostrations." (Qur'an 48:29) Refers to skin changes on the
foreheads of those who prostrate often in humble prayer to
God. Nicholson pointed out two other lines from the Mathnawi
which refer to this verse: VI: 2565, V: 2082 (Commentary).

20. (2724) every person and breath [har nafs-o nafas]: a
word-play between "person" [nafs] and "breath" [nafas].


lâba-kardan-é mûsh mar chaghz-râ ke bahâna ma-y-andêsh wa
dar nasî'at ma-y-andâz injâH-é în Hâjat-é ma-râ ke "fî
't-ta'khîri âfât' "wa 'S-Sûfîyu ibnu 'l-waqt," wa ibn dast
az dâman-é pedar bâz na-dâr-ad wa ab-é mushfiq-é Sûfî ke
waqt-ast ô-râ ba-negaresh ba-fardâ muHtâj na-gardân-ad,
chandân-ash mustaghriq dâr-ad dar gol-zâr-é sarî`u
'l-Hisâbî-yé khwêsh na chûn `awâm, muntaZir-é mustaqbil
na-bâsh-ad, nahrê bâsh-ad na dahrî ke "lâ SabâH `inda 'llâhi
wa lâ masâ'", mâZî wa mustaqbil wa azal wa abad ân-jâ
na-bâsh-ad, âdam sâbiq wa dajjâl masbûq na-bâsh-ad ke în
rasûm dar KhaTT'a `aql-é juzwî-st wa rûH-é Haywânî, dar
`âlam-é lâ-makân wa lâ zamân în rasûm na-bâsh-ad pas ô ibn-é
waqtê-st ke lâ yufhamu min-hu illâ nafiyu tafriqati
'l-'azminat, chon-ân-ke az "allâhu wâHid-un" fahm shaw-ad
nafiy-é dô'iyê nay Haqîqat-é wâHidî

2714 Sûfiyê-râ goft khwâja-yé sîm-pâsh
ay qadam-hây-é to-râ jân-am firâsh

2715 yak diram khwâh-î tô emrôz, ay shah-am
yâ ke fardâ châsht-gâhî se diram?

goft dî nêm-é diram, râZî-tar-am
z-ân-ke emrôz în-o fardâ Sad diram

sîliy-é naqd az `aTây-é nisya beh
nak qafâ pêsh-at kashîd-am, naqd deh

khâSa ân sîlî ke az dast-é tow-ast
ke qafâ-wo sîliy-ash mast-é tow-ast

hîn be-y-â ay jân-é jân-wo Sad jahân
khwash ghanîmat dâr naqd-é în zamân

2720 dar ma-dozd ân rôy-é mah az shab-raw-ân
sar ma-kash z-în jôy, ay âb-é rawân

tâ lab-é jô khand-ad az âb-é ma`în
lab-lab-é jô sar bar âr-ad yâsmîn

chûn be-bîn-î bar lab-é jô sabza mast
pas be-dân az dûr k-ân-jâ âb hast

goft sîmâhum wujûh-un kerdegâr
ke bow-ad ghammâz-é bârân sabza-zâr

gar be-bâr-ad shab, na-bîn-ad hêch kas
ke bow-ad dar khwâb har nafs-o nafas

2725 tâzagîy-é har gol-setân-é ["golestân"-é] jamîl
hast bar bârân-é penhânî dalîl

(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)