The Prime Minister of the King of Bukhara (part three)

Mathnawi III: 3812-3817, 3830-3836

The (efforts) of his friends to prevent his returning to Bukhara, and
making warnings, and his speaking about fearing nothing

3812 One advisor told him, "O unaware man! Consider the end
(result), if you have the skill.

"Look ahead and behind with common sense. Don't burn yourself
like a moth (attracted to a candle).1

"Why are you going to Bukhara? You're crazy, and suitable for
chains2 and the prison-house (for the insane).

3815 "(The king) continues to bite iron from anger because of you.
(And) he continues to seek you with twenty eyes.3

"He keeps sharpening the knife for (killing) you. He is (like) a dog
in (a time of) famine, and you (are like) a bag of flour.

3817 "Since you escaped and God gave you way (to freedom),
(now) you're travelling toward prison? What's happened to you?"

. . . . . . .

The lover's speaking to the adviser and criticiser, (about) fearing
nothing, because of love

3830 He replied, "O adviser, be quiet! How much longer (will you
continue)? Don't give (any more) advice, since (my) shackles are
very difficult (to bear).4

"My chains and fetters5 are more harsh than your advice. Your
learned (teacher) did not understand love.6

"Abu Hanifa and Shafi have given no lessons (in legal conduct)7 in
the direction where love has increased (my) agony.

"Don't warn me about being killed,8 since I'm miserably thirsty for
my own blood."

For lovers, every moment is a (state of) dying. But the dying of
lovers is not one kind (only).9

3835 (The lover) has two hundred lives from the Soul of Guidance,
and he continues to sacrifice those two hundred every moment.

3836 For each one of (those) souls, he takes (back) ten (for its)
value. Read from the Word of God (the verse about gaining)
"ten times the like of them."10

--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" (, 3/8/01

Notes on the text, with line number:

1. (3812) Don't burn yourself like a moth (attracted to a candle): "(It
means), 'Don't burn yourself like a moth in the fire of his [= the
king of Bukhara] candle. And don't destroy the foundation of your
existence with your own hand.'" (translated here from a Persian
translation of Anqaravi's famous 17th century commentary on the

2. (3814) suitable for chains: insane persons were kept in chains, to
protect them from hurting others or themselves.

3. (3815) with twenty eyes: means, with numerous investigators and
spies. "(It means) 'vigorously in expectancy of (capturing) you.'"
(Anqaravi, Commentary)

4. (3830) since (my) shackles are very difficult (to bear): "(It means),
'Since (my) spiritual shackles are very tight. Since the lover's love,
due to God Most High, is an urgent decree.'" (Anqaravi,

5. (3831) My chains and fetters: Nicholson referred here to Rumi's
previous words (in line 3820), which he translated, "Secret love
had made him captive..."

6. (3831) Your learned (teacher) did not understand love: "(It means),
'since you don't know what an amazing state love is.'" (Anqaravi,
Commentary) Anqaravi also quotes here the Arabic saying, "He
who does not taste does not know." [man lam yaZiq lam yadri]

7. (3832) Bu Hanifa and Shafi have given no lessons (in legal
conduct): Abu Hanifa (died, 767) was the founder of the Hanafi
school of Sunni Islamic law (which Rumi followed). Imam Shafi
(died 820) founded the Shafi school. These schools of law ranked
behaviors as positive (such as required, necessary, recommended)
or negative (such as disliked, sinful, criminal). Those behaviors
which were not judged as approved or disapproved (directly or
through analogy by the Qur'an, the Traditions involving the
sayings and doings of the Prophet Muhamad, or the first generation
of the Prophet's companions) were regarded as something Muslims
were free to do or not do as they wished. The meaning here is that
all the branches of religious knowledge have no advice to help the
lover who is a captive of Love.

8. (3833) Don't warn me about being killed: "Another quality of the
lover is this: that, for him, death is a gift; in the moment when it is
suffering and non-existence for the learned and prudent man, for
the lover it is spirit and delight." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

9. (3834) But the dying of lovers is not one kind (only): "These
verses [= this one and the next] refer to the manifold variety of
'states' experienced by the mystic and his successively 'passing
away' (faná) from these until he attains to union with God."
(Nicholson, Commentary)

10. (3836) (the verse about gaining) "ten times the like of them": this
verse refers to the Day of Judgment, but Rumi interprets, here, it as
applying to the true lovers of God in this life. "The one who does
good actions will have ten times the like of them (as a reward). But
he who does evil actions will not be recompensed except
(according to) the like of them. And they will not be wronged (in
the least)." (Qur'an 6:160)


mana` kardan dôstan-é ô-râ az rujû` kardan ba-bukhârâ wa
tahdîd kardan wa lâ-ubâlî goftan-é ô

3812 goft ô-râ nâsiHê, ay bê-khabar
`âqibat andêsh, agar dâr-î honar

dar negar pas-râ ba-`aql-o pêsh-râ
ham-chô parwâna ma-sôzân khwêsh-ra

chûn bukhârâ mê-raw-î dêwâna-î
lâyek-é zanjîr-o zendân-khâna-î

3815 ô ze-tô âhan hamê-khây-ad ze-khashm
ô hamê-jôy-ad to-râ bâ bêst chashm

mê-kon-ad ô têz az bahr-é tô kârd
ô sag-é qaHT-ast-o tô anbân-é ârd

3817 chûn rahîd-î-wo khodây-at râh dâd
sôy-é zendân mê-raw-î, chûn-at fotâd?

. . . . . . .

lâ-ubâlî goftan-é `âshiq, nâSiH wa `âZil-râ az sar-é `ishq

3830 goft ay nâSiH khamosh kon chand chand
pand kam deh z-ân-ke bas sakht-ast band

sakht-tar shod band-é man az pand-é tô
`ishq-râ na-sh'nâkht dânesh-mand-é tô

ân Taraf ke `ishq mê-afzûd dard
bû Hanîfa-wo shâf`î darsê na-kard

tô ma-kon tahdîd az koshstan ke man
teshna-yé zâr-am ba-khûn-é khwêshtan

`âshiq-ân-râ har zamânê mordanê-st
mordan-é ushshâq khwad yak nû` nêst

3835 ô dô Sad jân dâr-ad az jân-é hudà
w-ân dô Sad-râ mê-kon-ad har dam fidà

3836 har yakê jân-râ setân-ad dah bahâ
az nubî khwân `ashrat-an amSâla-hâ

(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)