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

Mathnawi III: 3916-3921, 4377-4402

That lover's arriving to (the presence of) his beloved,
since he had washed his hands of his own life1

3916 He went toward the king with moist eyes, making
(humble) prostrations (of obeisance) on his face and head,2
like a polo-ball.3

All of the people (were) waiting, (with their) heads in
the air, (to see) if (the king) would burn him or hang him.4

"This time (they said), (the king) will show that
detestable fool what Time (inevitably does) to someone with
bad luck.

"Like a moth, he saw the (burning) sparks as light (and)
foolishly fell in (among the embers), severed from life.

3920 But the candle of Love is not like that (ordinary)
candle,5 (since) it is light within light within light.

3921 It is the opposite of fiery candles (in that) it
appears as fire, but is entirely delightful.

. . . . . . .

4377 That man from Bukhara also rushed on (top of) the
candle,6 (since) that suffering had become easy because of
his love.

(Those) burning sighs of his went (up) to the heavens.
(As a result), kindness entered into the heart of the King
of Bukhara.7

Speaking to himself at dawn, he said, "O You who are One
(only)! What is the state of that wanderer of mine?8

4380 "He did something sinful and We saw (it), but he was
not very aware of Our Mercy.9

"The sinner's mind is afraid of Us,10 yet there are a
hundred hopes in his fear.

"I cause the foolishly shameless person to be afraid.11
(There is no reason) why I should frighten the one who is
(already) afraid."

"Fire is (directed to) go to the cold pot, not to the
one which (has contents) going to the top from boiling.

"I cause those who lack fear (regarding their actions)
to be afraid by (My) knowledge,12 (but) I remove fear from
the fearful with (My) gentle compassion.

4385 "I am a sewer of patches, (and) I place the patch in
the place (suitable for it).13 I give every person a
(medicinal) drink (which is) appropriate."

The inner spirit of man is like the root of a tree.
(And) because of that, his leaves grow from hard wood.

The leaves (are) grown in accordance with the (quality
of the) root14-- in trees, souls, and minds.

(Growing) from the trees of faithfulness are wings
(reaching) up to the heavens (as in the verse), "Its root is
firmly fixed and its branches (reach) to the heavens."15

Since the wings (flying) up to the heavens grew from
love,16 how could (they) not grow in the heart of the King of

4390 Waves were pounding in his heart (for) pardon of (the
prime minister's) sin, because there is a window from each
heart to (another) heart.

For, (most) certainly there is a window from heart to
heart; they are not separate and distant, like two
(distinct) bodies.

The clay (containers) of two lamps are not connected,
(yet) their light is mixed in (their) paths of travel.

No lover is a seeker of union when his beloved is not
his seeker (also).18

But, the love of the lovers makes (their) bodies (as
thin as) bowstrings.19 (And) the love of the beloveds makes
(their bodies) pleasant and plump.20

4395 Know that when the lightning of love for the beloved
leaps21 in this heart, there is (certainly) love in that
(And) when love for God becomes doubled in your heart,
undoubtedly God has love for you.

No sound of hand-clapping from one of your hands reaches
(outside) the door without (the use of) the other hand.

The one who is thirsty is wailing, "O refreshing water!"
-- (while) the water is also lamenting, "Where is that

(Therefore), this thirst in our souls is the attraction
of the Water:23 we belong to It, and It belongs to us as

4400 By Divine decree and destiny, God's Wisdom made us
lovers of each other.

(And) because of that pre-ordained Command,24 all the
parts of the world (are) joined and paired and are the
lovers of their mates.25

4402 (For) every part of the world is the desirer of (its)
mate-- truly, like amber and a piece of hay.26

--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" (, 4/5/01

Notes on the text, with line number:

1. (Heading) since he had washed his hands of his own life:
Nicholson translated, "when he washed his hands of (gave up)
his life."

2. (3916) He went... making (humble) prostrations (of
obeisance) on his face and head: means approaching in a
humble manner. Expressing humility through bows of obeisance
(out of respect and deferential courtesy) were made to
kings, and were different in form and intention than bows of
worship. Anqaravi (17th century Mathnawi commentator) quotes
an Arabic saying here: "Going with the head, not the feet."

3. (3916) like a polo-ball: Rumi often uses the polo ball
(as struck by a mallet) to symbolize complete surrender of
one's personal will.

4. (3617) or hang him: there is an archaic pronoun here,
"wa-râ" (an abbreviation of "way-râ"), instead of the more
common "ô-ra."

5. (3920) But the candle of Love is not like that
(ordinary) candle: "Although outwardly it is burning and
annihilating, yet inwardly it is calming and giving
permanence." (Anqaravi, Commentary

6. (4377) That man from Bukhara also rushed on (top of) the
candle: Rumi returns to this story, after a digression to
another major story. "(It means), he pitched himself onto
the candle of union with the beloved and sent (himself)
into (the beloved's) lane." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

7. (4378) kindness entered into the heart of the King of
Bukhara: in explaining this verse, Anqaravi quoted an
(unidentified) verse, "Although the lovers are yearning for
the beloved's beauty, the beloveds are (even) more lovers of
the lovers than the lovers (are of them) [`âshiq-ân har
chand mushtâq-é jamâl-é del-bar-and/ del-bar-ân bar
`âshiq-ân az `âshiq-ân `âshiq-tar-and]."

8. (4379) that wanderer of mine: Nicholson translated more
literally here, "that wander of Ours"-- beginning the Divine
speech of God in this line.

9. (4380) Our Mercy: in this line, God is talking to
Himself, using the "plural of Majesty" by which the One God
sometimes speaks in the Qur'an ("Us," "We," "Our"). It is
common in the Mathnawi for a character who is the human
beloved in a story to indirectly or directly talk as God the

10. (4381) The sinner's mind is afraid of Us: Fear of God is
nowadays very misunderstood, as is the concept of sin. Sin
is an action which neglects or disobeys God's Will. Fear of
God obviously includes the wish to avoid sin and any
punishment for it, but it also includes reverential awe and
a type of respectful love. This type of fear has long been
considered to be pious, righteous, and virtuous (in Judaism,
Christianity, and Islam, as well as other religions) because
it helps the believer to better obey, and to be pleasing to,
God. Such pious fear is related to love for God and,
especially for the mystics, since it instills a dread of
causing any further separation between them, as lovers of
God, and the Most Beloved.

11. (4382) I cause the foolishly shameless person to be
afraid: Nicholson translated, "I frighten the impudent man
who has lost the (right) way."

12. (4384) I cause those who lack fear (regarding their
actions) to be afraid by (My) knowledge: "i.e. 'by My
knowledge of their evil actions, and by letting them know
what the ultimate results of these will be'." (Nicholson,
Commentary) In other words: by letting them know (via
Revelations made to prophets, warnings from pious believers
and holy people, etc.) that they will eventually face Divine
Justice for their sins.

"(It means), 'Anyone who feels safe regarding the fruits
of his own actions and (inward) states [= such as intention
and desire] and does not fear (Divine) compensation and
payment.'" (Anqaravi, Commentary)

13. (4385) I place the patch in the place (suitable for it):
"Whether gracious or severe, the dispensations of Divine
Providence correspond perfectly with what is required by the
essential character (`ayn-i thábitah) [= a term (also
translated as "immutable essence") used in the sufi
philosophy of Ibnu 'l-`Arabi (died, 1240)] of the person on
whom they are bestowed." (Nicholson, Commentary)

14. (4387) The leaves (are) grown in accordance with the
(quality of the) root: "If we look at trees, we see that the
leaves and fruit of every tree are related to (the quality)
of its root. If its root has been good, then its branches
also will be good. (And) if it is an apple tree, apples will
be obtained from it." (Anqaravi, Commentary) Anqaravi also
quoted a verse from the Qur'an: "Everyone acts according to
his own disposition. But your Lord knows well who is best
guided on the path." (17:84)

15. (4388) Its root is firmly fixed and its branches (reach)
to the heavens: a verse from the Qur'an, slightly altered
for metrical purposes. "Do you not see how God sets forth a
parable of a good word? (It is) like a good tree whose root
is firmly fixed and its branches (reach) to the heavens. It
yields its fruit at all times, by permission of its Lord."
(Qur'an 14:24-25)

Nicholson explained: "'The trees of faithfulness' are
the elect spirits which have attained to union with God
during their life on earth." And he referred to two similar
passages (Mathnawi IV: 3570-74; III: 2003-08). In his
explanation of the latter passage he said: "According to [=
the book] '`Ará'isu 'l-Bayán,' the Qur'ánic allusion is to
the Eternal Word of God revealed in His elect (i.e. the
Logos), which is 'the tree of the Divine attributes, whereof
the root is fixed in eternity, and its boughs in the heaven
of everlastingness; it is watered by the seas of Divine
favour and gives its fruit, revelation (tajallí) of the
Essence and Attributes, to the spirits of those who love and
know God and realise His Unity'." (Commentary)

16. (4389) Since the wings (flying) up to the heavens grew
from love: "In other words, the fruits of actions and states
[of inward intentions] of the tree of the lover's spirit."
(Anqaravi, Commentary)

17. (4389) how could (they) not grow in the heart of the
King of Bukhara: "I.e. since the lover aspires to union with
the Beloved, how should the heart of the Beloved fail to
respond?" (Nicholson, Commentary)

18. ((4393) No lover is a seeker of union when his beloved is
not his seeker (also): "The intended meaning is, 'The origin
of the seeking and attraction which is in the lover is from
the beloved. It is like this famous noble verse [regarding
God's Love]: 'people whom He loves, and they will love Him'"
(Qur'an 5: 57). (Anqaravi, Commentary)

19. ((4394) the love of the lovers makes (their) bodies (as
thin as) bowstrings: in Persian literature, the lover is
often depicted as pale and sallow of face, and thin of body,
due to "wasting away" because of melancholy about being
separated from the beloved and a passionate longing for

20. ((4394) (And) the love of the beloveds makes (their
bodies) pleasant and plump: the beloved, in Persian
literature, is often depicted as well-fed, spoiled, and
aloof. Nicholson explained about the attraction between
lover and beloved in this line: "The attraction is mutual,
but manifests itself in different ways." (Commentary)

21. (4395) when the lightning of love for the beloved leaps:
"'When it flashes' means, when it became evident."
(Anqaravi, Commentary)

22. (4398) the water is also lamenting, "Where is that
water-drinker: Nicholson referred (in his Commentary) here
to a similar passage (Mathnawi I: 1739-41, which he
translated): "The hearts of heart-ravishers are captivated
by those who have lost their hearts (to them): all loved
ones are the prey of (their) lovers. Whomsoever thou didst
deem to be a lover, regard (him) as the loved one, for
relatively he is both this and that. If they that are
thirsty seek water from the world, (yet) water too seeks in
the world them that are thirsty."

23. (4399) this thirst in our souls is the attraction of the
Water: "The desire and yearning that we have for meeting the
beloved, as well as the attracting of that beautiful beloved
to her, is like the attraction of the water." (Anqaravi,
Commentary) Anqaravi also quoted a Hadîthu 'l-Qudsî
(non-Qur'anic Divine saying): "The yearning to meet Me
increases in those who are pious, but My yearning to meet
them is greater."

24. (4401) pre-ordained Command: means what God determined
prior to the creation of the universe.

25. (4401) the lovers of their mates: Nicholson translated,
"Because of that fore-ordainment all the particles of the
world are paired as mates and are in love with their own
mate." "The relation of 'lover' and 'beloved', i.e. the
correlation of opposites, which is displayed in every part of the
universe, serves the Divine purpose of self-manifestation,
according to the hadíth-i qudsí [= non-Qur'anic Divine saying]: 'I
was a Hidden Treasure and I desired to be known, so I created the
creation in order that I might be known." (Nicholson,
Commentary). Nicholson also referred to another verse in the
Mathnawi (I: 3211, which he translated): "Because (every)
contrary is certainly made evident by its contrary; because honey is
perceived (to be sweet by contrast) with vinegar."

26. (4402) like amber and a piece of hay: amber is a
translucent fossil resin from pine trees which is used in
jewelry. When amber is rubbed with cloth, static electricity
occurs which creates a magnetic field that can attract
blades of hay (straw).


rasîdan-é ân `âshiq ba-ma`shûq-é khwêsh chûn dast az jân-é
khwad be-shost

3916 ham-chô gôyê sajda-kon bar rô-wo sar
jânib-é ân Sadr shod bâ chashm-é tar

jumla-yé khalq-ân muntaZir sar dar hawâ
ke-sh be-sôz-ad, yâ bar-âwêz-ad wa-râ

în zamân în aHmaq-é yak lakht-râ
ân nomây-ad ke zamân bad-bakht-râ

ham-chô parwâna sharar-râ nûr dîd
aHmaq-âna dar fotâd az jân borîd

3920 lêk sham`-é `ishq chûn ân sham` nêst
rôshan andar rôshan andar rôshanî-st

3921 ô ba-`aks-é sham`-hây-é âtashî-st
mê-nomây-ad âtash-o jumla khwashî-st

. . . . . . .

mulâqât-é ân `âshiq bâ Sadr-é Jahân
The lover's meeting with the King of Bukhara

4377 ân bukhârî nêz khwad bar sham` zad
gashta bûd az `ishq-ash âsân ân kabad

âh-é sôzân-ash sôy-é gardûn shoda
dar del-é Sadr-é jahân mehr âmada

gofta bâ khwad dar saHar-gah k-ay aHad
Hâl-é ân âwâra-yé mâ chûn bow-ad?

4380 ô gonâhê kard-o mâ dîd-êm lêk
raHmat-é mâ-râ na-mê dân-ast nêk

khâTir-é mujrim ze-mâ tarsân shaw-ad
lêk Sad ômêd dar tars-ash bow-ad

man be-tarsân-am waqîH-é yâwa-râ
ân-ke tars-ad, man che tarsân-am wa-râ?

bahr-é dêg-é sard âZar mê-raw-ad
na ba-d-ân k-az jôsh az sar mê-raw-ad

âmin-ân-râ man be-tarsân-am ba-`ilm
khâyif-ân-râ tars bar dâr-am ba-Hilm

4385 pâra-dôz-am, pâra dar mawZi` neh-am
har kasê-ra sharbat andar khwar deh-am

hast sirr-é mard chûn bêkh-é derakht
z-ân be-rôy-ad barg-hâ-sh az chûb-é sakht

dar khwar-é ân bêkh rosta barg-hâ
dar derakht-o dar nufûs-o dar nuhà

bar falak par-hâ-st ze-'shjâr-é wafâ
aSlu-hâ Sâbit wa far`u-h fî 's-samâ

chûn be-rôst az `ishq par bar âsmân
chûn na-rôy-ad dar del-é Sadr-é jahân?

4390 mawj mê-zad dar del-ash `afw-é gonah
ke ze-har del tâ del âmad rôzanah

ke ze-del tâ del yaqîn rôzan bow-ad
na jodâ-wo dûr chûn dô tan bow-ad

mutaSSil na-b'w-ad sufâl-é dô cherâgh
nûr-eshân mamzûj bâsh-ad dar masâgh

hêch `âshiq khwad na-bâsh-ad wasl-jô
ke na ma`shûq-ash bow-ad jôyây-é ô

lêk `ishq-é `âshiq-ân tan zeh kon-ad
`ishq-é ma`shûq-ân khwash-o farbeh kon-ad

4395 chûn dar-în del barq-é mehr-é dôst jast
andar ân del dôstî mê-dân ke hast

dar del-é tô mehr-é Haq chûn shod dô-tô
hast Haq-râ bê-gomânê mehr-é tô

hêch bâng-é kaf-zadan n-ây-ad ba-dar
az yakê dast-é tô bê-dastê degar

teshna mê-nâlad ke ay âb-é gowâr
âb ham nâl-ad ke kô ân âb-khwâr?

aZb-é âb-ast în `aTash dar jân-é mâ
mâ az ân-é ô wa ô ham ân-é mâ

4400 Hikmat-é Haq dar qaZâ-wo dar qadar
kard mâ-râ `âshiq-ân-é ham-degar

jumla-yé ajzây-é jahân z-ân Hukm-é pêsh
joft-joft-o `âshiq-ân-é joft-é khwêsh

4402 hast har juzwê ze-`âlam joft-khwâh
râst ham-chûn kah-robâ-wo barg-é kâh

(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)