The Lover Who Braved A Frightening Shout (part one)

Mathnawi III: 4326-4344

The explanation of the verse, "And (O Satan), [go ahead and]
urge your horsemen and your foot soldiers with shouts1 to
attack (the descendents of Adam)."2

4326 When you make a resolution to (follow the right
guidance of) religion with (sincere) effort,3 the Devil
calls out to you within (your) mind,

Saying, "Don't go by that way! O (you who are) led
astray, think (about it)-- since you will become the captive
of suffering and poverty.4

"You will be without food and sustenance; you will be
severed from (your) friends; you will be despised and you
will suffer (much) regret."

(So) you escape from (spiritual) certainty (and go) into
confusion and error due to (your) fear of the shouts of the
accursed Devil.5

4330 Saying, "Yes, I have tomorrow and then the day after
tomorrow. I will run along the path of religion (eventually), since
there is (still) time to delay in front of me."6

(But) again you see death on the left (side) and the
right, killing (your) neighbors, so that wails (of mourning)
are (loudly) raised.

Once more, due to fear for your soul, you make a
resolution about (following the precepts of) religion. (So)
you make yourself (to be) manly for a time.7

Then you fasten on the armor of (religious) knowledge
and sayings of wisdom, saying, "I will not retreat (even) a
bit (from doing what is right) because of any fear."

(But) once more, (the Devil) shouts at you by way of
deceit, saying, "Be afraid, and turn back from the sword of

4335 Again you escape from the illuminated Way, and you
throw off that armor of (religious) knowledge and ways (of conduct).8

You are his slave for years because of a shout. You've
tossed (down your) cloak [to lie down upon]9 in darkness
such as this!

Fear of the shouts of devils has shackled the people10
and seized (their) throats,11

To the extent that their souls have become as hopeless
about (finding) Light as (are) the spirits of the
unbelievers about the people in the graves.12

(Although) there is (such) fear of the shouts of that
accursed one,1 how (much greater) will be
the fear of the Divine shout?1

4340 (Although) for the noble partridge14 there is fear of
the falcon, there is no share of that fear for the fly.

For the falcon isn't a hunter of flies; nothing other
than spiders seize flies.

The spider-like Devil has (the power to make) assaults
against flies like you, not against partridges and eagles.15

The shout of devils is the (driving) shepherd of the
miserable,16 (but) the shout of the King (of the universe) is
the watchful guardian of the saints,17

4344 So that, (just as) in the case of these two shouts of
(such) distance (between them),18 a drop from the sea of
sweet (water) may not mix with the ocean of salty

--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" (, 8/9/01

Notes on the text, with line number:

1. (Heading) urge... with shouts: "The verb 'ajlaba'
implies shouting (jalabah)." (Nicholson, Commentary)

2. (Heading) to attack (the descendents of Adam): from a
verse in the Qur'an (17:64). When God commanded the angels
to bow [in obeisance-- not worship] to Adam, all submitted
except Satan, who refused: "Will I bow (in obeisance) to one
whom You made from clay.... (to) this one whom You have
honored above me?" Satan then declared that he would lead
astray all of Adam's descendants, except a few. God replied,
telling Satan to go ahead and that, "Hell will be the
recompense of you (all). "'Lure (as many of) those whom you
can among them with your voice; urge your horsemen and your
foot soldiers with shouts to attack them; share with them
wealth and children (obtained by sin); and make (all kinds
of) promises to them.' But Satan promises them only in order
to deceive. 'Truly, in regard to My servants, you will have
no (real) authority over them...'" (17:61-65).

3. (4326) When you make a resolution to (follow the right
guidance of) religion with (sincere) effort: Nicholson
translated, "When you earnestly resolve to be religious..."
The word for making effort [ijtihâh], is related to the word
"jihâd" and is a technical term in sufism for struggling,
striving, and "combat" against one's ego and its cravings.

4. (4327) you will become the captive of suffering and
poverty: a reference to the Qur'anic verse, "Satan threatens
you with (imminent) poverty and urges you to commit shameful
deeds [to avoid it]." (Qur'an 2: 268)

5. (4329) the accursed Devil: God cursed Satan for his
opposition to His Will and his determination to lead astray
as many descendants of Adam as he could (Qur'an 4:118).

6. (4330) since there is (still) time to delay in front of
me: "In other words, 'By means of the deceptive tricks of
Satan, you have delayed your aspiration and you have
abandoned obedience (to God).'" (Anqaravi, the 17th century
Turkish commentator, translated here into English from a
Persian translation)

7. (4332) you make yourself (to be) manly for a time: means
strongly resisting ones desires and cravings. "(It means),
'So that to a certain extent you purify yourself from the
defilement of negligence and disobedience (in regard to God
and acting rightly)." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

8. (4335) (religious) knowledge and ways (of conduct):
Nicholson translated, "knowledge and virtue."

9. (4336) You've tossed (down your) cloak [to lie down
upon]: literally, "you have thrown (down) a coarse (or,
felt) garment." Means laying one's outer garment on the
ground to rest upon it. Nicholson translated, "you have laid
down the blanket (have lain down to rest) in such darkness
as this!" And he explained: "i.e. mutamakkin shuda'i ú qarár
girifta-i [= you have become residing and you have taken
repose]. This seems to me a better explanation than 'you
have cast off the garment of spiritual poverty and piety'
(Fa) [= Anqaravi]."

"It means, 'You are (dwelling in) such darkness of
egoistic craving [nafsânî] and worldly muddiness, you have
forsaken and thrown off the cloak of (spiritual) poverty and
piety, and you have chosen the pleasures of the ego
(instead)." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

10. (4337) Fear of the shouts of devils has shackled the
people: Anqaravi here quoted a saying attributed to the
Prophet Muhammad-- "If not for the devils surrounding the
hearts of the descendants of Adam, you would be able to see
the kingdom of the heavens." [law lâ an ash-shayâTin..."]

11. (4337) seize (their) throats: a metaphor for the
constriction felt in the throat during fear and anxiety,
when it may be hard to breathe.

12. (4338) the unbelievers about the people in the graves:
refers to a verse in the Qur'an. "... people on whom is the
anger of God. Certainly they are hopeless about the
Hereafter, just like the unbelievers are hopeless about the
people in the graves." (Qur'an 60:13). Means that the
unbelievers are hopeless about those buried in the graves
ever coming to life again, because they do not believe in
the resurrection of the dead and the hope of Paradise.
13. (4339) that accursed one: refers to Satan. See note on
line 4329.

14. (4339) the fear of the Divine shout: refers to the
overwhelming noise (usually described as the sound of the
trumpet played by an angel) which inaugurates the Day of
Judgement at the Resurrection: "And the Trumpet will be
blown, so all those the heavens and on earth will fall down
unconscious, except those whom God wills (otherwise)."
(Qur'an 39:68; see also 6:73, 23:101, 69:13)

Anqaravi says that, compared to the shock of the Day of
Judgment, "the shout of Satan will not have (even) the
amount of noise of a fly." (Commentary)

15. (4340) the noble partridge: partridges were viewed with
more respect, because of their fighting spirit.

16. (4341) the (driving) shepherd of the miserable:
Nicholson translated, "the drover of the damned."

17. (4342) not against partridges and eagles: "I.e. only the
righteous and elect are capable of fearing God [= pious awe
of God], and over them the Devil has no power." (Nicholson,
Commentary) Anqaravi (Commentary) quoted the verse in which
God told Satan, "Truly, you will not have any authority over
My servants, except the ones who have followed you among
those led astray." (Qur'an 15:42)

18. (4344) these two shouts of (such) distance (between
them): "i.e. by means of Divine inspiration and Satanic
suggestion." (Nicholson, Commentary)

19. (4344) a drop from the sea of sweet (water) may not mix
with the ocean of salty (water): refers to a verse in the
Qur'an. "And He is the one who has made the two seas to flow
freely: that one sweet and thirst-quenching, and that one
salty and bitter. And He has made a barrier between them, an
obstruction which cannot be passed." (Qur'an 25:53) Refers
to the separation of these two kinds of water: one is on
land as rivers, lakes, underground streams (tapped by wells)
and the condensation from the clouds which falls as pure
rain-water; the other is separated by the shores of the land
and by a "barrier" of non-salty water where rivers meet the
ocean (and also where the Mediterranean Sea meets the
Atlantic Ocean). These two kinds of water are interpreted as
symbolizing the spiritual desires of mankind, which are
pure, sweet, and fulfilling; contrasted with worldly
desires, which are bitter and cause more thirst (instead of
quenching it).

"The intended meaning of the sweet river (water): the
prophets-- peace be upon them, and the noble saints. And the
intended meaning of the salty ocean is: the rejectors of God
[kâfir-ân] and the unjust oppressors.... (And also) Divine
guidance and inspiration [compared to] the leading astray
and urgings of Satan." (Anqaravi, Commentary)
Nicholson referred, here, to Mathnawi I: 297, regarding
which he included this explanation: "According to Sahl b.
`Abdalláh al-Tustarí [= an early sufi master, died 896],
'one of the two seas is the heart (qalb), which contains
diverse jewels-- faith, gnosis [= mystical knowledge], and
unification; and the other is the carnal soul (nafs), wherein abide
such vices as hatred, envy, unbelief, avarice,
and anger'." (Commentary)


tafsîr-é âyat-é "wa 'ajlib `alay-him bi-khayli-ka
wa rijli-ka"

4326 tô chô `azm-é dîn kon-î bâ ijtihâd
dêw bâng-at bar-zan-ad andar nehâd

ke ma-raw z-ân sô, be-y-andêsh ay ghawî
ke asîr-é ranj-o darwêshî shaw-î

bê-nawâ gard-î ze-yâr-ân wâ-bor-î
khwâr gardiyy-o pashîmânî khwor-î

tô ze-bîm-é bâng-é ân dêw-é la`în
wâ gorêz-î dar Zilâlat az yaqîn

4330 ke halâ fardâ-wo pas fardâ ma-râ-st
râh-é dîn pôy-am ke muhlat pêsh-é mâ-st

marg bîn-î bâz kô az chapp-o râst
mê-kosh-ad ham-sâya-râ, tâ bâng khâst

bâz `azm-é dîn kon-î az bêm-é jân
mard sâz-î khwêshtan-râ yak zamân

pas silaH bar-band-î az `ilm-o Hikam
ke man az khawfê na-yâr-am pây kam

bâz bângê bar-zan-ad bar tô ze-makr
ke be-tars-o bâz gard az têgh-é faqr

4335 bâz be-g'rêz-î ze-râh-é rôshanî
ân silâH-é `ilm-o fan-râ be-f'gan-î

sâl-hâ ô-râ ba-bângê banda-î
dar chon-în Zulmat namad-afkanda-î

haybat-é bâng-é shayâTîn khalq-râ
band kard-ast-o gerefta Halq-râ

tâ chon-ân nawmêd shod jân-shân ze-nûr
ke rawân-é kâfir-ân z-ahl-é qubûr

în shokôh-é bâng-é ân mal`ûn bow-ad
haybat-é bâng-é khodâyî chûn bow-ad?

4340 haybat-é bâz-ast bar kabg-é najîb
mar magas-râ nêst z-ân haybat naSîb

z-ân-ke na-b'w-ad bâz Sayyâd-é magas
`ankabût-ân mê magas gîr-and-o bas

`ankabût-é dêw bar chûn tô Zubâb
karr-o far dâr-ad, na bar kabg-o `uqâb

bâng-é dêw-ân galla-bân-é ashqiyâ-st
bâng-é sulTân pâsbân-é awliyâ-st

4344 tâ na-y-âmêz-ad ba-d-în dô bâng-é dûr
qaTra'yê az baHr-é khwosh bâ baHr-é shûr

(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)