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

Mathnawi III: 4601-4623

Regarding the beloved's (power of) attraction toward the
lover: since the lover doesn't know about it, doesn't hope
for it, doesn't think about it in his mind, and no sign of
that attraction appears in the lover except fear mixed with
desperation together with continued seeking.1

4601 We reached to this place (in the story), that if
attraction for that lover hadn't been hidden within the king
of Bukhara,

(The lover) would never have been impatient because of
separation, (and) he would never have come running back
toward his (beloved's) dwelling.

(For) the longing of the beloveds is hidden and veiled,
(but) the longing of the lover (occurs) together with two
hundred drums and trumpets.2

By way of example, there is a story (which could be told
at) this point,3 but that man from Bukhara has become
tormented from waiting.

4605 (Therefore), we've left it (out) since he is (in a
state of) seeking, in order that he might see the face of
his beloved before dying--

So that he may escape from death and that he may find
deliverance from death. For the sight of the beloved is the
Water of (Eternal) Life.4

(If) the sight of anyone isn't driving death away,5
(that person) is not the (true) beloved, since (that
person) doesn't have "fruits" or "leaves."6

The (true) case is the one,7 O drunk yearner, in which
death is delightful if it reaches you.

(Similarly), O young man, the sign of sincerity of
(religious) faith (is) the (case) in which (a martyr's)
death becomes sweet to you.

4610 (And) if your (religious) faith has not been like this,
O dear one, it isn't complete. (So) go (and) seek perfection
of (your practice of) religion.

Whoever is a lover of death in your case,8 (and for)
whom your heart (has) no dislike,9 he is (your true) friend.

(For) when (such) dislike is gone, that truly is not
death; it is the appearance of death (only), and is (really)
a cause of emigration.10

(And) when (such) dislike is gone, death becomes
beneficial; then it becomes true that "death" has been
driven away.

God is the (true) Beloved, as well as the person about
whom He said: "You belong to me and I belong to you."11

4615 Keep (your) ears (alert) now, since (that) lover is
arriving12 whom Love (has) bound "with a rope of twisted
palm-leaf fibers."13

When (the ambassador) saw the face of the king of
Bukhara, you could say (that) the bird of (his) soul flew
from his body.14

His body fell down, like dry wood, (and) became cold
from the top of the head to the toes.15

Whatever they did (to revive him) by means of perfume or
rose-water, he did not move and did not start talking

When the king saw the face of that pallid one, he then
came down from his horse (and went) toward him.

4620 He said, The lover seeks the beloved with (passionate)
fervor, (so that) when the beloved comes, the lover has
You are the lover of God. And regarding God, when He
comes there won't be a single hair of "you" (left).16

Hundreds like you will vanish before that (Divine) gaze.
Perhaps, sir, you are [already] a lover of negating your

4623 (For) you are (but) a shadow and a lover of the sun.
(When) the sun comes, the shadow quickly becomes nothing.18

--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" (, 4/12/01

Notes on the text, with line number:

1. (Heading) except fear mixed with desperation together
with continued seeking: Nicholson translated this part
differently, "except the fear that is mingled with despair,
though he still perseveres in the quest." Anqaravi
paraphrased: "Some fear mixed with despair and with
continued searching."

2. (4603) together with two hundred drums and trumpets: "It
means, 'Having much noise, uproar and (being) conspicuous
and public." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

3. (4604) there is a story (which could be told at) this
point: "The poet alludes indirectly to the long digression
by which the Story of the Wakíl of Bukhárá has been
interrupted. Probably the Story mentioned here but left
untold is identical with the one beginning at v. 4749 infra
[= the story of a youth who was madly in love with a woman]
and continued in Book IV. Cf. v. 4748 and IV 120-155."
(Nicholson, Commentary)

4. (4606) the Water of (Eternal) Life: a frequent metaphor
in Rumi's poetry. Refers to a fabled spring of water said to
confer immortality to the one who drinks from it.

5. (4607) (If) the sight of anyone isn't driving death
away: "i.e. 'does not remove all fear of dying to self.'"
(Nicholson, Commentary) "It means, 'In regard to someone,
(if) witnessing of his face doesn't drive death away...'"
(Anqaravi, Commentary)

6. (4607) since (that person) doesn't have "fruits" or
"leaves: "It means, 'Truly, no one will find profit,
satisfaction, and benefit from that beloved.'" (Anqaravi,

7. (4608) The (true) case is the one: Nicholson translated,
"The (essential) matter, O intoxicated longing lover, is
that matter in which death, if it befall thee, is sweet."
And he explained: "i.e. 'the only thing that matters is your
seeking God with entire self-devotion.'" (Nicholson,

8. (4611) Whoever is a lover of death in your case,*: means
that he is your true friend if he is willing to risk death
because of his love for you. Nicholson later corrected this
line, to: "Whosoever would fain die for thy sake willingly
and agreeably to thy heart's desire, he is thy true lover"
(from, "Whosoever in (this) matter of thine has become
death-loving (and desires thy death) without dislike
(without being hateful) to thy heart, he is (thy) beloved").
And he explained: "Most commentators assume that dúst means
'beloved', a view which seems to me to necessitate my
rendering of marg-dúst, 'desirous of thy death'.... My
translation, however, is unsatisfying because it fails to
preserve the natural sense of marg-dúst, 'eager to die'. I
conclude therefore that dúst in the second hemistich means
muhibb, not mahbúb..." (Commentary)

9. (4611) (and for) whom your heart (has) no dislike:
Anqaravi relates a story about `Ali (the first cousin,
son-in-law, and fourth successor of the Prophet Muhammad as
Caliph, or leader of the Muslims): "A man said to him, 'O
`Ali, I love you.' `Ali-- may God be pleased with him--
replied, 'You are telling a lie.' The man asked, 'By what
means do you know (that)?' Hazrat-i `Ali gave the answer,
'For this reason: I don't have love for you, and my heart is
giving witness of this.'" (Commentary)

10. (4612) is (really) a cause of emigration: "It has the
meaning of finding transport (or conveyance, transition)
from the transitory [fânî] world to the everlasting world."
(Anqaravi, Commentary)

11. (4614) "You belong to me and I belong to you: "Cf. the
Hadíth [= saying of the Prophet Muhammad] man kána li-'lláhi
kána 'lláhu lahu." [= Whoever belongs (meaning: devotes
himself) to God, God will belong to him]. (Nicholson,
Commentary) Nicholson also referred to other places where
this Hadith is mentioned (Mathnawi I: 1939 and IV: 2613) and
he commented on the first citation: "The mystical
interpretation of the hadíth... is that he who gives himself
up entirely to God in faná [= annihilation of self] is
united with Him in baqá [= continuance]." (Commentary)

12. (4615) (that) lover is arriving: means the ambassador is
arriving (after having fled from the king some years

13. (4615) "with a rope of twisted palm-leaf fibers": part
of a verse from the Qur'an (111:5). "It means that Love is
drawing the lover, who was put in shackles and bonds, toward
the beloved." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

14. (4616) the bird of (his) soul flew from his body: "(It
means), 'To the extent that he found delight and became
drowned in (his) passion, so that for a time he became
ecstatically (vanished) from himself. And his soul at that
moment was drinking cup after cup of the wine of Union.'"
(Anqaravi, Commentary)

15. (4617) His body... became cold from the top of the head
to the toes: Nicholson translated differently: "His body
fell like dry wood: his vital spirit became cold from the
crown of his head to his toes." He noted that the earliest
manuscript has "farq-é jân" (which he interpreted as "the
crown of the soul"), but that all other manuscripts had
"farq-é sar" (= crown of the head). However, Gôharîn's
"Terminology of the Masnavi" explains that the expression
"crown of the soul to the toes" is an idiom equivalent to
"crown of the head...." and is used to describe someone who
has become unconscious (and perhaps close to death),
unmoving, and with a blue-grey skin coloring.

16. (4621) when He comes there won't be a single hair of
"you" (left): in regard to this verse, Nicholson quoted "the
saying of Junayd [= an early sufi master who died in 910)]:
idhá qurina 'l-muhdathu bi-'l-qadimi lam yabqa lahu
athar-un." [= When the created is joined to the Eternal, no
trace remains of it] (Commentary)

Regarding this verse, Anqaravi quoted a verse from the
Qur'an (27:34): "When kings (forcibly) enter a country, they
destroy it." And he interpreted: "The moment the true
beloved enters the lover's heart, it is (equal to) the full
power of all (the world's) kings, so that the heart of the
lover is wrecked." (Commentary)

17. (4622) Perhaps, sir, you are [already] a lover of
negating your self: Nicholson translated, in an
archaic-manner: "methinks, sire, thou art in love with
self-naughting." "Because union with the Beloved is not
possible with the remainder of (separate) existence. Thus
for the lover to become united with the beloved, it is
necessary that he be a person who becomes a lover of the
annihilation [fanâ] of his own existence." (Anqaravi,

18. (4623) (When) the sun comes, the shadow quickly becomes
nothing: the word for "nothing" [lâ] is part of the Islamic
creed, "There is no [lâ] divinity except God [lâ ilâha illâ
'llâh]," which has many mystical meanings for the sufis,
such as: there is no separate ego-existence, but only God

"(It means), 'O lover, let's say that your existence
resembles a shadow. And the existence of the true beloved is
like the sun. And every moment you are the follower and
lover of that lord..." (Anqaravi, Commentary)


jaZb-é ma`shûq `âshiq-râ min Haythu lâ ya`lamu-hu 'l-`âshiqu
wa lâ yarjû-hu wa lâ yakhTuru bi-bâli-hi wa lâ yaZharu min
Zalika 'l-jaZbi 'athar-un fî 'l-âshiqi illâ 'l-khawfu
'l-mamnûju bi-'l-yâ'si ma`a dawâmi 'T-Talabi

4601 âmad-ém în-jâ ke dar Sadr-é jahân
gar na-bûdy jaZb-é ân `âshiq, nehân

nâ shekêbâ kay body ô az firâq
kay dawân bâz âmady sôy-é wiSâq?

mayl-é ma`shûq-ân nehân-ast-o satîr
mayl-é `âshiq bâ dô Sad Tabl-o nafîr

yak Hikâyat hast în-jâ z-i`tibâr
lêk `âjiz shod bukhârî z-intiZâr

4605 tark-é ân kard-êm k-ô dar jost-o-jô-st
tâ ke pêsh az marg bîn-ad rôy-é dôst

tâ rah-ad az marg tâ yâb-ad najât
z-ân-ke dîd-é dôst-ast âb-é Hayât

har ke dîd-é ô na-bâsh-ad daf`-é marg
dôst na-b'w-ad ke na mêwa-st-ash na barg

kâr ân kâr-ast ay mushtâq-é mast
k-andar ân kâr ar ras-ad marg-at khwash-ast

shod neshân-é Sidq-é îmân, ay jawân
ân-ke ây-ad khwash tô-râ marg andar ân

4610 gar na-shod îmân-é tô ay jân chon-în
nêst kâmil, raw be-jô ikmâl-é dîn

har ke andar kâr-é tô shod marg-dôst
bar del-é tô bê-karâhat dôst ô-st

chûn karâhat raft ân khwad marg nêst
Sûrat-é marg-ast-o nuqlân-kardanê-st

chûn karâhat raft, mordan naf` shod
pas dorost ây-ad ke mordan daf` shod

dôst Haqq-ast-o kasê ke-sh goft ô
ke tow-î ân-é man-o man ân-é tô

4615 gôsh dâr aknûn ke `âshiq mê-ras-ad
basta `ishq ô-râ bi-Habl-in min masad

chûn be-dîd ô chehra-yé Sadr-é jahân
gô'îyâ parrîd-ash az tan morgh-é jân

ham-chô chôb-é khoshk oftâd ân tan-ash
sard shod az farq-é jân tâ nâkhon-ash

har-che kard-and az bakhûr-o az gol-âb
na me-janbîd-o na âmad dar khaTâb

shâh chûn dîd ân muza`far rôy-é ô
pas forôd âmad ze-markab sôy-é ô

4620 goft `âshiq dôst mê-jôy-ad ba-taft
chûn-ke ma`shûq âmad, ân `âshiq be-raft

`âshiq-é Haqq-î-wo Haqq ân-ast k-ô
chûn be-y-ây-ad na-b'w-ad az tô tây-é mô

Sad chô tô fânî-st pêsh-é ân naZar
`âshiq-î bar nafy-é khwad khwâja magar?

4623 sâya'ê-wo `âshiq-î bar âftâb
shams ây-ad, sâya lâ gard-ad shetâb

(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)