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

Mathnawi III: 4694-4702, 4708-4728

The unconscious lover's coming to himself and turning (his)
face in praise and gratitude toward the beloved

4694 (The prime minister said to the king), "O Phoenix Bird1
of God (and) place for the soul to circle2 (in flight)! (I
am) grateful that you have come (down) from the (lofty) Qaf
mountain3 (to meet me).

4695 "O Angel of the Love's resurrection place4 (for lovers)!
O you (who are) the Love (and basis) of love! O love's
heart's desire!

"I hope that the first honor5 you will grant me (is) to
place (your) ear near to my window.6

"Even though you (already) know my (inward) state by
means of (your) purity,7 O nourisher of (your) slave, listen
to my words!

"O incomparable king! My mind has flown (away)8 a
hundred thousand times because of desire for (getting close
to) your ear--

"(To) your hearing, listening, and those life-increasing
smiles of yours.

4700 "(And your being able) to hear (about) my greater and
lesser (concerns), (as well as) the allurements of my
evil-minded soul.

"You accepted my counterfeit coins,9 (the nature of)
which was well-known to you, as if (they were) true coins--

4702 "For the sake of one (who was) rudely over-familiar and
thoughtlessly bold. In your presence of your tolerant mercy,
(all) gentle clemencies are (but) a speck of dust.

. . . . . . .

4708 "My words are (like) the thunder, and this noise and
yearning cry is desiring from the cloud that it should rain
upon the earth.10

"I'm entangled11 between speaking and weeping-- whether I
should cry or speak. What should I do?

4710 "(For) if I say (anything), the weeping will become
lost. But If I don't speak, how can I express thanks and

"O king, the blood of (my) heart is falling from (my)
eyes.12 Do you see what has fallen from my eyes?"13

The thin and weakly man spoke these (words) and began
weeping (so much) that both commoners and nobles wept for

So many shouts of joy rose up from his heart (that) the
people of Bukhara made a circle around him.

He spoke, wept, and laughed so confusedly14 (that) men and
women, small and great (in rank), were amazed.

4715 The (entire) city also were shedding tears together
with him. The men and women were mixed together as (if it
were) the Resurrection.

The sky was saying to the earth (at) that moment, "If
you haven't seen the Resurrection, look (now)!"

The intellect (was) astonished, saying, "What love is
this, and what ecstasy?" So (it might be clear) whether
separation from Him 15 (is) more amazing or union.16

The heavens read the letter (giving announcement) of the
Resurrection17 (and) tore (its) robe18 (all the way) to the
Milky Way.

There is alienation between Love and the two worlds (of
this life and the next).19 (For) there are seventy-two
crazinesses within (Love).20

4720 It is very hidden, but its bewilderment is evident.21
The souls of the spiritual kings22 are sighing in desire for

Its religion23 is different than the seventy-two sects.24
In its presence, the thrones of kings are (nothing more
than) splints (for broken bones).25

The musician of Love plays this (melody at) the time of
the mystical concert:26 "Being a servant (is) a shackle and
being a master (is) a headache."27

Then what is love?28 (It is) an ocean of non-existence.29
(And) there, the feet of the intellect are broken.30

Servanthood and dominion are (well) known. (But)
loverhood is hidden by these two veils.30

4725 If only existence had a tongue (to speak),31 so that it
might take off the veils from the existent ones (of this

O breath of (worldly) existence! Whatever words you may
say about it,32 know that you have (only) bound another veil
upon it.

Those words and feelings (derived from worldly
existence)33 are (adding) a difficulty in (gaining spiritual)
understanding. (For) washing (away) blood with blood is
impossible and absurd.34

4728 (But) since I am close friends with His passion-crazed
(lovers), I continue to sigh forth (the secrets of Love)
within the (bodily) cage.35

--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" (, 4/26/01

Notes on the text, with line number:

1. (4694) Phoenix Bird [`anqâ]: an epithet referring to the
king. It means a legendary bird (also called "sîmorgh") with
magical abilities, associated with conferring good-fortune
as well as kingship and said to live on Mt. Qâf-- a mountain
imagined as surrounding the world. For sufis who wrote in
Persian, this fabulous bird symbolized the transcendent
wisdom of spiritual love. "The `Anqá, which is said to exist
only in name (mawjúdu 'l-ism ma`dúmu 'l-jism), represents
here the Perfect Man [== a term used in the sufi philosophy
of Ibnu 'l-`Arabi, died 1240] whose spirit dwells with God,
though his body is in the world." (Nicholson, Commentary)

2. (4694) place for the soul to circle [maTâf]: refers to the
circling flight of birds of prey-- here around Mt. Qâf.
Insofar as the king of Bukhara also symbolizes God, it
refers to a place for circumambulating worship [Tawâf] such
as around the Ka`ba in Mecca.

3. (4694) that you have come (down) from the (lofty) Qaf
mountain: an expression of humility, referring to the king's
lofty rank as well as his throne. "His showing favor to the
Wakíl [== the prime minister] is described as 'his return
from Mt Qáf', i.e. from his manifestation of the Divine
Majesty and Transcendence." (Nicholson, Commentary)

4. (4695) Angel of the Love's resurrection place:
literally, "(the angel) Israfîl's resurrection place for
Love." "In Islamic belief, it will be the angel Israfîl
(Seraphiel) "whose trumpet-blast at the Resurrection will
give the signal for the spirits of the dead to rejoin their
bodies." (Nicholson, Commentary) Here, this image is used to
mean the beloved who resurrects the "dead" (meaning
miserably separated and exiled) lovers.

5. (4696) honor: literally, "robe (of honor)," referring to
the custom in which kings would publicly bestow robes of
honor on subjects they chose to reward.

6. (4696) that you will place (your) ear near to my window:
"i.e. 'my mouth', according to the commentators; but cf. the
proverb, 'there is a window from heart to heart.'"
(Nicholson, Commentary) "It means, 'that you may place
(your) ear at the window of my mouth and may listen to my
words full of burning (love).'"

7. (4697) by means of (your) purity: "(It means), 'with the
sincerity and purity of your heart.'" (Anqaravi, [17th
century Turkish, translated here into English from a Persian
translation] Commentary)

8. (4698) My mind has flown (away): Nicholson translated,
"did my wits fly away..."

9. (4700) You accepted my counterfeit coins: "(It means)
'my counterfeit and deceitful actions.'" (Anqaravi,

10. (4708) this noise and yearning cry is desiring from the
cloud that it should rain upon the earth: "I.e. 'the sound
of my words incites me to shed tears'." (Nicholson,
Commentary) "his eyes are compared to a cloud and the tears
of his eyes to raining..." (Anqaravi, Commentary

11. (4709) I'm entangled: "literally, 'I am weaving', i.e.
moving to and fro like a [= weaving] shuttle." (Nicholson, Commentary)

12. (4710) the blood of (my) heart is falling from (my)
eyes: "tears of blood" flowing from the eyes is an idiom
meaning grievous suffering.

13. (4710) Do you see what has fallen from my eyes?: means,
"Do you see how much I am suffering?" Nicholson translated,
"see what has befallen me from mine eye!"

14. (4714) He spoke, wept, and laughed so confusedly:
Nicholson translated, "(He was) speaking crazily, weeping
crazily, laughing crazily..."

15. (4717) separation from Him: the word translated
here as "Him" (meaning God), may also refer to the king
of Bukhara-- to the lover's separation from him and then
his union, or reconciliation with him.

16. (4717) more amazing or union: Nicholson
translated the whole line as the speech of the intellect: "the
intellect (was) bewildered, saying, 'What is love and what
is ecstasy? (I know not) whether separation from Him or
union with Him is the more marvellous.'" But it also appears
to be what the people were thinking. Nicholson explained
about this amazement: "because weeping and sobbing are
normally signs of grief, not of ecstatic joy." (Commentary)

"It means: 'This lover, who was weeping and wailing in
(a state of) separation, is also weeping and wailing in the
same manner in (a state of) union? How can the state of
separation be similar to (that of) union?'" (Anqaravi,
Commentary) Anqaravi asserted that the difference between
the two states is that the tears are hot during separation,
and cold during the time of union.

17. (4718) The heavens read the letter (giving announcement)
of the Resurrection: Nicholson interprets this as a
"spiritual resurrection": "the poet is describing the
mystical resurrection and ascension of the spirit..."

18. (4718) (and) tore (its) robe: Nicholson translated,
"(and was so distraught that) it rent its garment..." Refers
to an ancient middle eastern custom of tearing one's
garments when in an extreme state of emotion (grief or
joy). The image of the heavens being torn also refers to
the Day of Judgment, "The Day that We roll up the heavens
like (the way) a (written) scroll (is rolled up)..." (Qur'an

19. (4719) There is alienation between Love and the two
worlds (of this life and the next): Nicholson translated
more literally: "Love hath estrangement with (is a stranger
to) the two worlds..." This is another way of expressing the
sufi teaching that love of God is more essential than desire
for Paradise and dread of Hell. This was expressed by Rabi`a
al-Adawiyya (died between 752-801; as translated by A. J.
Arberry): "O God, if I worship Thee for fear of Hell, burn
me in Hell, and if I worship Thee in hope of Paradise,
exclude me from Paradise; but if I worship Thee for Thy own
sake, grudge me not Thy everlasting beauty."

"This is the sense of the saying [Hadîth]: 'And the two
worlds are forbidden to the (true) lovers among the people
of God' [wa humâ Harâm-an `alà ahli 'llâh] [== more probably,
a saying of the sufis]. And the lovers are alienated with
the two worlds, as well as from the people of the two
worlds-- and they are also distant and exiled even from the
schools and sects [maZhab wa mashrab-ân] (of Islamic law)."
(Anqaravi, Commentary) [Note: Anqaravi is not saying that
these true lovers of God do not follow the essential
requirements of Islam (the five daily prayers, fasting the
month of Ramadan, etc.). Rather, that such sufis feel little
in common with other Muslims who are not mystics, and are
misunderstood by them as well.]

20. (4719) (For) there are seventy-two crazinesses within
(Love): "It means, 'They have various states and different
unusual and strange behaviors regarding which the people of
the two worlds [== this world and the next world] lack the
ability to understand and comprehend. Therefore, the lover's
relationship with the people of the world is (as someone)
crazy and foreign.'" (Anqaravi, Commentary)

21. (4720) It is very hidden, but its bewilderment is
evident: means that (Divine) Love is invisible, but is
evident by the states and behavior of the lovers of God,
whose minds have become overwhelmed by bewilderment,
astonishment, and confused amazement [Hayrat]. "But its
bewilderment and some of its states are evident." (Anqaravi,

22. (4720) the spiritual kings: means the sufi teachers and
dervishes who are "masters of the path." Anqaravi
interpreted it as meaning the prophets and saints.

23. (4721) Its religion: Rumi taught that the "religion of
Love" is distinct, separate, and apart from all religions--
especially in his famous line: "The sect of Love (of God) is
distinct from all religions; the sect and doctrine of the
lovers is God (alone.)" [Mathnawi II: 1770] He emphasized
that pure love of God is what is essential in religion, and
that it is distinct from the external practices of all
religions. In teaching this, he did not affirm the validity
of other religions, but rather affirmed that the true lovers
of God everywhere are of one "sect" or "religion"-- having
pure love of God as their primary religious devotion.

24. (4721) different than the seventy-two sects: refers to
the number of sects which the Prophet Muhammad prophesied
would eventually divide Islam. Only one sect (out of a total
seventy-three) would be the most correct, true, and
faithful. "The holy Prophet-- peace be upon him, and his
companions and the seekers in his Way were also followers of
this same sect of Love. And the holy masters of the seekers
in the [sufi] path [Tarîq] of (spiritual) experience and
love have (also) been (followers of this true sect of
Islam). Returning to the (point): the path of the holy
Prophet-- blessings and peace be upon him, was the path of
love. This noble verse of our holy master [HaZrat-i mawlà-nâ
[= Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi]-- may God sanctify his revered
tomb, gives testimony (of this)." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

25. (4721) splints (for a broken bones) [takhta]: this word
was chosen as a word-play on "throne" [takht] in the same
line. "It means it is lowly and insignificant." (Anqaravi,

26. (4722) the mystical concert [samâ`]: Ecstatic listening,
chanting, singing, moving, and eventually dancing or
whirling to spiritual music and/or poetry. In this line,
Rumi reveals that such gatherings often began with the
chanting of a verse of mystical poetry.

27. (4722) "Being a servant (is) a shackle and being a
master (is) a headache: "The lover is someone who, at his
most essential, has attained to complete poverty and
annihilation (of self). Therefore, in accordance with (the
saying), 'The dervish neither dominates nor is dominated'
[al-faqîr lâ yamlik lâ yumlak], the lover is neither a slave
nor a master [== in regard to this world]. But the rank of
the lover is greater and higher than these two shackles."
(Anqaravi, Commentary)

28. (4723) Then what is love: from the earliest times, sufi
masters were asked basic questions such as this, about
spiritual reality. And their answers, especially ones which
arose spontaneously from the depth of their mystical
experience and wisdom, were greatly valued.

29. (4723) an ocean of non-existence: the word "ocean" means
that love is infinite. Its source in "non-existence" [`adam]
means that it is a reality which originates in the Divine
realm which is invisible to the world of material existence.
The mystic who "tastes" this reality through experiences of
annihilation [fanâ] of one's separate ego-identity, may know
love directly.

30. (4723) the feet of the intellect are broken: "i.e. the
intellect is unable to swim in that Sea." (Nicholson,
Footnote) "The feet of the intellect are broken at the first
level. In other words, the intellect and the thinking
person... since they lack the capacity (for understanding)
the ocean of Love, the feet of their understanding and
perception became broken, And (so) they remain deprived of
being (truly) acquainted with Love." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

30. (4724) loverhood is hidden by these two veils: here,
Rumi gives some explanation of the song about love mentioned
in verse 4722. "To our minds, which can think only in terms
of logical correlation, the unitive state of the mystic is
incomprehensible." (Nicholson, Commentary) Nicholson also
wrote (per the earlier line, III: 4452-54): The beloved
one's love manifests itself in the form of lordship
(rubúbiyyah), the lover's love in the form of servitude
(`ubúdiyyah). When reason, always seeing double, asks in
bewilderment how it is possible for opposite attributes such
as 'lord" (rabb) and 'slave' (`abd) to become one, the
question is answered by mystical experience. What attracts
'lover' to 'beloved' and vice versâ, and harmonises and
unites them, is nothing that exists in the phenomenal world,
but the 'non-existent' Essence and Reality which mystics
know by the name of Love."

"At the moment the lover annihilates his own existence
in the existence of the beloved, he becomes free from these
two shackles, just as he finds deliverance from other
bonds." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

31. (4725) If only existence had a tongue (to speak):
Nicholson translated, "Would that Being had a tongue..."
However, he later disagreed with this interpretation: "I
have followed Fa [= Anqaravi] in supposing that hastí [=
existence] signifies Real Being. There cannot be much doubt,
however, that the word refers to phenomenal being, as it
does in the next verse, and that a vain wish is expressed
merely for the purpose of demonstrating its futility."

"(It means), 'If only Absolute Existence and the Being
of (Divine) Reality [Haqq] had a tongue...' In other words,
if the Reality of Being were to speak the Truth with the
tongue of Truth, at that moment the veils would be lifted
from (phenomenal) existences, which are under the control of
"what is other" (than God). (Then the truth of the verse),
'Everything (that exists) will perish except His Face'
[Qur'an 28:88] would become (revealed)." (Anqaravi,

32. (4726) Whatever words you may say about it: means about
the secrets of Love. "It means, 'Revealing the secrets of
Reality by means of external speech is the same thing as
increasing the veils.'" (Anqaravi, Commentary)

33. (4727) Those words and feelings (derived from worldly
existence): Nicholson translated, "That utterance and (that)
state (of existence)..." And he explained: "I do not think
hál [= state, feelings] in this context bears the mystical
sense [= ecstasy] in which it is generally contrasted with
qál [= utterance, words]..." (Commentary)

34. (4727) (For) washing (away) blood with blood is
impossible and absurd: "The defilements of his existence
cannot become purified, except (by washing) with the water
of Love..." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

35. (4728) I continue to sigh forth (the secrets of Love)
within the (bodily) cage: "This noble verse is from the
tongue of the revered master [HaZrat-é khodâwandagâr = the
words of Mawlànâ Jalalaluddin Rumi, speaking about himself].
He says, 'I, who am the confidant of the secrets of the
crazed lovers of the Divine Presence, and (who am) intimate
friends with His true yearning lovers, am speaking, like a
drunkard, real secrets day and night. So that, by way of
talking about these (spiritual) meanings, I may sigh forth
and reveal the secrets of Reality for the sake of the
intimate ones [maHram-ân] (of God).'" (Anqaravi, Commentary)


bâ-khwêsh-âmadan-é `âshiq-é bê-hôsh wa rôy-âwardan ba-Sanâ
wa shukr-é ma`shûq

4694 goft ay `anqây-é Haq jân-râ maTâf
shukr ke bâz âmad-î z-ân kûh-é qâf

4695 ay sarâfîl-é qiyâmat-gâh-é `ishq
ay tô `ishq-é `ishq-o, ay del-khwâh-é `ishq

awwalîn khil`at ke khwâh-î dâdan-am
gôsh khwâh-am ke neh-î bar rôzan-am

gar che mê-dân-î ba-Safwat Hâl-é man
banda-parwar, gôsh kon aqwâl-é man

Sad hazâr-ân bâr ay Sadr-é farîd
z-ârzûy-é gôsh-é tô hôsh-am parîd

ân samî`î-yé tô-w-ân iSghây-é tô
w-ân tabassum-hây-é jân-afzây-é tô

4700 ân ba-nôshîdan kam-o bêsh-é ma-râ
`ishwa-yé jân-é bad-andêsh-é ma-râ

qalb-hây-é man ke ân ma`lûm-é to-st
bas paZîraft-î tô chûn naqd-é dorost

4702 bahr-é gostâkhîy-é shôkh-é gharra'yê
Hilm-hâ dar pêsh-é Hilm-at Zarra'yê

. . . . . . .

4708 goft-é man ra`d-ast-o în bâng-o Hanîn
z-âbr khwâh-ad tâ be-bâr-ad bar zamîn

man meyân-é goft-o gerya mê-tan-am
yâ be-gery-am yâ be-gôy-am, chûn kon-am?

4710 gar be-gôy-am, fawt mê-gard-ad bukâ
w-ar na-gôy-am, chûn kon-am shukr-o Sanâ?

mê-fotad az dîda khûn-é del shah-â
bîn che oftâd-ast az dîda ma-râ?

în be-goft-o gerya dar shod ân naHîf
ke bar-ô be-g'rîst ham dûn ham sharîf

az del-ash chand-ân bar âmad hây-é hôy
Halqa kard ahl-é bukhârâ gerd-é ôy

khêra gôyân, khêra geryân, khêra khand
mard-o zan khord-o kalân Hayrân shod-and

4715 shahr ham ham-rang-é ô shod ashk-rêz
mard-o zan dar ham shoda chûn rast-khêz

âsmân mê-goft ân dam bâ zamîn
gar qiyâmat-râ na-dîd-ast-î, be-bîn

`aql Hayrân ke che `ishq-ast-o che Hâl
tâ firâq-é ô `ajab-tar yâ wiSâl?

charkh bar khwânda qiyâmat-nâma-râ
tâ majarra bar darîda jâma-râ

bâ dô `âlam `ishq-râ bêgânagî
andar-ô haftâd-o dô dêwânagî

4720 sakht penhân-ast-o paydâ Hayrat-ash
jân-é sulTân-ân-é jân dar Hasrat-ash

ghayr-é haftâd-o dô millat kêsh-é ô
takht-é shâh-ân takhta-bandê pêsh-é ô

muTrib-é `ishq în zan-ad waqt-é samâ`
bandagî band-o khodâwandî Sudâ`

pas che bâsh-ad `ishq? daryây-é `adam
dar shekasta `aql-râ ân-jâ qadam

bandagî-wo sulTanat ma`lûm shod
z-în dô parda `âshiqî maktûm shod

4725 kâshkî hastî zabânê dâshty
tâ ze-hast-ân parda-hâ bar dâshty

har-che gôy-î ay dam-é hastî az ân
parda-yé dêgar bar-ô bast-î ba-d-ân

âfat-é idrâk-é ân qâl-ast-o Hâl
khûn ba-khûn shostan muHâl-ast-o muHâl

4728 man chô bâ sawdây-yân-ash maHram-am
rôz-o shab andar qafaS dar mê-dam-am

(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)