al-Tilimsānī: Loving you is a gilded religion

Some beautiful poems of Ibn ‘Arabi’s Maghrebi student, ‘Afīf al-Dīn al-Tilimsānī:

 

Translation:

I have, in loving you, a golden religion
and a quest like it as a goal
I became a slave well-pleased with what
pleases you, having neither hope nor fear
When the cup of your saki appears
I am the first to drink it
And when your name is sung in poetry
I am the first to thrill in ecstasy
O moon, in my heart’s blood
the breaking of the dawn and falling of the dusk never cease
O Gazelle, in my heart, you have a meadow
and from my tears, a spring
There is no life but your love
from which every joy’s derived

 

Orginal:

لِي فِي هَوَاكُمْ مَذْهَبٌ مُذْهَبُ                   ومَطْلَبٌ مَامِثْلُهُ مَطْلَبُ
أًَصْبَحْتُ عَبْداً رَاضِياً بالَّذِي            تَرْضُونَ لاَ أَرْجُو وَلاَ أَرْهَبُ
إِذَا تَجَلَّى كَاسُ سَاقِيكُمُ                  كُنْتُ لَهُ أَوَّلَ مَنْ يَشْرَبُ
وَإِنْ تَغَنَّى بِاسْمِكُمْ مُنْشِدٌ                    فَإِنَّني أَوَّلُ مَنْ يَطْرَبُ
يَا قَمَراً في مُهْجَتِي لَمْ يَزَلْ               مَطْلَعُهُ المَّشْرقُ وَالمَغْرِبُ
وَيَا غَزَالاً في فُؤادِي لَهُ           مَرْعىً وَمِنْ دَمْعِي لَهُ مَشْرَبُ
مَا العَيْشُ إلاَّ في هَوَاكَ الَّذِي                      كُلُّ نَعِيمٍ فَلَهُ يُنْسَبُ

 

Translation:

O you living in my heart
when will I win intimacy?
You robbed me
but I am happy with my theft
O nomads of the blazing valley
You are the best of nomads
Your guest seeks refuge
and the contract of his clientage is a captive heart
I have not forgotten your love
May I never forget my passion, my love!
If you are pleased by my removal
then that is my heart’s desire
My spirit is yours if you accept it
and the spirit is the lover’s utmost
You are the treasure of my heart
on the Day of Return and my sufficiency
I love you and by my right
I was perplexed by my share of amazement
I leaned drunkenly, and why not?
For my drink was from you
And my beloved poured drinks for me
and singled me out without my friends
My eyes were not blind, beholding
openly, the brilliance of my Lord’s face
I long for the sweet myrtle and tamarisk
and the remembrance of the laurel and the dune

 

 

Original:

يَا ساكِنينَ بِقَلْبِي            مَتَى أَفُوزُ بِقُرْبِ
سَلَبَتُمُونِي وَلَكِنْ             أَنَا السَّعِيدُ بِسَلْبِي
يَا عُرْبَ وَاديَ المُصَلاَّ             لأَنْتُمُ خَيْرُ عُرْبِ
نَزِيلُكُم مُسْتَهَامُ            مُوَلَّهُ القَلْبِ مَسْبي
وَلَسْتُ أَسْلُو هَوَاكُمْ         حَاشَا غَرَامِي وَحُبِّي
إذا رَضِيتُمْ تَلاَفِي           فَذَاكَ مَطْلُوبُ قَلْبِي
رُوحِي لَكُمْ إِنْ قَبِلْتُمْ         وَالرُّوحُ جَهْدُ المُحِبِّ
أَنْتُمْ ذَخِيرَةُ قَلْبِي           يَوْمَ المَعَادِ وَحَسْبِي
عَشِقْتُكُمْ وَبِحَقِّي     إِنْ تِهْتُ مِنْ فَرْطِ عُجْبي
وَمِلْتُ سُكْراً وَلِمْ لاَ            وَمِنْكُمُ كَانَ شُرْبي
وَقَدْ سَقَانِي حَبِيبي       وَخَصَّنِي دُونَ صَحْبِي
وَلَسْتُ بَعْدَ عَيَانِي         جَهْراً سَنَا وَجْهِ رَبِّي
أَصْبُو لِرَنْدٍ وَبَانٍ            وَذِكْرِ غَارٍ وَكُثْبِ

Translation:

I witnessed your self in us, while it is singular,
as multiple possessing attributes and names
In you we witnessed, after our manyness
an essence in which the seen and seer are united

 

Original:

شهدت نفسك فينا وهي واحده       كثيرةً ذات اوصاف واسماءي

ونحن فيك شهدنا بعد كثرتنا       عيناً بها اتّحد المرئي والرائي

 

When I die—Rumi and al-Ghazali

Two of the most beautiful death-bed poems from two great Sufis. I pray to live in such a way that someone will recite these at my burial.

Rumi

Translation:

When my bier moveth on the day of death
Think not my heart is in this world.
Do not weep for me and cry “woe, woe!”
Thou wilt fall in the devil’s snare: that is woe
When thou seest my hearse, cry not, “gone, gone!”
Union and meeting are mine in that hour
If thou commit me to the grave, say not “Farewell, farewell”
For the grave is a curtain hiding the communion of paradise
After beholding descent, consider resurrection
Why should setting be injurious to the sun and moon?
To thee it seems a setting, but ’tis a rising’
Tho’ the vault seems a prison, ’tis the release of a soul
What seed went down into the earth but it grew?
Why this doubt of thine as regards the seed of man?
What bucket was lowered but it came out brimful?
Why should the Joseph of the Spirit complain of the well?
Shut thy mouth on this side, and open it beyond
For in placeless air will by thy triumphal song.

(From R.A. Nicholson, Selected Poems form the Divani Shamsi Tabriz, p. 94-96)

Original:

به روز مرگ چو تابوت من روان باشد
گمان مبر که مرا درد این جهان باشد
برای من مگری و مگو دریغ دریغ
به دوغ دیو درافتی دریغ آن باشد
جنازه‌ام چو ببینی مگو فراق فراق
مرا وصال و ملاقات آن زمان باشد
مرا به گور سپاری مگو وداع وداع
که گور پرده جمعیت جنان باشد
فروشدن چو بدیدی برآمدن بنگر
غروب شمس و قمر را چرا زبان باشد
تو را غروب نماید ولی شروق بود
لحد چو حبس نماید خلاص جان باشد
کدام دانه فرورفت در زمین که نرست
چرا به دانه انسانت این گمان باشد
کدام دلو فرورفت و پر برون نامد
ز چاه یوسف جان را چرا فغان باشد
دهان چو بستی از این سوی آن طرف بگشا
که های هوی تو در جو لامکان باشد

 

al-Ghazali

Translation:

Say unto brethren when they see me dead,
And weep for me, lamenting me in sadness:
“Think ye I am this corpse ye are to bury?
I swear by God, this dead one is not I.
 I in the Spirit am, and this my body
My dwelling was, my garment for a time.
I am a treasure: hidden I was beneath
This talisman of dust, wherein I suffered.
I am a pearl; a shell imprisoned me,
 But leaving it, all trials I have left.
I am a bird, and this was once my cage;
But I have flown, leaving it as a token.
I praise God who hath set me free,
and made For me a dwelling in the heavenly heights.
 Ere now I was a dead man in your midst,
But I have come to life, and doffed my shroud.”

(Translation by Martin Lings)

Original:

 قل لإخوان رأوني ميتا                فبكوني ورثوني حزنا
أتظنون بأني ميتكم                   ليس هذا الميت والله أنا
أنا في الصور وهذا جسدي        كان لباسي وقميصي زمنا
أنا در قد حواني صدف               طرت عنه وبقى مرتهنا
أنا عصفور وهذا قفصي           كان سجني فتركت السجنا
أشكر الله الذي خلصني              وبنا لي في المعالي وطنا
كنت قبل اليوم ميتا بينكم                 فحييت وخلعت الكفنا

 

Loving TaHa is Delightful

One of my favorite poems in praise of the Prophet, from Mauritania:

Translation (a bit of liberty taken to approximate the metre of the original poem):

Loving TaHa is delightful…How lovely is that Great Noble!
He’s the treasure of creation, and to all goodness, a doorway
And he’s peace and our protection, and he’s food and our refreshment
He’s a pearl and he’s a treasure, he’s the kernel and quintessence
The land without love of TaHa…is a wasteland so forsaken
And hearts without love of TaHa…are ruins, wrecked and desolated
And in each and every heart is….a portion from TaHa’s passion
He’s the soul’s enchantment, truly…and he is the answered prayer
No beloved can distract you….from him, nor hearts, nor violins
Without that, I don’t care at all…for any blessing or torment

Original:

ُحبُ طه يُستطاب .. حبّذا ذاك الجناب ..
ُفهو ذخرٌ للبرايا .. و هو للخيرات باب ..
ُو هو أمنٌ و أمانٌ .. و طعامٌ و شراب ..
ُو هو درٌ و هو كنزٌ .. و هو لبٌّ و لُباب ..
ُإنَّ أرضاً ليس فيها .. حبُ طهَ ليَباب ..
ُو قلوباً ليس فيها .. حبُ طه لخراب ..
ُفليكنْ في كل قلْبٍ .. من هوىَ طهَ نصاب ..
ُفهو رُقيا النفسِ حقاً .. و الدعاء المستجاب ..
ُلا تُملْكُم عنه ميٌّ .. أو لُبابٌ أو رَباب ..
ُلا تبالُوا بنعيمٍ .. دون ذاكَ أو عقاب ..

She walks in beauty like the night…

One of my favorite English poems of all time is reminiscent of Sufi poetry about Layla, whose name means “night,” and who symbolizes the beloved Divine Essence/Essence of the Self.

Lord Byron

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

 

 

Rumi
Translation:
 You look through my two eyes, you are closer to me than myself
Your light shines brighter than the moon
Come into the garden so that the glory of the rose garden is humbled
that it may be more beautiful and blooming than a hundred gardens and rosebeds
so that the cedar will hide its height in shame
that the tongue of the lily will declare you more lily than itself
When you are kind, you are the candle of the soul, soft and pliable as wax
When you are aloof, you are more iron than iron
Do no be wild because you will meet her face to face
her charm will make you as cool and pliant as the earth
Throw away your armor and bare your chest at the moment of battle
there is no better protection nor armor than her.
That’s why in every Sufi retreat, all the openings are are sealed shut
so that from your light the house becomes more illumined

 

 

Orignal:
در دو چشم من نشین ای آن که از من منتری
تا قمر را وانمایم کز قمر روشنتری
اندرآ در باغ تا ناموس گلشن بشکند
ز آنک از صد باغ و گلشن خوشتر و گلشنتری
تا که سرو از شرم قدت قد خود پنهان کند
تا زبان اندرکشد سوسن که تو سوسنتری
وقت لطف ای شمع جان مانند مومی نرم و رام
وقت ناز از آهن پولاد تو آهنتری
چون فلک سرکش مباش ای نازنین کز ناز او
نرم گردی چون زمین گر از فلک توسنتری
زان برون انداخت جوشن حمزه وقت کارزار
کز هزاران حصن و جوشن روح را جوشنتری
زان سبب هر خلوتی سوراخ روزن را ببست
کز برای روشنی تو خانه را روشنتری

 

Ibn al-Farid

 

Translation:
Every part of me kissed her veil
With every mouth whose touch held every kiss
If she dissolved my body, she would see in every atom
each and every heart filled with each and every love

 

Original:

ويلثم مني كلّ جزء لثامها
بكلّ فم فى لثمه كلّ قبلة
فلو بسطت جسمي رأت كلّ جوهر
به كلّ قلب فيه كلّ محبة

 

Translation:

If I sought consolation, who would be there to be my guide
when in love, every leader follows my lead?
In my every limb is every yearning for her
and every longing tugs at my reins
As she bends, I imagine every hip she moves
to be a branch in a sand dune topped by the full moon
Mine is every limb filled with every inner core
wherein, when she glances, is embedded every arrow
And if she dissolved my body she would find every atom
every heart inhabited by every human love
In union with her, a year to me is but an instant,
an hour’s separation like a year.
When we met at nightfall, as the twin straight paths
between her dwelling and my tents brought us together,
We moved away a little from the tribe,
avoiding spies and slanderers with their deceitful talk
I spread my cheek upon the ground for her to walk upon
and she said, “Good news, now you may kiss my veil.”
But this my soul did not permit me, jealously
shielding her from me, for higher is my purpose
We passed the night in hope as my wish decreed
and I saw the world my kingdom and time itself my slave.

 

Translation modified from Stefan Sperl’s in Stefan Sperl, C. Shackle, Qasida Poetry in Islamic Asia and Africa

 

Original:

بمنْ أهتَدي في الحبِّ لو رُمْتُ سَلوَةً
وبي يقتَدي ، في الحبِّ ، كلُّ إمامِ

وفي كلِّ عُضوٍ فيَّ كلُّ صبابَةٍ
إليها ، وشَوْقٍ جَاذِبٍ بِزِمَامي

تَثَنَّتْ ، فَخِلْنا كلَّ عِطْفٍ تهُزُّهُ
قَضيبَ نقاً ، يَعْلُوهُ بَدْرُ تَمامِ

ولي كلُّ عُضوٍ ، فيهِ كلُّ حشىً بها
إذا ما رَنَتْ ، وَقْعٌ لكلِّ سِهامِ

ولوْ بسطتْ جسْمي رأتْ كلَّ جوهرٍ
بهِ كلُّ قلبٍ ، فيهِ كلُّ غَرامِ

وفي وَصْلِها ، عامٌ لدَيَّ كَلَحْظَةٍ
وساعَةُ هِجْرَانٍ عَلَيَّ كَعَامِ

ولمَّا تَلاقَينا عِشاءً ، وضَمَّنا
سواءُ سبيلَيْ دَارِها وخِيامي

ومِلْنا كذا شيئاً عنِ الحيِّ ، حيثُ لا
رَقيبٌ ، ولا وَاشٍ بِزَوْرِ كَلامِ

فرَشْتُ لها خَدِّي ، وِطاءً ، على الثَّرَى
فقالتْ : لكَ البُشرَى بِلَثمِ لِثامي

فما سَمَحَتْ نَفسي بذلِكَ ، غَيْرَةً
على صَوْنِها مِنِّي لِعزِّ مرامي

وبِتْنا ، كما شاءَ اقتراحي ، على المُنى
أرَى المُلكَ مُلكي والزَّمانَ غُلامي

 

Shushtari

Translation:

You seek Layla, but she reveals herself within you
You think she’s other, but she’s not other than you
And that’s a madness that is apparent to the cult of lovers
So be careful, for otherness is the essence of being cut off
Don’t you see how her beauty envelops you?
She disappears only when you reject part of yourself
“Come close to me,” you say to she who is your All
And when she loves you, she leads you to yourself
Meeting her is bliss beyond description
and none reach her, save those who see meaning without forms
I was so in love with her that I would have vanished in her love
had she not sworn that I only obey her
I concealed her from people with fantasy
After having revealed her, truly, inside my cloak.
I hid her from myself, with the robe of my worlds,
And from my envy, out of the severity of my jealousy
O Dazzling beauty! Should the light of your face
Touch the eyes of a blind man, he would see every atom
She is adorned with each and every charm and grace of beauty
And wherever she appears, she is desired by those who love.

 

Original:

أَتَطلُبُ لَيلى وَهيَ فيكَ تَجَلَّت                  وَتَحسَبُها غَيراً وَغَيرُكَ لَيسَتِ

فَذابلُهُ في مِلَّةِ الحُبِّ ظاهِرٌ                   فَكُن فَطِناً فَالغيرُ عَينُ القَطيعَةِ

أَلَم تَرَها أَلقَت عَلَيكَ جَمالَها               وَلَو لَم تَقُم بِالذاتِ مِنكَ اِضمَحَلَّتِ

تَقولُ لَها اُدنُ وَهيَ كُلَّك ثُمَّ إِن                    حَبَتكَ بِوَصلٍ أَوهَمَتكَ تَدَلَّتِ

عَزيزٌ لِقاها لا يَنالُ وِصالَها                 سِوى مَن يَرى مَعنىً بِغَيرِ هَوِيَّةِ

كَلِفت بِها حَتّى فَنِيتُ بِحُبِّها                       فَلَو أَقسَمَت أَنّيَ إِيّاها لَبَرَّتِ

وَغالَطتُ فيها الناسَ بِالوَهمِ بَعدَما                      تَبَيَّنتها حَقّاً بِداخِلِ بُردَتي

وَغَطَّيتُها عَنّي بِثَوبِ عَوالِمي                 وَعَن حاسِدي فيها لِشِدَّةِ غيرَتي

بَديعَة حُسنٍ أَو بَدا نورُ وَجهِها                 إِلى أَكمَهٍ أَضحى يَرى كُلَّ ذَرَّةِ

تحلّت بأنواع الجمال بأسرها                  فهام بها أهل الهوى حيثُ حلّت

You are Light

One of my favorite poems in praise of the Prophetic Light:

 

 

 

 

Translation:
Prayers of God upon You, Light
Light of all the dwelling places
O you, best of all in spaces
Messenger of God, You are
You are light in form and shape
As “light upon light” you came
The Qur’an came down by the same
As a lamp, oil, and light
shining, you came well-arranged
The world does not exist until
it appears through you beautiful
In traditions you have said
that this world takes after you
You from the Holy Presence came
while you’ve never left the same
You were before the cosmos was
past-time is as before-time was
Absolute you were in full,
then took on limits beautiful
Nothing exists in any way
Save the Light, indeed I say
From the unseen, suddenly
It came down from heights, so lofty
God’s Messenger, you have attained
More than virtues can contain
God’s Messenger you have remained
And pliant to you I remain
So al-‘Alawi attends
by your grace, the desired end.

 

 

 

Original:

صلى الله عليكَ يا نـور      يـا نــور كــل المـنـازِل

يا خيرَ من في المنازل

يــا رســولَ الـلَــهِ أنـتــا       أنــتَ الـنـور المتـشـكّـل
نـورٌ عـلـى نــورٍ جئـتـا       بــــه الــقــرآنُ تــنـــزّل
مشـكّـاةً نـــوراً وزيـتــاً       ضـيـاءً جـئــتَ مـعـتـدِل
لا يكـونُ الـكـونُ حـتّـى       يـظـهـر بــــكَ مـتـجَـمَّـل
أنــت فــي الآثــار قُلـتـا        ذا الـكـونُ مـنـكَ تـمـثّـل
من حضرةِ القدس جئتا        وأنــتَ فيـهـا لــم تـــزَل
كنـتَ قبـل الكـونِ كُنـتـا       والأبـــــد مـــثـــلُ الأزَل
مطلـقـاً كـنــتَ فـصِـرتا         بـالــقــيــودِ مـتــجــمّــل
ليسَ في الوجـودِ البتـه         إلّا الـنـورُ قـلــتُ أجـــل
بــدا مــن الغـيـبِ بغـتَـه         مـن أعلـى العـلا تـنـزّل
يــا رســولَ الـلَـهِ حُـزتـا         فضل الفضلِ والفضائل
يــا رســولَ الـلَـهِ دمـتــا         ودُمـــتُ لــــك مُـمـتـثِـل
فالعـلاوي يرجـو حـتّـى        يبـلُـغ بـرضــاك الأمـــل

 

 

 

 

Near and Far, Fanā’ and Baqā’

A collection of verses from West African poets on the theme…

The first is said to have been improvised extemporaneously by Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm ibn Ya’qūb al-Kānemī (from Kanem in contemporary Northeastern Nigeria) upon his visit to the Almohad Sultan Abū Yūsuf Ya’qūb al-Manṣūr (d. 1199) in Marrakech. The Nigerian poet composed and recited these verse on the spot upon entering the Sultan’s presence:

He removed his veil, but out of awe, my eyes still saw him through a veil
His favour drew me near, but out of awe, found myself distant in this nearness.

 

Original:

ازال حجابه عنّي وعيني    تراه من المهابت في حجابي

وقرّبني تفضّله ولاكن  بعدت مهابتاً عند إقترابي

 

See this post for more on this theme and its symbolism…

 

The second is from a contemporary Tijānī scholar from Mauritania:

 

I was annihilated in love for him and I subsisted until
I was annihilated from that annihilation and from subsistence as well.

 

-Muhammad Ould Shaykh ‘Abd Allah

 

Original:

فنيت بحبه و بقيت حتى    فنيت عن  الفناء وعن البقاء

-لمحمد ولد شيخ عبدالله

As is this last set of verses:

I love the the sun when it appears, since it reminds me of the appearance of matchless love
And no star is seen when she comes forth, either from above or from below
And so, O Maya, you have appeared in the eye of my heart, and everything other than you has disappeared
So I see you in whatever is not you, and I don’t see other than you whenever I see you

 

Shaykh Manna Abba “Shaykhānī” wuld Muḥammad al-Ṭulbā, (modified from the translation by Muṣṭafā Okon-Briggs)

 

Original:

أحبّ الشّمس تطهر اذ تحاكي       ظهور الحبّ من غير اشتراك
فلا نجم يلوح متى تبدّت          ولو من غفرة أو من سماك
كذا يامىّ أنت لعين قلبي       ظهرت فعاب عنها من سواك
أراك إذا رأيت سواك فيه          ولستأرى سواك متى أراك

 

from: https://floodplains.tumblr.com/tagged/madh

 

 

Original:

Your beauty’s burned my vision black
      I’ve stared into the sun too long
and when my sight comes blinking back
      all things your face appears upon

 

Ibn al-Fāriḍ—My heart told me

Translation:

1) My heart told me that you are my destroyer my soul is your hostage/ransom whether you know it or not
2) I have not honored the right of your love if I do not die in it out of sorrow, and someone like me is one who honors (his promises)
3) What do I have but my soul? One who gives himself (his soul) for him who he loves in love is not extravagant
4) If you are pleased by it, then you draw near to me o futility of effort, if you didn’t draw near
5) O you my preventer of sweet dreams, giver of the clothes of sickness and with them my debilitating love
6) Have mercy on my last breath and what you have left for me of my perishing body and afflicted heart
7) Love remains and union eludes me (or is my delay) and patience fades and the reunion eludes me (or is my delay)
8) I am not free of other people being jealous of you so don’t waste my sleeplessness because of the fabrications of slanderous imagination
9) Ask the stars of the night, has slumber visited my eyelids? how can you visit someone you don’t know?
10) It is no wonder my eye is stingy with closing its lids while it is generous in the flowing of torrential tears
11) I saw the terror of the day of judgement in what occurred of the pain of separation and the scene of parting
12) If there is no reunion with you then promise it to me, and then you can postpone it
13) Postponement from you, in my eyes, if fulfilling is scarce is as sweet as union with a lover
14) I inclined towards the breaths of the wind biding my time
And to the face of the one that transmits his fragrance*
15) Perhaps the fire of my wings will go out from its blowing
And I wish that it would not go out
16) O friends of mine, you are my hope, and whosoever
Calls you “friends of mine” will be sufficed
17) They returned from what you (pl.)* were upon of fulfillment
Out of generosity, for indeed I am that faithful friend
18) By your lives, by your lives, I swear and in my life, I have not sworn by other than your lives
19) If my soul were in my possession, if I granted it to the one who brings good tidings of your arrival, I would not be just
20) Don’t consider me in my desire to behave unnaturally my love for you is by nature not by strained effort
21) I have concealed my love for you, it concealed me in grief until it was almost as if I was concealed from myself by my life
22) So I hid it from myself for if I were to disclose it I would have found it more elusive than hidden kindness
23) I say to one who meddles with love you expose yourself to affliction, so be a target
24) You are the victim of whomsoever you love so choose for yourself in love whom you select
25) Say to the critics, you have prolonged my blame out of desiring that blame from love would stop me
26) Stop being harsh with me and taste the flavor of Love and when you have loved, then after that be harsh (with me)
27) The secret has come out with the love of the one, who if in darkness (her) veil was rent, I would say, o moon, hide
28) And if one other than me is content with the specters of his imagination I am the one who is not content (even) with reunion with the beloved
29) My love is endowed to him and I am not cured of my affliction by less than my annihilation
30) By his love, and he is my right hand (i.e. my oath), and he suffices as an oath and I extol him almost as much as the Qur’an*
31) If he said flirtatiously: stand on hot embers I would stand obediently and I would not hesitate
32) If he is one who it pleases to step on my cheek I would put it on the ground and not be proud
33) Don’t deny my passion for what pleases him even if he does not take pity on me with union
34) Love prevailed, so I obeyed the command of my passion and in so doing, regarding him, I disobeyed the prohibition of my blamer
35) From me to him is the humbleness of submission and from him to me is the glory of the preventer and the power of the humbler
36) He made religion familiar and I have a heart that has never ceased being not attached to anything but his kindness (not ceased to encounter anything but his kindness)
37) O how lovely is everything which he is contented with and his saliva, o how sweet it is in my mouth
38) If they let Jacob hear a mention of the fineness of his face he would forget the beauty of Joseph
39) Or if Job saw him in a short visit, in a light sleep long ago he would have been cured of his affliction
40) Every full moon and every lithe physique will fall in love with him when he appears as approaching
41) If I say: Every passion (in the world) I have for you He says: I have the glory and every beauty is in me
42) His virtues are perfected and if he had given radiance to the moon when full it would not wane (be eclipsed)
43) With the arts of the describers of his beauty, time expires and nevertheless there is in him that which has not been described
44) I have spent all of myself for the sake of his love at the hand of his beauty so I praise the goodness of my expense
45) The eye desires the form of the beauty which is used by my spirit to love the hidden meaning (spiritually)
46) Make me happy dear brother and enrich me with reports of him sprinkle upon my hearing his attractions and please it
47) So that I see with the eye of hearing the testimony/sight of his beauty spiritually bestow this upon me and honour me
48) O sister of Sa‘ad* from my beloved you came to me with a message and you brought it with loving-kindness
49) I heard what did not hear and I saw what you did not see and I knew what you did not know
50) If he should visit you, o innards, be rent to shreds and if he should leave, o eye, weep
51) There is no harm in distance, for the one whom I love If he is absent form the pupil of my eye, nevertheless he is in me

 

*The breaths of the wind is a stock imagine of the distant lover catching the scent of the Beloved’s perfume. The mystical interpretation is that these breaths (and the face of the second hemistich) are God’s manifestations in the sensible world that comfort the aspirant. Line 15 points out that these comforts can also threaten to blow out the fire of love (if the aspirant becomes too attached to sensible pleasures in their own right), which the aspirant does not want. The switch to addressing the beloved with the plural (“kuntum”) indicates that the speaker is addressing the manyness along with the oneness of God, the Beloved and her breaths, God along with his manifestations.

 

*This could either mean that the poet extols the beloved almost as much as he extols the Qur’an , or that the poet extols the beloved almost as much as he is extolled in the Qur’an (the beloved being the Prophet).

 

*This is a reference to Halima, the wet-nurse of the Prophet

 

Original:

 

قلْبي يُحدّثُني بأنّكَ مُتلِفي، روحي فداكَ عرفتَ أمْ لمْ تعرفِ
لم أقضِ حقَّ هَوَاكَ إن كُنتُ الذي لم أقضِ فيهِ أسى ً، ومِثلي مَن يَفي
ما لي سِوى روحي، وباذِلُ نفسِهِ، في حبِّ منْ يهواهُ ليسَ بمسرفِ
فَلَئنْ رَضيتَ بها، فقد أسْعَفْتَني؛ يا خيبة َ المسعى إذا لمْ تسعفِ
يا مانِعي طيبَ المَنامِ، ومانحي ثوبَ السِّقامِ بهِ ووجدي المتلفِ
عَطفاً على رمَقي، وما أبْقَيْتَ لي منْ جِسميَ المُضْنى ، وقلبي المُدنَفِ
فالوَجْدُ باقٍ، والوِصالُ مُماطِلي، والصّبرُ فانٍ، واللّقاءُ مُسَوّفي
لم أخلُ من حَسدٍ عليكَ، فلاتُضعْ سَهَري بتَشنيعِ الخَيالِ المُرْجِفِ
واسألْ نُجومَ اللّيلِ:هل زارَ الكَرَى جَفني، وكيفَ يزورُ مَن لم يَعرِفِ؟
لا غَروَ إنْ شَحّتْ بِغُمضِ جُفونها عيني وسحَّتْ بالدُّموعِ الدُّرَّفِ
وبماجرى في موقفِ التَّوديعِ منْ ألمِ النّوى ، شاهَدتُ هَولَ المَوقِفِ
إن لم يكُنْ وَصْلٌ لَدَيكَ، فَعِدْ بهِ أملي وماطلْ إنْ وعدتَ ولاتفي
فالمطلُ منكَ لديَّ إنْ عزَّ الوفا يحلو كوصلٍ منْ حبيبٍ مسعفِ
أهفو لأنفاسِ النَّسيمِ تعلَّة ً ولوجهِ منْ نقلتْ شذاهُ تشوُّفي
فلَعَلَ نارَ جَوانحي بهُبوبِها أنْ تَنطَفي، وأوَدّ أن لا تنطَفي
يا أهلَ ودِّي أنتمُ أملي ومنْ ناداكُمُ يا أهْلَ وُدّي قد كُفي
عُودوا لَما كُنتمْ عليهِ منَ الوَفا، كرماً فإنِّي ذلكَ الخلُّ الوفي
وحياتكمْ وحياتكمْ قسماً وفي عُمري، بغيرِ حياتِكُمْ، لم أحْلِفِ
لوْ أنَّ روحي في يدي ووهبتها لمُبَشّري بِقَدومِكُمْ، لم أنصفِ
لا تحسبوني في الهوى متصنِّعاً كلفي بكمْ خلقٌ بغيرِ تكلُّفِ
أخفيتُ حبَّكمُ فأخفاني أسى ً حتى ، لعَمري، كِدتُ عني أختَفي
وكَتَمْتُهُ عَنّي، فلو أبدَيْتُهُ لَوَجَدْتُهُ أخفى منَ اللُّطْفِ الخَفي
ولقد أقولُ لِمن تَحَرّشَ بالهَوَى : عرَّضتَ نفسكَ للبلا فاستهدفِ
أنتَ القتيلُ بأيِّ منْ أحببتهُ فاخترْ لنفسكَ في الهوى منْ تصطفي
قلْ للعذولِ أطلتَ لومي طامعاً أنَّ الملامَ عنِ الهوى مستوقفي
دعْ عنكَ تعنيفي وذقْ طعمَ الهوى فإذا عشقتَ فبعدَ ذلكَ عنِّفِ
بَرَحَ الخَفاءَبحُبّ مَن لو، في الدّجى سفرَ الِّلثامَ لقلتُ يا بدرُ اختفِ
وإن اكتفى غَيْري بِطيفِ خَيالِهِ، فأنا الَّذي بوصالهِ لا أكتفي
وَقْفاً عَلَيْهِ مَحَبّتي، ولِمِحنَتي، بأقَلّ مِنْ تَلَفي بِهِ، لا أشْتَفي
وهَواهُ، وهوَ أليّتي، وكَفَى بِهِ قَسَماً، أكادُ أُجِلّهُ كالمُصْحَفِ
لوْ قالَ تِيهاً:قِفْ على جَمْرِ الغَضا لوقفتُ ممتثلاً ولمْ أتوقفِ
أوْ كانَ مَنْ يَرْضَى ، بخدّي، موطِئاً لوضعتهُ أرضاً ولمْ أستنكفِ
لا تنكروا شغفي بما يرضى وإنْ هوَ بالوصالِ عليَّ لمْ يتعطَّفِ
غَلَبَ الهوى ، فأطَعتُ أمرَ صَبابَتي منْ حيثُ فيهِ عصيتُ نهيَ معنِّفي
مني لَهُ ذُلّ الخَضوع، ومنهُ لي عزُّ المنوعِ وقوَّة ُ المستضعفِ
ألِفَ الصّدودَ، ولي فؤادٌ لم يَزلْ، مُذْ كُنْتُ، غيرَ وِدادِهِ لم يألَفِ
ياما أميلحَ كلَّ ما يرضى بهِ ورضابهُ ياما أحيلاهُ بفي
لوْ أسمعوا يعقوبَ ذكرَ ملاحة ٍ في وجههِ نسيَ الجمالَ اليوسفي
أوْ لوْ رآهُ عائداً أيُّوبُ في سِنَة ِ الكَرَى ، قِدماً، من البَلوَى شُفي
كلُّ البدورِ إذا تجلَّى مقبلاً ، تَصبُو إلَيهِ، وكُلُّ قَدٍّ أهيَفِ
إنْ قُلْتُ:عِندي فيكَ كل صَبابة ٍ؛ قالَ:المَلاحة ُ لي، وكُلُّ الحُسْنِ في
كَمَلتْ مَحاسِنُهُ، فلو أهدى السّنا للبدرِ عندَ تمامهِ لمْ يخسفِ
وعلى تَفَنُّنِ واصِفيهِ بِحُسْنِهِ، يَفْنى الزّمانُ، وفيهِ ما لم يُوصَفِ
ولقدْ صرفتُ لحبِّهِ كلِّي على يدِ حسنهِ فحمدتُ حسنَ تصرُّفي
فالعينُ تهوى صورة َ الحسنِ الَّتي روحي بها تصبو إلى معنى ً خفي
أسْعِدْ أُخَيَّ، وغنِّ لي بِحَديثِهِ، وانثُرْ على سَمْعي حِلاهُ، وشَنِّفِ
لأرى بعينِ السّمعِ شاهِدَ حسْنِهِ معنى ً فأتحفني بذاكَ وشرِّفِ
يا أختَ سعدٍ منْ حبيبي جئتني بِرسالَة ٍ أدّيْتِها بتَلَطّفِ
فسمعتُ مالمْ تسمعي ونظرتُ ما لمْ تنظري وعرفتُ مالمْ تعرفي
إنْ زارَ، يوماً ياحَشايَ تَقَطَّعي، كَلَفاً بهِ، أو سارَ، يا عينُ اذرِفي
ما للنّوى ذّنْبٌ، ومَنْ أهوى مَعي، إنْ غابَ عنْ إنسانِ عيني فهوَ في

 

 

Shushtari—Red, Red Wine

Shushtari

I drink wine from the cup
and from myself I approach myself
In myself it is myself I love
For it is my spirit, my reality
the fine wine that fills me and quenches my thirst
I care not what others may say
I seek in myself what I already have
Drink up in good health
the vintage ancient and pure
My allusions are from me and for me, so learn
Don’t resist me, understand
I am everything, the center of totality—accept this.
Forget about him and her, let go of Zayd and Mayya
Take pleasure in loving truly
What’s passing will pass away—but my life remains
My life is not separate from my qualities
for my essence is my all and my all is my essence
My essence shines like the sun
and from myself, I approach myself
in myself, it is myself I love

Original:

I was poured a cup of timeless love
not of this world, nor of heaven
In it I became unique in my time
bearing my banner amongst men
Mine is an amazing path of love unsurpassed
How lucky I am!
Hey you who love him, [know that] the beautiful one has many followers
If you are unkind to them, what misfortune!
Far be it from you, dear ones of Najd
to cut the ties of hope between you and me

 

Original:

سقيت كأس الهوى قديما      من غير أرضى ولا سمائى
أصبحت به فريدعصرى          بين الورى حاملا لوائى
لي مذهب مذهب عجيب          في الحبّ قد فاق ياهنائى
يامن همو للجميل أهيل نجد          أن تقطعوا منكمو رجائى

 

 

My drink and my ride are sweet
and my beloved takes care of me
O my friends, forgive me
my prostration and approach
A fine and fragrant wine
all light shines forth from it
The pourer pours it
May it be my reckoning
I am drunk on love
and I have no comfort without it
Whenever I call out: “O God!”
My response is: “at your service…”

 

Original:

طَابَ نُقْلِي وَشرَابي             وحَبيبي اعتنابي
فاعْذَرُوني يا صِحابِي       في سُجُودِي واقْترابِي
خمرةٌ رَاقَ شَذاهَا           كلُّ نُورٍ مِن سَناهَا
قَامَ سَاقِيها سَقَاهَا            أجْعَلَوهَا احتِسَابِي
أنَا سَكْرانُ مِن هَواهُ           لَيْسَ لي راحٌ سواهُ
كلَّمَا نَادَيْتُ يا هُو             كان لَبَّيْكَ جَوابي

 

 

My love served me cups
of a wine unpressed
the drink of the pure
in which all things appear
I took a sip
and fell for you, o majestic!
My bride was unveiled to me
and I saw nothing but perfection
My intoxication got me drunk
as it did other men
this wine revives souls
whoever drinks it gets drunk
unveiled to me like a bride
and I saw the sun and moon
Pay attention brother, hold your tongue
and hold on to this wondrous secret
so that the veils will be lifted from you
until you see the beloved
from yourself and in yourself, she is everyhting
if you understand or have insight
Go back to your essence and dive in
but don’t stop on the slopes
the commoners will languish in heedlessness
while you see your love openly
O you ignorant in these affairs
submit to what you see:
the wine goes ’round amongst us
and every one of us is drunk
see the men with us here
present with their hearts so full
See them all dancing
the secret is manifest in them
It was for this, they gave their souls
and their night has turned to day.

 

Original:

Your love served me many cups
Its glow illumined my senses
My night turned to day
The sun is mine and the stars
My throne contains the depths
My heart is the starless sphere

 

Your love served me many cups
When I turned from myself
I saw myself unveiling what was hidden
its meaning beyond the kingdoms of men

 

Your love served me many cups
If you like, I’ll tell you true
I’m a real faqir and wanton
Shushtari is unrepentant
I drink with my friend from the cup

 

Your love served me many cups
Look for me in the monastery
You’ll see me slumped among the casks
I love wantonly the one
who revives the souls of those who join him
Your love served me many cups

 

Original:

UB 40

 

Shustari-If Loving You Is Wrong…

Shushtari

My neglect of you is reprehensible, while your love is a duty
my longing is everlasting, while union is elusive
On the tablet of my heart, your love has been marked
my tears are the ink, and beauty is the writer
The reader of my thoughts constantly recites
lessons on the signs of the beautiful one
My gaze wanders in the heaven of your beauty
its penetrating star pierces my mind
Talk about others, listening to that is forbidden
for all of me is stolen and your beauty is the thief
They said to me: repent of loving your beloved
so I replied: I repent of my neglect
The torments of love are sweet for every lover
even if, for another, they are hard and never-ending

 

Translation modified from: L.M. Alvarez. Abu’l-Hasan Shushtari: Songs of Love and Devotion. p. 55

 

Original:

سُلُوِّيَ مكروهٌ وحُبكَ واجبٌ               وشوقِي مقيمٌ والتَّواصلُ غائبُ

وفي لوح قلبي من وِدَادكِ أسطرٌ            وَدمعي مِدادٌ مثل ما الحسن كاتبُ

وقارىء فكري لْلمحَاسِن تالياً               على دَرْس آيات الجمالِ يواظبُ

أُنَزِّهُ طَرفي في سماء جَمالكمْ                    لِثاقب ذِهني نَجمُها هو ثاقبُ

حَديثُ سواكَ السمع عنهُ محَّرمٌ                    فَكُلِّيَ مسلوبٌ وحسنكَ سالبُ

يقولونَ لي تبْ عن هوى من تُحبُّهُ                 فقلتُ عن السلوان إِنِّيَ تائبُ

عَذابُ الهوى عذبٌ على كل عَاشِق       وإِن كان عندَ الغير صعبٌ وواصبُ

 

 

Bill Withers

 

Luther Ingram

Natural Mystic

Shushtari

Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural
Natural, Natural, ay By God, Natural

 

A poor man like me, with a begging bag around my neck
My heart is free of any care
And I like people who are light-hearted
Such is the natural, he is liked by every natural
Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural

 

First thing in the morning, when I go out to work
I open my mouth and stretch out my hand
And for me, if I saw my granddad, who is not natural
For me, leaving him be, is only natural
Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural

 

I cover my body with needle and thread
of rough wool, which, for me, is a lot
“Who is that guy?” the people ask, bewildered
Still I’m just natural, loved by every Natural
Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural

 

My head is shaved and I walk around dazed
I beg in the market or at the mansions
Barefoot, walking the earth, saying: “Give for God’s sake,
some natural bread, to a natural man.”
Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural

 

I might sit down and not want to talk
I might lie on the earth as my bed
I graze on the earth’s grass, living well
The Natural one is loved by every Natural
Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural

 

I have a begging bag and a sea-shell
And a pot hung on the end of a stick
And my head is polished like a guitar
I walk naturally, naturally used to poverty
Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural

 

And when I stop at a town or market, I see the people come up to me
like brothers, their speech is well-intended
You see the Natural welcoming the Natural
Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural

 

I don’t fake anything, and I have no rule
I don’t crave food or clothes
and this position, is what every hypocrite needs
A natural poor man, loved by every natural
Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural

 

I know no jugde nor ruler
that’s more noble and natural for me
that’s how the high levels are described
A natural heart, in this state it is natural
Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural

 

Apart from these deeds, things are incomplete
Whoever humbles himself before a vizier or Sultan
Is arrogant and confused
His garment is natural, and by God, he is natural
Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural

 

Tearing the two sleeves, by this I mean, resurrection
Casting the two worlds from my heart
And I take off my two shoes to arrive at the Presence
Abandoning the unnatural is, for me, natural
Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural

 

I have a sitting mat that is pure like my heart
and a presence of intimacy with which I polish my cup
and a bunch of bags, a faqīr murabbī*
Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural
Natural, Natural, ay, by God, Natural

 

*A poor man (Sufi) who trains others.

 

Original:

 

Bob Marley

Lyrics:

There’s a natural mystic
Blowing through the air
If you listen carefully now you will hear
This could be the first trumpet
Might as well be the last
Many more will have to suffer
Many more will have to die
Don’t ask me why

 

Things are not the way they used to be
I won’t tell no lie
One and all got to face reality now

 

Though I try to find the answer
To all the questions they ask
Though I know it’s impossible
To go living through the past
Don’t tell no lie

 

There’s a natural mystic
Blowing through the air
Can’t keep them down
If you listen carefully now you will hear
Such a natural mystic
Blowing through the air

 

This could be the first trumpet
Might as well be the last
Many more will have to suffer
Many more will have to die
Don’t ask me why

There’s a natural mystic
Blowing through the air
I won’t tell no lie
If you listen carefully now, you will hear
There’s a natural mystic
Blowing through the air

 

Lyrics:

Old Twinkling Lee
Can’t see the right roads when the streets are paved
The old slave mill, might grind slow
But it grinds fine… yeah

[Verse 1]
African Herbsman, why linger on?
Just concentrate cuz heaven lives on
Retired slaveman, will look with a scorn
With a transplanted heart

[Bridge – Bob Marley and the Wailers]

[The Wailers]
Yes how quick we have to part
Yes how quick we have to part

[Bob]
The remembrance… of today… is the sad feeling of tomorrow…

[The Wailers]
Yes how quick we have to part

[Bob]
Oh, oh yeah

[Verse 2]
African Herbsman, seize your time
I’m taking illusion on the edge of my mind
I’m taking losers down through my life
Down through my life, yeah

[Bridge – Bob Marley and the Wailers]

[The Wailers]
Yes how quick we have to part
Yes how quick we have to part

[Bob]
Did they part? Yes they part!
In remembrance of today…

[The Wailers]
Yes how quick we have to part

[Repeat Verse 1]

[Bridge – Bob Marley and the Wailers]

[The Wailers]
Yes how quick we have to part
Yes how quick we have to part

[Bob]
In remembrance, of today, brings sad feelings of tomorrow

[The Wailers]
Yes how quick we have to part

[Bob]
Believe me oh, oh lord I praise

African Herbsman
African Herbsman
African, African Herbsman

Chuang Tzu

 

The flowing of the stream does nothing, but follows its nature
The perfect man does the same with regard to virtue
He does nothing to cultivate it, but all is affected by its presence
He is like the height of Heaven: natural
or the solidity of the Earth
or the brightness of sun and moon—all-natural
There is no need to cultivate this.

 

What is meant by ‘the True Man?’ The True men of old did not reject (the views of) the few; they did not seek to accomplish (their ends) like heroes (before others); they did not lay plans to attain those ends. Being such, though they might make mistakes, they had no occasion for repentance; though they might succeed, they had no self-complacency. Being such, they could ascend the loftiest heights without fear; they could pass through water without being made wet by it; they could go into fire without being burnt; so it was that by their knowledge they ascended to and reached the Tâo.

The True men of old did not dream when they slept, had no anxiety when they awoke, and did not care that their food should be pleasant. Their breathing came deep and silently. The breathing of the true man comes (even) from his heels, while men generally breathe (only) from their throats. When men are defeated in argument, their words come from their gullets as if they were vomiting. Where lusts and desires are deep, the springs of the Heavenly are shallow.

The True men of old knew nothing of the love of life or of the hatred of death. Entrance into life occasioned them no joy; the exit from it awakened no resistance. Composedly they went and came. They did not forget what their beginning bad been, and they did not inquire into what their end would be. They accepted (their life) and rejoiced in it; they forgot (all fear of death), and returned (to their state before life). Thus there was in them what is called the want of any mind to resist the Tâo, and of all attempts by means of the Human to assist the Heavenly. Such were they who are called the True men.

Being such, their minds were free from all thought; their demeanour was still and unmoved; their foreheads beamed simplicity. Whatever coldness came from them was like that of autumn; whatever warmth came from them was like that of spring. Their joy and anger assimilated to what we see in the four seasons. They did in regard to all things what was suitable, and no one could know how far their action would go.