Masnavi 13

HomeIranPoetryMowlana Jalaluddin Rumi - Masnavi Stories

STORY II. The Villager who invited the Townsman to visit him.

A certain villager paid a visit to the town, and there received hospitality
from one of the townsmen. At his departure the villager was profuse of thanks,
and pressed the townsman to come and see him in his village, and bring his
family with him. The townsman hesitated long before accepting his invitation,
having doubts as to his sincerity, and remembering the Hadis, "Caution
consists in suspecting others." 1 But after ten years'
solicitation he at length yielded, and set off with his family to the village.
On his arrival the villager shut the door in his face, saying that he did not
know him, and the townsman had to pass five nights in the cold and rain. At
last, exhausted with suffering, he implored the villager to give him shelter,
promising to render service in return. The villager granted it on condition
that he would protect his garden from the wolves. The townsman accepted this
condition, and taking bow and arrows, proceeded to patrol the garden, but,
owing to the rain and the darkness, and his own fears, ended by shooting the
villager's pet ass in mistake for a wolf. The villager abused him roundly,
saying that he himself would not have taken an ass for a wolf, even on the
darkest night. The townsman replied, "If that be so, you are
self-convicted of inhumanity, for you must have recognized me, your friend of
ten years' standing, the moment I knocked at your door. As for me, I am
ignorant of all but Allah, and, moreover, was unable to see in the darkness;
and God has said, 'No criminality is imputed to the blind.'2 But your
blindness in refusing to recognize me was willful, and your claims to humanity
are thus proved to be false by the test to which you have been submitted."
Jesus healing the sick.
The house of 'Isa was the banquet of men of heart,
Ho! afflicted one, quit not this door!
From all sides the people ever thronged,
Many blind and lame, and halt and afflicted,
To the door of the house of 'Isa at dawn,
That with his breath he might heal their ailments.
As soon as he had finished his orisons,
That holy one would come forth at the third hour;
He viewed those impotent folk, troop by troop,
Sitting at his door in hope and expectation;
He spoke to them, saying, "O stricken ones!
The desires of all of you have been granted by God;
Arise, walk without pain or affliction,
Acknowledge the mercy and beneficence of God!"
Then all, as camels whose feet are shackled,
When you loose their feet in the road,
Straightway rush in joy and delight to the halting-place,
So did they run upon their feet at his command.
How many afflictions caused by thyself to thyself
Hast thou escaped through these princes of the faith?
How long that lameness of thine was thy steed!
How seldom was thy soul void of sorrow and grief!
O careless straggler, bind a rope upon thy feet,
Lest thou lose even thine own self!
But thy ingratitude and unthankfulness
Forget the honey draught thou hast sipped.
That road was perforce closed to thee
When thou didst wound the hearts of the men of heart.
Quick! clasp them and ask pardon of them;
Like the clouds, shed tears of lamentation,
So that their rose-garden may bloom for thee,
And their ripe fruits burst open of themselves.
Press around that door, be not viler than a dog,
If thou wouldest rival the Seven Sleepers' dog.
God's claims to our gratitude.
Whereas want of fidelity is shameful even in dogs,
How can it be right in men?
God Almighty Himself makes boast of fidelity,
Saying, "Who more faithful to his promise than We?" 3
Know, infidelity is fidelity to God's adversary,
No one has pre-eminence over the rights of God.
The claims of a mother are less than God's, for He,
That bounteous One, made her debtor for thy embryo.
He gave thee a form whilst thou wast in her womb,
In her womb He gave thee needful rest and nurture.
He viewed her as a part united to thee,
Then His wisdom separated that united part.
God devised a thousand plans and arts,
To make thy mother lavish affection upon thee.
Wherefore the claims of God predominate over the mother's,
Whoso acknowledges not God's claims is a fool.
He who made mother and breast and milk
United mother to father also, despise Him not!
O Lord, O Ancient of days, Thy mercies,
Whether known to us or unknown, are all from Thee!
Thou hast commanded, saying, "Remember thy God,"
Because God's claims are never exhausted!
Since thou hast been led astray by faithless men,
Turn now from thy evil doubts to the opposite mind.
I am free from error and all faithlessness;
Thou must come to me and rescind evil doubts.
Cut off these evil doubts and cast them away,
For in the presence of such thou becomest double.
Therefore thou hast chosen harsh friends and companions;
If I ask where they are thou sayest they are gone.
The good friend goes up to highest heaven,
Evil friends sink beneath the bottom of the earth,
Whilst thou art left alone in the midst, forlorn,
Even as the fires left by the departed caravan."
O brave friend, grasp His skirt,
Who is removed alike from the world above and below;
Who neither, like. Jesus, ascends to heaven,
Nor, like Korah, sinks into the earth;
Who will abide with thee in the house and abroad
When thou lackest house and home.
He will bring forth peace out of perturbations,
And when thou art afllicted will keep His promise.
How false pretensions to sanctity are
distinguished from true sanctity.
O son, a hundred thousand tests await thee,
Whoever thou art who sayest "I am a prince of the gate,"
If the vulgar detect not such an one by tests,
Yet the skilled wayfarers seek of him a sign.
When a man makes pretension to be a tailor,
The master places before him a piece of silk,
Saying, "Cut out a large head-dress,"
And failure in the test leads him to the pillory.
If all the evil men were not tested,
Every catamite would through fraud pass for a Rustam.
Suppose he wears the semblance of one clad in mail,
Yet when wounded he is at once taken captive.
The God-intoxicated are not sobered by old age,
They remain beside themselves till the last trump.
The wine of God is true, and not false,
But thou hast drunk only sour whey.
Thou makest thyself out to be a Junaid or a Bayazid;
Go! for do I not know a hatchet from a ploughshare?
O plotter, how canst thou conceal by fraud
Baseness, sloth, covetousness, and lust?
Thou holdest thyself out as a lover of God,
But thou hast coquetted with the evil demon.
The lover and the beloved on the last day
Will be joined together and raised in sight of all.
How foolish and silly thou hast made thyself!
Thou hast drunk blood of grapes, nay, my blood!
Go! for I know thee not. Get away!
I am a lover beside himself, whose words are wild.
Thou fanciest thyself near to God,
Saying, "The maker of the dish is not far from the dish."
Knowest thou not that the nearness of saints to God
Involves the power to do mighty works and signs?
Iron was as wax in the hands of David,
Wax in thy hands is as iron.
God's nearness and His beneficence are common to all,
But only eminent saints enjoy inspired love.
Nearness is of various kinds, O son,
The sun shines alike on rocks and on gold.
Yet the sun possesses a nearness to gold,
Whereof the common willow has no cognizance.
The dry branch and the green are alike near the sun,
Does the sun veil himself from either?
Yet what is the nearness of that green branch,
Wherefrom thou eatest ripe fruits?
But as for the dry branch) from its nearness to the sun,
What does it but more quickly grow dry and sapless?
Be not intoxicated after the manner of this branch,
Which, when it becomes sober, has cause for repentance,
But, like those drunkards who, when they drink wine,
Bear ripe fruits of wisdom of penitence.