Masnavi 1W

HomeIranPoetryMowlana Jalaluddin Rumi - Masnavi Stories

STORY IV. Muhammad Khwarazm Shah and the Rafizis of Sabzawar.
Muhammad Shah was the last prince but one of the Khwarazm dynasty of Balkh, to
which family both the poet's mother and grandmother belonged. He was the
reigning prince in AD. 1209, the year in which the poet's father fled from
Balkh, and was defeated by Chingiz Khan a year or two later. In one of his
campaigns Muhammad Shah captured the city of Sabzawar, in Khorasan, which city
as inhabited by Rafizis or rank Shi'as, naturally most obnoxious to a Sunni
prince claiming descent from the first Khahif Abu Bakr. After the city was
taken the inhabitants came out, and proceeded with all humility to beg their lives,
offering to pay any amount of ransom and tribute that he might impose upon
them. But the prince replied that he would spare their lives only on one
condition, viz., that they produced from Sabzawar a man bearing the name Abu
Bakr. They represented to him that it would be impossible to find in the whole
city a single man bearing a name so hateful to the Shi'as; but the prince was
inexorable, and refused to alter the conditions. So they went and searched all
the neighbourhood, and at last found a traveler lying at the roadside at the
point of death, who bore the name of Abu Bakr. As he was unable to walk, they
placed him on a bier and carried him into the king's presence. The king
reproached them for their contempt and neglect of this pious Sunni, the only true
heart amongst them, and reminded them of the saying of the Prophet, "God
regards not your outward show and your wealth, but your hearts and your
deeds." In this parable, says the poet, Sabzawar is the world, the poor
Sunni the man of God, despised and rejected of men, and the king is God
Almighty, who seeks a true heart amongst evil men.
Satan's snares for mankind.
Thus spake cursed Iblis to the Almighty,
"I want a mighty trap to catch human game withal."
God gave him gold and silver and troops of horses
Saying, "You can catch my creatures with these."
Iblis said, "Bravo!" but at the same time hung his lip,
And frowned sourly like a bitter orange.
Then God offered gold and jewels from precious mines
To that laggard in the faith,
Saying, "Take these other traps, O cursed one."
But Iblis said, "Give me more, O blessed Defender."
God gave him succulent and sweet and costly wines,
And also store of silken garments.
But Iblis said, " O Lord, I want more aids than these,
In order to bind men in my twisted rope
So firmly that Thy adorers, who are valiant men
May not, man-like, break my bonds asunder."
When at last God showed him the beauty of women,
Which bereaves men of reason and self-control,
Then Iblis clapped his hands and began to dance,
Saying, "Give me these; I shall quickly prevail with these!"
This is followed by comments on the text, "Of goodliest fabric we created
man, and then brought him down to the lowest of the low, saving those who
believe and do the things that are right;" 1 and on the verses,
"If thou goest the road, they will show thee the road;
If thou becomest naught, they will turn thee to being."