STORY VIII. Mahmud and Ayaz. 1
Mahmud, the celebrated king of Ghazni, had a favorite named Ayaz, who was
greatly envied by the other courtiers. One day they came to the king and
informed him that Ayaz was in the habit of retiring to a secret chamber, and
locking himself in, and that they suspected he had there concealed coin stolen
from the treasury, or else wine and forbidden drink. The fact was, that Ayaz
had placed in that chamber his old shoes and the ragged dress which he used to
wear before the king had promoted him to honor, and used to retire there every
day and wear them for a time, in order to remind himself of his lowly origin,
and to prevent himself from being puffed up with pride. This he did in
accordance with the text, "Let man reflect out of what he was
created." 2 The intoxication of the present life puffs up many
with false pride, even as Iblis, who refused to worship Adam, saying, "Who
is Adam, that he should be lord over me?" This he said because he was one
of the Jinn, who are all created of fire. 3 Adam, on the other hand,
confessed his own vileness, saying, "Thou hast formed me out of
clay." The king was well assured of the fidelity of Ayaz; but in order to
confute those who suspected him, he ordered them to go by night and break open
that chamber and bring away all the treasure and other things hidden in it. It
is a characteristic of evildoers to think evil of the saints, because they
judge of their conduct by the light of their own evil natures, as the crooked
foot makes a crooked footprint, and as the spider sees things distorted through
the web he has spun himself The hug's conduct in this did not betoken any
diminution of his love for Ayaz, because lover and beloved are always as ono
soul, though they may be opposed to outward view. Accordingly the courtiers proceeded
to the chamber of Ayaz at night, and broke open the door, and searched the
floor and the walls, but found only the old shoes and the ragged dress. They
then returned to the king discomfited and shamefaced, even as the wicked who
have slandered the saints will be on the day of judgment, according to the
text, "On the resurrection day thou shalt see those who have lied of God
with their faces black." 4 Then they besought the king to pardon
their offence, but he refused, saying that their offence had been committed
against Ayaz, and that he would leave it to Ayaz to decide whether they should
be punished or pardoned. If Ayaz showed mercy it would be well; and if he
punished it would be well also, for "the law of retaliation is the security
for life." 5 Only he enjoined him to pronounce his sentence
without delay, because "Waiting is punishment."
A description of genuine union with God.
A loved one said to her lover to try him,
Early one morning, "O such an one, son of such an one,
I marvel whether you hold me more dear,
Or yourself; tell me truly, O ardent suitor!"
He answered, "I am so entirely absorbed in you,
That I am full of you from head to foot.
Of my own existence nothing but the name remains
In my being is nothing besides you, O Object of desire!
Therefore am I thus lost in you,
Just as vinegar is absorbed in honey;
Or as a stone, which is changed into a pure ruby,
Is filled with the bright light of the sun.
In that stone its own properties abide not
It is filled with the sun's properties altogether;
So that, if afterwards it holds itself dear
'Tis the same as holding the sun dear, O beloved!
And if it hold the sun dear in its heart,
'Tis clearly the same as holding itself dear.
Whether that pure ruby hold itself dear,
Or hold the sun dear,
There is no difference between the two preterences;
On either hand is naught but the light of dawn.
But till that stone becomes a ruby it hates itself
For till it becomes one 'I,' it is two separate 'I's,'
For 'tis then darkened and purblind,
And darkness is the essential enemy of light.
If it then hold itself dear, it is an infidel;
Because that self is an opponent of the mighty Sun.
Wherefore 'tis unlawful for the stone then to say 'I,
Because it is entirely in darkness and nothingness."
Pharaoh said, "I am the Truth," and was laid low.
Mansur Hallaj said, "I am the Truth," and escaped free.' 6
Pharaoh's "I" was followed by the curse of God;
Mansur's "I" was followed by the mercy of God, O beloved!
Because Pharaoh was a stone, Mansur a ruby;
Pharaoh an enemy of light, Mansur a friend.
O prattler, Mansur's "I am He" was a deep mystic saying,
Expressing union with the light, not mere incarnation. 7