Masnavi 23

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STORY XI. The Mosalman who tried to convert a Magian.
A Mosalman pressed a Magian to embrace the true faith. The Magian replied,
"If God wills it, no doubt I shall do so." 1 The Mosalman
replied, "God certainly wills it, that your soul may be saved from hell;
but your own evil lusts and the Devil hold you back." The Magian retorted,
using the arguments of the Jabriyan or "Compulsionists," that on
earth God is sole sovereign, and that Satan and lust exist and act only in
furtherance of God's will. To hold that God is pulling men one way and Satan
another is to derogate from God's sovereignty. Man cannot help moving in the
direction he is most strongly impelled to go; if he is impelled wrongly he is
no more to blame than a building designed for a mosque but degraded into a
fire-temple, or a piece of cloth designed for a coat but altered into a pair of
trousers. The truth is, that whatever occurs is according to God's will, and
Satan himself is only one of His agents. Satan resembles the Turkoman's dog who
sits at the door of the tent, and is" vehement against aliens, but full of
tenderness to friends." 2 The Mosalman then replied with the
arguments of the Qadarians and Mutazilites, to prove the freedom of the will
and consequent responsibility of man for his actions. He urged that man's free
agency and consequent responsibility are recognized in common parlance, as when
we order a man to act in a certain way,-that God expressly assumes man to be a
free agent by addressing commands and prohibitions to him, and by specially
exempting some, such as the blind, 3 from responsibility for certain
acts, that our internal consciousness assures us of our power of choice, just
as outward sense assures us of properties in material objects, and that it is
just as sophistical to disbelieve the declarations of the interior
consciousness, as those of the outward senses as to the reality of the material
world. He then told an anecdote of a man caught robbing a garden and defending
himself with the fatalist plea of irresponsibility, to whom the owner of the
garden replied by administering a very severe beating, and assuring him that
this beating was also predestined, and that he therefore could not help
administering it. He concluded his argument by repeating that the traditions,
"Whatever God wills is," and "The pen is dry, and alters not its
writing," are not inconsistent with the existence of freewill in man. They
are not intended to reduce good action and evil to the same level, but good
actions will always entail good consequences, and bad actions the reverse. A
devotee admired the splendid apparel of the slaves of the Chief of Herat, and
cried to Heaven, "Ah! learn from this Chief how to treat faithful
slaves!" Shortly after the Chief was deposed, and his slaves were put to
the torture to make them reveal where the Chief had hidden his treasure, but
not one would betray the secret. Then a voice from heaven came to the devotee,
saying, "Learn from them how to be a faithful slave, and then look for
recompense." The Magian, unconvinced by the arguments of the Mosalman,
again plied him with "Compulsionist" arguments, and the discussion
was protracted, with the usual result of leaving both the disputants of the
same opinion as when they began. The poet remarks that the contest of the
"Compulsionists" and the advocates of man's free agency will endure
till the day of judgment; for nothing can resolve these difficulties 4
but the true love which is "a gift imparted by God to whom He will."
Love puts reason to silence.
Love is a perfect muzzle of evil suggestions;
Without love who ever succeeded in stopping them?
Be a lover, and seek that fair Beauty,
Hunt for that Waterfowl in every stream!
How can you get water from that which cuts it off?
How gain understanding from what destroys understanding?
Apart from principles of reason are other principles
Of light and great price to be gained by love of God.
Besides this reason of yours God has other reasons
Which will procure for you heavenly nourishment.
By your carnal reason you may procure earthly food,
By God-given reason you may mount the heavens.
When, to win enduring love of God, you sacrifice reason,
God gives you "a tenfold recompense;" 6 yea, seven hundred
When those Egyptian women sacrificed their reason, 7
They penetrated the mansion of Joseph's love;
The Cup-bearer of life bore away their reason,
They were filled with wisdom of the world without end.
Joseph's beauty was only an offshoot of God's beauty;
Be lost, then, in God's beauty more than those women.
Love of God cuts short reasoning, O beloved,
For it is a present refuge from perplexities.
Through love bewilderment befalls the power of speech,
It no longer dares to utter what passes;
For if it sets forth an answer, it fears greatly
That its secret treasure may escape its lips.
Therefore it closes lips from saying good or bad,
So that its treasure may not escape it.
In like manner the Prophet's companions tell us
"When the Prophet used to tell us deep sayings,
That chosen one, while scattering pearls of speech,
Would bid us preserve perfect quiet and silence."
So, when the mighty phoenix hovers over your head, 8
Causing your soul to tremble at the motion of its wings,
You venture not to stir from your place,
Lest that bird of good fortune should take wing.
You hold your breath and repress your coughs,
So as not to scare that phoenix into flying away.
And if one say a word to you, whether good or bad,
You place finger on lip, as much as to say, "Be silent."
That phoenix is bewilderment, 9 it makes you silent;
The kettle is silent, though it is boiling all the while.