I cannot give thanks to
that Friend, for I know of none that are worthy. Every hair of
my body is a gift from Him; how could I thank Him for every hair?
Praise be to the very generous
Lord, Who from non-existence brought His creatures into being.
Who can describe His goodness? All praises are encompassed by
See how from childhood to
old age he has endowed thee with a splendid robe!
He made thee pure; therefore,
be pure - unworthy it is to die impure by sin.
Let not the dust remain
upon the mirror, for once grown dull it never again will polish.
When thou dosts seek to
gain the means of life, rely not upon the strength of thine own
O self worshipper! Why lookest
thou not to G-d, Who giveth power to thy hand?
If by thy striving thou
dost aught of good, take not the credit to thyself; know it to
be by the grace of G-d.
Thou standest not by thine
own strength - from the Invisible art thou sustained each moment.
A MOTHER'S WARNING TO HER SON
Sorrowed at the conduct
of her son, who gave no ear to her advice, a woman brought to
him the cradle in which he once slept and said, "O weak
in love and forgetful of the past! Wast thou not a weeping and
helpless child, for whom through many nights I sacrificed my
sleep? Thou hadst not then the strength thou hast today; thou
couldst not ward the flies from thy body. A tiny insect gave
thee pain; today thou excelelst amidst the strong. In the grave
wilt thou again be thus, unable to repelthe onslaughts of an
ant. How , when the grave worms eat the marrow of thy brain,
wilt thou relight the Lamp of Intellect? Thou art as a blind
man who seeth not the way, and knoweth not that a well lies in
his path. If thou be grateful for thy sight, 'tis well; if not,
then surely art thou blind. Thy tutor gave thee not the power
of wisdom; by G-d was it implanted in thy nature. Had He withheld
this gift from thee, truth would have appeared to thee as falsehood."
DISCOURSE CONCERNING THE ART
THE MOST HIGH G-D
For thee is set the bright
moon in the sky by night, the world-illuminating sun by day.
Like a chamberlain, the
heavens spread for thee the carpet of the Spring.
The wind and snow, the clouds
and rain, the roaring thunder and the lightning glittering as
a sword - all are His agents, obedient to His word, nourishing
the seed that thou hast planted in the soil.
If thou be athirst, fret
not, the clouds bear water upon their shoulders.
From the bee He giveth thee
honey, and manna from the wind; fresh dates from the date tree
and the date tree from a seed.
For thee are the sun and
moon and the Pleides; they are as lanterns upon the roof of thy
He bringeth rose from the
thorn and musk from a pod; gold from the mine and green leaves
from a withered stick.
With His own hands did He
paint thine eye and eyebrows - one cannot leave one's bosom friends
Omnipotent is He, nourishing
the delicate with His many bounties.
Render thanks each moment
from they heart, for gratitude is not the work of the tongue
O G-d, my heart is blood,
mine eyes are sore when I behold thy indescribable gifts.
THE LESSONS OF AFFLICTION
A DISCOURSE CONCERNING THE
OF THE WEAK
He knows not the value of
a day of pleasure who has not seen adversity. Hard is the winter
for the beggar - the rich man heeds it not. If thou art swift
of foot, be thankful when thou lookest upon the lame.
What know they of the value
of water who dwell upon the banks of the Jayhun? Ask it of them
who are parched in the heat of the sun. Ask it of them who are
parched in the heat of the sun. What cares the Arab by the Tigris
for the thirsty ones of the desert?
He knows the value of health
who lost his strength in fever. How can the night be long to
thee reclining in ease upon thy bed? Think of him who is racked
with fever - the sick man knows the tediousness of the night.
At the sound of the drum
the master awakens - what knows he how the watchman passed the
ONE'S EASE IS ANOTHER'S TOIL
THE STORY OF TUGHRAL, KING
AND THE HINDU WATCHMAN
One night in winter Tughral
passed by a Hindu sentinel, who was shivering like the star Canopus
in the icy rain. Moved to pity, he said, "Thou shalt have
my fur coat. Wait by the terrace and I will send it by the hand
of a slave."
On entering his palace he
was met by a beautiful slave, at the sight of whom the poor sentinel
passed from his mind. The fur coat slipped through the latter's
ears; through his ill-luck it never reached his shoulders.
The king slept through the
night devoid of care, but what said the chief watchman to him
in the morning?
Perhaps thou didsts forget
that 'lucky man' when thy hand was upon the bosom of thy slave.
By thee the night was spent in tranquillity and joy; what knowest
thou how the night has gone with us?"
They with the caravan bend
their heads over the cauldron; what care they for them that toil
on foot through the desert sand?
Tarry, O active youths,
for old and feeble men are with the caravan. Well hast thou slept
in the litter while the driver held the nose-string of the camel.
What of the desert and mountains? What of the stones and the
sand? Ask how it fares with them that lag behind.
THE STORY OF A THIEF
A thief was arrested by
a night watchman and bound by the hands. Thus, crestfallen and
afflicted, he remained. During the night he heard someone cry
out in want.
"How long wilt thou
bewail thy lot?" he asked. "Go sleep, O wretched man!
Give thanks to G-d that the watchman has not tied thee by the
Bemoan not thine own misfortune
when thou seest another more wretched than thyself.
A STORY OF ONE WHO WAS NOT
Someone passed by a pious
man whom he took for a Jew, and , therefore, struck him on the
neck. The latter bestowed his robe upon the aggressor, who, becoming
ashamed, remarked, "I acted wrongly and thou hast forgiven
me. But what occasion is this for a gift?"
"I stood not up in
anger," was the reply, "being thankful that I was not
a Jew, as thou didst suppose."
THE STORY OF A DONKEY
One left behind on the road
wept, saying, "Who in this desert is more distressed than
A pack donkey answered,
"O, senseless man! How long wilt thou bewail the tyranny
of fate? Go, and give thanks that, though thou ridest not upon
a donkey, thou art not a donkey upon which men ride."
MISFORTUNE THROUGH PRIDE
A STORY ILLUSTRATING THE EVILS
A theologian passed by a
drunkard who had fallen by the wayside. Filled with pride at
his own piety, he disdained even to regard him.
The young man raises his
head and said, "Go, old man, and give thanks that thou art
in the Divine favour - misfortune comes from pride. Laugh not
when thou seest one in bonds lest thou likewise became involved.
After all, is it not within the bounds of possibility that tomorrow
thou mayest fall, like me, by the roadside?"
If with a mosque the heavens
have befriended thee, revile not them that worship in the fire
Moslem! Fold thy hands and
render thanks that He has not bound the idolater's thread about
Turn to Him who guides the
hand of Fate; blindness it is to look for help elsewhere.
SA'DI AND THE IDOL
THE STORY OF SA'DI AND THE
At Sumanat *34 I saw an
ivory idol. It was set with jewels like the Manat, and nothing
more beautiful could have been devised. Caravans from every country
brought travelers to its side; the eloquent from every clime
made supplication before its lifeless figure.
"Why," I pondered,
"does a living being worship an inanimate object?"
To a fire-worshipper, who
was a fellow lodger and friend of mine, I said with gentleness,
"O Magi! I am astonished at the doings of this place. All
are infatuated with this feeble form; they are imprisoned in
the well of superstition. No power has the idol to move its hands
or feet; if thou throw it down, it cannot rise from its place.
Dost thou not see that its eyes are of amber? It were folly to
seek faithfulness from the stony-eyed."
The Magi was angered at
my words. He became my enemy, and informed the idolaters of what
I had said. Since to them the crooked road appeared straight,
they saw the straight one crooked. Though a man be wise and intelligent,
he is a fool in the eyes of the ignorant.
Like a drowning man, I was
destitute of help; save in politeness, I saw no remedy. When
the fool bears malice towards thee, safety lies in gentleness
Therefore, I praised aloud
the chief of the Magis, saying, "O, old man! Expounder of
the Zend Avista! I, too, am pleased with the figure of this idol.
Its appearance was strange in my sight - of its nature I have
no knowledge. Only recently have I arrived in this place, and
a stranger can seldom distinguish between the evil and the good.
Devotion by imitation is supersti-tion, what reality is there
in the form of this idol, for I am foremost among the worshippers?"
The face of the Magi glowed
with joy as he said, "Thy question is reasonable and thy
actions are good - whoever seeks for proofs arrives at his destination.
Whom but this idol can raise his hands to G-d? If thou wilt,
tarry here tonight, so that tomorrow the mystery of this may
become known to thee."
The night was as long as the Day of Judgment; the fire-worshippers
around me prayed without ablution. In the morning, they came
again into the temple, and I was sick with anger and confused
from lack of sleep. Suddenly, the idol raised its arm; and later,
when the crowd had left, the Magi looked smilingly towards me
"I know that now thou
wilt have no doubts; truth has become manifest, falsehood remaineth
Seeing his ignorance thus
increased, I shed hypocritical tears and cried, "I am sorry
for what I said."
At the sight of my tears
the hearts of the infidels were softened; they ran towards me
in service and led me by the arms to the ivory idol, which was
seated upon a golden chair set on a throne of teak. I kissed
the hand of the little god - curses upon it and upon its worshippers!
For a few days I posed as an infidel and discussed the Zend Avista,
like a Magi. When I became a guardian of the temple, my joy was
such that I could scarce control my feelings.
One night, I closed fast
the door of the temple and searching, discovered a screen of
the jewels and gold that went from the top of the throne to the
bottom. Behind this screen the Magi high priest was devoutly
engaged with the end of a rope in his hand. Then did it become
known to me that when the rope was pulled the idol of necessity
raised its arm.
Greatly confused at my presence,
the Magi ran away in haste. I followed in hot pursuit and threw
him headlong down a well, for I knew that, if he remained alive,
he would seek to shed my blood. When the purpose of an evil man
is revealed to thee, pull him up by the roots, otherwise will
he not desire that thou shouldst live. The alarm being raised,
I fled quickly from the land. When thou settest fire to a forest
of canes, beware of the tigers, if thou art wise.
Whenever I supplicate at
the shrine of the Knower of Secrets, the Indian puppet comes
into my recollection - it throws dust on the pride of mine eyes.
I know that I raise my hand, but not by virtue of mine own strength.
Men of sanctity stretch not out their hands themselves the Fates
invisibly pull the strings.
A celebrated temple in Guzerat demolished by Sultan Mahmud of
Ghazni in AD 1024.