STORY V. The Man who claimed to be a Prophet.
A man cried out to the people, "I am a prophet; yea, the most excellent of
the prophets." The people seized him by the collar, saying, "How are
you any more a prophet than we are?" He replied, "Ye came to earth
from the spirit-world as sleeping children, seeing nothing of the way; but I
came hither with my eyes open, and marked all the stages of the way like a
guide." On this they led him before the king, and begged the king to
punish him. The king, seeing that he was very infirm, took pity on him, and led
him apart and asked him where his home was. The man replied, "O king, my
home is in the house of peace (heaven), and I am come thence into this house of
reproach." The king then asked him what he had been eating to make him
rave as he did, and he said if he lived on mere earthly bread he should not
have claimed to be a prophet. His preaching was entirely thrown away on worldly
men, who only desire to hear news of gold or women, 1 and are annoyed
with all who speak to them of the eternal life to come. They cleave to the
present life so fast that they hate those who tell them of another. They say,
"Ye are telling us old fables and raving idly;" and when they see
pious men prospering they envy them, and, like Satan, become more opposed to
them. God said, "What thinkest thou of him who holdeth back a servant of
God when he prayeth? " 2
The king then said to him, "What is this inspiration of yours, and what
profit do you derive from it?" The man answered, "What profit is
there that I do not derive from it? I grant I am not rich in worldly wealth,
yet the inspiration God teaches me is surely as precious as that which He
taught the bees. 3 God taught them to make wax and honey, and He
teaches me nobler things than these. Whoso has his face reddened with celestial
wine is a prophet of like disposition with Muhammad, and whoso is unaffected by
that spiritual drink is to be accounted an enemy to God and man."
The Prophet's prayer for the envious people.
O Thou that givest aliment and power and stability,
Set free the people from their instability.
To the soul that is bent double by envy
Give uprightness in the path of duty,
Give them self-control, "weigh down their scales," 4
Release them from the arts of deceivers.
Redeem them from envying, O gracious One,
That through envy they be not stoned like Iblis. 5
Even in their fleeting prosperity, see how the people
Burn up wealth and men through envy!
See the kings who lead forth their armies
To slay their own people from envy!
Lovers of sweethearts have conceived jealousy,
And attempted one another's lives,
Read " Wais and Ramin" and "Khosrau and Shirin"
To see what these fools have done to one another.
Lovers and beloved have both perished;
And not themselves only, but their love as well.
'Tis God alone who agitates these nonentities
Making one nonentity fall in love with another.
In the heart that is no heart envy comes to a head,
Thus Being troubles nonentity.
This is followed by an anecdote of a lover who recounted to his mistress all
the services he had done, and all the toils he had undergone for her sake, and
inquired if there was anything else he could do to testify the sincerity of his
love. His mistress replied, "All these things you have done are but the
branches of love; you have not yet attained to the root, which is to give up
life itself for the sake of your beloved." The lover accordingly gave up
his life, and enjoyed eternal fruition of his love, according to the text,
"O thou soul which art at rest, return to thy Lord, pleased, and pleasing
This is followed by a statement of the doctrine of the jurist Abu hanifa, to
whose school the poet belonged, that weeping, even aloud, during prayer does
not render the prayers void, provided that the weeping be caused by thoughts of
the world to come, and not by thoughts of this present world. 7 And,
apparently in allusion to the name Abu Hanifa, the poet recalls the text,
"They followed the faith of Abraham, the orthodox" (Hanifun).