The poetry of Emir ‘abd al-Qadir

Although primarily known for his political and military exploits, Emir ‘abd al-Qadir was a spiritual master and poet of the highest caliber, as the following poems demonstrate…

I am God, I am the creature
I am the Lord, I am the servant
I am the Throne, I am the carpet
I am water, I am fire
I am wind, I am earth
I am quantity, I am quality
I am finding, I am losing
I am essence, I am attribute
I am nearness, I am distance
All existence is my existence
I am only, I am unique


أنا حق أنا خلق             أنا رب أنا عبد
أنا عرش أنا فرش         و جحيم أنا خلد
أنا ماء أنا نار             و هواء أنا صلد
أنا كم أنا كيف              أنا وجد أنا فقد
أنا ذات أنا وصف         أنا قرب أنا بعد
كل كون ذاك كوني       أنا وحدي أنا فرد



O sun without light, O light without sun
O sea without limit, O shore without sea
O denial without knowledge, O knowledge without denial
O other without identity, O identity without other
O cover without unveiling, O unveiling without cover
O dawn without night, O night without dawn,
O my amazement, O my wonder, O the edge of his throne…


فيا شمس بلا نور    و يا شمسا بلا نور
و يا بحرا بلا حد      وساحلا بلا بحر
و يا نكرا بلا عرف    و يا عرفا بلا نكر
و يا غيرا و لا عين    و يا عينا بلا غير
و يا سترا بلا كشف   و يا كشفا بلا ستر
و يا فجرا بلا ليل    و يا ليل بلا فجر
يا حيرتي يا دهشتي   يا حرف ماله مقر










The magic of music

What is music and why there is so much of the enchantment of love in it?
Music is the secret of Love and Love is the secret of God



سرود چيست كه چندين فسون عشق داراوست

سرود محرم عشق است و عشق محرم اوست



Love plays its lute behind the screen —
where is a lover to listen to its tune?
The world has spilled Love’s secret —
when could music ever hold its tongue?
Every atom babbles the mystery —
Listen yourself, for I’m no tattletale!

-Fakhruddin ‘Iraqi



“In the house of lovers, the music never stops,
the walls are made of songs & the floor dances”

Don’t worry about saving these songs!
And if one of our instruments breaks,
it doesn’t matter.

We have fallen into the place
where everything is music.

The strumming and the flute notes
rise into the atmosphere,
and even if the whole world’s harp
should burn up, there will still be
hidden instruments playing.

So the candle flickers and goes out.
We have a piece of flint, and a spark.

This singing art is sea foam.
The graceful movements come from a pearl
somewhere on the ocean floor.

Poems reach up like spindrift and the edge
of driftwood along the beach, wanting!

They derive
from a slow and powerful root
that we can’t see.

Stop the words now.
Open the window in the center of your chest,
and let the spirits fly in and out.


(From: Rumi – Selected Poems. Translated by Coleman Barks with John Moyne)

‘Tis said, the pipe and lute that charm our ears
Derive their melody from rolling spheres;
But Faith, o’erpassing speculation’s bound,
Can see what sweetens every jangled sound.

We, who are parts of Adam, heard with him
The song of angels and of seraphim.
Out memory, though dull and sad, retains
Some echo still of those unearthly strains.

Oh, music is the meat of all who love,
Music uplifts the soul to realms above.
The ashes glow, the latent fires increase:
We listen and are fed with joy and peace.

trans. R. A. Nicholson

(From: ‘Persian Poems‘, an Anthology of verse translations
edited by A.J. Arberry, Everyman’s Library, 1972)

We rarely hear the inward music,
but we’re all dancing to it nevertheless
directed by the one who teaches us,
the pure joy of the sun,
our music master.


We all were parts of Adam at one time
In paradise we all have heard these tunes
Though clay and water fill us up with doubts
We still remember something of those songs

From Masnavi 736-7
Trans. by Franklin Lewis, found here


The musician’s art is to send light into the depths of men’s hearts
-Robert Schumann


All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music
-Walter Pater


Music is the mediation between the intellectual and the sensuous life


Music is the Answer to the mystery of life; it is the most profound of all the arts; it expresses  the deepest thoughts of life and being in simple language which nonetheless cannot be translated.