The qibla of love

Qu’ran 2:144

We have seen the turning of thy face to heaven. And now verily We shall turn you toward a qibla [direction of prayer] which is dear to thee. So turn thy face toward the Inviolable Place of Worship, and ye, wheresoever ye may be, turn your faces toward it. Lo! Those who have received the Scripture know that is the Truth from their Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what they do.

Qur’an 10:87

We revealed to Moses and his brother, “Appoint houses for your people in Egypt and make your houses a qibla [direction of prayer], and establish worship. And give good news to the believers.”


Qur’an 2:155

To god belong the East and West, and wheresoever you turn, there is the face of God.


“Do you think my qibla is only here [before me]? By God, your bowing and prostrating are not concealed from me; I can see you even though you are behind my back.”




Since the qibla of the soul has been hidden

everyone has turned his face to a different corner

(Masnavi 5:328-337)


قبله‌ی جان را چو پنهان کرده‌اند
هر کسی رو جانبی آورده‌اند



The Kaaba of Gabriel and the celestial spirits is a Lote-tree;
the glutton’s qibla is a cloth laden with dishes of food.
The qibla of the Knower is the light of union with God;
the qibla of the philosopher’s mind is fantasy.
The qibla of the ascetic is God, the Gracious;
the qibla of the flatterer is a purse of gold.
The qibla of the spiritual is patience and long-suffering;
the qiblah of form-worshippers is an image of stone.
The qibla of those who live in the inward is the Bounteous One;
the qibla of those who worship the outward is a woman’s face.
(Masanvi 6, 1896–1900)



کعبه‌ی جبریل و جانها سدره‌ای ** قبله‌ی عبدالبطون شد سفره‌ای
قبله‌ی عارف بود نور وصال  ** قبله‌ی عقل مفلسف شد خیال
قبله‌ی زاهد بود یزدان بر ** قبله‌ی مطمع بود همیان زر
قبله‌ی معنی‌وران صبر و درنگ ** قبله‌ی صورت‌پرستان نقش سنگ
قبله‌ی باطن‌نشینان ذوالمنن ** قبله‌ی ظاهرپرستان روی زن


By virtue of that Light the calf becomes a qibla of grace;
without that Light the qibla becomes infidelity and an idol.
The licence that comes from self-will is error;
the licence that comes from God is perfection.
In that quarter where the illimitable Light has shone,
infidelity has become faith and the Devil has attained unto Islam.


عجل با آن نور شد قبله‌ی کرم ** قبله بی آن نور شد کفر و صنم
هست اباحت کز هوای آمد ضلال ** هست اباحت کز خدا آمد کمال
کفر ایمان گشت و دیو اسلام یافت ** آن طرف کان نور بی‌اندازه تافت

(Masnavi 6: 2073)



Within the Ka‘ba the rule of the qibla does not exist:
what matter if the diver has no snow-shoes?
Do not seek guidance from the drunken:
why dost thou order those whose garments are rent in pieces to mend them?
The religion of Love is apart from all religions:
for lovers, the (only) religion and sect is God.



در درون کعبه رسم قبله نیست ** چه غم ار غواص را پاچیله نیست‏
تو ز سر مستان قلاووزی مجو ** جامه چاکان را چه فرمایی رفو
تو ز سر مستان قلاووزی مجو ** جامه چاکان را چه فرمایی رفو
ملت عشق از همه دینها جداست ** عاشقان را ملت و مذهب خداست‏

(Masnavi 6:1768-1770)



Since the Hand of God has made the Qibla manifest,
henceforth deem searching to be disallowed.
Hark, avert your face and head from searching,
now that the Destination and Dwelling-place has come into view.
If you forget this Qibla for one moment, you will become in thrall to every worthless qibla (object of desire).
When you show ingratitude to him that gives you discernment, the thought that recognises the Qibla will dart away from you.



قبله را چون کرد دست حق عیان ** پس تحری بعد ازین مردود دان
هین بگردان از تحری رو و سر ** که پدید آمد معاد و مستقر
ک زمان زین قبله گر ذاهل شوی ** سخره‌ی هر قبله‌ی باطل شوی
چون شوی تمییزده را ناسپاس ** بجهد از تو خطرت قبله‌شناس




Amīr Khusrow

Every sect has a faith, a  Qibla to which they turn,
I have turned my face towards the crooked cap (of Nizamudin Aulia)
The whole world worships something or the other,
Some look for God in Mecca, while some go to Kashi (Banaras),
So why can’t I, Oh wise people, fall into my beloved’s feet?
Every sect has a faith, a Qibla.



هر قوم راست راهي، ديني و قبله گاهي

من قبله راست كرديم ،‌بر سمت كج كلاهي


Har qaum raast raahay, deen-e wa qibla gaahay,
Mun qibla raast kardam, bar samt kajkulaahay.
Sansaar har ko poojay, kul ko jagat sarahay,
Makkay mein koyi dhoondhay, Kaashi ko koi jaaye,
Guyyian main apnay pi kay payyan padun na kaahay.
Har qaum raast raahay, deen-e wa qibla gaahay…


Mirza Ghālib

The one to whom I bow is beyond senses’ boundaries

The qiblah itself’s a pointer for those who can see



ہے پرے سرحدِ ادراک سے اپنا مسجود

قبلے کو اہلِ نظر قبلہ نما کہتے ہیں




Ibn ‘Arabi:

Contemplate the house: for sanctified hearts,
its lights shine openly
They look at it through God, without a veil,
and its august and sublime secret appears to them.


and famously:

My heart has become receptive to every form
A meadow for gazelles, and a cloister for the monks
A house for the idols, and the pilgrim’s Ka’aba
The tablets of the Torah, pages of the Qur’an
My religion is love’s own and wheresoever turn
Her caravan, that love is my religion and my faith
We have an example in Bishr, lover of Hind and her sister,
And Qays and Layla, and Mayya and Ghaylan*


لقدْ صارَ قلبي قابلاً كلَّ صورة ٍ                فمَرْعًى لغِزْلاَنٍ وديرٌ لرُهْبانِ
وبَيْتٌ لأوثانٍ وكعبة ُ طائفٍ،                 وألواحُ توراة ٍ ومصحفُ قرآنِ
أدينُ بدينِ الحبِّ أنَّى توجَّهتْ                   رَكائِبُهُ فالحُبُّ ديني وإيماني
لنا أُسْوَة ٌ في بِشْرِ هندٍ وأُخْتِهَا               وقيسٍ وليلى ، ثمَّ مي وغيلانِ


Also see:

P | A | Chodkiewicz: The Paradox of the Ka‘ba


Charles Long, Siginifcations:

“”For my purposes, religion will mean orientation—orientation in the ultimate sense, that is, how one comes to terms with the ultimate significance of one’s place in the world.”

David Foster Wallace, “This is Water”:

“Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship–be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles–is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.

Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful, it’s that they’re unconscious. They are default settings.

They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing.

And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the centre of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving…. The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.

That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.”

-David Foster Wallace

Words of Bewilderment…


Say: My Lord increase me in knowledge!

قل ربّي زدني علماً

Quran 20:114


My Lord increase me in bewilderment in Thee!

ربّي زدني فيك تحيراً

-Saying of the Prophet Muḥammad


Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment

for cleverness is mere opinion and bewilderment is vision.

زیرکی بفروش و حیرانی بخر

زیرکی ظنست و حیرانی نظر


Ibn al-‘Arabi

“Now guidance is that man should be guided to bewilderment, and know that the affair is bewilderment and that bewilderment is unrest and motion, and that motion is life, without stillness and so without death, and is existence without non-existence.”

“And thus there is nothing but bewilderment, shattering one’s vision, although the one who knows what we are saying shall not be bewildered.”

“…Drowned in the sea which the knowledge of God is, and which is bewilderment”


As the sprout of bewilderment, your love came
As the perfection of bewilderment, your union came
Many a drowned one, in the ecstasy of union
to whom in the ecstasy itself, bewilderment came
Neither union nor united remain
where the specter of bewilderment came
Show me one heart on his path
in whose face no mole of bewilderment came
From every direction that I listened
the sound of the question of bewilderment came
From head to foot, Hafez’s existence
In love, a sprout of bewilderment became


عشق تو نهال حیرت آمد         وصل تو کمال حیرت آمد
بس غرقه حال وصل کآخر        هم بر سر حال حیرت آمد
یک دل بنما که در ره او     بر چهره نه خال حیرت آمد
نه وصل بماند و نه واصل       آن جا که خیال حیرت آمد
از هر طرفی که گوش کردم            آواز سؤال حیرت آمد
شد منهزم از کمال عزت         آن را که جلال حیرت آمد
سر تا قدم وجود حافظ          در عشق نهال حیرت آمد


Ibn al-Fāriḍ


Give me an excess of love for you, bewildered
And have mercy on a heart scorched by a glance of your love
And if I ask to see you truly
Then allow me, graciously
And let not your answer be, “Thou shalt not see
O heart, you have promised me to be patient in loving them
So be sure to bear it do not dismay
Passion is life, so die in it lovingly.
 Your duty is to die and be absolved
 My heart, say to those ahead of me, and those behind me,
Whoever has seen the sacrifice of my sorrow
“Follow my example and listen to me
And tell the tale of my love amongst mankind”
I was alone with the Beloved and between us there was
A secret more subtle than the dawn breeze when it blows
And he allowed my eyes a glance
So I became famous, having been unknown before
I was awestruck between his beauty and majesty
And tomorrow, the tongue of my state will explain
Turn your gaze to the beauties of his face,
Where all beauty has been gathered
If all beauty were perfected into one form
on seeing him, it would exclaim [in wonder],
“There is no god but God, and God is greater.”



زِدْني بفَرْطِ الحُبّ فيك تَحَيّرا          وارْحَمْ حشىً بلَظَى هواكَ تسعّرا
وإذا سألُتكَ أن أراكَ حقيقةً          فاسمَحْ ولا تجعلْ جوابي لن تَرى
يا قلبُ أنتَ وعدَتني في حُبّهمْ          صَبراً فحاذرْ أن تَضِيقَ وتَضجرا
إنَّ الغرامَ هوَ الحياةُ فمُتْ بِهِ             صَبّاً فحقّك أن تَموتَ وتُعذرا
قُل لِلّذِينَ تقدَّموا قَبلي ومَن        بَعدي ومَن أضحى لأشجاني يَرَى
عني خذوا وبي اقْتدوا وليَ اسمعوا             وتحدّثوا بصَبابتي بَينَ الوَرى
ولقد خَلَوْتُ مع الحَبيب وبَيْنَنَا              سِرٌّ أرَقّ منَ النسيمِ إذا سرى
وأباحَ طَرْفِي نَظْرْةً أمّلْتُها               فَغَدَوْتُ معروفاً وكُنْتُ مُنَكَّرا
فَدُهِشْتُ بينَ جمالِهِ وجَلالِهِ             وغدا لسانُ الحال عنّي مُخْبِرا
فأَدِرْ لِحَاظَكَ في محاسنِ وجْهه            تَلْقَى جميعَ الحُسْنِ فيه مُصَوَّرا
لو أنّ كُلّ الحُسْنِ يكمُلُ صُورةً                    ورآهُ كان مُهَلِّلاً ومُكَبِّر



Khaqani on Love



The bird that sings the song of pain is love
The courier who knows the tongue of the Unseen is love
The existence that calls you to nonexistence is love
And that which redeems you from you is love



مرغی که نوای درد راند عشق است
پيکی که زبان غيب داند عشق است
هستی که به نيستيت خواند عشق است
وآنچ از تو ترا باز رهاند عشق است

Translation by Reza Saberi



What then is love? The Ocean of Nonexistence.

It is there that the foot of the intellect is broken

Rumi, Mathnawi, ed. Nicholson, III: 4724.


Ibn ‘Arabi

Many mistakes may occur in love. The first of them is that people imagine that the object of love is an existent thing… In fact, love’s object remains forever nonexistent, but most lovers are not aware of this, unless they should be knowers of the realities. (II 337.17)


Camaron de la Isla


I am like the sad bird
that flits from branch to branch
singing his suffering
because he doesn’t know how to cry


Soy cómo el pájaro triste,
ay que de rama en rama va,
cantando su sufrimiento, cantando su sufrimiento,
porque no sabe llorar.


Ibn ‘Arabi-My Beloved

Although not a poem in Arabic, this moving account of Divine “pillow talk” or munājāt (intimate discourses) by Ibn ‘Arabi was beautifully translated by Henri Corbin in poetic form (and modified by me to better correspond to the Arabic).




Listen, O dearly beloved!
I am the sought essence in the cosmos
I am the centre of the circle and its circumference,
I am the compound and the simple
I am the command descending between Heaven and Earth,
I have only created perceptions for you so that by them, you might perceive Me
So if you perceive Me, you perceive yourself.
But you cannot perceive Me through yourself.
It is through My Eyes that you see Me and yourself,
Through your eyes you cannot see Me.

Dearly beloved!
How often I call you and you don’t hear!
How often I show myself to you and you don’t see!
How often I’ve become fragrance and you don’t smell Me,
And tasty food, a but you don’t taste Me!


What’s with you that you don’t feel me in the things you touch?
Or sense Me in sweet scents?
Why don’t you see Me? Why don’t you hear Me?
Why? Why? Why?
For you My delights surpass all other delights,
And the pleasure I bring you surpasses all other pleasures.
For you I am lovelier to all loveliness
I am Beauty/beautiful, I am Grace/gracious


Dearly beloved!
Love Me, and not other than Me
long for me, concern yourself with me
Don’t worry about anything other than me
Hug me, Kiss me!
Where could you find union like mine?
All that you seek is in it
And I want you for you
but you, you flee from me!


Dearly beloved!
You cannot treat Me fairly,
For if you approach Me,
It is because I have approached you.
I am nearer to you than yourself,
Than your soul, than your breath.
Who among creatures
Would treat you as I do?


I am jealous of you, over you,
I don’t like to see you with others
Not even with yourself.
Be Mine, be with Me
I will be with you
as you are with Me
while you are not even aware
be for Me as you are in Me,
Though you are not even aware of it.


Dearly beloved!
Let us go toward Union.
And if we find the road
That leads to separation,
We will destroy separation.


Come! Let us go hand in hand.
Let us enter the presence of the Real.
Let It be our judge
And imprint Its seal upon our union
For ever.


From: Henri Corbin. Creative Sufism ‘Alone with the Alone: Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn Arabi, p. 174-75 (modified based on the Arabic original below)



!اسمع يا حبيبي
انا العين المقصودة في الكون
انا نقطة الدائرة ومحيطها
انا مركبها وبسيطها
انا الامر المنزل بين السماء والارض و السماء
ما خلفت لك الادراكات الا لتدركني بها
فاذا ادركتني ادركت نفسك
لا تطمع ان تدركني بادراكك نفسك
بعيني تراني ونفسك
لابعين نفسك تراني
كم اناديك فلا تسمع؟
كم اتراءى لك فلا تبصر ؟
كم اندرج لك فى الروائح فلا تشم ؟
وفي الطعوم فلا تطعم لى ذوقا؟
ما لك لاتلمسني فى الملموسات ؟
ما لك لاتدركني فى المشمومات ؟
ما لك لاتبصرنى؟
ما لك لاتسمعني؟
ما لك مالك مالك ؟
انا الذ لك من كل ملذوذ
أنا اشهي لك من كل مشتهى
انا احسن لك من كل حسن
انا الجميل
انا المليح
! حبيبي
حبني لا تحب غيري
اعشقني هم في
لا تهم في سواي
ضمّني قبّلني
ما تجد وصولا مثلي
كل يريدك له
وانا اريدك لك
وانت تفر مني
يا حبيبي
ما تنصفني
ان تقربت اليّ
تقربت اليك اضعاف ما تقربت به اليّ
انا اقرب اليك من نفسك و نسفك
من يفعل معك ذلك غيري من المخلوقين
اغار عليك منك
لا احب ان اراك عند الغير
كن عندى بي
اكن عندك
كما انت عندي
وانت لاتشعر
الوصال الوصال
يدي و يدك
ندخل على الحق تعالى
…ليحكم بيننا حكم الابد


Ibn ‘Arabi: Interpreter of Desires



A beautiful recording of Ibn ‘Arabi’s poetry sung in a ḥaḍrah:



Poem 1:
Who will show me her of the dyed fingers? Who will show me her of the honeyed tongue?
She is one of the girls with swelling breasts who guard their honour, tender, virgin, and beautiful
Full moons over branches: they fear no waning
In a garden of my body’s country is a dove perched on a bough
Dying of desire, melting with passion, because that which befell me hath befallen her
Mourning for a mate, blaming Time, who shot her unerringly, as he shot me
Parted from a neighbor and far from home! Alas, in my time of severance, for my time of union!
Who will bring me her who is pleased with my torment? I am helpless because of that with which she is pleased.


Poem 2:

When she looks, she gazes with the deep eye of a young gazelle: to her eye belongs the blackness of antimony
Her eyes are adorned with languor and deadly magic, her sides are bound with wonder and incomparable beauty
A slender one, she loves not that which I love, and she does not fulfill her promises with sincerity
She let down her braid like a black serpent, to frighten her followers
By God, I fear not death, my only fear is that I shall die and not see her tomorrow.


Poem 3:

Between ‘Adhriyat and Buṣra, a maid of fourteen rose in my sight like the full moon
She was exalted in majesty above time and transcended it in pride and glory
Every full moon, when it reaches perfection, suffers a waning that it may make a complete month,
Except this one: for she does not move through the zodiac signs, nor double what is single
You are a container holding fragrant perfumes, you are a meadow of spring herbs and flowers
Beauty has reached it utmost limit in you, another like you is outside the realm of possibility.


From R.A. Nicholson’s translation of Tarjuman al-ashwaq






1 قصيدة

من لي بمخضوبة البنان
من لي بمعسولة اللسان
من كاعبات ذوات خدر
نواعم خرد حسان
بدور تم على غصون
هن من النقص في امان
بروضة من ديار جسمي
حمامة فوق غصن بان
تموت شوقا تذوب عشقا
لما دهاها الذي دهاني

قصيدة 2

ترنو اذا لحظت بمقلة شادن
يعزى لمقتها سواد الاثمد
بالغنج والسحر القتول مكحل
بالتيه والحسن البديع مقلد
هيفاء ما تهوى الذي اهوى ولا
تف للذي وعدت بصدق الموعد
سحيت غديرتها شجاعا اسودا
لتخيف من يقفو بذاك الاسود
والله ما خفت المنون وانما
خوفي اموت فلا اراها في غد

قصيدة 3

طلعت بين اذرعات وبصري
بنت عشر واربع لي بدرا
قد تعالت على الزمان جلالا
وتسامت عليه فخرا وكبرا
كل بدر اذا تناهى كمالا
جاءه نقصه ليكمل شهرا
غير هذي فما لها حركات
في بروج فما تشفع وترا
حقه اودعت عبيرا ونشرا
روضة انبتت ربيعا وزهرا
انتهى الحسن فيك اقصى مداه
ما بوسع الامكان مثلك اخرى

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Soft were its sides, and soft its breeze…


One of my favorite recordings of Andausian Sufi music—the beauty of the music is only matched by the beauty of the poetry:


Soft were its sides and soft its breeze,
      and the clouds were flashing and thundering,
And the raindrops were descending from the crevices of the clouds
      like tears shed by a passionate lover because he is parted from her he loves.
And drink the pure essence of its wine with its intoxication,
       and listen rapturously to a singer who chanteth there :
“O the pure wine that in Adam’s time related
        concerning the Garden of Eden an authentic tradition !
Verily, the fair women scattered it from the water of their mouths like musk
         and the virgins bestowed it on us without stint.”

trans. by  R.A. Nicholson The Tarjuman al-Ashwaq



رقَّتْ حواشيها ورقَّ نسيمها                    فالغَيمُ يَبْرُقُ والغمامَة ُ تَرعُدُ
والودقِ ينزلُ منْ خلالِ سحابهِ                   كدُموعِ  صَبٍّ للفِرَاقِ تَبَدَّدُ
واشرَبْ سُلافة َ خَمِرها بخمارها         ، واطربْ على غردٍ هنالكَ تُنشدُ
وسلافة ٌ منْ عهدِ آدمَ أخبرتْ                 عنْ جنة ِ المأوى حديثاً يُسْندُ
إنَّ الحسانَ تفلنها منْ ريقهِ                    كالمسكِ جادَ بها علينا الخرَّدُ




Sulayman and Sheba’s Queen


The following verse of the Qur’an has inspired Islamic architecture and literature, illustrating the prominent symbols of the mirror and the perspective shift.


surah 27-44

Qur’an 27:44 Pickthall translation:

It was said unto her : Enter the hall. And when she saw it she deemed it a pool and bared her legs. (Solomon) said: Lo! it is a hall, made smooth, of glass. She said: My Lord! Lo! I have wronged myself, and I surrender with Solomon unto Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.







Persischer_Meister_sulayman Persischer_Meister_bilqis

And since she, or Bilqîs, said in answer to the question concerning her throne, which was, “Is thy throne like this? (Quran XXVII, 42), “It seems the same” (XXVII, 42), one can detect her knowledge of the renewal of creation at each instant, for she said, “It seems”. And he showed her the pavillion of crystal, so she supposed it was like a spreading water “and she bared her legs” (Quran XXVII, 44) so the water would not touch her clothing. But it was not a spreading water in reality, just as the visible throne brought into existence before Solomon was not the same throne which she left in Sheba in respect of its form, for it had discarded the first form and assumed another, while the substance, upon which the two thrones imposed successively their forms, was one. So he showed her by that that the state of her throne was like that of the pavillion: as for the throne, because it was deprived of existence, and what the Creator created was similar to that which had vanished; and as for the pavillion, because in its extreme delicacy and limpidity it became similar to clear water, while (in reality) it was different. So he showed her with his actions that she was right in her words, “It seems the same.”

-Ibn ‘Arabi Naqsh al-Fusūs trans. by William Chittick

iranreflecting sulaymanenthroned
tajreflectupsidedown t1-stacyboorn-taj-mahal-reflection-600x419


Solomon’s Pool


When you looked at  my polished heart’s shine
    you just saw your own  reflected in mine
And baring your legs,   you hiked up your soul
   to wade in my water, so clear and so cold
But I’m too jealous to let you baptize
    your body in anything else but my eyes
So you’ll walk on water, just like the Messiah
    and dance across skies, like sunset’s smooth fires
You sounded the depths, and to your surprise
    found it but a trick to uncover your thighs
The clothes that you bought, all the things that you thought
   in my mirror’s undertow, are all swept aside
And so now you walk with my heart underfoot
    we’re all alone, lift your head up love and look
Let me lift off that veil, since it’s just you and I
    it’s cold out there darling, come into my eyes…




toubamosquereflect copy






Those who believe are more intense in love…




Quran 2:165

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَتَّخِذُ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ أَندَادًا يُحِبُّونَهُمْ كَحُبِّ اللَّهِ ۖ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَشَدُّ حُبًّا لِّلَّهِ ۗ وَلَوْ يَرَى الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا إِذْ يَرَوْنَ الْعَذَابَ أَنَّ الْقُوَّةَ لِلَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعَذَابِ



Among the people are some who take peers apart from God, loving them as if loving God. And those who believe are more intense in love for God. If only those who were unjust could see, they would see the punishment/sweetness: that all power is God’s and God is intense in punishment/sweetness.


Tafsir Maybudi 

They say that a man met a woman recognizer, and her beauty exercised its influence over his heart. He said, “’My all is busy with your all.’ O woman! I have lost myself in love for you.”

She said, “Why don’t you look at my sister, who is more beautiful and lovely than I?”

He said, “Where is your sister so that I may see her?”

She said, “Go, idler! Passion is not your work. If your claim to love me were true, you would not care about anyone else.”…

Shiblī said, “I learned Sufism from a dog that was sleeping at the door of a house. The owner came out and was driving the dog away, but the dog kept on coming back. I said to myself, ‘How base this dog is! He drives him away, and he keeps on coming back.’ The Exalted Lord brought that dog to speech and it said, ‘O Shaykh! Where should I go? He is my owner.’”

I will not leave the Friend at a hundred iniquities and cruelties.
Even if He increases them, I will not be troubled,
It is I who chose Him over everyone else;
if I complain about Him, I will have no excuse.



Tafsir Kashani

But the believers love God more ardently, than any other, because they only love God. Their love for Him is not confounded with love of others and is not subject to change. They love things through [their] love of God and for God and in the measure that they find in these [things] a divine aspect…

or [it means that] they love [God] more than they love their deities because they love things in themselves for themselves and so inevitably their love changes [for these things] when they themselves change the accidents of their souls upon fear of perdition and the harm that the soul brings upon them. Believers love God through their spirits and their hearts, nay, through God and for God. Their love [for Him] does not change because it is selfless. They expend their spirits and their souls for the sake of His countenance and His approval, abandoning all of their desires for His desire, loving His acts even when they conflict with their caprices, as one of them said: “I desire to connect with Him while He desires to abandon me, so I abandon what I desire for what He desires.”



Tafsir Anon.

Nothing but God is loved, nothing but God is worshipped— Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him (17:23)— indeed nothing but God is. However, some limit their love of God to a particular form or forms of His, an idol of sorts.

Those who love God in a limited form, in idols or “peers,” love a limited form, and thus their love is limited. Those who love God, Who is beyond all limitation (and is even beyond the limitation of being beyond limitation) love Him in each and every form, without limitation. Thus their love is unlimited, and more intense. He loves them and they love Him (5:54). They love Him with His love. Those who love the “idols” of a particular form or forms only love “as if with the Love of God” (كحبّ الله), but those who believe, who love of God is not limited by these forms, love God with His own unlimited love—God loves Himself through them.

Those who wrong themselves by limiting their love to a particular form or forms, if they could only see, would know the intense sweetness of love unlimited, and the severe punishment of limited love, especially when compared to sweetness of unlimited love. The pain of regret and envy is severe punishment.

Sheikh Lutfollah Mosque is standing on the eastern side of Naghsh-i Jahan Square, Isfahan. Construction of the mosque started in 1603 and was finished in 1619.

Ibn ‘Arabi 

Faṣṣ Harūn:

Have you seen him who has taken desire for his God? (45:23)

The greatest and most exalted locus of self-disclosure wherein He is worshipped is that of desire. Remember that He has said, Have you seen him who has taken his desire for his God? It is the greatest object of worship since nothing is worshipped except through it, and it is only worshipped by itself. Concerning this I say:

The truth of desire is that desire is the cause of desire
If not for desire in the heart, desire would not be worshipped

و حق الهوى إن الهوى سبب الهوى         لو لا الهوى في القلب ما عُبِدَ الهوى

Do you not see how perfect God’s knowledge of things is, how He perfects one who worships is desire and takes it has his divinity?… He sees this worshipper worshipping only his his desire, complying with its command to worship the individual whom he worships. Even his worship of God comes from his desire. If one did not have desire for the Divine—which is a will based on love—one would not worship God, nor would one prefer Him to another. Likewise, anyone who worships some form of the world and makes it a divinity only does so because of desire. The worshipper is forever under the influence of his desire. Now, he sees the objects of worship diversified amongst the worshippers, and each one who worships something, denies one who worships something else. One who has the least bit of awareness will be bewildered at the unanimity of desire, nay by the oneness of desire, for it is the same essence in every worshipper. God led him astray, that is, bewildered him, out of knowledge that every worshipper only worships his own desire, and only seeks to worship his desire whether it coincides with the prescribed command or not.

The perfect Knower is he who sees every object of worship as a locus of self-disclosure of the Real wherein to worship Him.


This is why a human being does not become totally annihilated and enraptured by love except in love for His Lord or for someone who is the locus of disclosure for his Lord [that is, another human being, created in God’s image].

The entities of the cosmos are all lovers because of Him, whatever the beloved may be, since all created things are the pedestals for the Real’s self-disclosure. Their love is fixed, they are loving, and He is the Loving. The whole situation is concealed between the Real and creation through creation and the Real. That is why God brought the name Forgiving along with the name Loving [in the verse He is the Forgiving, the Loving, Lord of the Throne, the Glorious (85:14-15)]. After all, Forgiving means literally ‘curtaining’. Thus it is said that [the famous Arab lover] Qays loved Layla, since Layla derives from the locus of disclosure. In the same way, Bishr loved Hind, Kuthayr loved ‘Azza, Ibn al-Durayj loved Lubna, Tawba loved al-Akhyaliyya, and Jamil loved Buthayna. But all these women were pedestals through which the Real disclosed Himself to them.

The beloved is a pedestal even if the lover is ignorant of the names of what he loves. A man can see a woman and love her, without knowing who she is, what her name is, who her relatives are, and where she lives. Love, by its very essence, requires that he seek out her name and her home so that he may attend to her and know her in the state of her absence through the name and the relationship. Thus he will ask about her if he lacks the witnessing of her.

So also is our love for God. We love Him in His loci of self-disclosure and within the specific name, which is Layla, Lubna, or whatever, but we do not recognize that the object is identical with the Real. So here we love the name but we do not recognize that it is identical with the Real. Thus we love the name and do not recognize the entity.

In the case of the created thing, you know the entity and you love. It may be that the name is not known. However, love refuses anything but making the beloved known. Among us are those who know God in this world, and among us are those who do not know Him until they die while loving some specific thing. Then they will come to understand, when the covering is lifted, that they had loved only God, but they had been veiled by the name of the created thing.


—Futūḥāt IV 260.12; Trans. William Chittick “The Divine Roots of Human Love

Ibn al-Fāriḑ

If I say:  I have for you, each and every love
He says: Lovelieness is mine and every beauty is in me


إنْ قُلْتُ:عِندي فيكَ كل صَبابة ٍ؛       قالَ:المَلاحة ُ لي، وكُلُّ الحُسْنِ في

Turn your gaze to the beauties of his face,
Where all beauty has been gathered
If all beauty were perfected into one form
on seeing him, it would exclaim [in wonder],
“There is no god but God, and God is greater.”


فأَدِرْ لِحَاظَكَ في محاسنِ وجْهه            تَلْقَى جميعَ الحُسْنِ فيه مُصَوَّرا
لو أنّ كُلّ الحُسْنِ يكمُلُ صُورةً                    ورآهُ كان مُهَلِّلاً ومُكَبِّر




Her mystery flows through everything
so everything inclines towards her


Whoever witnesses the secret of her beauty says
that it is everywhere, but its fullness is hidden
كل  شِي   سرُها   فيه     سَرَى        فلذا   يثنى   عليها   كل      شيْ
قال  مَن  أشهدَ   معنى   حُسنها        إِنه     منتشرُ     والكل     طيْ


She is adorned with each and every kind of beauty
And the people of passion are mad with love for her, wherever she appears.

تحلّت بأنواع الجمال بأسرها                  فهام بها أهل الهوى حيثُ حلّت




Everyone, sober or drunk, seeks the beloved.
Every place, be it mosque or synagogue, is the house of love
همه كس طالب يارند چه هشيار و چه مست
همه جا خانه عشق است چه مسجد چه كنشت
Various ways have those who love from (mere) passion
But I have a unique way,  in which I dwell alone.”

مذاهب شتى للمحبّين في الهوى            و لي مدهب فرد أعيش به وحدي

“Have you ever seen anything more lovely?”
I said, “is there anything else in existence?”




We all long for her loveliness
on earth, in skies above
There is no other beauty
and nothing else to love


I said, “all my love is yours
all loves and for all time.”
She said, “it’s only fitting since
every beauty is mine.”


Love loves Love
and Love is One
that is all there is below
and all there is above






Near and Far

Ibn al-Fāriḍ


لكَ قُرْبٌ مِنّي ببُعدِكَ عنّي           وحنوٌّ وجدتهُ في جفاكا
فَتراءيتَ في سِواكَ لِعَينٍ        بكَ قَرّتْ، وما رأيتُ سِواكا
وكذاكَ الخَليلُ قَلّبَ قَبْلي          طرفهُ حينَ راقبَ الأفلاكا


You have nearness with me in your distance from me
In other than thee, You showed Yourself to my eyes
Which, delighting in you, saw nothing but you
Even so, before me did the Friend (Khalil) so turn his gaze
When he beheld the spheres [of planet, moon, and sun]




The verses above and below make reference to the following verses of the Qur’an:

Thus did we show unto Abraham the dominion of the Heavens and the Earth, that he might be of those possessing certainty. When the night grew dark upon him, he beheld a planet and said: ‘this is my Lord’. Then, when it had set, he said: ‘I love not things which set.’

And when he saw the moon rising, he said: ‘This is my Lord.’ Then when it set, he said: ‘Unless my Lord lead me, I must needs become one of the folk who have gone astray.’ And when he saw the sun rising, he said: ‘This is my Lord. This is the greatest.’ Then when it set, he said; ‘O my people, verily I am innocent of all that ye place beside God. Verily I have turned my face towards Him who created the Heavens and the Earth.” (6:75-9)

Shaykh al-‘Alawi’s commentary on these verses reads:

“He did not say ‘This is my Lord’ by way of making comparisons, but he spake thus in utter affirmation of God’s Transcendence, when there was revealed to him the Truth of all Truths that is indicated in the noble verse: Whereso’er ye turn, there is the face of God. He informed his people of this Truth that they might show piety unto God in respect of each thing. All this was on account of what was revealed unto him of the dominion of the Heavens and the earth, so that he found the Truth of the Creator existent in every created thing.”

qtd, in A Sufi Saint of the Twentieth Century by Martin Lings



On Love’s path, there is neither near nor far
I see you clearly, and I send you a prayer
‫در راه عشق مرحله قرب و بعد نیست‬
می‌ بینمت عیان و دعا می‌فرستمت
Though we are far from you, we drink to your recollection
There is no distance in the spiritual journey
گر چه دوریم به یاد تو قدح می‌گیریم
بعد منزل نبود در سفر روحانی
I am the comrade of the steed of imagination and patience’s companion
The partner of the fire of exile, and the intimate of separation
(lit. I have the same Qur’an of separation or I have the same joining with separation-the wordplay is impossible to translate)
رفیق خیل خیالیم و هم ركيب شکیب

قرین آتش هجران و هم قران فراق

The radiance of his face is not revealed to mine eyes alone
The sun and moon are also taking this mirror around
جلوه گاه رخ او دیده من تنها نیست
ماه و خورشید همین آینه می‌گردانند
I have not seen any equal to my friend even though I held
the mirrors of sun and moon before his face
نظیر دوست ندیدم اگر چه از مه و مهر

نهادم آینه‌ها در مقابل رخ دوست



He stayed me in Nearness, and said to me:

1. Nothing is nearer to Me than any other thing, and nothing is farther from Me than any other thing, except inasfar as I establish it in nearness and farness.

2. Farness is made known by nearness, and nearness is made known by spiritual experience: I am He whom nearness does not seek, and Whom spiritual experience does not attain.

3. The least of the sciences of my nearness is, that thou shouldst see the effects of my regard in everything, and that it should prevail in thee over thy gnosis of it.

4. The nearness which thou knowest is, compared with the nearness I know, like thy gnosis compared with my gnosis.

5. My farness thou knowest not, and my nearness thou knowest not, nor my qualification knowest thou as I know it.

6. I am the Near, but not as one thing is near to another: and I am the Far, but not as one thing is far from another.

7. Thy nearness is not thy farness, and thy farness is not thy nearness: I am the Near and the Far, with a nearness which is farness, and a farness which is nearness.

8. The nearness which thou knowest is distance, and the farness which thou knowest is distance: I am the Near and the Far without distance.

9. I am nearer to the tongue than its speech when it speaks. Whoso contemplates Me does not recollect, and whoso recollects Me does not contemplate.

10. As for the recollecting contemplative, if what he contemplates is not a reality, he is veiled by what he recollects.

11. Not every recollector is a contemplative: but every contemplative is a recollector.

12. I revealed Myself unto thee, and thou knewest Me not: that is farness. Thy heart saw Me, and saw Me not: that is farness.

13. Thou findest Me and findest Me not: that is farness. Thou describest Me, and dost not apprehend Me by My description: that is farness. Thou hearest my address as though it were from thy heart, whereas it is from Me: that is farness. Thou seest thyself, and I am nearer to thee than thy vision of thyself: that is farness.

From The Book of Spiritual Stayings of Al Niffari. Edited for the first time, with translation, commentary, and indices, by Arthur John Arberry, Luzac & Co, London, 1935.


Shaykh Aḥmad al-‘Alāwi

“The outwardly Manifest is veiled by naught but the strength of the manifestations, so be present with Him, nor be veiled from Him by that which hath no being apart from Him.”

Mināh al-Qudussiyyah, cited in A Sufi Saint of the Twentieth Century by Martin Lings


Ibn ‘Arabī

“So glory be to Him who veils Himself in His manifestation and becomes manifest in His veil!
No eye witnesses anything other than He, and no veils are lifted from Him.”

Futūḥāt III 546.24, cited in The Self Disclosure of God by William Chittick


From the Ḥikam of Ibn ‘Atā ‘Llah

The Truth is only veiled from you
due to its extremity of closeness to you

إمنا حجب احلق عنك – شده قربه منك .

It is only veiled  due to the intensity of its manifestation
and It is only hidden from sight
due to the splendour of Its Light


إمنااحتجب لشدة ظهوره ، وخفى عن األبصار لعظم نوره .

That which shows you the existence of His Omnipotence
Is that He veiled you from Himself
By what has no existence alongside of Him.

ما يدلك على وجود قهره – سبحانه – أن حجبك عنه مبا ليس مبوجود معه .

How can it be conceived that something veils Him,
since He is the One who manifests everything?
How can it be conceived that something veils Him
since He is the one who is manifest through everything?
How can it be conceived that something veils Him,
since He is the One who is manifest in everything?
How can it be conceived that something veils Him,
since He is the Manifest to everything?
How can it be conceived that something veils Him,
since He was the Manifest before the existence of anything?
How can it be conceived that something veils Him,
since He is more manifest than anything?
How can it be conceived that something veils Him,
since He is the One alongside of whom there is nothing?
How can it be conceived that something veils Him,
since He is nearer to you than anything else?
How can it be conceived that something veils Him,
since, were it not for Him,
the existence of everything would not have been manifest?
It is a marvel how Being has manifested in nonbeing,
and how the contingent has been established
alongside of Him who possesses the attribute of Eternity!

 كيف يتصور أن حيجبه شيء ، وهو الذي أظهر كل شيء ؟
كيف يتصور أن حيجبه شيء ، وهو الذي ظهر بكل ؟ كيف يتصور أن حيجبه شيء ، وهو الذي ظهر يف كل شيء ؟
كيف يتصور أن حيجبه شيء ، وهوالذي ظهر لكل شيء ؟
كيف يتصور أن حيجبه شيء ، وهو الظاهر قبل وجود كل شيء ؟
كيف يتصور أن حيجبه شيء ، وهو أظهر من كل شيء ؟
كيف يتصور أن حيجبه شيء ، وهو الواحد الذي ليس معه شيء ؟
كيف يصور أن حيجبه شيء ، وهو أقرب إليك من كل شيء ؟
كيف يتصور أن حيجبه شيء ، ولواله ما كان وجود كل شيء ؟
يا عجبا ! كيف يظهر الوجود يف العدم !؟
أم كيف يثبت احلادث مع من له وصف القدم !؟

How can the Truth veil Himself with something
when He is apparent in that by which he is veiled,
and is present and found [in it]?


كيف حيتجب احلق بشيء ، والذي حيتجب به – هو فيه ظاهر ، وموجود حاضر !؟

Pleasure, even if manifest in many forms, is only through
viewing His closeness. Pain even if manifest in many forms
is only through being veiled from Him. the cause for
pain is the presence of the veil. The perfecting of pleasure is
by viewing His Noble Countenance.

النعيم وإن تنوعت مظاهره – إمنا هو لشهوده واقترابه ، والعذاب وإن تنوعت مظاهره – إمنا هو لوجود حجابه ، فسبب العذاب – وجود احلجاب ، وامتام النعيم – بالنظر إىل وجهه الكرمي .

As Hafez says,
I asked the doctor about the state of the Friend, he said
There is pain in distance from him, and health in nearness to him
پرسیدم از طبیبی احوال دوست گفتا
فی بعدها عذاب فی قربها السلامه


If it were not for the battlefields of the souls,
there would be no travel for the travelers on the Path
since there is no distance between you and Him
that your journey would shorten
and there is no separation between you and Him
that your reaching Him would eliminate.

لو ال ميادين النفوس – ما حتقق سري السائرين ، إذا المسافة بينك وبينه ؛ حىت تطويها رحلتك ، وال قطعة بينك وبينه ؛ حىت متحوه وصلتك .


The Religion of Love

In addition to Ibn ‘Arabi’s famous poem (see this post), the “religion of love,” the root of all religion and worship beyond all distinctions and differentiations, plays an important role in other Sufi poetry, especially that of Rumi, Hafez, and Ibn al-Fariḍ:


ملت عشق از همه دین‌ها جداست
 عاشقان را ملت و مذهب خداست
The sect of Love is different from all other religions
 For lovers, their sect and religion is simply God


طریق عشق ز هفتاد و دو برون باشد
چو عشق و مذهب تو خدعه و ریاست بخسب
The way of love is outside of the seventy-two sects
Go to sleep, for your love and religion are deceit and conceit



خرد نداند و حیران شود ز مذهب عشق
اگر چه واقف باشد ز جمله مذهب‌ها
Wisdom is bewildered by the religion of love
Although it knows all other religions


بسگل ز جز این عشق اگر در یتیمی
زیرا که جز این عشق تو را خویش و پدر نیست
در مذهب عشاق به بیماری مرگست
هر جان که به هر روز از این رنج بتر نیست

Leave all that is other than this love, if you are an orphaned pearl
For apart from this love, you have neither family nor father
In the religion of lovers, whosoever’s suffering does not make him better
He is possessed of the sickness of death



تا شب میگو که روز ما را شب نیست
در مذهب عشق و عشق را مذهب نیست
عشق آن بحریست کش کران ولب نیست
بس غرقه شوند و ناله و یارب نیست
Until night, say that there is no night for our day
In religion, there is no Love, and Love has no religion
Love is that ocean without boundary or shore
Where lovers drown without sigh or cry

در راه طلب عاقل و دیوانه یکیست
در شیوهٔ عشق خویش و بیگانه یکیست
آن را که شراب وصل جانان دادند
در مذهب او کعبه و بتخانه یکیست


In the way of seeking, the sane and the mad are one
On the path of love, friend and stranger are one
That one who has tasted the wine of union with the supreme soul
In his religion, the Ka’aba and idol-temple are one


عاشق تو یقین دان که مسلمان نبود
در مذهب عشق کفر و ایمان نبود
در عشق تن و عقل و دل و جان نبود
هرکس که چنین نگشت او آن نبود

In loving you there are certainly no Muslims
In the religion of Love, there is no infidelity or disbelief
In Love, there is neither body nor reason nor heart nor soul
Everyone who does this is not separate from that


در عشق موافقت بود چون جانی
در مذهب هر ظریف معنی دانی
از سی و دو دندان چو یکی گشت دراز
بی‌دندان شد از چنان دندانی


In love there is harmony because you become pure spirit
you will know the essence of the religion of each subtle one
If one of the 32 teeth grows large
from that tooth, you will become toothless


با دو عالم عشق را بیگانگی
اندرو هفتاد و دو دیوانگی
سخت پنهانست و پیدا حیرتش
جان سلطانان جان در حسرتش
غیر هفتاد و دو ملت کیش او
تخت شاهان تخته‌بندی پیش او


Love is a stranger to the two worlds: in it are seventy-two madnesses.
It is hidden; only its bewilderment is manifest:
The soul of the spiritual sultan longs for it.
Love’s religion is other than the seventy-two sects:
Beside it the throne of kings is just a floorboard.



unverified “Rumi”


I was unable to find Persian poems attributed to Rumi that correspond to these English verses that have been attributed to him.  If these are indeed translations and you know the original from which they are derived please let me know in the comments section.  In any event, I am sure Malwana wouldn’t object to these verses, even if they never came from his pen.


“I belong to no religion.
My religion is Love.
Every heart is My temple”


Whatever you think of War, I am far, far from it
Whatever you think of Love, I am that, only that, all that
Like a compass I stand firm with one leg on my faith
And, with the other leg, roam all over the seventy-two nations
The Seventy-Two nations learn their secrets from us:
We are the reed-flute whose song unites all nations and faiths
In all mosques, temples, and churches, I find one shrine alone


I profess the religion of love,
Love is my religion and my faith.
My mother is love, My father is love
My prophet is love My God is love
I am a child of love
I have come only to speak of love


Ibn al-Fāriḍ

The sights do not swerve in any faith
nor do the thoughts stray in any sect.


وما زاغت الأبصار من كل ملة
وما زاغت الأفكار في كل نحلة


Every part of me kissed her veil
With every mouth whose touch held every kiss
If she dissolved my body, she would see in every atom
each and every heart filled with each and every love


ويلثم مني كلّ جزء لثامها
بكلّ فم فى لثمه كلّ قبلة
فلو بسطت جسمي رأت كلّ جوهر
به كلّ قلب فيه كلّ محبة


As for my way in love, I have no way
If I turn from it (Love) for a day, then I have left my religion
And if I think of other than you, even momentarily
I would consider it as my apostasy


عن مذهبي في الحب ما لي مذهب
وإن ملت عنه يوما فارقت ملتي
وإن خطرت لي في سواك ارادة
سهوا على خاطري قضيت بردتي


And part of my way is love of lands for the sake of their people
and people, in what they love, have many ways
-Abu Firas Hamadani


و منْ مذهبي حبُّ الديارِ لأهلها                      وَللنّاسِ فِيمَا يَعْشَقُونَ مَذَاهِبُ
لابو فراس الحمداني-



He saw the lightning in the East and longed for the East,
but if it had flashed in the West he would have longed for the West.
My desire is for the lightning and its gleam, not for places and  earth.

Ibn ‘Arabi


رأى البرْقَ شرقيّاً، فحنّ إلى الشرْقِ،       ولو لاحَ غربيَّاً لحنَّ إلى الغربِ
فإنّ غَرامي بالبُرَيْقِ ولمحِهِ        وليسَ غرَامي بالأماكِنِ والتُّرْبِ


لابن عربي




  تَفَكَّرتُ في الأَديانِ جِدّ مُحَقّق          فَأَلفَيتُها أَصلاً لَهُ شَعبٌ جَمّا
فَلا تَطلُبَن لِلمَرءِ ديناً فَإِنَّهُ          يَصُدُّ عَنِ الأَصلِ الوَثيقِ وَإِنَّما
يُطالِبُهُ أَصلٌ يُعَبِّرُ عِندَهُ         جَميعَ المَعالي وَالمَعاني فَيَفهَما
Earnest for truth, I thought on the religions:
They are, I found, one root with many a branch.
Therefore impose on no man a religion,
Lest it should bar him from the firm-set root.
Let the root claim him, a root wherein all heights
And meanings are made clear, for him to grasp.


Diwan al-Hallaj, trans. Martin Lings, Sufi Poems, p. 34.


همه كس طالب يارند چه هشيار و چه مست
همه جا خانه عشق است چه مسجد چه كنشت
Everyone, sober or drunk, seeks the beloved.
Every place, be it mosque or synagogue, is the house of love

در عشق خانقاه و خرابات فرق نيست
هر جا كه هست پرتو روى حبيب هست
In love, there is no difference between the monastery and the tavern
the rays of the beloved’s face shine every where that is


سراسر بخشش جانان طریق لطف و احسان بود
اگر تسبیح می‌فرمود اگر زنار می‌آورد
Whatever the beloved bestowed was all through grace and kindness
Whether praying with a tasbih or putting on a Christian belt



خمِ زلفِ تو دامِ کفر و دین است
ز کارستان او یک شمه این‌است
The curve of your tress is the snare of belief and unbelief.
This is only a small part of its gallery of works


بجز ابروی تو محراب دل حافظ نیست
 طاعت غیر تو در مذهب ما نتوان كرد
Except for your eyebrow, Hafez’s heart has no mihrab
No one but you can be worshipped in our religion



در صومعه زاهد و در خلوت صوفی
جز گوشه ابروی تو محراب دعا نیست
In the ascetic’s monastery and the Sufi’s khalwah (retreat)
There is no mihrab (prayer niche) save the curve of your brow


گر پیر مغان مرشد من شد چه تفاوت
در هیچ سری نیست که سری ز خدا نیست
If the Magian Pir became my master, what difference would it make?
There is no head that is without a divine secret


روشن از پرتو رويست نظرى نيست كه نيست
منت خاك درت بر بصرى نيست كه نيست
There is no vision unillumined with the light of your face
There is no eye unindebted to the dust of your door


ناظر روی تو صاحب نظرانند آری
سر گیسوی تو در هیچ سری نیست که نیست

Those who see your face are the seers of truth
There is no head that does not have the secret of your tress



  در طريقت هرخه پيش سالك آيد خير اوست
بر صراط مشتقيم ايدل كسى گمراه نيست
In the Way, whatever befalls the traveler is for his own good
No one loses his way on a straight path, my dear


هر که خواهد گو بیا و هر چه خواهد گو بگو
کبر و ناز و حاجب و دربان بدین درگاه نیست

Whoever wants to enter, let him do so and say what he may
In this court, there is neither conceit nor vanity, nor spokesman nor guard


مردم دیده ما جز به رخت ناظر نیست
دل سرگشته ما غیر تو را ذاکر نیست

The pupil of my eye sees naught but your face
My bewildered heart recalls none but you



فکر خود و رای خود در عالم رندی نیست
کفر است در این مذهب خودبینی و خودرایی
In the gangster’s world there is no thought or opinion of self
In this religion, seeing or thinking of yourself is infidelity


روی تو کس ندید و هزارت رقیب هست
در غنچه‌ای هنوز و صدت عندلیب هست
No one has seen your face, and yet a thousand rivals hound you
You are still a bud, and yet a hundred deer surround you

یا رب به که شاید گفت این نکته که در عالم
رخساره به کس ننمود آن شاهد هرجایی
O Lord, to whom should I explain this fine point
That beauty who is everywhere, showed her face to no one

معشوقه چون نقاب ز رخ بر نمى كشد 
هر كسى حكايتى به تصوّر چرا كنند
Since the beloved does not remove the veil from her face
Why does everyone make up a story from his imagination?

ترا خنانكه توئى هر نظر كجا بيند
به قدر بينش خود هر كسى كند ادراك
How can every eye see you as you are?
Each perceives only to the extent of his vision

ميدمد هر كسش افسونى و معلوم نشد
كه دل نازك او مايل افسانه كيست
Everyone tells her a tale, but no one knows
Whose tale her tender heart appreciates


هر كسى با شمع ر خسارت به وجهى عشق باخت
زان ميان پروانه را در اضطراب اندختى
Each person made love to the candle of your face in a different way
But it was only the moth that made you shake

مسلمان گر بدانستی که بت چیست
بدانستی که دین در بت‌پرستی است
If a muslim but knew what an idol is,
he would know that all religion is idolatry

حنیفی شو ز هر قید و مذاهب
 درآ در دیر دین مانند راهب
تو را تا در نظر اغیار و غیر است
اگردر مسجدی آن عین دیر است
چو برخیزد ز پیشت کسوت غیر
شود بهر تو مسجد صورت دیر


Become primordial, from each restriction and every sect
and come to the monastery of the religion, like the monk
So long as others and otherness appear in your sight
Even if you are in a mosque, it is the same as monastery
When the veil of otherness is removed from you
The monastery’s form becomes a mosque for you


من و تو در میان مانند برزخ
چو برخیزد تو را این پرده از پیش
نماند نیز حکم مذهب و کیش
همه حکم شریعت از من توست
که این بربستهٔ جان و تن توست
من تو چون نماند در میانه
چه کعبه چه کنشت چه دیرخانه
I and You are the barzakh between them
When this veil is lifted up from before you
There remains not the bond of sects and creeds
All the rules of Shari’ah are from your ego
since it is bound to your soul and body
When I and You remain not in the midst
What is Ka’aba, what is synagogue, what is monastery?


trans. Whinfield. The Mystic Rose-Garden of Sa’ad ud-din Mahmud Shabistari. 1880