Friday, December 27, 2013

The Friend of God

One night the Prophet Abraham saw in a dream the Angel Gabriel, who was writing a list with golden ink on ancient parchment.
    Abraham asked him what it was a list of, and Gabriel answered: “I am writing a list of the Friends of God.”
   He said: “Ah! Is my name anywhere down that list, O Gabriel?”
   Gabriel replied: “No, Abraham. It is not.
   Abraham felt his heart sink. He stood pensive and heavy-hearted for a moment, and then he raised his head, smiling brightly, and said: “Then I am a friend of the Friends of God.”
   Gabriel was silent for a moment. He then looked at Abraham and said: “O Abraham, I have written your name at the head of this list.”

we humans do not need (if ever you ask me)

we humans do not need 
   (if ever you ask me) 
more sustained dialogue, 
   more voicing of opinions, 
more inclusive debates, 
   more elaborate theories, 
overturning of dogmas, 
   and shifting of paradigms – 

as much as we need 
   to let our heart 
be inhabited by silence, 
   a quiet and simple awareness 
of things as they are, 
   as they manifest,
beyond words, simply
   in their being present to us –

a silence wherein 
   we can see, and listen, 
and only listen, 
   without having to answer, 
assent or disagree. 
   simply to listen 
to the silence of life 
   that needs no words to be. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

light and shadow

help me remember 
   always 
that my life
basks in your sunshine,
   my love.

in myself, 
   away from you,
(however bright
you shine
   on me, 
   my love,)

i remain ever
   but a silhouette
and a shadow
   wherein
   your light
can never shine.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sayings of Abū Yazīd Bisṭāmī

    [Arabic, 9th century]

دخلت إلى أبي يزيد فسرّني بقاؤه واستفدتُ منه. ثم قال لي في وقت خروجي من عنده:
يا متقرّئ ! أنظر إن أعطاك كل ما أعطى الأنبياء، فقل: أريدك، لا أريد غيرك.

I went to the house of Abū Yazīd. His company delighted me and I benefited much from him. Then, as I was about to leave his place, he said to me: “O seeker! Even if He had given you all that He gave to the prophets, say: ‘I want You, I want only You.’”

توبة الناس من ذنوبهم وتوبتي من قولي: لا إله إلا اللّٰه.
إني أقول بالآلة والحروف، والحق خارج عن الحروف والآلة.

People repent of their sins. As for me, I repent of saying: “There is no god but God.” For I say so with the tongue and with letters; while the Real is beyond letters, beyond the tongue.

أعرفه بي حتى فنيت، ثم عرفته به فحييت.

I knew Him through myself until I ceased to be; then I knew Him through Him, and I came to life.

من نظر إلى الناس بالعلم مقتهم؛ ومن نظر إلى الناس بالحقيقة رحمهم.

Whoever looks at people with the eye of knowledge abhors them; whoever looks at them with the eye of the Real has compassion for them.

من نظر إلى الخلق بالخلق أبغضهم؛ ومن نظر إلى الخلق بالخالق رحمهم.

Whoever looks at creatures with the eye of the creature loathes them; whoever looks at them with the eye of the Creator has compassion for them.

رأيت ربّ العزة في المنام، فقول لي: كل الناس يطلبون مِنّي، غير أنك تطلبني.

I saw the Lord of Glory in a dream. He said to me: “Everyone asks favours from Me, while you ask only for Me.”

سئل أبو يزيد: كيف عرف اللّٰه؟ فقال للسائل: لو عرفت لما كنت تسألني عنه. 
ومن لم يعرف اللّٰه فلا يعرف قول العارف. ومن عرف اللّٰه يستغن عن السَؤال.

Abū Yazīd was asked: “How have you come to know God?” He replied: “If you had known Him you would not ask me about Him. Whoever has not known God cannot fathom the words of the knower, and whoever knows God does not need to ask.”

من تكلم في الأزل يحتاج أن يكون معه سراج الأزل.

Whoever speaks of eternity must be lit by the lantern of eternity.

عرج قلبي إلى السماء، وطاف ودار ورجع فقلت: أيش جبت معك ؟ قال: المحبة والرضا.

My heart ascended to Heaven. It roamed and wandered about, and then returned. I said: “What have you brought back?” It said: “Love and acceptance.”

عرفتُ اللّٰه باللّٰه، وعرفتُ ما دون اللّٰه بنور اللّٰه.

I have known God by God, and I have known what is not God by the light of God.

غلّقت الملوك أبوابها وبابُك مفتوح لمن دعاك يا اللّٰه !

Kings bar their doors, but Your door remains open to those who call on You, O God!

ربّ افهمني عنك فإني لا أفهم عنك إلا بك.

Lord, make me understand who You are, for I cannot understand You except by You.

[my translations]

Thursday, December 19, 2013

From An Epistle on Prayer

By the anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing
   [Middle English, 14th century]

O how wonderful and how high a thing it is, to speak of the love of God, of which no man may speak but by fleeting evocations, and surpassing the understanding of man! And so it is when I speak of the love for God with a chaste love for Himself, and not for His blessings.

I say that when a soul is touched affectively by a sensible presence of God as He is in Himself, and in a perfect soul illumined in its reason by the clear beam of everlasting light, the which is God, when such a soul sees and feels the loveliness of God in Himself, while having in such a time and moment lost all consideration for any good or any kindness that God has ever done to him in this life  in this moment it feels and sees no cause to love God, other than God Himself.

And though it may be said, according to common understanding, that the great good and the great kindness that God has shown to us in this life are high and worthy causes for loving God, yet in view of the peak of perfection (to which I here aim to draw you), a perfect lover of God finds no other cause to love God, other than God Himself; and by this I mean, that chaste love is to love God for Himself and not for His blessings.

Chaste love is when you ask of God neither relief from pain, nor increase in recompense, nor yet the sweetness of His love in this life, save in those times when you seek His sweetness in order to refresh your spiritual forces, so that they do not fail you on the way; but that you ask of God nothing but Himself, and neither concern yourself with whether you will be in pain or in bliss, that you may be with Him whom you love – this is chaste love, this is perfect love.

[my translation-paraphrase]

oh man...

oh man... you’ve got it all 
   in reverse.

your relentless efforts
   at renouncing the world
will not make God present to you. 

your presence to God –
   that alone will move you,
effortlessly, to renounce the world.

A Change of Heart

A prayer attributed to Ibn Sīnā
   [Arabic, 11th century]

I seek refuge in You, my God. 
   I forsake the trivial seduction of the world, 
necklace of a narrow life. 

I now return to You, accept my return, 
   and change in me this heart 
which has for so long turned away from You. 

If You do not restore my ailing soul, 
   or heal it from its blindness, 
to whom but You would I raise my complaint? 

[my translation]

learnings

it is through the failings, 
and the missteps 
that the learnings will find their way to you. 

only judgment and shame 
have made their way long and crooked. 

there is no blame, my dear. 
everything is, was, and will be just as it should. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

JonathanBot

What Would I Say?
A selection of the most poetic phrases randomly generated from my past Facebook posts on the internet app what-would-i-say.com.

Unfortunately, posts can’t be used as a transcendent Reality.

Since ancient times, no one else bought you a shaft of sunlight.

Actually, I entirely fill the heart, the heart is astonishing.


I want to own you, attain five hundred years of experience when 

I contemplate the tongues of atoms.

A certain dervish asked him to delete everything.


Each veil between men would never be freed by many worlds.

I forsake the trivial seduction of possibility as an ocean of dusty library shelves.

How simple the orchids, the dust mixed with the material world becomes a noble mercy of proportion with generosities beyond art.


I want you to stir, of thoughtful trees. And send waves of a reed to you now.


Love is the public service because Jesus endured his mountain of gold.


She took a postprandial walk through the forms of their errors.


Iron kills a star in a very poignant way.


Monday, December 16, 2013

she is not real.

put her down, 
   they said. 

she is not real. 

they sought her secrets 
   within her. 

they found her heart. 

they told me much 
   about her heart. 

cut her up, 
   they said. 

she is not real. 

I remembered her joy. 

this is not her heart, 
   I said. 

but they laughed, 
   derisively. 

they learned much
   about her heart.

   gazing on,

with their eyes 
   of flesh. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Adam, the Angel and the Beast

From Maulānā RūmīMasnavī-i Ma‘navī (IV, ll. 1497-1514)
   [Persian, 13th century]

A Tradition* recounts that the Lord of Glory 
   created in the world three classes of beings: 
one given intelligence, science, munificence – 
   those are angels engaged in ceaseless worship 
in whose nature abide neither greed nor lust, 
   only pure light, whose life is the love of God. 
then a second class, devoid of all knowledge, 
   cattle that ruminate all day on fattening grass, 
without a care but for their stall and pasture, 
   heedless of all portents of misery and honour
A third is the progeny of Adam and mankind, 
   whose nature is half angelic and half asinine – 
the asinine side ever pulling him earthward, 
   even as his angelic side draws him heavenward. 
It remains unclear which of them will prevail, 
   and overcome its rival in this wrestling match. 
[If intelligence prevails, man will rise higher 
   than the angel through this trial of endurance. 
If his desire prevails, man will descend lower 
   than the beast which cannot rise above itself.] 
Between these there is neither war nor strife, 
   yet in man, to his affliction, they are enemies. 

*This Tradition (hadīth) has been ascribed to ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib in the Biḥār al-Anwār (60/299/5): “[Imām ‘Alī] (AS) said, ‘God, the Mighty and Majestic, gave the angels intelligence (aql) without desire (shahwa), He gave the beasts desire without intelligence, and He gave both to the sons of Adam. So a man whose intelligence prevails over his desire is better than the angels, whilst a man whose desire prevails over his intelligence is worse than the beasts.’

[my translation]
Persian text: http://ganjoor.net/moulavi/masnavi/daftar4/sh56/

Friday, December 13, 2013

the way that goes from you to me

I have not found the way to You, my God. 

Relying on myself 
I have found only myself 
and lost my way. 

If i cannot find You 
on the way that goes from me to You, my God, 

I know that You will find me 
on the way that goes from You to me. 

Contentment

A poem attributed to Ibn Sīnā
   [Arabic, 11th century]

In this world I find contentment 
   in a morsel of food, a modest garment, 
and a sip of water from a broken jug; 
   say then to the sons of this world: 
depose or appoint whomever you wish, 
   let me behold this from afar. 
For neither the king of this world,
   to whom they lowly pay tribute, 
nor even the mighty prince, 
   live happier than I do – if you knew! 
But he is one-eyed, half-blind, 
   whom greed has claimed as its prisoner. 

[my translation]

Source: Anthologie de textes poétiques attribués à Avicenne
ed. & tr. H. Jahien et A. Nourreddine (1960), p. 137.

Fire and Light

Someone saw Iblīs in a vision and asked him: Is it true that those who betray their soul will go to the Fire? Iblīs replied: “Hmm... yes, and no... well, it is not quite like that; you see, when those wretched souls enter the eternal realm, they each bring their own fire along with them. And the fire which they perceive around them is their own. If it were not for this fire which they carry with them from their earthly life and which still finds them burning with pride, hatred and greed, and clouds their surroundings with the thick smoke of ignorance, they would be found forever rejoicing and at peace in God’s resplendent light.

The face of Layla

From Farīduddīn Aṭṭār’s Ilāhī-nāma (III.9)
   [Persian, 13th century]

A certain dervish asked Majnūn:
   ‘Son, tell me, how old are you now?’
That tormented one replied:
   ‘I am a thousand and forty years old.
The dervish said: What are you saying, you fool?
   Have you become crazier still?
Majnūn replied: In that sublime moment
   when Layla revealed her face to me,
   I have lived a thousand years.
The forty years are the span of my life,
   which I have wasted in trivialities.
For the span of forty years
   I have cared only about myself;
   I have lived in poverty,
   ignoring the treasure that is my life.
But that one moment
   was equal to a thousand years,
   for with Layla I am oblivious to myself.
A thousand years are worth to me
   but a moment. What am I saying?
   They count for much less.
When this world and the next
   attain to the boundless Being,
   the kingdoms of both worlds
   become nonexistent.
Contemplate, O friend, the sublimity
   of that Being before whom
   every atom bows down.
That Being remains eternally unmoved
   by either neither gain nor loss;
   in it, all things cease to be.
Oh, how sublime is that Being
   in whom all things vanish in absolute bliss!
If a man ceased to be in such a place,
   all his flaws would become virtues.
Were all the peoples of the world
   to stretch out their hands,
   not one would reach
   even the hem of his garment.
But since neither this man
   nor the hem of his garment exist,
   then who could ever reach him?

[my translation]
Persian text: http://ganjoor.net/attar/elahiname/ebkhsh3/sh11/

the phoenix

after the phoenix’s last death 
   came its first life; 
flapping its wings of blazing feathers 
   through impossible skies – 
for ashes and stone do not believe 
   in the afterlife of fire.

through many deaths and many births 
    is love perfected; 
as from our waking sleep 
   we awaken to a dream of day: 
living is dying to death 
   in the rebirth of what has ended.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

He and She: Reflections on the Gender of God

Some years ago I became preoccupied with the problem of Gods gender because the nearly universal religious conception of God as masculine seemed to me to exclude those qualities which are typically ascribed to the (non-divine) feminine, despite the fact that these qualities are paradoxically among the most divine of attributes – compassion, unconditional love, empathy, caring, kindness, joy, benevolence, generosity, beauty, wisdom, serenity, silence, intuition, creativeness, and so on. but I always felt uneasy at the thought of calling God ‘She’, primarily because the scriptures of all religious traditions do almost invariably speak of God as ‘He’, and I could not just overlook millennia of religious beliefs simply because it irks me.

Then it dawned on me: though in reality God is beyond gender, the masculine aspect of God is God as apprehend through language – the God whose Name can be uttered; while the feminine aspect of God is God’s subtle, secret, inexpressible reality. And as the true dignity of God is not expressed with words, so this feminine aspect of God is alone worthy of God’s essence. God as ‘She’ cannot be captured in a form, ‘She’ cannot be formulated; yet humans can experience and know Her intuitively when the Sakīna – the serene quietude of God’s presence – descends on the soul in the depths of contemplative prayer. God is most honoured not by being spoken of – especially since the most ungodly of humans routinely do speak in His name – but in being loved and served with reverential awe.

The pronoun ‘He’ ascribed to God only seems to exalt the masculine – hence attributing divine power to the male – but the apparent triumph of the masculine in this tangible world of empty shows and deceptive appearances is in reality a tragic degradation. For the Real Life is not the life of this world; God is not known in it, and only when our heart turns towards Her transcendent, unspeakable reality do we encounter the God who exists beyond words. The masculine God can be – as He has been in all religious traditions – appropriated and instrumentalized by men to sanctify their greed for this-worldly domination, but God as ‘She’ is pristine and virginal: She cannot be possessed, and Her presence cannot be captured in words. She cannot be confined and objectified. She is, and there is no other beside Her.

As revealed to humans, God is both apparent and unseen, masculine and feminine – both uttered Word and silent Wisdom. It is as though the spoken God were the son of the ineffable God, as Jesus is the son of Mary. The soul’s experience of the reality of God surpasses language. Still, the experience yearns to be known, and moves us to express it in words. The experience was She; Her expression is He. And while the manifest God tends to accentuate the divide between ‘He’ and ‘She’ by exalting Himself above His counterpart (as speech dominates silence), the hidden God instead tends to reconcile ‘He’ and ‘She’ in Herself, and through this reconciliation, to transfigure His spoken Word and infuse it with the unspeakable mystery of the Real.

in this surrender

In this surrender, 
this surrender 
wherein You demand 
the whole of me, 
wherein even 
my yearning for You 
I cannot hope to keep, 
wherein my life 
is at last summated, 
wherein I begin 
from that which is ended, 
with a sigh so deep, 
that I am a sigh 
breathed out by You, 
wherein that which 
I held on to 
becomes what holds me, 
in this surrender, 
this surrender
wherein You 
are the only me, 
my love, 
wherein my heart 
has ceased begging  
for that which 
had never ceased to be, 
my love, 
in this surrender, 
will You then love me? 

Spiritual Ablutions

O God, my Lord, help me use my two hands 
             to give and to receive, only for Your sake,
      and help me carry into this world 
                  what Your wisdom holds and Your love conceives;

O God, my Lord, help me speak words 
            and keep silences wherein You are remembered,
      and help me be ever grateful for Your mercies 
                  when I find delight in the bounties of this world; 

O God, my Lord, help me breathe each breath as my last, 
            mindful of my human frailty,
      and help me yearn for Your garden 
                  as I draw in the subtle fragrances of the earth;

O God, my Lord, help me see in the beauties of this world
            the signs of Your splendor,
      and help me remember, where I see imperfection, 
                  that only the heart sees the Perfect;

O God, my Lord, help me hear Your melodies 
            in the joys and sorrows of this world,
      and help me be an ear where no one listens, 
                  welcoming hearts to help them blossom;

O God, my Lord, help me be cheerful and kind, 
            that Your face be seen through mine,
      and help me make of my face a refuge 
                  from the stern indifference of other faces;

O God, my Lord, help me use the strength of my arms 
            to hold and to build for Your sake,
      and help me provide for, and safeguard 
                  those You have placed under my protection;

O God, my Lord, help me use my intelligence 
            with the humility of one mindful of You,
      and help me discern Your truth from falsehoods, 
                  that I may be attuned with the Real;

O God, my Lord, help me tread my destined path, 
            that may I be useful to Your creation,
      and help me stand for what is beautiful and good, 
                  only for Your sake, O God, my Lord.

The Allegory of the Eye and the Lips

From Maḥmūd Shabistarī’s Gulshan-i Rāz (ll. 742-756)
   [Persian, 14th century]

From Her eyes came forth anguish and intoxication; 
   from Her ruby lips, the innermost fount of being. 
Hearts became tipsy and lovesick due to Her eyes, 
   and the souls of men were veiled by Her ruby lips. 
Hearts became afflicted with sorrow due to Her eyes, 
   and were restored to health by a smile of Her lips. 
Though Her eyes have disdained this earthly realm, 
   often has Her ruby lips quivered with compassion. 
Oftentimes She has won our hearts with kindness, 
   and has brought solace to those bereft of hope. 
By a smile She has given life to our water and clay; 
   by a breath She has set the celestial vault ablaze. 
Each enticing glance of Her eyes has been a snare, 
   inviting us to the tavern in the corner of Her eyes. 
With a glance She has laid this creation to waste, 
   with a kiss She has rebuilt the mansion of being. 
Our blood has boiled incessantly due to Her eyes, 
   our souls have become frenzied due to Her lips. 
She has plundered our hearts by a glance of Her eyes, 
   she has raised up our souls by a smile of Her lips. 
If you seek an embrace from Her eyes and Her lips, 
   one will tell you ‘No’, the other will answer ‘Yes’. 
By a glance She has ended Her work of creation; 
   by a kiss She has many a time revived our souls. 
One glance of Her eyes and we surrender our lives; 
   one kiss of Her lips, we are brought to life again: 
as the Last Day will come in the ‘twinkling of an eye’,* 
   so the spirit of Adam was created by a breath. 
When it pauses to meditate on Her eyes and Her lips, 
   the world yields itself to the adoration of wine. 

*Qur’ān 54:50

[my translation]
Persian text: http://ganjoor.net/shabestari/golshaneraz/sh51/

She is not thee

She is not thee, O life—
And yet her presence I feel in this serene garden,
Where the setting sun reflects his incorporeal fire
Upon the myriad leaves that venerate his light.

She is not thee, O sun—
And yet through thy beams she floods the life in me;
Even the trees that exult under thy bracing warmth,
Paint her portrait in light, and radiate with love.

She is not thee, O lake—
And yet each ripple that glides over thy secret depths
Invites in me sweet visions of her lovely face;
And so I fancy this garden were the iris of the lake,
The lake, glistening bright, the pupil of her eye.

O aching heart! thou art 
drunkenness pulsing 
in a sober world. 
so sober, 
we’ll be 
drunk 
by any means. 

how thirsty, poor heart! 
thou hast not forgotten 
ambrosia. and yet 
this earthen cup 
will not 
tolerate 
emptiness. 

“serve me more, O maid, 
more wine! another cup 
and yet one more!” 
the heart cries, 
desperate. 
but this 
will never do. 

Our death will be our wedding with eternity

From Mawlānā Rūmīs Dīwān-i Shams (Ghazal 833, ll. 1-13)
   [Persian, 13th century]

Our death will be our wedding with eternity; 
   what is its secret? He is God, He is One.* 
Sunlight splits as it enters a houses windows; 
   close the windows, and numbers are gone. 
Numbers only exist in the cluster of grapes – 
   not in the sweet sap that flows from them. 
To the one on whom shines the light of God 
   the death of this carnal soul is a blessing. 
Do not speak of bad or good concerning him, 
   for he has gone beyond both good and bad. 
Look to the Real, do not speak of the unseen, 
   until He adds to your sight another sight. 
To the earthly vision of these sensual eyes, 
   no unseen or secret thing can be revealed; 
but when the eye reverts to the light of God, 
   how could anything hide under that light? 
Though all light shines from that eternal light, 
   do not call these lights the light of God
for the eternal light alone is the light of God; 
   transient light denotes but body and flesh. 
A fiery light glows in the eye of the creature – 
   save for that eye which the Real has ointed. 
Its fire once turned to light for Your friend,** 
   while reason shares its vision with the ass. 
O God, who bestows on us the grace of vision! 
   its bird flies to You on the wings of desire. 

*Qur’ān 112:1
**khalīl, i.e. Abraham

[my translation]
Persian text: http://ganjoor.net/moulavi/shams/ghazalsh/sh833/

This moment

The cardboard existence most of us place our hopes in is all well and good  until His Mercy begins to blow on our lives like a windstorm. The gentle breeze that keeps our world of decorated surfaces standing, and the show of our fabricated lives running is not Mercy; it is the respite that God grants to mankind for an appointed time.

In the end, this world is not the place of our realization; it is the field where we are tested and tried. What we secure here amounts to nothing. This world is not our Paradise, nor is it a place to rest our head and sleep; and we shall know far sweeter joys and dearer delights beyond its horizon. Here, we are to work and learn; here is the crucible in which we are to be cast, burned, transformed and shaped into a higher form; here, we are each of us presented with moments, ever recurring yet ever new and unique moments, to which we are asked to respond. 

It is our response to these moment which shall determine how well we have lived. Not how well we have lived other moments. These are inconsequential, and shall carry no weight in the scales of life. The only moment to which we can and are asked to respond is this moment. This is the only moment. What we do with this moment is the sole point of our existence which will determine our fate. For this moment is eternal, and we shall carry it with us through many worlds. 

We have lived through other moments  countless moments to which we have, or could have failed to respond with dignity, to which we have, or could have shown our valour, moments which have disappointed us and moments we have regretted, moments which have smiled at us and to which we have smiled in return, which have hurt us and which have been seared into our memory, moments which have loved us and which we have embraced with our heart of hearts. But these moments, now, these other moments are inconsequential; we shall not be questioned on any of these. For the only moment concerning which we will be questioned is this moment. 

This moment is always with us, it is always new, always throbbing with possibilities, and brimming with truth. And this is the moment, the only moment in which God is with us, in which He loves and sustains us, and asks us to be ourselves and to march on. This is the moment that shall determine who we are. For only this moment truly is, only in this now is our strength to fight, our yearning for love, and our courage to be.

you are home

when you are not home,
then home is a where;
but when you are home,
then home is no where.

when you are now here,
you are where you are;
then you are nowhere.
now here you are home.

the verse of light

the all-knowing 
strikes a parable 
for humankind – 
words of guidance, 
graciously given: 

light upon light. 

oil which no fire 
has ever touched, 
patiently gathered 
from the olive
heart of hearts; 
slowly mellowed 
from a sacred tree – 
that living testament 
to the struggles 
and patient labour 
of untold ages; 
from a sacred tree, 
rooted in the soft 
and temperate soil 
of a serene land; 

neither here nor there – 
neither yours nor mine. 

this gracious gift, 
fallen into a land 
of easts and wests, 
of theirs and ours; 
a most subtle light, 
gently protected 
within a transparent, 
shining, star-like, 
yet how fragile 
enclosure of care, 
secured within 
a niche of trust; 
such is his light – 

God is the light 
of heaven and earth. 

(Qur’ān 24:35 in reverse)

Knowledge and Love

From Muḥammad Iqbāl’s Jāvīdnāma, Munājāt (ll. 36-46)
   [Persian, 20th century]


Knowledge resides in the mind; love makes its nest in the vigilant heart. If knowledge does not benefit from love, it is but a theatre of ideas; that spectacle is but magic, like that of Sāmirī;* knowledge without the spirit of holiness is but a sorcerer’s craft. Without the divine light, the sage does not find his way, and dies crushed underneath the weight of his own imaginations. Without the light of God, life is nothing but suffering, reason is senseless and religion is but tyranny.
   To this world of mountains and plains, of seas and deserts, we ask for vision, and it answers: tradition. Grant respite to this erring heart, give back the moon the fullness of its glow. Though from my soil discourses ever flower, ah! the language of nostalgia is without end!
   Under this celestial canopy, I feel I am a stranger; from beyond the sky, tell me again: ‘Truly, I am close to you.’ So that, as do the sun and the moon when they set, may vanish the four directions of space, this north, this midday, that I may break the spell of yesterday and tomorrow, that I may rise beyond the sun, the moon, and the stars.

[my translation]

*Sāmirī is mentioned in the Qur’ān as the man who turned against Moses (Mūsā) and misled people to worship the golden calf: “[The Lord] said, ‘Yet verily, We have tried your people in your absence, and the Sāmirī has led them astray’” (20:85).

Persian text: http://ganjoor.net/iqbal/javidname/sh2/

manageable paradise

sins of the mind 
aren’t sins of the soul 
(and how could 
wholeness
ever pass the gate 
of so craftily devised 
a paradise?) 
its stone-like frame 
of brittle dust 
erected to expel 
the unholy wilderness 
of the unaccounted for 
invoked to dispel 
the indomitable horror 
of that which defies 
their– your– my– 
egoic claim 
to sovereign power 

this peace of mind 
purchased 
with pieces of soul 
squandered like days 
unlived and 
joys untouched 
while we hurry headlong 
down a gullet 
of unappeasable fire 
(a garden, that is, 
where no life 
could ever grow) 
that we may 
forever oblige 
their– your– my– 
manageable paradise