Compiled (1/12/00, supplemented1/03) with explanatory notes and translations from the original Persian by Ibrahim Gamard (except where other translators are cited)
Root meaning: to prepare a banquet, invite to a meal
General meanings: politeness, courtesy, good manners, refined manners, good breeding, respect, reverence; correct behavior, proper conduct, modest behavior; being courteous, polite; discipline, correction, chastisement; the science of polite learning; culture of mind, literature, literary pursuits.
Meaning in sufism: modes of conduct and discipline of the dervishes towards their shaykh, toward each other, and toward other people in general.
"Adab is an acquired habit in someone who holds back from ugly behaviors. In other words, he makes himself refined, polite and purified, and he makes his morals agreeable.... This word, in the terminology of the mystic knowers [`ârif-ân], is derived from the noble verse [of the Qur'ân], "And keep to the limits set by God"
[wa 'l-HâfiZûna li-Hudûdi 'llâh-- 9:112]. And "limits" is an expression concerning the Divine commands and prohibitions, which are either required, recommended, forbidden, or disapproved of [by Islamic Law]. And adab is always attending to what is lamentable and may follow disapproved actions. And the expression 'adab' is considering the limits of each person in relation to that person. And it is derived [also] from the Prophetic Tradition in which he said, 'My Lord taught me refined manners, so my manners are beautiful!' For the limits of God and of people were (certainly) well-taught by him. And beautiful manners is a quality of the friends [aHbâb] (of God)." --Sayyid Ja`far's Dictionary (translated from the Persian by Ibrahim Gamard)
"The essence of Sufism is Islam, and the essence of Islam is true sincerity with God. The quintessence of sincerity is surrender, inward serenity, and obedience to the Beloved. A Muslim is one of moderation, integrity, friendship, and good deeds. His heart is in constant remembrance of the Beloved, and his tongue is in the service of the Beloved. Awaiting His command, his eyes are fixed upon the path of the Beloved. This blessing can by no means become possible except by observing the rules and manners of the Spiritual Path (tariqat) of which the adab of the Khaniqah is one part. As it is sometimes said: 'The whole of sufism is adab'" [at-tasawwuf kullu-hu âdâb]." --Javad Nurbakhsh, "In the Tavern of Ruin," p. 67 (translated from Persian, translator unnamed)
"In sufi terminology, courtesy (adab) is for the adept to observe his duties in words, acts, and states, and to maintain his own limits in every station, both with God and His creatures, inwardly and outwardly. To observe outward courtesy is required in the state of awareness and sobriety, but when the reins of free choice have left the sufi's hand and heart in the state of intoxication, he cannot be expected to observe it.
As Rumi says in the famous story of Moses and the shepherd, 'O Moses, those who know courtesy's rules are one thing, those whose spirits and souls burn are something else.' (Masnavi II: 1764)
.... Some have held that in the circles of the people of heart, one must observe inward courtesy, but not the outward kind. This is not correct. It is true that Rumi has written the following: 'Before the people of heart, courtesy is shown inwardly, for their hearts are aware of secret thoughts.' (Masnavi II: 3220) But Rumi means that it is not sufficient to observe only outward courtesy before the masters of the Path; on the contrary, there must be inward courtesy as well.... "Step not into the Tavern of Ruin without courtesy-- its inhabitants are the confidants of the King!' (Hâfez) 'O traveler on the Path, if you have news of God's secret, show courtesy to the beggars in the tavern!' (Hâfez)
....Since every word, act, and state in every time and station has a special courtesy, it is impossible to enumerate all courtesy's rules. Here we have tried to record certain words of the masters, each of which was uttered in specific circumstances, so that, through the whole, the way and method of sufi courtesy can be understood. We also cite the following line of Rumi to show that the acts of courtesy of the darvishes are not concocted but rather intuited: 'The spirit learns a thousand kinds of courtesy from love, a courtesy not to be found in schools.'" [Divan, line 2608] --Javad Nurbakhsh, "The Gnosis of the Sufis," Volume IV, pp. 139-140, 144 (translated from Persian by William Chittick)
"Courtesy is to interact with God and to rise above [bodily] water and clay and the frivolity of the nafs. You do not say, 'I and my deeds,' but 'He and His favor and His giving success.'" (Ansâri, Tabaqât as-Sufiya, 358) "`Abdo'llâh ebn Mobârak said, 'People have multiplied their acts of courtesy, but we maintain that courtesy is the knowledge of the nafs.' He means that the reason a person refrains from courtesy is ignorance, while the source of ignorance is the nafs. Whoever trains the nafs through knowledge becomes courteous." (Kâshâni, Mesbâhu 'l-Hedaya, 207) "The word adab ('courtesy') expresses the beautification of moral traits (akhlâq) and the refinement of words and acts. Acts are of two kinds: acts of the heart, which are known as intentions (niyât), and acts of the bodily frame, which are known as actions (a`mâl). Moral traits and intentions pertain to the inward, words and acts to the outward. Hence that person observes perfect courtesy whose outward and inward are adorned with the beautiful qualities of moral traits, words, intentions, and actions. His moral traits accord with his words, and his intentions conform to his actions. As he appears, he is, and as he is, he appears." (Kâshâni, Mesbâhu 'l-Hedaya, 203) "Abu `Ali Daqqâq said, 'Through his obedience the servant will reach the Garden, and through his courtesy in obedience, he will reach God.'" (Kâshâni, Mesbâhu 'l-Hedaya, 207) "`Abdo'llIah ebn Mobârak said, 'Courtesy in service is more precious than service.'" (Kâshâni, Mesbâhu 'l-Hedaya, 207) "Anas ebn Mâlek said, 'Courtesy in an action is the sign that the action has been accepted [by God].'" (Kâshâni, Mesbâhu 'l-Hedaya, 207)
"Abu àli Daqqâq said, 'Refraining from courtesy is a tree whose fruit is expulsion. Whoever shows discourtesy on the carpet of kings is sent back to the gate, and whoever shows discourtesy at the gate is sent out to the stables.'" (Attâr, Tadhkeratu 'l-Auliâ', 653) "Abo'l-Qâsem Nasrâbâdi said, 'If someone does not have courtesy of the soul, he cannot reach courtesy of the heart. And if someone does not have courtesy of the heart, how can he reach courtesy of the spirit? And if he does not have courtesy of the spirit, how can he reach the locus of nearness to God? Indeed, how is it possible that God's carpet should be turned over to him? That is, unless he should have gained the different kinds of courtesy and be trustworthy both secretly and openly.'" (Attâr, Tadhkeratu 'l-Auliâ', 792) "Courtesy is knowledge of that which will put you on your guard against every kind of offense." (Jorjani, at-Ta`rifât) --compiled by Javad Nurbakhsh, "The Gnosis of the Sufis," Volume IV, pp. 145-149 (translated from Persian by William Chittick)
"The master Abu 'Ali ad-Daqqaq (may God grant him mercy) said, 'The servant reaches Paradise by obeying God. He reaches God by observing correct behavior in obeying Him.' ....Ibn `Ata' said, 'Correct behavior means that you are occupied with commendable things.'
Someone asked, 'What do you mean by this?' He replied, 'This means that you observe correct behavior with God both inwardly and outwardly. If you conduct yourself in this way, you will have correct behavior, even if your speech is not that of an Arab.'.... The master Abu `Ali ad-Daqqaq (may God grant him mercy) declared, 'Abandoning correct behavior results in expulsion. One who is ill-mannered in the courtyard will be sent back to the gate. One who is ill-mannered at the gate will be sent to watch over the animals.' Someone said to al-Hasan al-Basri [died, 728], 'So much has been said concerning the various sciences of correct behavior. Which of them are most beneficial in the world and most effective for [gaining a goodly reward in] the Hereafter?' He replied, 'Learning religion, moderation in the world, and knowledge of what constitutes your duty toward God [Glorious and majestic].' Yahya b. Mu`adh said, 'One who is well versed in correct behavior toward God Most High will become one of those God loves.' Sahl [at-Tostarî] observed, 'The sufis are those who ask God's help in [carrying out] His commands and who steadfastly observe correct behavior toward Him.' Ibn al-Mubarak said, 'We stand more in need of a small amount of correct behavior than a great deal of knowledge.' He also said, 'We sought the knowledge of correct behavior after those who taught it had passed away.' It is related, 'There are three things that will never make one feel a stranger [in a place]: avoiding corrupt people, displaying correct behavior, and refraining from causing harm to others.'....
When Abu Hafs arrived in Baghdad, al-Junayd told him, 'You have instructed your companions in the manners of sultans!' Abu Hafs replied, 'Displaying refined manners on the outside is a token of refined manners on the inside.' Abdallah b. al-Mubarak said, 'Observing correct behavior is to the gnostic [`ârif] what repentance is to the novice.' Mansur b. Khalaf al-Maghribi related, 'Someone said to a Sufi, "What poor manners you have!" He retorted, "I do not have poor manners." The man asked, "Who taught you manners?" The Sufi said, "The Sufis."' Abu' n-Nasr at-Tusi as-Sarraj observed, "People can be divided into three categories with respect to correct behavior: The people of this world are concerned with refinement of and correct behavior in using Arabic, with style and memorization of the sciences, with names of dynasties, and with Arabic poetry. The people of religion are concerned with training the soul, instructing man's outer faculties, observing the limits set by God, and abandoning passions. The elect are concerned with cleansing the heart, guarding the secrets, being faithful to oaths, holding to the present moment, stopping attention to stray thoughts, and having correct behavior at times of requesting when in the divine presence, and in the stations of nearness.' It is related that Sahl b. `Abdallah stated, 'He who subdues his soul with correct behavior worships God sincerely.' It is said, 'Perfection in correct behavior is reached only by the prophets and the veracious.'"
--Al Qushayri (died, 1072), Risâla, translated by B.R. Von Schlegell as "Principles of Sufism," pp. 308-312
"The method of spiritual purification is to reflect and meditate on the evil of this world and to perceive that it is false and fleeting, and to make the heart empty of it. This result can be attained only by much self-mortification (mujáhadat), and the most important act of mortification is to observe the external rules of discipline (ádáb-i záhir) assiduously in all circumstances. It is related that Ibráhím Khawwás said: 'I desire God to give me an everlasting life in this world, in order that, while mankind are engrossed in the pleasures of the world and forget God, I may observe the rules of religion amidst the affliction of the world and remember God.'"
--al-Hujwîrî (died, 1072), Kashfu 'l-Mahjûb, translated by R.A. Nicholson, p. 292
"The Apostle said: 'Good manners (husn al-adab) are a part of faith.' And he also said: 'My Lord corrected me (addabaní) and gave me excellent correction.' You must know that the seemliness and decorum of all religious and temporal affairs depends on rules of discipline (ádáb), and that every station in which the various classes of mankind are placed has its own particular rule.
Among men good manners consist in the observance of virtue (muruwwat); as regards religion they consist in the observance of the Apostolic custom (sunna); and as regards love they consist in the observance of respect (hurmat). These three categories are connected with each other, because one who is without virtue does not comply with the custom of the Apostle, and whoever fails to comply with the custom of the Apostle does not observe due respect. In matters of conduct the observance of discipline is the result of reverence for the object of desire; and reverence for God and His ordinances springs from fear of God (taqwà). Anyone who disrespectfully tramples on the reverence that is due to the evidences of God has no part or lot in the Path of Súfiism; and in no case are rules of discipline neglected by seekers of God, because they are habituated to such rules, and habit is second nature. It is impossible that a living creature should be divested of its natural humours: therefore, so long as the human body remains in existence men are bound to keep the rules of obedience to God, sometimes with effort (takalluf) and sometimes without effort: with effort when they are 'sober', but when they are 'intoxicated' God sees that they keep the rules.
A person who neglects the rules cannot possibly be a saint, for 'good manners are characteristic of those whom God loves'. When God vouchsafes a miracle to anyone, it is a proof that He causes him to fulfil the duties of religion. This is opposed to the view of some heretics, who assert that when a man is overpowered by love he is no longer subject to obedience....
Rules of discipline are of three kinds. Firstly, those which are observed towards God in unification (tawhíd). Here the rule is that one must guard one's self in public and private from any disrespectful act, and behave as though one were in the presence of a king.... The second kind of discipline is that which is observed toward one's self in one's conduct, and which consists in avoiding, when one is one's own company, any act that would be improper in the company of one's fellow-creatures or of God....
The third kind of discipline is that which is observed in social intercourse with one's fellow-creatures. The most important rule for such intercourse is to act well, and to observe the custom of the Apostle at home and abroad."
--al-Hujwîrî (died, 1072), Kashfu 'l-Mahjûb, translated by R.A. Nicholson, pp. 334-336
"We had already come to know that none does good but God, and that among His good doing toward us was that he sent a messenger to us to teach us knowledge and courtesy (adab). So we knew what he Himself wanted for us, since He laid down that path of our felicity as the Law. He clarified it and warned us against ignoble affairs and told us to avoid base and blameworthy moral traits. . . . So we came to know that if He did not love us, there would not have been any of this."
-- Ibnu 'l-`Arabî, Futûhât, II 328.19, translated by William Chittick, "The Sufi Path of Knowledge, p. 172.
"The first thing which God has commanded for His servant is 'bringing together' (jam`), which is courtesy. 'Courtesy' (adab) is derived from 'banquet' (ma'daba), which is to come together for food. Likewise courtesy is to bring together all good. The Prophet said, 'God taught me courtesy.' In other words: He brought together in me all good things (khayrât); for he then says, 'How beautiful is my courtesy!' In other words: He made me a locus for every beautiful thing (husn)."
-- Ibnu 'l-`Arabî, Futûhât, II 640.23, translated by William Chittick, "The Sufi Path of Knowledge, p. 175.
"Though one group may ascribe all acts to God, in fact 'courtesy' (adab) demands that only good and beautiful acts be ascribed to God, while evil and ugly acts must be ascribed to the servants. Man must see all good as belonging to God and all evil as belonging to himself, thereby putting everything in its proper place and becoming qualified by justice, wisdom, and courtesy."
--William Chittick, summarizing the teachings of Ibnu 'l-`Arabi, "The Sufi Path of Knowledge," p. 211
Among the Mevlevis, spiritual courtesy was highly refined. The Mevlevi shaykh and scholar, Golpinarli, described many of these customs which were practiced in the tekkes until they were declared illegal and closed by the Turkish government in 1925. They would stand in a special posture of humility, called "being sealed" [muhur], with the right big toe over the left, the right arm crossed over the left and with hands upon the shoulders, and the head lowered slightly toward the chest. They would wait in this posture until the shaykh entered the room, and then the shaykh would bow toward them and they would bow toward him at the same time. Then the shaykh would sit and kiss the floor and they would also do so at the same time. This ritual of humble greeting was done, not only during the Whirling Prayer Ceremony (Samâ`), but before every communal meal in the dervish lodge [tekke].
When one Mevlevi would visit another, such as in the other one's dervish cell, he would sit, kiss the floor and be greeted by the other who would say, "May there be love for you" [ashk olsun], meaning, "You are welcome." They would greet each other by taking each other's right hand, or both hands, raise that hands toward their lips, bend forward slightly, and kiss the back of each other's hands at the same time. Similarly, they would kiss any object grasped, such as a glass of water, a cup of coffee, their mattress at the time of sleeping and rising, their cloak [khirqa] and articles of clothing, and the edge of their conical hats [sikke] when putting them on and taking them off. They considered this kissing of objects also as a form of greeting-- as an indication that the Universal Spirit [rûH-i kull] is flowing in everything, and also as an expression of certainty that every existent thing is supported by One Absolute Existence.
In accordance with the forms of politeness in the Persian language, the Mevlevis would not use the pronoun "I," but would instead say, "(this) poor one," "(this) humble dervish" [faqîr] or they would say "we." Similarly, they would not address another individual by the singular pronoun "you," but would instead use the formal plural pronoun "you" (corresponding to "ye" in English). Or else they would use a term meaning "my object of vision" (manZûr-am).
They placed much importance on gazing respectfully at each other, as is done during the Sultan Walad Circling [devir], when the dervishes look at each other's faces, focussing between the eyebrows at the same time. The Whirling Prayer Ceremony [samâ`] is also called the ceremony of "standing and facing each other (with respect and reverence)" [muqâbalah].
All Mevlevis addressed each other as brothers. They would answer the sound of another's voice by saying "iyvallah" (or "iyi vallah," meaning "By God, it is good"), which has the meaning of grateful acceptance of the situation. Instead of saying "I am grateful" or "I thank you," they would say, "May there be love (for you)!" (which also meant, "May there be joy [for you]"). And instead of saying "There isn't," they would say "God may grant (it)," because to say "there isn't" is not a term of acceptance. For example, instead of saying, "There isn't any money," they would say, "The money is with God."
At the time the food was cooked, the qâzânchî dede (chief of the cauldron) would remove the cover of the cauldron or stewpot, and the dervishes brought it down. The qâzânchî dede would say this invocation [golbâng]: "May its cooking be sweet! May God give blessings! By the (holy) breath of Hazrat-i Mawlânâ (and) the spirit of Ateshbâz Walî [the self-sacrificing cook of Mawlânâ], let us say Hû." [Tabkh-ash shîrîn bâd. Haqq barakat dehâd. dam-é HaZrat-é mawlânâ, sirr-é âtesh-bâz walî, hû be-goy-êm]
If someone wanted water, he would indicate to the dervish standing and waiting in a humble posture with his toes crossed (in muhur) with a tray in his hands, who immediately poured water into a glass, kissed the glass and gave it to the requester-- who would also kiss the glass and (then) drink the water. Any time someone wanted water, every hand would be drawn back from the (leathern) table cloth [sufra] (on the floor) and they would remain waiting. In this manner, at the time when he wanted water, the others were not able to eat a single mouthful more than he. In the case of those who had a mouthful in their mouths or who had not swallowed, they swallowed in a manner which was not evident. If someone at that moment had raised a mouthful (in his spoon) from (above) the tablecloth, he would leave it upon the tablecloth and draw back his hand from eating. A person who had drank water would (then) kiss the glass and give it to the water carrier [sâqî]. The shaykh, Tarîqatchî, the âshchîbâshî -- or if those were not present, one of the dedes who had precedence would say to the person who had drank water: "Ashk olsun" (meaning, "May it be refreshing/wholesome/agreeable"). He also would respond with a humble and polite gesture [neyâz] and would continue eating. During the time of eating and drinking, these were the only words spoken. When the eating reached the end, the Tarîqatchî, the sar-Tabbâkh (or "chief cook"), or the shaykh himself would recite (in Persian) this verse [of Mawlânâ's, from ghazal no. 186]:
"We are the sufis of the Path; we are the dish-eaters with the King! O Lord, keep these bowls and (this) table (filled with food) forever!" [mâ Sûfiy-ân-é râh-êm, mâ Tabla-khwâr-é shâh-ém/ pâyanda-dâr, yâ rabb, în kâsa-râ-wo khwân-râ]
Then (he would say in Arabic), "Blessings and peace upon the most noble light of all the prophets and messengers (Muhammad. And (all) praise is to the Lord of the Worlds. The Chapter of the Opening" [Salli wa sallim `alà ashrafi nûri jamî`i 'l-anbiyâ'i wa 'l-mursalîn wa 'l-Hamdu li-llâhi rabbi 'l-`âlamîn. al-fâtiHa]
After the FâtiHa was said (by all), they recited this invocation
[golbâng]: "(All) the praise is to God, (all) the thanks is to God! May God give blessings! May the tablecloth of the generosity of those (prophets and saints) who have attained [wâSil-ân] and their bread and favors increase! May the noble spirits of our departed pious companions be joyful and smiling! And may the remaining ones be sound and healthy, and may their breaths and pure and pleasant qualities increase! By the (blessed) breath of Hazrat-i
Mawlânâ, the spirit of Ateshbâz Walî [the self-sacrificing cook of Mawlânâ], the noble generosity of Imâm `Alî, let us say Hû!" [dam-é HaZrat-é mawlânâ, sirr-é âtesh-bâz walî, karam-é imâm `alî, hû be-gôy-êm]
An invocation [golbâng] was usually recited at the time when the rice dish [pelaw] was brought. At the time of invocation, the hands were held at the edge of the tablecloth with the fingers curled inwardly and the invocation was recited. After the invocation, the rice dish was eaten, and the shaykh would bow in the direction of the tablecloth, make a humble gesture [neyâz] with his head lowered and stand up. All would get up, one by one, stand for a moment, bow toward the kitchen, and leave. Sometimes, before standing up, one person would bring a jug and a bowl. One would pour water while another would extend a towel placed on his shoulder to all. After washing hands, they would rise from the tablecloth.
[When greeting each other by name, Mevlevis would add a Persian suffix of affection, "jân" (literally, "soul," but meaning "as dear as the soul"), to the other's name when speaking or writing to each other. For example, someone named Hamîd would be addressed as "Hamîd-jân," meaning "dear Hameed."]
-- excerpted and translated by Ibrahim Gamard, from the Persian
translation (by Tawfîq Subhânî) of Golpinarli's book in Turkish, "Mevlâna'dan sonra Mevlevilik" ("The Mevlevis After Mevlana")
Mawlânâ uses the words "adab" and "lack of adab" with various shades of meaning.
Nicholson has translated Mawlânâ's use of the word "adab" in different contexts as manners, good manners, respect, due respect, respectful, respectfully, respectfulness, reverence, due reverence, discipline, self-discipline, self-control, controlled, duty; train, chastise, correction, corrective, teach a lesson, punished.
He has translated "lack of adab" [bî-adab, tark-i adab] as unmannerly, ill-mannered, disrespectful, not respectful, unrespectful, disrespectfully, irreverence, irreverent, irreverently, undisciplined, lacks self-control, omitted to show respect, transgress the limits of due reverence, shied away from discipline, fled from correction.
And he has also translated "adab" to mean observance, observances. But more often he uses the plural of adab [âdâb] in this sense: as conventions, rules, polite accomplishments, erudition, culture.
What follows are all the occurrences of these words in the Mathnawi. The lines have been re-translated from the Persian because Nicholson's old-fashioned British English tends to be unattractive to contemporary Americans. However, all his translations of the words "ADAB" and "lack of ADAB" have been kept the same.
4:121--[From the story of the lover who climbed over a wall to escape the night-patrol and found himself in a garden with his beloved from whom he had long been separated:] "When that foolish man saw her alone, he quickly attempted to hug and kiss (her). With great dignity, that beautiful beloved shouted at him, saying, 'Stop behaving impudently (and) be mindful of good manners [ADAB]!'" (4:120-121)
4:156-- "He (the lover) said, 'If I am foolish in manners [ADAB], I am smart in (the sense of) being faithful and searching (eagerly).' She replied, '(Your) manners [ADAB] are those which have been seen; as for the other (things) you know yourself, (O overly) bold fellow!'" (4:156-157)
4:771-- "O Muslim, during the (spiritual) quest, good manners [ADAB] are nothing but (patient) endurance of every one who is unmannerly [BI-ADAB]. Whoever you see complaining about such and such a person's bad temperament and character, know that the complainer (himself) has a bad character, since he speaks (so) badly about that bad-tempered person. Because the good- tempered person is the one who is mild toward those of bad character and (patiently) enduring toward the bad-tempered. But in (the case of) the shaykh, the complaint is from the command of God; it is not because of [personal] anger, (wanting to) quarrel, or vain desire. It is not a complaint, (but) is spiritual reform, like the (reforming) complaints made by the prophets. Know that the [occasions of] lack of patience of the prophets is by command (of God); other than that, their forbearance is extremely tolerant toward wrong-doers. They suppressed their (bodily) natures in toleration of wrong-doing; if there is (any) lack of tolerance (on their part), it is Divine." (4:771-778)
1:1490-- "Satan said 'Because You caused me to err' [Qur'an 7:16; 15:39]: the contemptible Devil (tried to) hide his own action. Adam said 'We have done wrong to ourselves' [Qur'an 7:23]. He was not, like us, unaware of the action of God.1 (But), in [admitting his] sin, he hid (the action of God) out of respect [ADAB]; by casting the sin upon himself he ate the fruit [of God's mercy]. After (his) repentance, (God) said to him, 'O Adam, did I not create in you that sin and (those) trials and temptations? Was it not My Decree and Destiny [for you]? How did you hide that at the time [when you could have been) excusing yourself?' (Adam) said, 'I was afraid, (so) I did not let go of respect [ADAB].' (God) said, 'I have also observed it toward you.'2 [The lesson is]: whoever brings reverence gets reverence, (and) whoever brings sugar gets to eat almond-cake." (1:1488-1494)
1:2175-- "He came and sat down there (beside him) with a hundred (signs of) respect [ADAB]."
1:3061-- [From the story of the man who knocked on the door of a friend:] "Someone came (and) knocked on the door of a friend. His friend said, 'Who are you, O trustworthy one?' He answered, 'Me.' (The friend) said, 'Go (away), it's not the (right) time. At such a table as this3 there is no place for the raw.'4 What can cook the raw one, except the fire of separation. What (else) can free him from hypocrisy? That poor miserable man left and traveled for a year. He burned from sparks [of painful longing] in separation from (his) friend. That burned one became 'cooked,' (and) then returned. He went back to the house of (his former) companion. (Using) the door-ring, he knocked at the door with a hundred worries and respects [ADAB] [in mind], so that no disrespectful [BI-ADAB] word might spring forth from (his) lips. His friend called out, 'Who is that at the door?' He answered, 'Only you5 are at the door, O seizer of hearts!'6 (The friend) said, 'Now, since you are me, O me, come in, (since) there's no room for two 'me's' in the house.'" (I:3056-3063)
2:3219-- "In the presence of the dignity of the (saintly) masters of the heart, keep watch over (your) hearts, O profitless ones. In the presence of the (worldly) people of the body, there is outward respect [ADAB] (only), since God is veiling the hidden from them. (But) in the presence of the people of heart,7 there is inward respect [ADAB], because their hearts are aware of secrets. You, on the contrary, come with reverence into the presence of those who are (spiritually) blind, (and) for the sake of (worldly) position you sit in the entry court. (But) before those who are (spiritually) seeing, you act disrespectfully [TARK-I ADAB]. And because of that you have become firewood for the fire of (worldly) desires. Since you lack (spiritual) perception and the light of (Divine) guidance, keep polishing and brightening (your) face for the sake of the blind!" (2:3218-3223)
2:3305-- "A certain man made accusations against a (sufi) shaykh, saying, 'He is a wrong-doer and not on the path of right guidance. He is a drinker of wine, a hypocrite, and (morally) impure, (so) how can he be a helper to disciples?' One (disciple) said to him, 'Observe respect [ADAB]! (For) it is no small matter (to have) suspicions such as these toward the great. (It is) far from him and far from his (saintly) qualities that his pure and clear (soul) should become darkened by a flood (of wrong-doing). Don't put this kind of slander on the people of God! This is (all) your imagination, (so) turn to a new page. (All) this is not (true), and even if it were, O bird of (bondage to) the ground,8 what (does) the ocean sea (have) to fear from a carcass? (The shaykh) is not less than (the required) two large jars (of water) or a small pool, so that a single drop (of impurity) could put him out of action.9 There is no injury to Abraham (from) the fire-- (but) tell anyone who is a Nimrod10 to be afraid of it!'" (2:3303-3310)
4:1141--[From the story about the construction of the Farther Mosque, or the Temple of Solomon:] "That building (made) by the prophets was (constructed) without greed [on their part], (and) because of that, its prosperity and success continued to increase. The noble (prophets) have built many mosques, but their name was not 'the Farther Mosque.' The grandeur which increased every moment for the Ka'ba was (the result of) the virtuous devotional acts (done) by Abraham.11 The excellence of (such a mosque) is not from earth and stone, but (because) there is no greed or quarreling in its builder. Their Books are not like the books of others, nor (are) their mosques, professions, houses, and homes. (And) nor (are) their observance of respect [ADAB], their anger, punishment, drowsiness, reasoning, and speaking. (There is) a different (kind) of glory for each one of them, (and the bird of their spirit (is) flying because of a different (kind) of wing. (4:1136-1142)
3:1394-- "Among the Companions (of the Prophet) there were few people (who were complete) memorizers (of the Qur'an), although there was much yearning (to become such) in their souls. Because, since its kernel had filled (them) and had ripened,12 the rinds became very thin and broke open. The husk of the walnut, pistashio, and almond (are) the same: when the kernel has filled them, the rind becomes frail. (So when) the kernel of (spiritual) knowledge increases, its "rind" becomes diminished-- because the lover is burned up by his beloved.13 Since the quality of being sought is the opposite of seeking, the Revelation and the lightning flash of (Divine) Light is the inflamer of the Prophet. (For) when the Eternal Attributes have manifested, then the garment of transitory qualities is burned up. Whoever had memorized14 a fourth of the Qur'an was hearing from the Companions (the words), "(How) great he is among us!' Uniting form15 with such deep meaning is not possible, except by a rare and great (spiritual) king. In such (mystical) drunkenness (as his) the observances of due respect [ADAB]16 (toward the Qur'an) will not be (present), and if it is, it's surprising. (For) the observance of (humble) neediness during (a state of expansive) independence (is like) joining two opposites, such as 'round and long.'" (3:1386-1395)
2:1448-- "They spoke respectfully [ADAB] [to Dhu 'l-Nún], 'We are among (your) friends, (and) we have come here with all our souls to ask about you.'"
5:3035-- "The Turk speaks generously to the traveller, 'Come to my door (as a guest) without a dog and without a tattered cloak. And come in from such and such a direction, (but) take care to act respectfully [ADAB], so that my dog may shut (his) mouth and teeth from (biting) you!' (Yet) you do the opposite of that (and) you go directly to the door-- so you become wounded by the dog's bite. You should go in such a way that (respectful) slaves have gone, so that his dog may become mild17 and affectionate." (5:3034-3037)
4:2975-- "He did not learn respectfulness [ADAB] (as he might have) from Gabriel the generous"
3:3245-- "'I acted with this rashness because of necessity, (and now) because of the reverence [ADAB] I have for you (O Prophet), I am weakened of self-will.'"
4:3481-- "You showing reverence [ADAB]"
1:91-- "Because of (spiritual) discipline [ADAB] the sky has become filled with light, and because of (such) discipline [ADAB] the angels have become innocent and pure."
:2826-- "(Consider) how the kingly grace of the homeless soul has produced effects on the whole body, (And consider) how the grace of reason which is of excellent nature and lineage, brings the entire body into discipline18 [ADAB]. (And consider) how amorous love, restless and agitated, brings the whole body into a crazed (state)." (1:2825-2828)
5:3140-- "If there is in you an increase of an atom19 (more) than your companion in (regard to) self-discipline [ADAB], the Grace of God will know (it), and will give you more [favor] according to the amount of that atom..."" (5:3140-3141)
1:1281-- "This earth, (so) still and controlled [ADAB] "
3:317-- "so that he may go (back) there out of (a sense of) duty [ADAB]"
2:1287-- "Therefore train [ADAB] the horse20 out of (its) bad habits, or else the horse will be rejected in the presence of the king."
2:3629-- "How did he chastise [ADAB] him without (receiving) any penalty?"
4:2805-- "See (how) I have brought the rod, for the sake of correction [ADAB], for every donkey that is not approved."
5:3006-- "how can they impose that correction [ADAB] upon a black stone?"
6:1513-- "He is the deputy of God and the shadow of God's justice, (and) the mirror (reflecting the truth) of every plaintiff and defendant. For he imposes correction [ADAB] for the sake of someone (who has been) wronged-- not for the sake of his (own) fame, anger or (monetary) income." (6:1512-1513)
6:3397-- "If it searches for gain like the bat during the night, the Sun will [punish it by] rubbing its ear21 in correction [ADAB]"
6:2583-- "(Regarding) the correction [ADAB] which is (imposed on someone) for the sake of God, being hasty about it is not right."
3:350-- "If you have neglected some of (your) assigned spiritual practices [wird] in the (sufi) Way, a (feeling of) contraction [qabz] may come over you--of pain and heat. (And) that is the corrective [ADAB] act (of God), meaning, 'Don't make any change from the ancient covenant.'"22 (3:349-350)
3:290-- "And if a strange dog comes (during) the day or night, the dogs (in that neighborhood) will teach him a lesson [ADAB] at once."
6:3413-- "Therefore, the Master punished [ADAB] him for this sin"
3:980-- "(Even if you are) lame, limping, bent in figure, and unmannerly [BI-ADAB], continue to crawl toward Him and keep searching for Him."
4:2155-- "When the ray of the limitless (spiritual) drunkenness of the Prophet struck (that rude complainer), that fool also became drunk and cheerful. Of course, he became talkative as a result of (his) happiness; (that) drunkard neglected (to show) respect [ADAB] and became crazy. (Now) the senseless man does not act foully (in) every situation, (but) wine makes the unmannerly person [BI-ADAB] more so. (For) if he is intelligent and wise, he becomes very elegant; and if he is bad-natured, he becomes worse. But since the majority (of people) are bad (natured) and disagreeable, wine has been made forbidden23 for everyone." (4:2154-2158)
6:2692-- "You are free (of concern) about my sorrow, O prince.
(But) pay the (required) charity [to the poor, according to your high] rank and look at this poor one (with kindness). This poor unmannerly [BI-ADAB] person is unworthy-- but your universal kindness is superior to that!" (6:2691-2992)
6:4773-- "He said, 'O vile (and) ill-mannered [WAHI-ADAB] fellow, was this (a) suitable (response) to my gift?'"
1:1222-- "Speaking in the presence of the king is not respectful [ADAB], especially boasting, lying, and absurd (talk)."
2:1360-- "An unrespectful person [BI-ADAB] (who is) present is better24 than an absent (one): even if the door-ring is crooked, isn't it on the door?"
1:3132-- "In the presence of this hidden lion, whoever opens (his) mouth disrespectfully [BI-ADAB], like a wolf, that lion will tear him (to pieces), just like (he tore) the wolf. (And) he will recite to him (the verse) 'So We inflicted retribution on them.'"25 (1:3132- 3133)
6:3391-- "Without a doubt, it is irreverence [TARK-I ADAB] on our part; it is ingratitude toward a favor and an act of (selfish) desire."
4:3705-- "And (as for) the one in whose conception (of God) there is irreverence [TARK-I ADAB], the Lord has caused the irreverent [BI-ADAB] to fall down on (his) head. Falling head downward is that he goes down, yet imagines that he is superior. Because the limits of the [dizzy] drunkard are like this: he doesn't know the (difference) between the sky and the earth." (4:3705-3707)
3:3677-- "The speaker26 said, 'There is no dervish27 in the world, and if there is (one), that dervish (is) non-existent. He exists28 because of the persistence of his essence, (but) his qualities have become non-existent in His Qualities. He is existent in (terms of being) countable, (but) he is (really) non-existent like a candle flame in the presence of the sun. It's essence is existent-- so if you put cotton on (it), it will be burned (up) by the sparks-- (but) it is (really) non-existent (since) it doesn't give you any light (for) the sun will have made it reduced to nothing. If you toss one ounce of vinegar into two hundred heaps of sugar and it has become dissolved in it, the flavor of the vinegar is (really) non-existent if you take a taste, (although) if you draw it up (on the scales) the ounce exists (as an) increase. A deer becomes insensible in the [awesome] presence of a lion; its existence becomes (nothing more than) a face-veil for his existence. These comparisons, (made) by those (who are) imperfect about the workings of the Lord, are (like) the surging of (feelings of) love, (and) are not from irreverence29 [TARK-I ADAB]. (It is like when) the lover's pulse (of desire) jumps up, and without reverence [BI-ADAB], he puts himself on the (same) level30 of the king (on the scale). There is no person in the world (who is) more irreverent [BI-ADAB] than he, (and yet) there is no person in secret (who is) more reverent [ADAB] than he. (But) O chosen one, know also (that) these two contraries of reverent [ADAB] and irreverent [BI-ADAB] (are) harmonious (by their) relation. (The lover) is irreverent [BI- ADAB] (only) if you look outwardly, since his claim of love is (one of) equality. (But) if you look inwardly, where is the claim?-- (since) both he and the claim are annihilated in the presence of that Sultan." (3:3669-3682)
4:2064-- "That irreverent [BI-ADAB] (complainer) continued acting in this way, speaking from those cold lips in the presence of the Prophet."
2:1740-- [From the story of Moses and the shepherd:] "(Moses said), 'To speak irreverent (BI-ADAB] words to the chosen one of God causes the heart to become extinguished31 and keeps the page [of one's deeds] blackened.'"
1:78-- We should seek from God the favor of [behaving with] (spiritual) courtesy and respect,32 (since) the rude person is excluded from the grace of the Lord. The rude person doesn't keep himself in (a state of) affliction alone, but sets fire to all the regions (of the world).
A table33 was arriving from Heaven without (any effort of) buying and selling and talking and listening. (But then), in the midst of the people of Moses, some persons spoke rudely: "Where (are) garlic and lentils?"34 The table and bread from Heaven was ended [immediately], (and) there remained for us35 the painful toil of farming with shovel [for planting] and scythe [for reaping].
Again, when Jesus interceded (with prayers), God sent a table36 with an abundance (of food) on trays. (Yet) again, (those) insolent ones abandoned courtesy and respect, (and) took the food [home with them] like beggars.37 Jesus asked them earnestly [to be respectful], saying, "(But) this (food) is enduring and won't be decreased from the earth." Acting suspiciously and bringing greed to the table of (Divine) Grandeur is rejection and ingratitude.38 (And so), because of those people, with faces like beggars and blinded by greed, that gate of (Divine) Mercy became shut for them. After the refusal of (paying) charity (for the poor),39 the (rain) clouds do not come. And when unlawful sex40 occurs, the plague (spreads) to (all) directions. Whatever gloom and grief comes to you is because of reckless impudence and also insolence. Whoever acts with bold impudence in the path of the Beloved is a highway robber of the (true) men [of the spiritual Way] and is not a man. By means of (spiritual) courtesy and respect, the Heavens became full of light, and by means of (such) respect the angels became innocent and pure. (But) the sun became eclipsed because of insolence. (And) because of rashness, an (angel such as) Azazeel41 was turned away from the gate [to the angelic realm]. (1:78-91)
6:4864-- "Because of the vile undisciplined [BI-ADAB] ego, flames (of Divine punishment) were suddenly hurled into the world (during) generation after generation."
6:4632-- "...to tell the explanation of this is beyond (the limits) of due reverence [ADAB]."
4:2011-- "O horses (which have) shied away from discipline [ADAB]..."
3:4018-- "That group (of people) who fled from correction [ADAB] poured away the honor of [spiritual] manhood and the honor of (true men."
6:2067-- "For the libertinism of these people has become (openly) revealed (and) has become the liberty of every corrupt rogue. Where is the Way of a prophet and his companions? Where are his ritual prayer, prayer beads, and (religious) observances [AADAAB]?'" (6:2066-2067)
3:3607-- (Heading:) "The rules [AADAAB] for listeners and disciples in the presence of the abundance of wisdom (coming) from the tongue of the shaykh: For those who are bored and tired, is (just something) being repeated; but for me, it is winning repeated life. The candle goes higher from the repeated flashes (of flame), (and) earth becomes gold42 from the repeated heat [of the sun]. Even if there are a thousand seekers and one bored and tired one, the Messenger (of God) will hold back (his) message.43 These secret-telling Messengers of the (depths of the) heart and mind need a hearer (with) the nature of Israfil.44 They have a (noble) pride and grandeur like (that of) kings, (and) they need to be served by the people of the world. As long as you don't perform, at the (right) time and place, the observances [ADAB] due to them, how will you enjoy the fruits of their message? (For) they will never deliver that deposit (of wisdom) to you as long as you aren't bowed double45 in their presence. Not every (kind of) observance [ADAB] is acceptable to them, since they have come from a high balcony (in Heaven). They aren't beggars, that they should have any indebtedness to you for every (act of) service, O false one. But, O (shaykh and the) inmost (wisdom of the) mind, despite their lack of desire, scatter (generously) the charity of (God) the Sultan, and don't hold (it) back!" (3:3602-3611)
2:1764-- [From the story of Moses and the shepherd:] "'O Moses, the knowers of (polite) conventions [AADAAB] are of one kind, (and) the burnt ones of soul and spirit are of another kind.'"
2:1784-- [From the story of Moses and the shepherd:] "Don't seek any rules [AADAAB] or method [of worship], (and) say whatever your constricted heart wants."
6:250 "He had taught him all (fields of) knowledge and polite accomplishments [AADAAB] (and) had lit the candle of excellence in his heart."
2:2418-- "(The other man) said, 'O king with such intelligence and erudition [ADAB], what is this deception (of yours)?'"
2:3644-- "He sent a learned messenger from the court of culture [ADAB] to India for (the purpose of) searching (there)."
6:2398-- "Ingenuity and culture [AADAAB] are the qualities of city people, (whereas) receiving and offering and hospitality are the qualities of tent-dwellers. The Merciful (God) has given (the qualities of) receiving and offering hospitality to strangers among the people of the villages. Every day there is a new guest in the villages who has no one to help him except God." (6:2398-2400)
-- translations by Ibrahim Gamard, with gratitude to Nicholson's 1926-30 British translation of the Mathnawi of Jalaluddin Rumi
1the action of God: Nicholson commented here, "Adam did not forget that God is the only real Agent and the Creator of all good and evil; nevertheless, having regard to the measure of free-will (ikhtiyár) associated with actions which proceed from men, he humbly confessed his guilt." (Commentary)
2toward you: Concerning this line, Nicholson mentioned the story (from Bálí Efendi's commentary on the "Fusús" of Ibnu 'l-`Arabi) of a certain mystic knower said to God, "'O my God, Thou hast decreed sin, Thou hast willed it, Thou hast created it in my soul'. Thereupon a Voice answered him, saying, 'So must they affirm who believe on My Unity (tawhíd); but what is proper for those who acknowledge themselves to be My slaves?' The gnostic [=mystic knower] replied, 'It was my fault: I committed the sin, I did wrong'. 'and I', answered the Voice, 'have pardoned and forgiven and shown mercy.'" (Commentary)
3At such a table as this: means, "at such a mystical feast." The word translated as "table" means a cloth placed on the ground or floor, around which people ate their meals.
4raw [khâm]: a technical sufi term which also means unripe, immature, inexperienced, unprepared, unrefined, uncooked, bearing no fruit. Means immature on the spiritual path, and is the opposite of "ripe" or "cooked" [pokhta]. Rumi has been quoted as saying, "The result of my life is no more than three words: I was raw [khâm], I became cooked [pokhta], I was burnt [sokht]." However, in the earliest manuscripts, this line is: "The result for me is no more than these three words: I am burnt, I am burnt, I am burnt." (Dîvân, ghazal 1768).
5Only you: Nicholson comments, "According to the early sufi Sarí al-Saqatí [died, 867], there is no true love between two persons till each says to the other, 'yá ana,' 'O (thou who art) I.'" He also mentions ". . .the verse of Halláj [died 922], 'I beheld my Lord with the eye of my Lord. He said, "Who art thou?" I answered, 'Thou' " (Commentary)
6seizer of hearts: an idiom meaning "beloved who has won the love of my heart."
7in the presence of the people of heart: Nicholson commented here, "I.e. 'holy men can read the thoughts and feelings of veneration with which you ought to regard them, whereas worldly magnates perceive only outward marks of respect and deserve nothing more'." (Commentary)
8bird of (bondage to) the ground: "i.e. 'earth-bound'." (Nicholson, Commentary)
9out of action: means that the shaykh will still remain spiritually pure, just as the water remains legally pure.
10Nimrod: refers to the story in the Qur'an of how Abraham was thrown into a fire (by the tyrant Nimrod in later legends) for opposing polytheism, but God commanded the fire to be cool and not harm him (21:68-69).
11by Abraham: "Abraham and Ishmael 'raised the foundations' of the Ka'bah (Qur. II 121). According to some, it was founded by Adam and rebuilt by Abraham." (Nicholson, Commentary)
12its kernel had filled (them) and had ripened: "I.e. the ripe esoteric wisdom of the Qur'án filled their hearts so profoundly that its words might be said to have burst and revealed the essential meaning contained in them." (Nicholson, Commentary)
13the lover is burned up by his beloved: "i.e. the lover (the form) disappears in the Beloved (the essence)." (Nicholson, Commentary)
14Whoever had memorized: "according to the author of the Shir`atu 'l-Islám, the Companions of the Prophet used to learn ten verses at a time and proceed no farther till they had mastered the whole religious content of these." (Nicholson, Commentary)
15form: "i.e. close attention to the letter of the Qur'án." (Nicholson, Commentary)
16the observances of due respect: Nicholson states that this means the "observance of `ubúdiyyah." [= service and worship] (Commentary)
17mild: "The flesh and the Devil are harmless to those who submit to the will of Allah and approach Him reverently." (Nicholson, Commentary)
18into discipline: "These lines describe the spiritual influence of the Perfect Man, especially that of the murshid [= guide] on the muríd [= disciple]." (Nicholson, Commentary)
19an atom: refers to the verse, "For he who has done an atom's weight of good will see it." (Qur'an 99:7)
20the horse: "Here the 'horse' is the carnal soul" (Nicholson, Commentary)
21rubbing its ear: a punishment given to children
22the ancient covenant: Refers to when God spoke to the souls of mankind prior to the creation of the universe, and they gave witness that their Lord was God (Qur'an 7:122)-- meaning here to renew this covenant by continual worship. (Nicholson, Commentary)
23forbidden: wine (and therefore all intoxicants) was forbidden in Qur'an 5:93.
24is better: "Even if the saint in union with God speaks and act presumptuously, he is superior to those who are not 'united.'" (Nicholson, Commentary)
25retribution on them: Qur'an 7:136
26The speaker: "an eminent mystic." (Nicholson, Commentary)
27There is no dervish: "i.e. the perfect faqîr, who is free from all connexion with the phenomenal world" (Nicholson, Commentary). The Persian word "darwêsh" (literally, "poor one") was a translation of the Arabic word for a sufi, "faqîr," which derives from the verse, "O men, you are poor [fuqarâ] in relation to God, and God is the Rich (al-Ghanî), the Praiseworthy" (Qur'an 35:15). So, in this respect, the true dervish does not exist because he is "poor in existence" in the presence of God, and this advanced degree of "spiritual poverty" [faqr] means that he is annihilated of self.
28He exists: "i.e. he exists formally and externally in so far as his 'person' (dhát-i bashariyyah) [="human essence"] is concerned; but... he is really non-existent as an individual agent and only 'persists' in virtue of the Divine life and energy which constitute his whole being. Cf. v. 3914 infra: wasf-i ú fání shud ú dhát-ash baqá" [= "His (the lover's) attributes have passed away, and his essence remains"]. (Nicholson, Commentary)
29not from irreverence: "See the Story of Moses and the Shepherd (II 1720 sqq.)..." (Nicholson, Commentary) In this story, Moses overhears a simple-minded shepherd praising God with an over- familiarity which he condemns as blasphemous. Moses then hears the voice of God, which rebukes him for being so harsh toward one of His most ardent and saintly lovers.
30level: puts himself on the other tray of the scale, or balance, so that he of equal measure (as the king). A metaphor of becoming overly-familiar with a superior.
31extinguished: Nicholson translated, "causes the heart (spirit) to perish"
32(spiritual) courtesy and respect: "adab may be defined as the character, feelings, and manners which are the fruit of spiritual culture. The reverence shown by the King to the Sage and by `Umar to the Prophet (v. 77) naturally suggests this brief homily on a subject so important for novices in Súfism." (Nicholson, Commentary)
33A table: this word occurs in the Qur'an to describe a "table" of food from Heaven which the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) prayed for and received (5:114). But here the word refers to the manna and quails sent to the people of Moses in the desert: "And We shaded them with clouds, and We sent down to them manna and quails, (saying), 'Eat from among the good things that We have provided to you'.. But they did harm to themselves" [by complaining]. (Qur'an 7:160; 2:57) It seems that manna is a sweet gum secreted from tamarisk bushes in the Sinai desert (Yûsuf `Alî, "The Holy Qur'an: Text, Translation, and Commentary," p. 31). (80 talking and listening: means bargaining for a good price. Nicholson later corrected his translation, based on the earliest manuscript of the Mathnawi to: "without buying and selling and without speaking and hearing" (from, "without headache (trouble) and without selling and buying."
34garlic and onions: the people of Moses complained, "O Moses, we cannot endure one kind of food (only), so pray to your Lord for us, to bring forth for our sake of what the earth grows: its herbs, its cucumbers, its garlic, its lentils, and its onions." (2:61)
35there remained for us: Nicholson later corrected his translation, to: "there remained for us (their successors) the toil of sowing, etc." (from, "there remained (for all of them) the toil of sowing and (labouring with) mattock and scythe." (Commentary)
36God sent a table: a "table" of food from Heaven which the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) prayed for and received: "When the disciples said, 'O Jesus son of Mary, can your Lord send down to us a table from Heaven?' He said, 'Be in awe of God [attaqû 'llâh] if you are (truly) believers'" (5:114). The disciples said that they only wanted to eat, as well as to know for certain, by seeing a miracle, that Jesus spoke the truth. Jesus prayed for food from heaven as a sign (of Divine support) and for sustenance from God who is the Best of Providers. God agreed to send it down, but warned of punishment for any who denied faith after this (miracle-- 5:116-118). In Persian, the word translated as "table" can mean a tray of food, but generally refers to the Middle Eastern custom of eating on the floor or ground with the food placed upon a cloth, or occasionally upon leather.
37like beggars: refers to the custom according to which guests were allowed to take food home with them after being invited to a meal. "It was not unusual (though considered unmannerly) for greedy guests to collect and carry away the food left over from a feast. Such a person was called zallah-band." (Nicholson, Commentary)
38rejection and ingratitude [kufr]: a Qur'anic term which also means unbelief and denial (toward the truth of the Oneness of God and the revelation sent to the prophets).
39charity (for the poor): one of the "five pillars" of Islam-- the requirement for Muslims to donate once a year to the poor approximately two and half percent of one's available wealth, if one is not poor. This verse refers to the punishment believed to follow widespread refusal or avoidance, not just a few cases.
40unlawful sex [zinâ]: this word means any kind of sexual relations outside marriage-- by the married (adultery) or by the unmarried (fornication), believed, when prevalent, to be the cause of plague. "The commentators quote from Traditions: wa-lá mana`ú l-zakáta illá hubisa `anhumu 'l-qatr [= "And there is no refusal of the (required) charity except that the rain is seized (and taken away) from them"] and idhá ra'aytumú 'l-wabá a qad fashá fa-`lamú anna 'l-zinâ qad fashá" [= "When you see that the plague has definitely spread, know that shameful sexual conduct has definitely spread"]. (Nicholson, Commentary)
41Azazeel: the name of Satan before his fall. His insolence was to refuse to bow in obeisance to Adam when all the angels were commanded to do so. Satan refused, with the arrogant claim that he was superior to Adam since he was made from "fire" but Adam was made from (mere) clay (Qur'an 7:11-12). Satan also arrogantly blamed God for his own fall: "You caused me to err" (7:16), whereas Adam and Eve showed humble respect to God by saying, "O Lord! We have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and show mercy to us, we will surely be among the lost!" (7:23)
42earth becomes gold: the ancient belief that veins of gold inside the earth are formed from the rays of the sun.
43will hold back (his) message: "The Súfí Shaykhs do not communicate their wisdom in the presence of those who are unsympathetic and unresponsive." (Nicholson, Commentary)
44the nature of Israfil: "i.e. like [the angel] Isráfíl, who is always listening eagerly for the Divine command to blow the trumpet of Resurrection." (Nicholson, Commentary)
45bowed double: means bowing in obeisance from a standing position.