We Are (Saintly) Physicians

Ghazal 14741

(15547) We are (saintly) physicians, we are (spiritual) doctors. We have come from Baghdad2 (and) we have bought back the misery of many sick ones.

(Using) a "medical instrument"3, we have drawn out sorrow devoid of beginning or end--(the cause of) old ailments of the eyes--by its veins and feet.

We are eloquent physicians, (and) since we are the disciples of the Messiah,4 we have taken many corpses5 into which we have blown (living) spirit.

Ask those who have seen (our) signs so that they express gratitude: "We have escaped from what (a terrible thing)!6

"The (spiritual) doctors came from a far distant road; they are strangers (who) have displayed strange items7 and remedies that we have not seen."

We have trampled upon the head of sadness; we have swept grief from the house. We are all attractive beloveds and handsome;8 we are all like the (beautiful new) moon (that commences) the (religious) Festival.9

We are divine physicians (and) we do not desire payment from anyone. Since we are pure of soul, we are not greedy or defiled.

Don't think that these are only (ordinary) medicines,10 since these (are) famous remedies11 (that) we have brought from Paradise.

We are knowing physicians; we do not use urine bottles.12 We run within the sick body (as fast) as thought.13

Don't ever open (your) mouth when all the owls are prevalent.14 (And) don't let fly another boast [about us], since we have flown back.15

--From The Dîwân-é Kabîr (also known as "Kulliyat-é Shams" and
"Dîwân-é Shams-é Tabrîz") of Jalaluddin Rumi.
Translated from the Persian by Ibrahim Gamard, 7/13
Ibrahim Gamard (translation, footnotes, & transliteration; with gratitude for the commentaries by Kadkanî and Khorramshâhî)

Notes on the text:

1Ghazal 1474: Compare to the translation (from the Turkish translation by Golpinarli) by Nevit Ergin, "Dîvân-i Kebîr," Volume 5, pp. 62-63.

2 Baghdad: This means, here, a great "city" of the soul, wherein saints and prophets with divine knowledge reside. See Ghazal no. 731: "the Baghdad of the world of the soul" [baghdâd-e jahân-e jân]. The "physicians" are the sufi saints [awliyâ], who diagnose and cure spiritual ailments such as despair, hopelessness, self-centered preoccupation, weakness of trust in God, greed, pride, etc.--all the afflictions that keep people from the remembrance of God, or being conscious of the Presence of God. See Rumi's story about the saint who diagnosed love-sickness in a young woman patient by examining her pulse (Masnavi I: 35); see also his description of "divine physicians" [Tabîb-ân-é ilâhî] (4:1794, 3:2700q). In the present verse, "bought back" means that the saints have "paid" the "purchase price" of the spiritual ailments and suffering that afflict individuals. In other words, the saints have relieved the spiritual ailments of individuals by means of the spiritual grace and power of intercession granted them by God. According to the biography by Sepahsâlâr, Mawlana Rumi composed this ghazal after he miraculously healed the illness of a disciple (by making him eat cooked garlic) after the failed efforts of physicians, who had witnessed the healing and then declared, "This is not the method and rule of medicine, but this is divine medicine [Hikmat-é ilâhî]!"

3 "medical instrument" [changâla]: A thin, curved, and forked instrument made of iron that was used by physicians. Healing of "old ailments of the eyes" refers to healing spiritual blindness.

4 the Messiah [masîH]: Refers to the miracles of the Prophet Jesus to bring the dead to life, by the permission of God (Qur'an 3:49, 5:113).

5many corpses: means souls in bodies which are "dead" because they lack spiritual life.

6 We have escaped from what (a terrble thing): [mâ az che rahîd-êm]. This was translated by the Turkish translator, Golpinarli, as "from the well" [az chah], as shown by Ergin's English translation. However, this reading is unsuitable because it adds an extra syllable (since "chah" is a contraction of "châh"). Furthermore, in Khorramshâhî's commentary on this verse, he wrote in some detai about the importance of the word "gratitude" [shukr] in the Qur'an and among the early sufis; however, he did not mention the word "well" (such as the one from which Joseph was freed in the Qur'anic story).

7 strange items [gharîbâna]: A word-play with "they are strangers" [gharîb-and], which means that the saints are "foreigners" in this world so full of materialistic distractions from the remembrance of God and of the "homeland" of human souls, which is the spiritual world.

8 attractive beloveds and handsome [shâhid-o khwôb]: The spiritual beauty of the saints makes them to be far more attractive than ordinary beloveds.

9 the (beautiful new) moon (that commences) the (religious) Festival [mah-é `îd]: This refers to the festivities following the month-long fast of Ramadan, during which food and drink are forbidden to Muslims during the daylight hours. It can also refer to the second of the two religious festivals, which follows the last day of the annual pilgrimage [Hajj] in Mecca.

10 (ordinary) medicines: A reference to two kinds of myrobalans, the fruit of the citron tree, used for centuries as medicine.

11 famous remedies: "famous aromatic roots" for use as medicine, depicted here as originating in Paradise [firdaws, a word of Persian origin that occurs in the Qur'an, 18:17, 23:11].

12 urine bottles [qârûra]: This refers to the ancient medical practice of collecting a urine sample from a patient in order to diagnose particular illnesses by examining the color and other qualities of the urine.

13 (as fast) as thought: This refers to clairvoyant knowledge about the spiritual ailments of an individual. Here, "thought" [andêsha] may have an extended meaning of the "essential significance" or "spiritual reality" [ma`nà] of human consciousness, as distinct from the body of bones and nerves (see Discourse no. 53 in which Rumi comments on Masnavi II: 277). In other words, it may mean, "We run within the sick body like a flowing current of consciousness." "Then how do the divine physicians in the world not know from you (your disease) without (need of) mouth and speech? Without (even) a pause, they see a hundred (spiritual) ailments in you from your pulse, eyes, and complexion." (Masnavi 4: 1797) "We are the (saintly) physicians, the disciples of God.... The natural physicians are others, since they look at the heart by way of the pulse. We look well at the heart without intermediary, since we are in high look-out because of clairvoyance." (Masnavi 3: 2700-03) "You are seeking a remedy for (your spiritual) illness by means of your thoughts and concepts [fikr-at], (but) thoughts and concepts are an increaser of (your) illness." (Ghazal 3134)

14 Don't ever open (your) mouth when all the owls are prevalent: Rumi's ghazals often end with an appeal to silence. Here, owls may refer to ignorant and base people who might misunderstand the talk of mystics. It may also refer to a folk belief, which persists in some places in Iran, that one should cover one's mouth if an owl is near by because, if an owl is able to count one's teeth, death will result.

15 since we have flown back: There is a word play between "don't let fly" [ma-parrân] and "we have flown back" [mâ bâz parîd-êm]. The word "back" [bâz] is also a pun on "open"; this word also has a third meaning of "falcon," viewed as a noble bird in contrast to the base owl. Rumi often uses bird metaphors in regard to saints. Here, the saints have completed their healing mission and are returning to God in the next world.


15547 Hakîm-êm, Tabîb-êm, ze-baghdâd rasîd-êm
basê `illati-yân-râ ze gham bâz kharîd-êm

sabal-hây-é kohan-râ, gham-é bê-sar-o bon-râ
ze-rag-hâ-sh-o ze-pay-hâ-sh ba-changâla kashîd-êm

Tabîb-ân-é faSîH-êm, ke shâgerd-é masîH-êm
basê morda gereft-êm, dar-ô rûH damîd-êm

be-porsîd az ân-hâ, ke dîd-and neshân-hâ
ke tâ shukr be-gôy-and ke mâ az che rahîd-êm

rasîd-and Tabîb-ân ze-rah-é dûr gharîb-ân
gharîbâna namûd-and dawâ-hâ ke na-dîd-êm

sar-é ghuSSa be-kôb-êm, gham az khâna be-rôb-êm
hama shâhid-o khwôb-êm, hama chôn mah-é `îd-êm

Tabîb-ân-é ilâhî-m, ze-kas mozd na-khwâh-êm
ke mâ pâk-rawân-êm, na Tamâ`-wo palîd-êm

ma-pendâr ke în nêz halîla-st-o balîla-st
ke în shuhra `aqâqîr ze-firdaws kashîd-êm

Hakîm-ân-é khabîr-êm, ke qârûra na-gîr-êm
ke mâ dar tan-é ranjûr chô andêsha dawîd-êm

dahân bâz ma-kon hêch ke aghlab hama joghd-and
degar lâf ma-parrân ke mâ bâz parîd-êm

Meter 6: oXXo oXX oXXo oXX

(Hazaj makfûf)