Every Moment a Loud Voice Comes
(A ghazal with rhyme words from the Qur'ân)

Ghazal No. 19481

Every moment a loud voice comes from the river-blue tent (of the sky), (reciting) the verse, "Truly We built it and truly We expand (it)!"2

20560 Who has heard this "shout," (from) moment to moment, without (need of) outward ears? "Those who turn (in repentance and) offer worship (to God), who praise (and) wander about (pleasing God)."3

Obtain a ladder from "the Lord of (heavenly) stairways"4(and) climb up! "The angels and the Spirit rise up to Him" together.

The carpenter of imagination can never cut (and form) the heavenly ladder. The hand of "they will all return to Us"5 caused (the Prophet's) Ascent6 (into the heavens).

Until you become cut (and formed) by the hatchet of perseverance and gratefulness, recite, "No one will receive (the reward)" and "except the persevering".7

Look at the hatchet (and) in whose hands it is: become agreeably surrendered. Don't stubbornly fight the hatchet like the knot (in the wood), for "we will be the victors"8

20565 If you come up a few (ladder) steps, you will be (among) the "those on the right hand."9 And if you arrive to your roof porch, "the foremost will be the foremost".10

Come up, O sufi, if you are from a heavenly sufi abode, and come in--into the ranks of "surely we are those arranged in rows".11

And if you are a poor dervish,12 pound the drum of "(When) poverty is complete,13 (God) is God." And (if) you are a legal scholar,14 be pure from "Surely they do not understand".15

If you are like (the letter) "N" in bowing (in prayer)16 and like the Pen during prostration,17 then be joined like "N and the Pen" (together) with "what they write."

Be a rude eye (that) "will see (them)" before "they will see".18 (If) you are very soft like a deceitful flatterer, what is prior to "they would be soft and pliant"?19

20570 Become strongly rooted, like the "lote tree,"20 from (the conviction of) "there is no doubt in it,"21 so that your branches and leaves will not shake from the whisper of "the adversity of time".22

See the garden (that) became blackened from "the visitation (of your Lord) came around (it)", (and) their deceitful plots burned up their garden "(while) they slept".23

--From The Dîwân- Kabîr (also known as "Kulliyat- Shams" and "Dîwân- Shams- Tabrîzî") of Jalaluddin Rumi. Translated from the Persian and Arabic by Ibrahim Gamard, 9/08, with gratitude to Dr. Nargis Virani's' translation
Ibrahim Gamard (translation, footnotes, & transliteration)


Notes on the text, with line number:

1Ghazal No. 1948: Compare to Nargis Virani's translation (in her article, "I am the Nightingale of the Merciful: Rumi's Use of the Qur'an and Hadith"). Compare to the translation (from the Turkish translation of Golpinarli) by Nevit Ergin, "Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi: Dîvân-i Kebîr," Meter 8b, Volume 8, 1998, pp. 61-62.

2(20559) We expand (it): "And the sky: We built it with strength and certainly We expand (it)." [wa 's-samâ'a banay-nâ-hâ bi-ayd-in wa innâ la-mûsi`ûn--Q.51:47]. This refers to the sky, the heavens, the universe.

3(20560) Those who turn: "Those who turn (in repentance to God), who serve and worship (God), who give praise (to God), who wander about (doing deeds pleasing to God)" [at-tâ'ibûna 'l-`âbidûna 'l-Hâmidûna 's-sâ'iHûn--Q.9:112]

4(20561) (heavenly) stairways: "from God, the Lord of (heavenly) stairways: [mina 'llâhi dhî 'l-ma`ârij] the angels and the Spirit rise up to Him in a Day, the amount of which is (like) fifty thousand years"--Q.70:3-4]

5(20562) they will all return to Us: "they will all return to Us" [kull-un ilaynâ râji`ûn--Q.2:93]

6(20562) Ascent [mi`râj-ash]: lit., "his Ascent"

7(20563) except the persevering: "God's reward [thawâbu 'llâh] is better for the one who believes and does good deeds, and no one will receive it except those who patiently persevere" [wa lâ yulaqqâ-hâ illâ 'S-Sâbirûn--Q.28:80].

8(20564) the victors: "...truly we will be the victors" [innâ la-naHnu 'l-ghâlibûn--Q.26:44]. These are actually the words of Pharaoh's magicians, prior to their competition with Moses. However, Mawlânâ treats these words as ultimately the speech of God, meaning the angelic host and the hatchet as being held by "Hand of God".

9(20565) those on the right hand: "And those on the right hand--what (joy for) those on the right hand" [aSHâbu 'l-yamîn Q.56:27]. This refers to those who (on the Day of Judgment) are welcomed into Paradise because of being sufficiently pious and righteous (in contrast to "those of the left hand").

10(20565) the foremost: "and the foremost will be the foremost [wa 's-sâbiqûna 's-sâbiqûn]: they will be the most near (to God)" [ûlâ'ika 'l-muqarribûn--Q.56:10]. This refers to those who (on the Day of Judgment) are welcomed into Paradise because of being the most pious and righteous; it is they who will be in a place nearest to God in the Hereafter.

11(20566) those arranged in rows: "And surely we are those arranged in rows" [wa innâ la-naHnu Saaaffûn--Q.37:165]. This relates to the verse that begins the same chapter: "By those arranged in rows" [wa 'S-Sâffati Saff-a--37:1]. This refers to the angels who are arranged in rows in order to glorify God eternally. (It may also be interpreted to mean the believers lined up to do ritual prayers, or arranged into battle ranks-- which also signifies repelling evil and wrong-doing, in general).

12(20567) a poor dervish [faqîr]: This Arabic word (literally, "poor one) was translated into Persian as "darwsh" and both terms also have been used to mean a sufi--and this usage is related to the verse: "O men, you are poor [fuqarâ] in relation to God, and God is the Rich [al-ghanî], the Praiseworthy" (Q.35:15).

13(20567) (When) poverty is complete: "When poverty has been completed, then (you will see that) He is God" [idhâ tamma 'l-faqru fa-huwa 'llâh]. This refers to spiritual poverty: in the state of absolute poverty, nothing remains but God. "There is no divinity except God" (Q.47:19, 37:35). "Everything perishes except His Face (or Self)" (Q.28:88). "All that is upon (the earth) will pass away, but the Face (or Self) of your Sustaining Lord will abide, full of Majesty and Glory (Q.55:26-27. "What is with you will vanish, and what is with God will endure" (Q.16:97). There is also a pun between "poor dervish" [faqîr] and "poverty"[faqr], which are based on the Arabic root F-Q-R.

The following explanation from Mawlânâ's teacher is likely to be Mawlânâ's interpretation as well: "Now a thousand absurdities have been said (regarding) the meaning of, 'When poverty has been perfected, then He is God.' The meaning (is), 'When poverty has been perfected [chûn tamâm shod faqr], then at that time God has become visible' [pas ân-gah khodâ `ayân shod]; you will find and see (Him) [be-yâb-î wa be-bîn-î]. (It does) not (mean that) that one becomes God. The meaning (is), 'When poverty is perfected, you will find God' [idhâ tamma 'l-faqru tajudu 'llâh]. Otherwise, it is unbelief [kufr]. That meaning is not appropriate. No, it's meaning is, 'When poverty is perfected, you will find God'. In other words, the one whose self died completely, then his satan died [kullu man mâta nafsa-hu, wa mâta shayTâna-hu], and he is purified of blamable characteristics [wa Tahara `ani 'l-akhlâqi 'l-dhamîmat]. (But to say that) he attains to God [waSala il 'llâh]--God forbid! No, he then attains to the Way to God [bal qad waSala il Tarîqi 'llâh].--"Maqâlât-e Shams-e Tabrîzî," pp. 732-33.

14(20567) a legal scholar [faqîh]: This is someone who is very knowledgeable about Islamic law, scripture, and theology [fiqh], who is advised here not to become proud of having knowledge and arrogant toward others because of presuming to know about matters he does not understand.

15(20567) who do not understand: "...since they are a people who do not understand" [bi-anna-hum qawm-un lâ yafqahûn--Q.8:65]. This refers o the unbelievers. There is also a pun between "legal scholar" [faqîh] and "they do not understand" [lâ yafqahûn], which are based on the Arabic root F-Q-H: to understand, to be learned--and used to mean being knowledgeable in Islamic law.

16(20568) like (the letter) "N" in bowing (in prayer): this means with the body curved, as when bowing (while standing, with hands on the knees) during the ritual prayer.

17(20568) like the Pen: this means "moving to touch the surface below," like a pen that "humbly" moves downward against a page in order to write. This is compared to the prostration in the ritual prayer in which the forehead is placed on the prayer carpet or the ground--symbolizing humble submission to the Divine Will. The "Pen" in the Qur'ân symbolizes knowledge in general, and knowledge received via Revelation in particular. The words "be joined together" refers to how both quotes are part of the same Qur'anic verse: "By the letter N and the Pen and what they write" [nûn wa 'l-qalam wa mâ yasTurûn--Q.68:1]. The words "what they write" may also be interpreted to mean "what the angels record" (of good and bad deeds).

18(20569) they will see: "And see them, for they will (eventually) see" wa abSir-hum fa-sawfa yubSirûn--Q.37:175): This means to truly see people for who they are (especially deceitful people), since they will see it themselves on the Day of Judgment.

19(20569) soft and pliant: "They want you to be very soft and pliant so they may be soft and pliant" [waddû law tudhinu fa-yudhinûn--Q.68:9]. This refers to the enemies of the Muslims in Mecca, who wished the Muslims to compromise their strong (especially anti-pagan) religious principles in exchange for a (deceitfully promised) reduction of hostilities toward the Muslims. The answer to the question, "What (wording in the verse) is prior to (the words), 'they would be soft and pliant'?" is, "they want you to be very soft and pliant". The meaning of this line is, "Do not be soft and compromising with deceitful enemies." There is a word-play between the Arabic terms, "deceitful flatterer" [mudâhin] and "they would be soft and pliant" [yudhinûn].

20(20570) the lote tree: mentioned in Q.53:14, and elsewhere, as a tree in Paradise.

21(20570) no doubt in it: "This is the Book (of Revelation): there is no doubt in it [lâ rayba fî-hi--Q.2:2]"

22(20570) the adversity of time: ".(as) for him, let's wait for the adversity of time" [natarabbaSu bi-hi rayba 'l-manûn--Q.52:30]. In tis verse, the enemies of the Prophet Muhammad are accused of hoping he would, in time, be proven wrong. There is a pun between two meanings of the Arabic word "rayba": "doubt" and "adversity" (or "calamity" "vicissitudes").

23(20571) while they slept: "But a visitation from your Lord came around it (bringing destruction upon) it while they slept" [fa-Tâfa `alay-hâ Tâ'if-un min rabbi-ka wa hum nâ'imûn--Q.68:19]. This is a parable about the punishment imposed by God on the owners of a garden who would not share any of its produce with the poor: it became a black and barren land. In contrast to the meaning of the preceding two verses ("Be firm and strong toward your enemies"), the meaning of the final verse is, "Be gentle toward your neighbors who are poor, or your garden (in other words, all that sustains you in life) may be destroyed."

Advice to the mystic, in the middle of the poem, to soar high in order to be among the angels is followed by a call to be selfless and humble before God, and then to deal justly with the people in one's environment.


bâng ây-ad har zamân z-în riwâq- âbgûn
âyat- innâ banay-nâ-hâ wa innâ mûsi`ûn

20560 kî shonûd în bâng-râ b-gôsh- Zâhir dam ba-dam?
tâyibûna 'l-`âbidûna 'l-Hâmidûna 's-sâyiHûn

nardobân HâSil kon-îd az dhî 'l-ma`ârij bar raw-îd
ta`ruju 'r-rûHu ilayhi wa 'l-malâyik ajma`ûn

kay tarâsh-ad nardobân- charkh najjâr- khayâl?
sâkht mi`râj-ash yad- kull-un ilaynâ râji`ûn

tâ tarâshîda na-gard-î tô ba-tsha-y Sabr-o shukr
lâ yulaqqâ-hâ ferô m-khwân-o illâ 'S-Sâbirûn

be-n'garîn tsha ba-dast- kî-st, khwosh taslîm shaw
chûn gera ma-s'tîz bâ tsha ke naHnu 'l-ghâlibûn

20565 pâya-y chand ar bar ây-î bâsh-î, aS-Hâbu 'l-yamîn
w-ar ras-î bar bâm- khwod as-sâbiqûna 's-sâbiqûn

gar ze-Sûfî-khâna-y gardûn-î, ay Sûfî bar â
w-andar-â andar Saf- innâ la-naHnu Sâffûn

w-ar faqîr-î, kaws- tamma 'l-faqru fa-h'wa 'llâh be-zan
w-ar faqîH-î, pâk bâsh az inna-hum lâ yafqahûn

gar chô nûn-î dar rukû`-wo chûn qalam andar sujûd
pas tô chûn nûn wa qalam paywand bâ mâ yasTurûn

chashm- shôkh sawfa yubSir bâsh psh az yubSirûn
chûn mudâhin narm-sâr-î chî-st psh- yud/hinûn

20570 chûn derakht- sidra bkh-âwar shaw az lâ rayba fî-h
tâ na-larz-ad shâkh-o barg-at az dam- raybu 'l-manûn

be-n'gar ân bâgh- seyah gashta ze-Tâfa Tâyif-un
makr-eshân bâgh- eshân, sôkhta-y hum nâyimûn

Meter: XoXX XoXX XoXX XoX
[Meter 8: ramal mahzûf (musamman)]