1618 If He makes air and fire (to be) lowly,1 and if He makes the
thorn to surpass the rose,
He is the Governor (of the Universe) and (the One who said about
Himself), "God does what He wills."2 For He creates the remedy
from the source of the pain.
1620 (So) if He makes air and fire (to be) lowly, making (them full
of) darkness, (murky) dregs, and sediment,3
And if He makes earth and water4 (to be) lofty (and) makes the
way to Heaven (to be) undertaken by [human] foot5--
Then it has been certain that, (as in the verse), "You exalt
whomever You will,"6 God has said to an earthly creature: "Open
(your) wings (and soar)!"7
(Just as) He said to a fiery creature, "Go (and) become (like)
Satan;8 go underneath the Seventh Earth9 with (your)
(And as He said: "O) earthly Adam, go on top of the star Suhâ11! (O)
fiery Satan, go as far as the (lowest) dust!
1625 (And He also said), "I am not (limited by) the four
temperaments12 or the original cause (of any event).13 (Rather), I am
remaining in eternal control14 (of all things).
"My actions are without (need of) cause and (are) direct and
undeviating. O ailing one, the (power to) Decree is mine (with) no
I change my own practice15 according to the (particular) time: at a
(particular) time, I may place (obscuring) dust16 in front [of
"I will say to the sea (on the Day of Judgment): 'Pay heed! Become
full of fire!'17 (And) I will say to the fire: 'Go (and) become a rose
"I will say to the mountain: 'Become as light as wool!'19 (And) I
will say to the sky: 'Tear down (yourself)20 in front of the eyes (of
1630 "I will say, 'O sun! Become fastened to the moon!'21 (And) I
will make both (of them to look) like two black clouds.
"We22 will make the fountain of the Sun (to become) dry. (And)
We23 will make the fountain of blood (to become) musk."
1632 (In such a case), the sun and moon (will become) like two
black oxen24 (with) God binding a "yoke"25 upon (their) necks.
--From "The Mathnawî-yé Ma`nawî" [Rhymed Couplets of
Deep Spiritual Meaning] of Jalaluddin Rumi.
Translated from the Persian by Ibrahim Gamard (with
gratitude for R. A. Nicholson's 1926 British translation)
© Ibrahim Gamard (translation, footnotes, & transliteration)
Translated, 10/16/03, as a favor to the Rumi Society of Vancouver,
Notes on the text, with line number:
1(1618) If He makes air and fire (to be) lowly: "Therefore, Hazrat-i
Mawlana, on the basis of the Ahl-i Sunnat, is saying, 'Air and fire
have a lofty nature, but if God wishes, He makes both lowly....
And similarly, the rose has a greater value and a lofty rank, but (if)
God wishes, He makes the lowly thorn to more lofty, desirable,
and loved than the rose.'" (translated from a Persian translation of
Anqaravi, the 17th century Ottoman Turkish Mevlevi commentator
on the Masnavi)
2(1619) God does what He wills: "(The angel said), 'That is the
manner in which God does what He wills [yaf`alu 'llâhu mâ
yashâ]" (Qur'an 3:39). Just prior to this verse, the Prophet Zakarîya
asked God, "My Lord, how can I have a son when I am very old
and my wife is barren?" "God, whenever He pleases, makes the
so-called 'laws' of natural philosophy null and void. See I 830-853
and notes ad loc." [= " (God is the only real Agent. All causes in
the phenomenal world are secondary; they are created by God and
subject to essential causes, viz. the Divine Names and Attributes,
which determine the production or non-production of all effects
whatsoever."] (Nicholson, Commentary)
3(1620) sediment [Suflî]: a word play on "lowly" [suflî] in the first
half of the verse. This verse was added in the margin in the oldest
manuscript of the Masnavi.
4(1621) earth and water: means the human body, made of "water
and clay," ascended fully into the Heavens like several of the
Prophets (see note below). Here, Rumi has mentioned the four
elements in two couplets--considered a artful achievement in
classical Persian poetry.
5(1621) foot: refers to the physical ascension to the Heavens of
Prophets such as Enoch [Idrîs], Elijah [Ilyâs], Jesus [`îsà], and
Muhammad (according to Muslim belief, during his "Night
Journey" and "Ascension"). It also refers to the essential
superiority of the saintly human being over the angel, according to
Islamic theology and sufi teachings.
6(1622) You exalt whomever You will: "You exalt whomever You
will, and you make lowly whomever You will." Qur'an 3:26.
7(1622) Open (your) wings (and soar): "And similarly, God said to
an human made of clay, 'Stretch the wings of your intellect and
take (wing) to the lofty summit level (of the Heavens) and be the
adored one of the protecting angels, and drink the wines of
Paradise.'" (Anqaravi, Commentary)
8(1623) Go (and) become (like) Satan [Iblîs]: refers to verses in the
Qur'an which describe the arrogance of Satan [Iblîs] who refused
to bow in obeisance to Adam, after which he boasted of his
superiority, saying, "I am better than him, (since) You made me
from fire and You made him from clay." (7:11-18)
9(1623) the Seventh Earth: "According to some Moslem authorities,
Hell 'is situated under the pedestal of the world, above the Bull and
The Fish (corresponding to the Behemoth and Leviathan of the
Bible) who support the earth'." (Nicholson, Commentary)
10(1623) deceitfulness [talbîs]: a word play on "Satan" [Iblîs].
11(1624) Suhâ: a star in the constellation Ursa Minor.
12(1625) the four temperaments: a theory of personality
temperaments which originated in the ancient Greek school and
further developed by Galen, after which they became accepted
medical doctrine for centuries: sanguine (air warm-most, red
blood), choleric (fire, hot-dry, yellow bile), phlegmatic (water,
cold-moist, white blood), and melancholic (earth, cool-dry, black
bile). "The elements are continually passing into one another
through the medium of that quality they possess in common... This
process of transmutation of the simple elements, which is called
'generation and corruption' (kawn u fasád), is brought about by the
influences of the seven planets, and results in the production of the
three classes of compound bodies, namely, minerals, vegetables,
and animals." (Nicholson, Commentary)
13(1625) the original cause (of any event): "In Moslem philosophy
God, the necessarily existent Being, is the First Cause whence
proceeds a series of emanations, beginning with Universal Reason
(the first Caused) and Universal Soul, through which the Many are
linked with the One." (Nicholson, Commentary)
14(1625) I am remaining in eternal control: "God's fiat is absolute.
Nothing can happen but what He has directly willed and decreed.
The doctrine of those who conceive Him as a physical cause or as
acting from the necessity of His nature is entirely false." (Nicholson, Commentary)
15(1627) I change my own practice: "Though God is the only real
Agent, normally He acts by means of secondary causes (asbáb).
This 'custom', however, is not invariable; God can at any time
make such causes ineffective or decree that they shall produce
effects contrary to their nature." (Nicholson, Commentary)
16(1627) I may place (obscuring) dust: "i.e. the illusion of
intermediate causes." (Nicholson, Commentary) "...the dust of
doubt and uncertainty" (Anqaravi, Commentary)
17(1628) I will say to the sea: 'Pay heed! Become full of fire:
"possibly referring to Qur. LXXXI 6: wa-idhá 'l-biháru sujjirat."
[="And when the seas (are made to) boil over (on the Day of
18(1628) I will say to the fire: 'Go (and) become a rose bower: "...see
I 547 [trans. by Nicholson: "He cherisheth Abraham in the fire"]
and note ["Abraham, having broken the idols of his people, was
cast by order of Nimrod into a fire, which God changed into a
delightful rose-garden (I 790, III 10016, VI 4291). See Qur. XXI
69."]; but since all the other examples given in this passage are
eschatological, the poet may have in mind several Traditions
concerning the extinction of Hell-Fire." (Nicholson, Commentary)
19(1629) I will say to the mountain: 'Become as light as wool: "Cf.
Qur. CI 4: 'and the mountains shall be like carded wool.'"
20(1629) I will say to the sky: 'Tear down (yourself): Cf. Qur.
LXXXI 11: wa-idhá 'l-samá'u kushitat." ["And when the sky is
unveiled"]. (Nicholson, Commentary) In a preceding verse (1615),
Rumi quoted the verse, (trans. by Nicholson: "heaven was rent
asunder" (Qur'an 84:1).
21(1630) I will say, 'O sun! Become fastened to the moon: "Qur.
LXXV 8-9: 'and when the moon shall be eclipsed and the sun and
moon united (in darkness).'" (Nicholson, Commentary)
22(1630) I will say, 'O sun! Become fastened to the moon: "i.e. 'We
cause the blood-red sun to become dark as musk."
23(1631) We: the "plural of Majesty." In the Qur'an, the One God
sometimes speaks as "I" and sometimes as "We"--which should not
be interpreted as referring to a plurality of Divinities.
24(1632) he sun and moon (will become) like two black oxen: "At
the Resurrection the sun and moon, rising together in the west,
shall be deprived of light and yoked, like two black oxen, in
obedience to their Lord." (Nicholson, Commentary) Anqaravi
states that commentators of the Qur'an have interpreted this as a
prophecy that on the Last Day the sun and moon will be joined
together, resembling two black oxen tied together. (Commentary)
25(1632) yoke [yûgh]: this is the equivalent to the Sanskrit word
"yoga," as well as the English word "yoke"--all derived from the
same ancient Indo-European word.
1618 gar kon-ad suflî hawâ-wo nâr-râ
w-ar ze-gol ô be-g'Zarân-ad khâr-râ
Hâkim-ast-o yaf`alu 'llâh mâ yashâ
k-ô ze- `ayn-é dard angêz-ad dawâ
1620 [gar hawâ-wo nâr-râ suflî kon-ad
tîragîy-wo dordî-wo Suflî kon-ad]
w-ar zamîn-o âb-râ `ulwîy kon-ad
râh-é gardûn-râ ba-pâ maTwî kon-ad
pas yaqîn shod ke tu`izzu man tashâ
khâkîyê-râ goft par-hâ bar-goshâ
âteshê-râ goft raw iblîs shû
zêr-é haftom khâk bâ talbîs shû
âdam-é khâkî be-raw tô bar suhâ
ay balîs-é âteshî raw tâ Sarà
1625 châr Tab`-o `illat-é awlà ney-am
dar taSarruf dâyimâ man bâqiy-am
kâr-é man bê-`illat-ast-o mustaqîm
hast taqdîr-am, na `illat ay saqîm
`âdat-é khwad-râ be-gardân-am ba-waqt
în ghabâr az pêsh be-n'shân-am ba-waqt
baHr-râ gôy-am ke hîn por nâr shû
gôy-am âtash-râ ke raw gol-zâr shû
kûh-râ gôy-am sabak shû ham-chô pashm
charkh-râ gôy-am forô dar pêsh-é chashm
1630 gôy-am ay khworshêd maqrûn shû ba-mâh
har dô-râ sâz-am chô dô abr-é seyâh
chashma-yé khworshêd-râ sâz-êm khoshk
chashma-yé khûn-râ ba-fan sâz-êm moshk
1632 âftâb-o mah chô dô gâw-é seyâh
yûgh bar gardan be-band-ad-'shân ilâh
(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)