How God Answers Prayers

Mathnawi III: 180-197

(Concerning) the command of God Most High to Moses--upon him
be peace--saying that, "In regard to (seeking an answer from) Me,
ask for a mouth, a mouth by which you have not committed sin."

180 (God) said, "O Moses, seek refuge with Me by means of a
mouth (by) which you did not sin."

Moses said, "I don't have that (kind of) mouth." (God) said, "Call
Me by means of another mouth."

You never1 committed a sin by means of another mouth, (so) call
out "O God!" by means of another mouth.2

Behave in such a manner (so) that (those) mouths may bring forth
prayers for you during the nights and days.

Ask for pardon from a mouth (with) which you have not sinned--
and that is another mouth.3

185 Or, make your own mouth pure; make your spirit quick and

Mention (of the Name) of God is pure; when purity has arrived,
impurity ties up (its) belongings (and) exits (from you).5

Opposites are fleeing from opposites; the night flees when the light
(of dawn) blazes forth.

188 When the pure Name (of God) enters the mouth, impurity and
remorseful sorrows do not remain.

The explanation (of how) the needy supplicating of (calling out)
"Allah!" is the same as God saying, "Here I am!"6

That one was saying "Allah!" (repeatedly) one night until (his) lips
were becoming sweet from his mention7 (of the Name of God).

190 Satan said, "O excessive talker: where, finally, is the 'Here I
am' (after) all this (calling out of) 'Allah'?

"There isn't a single answer coming from before the Throne (of
God), (so) how much (longer) will you call out 'Allah'8 with a
stern face?"

(The man) became broken-hearted and placed (his) head down (to
rest). In a dream, he saw Khidr9 in (a place of) greenery.

(Khidr) said, "Take care! Why did you stay back from the mention
(of the Name of God)? Why did you repent of your having called
to Him?"

(The man) said, "No answer of 'Here I am' is coming to me (from
Him), (so) because of this I keep fearing that I am a rejected one at
the Gate."

195 (Khidr) said, "(God is telling you), 'That "Allah" of yours is
Our10 "Here I am," and that neediness, (yearning) pain, and burning
of yours is Our message (to you).11

"'Your stratagems and searchings for help were Our attraction12 (of
you to Us) and the release of these feet of yours (from bondage).13

197 "'Your fear and love are the lasso for Our Grace: under every
"O Lord" of yours are (responses of) "Here I" (from Us).'"

--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 1930 British translation)
Ibrahim Gamard (translation, footnotes, & transliteration)

Notes on the text, with line number:

1(182) You never: Here, Rumi begins his commentary.

2(182) by means of another mouth:"In other words, 'Make a better
prayer [du`â] to God (by means of) the mouth of another person, so
he may say, "O God, grant Mercy and Grace to that Moses!"'"
(Anqaravi, the 17th century Turkish commentator, translated here
into English from a Persian translation.) Although Rumi doesn't
say it here, it can added that the prayer of another who is close to
God would seem more likely to be beneficial--and God is the
Knower [wa 'llâhu `âlim].

3(184) that is another mouth" ...(so that) acceptance (by God) may
occur for the prayer [du`â] of that mouth." (Anqaravi,

4(185) make your spirit quick and agile: "...(so that) your prayer
may be answered." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

5(186) (and) exits (from you): "Then at the moment purity comes
(to your mouth), it will become increased in purity." (Anqaravi,

6(Heading) Here I am [labbayka]: Nicholson here makes a reference
to I:1578, "A hundred letters and a hundred messages (come) to
him from God every moment: an 'O Lord!' from him (followed by)
sixty (responses of) 'Here I am' from God."

Here is Nicholson's footnote for the above verse: "according to the
Hadíth: 'when the slave ('abd) says, "yá Rabb", God says,
'Labbayka, O my slave! Ask, and it will be given unto thee."'
Selfless prayer is accompanied by an immediate inward response
(II 1190 seq.); nay, such prayer springs from the presence of God
in the heart, and is answered before it is uttered (III 195 sqq.; cf.
VI 870, 1771, 1986, 4239). (Nicholson, Commentary)

Nicholson also makes a reference to II:1189-91, "These words of
mine are (full of) the meaning of 'O Lord!' The words are the trap
for the words of One with Sweet Lips. How should he make a
mistake [by not praying]? How should he then be silent? Since His
'Here I am' arrives with (each) 'O Lord!' It is a 'Here I am' that you
are unable to hear but (which) you may taste from (your) head to
(your) feet." (Nicholson, Commentary)

7(189) mention [Zikr]: means repeating and chanting (silently or out
loud) the praises of God, such as the Name of God [Allah]. This
practice is recommended to the believers many times in the
Qur'an. It is a practice with which Muslim mystics [sufis] have

8(191) how much (longer) will you call out 'Allah': "In other words,
Satan was insinuating evil suggestions to that man." (Anqaravi,

9(192) Khidr [KhiZr]: The name given to the mysterious guide of
Moses (Qur'an 18:65), associated with the Prophet Elijah, and also
said to have discovered the Fountain of Everlasting Life. The name
"Khidr" is related to the color green, which symbolizes being
"ever-fresh." In the Islamic sufi tradition, the Prophet Khidr is
believed to be a spiritual guide for seekers during unexpected
moments--especially for advanced seekers, before mysteriously

10(195) Our [mâ]: the "plural of majesty" of the One God, often used
in the Qur'an.

11(195) Our message (to you): " Our message to you" [ba-sôy-é tô].
(Anqaravi, Commentary)

12(196) attraction [jaZb]: also means the attraction to God by means
of ecstatic states of consciousness. Some sufi saints are so
overwhelmed and helpless from such attraction that they are
unable to function normally and are called "majZûb."

13(196) and the release of these feet of yours (from bondage): "In
other words, 'Those contrivances that you carried out into action on
the path of arrival to Us, and the help and remedy that you were
seeking for the sake of arrival to Us--the cause of all those was Our
drawing you (away) from forgetfulness and ignorance; and it was
the releasing of your feet for the sake of arriving to the rank of
worshipful submission to and remembrance of Us.'" (Anqaravi,

Here, Anqaravi refers to his commentary on II:1189-91,
where he quotes the hadîth referred to in Arabic: "Just as (the
Prophet)--peace be upon him--said, 'When the servant (of God)
says, "O Lord!", God Most High says, "Here I am, my servant!
Ask, (and) We will give."' [kamâ qâla--`alay-hi 's-salâm--iZâ qâla
'l-`abdu yâ rabbu yaqûlu 'llâhu ta`âlà labbayka `abdî sal na`aTu]

And he also commented: "The saying of 'Here I am' by God to the
servant--that 'Here I am' is not something one should conclude (as
accompanied) with words and sound that the servant hears with the
power of the sense of hearing. This is a kind of 'Here I am' that you
are unable to hear with the external ears. But you are able to taste
and experience [be-chash-î] it from head to foot. In other words,
you are able to enjoy it from head to foot, with all of your bodily
faculties, and to gain the taste and experience [HaZZ] of it."
(Anqaravi, Commentary)


amr-é Haqq-é ta`âlà ba-mûsà--`alay-hi 's-salâm--ke: mar-râ ba
dahânê khwâh ke ba-d-ân dahân gonâh na-karda'î

180 goft: ay mûsà ze-man mê-jû panâh
bâ dahânê ke na-kard-î tô gonâh

goft mûsà: man na-dâr-am ân dahân
goft: mâ-râ az dahân-é ghayr khwân

az dahân-é ghayr kay kard-î gonâh?
az dahân-é ghayr bar khwân k-ay ilâh

ân-chon-ân kon ke dahân-hâ mar to-râ
dar shab-o dar rôz-hâ âr-ad du`â

az dahânê ke na-kardast-î gonâh
w-ân dahân-é ghayr bâsh-ad `uZr khwâh

185 yâ dahân-é khwêshtan-râ pâk kon
rûH-é khwod-râ châbok-o châlâk kon

Zikr-é Haq pâk-ast, chûin pâkî rasîd
rakht bar band-ad, berûn ây-ad palîd

mê-gorêz-ad Zidd-hâ az Zidd-hâ
shab gorêz-ad chûn bar afrûz-ad Ziyâ

188 chûn dar ây-ad nâm-é pâk andar dahân
na palîdî mând-o na andoh-ân

bayân-é ân-ke allâh-goftan-é neyâz-mand, `aynu labbayka-goftan-é

ân yakê allâh mê-gofty shabê
tâ ke shîrîn mê-shod az Zikr-ash labê

190 goft shayTân âkhir ay bisyâr-gû
în hama allâh-râ labbayka kû?

mê-na-y-ây-ad yak jawâb az pêsh-é takht
chand allâh mê-zan-î ba rôy-é sakht?

ô shekasta-del shod-o be-n'hâd sar
dîd dar khwâb ô khaZir-râ dar khuZar

goft hîn az Zikr chûn wâ mânda'î
chûn pashîmân-î az ân ke-sh khwânda'î?

goft labbayk-am na-mê-ây-ad jawâb
z-ân hamê-tars-am ke bâsh-am 'ridd-é bâb

195 goft ân allâh-é tô labbayk-é mâ-st
w-ân neyâz-o dard-o sôz-at payk-é mâ-st

Hîla-hâ-wo châra-jôyî-hây-é tô
jaZb-é mâ bûd-o goshâd-é în pây-é tô

197 tars-o `ishq-é tô kamand-é luTf-é mâ-st
zîr-é har yâ rabb-é tô labbayk-hâ-st

(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)