The coming of the shout of the talisman,1 at midnight, to
the guest in the mosque.2
4345 Listen now to the story of that harsh (and terrifying)
shout, from which that man of good-fortune did not flee.
He said, "Why should I be afraid, since this is (the
sound of) the drum (announcing the start) of the Festival.3
So may the drum (itself) be afraid, since blows have
"O drums (which are) empty and lacking heart,4 your
portion of the soul's festival5 is the blows of the (drum)
"(This) festival is (like) the Resurrection, and those who
lack religion6 (are like) the (beaten) drums.7 (And) I
(am) like the people of the Festival, laughing like the
Hear now, when the drum cried out, how (it) cooks the
pot of good-fortune.9
4350 When that man of (spiritual) vision1 heard that "drum,"
he said, "How should my heart be terrified of the drum of
He said to himself, "Take care! Don't (let your) heart
tremble, for (only) the souls of cowards lacking (spiritual)
certainty12 die because of [a scare like] this.13
"The time has come (when), like Ali the Lion,14 I should
(either) capture a kingdom or abandon (my) body."
He leaped up and shouted, "O prince! See now, I'm here!
Come (toward me), if you're a man!
Immediately, that talisman burst from the sound (of his
voice), (and) many (different) kinds of gold continued to
pour (down from) every direction.
4355 So much gold15 spilled (down) that the young man was
worried, (hoping) that the gold would not block the doorway
because of (its being so) plentiful.
Afterwards, that (battle-) ready lion got up and was
dragging the gold outside until the time of dawn.
He was burying (it) and kept returning to (more) gold
with large sacks and bags another time.
That life-gambler put (away) treasures (hidden away)
from those blind, fearful, (and) backward-creeping (ones).16
(Now the assumption that) this (is) external gold has
reached the thoughts inside the heart of every blind
gold-worshipper (who is far) distant (from God).
4360 Children break clay pots, apply the name of "gold" (to
the pieces), and put (them to carry) in (their) robes.
If you say the name of "gold" during that game,17 (the
reality of) those (clay pieces) passes into the mind of the
But (it is only) the minted "gold" with a Divine stamp19
which doesn't become worthless, (but) has become eternal:
That gold from which this (material) gold found (its)
glitter, lustre, brightness, and gleam;
That gold from which the heart becomes (spiritually)
wealthy; it overcomes the (full) moon in luminosity.
4365 That mosque was the candle and (the brave man was) the
moth; that moth-natured (man) gambled (away) himself.20
It burned him (on his) wings, but it made him suitable
(to God);21 that hurling of himself (into the candle flame)
was very blessed.
That man of happy fortune was like Moses, who saw a fire
in the direction of the tree.22
Since (Divine) gifts of grace were abundantly (bestowed)
upon him, he imagined (it was) fire, but it was the Light
O son, when you see a man of God you have the belief
about him (that he is made of) the "fire" of human (nature).
4370 (But) you are coming (to this view) from yourself, and
that (fire)24 is (only) in you. The fire and thorns of false
opinions are (only) in this direction.
He is the "Tree of Moses" and full of light. In short,
come [to true understanding and] call (him) "light"; don't
call him "fire!"
Didn't (the experience of) the weaning of [your desires
for] this world seem (like) a (burning) fire?25 The
(spiritual) seekers departed [toward God], and that
(weaning) was itself light (in reality).26
So know that the Candle of Religion is (ever) rising;27
it is not like the candle of flames:
This one appears (like) light, but burns (its) companion.
And that one (is) with the appearance of "fire,"
but (is like) roses28 to (its) visitors.
4375 This one (seems) like a harmonious (companion), but
(is) a burner. And that one, at the time of union, is an
illuminator of the heart.29
4376 The external form of a pure, worthy, and radiant flame
is (like) light to those present (with God).30 But it is like
fire to those far (away from God).
--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)
First published on "Sunlight" (yahoogroups.com),8/23/01
Notes on the text, with line number:
1. (Heading) the shout of the talisman: refers to an
object, upon which is inscribed magical spells which were
believed to give it particular supernatural powers (such as,
in this story, to scare off intruders from a treasure). "The
loud threats of the Devil are likened to a talisman that
guards the treasure of self-abandonment." (Nicholson,
2. (Heading) the guest in the mosque: this is the hero of
this particular story about the guest in the haunted mosque.
This was a mosque outside the Persian city of Rayy which was
said to contain evil jinns (genies) who butchered anyone who
spent the night there or contained a magic talisman which
frightened overnight guests to death (III: 3922-27). A
"death-seeking and fearless lover (of God)," who was
satiated with life and unafraid of death, decided to test
the truth of the rumors by spending a night in the mosque.
The story involves dialogues between the brave man and the
local people who warned him and tried to persuade him not to
throw away his life. He persisted with his intention, and at
midnight a dreadful voice shouted threats ("I am coming at
you!") at the guest (4324-25). The section translated here
is the last section of the story.
3. (4346) this is (the sound of) the drum (announcing the
start) of the Festival: there are two Islamic festivals for
Muslims all over the world. One celebrates the end of the
annual fasting month of Ramadan [`idu 'l-fiTr], and the
other celebrates the end of the annual Pilgrimage [Hajj] to
Mecca [`idu 'l-aDHâ]. It was traditional for drums to be
struck to announce to the people that a particular Festival
had begun-- a sound heard with great joy. Since, in Islam,
each day ends at sunset, the Festival day begins after the
sunset of the final day of the preceding lunar month. This
is determined when reliable witness have seen the thin
appearance of the new moon just after sunset. Such witnesses
would give their testimony to the local authorities, who
would order drums to be struck to herald the start of the
4. (4347) empty and lacking heart: "(It means), 'Your
inside is empty of the delight of the love and devoted
worship of God.'" (Anqaravi, the 17th century Turkish
commentator, translated here into English from a Persian
5. (4347) the soul's festival: Nicholson translated, "the
festival of the spirit."
6. (4348) those who lack religion [bê-dîn-ân]: Nicholson
translated less literally, "the irreligious." Means those
without belief in God and the revelation of the prophets,
who reject such faith, and are ungrateful to their Creator.
7. (4348) (are like) the (beaten) drums: means the
unbelievers are like the drums who are beaten-- meaning
8. (4348) laughing like the rose: a common metaphor in
Persian literature. The rose in bloom is imagined as smiling
widely and laughing happily.
9. (4349) how (it) cooks the pot of good-fortune: means,
how the drum sound prepares good-fortune in the form of a
festival or feast of spiritual joy. Nicholson translated,
"when this drum boomed, he (the guest) cooks the pot
containing the broth of felicity." However, he later
admitted: "The subject of 'mé-pazad' [= is cooking] may, as
Fa [= Anqaravi] says, be 'báng-i duhul' [= the sound of the
drum], announcing the advent of the lover's festival."
"The meaning is (understood) in this manner: 'Listen
now, how the talisman of the drum cries out. And (see) how
this fiery shout brings the agitated pot to boiling, and
(how) it has made ready the food of happiness.'" (Anqaravi,
10. (4350) that man of (spiritual) vision: Nicholson
translated, "that man of insight."
11. (4350) How should my heart be terrified of the drum of
the Festival: "(It means), 'He said to himself, "Why should
I fear the Festival drum, since the death of lovers is like
a festival to them, and the shout of (the angel of death) is
like the Festival drum."'" (Anqaravi, Commentary)
12. (4351) cowards lacking (spiritual) certainty [yaqîn]:
Nicholson translated, "the faint-hearted who lack faith."
Means those with hearts that are filled with the doubts and
suspicions involved in cowardice, who lack the strength and
courage which comes from certainty [yaqîn] and firm faith in
the assurances of Divine protection for the souls of
believers transmitted through the revelations of the
13. (4351) because of [a scare like] this: Nicholson
translated, "at this (noise of the drum). Evidently refers
to dying of fright at the sound of the drums sounded when
soldiers were ordered to attack.
14. (4352) like Ali the Lion: literally, "like Haydar" [=
lion] a title of Hazrat-i `Ali, the Prophet Muhammad's
cousin, son-in-law, and fourth successor, who was a famously
brave warrior in battles against the greater military forces
of the Arab polytheists (which tried to eliminate the
smaller number of Muslim monotheists).
15. (4355) So much gold [chand-ân zar]: this is what
Nicholson's edition has, and differs from the edition of
Tôfîq SobHânî (which has "chand în zar"). However, both are
based on the earliest manuscript of the Mathnawi. It is
unclear which is the most faithful, or if an added
correction to the manuscript explains the difference.
16. (4358) (hidden away) from those blind, fearful, (and)
backward-creeping (ones): Nicholson translated, "That
self-devoting one laid by (great) stores thereof, to the
confusion of (in despite of) the timidity of the
backsliders." Nicholson's translation makes little sense,
since Rumi has already suggested that the brave youth did
all his burying in the dark, prior to the (first sign of)
dawn-- when all the villagers were still asleep.
"In other words, 'He hid the treasures. Therefore, with
(the help of) the blindness of those fearful,
backward-creeping, and frightened ones, he became the
possessor of the treasures.'" (Anqaravi, Commentary)
17. (4361) that game: Nicholson referred to other passages
where this children's game is used as a metaphor (Mathnawi
III: 2277-79; VI: 3276-78).
18. (4361) into the mind of the child: "(It means), 'In the
same way you also resemble a thoughtless child, in relation
to the men of God.'" (Anqaravi, Commentary)
19. (4362) But (it is only) the minted "gold" with a Divine
stamp: "And the intended meaning of this minted gold: it is
the (branches of) religious knowledge and (intuitive)
realizations of (spiritual) certainty [ma`ârif-é yaqîniyya]
which, in the Mint of the hearts of the prophets and saints
have been struck with the stamps of the Divine Names and
Attributes and manifestations." (Anqaravi, Commentary)
20. (4365) gambled (away) himself: Nicholson translated,
"gambled himself away (sacrificed himself)."
21. (4366) it made him suitable (to God): Nicholson
translated, "it complied with him (granted his desire)."
"The flame burned the wings of the moth, but in this way the
moth made it the means of his arriving to union with it. In
other words, the fire made him (spiritually) alive with its
union, despite the appearance of annihilation." (Anqaravi,
22. (4367) a fire in the direction of the tree: refers to
the story of Moses and the Burning Bush. When Moses was
travelling with his family, "he saw a 'fire' in the
direction of Mt. Tûr [= Mt. Sinai]." When he reached it, he
heard the voice of God speaking to him from a tree (Qur'an
28:29-30; see also 20: 10-11). Since this was a miracle, the
tree was not really burning, nor was the "fire" actual fire.
Nicholson referred to other related verses in the Mathnawi
(II: 2883-84; IV: 3570-71).
23. (4368) he imagined (it was) fire, but it was the Light
(of God): "In a similar way (as Moses thought), that one of
good-fortune also imagined that the guest-luring mosque was
a place of death. But in reality, for him, it was the place
of good-fortune and happiness." (Anqaravi) Nicholson
referred to a similar theme in Rumi's story about the child
thrown into a fire (I: 786-90).
24. (4370) and that (fire): Nicholson translated, "and that
25. (4372) (like) a (burning) fire: "In other words, the
severing (of desires) from this world is like a burning fire
in the beginning, according to a certain view." (Anqaravi,
26. (4372) The (spiritual) seekers departed [toward God],
and that (weaning) was itself light (in reality): Nicholson
translated, "The pilgrims went (on their way)..." And he
explained: "When the sálik [= spiritual seeker] reaches his
journey's end, he finds the real meaning and essence of
mujáhadah [spiritual struggle against worldly desires and
cravings] to be musháhadah [= witnessing of spiritual
"At the moment that the seekers departed, they found
that [= the appearance of burning fire] to be light. In
other words... they saw that the [initially painful
experience of] being severed and cut off from the world of
(material) forms was itself light.... That was the moment of
surrender, when Divine Light is seen in the being of the men
of God." (Anqaravi, Commentary)
27. (4373) the Candle of Religion is (ever) rising:
Nicholson translated, "is always mounting (shining more and
more)." And he added: "Sham`-i dín [= the Candle of
Religion] also symbolises the holy as opposed to the carnal
"It means: The one endowed with heart and the Perfected
Man, who is the Candle of Religion, is becoming increased
every moment. But this Candle of Religion is not one of the
kinds of candle flames, which are decreasing every moment."
28. (4374) that one (is) with the appearance of "fire," but
(is like) roses: Nicholson compared this with another verse,
which he translated, "But the candle of Love is not like
that (external) candle: it is radiance in radiance in
radiance. It is the reverse of the fiery candles: it seems
to be fire, while (in reality) it is all sweetness." (III:
29. (4375) an illuminator of the heart: "It means, 'If
someone joins company with a man possessed of (spiritual)
certainty, who is the Candle of Religion, any amount of
darkness of heart which that person has will become light--
by means of the blessing of the company of the man of God.
And he will obtain (spiritual) light and illumination."
30. (4376) those present (with God) [HâZir-ân]: means those
who are near to God, ready to respond to the guidance of God
in the moment (per the saying, "The sufi is the son of the
moment"), as well as fully aware during the present moment
of being in the Divine Presence.
rasîdan-é bâng-é Tilismî nîm-shab mehmân-é
4345 be-sh'naw aknûn qiSSa-yé ân bâng-é sakht
ke na-raft az jâ ba-d-ân ân nêk-bakht
goft chûn tars-am? chô hast în Tabl-é `îd
tâ dohol tars-ad ke zakhm ô-râ rasîd
ay dohol-hây-é tahîy-é bê-qulûb
qism-etân az `îd-é jân shod zakhm-é chûb
shod qiyâmat `îd-o bê-dîn-ân dohol
mâ chô ahl-é `îd, khandân ham-chô gol
be-sh'naw aknûn în dohol chûn bâng zad
dêg-é dawlat-bâ chegûna mê-paz-ad?
4350 chûn-ke be-sh'nûd ân dohol ân mard-é dîd
goft chûn tars-ad del-am az Tabl-é `îd?
goft bâ khwad hîn ma-larzân del k-az-în
mord jân-é bad-del-ân-é bê-yaqîn
waqt-é ân âmad ke Haydar-wâr man
mulk gîr-am yâ be-pardâz-am badan
bar jahîd-o bâng bar-zad k-ay keyâ
HâZir-am înak, agar mard-î be-y-â
dar zamân be-sh'kast ze-âwâz, ân Tilism
zar hamê rêzîd har sô qism-qism
4355 rêkht chandân zar ke tarsîd ân pesar
tâ na-gîr-ad zar ze-porîy râh-é dar
ba`d az ân bar-khâst ân shêr-é `atîd
tâ saHar-gah zar ba-bêrûn mê-kashîd
dafn mê-kard-o hamê âmad ba-zar
bâ jowâl-o tôbara bâr-é degar
ganj-hâ be-n'hâd ân jân-bâz az ân
kôriy-é tarsâniy-é wâ-pas-khazân
în zar-é Zâhir ba-khâTir âmad-ast
dar del-é har kôr-é dûr-ê zar-parast
4360 kôdak-ân isfâl-hâ-râ be-sh'kan-and
nâm-é zar be-n'h-and-o dar dâman kon-and
andar ân bâzî chô gôy-î nâm-é zar
ân kon-ad dar khâTir-é kôdak goZar
bal zar-é maZrûb-é Zarb-é îzedî
k-ô na-gard-ad kâsid, âmad sarmadî
ân zarê k-în zar az ân zar tâb yâft
gawhar-o tâbandagî-wo âb yâft
ân zarî ke del az-ô gard-ad ghanî
ghâlib ây-ad bar qamar dar rôshanî
4365 sham` bûd ân masjid-o parwâna ô
khwêshtan dar bâkht ân parwâna-khô
par be-sôkht ô-râ walêkin sâkht-ash
bas mubârak âmad ân andâkht-ash
ham-chô mûsà bûd ân mas`ûd-bakht
k-âteshê dîd ô ba-sôy-é ân derakht
chûn `inâyat-hâ bar-ô mawfûr bûd
nâr mê-pendâsht-o khwad ân nûr bûd
mard-é Haq-râ chûn be-bîn-î ay pesar
tô gomân dâr-î bar-ô nâr-é bashar
4370 tô ze-khwad mê-ây-î-wo ân dar tow-ast
nâr-o khâr-é Zann-é bâTil în sow-ast
ô derakht-é mûsà-ast-o por-Ziyâ
nûr khwân, nâr-ash ma-khwân bârê be-y-â
na fiTâm-é în jahân nârê namûd
sâlik-ân raft-and-o ân khwad nûr bûd
pas be-dân ke sham`-é dîn bar mê-shaw-ad
în na ham-chûn sham`-é âtesh-hâ bow-ad
în nomây-ad nûr-o sôz-ad yâr-râ
w-ân ba-Sûrat nâr-o gol zuwwâr-râ
4375 în chô sâzanda walê sôzanda'yê
w-ân, gah-é wuSlat, del-afrôzanda'yê
4376 shakl-é shu`la-yé nûr-é pâk-é sâz-wâr
HâZir-ân-râ nûr-o dûr-ân-râ chô nâr
(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)