Thursday, July 30, 2009

[Sunlight] The Chador of the Body



Become not bored with me, for I am a truly
beautiful witness! Jealousy has hidden me in a chador.
On the day when I throw the chador* of the
body off the spirit, you will see that I am the envy of the
moon and the stars.
Wash your face and purify yourself so that you
may see me! Otherwise stay far away, for I am my own
I am not that witness who will become an old
crone tomorrow -- I will be young, heart-refreshing, and
beautifully statured until Eternity-without-end.
Even if that chador should wear out, the
witness will not become old; the chador's life will come to an
end, but we are endless life.
When Iblis* saw Adam's chador, he rejected him.
Adam called to him, "You are rejected, not I."
The rest of the angels prostrated themselves and
said, "We have found a witness!
Under the chador is an idol whose attributes
have confounded our intellects, so we have prostrated
If our intellects cannot discern the shapes of
stinking hags from those of witnesses, then we are apostates in
What place is this for 'Witnesses'? He is God's
lion -- we spoke like children, for we are speaking to children
just learning the alphabet.
Children are decieved by walnuts and raisins --
otherwise, what have we to do with almonds and sesame
If an old crone should hide herself in helmet
and armor and say, 'I am Rustam* in God's battlelines,'
Everyone will know from her movements that
she is a woman. How should we make mistakes? We are
bathed in Muhammad's light!"
The Prophet said, "The believer is discerning" --
now be silent! For without speech, I am rightly guided.
Listen to the rest from Shams, the pride of
Tabriz, for we have related but part of the story from that

-- Ghazal 1705, from Rumi's "Diwan-e Shams"
Translation by Professor William C. Chittick
"The Sufi Path of Love"
SUNY Press, Albany, 1983

Sunlight footnotes by Peter Bridge:
*chador -- the Persian variant of the traditional outer garment ("cover")
worn by Islamic women
*Iblis -- Another name for Satan
*Rustam -- Legendary Persian warrior king, whose story is set forth in
Ferdowsi's tenth century epic "Book of Kings" ("Shahnameh")




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