Here, Sunlight offers the tale of Majnun and Layla's dog, from
the Mathnawi, in a version by Coleman Barks, and in the translation
by Nicholson upon which Barks based his interpretation:
Majnun with Layla's Dog
Majnun saw Layla's dog and began kissing it,
running around like a hajji* circling the Kaaba,
bowing to its paws, holding its head, scratching
its stomach, giving it sweets and rosewater.
"You idiot," said someone passing by.
"Dogs lick their privates and sniff
excrement on the road. This is insane,
the intimate way you treat that dog."
"Look though my eyes," said the lover.
"See the loyalty, how he guards the house
of my Friend, how he's so glad to see us.
Whatever we feel, grief, the simple delight
of being out in the sun, he feels
that with us completely.
Don't look too much at surface actions.
Discover the lion, the rose of his real nature.
Friend, this dog is a garden gate into the invisible."
Anyone preoccupied with pointing out what's wrong
misses the unseen. Look at his face!
-- Mathnawvi, III, 567-575
Rumi - Say I Am You
*"Majnun and Layla" -- figures in a traditional and archetypal Persian tale of love and separation. (Sunlight footnote)
*"hajji" -- a Muslim pilgrim who is making the haj -- pilgrimage -- to Mecca.
(They behaved) like Majnun, who was (seen) petting a dog
and kissing it and melting (with fondness) before it:
He was pacing round it, stooping humbly in circumambulation;
he was also giving it pure sugar-julep (to drink).
An idle talker said, "O half-baked Majnun, what hypocrisy is
this that thou art always displaying?
A dog's muzzle is ever eating filth; a dog scrapes its seant
with its lips."
He recounted the dog's faults at some length: no one who perceives
faults (aybdan) has got (even) a scent (inkling) of him that know the things unseen (ghaybdan*). Majnun said, "Thou art entirely (external) form and body:
come within, and view it (the dog) through my eyes;
For this (dog) is a talisman sealed by (the hand of) the Lord:
this (dog) is the guardian of the abode of Layla.
Look at its high aspiration and its heart and soul and knowledge;
(consider) where it chose (to lie) and made its dwelling-place.
It is the dog of blessed countenance, (the dog) of my Cave*; nay, it is the sharer of my grief and woe.
-- The Mathnawi of Jalalu'ddin Rumi
Translation and Commentary by Reynold A. Nicholson
Published and Distributed by
The Trustees of The "E.J.W. Gibb Memorial"
* Either the holy man or God himself.
* Referring to the dog of the Seven Sleepers. Cf. v. 208 supra.
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