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Oriental Mysticism, by E.H. Palmer, [1867], at



THE Perfect Man is he who has fully comprehended The Perfect Man. the Law, the Doctrine and the Truth; or, in other words, he who is endued with four things in perfection; viz. 1. Good words; 2. Good deeds; 3. Good principles; 4. The sciences. It is the business of the Traveller to provide himself with these things in perfection, and by so doing he will provide himself with perfection.

The Perfect Man has had various other names Other titles applied to him. assigned to him, all equally applicable, viz. Elder, Leader, Guide, Inspired Teacher, Wise, Virtuous, Perfect, Perfecter,  1Beacon and Mirror of the world,

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[paragraph continues] Powerful Antidote, Mighty Elixir, ’Isà the Raiser of the Dead, Khizar the Discoverer of the Water of Life, and Solomon who knew the language of Birds.

The Universe has been likened to a single person, of whom the Perfect Man is the Soul; and again, to a tree, of which mankind is the fruit, and the Perfect Man the pith and essence. Nothing is hidden from the Perfect Man; for after arriving at the knowledge of God, he has attained to that of the nature and properties of material objects, and can henceforth find no better employment than acting His business. mercifully towards mankind. Now there is no mercy better than to devote oneself to the perfection and improvement of others, both by precept and example. Thus the Prophet is called in the Corán "a mercy to the Universe." (Cor. cap. 21, v. 107.) But with all his perfection the Perfect Man cannot compass his desires, but passes his life in consistent and unavoidable self-denial: he is perfect in knowledge and principle, but imperfect in faculty and power.

Perfection not incompatible with Power.There have indeed been Perfect Men possessed of power; such power as that which resides in kings and rulers; yet a careful consideration of the poor extent of man's capacities will shew that his weakness is preferable to his power, his want of faculty preferable to his possession of it. Prophets and saints, kings and sultans, have desired many things, and failed to obtain them; they have wished to avoid

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many things, and have had them forced upon them. Mankind is made up of the Perfect and the Imperfect, of the Wise and the Foolish, of Kings and Subjects, but all are alike weak and helpless, all pass their lives in a manner contrary to their desires; this the Perfect Man recognises and acts upon, and, knowing that nothing is better for man than renunciation, forsakes all and becomes free and at leisure. As before he renounced wealth and dignity, so now he foregoes eldership and teachership, esteeming freedom and rest above everything: the fact is, that though the motive alleged for education and care of others is a feeling of compassion and a regard for discipline, yet the real instigation is the love of dignity: as the Prophet says, "The last thing that is removed from the chiefs of the righteous is love of dignity." I have said that the Perfect Man should The Perfectly Free Man. be endued with four things in perfection: now the Perfectly Free Man should have four additional characteristics, viz. renunciation, retirement, contentment, and leisure. He who has the first four is virtuous, but not free: he who has the whole eight is perfect, liberal, virtuous, and free. Furthermore, there are two grades of the Perfectly Free—those The two grades of the Perfectly Free. who have renounced wealth and dignity only, and those who have further renounced eldership and teachership, thus becoming free and at leisure. These again are subdivided into two classes; those who, after renunciation, retirement and contentment, make choice of obscurity, and those who, after renunciation, make choice of submission, contemplation and resignation;

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but the object of both is the same. Some writers assert that freedom and leisure consists in the former course, while others maintain that it is only to be found in the latter.

Those who make choice of obscurity are actuated by the knowledge that annoyance and distraction of thought are the invariable concomitants of society; they therefore avoid receiving visits and presents, and fear them as they would venomous beasts. The other class, who adopt submission, resignation and contemplation, do so because they perceive that mankind for the most part are ignorant of what is good for them, being dissatisfied with what is beneficial, and delighted with circumstances that are harmful to them; as the Coran says, "Perchance ye may dislike what is good for you, and like what is hurtful to you." (Cor. cap. 2, v. 213.) For this reason they retire from society equally with the other class, caring little what the world may think of them. The eminent Sufis are divided in opinion as to which of these two courses is to be preferred.


11:1 In Persian Jám i Jehán numá, the fabled cup of Jemshîd, in p. 12 which were reflected all passing events; and ’Aïna e Jehân-numá, the mirror of Alexander the Great, said to have possessed the same singular properties.

Next: Chapter IV. Concerning Fellowship and Renunciation