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The Tarjuman al-Ashwaq, by Ibn al-Arabi, tr. Reynold A. Nicholson, [1911], at


1. O my two friends, pass by al-Kathíb and turn towards La‘la‘ and seek the waters of Yalamlam,

2. For there dwell those whom thou knowest and those to whom belong my fasting and my pilgrimage and my visit to the holy places and my festival.

3. Never let me forget at al-Muḥaṣṣab of Miná and at al-Manḥar al-A‘lá and Zamzam certain grave matters.

4. Their Muḥaṣṣab is my heart, because of their casting the pebbles, and their place of sacrifice is my soul, and their well is my blood.

5. O camel-driver, if thou comest to Ḥájir, stop the beasts a little while and give a greeting,

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6. And address to the red tents on the side of the guarded pasture the salutation of one who longs for you and is distraught.

7. And if they return thy greeting, once more let the East wind bring thy salaam to them; and if they are silent, journey on with thy camels and advance

8. To the river of Jesus, where their riding-camels halted and where the white tents lie beside the river-mouth,

9. And call Da‘d and ar-Rabáb and Zaynab and Hind and Salmá and Lubná, and listen,

10. And ask them whether at al-Ḥalba is She, the limber one who shows thee the radiance of the sun when she smiles.


1. 'O my two friends,' i.e. his reason and his faith.

'Al-Kathíb,' the place of contemplation.

'La‘la‘,' the place of bewilderment and amazement, that he may no more be conscious of love and longing.

'The waters of Yalamlam,' i.e. the fountain of life, since water is the source of every living thing.

2. 'Thou knowest': he addresses Faith, not Reason, for knowledge of the Essence and of its attributes is gained solely by means of Faith.

'And those to whom belong,' etc., i.e. the Divine attributes.

'My fasting': he means the quality of being independent of food (###), as God said, 'Fasting belongs to Me,' i.e. that quality cannot truly be predicated of a man; yet a man has some part in fasting, since it entails abstinence from food and nourishment.

'My pilgrimage,' i.e. a repeated turning towards this pure Essence for the sake of gaining a blessing at every moment from the Divine Names. This pilgrimage and visitation (###) is incessant, though a man is momently going from one Name to another.

'My festival,' referring to the concentration (###) of the mind when all mystical stations and Divine verities are

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united therein, just as all sorts and conditions of men assemble at Mecca for one purpose.

3. 'Never let me forget': he alludes to an occasion when he became invested with Divine qualities (###) in the sense of the Tradition 'I am his ear and his eye', and he also calls attention to his having attained by Divine investiture the station which is described in the words 'And thy Lord is not forgetful' (Kor. xix, 65).

'At al-Muḥaṣṣab,' the place where the pebbles are cast. He refers to the verse 'And remember God even as ye remember your fathers, or more reverently' (Kor. ii, 196), i.e. in this place cast the memory of your fathers out of your hearts and mouths.

'At al-Manḥar al-A‘lá,' the place of (spiritual) sacrifice, as the poet says:

'Thou offerest victims, but I offer my life-blood.'

'Zamzam': he means the station of everlasting life.

4. 'Their Muḥaṣṣab': 'their' refers to the Divine verities which descend upon the heart and cast out sensual and devilish thoughts.

'Their place of sacrifice': the story is well known of the youth who mentally offered himself at Miná when he saw the people offering sacrifice, and died on the spot.

5. 'O camel-driver': he addresses the Desire which drives his thoughts to the abode of those whom he loves.

'Ḥájir': ḥijr is the understanding, and the way (to God) is only through faith and contemplation, not through the understanding in respect of its power of reflection but in virtue of its cognition and belief.

'Stop the beasts a little while,' because when the lover first approaches the dwelling-place of his beloved he is dazed and dumbfounded and often swoons; consequently he is apt to break the rules of good manners in greeting her.

6. 'The red tents': the Arabs deem red the most beautiful of all colours, and red tents are reserved for brides.

'On the side of the guarded pasture,' i.e. the tents are

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inaccessible except to those who have the right to approach them. He calls the tents qibáb (round tents or domes) because roundness is the first and best of shapes, and he says that the Divine Realities which he loves are their original home, which is beside God, not beside any phenomenal object, for they belong to 'the world of command' (###).

7. 'Let the East wind,' etc.: he mentions the East wind particularly, because ṣabá signifies 'inclination' (mayl).

8. 'To the river of Jesus,' i.e. to the ample knowledge manifested in Jesus (###).

'The white tents': white, because Jesus was born of a virgin.

'Beside the river-mouth,' i.e. this knowledge is approached by the way of Divine allocution and manifestation (###).

9. He says, 'Call the names of these Divine Realities according to their difference, in order that whichever is yours may respond to you and that thus you may know what is your position in regard to them.'

10. 'Al-Ḥalba,' a quarter of Baghdád. Ḥalba means 'racecourse'. The Divine Realities strive to outstrip one another in haste to reach the phenomena which display their traces and manifest their power. Hence he speaks of 'the limber one', i.e. inclining towards the phenomenal world.

'The radiance of the sun': formerly thou wert in a station of Jesus, but now thou art asking of a station of Idrís, lofty and polar (###), for to him belongs the fourth heaven.

'When she smiles': he indicates that this is the station of Expansion (###) and that she is with him in joy and beauty (not in awe and majesty).

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