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


1. Greeting to Salmá and to those who dwell in the preserve, for it behoves one who loves tenderly like me to give greeting.

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2. And what harm to her if she gave me a greeting in return? But fair women are subject to no authority.

3. They journeyed when the darkness of night had let down its curtains, and I said to her, 'Pity a passionate lover, outcast and distraught,

4. Whom desires eagerly encompass and at whom speeding arrows are aimed wheresoever he bends his course.'

5. She displayed her front-teeth and a levin flashed, and I knew not which of the twain rent the gloom,

6. And she said, 'Is it not enough for him that I am in his heart and that he beholds me at every moment? Is it not enough?'


1. 'Salmá': he alludes to a Solomonic ecstasy (###), which descended upon him from the station of Solomon in virtue of a prophetic heritage.

'In the preserve,' i.e. an unattainable station, viz. prophecy, whereof the gate was closed by Muḥammad, the last of the prophets. Solomon's experience of this Divine wisdom (###) in so far as he was a prophet is different from his experience of it in so far as he was a saint, and we share it with him only in the latter case, since our experience of it is derived from the saintship which is the greatest circle (###).

2. God does nothing of necessity: whatever comes to us from Him is by His favour. The author indicates this Divine Solomonic apparition (nukta) by the term 'marble statues' (i.e. women fair as marble statues). He means that she does not answer by speech, for if she did so her speech would be other than her essence, whereas her essence is single, so that her advent is identical with her speech and with her visible presence and with her hearing; and in this respect all the Divine Realities and Attributes resemble her.

3. 'They journeyed,' etc.: the ascension of the prophets always took place during the night, because night is the time of mystery and concealment.

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'The darkness of night,' i.e. the veil of the Unseen let down the curtains of gross corporeal existence, which is the night of this animal organism, throwing a shroud over the spiritual subtleties and noble sciences which it enshrines. These, however, are not to be reached except by journeying through bodily actions and sensual thoughts, and whilst a man is thus occupied the Divine wisdom goes away from his heart, so that on his return he finds her gone and follows her with his aspiration.

4. 'Speeding arrows': he describes this celestial form as shooting his heart, wherever it turns, with the arrows of her glances, as God said, 'Wheresoever ye turn, there is the face of Allah' (Kor. ii, 109).

5. 'She displayed her front-teeth,' etc., i.e. this lover found his whole being illuminated, for 'God is the light of the heavens and the earth' (Kor. xxiv, 35), and the Prophet also said in his prayer, 'O God, put a light into my ear and into my eye,' and after mentioning the different members of his body he concluded, 'and make the whole of me one light,' viz. by the manifestation of Thy essence. Such a manifestation is compared to a flash of lightning on account of its not continuing. The author says that he did not know whether his being was illuminated by the manifestation proceeding from this Divine wisdom, which smiled upon him, or by a simultaneous manifestation of the Divine Essence.

6. 'She said,' etc., i.e. let him not seek me from without and let it satisfy him that I have descended into his heart, so that he beholds me in his essence and through his essence at every moment.

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