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


1. At dawn they alighted in Wádí ’l-‘Aqíq after having traversed many a deep ravine,

2. And at daybreak they descried a cairn shining on the top of a mountain peak.

3. When the vulture desires to reach it he is unable, and the eggs of the anúq are below it.

4. Ornaments are set upon it: its foundations are lofty, like al-‘Aqúq.

5. And they had written some lines which were communicated to them: 'Oh, who will help a forlorn and longing lover,

6. Who although his thought soars above this Arcturus, is trodden underfoot like burning ashes, 1

7. And whose home is beside this Aquila, yet he has died in tears the death of the drowned?

8. His love hath delivered him to calamities in this place without a brother to befriend him.

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9. Then, O ye who come to the waters of the well, and O ye who inhabit Wádí ’l-‘Aqíq,

10. And O thou who seekest Medina to visit it, and O ye who travel on this road,

11 Look on us again with pity! for we were robbed, a little after dawn, a little before sunrise,

12. Of a bright-faced lissome damsel sweet of breath, diffusing a perfume like shredded musk,

13. Swaying drunkenly to and fro like the branches, fresh as raw silk, 1 which the winds have bent,

14. Shaking, like the hump of a stallion-camel, fearsome hips huge as sand-hills.

15. No censor blamed me for loving her, and my friend did not blame me for loving her.

16. If any censor had blamed me for loving her, my sobbing would have been my answer to him.

17. My desire is my troop of camels and my grief is my garment and my passion is my morning drink and my tears are my evening drink.'


1. He describes pilgrims on the way to the Truth, travelling in themselves through the night of their bodily existence and stopping for rest at dawn, i.e. the boundary which divides the wisdom appertaining to the Divine realities that is deposited in the phenomenal world from the realities of the Spirits of Light, which are called allegorically the Heavenly Host (###). The travellers cause their camels, i.e. their aspirations, to halt in the Wádí ’l-‘Aqíq, where pilgrims put on the garb of pilgrimage (###). This is the station of Muḥammadan sanctity (###).

2. 'A cairn,' i.e. a guide, namely, the spirit.

'A mountain peak,' i.e. the body.

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3. 'The vulture,' i.e. the spirit of the intermediate world (###), which is nearer than any other of the ruling spirits (###) to the Heavenly Host.

'The anúq,' which lays its eggs in the loftiest and most inaccessible places.

4. 'Ornaments,' i.e. the manifestation of the Divine qualities. In Bodl. (Uri) 1276, the commentary states that al-‘Aqúq is said to be a great castle on the top of a high mountain.

7. 'And whose home,' etc., i.e. this station, notwithstanding its sublimity, is veiled by various sorts of revealed knowledge, belonging to the class of love, from this person who abides there, so that he is caused to pass away from the contemplation of himself in this centre of manifestation.

9. 'The waters of the well,' i.e. the life acquired from good works, viz. the life of knowledge (###), in reference to Kor. vi, 122: 'Shall he who was dead and whom we restored to life …?'

10. 'On this road,' i.e. the right way (###), in reference to Kor. vi, 154.

11. 'A little before sunrise,' i.e. the hour of the ascent that succeeds the Divine descent into the terrestrial heaven, which descent occurs in the last third of the night.

12. 'A bright-faced lissome damsel,' i.e. the Essential attribute which is his object of desire. She is called 'lissome' because of her descent towards us, yet from it nothing is derived that can be grasped by knowledge or understanding or imagination.

'Diffusing a perfume,' etc., i.e. leaving Divine impressions in the hearts of her worshippers.

13. 'Swaying drunkenly,' in reference to the station of bewilderment (###).

'Which the winds have bent,' i.e. the aspirations (###) by seeking her cause her to incline, as God says, 'If anyone comes a span nearer to Me, I will come a cubit nearer to him.'

14. This verse refers to the infinite bounties, spiritual and other, which God has heaped upon His servants.

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15. Inasmuch as she is like the sun, which is common to all, she does not excite jealousy.

16. 'My sobbing,' i.e. my ecstasy would make me deaf to his reproaches.

17. 'My desire is my troop of camels,' which bear me to my Beloved.


93:1 This translation of ### is conjectural.

94:1 Sir Charles Lyall has suggested that should be rendered 'red poppies', but the commentary runs: ###.

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