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


1. O ancient temple, there hath risen for you a light that gleams in our hearts.

2. I complain to thee of the deserts which I crossed, where I let my tears flow unchecked,

3. Taking no joy in rest at dawn or dusk, continuing from morn to morn and passing from eve to eve.

4. Truly, the camels, even if they suffer from footsoreness, journey by night and make haste in their journey.

5. These beasts of burden carried us to you with eager desire, though they did not hope to attain thereby.

6. They traversed wildernesses and wellnigh rainless lands, impelled by passion, but they did not therefore complain of fatigue.

7. They die; not complain of the anguish of love, and ’tis I who complain of fatigue. Indeed, I have claimed something absurd.


1. 'O ancient temple,' i.e. the gnostic's heart which contains the reality of the Truth.

p. 104

'There hath risen for you,' etc., i.e. the light in the heart (which is the centre of the body) seeks to rise from its source and convey to the members of the body the Divine realities. In this station a man sees by God, hears by God, speaks by God, and moves by God.

2. 'The deserts which I crossed,' i.e. the mortifications and austerities which I suffered.

4. 'The camels,' i.e. the aspirations. He means that they do not cease from seeking, although exhausted by the difficulty of their quest. They are exhausted because the proofs supplied by the understanding are unable to lead them to the Divine reality.

7. 'I have claimed something absurd,' i.e. I pretend to love God, while complaining of distress and fatigue, yet these 'beasts of burden', viz. my acts and thoughts which I control and govern, make no complaint.