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


1. Between an-Naqá and La‘la‘ are the gazelles of Dhát al-Ajra‘,

2. Grazing there in a dense covert of tangled shrubs, and pasturing.

3. New moons never rose on the horizon of that hill

4. But I wished, from fear, that they had not risen.

5. And never appeared a flash from the lightning of that fire-stone

6. But I desired, for my feeling's sake, that it had not flashed.

7. O my tears, flow! O mine eye, cease not to shed tears!

8. O my sighs, ascend! O my heart, split!

9. And thou, O camel-driver, go slowly, for the fire is between my ribs.

10. From their copious flow through fear of parting my tears have all been spent,

11. So that, when the time of starting comes, thou wilt not find an eye to weep.

12. Set forth, then, to the valley of the curving sands, their abode and my death-bed—

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13. There are those whom I love, beside the waters of al-Ajra‘—

14. And call to them, 'Who will help a youth burning with desire, one dismissed,

15. Whose sorrows have thrown him into a bewilderment which is the last remnant of ruin?

16. O moon beneath a darkness, take from him something and leave something,

17. And bestow on him a glance from behind yonder veil,

18. Because he is too weak to apprehend the terrible beauty,

19. Or flatter him with hopes, that perchance he may be revived or may understand.

20. He is a dead man between an-Naqá and La‘la‘.'

21. For I am dead of despair and anguish, as though I were fixed in my place.

22. The East Wind did not tell the truth when it brought cheating phantoms.

23. Sometimes the wind deceives when it causes thee to hear what is not (really) heard.


1. 'Between an-Naqá and La‘la‘,' etc., i.e. between the hill of white musk; on which is the vision of God, and the place of frenzied love for Him, are diverse sorts of knowledge connected with the stations of abstraction (###).

2. 'In a dense covert of tangled shrubs,' i.e. the world of phenomenal admixture and interdependence.

3. 'New moons,' i.e. Divine manifestations.

4. 'From fear,' i.e. from fear that the beholder might pass away in himself from himself, and that his essence might perish, whereas his object is to continue subsistent through God and for God; or from fear that he should imagine the manifestation to be according to the essential nature of God in Himself (which is impossible), and not according to the nature of the recipient. The former belief, which involves the comprehension (###) of God by the person to whom the manifestation is made, agrees with the

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doctrine of some speculative theologians, who maintain that our knowledge of God and Gabriel's knowledge of Him and His knowledge of Himself are the same. How far is this from the truth!

5. 'A flash from the lightning of that fire-stone,' i.e. an inanimate, phenomenal, and earthly manifestation.

9. 'O camel-driver,' i.e. the voice of God calling the aspirations to Himself.

'The fire,' i.e. the fire of love.

10-11. He says that his eyes have been melted away by the tears which he shed in anticipation of parting.

12. 'To the valley of the curving sands,' i.e. the station of mercy and tenderness.

'My death-bed,' because the Divine mercy causes him to pass away in bewilderment.

13. 'Beside the waters of al-Ajra‘': because this mercy is the result of painful self-mortification (###).

14. 'One dismissed,' i.e. one who has come to himself again after contemplation, according to the tradition that God says, after having shown Himself to His servants in Paradise, 'Send them back to their pavilions.'

16. 'A darkness,' i.e. the forms in which the manifestation takes place.

'Take from him something,' etc., i.e. take from him whatever is related to himself, and leave whatever is not related to himself, so that only the Divine Spirit may remain in him.

21. 'For I am dead of despair and anguish,' i.e. I despair of attaining the reality of that which I seek, and I grieve for the time spent in a vain search for it.

'As though I were fixed in my place,' i.e. I cannot escape from my present state, inasmuch as it is without place, quantity, and quality, being purely transcendental (###).

22. 'Cheating phantoms,' i.e. the similes and images in which God, who has no like, is presented to us by the world of breaths (###).

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