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

p. 107


1. May my father be the ransom of the boughs swaying to and fro as they bend, bending their tresses towards the cheeks!

2. Loosing plaited locks of hair; soft in their joints and bends;

3. Trailing skirts of haughtiness; clad in embroidered garments of beauty;

4. Which from modesty grudge to bestow their loveliness; which give old heirlooms and new gifts;

5. Which charm by their laughing and smiling mouths; whose lips are sweet to kiss;

6. Whose bare limbs are dainty; which have swelling breasts and offer choice presents;

7. Luring ears and souls, when they converse, by their wondrous witchery;

8. Covering their faces for shame, taking captive thereby the devout and fearing heart;

9. Displaying teeth like pearls, healing with their saliva one who is feeble and wasted;

10. Darting from their eyes glances which pierce a heart experienced in the wars and used to combat;

11. Making rise from their bosoms new moons which suffer no eclipse on becoming full;

12. Causing tears to flow as from rain-clouds, causing sighs to be heard like the crash of thunder.

13. O my two comrades, may my life-blood be the ransom of a slender girl who bestowed on me favours and bounties!

14. She established the harmony of union, for she is our principle of harmony: she is both Arab and foreign; she makes the gnostic forget.

15. Whenever she gazes, she draws against thee trenchant swords, and her front teeth show to thee a dazzling levin.

16. O my comrades, halt beside the guarded pasture of Ḥájir! Halt, halt, O my comrades,

p. 108

17. That I may ask where their camels have turned, for I have plunged into places of destruction and death,

18. And scenes known to me and unknown, with a swift camel which complains of her worn hoofs and of deserts and wildernesses,

19. A camel whose flanks are lean and whose rapid journeying caused her to lose her strength and the fat of her hump,

20. Until I brought her to a halt in the sandy tract of Ḥájir and saw she-camels followed by young ones at al-Uthayl.

21. They were led by a moon of awful mien, and I clasped him to my ribs for fear that he should depart,

22. A moon that appeared in the circumambulation, and while he circumambulated me I was not circumambulating anyone except him.

23. He was effacing his footprints with the train of his robe, so that thou wouldst be bewildered even if thou wert the guide tracing out his track.


1. 'My father,' i.e. Universal Reason.

'The boughs,' i.e. the Attributes which bear Divine knowledge to gnostics and mercifully incline towards them.

2. 'Locks of hair,' i.e. hidden sciences and mysteries. They are called 'plaited' in allusion to the various degrees of knowledge.

'Soft,' in respect of their graciously inclining to us.

'In their joints and bends,' in reference to the conjunction of real and phenomenal qualities.

3. 'Trailing skirts,' etc., because of the loftiness of their rank.

'Clad in embroidered garments,' etc., i.e. appearing in diverse beautiful shapes.

4. 'Which from modesty,' etc., referring to the Tradition, 'Do not bestow wisdom except on those who are worthy of it, lest ye do it a wrong,' since contemplation is not vouchsafed to everyone.

p. 109

'Old heirlooms,' i.e. knowledge demonstrated by proofs derived from another.

'New gifts,' i.e. knowledge of which the proof is bestowed by God and occurs to one's own mind as the result of sound reflection.

8. 'Covering their faces for shame,' i.e. they are ashamed to reveal themselves to those whose hearts are generally occupied with something other than God, viz. the ordinary believers described in Kor. ix, 103.

9. 'Teeth like pearls,' i.e. the sciences of Divine majesty.

10. 'Experienced in the wars,' etc., i.e. able to distinguish the real from the phenomenal in the similitudes presented to the eye.

11. 'From their bosoms,' i.e. from the Divine attributes.

'New moons,' i.e. a manifestation in the horizon (###).

'Which suffer no eclipse,' i.e. they are not subject to any natural lust that veils them from the Divine Ideas.

13. 'A slender girl,' i.e. the single, subtle, and essential knowledge of God.

14. 'She established the harmony of union,' i.e. this knowledge concentrated me upon myself and united me with my Lord.

'Arab,' i.e. it caused me to know myself from myself.

'Foreign,' i.e. it caused me to know myself from God, because the Divine knowledge is synthetic (###) and does not admit of analysis except by means of comparison; and since comparison is impossible, therefore analysis is impossible; whence it follows that synthesis also is impossible, and I only use the latter term in order to convey to the reader's. intelligence a meaning that is not to be apprehended save by immediate feeling and intuition.

'Forget,' i.e. his knowledge and himself.

15. 'A dazzling levin,' i.e. a manifestation of the Essence in the state of beauty and joy.

16. 'O my comrades': he means his understanding and his faith.

p. 110

17. 'Their camels,' i.e. the aspirations which carry the sciences and subtle essences of man to their goal.

18. 'A swift camel,' i.e. an aspiration in himself.

19. 'Whose rapid journeying,' etc., i.e. this aspiration was connected with many aspects of plurality which disappeared in the course of its journey towards Unity.

20. 'In the sandy tract of Ḥájir,' i.e. a state which enabled me to discriminate between phenomena and prevented me from regarding anything except what this state revealed to me.

'She-camels followed by young ones,' i.e. original sciences from which other sciences are derived.

21. 'A moon of awful mien,' i.e. a manifestation of Divine majesty in the heart.

23. 'His footprints,' i.e. the evidences which He adduced as a clue to Himself.

'The train of his robe,' i.e. His uniqueness and incomparability.

'So that thou wouldst be bewildered,' i.e. our knowledge of Him is ignorance and bewilderment and helplessness. He says this in order that gnostics may recognize the limits of their knowledge of God.

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