The Gulistan of Sa'di
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The Gulistan of Sa'di
Written 1258 A.C.E.
The Morals of Dervishes
One of the great devotees having been asked about his opinion concerning
a hermit whom others had censured in their conversation, he replied: 'I
do not see any external blemishes on him and do not know of internal
Whomsoever thou seest in a religious habit
Consider him to be a religious and good man
And, if thou knowest not his internal condition,
What business has the muhtasib inside the house?
I saw a dervish who placed his head upon the threshold of the Ka'bah,
groaned, and said: 'O forgiving, 0 merciful one, thou knowest what an unrighteous,
ignorant man can offer to thee.'
I have craved pardon for the deficiency of my
Because I can implore no reward for my obedience.
Sinners repent of their transgressions.
Arifs ask forgiveness for their imperfect worship.
Devotees desire a reward for their obedience and merchants the
price of their wares but I, who am a worshipper, have brought hope and
not obedience. I have come to beg and not to trade. Deal with me as thou
Whether thou killest me or forgivest my crime,
my face and head are on thy threshold.
A slave has nothing to command; whatever thou commandest I
I saw a mendicant at the door of the Ka'bah
Who said this and wept abundantly:
'I ask not for the acceptance of my service
But for drawing the pen of pardon over my sins.'
I saw A'bd-u-Qader Gaillani in the sanctuary of the Ka'bah with
his face on the pebbles and saying: 'O lord, pardon my sins and, if I deserve
punishment, cause me to arise blind on the day of resurrection that I may
not be ashamed in the sight of the righteous.'
With my face on the earth of helplessness
I say Every morning as soon as I become conscious:
O thou whom I shall never forget
Wilt thou at all remember thy slave?
A thief paid a visit to the house of a pious man but, although
he sought a great deal, found nothing and was much grieved. The pious man,
who knew this, threw the blanket upon which he had been sleeping into the
way of the thief that he might not go away disappointed.
I heard that men of the way of God
Have not distressed the hearts of enemies.
How canst thou attain that dignity
Who quarrelest and wagest war against friends?
The friendship of pure men, whether in thy presence or absence,
is not such as Will find fault behind thy back and is ready to die for
thee before thy face.
In thy presence gentle like a lamb,
In thy absence like a man-devouring wolf.
Who brings the faults of another to thee and enumerates
Will undoubtedly carry thy faults to others.
Several travellers were on a journey together and equally sharing
each other's troubles and comforts. I desired to accompany them but they
would not agree. Then I said: 'It is foreign to the manners of great men
to turn away the face from the company of the poor and so deprive themselves
of the advantage they might derive therefrom because I for one consider
myself sufficiently strong and energetic to be of service to men and not
an encumbrance. Although I am not riding on a beast, I shall aid you in
carrying blankets.' One of them said: 'Do not be grieved at the words thou
hast heard because some days ago a thief in the guise of a dervish arrived
and joined our company.'
How can people know who is in the dress?
The writer is aware what the book contains.
As the state of dervishes is safe, they entertained no suspicion
about him and received him as a friend.
The outward state of Arifs is the patched dress.
It suffices as a display to the face of the people.
Strive by thy acts to be good and wear anything thou
Place a crown on thy head and a flag on thy back.
The abandoning of the world, of lust, and of desire
Is sanctity, not the abandonment of the robe only.
It is necessary to show manhood in the fight.
Of what profit are weapons of war to an hermaphrodite?
We travelled one day till the night set in during which we slept
near a fort and the graceless thief, taking up the water-pot of a companion,
pretending to go for an ablution, departed for plunder.
A pretended saint who wears the dervish garb
Has made of the Ka'bah's robes the covering of an
After disappearing from the sight of the dervishes, he went to
a tower from which he stole a casket and, when the day dawned, the dark-hearted
wretch had already progressed a considerable distance. In the morning the
guiltless sleeping companions were all taken to the fort and thrown into
prison. From that date we renounced companionship and took the road of
solitude, according to the maxim: Safety is in solitude.
When one of a tribe has done a foolish thing
No honour is left either to the low or the high.
Seest thou not how one ox of the pasturage
Defiles all oxen of the village?
I replied: 'Thanks be to the God of majesty and glory, I have not
been excluded from the advantages enjoyed by dervishes, although I have
separated myself from their society. I have profited by what thou hast
narrated to me and this admonition will be of use through life to persons
For one rude fellow in the assembly
The heart of intelligent men is much grieved.
If a tank be filled with rose-water
A dog falling into it pollutes the whole.
A hermit, being the guest of a padshah, ate less than he wished
when sitting at dinner and when he rose for prayers he prolonged them more
than was his wont in order to enhance the opinion entertained by the padshah
of his piety.
O Arab of the desert, I fear thou wilt not reach the
Because the road on which thou travellest leads to
When he returned to his own house, he desired the table to be laid
out for eating. He had an intelligent son who said: 'Father, hast thou
not eaten anything at the repast of the sultan?' He replied: 'I have not
eaten anything to serve a purpose.' The boy said: 'Then likewise say thy
prayers again as thou hast not done anything to serve that
O thou who showest virtues on the palms of the
But concealest thy errors under the armpit
What wilt thou purchase, O vain-glorious fool,
On the day of distress with counterfeit silver?
I remember, being in my childhood pious, rising in the night, addicted
to devotion and abstinence. One night I was sitting with my father, remaining
awake and holding the beloved Quran in my lap, whilst the people around
us were asleep. I said: 'Not one of these persons lifts up his head or
makes a genuflection. They are as fast asleep as if they were dead.' He
replied: 'Darling of thy father, would that thou wert also asleep rather
than disparaging people.'
The pretender sees no one but himself
Because he has the veil of conceit in front.
If he were endowed with a God-discerning eye
He would see that no one is weaker than himself.
A great man was praised in an assembly and, his good qualities
being extolled, he raised his head and said: 'I am such as I know myself
O thou who reckonest my virtues, refrainest from giving me
These are my open, and thou knowest not my hidden,
My person is, to the eyes of the world, of good
But my internal wickedness makes me droop my head with
The peacock is for his beauteous colours by the
Praised whilst he is ashamed of his ugly feet.
One of the devotees of Mount Lebanon, whose piety was famed in
the Arab country and his miracles well known, entered the cathedral mosque
of Damascus and was performing his purificatory ablution on the edge of
a tank when his feet slipped and he fell into the reservoir but saved himself
with great trouble. After the congregation had finished their prayers,
one of his companions said: 'I have a difficulty.' He asked: 'What is it?'
He continued: 'I remember that the sheikh walked on the surface of the
African sea without his feet getting wetted and today he nearly perished
in this paltry water which is not deeper than a man's stature. What reason
is there in this?' The sheikh drooped his head into the bosom of meditation
and said after a long pause: 'Hast thou not heard that the prince of the
world, Muhammad the chosen, upon whom be the benediction of Allah and peace,
has said: I have time with Allah during which no cherubim nor inspired
prophet is equal to me?' But he did not say that such was always the case.
The time alluded to was when Gabriel or Michael inspired him whilst on
other occasions he was satisfied with the society of Hafsah and Zainab.
The visions of the righteous one are between brilliancy and
Thou showest thy countenance and then hidest
Enhancing thy value and augmenting our desire.
I behold whom I love without an intervention.
Then a trance befalls me; I lose the road;
It kindles fire, then quenches it with a sprinkling
Wherefore thou seest me burning and drowning.
One asked the man who had lost his son:
'O noble and intelligent old man!
As thou hast smelt the odour of his garment from
Why hast thou not seen him in the well of Canaan?'
'My state is that of leaping lightning.
One moment it appears and at another vanishes.
I am sometimes sitting in high heaven.
Sometimes I cannot see the back of my foot.
Were a dervish always to remain in that state
He would not care for the two worlds.'
I spoke in the cathedral mosque of Damascus a few words by way
of a sermon but to a congregation whose hearts were withered and dead,
not having travelled from the road of the world of form, the physical,
to the world of meaning, the moral world. I perceived that my words took
no effect and that burning fire does not kindle moist wood. I was sorry
for instructing brutes and holding forth a mirror in a locality of blind
people. I had, however, opened the door of meaning and was giving a long
explanation of the verse We are nearer unto Him than the jugular vein till
'The Friend is nearer to me than my self,
But it is more strange that I am far from him.
What am I to do? To whom can it be said that he
Is in my arms, but I am exiled from him.'
I had intoxicated myself with the wine of these sentiments, holding
the remnant of the cup of the sermon in my hand when a traveller happened
to pass near the edge of the assembly, and the last turn of the circulating
cup made such an impression upon him that he shouted and the others joined
him who began to roar, whilst the raw portion of the congregation became
turbulent. Whereon I said: 'Praise be to Allah! Those who are far away
but intelligent are in the presence of Allah, and those who are near but
blind are distant.'
When the hearer understands not the meaning of
Do not look for the effect of the orator's force
But raise an extensive field of desire
That the eloquent man may strike the ball of effect.
One night I had in the desert of Mekkah become so weak from want
of sleep that I was unable to walk and, laying myself down, told the camel
driver to let me alone.
How far can the foot of a wretched pedestrian
When a dromedary gets distressed by its load?
Whilst the body of a fat man becomes lean
A weak man will be dead of exhaustion.
He replied: 'O brother, the sanctuary is in front of us and brigands
in the rear. If thou goest thou wilt prosper. If thou sleepest thou wilt
It is pleasant to sleep under an acacia on the desert
But alas! thou must bid farewell to life on the night of
I saw a holy man on the seashore who had been wounded by a tiger.
No medicine could relieve his pain; he suffered much but he nevertheless
constantly thanked God the most high, saying: 'Praise be to Allah that
I have fallen into a calamity and not into sin.'
If that beloved Friend decrees me to be slain
I shall not say that moment that I grieve for life
Or say: What fault has thy slave committed?
My grief will be for having offended thee.
A dervish who had fallen into want stole a blanket from the house
of a friend. The judge ordered his hand to be amputated but the owner of
the blanket interceded, saying that he had condoned the fault. The judge
rejoined: 'Thy intercession cannot persuade me to neglect the provision
of the law.' The man continued: 'Thou hast spoken the truth but amputation
is not applicable to a person who steals some property dedicated to pious
uses. More over a beggar possesses nothing and whatever belongs to a dervish
is dedicated to the use of the needy.' Thereon the judge released the culprit,
saying: 'The world must indeed have become too narrow for thee that thou
hast committed no theft except from the house of such a friend.' He replied:
'Hast thou not heard the saying: Sweep out the house of friends and do
not knock at the door of foes.'
If thou sinkest in a calamity be not helpless.
Strip thy foes of their skins and thy friends of their
A padshah, meeting a holy man, asked him whether he did not sometimes
remember him for the purpose of getting presents. He replied: 'Yes, I do,
whenever I forget God.'
Whom He drives from his door, runs everywhere.
Whom He calls, runs to no one's door.
A pious man saw in a dream a padshah in paradise and a devotee
in hell whereon he asked for the reason of the former's exaltation and
the latter's degradation, saying that he had imagined the contrary ought
to be the case. He received the following answer: 'The padshah had, for
the love he bore to dervishes, been rewarded with paradise and the devotee
had, for associating with padshahs, been punished in
Of what use is thy frock, rosary and patched
Keep thyself free from despicable practices.
Then thou wilt have no need of a cap of leaves.
Have the qualities of a dervish and wear a Tatar
A bareheaded and barefooted pedestrian who had arrived from Kufah
with the Hejaz-caravan of pilgrims joined us, strutted about and
'I am neither riding a camel nor under a load like a
I am neither a lord of subjects nor the slave of a
Grief for the present, or distress for the past, does
I draw my breath in comfort and thus spend my life.'
A camel-rider shouted to him: 'O dervish, where art thou going?
Return, for thou wilt expire from hardships.' He paid no attention but
entered the desert and marched. When we reached the station at the palm-grove
of Mahmud, the rich man was on the point of death and the dervish, approaching
his pillow, said: 'We have not expired from hardship but thou hast died
on a dromedary.'
A man wept all night near the head of a patient.
When the day dawned he died and the patient revived.
Many a fleet charger had fallen dead
While a lame ass reached the station alive.
Often healthy persons were in the soil
Buried and the wounded did not die.
A hermit, having been invited by a padshah, concluded that if he
were to take some medicine to make himself weak he might perhaps enhance
the opinion of the padshah regarding his merits. But it is related that
the medicine was lethal so that when he partook of it he
Who appeared to thee all marrow like a pistachio
Was but skin upon skin like an onion.
Devotees with their face towards the world
Say their prayers with their back to the Qiblah.
When a worshipper calls upon his God,
He must know no one besides God.
A caravan having been plundered in the Yunan country and deprived
of boundless wealth, the merchants wept and lamented, beseeching God and
the prophet to intercede for them with the robbers, but
When a dark-minded robber is victorious
What cares he for the weeping of the caravan?
Loqman the philosopher being among the people of the caravan, one
of them asked him to speak a few words of wisdom and advice to the robbers
so that they might perhaps return some of the property they had plundered
because the loss of so much wealth would be lamentable. Loqman replied:
'It would be lamentable to utter one word of wisdom to
The rust which has eaten into iron
Cannot be removed by polishing.
Of what use is preaching to a black heart?
An iron nail cannot be driven into a rock.
Help the distressed in the day of prosperity
Because comforting the poor averts evil from thyself.
When a mendicant implores thee for a thing,
Give it or else an oppressor may take it by force.
Despite the abundant admonitions of the most illustrious Sheikh
Abulfaraj Ben Juzi to shun musical entertainments and to prefer solitude
and retirement, the budding of my youth overcame me, my sensual desires
were excited so that, unable to resist them, I walked some steps contrary
to the opinion of my tutor, enjoying myself in musical amusements and convivial
meetings. When the advice of my sheikh occurred to my mind, I
'If the qazi were sitting with us, he would clap his
If the muhtasib were bibbing wine, he would excuse a
Thus I lived till I paid one night a visit to an assembly of people
in which I saw a musician.
Thou wouldst have said he is tearing up the vital
with his fiddle-bow.
His voice was more unpleasant than the wailing of one
lost his father.
The audience now stopped their ears with their fingers, and now
put them on their lips to silence him. We became ecstatic by the sounds
of pleasing songs but thou art such a singer that when thou art silent
we are pleased.
No one feels pleased by thy performance
Except at the time of departure when thou pleasest.
When that harper began to sing
I said to the host: 'For God's sake
Put mercury in my ear that I may not hear
Or open the door that I may go away.'
In short, I tried to please my friends and succeeded after a considerable
struggle in spending the whole night there.
The muezzin shouted the call to prayers out of
Not knowing how much of the night had elapsed.
Ask the length of the night from my eyelids
For sleep did not enter my eyes one moment.
In the morning I took my turban from my head, with one dinar from
my belt by way of gratification, and placed them before the musician whom
I embraced and thanked. My friends who saw that my appreciation of his
merits was unusual attributed it to the levity of my intellect and laughed
secretly. One of them, however, lengthened out his tongue of objection
and began to reproach me, saying that I had committed an act repugnant
to intelligent men by bestowing a portion of my professional dress upon
a musician who had all his life not a dirhem laid upon the palm of his
hand nor filings of silver or of gold placed on his
A musician! Far be he from this happy abode.
No one ever saw him twice in the same place.
As soon as the shout rose from his mouth
The hair on the bodies of the people stood on end.
The fowls of the house, terrified by him, flew away
Whilst he distracted our senses and tore his throat.
I said: 'It will be proper to shorten the tongue of objection because
his talent has become evident to me.' He then asked me to explain the quality
of it in order to inform the company so that all might apologize for the
jokes they had cracked about me. I replied: 'Although my sheikh had often
told me to abandon musical entertainments and had given me abundant advice,
I did not mind it. This night my propitious horoscope and my august luck
have guided me to this place where I have, on hearing the performance of
this musician, repented and vowed never again to attend at singing and
A pleasant voice, from a sweet palate, mouth and
Whether employed in singing or not, enchants the
But the melodies of lovers of Isfahan or of the
From the windpipe of a bad singer are not nice.
Loqman, being asked from whom he had learnt civility, replied:
'From those who had no civility because what appeared to me unbecoming
in them I refrained from doing.'
Not a word is said even in sport
Without an intelligent man taking advice thereby.
But if a hundred chapters of wisdom are read to a
All strike his ear merely as sport.
It is related that a hermit consumed during one night ten mann
of food and perused the whole Quran till morning. A pious fellow who had
heard of this said: 'It would have been more excellent if he had eaten
half a loaf and slept till the morning.'
Keep thy interior empty of food
That thou mayest behold therein the light of marifet.
Thou art empty of wisdom for the reason
That thou art replete with food up to the nose.
A man had by his sins forfeited the divine favour but the lamp
of grace nevertheless so shone upon his path that it guided him into the
circle of religious men and, by the blessing of his association with dervishes,
as well as by the example of their righteousness, the depravities of his
character were transmuted into virtues and he refrained from lust and passion.
But the tongues of the malevolent were lengthened with reference to his
character, alleging that it was the same as it had ever been and that his
abstinence and piety were spurious.
By apology and penitence one may be saved from the wrath of
But cannot be saved from the tongues of men.
He could no longer bear the reviling tongues and complained to
the pir of the Tariqat. The sheikh wept and said: 'How wilt thou be able
to be sufficiently grateful for this divine favour that thou art better
than the people imagine?'
How long wilt thou say: 'The malevolent and
Are searching out the defects of my humble self.
Sometimes they arise to shed my blood.
Sometimes they sit down to curse me.'
To be good and to be in spoken of by the people
Is better than to be bad and considered good by
Look at me whom the good opinion of our contemporaries deems to
be perfect whereas I am imperfection itself.
If I were doing what I speak
I would be of good conduct and a devotee.
Verily I am veiled from the eyes of my neighbours
But Allah knows my secret and my overt concerns.
The door is locked to the access of people
That they may not spread out my faults.
What profiteth a closed door? The Omniscient
Knows what I conceal or reveal.
I complained to one of the sheikhs that a certain man had falsely
accused me of lasciviousness. He replied: 'Put him to shame by thy good
Be thou well behaved that a maligner
May not find occasion to speak of thy faults.
When the harp is in proper tune
How can the hand of the musician correct it?
One of the sheikhs of Syria, being asked on the true state of the
Sufis, replied: 'In former times they were a tribe in the world, apparently
distressed, but in reality contented whereas today they are people outwardly
satisfied but inwardly discontented.'
If my heart roams away from thee every hour,
Thou wilt find no tranquillity in solitude
But if thou possessest property, dignity, fields and
If thy heart be with God, thou wilt be a recluse.
I remember having once walked all night with a caravan and then
slept on the edge of the desert. A distracted man who had accompanied us
on that journey raised a shout, ran towards the desert and took not a moment's
rest. When it was daylight, I asked him what state of his that was. He
replied: 'I saw bulbuls commencing to lament on the trees, the partridges
on the mountains, the frogs in the water and the beasts in the desert so
I bethought myself that it would not be becoming for me to sleep in carelessness
while they all were praising God.'
Yesterday at dawn a bird lamented,
Depriving me of sense, patience, strength and consciousness.
One of my intimate friends who
Had perhaps heard my distressed voice
Said: 'I could not believe that thou
Wouldst be so dazed by a bird's cry.'
I replied: 'It is not becoming to humanity
That I should be silent when birds chant praises.'
It once happened that on a journey to the Hejaz a company of young
and pious men, whose sentiments harmonized with mine, were my fellow-travellers.
They occasionally sung and recited spiritual verses but we had with us
also an a'bid, who entertained a bad opinion of the behaviour of the dervishes
and was ignorant of their sufferings. When we reached the palm-grove of
the Beni Hallal, a black boy of the encampment, falling into a state of
excitement, broke out in a strain which brought down the birds from the
sky. I saw, however, the camel of the a'bid, which began to prance, throwing
him and running into the desert.
Knowest thou what that matutinal bulbul said to
What man art thou to be ignorant of love?
The Arabic verses threw a camel into ecstasy and
If thou hast no taste thou art an ill-natured brute.
When a camel's head is turned by the frenzy of
And a man does not feel it, he must be an ass.
When the winds blow over the plain
The branches of the ban-tree bend, not hard rocks.
Whatever thou beholdest chants his praises.
He knows this who has the true perception.
Not only the bulbul on the rosebush sings praises
But every bramble is a tongue, extolling him.
The life of a king was drawing to a close and he had no successor.
He ordered in his last testament that the next morning after his death
the first person entering the gate of the city be presented with the royal
crown and be entrusted with the government of the realm. It so happened
that the first person who entered was a mendicant who had all his life
subsisted on the morsels he collected and had sewn patch after patch upon
his clothes. The pillars of the state and grandees of the court executed
the injunction of the king and bestowed upon him the government and the
treasures; whereon the dervish reigned for a while until some amirs of
the monarchy withdrew their necks from his obedience and kings from every
side began to rise for hostilities and to prepare their armies for war.
At last his own troops and subjects also rebelled and deprived him of a
portion of his dominions. This event afflicted the mind of the dervish
until one of his old friends, who had been his companion when he was yet
himself a dervish, returned from a journey and, seeing him in such an exalted
position, said: 'Thanks be to God the most high and glorious that thy rose
has thus come forth from the thorn and thy thorn was extracted from thy
foot. Thy high luck has aided thee and prosperity with fortune has guided
thee till thou hast attained this position. Verily hardship is followed
A flower is sometimes blooming and sometimes
A tree is at times nude and at times clothed.
He replied: 'Brother, condole with me because there is no occasion
for congratulation. When thou sawest me last, I was distressed for bread
and now a world of distress has overwhelmed me.'
If I have no wealth I grieve.
If I have some the love of it captivates me.
There is no greater calamity than worldly goods.
Both their possession and their want are griefs.
If thou wishest for power, covet nothing
Except contentment which is sufficient happiness.
If a rich man pours gold into thy lap
Care not a moment for thanking him.
Because often I heard great men say
The patience of a dervish is better than the gift of a rich
A man had a friend, who held the office of devan to the padshah,
but whom he had not seen for a long time; and, a man having asked him for
the reason, he replied: 'I do not want to see him.' A dependent however
of the devan, who also happened to be present, queried: 'What fault has
he committed that thou art unwilling to meet him?' He replied: 'There is
no fault in the matter but a friend who is a devan may be seen when he
is removed from office.'
Whilst in greatness and in the turmoil of busines
They do not like to be troubled by neighbours
But when they are depressed and removed from office
They will lay open their heart's grief to friends.
Abu Harirah, may the approbation of Allah be upon him, was in the
habit of daily waiting upon the Mustafa, peace on him, who said: 'Abu Harira,
visit me on alternate days that our love may increase.' A man said to a
devotee: 'Beautiful as the sun is, I never heard that anybody took it for
a friend or fell in love with it', and he replied: 'This is because it
may be seen daily, except in winter when it is veiled and
There is no harm in visiting people
But not till they say: 'It is enough!'
If thou findest fault with thyself
Thou wilt not hear others reproaching thee.
A man, being tormented story by a contrary wind in his belly and
not having the power to retain it, unwittingly allowed it to escape. He
said: 'Friends, I had no option in what I did, the fault of it is not to
be ascribed to me and peace has resulted to my internal parts. Kindly excuse
The belly is a prison of wind, O wise man.
No sage retains wind in captivity.
If wind twists thy belly let it out
Because wind in the belly is a burden to the heart.
Having become tired of my friends in Damascus, I went into the
desert of Jerusalem and associated with animals till the time when I became
a prisoner of the Franks, who put me to work with infidels in digging the
earth of a moat in Tarapolis, when one of the chiefs of Aleppo, with whom
I had formerly been acquainted, recognized me and said: 'What state is
this?' I recited:
'I fled from men to mountain and desert
Wishing to attend upon no one but God.
Imagine what my state at present is
When I must be satisfied in a stable of wretches.
The feet in chains with friends
Is better than to be with strangers in a garden.'
He took pity on my state and ransomed me for ten dinars from the
captivity of the Franks, taking me to Aleppo where he had a daughter and
married me to her with a dowry of one hundred dinars. After some time had
elapsed, she turned out to be ill-humoured, quarrelsome, disobedient, abusive
in her tongue and embittering my life:
A bad wife in a good man's house
Is his hell in this world already.
Alas for a bad consort, alas!
Preserve us, O Lord from the punishment of fire.
Once she lengthened her tongue of reproach and said: 'Art thou
not the man whom my father purchased from the Franks for ten dinars?' I
replied: 'Yes, he bought me for ten dinars and sold me into thy hands for
one hundred dinars.'
I heard that a sheep had by a great man
Been rescued from the jaws and the power of a wolf.
In the evening he stroked her throat with a knife
Whereon the soul of the sheep complained thus:
Thou hast snatched me away from the claws of a wolf,
But at last I see thou art thyself a wolf.'
A padshah asked a hermit: 'How spendest thou thy precious time?'
He replied: 'I am all night engaged in prayer, during the morning in supplications
and the rest of the day in restricting my expenses.' Then the king ordered
a sufficient allowance to be allotted to him so as to relieve him of the
cares of his family.
O thou who art encumbered with a family,
Think no more of ever enjoying freedom.
Cares for children, raiment and food
Restrain thee from the heavenly kingdom.
Every day I renew my determination
To wait upon God until the night.
In the night, while tying the knot of prayer,
I think what my children will eat on the morrow.
A man, professing to be a hermit in the desert of Syria, attended
for years to his devotions and subsisted on the leaves of trees. A padshah,
who had gone in that direction by way of pilgrimage, approached him and
said: 'If thou thinkest proper, we shall prepare a place for thee in the
town where thou wilt enjoy leisure for thy devotions and others may profit
by thy spiritual advice as well as imitate thy good works.' The hermit
refused compliance but the pillars of the State were of opinion that, in
order to please the king, he ought to spend a few days in town to ascertain
the state of the place; so that if he feared that the purity of his precious
time might become turbid by association with strangers, he would still
have the option to refuse compliance. It is related that the hermit entered
the town where a private garden-house of the king, which was a heart-expanding
and soul refreshing locality, had been prepared to receive
Its red roses were like the cheeks of belles,
Its hyacinths like the ringlets of mistresses
Protected from the inclemency of mid-winter
Like sucklings who have not yet tasted the nurse's
And branches with pomegranates upon them:
Fire suspended from the green-trees.
The king immediately sent him a beautiful slave-girl:
After beholding this hermit-deceiving crescent-moon
Of the form of an angel and the beauty of a peacock,
After seeing her it would be impossible
To an anchorite's nature to remain patient.
After her he sent likewise a slave-boy of wonderful beauty and
People around him are dying with thirst
And he, who looks like a cupbearer, gives no drink.
The sight cannot be satisfied by seeing him
Like the dropsical man near the Euphrates.
The hermit began to eat delicious food, to wear nice clothes, to
enjoy fruit and perfumed confectionery as well as to contemplate the beauty
of the slave-boy and girl in conformity with the maxim of wise men, who
have said that the curls of belles are fetters to the feet of the intellect
and a snare to a sagacious bird.
In thy service I lost my heart and religion with all my
I am indeed the sagacious bird and thou the snare.
In short, the happiness of his former time of contentedness had
come to an end, as the saying is:
Any faqih, pir and murid
Or pure minded orator,
Descending into the base world,
Sticks in the honey like a fly.
Once the king desired to visit him but saw the hermit changed from
his former state, as he had become red, white and corpulent. When the king
entered, he beheld him reclining on a couch of gold brocade whilst the
boy and the fairy stood near his head with a fan of peacocks' feathers.
He expressed pleasure to behold the hermit in so comfortable a position,
conversed with him on many topics and said at the conclusion of the visit:
'I am afraid of these two classes of men in the world: scholars and hermits.'
The vezier, who was a philosopher and experienced in the affairs of the
world, being present, said: 'O king, the conditions of friendship require
thee to do good to both classes. Bestow gold upon scholars that they may
read more but give nothing to hermits that they may remain
A hermit requires neither dirhems nor dinars.
If lie takes any, find another hermit.
Who has a good behaviour and a secret with God
Is an anchorite without the waqfbread or begged
With a handsome figure and heart-ravishing ear-tip
A girl is a belle without turquoise-ring or pendants.
A dervish of good behaviour and of happy disposition
Requires not the bread of the rebat nor the begged
A lady endowed with a beauteous form and chaste
Requires no paint, adornment or turquoise-ring.
When I have and covet more
It will not be proper to call me an anchorite.
In conformity with the above sentiments an affair of importance
emerged to a padshah, who thereon vowed that, if it terminated according
to his wishes, he would present devotees with a certain sum of money. His
wish having been fulfilled, it became necessary to keep his promise. Accordingly
he gave a purse of dirhems to one of his confidential servants to distribute
it among recluses. It is related that the slave was intelligent and shrewd.
He walked about all day and returning at nightfall, kissed the dirhems
and deposited them before the king with the remark that he had not found
any devotees. The king rejoined: 'What nonsense is this? As far as I know
there are four hundred devotees in this town. He said: 'Lord of the world,
who is a devotee does not accept money and who accepts it is not a devotee.'
The king smiled and said to his courtiers: 'Despite of my wishing to do
good to this class of worshippers of God, this rogue bears them emnity
and thwarts my wish but truth is on his side.'
If a devotee has taken dirhems and dinars
Find another who is more a devotee than he.
One of the ulemma of solid learning, having been asked for his
opinion about waqfbread, answered: 'If it be accepted to insure tranquillity
of mind from cares for food and to obtain leisure for devotion, it is lawful
but if it be taken for maintenance it is forbidden.'
Bread is taken for the corner of devotion
By pious men and not the corner of devotion for
A dervish arrived in a place, the owner of which was of a noble
disposition, and had surrounded himself with a company of distinguished
and eloquent men, each of whom uttered something elegant or jocular, according
to the fashion of wits. The dervish who had travelled through the desert
and was fatigued had eaten nothing. One of the company asked him by way
of encouragement likewise to say something. The dervish replied: 'I do
not possess distinction and eloquence like you and have read nothing so
you must be satisfied with one distich of mine.' The company having agreed
with pleasure he recited:
'I am hungry and opposite to a table of food
Like a bachelor at the door of a bath of females.'
The company, having thus been apprised of his famished condition,
produced a table with bread but as he began to eat greedily the host said:
'Friend, at any rate stop a while till my servants roast some minced meat';
whereon the dervish lifted his head and recited:
'Do not order pounded meat for my table.
To a pounded man simple bread is pounded meat.'
A murid said to his pir: 'What am I to do? I am troubled by the
people, many of whom pay me visits. By their coming and going they encroach
upon my precious time.' He replied: 'Lend something to every one of them
who is poor and ask something from every one who is rich and they will
come round thee no more.'
If a mendicant were the leader of the army of
The infidels would for fear of his importunity run as far as
The son of a faqih said to his father: 'These heart-ravishing words
of moralists make no impression upon me because I do not see that their
actions are in conformity with their speeches.'
They teach people to abandon the world
But themselves accumulate silver and corn.
A scholar who only preaches and nothing more
Will not impress anyone when he speaks.
He is a scholar who commits no evil,
Not he who speaks to men but acts not himself.
Will you enjoin virtue to mankind and forget your own
A scholar who follows his lusts and panders to his
Is himself lost although he may show the way.
The father replied: 'My son, it is not proper merely on account
of this vain fancy to turn away the face from the instruction of advisers,
to travel on the road of vanity, to accuse the ullemma of aberration, and
whilst searching for an immaculate scholar, to remain excluded from the
benefits of knowledge, like a blind man who one night fell into the mud
and shouted: "O Musalmans, hold a lamp on my path." Whereon a courtesan
who heard him asked: "As thou canst not see the lamp, what wilt thou see
with the lamp?" In the same way the preaching assembly is like the shop
of a dealer in linen because if thou bringest no money thou canst obtain
no wares and if thou bringest no inclination to the assembly thou wilt
not get any felicity.'
He said: 'Listen with thy soul's ear to a scholar
Although his actions may not be like his doctrines.'
In vain does the gainsayer ask:
'How can a sleeper awaken a sleeper?
A man must receive into his ears
The advice although it be written on a wall.'
A pious man came to the door of a college from a
He broke the covenant of the company of those of the
I asked him what the difference between a scholar and a
He replied: 'The former saves his blanket from the
Whilst the latter strives to save the drowning man.'
A man was sleeping dead-drunk on the highway and the bridle of
spontaneity had slipped from his hands. A hermit passed near him and considered
the disgraceful condition he was in. The youth raised his head and recited:
When they passed near something contemptible, they passed it kindly. When
thou beholdest a sinner be concealing and meek.
Turn not thy face from a sinner, O anchorite.
Look upon him with benignity.
If I am ignoble in my actions
Pass me by like a noble fellow.
A company of vagabonds met a dervish, spoke insulting words to
him, struck him and otherwise molested him; whereon he complained to his
superior and explained the case. The pir replied: 'My son, the patched
frock of dervishes is the garment of resignation and who, wearing it, cannot
bear injuries is a pretender not entitled to the frock.'
A large river will not become turbid from stones.
The Arif who feels aggrieved is shallow water yet.
If he injures thee, bear it
Because pardon will purify thee from sin.
O brother, as the end is dust, be dust before thou
turned into dust.
Listen to this story how in Baghdad
A flag and a curtain fell into dispute.
Travel stained, dusty and fatigued, the flag
Said to the curtain by way of reproach:
'I and thou, we are both fellow servants,
Slaves of the sultan's palace.
Not a moment had I rest from service
In season and out of season I travelled about.
Thou hast suffered neither toil nor siege,
Not from the desert, wind, nor dust and dirt.
My step in the march is more advancing.
Then why is thy honour exceeding mine?
Thou art upon moon-faced servants
Or jessamine scented slave girls.
I have fallen into prentice hands.
I travel with foot in fetters and head fluttering.'
The curtain said: 'My head is on the threshold
Not like thine in the heavens.
Who carelessly lifts up his neck
Throws himself upon his neck.'
A pious man saw an acrobat in great dudgeon, full of wrath and
foaming at the mouth. He asked: 'What is the matter with this fellow?'
A bystander said: 'Someone has insulted him.' He remarked: 'This base wretch
is able to lift a thousand mann of stones and has not the power to bear
Abandon thy claim to strength and manliness.
Thou art weak-minded and base, whether thou be a man or
If thou art able, make a sweet mouth.
It is not manliness to strike the fist on a mouth.
Although able to tear up an elephant's front
He is not a man who possessed no humanity.
A man's nature is of earth.
If he is not humble he is not a man.
I asked a good man concerning the qualities of the brethren of
purity. He replied: 'The least of them is that they prefer to please their
friends rather than themselves; and philosophers have said that a brother
who is fettered by affairs relating to himself is neither a brother nor
If thy fellow traveller hastens, he is not thy
Tie not thy heart to one whose heart is not tied to
When a kinsman possesses no virtue and piety
Then severing connection is better than love of
I remember that an opponent objected to the last two lines, saying:
'God the most high and glorious has in his noble book prohibited the severing
of connection with relatives and has commanded us to love them. What thou
hast alleged is contrary to it.' I replied: 'Thou art mistaken because
according to the Quran, Allah the most high has said: If they both father
and mother, strive to induce thee to associate with me that concerning
which thou hast no knowledge, obey them not.
A thousand kinsmen who are strangers to God
Are the sacrifice for one stranger who knows him.
A kind old man in Baghdad
Gave his daughter to a cobbler.
The cruel little man so bit her
That blood flowed from the daughter's lips.
Next morning the father saw her thus
And going to the bridegroom asked him:
'O mean wretch, what teeth are these?
Chewest thou thus her lips? They are not leather.
I do not say these words in jest,
Leave joking off and enjoy her seriously.
If ill humour becomes fixed in a nature
It will not leave it till the time of death.'
A faqih had a very ugly daughter and when she attained puberty
no one was inclined to marry her in spite of her dowry and
Bad is the brocade and damask cloth
Which is upon an ugly bride.
At last it became necessary to marry her to a blind man and it
is related that on the said occasion a physician arrived from Serandip
who was able to restore sight to the blind. The faqih, being asked why
he had not put his son-in-law under treatment, replied: 'I fear that if
he is able to see he will divorce my daughter.'
It is better if the husband of an ugly woman is
A padshah was casting a glanced of contempt upon a company of dervishes
and one of them, understanding by his sagacity the meaning of it, said:
'O king, in this world we are inferior to thee in dignity but more happy
in life. In death we are equal and in the resurrection superior to
Though the master of a country may have enjoyment
And the dervish may be in need of bread
In that hour when both of them will die
They will take from the world not more than a shroud.
When thou takest thy departure from the realm
It will be better to be a mendicant than a padshah.
Externally the dervish shows a patched robe and a shaved head but
in reality his heart is living and his lust dead.
He does not sit at the door of pretence away from
To fight against them if they oppose him
Because when a millstone rolls from a mountain
He is not an A'rif who gets out of the way of the
The way of dervishes is praying, gratitude, service, obedience,
almsgiving, contentment, professing the unity of God, trust, submission
and patience. Whoever possesses these qualities is really a dervish, although
he may wear an elegant robe, whereas a prattler who neglects his orisons,
is luxurious, sensual, turns day into night in the bondage of lust, and
night into day in the sleep of carelessness, eats whatever he gets, and
speaks whatever comes upon his tongue, is a profligate, although he may
wear the habit of a dervish.
O thou whose interior is denuded of piety
But wearest outwardly the garb of hypocrisy
Do not display a curtain of seven colours.
Thou hast reed mats inside thy house.
I saw bouquets of fresh roses
Tied upon a cupola of grass.
I asked: 'What is despicable grass
To sit also in the line of the roses?'
The grass wept and said: 'Hush!
Companionship does not obliterate nobility.
Although I have no beauty, colour and perfume,
Am I not after all the grass of his garden?
I am the slave of a bountiful lord,
Cherished from old by his liberality.
Whether I possess virtue or not
I hope for grace from the Lord
Although I possess no property
No capital to offer as obedience.
He knows the remedy for the slave
To whom no support remains.
It is customary that the owner gives a writ
Of emancipation to an old slave.
O God, who hast adorned the universe,
Be bountiful to thy old slave.'
Sa'di, take the road to the Ka'bah of submission.
O man of God, follow the way of God.
Unlucky is he who turns his head
Away from this door for he will find no other door.
A sage having been asked whether liberality or bravery is better
replied: 'He who possesses liberality needs no bravery.'
It is written on the tomb of Behram Gur:
'A liberal hand is better than a strong arm.'
Hatim Tai has passed away but for ever
His high name will remain celebrated for beneficence.
Set aside the zekat from thy property because the exuberant
When pruned by the vintner will yield more grapes.