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Sufi Poetry

updated: 7-Apr-2014

A few poems from each of the following authors are included here as examples of the wondrous depth and variety of Sufi poetry:

Attar  
Hafiz   
Jami   
Rumi  
Saadi   
Sanai  
Yunus Emry   
Shabistari   
Ansari   
Rabi'a   
Abil Kheir  
Sultan Bahu 
Ibn 'Arabi
Baba Kuhi
Mansur al-Hallaj
Amir Khusrau
Moinuddin Hasan Chishti
Hazret-i Uftade


 

Attar of Nishapur (1145 - 1221 ce) saint and mystic, one of the most voluminous authors in Persian literature on religious topics.  His best-known work, Conference of the Birds, is an elaborate allegory of the soul's quest for reunion with God

So long as we do not die to ourselves,
and so long as we identify with someone or something,
we shall never be free.
The spiritual way is not for those wrapped up in exterior life.

       Farid ud Din Attar

~~

Strive to discover the mystery before life is taken from you.
If while living you fail to find yourself, to know yourself,
how will you be able to understand
the secret of your existence when you die?

       Farid ud Din Attar

~~

Intoxicated by the Wine of Love.
From each a mystic silence Love demands.
What do all seek so earnestly? 'Tis Love.
What do they whisper to each other? Love.
Love is the subject of their inmost thoughts.
In Love no longer 'thou' and 'I' exist,
For Self has passed away in the Beloved.
Now will I draw aside the veil from Love,
And in the temple of mine inmost soul,
Behold the Friend; Incomparable Love.
He who would know the secret of both worlds,
Will find the secret of them both, is Love.


      Farid ud Din Attar - translation Margaret Smith -The Jawhar Al-Dhat  

~~

In the dead of night, a Sufi began to weep.
He said, "This world is like a closed coffin, in which 
We are shut and in which, through our ignorance,
We spend our lives in folly and desolation.
When Death comes to open the lid of the coffin,
Each one who has wings will fly off to Eternity,
But those without will remain locked in the coffin.
So, my friends, before the lid of this coffin is taken off,
Do all you can to become a bird of the Way to God;
Do all you can to develop your wings and your feathers."

      Farid ud Din Attar,  translation by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut - 'Perfume of the  Desert' 

~~

The whole world is a marketplace for Love,
For naught that is, from Love remains remote.
The Eternal Wisdom made all things in Love.
On Love they all depend, to Love all turn.
The earth, the heavens, the sun, the moon, the stars
The center of their orbit find in Love.
By Love are all bewildered, stupefied,
Intoxicated by the Wine of Love.

From each, Love demands a mystic silence.
What do all seek so earnestly?  "Tis Love.
Love is the subject of their inmost thoughts,
In Love no longer "Thou" and "I" exist,
For self has passed away in the Beloved.
Now will I draw aside the veil from Love,
And in the temple of mine inmost soul
Behold the Friend,  Incomparable Love.
He who would know the secret of both worlds
Will find that the secret of them both is Love.

         
        Farid ud Din Attar, in Essential Sufism, James Fadiman and Robert Frager

~~

Four Things to Know

     Hatim al-Asamm said, "I have chosen four things to know 
and discarded all other things of knowledge.
     "The first is this: I know that my daily bread is apportioned
to me and will neither be increased or decreased, so I have stopped
trying to add to it.
     "Secondly, I know I owe to God a debt which no one else can
pay for me, so I am busy about paying it.
     "Thirdly, I know that there is someone pursuing me ---
Death --- whom I cannot escape from, so I have prepared myself
to meet him.
     "Fourth, I know that God is observing me, so I am ashamed
to do what I should not."
     

      Farid ud Din Attar, translation by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut - 'Perfume of the Desert' 

~~

In the dead of night, a Sufi began to weep.
He said, "This world is like a closed coffin, in which
We are shut and in which, through our ignorance,
We spend our lives in folly and desolation.
When Death comes to open the lid of the coffin,
Each one who has wings will fly off to Eternity,
But those without will remain locked in the coffin.
So, my friends, before the lid of this coffin is taken off,
Do all you can to become a bird of the Way to God;
Do all you can to develop your wings and your feathers."

      Farid ud Din Attar, translation by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut - 'Perfume of the Desert' 

 

 

Hafiz of Shiraz (1230-91 ce)  the greatest lyric poet of Persia, who took the poetic form of the ghazal to unparalleled heights of subtlety and beauty.
 

I speak frankly and that makes me happy:
I am the slave of love, I am free of both worlds.

I am a bird from heaven's garden. How do I describe that separation,
my fall into this snare of accidents?

I was an angel and highest paradise was my place.
Adam brought me to this monastery in the city of ruin.

The hours' caress, the pool and shade trees of paradise
were forgotten in the breeze from your alleyway.

There is nothing on the tablet of my heart but my love's tall alif.
What can I do? My master taught me no other letter.

No astrologer knew the constellations of my fate.
O lord, when I was born of mother earth which stars were rising?

Ever since I became a slave at the door of love's tavern
sorrows come to me each moment with congratulations.

The pupil of my eye drains the blood from my heart.
I deserve it. Why did I give my heart to the darling of others?

Wipe the tears from Hafiz's face with soft curls
or else this endless torrent will uproot me.


      Hafiz - Ghazal 44 - "The Green Sea of Heaven" - Elizabeth T. Gray Jr

~~

The sun
Won a beauty contest and became a jewel
Set upon God’s right hand.

The earth agreed to be a toe ring on the
Beloved’s foot
And has never regretted its decision.

The mountains got tired
Of sitting amongst a sleeping audience

And are now stretching their arms
Toward the Roof.

The clouds gave my soul an idea
So I pawned my gills
And rose like a winged diamond

Ever trying to be near
More love, more love
Like you.

The Mountain got tired of sitting
Amongst a snoring crowd inside of me
And rose like a rip sun
Into my eye.

My soul gave my heart a brilliant idea
So Hafiz is rising like a
Winged diamond.


      Hafiz - “The Gift” – translation by Daniel Ladinsky

~~

We are the guardians of His Beauty 

We are the protectors
Of the Sun.

There is only one reason
We have followed God into this world:

To encourage laughter, freedom, dance
And love.

Let a noble cry inside of you speak to me
Saying,

"Hafiz,
Don't just sit there on the moon tonight
Doing nothing -

Help unfurl my heart into the Friend's Mind,
Help, Old Man, to heal my wounded wings!"

We are the companions of His Beauty
We are the guardians
Of Truth.

Every man, plant and creature in Existence,
Every woman, child, vein and note
Is a servant of our Beloved -

A harbinger of joy,
The harbinger of
Light.


      Hafiz - "The Subject Tonight is Love" - Daniel Ladinsky

~~

Mortal never won to view thee,
Yet a thousand lovers woo thee;
Not a nightingale but knows
In the rose-bud sleeps the rose.

Love is where the glory falls
Of thy face: on convent walls
Or on tavern floors the same
Unextinguishable flame.

Where the turban'd anchorite
Chanteth Allah day and night,
Church-bells ring the call to prayer,
And the Cross of Christ is there.


      Hafiz - "Persian Poems" - R.A. Nicholson

~~

Come,
let's scatter roses and pour wine in the glass;
we'll shatter heaven's roof and lay a new foundation.
If sorrow raises armies to shed the blood of lovers,
I'll join with the wine bearer so we can overthrow them.
With a sweet string at hand, play a sweet song, my friend,
so we can clap and sing a song and lose our heads in dancing.

      Hafiz (Ghani-Qazvini, no 374) ' the Shambhala Guide to Sufism' Carl.W Ernst, Ph.D. 

 

 

Jami (1414 - 1492 ce)  (Nur al-Din 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Ahmad al-Jami) commonly called the last great classical poet of Persia, saint and mystic, composed numerous lyrics and idylls, as well as many works in prose.  His Salaman and Absal is an allegory of profane and sacred love.  Some of his other works include Haft Awrang, Tuhfat al-Ahrar, Layla wa -Majnun, Fatihat al-Shabab, Lawa'ih, al-Durrah al-Fakhirah.

~~

Who is man?
    The reflection of the Eternal Light.

What is the world?
    A wave on the Everlasting Sea.

How could the reflection be cut off from the Light?

How could the wave be separate from the Sea?

Know that this reflection and this wave are that very Light and Sea.

     
Jami, Diwan, tr by W.C. Chittick

~~

     Hidden behind the veil of mystery, Beauty is eternally free from the slightest stain of imperfection.  From the atoms of the world, He created a multitude of mirrors; into each one of them He cast the image of His Face; to the awakened eye, anything that appears beautiful is only a reflection of that Face.

    Now that you have seen the reflection, hurry to its Source; in that primordial Light the reflection vanishes completely.  Do not linger far from that primal Source; when the reflection fades, you will be lost in darkness.  The reflection is as transient as the smile of a rose; if you want permanence, turn towards the Source; if you want fidelity, look to the Mine of faithfulness.  Why tear your soul apart over something here one moment and gone the next? 

      Jami, translation by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut - 'Perfume of the Desert' 

~~

Whether your destiny is glory or disgrace,
Purify yourself of hatred and love of self.
Polish your mirror; and that sublime Beauty
From the regions of mystery
Will flame out in your heart
As it did for the saints and prophets.
Then, with your heart on fire with that Splendor, 
The secret of the Beloved will no longer be hidden.

      Jami, translation by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut - 'Perfume of the Desert' 



Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273 ce) saint and mystic, inspiration for the Mevlevi Order of the whirling dervishes, highly revered for the great Mathnawi which is a grand tribute to the depth of spiritual life.

 
The Jesus of your spirit is inside you now.
Ask that one for help, but don't ask for body-things...

Don't ask Moses for provisions
that you can get from Pharaoh.

Don't worry so much about livelihood.
Your livelihood will turn out as it should.
Be constantly occupied instead
with listening to God.

        Rumi, Mathnawi II:450-454

~~

Listen for the stream
that tells you one thing.

Die on this bank.
Begin in me
the way of rivers with the sea.

      Rumi - Coleman Barks - from "Say I Am You"

~~

You've no idea how hard I've looked for a gift to bring You.
Nothing seemed right.

What's the point of bringing gold to the gold mine, or water to the Ocean.
Everything I came up with was like taking spices to the Orient.

It's no good giving my heart and my soul because you already have these.

So- I've brought you a mirror.

Look at yourself and remember me.
    
         - Jalaluddin Rumi, Essential Rumi, Coleman Barks, pg141

~~

Longing is the core of mystery.
Longing itself brings the cure.
The only rule is, Suffer the pain.

Your desire must be disciplined,
and what you want to happen
in time, sacrificed.

      Rumi - The Essential Rumi - Coleman Barks

~~

Oh!  Supreme Lover!
Let me leave aside my worries.
The flowers are blooming
with the exultation of your Spirit.

By Allah!
I long to escape the prison of my ego
and lose myself
in the mountains and the desert.

These sad and lonely people tire me.
I long to revel in the drunken frenzy of your love
and feel the strength of Rustam in my hands.

I'm sick of mortal kings.
I long to see your light.
With lamps in hand
the sheikhs and mullahs roam
the dark alleys of these towns
not finding what they seek.

You are the Essence of the Essence,
The intoxication of Love.
I long to sing your praises
but stand mute
with the agony of wishing in my heart.


    
 Rumi - 'The Love Poems of Rumi' - Deepak Chopra & Fereydoun Kia

~~

Inside this new love, die.
Your way begins on the other side.
Become the sky.
Take an axe to the prison wall.
Escape.
Walk out like someone suddenly born into color.
Do it now.
You're covered with a thick cloud.
Slide out the side. Die,
and be quiet. Quiteness is the surest sign
that you've died.
Your old life was a frantic running
from silence.

The speechless full moon
comes out now.

    
 Rumi - The Essential Rumi - Coleman Barks

~~

The Morning Wind Spreads 
The morning wind spreads its fresh smell.
We must get up and take that in,
that wind that lets us live.
Breathe before it's gone.

        Rumi - 'The Essential Rumi' - Coleman Barks

~~

Everyone is overridden by thoughts;
that's why they have so much heartache and sorrow.
At times I give myself up to thought purposefully;
but when I choose,
I spring up from those under its sway.
I am like a high-flying bird,
and thought is a gnat:
how should a gnat overpower me?


     Rumi - Mathnawi II, 3559-3561 - 'Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance' - Camille and Kabir Helminski

~~

I wonder
from these thousand of "me's",
which one am I?
Listen to my cry, do not drown my voice
I am completely filled with the thought of you.
Don't lay broken glass on my path
I will crush it into dust.
I am nothing, just a mirror in the palm of your hand,
reflecting your kindness, your sadness, your anger.
If you were a blade of grass or a tiny flower
I will pitch my tent in your shadow.
Only your presence revives my withered heart.
You are the candle that lights the whole world
and I am an empty vessel for your light.



      Rumi - "Hidden Music" - Maryam Mafi & Azima Melita Kolin

~~

Happy the moment when we are seated in the Palace, thou and I,
With two forms and with two figures but with one soul, thou and I.
The colours of the grove and the voice of the birds will bestow immortality
At the time when we come into the garden, thou and I.
The stars of heaven will come to gaze upon us;
We shall show them the Moon itself, thou and I.
Thou and I, individuals no more, shall be mingled in ecstasy,
Joyful and secure from foolish babble, thou and I.
All the bright-plumed birds of heaven will devour their hearts with envy
In the place where we shall laugh in such a fashion, thou and I.
This is the greatest wonder, that thou and I, sitting here in the same nook,
Are at this moment both in ‘Iraq and Khorasan, thou and I.

      Jelaluddin Rumi, in The Mystics of Islam, translated by Reynold A Nicholson

~~

Awakened by your love,
I flicker like a candle's light
trying to hold on in the dark.
Yet, you spare me no blows
and keep asking,
"Why do you complain?"


      Rumi - "Whispers of the Beloved" - Maryam Mafi & Azima Melita Kolin

~~

My heart tells me it is distressed with Him,
but I can only laugh at such pretended injuries.

Be fair, You who are the Glory of the just.
You, Soul, free of "we" and "I,"
subtle spirit within each man and woman.

When a man and a woman become one,
that "one" is You.
And when that one is obliterated, there You are.

Where is this "we" and this "I"?
By the side of the Beloved.
You made this "we" and this "I"
in order that you might play
this game of courtship with Yourself,
that all "you's" and "I's" might become one soul
and finally drown in the Beloved.

All this is true. Come!
You who are the Creative Word: Be
You, so far beyond description.

Is it possible for the bodily eyes to see You?
Can thought comprehend Your laughter or grief?
Tell me now, can it possibly see You at all?
Such a heart has only borrowed things to live with.

The garden of love is green without limit
and yields many fruits other than sorrow or joy.
Love is beyond either condition:
without spring, without autumn, it is always fresh.

     
Rumi - Mathnawi I, 1779-1794 - The Rumi Collection - Kabir Helminski

New! For those desiring to delve deeper into the teachings of Rumi's Mathnawi, you may enjoy downloading a delightful new book entitled The Heart of Hearts of Rumi’s Mathnawi as presented by Mawlana Mulla Husayn Wa‘iz-e Kashifi and edited in English by Wazir Dayers, featuring the timeless teachings of Rumi arranged in a unique step-by-step series of spiritual lessons.


Saadi of Shiraz (1215 -1292 ce), a great poet of Persia, author of the Gulistan (Rose-Garden) and the Bostan (Orchard), who also wrote many odes and lyrics. His pen name was simply Sadi.


O bird of the morning, learn love from the moth
Because it burnt, lost its life, and found no voice.
These pretenders are ignorantly in search of Him,
Because he who obtained knowledge has not returned.

      Sheikh Muslih-uddin Sa'di Shirazi - The Gulistan of Sadi

~~

How could I ever thank my Friend?
No thanks could ever begin to be worthy.
Every hair of my body is a gift from Him;
How could I thank Him for each hair?
Praise that lavish Lord forever
Who from nothing conjures all living beings!
Who could ever describe His goodness?
His infinite glory lays all praise waste.
Look, He has graced you a robe of splendor
From childhood's first cries to old age!
He made you pure in His own image; stay pure.
It is horrible to die blackened by sin.
Never let dust settle on your mirror's shining;
Let it once grow dull and it will never polish.
When you work in the world to earn your living
Do not, for one moment, rely on your own strength.
Self-worshiper, don't you understand anything yet?
It is God alone that gives your arms their power.
If, by your striving, you achieve something good,
Don't claim the credit all for yourself;
It is fate that decides who wins and who loses
And all success streams only from the grace of God.
In this world you never stand by your own strength;
It is the Invisible that sustains you every moment.
 

      Saadi, translation by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut - 'Perfume of the Desert' 

 

 

Sanai (1118 -1152 ce) (Abû'l-Majd Majdûd b. Adam Sanâ'î) is revered as one of the first great mystical poets of Persia.  He produced many lyrical poems and a religious epic, The Walled Garden of Truth.

Don't speak of your suffering -- He is speaking.
Don't look for Him everywhere -- He's looking for you.

An ant's foot touches a leaf, He senses it;
A pebble shifts in a streambed, He knows it.

If there's a worm hidden deep in a rock,
He'll know its body, tinier than an atom,

The sound of its praise, its secret ecstasy --
All this He knows by divine knowing.

He has given the tiniest worm its food;
He has opened to you the Way of the Holy Ones.

       Sanai

 

~~

'The Puzzle'

Someone who keeps aloof from suffering
is not a lover. I choose your love
above all else. As for wealth
if that comes, or goes, so be it.
Wealth and love inhabit separate worlds.

But as long as you live here inside me,
I cannot say that I am suffering. 

      Sanai, translation by Coleman Barks - 'Persian Poems' 

~~

'The Way of the Holy Ones'

Don't speak of your suffering -- He is speaking.
Don't look for Him everywhere -- He's looking for you.

An ant's foot touches a leaf, He senses it;
A pebble shifts in a streambed, He knows it.

If there's a worm hidden deep in a rock,
He'll know its body, tinier than an atom,

The sound of its praise, its secret ecstasy --
All this He knows by divine knowing.

He has given the tiniest worm its food;
He has opened to you the Way of the Holy Ones.

      Sanai, translation by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut - 'Perfume of the Desert' 

~~

Those unable to grieve,
or to speak of their love,
or to be grateful, those
who can't remember God
as the source of everything,

might be described as a vacant wind,
or a cold anvil, or a group
of frightened old people.

Say the Name. Moisten your tongue
with praise, and be the spring ground,
waking. Let your mouth be given
its gold-yellow stamen like the wild rose's.

As you fill with wisdom,
and your heart with love,
there's no more thirst.

There's only unselfed patience
waiting on the doorsill, a silence
which doesn't listen to advice
from people passing in the street.


      Sanai - "Persian Poems" - Coleman Barks

 


Yunus Emre - (1241 - 1321 ce).  Yunus' poetry made a great impact on Turkish culture.

 

The drink sent down from Truth, 
we drank it, glory be to God. 
And we sailed over the Ocean of Power, 
glory be to God.

Beyond those hills and oak woods, 
beyond those vineyards and gardens, 
we passed in health and joy, glory be to God. 

We were dry, but we moistened. 
We grew wings and became birds, 
we married one another and flew, 
glory be to God.

To whatever lands we came, 
in whatever hearts, in all humanity, 
we planted the meanings Taptuk taught us, 
glory be to God.

Come here, let's make peace, 
let's not be strangers to one another. 
We have saddled the horse 
and trained it, glory be to God.

We became a trickle that grew into a river. 
We took flight and drove into the sea, 
and then we overflowed, glory be to God. 

We became servants at Taptuk's door. 
Poor Yunus, raw and tasteless, 
finally got cooked, glory be to God.

     Yunus Emre, translated by Kabir Helminski and Refik Algan - 'The Drop That Became Sea'

~~

Ask those who know, 
what's this soul within the flesh? 
Reality's own power. 
What blood fills these veins?

Thought is an errand boy,
fear a mine of worries. 
These sighs are love's clothing. 
Who is the Khan on the throne?

Give thanks for His unity. 
He created when nothing existed. 
And since we are actually nothing, 
what are all of Solomon's riches?

Ask Yunus and Taptuk 
what the world means to them.. 
The world won't last. 
What are You? What am I?

     Yunus Emre, translated by Kabir Helminski and Refik Algan - 'The Drop That Became Sea'

~~

We entered the house of realization, 
we witnessed the body.

The whirling skies, the many-layered earth,
the seventy-thousand veils, 
we found in the body.

The night and the day, the planets, 
the words inscribed on the Holy Tablets,
the hill that Moses climbed, the Temple,
and Israfil's trumpet, we observed in the body. 
Torah, Psalms, Gospel, Quran- 
what these books have to say, 
we found in the body. 

Everybody says these words of Yunus 
are true. Truth is wherever you want it.
We found it all within the body.

     Yunus Emre, yranslated by Kabir Helminski and Refik Algan - 'The Drop That Became Sea'

~~

I am before, I am after
The soul for all souls all the way.
I'm the one with a helping hand
Ready for those gone wild, astray.

I made the ground flat where it lies,
On it I had those mountains rise,
I designed the vault of the shies,
For I hold all things in my sway.

To countless lovers I have been
A guide for faith and religion.
I am sacrilege in men's hearts
Also the true faith and Islam's way.

I make men love peace and unite;
Putting down the black words on white,
I wrote the four holy books right
I'm the Koran for those who pray.

It's not Yunus who says all this:
It speaks its own realities:
To doubt this would be blasphemous:
"I'm before-I'm after," I say

     Yunus Emre

~~

Your love has wrested me away from me,
You're the one I need, you're the one I crave.
Day and night I burn, gripped by agony,
You're the one I need, you're the one I crave.

I find no great joy in being alive,
If I cease to exist, I would not grieve,
The only solace I have is your love,
You're the one I need, you're the one I crave.

Lovers yearn for you, but your love slays them,
At the bottom of the sea it lays them,
It has God's images-it displays them;
You're the one I need, you're the one I crave.

Let me drink the wine of love sip by sip,
Like Mecnun, live in the hills in hardship,
Day and night, care for you holds me in its grip,
You're the one I need, you're the one I crave.

Even if, at the end, they make me die
And scatter my ashes up to the shy,
My pit would break into this outcry:
You're the one I need, you're the one I crave.

"Yunus Emre the mystic" is my name,
Each passing day fans and rouses my flame,
What I desire in both worlds in the same:
You're the one I need, you're the one I crave.

     Yunus Emre


Sa'd al-din Mahmud Shabistari(1288 - 1340 ce) is one of the most celebrated authors of Persian Sufism. Because of his gift for expressing the Sufi mystical vision with extraordinary clarity, his Gulshan-i Raz (Secret Rose Garden) rapidly became one of the most popular works of Persian Sufi poetry.

 

Go sweep out the chamber of your heart. 
Make it ready to be the dwelling place of the Beloved. 
When you depart out, He will enter it. 
In you, void of yourself, will He display His beauties.


      Mahmud Shabistari - 'Rose Garden of Mystery'

~~

'One Light'

What are "I" and "You"?
Just lattices
In the niches of a lamp
Through which the One Light radiates.

"I" and "You" are the veil
Between heaven and earth;
Lift this veil and you will see 
How all sects and religions are one.

Lift this veil and you will ask---
When "I" and "You" do not exist
What is mosque?
What is synagogue?
What is fire temple?

      Mahmud Shabistari, translation by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut - 'Perfume of the Desert' 

 

Sheikh Ansari Jabir ibn 'Abdullah al-Ansari (1006-1088 ce) He was called Sheikh al-Islam and he was also given the title Zayn al- 'Ulama (Ornament of the Scholars)  and Nasir al-Sunnah (Supporter of the Prophetic Tradition).  Later on in Persian texts he was called Pir-e Herat (the Sheikh of Herat). 

Some of Ansari works include Kashf al-Asrar "Unveiling of the Secrets" (Commentary of the Qur'an), Tabaquat al-Sufiyya (The Generations of the Sufis),  "Munajat" (Intimate Invocations) which is incorporated into the Kashf al-Asrar and in the Tabaqat.  

 

'The Friend Beside Me'

O God
You know why I am happy:
          It is because I seek Your company,
          not through my own (efforts).

O God,
You decided and I did not.
         I found the Friend beside me
         when I woke up!

     Sheikh Ansari - Kashf al_Asrar, Vol. 5, p. 407 - 'Munajat - The Intimate Invocations' - A.G. Farhadi

~~

'Where Are You?'

O God,
You are the aim of the call of the sincere,
          You enlighten the souls of the friends, (and)
          You are the comfort of the hearts of the travellers---
          because You are present in the very soul.

I call out, from emotion:
          "Where are you?"

You are the life of the soul,
          You are the rule (ayin) of speech, (and)
          You are Your own interpreter (tarjaman).

For the sake of Your obligation to Yourself,
          do not enter us into the shade of deception, (but) 
          make us reach union (wisal) with You.

     Sheikh Ansari - Kashf al_Asrar, Vol. 5, p. 598 - 'Munajat - The Intimate Invocations' - A.G. Farhadi

~~

'Pursuit of the Friend'

The heart left,
       and the Friend is (also) gone.
I don't know whether I should go after the Friend
       or after the heart!
A voice spoke to me:
       "Go in pursuit of the Friend,
          because the lover needs a heart
          in order to find union with the Friend.
       If there was no Friend,
          what would (the lover) do with (his) heart?"

     Sheikh Ansari - Kashf al_Asrar, Vol. 1, p. 628 - 'Maqulat-o Andarz-ha - Sayings and Advice' - A.G. Farhadi

~~

'The Beauty of Oneness'

Any eye filled with the vision of this world
       cannot see the attributes of the Hereafter,
Any eye filled with the attributes of the Hereafter
       would be deprived of the Beauty (Jamal) of (Divine) Oneness.

     Sheikh Ansari - Kashf al_Asrar, Vol. 7, p. 511 - 'Maqulat-o Andarz-ha - Sayings and Advice' - A.G. Farhadi

~~

'In Each Breath'

O you who have departed from your own self,
       and who have not yet reached the Friend:
       do not be sad, (for)
       He is accompanying you in each of (your) breaths.

     Sheikh Ansari - Kashf al_Asrar, Vol. 7, p. 268 - 'Maqulat-o Andarz-ha - Sayings and Advice' - A.G. Farhadi

 

 

Rabi'a al-'Adawiyya (717 - 801 ce) was born in Basra. As a child, after the death of her parents, Rabi'a was sold into slavery. After years of service to her slavemaster, Rabi'a began to serve only the Beloved with her actions and thoughts. Since she was no longer useful to the slaveowner, Rabi'a was then set free to continue her devotion to the Beloved.

Rabia taught that the true lover, whose consciousness is unwaveringly centered on the Beloved, is unattached to conditions such as pleasure or pain, not from sensory dullness but from ceaseless rapture in Divine Love.

 

Rabia was once asked, "How did you attain that which you have attained?"
"By often praying, 'I take refuge in You, O God, from everything that distracts me from You, and from every obstacle that prevents me from reaching You.'"

     Rabi´a al-Adawiyya, translation by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut - 'Perfume of the Desert' 

~~

In love, nothing exists between heart and heart.
Speech is born out of longing,
True description from the real taste.
The one who tastes, knows;
the one who explains, lies.
How can you describe the true form of Something
In whose presence you are blotted out?
And in whose being you still exist?
And who lives as a sign for your journey?

    
Rabia al-Adawiyya

~~

I have two ways of loving You:
A selfish one
And another way that is worthy of You.
In my selfish love, I remember You and You alone.
In that other love, You lift the veil
And let me feast my eyes on Your Living Face.

     Rabi´a al-Adawiyya. Doorkeeper of the heart:versions of Rabia. Trans. Charles Upton

~~

The source of my suffering and loneliness is deep in my heart.
This is a disease no doctor can cure.
Only Union with the Friend can cure it.

     Rabi´a al-Adawiyya, translation by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut - 'Perfume of the Desert' 

~~

I have made You the Companion of my heart.
But my body is available to those who desire its company,
And my body is friendly toward its guest,
But the Beloved of my heart is the guest of my soul. 

     Rabi´a al-Adawiyya translation by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut - 'Perfume of the Desert' 

~~

Brothers, my peace is in my aloneness.
My Beloved is alone with me there, always.
I have found nothing in all the worlds
That could match His love,
This love that harrows the sands of my desert.
If I come to die of desire
And my Beloved is still not satisfied, 
I would live in eternal despair.

To abandon all that He has fashioned
And hold in the palm of my hand
Certain proof that He loves me---
That is the name and the goal of my search.

     Rabi´a al-Adawiyya, translation by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut - 'Perfume of the Desert' 

~~

O Lord,
If tomorrow on Judgment Day
You send me to Hell,
I will tell such a secret
That Hell will race from me
Until it is a thousand years away.

O Lord,
Whatever share of this world
You could give to me,
Give it to Your enemies;
Whatever share of the next world 
You want to give to me,
Give it to Your friends.
You are enough for me.

O Lord, 
If I worship You
From fear of Hell, burn me in Hell.

O Lord, 
If I worship You
From hope of Paradise, bar me from its gates.

But if I worship You for Yourself alone
Then grace me forever the splendor of Your Face.

     Rabi´a al-Adawiyya, translation by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut - 'Perfume of the Desert' 

 

 

Shaikh Abu Saeed Abil Kheir (Abu Sa'id ibn Ab'il Khair ) (967 - 1049 ce) referring to himself as "nobody, son of nobody" he expressed the reality that his life had disappeared in the heart of God.  This revered Persian Sufi mystic from Khorasan preceded the great poet Jalaluddin Rumi by over two hundred years on the same path of annihilation in Love. 

Until you become an unbeliever in your own self,
you cannot become a believer in God.

    Shaikh Abu-Saeed Abil-Kheir - 'Nobody, Son of Nobody' - Vraje Abramian

~~

If you are seeking closeness to the Beloved,
love everyone.
Whether in their presence or absence,
see only their good.
If you want to be as clear and refreshing as
the breath of the morning breeze,
like the sun, have nothing but warmth and light
for everyone.

    Shaikh Abu-Saeed Abil-Kheir - 'Nobody, Son of Nobody' - Vraje Abramian

~~

Beloved, show me the way out of this prison.
Make me needless of both worlds.
Pray, erase from mind all
that is not You.

Have mercy Beloved,
though I am nothing but forgetfulness,
You are the essence of forgiveness.
Make me needless of all but You.

     Shaikh Abu Saeed Abil Kheir - "Nobody, Son of Nobody" - Vraje Abramian

~~

Piousness and the path of love
are two different roads.
Love is the fire that burns both belief
and non-belief.
Those who practice Love have neither
religion nor caste.

     Shaikh Abu Saeed Abil Kheir - "Nobody, Son of Nobody" - Vraje Abramian

~~

Be humble.
Only fools take pride in their station here, trapped in
a cage of dust, moisture, heat and air.
No need to complain of calamities,
this illusion of a life lasts but a moment.

     Shaikh Abu Saeed Abil Kheir - "Nobody, Son of Nobody" - Vraje Abramian

~~

Suppose you can recite a thousand holy
verses from memory.
What are you going to do
with your ego self, the true
mark of the heretic?
Every time your head touches
the ground in prayers, remember,
this was to teach you to
put down that load of ego
which bars you from entering
the chamber of the Beloved.

To your mind feed understanding,
to your heart, tolerance and compassion.
The simpler your life, the more meaningful.
The less you desire of the world,
the more room you will have in it
to fill with the Beloved.

The best use of your tongue
is to repeat the Beloved's Name in devotion.
The best prayers are those in
the solitude of the night.
The shortest way to the Friend
is through selfless service and
generosity to His creatures.

Those with no sense of honor and dignity are best avoided.
Those who change colors constantly
are best forgotten.
The best way to be with those
bereft of the Beloved's qualities,
is to forget them in the
joy of silence in one's corner of solitude.

     Shaikh Abu Saeed Abil Kheir - "Nobody, Son of Nobody"

~~

Drink from this heart now,
for all this loving it contains.
When you look for it again,
it will be dancing in the wind.

     Shaikh Abu Saeed Abil Kheir - "Nobody, Son of Nobody" - Vraje Abramian

~~

Let sorrowful longing dwell in your heart,
never give up, never losing hope.
The Beloved says, "The broken ones are My darlings."
Crush your heart, be broken.

     Shaikh Abu Saeed Abil Kheir - "Nobody, Son of Nobody" - Vraje Abramian

~~

If you do not give up the crowds
you won't find your way to Oneness.
If you do not drop your self
you won't find your true worth.
If you do not offer all you
have to the Beloved,
you will live this life free of that
pain which makes it worth living.

     Shaikh Abu Saeed Abil Kheir - "Nobody, Son of Nobody" - Vraje Abramian

 

Sheikh Sultan Bahu (1628 - 1691 ce) belonged to the Qadiri Order of Sufis and is known by the title of Sultan-ul-Arifin (king of the Gnostics). Born in the Soon Valley, he wrote in both Persian and Punjabi, and is regarded as one of the most prominent Sufi poets of the Indo-Pak subcontinent.  


Those who have not realized God will wander,
homeless in this world, destitute in the next.
But watch the lovers dance with ecstasy,
as they merge into the oneness of God [Allah].

     Sultan Bahu, translated by J.R. Puri and K.S. Khak

~~

The river of oneness has surged,
quenching the thirst of the deserts and wastelands.
If you don't nurture God's love in your heart,
you will be dry and parched like those deserts.

     Sultan Bahu, translated by J.R. Puri and K.S. Khak

~~

The Lord is an ocean of oneness
in which lovers swim as they please, free of care.
In their own turn, they appear in the world
to dive deep into that ocean, to gather pearls.
Among the pearls is a gem --
unique in value, unmatched in lustre --
that shines like the moon.
We are all in the employ of the Lord, O Bahu;
let us pay homage to him through our prayers.

     Sultan Bahu, translated by J.R. Puri and K.S. Khak

~~

Repeat the Name of God,
and always contemplate on Him
while doing your repetition --
keener than a sword is such remembrance [Zikr, Simran].

     Sultan Bahu, translated by J.R. Puri and K.S. Khak

~~

Repeat the Name of God, O Bahu,
and free yourself from the worries of life.

     Sultan Bahu, translated by J.R. Puri and K.S. Khak

~~

Those who enshrine the Lord in their hearts, O Bahu,
have both the worlds at their command.

Lovers remain completely intoxicated
in the ecstasy of their love for the Beloved.
They offer their souls to the Beloved
while still living
and thus immortalize themselves
in this life and the hereafter.

     Sultan Bahu, translated by J.R. Puri and K.S. Khak

 

Muhammed Ibn 'Ali Ibn 'Arabi  (1165 - 1240 ce) Known as Muhyiddin (the Revivifier of Religion) and the Shaykh al-Akbar (the Greatest Master), ibn Arabi he was born into the Moorish culture of Andalusian Spain and traveled widely throughout the Islamic countries.


O Marvel! a garden amidst the flames.
My heart has become capable of every form:
it is a pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christian monks,
and a temple for idols and the pilgrim's Kaa'ba,
and the tables of the Torah and the book of the Quran.
I follow the religion of Love: whatever way Love's camels take,
that is my religion and my faith.

     ibn al-`Arabi, Tarjuman al-Ashwaq, in The Mystics of Islam, translated by Reynold A Nicholson

~~ 

All that is left
to us by tradition
is mere words.

It is up to us
to find out what they mean.

     ibn al-`Arabi, Tarjuman al-Ashwaq, in The Mystics of Islam, translated by Reynold A Nicholson

~~


Were it not for
the excess of your talking
and the turmoil in your hearts,
you would see what I see
and hear what I hear!

     ibn al-`Arabi, Tarjuman al-Ashwaq, in The Mystics of Islam, translated by Reynold A Nicholson

~~ 

When my Beloved appears, With what eye do I see Him? With His eye, not with mine, For none sees Him except Himself.

     ibn al-`Arabi, Tarjuman al-Ashwaq, in The Mystics of Islam, translated by Reynold A Nicholson  

 

Baba Kuhi of Shiriz, a Persian dervish-poet who died around 1050 ce: (see also a brief essay Eyes of the Heart)


  In the market, in the cloister--only God I saw.
  In the valley and on the mountain--only God I saw.
  Him I have seen beside me oft in tribulation;
  In favour and in fortune--only God I saw.
  In prayer and fasting, in praise and contemplation,
  In the religion of the Prophet--only God I saw.
  Neither soul nor body, accident nor substance,
  Qualities nor causes--only God I saw.
  I oped mine eyes and by the light of His face around me
  In all the eye discovered--only God I saw.
  Like a candle I was melting in His fire:
  Amidst the flames outflashing--only God I saw.
  Myself with mine own eyes I saw most clearly,
  But when I looked with God's eyes--only God I saw.
  I passed away into nothingness, I vanished,
  And lo, I was the All-living--only God I saw.


       Baba Kuhi, in The Mystics of Islam, translated by Reynold A Nicholson

 

Husayn ibn Mansur al-Hallaj known as al-Hallaj (the wool-carder), he was put to death in Baghdad for having uttered ana 'l haqq (I am the Truth):

 
 I am He whom I love,
      and He whom I love is I:
 We are two spirits
       dwelling in one body.
 If thou seest me,
      thou seest Him,
 And if thou seest Him,
      thou seest us both.

     al-Hallaj, Kitab al-Tawasin, in The Mystics of Islam, by Reynold A Nicholson

~~ 

Thy Spirit is mingled in my spirit
    even as wine is mingled with pure water.
When anything touches Thee,
    it touches me.
Lo, in every case Thou art I!"

     al-Hallaj, Kitab al-Tawasin, in The Mystics of Islam, by Reynold A Nicholson


 ~~ 
 

Amir Khusrau  (1253 - 1325 ce ) Indian Sufi mystic, musician, poet and scholar. He was a spiritual disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi, and is one of the most beloved poets of the Chishti Sufi lineage.

Love came and spread like blood in my veins and the skin of me,
It filled me with the Friend and completely emptied me.
The Friend has taken over all parts of my existence,
Only my name remains, as all is He.

 ~~ 
 

Muinuddin Chishti  (1141 - 1230 ce) born in Khorasan. A widely beloved Persian spiritual leader who carried the Chishti lineage to India.

The noise of the lover is only up to
       the time when he has not seen his Beloved.
Once he sees the Beloved, he becomes calm and quiet,
      just as the rivers are boisterous before they join the ocean,
but when they do so, there are becalmed forever.

~~

The one who knows becomes perfect only when
      all else is removed from in-between him and the Friend.
Either he remains or the Friend.

~~
 

Hazret-i Uftade  (1490-1580 ce) Mehmed Muhyiddin Uftade was a widely revered Turkish saint, and founder of the Jelveti order of Sufis who emphasized the return into the midst of society after learning to overcome the lower-self.

If you desire the Beloved, my heart,
Do not cease to pour out lamentations.
Observing His existence, reach annihilation!
Say “Oh He and You who is He”.

Let tears of blood pour from your eyes
May they emerge hot from the furnace
Say not that he is one of you or one of us
Say “Oh He and You who is He”.

Let love come that you may have a friend
Your distresses are a torrent
Sweeping you along the way to the Friend
Say “Oh He and You who is He”.

Take yourself up to the heavens
Meet the angels
And fulfill your desires
Say “Oh He and You who is He”.

Pass beyond the universe, this [unfurled] carpet
Beyond the pedestal and beyond the throne
That the bringers of good tidings may greet you
Say “Oh He and You who is He”.

Remove your you from you
Leave behind body and soul
That theophanies may appear
Say “Oh He and You who is He”.

Pass on, without looking aside
Without your heart pouring forth to another
That you may drink the pure waters
Say “Oh He and You who is He”.

If you desire union with the Beloved
Oh Uftade! Find your soul
That the Beloved may appear before you
Say “Oh He and You who is He”.

 

~~

Other Mystical Poetry:

When the soul is plunged in the fire of divine love, like iron, it first
loses its blackness, and then growing to white heat it becomes like
unto the fire itself. And lastly, it grows liquid, and, losing its nature, is
transmuted into an utterly different quality of being. And as the difference
between iron that is cold and iron that is hot, so is the difference between
soul and soul, between the tepid soul and the soul made incandescent by
divine love.

       
Richard of St. Victor - de Quattuor Gradibus Violentae Charitatis
 

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don't let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

             
Rainer Maria Rilke

 

 Also see the Sufi poetry of wahiduddin.