fihi ma fihi
Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi
- chapter forty eight -
from Discourses of Rumi, translated by A.J Arberry
a hunting and a shackling of benefits. When you hear the voice of
gratitude, you get ready to give more. When God loves a servant He
afflicts him; if he endures with fortitude, he chooses him; if he is
grateful, He elects him. Some men are grateful to God for His
wrathfulness and some are grateful to Him for His graciousness. Each of
the two classes is good; for gratitude is a sovereign antidote, changing
wrath into grace. The intelligent and perfect man is he who is grateful
for harsh treatment, both openly and in secret; for it is he whom God
has elected. If God's will be the bottom reach of Hell, by gratitude His
purpose is hastened.
For outward complaining is a diminution of inward complaining. Muhammad
said, peace be upon him, 'I laugh as I slay.' That means, 'My laughing
in the face of him who is harsh to me is a slaying of him.' The
intention of laughter is gratitude in the place of complaining.
It is related that a certain Jew lived next door to one of the
Companions of God's Messenger. This Jew lived in an upper room, whence
descended into the Muslim's apartment all kinds of dirt and filth, the
piddle of his children, the water his clothes were washed in. Yet the
Muslim always thanked the Jew, and bade his family do the same. So
things continued for eight years, until the Muslim died. Then the Jew
entered his apartment, to condole with the family, and saw all the filth
there, and how it issued from his upper room. So he realised what had
happened during the past years, and was exceedingly sorry, and said to
the Muslim's household, 'Why on earth didn't you tell me? Why did you
always thank me? they replied, 'Our father used to bid us be grateful,
and chided us against ceasing to be grateful.' So the Jew became a
The mentioning of virtuous men
Encourages to virtue then,
Just as the minstrel with his song
Urges the wine to pass along.
For this reason God has mentioned in the Koran His prophets and those of
His servants who were righteous, and thanked them for what they did unto
Him who is All-powerful and All-forgiving.
Gratitude for sucking the breast is a blessing. Though the breast be
full, until you suck it the milk does not flow.
Someone asked: What is the cause of ingratitude, and what is it that
The Master answered: The preventer of gratitude is inordinate greed. For
whatever a man may get, he was greedy for more than that. It was
inordinate greed that impelled him to that, so that when he got less
than what he had set his heart upon his greed prevented him from being
grateful. So he was heedless of his own defect, and heedless also of the
defect and adulteration of the coin he proffered.
Raw and inordinate greed is like eating raw fruit and raw bread and raw
meat; inevitably it generates sickness and begets ingratitude. When a
man realises that he has eaten something unwholesome, a purge becomes
necessary. God most High in His wisdom makes him suffer through
ingratitude so that he may be purged and rid of that corrupt conceit,
lest that one sickness become a hundred sicknesses.
And we tried them with good things and evil,
that haply they should return. (Qur'an 7:168)
That is to say: We made provision for them from whence they had never
reckoned, namely the unseen world, so that their gaze shrinks from
beholding the secondary causes, which are as it were partners to God. It
was in this sense that Abú Yazid said, 'Lord, I have never associated
any with Thee.' God most High said, 'O Abú Yazid, not even on the night
of the milk? You said one night, "The milk has done me harm." It is I
who do harm, and benefit.' Abú Yazid had looked at the secondary cause,
so that God reckoned him a polytheist and said, 'It is I who do harm,
after the milk and before the milk; but I made the milk for a sin, and
the harm for a correction such as a teacher administers.'
When the teacher says, 'Don't eat the fruit,' and the pupil eats it,
and the teacher beats him on the sole of his foot, it is not right for
the pupil to say, 'I ate the fruit and it hurt my foot.' On this basis,
whoso preserves his tongue from ascribing partners to God, God
undertakes to cleanse his spirit of the weeds of polytheism. A little
with God is much.
The difference between giving praise and giving thanks is that thanks
are given for benefits received. One does not say, 'I gave thanks to him for
his beauty and his bravery.' Praise-giving is more general.
'The mentioning of virtuous men': quoted from Sana'i, Hadiqat, p.582.
This brief excerpt was from the book:
Discourses of Rumi, translated by A.J Arberry