Thursday, September 12, 2013

Roses from the Rose Garden...........

The Rose Garden
Written by
Shaikh Muslih al-Din Sa'di
Translated by
Francis Gladwin

"It was the season of spring; the air was temperate, and the rose in
full bloom. The vestment of the trees resembled the festive garments
of the fortunate. It was mid-spring, when the nightingales were
chanting from the pulpits of the branches; the rose decked with pearly
dew, like blushes on the cheek of a chiding mistress. It happened
once, that I was benighted in a garden, in company with one of my
friends. The spot was delightful, the trees intertwined; you would have
said that the earth was bedecked with glass spangles, and that the
knot of the Pleiades was suspended from the branch of the vine. A
garden with a running stream, and trees from whence birds were
warbling melodious strains: that filled with tulips of various hues; these
loaded with fruits of several kinds. Under the shade of its trees the
zephyr had spread the variegated carpet. In the morning, when the
desire to return home overcame our inclination for remaining, I saw in
his lap a collection of roses, odoriferous herbs, and hyacinths, which
he had intended to carry to town. I said," You are not ignorant that the
flower of the garden soon fadeth, and that the enjoyment of the rosebush is but of short continuance; and the sages have declared, that
the heart ought not to be set upon anything that is transitory." He
asked, "What course is then to be pursued?" I replied, "I am able to
form a book of roses, which will delight the beholders, and gratify
those who are present; whose leaves the tyrannic arm of the autumnal
blasts can never affect, nor injure the blossom of its spring. What
benefit will you derive from a basket of flowers? Carry a leaf from my
garden: a rose may continue in bloom for five or six days; but this
rose-garden will flourish forever." As soon as I had uttered these
words, he flung the flowers from his lap, and, laying hold on the skirt of my garment, exclaimed, "When the beneficent promise, they faithfully
discharge their engagement." In the course of a few days, two
chapters (one on the comforts of society, and the other containing
rules for conversation) were written out in my notebook, in a style that
may be useful to orators, and improve the skill of letter-writers. In
short, whilst the rose was yet in bloom, the book entitled the Rose
Garden was finished: but it will be truly perfected on gaining a
favorable reception at court, and when it obtains an indulgent perusal
from that prince who is the asylum of the world, the shadow of the
Most High, the ray of providential beneficence, the treasury of the age,
the refuge of religion, the favorite of Heaven, the mighty arm of the
victorious empire, the lamp of the resplendent religion, the most
splendid of mankind, the aggrandizer of the faith, Sa'd, son of Atabuk
the great; that potent monarch to whom nations bend the neck; lord
paramount of the kings of Arabia and Persia; sovereign of land and
sea; inheritor of the throne of Solomon, Muzaffar al-Din, may God
perpetuate the good fortune of both, and prosper all their righteous

Out of the Pan into the Fire

I had grown weary of the society of my Damascus friends, and
therefore, made my way into Jerusalem desert, where I enjoyed the
companionship of the beasts; until the time came when the Franks
made me their prisoner, and kept me with Jews in a trench in Tripoli
digging clay. One of the leading citizens of Aleppo, with who I had
been formerly acquainted, chancing to pass by, recognized me and
said, "Sirrah, what manner of life is this?" I said, "What can I say?
 I fled from men to mountain and to plain,
 For I had nothing from mankind to gain;
 How is my case? Regard me in this den,
 Where I must sweat with men that are not men.
 Better to hand in chains, when friends are there,
 Than dwell with strangers in a garden fair."
 He had compassion on my condition, and with ten dinars procured
my release from bondage. He took me along with him to Aleppo, and
there made me marry his daughter, adding a dowry of a hundred
dinars. Some time passed. She was a woman always scowling,
disobedient and growling; she began to give me plenty of her shrewish
tongue, and made life wholly miserable for me.
 A bad wife comes with a good man to dwell:
 She soon converts his pleasant world to hell.
 Beware of evil partnership, beware:
 From hellish torment, Lord, thy servant spare!
 Once in a torrent of abuse she said, "Are you not that man whom
my father bought back from the Franks?" I said, "Yes, I am that man
whom your father bought back from the Frankish chains for ten dinars,
and delivered into your bondage for a 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 the real wolf."

On Contentment
 I never lamented about the vicissitude of time or complained of the
turns of fortune, except on the occasion when I was barefooted and
unable to procure slippers. But when I entered the great mosque of
Kufah with a sore heart, and beheld a man without feet, I offered
thanks to the bounty of God, consoled myself for my want of shoes,
and recited: "A roast fowl is to the sight of a satiated man less valuable
than a blade of grass on the table; and to him who has no means nor
power a burnt turnip is [as good as] a roasted fowl."

The Last Sleight
Translated by
Reuben Levy

A person had arrived at the head of his profession in the art of
wrestling: he knew three hundred and sixty capital sleights in this art,
and every day exhibited something new; but having a sincere regard
for a beautiful youth, one of his scholars, he taught him three hundred
and fifty nine sleights, reserving, however, one sleight to himself. The
youth excelled so much in skill and in strength that no one was able to
cope with him. He at length boasted, before the Sultan, that the
superiority which he allowed his master to maintain over him was out
of respect to his years and the consideration of having been his
instructor; for otherwise he was not inferior in strength, and was his
equal in point of skill. The king did not approve of this disrespectful
conduct, and commanded that there should be a trial of skill.
 An extensive spot was appointed for the occasion. The ministers of
state and other grandees of the court were in attendance. The youth,
like a lustful elephant, entered with a percussion that would have
removed from its base a mountain of iron. The master, being sensible
that the youth was his superior in strength, attacked with the sleight
which he had kept to himself. The youth not being able to repel it, the
master with both hands lifted him from the ground, and raising him
over his head, flung him on the earth. The multitude shouted; the king
commanded that a dress and a reward in money should be bestowed
on the master, and reproved and derided the youth for having
presumed to put himself in competition with his benefactor, and for
having failed the attempt. He said, "O King, my master did not gain the
victory over me through strength or skill; but there remained a small
part in the art of wrestling which he had withheld from me, and by that
small feint he got the better of me." The master observed: "I reserved it
for such an occasion as the present; the sages having said, 'Put not
yourself so much in the power of your friend that if he should be
disposed to be inimical he may be able to effect his purpose.' Have
you not heard what was said by a person who had suffered injury from
one whom he had educated? 'Either there never was any gratitude in
the world, or else no one at this time practices it. I never taught anyone
the art of archery who in the end did not make a butt of me.'"

The Greedy Merchant
Translated by
Reuben Levy

I saw a merchant who possessed one hundred and fifty camels
laden with merchandise, and forty slaves. One night, in the island of
Kish, he entertained me in his own apartment, and during the whole
night did not cease talking in rambling fashion, saying: "I have such
and such a partner in Turkistan, and such goods in Hindustan; these
are the title-deeds of such and such a piece of ground, and, for this
matter such a one is security." Sometimes he would say: "I have an
inclination to go to Alexandria, the air of which is very pleasant." Then
again: "No, I will not go, because the Mediterranean sea is boisterous.
O Sa'di, I have another journey in contemplation, and after I have
performed that I will pass the remaining of my life in retirement, and
leave off trading." I asked what journey it was. He replied: "I want to
carry Persian brimstone to China, where I have heard it bears a very
high price; from thence I will transport China ware to Greece, and take
the brocades of Greece to India, and Indian steel to Aleppo. The
glassware of Aleppo I will convey to Yemen, and from thence go with
striped cloths to Persia; after which I will leave off trade and sit down in
my shop." He spoke so much of this foolishness that at length, being
quite exhausted, he said: "O Sa'di, relate also of what you have seen
and heard." I replied, "Have you not heard that once upon a time a
merchant, as he was travelling in the desert, fell from his camel? He
said that the covetous eye of the worldly man is either satisfied
through contentment or will be filled with the earth of the grave."


Two almond kernels in the same shell.-Saad Shirazi

Poet, prose writer and thinker, Muslihuddin Abu
Muhammad Abdullah ibn Mushrifuddin Sa'di, also referred
to as Shaykh Sa'di and Sa'di Shirazi, was born in Shiraz in
or around 1200. He died in Shiraz in or around 1292 of old

Little is known about the formative years of the poet's life
other than that his father, Mushrifi Shirazi, was a religious
man and of a religious persuasion. When Sa'di was about
twelve years old, his father passed away and the family
came under the protection of Sa'di's uncle who had a small
shop in Shiraz. With the help of his uncle, Sa'di completed
his early education in Shiraz. The end of his elementary
education coincides roughly with the invasion of Central
Asia by Chingiz Khan and the devastation of Khujand,
Samarqand, and Bukhara, the Iranian peoples' most
cherished cultural centers.

Sa'di left increasingly turbulent Shiraz for Baghdad where
he could study the Arabic language, Arab literature, hadith,
the Qur'an,and commentaries on the holy book at the
Nizamiyyah Academy. Once his education was complete,
he left Baghdad and until 1256, traveled extensively in the
Middle East, especially in Syria, Arabia, Egypt, Morocco,
and Abyssinia and in the eastern Islamic lands, particularly
in Turkistan. In the east, he might have traveled as far as

Sa'di's travels coincide with a time when Chingiz Khan
(1206-1227) passed the scepter of Mongol power to Ogadai
Khan (1221-1241) and when, under Khan Mongke (1251-
1258), Batu Khan devastated Russia and Eastern Europe. In
this respect, Sa'di is very much like Marco Polo who
traveled in the region from 1271 to 1294. There is a
difference, however, between the two. While Marco Polo
gravitated to the potentates and the good life, Sa'di mingled
with the ordinary survivors of the Mongol holocaust. He sat
in remote teahouses late into the night and exchanged views
with merchants, farmers, preachers, wayfarers, thieves, and
Sufi mendicants. For twenty years or more, he continued
the same schedule of preaching, advising, learning, honing
his sermons, and polishing them into gems illuminating the
wisdom and foibles of his people.

1256 is the date usually assigned for the time when Sa'di's
zeal for travel gave in to his desire to document the fruits of
his travels. He returned to his home town of Shiraz which,
under Atabak Abubakr Sa'd ibn Zangy (1231-60) was
enjoying an era of relative tranquility. Not only was he
welcomed to the city but was respected highly by the ruler
and enumerated among the greats of the province. In
response, Sa'di composed some of his most delightful
panegyrics as an initial gesture of gratitude in praise of the
ruling house and placed them at the beginning of his

Intended as a vehicle for the transmission of his poetic and
literary gifts, the Bustan (orchard) is an exquisite piece of
didactic poetry composed in 1257. It is comprised of ten
sections of verse, each a dissertation on wisdom, justice,
compassion, good government, beneficence, earthly and
mystic love, resignation, contentment, and humility.
Dedicated to Abubakr Zangy, over the centuries, many of
its verses have become popular proverbs, an indication of
the level of excellence at which the public holds this
contribution of the Shaykh.

Within a year of the composition of Bustan, Sa'di authored
another volume which he entitled Gulistan. Dedicated to
Sa'd ibn Zangy, the Gulistan (rose garden) is intended to
pass to subsequent generations the essence of the Shaykh's
sermons. The volume consists of a cycle of eight rhymed
prose partitions each interspersed with poetry. The themes
 discussed include the manners of kings, the morals of dervishes,
 the preference of contentment, the advantages of keeping silent,
 as well as youth, old age, and the like. The following,
 translated by this author, illustrates Sa'di's attitude towards 
wealth and authority vis-a-vis freedom and enjoyment of a 
tranquil life:

Astride a horse I am not, nor camel-like carry a load,
Subjects I have none, nor follow any sultan's code;
I worry not for what exists, nor fret for what is lost,
I breathe with extreme ease, and live at very little

The volume is melodious in style with a predominance of
love in it. It expresses the poet's true emotions in its prose
as well as in its exemplary poetry. Furthermore, it is a gold
mine for effective use of metaphor displaying mystic love
in the guise of earthly love, and is redolent with contempt
for priesthood and authority. The first Persian literary
contribution to be translated into a Western tongue, the
Gulistan was translated by Rahatsek in Banares in 1888.
Sa'di's collected works includes 65 odes out of which 20 are
in Arabic. His odes are dedicated to such diverse themes as
spring, Shiraz, didactic matters, and religion. Only 20 of his
odes are devoted to either advising rulers or praising them.
Sa'di also wrote 200 quatrains, 7 elegies, and 737 sonnets.
Sa'di distinguished between the spiritual and the practical or
mundane aspects of life. In his Bustan, for example,
spiritual Sa'di uses the mundane world as a springboard to
propel himself beyond the earthly realms. The images in
Bustan are delicate in nature and soothing. In the Gulistan,
on the other hand, mundane Sa'di lowers the spiritual to
touch the heart of his fellow wayfarers. Here the images are
graphic and, thanks to Sa'di's dexterity, remain concrete in
the reader's mind. Realistically, too, there is a ring of truth 
in the division. The Shaykh preaching in the Khaniqah
experiences a totally different world than the merchant
passing through a town. The unique thing about Sa'di is that
he embodies both the Sufi Shaykh and the traveling
merchant. They are, as he himself puts it, two almond
kernels in the same shell.

Although Sa'di's name is associated with many famous
names in the West, three have been instrumental in the
development of his persona. Sir William Jones, for whom
Sa'di was a household name while in India, introduced Sa'di
to England. From there, Sa'di's fame traveled to Europe and
was picked up by Victor Hugo, Honore-de Balzac, and
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe who added an international
dimension to Sa'di's fame and moved it across the Atlantic
in the direction of the American Transcendentalists Ralph
Waldo Emerson and Henry Thoreau. Among the devoted
readers of this distinguished international group of poets,
Sa'di became as well-known as Omar Khayyam is known

Fame, however, is a fleeting thing. Back in Britain, using
Sa'di's volumes as a textbook for learning the Persian
language, Edward Fitzgerald prepared his first edition of the
Ruba'iyyat of Omar Khayyam and published it
anonymously (1859). Its appeal surpassed that of the works
of Sa'di. In fact the popularity that the second edition of the
Ruba'iyyat received was unmatched by any other translation
of secular Asian poetry into English. Neither translations of
Sa'di's quatrains nor the translation of his other works in
quatrain form could turn the tide. Sa'di was thus forced to
share his fame with Khayyam and later with Hafiz.

Sa'di's prose style, described as "simple but impossible to
imitate" flows quite naturally and effortlessly. Its simplicity,
however, is grounded in a semantic web consisting of
synonymy, homophony, and oxymoron buttressed by
internal rhythm and external rhyme. Iranian authors over
the years have failed to imitate its style in their own
language, how can foreigners translate it into their own
language, no matter what language?

After the composition of the Gulistan, in 1258, Sa'di went
into retirement and was heard of no more. He is the
quintessential Muslim humanist, the first such wise man to
be recognized in the West.

The world honors Sa'di today by gracing the entrance to the
Hall of Nations in the United Nations in New York City
with a call for breaking all barriers. In the present author's
translation, it reads:

Of One Essence is the Human Race,
Thusly has Creation put the Base.
One Limb impacted is sufficient,
For all Others to feel the Mace.
The Unconcern'd with Others' Plight,
Are but Brutes with Human Face.

A Brief Chronology
1200? Sa'di is born in Shiraz
1206 Temuchin takes the title of Chingiz Khan
1220 The Khwarazm Shah is defeated by Chingiz Khan;
Sa'di's primary education in Shiraz ends
1226 Sa'di's education at the Baghdad Nizamiyyah ends
1227 Chingiz Khan dies
1241 Greater part of Russia is subjugated by Batu Khan
1243 Mongols defeat Seljuqs of Rum near Sivas
1256 Hulagu Khan takes Assassin stronghold of Alamut;
Berke, Batu Khan's brother, accepts Islam; Sa'di's
travels end
1257 Sa'di's Bustan is completed
1258 Hulagu Khan takes Baghdad; Sa'di's Gulistan is
1259 Sa'di's retirement begins
1260 Mongols defeated by the Mamluks at 'Ayn Jalut
1271 Marco Polo travels through Persia to China
1273 Maulana Jalal al-Din Rumi dies
1290? Sa'di dies in Shiraz

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Fariduddin Attar and His Seven Valleys of Love

Fariduddin Attar was one of the earliest Sufi poets of Persia, and there is no doubt that the work of Attar was the inspiration of Rumi and of many other spiritual souls and poets of Persia. He showed the way to the ultimate aim of life by making a sort of picture in a poetic form. Almost all the great teachers of the world, when they have pointed out the right way to seeking souls, have had to adopt a symbolical form of expression, such as a story or a legend which could give a key to the one who is ready to understand and at the same time interest the one who is not yet ready. Thus, both may rejoice, the one who sleeps, and the one who is already awakened. This method has been followed by the poets of Persia and India, especially the Hindustani poets. They have told their stories in a form which would be acceptable, not only to the seekers after truth, but to those in all the different stages of evolution.

Attar's best known work is called Mantiq-ut-Tair, or the 'Colloquy of the Birds,' from which the idea of the 'Blue Bird' has been taken today. Very few have understood the idea of the 'Blue Bird', or the 'Bird of the Sky.' It contains a very ancient teaching, through the use of the Persian word for sky. This teaching points out that every soul has a capacity, which may be called the 'sky,' and that this capacity can accommodate earth or heaven, whichever it partakes of and holds within itself. When one walks in a crowd, what does one see? One sees numerous faces, but one might better call them various attitudes. All that we see in individuals, all that presents itself to us, has expression, atmosphere and form. If we give it one name, it is the attitude, whatever attitude they have towards life, right or wrong, good or bad; they are themselves that attitude. Does this not show how appropriate the word 'sky' is?

In point of fact, whatever one makes of oneself, one becomes that. The source of happiness or unhappiness is all in man himself. When he is unaware of this, he is not able to arrange his life, but as he becomes more acquainted with this secret, he gains mastery, and the process by which this mastery is attained is the only fulfillment of the purpose of this life. It is this process which is explained by Attar in his description of the seven valleys through which this Bird of the Sky has passed.

The first valley is the Valley of the Quest. How true it is that every child is born with the tendency to search, to know! What we call inquisitiveness or curiosity is born in each one of them, and it represents the inner feeling of quest. And as man is born with this tendency, he cannot be satisfied until by searching he has obtained the knowledge he wishes to have. There is no doubt that what prevents man from gaining the knowledge that his soul is really searching for is himself. It is his small self, always standing in his way, that keeps him from searching for the only thing that every soul strives to find. Therefore, it would be safe to say that there is no one in this world who is a worse enemy of man than man himself.

In this search, some people think that one can perhaps find out from science or from art something that is behind this manifestation. Surely, whether the quest be material or spiritual, in the end, one will arrive, and one must arrive, at the goal that is the same for everyone. Scientists and engineers, people who are absorbed in research into material things and hardly ever think of spiritual matters, even they, after much research, arrive very close to the same knowledge that is the ultimate knowledge. Therefore, whatever a man may seem to us, materialist, atheist or agnostic, we cannot really call him that because, in the end, his goal is the same and his attainment is the same. If he really reaches the depths of knowledge, if he goes far enough, then whatever he was searching for, he will arrive at the same goal.

When he has searched enough and found something satisfying, a man still cannot enjoy that satisfaction unless there is one faculty at play, and that is the faculty of love and devotion. Do we not see in our everyday life that people of great intellect and wide interests very often seem to miss something? When it happens with a couple that one is very intellectual, the other may feel there is something lacking to make their lives complete, that intellect alone is not enough. What is it? It is the heart which balances life, and the absence of heart keeps life dry. Knowledge and heart are just like the positive and negative forces; it is these two things which make life balanced. If the heart quality is very strong and intellect is lacking, then life lacks balance. Knowledge and heart quality must be developed together. Therefore, according to Attar, the faculty of devotion or quality of heart is the Second Valley, the Valley of Love.

The Third Valley is the Valley of Knowledge, the knowledge which illuminates and comes by the help of the love element and the intellect. That is the knowledge which is called spiritual knowledge. Without a developed love quality, man is incapable of having that knowledge. There are fine lights and shades in one's life that cannot be perceived and fully understood without having touched the deeper side of life, which is the devotional side. The person who has never in his life been wholly grateful cannot know what it is. He who has not experienced humility in life does not know its beauty. The one who has not known gentleness or modesty cannot appreciate its beauty or recognize it.

No doubt a person of fine qualities is often ridiculed if he happens to be in a place where these qualities are not understood, where they are like a foreign language. This shows that there is a refinement in life for which intellect alone is not sufficient. The heart must be open too. A very intellectual man went to Jami and asked him to take him as his pupil and give him initiation. Jami looked at him and said, 'Have you ever loved anybody?' This man said, 'No, I have not loved.' Then Jami said, 'Go and love first, then come to me and I will show you the way.'

Love has its time at every stage of life. As a child, as a youth, as a grown-up, whatever stage of life one has reached, love is always asked for and love always has its part to perform. Whatever situation we are placed in, amongst friends or foes, amongst those who understand us or amongst those who do not, in ease or in difficulty, in all places at all times, it has its part to perform. The one who thinks, 'I must not let the principle of love have its way, I must harden myself against it', imprisons his soul. There is only one thing in the world that shows the sign of heaven, that gives the proof of God, and that is pure, unselfish love. For all the noble qualities which are hidden in the soul will spring forth and blossom when love helps them and nurtures them. Man may have a great deal of good in him and he may be very intelligent, but as long as his heart is closed, he cannot show that nobleness, that goodness which is hidden in his heart. The psychology of the heart is such that once one begins to know it, one realizes that life is a continual phenomenon. Then every moment of life becomes a miracle; a searchlight is thrown upon human nature and all things become so clear that one does not ask for any greater phenomenon or miracle; it is a miracle in itself. What one calls telepathy, thought reading, or clairvoyance, and all such things, come by themselves when the heart is open.

If a person is cold and rigid, he feels within himself as if he were in a grave. He is not living, he cannot enjoy this life for he cannot express himself and he cannot see the light and life outside. What keeps man from developing the heart quality? His exacting attitude. He wants to make a business of love. He says, 'If you will love me, I will love you.' As soon as a man measures and weighs his favors and his services and all that he does for one whom he loves, he ceases to know what love is. Love sees the beloved and nothing else.

As Rumi says, 'Whether you love a human being or you love God, there will come a day when all lovers, either of man or of God, will be brought before the throne of love, and the presence of that only Beloved will reign there.' What does this show? In loving our friend, in loving our neighbor, even in the love that one shows to one's enemy, one is only loving God. The one who says, 'I love God, but I cannot love man,' does not love God, he cannot. It is like saying, 'I love you very much, but I do not like looking at your face!'

After this Third Valley, where the knowledge of human nature and of the fine feelings, which are called virtues, is attained, then the next step is Annihilation. What we call destruction or annihilation is nothing but change. Neither substance nor form nor spirit, nothing is absolutely destroyed; it is only changed. But man sometimes does not like to change. He does not like it, but he cannot live without it. There is not one single moment of our life when there is no change. Whether we accept it or not, the change is there. Destruction, annihilation or death might seem a very different change; yet, there are a thousand deaths that we die in life. A great disappointment, the moment when our heart breaks, is worse than death. Often our experiences in life are worse than death, yet we go through them. At the time they seem unbearable; we think we cannot stand it, but yet we live. If after dying a thousand deaths we still live, then there is nothing in the world to be afraid of. It is man's delusion, his own imagination, which makes death dreadful to him. Can anyone kill life? If there is any death, it is that of death itself, for life will not die.

Someone went to a Sufi with a question. He said, 'I have been puzzling for many, many years and reading books, and I have not been able to find a definite answer. Tell me what happens after death?' The Sufi replied, 'Please ask this question of someone who will die. I am going to live.' The idea is that there is one sky which is our own being; in other words, we can call it an accommodation. What has taken possession of this accommodation? A deluded ego that says, 'I.' It is deluded by this body and mind and it has called itself an individual. When a man has a ragged coat he says, 'I am poor'. In reality his coat is poor, not he. What this capacity or accommodation contains is that which becomes his knowledge, his realization, and it is that which limits him. It forms that limitation which is the tragedy of every soul.

Now, this capacity may be filled with self, or it may be filled with God. There is only room for one. Either we live with our limitation, or we let God reign there in His unlimited Being. In other words, we take away the home which has always belonged to someone else and fill it with delusion and call it our own. We not only call it our own, but we even call it our self. That is man's delusion, and all religious and philosophical teachings are given in order to rid man of this delusion that deprives him of his spiritual wealth. Spiritual wealth is the greatest wealth. Spiritual happiness is the only happiness; there is no other.

Once a person is able to disillusion himself, he arrives at the stage described in the Fourth Valley, the Valley of Non-Attachment, and he is afraid. He thinks, 'How can I give my home to someone else, even if it is God? This is my body, my mind, my home, my individuality. How can I give it away, even to God?' But in reality it is not something upon which he can rely. It is delusion from beginning to end and subject to destruction. Does anything stand above destruction? Nothing. Then why be afraid to think for the moment that it is nothing? This natural fear arises because man is unaccustomed to face reality. He is so used to dreams that he is afraid of reality. People are afraid of losing themselves, but they do not know that non-attachment is not losing one's self; it means losing illusion. In reality, it is only by losing this illusion that they can find themselves. One's soul has become lost in this illusion, and the process is to get out of it, to rise above it.

By the time the Fifth Valley, the Valley of Unity, is reached, one has disillusioned one's self, and it is this act which is called in the Bible 'Rebirth'. This is when the soul has emerged from illusion, it is the birth of the soul. How does this birth of the soul express itself? What does one feel? It expresses itself first in a kind of bewilderment, together with a great joy. A man's interest in life is increased; all that he sees he enjoys. He concerns himself with few things, but wonders at all. This bewilderment is such that it becomes wonderfully amusing to look at life. The whole world becomes a kind of stage to him, full of players. He then begins to amuse himself with the people of this world, as one might play with children, and yet not be concerned with what they do, for he expects no better. If children do something different from the parents, the parents are not much concerned. They know it is a stage of the child's life and that they cannot expect any better from them. So, likes and dislikes, favors and disfavors, may interest him, but they will not affect him in the least.

There is another stage, where this bewilderment brings a man to see the reflection of the One who has taken possession of his heart. This means also to see one's Beloved in everyone, even in one's enemy. The Beloved is seen in all things, and then the bowl of poison given by the Beloved is not so bitter. Those who, like Christ, have sacrificed themselves and suffered for humanity, have given an example to the world. They have revealed a God-conscious soul who has reached the stage where even an enemy appears as a friend, as the Beloved. And it is not an unattainable stage, for the soul is made of love, and it is going towards the perfection of love. All the virtues man has learned, love has taught him. Therefore, this world of good and bad, of thorns and flowers, can become a place of splendor only.

In the Sixth Valley, the Valley of Amazement, man recognizes and understands what is beyond all things, the reason of all reasons, the cause of all causes; for all intuition and power develop in man with this unfoldment.

The Seventh Valley, the Valley of God-Realization, is the valley of that peace which every soul is looking for, whether spiritually or materially, seeking from morning until night for something that will give it peace. To some souls, that peace comes when asleep; but for the God-conscious, that peace becomes his home. As soon as he has closed his eyes, as soon as he has relaxed his body, stilled his mind and lost the limitations of his consciousness, he begins to float in the unlimited spheres.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Family tree of Muhammad Sallallahu alahi wassalam

Family tree

Kilab ibn Murrah
Fatimah bint Sa'd
Zuhrah ibn Kilab
(progenitor of Banu Zuhrah)
maternal great-great-grandfather
Qusai ibn Kilab
paternal great-great-great-grandfather
Hubba bint Hulail
paternal great-great-great-grandmother
`Abd Manaf ibn Zuhrah
maternal great-grandfather
`Abd Manaf ibn Qusai
paternal great-great-grandfather
Atikah bint Murrah
paternal great-great-grandmother
Wahb ibn `Abd Manaf
maternal grandfather
Hashim ibn 'Abd Manaf
(progenitor of Banu Hashim)
paternal great-grandfather
Salma bint `Amr
paternal great-grandmother
Fatimah bint `Amr
paternal grandmother
`Abd al-Muttalib
paternal grandfather
Halah bint Wahb
paternal step-grandmother
`Abd Allah
Abu Talib
paternal uncle
paternal uncle
paternal uncle
paternal half-uncle
first nurse
second nurse
paternal half-uncle
family tree
Abu Lahab
paternal half-uncle
6 other sons
and 6 daughters
first wife
`Abd Allah ibn `Abbas
paternal cousin
paternal cousin
family treedescendants
family tree
Umm Kulthum
adopted son
Ali ibn Zainab
Umamah bint Zainab
`Abd-Allah ibn Uthman
(marriage disputed)
Usama ibn Zayd
adoptive grandson
Muhsin ibn Ali
Hasan ibn Ali
Husayn ibn Ali
family tree
Umm Kulthum bint Ali
Zaynab bint Ali
tenth / eleventh wife*
Abu Bakr
family tree
second / third wife*
family tree
Umm Salama
sixth wife
eighth wife
eleventh / twelfth wife*
second / third wife*
family tree
fifth wife
fourth wife
seventh wife
Umm Habiba
ninth wife
Maria the Copt
thirteenth wife