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Islamica Magazine

Moses and the Shepard


The great Muslim scholar and mystical poet Jalal al-Din Rumi has been a bestselling poet in North America. This, however, has not changed common misperceptions of Muslims with many English-speaking readers viewing Muslims as a literalist, intolerant and self-righteous mass. Adding to this unfortunate fact, more disaffected young Muslims are being attracted to politicized interpretations of Islam sometimes confirming this stereotype. So when popular translations divorce Rumi's poetry from his original Islamic context, readers can't be expected to make the connection. Yet his teachings of humility, farsightedness and generosity are as popular among most Muslims as to individuals of other faiths. It was the Islamic tradition that gave Rumi his wisdom and enthusiasm for poetry. As Rumi's 800th birthday approaches in September, we offer as a timely reminder this annotated translation of "Moses and the Shepard," probably the most popular story in Rumi's Masnavi among Muslims.

Moses condemns the prayer of a shepherd

Once Moses overheard a shepherd pray: 'O God! O Lord!' he heard this shepherd say, 'Where do you live that I might serve you there? I'd mend your battered shoes and comb your hair, And wash your clothes, and kill the lice and fleas, And serve you milk to sip from when you please; I'd kiss your little hand, and rub your feet, And sweep your bedroom clean and keep it neat; I'd sacrifice my herd of goats for youThis loud commotion proves my love is true.' He carried on in this deluded way, So Moses asked, 'What's that I hear you say?' 'I speak to my Creator there on high, The one who also made the earth and sky.' Moses replied, 'You've truly lost your way; You've given up the faith and gone astray. It's gibberish and babble, stupid twitYou'd better learn to put a cork in it! Your blasphemy pollutes the atmosphere And tears to shreds that silk of faith so sheer. Powered by Joomla! Generated: 11 August, 2008, 01:01

nor material needs: Milk is for creatures who must drink and eat. Though man and woman are inside the same. He'll still seek vengeance for it if he can. nor does the Lord beget. If you address a man by Fatima's [3] name. and blots your record too. When I was ill you never once stopped by:[1] He wasn't left alone with his disease. While hands and feet are great for you and me. A fire will burn up all humanity! You don't believe? Then please explain this smoke.Islamica Magazine While socks and shoes might be superb for Powered by Joomla! Generated: 11 August. don't misbehave."[2] Don't talk to saints without the reverence due! It blocks your heart. http://www. Even if he's a calm and patient manThat glorious name which women all revere Can wound a man more deeply than a spear. Since God has said. Why act familiar when that is abhorred? Such stupid friendship's truly enmity. How can they fit the sun? Have you a clue? If you don't shut your mouth immediately.islamicamagazine. That servant who through me both hears and sees. They'd just contaminate God's purityHe was not born. "I'm he and he is I. For relatives reserve your generous deedsGod has no body. 2008. The Lord's above such acts of piety.' Even when you address his chosen slave Select your words with care. Shoes are for those who have a need for feet. our Lord. And why your soul turned black when you just spoke! If you're aware that He is God. [4] But reproducing beings are in his debt. 01:01 .

For Indians their own dialect sounds best. Unlike our Maker we must fade away. God rebukes Moses for what he said to the shepherd A revelation came down instantly: 'You have just turned a slave away from me! Was not to lead to union why you came? Is causing separation now your aim? As far as possible don't separateAbove all else divorce is what I hate. And I pay no attention to their speech. That is because we wither and decay.' He breathed a heavy sigh and ripped his cloak. I'm not made any purer by their praise.Islamica Magazine Those with a body were once born. Then in the desert disappeared like smoke. [5] I've given each one his own special ways And his unique expressions when he prays. Powered by Joomla! Generated: 11 August. The shepherd said.islamicamagazine. I stand immune to all impurity. But folk from Sind think theirs the loveliest. 2008. 01:01 . But their intentions and the heights they reachI know when men's hearts have humility. 'Your words have struck me dumb. and must Remain until death in this realm of dust. Regret now burns my soul. They gain in eloquence and godly ways.{sub type="reg"} Men's pride and cunning never bother me. I don't command for my own benefit. and I feel numb. But so my slaves themselves can gain from it. What he thinks virtuous you deem scandalous: This person's meat to you seems poisonous.

Burn thought and its expression with this fire! How far apart the meek and well-behaved From ardent lovers. who may seem depraved.Islamica Magazine Even if they should speak too haughtily. And that's worth more than countless pious deeds. Don't pick at faults and call him a disgrace. Don't wash the blood upon the martyr's face! It suits a martyr better that he bleeds. excusing the shepherd Then in the depths of Moses God concealed http://www.' The heart's the essence. So why insist they mend their rags again? God's lovers stand beyond all faiths. words are mere effects: The heart's what matters. as they Are shown by God Himself a higher way.islamicamagazine. I want a soul which burns so much it roars! It's time to light one's heart with pure desire. love's not changed by them. Though sorrows rain Powered by Joomla! Generated: 11 August. I'm tired of fancy terms and metaphors. 2008. A ruined village has no tithes to pay. 01:01 . Each moment lovers burn themselves away. Men in the Ka'ba end the qibla [6] rule&mdash. A revelation comes to Moses. hot air He rejects. A gem which lacks a seal remains a gem. What use are boots when swimming in a pool? You don't seek guidance from those drunken men.

Distinct from those the sober leave behind: He starts just like a rook. http://www. On reaching the poor shepherd finally. From post-eternity he flew. 'I bring you God's decree: Don't bother with good manners anymore. Sometimes just like a wave's crest rising high And then as if a fish has slithered by. Footprints of drunkards are a special kind. Moses announced. is also safe and bright. Into his heart poured words.Islamica Magazine Such secrets that can never be revealed. Occasionally he'd write his thoughts in sand Like fortune-tellers reading what is planned. through you. The world. He lost his wits and then found them anew. Then bishop-like diagonally instead. But let your heart express what's in its core! Your unbelief is faith. Scattering dust throughout the track he'd made. your faith God's light. 01:01 . he ran Towards the desert. steps straight ahead. Absolved by God. Who does what He should will. 'I passed that stage right at the start. and don't be scared I blame you still!' He said. He followed footprints that the shepherd laid.7 Speak out. 2008. Transparent just like speech and sight combined. If I describe this it will be in vainWhat lies beyond words how can I explain? This mystery would smash your brain to Powered by Joomla! Generated: 11 August. Once Moses had heard God's reproach.islamicamagazine. searching for that man. pure and refined. When writing it the firmest stylus splits.

8 A thousand spheres beyond. Whenever you should praise God. And may He bless your hand eternally!9 With words my current state can't be expressed. Mankind is bewildered by the suggestion that they could have visited God when he was sick. but that reed-player's own. 01:01 . The breath inside the reed a man has blown Is not the reed's. Fatima: the highly revered daughter of Prophet Muhammad. and the mother of the Prophet's grandsons Hasan and Husayn. 2008.' REFERENCES 1. which describes God as asking Mankind this question at the Resurrection. or saying of the Prophet in which he presents a message from God in his own words.islamicamagazine. 3. so God explains that if they had visited the sick people whom they had ignored they would have found Him there. So when the veil is lifted don't protest: 'What's now revealed we never could have guessed. be aware It's like this shepherd's crazy-sounding prayerThough yours seems better and more accurate. She became the wife of the Prophet's cousin and disciple 'Ali. which made my stallion vault Above the heavens with a somersault! May God stay close to human beings like me.Islamica Magazine I'm drenched in blood now from my love-torn heart! I've passed that lote tree found at heaven's end. for the Powered by Joomla! Generated: 11 August. I still ascend. What I have said give just a hint at best. God affirms that His worshippers continue to draw close to Him through extra acts of devotion until they eventually see and hear through Him. and thus subsist through Him. 'When I was ill you never once stopped by': this is part of the saying of the Prophet Muhammad. they're both inadequate. a variant of this hadith Moses rather than all Mankind as the person being addressed by God. Appropriately perhaps for this context. http://www. You cracked the whip. 'through me both hears and sees': this is possibly the most well-known Sacred Tradition. 2.' The image in the mirror which you see Is yours and not the mirror's obviously. Still.

01:01 .Islamica Magazine 4. __________________ DR. 'that lote tree at heaven's end': The Qur'an 53:13-18. nor does the Lord beget': The Qur'an 112:3. {/sub} Powered by Joomla! Generated: 11 August. it refers to a lote tree marking the utmost reach of heaven and the limits of human understanding. 'And may He bless your hand eternally': this is probably intended as an allusion to the miraculous transformation of Moses' hand mentioned in the Qur'an 20:22 and 28:132. 7. which asserts emphatically that God is one. 9. 'He was not born. His translation of Book Two will be released this year by Oxford University Press to coincide with the 800th anniversary of Jalal al-Din Rumi's birth. 5.islamicamagazine. 6. toward which Muslims pray. 'Who does what He should will': The Qur'an 14:27. 'Above all else is what I hate': part of a saying of the Prophet Muhammad. 8. where it is stressed that God will guide or lead astray whomever He should choose. in a passage about Prophet Muhammad's ascension to heaven. which empashizes how displeasing the separation of husband and wife through divorce is to God. 2008. The 112 chapter is a short one. JAWID MOJADDEDI is Assistant Professor of Religion at Rutgers University. His translation of The Masnavi: Book One. It was awarded the 2004 Lois Roth Prize for excellence in translation of Persian literature by the American Institute of Iranian Studies. eternal and incomparable. where. qibla: the direction of the Ka'ba in Mecca. was published in 2004 by Oxford University Press as an Oxford World's Classics edition.