1. One of the ninety-nine Names of God is Al-Ḥaiy, “The Living.”

2. Or, “is by Thee and to Thee.”

3. “Are air”; i.e., are nothing.

4. Taking the succeeding distich into consideration, the meaning is apparently that if a person is worthy of praying to God, and prays, he will be granted some thought, or shown some fine point, by which his difficulty will be solved.

5. Murgh-i rūz, “the bird of day,” is a name applied to the sun, so that the sense is presumably that God gives to the day the sun and maintains him. Murgh-i rūz might possibly, however, be equivalent to murgh-i saḥar, or murgh-i ṣubḥ-khvān, “the bird of dawn,” or “the bird which sings at dawn”, i.e., the nightingale, or the cock. This, however, is less probable, since it is only by restricting the day to a particular part of it that it would apply to the nightingale or the cock, whereas it applies in its entirety to the sun. “Day” too is generally opposed to “night”, and murgh-i rūz (the bird of day), “the sun,” to murgh-i shab (the bird of night), “the moon.” Cf. also the next distich.

6. The “white tent” is the light of day, the “black tent” the darkness of night.

7. i.e., day and night proceed as God commands. The “ring of bondage” of the sun and moon respectively is the sun itself in the day, and the moon itself at night. A ring worn in the ear was a badge of slavery.

8. This is simply the belief of all orthodox Muslims. Many believe in the influence of the skies, or rather, of the planets, upon human destinies, but would take them to be only agents of God.

9. The Ṣūfī or mystic does not believe that any appreciation of God can be obtained by the intellect, but that it is obtained through the discipline of the Ṣūfī life. (See C. E. Wilson’s Translation of Rūmī’s Masnavī, Book II.)

10. “Breaks down”; lit., “is hamstrung.”

11. “In efforts to approach”; i.e., in the study by the philosopher of God by means of the intellect.

12. God is said to be everywhere, since no part of the whole universe is independent of or apart from His being. He is also nowhere, since He, as absolute and universal existence, cannot be assigned to any definite place. From another point of view, He must be both everywhere and also nowhere, since otherwise there would be something wanting to His universality.

13. By being “a part of the seven heavens” the Author possibly means that our intellect is, as it were, more immediately derived from the intellects attributed to the planets of the seven heavens. This belongs to the doctrine of the intellects of the ten spheres, which are as follows: the empyrean, the sphere of the fixed stars, those of the seven planets, and the sublunary sphere. (Cf. also Note 30.) When, however, we are in Com­munion with God we are above intellect, and, therefore, outside of the seven heavens.

14. The “Universal Intellect”, of which individual intellects are phases, was the first entity created by God: Auwalu mā khalaqa ’llāhu ’l-‘Aql: “The first thing which God created was the Intellect.” This teaching of orthodox Ṣūfīism is of course opposed to that of Neo-Platonism, which makes the Universal Intellect the first emanation from the Deity and a phase of the Divine Being.

15. i.e., God is the Alterer or Changer of states of every kind, mental, moral, and physical.

16. The “ruby’s fire” is the red rose, or, perhaps, any red flowers. The real ruby was supposed to be produced and developed in stone by the action of the sun.

17. “Hold off,” bard-ā-bard, a word used by guards, ushers, etc., in clearing the way. The meaning of the distich is that the world and the sky serve as veils to conceal the Deity and His Names and Attributes from the commonalty.

18. “A painter on Thy canvas every one”; or, “an embroiderer of Thy curtain”; i.e., everyone is an apparent mover of events in the visible world; but God is the real Mover of events.

19. See Note 8.

20. “Kai-Qubād would have been born of an astrologer”; for if he had been, his father by his knowledge of the science would have been able to ensure him felicity or prosperity, but since he was prosperous without his father’s having been an astrologer the Author argues that prosperity or felicity does not come from a knowledge of astrology. Kai-Qubād was the first of the Kayānian or second dynasty of Persian kings, and reigned, according to Oriental accounts, 100 or 126 years. (See Albīrūnī’s Chronology of Ancient Nations.)

21. See the last Note.

22. i.e., I had no need of them, since the knowledge of God entailed in the first place the knowledge of everything, and in the second place made everything as naught.

23. The Author means possibly poverty amongst other things, for cf. the next distich.

24. The Author implies that God knows his secret thoughts and that they can be addressed to Him with confidence. Cf. the next distich and Note.

25. The Author’s “object” is, I think, success in the accom­plishment of his work, the poem.

26. i.e., the secrets of the mystic are not to be divulged to the commonalty, who would not understand them, and would contemn the divulger.

27. “In lordship”; or possibly, “away from,” or “without lordship”, az khudāvandī.

28. i.e., give him contentment and patience until he has finished the work and presented it, and then he will find honour.

29. “The centre of the first encircling line”; i.e., the Universal Spirit itself, the First Circle being the first entity created by God, namely, the Universal Spirit, which embraces the Universal Intellect and the Universal Soul.

“The seal of all creation at the end”; i.e., the final cause of creation, the universe having been created in order that Muḥammad should be manifested. Cf. Lau lā-k la-mā khalaqtu ’l-aflāk: “Had it not been for you I should not have created the spheres.”

30. i.e., again, Muḥammad was the fruit or final cause of the creation of the gardens, the seven spheres or heavens, as real fruit is the final cause of forming gardens and planting and sowing in them. See the last Note.

Altogether there are supposed to be nine spheres above the sublunary sphere, of which seven are those of the planets, the eighth that of the fixed stars, and the ninth the empyrean or the crystalline sphere. The last two, according to the Sūfīs, are the thrones of God, the ninth being called ‘Arsh, the higher throne of God, the Universal Intellect, and the eighth Kursī, the lower throne, the Universal Soul.

Both ‘Arsh and Kursī are used indistinctively in the Qur’ān for the throne of God, but they are not restricted to it.

31. “Central pearl,” lit., “crown pearl,” is the largest pearl in the middle of a necklace. Muḥammad, though it is supposed that he could not read or write, was famed for his eloquence.

32. Aḥmad, “the most praised or praiseworthy,” is a name given to Muḥammad.

33. i.e., as beautiful in spirituality as Joseph was in physical qualities.

34. “The Ascent”; i.e., the Ascension of Muḥammad through and above the nine heavens into the presence of God. (See the next Section.)

35. “Untaught.” Muḥammad called himself “the Untaught” or “the Illiterate”, Ummī, because he could not read or write. This seems to be the sense here, but other inter­pretations of the term have been given.

36. “The first causes” (i.e., of nature); lit., “the mothers,” ummahāt, i.e., the four elements, which were created in order that Muḥammad might be manifested. (See Note 29.)

37. “The shadow of God’s Throne”; i.e., the protection of the ninth heaven, the higher throne of God, the ‘Arsh. (See Note 30.)

38. i.e., “the sovereign of the earth.” Chār-bālish, translated ‘throne”, means literally “four cushions”, and is the name of a large cushion on which kings or great men reclined. It also means “the four elements”, and is thus applicable to the earth.

39. See Note 29.

40. Lit., “he (is) ‘Muḥammad’”; i.e., “the much praised” or “the very praiseworthy”.

41. This rather enigmatical distich is possibly a reference to the Rūz-i ‘Alast’, “the Day of ‘Am I not (your Lord)?’” i.e., the day of the original covenant between God and man, when God said to the incorporeal souls of all Adam’s descendants who were drawn from him on that day, “Am I not your Lord?” Alastu bi-Rabbi-kum? and they answered, “Yes,” Balá. Muḥammad, of course, would be in this assembly, and it is implied that he was as the rose-water pressed from this rose, and that all the rest compared with him were only as the residue of it. This explanation harmonizes fairly well with the succeeding distich, since Muḥammad, though not present in the body at the Beginning, was present in the spirit, and as Universal Spirit was first of all.

Another explanation might suggest itself: that, in the first hemistich, “rose” means the gift of prophecy, which Adam first possessed, and that, in the second, Muḥammad is asserted in an exaggerated sense to have possessed this gift to a super­eminent degree; but this scarcely harmonizes with the succeeding distich.

42. “The conclusion”; i.e., the end of everything of the phenomenal universe.

Khātimat means also the epilogue of a book.

43. Muḥammad used the expression Al-faqru fakhr-ī, “Poverty is my pride.” Faqr, “poverty,” in the Ṣūfī sense is the state of the faqīr, or darvīsh, who is destitute of all attachments to the phenomenal world and immersed in God.

In the second hemistich, by “treasure” is meant spiritual treasure.

44. i.e., he outshone the day as the sun outshines all other lights.

45. i.e., it is strange that the sun should result in shade.

46. “His sword”; lit., “his iron.” “To punish”; lit., “(was) the joint-striker,” band-sāy.

47. “All lay the thong upon his drum”; i.e., “beat his drum” or “fight on his side.”

48. See Note 29.

49. “(His eye) turned not aside,” mā zāgha (’l-baṣar).

This is part of verse 17 of chapter liii. of the Qur’ān. Verses 16-18 are,

“When the sidra-tree was covered with what covered it,
“His eye turned not aside, nor did it wander;
“For he saw the greatest of the signs of his Lord.”

The verses refer to the Ascension of Muḥammad through the nine heavens into the presence of God (see the next section). The sidra-tree, “which marks the boundary” beyond which neither men nor angels can pass, is said to be on the right hand of the throne of God, the ‘Arsh, in the ninth heaven. It is supposed to be the abode of Gabriel and the angels, and allusion is made to this in the first verse above quoted. Muḥammad’s destination being the presence of God, “his eye turned not aside” when he passed this tree.

50. “This Garden” means the earth and the heavens. The object of Muḥammad’s contemplation is God Himself.