51. “The blue-clothed sphere’s ring-holders” are the sun, moon, and stars, which, in respect of their apparent form, wear rings, as it were. To wear a ring in the ear was a mark of slavery.

52. “For servitude”; lit., “on the road of servitude.”

53. “His four friends” are the first four Khalifs, Abū Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthmān, and ‘Alī.

54. i.e., Muḥammad, as the Universal Spirit, the first creation of God, was the Universal Intellect and the Universal Soul, so that the whole universe was as his body.

55. i.e., his soul is to the universe as Solomon to his throne.

56. The “dry spines” are the sharp spines on the stem of the date-palm. They are often contrasted with the dates as evil attendant upon good. The sense of the second hemistich is that his miracles are as spines or thorns to his enemies.

57. An allusion to Muḥammad’s supposed miracle of cleaving the moon by drawing his finger down.

There is little doubt that the passage in the Qur’ān, on which this supposition is based, refers to one of the signs of the coming Resurrection, the past tense being used, as it is elsewhere, as a prophetic future; but some of the greatest writers, such as the present Author and Jalālu’d-Dīn Rūmī, interpret it as the account of a miracle performed by Muḥammad. (See the Qur’ān, liv., 1.)

58. i.e., Muḥammad brought his enemies to confusion by the miracle.

59. “Could not hold (or contain) his crown”; i.e., because of its exaltitude.

60. i.e., he ascended above the ‘Arsh into the presence of God. (For ‘Arsh, see Note 30.)

61. Burāq is described as a white animal intermediate in size between a mule and an ass.

62. i.e., in order that you may now tread the heavens as you did the earth.

63. “The most sacred house”; i.e., the spiritual world, or the presence of God.

64. “Guardian of the purest, best”; i.e., of the most holy and spiritual state.

65. The sense of this distich is concealed in the various meanings of tīr and Burāq. Tīr means “the best and choicest of its kind”, and also an “arrow”. The former sense refers to the guardianship in question, the latter to Burāq, a steed of arrow-like rapidity. Then also Buraq, as meaning “the flashing steed”, would be a suitable animal to carry him to the dazzling heights of the most holy and spiritual state.

66. i.e., to enable you to have such guardianship as has been mentioned. (See Note 64.)

67. “The king”; i.e., of the stars.

68. “The six directions” are those of space, namely, north, south, east, west, above, and below. “The seven roots” are the earths, of which there are supposed to be seven. “(Their) supports”; lit., “(their) supporting tight-rope poles,” or, it may be, “(their) gibbets.” These are only, of course, imaginary supports on which the spheres may be supposed to be suspended. For “the nine spheres”, see Note 30.

The sense of the distich is “Clear the obstacles of space and the nine spheres out of your way, and mount above the latter”.

69. There are two stars of the first magnitude named Simāk: one Simāk-i A‘zal (a Virginis), the other Simāk-i Rāmiḥ (a Bootis).

70. i.e., have sway over the angels in your ascension to and above the sidra-tree of the ‘Arsh or ninth heaven, the abode of the angels. (See Note 49.)

71. The sky is poetically supposed to have locks on account of its curves, and its darkness too at the time of the Ascension.

72. “Saints”; lit., “the fragrant ones of night,” ‘iṭr sāyān-i shab. There is no dictionary authority for this interpretation, but I think it may be assumed on the analogy of shab-ravān, “night-devotees, holy men who pray at night,” lit., “those who move at night,” especially considering that the angels are mentioned in the second hemistich.

73. “Angels”; lit., “those clothed in green.”

74. “The beauties of the Egypt of this tract” are the ḥūrīs of paradise.

The story of Joseph’s relations with the wife of the Egyptian who had bought him, and of how the women, who spoke in blame of her, on seeing him cut their hands instead of, or in addition to, the food in surprise at his beauty, is told in the Qur’ān, ch. xii.

In the next distich it is implied that the food was oranges.

75. See the last Note.

76. “The Night of Power,” Shab-i Qadr or Lailatu ’l-Qadr, is “a mysterious night in the month of Ramaẓān, the precise date of which is said to have been known only to the Prophet and a few of the Companions”. The following is the allusion to it in the Qur’ān, ch. xcvii:—

“Verily we have caused it” (i.e., the Qur’ān) “to descend on the Lailatu ’l-Qadr.

“Who shall teach thee what the Lailatu ’l-Qadr is?

“The Lailatu ’l-Qadr excelleth a thousand months:

“Therein descend the angels, and the spirit by permission

“Of their Lord in every matter;

“And all is peace until the breaking of the dawn.”

“The excellences of the Lailatu ’l-Qadr are said to be innumer­able, and it is believed that during its solemn hours the whole animal and vegetable creation bow down in humble adoration to the Almighty.” (Hughes, A Dictionary of Islām.)

On the Night of Power the Qur’ān is said to have been brought down by the angels to the lowest heaven, and thence delivered portion by portion at different times by Gabriel to Muḥammad.

77. i.e., recreate the abode of the angels by your presence.

78. See Note 30.

79. “Give lamp-like blooms”; i.e., “show yourself in your transcendent brightness.” It is to be noted that by blossoms are generally meant the white blossoms of Spring. “Those who move at night,” i.e., to pray, are the saints. (See Note 72.)

80. “Be fresh of visage”; i.e., be bright, smiling and cheerful.

81. See Note 30.

82. It is possible to translate, “remove the pain of the carpet from afar”; i.e., “rejoice the abode of the angels by your presence.”

83. “The two worlds”; i.e., this world and the spiritual world.

84. i.e., Rise to regions above the dust of the world; or, free yourself from all things earthly.

85. i.e., you may get control over the two worlds, earthly and spiritual.

86. i.e., be prepared to obey. (See the last part of Note 7.)

87. i.e., Muḥammad used his perfect intellect in setting forth the revelations and guiding the people in them.

88. i.e., he gained his wish.

89. Burāq; lit., “the partridge.”

90. Lit., “a moon like the Kā’ūsian throne.” There was possibly something special in the throne of King Kā’ūs, since it had a special name, chahār kargas, “the four vultures.”

According to other authorities, however, this name was applied to the throne of Shaddād. Kai-Kā’ūs was the second king of the Kayānian or second Persian dynasty, and reigned, according to Albīrūnī, 150 years. Shaddād was the name of a king of the ‘Ādites in the south of Arabia (Yaman) who built the garden of Iram to rival the gardens of paradise. On its completion it was made to disappear and the king was struck dead. (See the Qur’ān, lxxxix., 5, 6, 7. See also Notes 1,203 and 1,605.)

Chahār kargas means also the four elements. Cf. the following Note and the distich to which it is appended.

91. i.e., it flew so swiftly that the four elements were exhausted in their efforts to follow.

92. Lit., “it drew under its foot.”

93. “The moon drew in (her) reins,” hopeless, notwithstanding her rapid course, of keeping pace with it.

94. The spheres were supposed to move swiftly round the earth.

95. An allusion to the supposed whirling movement of the spheres.

96. i.e., the movements of imagination and lightning seemed slow in comparison.

97. Lit., “before such wide-stepping were but narrow.”

98. I translate this obscure distich from the reading of the Bombay edition of 1328. All the other editions I have consulted offer only unintelligible readings:—

Bā tak-ash sair-i quṭb khālī shud: gah janūbī-u gah shimālī shud.

99. The word for “fish” used here, namely simāk (Arabic broken plural of samak), means here in the first place “stars”, and in the second two particular stars, one called Simāk-i Rāmiḥ, “Simāk the Lancer or Lance-bearer,” i.e. a Bootis, and the other Simāk-i A‘zal, “Simāk the Unarmed,” i.e., a Virginis. Jadval, “stream or rivulet,” means also an “astronomical table,” but here it signifies the “sky.”

100. Lit., “engaged in going through the leaves of this volume.” The “expanse” or “volume” is the earth and the sky.