Monday, July 28, 2008

Al Ghazzali

Al Ghazzali is one of the deepest thinkers, greatest theologians and profoundest moralists of Islam. In all Muhammadan lands he is celebrated both as an apologist of orthodoxy and a warm advocate of Sufi mysticism. Intimately acquainted with all the learning of his time, he was not only one of the numerous oriental philosophers who traverse every sphere of intellectual activity, but one of those rarer minds whose originality is not crushed by their learning. He was imbued with a sacred enthusiasm for the triumph of his faith, and his whole life was dedicated to one purpose—the defence of Islam. As Browning says, "he made life consist of one idea." His full name was Abu Hamid Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ahmed Algazzali, and he was born at Tus in Khorassan, 1058 a.d., where a generation earlier Firdausi, the author of the Shah-*nama, had died. Tus was already famous for learning and culture, and later on Ghazzali's own fame caused the town to become a centre of pilgrimage for pious Moslems, till it was laid in ruins by Genghis Khan, a century after Ghazzali's death.

His birth occurred at a time when the power of the Caliphs had been long on the wane, and the Turkish militia, like the Pretorian guards of the later Roman empire, were the real dispensers of power. While the political unity of Islam had been broken up into a number of mutually-opposed states, Islam itself was threatened by dangers from without. In Spain, Alphonso II. had begun to press the Moors hardly. Before Ghazzali was forty, Peter the Hermit was preaching the First Crusade, and during his lifetime Baldwin of Bouillon was proclaimed King in the Mosque of Omar at Jerusalem. But more serious than these outer foes was the great schism which had split Islam into the two great opposing parties of Shiahs and Sunnis—a schism which was embittered and complicated by the struggle of rival dynasties for power. While the Shiites prevailed in Egypt and Persia, the Turks and Seljuks were Sunnis. In Bagdad the seat of the Caliphate during the reign of Al Kasim, when Ghazzali was a youth, fatal encounters between the two contending factions were of daily occurrence. Ghazzali's native city was Shiite, and not till Khorassan had been conquered by the Ghaznevides and Seljuks did Sunni teaching prevail there. Yet, however bitterly Shiahs and Sunnis might be opposed to each other, they both counted as orthodox and were agreed as to the fundamental principles of Islam, nor did their strife endanger the religion itself. But besides the two great parties of Shiahs and Sunnis, a mass of heretical sects, classed under the common name of Mutazilites, had sprung up within Islam. These heretics had studied Aristotle and Greek philosophy in Arabic translations, and for a long time all that the orthodox could do was to thunder anathemas at them and denounce all speculation. But at last Al Asha'ari, himself formerly a Mutazilite, renounced his heresies, and sought to defend orthodoxy and confute the heretics on philosophical grounds.

The Mutazilites had cultivated the study of philosophy with especial zeal, and therefore the struggle with them was a fierce one, complicated as it was by political animosity. The most dangerous sect of all was that of the Ismailians and Assassins, with their doctrine of a hidden Imam or leader. In some of his works Ghazzali gives special attention to confuting these.

The whole aspect and condition of Islam during Ghazzali's lifetime was such as to cause a devout Moslem deep distress and anxiety. It is therefore natural that a man who, after long and earnest search, had found rest and peace in Islam, should have bent all the energies of his enthusiastic character to oppose these destructive forces to the utmost. Ghazzali is never weary of exhorting those who have no faith to study the Muhammadan revelation; he defends religion in a philosophical way against the philosophers, refutes the heretics, chides the laxity of the Shiites, defends the austere principles of the Schafiites, champions orthodoxy, and finally, by word and example, urges his readers towards the mysticism and asceticism of the Sufis. His numerous writings are all directed to one or another of these objects. As a recognition of his endeavours, the Muhammadan Church has conferred upon him the title of "Hujjat al Islam," "the witness of Islam."

It is a fact worthy of notice that when the power of the Caliphs was shattered and Muhammadanism, already in a state of decline, precisely at that period theology and all other sciences were flourishing.

The reason of this may be found in the fact that nearly all the Muhammadan dynasties, however much they might be opposed to each other, zealously favoured literature and science. Besides this, the more earnest spirits, weary of the political confusions of the time, devoted themselves all the more fervently to cultivating the inner life, in which they sought compensation and refuge from outward distractions. Ghazzali was the most striking figure among all these. Of his early history not much is known. His father is said to have died while he was a child, but he had a brother Abu'l Futuh Ahmed Alghazzali, who was in great favour with the Sultan Malik Shah, and owing to his zeal for Islam had won the title of "Glory of the Faith." From the similarity of their pursuits we gather that the relationship between the brothers must have been a close one. Ibn Khalliqan the historian informs us that later on Abu'l Futuh succeeded his brother as professor, and abridged his most important literary work, "The Revival of the religious sciences." While still a youth, Ghazzali studied theology at Jorjan under the Imam Abu Nasr Ismail. On his return journey from Jorjan to Tus, he is said to have fallen into the hands of robbers. They took from him all that he had, but at his earnest entreaty returned to him his note books, at the same time telling him that he could know nothing really, if he could be so easily deprived of his knowledge. This made him resolve for the future to learn everything by heart.

Later on Ghazzali studied at Nishapur under the celebrated Abu'l-Maali. Here also at the court of the Vizier Nizam-ul-mulk (the school-fellow of Omar Khayyam) he took a distinguished part in those discussions on poetry and philosophy which were so popular in the East. In 1091 Nizam-ul-mulk appointed him to the professorship of Jurisprudence in the Nizamiya College at Bagdad, which he had founded twenty-four years previously. Here Ghazzali lectured to a class of 300 students. In his leisure hours, as he informs us in his brief autobiography, "Al munkidh min uddallal" ("The Deliverance from error") he busied himself with the study of philosophy. He also received a commission from the Caliph to refute the doctrine of the Ismailians.

In the first chapter it has been mentioned how a deep-seated unrest and thirst for peace led him, after many mental struggles, to throw up his appointment and betake himself to religious seclusion at Damascus and Jerusalem. This, together with his pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, lasted nearly ten years. Ibn Khalliqan informs us that he also went to Egypt and stayed some time in Alexandria. Here the fame of the Almoravide leader in Spain, Yusuf ibn Tashifin, is said to have reached Ghazzali, and to have made him think of journeying thither. This prince had begun those campaigns in Spain against the Cid and other Christian leaders which were destined to add Andalusia to his Moroccan dominions. By these victories in the West he had to some extent retrieved the decline of Islam in the East. It is natural to suppose that the enthusiastic Ghazzali would gladly have met with this champion of Muhammadanism. The news of Yusuf ibn Tashifin's death in 1106 seems to have made him renounce his intention of proceeding to Spain.

111The realisation of Ghazzali's wish to withdraw from public affairs and give himself to a contemplative life was now interrupted. The requests of his children and other family affairs, of which we have no exact information, caused him to return home. Besides this, the continued progress of the Ismailians, the spread of irreligious doctrines, and the increasing religious indifference of the masses not only filled Ghazzali and his Sufi friends with profound grief but determined them to stem the evil with the whole force of their philosophy, the ardour of vital conviction, and the authority of noble example.

In addition, the governor of Nishapur, Muhammad Ibn Malikshah, had asked Ghazzali to proceed thither in order to help to bring about a religious revival. Thus, after an absence of ten years, he returned to Nishapur to resume his post as teacher. But his activity at this period was directed to a different aim than that of the former one. Regarding the contrast he speaks like a Muhammadan Thomas √° Kempis. Formerly, he says, he taught a knowledge which won him fame and glory, but now he taught a knowledge which brought just the opposite. Inspired with an earnest desire for the spiritual progress of his co-religionists and himself, and convinced that he was called to this task by God, he prays the Almighty to lead and enlighten him, so that he may do the same for others.

How long Ghazzali occupied his professorship at Nishapur the second time is not precisely clear. Only five or six years of his life remained, and towards the close he again resigned his post to give himself up to a life of contemplation to which he felt irresistibly drawn, in his native city of Tus. Here he spent the rest of days in devotional exercises in friendly intercourses with other Sufis and in religious instruction of the young. He died, devout as he lived, in the fifty-fourth year of his age, a.d. 1111. He founded a convent for Sufis and a professorship of jurisprudence.

Ghazzali's activity as an author during his relatively short life was enormous. According to the literary historians, he is the author of ninety-nine different works. These are not all known to us, but there are existing in the West a considerable quantity of them, some in Latin and Hebrew translations, as he was much studied by the Jews in the Middle Ages. A writer in the Jewish Encyclopædia says (sub. voc.), "From his 'Makasid-al-Falasifah' in which he expounded logic, physics and metaphysics according to Aristotle, many a Jewish student of philosophy derived much accurate information. It was not, however, through his attacks on philosophy that Ghazzali's authority was established among Jewish thinkers of the middle ages, but through the ethical teachings in his theological works. He approached the ethical idea of Judaism to such an extent that some supposed him to be actually drifting in that direction."

Although Ghazzali was a Persian, both by race and birthplace, most of his works are composed in Arabic, that language being as familiar to Muhammadan theologians as Latin to those of Europe in the Middle Ages. One of his most important works is the "Tahafut al falasifah," "Destruction of the Philosophers," which the great Averroes endeavoured to refute. Somewhat in the style of Mr. Balfour's "Defence of philosophic doubt," Ghazzali attempts to erect his religious system on a basis of scepticism. He denies causation as thoroughly as Hume, but asserts that the divine mind has ordained that certain phenomena shall always occur in a certain order, and that philosophy without faith is powerless to discover God. Although chiefly famous in the West as a philosopher, he himself would probably have repudiated the title. He tells us that his object in studying philosophy was to confute the philosophers. His true element was not philosophy but religion, with which his whole being was penetrated, and which met all his spiritual needs. Even in his most heterogeneous studies he always kept before him one aim—the confirmation, spread, and glorification of Islam.

It is true that more than one of his contemporaries accused him of hypocrisy, saying that he had an esoteric doctrine for himself and his private circle of friends, and an exoteric for the vulgar. His Sufistic leanings might lend some colour to this accusation, it being a well-known Sufi habit to cloak their teaching under a metaphorical veil, wine representing the love of God, etc., as in Hafiz and Omar Khayyam. Against this must be set the fact that in his autobiography written near the close of his life, he constantly refers to his former works, which he would hardly have done had he been conscious of any striking discrepancy between his earlier and his later teaching. There is no reason to doubt his previously-quoted statement that he "studied philosophy in order to refute the philosophers."

He was, at any rate, intensely indignant at having his orthodoxy impugned, as appears from a striking story narrated by the Arabic historian Abu'l Feda. He tells us that Ghazzali's most important work, "The revival of the religious sciences" had created a great sensation when it reached Cordova. The Muhammadan theologians of Spain were rigidly orthodox, and accused the work of being tainted by heresy. They represented to the Caliph Ali Ibn Yusuf that not only this but all Ghazzali's other works which circulated in Andalusia should be collected and burnt, which was accordingly done. Not long after, a young Berber from North Africa named Ibn Tumart wandered to Bagdad, where he attended Ghazzali's lectures. Ghazzali noticing the foreigner, accosted him, and inquired regarding religious affairs in the West, and how his works had been received there. To his horror he learned that they had been condemned as heretical and committed to the flames by order of the Almoravide Caliph Ali. Upon this, Ghazzali, raising his hands towards heaven, exclaimed in a voice shaken with emotion, "O God, destroy his kingdom as he has destroyed my books, and take all power from him." Ibn Tumart, in sympathy with his teacher, said, "O Imam44 Ghazzali, pray that thy wish may be accomplished by my means." And so it happened. Ibn Tumart returned to his North African, proclaimed himself a Mahdi, gained a large following among the Berbers, and overthrew Ali and the dynasty of the Almoravides. This story is not entirely beyond doubt, but shows the importance attached by Ghazzali's contemporaries to his influence and teaching.

As an example of Ghazzali's ethical earnestness, we may quote the following from his Ihya-ul-ulum ("Revival of the religious sciences"). He refers to the habit common to all Muhammadans of ejaculating, "We take refuge in God." "By the fear of God," he says, "I do not mean a fear like that of women when their eyes swim and their hearts beat at hearing some eloquent religious discourse, which they quickly forget and turn again to frivolity. There is no real fear at all. He who fears a thing flees from it, and he who hopes for a thing strives for it, and the only fear that will save thee is the fear that forbids sinning against God and instils obedience to Him. Beware of the shallow fear of women and fools, who, when they hear of the terrors of the Lord, say lightly, 'We take refuge in God,' and at the same time continue in the very sins which will destroy them. Satan laughs at such pious ejaculations. They are like a man who should meet a lion in a desert, while there is a fortress at no great distance away, and when he sees the ravenous beast, should stand exclaiming, 'I take refuge in that fortress,' without moving a step towards it. What will such an ejaculation profit him? In the same way, merely ejaculating 'I take refuge in God' will not protect thee from the terrors of His judgment unless thou really take refuge in Him."

Ghazzali's moral earnestness is equally apparent in the following extract from his work "Munqidh min uddallal" "The Deliverance from error," in which he sets himself to combat the general laxity and heretical tendencies of his time:—

"Man is composed of a body and a heart; by the word 'heart' I understand that spiritual part of him which is the seat of the knowledge of God, and the material organ of flesh and blood which he possesses in common with the animals. Just as the body flourishes in health and decays in disease, so the heart is either spiritually sound or the prey of a malady which ends in death.

"Now ignorance of God is a deadly poison, and the revolt of the passions is a disease for which the knowledge of God and obedience to Him, manifested in self-control, are the only antidote and remedy. Just as remedies for the body are only known to physicians who have studied their secret properties, so the remedies for the soul are devotional practices as defined by the prophets, the effects of which transcend reason.

"The proper work of reason is to confess the truth of inspiration and its own impotence to grasp what is only revealed to the prophets; reason takes us by the hand and hands us over to the prophets, as blind men commit themselves to their guides, or as the desperately sick to their physicians. Such are the range and limits of reason; beyond prophetic truth it cannot take a step.

"The causes of the general religious languor and decay of faith in our time are chiefly to be traced to four classes of people: (1) Philosophers, (2) Sufis, (3) Ismailians45, (4) the Ulema or scholastic theologians. I have specially interrogated those who were lax in their religion; I have questioned them concerning their doubts, and spoken to them in these terms: 'Why are you so lukewarm in your religion? If you really believe in a future life, and instead of preparing for it sell it in exchange for the goods of this world, you must be mad. You would not give two things for one of the same quality; how can you barter eternity for days which are numbered? If you do not believe, you are infidels, and should seek to obtain faith.'

"In answer to such appeals, I have heard men say, 'If the observance of religious practices is obligatory, it is certainly obligatory on the Ulema or theologians. And what do we find amongst the most conspicuous of these? One does not pray, another drinks wine, a third devours the orphans' inheritance, and a fourth lets himself be bribed into giving wrong decisions, and so forth.'

"Another man giving himself out as a Sufi said that he had attained to such a high pitch of proficiency in Sufism that for him religious practice was no longer necessary. An Ismailian said, 'Truth is very difficult to find, and the road to it is strewn with obstacles; so-called proofs are mutually contradictory, and the speculations of philosophers cannot be trusted. But we have an Imam (leader) who is an infallible judge and needs no proofs. Why should we abandon truth for error?' A fifth said, 'I have studied the subject, and what you call inspiration is really a high degree of sagacity. Religion is intended as a restraint on the passions of the vulgar. But I, who do not belong to the common herd, what have I to do with such stringent obligations? I am a philosopher; science is my guide, and dispenses me from submission to authority.'

"This last is the fate of philosophic theists, as we find it expressed in the writings of Avicenna and Farabi. It is no rare thing to find men who read the Koran, attend public worship at the mosque, and outwardly profess the greatest respect for the religious law, in private indulging in the use of wine and committing other shameful actions. If we ask such men how it comes that although they do not believe in the reality of inspiration, they attend public worship, they say that they practise it as a useful exercise and as a safeguard for their fortunes and families. If we further ask them why they drink wine, which is absolutely prohibited in the Koran, they say, "The only object of the prohibition of wine was to prevent quarrelling and violence. Wise men like ourselves are in no danger of such excesses, and we drink in order to brighten and kindle our imaginative powers.'

"Such is the faith of these pretended Moslems and their example has led many astray who have been all the more encouraged to follow these philosophers because their opponents have often been incompetent."

In the above extracts Ghazzali appears as a reformer, and it would not be difficult to find modern parallels for the tendencies which he describes. Professor D.B. Macdonald compares him to Ritschl in the stress which he lays on personal religious experience, and in his suspicion of the intrusion of metaphysics into the domain of religion. Although intensely in earnest, he was diffident of his powers as a preacher, and in a surviving letter says, "I do not think myself worthy to preach; for preaching is like a tax, and the property on which it is imposed is the acceptance of preaching to oneself. He then who has no property, how shall he pay the tax? and he who lacks a garment how shall he cover another? and 'When is the stick crooked and the shadow straight?' And God revealed to Jesus (upon whom be peace). Preach to thyself, then if thou acceptest the preaching, preach to mankind, and if not, be ashamed before Me."46

Like other preachers of righteousness, Ghazzali strove to rouse men out of lethargy by laying stress on the terrors of the world to come and the Judgment Day. He was not one of those who think fear too base a motive to appeal to; he strikes the note of warning again and again. Towards the close of his life he composed a short work on eschatology "Al Durra al Fakhirah" ("The precious pearl") of a sufficiently lurid character. In it he says: "When you watch a dead man and see that the saliva has run from his mouth, that his lips are contracted, his face black, the whites of his eyes showing, know that he is damned, and that the fact of his damnation in the other world has just been revealed to him. But if you see the dead with a smile on his lips, a serene countenance, his eyes half-closed, know that he has just received the good news of the happiness which awaits him in the other life.

"On the Day of Judgment, when all men are gathered before the throne of God, their accounts are all cast up, and their good and evil deeds weighed. During all this time each man believes he is the only one with whom God is dealing. Though peradventure at the same moment God is taking account of countless multitudes whose number is known to Him only. Men do not see each other, nor hear each other speak."

Regarding faith, Ghazzali says in the Ihya-ul-ulum:

"Faith consists of two elements, patience and gratitude. Both are graces bestowed by God, and 120there is no way to God except faith. The Koran expounds the excellence of patience in more than seventy passages. The Caliph Ali said, 'Patience bears the same relation to faith as the head does to the body. He who has no head, has no body, and he who has no patience has no faith.'"

Ghazzali's philosophy is the re-action of his intensely religious personality against the naturalistic tendencies of men like Avicenna and Averroes. They believed in the eternity of matter, and reduced God to a bare First Cause. He also, though sympathising with the Sufis, especially on the side of their asceticism, was opposed to Sufistic Pantheism. He conceived God chiefly as an active Will, and not merely as the Self existent.

While his contemporaries were busying themselves with metaphysical theories concerning matter and creation, Ghazzali laid stress on self-observation and self-knowledge ("He who knows himself, knows God"). As St. Augustine found deliverance from doubt and error in his inward experience of God, and Descartes in self-consciousness, so Ghazzali, unsatisfied with speculation and troubled by scepticism, surrenders himself to the will of God. Leaving others to demonstrate the existence of God from the external world, he finds God revealed in the depths of his own consciousness and the mystery of his own free will.

He fared as innovators in religion and philosophy always do, and was looked upon during his lifetime as a heretic. He admits himself that his "Destruction of the philosophers" was written to expose their mutual contradictions. But he has no mere Mephistophelic121 pleasure in destruction; he pulls down in order to erect. He is not a mere sceptic on the one hand, nor a bigoted theologian on the other, and his verdict on the Mutazilite heretics of his day is especially mild. Acute thinker though he was, in him will and feeling predominated over thought. He rejected the dogmatic and philosophic systems of his contemporaries as mere jejune skeletons of reality, and devoted the close of his life to study of the traditions and the Koran.

Like Augustine, he finds in God-derived self-consciousness the starting-point for the thought, and like him emphasizes the fundamental significance of the will. He sees everywhere the Divine Will at work in what philosophers call natural causes. He seeks the truth, but seeks it with a certain consciousness of possessing it already within himself.

He is a unique and lonely figure in Islam, and has to this day been only partially understood. In the Middle Ages his fame was eclipsed by that of Averroes, whose commentary on Aristotle is alluded to by Dante, and was studied by Thomas Aquinas and the school-*men. Averroes' system was rounded and complete, but Ghazzali was one of those "whose reach exceeds their grasp"; he was always striking after something he had not attained, and stands in many respects nearer to the modern mind than Averroes. Renan, though far from sympathising with his religious earnestness, calls him "the most original mind among Arabian philosophers," and De Boer says, "Men like Ghazzali have for philosophy this significance that they are a problem alike for themselves and for philosophy, because they are a fragment of spiritual reality that requires122 explanation. By the force of their personality they remove what hinders them in the construction of their systems without troubling about correctness. Later thinkers make it their business to explain the impulses that guide such men both in their work of destruction and of restoration. Original minds like his supply food for reflection to future generations."

Islamic Saints: Avicenna (Ibn Sina)

Avicenna, now best known as a philosopher, was perhaps better known in the middle ages as a kind of magician owing to the mastery of medical science. His father was a native of Balkh, but removed from that city to Bokhara; having displayed great abilities as a government tax collector he was appointed to fill that office in a town called Kharmaithen, one of the dependencies of Bokhara. Here Avicenna was born. At the age of ten years he was a perfect master of the Koran, and had studied arithmetic and algebra.

The philosopher An-Natili having visited them about that time, Avicenna's father lodged him in his own house, and Avicenna studied under him logic, Euclid and the Almagest (an astronomical treatise of Ptolemy). He soon surpassed his master, and explained to him difficulties and obscurities which the latter had not understood. On the departure of An-Natili, Avicenna applied himself to the study of natural philosophy, divinity, and other sciences. He then felt an inclination to learn medicine, and studied medical works; he treated patients, not for gain, but in order to increase his knowledge. When he was sixteen years of age, physicians of the highest eminence came to him for instruction and to learn from him those modes of treatment which he had discovered by his practice. But the greater portion of his time was given to the study of logic and philosophy. "When I was perplexed about any question," he says in an autobiographical fragment, "I went to the mosque and prayed God to resolve the difficulty. At night I returned home; I lit the lamp, and set myself to read and write. When I felt myself growing tired and sleepy I drank a glass of wine, which renewed my energy, and then resumed reading. When finally I fell asleep I kept dreaming of the problems which had exercised my waking thoughts, and as a matter of fact often discovered the solution of them in my sleep."

When he came across the "Metaphysics" of Aristotle, that work in spite of his acuteness seemed to present an insuperable difficulty. "I read this book," he says, "but I did not understand it, and the purport of it remained so obscure to me that though I read it forty times through and could repeat it by heart, I was as far from understanding it as ever. In despair, I said to myself, 'This book is quite incomprehensible.' One day at the time of afternoon prayer I went to a bookseller's, and there I met a friend who had a book in his hand, which he praised and showed me. I looked at it in a listless way and handed it back, certain that it was of no use to me. But he said to me, 'Buy it; it is very cheap. I will sell it you for three dirhems; its owner is in need of money.' It was a commentary of Al Farabi on the metaphysics of Aristotle. I bought it, took it home and began to read it. Immediately all my difficulties were cleared up, as I knew the "Metaphysics" by heart. I was delighted, and the next day distributed alms to the poor in order to show my gratitude to God."

About this time the Emir Nuh Ibn Mansur, prince of Khorassan, fell ill, and having heard of Avicenna's talent, sent for him and was restored to health under his treatment. As a reward, Avicenna was allowed to study in the prince's library, which contained several chests of rare manuscripts. Here he discovered treatises on the sciences of the ancients, and other subjects, the essence of which he extracted. It happened some time afterwards that this library was destroyed by fire, and Avicenna remained the sole depository of the knowledge which it contained. Some persons even said that it was he who had set fire to the library because he alone was acquainted with its contents, and wished to be their sole possessor.

At the age of eighteen he had completely mastered all the sciences which he had studied. The death of his father and the fall of the Samanide dynasty forced him to quit those literary treasures which he had learnt to appreciate so well. At the age of twenty-two he left Bokhara and went to Jorjan, the capital of Khwarezm where he frequented the Court of Shah Ali ibn Mamoun. At this time the celebrated Sultan Mahmoud of Ghazni, having heard that there were several learned men, and among them Avicenna, at the Court of Mamoun, requested the latter to send them to him. Several of them went, but Avicenna refused, probably because his orthodoxy was suspected, and Sultan Mahmoud was a strict Sunni. Mahmoud was much displeased at not seeing Avicenna appear at his court with the rest, and sent descriptions and drawings of him in several directions in order that he might be arrested. In the meantime, Avicenna finding the allowance made to him at the Court of Mamoun insufficient, left Jorjan and wandered through the towns of Khorassan. Finally he settled in a little village near Balkh. There he composed the greater part of his philosophical works, and among others the book on the "Eternal Principle and the Return of the Soul." Some time afterwards he was called to Hamadan to treat the Buwayhid Sultan Shams-ed Dawla, who suffered from a dangerous gastric malady. He was successful in curing the Sultan, who showed his gratitude by appointing Avicenna his vizier.

The affairs of State did not prevent Avicenna from carrying on his studies, for during his stay at Hamadan he found time to commence his exposition of the philosophy of Aristotle entitled the "Shifa" which he undertook at the Sultan's request. At this time Avicenna presented the rare spectacle of a philosopher discharging the functions of a statesman, without injury to either statesmanship or philosophy. His great physical energy enabled him to spend the day in the service of the Sultan and a great part of the night in philosophical discussions with his disciples. His writings, which date from this time, allow us to judge with what success he pursued his philosophical studies, and we have every reason to believe that he was equally successful in the conduct of affairs, for, after the death of Shams-ed-Dawla, his son and successor Taj-ed-Dawla requested him to retain the post of vizier.

Avicenna appreciated this testimony to his worth, but declined the offer in order to devote himself to the completion of his great work, the Shifa. But even in his studious retirement he was not out of reach of political disturbance. Suspected of carrying on secret correspondence with Ala-ed-Dawla, the governor of Ispahan, an enemy of Taj-ed-Dawla, Avicenna was imprisoned in a neighbouring fortress. He would probably have remained there a long time had not the fortune of war put Ala-ed-Dawla in possession of Hamadan, Avicenna was liberated after an imprisonment of four months. Despite this misadventure he succeeded during his stay at Hamadan in completing the Shifa and several medical treatises, besides, a little mystical allegory, "Hay ibn Yokdhan" ("The living one, son of the Waking One"). This shows the mystical side of Avicenna's philosophy, and we therefore subjoin an abridgment and explanation of it.

"During my sojourn in a certain country, I used to make excursions with my friends to pleasant spots in our vicinity. One day when strolling out with them I met an old man who, in spite of his advanced age, seemed brimful of juvenile ardour, being neither bent nor having white hairs. We felt attracted by him and accosted him. After the usual salutations, I opened the conversation by requesting him to inform us about himself, his trade, name, family, and country. 'As to my name and family,' he answered, 'I am called Hay ibn Yokdhan, and I was born in Jerusalem; as to my occupation, it consists in traversing all the regions of the earth, always following the direction indicated by my Father. He has entrusted to me the keys of all the sciences and guided me through all ways even to the utmost bounds of the universe.' We continued to ask him questions regarding different branches of science till we touched on the science of physiognomy, on which he spoke with marvellous precision, taking it as the starting point of a discourse which he delivered to us."

This exordium may be interpreted as follows: "During the sojourn of my soul in the body I felt a desire under the guidance of my imagination and my senses to examine whatever presented itself to me. While thus engaged, I came in contact with active Intelligence (the old man), the salutary effects of which I had long experienced and which had preserved my vigour unabated. I commenced to examine the nature of this Intelligence freed as it is from all material grossness and yet in a certain way, linked to the material world. Since life includes the two conditions necessary to actual development, consciousness and movement, he calls himself 'Hay' 'the Living,' and adds 'ibn Yokdhan' 'Son of the Waking,' meaning that he derives his origin from a Being higher than himself, Who is always awake and has no need of repose. His birthplace is the holy city of Jerusalem, free from all earthly stain, and his occupation is to traverse the highest regions open to intelligence in order to understand the nature of his heavenly Father, who has committed to him the keys of all forms of knowledge. Thus, favoured by his help, we arrive at Logic, a science which leads by sure and evident conclusions to a knowledge of what is remote and occult. For this reason logic is indicated by the term 'physiognomy' which judges of the hidden by its outward manifestation."

After this commencement the allegory proceeds: "Logic," continued the old man, "is a science whose income is paid in ready money; she brings to light what nature conceals, and what may be a source of either joy or sorrow; she points you out the way of freedom from earthly entanglements and sensual propensities. If her healing hand touches you, it will give you salutary support, but if your weakness cause you to stumble, you will be exposed to ruin, accompanied as you always are by bad companions35 from which it is impossible to get free.

"As to thy nearest companion (imagination), he is a confused babbler, abounding in futility and falsity; he brings you news in which truth and falsehood are mingled together, and that, though he professes to be your guide and enlightener. He often brings matters before you very ill-suited to your dignity and position, and you must be at the pains of distinguishing the false from the true in them. But for all that, he is very necessary to you, and would exert a healthy influence on you, if his false witness did not lead you into error.

"But your companion on the right (irascibility) is still more impetuous, and it is only with the greatest difficulty that his attacks can be repulsed by reason or avoided by dexterity. He is like a blazing fire, a rushing torrent, a runaway horse, or a lioness deprived of its young. Similarly with your left-hand companion (carnal concupiscence) whose evil influence springs from insatiable appetite; he is like a famished beast let loose to graze. Such are your companions, unhappy mortal, to whom you are tied, and from whom no release is to be obtained except by migrating to those countries where such creatures are unknown. But till you are allowed to do so, your hand at any rate must tame them; beware of flinging the rein on their necks and giving them free course; if you hold the reins tight they will submit, and you will be master."

"After I had heard this description of my companions, I began to recognise the justice of it, and accordingly I varied gentleness and severity in my treatment of them. Alternately I and they had the upper hand. But I constantly invoked the help of God in this respect, until I was delivered. Meanwhile I prepared for the journey, and the old man added this last counsel: 'You and those like you will be constantly impeded in this journey, and the road will be very difficult for you, unless you can succeed in quitting this world for ever; but you cannot hasten the time fixed by God. You must therefore be content with a frequently interrupted progress; sometimes you will make way, sometimes you will be at the beck and call of your companions. When you apply yourself with your whole heart to making progress, you will succeed, and your companions will lose all influence over you; but if you connive at their importunities, they will conquer you, and you will altogether lose touch with me.'

"I then asked the old man for information on the various regions of the universe, of which he possessed ample knowledge, and he replied: 'The universe has three parts; first, the visible heaven and earth, the nature of which is ascertainable by ordinary observation: But as to the other two parts, they are marvellous indeed; one is on the East, the other on the West. Each of these regions is separated from our world by a barrier which only a few elect souls succeed in passing, and that only by divine grace; the man who relies only on his natural powers is excluded from them. What makes the passage thither easier is to wash in the flowing waters of the fountain whose source is close to a stagnant pool.36 The traveller who has found the way to it and is refreshed by its healing waters, will feel himself endued with a marvellous energy, which will help him to traverse savage deserts. Unfatigued he will scale the heights of Mount Kaf, and the guardians of hell will lose all power to seize him and to cast him into the abyss.'

"We asked him to explain more precisely the situation of this fountain, and he said: 'You are doubtless aware that perpetual darkness surrounds the pole unpenetrated by any ray of light till God permits. But he who fearlessly enters this darkness will emerge into a clearly lighted plain, where he will find this springing fountain.

"We then asked him to tell us more about the Western region bordering our earth, of which he had spoken, and he gave us the following information:

"'In the extreme West is an immense sea called in the Divine Revelation38 "the miry sea," where the sun sets and along which stretches a desolate and sterile land, where the inhabitants never abide but are always passing away, and which is covered by thick darkness. Those who go there are exposed to every kind of illusion. The sun only gives a feeble light, the soil is completely barren, whatever is built there is soon destroyed again, conflict and strife perpetually rage there, whatever gets the upper hand tyrannises over those which were in power before it. There are found all kinds of animals and plants passing through strange developments.

"'Now if you turn to the East you will see a region where there is no human being, nor plant, nor tree, nor animal; it is an immense and empty plain. Crossing it, you will reach a mountainous region, where are clouds and strong winds and rapid rivers; there are also gold and silver and precious stones, but no plants. From thence you will pass into a region where there are plants but no animals, then into another where there are animals but no men. Lastly you will arrive at a region where there are human beings such as are familiar to you.

"'After passing the extreme limit of the East, you will see the sun rising between the two horns of Satan, "the flying horn" and "the marching horn." This latter is divided into two parts, one having the form of a fierce animal, the other of a gross one; between these two composing the left horn is perpetual strife. As to "the flying horn," it has no one distinct form, but is composed of several, such as a winged man, a serpent with a swine's head, or merely a foot or an arm. The human soul which rules this region has established five ways of communication under the care of a watchman who takes whatever comes along them and passes it on to a treasurer who presents it to the King.

"'The two horns continually attack the human soul, even to the point of driving it to madness. As to "the marching horn," the fierce animal of which it is partly composed lays a trap for man by embellishing in his eyes all his evil actions, murder, mutilation, oppression and destruction, by exciting his hatred and impelling him to violence and injustice; while the other part in the shape of a gross animal continually attacks the human soul by casting a glamour over vileness and foulness and urging her thereto; nor does it cease its assaults till she is brought into complete subjection. It is seconded in its attacks by the spirits of the flying horn, which make man reject whatever he cannot see with his own eyes, whispering to him that there is no resurrection nor retribution nor spiritual Lord of the universe.

"'Passing hence, we find a region inhabited by beings of angelic origin, free from the defects abovementioned. They enter into communication with man, and contribute towards his spiritual progress. These are the intellectual faculties, which, though they are far below the pure Intelligences, have an instinctive desire to shake off the yoke of irascibility and concupiscence. Beyond this region is that of the angels, and further still, one directly governed by the Great King, and dwelt in by his faithful servants, who are engaged in fulfilling His commands. These are free from all evil inclination, whether to concupiscence or injustice or envy or idleness. To them is committed the defence of the frontier of this Kingdom, which they guard in person. Allotted to different parts, they occupy lofty forts constructed of crystal and precious stones, which surpass in durability all that may be found in the region of earth. They are immortal, and subject to no feebleness nor decay of force in discharging their duties.

"'Beyond this region again are beings in immediate and continual relation with the supreme King, constantly occupied in His service, and never replaced by others. They are allowed to approach the Lord, to contemplate the throne of His Majesty and to adore Him, enjoying the sight of Him continually and without intermission. They have the gentlest natures, great spiritual beauty, and a keen faculty of penetration and of arriving at the truth. To each has been assigned a distinct place and fixed rank, which can be shared by no one. Highest of all is that unique being, the nearest to the Lord, and the parent of all the rest. Active Intelligence; it is by his mediation that the word and commandment of the Lord go forth to all the other beings of creation.

"'In this highest region all are pure spirits, having no relation to matter, except in so far as innate desire may set them in movement or cause them to move others. From such desire only, the Lord himself is absolutely exempt.

"'Those who think that He had a beginning are in complete error, and those who think to describe Him fully are beside themselves. In relation to Him all description and comparison are impossible. Those who attempt to describe Him can only indicate the distance which separates Him from all human attributes; the beauty of being is represented in scriptural language by His Face and His infinite bounty by His Hand. If even one of the cherubims wished to contemplate His essence, he would be dazzled and frustrated by His glory. Since beauty is the veil of beauty, His manifestation must always remain a mystery, in the same way as the sun, when lightly obscured by a cloud allows its disc to be seen, but when it blazes forth in all its splendour, its disc is veiled from human eye by excess of light. The Lord, however, is always communicating His splendour to His creation without grudging or reserve; He imparts Himself generously and the plenitude of His bounty is without limit: He who has the least glimpse of His beauty remains entranced by it for ever; sometimes saints of extraordinary attainments who have given themselves up to Him and have been favoured by His grace, aware of the worthlessness of the perishable world, when, from their ecstatic state they return to it, are haunted for the rest of their lives by regret and sadness.'

"Here Hay ibn Yokdhan closed his discourse by adding:

"'If I had not, in thus addressing you, been acting in obedience to the commands of my Lord, I would rather have left you for Him. If you will, accompany me on the path of safety.'"

Thus concludes this brief allegory, which, like Avicenna's other mystical treatises, is concerned with the progress and development of the human soul. According to him, the soul is created for eternity, and the object of its union with the body is the formation of a spiritual and independent microcosm. During our earthly life we have but a dim presentiment of this future condition; this presentiment produces in different characters a lesser or greater desire for it, and the thoroughness of our preparation depends on this desire. This preparation is only accomplished by the development of the highest faculties of the soul, and the inferior faculties of the senses furnish the indispensable basis for this.

Every human faculty has some pleasure corresponding to it. The pleasure of the appetitive faculty for example, is to receive a sensation which accords with its desire; the pleasure of the irascible faculty is attack; the pleasure of the surmising faculty, hope; that of the recollective faculty, memory. Generally speaking, the pleasures attending these faculties consist in their realising themselves in action, but they differ widely in rank, the soul's delight in intellectual perception of realities, in which the knower and the known are one, being incomparably higher than any mere sensual satisfaction. By attaining to such perceptions, the soul prepares itself for the beatitude of the next life. The degree of this beatitude will correspond to the intensity of spiritual desire awakened in it during its earthly sojourn.41

It is extremely difficult, not to say impossible, to determine the degrees of beatitude of the soul after death. We may, nevertheless, understand that the various impediments of passions, prejudices, etc., to which its union with the body has given rise, are not immediately dissolved on its separation from the body. Souls thus hindered may pass into a state depicted by Plato and other ancient philosophers, in which they are still weighed down by the passions they indulged in. Every soul is eternal and imperishable, and will finally attain the beatitude for which it was created. But it may be punished after death by a shorter or longer exclusion from that beatitude. To suppose with Alexander Aphrodisius that an imperfect or ill-prepared soul may be annihilated, would be to admit a belief at complete variance with its eternal essence and origin.

But we may well conjecture that the punishment of such ill-prepared and refractory souls would consist in their being in a state in which after separation from the body they still pine after sensual enjoyments and suffer from the impossibility of such gratification.

It may also be supposed that such ill-prepared souls remember the notions that were current in this world regarding beatitude and damnation; their conceptions would in that case resemble dreams which are often more vivid than impressions received in waking moments. They would imagine themselves undergoing the examination in the tomb and all the other punishments depicted in the Koran, or it may be enjoying the sensual pleasures there described. On the other hand, the noble and well-prepared soul will pass at once to the contemplation of the eternal, and will be exempt from every memory and every conception relating to this world. For if anything of this kind remained in it as a reminder of its union with the body, it would so far fall short of the plenitude of its perfection.

Besides his mystical treatise "On the soul," Avicenna has left a short but remarkable poem on the same subject, which runs as follows:—

"It descended upon thee from the lofty station (heaven); a dove rare and uncaptured, curtained from the eyes of every knower yet which is manifest and never wore a veil.42 It came to thee unwillingly and it may perhaps be unwilling to abandon thee although it complain of its sufferings. It resisted at first, and would not become familiar, but when it was in friendly union with the body, it grew accustomed to the desert waste (the world). Methinks it then forgot the recollections of the protected park (heaven), and of those abodes which it left with regret; but when in its spiral descent it arrived at the centre of its circle in the terrestrial world, it was united to the infirmity of the material body and remained among the monuments and prostrate ruins. It now remembers the protected park and weepeth with tears which flow and cease not till the time for setting out towards the protected park approacheth; till the instant of departure for the vast plain (the spiritual world) draweth nigh. It then cooeth on the top of a lofty pinnacle (for knowledge can exalt all who were not exalted) and it has come to the knowledge of every mystery in the universe, while yet its tattered vest hath not been mended.43

"Its descent was predestined so that it might hear what it had not heard, else why did it descend from the high and lofty heaven to the depth of the low and humble earth? If God sent it down by a decision of His will, His motive is concealed from the intelligence of man. Why did it descend to be withheld from the exalted summit of heaven by the coarse net of the body, and to be detained in a cage? It is like a flash of lightning shining over the meadow, and disappearing as if it had never gleamed."

Although Avicenna's reputation in the Muhammedan world has always been high, his mystical treatises have generally been regarded as heretical, and many have only been preserved in Hebrew translations. He himself says explicitly that he only intended them for his most intimate disciples, and forbade them to be communicated to the multitude. For his own part, he conformed to the religious law and customs. The celebrated contemporary Sufi Abou Said Abi'l Khair having asked his opinion regarding the custom of praying for the dead, and visiting their tombs, he answers thus:

"God the Unique Being and Source of all that exists—angels, intelligences exempt from connection with matter, souls united to matter, elements in all their varied developments—animal, vegetable and mineral, inspires His whole creation, and His omniscience embraces all. His influence in the first place acts immediately on the Active Intelligences and angels, who in their turn act on souls which in their turn act on our sublunary world. If there were not homogeneity of substance between celestial and terrestrial souls and likeness between the macrocosm of the universe, and the microcosm of man, the knowledge of God would be impossible for us, as the Prophet himself hath said, 'He who knows himself, knows God.' All creation, whose parts are linked together, is subject to influences which all derive from a single source—God. Terrestrial souls differ widely in rank; the highest are endowed with gifts of prophecy, and perfected so far that they attain the sphere of pure intelligence. A soul of this kind entering after death into eternal beatitude, shared with its peers, continues along with them to exercise a certain influence on terrestrial souls. The object of prayer for the dead and visiting their tombs is to beg for the help of those pure souls, a help which is realised sometimes in a material, sometimes in a spiritual way. The former kind of help may be compared with the direction which the body receives from the brain; spiritual assistance is realised by the purification of the mind from every thought but that of God."

Avicenna, after his liberation from imprisonment by Ala-ed-Dowla, being anxious to quit Hamadan, left the city secretly with his brother, his disciple Joujani and two servants, all five disguised as Sufis. After a painful journey they reached Ispahan, where they were received in a friendly manner by Ala-ed-Dowla. Avicenna here continued to hold philosophical discussions as he had done at Hamadan. At Ispahan he also composed two of his most important works, the "Shifa" and the "Najat," treating of medicine. Later on he followed Ala-ed-Dowla to Bagdad, but on the way was seized with a gastric malady, accompanied by an attack of apoplexy. He recovered at the time, but not long afterwards the sickness returned, and he died at the age of 57, a.d. 1037.

In his Literary History of Persia (vo. II., p. 108) Professor Browne points out that one of the most celebrated stanzas in Fitzgerald's translation of Omar Khayyam was really composed by Avicenna:—
"Up from earth's centre through the Seventh Gate I rose, and on the throne of Saturn sate, And many a knot unravelled by the road, But not the master-knot of human fate."

Another interesting link between the two philosophers is supplied by the fact, mentioned by Professor Browne, that a few days before his death Omar Khayyam was reading in the "Shifa" of Avicenna the chapter treating of the One and of the Many.

Habib Ajami

Habib Ajami was a rich usurer of Basra, and used to spend most of his time going about and collecting the money which was due to him. He used also to insist on being paid for the time so spent. One day he had gone to the house of one of his debtors, and when he had knocked at the door the debtor's wife said to him, "My husband is not at home." "If he is not," said Habib, "pay me for my lost time and I will go." "But I have nothing," replied the woman, "except a neck of mutton." She fetched it and gave it to him. Habib took it home to his wife, and told her to cook it. "But," said she, "we have no bread or wood." So Habib went off again, exacted his indemnity for lost time from another debtor, and bought wood and bread, which he took home. His wife set about cooking the food, when a dervish appeared at the door asking alms. "Go away," said Habib to him; "you won't become rich with what you get here." The dervish departed in silence. Habib's wife prepared to put the food on the plates, but when she looked into the cooking pot she saw a mass of blood. Filled with terror, she said to Habib, "Your harshness towards the dervish has brought this misfortune on us. All the food in the cooking pot has turned to blood." Habib, frightened himself, repented, and, as a pledge of the reality of his conversion, vowed to abandon the practice of usury. The following day was a Friday. Habib, having gone out, saw as he was walking along, children playing on the road. They no sooner saw him than they said to each other, "Here is the usurer coming; let us be off, lest the dust raised by his feet touch us and we become cursed like him." At these words Habib Ajami was profoundly stirred, and went off to consult Hasan Basri, whom he found in the act of preaching on the terrors of the judgment-day. Habib was so overcome with fear that he fainted. When he came to himself, he made public confession of his sins in the presence of Hasan Basri and the congregation.

Then he left the mosque and returned home. One of his debtors, seeing him on the road, attempted to get out of his way, but Habib called after him and said, "Don't fly away; formerly you used to avoid me, but now it is I who seek to avoid you." As he approached his house he met the same children as before, and heard them say to one another, "We must get out of the way, lest the dust raised by our feet should soil Habib, who has repented." Habib, hearing this, exclaimed, "O Lord, in that very hour, when, returning from my errors, I have taken refuge with Thee, Thou hast put affection for me in the hearts of Thy friends, and changed into blessings the curses which used to greet my name."

He remitted all the debts that were due to him, and gave public notice that all his debtors had only to come and take back their bonds. They all came and did so. Then he gave away all the wealth he had been amassing for years, till he had nothing left. He built a hermitage on the banks of the Euphrates, where he gave himself up to a devotional life, spending whole nights in prayer. During the day he attended the instructions of Hasan Basri. At the commencement of his religious life he received the appellation "Ajami" (ill-instructed) because he could not pronounce the words of the Koran properly.

After some time his wife began to complain, saying, "I must really have some money; we have neither food to eat nor clothes to wear." At this time Habib was in the habit of going every day to his hermitage on the banks of the river, and spending the day in devotional exercises. In the evenings he came home. One evening his wife asked him where he had been during the day. "I have been working," he replied. "Very well, where are your wages?" she asked. "My employer," said Habib, "is a generous person. He has promised to pay me at the end of ten days." So he continued spending his time as before. On the tenth day, as he reflected in his hermitage, he wondered what he should say to his wife when he returned in the evening, and she wanted something to eat. That day four men came to the house of Habib. One brought a quantity of flour, another a sheep, a third a jar of honey, and the fourth a bottle of oil. Not long after them a fifth came with a purse of gold. They gave all these to Habib's wife, saying to her, "Your husband's Employer has sent these," and they added, "Tell your husband that his Master bids him continue his work, and He will continue his wages." Then they departed.

In the evening Habib came home, pensive and anxious. As he entered the house an odour of cooking greeted him. His wife hastened to meet him, and said, "O Habib, go on working for your employer, for he is very generous, and has sent all that you see here, with this message that you are to go on working, and he will continue to pay you." Hearing this, Habib became more confirmed than ever in his resolve to give up the world and to live to God.

One day Hasan Basri paid Habib a visit in his hermitage. The latter had two barley loaves and a little salt, which he placed before his guest. Just as the latter was commencing to eat and in the act of stretching out his hand, a dervish appeared at the door and asked for alms. Habib immediately handed him the two loaves. Hasan, somewhat ruffled, said, "Habib, you are a good man, but you would be none the worse for a little culture and intelligence. Don't you know that one ought never to take food away from before a guest? At any rate, you might have given one of those loaves to the dervish, and left the other." Habib made no reply. Some minutes afterwards a man came carrying in a napkin a roast lamb, a large plate of sweetmeats, and some money. He set them before Habib and said, "Sir, so and so sends you these with his compliments." Habib and Hasan made a hearty meal, and Habib distributed the money to some passing mendicants. Then he said to Hasan Basri, "My master, you are a good man, but it would have been better had you shown more sincerity in this matter, for then you would have possessed both knowledge and sincerity, and the two go well together."

On another occasion Hasan Basri arrived at Habib's hermitage just as the latter was commencing his evening prayers. Hearing him pronounce the words "al hamdu32" as "al hemdu," Hasan said to himself, "This man cannot pronounce the words of the Koran properly; it is impossible to pray with him," and he said his prayers apart. That same night he saw the Lord in a dream, and asked him, "Lord, what must I do to gain Thy approval." An answer came, "O Hasan, thou hadst gained it, but didst not appreciate its value. Thou shouldest have prayed with Habib Ajami. Such a prayer would have had more worth than all those which thou hast made in the course of thy life. The tongues of others may speak rightly, but the heart of Habib feels rightly."

One day Hasan Basri, flying from the agents of Hejjaj ibn Yusuf, the bloodthirsty governor of Irak, took refuge in Habib's hermitage. The pursuers, arriving, asked Habib whether Hasan had passed that way. "No," he said, "he is here in my dwelling." They entered, and seeing no one said to Habib, "O Habib, whatever treatment Hejjaj deals out to you, you will have richly deserved it. Why did you lie to us?" "I tell you," said Habib, "Hasan is within this dwelling; if you don't see him, what can I do?" They again made a search, but not succeeding in finding Hasan, departed. Hasan then came out of his hiding-place, and said, "O Habib, is this the way thou repayest thy debt to thy master, by betraying him?" "Master," answered Habib, "it is thanks to my truthfulness that thou hast escaped. If I had told a lie we should have both been caught." Hasan then said, "What words didst thou recite as a safeguard?" "I repeated ten times," said Habib, "the 'Verse of the throne,'33 ten times 'Believe in the Apostle,'34 six times 'Say, there is one God,' and in addition I said, 'Lord, I entrust Hasan to Thee; take care of him.'"

Hasan then asked Habib how he had arrived at such a high degree of sanctity. "I spend my time," he said, "in purifying my heart, while you spend yours in blackening paper" (Hasan having written many theological works). "Alas!" said Hasan. "Must then my knowledge benefit others, only while I have nothing but the outward show of it?"

"We must not suppose," says Fariduddin Attar in narrating the above incident, "that Habib had really attained a higher degree of piety than Hasan; for in the eyes of the Lord nothing is higher than knowledge. The doctors of Islam have said truly, 'In the spiritual path the gift of performing miracles is the fourteenth stage, while knowledge is the eighteenth. The gift of miracles is the reward of many works of piety, while the knowledge of mysteries is revealed only to profound meditation. Consider the case of Solomon, upon whom be peace! He understood the language of birds, and yet, though arrived at such a high degree of knowledge, he submitted to the Law given by Moses, and acted according to its instructions.'"

Every time that he heard the Koran read, Habib used to weep bitterly. Some one said to him, "You are a barbarian (the literal meaning of the word 'Ajami'). The Koran is in Arabic, and you don't understand it; why then do you weep?" "It is true," he said "my tongue is barbarian, but my heart is Arab."

Mansur Hallaj

Mansur Hallaj ("the cotton-comber"), a Persian, of Zoroastrian lineage, was a pupil of Junaid of Bagdad, a more sober-minded Sufi than his contemporary Bayazid Bastami. Mansur himself however was of an enthusiastic temperament, and took no pains to guard his language. One of his extraordinary utterances, "I am the truth," led at last to his execution, "the Truth" being one of the recognised names of God in Muhammadan nomenclature. Notwithstanding this, even at the present day he passes among the Sufis for one of their greatest saints, while the more orthodox regard him as a daring blasphemer who received his deserts. "His contemporaries," says a Muhammadan writer, "entertained as many different views concerning him as the Jews and Christians with respect to the Messiah." Certainly when we read the various accounts of him by authors of different tendencies, if we did not know to the contrary, we might suppose ourselves reading about different persons bearing the same name. The orthodox regard him chiefly as a sorcerer in league with supernatural powers, whether celestial or infernal, for he caused, it is said, summer fruits to appear in winter and vice versa. He could69 reveal in open day what had been done in secret, knew everyone's most private thoughts, and when he extended his empty hand in the air he drew it back full of coins bearing the inscription, "Say: God is One." Among the moderate Shiites, who had more than one point of contact with the Sufis, it is not a question of sorcery at all. For them the doctrine of Hallaj, which he had also practised himself, meant that by using abstinence, by refusing pleasure and by chastising the flesh, man can lift himself gradually to the height of the elect and even of angels. If he perseveres in this path he is gradually purged from everything human, he receives the spirit of God as Jesus did, and all that he does is done by God.

The Shiites say, moreover, that the reason for which Hallaj was put to death should be found not in his utterances but in the astonishing influence which he exercised over the highest classes of society, on princes and their courts, and which caused much disquietude to others, especially to the orthodox mullahs. Hallaj has even been judged not unfavourably by those among the orthodox who were characterised by a certain breadth of view, and who, like Ghazzali, although they disliked free-thinking, yet wished for a religion of the heart, and were not content with the dry orthodoxy of the great majority of theologians. Ghazzali indeed has gone so far as to put a favourable construction on the following sayings of Hallaj: "I am the Truth," "There is nothing in Paradise except God." He justifies them on the ground of the speaker's excessive love for God. In his eyes, as well as in those of other great authorities, Hallaj is a saint and70 a martyr. The most learned theologians of the tenth century, on the contrary, believed that he deserved execution as an infidel and a blasphemer. Even the greatest admirers of Hallaj, the Sufis, are not agreed regarding him. Some of them question whether he were a thorough-going pantheist, and think that he taught a numerical Pantheism, an immanence of the Deity in certain souls only. But this is not the opinion of the majority of the Sufis. The high esteem which they entertain for him is best understood by comparing the account they give of his martyrdom with that by orthodox writers. The latter runs as follows:

The common people of Bagdad were circulating reports that Hallaj could raise the dead, and that the Jinn were his slaves, and brought him whatever he desired. Hamid, the vizier of the Caliph Muqtadir, was much disturbed by this, and requested the Caliph to have Hallaj and his partizans arrested. But the grand chamberlain Nasir was strongly in his favour, and opposed this; his influence, however, being less than that of the vizier, Hallaj and some of his followers were arrested. When the latter were questioned, they admitted that they regarded their leader as God, since he raised the dead; but when he was questioned himself, he said, "God preserve me from claiming divinity or the dignity of a prophet; I am a mortal man who adores the Most High."

The vizier then summoned two cadis and the principal theologians, and desired that they should give sentence against Hallaj. They answered that 71they could not pronounce sentence without proofs and without confession on the part of the accused. The vizier, foiled in his attempt, caused Hallaj to be brought several times before him, and tried by artfully devised questions to elicit from him some heretical utterance, but in vain. Finally he succeeded in finding in one of his books the assertion that if a man wished to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, but was hindered from doing so by some reason or other, he could perform the equivalent of it in the following way. He should go through all the prescribed circuits in a chamber carefully cleansed and closed. In this chamber also he should give a feast of the choicest food to thirty orphans, should wait upon them himself, make them a present of clothing, and give them each seven dirhems. All this, he maintained, would be a work more meritorious than the pilgrimage itself.

The vizier showed to the cadi Abou Amr this passage which scandalised him. Abou Amr then asked Hallaj, "Whence did you derive this idea?" Hallaj quoted a work of Hassan of Basra, from which he said he had taken it. "It is a lie, O infidel, whose death is lawful," exclaimed the cadi; "the book you speak of was expounded to us at Mecca by one of the learned, but what you have written is not in it." The vizier eagerly caught up the expressions "O infidel," etc., which escaped the cadi in his excitement, and asked him to pronounce sentence of death. The cadi refused; that, he said, was not his intention; but the vizier insisted, and ended by obtaining the sentence of death, which was signed by all the maulvies present. In vain Hallaj sought to prove that the condemnation was unjust. "You have no right," he exclaimed, "to shed my blood. My religion is Islam; I believe in the traditions handed down from the Prophet, and I have written on this subject books which you can find everywhere. I have always acknowledged the four Imams and the first four Caliphs. I invoke the help of God to save my life!"

He was taken to prison. The vizier despatched the sentence of death, signed by the maulvies, to the Caliph, who ordered that Hallaj should be handed to the Chief of Police and receive a thousand strokes of the rod, and then another thousand if he did not die from the effects of the first scourging, and finally be decapitated. The vizier, however, did not transmit the order accurately, but modified it as follows: "If Hallaj does not die under the blows of the rod, let him first have a hand cut off, then a foot, then the other hand and foot. Lastly let his head be cut off, and his body burnt."

Hallaj underwent the terrible punishment with admirable courage, and when his body had been burnt the ashes were cast into the Tigris. But his disciples did not believe in his death; they were persuaded that a person resembling him had been martyred in his place, and that he would show himself again after forty days. Some declared that they had met him mounted on an ass on the road leading to Nahrawan, and had heard him say, "Be not like those simpletons who think that I have been scourged and put to death."


Thus far the theologians' account. That given by Fariduddin Attar in his "Tazkirat-ul-Aulia" is as follows:

This is he who was a martyr in the way of truth, whose rank has become exalted, whose outer and inner man were pure, who has been a pattern of loyalty in love, whom an irresistible longing drew towards the contemplation of the face of God; this is the enthusiast Mansur Hallaj, may the mercy of God be upon him! He was intoxicated with a love whose flames consumed him. The miracles he worked were such that the learned were thunderstruck at them. He was a man whose range of vision was immense, whose words were riddles, and profoundly versed in the knowledge of mysteries. Born in the canton of Baida in the province of Shiraz, he grew up at Wasit.

Abd Allah Khafif used to say, "Mansur really possessed the knowledge of the truth." "I and Mansur," declared Shibli, "followed the same path; they regarded me as mad, and my life was saved thereby, while Mansur perished because he was sane." If Mansur had been really astray in error, the two learned men we have just quoted would not have spoken of him in such terms. Many wise men, however, have reproached him for revealing the mysteries of truth to the vulgar herd.

When he had grown up, he was two years in the service of Abd Allah Teshtari. He made the pilgrimage to Mecca, and on his return became a disciple of the Sufi Junaid. One day, when Mansur was plying him with questions on certain obscure and difficult points, Junaid said, "O Mansur, before very long you will redden the head of the stake." "The day when I redden the head of the stake," rejoined Mansur, "you will cast away the garment of the dervish and assume that of ordinary men." It is related that on the day when Mansur was taken to execution all the Ulama signed the sentence of death. "Junaid also must sign," said the Caliph. Junaid accordingly repaired to the college of the Ulama, where, after putting on a mullah's robe and turban, he recorded in writing his opinion that "though apparently Mansur deserved death, inwardly he possessed the knowledge of the Most High."

Having left Bagdad, Mansur spent a year at Tashter, then he spent five years in travelling through Khorassan, Seistan and Turkestan. On his return to Bagdad, the number of his followers largely increased, and he gave utterance to many strange sayings which excited the suspicions of the orthodox. At last he began to say, "I am the Truth." These words were repeated to the Caliph, and many persons renounced Mansur as a religious leader and appeared as witnesses against him. Among these was Junaid, to whom the Caliph said, "O Junaid, what is the meaning of this saying of Mansur?" "O Caliph," answered Junaid, "this man should be put to death, for such a saying cannot be reasonably explained." The Caliph then ordered him to be cast into prison. There for a whole year he continued to hold discussions with the learned. At the end of that time the Caliph forbade that anyone should have access to him; in consequence, no one 75went to see him for five months except Abd Allah Khafif. Another time Ibn Ata sent someone to say to him, "O Sheikh, withdraw what you said, so that you may escape death." "Nay, rather he who sent you to me should ask forgiveness," replied Mansur. Ibn Ata, hearing this, shed tears and said, "Alas, he is irreparably lost!"

In order to force him to retract, he was first of all given three hundred blows with a rod, but in vain. He was then led to execution. A crowd of about a hundred thousand men followed him, and as he looked round on them, he cried, "True! True! True! I am the Truth!"

It is said that among them was a dervish who asked him, "What is love?" "Thou shalt see," Mansur replied, "to-day and to-morrow and the day after." And, as it happened, that day he was put to death, the next day his body was burnt, and on the third his ashes were scattered to the winds. He meant that such would be the results of his love to God. On his son asking of him a last piece of advice, "While the people of the world," he said, "spend their energies on earthly objects, do thou apply thyself to a study, the least portion of which is worth all that men and Jinn can produce—the study of truth."

As he walked along lightly and alertly, though loaded with many chains, they asked him the reason of his confident bearing. "It is," he said, "because I am going to the presence of the King." Then he added, "My Host, in whom there is no injustice, has presented me with the drink which is usually given to a guest; but when the cups have began to circulate76 he has sent for the executioner with his sword and leathern carpet. Thus fares it with him who drinks with the Dragon in July."

When he reached the scaffold, he turned his face towards the western gate of Bagdad, and set his foot on the first rung of the ladder, "the first step heaven-*ward," as he said. Then he girded himself with a girdle, and, lifting up his hands towards heaven, turned towards Mecca, and said exultantly, "Let it be as He has willed." When he reached the platform of the scaffold, a group of his disciples called out to him, "What do you say regarding us, thy disciples, and regarding those who deny thy claims and are about to stone thee?" "They will have a two-fold reward, and you only a single one," he answered, "for you limit yourselves to having a good opinion of me, while they are carried on by their zeal for the unity of God and for the written law. Now in the law the doctrine of God's unity is fundamental, while a good opinion is merely accessory."

Shibli the Sufi stood in front of him and cried, "Did we not tell thee not to gather men together?" Then he added, "O Hallaj, what is Sufism?" "Thou seest," replied Hallaj, "the least part of it." "What is then the highest?" asked Shibli. "Thou canst not attain to it," he answered.

Then they all began to stone him. Shibli making common cause with the others threw mud at him. Hallaj uttered a cry. "What," said one, "you have not flinched under this hail of stones, and now you cry out because of a little mud! Why is that?" "Ah!" 77he replied, "they do not know what they are doing, and are excusable; but he grieves me because he knows I ought not to be stoned at all."

When they cut off his hands, he laughed and said, "To cut off the hands of a fettered man is easy, but to sever the links which bind me to the Divinity would be a task indeed." Then they cut off his two feet. He said smiling, "With these I used to accomplish my earthly journeys, but I have another pair of feet with which I can traverse both worlds. Hew these off if ye can!" Then, with his bleeding stumps, he rubbed his cheeks and arms. "Why do you do that?" he was asked. "I have lost much blood," he answered, "and lest you should think the pallor of my countenance betokens fear, I have reddened my cheeks." "But why your arms." "The ablutions of love must be made in blood," he replied.

Then his eyes were torn out. At this a tumult arose in the crowd. Some burst into tears, others cast stones at him. When they were about to cut out his tongue, he exclaimed, "Wait a little; I have something to say." Then, lifting his face towards heaven, he said, "My God, for the sake of these sufferings, which they inflict on me because of Thee, do not inflict loss upon them nor deprive them of their share of felicity. Behold, upon the scaffold of my torture I enjoy the contemplation of Thy glory." His last words were, "Help me, O Thou only One, to whom there is no second!" and he recited the following verse of the Koran, "Those who do not believe say, 'Why does not the day of judgment hasten?' Those who believe tremble at the mention of it, for they know78 that it is near." Then they cut out his tongue, and he smiled. Finally, at the time of evening prayer, his head was cut off. His body was burnt, and the ashes thrown into the Tigris.

The high opinion entertained of Mansur Hallaj by Fariduddin Attar, as seen in the above account, has been echoed by subsequent Sufi writers. Jalaluddin Rumi, the great mystic poet, says of him:
"Pharaoh said 'I am the Truth,'30 and was laid low. Mansur Hallaj said 'I am the Truth,' and escaped free. Pharaoh's 'I' was followed by the curse of God. Mansur's 'I' was followed by the mercies of God. Because Pharaoh was a stone, Mansur a ruby, Pharaoh an enemy of light, Mansur a friend. Mansur's 'I am He,' was a deep mystic saying, Expressing union with the light, not mere incarnation."31

Similarly Abdurrahman, the chief poet of the Afghans says:
"Every one who is crucified like Mansur, After death his cross becomes a fruitful tree."

Islamic Saints: Zu'n Nun of Egypt

Ibn Khalliqan, the historian, calls Zu'n Nun "the first person of his age for learning, devotion and communion with the Divinity." His father, who was a native of Nubia, was a slave, enfranchised and adopted by the tribe of Koraish. Zu'n Nun, being asked why he had renounced the world, said, "I went forth from Misr (Egypt) journeying to a certain village, and I fell asleep in one of the deserts on the way. And my eye was opened, and lo, a little bird, still blind, fell from its nest to the ground. Then the ground split open and two trays came forth, one of gold, the other of silver; in one was sesame, and in the other water; and the bird ate of that, and drank of this. 'That', said I, 'is a sufficient warning for me; I renounce the world.' And then I did not quit the door of divine mercy till I was let in."

Having been denounced by his enemies to the Caliph Mutawakkil of Bagdad, he was summoned from Egypt to appear before him. On entering into his presence, he addressed a pious exhortation to the Caliph, who shed tears, and dismissed him honourably. After this, whenever men of piety were spoken of before the Caliph, he would weep and say, "Speaking of pious men, let me have Zu'n Nun."

At Cairo, however, Z'un Nun did not come off so easily. He openly rebuked the vices of the inhabitants, and especially of the local governors, who caused him to be beaten and imprisoned. "All this is as nothing, so I be not separated from thee, O my God," was his exclamation while dragged through the crowded street with blows and insults by the soldiers of the garrison.

Zu'n Nun related the following story of himself. "One day I saw a beautiful palace on the bank of a river where I was performing my devotions. On the roof of this palace I perceived a lovely maiden. Curious of learning who she was, I approached and asked her the name of her master. She answered, 'O Zu'n Nun when you were still a great way off, I took you for a madman, when you came nearer, for a religious man, when you came still nearer, for one of the initiated. I now perceive that you are neither mad, nor religious, nor initiated. If you had been mad, you would not have engaged in religious exercises; if you had been religious, you would not have looked at a person whom you ought not to approach; if you had been initiated, nothing would have drawn your attention away from God.' So saying, she disappeared. I then recognised that she was no mortal, but an angel."

20Zu'n Nun relates that he heard his spiritual teacher Schakran recount the following story. "When I was young, I lived on the eastern bank of the Nile, near Cairo, and gained my livelihood by ferrying passengers across to the western side. One day, as I was sitting in my boat near the river edge, an aged man presented himself before me; he wore a tattered robe, a staff was in his hand, and a water-skin suspended from his neck. 'Will you ferry me over for the love of God?' said he. I answered, 'Yes.' 'And will you fulfil my commission for the love of God?' 'Yes.' Accordingly, I rowed him across to the western side. On alighting from the boat, he pointed to a solitary tree some distance off, and said to me, 'Now go your way, and do not trouble yourself further about me till to-morrow; nor indeed will it be in your power, even should you desire it, for as soon as I have left you, you will at once forget me. But to-morrow, at this same hour of noon, you will suddenly call me to mind. Then go to that tree which you see before you, I shall be lying dead in its shade. Say the customary prayers over my corpse, and bury me; then take my robe, my staff and the water-skin, and return with them to the other side of the river; there deliver them to him who shall first ask them of you. This is my commission.'

"Having said this, he immediately departed. I looked after him, but soon lost sight of him; and then, as he had himself already forewarned me, I utterly forgot him. But next day, at the approach of noon, I suddenly remembered the event, and hastily crossing the river alone, I came to the western bank, and then made straight for the tree. In its shade I found him stretched out at full length, with a calm and smiling face, but dead. I recited over him the customary prayers, and buried him in the sand at the foot of the tree; then I took the garment, the staff and the water-skin, and returned to my boat. Arrived at the eastern side, I found standing on the shore to meet me a young man whom I knew as a most dissolute fellow of the town, a hired musician by profession. He was gaudily dressed, his countenance bore the traces of recent debauch, and his fingers were stained with henna. 'Give me the bequest,' said he. Amazed at such a demand from such a character, 'What bequest?' I answered. 'The staff, the water-skin and the garment,' was his reply. Thereupon I drew them, though unwillingly, from the bottom of the boat, where I had concealed them, and gave them to him. He at once stripped off his gay clothes, put on the tattered robe, hung the water-skin round his neck, took the staff in his hand, and turned to depart.

"I, however, caught hold of him and exclaimed, 'For God's sake, ere you go, tell me the meaning of this, and how this bequest has become yours, such as I know you.' 'By no merit of my own, certainly,' answered he; 'but I passed last night at a wedding-feast, with many boon companions, in singing, drinking deep, and mad debauch. As the night wore away and morning drew near, tired out with pleasure and heavy with wine, I lay down to sleep. Then in my sleep one stood by me, and said, "God has at this very hour taken to himself the soul of such an ascetic, and has chosen you to fill his place on earth. Rise and go to the river bank, there you will meet a ferryman in his boat; demand from him the bequest. He will give you a garment, a staff and a water-skin; take them, and live as their first owner lived."'

"Such was his story. He then bade me farewell, and went his way. But I wept bitterly over my own loss, in that I had not been chosen in his place as successor to the dead saint, and thought that such a favour would have been more worthily bestowed on me than on him. But that same night, as I slept, I heard a voice saying unto me, 'Schakran, is it grief to thee that I have called an erring servant of Mine to repentance? The favour is My free gift, and I bestow such on whom I will, nor yet do I forget those who seek Me.' I awoke from sleep, and repented of my impatient ambition."

Zu'n Nun had a disciple who had made the pilgrimage to the Kaaba forty times, and during forty years had passed all his nights in devotional exercises. One day he came to Zu'n Nun and said, "During the forty years that I have practised austerity, nothing of the unseen world has been revealed to me; the Friend (i.e., God) has not spoken to me, nor cast upon me a single look. I fear lest I die and leave this world in despair. Thou, who are the physician of sick souls, devise some means for my cure." "Go," Zu'n Nun replied, "this evening, omit your prayers, eat as much as you like, and go to sleep. Doubtless, if the Friend does not look upon you with an eye of mercy, He will at any rate look upon you with an eye of anger." The dervish went away, but said his prayers as usual, saying to himself that it would be wrong to omit them. Then he ate to satiety, and went to sleep. In his dreams he saw the Prophet, who said to him, "O Dervish, the Friend sends thee his salutation, and says, 'Surely that man is pusillanimous who, as soon as he has arrived at My court, hastens to return; set thy feet on this path like a brave man, and then We will give thee the reward for all the austerities which thou hast practised for forty years, and make thee reach the goal of thy desires.'"

Perhaps someone may ask why Zu'n Nun told his disciple to omit his prayers. We should consider that sheikhs are physicians knowing the remedy for every kind of disease. Now there are many diseases whose treatment involves the use of poisons. Besides, Zu'n Nun knew well that his disciple would certainly not neglect his prayers. There are in the spiritual path (tariqat) many things not justifiable according to the written law (shariat). It is thus that the Lord ordered Abraham to slay his son, an act unlawful according to the written law. But whoever, without having attained to so high a degree in the spiritual life as Zu'n Nun, should act as he did in this matter would be a being without faith or law; for each one in his actions must conform to the decisions of the written law.

Zu'n Nun related once the following. "When I was making the circuit of the Kaaba, I saw a man with a pale face and emaciated frame. I said to him, 'Dost thou really love Him?' 'Yes,' he answered. 'Does the Friend come near thee?' 'Yes, assuredly.' 'Is He kind to thee?' 'Yes, certainly.' 'What!' I exclaimed, 'the Friend approaches thee, He is kind to thee, and look at the wretched state of thy body!' He replied, 'Simpleton! Knowest thou not that they whom the Friend approaches most nearly, are the most severely tried?'"

"One day," said Zu'n Nun, "when I was travelling, I arrived at a plain covered with snow. I saw a fire-worshipper who was strewing seeds of millet there. 'O infidel,' I said, 'why are you strewing this millet?' 'To-day,' he said, 'as it has been snowing, I reflected that the birds would find nothing to eat, and I strewed this millet that they may find some food, and I hope that the Most High will perchance have mercy upon me.' 'The grain which an infidel sows,' I replied, 'does not germinate, and thou art a fire-worshipper.' 'Well,' he answered, 'even if God does not accept my offering, may I not hope that He sees what I am doing?' 'Certainly He sees it,' I said. 'If He sees it,' he remarked 'that is enough for me.'

"Long afterwards I met this infidel at Mecca making the circuit of the Kaaba. He recognised me, and exclaimed, 'O Zu'n Nun, the Most High, witnessing my act, has accepted it. The grain I sowed has indeed sprung up, for God has given me faith, and brought me to His House.' "Seeing him," added Zu'n Nun, "I rejoiced, and cried, 'My God, dost Thou give paradise to an infidel for a handful of millet seed?' Then I heard a voice reply, 'O Zu'n Nun, the mercy of the Lord is without limit.'"

Zu'n Nun daily asked three things of God in prayer. The first was never to have any certainty of his means of subsistence for the morrow. The second was never to be in honour among men. And the third was to see God's face in mercy at his death-hour. Near the end of his life, one of his more intimate disciples ventured to question him on this triple prayer, and what had been its result. "As for the first and second petitions," answered Zu'n Nun, "God has liberally granted them, and I trust in His goodness that He will not refuse me the third."

During his last moments he was asked what he wished. "I wish," he replied, "that if I have only one more breath left, it may be spent in blessing the Most High." As he said this, he breathed his last.

He died 860 a.d., and his tomb is still an object of popular veneration at Cairo.

Bayazid Bastami

Bayazid Bastami, whose grandfather was a Zoroastrian converted to Islam, was distinguished for his piety while still a child. His mother used to send him regularly to the mosque to read the Koran with a mullah. When he reached the chapter "Luqman," he read the verse, "Show thy gratitude in serving Me, and show thy gratitude to thy parents in serving them." He asked his teacher the meaning of the verse, and had no sooner heard it explained than he immediately ran home. When she saw him, his mother said, "Why have you come home so early, my child? Have they sent you for the fees?" "Mother," answered Bayezid, "I have just read the verse in which the Lord commands me to serve Him, and to serve thee; but, as I cannot serve in two places at once, I have come to propose to you that you should ask the Lord to give me to you in order that I may serve you, or that you should yourself give me to the Lord that I may serve Him." "Since that is the case," said his mother, "I give you up to the Lord, and renounce all my rights over you." Accordingly, a few years afterwards, Bayazid left his native village Bastam, and for thirty years lived as a bare-footed ascetic in the deserts of Syria. Once53 during this time Bayazid came home and listened at the door of his mother's house before going in. He heard her saying in prayer, "May God bless my poor exile, may the hearts of the pious be rejoiced by him and accord him grace." Bayazid, hearing these words, wept, and knocked at the door. "Who is there?" she asked. "Thy exile," he answered. No sooner had she opened the door than, embracing Bayazid, she said to him, weeping, "O my son, separated from thee as I have been, my eyes have lost the power to see, and my back is bent," and they both mingled their tears together.

Some time after Bayazid said to a friend, "What I ought to have known most clearly is just what I have only learnt when too late—to serve my mother. That which I sought in devoting myself to so many religious exercises, in putting myself at the service of others, and in exiling myself far from my kindred and my country, see, how I have discovered it. One night when my mother asked for water, as there was none in the pitcher, I went to the canal to draw some. It was a winter night, and the frost was very sharp. While I had gone for the water, my mother had fallen asleep again. I stood waiting with the full pitcher in my hand till she should awake. When she did so, she asked for water, but when I wished to give it her, I found that the water was frozen, and the handle of the jug stuck fast to my hand. 'Why,' said my mother, 'did you not put it down?' 'Because I feared,' I answered, 'not to be ready when you asked for it.' That same night the Lord revealed to me all that I wanted to know."

54Bayazid used to tell the following story. "A man came to see me, and asked where I was going. 'I am going to Mecca,' I said, 'to make the circuit of the Kaaba.'16 'How much money hast thou?' he asked. 'Two hundred pieces of gold,' I answered. 'Very well,' he said, 'give them me and walk seven times round me. By this act of charity thou wilt deserve a greater recompense than thou wouldest obtain at the Kaaba.'17 I did as he asked, and that year I did not make the pilgrimage."

One day the thought crossed Bayazid's mind that he was the greatest Sufi of the age. But no sooner had it done so, than he understood it was an aberration on his part. "I rose immediately," he said, "and went some way into the desert of Khorassan, where I sat down. I took then the resolution of not moving from the spot where I was seated till the Lord should send me someone who would make me see myself as I really was. I waited thus for three days and three nights. On the fourth night a rider on a camel approached. I perceived on his countenance the marks of a penetrating mind. He halted, and, fixing his eyes on me, said, 'Thou desirest doubtless, that in the twinkling of an eye I should cause to be swallowed up the village of Bastam and all its population, together with its riches, and Bayazid himself.' At these words I was seized with an indescribable fear, and asked him, 'Whence comest thou?' 'O Bayazid,' he answered, 'while thou hast been seated here I have travelled 55three thousand miles. Take care, O Bayazid, to place a curb on thy heart, and not to forget the road; else shalt thou infallibly perish.' Then he turned his back and departed."

One night Bayazid, having gone out of his house, went to the burial-ground to perform his devotions. There he found a young man playing a guitar, who came towards him. Bayazid, considering music unlawful, exclaimed, "There is no might or power except in God."18 The young man, irritated, struck the head of Bayazid with his guitar, breaking it, and wounding him. Bayazid returned home. The next morning very early he placed some sweetmeats and some pieces of gold in a dish and sent it to the young man, charging the messenger to say from him, "Last night you broke your guitar by striking my head with it; take, therefore, this money, buy another guitar, and eat the sweetmeats so that there may remain no rancour in your heart." When he had received the message, the young man came in tears to Bayazid, asked his pardon, and repented.

On another occasion, Bayezid was saying his prayers in company with a friend. When they had finished their devotions, his friend said to him, "Tell me, Bayazid, you do not ask anything of anyone, you do not engage in any industry; whence do you get your provision?" "Wait a little," said Bayazid, "I am going to say my prayers again." "Why?" "Because it is unlawful to pray with a man who does not know Who is the Bestower of daily bread."

Hatim Assam used to say to his disciples, "If, on the Day of Judgment you do not intercede for those who will be conducted to hell, you are not my disciples." Bayazid, having heard this, said in his turn, "Those only are my disciples who, on the Day of Judgment, will stand on the brink of hell, in order to seize and save the wretches cast down thither, even were it necessary to enter hell themselves for the salvation of the others."

Bayazid related as follows. "One day I heard a Voice, which said, 'O Bayazid, our treasure-house is brimmed full with acts of adoration and devotion offered by men; bring Us something which is not in Our treasury.' 'But, O God,' I cried, 'what then shall I bring?' And the voice answered me, 'Bring Me sorrow of heart, humility, contrition.'"

Another time he said, "After having endured the rigours of asceticism for forty years, one night I found myself before the doors and curtains which hide the throne of God. 'For pity's sake,' I exclaimed, groaning, 'let me pass.' 'O Bayazid,' cried a Voice, 'you still possess a pitcher and an old cloak; you cannot pass.' Then I cast away the pitcher and the cloak, and I heard the Voice again address me, 'O Bayazid, go and say to those who do not know: "Behold, for forty years I have practised rigorous asceticism. Well, till I cast away my broken pitcher and torn cloak, I could not find access to God; and you, who are entangled in the ties of worldly interests, how shall you discover the way to Him?"'"

One night, after having said his evening prayer, Bayazid remained standing till the morning, and57 shedding tears. When morning came, his servant asked him, "What has happened to you to-night?" "Methought I had arrived at the throne of God," replied Bayazid, and I said to it, 'O Throne, we are taught that the Lord rests on thee.' 'O Bayazid,' replied the throne, 'it is said here that the Lord dwells in a humble heart; but where is the intelligence capable of penetrating this mystery? Heavenly beings question earthly ones concerning it, and they only cast the question back.'

Bayazid said once, "When I had arrived at the station of Proximity, I heard a Voice say to me, 'O Bayazid, ask what thou hast to ask.' 'My God,' I answered, 'Thou art the Object of my desire.' 'O Bayazid,' the Voice replied, 'if there lingers in thee an atom of earthly desire, and till thou art reduced to nothing in the station of Annihilation, thou canst not find Me.' 'My God,' I answered, 'I shall not return from Thy Court empty-handed; I wish to ask something from Thee.' 'Very well, ask it.' 'Grant me mercy for all men.' The Voice said, 'O Bayazid lift up thine eyes.' I lifted them, and I saw that the Most High was far more inclined to have mercy on His servants than I. 'Lord,' I cried, 'have mercy on Satan.' 'O Bayazid,' the Voice answered, 'Satan is made of fire, and fire must needs go to the fire. Take heed lest thou thyself deserve to go there.'"

One day, when Bayazid was walking along the road, a young man who followed him closely, setting his feet in his tracks, said to him, "Tear off a piece of thy cloak and give it me, in order that thy blessing may rest upon me." Bayazid answered, "Although thou58 strip Bayazid of his skin and clothe thyself with it, it will profit thee nothing, unless thou reproduce the actions of Bayazid."

Amongst other remarkable utterances of Bayazid are the following. "When from hatred to the world I fled to the Lord, His love so filled my heart that I hated myself." "He who relies on his acts of piety is worse than he who commits sin." "There are those among the servants of the Lord who would utter groans like the damned in hell if one put them in possession of the eight paradises without Him." "A single grain of the love of Cod is worth more than a hundred thousand paradises." "He whom the Lord loves is known by three distinct signs—his liberality is like the sea, his kindness is like the sun, his humility is like the earth, which allows itself to be trampled on by everyone." "Whoso has the knowledge of the Lord receives from Him intuitional wisdom in such a manner that he needs not to have recourse to anyone to learn anything."

Being asked his age, he replied, "I am four years old." "How is that, Sheikh?" they said. "For seventy years," he said, "I have been enveloped in the veils of this dull world; it is only four years since I disentangled myself from them and see God." Being asked to define Sufism, he said, "Sufism consists in giving up repose, and accepting suffering."

In the last moments of his life he put on a girdle and seated himself in the "mihrab"19 of the mosque. Then, turning his cloak and cap inside out, he said, 59"My God, I ask for no reward for the austerities I have practised all my life. I say nothing of the prayers which I have prayed during whole nights, of the fasts I have kept during the day, of the number of times I have said the Koran through. O my God, thou knowest that I think nothing of the works which I have done, and that so far from putting trust in them, I would rather forget them. Besides, is it not thou who hast covered my nakedness with the raiment of these good works? As for me, I consider myself as a fire-worshipper who has grown to old age in a state of infidelity. But now I say 'Allah! Allah!' and I cut the girdle of the idolator. I enter Islam as a new proselyte, and I repeat the profession of the Moslem faith. I reckon all that I have done nothing. Deign, for Thy mercy's sake, to blot out all my evil deeds and transgressions." When he was dying, he again ejaculated "Allah! Allah!" Then he cried, "My God, I have passed my life in neglect of thee; I have not served Thee faithfully," and expired.