THAT A GOOD COMMUNAL CHARACTER DERIVES FROM DISCIPLINE ACCORDING TO THE MANNERS OF THE PROPHET
like Fate inexorable
Battered upon our door incessantly;
Enraged, I broke a stave upon his head,
And all the harvest of his beggary
Spilled from his hand. In youth’s beginning days
The reason thinks not upon right and wrong.
My father, by my temper much distressed,
Grew very pale; the tulips of his cheeks
Withered; an anguished sigh sprang from his lip
A star gleamed in his eye, brief glittering
Upon his lashes, and then slowly fell.
And as a bird that in the time of Fall
Trembles within his nest when dawn blows chill,
So in my flesh shivered my heedless soul;
The Laila of my patience now no more84
Rode peacefully the litter of my heart.
And then my father spoke: “Upon that morn
The people of the Best of Messengers
Are gathered up before the Lord of All,
Warriors of his pure Community
And guardians of his Wisdom’s loveliness,
Martyrs who proved the Faith—all these like stars
Shall shine within that peopled firmament;
Ascetics too, and they that loved their God
With anguished hearts, and scholars erudite,
And shamefast rebels against God’s commands.
Then in the midst of that great company
This suffering beggar’s cries shall mount on high.
O thou condemned to tread an arduous road
Unmounted, footsore, what am I to say
When this the Prophet asks me: ‘God to thee
Committed a young Muslim, and he won
No portion of instruction from my school;
What, was this labour too, too hard for thee
So that that heap of clay became not man?”
So gentle was my noble sire’s reproof
That I was torn by shame and hoe and fear:
“Reflect a little, son, and bring to mind
The last great gathering of the Prophet’s fold;
Look once again on my white hairs, and see
How now I tremble between fear and hope;
Do not they father this foul injury,
O put him not to shame before his Lord!”
Thou art a bud burst from Muhammad’s branch;
Break into bloom before the genial breeze
Of his warm spring; win thee the scent and hue
Of that sweet season; strive to gain for thee
Some fragment of his character sublime.
Well said great Rumi, guide in whose shrunk drop
An ocean of deep wisdom slumbereth:
“Snap not the thread of thy brief days from him85
Who was the seal of prophets, little trust
In the poor craft and faltering footsteps place.”
The nature of the Muslim through and through
Is lovingkindness; with both hand and tongue
He strives to be a mercy in the world,
As he whose fingers split the moon in twain
Embraces in his mercy all mankind.
Noble was he, in every attribute;
Thou art no member of our company
If from his station thou departest far.
Bird of our garden, one in song and tongue
With us, if thou dost own a melody
Carol it not alone, nor let it soar
But on a branch that in our garden grows.
Whatever thing has capital of life
Dies in an uncongenial element
Art thou a nightingale? Fly in the mead,
And with thy fellow-minstrels mediate
Thy song. Art thou an eagle? Do not live
At ocean’s bottom; in the solitude
Of the unpeopled desert make thy home.
Art thou a star? Shine in thy firmament,
Nor set thy foot beyong thy proper bounds.
If thou wilt take a drop of April shower
And nurture it within the garden’s close
Till, like the dew of the abounding spring,
A rosebud takes it to its near embrace,
Then, in the rays of heaven-glittering dawn
Whose magic knots the blossoms on the branch,
Thou shalt draw out the lucent element
Within its substance, all the ecstasy
Of leaping in its trembling particles
What is thy jewel? But a watery wave;
What is thy effort? Naught save a mirage
Hurl it to ocean, that it may become
A jewel gleaming like a temulous star.
The April raindrop, banished from the sea,
Dies on the cornstalk with the morning dew.
The pure clay of the Muslim is a gem;
Its lustre and its radiance derive
Out of the Prophet’s ocean. Come thou, then,
Brief April shower, come into his breast,
And issue from his mighty sea, a pearl!
Outshine the sun upon this shadowy world,
And glow forever in immortal light.