Rumi of Khorasan
The Oilman and his Parrot.
A story from "Masnawi" of Mawlana Jalaluddin Balkhi Khorasani (Rumi)
An oilman possessed
a parrot which used to amuse him
with its agreeable prattle, and to watch his shop when
he went out. One day, when the parrot was alone in the
shop, a cat upset one of the oil-jars. When the oilman
returned home he thought that the parrot had done this
mischief, and in his anger he smote the parrot such a
blow on the head as made all its feathers drop off,
and so stunned it that it lost the power of speech for
several days. But one day the parrot saw a bald-headed
man passing the shop, and recovering its speech, it
cried out, "Pray, whose oil-jar did you upset?" The
passers-by smiled at the parrot's mistake in
confounding baldness caused by age with the loss of
its own feathers due to a blow.
Confusion of saints
Worldly senses are
the ladder of earth,
Spiritual senses are the ladder of heaven.
The health of the former is sought of the leech,
The health of the latter from "The Friend."
The health of the former arises from tending the body,
That of the latter from mortifying the flesh.
The kingly soul lays waste the body,
And after its destruction he builds it anew.
Happy the soul who for love of God
Has lavished family, wealth, and goods!
Has destroyed its house to find the hidden treasure,
And with that treasure has rebuilt it in fairer sort;
Has dammed up the stream and cleansed the channel,
And then turned a fresh stream into. the channel;
Has cut its flesh to extract a spear-head, 1
Causing a fresh skin to grow again over the wound;
Has razed the fort to oust, the infidel in possession,
And then rebuilt it with a hundred towers and
Who can describe the unique work of Grace?
I have been forced to illustrate it by these similes.
Sometimes it presents one appearance, sometimes
Yea, the affair of religion is only bewilderment.
Not, such as occurs when one turns one's back on God,
But such as when one is drowned and absorbed in Him.
The latter has his face ever turned to God,
The former's face shows his undisciplined self-will.
Watch the face of each one, regard it well,
It may be by serving thou wilt recognize Truth's face.
As there are many demons with men's faces,
It is wrong to join hand with every one.
When the fowler sounds his decoy whistle,
That the birds may be beguiled by that snare,
The birds hear that call simulating a bird's call,
And, descending from the air, find net and knife.
So vile hypocrites steal the language of Darveshes,
In order to beguile the simple with their trickery.
The works of the righteous are light and heat,
The works of the evil treachery and shamelessness.
They make stuffed lions to scare the simple,
They give the title of Muhammad to false Musalima.
But Musailma retained the name of "Liar,"
And Muhammad that of "Sublimest of beings."
That wine of God (the righteous) yields a perfume of
Other wine (the evil) is reserved for penalties and
1. These are all figures and types of
self-annihilation in order to the acquisition of
eternal life in God.