Hafez and Basho




A strange flower 
for birds and butterflies
the autumn sky


Glorious the moon . . .
therefore our thanks
dark clouds
Come to rest our necks

Shoson Ohara Koson Pluvier au bord de la Mer avec un croissant de lune

The first day of the year:
thoughts come – and there is loneliness;
the autumn dusk is here.


None is travelling
Here along this way but I,
This autumn evening.


Dewdrop, let me cleanse
in your brief
sweet waters . . .
These dark hands of life
In the twilight rain
these brilliant-hued
hibiscus . . .
A lovely sunset


Fever-felled half-way,
my dreams arose
To march again . . .
Into a hollow land




Wholesome is the ambergris-scented, fragrant breeze
that arose, longing for you at dawn
O bird of good omen, be my guide
My eye melted in yearning for the dust of that door
To recall my ailing body, drowned in my heart’s blood
look at the crescent moon in the evening twilight
It is I who breathe without you. What a shame!
Unless you forgive me, I have no excuse for my sin
The way of love, the dawn learned from your lovers
to tear its black garment at daybreak
When I am gone from this world with the love of your face
Instead of grass, the red rose will bloom from my dust
Do not allow your sensitive heart to be hurt by me
For your Hafez has just said “Bismillāh.”



خنک نسیم معنبر شمامه‌ای دلخواه            که در هوای تو برخاست بامداد پگاه
دلیل راه شو ای طایر خجسته لقا          که دیده آب شد از شوق خاک آن درگاه
به یاد شخص نزارم که غرق خون دل است                     هلال را ز کنار افق کنید نگاه
منم که بی تو نفس می‌کشم زهی خجلت         مگر تو عفو کنی ور نه چیست عذر گناه
ز دوستان تو آموخت در طریقت مهر             سپیده دم که صبا چاک زد شعار سیاه
به عشق روی تو روزی که از جهان بروم                ز تربتم بدمد سرخ گل به جای گیاه
مده به خاطر نازک ملالت از من زود           که حافظ تو خود این لحظه گفت بسم الله



O Saqi, brighten my cup with the light of wine
Musician, sing, for the world is now as I wish

The sky’s green sea and the crescent moon’s cup
have been filled with the blessings of our Hajji Qavām

ساقی! به نور باده برافروز جام ما            مطرب، بگو که کار جهان شد به کام ما

دریای اَخضَر فَلَک و کشتی هِلال                   هستند غرقِ نعمتِ حاجی قوام ما



Basho on poetry

zen enso

“What is important is to keep our mind high in the world of true understanding, and, returning to the world of our daily experience, to seek therein the truth of beauty. No matter what we may be doing at a given moment, we must not forget that it has a bearing upon our everlasting self which is poetry.”


The autumn full moon
All night long
I walked around the lake

japanese pine

“Go to the pine if you want to learn about the pine, or to the bamboo if you want to learn about the bamboo. And in doing so, you must leave your subjective preoccupation with yourself. Otherwise you impose yourself on the object and do not learn. Your poetry issues of its own accord when you and the object have become one – when you have plunged deep enough into the object to see something like a hidden glimmering there. However well-phrased your poetry may be, if your feeling is not natural – if the object and yourself are separate – then your poetry is not true poetry but merely your subjective counterfeit.”




Whoever tastes the flavour of our drink…

A well-known and oft-quoted Sufi classic by the 14th C Egyptian poet, Ibn bint Mayliq

Whoever tastes the flavour of the drink of the people knows it
and whoever becomes aware of it tomorrow [the Day of Resurrecton] will give his soul for it
Even if he risked his spirits, and sacrificed them
with every blink of the eye, it would still not equal it
A drop of it suffices all creation, had they but tasted,
they would declare themselves above all the worlds in drunken pride
The possessor of love, were he given the universe as a cup
to drink as many times as the number of souls, he still would not be quenched



من ذاقَ طعم شرابِ القوم يدريهِ          ومن دراه غداً بالروح يشريهِ
ولو تعرّضَ أرواحاً وجاد بها          في كل طرفةِ عين لا يُساويهِ
وقطرةٌ منه تكفي الخلقَ لو طعموا          فيشطَحونَ على الأكوان بالتيه
وذو الصبابة لو يسقى على عددِ الأن       فاسِ والكون كأساً ليس يرويهِ


The cicada: Camaron and Basho


A cicada shell;
it sang itself
utterly away.


In the cicada’s cry
There’s no sign that can foretell
How soon it must die.





Don’t sing cicada
silence your chirping,
For I carry a pain in my soul,
A dagger that strikes me
knowing that when I sing
my luck expires sighing
Under the shade of a tree
and the beat of my guitar
This happy song,
because the road has ended
and do not want to die dreaming,
oh, like the cicada died.

Life, life, life is,
is a setback,
life is life.
Oh life is, life is …



Ya no cantes cigarra,
apaga tu sonsonete,
que llevo una pena en el alma,
que como un puñal se me mete
sabiendo que cuando canto
suspirando va mi suerte.

Bajo la sombra de un árbol
y al compás de mi guitarra
canto alegre este huapango,
porque la vía se acaba
y no quiero morir soñando,
ay, como muere la cigarra.

Ábreme la puerta
que vengo najando,
y los gachés, primita de mi alma,
sí a mí me ven
me la van buscando.

La vida, la vida, la vida es,
es un contratiempo,
la vida, la vida es.

Ay la vida es, la vida es…


Hidden Love, Apparent tears



Passion is hidden, while my tears reveal it
it is dying while my love revives it


My slender torturer
all beauties have been combined in her


As if, in her beauty, she were Joseph’s face
and as if, in my sadness, I were like his father


O, you who burns with fire the face of her love
wait, for my tears will drown it


My body is scorched by love, and all my limbs
Watch over my heart, for you are in it


If those in love with you deny my love
then I am love, and the son of love, and its brother




أخفي الهوى ومدامعي تبديه
وأميته وصبابتي تحييه

ومعذبي حلو الشمائل أهيف
قد جمعت كل المحاسن فيه

فكأنه بالحسن صورة يوسف
وكأنني بالحزن مثل أبيه

يا محرقا بالنار وجه محبه
مهلاً فإن مدامعي تطفيه

أحرق بها جسدي وكل جوارحي
واحرص على قلبي فإنك فيه

إن أنكر العشاق فيك صبابتي
فأنا الهوى وابن الهوى وأخيه


Did Lightning Flash?


Ibn al-Fāriḍ


1. Is it a flash of lightning that shone over the mottled mountain, or did Layla lift, from her face, the veil?

2. Yes, she unveiled her face at night, and made it day with the light of her shining beauty

3. O rider of the strenuous she-camel—mayest thou be protected from destruction!—if thou shalt cross o’er rugged land, or make thy journey through torrent-bottoms

4. And if thou passest along Na’man of the thorn-bush, turn thou aside unto a valley there I have known of old, wide spreading,

5. Then at the right of al-’Alaman, skirting Na’man to the East, incline, and repair to its sweet-scented arin

6. And when thou hast reached unto long mountains opposing the sandy stretch, inquire after a heart that has perished in that dear torrent-bed

7. And recite a greeting unto the dear folk dwelling there on my behalf (and say, ‘I left him thirsting passionately for your presence’):

8. ‘O inhabitants of Nejd, is there no compassion for one a prisoner to a loved companion, who desireth not release?

9. Why have ye not sent a greeting to the impassioned one, in the folds of the dust-free winds at evening,

10.’Whereby he may live anew, who supposed your shunning him to be but a jest, and yet believed jesting far removed from your wants?’

11. O thou who reproachest a passionate heart, ignorant of what he has long been enduring—mayest thou never achieve success!—

12. Thou hast wearied thyself in counseling him whose determined view it is, that he will not look upon prosperity and good fortune:

13. Refrain—may I have naught of thee!—and reject thou him whose bowels have been mercilessly wounded by wide-eyed enchanters.

14. Thou wast the truest of friends, before thou didst offer thy counsel to one passionate with love; and hast thou ever seen amorous swain friendly disposed to counsellors?

15. If thou seekest my reformation, for my own part, I never desired any reformation for the ruin of my heart in passion

16. What is it that the reproachers desire, in reproaching one who has clothed himself in profligacy, and taken his rest and is at repose?

17. O people of my affection, is it possible that he who hopes for union with you should attain his ambition, and so his mind enjoy rest?

18. Since ye were absent form my gaze, truly my sighing fills all the quarts of Egypt with lamentation

19. and when I remember you, I sway with emotion as though I have been given to drink of wine, because of the fragrance of your memory

20. And when I am urged to feign forgetfulness of my bond with you, I find my bowels are very jealous of that bond

21. Fresh forever be the recollection of those days passed by, with neighbors in whose company our nights were festivals indeed

22. When the tribe’s enclosure was my homeland too, and the dwellers of al-Ghaḍa were my heart’s whole comfort, and when I came down as I pleased to water there freely;

23. And its dear people were my desire, and the shade of its palm-trees my joy, and the sands of its twain valleys my place of repose.

24. Alas for that time and its sweetness, days when I ever found rest from weariness!

25. I swear by Zamzam and Abraham’s station, and he who came to the Sacred House crying, ‘Labbayk, to Thee I come, O Lord!’ a journeyer in the land:

26. Never did the breeze wafting from the East sway the sweet-scented wormwood of the sand-hills, but that it brought new life from you to the lovers slain by passion

Translation modified from The Mystical Poem of Ibn al-Farid by A.J. Arberry




أبَرْقٌ، بدا من جانِبِ الغَورِ، لامعُ،                  أم ارتَفَعتْ، عن وجه ليلى ، البراقِعُ
نعم اسفرت ليلى فصار بوجهها                         نهارا به نور المحاسن ساطع
أنارُ الغضا ضاءتْ وسلمى بذي الغضا                          أمِ ابتسمتْ عمَّا حــكتهُ المدامعُ
أنشرُ خزامي فاحَ أمْ عرفُ حاجرٍ                     بأمّ القُرى ، أم عِطْرُ عَزّة َ ضائِعُ
ألا ليتَ شعري هلْ سليمي مقيمة ٌ                      بِوادي الحِمى ، حَيثُ المُتيَّمُ والِعُ
وهلْ لعلعَ الرَّعدُ الهتونُ بلعلعٍ                    وهلْ جادَها صَوبٌ من المُزنِ هامِعُ
وهلْ أردنْ ماءَ العذيبِ وحاجرٍ                    جِهاراً، وسِرُّ اللّيلِ، بالصّبحِ، شائِعُ
وهل قاعَة ُ الوَعْساءمخْضَرّة َ الرّبى ؛               وهلْ، ما مَضَى فيها من العيش، راجعُ
وهلْ، برُبى نجْدٍ، فَتوضِحَ، مُسنِدٌ                          أُهَيلَ النّقا عمّا حَوَتْهُ الأضالِعُ
وهلْ بلوى سلعٍ يسلْ عنْ متيَّمٍ                          بكاظمة ٍ ماذا بهِ الشَّوقُ صانعُ
وهلْ عذباتُ الرَّندِ يقطفُ نورها                             وهلْ سلماتٌ بالحجازِ أيانعُ
وهلْ أثلاثُ الجزعِ مثمرة ٌ وهلْ                       عُيونُ عَوادي الدّهرِعنها هَواجِعُ
وهل قاصِراتِ الطّرفِ عِينٌ، بعالجٍ،                      على عهديَ المعهودِ أمْ هوِ ضائعُ
وهلْ ظبياتَ الرَّقمتينِ بعيدنا                               أقمنا بها أمْ دونَ ذلكَ مانعُ
وهَل فَتَياتٌ بالغُويرِ يُرينَني                              مرابعَ نعمٍ نعمَ تلكَ المرابعُ
وهلْ ظلُّ ذاكَ الضَّالِ شرقيَّ ضارجٍ                           ظليلٌ، فـقَدْ رَوّتْهُ منّي المَدامعُ
وهلْ عامرٌ منْ بعد ناشعبُ عامرٍ                          وهل هوَ، يوماً، للمُحبّينَ جامِعُ
وهلْ أمَّ بيتَ اللهِ يا أمَّ مالكٍ                          عريبٌ لهمْ عندي جميعاً صنائعُ
وهلْ نَزَلَ الرَّكبُ العِراقي، مُعَرِّفاً،                          وهلْ شرعتْ نحوَ الخيامِ شرائعُ
وهلْ رقصتْ بالمأزمينِ قلائصٌ                             وهلْ للقبابِ البيضِ فيها تدافعُ
وهلْ لي بجمعِ الشَّملِ في جمع مسعدٌ                          وهلْ لليالي الخيفِ بالعمرِ بائعُ
وهلْ سلَّمتْ سلمى على الحجرِ الَّذي                           بهِ العهدُ والتفَّتْ عليهِ الأصابعُ
وهلْ رضعتْ منْ ثديِ زمزمَ رضعة ً                     فلا حُرّمتْ، يوماً عليها، المَراضِعُ
لعلّ أُصَيحابي، بِمكّة ، يُبْرِدُوا،                          بذِكْرِ سُلَيْمَى ، ما تُجِنّ الأضالعُ
وعلَّ الُّلييلاتِ الَّتي قدْ تصرَّمتْ                                تعودُ لنا يوماً فيظفرَ طامعُ
ويَفْرَحَ محْزُونٌ، ويَحيَا مُتَيَّمٌ،                                 ويأنسَ مشتاقٌ ويلتذْ سامعُ



Did Layla’s fire shine at Dhu Salam
or did lightning flash at al-Zawra and al-Alam?
Oh breezes of Na’man, where is dawn’s breath?
Oh water of Wajrah, where is my first draught?
Oh driver of the howdahs rolling up the perilous deserts
aimlessly like a scroll, at Dhat al-Shih of Iḍam
Turn aside at the sacred precinct—May God preserve you!—
seeking the thicket of lote trees possessing sweet bay and lavender,
And halt at Sal’ and say to the valley:
“Were those dear tamarisks at al-Raqmatan
watered by flowing rains?”
adjure you by God! if you cross al-‘Aqiq
at forenoon, greet them boldly
And say: “I left him stricken, lying in
your encampmentsliving like the dead,
sickness infecting disease!”
My heart is flaming like a torch,
my eyes awash in endless torrents.
This is the lovers’ law: bound to a fawn
every limb is racked with pain.
Fool blaming me for loving them, enough!
Could you love, you wouldn’t blame.
By sacred union and noble love,
and by the steadfast covenant of
have not broken from them 
seeking solace or another; I’m not like that.
Return sleep to my eyes—perhaps your phantom
will visit my bed in the darkness of dreams.
Ah, for our days at al-Khayf—had
they been ten—but how could they last?
If only grief could cure me,
and remorse recover what has passed.
Fawns of the winding valleys, leave me alone—please.
I have bound my eye to face only them,
Obeying a judge who decreed a wondrous thing: 
the shedding of my blood in unhallowed and
sacred grounds.
Deaf—he did not hear the plea—dumb—
he did not answerblind to the case of one bound by desire
Translation from E. Homerin Form Arab Poet to Muslim Saint


هلْ نارُ ليلى بَدت ليلاً بِذي سَلَمِ،             أمْ بارقٌ لاحَ في الزَّوراءِ فالعلمِ
أرواحَ نعمانَ هلاَّ نسمة ٌ سحراً                 وماءَ وجرة َ هلاَّ نهلة ٌ بفمِ
يا سائقَ الظَّعنِ يطوي البيدَ معتسفاً         طيَّ السّجِلّ، بذاتِ الشّيحِ من إضَمِ
عُجْ بالحِمى يا رَعاكَ اللَّهُ، مُعتَمداً          خميلة َ الضَّالِ ذاتَ الرَّندِ والخزمِ
وقِفْ بِسِلْعٍ وسِلْ بالجزْعِ:هلْ مُطرَتْ                   بالرَّقمتينِ أثيلاتٌ بمنسجمِ
ناشَدْتُكَ اللَّهَ إنْ جُزْتَ العَقيقَ ضُحًى            فاقْرَ السَّلامَ عليهِمْ، غيرَ مُحْتَشِمِ
وقُلْ تَرَكْتُ صَريعاً، في دِيارِكُمُ،                حيّاً كميِّتٍ يعيرُ السُّقمَ للسُّقمِ
فَمِنْ فُؤادي لَهيبٌ نابَ عنْ قَبَسٍ،              ومنْ جفوني دمعٌ فاضَ كالدِّيمِ
وهذهِ سنَّة ُ العشَّاقِ ما علقوا               بِشادِنٍ، فَخَلا عُضْوٌ منَ الألَمِ
يالائماً لا مني في حبِّهمْ سفهاً               كُفَّ المَلامَ، فلو أحبَبْتَ لمْ تَلُمِ
وحُرْمَة ِ الوَصْلِ، والوِدِّالعتيقِ، وبالـ           العهدِ الوثيقِ وما قدْ كانَ في القدمِ
ما حلتُ عنهمْ بسلوانٍ ولابدلٍ             ليسَ التَّبدُّلُ والسُّلوانُ منْ شيمي
ردُّوا الرُّقادَ لجفني علَّ طيفكمُ            بمضجعي زائرٌ في غفلة ِ الحلمِ
آهاً لأيّامنا بالخَيْفِ، لَو بَقِيَتْ             عشراً وواهاً عليها كيفَ لمْ تدمِ
هيهاتَ واأسفي لو كانَ ينفعني        أوْ كانَ يجدى على ما فات واندمي
عني إليكمْ ظباءَ المنحنى كرماً              عَهِدْتُ طَرْفيَ لم يَنْظُرْ لِغَيرِهِمِ
طوعاً لقاضٍ أتى في حُكمِهِ عَجَباً،          أفتى بسفكِ دمي في الحلِّ والحرمِ
أصَمَّ لم يَسمَعِ الشّكوَى ، وأبكمَ لم        يُحرْجواباً وعنْ حالِ المشوقِ عَمِي


Buṣīrī’s Burdah



Is it from remembering the neighbors at Dhu Salam that you mingle with blood tears shed from your eyes

Or has the wind blown from before Kāẓimah, and lightning flashed in the darkness of Iḍam

What ails your eyes, that when you bid them cease they weep still more? What ails your heart, that when you bid it wake, it wanders

Reckons the lovelorn that his love may be concealed, when part of him’s a torrent, and the other is a blaze?

But for passion, you wouldn’t weep at an abandoned camp, nor lie awake at night recalling the willow and the mountain

So how can you deny your love, when the witness of tears and sickness have testified against you?

Love has written upon your cheeks two tracks of tears like yellow spice and red ‘anam fruit

Yes, my loved one’s spirit haunted me, and denied me my sleep. For love ever obstructs pleasures with pain.

You who blame me for this chaste love: I seek your pardon! Yet had you judged fairly, you would not have blamed me at all.


fkayfa tankiru



أمن تذكــــــر جيــــــرانٍ بذى ســــــلم
مزجت دمعا جَرَى من مقلةٍ بـــــدم

َامْ هبَّــــت الريـــــحُ مِنْ تلقاءِ كاظمــةٍ
وأَومض البرق في الظَّلْماءِ من إِضم

فما لعينيك إن قلت اكْفُفاهمتـــــــــــــــا
وما لقلبك إن قلت استفق يهـــــــــم

أيحسب الصب أن الحب منكتـــــــــــم
ما بين منسجم منه ومضطــــــــرم

لولا الهوى لم ترق دمعاً على طـــــللٍ
ولا أرقت لذكر البانِ والعلــــــــــمِ

فكيف تنكر حباً بعد ما شـــــــــــــهدت
به عليك عدول الدمع والســـــــــقمِ

وأثبت الوجد خطَّيْ عبرةٍ وضــــــــنى
مثل البهار على خديك والعنــــــــم

نعم سرى طيف من أهوى فأرقنـــــــي
والحب يعترض اللذات بالألــــــــمِ

يا لائمي في الهوى العذري معـــــذرة
مني إليك ولو أنصفت لم تلــــــــــمِ



Ibrahim Niasse


Did lightning flash towards the meadows, gleaming?
O grant me a person that when the lightning flashes, he weeps
You only glimpse it weakly, woe to you, and you are inflamed with love
And glistening tears are stilled in the hour of Life
Recalling the days of youth which have passed
And nothing remains save agony and pain
May God pour out rain on a land in Madina for indeed she is
The travellers’ halt, in it, tattered rags are mended
Home of the beloved of God and he is His entrusted one
Residing in it [al-Madina], surrounded by all his followers
Home to the one whose heart is preoccupied with his love
For his remembrance is to the heart is like a meadow and grassland
Home to the most exalted of creation, beautiful of character and form
Home to he who, in creation, gives and holds back
And [he is] the best of them in himself, in relation by marriage, and in descent
In knowledge and in manners,  most mindful and most reverent
Indeed, he is the best of creation in absolute magnificence and splendour.
Awe-inspiring,  in his gait, he strides powerfully
[He is] Rosy of colour and black of eye
putting to shame the eye of the wild cow grazing in the bush
Large-eyed, with long lashes, and broad of brow is the Messenger of God,
and his character is more expansive
with eyebrows fine and curved, the face of TaHa is round
and his beard is thick, and his chest, wide
His shoulders are broad, and his bones large
and of stocky build is the sublime TaHa
Likewise his biceps are large, and large are his forearms
His palms are welcoming/generous and shine with lights
his fingers were long and unclipped
and thick, these are among his sublime features
his teeth are white, and they shine forth when he smiles
like grains of white clouds or the flashing lightning
The hair on his head is luxurious and manly
and he is soft-spoken and silent, for he is reverent
and his sorrows are connected to his contemplation
and if he speaks, he speaks goodness and the truth that is due
he but glances and he prevails over the earth
he leads his companions and the angels follow him
And the neck of the Messenger of God resembles a doll
When he separates his hair, it [neck] shines and glows
Like the hidden pearls, and its smell is like musk
for there is none altogether like the Messenger of God in fortune
the Most clement of God’s creatures and most just of His creation
Among people, most generous is he, [and] even the bravest [of them]
He serves families, mends [sews] his sandals
He cuts meats and he patches clothes
So modest, that he answers to whoever calls upon him
For his anger is only for his Master (Mawla), and he returns to The Truth 
He never refrained from that which is lawful even if it were pleasant
And he was not consumed, in most times, with satiating his appetite
Sometimes he rides on horses، at times
On donkeys, and sometimes on foot he walks, striding briskly
And likewise his clothing was fragrant with perfume
He sits with [different] groups, while voices are yet raised
Sometimes he jokes, at other times, he creates bonds of friendship
Never did he fear any king, for indeed his state is lofty
He never despised the poor, but invited them all
And by God, the Master of creation, he brings together creation
The Master honoured him with the greatest of honours
And He singled him out as the one who benefits creation
Upon him be the blessings of God as long as [the sun] shines forth from the East
And [as long as] the doves sing on the branches cooing
And as long as the dust of time is repelled from the place which
adorns his praises with song and rhyme
And upon his family and companions as long as the words of the longing lover [ask]
Did lightning flash towards the meadows, gleaming?






Ibn ‘Arabi

He saw the lightning flash
and yearned toward the East.
If it had flashed West
west he’d have turned.

I burn for the lightning,
for the flash,
not for this or that – 
some piece of ground.

The East wind told me
a tradition about them, from
the wreck of my heart, from
ecstasy, sorrow, my disarray

From drunkenness, reason,
longing, the wound of love,
from tears, my eyelids,
the fire, my heart:

He whom you desire
is between your ribs,
turned side to side
in the heat of your sigh.

I told them tell him
he’s the one
who kindled the fire
blazing in my heart.

It is extinguished only
in our coming together. If
it burns out of control,
who can be blamed for loving?

From: Stations of Desire: Translations from Tarjuman al-ashwaq by Michael Sells


رأى البرْقَ شرقيّاً، فحنّ إلى الشرْقِ،                         ولو لاحَ غربيَّاً لحنَّ إلى الغربِ
فإنّ غَرامي بالبُرَيْقِ ولمحِهِ                          وليسَ غرَامي بالأماكِنِ والتُّرْبِ
رَوَتْهُ الصَّبَا عنهُمْ حَديثاً مُعَنْعَناً             عن البثّ عن وَجدي عن الحزْن عن كربي
عن السكرِ عن عقلي عن الشوق عن جوًى                 عن الدَّمعِ عن جفني عن النَّارعن قلبي
بأنّ الذي تهواه بينَ ضُلوعكم                              تقلِّبهُ الأنفاسُ جنباً إلى جنبِ
فقلتُ لها: بلِّغ إليهِ فإنَّهُ                          هو الموقِدُ النّارَ التي داخلَ القلبِ
   فإن كان إطفاءٌ، فوَصْلٌ مُخلَّدٌ                 وإن كان إحتراقٌ، فلا ذنبَ للصّبّ      


Whether lightning flashes at al-Himā
or you watch for it, cast off restraint
Say to whomever finds in it a bad omen:
I was happy, when I saw the lightning.
When it appeared over the high place of worship,
it taught the morning to shine
When a wanderer came in the darkness,
it turned his night to day
His sun rose from his deepest self to the summit of perfection,
leaving him perplexed.
Drunkenness afflicted him from what he saw and
the kindness of the cupbearer rounding  toward him
He poured for him a convivial old vintage,
the choicest wine, an overpowering drink.
His intoxication made him stagger, and he called out:
“Friend don’t abandon the great ones
Be wanton, like me.
Drinking this has left me with no choice.”
Through it, the moment is purified, since it passed ’round
to the builder of the wall.
How odd: Layla’s Qays
complains that the one who visited him fled.
Layla did not leave him
instead she put a veil on her face.
When she came before him without it
her Majnun called what he saw a disgrace


translation from: Abu’l Hasan al-Shushtari Songs of Love and Devotion by Lourdes Maria Alvarez


إذا  بُرَيْق  الحمى   استنارَا        أو   شمته   فاخلع   العذَارَا
وقلْ    لمنْ    شامه     فإنيّ        آنست   لمّا    رأيت    نارَا
لمَّا بَدت في  رُبيَ  المُصَلَّى        علمت  الصبحَ     الاسفرارَا
ومُدْلِج  في   الدجى     أتاهَا        قَد   صيرت   ليله    نهَارا
وأشرقت    شمَسه     بأوج        الكمالِ   من   ذاتِه    فخارا
يميلَ   من   سِكر    ماتراه        منْ لطف  ساق  علِيه    دَارا
سقاهَ  من   خندريس   أنْس        سلافة      تعقر      القفارا
رنَّحَهُ      سُكرهُ      فَنادى        ياصَاح  لا  تترك     الكبَارَا
وكنْ   خليعاً   كما    ترَاني        لم يُبْقِ  لي  شربها  اِختيارا
بها صَفَاَ الوقت حين دارت        عَلى الذي قد  بنَى  الجدارا
يَا   عجبا    مَالقيس    ليلى        يشكو الذَّي  وصْلُه    النّفارا
لمَّا   بدت    دونَه    تَسمَّى        مَجْنَونها   ما   رآه    عَارا
لَيلاه    مَا    باعَدْتُه    لكن        أرْخَتْ عَلى وجهِهِا   الخمَارا



Imru’l Qays

Friend, do you see yonder lightning? Look, there goes its gleam
flashing like two hands now in the heaped-up, crowned stormcloud:

Its glimmer illumining the sky, or like the flicker of a monk’s lamp
When, tilting it, he soaks with oil the tightly twisted wick.


أصاحي ترى برقا كأن وميضه           كلمع اليدين في حبي مكلل
يضيء سناه أو مصابيح راهب        أهان السليط في الذبال المفتل


A lightning flash from Layla’s house at dawn,
Goodness knows, what it did to the love-torn heart of Majnun.


برقی از منزل لیلی بدرخشید سحر
وه که با خرمن مجنون دل افگار چه کرد




Sindidi, one of the most-recited poems of Shaykh Ahmadu Bamba, is also considered a powerful prayer for protection, and as you can hear below, also makes for a beautiful recitation:



In the name of God the Beneficent, the Merciful

1. Ya Allah! I implore thee by the blessings of Mustapha Ya Allah! And by the blessings of thy beloved friend Abraham Ya Allah!

2. And by the blessings of thy interlocutor Moses, and Salih, Al Khidr, and by the blessings of Shu’aib, and by the blessings of Ishmael Ya Allah!

3. And by the blessings of Solomon, Noah, Jonah, Job, and by the blessings of Zakariah, John, and Hud O Allah!

4. By the blessings of Aaron, Joshua, Elias, Adam, David, by the blessings of Dhul-kifl, Jesus, and Lot. Ya Allah!

5. By the blessings of Joseph, Isaac, and others among thy apostles and messengers Ya Allah!

6. And by the blessings of the unity of the Angels, and those among them encompassed with the purest, Divine Essence such as Gabriel and Michael Ya Allah!

7. By the blessings of Israfil who is entrusted with Blowing the Trumpet, and Azrael who shall duly seize the soul of every creature Ya Allah!

8. By the blessings of the companions of the Prophet and the friends of Allah, as well as those who actively practice their knowledge among the people of religious Authority Ya Allah!

9. By the blessings of Abu Bakr the truthful, Omar who distinguished truth from falsehood, Uthman the possessor of two lights, and Ali, the father of the two grandsons of the Prophet Ya Allah!

10. By the blessings of Imam Malik, the highly distinguished, Imam As Shafi, Imam Abu Hanafi, and the praiseworthy, Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal Ya Allah!

11. By the blessings of the Exalted Pen, the Preserved Tablet, thy Magnificent Throne and Exalted Footstool Ya Allah!!

12. By the blessings of the Quran, the Torah, The Psalms of David, and the Gospel of the Spirit of God, Ya Allah!

13. Transmit my salutations of peace and blessings upon him ( the Prophet), his family, companions, and wives Ya Allah!

14. O Lord! Drape over us the cover of well-being  and bestow upon us our goals in this world and in the Hereafter Ya Allah!

15. Open for us all gates of graces that thou hath opened to those endowed with a complete state of piety Ya Allah!

16. Impel us to trod on the distinct path of righteousness, Preserve us from the pitfalls and from the Evils of the Jinn and Satan Ya Allah!

17. Grant us all our ambitions, allow us to attain our objectives, bestow upon us any grace we choose Ya Allah.

18. Soften for us the hearts of any possessor of reluctance and oppression, smoothen all the hardships Ya Allah!

19. Prolong our lives, strengthen our bodies, bestow guidance upon us, and grant us felicity (tawfiq) O Allah!

20. Destroy any enemy whose intention is to cause harm before he gains access to us Ya Allah! Ya Allah!

21. Protect us from all kinds of ruin, deliver us from the calamities of the world, all the time Ya Allah!

22. Protect us from epidemics, illness, agony, afflictions, vehement earthquakes as well as poverty Ya Allah!

23. Protect us from blemishes, insufficiency, from the fury of a tyrant, vileness, debility, hunger and thirst Ya Allah!

24. Protect us from all forms of trials, from disease from being burnt in fire, from being drowned in water, from lightning, thunder, theft and vain labor Ya Allah!

25. Protect us from excessive heat and cold, from plundering, from oppression, from hostility, from delusion, from grief, and from being paralyzed Ya Allah!

26. Protect us from anxiety, from transgression, from stumbling in error, from transmutation, and from defamation Ya Allah!

27. Protect us from lack of sustenance, from the influences of evil spirits, and from fading away due to illness Ya Allah!

28. Protect us from the evils of this world and of the next as well as their dreadful humiliations Ya Allah!Ya Allah!

29. O thou who hath power over all things, overwhelming the entire creation, being firmly established in Thine Magnificent Throne of Authority Ya Allah!

30. Verily, I beg thee for a fearing heart and a humble one, an extensive knowledge of tremendous use Ya Allah!

31. I beg thee for an accepted repentance, a lofty station, a virtuous and pious wife O God!

32. Be our fortress against the evils of the possessor of envy, against the evils of the tongue, as well as against the evils of the eye Ya Allah!

33. Be our refuge against the evils of sorcery, the evils of the creatures, men or jinns, and against the evils of venomous creatures Ya Allah!

34. O mine confident! I take Thee in this world and in the hereafter as my inaccessible fortress: the one in whom I seek shelter Ya Allah!

35. Abandon me not with my own soul (nafs), lest I go astray: be responsive whenever I beseech thee Ya Allah!

36. Cause my tongue and my heart to remember Thee and to hold a perfect belief in Thee at the crucial moment of death Ya Allah!

37. Establish permanently in mine heart the knowledge of Certainty (Yaqin); Let no fear abide therein, until I passionately love Thy Ultimate encounter Ya Allah!

38. Cause my death to be the announcement of good news, and to be a complete rest, and to be a protection against all pain, distress and fear Ya Allah!

39. Shield my body against tortures in the grave, whenever the soul is separated from me. Let it not undergo any deterioration nor hardship. Ya Allah!

40. Be my Assistant and Companion at the time my body is buried in the grave, where I may become lonely Ya Allah!

41. Join me not with that which causes terror in the grave, preserve me from anything that I fear Ya Allah!

42. Protect me, my mother and all those who bow to Thy will, Amen Ya Allah!

43. Forgive us and my mother, cover our defects, bestow benevolence upon us and her; protect us from terror Ya Allah!

44. Grant us complete forgiveness, have mercy on her. She has no one but Thee; and verily Thou art the kind One Ya Allah!

45. Be with us in the barzakh and in the grave, preserve us from any distress or any kind of fear Ya Allah!

46. Do not afflict my mother with that which she can not bear and do not disappoint the hope she has in Thee Ya Allah!

47. Quench our thirst and hers in the water of Kauthar, which Thou has reserved for the one whom Thou hath chosen over the entire creation Ya Allah!

48. That was he who provided guidance to he who roamed in error, destroyed he who rejected faith and yielded aid to he who had innermost fear in Thee Ya Allah!

49. Such a one was Muhammad, the Fine Flower of the elect, who will lead us into the everlasting Paradise on the Day of Resurrection Ya Allah!

50. Upon him be Eternal peace and blessings, forever and ever, and upon any who follows him till Doomsday Ya Allah!

Glory to Thy Lord! The Lord of Might and Power; He transcends what they ascribe to Him. And peace be upon the messengers! And praise be to Allah; the Lord, Cherisher and Sustainer of all the worlds

Translation modified from this site







The end of Surah Baqarah

The final two verses of the second, and longest, Surah of the Quran are among its most beautiful and touching, as you can see and hear below

2-286 wall callig




The Messenger believeth in that which hath been revealed unto him from his Lord and (so do) believers. Each one believeth in God and His angels and His books and His messengers – We make no distinction between any one of His messengers – and they say: We hear, and we obey. (Grant us) Thy forgiveness, our Lord. Unto Thee is the homecoming.


God does not burden a soul beyond its capacity. For it (is only) that which it hath earned, and against it (only) that which it hath deserved. Our Lord! Condemn us not if we forget, or miss the mark! Our Lord! Lay not on us such a burden as thou didst lay on those before us! Our Lord! Impose not on us that which we have not the strength to bear! Pardon us, absolve us, and have mercy on us, You are our Protector, and give us victory over the disbelieving folk.

Trans. modified from Pickthall’s


It is said that the “disbelieving folk” refers to the elements of ourselves that refuse to recognize who we are, to come to grips with reality.  “Victory over them refers to victory over illusion and confusion, and the reunification of the soul.  The beginning of the verse assures this victory since, “God does not burden a soul beyond its capacity.”

baqara 2;285,6 folio


آمن الرسول بما أنزل إليه من ربه والمؤمنون كل آمن بالله وملائكته وكتبه ورسله لا نفرق بين أحد من رسله وقالوا سمعنا وأطعنا غفرانك ربنا وإليك المصير ( 285 ) لا يكلف الله نفسا إلا وسعها لها ما كسبت وعليها ما اكتسبت ربنا لا تؤاخذنا إن نسينا أو أخطأنا ربنا ولا تحمل علينا إصرا كما حملته على الذين من قبلنا ربنا ولا تحملنا ما لا طاقة لنا به واعف عنا واغفر لنا وارحمنا أنت مولانا فانصرنا على القوم الكافرين ( 286


2-286 old kufic



(God does not burden a soul beyond its capacity)

al-Munfarijah, The Poem of Relief


This remarkable poem/prayer was written in the 11th C by a famous Maghribi scholar/saint Ibn Nahwi, famous for his ability to bless and curse. The recitation of this poem is believed to relieve the difficulties and grant the wishes of the reciter and listener.  If you wish to hear some powerfully rhythmic poetry, play some of the youtube clips below.



Get worse, o trouble, so that you may be lifted
For your night has announced the breaking of the dawn
And even the darkness of the night has its gleams
until the father of these gleams overwhelms them
And the dark clouds of bounty carry rain
that comes when its time is nigh
The blessings of our Lord are many
so your soul and heart’s blood can roam free
And they (the blessings) have a life-giving scent
so go to the source of that scent
And sometimes there is an overflowing of life
oceans of waves of surging depths
All creation is in his hands, some are expanded (have it easy)
while others are constricted (have it hard)
Their descents and ascents are either down a level or up a step
and their lives and their ends are not happening at random
Their wisdoms have been woven together by the hands of fate
and they’ve been knitted into the weaver
And so if things seem narrow and bent
know that it was meant to be like this
Their marvels have been witnessed as proofs
establishing the matter upon these proofs


Contentment with God’s decree is the knot
so make it your focus and turn your mount towards it
So if the doors of guidance are opened
then hurry into their treasuries and stay there
If you seek their end prematurely
then beware, for that is deviation
So that you can be among the foremost,
when you arrive at those (heavenly) expanses
remain there, for there is found life and bliss everlasting
for the one who has arrived and he who is arriving
So hasten to renew your efforts when they become stale
For if you consistently renew them, they will become constant
So disobeying God and its ugliness become beautiful to one who character is bent
But obeying God and its light are the gleams of a radiant morning
Whoever proposes to the maidens of eternity with these [lights]
will surely win over these lovely ones
So be pleased with them through your mindfulness of God
for tomorrow you will be satisfied and saved


Recite the Qur’an with a heart full of sadness and a voice of sweet melancholy
And the night prayer, and its hours, go through them with understanding and return
And reflect upon it and its meanings; you will arrive at paradise and be relieved
And drink from Tasnīm as it gushes forth, unmixed or mixed
The intellect is praised for giving it guidance and
passion, preventing it from being ridiculed
The book of God, its gardens are for the embodied intellects of creation
The best of creation find rest therein, all other than them get ravenous hunger from it
So if you are brave and do not panic in the haze of war
and if you are made to see the lights of guidance,
then let them shine above the heights
and when the soul longs, it finds painfully by longing for relief
Goodness unfolds laughing and the completion of laughter is success
Flaws and secrets are gathered with their trusts under the saddle
Kindness endures for its owner while separation leads to chaos


The Blessings of God upon the Guided One (Mahdi), who guides people to the Way
And on Abu Bakr, always together with him in life and in speech
And on Abu Hafs (‘Umar), his nobility in the story of the staff
And on Abu ‘Umar (‘Uthman) He of the two lights, who blushed and made blush with delight
and on Abu Hasan (‘Ali) like a heavy raincloud of knowledge, fulfilling his promise
and on the two Hasans (Hasan and Husayn) and their mother (Fatimah), and the entire family (of the Prophet), success comes from them
and their Companions and close ones, following in their footsteps is the way
and on their followers, the scholars, the right way is in knowledge of their religion
I conclude my work with them, so that I may be delivered (with them) tomorrow in the gathering
O Lord by them, and by their families, hasten victory and relief





اشتدي ازمه تنفرجي قد آذن ليلك بالبلج
وظلام الليل له سرج حتى يغشاه أبو السرج
و سحاب الخير له مطر فإذا جاء الإبان تجي
وفوائد مولانا جمل لسروح الانفس و المهج
ولها أرج محي أبدا فاقصد محيا داك الارج
فلربما فاض المحيا بحور الموج من اللجج
والخلق جميعا في يد فذوو سعة وذوو حرج
ونزولهم و طلوعهم فإلي درك وعلى درج
ومعايشهم و عواقبهم ليست في المشي على عوج
حكم نسجت بيدي حكمت ثم إنتسجت بالمنتسج
فإذا اقتصدت ثم انعرجت فبمقتصد وبمنعرج
شهدت بعجائبها حجج قامت بالأمر على الحجج
ورضا بقضاء الله حجا فعلى مركوزته فعج
وإذا انفتحت أبواب هدى فاعجل بخزائنها ولج
فإذا حاولت نهايتها فاحذر إذ ذاك من العرج
لتكون منه السباق إذا ما جئت إلى تلك الفرج
فهناك العيش وبهجته فلمبتهج ولمنتهج
فهج الأعمال إذا ركدت فإذا ما هجت إذن تهج
ومعاصي الله سماجتها تزدان لذي الخلق السمج
ولطاعته و صباحتها أنوار صباح منبلج
من يخطب حور الخلد بها يظفر بالحور والغنج
فكن المرضي لها بتقى ترضاه غدا وتكون نجي
واتلوا القرآن بقلب ذو حزن وبصوت فيه شجي
وصلاة الليل مسافاتها فاذهب بها بالفهم وجي
وتأملها ومعانيها تات الفردوس و تفترج
واشرب تسنيم مفجرها لا ممتزجا وبمتزج
مدح العقل لأتيه هدى وهوى متون عنه هجي
وكتاب الله رياضته لعقول الخلق بمندرج
وخيار الخلق هداتهم وسواهم منه همج الهمج
فإذا كنت المقدام فلا تجزع في الحرب من الرهج
وإذا أبصرت منار هدى فاظهر فردا فوق الثبج
وإذا اشتاقت نفس وجدت ألما بالشوق المعتلج
وثنايا الحسنى ضاحكة وتمام الضحك على الفلج
وعياب الأسرار إجتمعت بأمانتها تحت السرج
والرفق يدوم لصاحبه والخرق يصير إلي الهرج
صلوات الله على المهدي الهادي الناس إلي النهج
وأبي بكر في سيرته ولسان مقالته اللهج
وأبي حفص وكرامته في قصه سارية الخلج
وأبي عمر ذي ا لنورين المستحي المستحي البهج
وأبي حسن في العلم إذا وافى بسحائبه الخلج
وعلى السبطين وأمهما وجميع الآل بهم فلج
وعلى الحسنين وأمهما وجميع الآل بهم فلج
وصحابته و قرابته و قفاة الأثر على النهج
وعلى أتباعهم العلماء بعوارف دينهم البهج
وأختم عملي بخواتمهم لأكون غدا في الحشر نجي
يارب بهم وبآلهم عجل بالنصر وبالفرج




Wonderful calligraphy and a beautiful recitation of these verses…




In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the Compassionate
We have not sent down the Quran unto you that you may be distressed,
but as a reminder to him who fears
A revelation from He who created the earth and the heavens on high
The All-Merciful, established on the throne,
To Him belongs that which is the Heavens and which is in the Earth
and that which is between the two
and that which is below the ground