Thuluthiyat (Hallaj)

الحلاج Al-Hallaj
ثلاثيات Thulathiyat, the Trinities

سكوت ثم صمت ثم خرس Quiet then muteness then silence
وعلم ثم وجد ثم رمس      Knowledge then ecstasy then grave
وطين ثم نار ثم نور        Clay then fire then light
و برد ثم ظل ثم شمس     Cold then shadow then sun
وحزن ثم سهل ثم قفر      Sorrow then ease then wasteland
ونهر ثم بحر ثم يبس       River then ocean then dryness
وسكر ثم صحو ثم شوق   Drunkeness then sobriety then longing
وقرب ثم وفر ثم أنس      Nearness then abundance then intimacy
وقبض ثم بسط ثم محو    Contraction then expansion then effacement
وفرق ثم جمع ثم طمس   Separation then meeting then annihilation
عبارات لأقوام تساوت    The expressions of the peoples are divided
لديهم هذه الدنيا وفلس     To them belong this world and ruin
وأصوات وراء الباب لكن       Voices are behind the door but
عبارات الورى في القرب همس the words of people in nearness are whispers
وآخر ما يؤول إليه عبد     And the last of what befalls the slave
إذا بلغ المدى حظ و نفس   When fortune and soul reach the limit
لأن الخلق خدام الأماني     Because creation is a servant of my safety
وحق الحق في التحقيق قد  And the truth of the Truth is in its realization*…



Shirazi Turk (Hafez)

The story goes that when Timurlane conquered Shiraz, he questioned Hafez about the first bayt of this poem, saying it was an insult to his royal majesty for Hafez to think so little of his magnificent cities, Samarkand and Bukhara.  The poet replied, “Alas, O Prince, it is this prodigality which is the cause of the misery in which you find me”.  Charmed, Timurlane dismissed Hafez with rich gifts.

The Lost Joseph (Hafez) – یوسف گمگشته بازآید به کنعان غم مخور

One of the better English translations of one of my favorite poems from the greatest poet, Hafez:

Your lost Joseph will return to Canaan, do not grieve
This house of sorrows will become a garden, do not grieve

Oh grieving heart, you will mend, do not despair
This frenzied mind will return to calm, do not grieve

When the spring of life sets again in the meadows
A crown of flowers you will bear, singing bird, do not grieve

If these turning epochs do not move with our will today
The spheres of time are not constant, do not grieve

Don’t lose hope, for awareness cannot perceive the unseen
Behind the curtains hidden scenes play, do not grieve

Oh heart, should a flood of destruction engulf the world
If Noah is at your helm, do not grieve

As you step through the desert longing for the Ka’aba
The thorns may reproach you, do not grieve

Home may be perilous and the destination out of reach
But there are no paths without an end, do not grieve

Our state in separation from friends and with demands of foes
The God who spins fate knows all, do not grieve

Hafez, in the corner of poverty and loneliness of dark nights
As long as your words are prayers and lessons of Quran, do not grieve.

(Modified from



یوسف گمگشته بازآید به کنعان غم مخور

کلبه احزان شود روزی گلستان غم مخور

ای دل غمدیده حالت به شود دل بد مکن

وین سر شوریده بازآید به سامان غم مخور

گر بهار عمر باشد باز بر تخت چمن

چتر گل در سر کشی ای مرغ خوشخوان غم مخور

دور گردون گر دو روزی بر مراد ما نرفت

دایما یک سان نباشد حال دوران غم مخور

هان مشو نومید چون واقف نه‌ای از سر غیب

باشد اندر پرده بازی‌های پنهان غم مخور

ای دل ار سیل فنا بنیاد هستی برکند

چون تو را نوح است کشتیبان ز طوفان غم مخور

در بیابان گر به شوق کعبه خواهی زد قدم

سرزنش‌ها گر کند خار مغیلان غم مخور

گر چه منزل بس خطرناک است و مقصد بس بعید

هیچ راهی نیست کان را نیست پایان غم مخور

حال ما در فرقت جانان و ابرام رقیب

جمله می‌داند خدای حال گردان غم مخور

حافظا در کنج فقر و خلوت شب‌های تار

تا بود وردت دعا و درس قرآن غم مخور


Ibn al-Farid’s Khamriyyah






Rememb’ring the belovèd, wine we drink
Which drunk had made us ere the vine’s creation.
A sun it is; the full moon is its cup;
A crescent hands it round; how many stars
Shine forth from it the moment it be mixed!
But for its fragrance ne’er had I been guided
Unto its tavern; but for its resplendence
Imagining could no image make of it.
Time its mere gasp hath left; hidden it is.
Like secrets pent in the intelligence,
Yet if it be remembered[1] in the tribe,
All become drunk—no shame on them nor sin.
Up hath it fumed from out the vessel’s dregs.
Nothing is left of it, only a name;
Yet if that name but enter a man’s mind,
Gladness shall dwell with him and grief depart.
Had the boon revelers gazed upon its seal,[2]
That seal, without the wine, had made them drunk.
Sprinkle a dead man’s grave with drops of it,
His spirit would return, his body quicken.
If in the shadow of the wall where spreads
Its vine they laid a man, mortally sick,
Gone were his sickness; and one paralyzed,
Brought near its tavern, would walk; the dumb would speak,
Did he its savor recollect. Its fragrance,
If wafted through the East, even in the West,
Would free, for one berheumed, his sense of smell;
And he who stained his palm, clasping its cup,
Could never, star in hand, be lost by night.
Unveil it[3] like a bride in secrecy
Before one blind from birth: his sight would dawn.
Decant it, and the deaf would hearing have.
If riders[4] rode out for its native earth,
And one of them were bit by snake, unharmed
By poison he. If the enchanter[5] traced
The letters of its name on madman’s brow,
That script would cure him of his lunacy;
And blazoned on the standard of a host,[6]
Its name would make all men beneath it drunk.

In virtue the boon revelers it amends,
Makes perfect. Thus by it the irresolute
Is guided to the path of firm resolve.
Bountiful he, whose hand no bounty knew;
And he that never yet forbore forbeareth,
Despite the goad of anger. The tribe’s dunce,
Could he but kiss its filter, by that kiss
Would win the sense of all its attributes.

‘Describe it, well thou knowest how it is,’
They bid me. Yea, its qualities I know:
Not water and not air nor fire nor earth,
But purity for water, and for air
Subtlety, light for fire, spirit for earth—
Excellencies that guide to extol its good
All who would tell of it, and excellent
Their prose in praise of it, excellent their verse.
So he that knew not of it[7] can rejoice
To hear it mentioned, as Nu‘m’s lover doth
To hear her name, whenever Nu‘m is named.

Before all beings, in Eternity
It is, ere yet was any shape or trace.
Through it things were, then it by them was veiled,
Wisely, from him who understandeth not.
My spirit loved it, was made one with it,
But not as bodies each in other merge.
Wine without vine: Adam my father is.
Vine without wine, vine mothereth it and me.[8]
Vessels are purer for the purity
Of truths which are their content, and those truths
Are heightened[9] by the vessels being pure.
Things have been diff’renced, and yet all is One:
Our spirits wine are, and our bodies vine.[10]

Before it no before is, after it
No after is; absolute its privilege
To be before all afters. Ere time’s span
It pressing was, and our first father’s[11] age
Came afterwards—parentless orphan it!
They tell me: ‘Thou hast drunk iniquity’.
Not so, I have but drunk what not to drink
Would be for me iniquitous indeed.
Good for the monastery folk, that oft
They drunken were with it, yet drank it not,
Though fain would drink. But ecstasy from it
Was mine ere I existed, shall be mine
Beyond my bones’ decaying. Drink it pure!
But if thou needs must have it mixed, ‘twere sin
To shun mouth-water[12] from the Loved One’s lips.

Go seek it in the tavern; bid it unveil
To strains of music. They offset its worth,
For wine and care dwelt never in one place,
Even as woe with music cannot dwell.
Be drunk one hour with it, and thou shalt see
Time’s whole age as thy slave, at thy command.
He hath not lived here, who hath sober lived,
And he that dieth not drunk hath missed the mark.
With tears then let him mourn himself, whose life
Hath passed, and he no share of it hath had.

(English adaptation and notes by Martin Lings;
from Studies in Comparative Religion, Vol. 14, Nos. 3 and 4 (Summer-Autumn 1980) © World Wisdom, Inc.)


[1] The reference is to the dhikr, the remembrance or invocation of the Name of God, the basic rite of Islamic mysticism. It is to this Name that every mention of the wine’s name refers throughout the poem. The tribe is the brotherhood.

[2] The Prophet is not only the cup, but also, as Seal of the Prophets, the seal upon the wine-jar.

[3] Literally ‘unveil her’, for khamr (wine) is feminine. As Arberry remarks in the notes to his translation, the comparison of the unveiling of a becobwebbed wine-jar with the unveiling of a bride is frequent ‘in bacchic poetry’.

[4] The riders are the advanced initiates, sâlikûn (travelers), who are immune from the effects of poison which, according to Nâbulusî, is the passionate attachment to worldly things.

[5] Again according to Nâbulusî, the enchanter is the Spiritual Master and the madman is one who takes appearances for reality.

[6] Another reference to the brotherhood, this time as an army whose warriors are engaged in the Greater Holy War (al-jihâd al-akbar), ‘the war against the soul’.

[7] Every human being is in love with the wine even if he be not conscious of it. The descriptions of it serve to awaken that latent love. Nu‘m, like Laylâ, is one of those women’s names by which Sufis denote the Divine Essence. Love of Nu‘m and love of the wine may therefore be said to coincide.

[8] At the level of my oneness with the principial wine in Eternity—wine which, being absolutely independent, is therefore in no need of grape or vine for its existence—I am a true son of Adam who, as Logos, prefigures my union by his. The vine is Najas ar-Rahmân (the Breath of the All-Merciful) which is also termed at-Tabî‘ah (Universal Nature), the feminine or maternal source of all manifestation.

[9] Reading tasmu as in the oldest manuscript. It is for the mystic to ensure, by the ritual means at his disposal, that his soul is filled with spiritual presences or truths. These presences have a purifying effect upon the soul which is their vessel, and this increase of purity qualifies the vessel to endure a heightening of the truths. If we read tanmu‘have increase’, as in the other manuscripts, the meaning is not basically changed.

[10] But, as Nâbulusî remarks, the vine contains the spiritual juice which will ultimately be transmuted into wine. We may compare the lines of Ibn al-Fârid’s younger contemporary, ‘Alî ash-Shushtarî:

Behold My beauty, witness of Me
In every man,
Like the water flowing through
The sap of branches.
One water drink they, yet they flower
In many hues.

[11] It is not the spiritual or ‘winal’ nature of Adam which is referred to here but his human or ‘vineal’ nature, of which the Prophet said:

‘I was a Prophet when Adam was yet between water and clay.’

[12] If you have not the spiritual strength for oneness with the Divine Essence Itself, then let the water that you mix the wine with be nothing less than ‘the saliva of God’, that is, the Supreme Spirit, which, if it be not fully Him, is not other than Him. The mixing of the wine thus signifies the emergence of the Logos, ar-Rûh al-Muhammadî, and this explains the mention of stars in line four. The manifestation of the Spirit of Muhammad precipitates the existence of the Spirits of his Companions, whom he likened to stars: ‘My Companions are even as the stars. Whichsoever of them ye follow, ye shall be rightly guided’. By extension the words ‘how many stars’ may be taken to include those Saints who are the heirs of the Companions in subsequent generations.



شَـرِبْنَا عـلى ذكْـرِ الحبيبِ مُدامَةً      سـكِرْنَا  بها من قبل أن يُخلق الكَرْمُ
لـها  البدرُ كأسٌ وهيَ شمسٌ يُدِيرُهَا      هـلالٌ وكـم يـبدو إذا مُزِجَتْ نَجم
ولـولا  شـذَاها مـا اهتدَيتُ لِحانِها      ولـولا سَـناها مـا تصَوّرها الوَهْمُ
ولـم يُـبْقِ منها الدّهْرُ غيرَ حُشاشَةٍ      كـأنّ  خَـفاها في صُدور النُّهى كتْم
فـإن ذُكـرَتْ في الحَيّ أصبحَ أهلُهُ      نَـشاوى  ولا عـارٌ عـليهمْ ولا إثم
ومِـنْ بـينِ أحشاء الدّنانِ تصاعدتْ      ولـم يَـبْقَ منها في الحقيقة إلاّ اسمُ
وإن  خَطَرَتْ يوماً على خاطرِ امرئِ      أقـامتْ بـه الأفـراحُ وارتحلَ الهمّ
ولـو  نَـظَرَ الـنُّدْمَانُ خَـتمَ إنائِها      لأسـكَرَهُمْ  مـن دونِـها ذلكَ الختم
ولـو  نَـضحوا منها ثرَى قبرِ مَيّتٍ      لـعادتْ  اليه الرّوحُ وانتَعَشَ الجسم
ولـو  طَرَحُوا في فَيءِ حائطِ كَرْمِها      عـليلاً وقـد أشـفى لـفَارَقَهُ السّقم
ولـو  قَـرّبُوا من حانِها مُقْعَداً مشَى      وتـنطِقُ مـن ذِكْـرَى مذاقتِها البُكْم
ولـو عَبِقَتْ في الشرق أنفاسُ طِيبِها      وفـي  الـغربِ مزكومٌ لعادَ لهُ الشَّمُّ
ولـو  خُضِبت من كأسِها كفُّ لامسٍ      لـمَا ضَـلّ فـي لَيْلٍ وفي يَدِهِ النجم
ولـو جُـليتْ سِـرّاً على أَكمَهٍ غَدا      بَـصيراً  ومن راووقِها تَسْمَعُ الصّم
ولـو أنّ رَكْـباً يَمّموا تُرْبَ أرْضِهَا      وفـي الرّكبِ ملسوعٌ لمَا ضرّهُ السّمّ
ولو  رَسَمَ الرّاقي حُرُوفَ اسمِها على      جَـبينِ  مُـصابٍ جُـنّ أبْرَأهُ الرسم
وفـوْقَ لِـواء الجيشِ لو رُقِمَ اسمُها      لأسـكَرَ  مَـنْ تحتَ اللّوا ذلك الرّقْم
تُـهَذّبُ أخـلاقَ الـنّدامى فـيّهْتَدي      بـها  لـطريقِ العزمِ مَن لا لهُ عَزْم
ويـكرُمُ مَـن لـم يَعْرِف الجودَ كَفُّه      ويـحلُمُ عـند الـغيظ مَن لا لهُ حِلم
ولـو  نـالَ فَـدْمُ الـقومِ لَثْمَ فِدَامِها      لأكْـسـبَهُ  مَـعنى شـمائِلها الـلّثْم
يـقولونَ  لـي صِفْهَا فأنتَ بوَصفها      خـبيرٌ  أَجَـلْ عِندي بأوصافها عِلم
صـفاءٌ ولا مـاءٌ ولُـطْفٌ ولا هَواً      ونـورٌ ولا نـارٌ وروحٌ ولا جِـسْمٌ
تَـقَـدّمَ كُــلَّ الـكائناتِ حـديثُها      قـديماً  ولا شـكلٌ هـناك ولا رَسم
وقـامت بـها الأشـياءُ ثَـمّ لحكمَةٍ      بـها  احتَجَبَتْ عن كلّ من لا له فَهْمُ
وهامتْ بها روحي بحيثُ تمازَجا اتّ      تِـحـاداً  ولا جِـرْمٌ تَـخَلّلَه جِـرْم
فَـخَـمْر  ولا كـرْم وآدَمُ لـي أب      وكَـرْم  ولا خَـمْر ولـي أُمُّـها أُمّ
ولُـطْفُ  الأوانـي في الحقيقة تابع      لِـلُطْفِ الـمعاني والمَعاني بها تَنْمُو
وقـد وَقَـعَ الـتفريقُ والـكُلّ واحد      فـأرواحُنا خَـمْرٌ وأشـباحُنا كَـرْم
ولا  قـبلَها قـبل ولا بَـعْدَ بَـعْدَهَا      وقَـبْليُّة الأبْـعادِ فـهْي لـها حَـتْم
وعَصْرُ المَدى من قَبله كان عصرَها      وعـهْدُ أبـينا بَـعدَها ولـها الـيُتم
مـحاسِنُ  تَـهدي المادِحينَ لوَصْفِهَا      فَـيَحْسُنُ  فـيها مـنهُمُ النّثرُ والنّظم
ويَـطْرَبُ مَـن لم يَدْرِهَا عند ذِكْرِهَا      كَـمُشْتَاقِ  نُـعْمٍ كـلّما ذُكـرَتْ نُعم
وقـالوا شَـرِبْتَ الإِثـمَ كـلاّ وإنّما      شـرِبْتُ  التي في تركِها عنديَ الإِثم
هـنيئاً  لأهـلِ الدّيرِ كمْ سكِروا بها      ومـا شـربوا مـنها ولـكِنّهم هَمّوا
وعـنديَ  مـنها نَـشْوَةٌ قبلَ نشأتي      مـعي  أبـداً تـبقى وإنْ بَليَ العَظْم
عـليكَ  بها صِرْفاً وإن شئتَ مَزْجَها      فَـعَدْلُكَ عـن ظَلْم الحبيب هو الظُّلم
فَـدُونَكَهَا فـي الـحانِ واستَجْلها به      عـلى  نَـغَمِ الألـحان فهيَ بها غُنْمُ
فـما  سـكنَتْ والـهمَّ يوماً بموضع      كـذلك  لـم يـسكُنْ مـع النَّغَم الغَم
وفـي  سـكرةٍ منها ولَوْ عُمْرَ ساعةٍ      تَـرَى  الدَّهْرَ عبداً طائعاً ولك الحُكْم
فلا عَيْشَ في الدُّنْيا لمَن عاشَ صاحياً      ومَـن  لم يَمُتْ سُكْراً بها فاته الحزم
عـلى نـفسه فليَبْكِ مَن ضاع عُمْرُهُ      ولـيسَ لـهُ فـيها نَصيبٌ ولا سهمُ







(English adaptation by Martin Lings)

Full near I came unto where dwelleth
Layla, when I heard her call.
That voice, would I might ever hear it!
She favored me, and drew me to her,
Took me in, into her precinct,
With discourse intimate addressed me.
She sat me by her, then came closer,
Raised the cloak that hid her from me,
Made me marvel to distraction,
Bewildered me with all her beauty.
She took me and amazed me,
And hid me in her inmost self,
Until I thought that she was I,
And my life she took as ransom.
She changed me and transfigured me,
And marked me with her special sign,
Pressed me to her, put me from her,
Named me as she is named.
Having slain and crumbled me,
She steeped the fragments in her blood.
Then, after my death, she raised me:
My star shines in her firmament.
Where is my life, and where my body,
Where my willful soul? From her
The truth of these shone out to me
Secrets that had been hidden from me.
Mine eyes have never seen but her:
To naught else can they testify.
All meanings in her are comprised.
Glory be to her Creator!
Thou that beauty wouldst describe,
Here is something of her brightness
Take it from me. It is my art.
Think it not idle vanity.
My Heart lied not when it divulged
The secret of my meeting her.
If nearness unto her effaceth,
I still subsist in her substance.

-Shaykh Ahmad al-‘Alawi