Translated by Juan Cole
"Shadows of the clouds": A reference to that which He hath said, Blessed and Exalted may He be, "That God should come down to them overshadowed with clouds."[Qur'an 2:210]
"To move": A reference to the mountains moving, insofar as they will stir even as clouds, as He hath said, "and thou shalt see the mountains, that thou supposest fixed, passing by like clouds."[Qur'an 27:88] All these are signs of the Resurrection Day, and the events associated therewith.
"Solaced": Which is to say, illumined. From the fragrance of Her locks the breeze of delight and splendor, and the perfume of compassion and glory, have been wafted from north of the paradise of the divine Essence, which stretcheth to the right of the eternal garden. In this wise, perchance the dusty bones of the substances of all created things shall be honored with life without end and everlasting existence, and bestow honor upon the pride of Being through the agency of those heart-entrancing gales and pleasing, fragrant scents that waft from the wondrous and imperishable chalice that holds a new, incomparable wine. Even so, the eye of true Beauty, of which the sun of the heaven of Being is the least significant sign, did by gazing upon Her face become brilliant, radiant and illumined. Exalted be God, Her Creator, above that of which ye make mention.
When Moses cleansed and sanctified the feet of the divine Self, Who had been consigned to human form, from the sandals of contingent fancies and drew forth the hand of divine Power from the fold of grandeur in the cloak of splendor, He arrived in the holy, good and blessed valley of the heart. This is the base of the throne of everlasting effulgence and the seat of divine and glorious converse. And when He reached that land of Sinai, which lieth outstretched to the right of the illumined Spot, He smelled the perfumed odor of the Spirit from east of eternity, and perceived the undying lights from all directions, without direction. After the darkened glass of self had been removed, the wick of the divine Essence blazed forth in the lamp of his heart, ignited by the passionate scent of godly love and the flaming brand of the fire of divine unity. And after the stations of opposition had been eliminated, He arrived in the valley of eternal sobriety through the wine of the attainment to an incomparable Countenance and the pure nectar of the imperishable.
Through the attractive power of His longing for the divine Meeting, He became aware of the city of everlasting life. "He entered the city at a time when its people were heedless."[Qur'an 28:15] And behold, He discerned the fire of the timeless godhead, and shone with the light of the Almighty God. He said to His family, "Do ye tarry here. Verily, I observe a fire."[Qur'an 20:10] When He discovered and perceived the visage of pre-existent, most gracious Guidance in the tree that is neither of the east nor the west [Qur'an 24:35], the changeable and ephemeral face was honored and glorified by attaining to the ancient, imperishable Countenance. In the blazing fire He discovered the wondrous, inaccessible visage of Guidance which had been concealed in the bosoms of the Unseen. This is that to which He then gave utterance: "or I shall find guidance in this fire."[Qur'an 20:10]
Even so, perceive ye the intent of the blessed verse, "He who made for ye fire from the green tree."[Qur'an 36:80] O would that there were a listener to comprehend it, and that one drop from the vast ocean of fire, one spark from the storehouse of flames, could be mentioned. But it is better, after all, that this pearl remain hidden within the shell of pure longing and stored in the vessels of secrecy, that every stranger might be excluded and every intimate friend may be garbed in pilgrim's dress before the Ka`bah of splendor, that he may enter the sanctuary of beauty. How happy is the soul that consumes the cage of the body in the flames of the fire of love, and becomes the familiar of the Spirit, that he may attain unto the exalted mercy of repose, and that the lofty bounty of glory may be bestowed upon him.
All that of which mention hath been made concerning the ranks of guidance and the grades of self-purification in the station of Moses - may peace be upon Him and our Prophet - hath reference to the manifestation of these effulgences in the world of outward appearances. Otherwise, that Exalted One was always and shall forever be led by the guidance of God. Nay, more, it was from Him that the sun of guidance dawned and the moon of God's grace appeared. It was from His essential being that the flames of the divine Essence were ignited, and from the brilliance of His forehead that the light of eternity became radiant. He Himself resolved such doubts by the words He spoke when questioned by Pharaoh about the man He had killed. He responded, "I did it indeed, and I was one of those who erred. And I fled from you when I feared you; but My Lord hath given Me judgment and hath made Me One of the Apostles."[Qur'an 26:20-21] The discourse hath come to an end, though in truth this matter is inexhaustible and unending.
"My all": That is, "All that which hath descended upon Me of the stations of eloquent exposition and hidden meanings, and that which it hath been given to Me to know of the modes of the divine Names and Attributes, and that which God hath bestowed upon Me in the worlds of the unseen and the seen - all this I offer up that I might meet Thee once, and gaze upon Thee a single time."
I beseech Thy forgiveness, O My God, for that which I have presumed to assert in Thy presence. But, by Thy Might, if I were not so, I would wish to be so in Thy precincts, for without this nothing can ever benefit Me, and naught else can grant repose to My heart, even wert Thou to bestow upon Me all who are in heaven and on earth. I ask Thee, O My God, by Him Who witnessed in Thy path what none else hath witnessed, to send down upon Thy Servant the most great signs of Thy love and the evidences of Thy glorious loving-kindness, that My soul may be content in that for which it hopeth. Verily, Thou art powerful over all things.
"Fuel": Even so, He saith, "the fire, whose fuel is men and stones."[Qur'an 2:24] Flames and intense anxiety are also intended.
"Gloating": Malicious gloaters greater in number than the atoms of all created things, such as the eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor soul numbered, nor imagination conceived, like unto a downpour. Lo, it is as rainfall descending from the sky of heedlessness! Say: O people of the earth, oppose not Him in Whose heart there is naught save the effulgence of the lights of the celestial morn. Fear ye God and turn not away, for if ye never love, ye will never hate. Once the love of God comes to exist, the loss of all else is of no importance. We praise God theat He hath rendered Us unneedful of their love and mention. And He is God, Powerful over all things.
"Cleft": A reference to the verse, "The heavens are well nigh cleft asunder from above."[Qur'an 42:5]
"Stutter": The stammering of the tongue.
"Wail": With the sense of importuning and lamenting out of love and grief.
"Bonfires": A reference to the verse, "Do ye tarry here: I observe a fire. Perhaps I shall bring you a brand from it."[Qur'an 20:10 (Regarding Moses and the burning bush)]
"My nature": A reference to the verse, "God's original creation, upon which He patterned mankind's creation."[Qur'an 30:30]
"Rite": The verse, "Set thy face toward the religion, with pure faith."[Qur'an 30:30]
"Palm": "Now clasp they hand to thy side; and it shall come forth white, but unhurt."[Qur'an 20:22]
"Withdrawn": A reference to the verse, "Now draw they hand close to thy side."[Qur'an 20:22, 27:12, 28:32]
"Gaze": "Gaze toward the Mount."[Qur'an 7:143]
"Swooned":"Moses fell in a swoon."[Qur'an 7:143]
"Destroyed": "And when God manifested Himself to the mountain, He turned it to dust."[Qur'an 7:143]
"B": By the letter B [ba'], existence was manifested and by the Point the worshipper was distinguished from the object of worship. Refer to the Tradition, "Everything in the Qur'an is contained in its first chapter . . ." and so on.
"Point": The meanings of the Point are innumerable, unlimited, and inexhaustible. The messianic Countenance, the universal Word, the divine Form, hath described the Most Great Throne, which is the place of descent and the seat of the Invisible Essence, with this exalted name and lofty appellation. It is reserved for this very Being. And thy Lord is in Himself sufficient for a Witness.
"Heart": The inmost heart, the blood of the heart, and the spirit are all three intended.
"Relate": That which hath been mentioned of tyranny and wrath.
"Jacob": A reference to the verse, "and his eyes became white with grief."[Qur'an 12:82]
"Joseph": The verse, "I prefer the prison to compliance with their bidding."[Qur'an 12:33]
"Job": "Truly evil hath touched me."[Qur'an 21:83]
"Eve": In her separation from Adam for forty days or more, as it is mentioned in the former traditions.
"Breaking": "And We caused the earth to break forth with springs."[Qur'an 54:11]
"Broke through": "And their waters met by a settled decree."[Qur'an 54:11]
"Open": A reference to the verse, "so we opened the gates of heaven."[Qur'an 54:11]
"Flow": "With water which fell in torrents."[Qur'an 54:11]
"Sharp": "And so thy sight today is piercing." [Qur'an 50:22]
"Cause": The world of Cause is intended.
This effulgence is meant. It is an effulgence from the luminaries of the morn of Reality, and from the dawning rays of the sun of sanctity and splendor. It rose from the sun of Being, the moon of the Beloved and the Point of the Adored One, and shone forth upon the realities of all contingent beings and the inmost essences of all creatures. Then, through droplets from the elixir of divine Being and pure spray from the inexhaustible Fountain, this effulgence honored and adorned the very atoms of all existing things, and all those of which mention hath been made, with everlasting, perpetual life. It thus invested them with the mantle of imperishability and clothed them in the vestments of exaltation and the robes of eternity.
But in spite of all this, we have departed from this greatest of signs and this most great bestowal, and from these inextinguishable lights and imperishable gifts, nor have we been steadfast in this mighty handiwork, these perfect honors, this ancient glory, this unending grace. We have remained shut away from the sanctified breaths of the Holy Spirit and the fragrant breezes wafting from the glow of intimacy, to such an extent that were a thousand Davids of Existence to serenade the dusty bones of mankind with psalmody and songs of beatitude in fresh and wondrous melodies, these latter would never stir nor move an iota. For all readiness for the descent of compassion from the heaven of divine Power hath vanished, and all have been imprisoned in the cage of the body and dazed by evil passions. They have swooned with heedlessness in such wise that they shall never regain consciousness nor reach the station of attainment and nearness, which is the original goal. What a sign of grief and regret we must breathe, for we have not been led by the quintessence of Guidance, nor have we emulated the essence of the Ancient of Days. We have neither advanced toward the Sinai of His proximity, nor have we opposed His deniers. We have not patterned ourselves according to the attractions of His Holy Spirit, nor have we rendered the lights of His delight our exemplars. The quintessence of emulation is martyrdom, to which honor we have failed to attain; and it is to clad oneself in the robe of steadfastness, which we have failed to accomplish. Aye, we are surrounded by the Lake of His Essence, yet we seat ourselves and await a drink of water. We dwell in the shade of the Sun of His Eternity, and call for a Lamp! Such is the case with this Servant, with mankind, and with everyone in every land.
If even a flame from this Lote-Tree were to blaze forth, we would not thereby be ignited, but would, rather, arise to extinguish it! Happy is he who clothes himself in the garb of equity for this battle. If thou dost acquire this most great attribute, thou wilt most certainly attain to the most glorious bounty. This is that invisible golden thread by whose movement all creation is set in motion, and by whose quiescence all who are in the realms of the Worshipped One are brought to a standstill. The breast must then be purified and cleansed from corrupt, groundless and satanic fancies, that the wondrous countenance of Equity might lift up its head from behind the mountains of Qaf.
Thereafter shall we experience the everlasting assaults of rapture and the divine ecstasies of yearning through the ruffling of the wings of the doves of eternity and the hands of the spirits of splendor. In the fluttering of love shall we then find rest and repose. This is the ultimate goal and the least of His stations. We must in every matter shun all else, which derives from the opposers of the eternal Truth. It is impermissible for us to sit and socialize even for a moment, for by God, the corrupt souls are melting away the pure ones, even as the blaze of dry firewood and cold, white snow. Be not thou among those whose hearts grow hard at the mention of God, the Creator.
That which hath been mentioned in commentary upon this verse was as a kindness to the gaze of the opposers and a mercy to the eyes of the hateful, that they might not understand it according to their evil passions, nor interpret it thereby. These verses were spoken at the time when We travelled into exile in the lands of the Ottoman Empire. No one among the divines and eminent men of that realm made any protest or objection. But from the railing of this people, I believe that even after this explanation they will raise objections and by reason of self-delusion will become wayfarers on the path of vain imagination, error, idle fancy and blindness. To God is the setting out on the path, whether thankfully or ungratefully, whether advancing or fleeing away. When the seal of a perfume bottle is removed, those with a sense of smell can perceive the scent, whereas those suffering from rheum will remain deprived. Were all to be stricken with the malady of rheum, this would not indicate a fault in the rose-water of Eternity, nor would the musk of Cathay thereby be brought into disrepute.
Praise be to Thee, O God, My God! I call upon Thee at that time, a time in which Thou didst send down upon Me the evidences of divine sorrow, which, were they to overflow into the universe, would cause the seen and the unseen world to pass out of existence, in such wise that the spirit well-nigh departed in its agitation. By Thy Might, and Thine invisible Eternality, were I to breathe a word of it, the hearts would burn in their inmost essences, the heavens and all that is in them would be cleft asunder and the earth and all that is upon it would be devastated. Alas, alas, thereby the fragrance of constancy would never be diffused from the garden of glory, nor would the everlasting breezes be wafted from the city of splendor. The nightingale of pre-existence would never warble upon the crimson twigs, nor would the chanticleer of grandeur raise his voice in the kingdom of exaltation.
By the glory of Him Whom Thou has glorified and made the Manifestation of Thy Divinity and the Fountainhead of Thy supreme Power, I have forgotten every mention, and all the wonders of Thy knowledge, and the comprehensive signs of Thy wisdom which Thou didst teach Me aforetime. Nay, I was forgetful and oblivious, as though I were not in the realms of the seen. And by the Lives of `Ali and Muhammad, and by the pure Spirit, the compassion of the Merciful, the attraction of Mahmud, the distraction of Ahmad, the secret of the Beloved, the delight of the Pure One, I like not to remain in this kingdom even a second. And God was behind Me as My witness.
O people of the Bayan, and whoso draweth nigh to God and His verses in the Living One of Utterance: Give ear to that which the Dove of the divine Essence doth warble in the utmost rapture, overwhelmed with the love of God and with yearning for Him, having died to the self and now living in God, the Mighty, the Powerful.
Fear God, and do not differ concerning His cause. Worship naught else but Him, and wreak not corruption in the land of knowledge. Accept the counsel proffered ye by this Servant, upon Whom the darts of the divine decree have rained down from the crimson cloud, in such wise that none but God can ever estimate their number, or fully perceive them. O people, be merciful, fear God and devour not this Servant in the flames of your own selves. Torture Him not with the idle fancies of your base desires, and do not deliver Him into the prison of your heedlessness. Do not slay Him with the swords of your hypocrisy, nor banish Him with the spears of your injustice and malice. For He hath but summoned ye to God, and shall never call ye unto anyone save the Manifestations of His Self, the Mirrors of His inmost Essence, and Him Who standeth in the stead of His Cause itself.
Say: Fear God, and oppose Him not, nor transgress the bounds of His counsel. Know yet that there is among ye one who worketh corruption in this good and blessed land. The malediction of God be upon him, and whosoever raiseth his hand without the approval or permission of God, or stirreth in disobedience to Him. Such a one is deprived of God's compassion. Whosoever taketh his hands from his pockets and followeth his selfish passions, casting the Cause of God behind his back, hath removed himself from the shadow of Providence, though he dwell in the vicinity of the shrine of God. Whoso submitteth to his base desires and attributeth this to God hath forfeited the garden of His loving-kindness, and whoso faileth to detach himself from all who are in the heavens and on earth shall never be able to enter the kingdom of heaven. For he who hath in his heart aught else but the love of God shall never step foot in His city. The vengeance of the Lord be upon whoso teacheth anyone without His permission, and the awful might of God be upon whoso distributeth His words to any soul without His leave.