On Lapis Lazuli.

Translation of an extract from the Jawāhirnāmah or Book of Jewels of Muḥammad ibn Manṣūr al-Dashtakī al-Shīrāzī (d. 1498 CE) on Lapis Lazuli.

[Source: Bodleian Library, MS. Elliott 176, ff. 58b-60b]

[Chapter Sixteen] on Lapis Lazuli.

 

Part One: on the description of lapis lazuli.

Lapis lazuli (Persian: lājvard, lājavard, lāzavard, lāzhavard etc.) is a well-known rock and is confined to four types: those of Badakhshān (N. E. Afghanistan), Karaj (W. Iran), Dizmār (E. Azerbaijan), and Kirmān (S.E. Iran). The lapis lazuli of Badakhshān is of two sorts: one sort contains golden specks, the other sort does not. Lapis lazuli may also occur mixed with earth or with white stone (calcite).

From lapis lazuli drinking glasses, bottles, bezels, belts, rings, and the like are made.

If powdered lapis lazuli is sprinkled on fire, smoke of all different sorts appears. Lapis lazuli is governed by the planet Venus.

Part Two: on where lapis lazuli occurs and how it is formed.

The famous place where lapis lazuli occurs is in the mountains known as Lājavard at Khatlān near to the city of Badakhshān. In the environs of Karaj, and Kirmān, and elsewhere there are less-famous mines for it.

It is related from Apollonius of Tyana (d. c. 100 CE) that the material of lapis lazuli inclines towards the form of copper, and after quicksilver mixes with sulphur the heat overcomes the humidity and its colour tends towards redness. Subsequently through it encountering dryness it becomes blue. Lapis lazuli is a cupric rock.

 

Part Three: on the types of lapis lazuli and their value.

The beautifully coloured and pure lapis lazuli of Badakhshān which has specks of gold in it is better than all the other types of lapis lazuli. To test the quality of lapis lazuli a piece is put on a smokeless and flameless fire. If flames the colour of lapis lazuli appear then it is of good quality. If they do not appear then it is not of good quality.

The value of a drachm of purified lapis lazuli equals a silver Nāṣirī dirham. The value of a bottle is a silver dirham and the value of the impure rock is one-third of the value of the purified rock.

 

Part Four: on the properties of lapis lazuli.

Since lapis lazuli is cold and dry it is more powerful than any other drug in purging black bile. The potency of the purified lapis lazuli is greater and is beneficial for melancholia, insomnia, and heartache. If lapis lazuli and oil are used to shampoo the hair it produces a beauty and freshness in the hair and makes the hair curly. If some is bandaged to a child it will reduce his or her anxiety. Illuminators and painters use lapis lazuli in most of their paintings.

Part Five: on how to purify lapis lazuli.

The lapis lazuli of Badakhshān may be purified in a number of ways. The first is that two equal parts of white and black Greek pitch should be boiled in seed oil until mixed together and with an amount of pure water is strained through a cloth and with warm water is cleaned of the pitch and like sweet halva is stretched until it becomes white. Then the pounded and pulverized lapis lazuli is added to this paste and for the period of one month is kneaded intermittently after which it is washed with warm water in a china vessel until gradually three liquids are drawn off, the first liquid being the best, the middle one of middling quality, and the third of lesser quality.

Another method is that one part of mastic and half a part of olive oil is brought to a syrupy consistency on a gentle flame, the sign of the syrupy consistency is that when dropped into cold water it does not disappear but the drops remain visible on the surface of the water. Then the pounded and pulverized lapis lazuli should be added to this paste, washed with water and gradually, three liquids should be drawn off, the first liquid is the highest quality, the second liquid is middling quality, and the last is the lowest quality.

Another method is that equal parts of colophony (rosin), and mastic are placed in a whitened brass vessel and warmed over a gentle flame until melted. After that the pulverized lapis lazuli is mixed with water and poured into the mix and churned until the lapis lazuli is mixed completely with it. Then an amount of cold water is poured on it until it solidifies then it is set aside and churned. If lapis lazuli emerges then that is what is sought. If not, then a little olive oil should be mixed with it and it should be poured into a china vessel and set aside until the rock and the earth with which the lapis lazuli is mixed becomes sediment and the lapis lazuli may be taken from the surface. In these processes one third of the lapis lazuli is seen to be lost.

The method of purifying the lapis lazuli that is not of Badakhshān is that pounded and pulverized and sieved lapis lazuli is made into a paste with egg yolk and is kneaded strongly. Little by little, warm water should be poured over it until it resembles salt and . . . After this it is set aside for a time until the lapis lazuli becomes sediment and the water is put in another vessel. Again warm water should be poured on it and it should be kneaded again and this should be done three or four times and the water should be gathered in the other vessel until the lapis lazuli that is in it becomes sediment which should be skimmed off. This process should be repeated after which the water should be poured off now that the sedimented lapis lazuli has been purified.

* * *

باب شانزدهم در لاجورد فصل اول در صفات آن.

لاجورد سنگیست مشهور منحصر در چهار نوعیست بدخشی و کرجی و دزماری و کرمانی لاجورد بدخشی دو صنف است بر صنفی نقطهای زرین باشد و بر صنفی نباشد و شاید که لاجورد با خاک یا با سنگی سفید آمیخته باشد و از لاجورد کاسه و کوزه و نگین و کمر و انگشتری و امثال آن سازند و اگر ریزۀ لاجورد در آتش ریزند دودی گوناگون پدید آید و زهره بر لاجورد مستولیست.

فصل دوم در کان لاجورد و کیفیت تکون آن.

کان مشهور لاجورد در کوهی است که معروفست بلاجورد از ختلان قریب بشهر بدخشان و در نواحی کرَج و کرمان و غیر آن معادن غیر مشهور دارد از بلنیاس مرویست که مادۀ لاجورد متوجه صورة نحاس است و بعد از امتزاج زیبق به کبریت حرارت بر رطوبت استيالا می‌یابد و رنگ او مائل بحمرت می‌شود بعد از آن بوساطت مصادفت یبوست کبود می‌گردد و لاجورد حجری نحاسیست.

فصل سوم در همین انواع و قیمت آن.

لاجورد بدخشی خوش رنگ صافی که بر او نقطهای زر بود از سائر انواع لاجورد بهتر باشد و امتحان جودة لاجورد بآن کنند که قطعۀ از آن بر روی آتش غیر مشتعل بی دود نهند اگر زبانه برنگ لاجورد ظاهر شود نیکو باشد و اگر ظاهر نشود نیکو نباشد و قیمت درهمی لاجوردی مغسول موازی درهم ناصریست و قیمت نگینی درهمی و قیمت غیر مغسول ثلث قیمت مغسولست.

فصل چهارم در خاصیت آن.

لاجورد با وجود آنکه بارد یابس است در اسهال سودا از دیگر داروها اقوی است و قوة لاجورد مغسول از غیر مغسول بیشتر بود و مالیخولیا و بیخوابی و درد جگر را نافع بود و اگر لاجورد با روغن در موی بمالند حسن و طراوت موی بیفراید و موی‌ را جعد گرداند و اگر بر اطفال بندند فزع کمتر کنند و مذهّبان و نقّاشان لاجورد را در اکثر نقشها استعمال کنند.

فصل پنجم در کیفیة غسل لاجورد.

غسل لاجورد بدخشی بچند طریق توان کرد یکی آنکه دو جزء مساوى از زفت رومى سياه و سفيد در روغن بزر بجوشانند تا با يكىديگر آمیخته گردد و با قدری آب پاک بکرباس بیالایند و بآب گرم از زفتها بشویند و مانند حلوای مدّ مى‌كشند تا سفيد شود پس لاجورد مدقوق مسحوق بآن خمیر کنند و مدت یک ماه گاه گاه می‌مالند بعد از آن بآب گرم در ظرفی چینی بشویند تا بتدریج سه آب از او فرود آید آب اول احسن و آب میانه میانه و آب آخر ادون بود طریقی دیگر آنست که یک جزء مصطكى و نيم جزء روغن زيت بآتشى نرم بقوام آرند و نشانۀ قوام وى آنست که چون قطرۀ بآب سرد چکانند متلاشی نشود و مانند نقطۀ بر روی آب ببندد پس لاجورد مدقوق مسحوق بآن معجون خمیر کنند و بآب بشویند با بتدریج سه آب از او فرود آید آب اول اعلی و آب اوسط و آب آخر انزل باشد طریق دیگر آنست که دو جزء مساوى از راتينج و كندر در ظرفی رویین سفید کرده بآتش نرم گرم کنند چندانکه گداخته شود بعد از آن لاجورد سوده بآب بسرشند و در آن ریزند و چندان بجنبانند که لاجورد بایشان امتزاج تام بیابد بعد از آن قدری آب سرد در آن ریزند تا منجمد شود بعد بگذارند و بجنبانند اگر لاجورد بیرون آید فهو المراد و اگر بیرون نیاید قدری روغن زیت بآن بیامیزد و در ظرفی چینی ریزند و چندان بگذارند که سنگ و خاک که بلاجورد مخلوط باشد رسوب کند و لاجورد از روی آن بگیرند و در این اعمال موازی ثلث لاجورد نقصان پذیرد و طریق غسل لاجورد غیر بدخشی آنست که لاجورد مدقوق مسحوق منخول بزردۀ تخم مرغ خمیر کنند و سخت بمالند و اندک اندک آب گرم بر آن میریزند تا مانند شور و احلّ شود بعد از آن ساعتی بگذارند تا لاجورد رسوب کند و آب را از او در ظرفی دگر کنند و باز آب گرم را بر آن ریزند و بدست می‌مالند تا سه چهار نوبت بدین دستور عمل کنند و آبها را در ظرفی جمع کنند تا لاجوردی که در او باشد رسوب کند بعد از آن لاجورد رسوب کرده فرا گیرند و سه نوبت عمل مذکور اعاده کنند بعد از آن آب از سر آن بریزند که لاجورد مرسوب مغسول بود

* * *

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Star maps restored: conserving al-Sufi’s text

Star maps restored: conserving al-Sufi’s text.

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A Conversation Between the Philosopher Aristotle and Alexander the Great.

Introduction.

This conversation between Alexander the Great and his teacher Aristotle is an English translation of a Persian work entitled Vaṣīyatnāmah-yi Ustād-i Iskandar Arisṭāṭalīs-i Ḥakīm Iskandar rā. (Advice to Alexander from his Teacher Aristotle the Philosopher). The edited Persian text appears below the English translation. (to enlarge this, please press Ctrl+)

The work takes up folios 104b-106a of Bodleian Libraries’ MS. Elliott 288 which is a manuscript probably dating from the middle-Ṣafavid period. Certain indicators such as the use of archaic spellings of the word “sih” (three) – spelt in the text with the letter Ṣād, and “māʾīyah” (quiddity) for “māhīyah” give the impression that the source of the text goes back to an early date but no firm conclusions may be drawn from this at this point.

The text itself shows Alexander asking Aristotle a number of questions, mainly to do with the definition of philosophical terminology. The text is highly Arabised Persian as much philosophical terminology entered Persian via Arabic, but also vice versa such as the term Jawhar from Persian Gawhar for Substance.

In this text, elements of monotheism, sufism, neo-Platonism, and proto-Islam may be discerned, among others. The editor has not attempted to trace all the influences to be found in this text, but comments from experts would be most welcome which would be used to enrich the understanding of the text.

 

Advice to Alexander from his Teacher Aristotle the Philosopher.

 

 

now, O seeker of wisdom, that these are one hundred and ten phrases[1] about which Alexander asked his teacher Aristotle who answered rightly.

 

 

 

Aristotle (right) and Alexander as portrayed in an Arabic manuscript

Alexander said, ‘I asked my teacher, “What is substance?” [2] He said, “That which subsists in and by itself.”[3]

I said, “What is definition?”[4] He said, “Indicating a thing.”

I said, “What is accident?”[5] He said, “That which subsists in a substance.”[6]

I said, “What is soul?” He said, “An invisible substance.” [7]

I said, “What is body?” He said, “A visible substance.” [8]

I said, “What is intellect?” He said, “A substance which surrounds all things.” [9]

I said, “What is a point?” He said, “That which cannot be divided.”[10]

I said, “What is a line?” He said, “That which is between two points.”[11]

I said, “What is nature?” [12] He said, “The quiddity of anything.”[13]

I said, “From whence does it come?” He said, “From a simple substance.”

I said, “Where is the source of the simple substance?” He said, “That place where there is nothing compound.”

I said, “What is simple?” He said, “Becoming planar.”

I said, “What is compound?” He said, “Those two things which are found together, meaning two things combined.”

I said, “What is knowledge?” He said, “Awareness of everything comes through it.”

I said, “What is speech?” He said, “A voice from a compound body.”

I said, “What is proper?” He said, “Recognising the soul, meaning guiding the soul by means of externals.”

I said, “What is a conclusion?” He said, “That which proceeds from two premises.”

I said, “What is a premise?” He said, “That which proceeds from two premises.”

I said, “What is a premise?” He said, “The adherence of something to something else, meaning male to female.”

I said, “What is figure?”[14] He said, “Something which befits all things.”

I said, “What is the opposite of odd?” He said, “That which does not have three.”

I said, “What is the coincident of this?” He said, “Making equal.”

I said, “What is even?” He said, “That which has an equal and opposite?”

I said, “What is death?” He said, “Stasis after movement.”

I said, “What is sleep?” He said, “The remaining of the senses.”

I said, “What is paradise?” He said, “Recognising one’s origin and the source of the ingrate.”

I said, “What are visions in sleep?” He said, “The thoughts of the soul.”

I said, “What is thought?” He said, “The soul’s image of things”

I said, “What is reward?” He said, “The accomplishment of desires.”

I said, “What is punishment?” He said, “Being left behind.”

I said, “What is salvation?” He said, “Confessing the unity of the Creator, may He be exalted.”

I said, “Why are we the purpose?” He said, “Because we return since ‘[the beginning of] thought is the end of action’.”[15]

I said, “Where is our source?” He said, “From whence we came.”

I said, “From whence did we come?” He said, “From that place which was the beginning of action.”

I said, “What occurred from two things?” He said, “The substance of the soul.”

I said, “From the substance of the soul what occurred?” He said, “The nativities of the world.”

I said, “What are the nativities?” He said, “Three things: minerals, vegetables, and animals.”

I said, “What is the inspiration which came to the prophets?” He said, “Information about all things.”

I said, “Is there a sign of the end?” He said, “The perfection of the circle.”

I said, “What is a prophet?” He said, “One who informs us of that which we do not know.”

I said, “What is form?” He said, “The result of matter, meaning the very quiddity of matter.”

I said, “What is a part?” He said, “Some of the whole.”

I said, “What is the whole?” He said, “Everything.”

I said, “What is a genus.” He said, “That from which species occur.”

I said, “What is an individual?” He said, “All types of genera.”

I said, “What is a proprium?” He said, “Everything by which a species is known.”

I said, “What is the cause of the senses?” He said, “The definition of the soul.”

I said, “What is the soul.” He said, “It, in itself, is not defined.”

I said, “It is defined.” He said, “On one level.”

I said, “What is its level?” He said, “That which is prior in creation.”

I said, “What is creation?” He said, “Bringing about something from something else.”

I said, “What is location?” He said, “The receptacle of every thing.”

I said, “What is time?” He said, “The revolving of the spheres, meaning the movement of the spheres.”

I said, “What are the spheres?” He said, “The movement of bodies in one state, meaning a continuous movement in orbit.”

I said, “What perishes?” He said, “That which dies.”

I said, “What persists?” He said, “That which never dies and does not change from one state to another.”

I said, “What is the cause of persistence.” He said, “Similitude.”[16]

I said, “What is perishing?” He said, “Mutually opposing, meaning it is in a changing state.”

I said, “Is movement higher or stasis?” He said, “In souls stasis, in bodies movement.”

I said, “What soul is static?” He said, “That which is perfect.”

I said, “What thing is perfect?” He said, “That which is needless.”

I said, “What thing is needless?” He said, “That which is prior in creation.”

I said, “What is creation?” He said, “The command of the Creator, may He be exalted.”

I said, “What is a differentia?” He said, “That which separates two things from one another.”

I said, “What are the maternals?” He said, “Earth, water, air, and fire.”

I said, “How may I see them?” He said, “By the conjunction of the planets.”

I said, “What is impossibility?” He said, “That which may not be.”

I said, “What is a luminary?” He said, “Subtle natures.”

I said, “What is the status of humanitas compared to that of power?’ He said, “Its status is higher than that of power.”

I said, “What is true speech?” He said, “That the meaning of which is appropriate.”

I said, “What is lies?” He said, “That the meaning of which is not appropriate.”

I said, “What is a multiple?” He said, “Making equal, meaning when the son abides by the words of his father or the servant abides by the words of his master.”

I said, “What is thought?” He said, “Subtle natures.”

I said, “What was the beginning of action?” He said, “Creation itself.”

I said, “Why was the first the beginning of action?” He said, “Because it was not within action.”

I said, “How do we know that it was not within action?” He said, “Because it was not within number.”

I said, “How do we know that it was not within number?” [He said,] “Because nothing proceeds from the One but one.”

I said, “Except the One from numbers.” He said, “The cause and the effect were not separate.”

I said, “Does the One have a visible sign?” He said, “The centre of the circle.”

I said, “Is there a sign therein?” He said, “As the point of the compass is to the circle.”

***

 

 

 

Abbreviations.

TJ = al-Sharīf al-Jurjānī, ʿAlī ibn Muḥammad, Kitāb al-Taʿrīfāt, G. Flügel (ed.), Leipzig, 1845.

KT = al-Tahānawī, Kashshāf Iṣṭilāḥāt al-Funūn wa-al-ʿUlūm, A. Sprenger et alii (ed.), 2 vols., Bengal, 1862.

Notes.

[1] If what is meant by phrase is a single question and its answer then there are only 80 phrases in this manuscript copy of the work.

[2] Ar. jawhar, from Per.gawhar. Lit. Jewel, precious stone. TJ 71, “Substance is a quiddity (whatness) which, when found in an individual, exists but not in a subject. It may be one of five things: matter, form, body, soul, or intellect.” KT I 224 [736], “That exisitent which subsists in itself, whether it is incident or eternal . . . The reality or the essence [of a thing].”

[3] Cf. Substantia est ens per se subsistens et non inhaerens in alio.

[4] Ar. ḥadd. Lit. limiting, proscribing. TJ 74, “A statement which indicates the quiddity of a thing.” It is also known by logicians and lexicographers as the muʿarrif or definiens, and as the qawl shāriḥ or explanatory statement.

[5] Ar. ʿaraḍ. TJ 125, “That which occurs in a substance such as colours, flavours, tastes, textures and other such things for which subsistence [per se] is impossible after they come into existence.”

[6] Cf. Substantia est ens per se subsistens et substans accidentibus.

[7] Ar. rūḥ. TJ 204, “The soul (nafs) is a subtle vaporous substance which bears the power of life, sensation, and voluntary motion. The Philosopher [Aristotle] named it the “animal soul” (rūḥ ḥayawānī).”

[8] Ar. jism. TJ 68, “Body is a substance which is subject to the three dimensions [length, breadth, height]. It is also said that a body is that substance which is compound and composite.”

[9] Ar. ʿaql. TJ 127-128, “Intellect is a substance which, in itself, is immaterial but acts in conjunction with matter. It is non other than the rational soul which every person indicates by saying “I”. . . It is also said that the intellect is an immaterial substance which adheres to the human body to govern and control it. It is also said that the intellect is a capacity of the rational soul and that the intellectual capacity is explicitly something other than the rational soul and that the agent is in reality the soul, the intellect being merely a tool of the soul in the same way a knife is a tool for the one who cuts. It is also said that intellect, soul, and mind are a single thing but that the intellect was so-named because it perceives, and the soul was so-named because it governs, and the mind was so-named because it has the capacity for perception.” al-Jurjānī (TJ 128) also mentions the material intellect (ʿaql hayūlānī) which is “a pure capacity for percieving intelligibles. It is a pure potential devoid of actuality as in children, and is called material because the soul in this state resembles primordial matter devoid in itself of all forms.”

In al-Jurjānī’s view [TJ 128], the most authentic opinion is that intellect “is an immaterial substance which perceives unseen things via intermediaries, and perceives sensibles via direct witnessing.”

[10] Cf. The Elements of Euclid, Book I, Definitions. I. A point is that which has no parts.

[11] Cf. The Elements of Euclid, Book I, Definitions. II. A line is length without breadth. III. The extremities of a line are points.

[12] Ar. ṭabʿ. TJ 145, “That which occurs in man involuntarily. The disposition humans were created with.” KT 911.

[13] Quiddity or whatness, Ar. māʾīyah/māhīyah from the question mā hīya, what is it?

[14] KT 861.

[15] For a discussion of this “Aristotelian” phrase, see: http://jss.oxfordjournals.org/content/7/2/234.extract

[16] Ar. mushākalah. Unity in form or figure. See. KT 226, 863 [93]

***

وصیت ‌نامۀ استاد اسکندر ارسطاطلیس حکیم اسکندر‌ را

بدان ای جویندۀ دانش که این صد و ده کلمه که اسکندر از استاد خویس ارسطاطلیس حکیم پرسید و او جواب بصواب داد

اسکندر گفت پرسیدم از استاد خود که جوهر چیست گفت آنچه قایم بذاتست

گفتم حد چیست گفت راه نمودن بچیزی

گفتم عرض چیست گفت آنکه بجوهر قایم است

گفتم روح چیست گفت جوهری ناپیدا

گفتم جسم چیست گفت گوهری پیدا

گفتم عقل چیست گفت جوهری محیط بر همۀ چیزها

گفت نقطه چیست گفت آنکه انقسام نپذیرد

گفتم خط چیست گفت آنکه میان دو نقطه بود

گفتم طبع چیست گفت مایۀ هر چیزی

گفتم از کجا آمد گفت از جوهری بسیط

گفتم جوهر بسیط را معدن کجاست گفت آنجا که هیچ مرکب نیست

گفتم بسیط چیست گفت پهن گشتن

گفتم مرکب چیست گفت آن دو چیز که بهمدیگر یابند یعنی دو چیز فراهم آورده بود

گفتم علم چیست گفت چالاک شدن بر هر چیز ازوست

گفتم سخن چیست گفت آوازی از جسم مرکب

گفتم معروف چیست گفت شناختن جان یعنی راه نمودن جان بآنچه ازبیرونست

گفتم نتیجه چیست گفت آنکه از دو مقدمه بیرون آید

گفتم مقدمه چیست گفت آنکه از دو مقدمه بیرون آید

گفتم مقدمه چیست گفت ثبات کردن چیزی بر چیزی یعنی نر بر ماده

گفتم شکل چیست گفت چیزی موافق بهمۀ چیزها

گفتم ضد طاق چیست گفت آنکه آورا صه نبود

گفتم مطابق آن چیست گفت برابری نهادن

گفتم جفت چیست گفت آنکه ویرا هم گوشه و ضد است

گفتم مرگ چیست گفت آرامیدن از جنبش

گفتم جواب چیست گفت مانده شدن حواس

گفتم بهشت چیست گفت شناختن اصل خود‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌را و معدن کافر

گفتم دیدن خواب چیست گفت اندیشۀ جان

گفتم فکرت چیست گفت صورت جان بر چیزها

گفتم ثواب چیست گفت کامگاری

گفتم عقاب چیست گفت باز‌ماندگی

گفتم نجات چیست گفت توحید باری تعالی گفتن

گفتم چرا مقصود مائیم گفت ازآنکه باز پش آمدیم که الفکر آخر العمل

گفتم معدن ما کجاست گفت از آنجا که باز آمدیم

گفتم از کجا آمدیم گفت از آنجا که اول کار بود

گفتم از دو چیز چه پدید‌ آید گفت جوهر جان

گفتم از جوهر جان چه پدید آید گفت موالید عالم

گفتم موالید چیست گفت سه چیز معادن و نبات و حیوان

گفتم وحی کی بر پیغامبران آمد که چیست گفت آگاه شدن از همۀ چیزها

گفتم نهایت را نشانی هست گفت تمام شدن دایره

گفتم پیغامبر چیست گفت آگاه کننده از آن چیز که ما ندانیم

گفتم صورت چیست گفت نتیجۀ هیولا یعنی نفس مایۀ هیولا

گفتم جزو چیست گفت بعضی از کل

گفتم کل چیست گفت همگی

گفتم جنس چیست گفت آنکه نوعها از او پیوندند

گفتم شخص چیست گفت جنس گوناگون

گفتم خاصیت چیست گفت هر چه نوع بدان شناخته شود

گفتم علّت حواس چیست گفت حد روح

گفتم روح چیست گفت او بذات خود محدود نیست

گفتم محدود‌ست گفت بمرتبت

گفتم مرتبۀ او چیست گفت آنچه سابق‌تر بر ابداع

گفتم ابداع چیست گفت پدید آوردن چیزی از چیزی

گفتم مکان چیست گفت دارندۀ هر چیزی

گفتم زمان چیست گفت گشتن افلاک یعنی جنبش فلک گفتم افلاک چیست گفت جنبش اجرام اندر یک حالت یعنی جنس دایم متحرک بر تدویر

گفتم فانی چیست گفت آنکه بمیرد

گفتم باقی چیست گفت آنکه هرگز نمیرد واز حالی بحالی نگردد

گفتم علّت بقا چیست گفت مشاکله

گفتم فنا چیست گفت متضاد یعنی اندر گشتن حالتست

گفتم جنبش برتر یا آرام گفت اندر ارواح آرام و اندر اجساد جنبش

گفتم روح آرمیده کدامست گفت آنکه تمامست

گفتم تمام کدامست گفت آنکه بی نیاز است

گفتم بی نیاز کدامست گفت آنکه سابق‌تر بابداع

گفتم ابداع چیست گفت امر باری تعالی

گفتم فصل چیست گفت جدا کنندۀ دو چیز از یکدیگر

گفتم امهات چیست گفت خاک و آب و باد و آتش

گفتم ایشانرا چنان بینم گفت باتصال کواکب

گفتم ممتنع چیست گفت آنگه نشاید

گفتم روشنایی چیست گفت لطایف طبایع

گفتم مکان مروت با متمکن چیست گفت مکان برتر از متمکن

گفتم سخن راست کدامست گفت آنکه معنی او موافق باشد

گفتم دروغ کدامست گفت آنکه معنی وی موافق نباشد

گفتم مضاعف چیست گفت برابری نهادن یعنی چون پسر گفتی پدر لازم آید یا چون بنده گفتی خداوند لازم آید

گفتم فکر چیست گفت لطایف طبایع

گفتم ابتدای کار چه بود گفت عین خلق

گفتم چرا نخستین ابتدای کار بگفتی زیرا که اندر کار نبود

گفتم بچه دانیم که اندر کار نبود گفت زیرا که اندر شمار نبود

گفتم بچه دانیم که اندر شمار نبود ]گفت[ زیرا از یکی جز یکی نیاید

گفتم یکی از شمار بیرون کن گفت علّت از معلول جدا نبود

گفتم یکی را اندر عیان نشان هست گفت مرکز دایره

گفتم درو نشان هست گفت که نقطۀ پرگار از دایره

***

 

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A Treatise by al-Sayyid al-Sharīf on Knowledge of a Thing by a Means.

Introduction.

The year 2013 saw the 600th anniversary of the death of ʿAlī ibn Muḥammad Astarābādī, better known as Mīr Sayyid Sharīf Jurjānī, a great Muḥaqqiq – a reviser and verifier of knowledge – as well as a professor of logic, philology, theology, and a commentator on the Qurʾān and on many works of logic, rhetoric, and kalām.

In this relatively unknown short treatise, the author discusses a subtle epistemological point relating to the difference between knowledge of a means or instrument for perceiving a thing, and knowledge of the thing by a mediating instrument, explaining this by the example of the perception of an image in a mirror.

A later commentator explains the point by saying: “The difference between knowledge of the means and knowledge of the object by a means is that the first refers to the occurrence of the means in the intellect, and the second refers to the occurrence of the (idea of the) object in the intellect but in an incomplete way; for any conception is subject to strength and weakness; for example when a shadowy figure appears to you from afar and you have a certain conception of it. Then it is increasingly revealed to you as you come closer to it until its complete reality occurs to your intellect. If knowledge of the means was knowledge of the thing by that means as some of those who are unable to verify have assumed, then it would follow that everything could be known to us without our intellects being directed towards it, and this is patently impossible.”[1]

Although perhaps somewhat recondite, this treatise provides an interesting insight into the minutiae of the world of Mediaeval Islamic Scholasticism.


[1] al-Tahānawī, Kashshāf Iṣṭilāhāt al-Funūn wa-al-ʿUlūm, Bayrut: Maktabat Lubnān, 1996, p. 1271.

***

A Treatise by al-Sayyid al-Sharīf on Knowledge of a Thing by a Means[1].

https://i2.wp.com/www.fromoldbooks.org/Cassell-MagazineOfArt/pages/375-initial-letter-t-with-dragons-no-border/375-initial-letter-t-with-dragons-no-border-q90-375x375.jpg

his is a treatise composed by the Chief of the Verifiers and Scrutinisers Sharīf al-Jurjānī, may God shade him with His mercy.

The person who looks in a mirror may very well direct himself towards the image reflected therein and occupy himself with it and examine its properties such that he may become unaware of the mirror and its attributes of clarity and brightness and the proportion of its parts and its other properties.

Here the viewer uses the mirror as an instrument with which he perceives that image and its attributes. He views the image by means of the mirror and arrives at knowledge of it via the mirror. In this case, the object of speculation and vision in reality is that image reflected in the mirror and not the mediating instrument which is ignored. Hence, it is not possible for the viewer to come to know the mirror’s properties nor to make any judgement about them.

A drawing from the book by Rene Descartes, De Homine, published in 1662Conversely, the viewer may very well treat the mirror as something to be noticed in itself and as the object of speculation while ignoring what is reflected in it. Then he will come to know the quality of its manufacture and the fineness of its material. This is not subject to doubt and clarifies the difference between knowledge of the means, and knowledge of the object by way of that means; for the faculty of insight may direct itself towards a certain concept and intend it and be able to come to know its properties but not the properties of its particulars. And the insight may very well treat the concept as an instrument for perceiving those particulars and as a mirror for viewing them in toto. By this, the insight will be able to have knowledge of the thing’s properties.

An example of the first is when we say the concept of the thing equals the concept of a general contingent thing. An example of the second is all things, and this is the case, for, in the first example, the intellect may perceive the concept of the thing and treat it as a thing intended in and of itself, and in this type of perception it is not at all possible for the intellect to pass judgement about the thing’s particulars. In the second example, the concept has been treated as an instrument and a mirror for the perception of its particulars, and it is then possible for the intellect to comprehend the particulars and come to a judgement about them.

What is known in the first example is the concept which is an aspect of its particulars, and what is known in the second example are the particulars in toto from that means.

Thus must you verify the subject, and leave off other opinions, and in what follows you will see clearly the answer to any objections brought forth, for that which occurs in the mind when we assume knowledge of the means is the idea of the means, and when we assume knowledge of the object by way of that means, and if it is the idea of it which occurs in the mind then the thing known is the means and there is no difference whatsoever.

And if another idea of that object occurs in the mind then knowledge of it has not come about by way of that means. And if two ideas occur in the mind – the idea of the means and another idea of the object, then the first idea is knowledge of the means and the second is knowledge of the object but not by way of that means.

If you were to say that knowledge of the object by way of that means refers to them as a whole then that necessitates either that the knowledge of the object by a means depends upon knowledge of its reality, or that it depends upon knowledge of it via another means in a continuous chain of regress.

And if you were inclined to say that knowledge of the object by way of that means refers to the idea of the means on condition that it is combined with the other idea of the object, then we would say that this is knowledge of the object along with knowledge of the means and hence there are two knowledges and two things known and this does not entail knowledge of the object by way of that means.

In addition, it would then be necessary that knowledge of an object by way of a means would not be possible unless it was combined with knowledge of the object’s reality or of another means, and then it would be impossible for any object to be known by way of a single means in isolation from any other knowledge of it, and this is false by consensus, and indeed by necessity; and God is the One who grants success and gives aid.

This is the completion of the treatise.


[1] Ar. wajh. Lit. face or aspect. Technically, an intermediary; serving as a means or instrument; an instrument for perceiving a thing, such as the mirror in the author’s example.

***

رسالة للسيد الشريف في علم الشيء بالوجه[1]

­­­هذه رسالة أفادها سيد المحققين والمدققين شريف الجرجاني أظله الله تع[2] بظلال رحمته[3] الناظر في المرآة ربما كان متوجهاً إلى الصورة المرتسمة فيها[4] مشتغلاً بها باحثاً عن أحوالها بحيث يغفل عن المرآة وما لها من صفائها وصقالتها[5] واستواء أجزائها وغير ذلك من أحكامها فقد جعل المرآة آلة لملاحظة[6] تلك الصورة وصفاتها بحيث[7] ينظر بها[8] فيها ويتوصل منها[9] إليها فالمنظور المبصر بالحقيقة في هذه الحالة هو الصورة المنطبعة لا الآلة المتوسطة إذ لا التفات إليها ولذلك لا يتمكن حينئذ[10] من تعرف حالها وإجراء الحكم عليها وربما جعل المرآة[11] ملحوظة بذاتها مقصودة[12] بالنظر فيها غير ملتفت إلى ما عداها مما ينتقش فيها فيعرف[13] جودة صنعتها ولطافة[14] جوهرها وذلك مما لا شك[15] فيه ويتضح به الفرق بين العلم بالوجه والعلم بالشيء من ذلك[16] الوجه فإن البصيرة ربما توجهت إلى مفهوم قاصدة إليه[17] متمكنة من تعرف أحواله دون أحوال جزئياته وربما جعلته[18] آلة لملاحظة تلك الجزئيات ومرآة لمشاهدتها إجمالاً فيمكنها بذلك[19] معرفة أحكامها مثال الأول قولنا مفهوم الشيء يساوي مفهوم[20] الممكن العام ومثال الثاني كل شيء فهو كذا فإن العقل قد لاحظ في الأول مفهوم الشيء  وجعله مقصوداً [21] في نفسه ولا يتمكن بهذه الملاحظة من إجراء حكم[22] على جزئياته أصلاً وفي الثاني قد جعل ذلك المفهوم آلة ومرآة لملاحظة الجزئيات فيتمكن به من ملاحظة إحاطتها والحكم عليها فالمعلوم في الأول هو المفهوم الذي هو وجه لجزئياته والمعلوم في الثاني هو الجزئيات إجمالاً من ذلك الوجه بكذا حقق المقال وودع عنك ما قيل أو يقال واستوضح[23] به جواب ما يورد منها[24] من الإشكال وهو أن الحاصل في الذهن على تقدير العلم بالوجه هو صورة الوجه وعلى[25] تقدير العلم بالشيء من ذلك الوجه[26] إن كان الحاصل فيه صورته إيضاً فالمعلوم هو الوجه ولا فرق أصلاً وإن كان صورة أخرى لذلك الشيء فلا يكون العلم به من ذلك الوجه وإن كان الحاصل[27] في الذهن صورتين صورة الوجه وصورة أخرى للشيء فالصورة الأولى علم بالوجه والثانية علم بالشيء لا من ذلك الوجه وإن[28] قلت العلم بالشيء من ذلك الوجه عبارة عن المجموع لزمك إما تعريف[29] العلم بالشيء من وجه على العلم بحقيقته وإما تعريفه[30] على العلم به من وجه آخر متسلسل أو يدور دوراً محالاً لا دوراً معية[31] وإن جنحت[32] إلى أنه عبارة عن صورة الوجه[33] بشرط انضمامها إلى الصورة الأخرى[34] للشيء قلنا[35] هذا علم بالشيء مع العلم بالوجه فهناك علمان و معلومان لا أنه علم بالشيء من ذلك الوجه وإيضاً يلزم أن لا يكون[36] يمكن[37] علم شيء بوجه إلا متضمناً إلى علم[38] بحقيقته أو بوجه[39] آخر فيستحيل أن يعلم الشيء بوجه واحد منفرداً عن علم آخر به[40] وهو باطل[41] اتفاقاً بل ضرورة[42] والله الموفق[43] والمعين تمت هذه الرسالة ʘ

***


Three manuscript copies were collated for this edition: B: Bodleian Library MS. Arab. e. 236; M1: Majlis Library 22570 ; and M2: Majlis Library 46795.
[1] This title is from M1. B is untitled. M2: هذه الرسالة للمحقق الشريف قدس سره
[2] كذا = تعالى
[3] M1, M2, om.
[4] M2: om.
[5] M2: صياقلها
[6] B: اله الملاحطه
[7] M2 only
[8] M1: إليها
[9] M1: بها
[10] B: به: M2: om.
[11] M2: آلة
[12] M2: متصورة
[13] M2: بتعرف
[14] M1: رصانة
[15] M2: يشك
[16] M2. om.
[17] B: om. إليه
[18] M2: جعلت
[19] B: لذلك
[20] M2: om.
[21] B: مڡص
[22] B: الحكم
[23] M2: كذا حققه المحقق الشريف تأمل ويتضح به جواب إلخ
[24] M2: هاهنا
[25] B, M1: فعلى
[26] M1, M2: من وجه
[27] B: om.
[28] M2: فإن
[29] M1: ٮوڡڡ; M2: توقف
[30] M1: ٮوڡڡه; M2: توقفه
[31] M2: فيتسلسل ويدور دور محال لا دور معية
[32] B, M1: احتجت; M2: جنحت
[33] M2: الوجه الوجه
[34] M1 only
[35] B:  قلت
[36] M1, M2: om.
[37][37] M2: يتمكن علم بالشيء من وجه إلخ
[38] M1: علمه
[39] B: أو وجه
[40] B: om.
[41] B: ٮط
[42] M1 ends here.
[43] M2 ends here with last word illegible in digitised version.

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On the Creation of the Jinn, from a Persian work attributed to Sirāj al-Dīn al-Sakkākī.

In the Name of God, the Universally Merciful, the Particularly Merciful

hen God, majestic and exalted is He, willed to create the Jinn so that the first creation in the world would be the Jinn, he created them from the fire of Hell, as in His saying: {And He created the Jinn from a smokeless fire}[1], and as in His saying: {And the Jinn We created previously from the fire of the Samūm}[2]. When He created the Jinn He created two creatures from fire in Hell; one named Ḥīlat and the other named Mīlat. He created Ḥīlat in the form of a lion, and Mīlat in the form of a wolf, and created the lion as a male and the wolf as a female. The tail of the lion resembled vipers, and the tail of the wolf resembled scorpions. They mated with one another and the wolf bore forth seven male children and seven female children. Then they gave their children one to the other and they brought forth a great host. Of these seven was Iblīs, may God’s curse be upon him. When they became a great host, they descended from the heavens to the earth and on the day that they prostrated to Adam they placed seven in the heavens, and in the world they apportioned the seven climes amongst one-another and gave kingship to seven of them. The greatest of these kings is Faqṭīṭūsh who came five generations after Iblīs and sits on the summit of Mount Ṭūr and does not descend any of the mountain passes. His brother is Faqṭash who sits in the land of India in fine green meadows with running streams.

The Vernal Equinox

Every year on the first day of Spring at the foot of the mountain all the kings of the climes gather together with him so that Faqṭash may take the year’s covenants and permissions to act for them from his brother Faqṭīṭūsh and then each returns to his clime until the following year. Without the permission of Faqṭīṭūsh, they are unable to act. He is a great and important king and they fear his awesomeness. He never associates with them and never lets them enter upon him and only rules them from afar. They all return on the same day because on that first day of Spring they institute his laws and give permission to their adepts for the works they wish to do in that year.

When God, exalted is He, placed the band of accursedness on the neck of Iblīs and expelled him from His court saying: {And upon you is my curse until the Day of Recompense}[3], then those who are in concord with them or Iblīs are the devils (dīvān) and followers of Iblīs. Those who turn away from Iblīs and are in concord with the angels and prostrated and carried out the command are the faeries (parīyān), and they follow four prophets and four holy books until the Day of Resurrection. They are of four religions because they are the adepts of four holy books which they read. They are not subject to humans but rather they are subject to the word of God and abide by his command until the Day of Resurrection.

 Demons appearing before King Solomon

A 15th-century impression of Demons appearing before King Solomon

When the time of Solomon son of David, peace be upon him, came, and he wished for a kingdom saying: {O my Lord, grant me a kingdom which does not befit anyone after me}[4], God, exalted is He, fulfilled his desire and from the Preserved Tablet sent him a tablet, and seven seals and spears and rings so that he hung the tablet above his head and hung the seven seals all about his seven sides and placed the rings on his fingers, and every day one of the rings and spears would suit that day so that by the blessing of the tablet and the rings and the seals and the spears he gained command over all the devils and faeries and men and beasts and birds and wind and all else and they all obeyed his orders. When Solomon passed away, the angel Gabriel took that tablet by God’s command back to its place.


[1] The Qurʾān: Q: 55:15.

[2] The Qurʾān: Q: 15:27. Samūm: A burning wind.

[3] The Qurʾān: Q: 15:35.

[4] The Qurʾān: Q: 38:35.

***

بخشی از کتاب منسوب به سراج الدین السکاکی در آفرینش جن

بسم الله الرحمٰن الرحيم

 چون حق جل وعلا خواست که جن را بیآفریند تا اول خلق در عالم جن باشد ایشان از آتش دوزخ می‌آفرید چنانکه می‌فرماید {وخلق الجان من مارج من نار} و می‌فرماید {والجان خلقناه من قبل من نار السموم}. و چون جن را آفرید در دوزخ دو خلق می‌آفرید از آتش یکی را نام حیلت و یکی میلت. حیلت را بر صورت شیری و میلت را بر صورت گرگ. شیر را نر و گرگ را ماده آفرید. و دم شیر مانند ماران و دم گرگ مانند کژدمان. ایشان با یکی‌دیگر جفت گرفتند گرگ از شیر بار گرفت و هفت فرزند نر و هفت فرزند ماده می‌آورد. بعد از آن فرزند ایشان را یکی یکدگر دادند تا ایشان خلقی در وجود آمد و از آن هفت فرزند ایشان یکی ابلیس است لعنة الله علیه. چون خلقی بسیار شدند از آسمان بزمین آمدند و در آن روز که آدم را سجده فرمود هفت در آسمان را بگذاشتند و در عالم هفت اقلیم را بیکدیگر بخش کردند و از ایشان هفت کس را پادشاهی دادند و بزرگترین ایشان فقطیطوش است. و فقطیطوش به پنج پشت از ابلیس پس‌تر است و در سر کوه طور می‌نشیند هر گزاران کوه فرو نمی‌آید و برادر او فقطش است در بلاد هند در روضهای خوش و جویهای آب روان سبزه‌زارها می‌نشیند و هر سال در روز نوروز بدامنۀ کوه روند و تمامت پادشاهان اقالیم با وی گردایند تا فقطش همه را از برادر خود فقطیطوش عهدها و اجازت شغلها و عملهای یکساله بستاند و ایشان هر یکی باقلیم خود باز می‌گردند تا سال دیگر. و ایشان را بی اجازت فقطیطوش هیچ میسر نشود و او پادشاه عظیم و با اهمیت است و از هیبت او بترسند و او با ایشان هرگز آمیخته نگردد و بخود راه ندهد الا که از دور حکم کند با ایشان و همه در آن روز باز گردند سبب آنکه در عالم همه در این روز نوروز ایشان حکمهای خود روان کنند و اجازت فرمایند مغرمان‌را بشغلهای که در آن سال خواهند کرد. فصل. چون خق تعالی طوق لعنت در گردن ابلیس افکند و از درگاه خود براند که {وإن عليك لعنتي إلى يوم الدين} پس هر کس که از ایشان یا از ابلیس موافقت کردند ایشان دیوانند و تبع ابلیس. وآنها که روی از وی بگردایند و با ملایکه موافقت کردند سجده کردند و امر بجا آوردند ایشان پریانند و ایشان پس روی چهار پیغامبر و چهار کتاب می‌کنند تا روز قیامت. و از چهار کیش‌اند و بدین سبب ایشانرا مغرمان بچهار کیش می‌خوانند. ایشان مسخر آدمی نیستند اما مسخر کلام باری تعالی اند و امر اورا استاده باشند و گردن نهاده تا روز قیامت. فصل. چون نوبت سلیمان بن داود عم رسید و از مملکت خواست که {رب هب لي ملكا لا ينبغي لأحد من بعدي} خدای تعالی حاجت ویرا برآورد و از لوح المحفوظ ویرا لوحی و هفت خاتمه و حربه و انگشترین فرستاد تا او آن لوح‌را بر بلای سر خود می‌آویخت و هفت خاتمه را از هفت جانب خود می‌آویخت و انگشترین در انگست خود کردی و هر روز انگشترین و حربه موافق روز می‌داشت تا ببرکت آن و انگشترین و خاتمه و حربه تمامت دیو و پری و آدمی و وحوش و طیور و باد و همه در فرمان او آمدند و امر او را گردن نهادند. پس چون سلیمان رحلت کرد جبرئيل آن لوح‌را بفرمان جلیل باز همانجا برد.

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An Allegorical Epistle by Abū ʿAlī ibn Sīnā (Avicenna) Describing His Arrival at True Knowledge.

“Conference of the Birds.”
(Image courtesy of http://www.fromoldbooks.org)

Editor’s Introduction.

A Synchronous Discovery.

Having occasion one day several months ago to look at the manuscript with shelfmark MS. Pococke 263 in the Bodleian Libraries’ collections, I discovered that the last few folios of that manuscript contained a copy of a short allegorical treatise by Abū ʿAlī ibn Sīnā  (Avicenna, 980-1037) named Risālah Marmūzah, also known as Risālat al-Ṭayr or the Epistle of the Birds.

I say ‘discovered’ because I wasn’t expecting to find such a thing since it wasn’t mentioned in any of the printed catalogues of the Bodleian’s Arabic manuscripts, the earliest being the Latin catalogue compiled by Johannes Uri and published by the Clarendon Press in 1787. The treatise was copied in Muḥarram 703 / August 1303 making it an early and important copy which, due to it remaining uncatalogued for more than 300 years since its acquisition by the Library in 1692, the year after Edward Pococke’s death, was invisible to those who have made editions of the text such as the Danish Orientalist August Ferdinand Mehren (1822–1907). Mehren’s 1889 Leiden edition relied on four copies – two from the British Museum (now British Library), and a further two from Leiden, one of which had belonged to Jacob Golius.

Both of the British Library copies are from the same manuscript containing many works by Avicenna which was copied in the 18th century, so rather late. At least one of the Leiden copies should be earlier than this, Golius having died at Leiden in 1667. I have seen scans of the Golius copy and it is undated. The other edition of the text was made by Louis Cheikho (1859–1927), and published in the al-Mashriq journal in the early 20th century. Mehren provided a paraphrase in French of the treatise, and Henry Corbin made a later French translation based on a Persian version of the text. Corbin’s version in turn was translated into English by W. Trask.

In 1992, Peter Heath offered an English translation based on Mehren’s edition with some alternative readings taken from Cheikho, as well as putting forward an interpretation of the allegorical and symbolic meanings behind the text. I feel justified in making this Arabic edition and English translation of the ‘invisible’ copy available to readers as it provides some valuable and interesting alternative readings, and solves some of the minor difficulties of the Leiden edition.

Risālah Marmūzah or Risālat al-Ṭayr.

https://i0.wp.com/www.fromoldbooks.org/Butsch-RenaissanceOrnament/pages/000-i-contents-initial-i/000-i-contents-initial-i-q90-2064x2050.jpgn the Name of God, The Universally Merciful, The Particularly Merciful. And may God bless and salute our master Muḥammad and his family.

An allegorical epistle by the foremost teacher, Abū ʿAlī ibn Sīnā of Bukhārā, describing his arrival at true knowledge.

Abū ʿAlī ibn Sīnā, may God’s mercy be upon him, said: Is there any one of my fellows who will lend me so much of his ears that may I relate to him some portion of my sorrows, haply he may, in sharing them, relieve me of some of their burden? For the true friend cannot guide his fellow away from heedlessness while he does not appear free from vexation to his mirror.[1]

But where may one find a sincere friend now that friendship has become a kind of commerce resorted to only when a need calls for a friend, and friendship is disrespected when there is no need for it? And so, companions are not visited unless there is occasion to do so, and confidants are not remembered unless a wish comes to mind.

Except for the fellows who are gathered together by godly relationships and are brought close by sublime neighbourliness and have glimpsed the realities with the eye of insight and have polished the detritus of doubt from their innermost-beings. They will be brought together by God’s herald.

Woe unto you, fellows of the reality! You have been called, so come together and join one another. And let each one of you reveal to his fellow his pure intention, and let each of you examine the other, and let each of you perfect the other.

Woe unto you, fellows of the reality! Mask yourselves as hedgehogs mask themselves, and reveal your inner-selves and conceal your outer-selves, for I swear that what is manifest is for your inner-selves and what is hidden is for your outer-selves.

Woe unto you, fellows of the reality! Shed your skins like snakes and crawl like worms, and be scorpions whose weapons are in their tails, for Satan only tricks man from behind. And swallow venom and you will survive, and prefer death and you will live. And fly; and do not take for yourselves a nest you resort to, for the traps of birds are their nests. And if you are prevented for want of wings then seek requital and you will fly. For the best of heralds are those which are able to fly.

Be ostriches who swallow scorching rocks. Be vipers who gulp down solid bones. Be salamanders who throw themselves onto the flames in confidence. Be bats who do not emerge in daylight, for the best of birds are bats.

Woe unto you, fellows of the reality! The most incapable of people are those who dare to challenge the morrow, and the worst failures are those who neglect their mortality.

Woe unto you, fellows of the reality! It is no wonder that an angel might avoid evil, or that a beast might commit an indecency; rather it is a wonder that man should oppose his lusts when he is by nature prone to them; but also a wonder that he should give obedience to them when his being has been enlightened by the intellect.

I swear that an angel is not above a man who remains firm when battling his lusts and whose foot does not slip from its foothold therein. Nor is any human who does not do all in his power to repel a lust which summons him any more than an animal.

I return to the subject and say: I passed by a group hunting who had set up snares and arranged nets and prepared bait and retreated to the grass, while I was in a company of birds. They saw us and whistled calling us. We sensed an abundance and companions and no doubts entered our breasts nor did any qualms prevent us from our goal. So we quickly went towards them and landed amongst the snares. Suddenly the rings were about our necks and the nets cleft to our wings and the snares attached themselves to our legs. We tried to move but this only increased our difficulty. So we resigned ourselves to perishing, and each one of us became occupied with his own particular woes without concern for the fate of his fellow. So we went about seeking ways to escape for a time until we came to forget our state of affairs and we became used to the nets and content with the cages.

One day, I looked out from the nets and noticed a group of birds who had brought their heads and wings out from the nets and had emerged from their cages and were flying. On their legs were the vestiges of the snares which did not hamper them so that they could not escape, but did not free them completely so that life would be sweet.

They reminded me of what I had come to forget, and made me loathe what I had become used to and I nearly fell apart from sorrow and my soul was nearly plucked out from grief. So I called to them from within the cage: ‘Come closer, so that you may teach me the way out for it escapes me.’ But they remembered the guile of the hunters and only increased in their aversion. So I adjured them by our old friendship and our bonds of love and our preserved covenant so that their hearts became confident and doubt was expelled from their breasts. So they came to me and I asked about their condition and they said that they had been afflicted as I had been afflicted and they had resigned themselves and become used to tribulation.

Then they took hold of me and the snare was taken from my neck and the net from my wings and the door of the cage was opened and I was told to seize the opportunity to escape. I requested that they release my foot from the ring but they said: ‘Had we been able we would have begun by freeing our own feet. How can a sick man cure you?’ Then I sprang from the cage and flew.

Then I was told: ‘Before you are places the dangers of which you are not safe from unless you cross them all at once. So follow our traces and we will keep you safe and lead you to the straight path.’

We flew between the two sides of a mountain in a valley which was neither herbaceous nor fertile but rather arid and barren until we had left it behind and passed it by. Then we came to the summit of the mountain and suddenly before us there were eight towering peaks whose extent was too far to be beheld. We said to one another: ‘Be swift and do not spend the night on a sanctuary before we have passed them and are safe.’ So we garnered our efforts and summoned our strength until we had passed by six of those lofty heights.

When we reached the seventh we said to one another: ‘How about a rest, for we are weakened by fatigue and there is a great distance between us and our enemy?’ So we saw fit to dedicate a portion to rest our bodies, for flight after repose is more guided than being cut off. So we ascended to the summit and there we were in verdant and well-inhabited gardens with fruiting trees and running streams whose bounties let the eyes feast on sights of astonishing and bewildering splendour.

One could hear delightful music and entertaining lyrics and smell scents to which dewy musk or fresh amber come nowhere near. So we ate from the fruits and drank from the streams and remained there while we shed our burdens.

Then we said to one another: ‘Nothing is as deceptive as security, and nothing is safer than caution, and there is no fortress stronger than circumspection. Long have we tarried in this place on the verge of heedlessness. Our enemies are behind us following our footsteps and seeking our place out. So come, let us wrest ourselves out and leave this place even though it is a good abode, for there is no physician like salvation.’

So we agreed to continue our journey and left that location and descended upon the eighth mountain and lo, it was a towering peak whose top swam in the clouds upon whose sides lived birds with sweeter voices and more beautiful colours and more delightful forms and were better company than any I had ever come across before.

When we landed beside them they showed us such kindness and generosity and companionship that we would not have been able to return in kind even the simplest of it.

When openness was established between us all, we told them of what had befallen us and they showed their compassion and concern and they mentioned that beyond the mountain was a city which was the seat of the greatest king, and that anyone who has been wronged who appeals to him and relies upon him will have his wrong removed by his power and aid. So we accepted their advice and set out for the city of the king until we landed in his courtyard awaiting his permission. Then the order was issued that those who approached are granted permission so we were allowed to enter his palace.

We found ourselves in a court whose expanse defies description and when we had crossed it the veil was lifted and we were in another wide glittering court which made the previous one seem narrow, even small. When the veil was lifted and our eyes glimpsed the king in all his beauty, our hearts attached themselves to him and we were so astounded that we were unable to make our complaint. He understood that we were overcome and returned our senses to us by his generosity so that we had the courage to address him and we explained our case before him. He said: ‘Only those who set the snares will be able to remove them. I will send a messenger to them and demand that they give you satisfaction and remove all harm from you, so go in happiness.’

And now here we are on the way with the messenger. But my fellows cling to me asking me to relate to them the splendour of the king before them. So I will describe it in brief and say that he is the king whom you will encounter whenever there comes to your mind beauty which is not admixed with ugliness, and perfection which is not sullied by imperfection. All perfection in reality belongs to him, and all imperfection, even metaphorical, is negated of him because of the beauty of his face and the generosity of his hand. Whoever serves him has gained the ultimate bliss, and whoever ignores him has lost this world and the next.

But how many a fellow who comes to hear this story of mine and says: ‘I see that something has touched your mind, or that you are somewhat deranged. I swear you did not fly but your mind flew and you were not caught but your wits were caught. How can a man fly and birds talk? It seems that bile has overcome your humours and dryness has taken hold of your brain. The only course for you is to drink a decoction of epithymum, and take regular baths in luke-warm fresh water, and inhale nymphaea oil, and eat rich foods, and avoid wakefulness at night, and minimise thinking, for previously we had regarded you as a man of intelligence. And God is well aware of our consciences, and ours are concerned for you, and since your condition is somewhat out of balance, ours are out of balance.

How much is said and how little is of benefit! And the worst of speech is that which is lost. And from God we seek aid and from people we are free. Whoever believes other than this is at a loss. And those who do wrong will come to know what will be their fate.[2]

***


[1] Cf. The prophetic tradition that the believer is the mirror of the believer.

[2] This last sentence is a quotation from the Qurʾān, Q: 26:227.

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الرسالة المرموزة المسمّاة برسالة الطير لأبي علي بن سينا رحمة الله عليه

بسم الله الرحمٰن الرحيم وصلّى الله على سيّدنا محمّد وآله وسلّم.

رسالةٌ مرموزة للشيخ الرئيس أبي علي بن سينا البخاري في وصف توصّله إلى العلم الحقّ.

قال أبو علي بن سينا رحمة الله عليه هل لأحدٍ من إخواني أن يهبَ لي مِن سمعِه قدرَما أُلقي إليه طرفاً من أشجاني عساهُ يتحمّل عني بالشركة بعضَ أعبائها فإنّ الصديقَ لن يهدي عن السهو أخاه ما لم يظهر في مرآته عن الكدر صفاه وأنّى لك بالصديق المماحض وقد جُعلت الخلّةُ تجارةً يُفزع إليها إذا استدعت إلى الخليل داعيةُ وطرٍ ويرفض مراعيها إذا عرض الاستغناء فلن يُزار رفيقٌ إلا إذا زارت عارضةٌ ولن يُذكر خليلٌ إلا إذا ذكرتْهُ مارقةٌ اللّهم إلا إخوانٌ جمعتهم القرابةُ الإلهية وألّفت بينهم المجاورةُ العلوية ولاحظوا الحقائق بعين البصيرة وجلوا درنَ الشكّ عن السريرة فلن يجمعهم إلا منادي الله. ويلكم إخوان الحقيقة نودوا تألّفوا وتضامّوا وليكشفنَّ كلُّ واحدٍ منكم لأخيه الحجبَ عن خالص نيّته وليطالع بعضُكم بعضاً وليُكمل بعضُكم بعضاً. ويلكم إخوان الحقيقة تقنّعوا كما تتقنّع القنافذ فأعلنوا بواطنكم وأبطنوا ظواهركم فتالله إنّ الجليّ لباطنكم وإنّ الخفيّ لظاهركم. ويلكم إخوان الحقيقة انسلخوا عن جلودكم ودبّوا دبيبَ الديدان وكونوا عقاربَ أسلحتُكم في أذنابكم فإنّ الشيطان لن يراوغ الإنسان إلا مِن ورائه وتجرّعوا الدعات تعيشوا واستحبّوا الممات تحيوا وطيروا ولا تتّخذوا وكراً تنقلبون إليه فإنّ مصيدةَ الطيور أوكارُها وإن صدَّكم عَوَزُ الجناح فتقصّصوا تطيروا  فخير الطلائع ما قوي على الطيران. كونوا نعاماً تلتقم الجنادل المحمية وأفاعيَ تشترط العظامَ الصلبة وسمادلَ تغشى الضِرامَ على ثقةٍ وخفافيشَ لا تبرز نهاراً فخير الطيور خفافيشها.  ويلكم إخوان الحقيقة أعيى الناس من يجري على غده وأفشلهم من قصّر عن أمده. ويلكم إخوان الحقيقة لا عجبَ إن اجتنب مَلَكٌ شراً أو إن ارتكب بهيمةٌ قُبحاً بل العجب من البشر إذا استعصى على الشهوات وقد طُبعت على إتيانها صورتُه أو بذل لها الطاعة وقد نُوّر بالعقل جبلّتُه ولعمر الله ما فاق الملك بشراً ثبت عند قتال الشهوة فلم تزلّ قدمُه عن موطئه فيه أو قصر عن البهيمة إنسيّ لم تفِ قواه بدرء شهوةٍ تستدعيه. وأرجع إلى رأس الحديث فأقول مررت بطائفةٍ تقتنص قد نصبوا الحبائل ورتّبوا الشرَك وهيّئوا الطُعم وتواروا في الحشيش وأنا في سرية طيرٍ فلحظونا فصفروا مستدعين فأحسسنا بخصبٍ وأصحاب ما تخالج في صدورنا ريبةٌ ولا عرّجتنا عن قصدنا تهمةٌ فابتدرنا إليهم مُقبلين فسقطنا خلال الحبائل فإذا الحلق تنضمّ على أعناقنا والشرك تتشبّث بأجنحتنا والحبائل تتعلّق بأرجلنا ففزعنا إلى الحركة فما زادت إلى تعسيراً فاستسلمنا للهلاك وشُغل كلّ واحدٍ بما خصّه من الكرب عن الاهتمام بأمر أخيه وأقبلنا نلتمس الحيل في سبيل التخلّص زماناً حتى أُنسينا صورةَ أمرنا واستأنسنا بالشرك واطمأننّا إلى الأقفاص فاطّلعتُ ذاتَ يومٍ من خلال الشرك فلحظت رُفقةً من الطير قد أخرجت رؤوسَها وأجنحتها عن الشرك وبرزت على أقفاصها تطير وفي أرجلها بقايا الحبائل لا هي تؤودها فتمنعها النجاة ولا تبينها فتصفو لها الحياة فذكّرتني ما كنت أنسيته ونغّصت عليّ ما كنت ألفته فكدت أنحلّ تأسّفاً وتنسل روحي تلهّفاً فناديتهم من وراء القفص أن اقربوا مني حتى توقفوني على حيلة الراح فقد أعيتني فتذكّروا حيل المقتنصين فما ازدادوا إلا نفاراً فناشدتهم بالخلّة القديمة والمحبّة المصونة والعهد المحفوظ ما أحلّ بقلوبهم الثقةَ ونفى عن صدورهم الريبةَ فوافوا حاضرين فسألتهم عن حالهم فذكروا أنهم ابتُلوا بما ابتليتُ به فاستسلموا واستأنسوا بالبلوى ثمّ عالجوني فنُحّيت الحبالةُ عن رقبتي والشرك عن أجنحتي وفُتح بابُ القفص وقيل لي استغنم التجاة فطالبتهم يتخليص رجلي عن الحلقة فقالوا لو قدرنا عليها لابتدرنا أولاً وخلّصنا أرجلنا وأنّى يشفيك العليل فنهضت من القفص أطير فقيل لي إنّ أمامك بقاعاً لن تأمنَ مِن المحذور إلا أن تأتيَ عليها قطعاً فاقتفِ آثارَنا ننجُ بك ونهدِك إلى سواء السبيل فأدّى بنا الطيرانُ بين صدفَيِ جبلٍ في وادٍ لا معشبٍ خصبٍ بل مجدبٍ خربٍ حتى تخلّفَ عنا جنابُه وجُزنا جيرته ووافينا عامة الجبل وإذا أمامَنا ثماني شواهقَ تنبو عن مداها اللواحظُ فقال بعضُنا لبعضٍ سارعوا ولا تبيتوا على مأمنٍ إلا بعد أن نجوزها ناجين فعانينا الجهدَ وعانقنا الشدَّ حتى أتينا على ستٍّ من شوامخها وانتهينا إلى السابع فلمّا تعلّقنا نجومَه قال بعضُنا لبعضٍ هل لكم في الجمام فقد أوهننا النصبُ وبيننا وبين الأعداء مسافةٌ قاصيةٌ فرأينا أن نخصَّ للجمام من أبداننا نصيباً فإنّ الشرودَ على الراحة أهدى إلى النجاة من الانبتات فارتفعنا على قلّته فإذا جنانٌ مخضرّةُ الأرجاء عامرةُ الأقطار مثمرةُ الأشجار جاريةُ الأنهار يروي بصرَك نعيمُها بصورٍ تكاد لبهائها تُدهش العقولَ وتسلب الألبابَ تُسمِعُك أغانيَ شجيةً وألحاناً مُطربةً وتُشمّك روائحَ لا يدانيها المسكُ النديّ ولا العنبرُ الطريّ فأكلنا من ثماره وشربنا من أنهاره ومكثنا به ريثما اطّرحنا الأعباء وقال بعضُنا لبعضٍ لا مخدعةَ كالأمن ولا منجاةَ كالاحتياط ولا حصنَ أمنع من إساءة الظنون وقد امتلّ بنا المقام في هذه البقعة على شفا غفلةٍ ووراءنا أعداؤنا يتتبّعون مواقع أقدامنا ويتفقّدون مقامَنا فهلمّوا ننزع ونترك هذه البقعة وإن طاب الثواءُ بها فلا طبيبَ كالسلامة فأجمعنا على الرحلة وانفصلنا عن الناحية وحللنا بالثامن فإذا بشامخٍ خاضَ برأسه أعنانَ السماء تسكن جوانبه طيورٌ لم ألقَ أعذبَ ألحاناً ولا أحسنَ ألواناً ولا أظرفَ صوراً وأطيبَ عشرةً منها ولما حللنا في جوارها عرّفتنا من إحسانها وتلطّفها وإيناسها أياديَ لن نفي بقضاء أهونها ولما تقرّر فيما بيننا وبينها الانبساطُ أوقفناها على ما ألمّ بنا فأظهرت المساهمةَ والاهتمام وذكرت أنّ وراء هذا الجبل مدينةً يتبوّؤها الملكُ الأعظم وأيّ مظلومٍ استعدى له وتوكّل عليه كشف عنه الضرّاءَ بقوّته ومعونته فاطمأننا إلى إشارتها وتيمّمنا مدينةَ الملك حتى حللنا بفنائه منتظرين لإذنه فخرج الأمرُ بإذنٍ للواردين فأُدخلنا قصرَه وإذا نحن بصحنٍ لا يتضمّن وصفٌ رحبَه فلمّا عبرناه رُفع لنا الحجابُ عن صحنٍ فسيحٍ مُشرقٍ استضقنا لديه الأوّلَ بل استصغرناهُ حتي وصلنا حجرةَ الملك فلمّا رُفع لنا الحجابُ لحظتُ الملكَ في جماله مَقَلَنا علقت به أفئدتُنا ودهشنا دهشاً عاقنا عن الشكوى فوقف على ما غشينا فردّ علينا الثباتَ بتلطّفه حتى اجترأنا على مكالمته وعبّرنا بين يديه عن قضيّتنا فقال لن يقدرَ على حلّ الحبائل إلا عاقدوها وإنّي منفذٌ إليهم رسولاً يسومُهم إرضاءَكم وإماطةَ السوء عنكم فانصرفوا مغبوطين وهو ذا نحن في الطريق مع الرسول وإخواني متشبّثون بي يطلبون مني حكايةَ بهاء الملك بين أيديهم وسأصفه وصفاً موجزاً فأقول إنّه الملك الذي مهما حصّلتَ في خاطرك جمالاً لا يمازجه قبحٌ وكمالاً لا يشوبه نقصٌ صادفته مستوفاً لديه فكلُّ كمالٍ بالحقيقة له وكلُّ نقصٍ ولو بالمجاز فمنفيٌّ عنه كلّه لحسنه وجهاً وجوده يداً. مَن خدمه فقد اغتنم السعادةَ القصوى ومن صرفه فقد خسر الآخرةَ والأولى فكَمْ مِن أخٍ قرع سمعُه قصّتي فقال أراك مسّ عقلَك مسٌّ أو ألمّ بك لَمَمٌ والله ما طِرت بل طار عقلُك وما اقتُنصت بل اقتُنص لبُّك أنّى يطير البشرُ أو تنطق الطيرُ كأنّ المرارَ غلب على مزاجك واليبوسةَ قد استولت على دماغك فسبيلُك أن تشربَ طبيخَ الأفيثمون وتتعهد الاستحمامَ بالماء العذب الفاتر وتستنشقَ بدهنِ النيلوفر وتُترفَّه في الأغذية وتهجرَ السهرَ وتقلَّ الفكرَ فإنّا قد عهِدناك فيما مضى لبيباً والله مطّلعٌ على ضمائرنا فإنها من جهتك مهتمة لاختلال حالك مختلّة. ما أكثرَ ما يقولون وأقلَّ ما ينجع وشرُّ المقال ما ضاع وبالله الاستعانةُ ومِن الناس البراءةُ ومَن اعتقدَ غيرَ هذا خسِر وسيعلمُ الذين ظلموا أيَّ منقلَبٍ يَنقلِبون.

تمّت الرسالةُ للشيخ الرئيس أبي علي بن سينا رحمة الله عليه في نهار يوم السبت ثاني شهر المحرّم سنة ثلاث وسبعمائة. على يد الفقير إلى جود الله إبراهيم بن محمد عفا الله عنه

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