Monday, June 9, 2008

The Story of Sheikh Sam'an - Part 7 (Final)

The sheikh’s heart spoke: “The Christian is no more;
The girl you loved knocks at religion’s door –
It is our way she follows now; go back
And be the comforter her sorrows lack.”
Like wind he ran, and his disciples cried:
“Has your repentant vow so quickly died?
Will you slip back, a shameless reprobate?”
But when the sheikh explained the girl’s sad state,
Compassion moved their hearts and they agreed
To search for her and serve her every need.
They found her with hair draggled in the dirt,
Prone on the earth as if a corpse, her skirt
Torn from her limbs, barefoot, her face death-pale.
She saw the sheikh and felt her last strength fail;
She fainted at his feet, and as she slept
The sheikh hung over her dear face and wept.

She woke, and seeing tears like rain in spring
Knew he’d kept faith with her through everything.
She knelt before him, took his hands and said
“The shame I brought on your respected head
Burns me with shame; how long must I remain
Behind this veil of ignorance? Make plain
The mysteries of Islam to me here,
And I shall tread its highway without fear.”
The sheikh spelt out the faith to her; the crowd
Of gratified disciples cried aloud,
Weeping to see the lovely child embrace
The search for Truth. Then, as her comely face
Bent to his words, her heart began to feel
An inexpressible and troubling zeal;
Slowly she felt the pall of grief descend,
Knowing herself still absent from the Friend.
“Dear sheikh,” she said, “I cannot bear such pain;
Absence undoes me and my spirits wane.
I go from this unhappy world; farewell
World’s sheikh and mine – further I cannot tell,
Exhaustion weakens me; O sheikh, forgive…”
And saying this the dear child ceased to live.
The sun was hidden by a mist – her flesh
Yielded the sweet soul from its weakening mesh.
She was a drop returned to Truth’s great sea;
She left this world, and so, like wind, must we.

Whoever knows love’s path is soon aware
That stories such as this are far from rare.
All things are possible, and you may meet
Despair, forgiveness, certainty, deceit.
The Self ignores the secrets of the Way,
The mysteries no mortal speech can say;
Assurance whispers in the heart’s dark core,
Not in the muddied Self – a bitter war
Must rage between these two. Turn now and mourn
That your existence is so deeply torn!’

... The Conference of the Birds (Mantiq-ut-Tair), Shaykh Farid-ud-din 'Attar

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