Time is a sword
Green be the Holy grave of Shafi‘i (Imam Shafi R.A.), Whose vine has cheered a whole world!
His thought plucked a star from heaven: He named time “a cutting sword.”
How shall I say what is the secret of this sword? In its flashing edge there is life.
Its owner is exalted above hope and fear, His hand is whiter than the hand of Moses.
At one stroke thereof water gushes from the rock And the sea becomes land from dearth of moisture.
Moses held this sword in his hand, Therefore he wrought more than man may contrive.
He clove the Red Sea asunder, And made its waters like dry earth.
The arm of Ali (R.A.), the conqueror of Khaibar, Drew its strength from this same sword.
The revolution of the sky is worth seeing, The change of day and night is worth observing.
Look, O thou enthralled by Yesterday and Tomorrow,
Behold another world in thine own heart!
Thou hast sown the seed of darkness in the clay,
Thou hast imagined Time as a line:
Thy thought measures length of Time
With the measure of night and day.
Thou makʹst this line a girdle on thine infidel waist;
Thou art an advertiser of falsehood, like idols.
Thou wert the Elixir, and thou hast become a Peck of dust;
Thou wert born the conscience of Truth, and thou hast become a lie!
Art thou a Muslim? Then cast off this girdle!
Be a candle to the feast of the religion of the free!
Knowing not the origin of Time,
Thou art ignorant of everlasting Life.
How long wilt thou be a thrall of night and day?
Learn the mystery of Time from the words “I have a time with God.”
Phenomena arise from the march of Time,
Life is one of Timeʹs mysteries.
The cause of Time is not the revolution of the sun
Time is everlasting, but the sun does not last for ever.
Time is joy and sorrow, festival and fast,
Time is the secret of moonlight and sunlight.
Thou hast extended Time, like Space,
And distinguished Yesterday from Tomorrow.
Thou hast fled, like a scent, from thine own garden;
Thou hast made thy prison with thine own hand.
Our Time, which has neither beginning nor end,
Blossoms from the flower‐bed of our mind.
To know its root quickens the living with new life:
Its being is more splendid than the dawn.
Life is of Time, and Time is of Life:
“Do not abuse Time!” was the command of the Prophet.
Now I will tell you a point of wisdom as brilliant as a pearl,
That you should realize the difference
between a slave and a free man!
A slave is lost in the magic of days and nights,
But Time, with all its expansion, is lost in the heart of a free man!
A slave weaves the shroud for himself by his times,
And covers himself with the sheet of days and nights!
But a free man keeps himself above the earth
And attacks the world with all his might!
A slave is caught in the snare of days and nights like a bird,
And the pleasure of flight is forbidden to his soul!
But the quick‐breathing breast of a free man
Becomes a cage for the Bird of Time!
To a slave, Nature is a meaningless word,
And there is nothing rare in the impressions of his soul!
Owing to his heaviness and laziness his abode is always the same,
And the cries of his morn and eve are always the same!
But the attempt of a free man creates new things every moment
And his string continuously produces new tunes!
His nature is not obliged to any sort of repetition,
Because his path is not like the circle caused by compasses!
To a slave Time is but a chain,
And he always complains against the fate!
But the courage of a free man gives instructions to his fate
And the great revolutions of the world are caused by his powerful hand!
The past the future are dissolved in his preset
And all the delayed plans are observed by his quick action!
These words of mine are beyond sound, beyond discussion,
For their meaning can’t be understood easily!
Although I have expressed my views about
Time yet my shallow words are ashamed of the meaning;—
And the meaning itself has a complaint:
“What have I to do with the words?”
In fact, a living meaning when expressed in words, dies out;
Your very breaths extinguish its fire!
Nevertheless, the point of Absence and
Presence is in the depth of our heart;
The mystery of Time and its motion is in the depth of our heart!
The musical instrument of Time has its own silent tunes:
Oh, dive deep into your heart that you may realize the secret of Time!
Oh, the memory of those days when Timeʹs sword
Was allied with the strength of our hands!
We sowed the seed of religion in menʹs hearts
And unveiled the face of Truth;
Our nails tore loose the knot of this world,
Our bowing in prayer gave blessings to the earth.
From the jar of Truth we made rosy wine gush forth,
We charged against the ancient taverns.
O thou in whose cup is old wine,
A wine so hot that the glass is well nigh turned to water,
Wilt thou in thy pride and arrogance and self‐conceit
Taunt us with our emptiness?
Our cup, too, hath graced the symposium
Our breast hath owned a spirit.
The new age with all its glories
Hath risen from the dust of our feet.
Our blood hath watered Godʹs harvest,
All worshippers of God are our debtors.
The takbir was our gift to the world,
Ka‘bas were built of our clay.
By means of us God taught the Koran,
From our hand He dispensed His bounty.
Although crown and signet have passed from us.,
Do not look with contempt on our beggarliness!
In thine eyes we are good for nothing,
Thinking old thoughts, despicable.
We have honour from “There is no god but Allah,”
We are the protectors of the universe.
Freed from the vexation of to‐day and tomorrow,
We have pledged ourselves to love One.
We are the conscience hidden in Godʹs heart,
We are the heirs of Moses and Aaron.
Sun and moon are still bright with our radiance,
Lightning‐flashes still lurk in our cloud.
In our essence Divinity is mirrored:
The Muslimʹs being is one of the signs of God.