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Umar Ibn Farid: The Sufi Way

Umar Ibn Farid: The Sufi Way

Photo: Shaykh Ahmad Al-Alawi with fuqara.


I sought her from myself,

she was there all along;
how strange that I
had concealed her from me.
I kept going back and forth
with her, within myself --
my senses drunk,
her beauties, my wine --
Setting out
from certain knowledge
to its source and truth,
reality my quest,
Calling to myself from me
to guide me by my voice
to that part of me
lost in my search.
Me begging me
to raise the screen
by lifting up the veil,
for I was my only means to me.
I was gazing
into the mirror of my beauty
to see the perfection of my being
in my contemplation of my face,
And mouthing my name, I listened
and leaned toward me,
looking to one who could make me hear
mention of me in my voice,
Placing my hands
upon my heart,
hoping to hold me
there in my embrace,
Rising toward my breaths
pleading they would pass by me
that I might find
me there.
Until a flash appeared
from me to my eye;
the break of my dawn shone clear,
my dark sky disappeared.
There, where reason recoils,
I arrived,
and my bond and union
reached to me from myself.
Then I glowed in joy,
as I attained to me
with a certainty that spared me
from my journey's hard ride.
I led myself to me
after I called me back;
my soul my means,
my guide to me.
When I pulled away
the curtains of sensuous disguise
brought down
by the mysteries of wisdom,
I raised the screen from my soul
by lifting up the veil,
and so it answered
my question.
I had rubbed the rust of my attributes
from the mirror of my being,
and it was encircled
with my beaming rays,
And I summoned me to witness me
since no other existed
in my witness
to rival me.
My mentioning my name
made me hear it in my recollection
as my soul, negating sense,
said my name and listened.
I hugged myself --
but not by wrapping arms around my ribs --
that I might embrace
my identity.
I inhaled my spirit,
while the air of my breath
perfumed scattered ambergris
with fragrance,
All of me free
from the dual quality of sensation,
my freedom within,
I, one with my essence.
(Umar Ibn Farid)


Source and Recommended Reading:
'´Umar Ibn al-Farid (CWS): Sufi Verse, Saintly Life'
By Th. Emil Homerin (Author)
Purchase Book:
Umar Ibn al-Farid (b. 576 [hijri date]/1181 CE; d. 632 [hijri date]/1235 is the most venerated mystical poet in Arabic. An accomplished Sufi as well as a respected poet, his poetry blends the two traditions -- classical Arabic poetry and Islamic mysticism -- in a body of work with a distinctly devotional and mystical character.
In a major contribution to the critically acclaimed and long lived Classics of Western Spirituality "TM" series, editor Th. Emil Homerin makes available here two of Ibn al-Farid's poems that have long been considered classics of Islamic mystical literature. The Wine Ode, a poem in praise of wine as well as a love poem, can also be seen as an extended meditation on the presence of divine love in the universe. The Poem of the Sufi Way, one of the longest poems ever composed in Arabic, and the most famous one rhyming in "T", begins as a love poem and then explores a number of crucial concerns confronting the seeker on the Sufi path. Both works have been treated for centuries in numerous mystical commentaries. Noteworthy as well in this volume is the addition of the Adorned Proem, a reverential account of Ibn al-Farid's life by his grandson.
Individuals interested in the fields of mysticism and spirituality, as well as lovers of poetry, particularly love poetry, will find this to be fascinating reading. It will have great relevance, of course, for scholars and students of Arabic literature, Islam and mysticism.

Based on wide and solid scholarship [and] extremely useful as a good modern translation.
(Issa J. Boullata, Ph.D. Professor of Arabic Literature, McGill University (Canada)
These are elegant and poetic translations with insightful discussion and commentary.

(William A. Graham, Professor of the History of Religion and Islamic Studies, Harvard University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences)
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