Poetry by Shaykh Fareed al-Deen ‘Attar
Book of Allah (Ilaahi Nama)
Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is the exemplar to both worlds, the guide of the descendants of Adam.
He is the sun of creation, the moon of the celestial spheres, the all-seeing eye;
The torch of knowledge, the candle of Prophecy, the lamp of the nation and the way of the people;
The commander-in-chief on the parade-ground of the Law; the general of the army of mysteries and morals;
The Master of the world and the glory of ‘But for thee’ 1; ruler of the earth and of the celestial spheres;
The most loyal of the Prophets, the proof of the Way, the king without a seal, the sultan without a crown.
As a king he reared up a lofty palace, but he followed the principle of ‘Poverty is my pride’.
His miracle was ‘We have won a victory’ 2 and his banner ‘help from Allah’. 3
‘As thou livest’ 4 was the crown on his musk-raining head and ‘have we not opened thy heart’ 5 the adornment of his life.
He is of a surety the crown of all sovereigns; he is in very deed the Master of the Prophets.
He, and only he, is without question the most excellent of mankind; he, and he only, is the confidant of Allah.
The seven Heavens and the eight gardens of Paradise were created for him; he is both the eye and the light in the light of our eyes.
He was the key of guidance to the Two Worlds and the lamp that dispelled the darkness thereof.
His tongue was the interpreter of kingship, his heart the scribe of divine inspiration.
Heaven and earth come under his sway; the Two Worlds are co-existent with his reign.
The Lord of the Worlds made him His depositary, because before divine inspiration he was the most trustworthy man in the world.
Light rose up to Heaven because of his beauty, and divine inspiration descended to earth because of his perfection.
Because he walked only in the way of Allah, he was settled in ‘an unfruitful valley’.6
With his mind, he solved the difficulties of all mankind – for his mind had seen the first design in Eternity Past.
He came in order that restless souls might quench their thirst every moment in the sea of his Law.
He was the greatest of the Prophets because though he came after he was also before. 7
When Adam opened his eyes for the first time, he saw from where he lay Muhammad’s name, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, inscribed on the highest level of Heaven.
He prostrated himself in the dust before his name, but since the dust became Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, he fell undefiled.
He was still a suckling baby when the flood broke over the fire-worshippers. 8
In every fire-temple, because of the Holy Prophet, the fire was at once utterly quenched.
If fire was quenched for Ibrahim 9, it was quenched for the infant Prophet all over the world.
Dost thou not see how so hot a thing as fire flees before a single hair of his head?
So high were his sandals raised by his Faith that they knocked the diadem off the Chosroes’ head. 10
The ringlets of his hair toppled the crown of the Caesar and over-threw with the curls the Emperor of China.
When, in the beginning, he pulled his cloak over his head, the angel Gabriel descended and stood at his door.
He said to him: ‘Verily there is a great good hidden beneath that cloak.’
The space of a single brick was absent from the Prophecy – a holy gap, indeed. 11
The Prophet has said: ‘That precious gap was closed by me for all eternity.’
He was indeed the culmination of the Prophets; when he came, the Prophecy was complete.
Hast thou not seen how first the army comes and then the noble King arrives.
The Prophets are like the army; they came only to announce the king.
When the sultan of the Prophecy was born, the Prophecy came to an end for he was the culmination thereof.
When his religion illuminated the world, all other rites were abolished. Allah is All-Knowing.
What becomes of the countless stars when the bright sun shines forth?
When the Prophet called himself a brick, it was as though every brick had become a Paradise.
And if that brick was moulded from the seed of Adam, it was because one brick was the foundation of both worlds.
Since the bricks of this world have four sides, so this brick has as its four sides: the Four Friends. 12
When the Companion of the Cave set out with him, the world was filled with light from those two matchless ones. 13
When he came to the house of Umm Ma’bad, he saw a she-goat that was unmated and without milk. 14
The goat gave her soul to him for she saw that the sun had arisen. 15
When the Master touched her udders milk flowed from them like rain.
His hand was whitened with her milk and thus did Predestination produce the White Hand. 16
The Prophet was adult whilst he was still a suckling; Adam was plainly but a child beside him.
When, during the Flight, he entered the cave with the Friend, and there appeared the famous spider, 17
Which built its web across the entrance, weaving the warp and crossing it with the weft.
When the web was finished, an enemy arrived and sought to make his way through that screen.
He went proudly up to the spider, saying: ‘Remove the screen before these two lovers of the Faith.
Why dost thou make a screen for the lovers? Produce two tricks from behind this closed screen. Sing this song to the tune of truth.’
The spider, realizing the enemy’s thought, thus made denial in dumb show:
‘Never will a Jamshid or a Faridun fall into a spider’s web.
Thou hast not a whit of sense if thou seek a Simurgh in a fly-trap.
The flesh of a fly is enough for me – how should a falcon fall into my snare?
What effect could a talisman produced from a spider’s saliva have upon the one Immortal Being?’
If this miracle is not as I have related, my head is attached to my waist like a spider’s.
If his enemy were in the seventh earth, the seventh Heaven would lay in wait for him;
To kill his enemy, the sun would smite him in the eye with its sword.
Without love for him, the Heavens cannot revolve; without their longing for him, the angels cannot breathe.
The Faith itself could have nothing without his support; no eye ever saw him knit his brow. 18
He was pure contentment with no feeling of anger; no eye ever saw him frown.
In the beginning, the curves came from his knitted brow but they had all departed into his hair.
The curls in his hair were without number; to seek knowledge in them is the highest task.
When his hair fell in ringlets, there sprang from it the seventy-two sects. 19
When these curls and locks appeared on his shoulders, there appeared out of those sixty these seventy.
Each group coveted a ringlet and made a handle out of it.
None can ever hold back his hand from such a ringlet, for it is the ‘strongest handle’. 20
No one admitted to the Glorious Presence passed beyond self except Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
Since he passed entirely beyond self, all speak for themselves there save only him.
Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was the eternal sun and Jesus the dawn that announced his coming.21
Since Jesus brought the glad tidings of the Chosen One, he was born in a single moment without a father. 22
Aye, since he brought the good news to the people, he was the evangelist and he came in great haste.
As he was the first to bring the good news from Allah, so he shall return again at the end of time. 23
There will be but one purpose in his return, to announce Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. O, a most glorious return! 24
As his (Sayyidina RasulAllah’s) pure heart was the main body of the army, so was the center of his soul the king.
Now at the time of a revelation, the six hundred thousand wings of Gabriel formed the flanks of this main army.
Now, a select throng of angels stood in ranks on either side thereof.
Patience was his buckler and sincerity his sword; his lance cast a shadow over the sky.
He held in his hand the bow of ‘the distance of two bow-shots’ 25; he fought with the arrows of ‘when thou didst shoot’ 26.
He is the Prophet of the Sword with the crown of ‘as thou livest’ 27, auspiciously mounted upon Buraq.
What, even though he ruled the realm of the soul? Holy war was his trade, and hence all this.
Wishing to be slave to the Prophecy, he asked Allah for two weeping eyes.
He called himself ‘the son of the two slain ones’ 28, from which it is clear to soul and mind.
That he sought glory of Allah in annihilation, and was never attached even for a moment to any single thing.
Because he placed no hope in (mere) existence 29, he was sealed with the seal of ‘his eye turned not aside’.30
And when his soul was aching with the turmoil of yearning, sometimes he would say:
“Would that Allah the Wise, the Just had never brought Muhammad 31 into existence!”
This he said because the Lord of the World had called him his ever-shining light. 32
Though the wax produces a bright light, yet it is always in pain and suffering without the honey.
At first the wax was absorbed in the honey, and because of their oneness it had no thought of this and that.
Afterwards, when it was taken away and removed from union with the honey,
It whispered these words: “What have I in common with candles? I have lived in oneness; what have I in common with the crowd?
If I had not become a candle, I would still be together with the honey.
When I became a candle and was parted from my beloved, Allah called me a light; but how long shall I burn?
If I had remained with the honey, I should have been saved from all this burning.”
Because he was barely clothed, he sat on the sand; because he was hungry, he tied a stone to his belly. 33
These are proofs of his perfect poverty: the poverty of Allah is a very exalted stage.
Had he had the slightest desire, how would he have been the leader of the poor?
He remained poor because it is ill-mannered to pick up the bounties scattered at one’s own wedding.
He had no wish for goods and possessions; one day he ate his fill and the next he went hungry.
What, though this nine-chambered palace was raised up for him out of nothing, out of smoke? 34
Often a month would pass without any one’s seeing smoke rise from his nine chambers. 35
If those nine chambers were created out of smoke, it was because no smoke was to rise from these.
When he returned, with a hundred honours, from his Ascension 36, his face never grew dark.
His stars 37 relate that when he sat like the moon in their company,
He eclipsed that company with a light such as that with which the sun eclipses a candle.
All his Companions, when they were near him, were lost to self because of the awe he inspired.
Faced by the sea, how shall a drop of water retain its separate self?
It was because of the awe he inspired that there was disagreement about those on whom the light shone;
As to whether the eyebrows of that Leader of the Two Worlds were close together or not;
The people of the Two Worlds could not see his eyebrows, for it is not easy to see at a distance of two bows.
The whole world was spread out like a tablecloth before his eyes,
So that the secrets of the universe were revealed to him, and he had knowledge of both worlds. 38
When the divine mysteries were unveiled to him, because of what he had seen he said: ‘Thou art what thou wilt.’
Seeing with the eye that had looked in the mysteries, he could look through the wall at Paradise and Hell.
Paradise and Hell concealed themselves behind him; thou knowest then who were the beggars behind his wall. 39
They preferred their place behind the wall to the Hereafter because thus they could see the sun of his face.
They both of them strayed from the Hereafter because of their longing to gaze on such a sight.
Having met those that had lately been with Allah he hurried forwards to be received by Allah Himself.
He went bareheaded before Allah, for one can approach Allah (only) when bareheaded. 40
Blackhearted Satan does not dare to appear in his garb. 41
His food was barley bread, yet he clove the breast of the loaf-like disc of the moon as though it were a grain of wheat. 42
The food of his soul came from the table of poverty – but though poverty was his, so was glory.
When the light of his poverty shone forth, Solomon would come to be his slave.
Now he would sweep the dust of the road out of his house; now he would take his rest in the dust of the road.
Now he would run to and fro with Aisha 43; now he would fetch bricks and mud to build a mosque.
Now he would stitch at sandals; now he would tell secrets to children.
Now he would take part in a funeral procession; now he would visit the sick.
Now he would collect fodder for the camels; now he would carry a hand-mill in his turban.
Now he would act as cupbearer at a banquet, standing in the place of ‘the lord of the people’.
Now in the kindness of his heart, he would pretend to be a camel to amuse those two intelligent children. 44
When that Holy Prophet came into the world, though he was a baby he at once prostrated himself in worship. 45
He came forth from the womb with his umbilical cord already severed; his mother bore him already circumcised. 46
If he stood among a crowd of men, he was taller by a head than the tallest of them. 47
No one ever saw his excrement: the earth would swallow it up like ambergris.
He could see both in front and behind equally well 48. Never did a fly settle on his person. 49
Since his shadow fell on the celestial spheres, how then could he cast a shadow on the ground? 50
Since his shadow covered the highest level of Heaven how then could it fall on the earth?
One night he resolved to ascend into Heaven and to rise above the Two Worlds. 51
Buraq 52, who was pining for his Master, had long been tethered to the tree called Tuba.
Smelling the fragrance of Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, he brayed loudly, broke his tether and galloped towards him.
Then Gabriel appeared and said: ‘Why art thou still on earth, O Pure One? Ascend into the Heavens.
Thou art by right the Master of the highest level of Heaven; rise from the earth to its loftiest pinnacle.
Thou art the symbol of mercy in both worlds; thou art the host that dispenses it to both worlds.
Thou hast regaled the earth for a while, and now it is the turn of the Heavens.
Make of thy poverty an elixir for the peoples of the earth; make of the dust of thy feet a collyrium 53 for the angels.’
When the Holy Prophet set out upon Buraq, he rose with the speed of lightning to the seventh Heaven.
He rose, thus mounted, up to the Throne of Allah, for he was Master of Buraq and of the pulpit.
On his right stood the supporters of Allah’s Throne, and on his left the guardians of the earth.
Beneath the hooves of Buraq, the Heavens were as the earth, while Gabriel was as the servant at his door.
He unfurled his banner over the highest level of Heaven and took his stand on the ‘seat of truth’.
There came a cry from the denizens of the Heavens 54: “The Master of the World has come to the place of union.
The orphan who followed Abu Talib is now a precious pearl sought by all seekers.”
A hundred thousand lofty souls were brought from the Divine Presence to welcome him.
Jesus passed in front of him as Zulaykha had passed in front of Joseph, and he (the Prophet) restored him from old age to youth as Joseph had done to Zulaykha.
From the breath of his spirit Jesus the Pure received, as it were, new life in Heaven.
Solomon came and offered him a crown; beggar-like he set a basket in front of him.
Moses, having paid his respects to him, departed in hopes of being received amongst his people.
Abraham brought his all to sacrifice before him, his son.
Noah came from his Ark to meet him and was proud to find him on Mount Judi.
Adam came and made merry; he questioned Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, about the secret of man’s nature.
Ridwan brought in wine 55 and asked him about his long journey.
Because he had grown thirsty of that journey he brought him a draught from Salsabil; 56
And because he was heated with the ardor of his love, he tempered that draught with camphor; 57
And because he was affected with the coldness of certainty, he tempered it likewise with ginger;
And when his humours were restored to equilibrium; he offered him honey tempered with milk.
And because in Ta Ha he had been designated as the Pure One he received ‘a drink of pure beverage.58
His drink was ‘choice sealed wine’ 59, whereof the seal was known to none but Allah.
The sky, the master of the sun, had led Buraq that night.
The golden sun was the pommel of the Prophet’s saddle; the new moon kissed his feet like a stirrup.
The halo of the moon provided Buraq with barley from Gemini 60 and straw from the Milky Way.
As the Prophet galloped along the road that night, Buraq cast one of his shoes upon the sky.
That shoe became the new moon; the sky fixed it in its ear and formed an archway for him.
Arcturus61 offered him a lance having cleared Medusa’s Head 62 from the way.
The houris stood all along the road from the Fish 63 to the moon.
In that turquoise garden, despite the darkness of the night, thousands of eyes were brightened with the splendour of his face.
For gladness, the highest level of Heaven reared up a pavilion for him and placed a throne in it.
Taking its support from his two tresses, Tuba cast its shadow over Paradise.
When the Dragon’s Tail 64 reared up against him, it was docked like Scorpio’s 65 from fear of him.
The Heavens made Virgo 66 into a broom, then bent to sweep the way for him.
Cancer 66, recognizing his glory, flung himself headlong into the water.
When Gemini girded his loins as his bodyguard, Libra 67 came and balanced its beam.
Sagittarius 68 unstrung his bow: it had two houses and offered them both to his soul.
Aries 69 and Capricorn 70 were roasted for him and a table laid that stretched from the moon to the Ox-Fish 71.
Leo 72 became like a lion painted on his carpet and Aquarius 73 like a wheel rolling after him.
When the Two Sisters 74 beheld his face, they drew back their veils in their awe of him.
The Two Vultures 75 appeared without their attributes in order that there might be no evil omen.
Although the Seven Thrones 76 were revolving around the Pole 77 like the seven men.
When they beheld his manliness and life, they became dead women carried upon a bier.
Each angel came with his censer 78 to burn aloes-wood as a token of sincere love.
Ridwan 79 opened the eight gates of Paradise and washed the nine approaches with the water of Kawthar. 80
The Guardian of Paradise rejoiced the world in the company of houris.
Awed with his splendour, the highest level of Heaven ceased to move; it stood as still as the eighth Heaven.
When the Preserved Table saw the value of the dust under his feet, he made of it clay tablets such as the Shiites use when prostrating themselves in worship.
When the world of light had been filled with his beauty, the ‘Frequented House’ fell in ruins out of love for him. 81
The Heavens scattered bounties indeed, for they offered all they possessed.
Each sphere brought a hundred purses, lawful gifts, for they came from the Sidra 82 tree.
The firmament asked Allah for a present to offer him, and Allah adorned it every night with the stars.
And because such was the present offered him, the faithful Companions of the Prophets were said to be ‘like the stars’. 83
From the splendid sun that shone that night, each star received a new light.
He gave Saturn the charge of the crops of the Heavens; by decree, he conferred upon Jupiter a qadi’s 84 gown.
He honoured Mars with the office of executioner; with his hair, he cast a shadow over the Sun.
On Venus he bestowed sweetness of language, while to Mercury he gave supremacy in wisdom.
To the moon he appeared like Joseph and caused her to cut both hand and orange. 85
The Sun of the Law rose up with such speed that even Gabriel with his six hundred thousand wings,
Could not catch up with him or discover where he was.
When he had passed through the ranks of the angels, he saw another world like one ‘level plain’;
A world in which there were none of the marks of a world, no sign of ‘level plain’ 86, 87 or of ‘cushions’ 88,
A world devoid of nearness and farness, a ‘light upon light’ 89 because of his light.
He found the earth of that world to be patience, and all its running water knowledge.
His glory gave grandeur to the Heavens, his beauty illuminated the sun.
So did his soul perspire with longing for Allah that he shred his robe into a hundred pieces.
Aye, since the sky was his robe he shred it all, for that night he could do nothing else.
The proof of this is the Milky Way, which is made up of small pieces of the nine curtains.
Those nine curtains were shred to pieces during his Ascension, because he was the intimate 90 of Allah forever.
There came a voice from Allah, saying: “Beloved, at last thou hast come to Our door. What is thy wish?
Thy heart is with all sinners, for thou art right when thou sayst: ‘Walk at the pace of the weakest among you’.”
The Prophet said: “Lord, Thou knowest how I feel, Thou hast no need to question me.
Thy favours are so continuous that I cannot count them; my tongue is tied.
Nothing is left of my being; all is now sun, the shadow is gone.”
When the master of the Two Worlds felt weak, Allah strengthened his arm with the ‘two bows’. 91
Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was the mightiest man in the world; therefore it is that he holds those bows.
Better bows than the ‘two bows’ the black-eyed houris will never see.
At that moment when he was immersed in knowledge he had, as it were, two qualities of the arrow:
One of them to stand straight upright, and the other to fly through the air like an arrow.
And having in his being these two attributes of the arrow, the ‘two bows’ are the symbol of his two stations.
When, in the first place, he set out towards Allah, he sped upwards like an arrow from the bow.
And when, in the end, he was sent back to mankind, he was discharged like an arrow from the bow.
These two flights were from two bows, hence the parable of the ‘two bows’.
And since Sagittarius is always in two houses, therefore there are always two parts to that bow.
One thou knowest as that of Ahad 92, and the other is that of the eternal Ahmad 93.
The attraction of Allah shot forth like an arrow and split the mim 94 of Ahmad in two like a hair.
The mim of Ahmad fell out and it became Ahad; and all duality became unity 95.
In that night the Peacock of the Angels was utterly effaced by the raven of his hair.
See in his two tresses two ravens; see in the almonds of his eyes how they‘turned not aside’. 96
The ‘two bows’ are a symbol of his eyebrows; the ends of those bows are his two tresses.
Since his tresses were all light, they gave rise to two rainbows.
I know of no one in the world who could wield the ‘two bows’.
When the ravens of his tresses grow restless, the Peacock of the Heavens is a fitting quarry for them.
Hurrah for the bow, the thumb and the bow-end! Hurrah for ‘is not’ and ‘what He revealed’ and ‘turned not aside’!
It is because of its envy of the Prophet’s ‘two bows’ that the sky has two arcs around its axis.
Allah Who in order to glorify Adam revealed to him the names of all things,
Revealed to Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, the things themselves and therefore made him unlettered and poor.
Going beyond names to the nameless state of things, he had no need to read and was therefore unlettered.
Since he went disembodied along the road of Allah, he became from disembodiment absolutely poor.
Impelled by disembodiment and poverty, he received from the Archetype of the Book the surname of ‘the Unlettered’. 97
Allah first of all ordered that there should be fifty prayers a day, but for his sake He reduced the number to five. 98
If that night he passed beyond the whole and the part, it was because purging himself of self he had become wholly absorbed in Allah.
O heart, see to the eternal good of thy soul; fasten thyself to this saddlebow.
Gird thy loins before him as his servant, so that thou mayst become a great master.
What more can I say, O Prophet of Allah? Impotent wretch that I am, I know no more.
Great is Gabriel and yet he is but thy messenger; he does nothing but run thy errands.
When Michael 99 saw that thou wert king, he became a supplier to thy army.
With sword in hand and loins guarded, Izra’il stands ever ready to act as thy executioner.
The faithful Israfil stands guard in thy doorway.
Of the angels that guard thy threshold two are the ‘illustrious recorders’.100
Father Adam is the scribe at thy court; many names has he written down describing thy nature.
Idris, recognizing thee in the stars, established thy glorification in Paradise.
Since thy sovereignty embraces the whole world, Noah has chosen to be thy pilot.
Salih gladly became thy camel-driver and entertained thee with camel’s milk.
When Abraham became thy bricklayer, the whole of the Ka’bah became thy sanctuary.
When Ishmael heard of thy faith, a son was sacrificed with uncut throat.
Jacob was filled with grief in his longing for thee; it was in search of thee that he withdrew into solitude.
Joseph escaped from prison and the well and with a hundred kinds of beauty sought a share of thine.
The noble Khidr waters the end of thy street from his fountain.
Elijah received a renewal of life from thee and so had chosen to guard thy life till Judgement Day.
Jonah became thy friend upon the way and he entered the sea in order to find thee again.
David felt a great longing for thy soul and he gave a hundred lives in his laments for thy love.
Job, seeing thee as the physician of love, dragged his body away from the worms towards his cell.
Solomon, seeing thee as the master of the world, girded himself like his ring.
John offered his head to thy crown, and Aaron stood at thy door as a herald.
Moses was but thy guide upon the road and Jesus thy Indian slave Mubarak.
Since thou hast such a companion as “Say: ‘He is Allah’” 101, draw a line through all else than Allah.
Though the wife of Abu Lahab, filled with annoyance, scattered thorns in thy path,
Thou art a hidden rose: walk cheerfully on, for no rose will bloom without a thorn in its foot.
Some good chance befalls thee every instant, and as a protection against the evil eye it is sufficient for thee to repeat ‘Say: “I take refuge in Allah”’ 102.
The seven celestial spheres have a lamp on every finger, the stars.
They call to thee in pain and anguish, but who would seek the sun with a lamp?
Thou art the sultan of earth and Heaven, the lamp of this world and the next.
The sky is always rolling like a ball in order to catch sonic glimpse of thy majesty.
In that gathering in which there is scope for thy majesty, the highest Heaven is but a shoe-rank,
Although thy majesty is beyond calculation, being higher than the nine Heavens and hidden behind nine hundred screens,
Yet for envy of it this beautiful vault turns over and over, day and night.
A single beam of thy majesty shone on the Heavens, and from that one beam the sun and moon received their light.
What more can I say? For thy attributes are such that they would fill a hundred worlds beyond the comprehension of mind or soul.
Supposing the whole world were full of poppy seeds and there were a panegyrist 103 inside each one of them,
I do not know whether thou wouldst be adequately praised or, if thou wert, whether thou wouldst accept it.
Thou knowest that none of the poets have sung such praise save only I. 104
This work is a young bride that seeks the protection of thy generosity and wishes for no jewels and adornment but thy acceptance.
If thou accept me my task is done; if not, there is an end to my grief-stricken life.
If thou accept these words of mine, I shall with my art rebuild the ancient Heavens.
Although thy presence is a mighty sea, yet this drop too is a precious pearl.
For though the ocean has a vast mass of water, yet it also cherishes every individual drop. 105
Dost thou not see how the boundless sea lovingly assigns its place to every single drop?
What more can I say, O Prophet of Allah? I have said what I am capable of saying.
Thou art generosity itself and thou knowest all. If thou wouldst bestow a hundred favors on me, it is in thy power.
Shaykh Fareed al-Deen ‘Attar’s Book of Allah (Ilaahi Nama)
1 Refers to the Hadith Qudsi in which Allah Almighty addresses the Prophet saying: “If not for you (O Muhammad!) I would not have created..” This hadith, in varying reports, is cited by Imam al-Hakim in his Mustadrak, Imam Bayhaqi in Dalail an-Nubuwah, Imam Tabarani in his Kabeer, Imam Abu Na’eem in his Hilya, Imam ibn Asakir in Tarikh Damishq, Imam Subki in Shifa as-Siqam.
2 Possibly referring to the Qur’anic verse: “Verily We have granted thee a manifest Victory.” [48:1]
3 Nasrum minallah i.e. help from Allah. Possibly refers to the Qur’anic verse: “Another (favour will He bestow) which you do love – help from Allah and an imminent conquest…” [61:13]
4 Possibly referring to the Qur’anic verse in which Allah takes an oath by the life of the Prophet: “By your life, [O Muhammad]..” [15:72]
5 Refers to the Qur’anic verse: “Did We not expand for you, [O Muhammad], your breast?” [94:1]
6 Refers to Qur’anic verse in which Prophet Ibrahim says: “Our Lord, I have settled some of my descendants in a barren valley near Your sacred House…” [14:37]
7 Meaning, he was the last of the Prophets in arrival, but he was the first of all creation to be created. In a hadith narrated by Sayyidina Jabir, the Messenger of Allah said: “O Jabir, the first thing Allah created was the light of your Prophet from His (created) light…” [Musannaf Abdur Razzaaq; Imam Qastalani’s Mawahib ul Laduniya]
8 It is reported that the fire which had been kept ablaze for a thousand years in Istahrabad, and was worshipped by Zoroastrians, went out on the night of the Prophet’s birth. [Qadi Iyaad‟s al-Shifa; Mulla Ali al-Qari, Sharh al-Shifa]
9 Refers to the incident when the people of Prophet Ibrahim threw him into the fire for trying to guide them away from shirk; whereupon Allah ordered the fire to cool down i.e. quench its heat. “They said: ‘Burn him and support your gods – if you are to act.’ We said: ‘O fire, be coolness and safety upon Ibrahim.'” [Qur’an 21:68-69]
10 Refers to when Chosroes, ruler of Persia, tore up the letter sent to him by the Messenger of Allah thereby incurring Allah’s Wrath. When the Messenger of Allah received news of his tearing up the letter, he prayed: “O Allah, slit him as he slit my letter!” It was as a result of this malediction that Chosroes’ son cut him to pieces with a dagger. [Bukhari; Qadi Iyaad, al-Shifa]
And it is further reported that later in history, Sayyidina Saa’d b. Abi Waqqas broke his kingdom apart, so that in no part of the Sasanid empire did his sovereignty remain. [Sirat ibn Hisham; Imam Tabari, Tarikhul-Umma wa’l-Muluk; Hafiz ibn Kathir’s al Bidaya wal-Nihaya]
11 In a hadith reported by Sayyidina Abu Hurayra, the Messenger of Allah said: “My similitude in comparison with the other Prophets before me is that of a man who has built a house nicely and beautifully, except for the place of one brick in a corner. The people go about it and wonder at its beauty, but say: ‘Would that this brick be put in its place!’ So I am that brick, and I am the last of the Prophets.” [Muslim; Musnad Imam Ahmad; Sunan al-Bayhaqi]
12 The four khulafa al rashideen or Rightly-Guided Caliphs i.e. Sayyidina Abu Bakr al Siddiq, Sayyidina ‘Umar al Farooq, Sayyidina ‘Uthman Dhun Nurayn, Sayyidina ‘Ali Asad ullah.
13 When the Messenger of Allah and Sayyidina Abu Bakr sought refuge in Cave Thawr from the Quraysh, who were planning to murder the Messenger of Allah. Sayyidina Abu Bakr Siddique himself reported, “I saw the feet of the polytheists very close to us as we were in the cave. I said, ‘Allah’s Messenger, if one amongst them were to see at his feet, he would have surely seen us.’ Thereupon he said, ‘Abu Bakr, what can befall two who have Allah as the third One with them.’” [Muslim] This incident is also mentioned in the Qur’an [9:40]
14 Once during his travels, the Messenger of Allah stopped by the house of the Sahabiyya, Umm Ma’bad. She did not have much to offer and her sheep and goats were deprived. The Messenger of Allah saw a goat (or some versions report it was a sheep) next to the tent which was fatigued and weaker than the others, due to which it would not produce any milk. He called it and moved his blessed hand over its udder, pronouncing the Name of Allah and praising Him. Its udder filled with milk so that a large container was filled with it; to the extent that Umm Ma’bad drank to her fill, the Companions with the Messenger of Allah also drank to their fill, and others too drank as much as they wished. The Messenger of Allah then re-filled the container again and gave it to her, then they continued on their travels. [Ibn Hisham; Imam Ahmad; Imam Tabarani in Mujam al-Kabir 3/57; Hafiz ibn Kathir in Al Bidayah Wa Al Nihayah 2/190; Imam Hayttami 6/57; Dala’il al Nubuwwa by Imam al-Bayhaqi 2/493]
15 Possibly refers to the report by the Sahabiya, Rubayyi’ bint Mu’awwadh who, when asked to describe the Messenger of Allah, replied: “If you saw him you would say: The sun is rising.” [Imam Bayhaqi in Dala’il al-Nubuwwa (1:200); Imam Haythami in Majma’ al-Zawa’id (8:280); Imam al-Tabarani in al-Mu’jam al-kabir and al-Awsat]
16 Possible reference to the miracle of Prophet Musa narrated in the Qur’an, when Allah commands him: “Now draw thy hand close to thy side: it shall come forth white (and shining), without harm (or stain), as another Sign…” [20:22]
17 During the incident at Cave Thawr, the Quraysh reached the Cave but Ubayy ibn Khalaf them, “How can we enter? I see a web; it looks as if it was made before the birth of Muhammad. There are also two pigeons standing there. If there was somebody in there, would they stand there?” So they accepted that the cave was empty, and departed. [Qadi Iyaad‟s al-Shifa; Musnad Imam Ahmad; Hafiz ibn Kathir’s al-Bidaya wal-Nihaya; Imam al-Haythami, Majma’ al-Zawa’id]
18 “Knit his brow” i.e. frown in anger or disappointment.
19 A reference to the 72 sects (plus the one main majority sect) of Islam.
20 Alludes to the verse: “And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided.” [Qur’an 3:103]
21 “And [mention] when Jesus, the son of Mary, said, “O children of Israel, indeed I am the messenger of Allah to you confirming what came before me of the Torah and bringing good tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name is Ahmad.” [Qur’an 61:6]
22 Attar, may Allah’s mercy be upon him, implies that Sayyidina ‘Isa was born without a father, as though in haste so that he could arrive on Earth swiftly to deliver news of the final Messenger.
23 Refers to the fact that Sayyidina ‘Isa will return to the world towards the end of time.
24 Sayyidina ‘Isa will return as a follower of the final Messenger, Sayyidina Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, thereby becoming part of his Ummah.
25 Refers to the mention in the Qur’an of the Mi’raj (Night Ascension of the Messenger of Allah): “Then he approached and came closer, and was at a distance of but two bow-lengths or (even) nearer; and He revealed to His Servant what He revealed.” [53:8-10]
26 Regarding the Battle of Badr, Allah says: “And you threw not, [O Muhammad] when you threw, but it was Allah who threw…” [Qur’an 8:17]
27 See footnote #4.
28 The Messenger of Allah is reported to have said: “I am the son of the two Sacrifices,” i.e. Prophet Isma’il and Sayyidina Abdullah.
29 i.e. he placed his hopes in Allah, not in life itself.
30 Refers to the Qur’anic verse: “And keep your soul content with those who call on their Lord morning and evening, seeking His Face; and let not your eyes pass beyond them, seeking the pomp and glitter of this Life…” [18:28]
31 Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
32 Refers to the Qur’anic verse: “From Allah has come to you a Light and a Book manifest.” [5:15] The scholars say that the Light in this verse refers to the Messenger of Allah.
33 The Messenger of Allah would often tie stones around his waist to endure extreme hunger due to poverty.
34 Nine-chambered palace refers to the wives of the Messenger of Allah. Most reports state that he had 11 wives, 9 of whom were alive as the time of his death.
35 It is reported that Sayyida Aisha related that a month or two would pass by without a fire being lit in the houses of the Messenger of Allah (due to there being no food to cook), during which they would live off dates and water.
36 al Mi’raj, the Night Ascension to the Heavens.
37 The stars are the noble Companions. The Messenger of Allah is reported to have said: “My Companions are like the stars; whoever among them you use for guidance, you will be rightly guided.” [Imam Bayhaqi in al-Madkhal; Imam Suyuti in Jami al Sagheer; Imam Daraqutni in Fada’il al-Sahaba]
38 Refers to the fact that Allah had granted him a tremendous amount of ilm al ghayb i.e. Knowledge of the Unseen.
39 This could have two meanings: 1. that he is the one leading the believers to Heaven, and the one standing between the believers and the doom of Hell, 2. that his authority stands between people and their final destination; if they follow him, they will enter Heaven and if they deny him, their abode is Hell.
40 A reference to humility and poverty; no crown, nor taste for glory, nor any level of self-concern in the Presence of Allah Most High.
41 The devil is able to assume many guises but he cannot take the form of the Messenger of Allah. The Messenger of Allah said: “He who saw me in a dream in fact saw me, for the Satan does not appear in my form.” [Muslim]
42 Possibly referring to the miracle when the Messenger of Allah split the moon into two halves.
43 A well-known narration reports how the Messenger of Allah would race with his wife Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her. She narrates: “I went out with the Prophet on a journey. At that time I was a young girl and was quite slender. The Prophet told the people ‘Go on ahead,’ so they went ahead, then he said to me, ‘Come, let us have a race.’ So I raced with him, and I won. He let the matter rest until I had gained weight. Later, I accompanied him on another journey. He told the people, ‘Go on ahead,’ so they went ahead. He said to me, ‘Come, and let us have a race.’ So I raced with him, and he won. He began to laugh, and said, ‘This is for that.”‘ [Sunan Abu Dawud]
44 i.e. his blessed grandsons Sayyidina Imam Hassan and Sayyidina Imam Husayn. It is related that the Messenger of Allah was pretending to be a camel, allowing his grandsons to climb upon his back whilst he carried them upon it. Someone remarked, “How excellent your steed, young boy!” to which the Messenger of Allah replied, “And how excellent the rider!” A similar report is related in Tirmidhi.
45 When the Beloved Messenger was born, he fell to the ground, fingers drawn together with the index finger pointing, testifying to the oneness of Allah. [Imam al-Qastalani, Mawahibul-Laduniyya; Imam Tabarani’s al-Awsat; Imam Abu Nu’aym, Dala’il al-Nubuwwa]
46 The Messenger of Allah said: “One of the miracles bestowed upon me by Allah was that I was born circumcised, and no one saw my private parts.” [Imam Abu Nu’aym in Dala’il al-Nubuwwah; Imam Tabarani in al-Awsat]
47 The Messenger of Allah was of medium stature but when he stood amongst those taller, he always appeared taller than them; this is one of his miracles and one of the distinguished qualities of his blessed personality.
48 The Messenger of Allah said: “…I can see behind me just as I can see in front of me.” [Sunan al Nasa’i]
49 Due to his status as the Beloved of Allah, and also because he was completely pure both internally and externally. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him!
50 “The Messenger of Allah had no shadow, not (even) while standing in the sun, but the brilliance of his light (noor)surpassed the rays of the sun; nor while sitting before a burning light, as his luminous light excelled the lustre of the light.” [Imam ibn al-Jawzi’s Kitabul-Wafa]
51 Refers to al Mi’raj, the Night Ascension to the Heavens.
52 The heavenly steed which took him through his journey on al Mi’raj, and could travel at the speed of light.
53 This refers to kohl or surma, a grey or black powder which is a medicinal ointment for the eyes. Applying this is a sunnah of the Messenger of Allah.
54 i.e. houris – pure, modest women of Jannah.
55 A pure, non-intoxicating wine of heavenly nature called Salsabil. See next footnote (#56).
56 “And they will be given to drink a cup [of wine] whose mixture is of ginger. [From] a fountain within Paradise named Salsabil.” [Qur’an 76:17-18]
57 An aromatic substance.
58 “…and their Lord will give to them to drink of a Wine Pure and Holy.” [Qur’an 76:21]
59 Meaning, a pure wine. “Truly the Righteous will be in Bliss. On Thrones (of Dignity) will they command a sight (of all things). Thou wilt recognize in their faces the beaming brightness of Bliss. Their thirst will be quenched with Choice Sealed Wine. The seal thereof will be Musk. And for this let those aspire, who have aspirations.” [Qur’an 83:22–26]
60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 Names of star constellations and astronomical sightings.
78 A vessel made for burning incense.
79 The Gate-keeper of Jannah i.e. Heaven.
80 Hawdh al Kawthar is a river or pool in Jannah which was gifted by Allah to His Beloved Messenger. A hadith states: “Myhawdh covers the distance of a month. Its water is whiter than milk and its scent more fragrant than musk. Its jugs are like the stars of the sky. Whoever drinks from it will never be thirsty again.” [Bukhari]
81 Bayt al Ma’mur i.e. the Frequented House. It is the Ka’bah of the angels who reside in the seventh Heaven, located directly above the Ka’bah on earth. The angels make tawaf of it as humans do on earth.
82 Sidratul Muntaha i.e. the Lote-Tree of the Furthermost Limit. “Near the Lote-tree beyond which none may pass. Near it is the Garden of Abode.” [53:14-15]
83 See footnote #37.
84 Qadi – an Islamic judge who rules according to Shar’iah.
85 Refers to the incident when the women of Egypt cut their hands in awe upon seeing the beauty of the Prophet Yusuf (Joseph). “So when she heard of their scheming, she sent for them and prepared for them a banquet and gave each one of them a knife and said [to Joseph], ‘Come out before them.’ And when they saw him, they greatly admired him and cut their hands and said, ‘Perfect is Allah! This is not a man; this is none but a noble angel!'” [Qur’an 12:31]
86 Refers to the earth: “And [Allah] will leave the earth a level plain…” [Qur’an 20:106]
87 A world unlike a world; extraordinary.
88 Referring to the luxuries of Jannah: “Reclining on green Cushions and rich Carpets of beauty.” [Qur’an 55:76]
89 Refers to the Light Verse of the Qur’an: “Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The Parable of His Light is as if there were a Niche and within it a Lamp: the Lamp enclosed in Glass: the glass as it were a brilliant star: Lit from a blessed Tree, an Olive, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil is well-nigh luminous, though fire scarce touched it: Light upon Light! Allah doth guide whom He will to His Light: Allah doth set forth Parables for men: and Allah doth know all things.” [24:35]
90 The Messenger of Allah is the khaleel (intimate Friend) of Allah, as mentioned in the hadith: “Allah has taken me as akhaleel just as He took Ibrahim as a khaleel.” [Muslim] He is also the habib (Beloved) of Allah as mentioned in this hadith: “…I myself am the Beloved of Allah (HabibAllah) and I say this without pride…” [Tirmidhi]
91 See footnote #25.
92 Ahad, meaning ‘One’. One of the Attributes of Allah.
93 Ahmad, one of the names of the Messenger of Allah.
94 The Arabic letter ‘mim’.
95 This is a reference to the fact that the Messenger of Allah is Light from the Light of Allah (nurim min nurillah). It is also a reference to fana, when a beloved of God becomes so absorbed in Allah that his own being becomes annihilated in Him.
96 See footnote #30.
97 “So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the unlettered Prophet…” [Qur’an 7:158]
98 A hadith in Bukhari relates how on the night of al Mi’raj, the Messenger of Allah was given, for his Ummah, the gift of fifty prayers i.e. salah. Then he met Prophet Musa on his return who told him that the Ummah would be unable to bear such an amount, and to return and ask for a reduction. So the Messenger of Allah returned to Allah to ask for a reduction, and this happened three times until the amount of prayers were eventually reduced to five.
99 The angel Mika’il.
100 The recording angels i.e. Kiraaman Kaatibeen record the virtues and sins of each person throughout their life. “Behold, two (guardian angels) appointed to learn (his doings) learn (and note them), one sitting on the right and one on the left.” [Qur’an 50:17]
101 “Say: He is Allah, the One.” [Qur’an 112:1]
102 “Say, “I seek refuge in the Lord of mankind.” [Qur’an 114:1]
103 Panegyrist – one who composes panegyrics or eulogies.
104 This is a yearning plea to the Messenger of Allah.
105 i.e. Although your rank is so exalted, o Messenger of Allah, you still love and treasure all those smaller than you (and those who attribute themselves to you.)