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Thou art the blessing

Yesterday, together with my youngest son, I made a trip to Leyden in order to visit a shop called WARP 9, which specialises in science fiction articles. After having bought a video I persuaded him to come with me to a second hand bookshop as possibly some books in the field of Star Trek could be found therein. We passed the Oriental Antiquarium wherein formerly the famous publisher Brill was settled. (Of course if it was up to me we would also have visited this place, but there are rather poorly equipped in the field of science fiction).

In the second hand bookshop my son found nothing that interested him, but I found a real treasure. I found the critical edition of the ‘Divan of Maghribi’ edited in the original Persian by Leonard Lewisohn. Muhammad Shirin Maghribi (d. 1408 C.E.) the Iranian sufi poet is so interesting because of his belonging to the school of Ibn al-‘Arabi, the great shaykh coming from the West (Maghrib) In a very beautiful way Maghribi expressed in his poetry the doctrine of wahdat-al-wujud.

In the foreword Annemarie Schimmel tells that in E.G. Browne’s ‘Literary History of Persia’ she came across a line “which so deeply impressed me that I noted it down and mentioned it in my report as very typical of mystical thought dealing with the interrelationship of human beings and God, of the feeling that it is God Who inspires prayer and, at the same time, is the One Who answers it – ideas most beautifully expressed in Mawlana Rumi’s Mathnawi, but brought to their logical conclusion in the work of Ibn ‘Arabi. The verse that impressed me in this context was (the Persian line is given which in transliteration sounds like):

Gar sûi to salâm ferestam tûi salâm
Gar bar to man salât ferestam tûi salât.

Browne himself translated this thus (he used the word blessings for the word prayer):

If I send greetings to Thee, Thou art the greeting
And if I invoke blessings on Thee, Thou art the blessing!

As you may understand it is a line of Maghribi. Perhaps in future days I may return to the poetry of this ‘Anqa-yi-Maghrib, who was able to soar to the heavens in warp speed 9!

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