Skip to content

August 1, 2004

Conversation between Jibrîl and Shaytân


 


 


Listen Archangel! Put away thy burning brand


And heed what I must now say


For this return of mine to where I once was


Has gladdened my heart, if only for a fleeting moment.


But to see you, reduced to thy station


Astounds me, that thou hast accepted;


Humiliating thy self, and descending


Below he who would paint and reject


He would transgress, mock, and scold


The One before you and I?


Content? Art thou content?


The paintings and rejections are blameworthy


 


By the disappearing lights,


And the lights that lit the ways of the ancients–


Surely thou knowest thou canst not enter.


Cursed is thy being, damned is thy existence.


Did not the time spent with Him


Make you appreciate His Will?


What thou wouldst call a descent to the children of clay


Is in reality ascension to His Pleasure


Painters? O rebel, they are that and more!


Peddling and forsaking even before I return to these gates


My contentment is another matter:


Upon me is the Carrying, upon Him is the Reckoning


 


Thy argument is thy namesake, old friend


That is perhaps why thou couldst not comprehend my act.


Didst thou not drink of the divine wine?


But of course not, thou hast no free will to taste.


Old friend, what drunkenness I once enjoyed:


At the hand of He who I loved beyond love


My love for Him! I wanted to emulate Him in every way


For surely the lover always becomes the beloved.


How then, could I have descended


When my Beloved only ascends?


I wanted to adopt His character in every way


Has He ever bowed or prostrated?


Surely you know that is not becoming of Him


How then could I have laid myself so low?


 


By the ethereal light of Sohail!


Ingrate, you speak of love but do not know what love is


You have only sipped from the sea, you have not truly drank


For had you drank, you would have gladly drowned


The love you claim is a stone in the midst of emeralds


Only a fool would believe they are equal


You have deluded them for a thousand lifetimes and more


Can you then not sense your own delusion?


Your vaunted love is only one of convenience;


When your Beloved’s will was not yours, your love was lost


Had you truly loved, had you truly drank


You would be content to humiliate yourself for your Beloved


Because you chose to remain as a vaunted Lover


Your Beloved cares not for your love


 


The expanse of thy wings matches thy intellect


But what does thy intellect know of my love


I have traversed barriers that you cannot pass


And went beyond those that you cannot even imagine


How can the a lover love his beloved if he is not a Lover


In the dignifying of the lover does the Beloved become truly loved


My choosing to preserve my dignity


Was for the integrity of my state as a Lover


After an eternity of prostrating to Him


How could I humiliate myself to that child of clay?


A true Lover will only bow before the Beloved


Had I done so, I would have become a mere lover


 


A mere lover you are now, indeed


For you have failed to grasp the greatest secret of love


If the Beloved has a Beloved and becomes a Lover


Should you not have followed your Beloved


When He commanded you to prostrate:


Did you not see that He was showing you His Beloved?


You thought that prostration was humiliation


You did not see His desire to elevate and honor you


Your Beloved sought to show you His Beloved


And you refused, humiliated instead to a mere lover


By the One who knows my age! I know not my age


But I have seen a star that descends from the Throne


Its descent lasts seventy thousand years


And it returns again after another seventy thousand have passed


I have seen this star seventy thousand times


Seeing it is the pride of my existence


I once thought that I was older than His Beloved


Only to see that star in his brow when he removed his turban


Had you seen the Beloved who would descend from Adam’s loins


Had you known that Adam’s grandson is Muhammad!


You would have loved the Beloved of your Beloved


And you would have gladly prostrated and become a true Lover!

Advertisements

From → Uncategorized

2 Comments
  1. I can see this poem required deep reflection and thought. The narrative is imaginative and flows in an organized progression. It did take me a while to determine whether the first stanza was from Jibril or Shaytan. The word “return” in the first stanza is a clue that it is Shaytan speaking. It becomes clearer in the second stanza when Jibril calls Shaytan “rebel.” I would suggest using different fonts for Jibril and Shaytan, but maybe part of the fun of reading the work is figuring out who is who.
    By the end you seem to make an argument about the difference between Jibril and Shaytan. I think you are saying that Shaytan’s error was being too nearsighted to see the coming of Muhammad, p.b.u.h, the heir to Adam’s prophetic legacy. That argument implies that Jibril had the vision to anticipate Prophet Muhammad. The other possibility is that Jibril believed that Allah had a reason to create man, even if Jibril himself could not see it. Shaytan, on the other hand, could not believe that any descendant of Adam would justify the creation of the human species.

  2. Thanks for the insight. You’ve pretty much hit what I was going for. Several people have asked me certain things about the poem, so let me comment.
    1. This is an original work. Note that unless I cite references, everything on this site is an original work, for better or worse.
    2. The archaic English flows into a more familiar English so as to suggest that the two characters are surprised to see each other and thus start off with formal speech but then gradually continue in familiar speech as the conversation progresses.
    3. Yes, Iqbal did write a poem with a similar title, but I’m taking a different angle with it. my angle is that Jibril’s argument to Shaytan is that God was not trying to debase him, but rather trying to elevate him by showing him His own Beloved who would descend from Adam. Jibril’s argument continues to suggest that if only Shaytan knew that the Prophet would descend from Adam, he too would gladly have prostrated. Whether or not Jibril knew the Prophet would come from Adam I leave open-ended; Jibril’s content that his prostration was actually an elevation since he now could love whom God loves.
    4. yes, there is a difference between ‘lover’ and ‘Lover’… what that is, i’ll leave to your imagination
    5. Part of the fun in reading the poem is to try and figure out who’s talking when.
    6. the seventy thousand years bit: it comes to us from a story wherein Jibril is with the Prophet and the Prophet senses that Jibril is thinking himself to be older in age than the Prophet. so the Prophet smiles and asks Jibril how old he is, and Jibril says he knows not of his age, but that he has seen a brilliant star that descends from the Throne. it descends every seventy thousand years, and its descent lasts another seventy thousand years and he has seen it seventy thousand times. so the Prophet smiles again and asks him if he would recognize that star if he were to see it again. Jibril replies of course, I have seen it so many times and seeing it the pride of my existence. So the Prophet moves back his turban and Jibril sees the light of that star in his brow.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: