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THE PERSIAN TEXT, WITH AN ENGLISH TRANSLATION AND
MUHAMMAD BIN YAHYA LAHIJI.
By E. H. WHINFIELD, M.A.,
LATE OF H. M. BENGAL CIVIL SERVICE.
[All rights reserved.]
Lub con. hutael 2 20-42 44.787
The Gulshan i Raz was composed in A.H. 717 (A.D. 1317), in answer to fifteen questions on the doctrines of the Sufis, or Muhammadan Mystics, propounded by Amir Syad Hosaini, a celebrated Sufi doctor of Herat. The author's name was Sa’d ud din Mahmud Shabistari, so called from his birth-place, Shabistar, a village near Tabriz, in the province of Azarbaijan. From a brief notice of his life in the Mujalis ul 'Ushshak, repeated in substance in the Haft Iklim, the Safina i Khushgu, and the Riaz ush Shu'ara, it would appear that he was born about the middle of the seventh century of the Hejira (A.D. 1250), and that he died at Tabriz, where he had passed the greater part of his life, in A.H. 720. The only particulars of his life recorded in these Tazkiras are, that he was devotedly attached to one of his disciples named Shaikh Ibrahim, and that in addition to the Gulshan i Raz he wrote treatises entitled Hakk ul Yakin and Risala i Shahid. No further information as to the circumstances of his life and times is to be found in the poem itself or in the commentary, but we know from the Habib us Siyar and other chronicles that his birth was about contemporaneous with the incursion of the heathen Moghuls under Hulaku Khan, the conquest of Persia, Syria and Mesopotamia, and the downfall of the Abbaside Khalifs, or “ Vicars of God.” And living as he did
· His life is given in the Nafhat ul Uns of Jami.
. This name is sometimes written Jabistar or Chabistar. The Persian chim is usually expressed by the Arabic shin.-Ouseley, Ibn Haukal, 156.
* See Malcolm, History of Persia, ii. 252.
at Tabriz, the capital of the newly established Moghul Empire, he must have witnessed the long struggle which ensued between the Christian Missionaries and the Muhammadan Mullas to gain the Moghul Sultans over to their respective religions,—a struggle the result of which was for a long time doubtful," and which was not finally decided till A.H. 696, when the Emperor Ghazan Khan, with nearly one hundred thousand of his followers, adopted the Muhammadan faith. During the pendency of this struggle Tabriz was visited by missions from Pope Nicolas IV. and Pope Boniface VIII., and also by the celebrated Marco Polo; and possibly Mahmud's acquaintance with Christian doctrines may have been derived or improved from intercourse with Halton or some of the other monks attached to these missions.
The first European authors to notice the Gulshan i Ruz were the travellers Chardin and Bernier, circ. 1700, both of whom describe it as the “ Summa theologica ” of the Sufis. In the course of the eighteenth century several copies of the poem found their way to the great European libraries. In 1821 Dr. Tholuck, of Berlin, published a few extracts from it, with Latin translations, in his “ Ssufismus," and in 1825 a German translation of about one-third of the entire poem in his “Blüthensammlung aus der Morgenländischen Mystik." In 1838 Von Hammer-Purgstall published the Persian text, based on the Berlin and the Vienna MSS., along with a German verse translation and a few notes from Lahiji's commentary. The text now published is based on that of Hammer, collated with two Indian MSS. of the poem and commentary,-one the poor copy in the library of the Asiatic Society at Calcutta, the other a very correct copy in the possession of a Zemindar in Midnapore. On the authority of this MS. several couplets omitted by Hammer have been restored, several repetitions retrenched, and
* One of the Moghul Emperors was actually baptised, and, according to the chronicler, “true believers trembled lest the sacred teinple at Mecca might be converted into a Christian cathedral.”—Malcolm, ii. 268.
* The full title of this commentary is, “ Mufatih ul a'jaz fi sharh i Gulshan i Raz.” It was composed in A.H.879.
various erroneous readings corrected. All the alterations made have been indicated in the margin, and none have been made without MS. authority. Hammer's readings are marked H; those of the Midnapore MS., L.; and others, given in the commentary or in the Calcutta copy, MSS. The translation has been made as close to the original as possible, Lahiji’s renderings, as given in his paraphrase, being strictly followed throughout. The translations of the Arabic quotations in the text are printed in italics. The notes contain a brief abstract of Lahiji's voluminous commentary, which is itself a great authority on Sufiism, and also a few of the more striking parallelisms to Sufi ideas to be found in the Neoplatonists, and in the mystical theologians of Europe.
It is this correspondence with European Mysticism which gives Sufiism its chief interest for European students. Many of the Catholic definitions of mystical theology' would do for descriptions of Sufiism. The ruling ideas in both systems are very similar, if not absolutely identical. Thus, for instance, we find the Sufis talking of • love to God,' of 'union with God,' of death to self, and life eternal in God,' of the indwelling in man of the Spirit, of the nullity of works and ceremonies,' of 'grace and spiritual illumination, and of the • Logos.' Both systems may be characterised as religions of the heart, as opposed to formalism and ritualism. Both exalt the “inner light's at the expense of the outward ordinance and voice of the Church. Both exhibit the same craving for visionary raptures and supernatural exaltations, and have been productive of similar excesses and extravagancies. If Sufiism has its Mevlavis and Rafá'is and Beshara’ fakirs, its dancing and howling, and Antinomian durveshes, so
1 The poem is written in the metre called Hazaj i musaddas i maksur, viz. mafa'ilun mafá'ílun mafá'íl (twice).
* E. g. That of Corderius,“ Sapientia experimentalis, divinitus infusa, quæ mentem ab omni inordinatione puram cum Deo intime conjungit.” That of John a Jesu Maria, “ Cælestis quædam Dei notitia, per unionem voluntatis Deo adhærentis, elicita, rel lumine cælitus immisso producta.” That of Gerson, “ Est motio anagogica in Deum -secretissima mentis cum Deo locutio.”- Vaughan, i. 288.
• The Quaker Barclay, in his “ Apology," supports his doctrine of “illumination" by reference to a Sufi book (the history of Hai Ibu Yokhdan) translated by Ockley.