With Apologies to the Shade of Mirza Mirkhond
IT is narrated (and God knows best the true state of the case) by Abu Ali Jafir Bin Yakub-ul-Isfahani that when, in His determinate Will, The Benefactor had decided to create the Greatest Substitute (Adam), He despatched, as is known, the faithful and the excellent Archangel Jibrail to gather from Earth clays, loams, and sands endowed with various colours and attributes, necessary for the substance of our pure Forefather’s body. Receiving the Command and reaching the place, Jibrail put forth his hand to take them, but Earth shook and lamented and supplicated him. Then said Jibrail: ‘Lie still and rejoice, for out of thee He will create that than which (there) is no handsomer thing — to wit a Successor and a Wearer of the Diadem over thee through the ages.’ Earth said: ‘I adjure thee to abstain from thy purpose, lest evil and condemnation of that person who is created out of me should later overtake him, and the Abiding (sorrow) be loosed upon my head. I have no power to resist the Will of the Most High, but I take refuge with Allah from thee.’ So Jibrail was moved by the lamentations and helplessness of Earth, and returned to the Vestibule of the Glory with an empty hand.
After this, by the Permission, the Just and Terrible Archangel Michael next descended, and he, likewise, hearing and seeing the abjection of Earth, returned with an empty hand. Then was sent the Archangel Azrael, and when Earth had once again implored God, and once again cried out, he closed his hand upon her bosom and tore out the clays and sands necessary.
Upon his return to the Vestibule it was asked if Earth had again taken refuge with Allah or not? Azrael said: ‘Yes.’ It was answered ‘If it took refuge with Me why didst thou not spare?’ Azrael answered: ‘Obedience (to Thee) was more obligatory than Pity (for it).’ It was answered: ‘Depart! I have made thee the Angel of Death to separate the souls from the bodies of men.’ Azrael wept, saying: ‘Thus shall all men hate me.’ It was answered: ‘Thou hast said that Obedience is more obligatory than Pity. Mix thou the clays and the sands and lay them to dry between Tayif and Mecca till the time appointed.’ So, then, Azrael departed and did according to the Command. But in his haste he perceived not that he had torn out from Earth clays and minerals that had lain in her at war with each other since the first; nor did he withdraw them and set them aside. And in his grief that he should have been decreed the Separator of Companions, his tears mingled with them in the mixing, so that the substance of Adam’s body was made unconformable and ill-assorted, pierced with burning drops, and at issue with itself before there was (cause of) strife.
This, then, lay out to dry for forty years between Tayif and Mecca and, through all that time, the Beneficence of the Almighty leavened it and rained upon it the Mercy and the Blessing, and the properties necessary to the adornment of the Successorship. In that period, too, it is narrated that the Angels passed to and fro above it, and among them Eblis the Accursed, who smote the predestined Creation while it was drying, and it rang hollow. Eblis then looked more closely and observing that of which it was composed to be diverse and ill-assorted and impregnated with bitter tears, he said: ‘Doubt not I shall soon attain authority over this; and his ruin shall be easy.’ (This, too, lay in the foreknowledge of The Endless.)
When time was that the chain of cause and effect should be surrendered to Man’s will, and the vessels of desire and intention entrusted to his intelligence, and the tent of his body illuminated by the lamp of vitality, the Soul was despatched, by Command of the Almighty, with the Archangel Jibrail, towards that body. But the Soul being thin and subtle refused, at first, to enter the thick and diverse clays, saying: ‘I have fear of that (which is) to be.’ This it cried twice, till it received the Word: ‘Enter unwillingly, and unwillingly depart.’ Then only it entered. And when that agony was accomplished, the Word came: ‘My Compassion exceedeth My Wrath.’ It is narrated that these were the first words of which our pure Forefather had cognisance.
Afterwards, by the operation of the determinate Will, there arose in Adam a desire for a companion, and an intimate and a friend in the Garden of the Tree. It is narrated that he first took counsel of Earth (which had furnished) his body. Earth said: ‘Forbear. Is it not enough that one should have dominion over me?’ Adam answered: ‘There is but one who is One in Earth or Heaven. All paired things point to the Unity, and my soul, which came not from thee, desires unutterably.’ Earth said: ‘Be content in innocence, and let thy body, which I gave unwillingly, return thus to (me) thy mother.’ Adam said: ‘I am motherless. What should I know?’
At that time came Eblis the Accursed who had long prepared an evil stratagem and a hateful device against our pure Forefather, being desirous of his damnation, and anxious to multiply causes and occasions thereto. He addressed first his detestable words to the Peacock among the birds of the Garden, saying: ‘I have great amity towards thee because of thy beauty; but, through no fault of mine, I am forbidden the Garden. Hide me, then, among thy tail-feathers that I may enter it, and worship both thee and our Lord Adam, who is Master of thee.’ The Peacock said: ‘Not by any contrivance of mine shaft thou enter, lest a judgment fall on my beauty and my excellence. But there is in the Garden a Serpent of loathsome aspect who shall make thy path easy.’ He then despatched the Serpent to the Gate and after conversation and by contrivance and a malign artifice, Eblis hid himself under the tongue of the Serpent, and was thus conveyed past the barrier. He then worshipped Adam and ceased not to counsel him to demand a companion and an intimate that the delights might be increased, and the succession assured to the Regency of Earth. For he foresaw that, among multitudes, many should come to him. Adam therefore made daily supplication for that blessing. It was answered him: ‘How knowest thou if the gratification of thy desire be a blessing or a curse?’ Adam said: ‘By no means; but I will abide the chance.’
Then the somnolence fell upon him, as is narrated; and upon waking he beheld our Lady Eve (upon whom be the Mercy and the Forgiveness). Adam said: ‘O my Lady and Light of my Universe, who art thou?’ Eve said: ‘O my Lord and Summit of my Contentment, who art thou?’ Adam said: ‘Of a surety I am thine.’ Eve said: ‘Of a surety I am throe.’ Thus they ceased to inquire further into the matter, but were united, and became one flesh and one soul, and their felicity was beyond comparison or belief or imagination or apprehension.
Thereafter, it is narrated that Eblis the Stoned consorted with them secretly in the Garden, and the Peacock with him; and they jested and made mirth for our Lord Adam and his Lady Eve and propounded riddles and devised occasions for the stringing of the ornaments and the threading of subtleties. And upon a time when their felicity was at its height, and their happiness excessive, and their contentment expanded to the uttermost, Eblis said: ‘O my Master and my Mistress, declare to us, if it pleases, some comparison or similitude that lies beyond the limits of possibility.’ Adam said: ‘This is easy. That the Sun should cease in Heaven or that the Rivers should dry in the Garden is beyond the limits of possibility.’ And they laughed and agreed, and the Peacock said: ‘O our Lady, tell us now something of a jest as unconceivable and as beyond belief as this saying of thy Lord.’ Our Lady Eve then said: ‘That my Lord should look upon me otherwise than is his custom is beyond this saying.’ And when they had laughed abundantly, she said: ‘O our Servitors, tell us now something that is further from possibility or belief than my saying.’ Then the Peacock said: ‘O our Lady Eve, except that thou shouldst look upon thy Lord otherwise than is thy custom, there is nothing further than thy saying from possibility or belief or imagination.’ Then said Eblis: ‘Except that the one of you should be made an enemy to the other, there is nothing, O my Lady, further than thy saying from possibility, or belief, or imagination, or apprehension.’ And they laughed immoderately all four together in the Garden.
But when the Peacock had gone and Eblis had seemed to depart, our Lady Eve said to Adam ‘My Lord and Disposer of my Soul, by what means did Eblis know our fear?’ Adam said: ‘0 my Lady, what fear?’ Eve said: ‘The fear which was in our hearts from the first, that the one of us might be made an enemy to the other.’ Then our pure Forefather bowed his head on her bosom and said: ‘O Companion of my Heart, this has been my fear also from the first, but how didst thou know?’ Eve said: ‘Because I am thy flesh and thy soul. What shall we do?’
Thus, then, they came at moonrise to the Tree that had been forbidden to them, and Eblis lay asleep under it. But he waked merrily and said ‘O my Master and my Mistress, this is the Tree of Eternity. By eating her fruit, felicity is established for ever among mankind; nor after eating it shall there be any change whatever in the disposition of the hearts of the eaters.’
Eve then put out her hand to the fruit, but Adam said: ‘It is forbidden. Let us go.’ Eve said: ‘O my Lord and my Sustainer, upon my head be it, and upon the heads of my daughters after me. I will first taste of this Tree, and if misfortune fall on me, do thou intercede for me; or else eat likewise, so that eternal bliss may come to us together.’
Thus she ate, and he after her; and at once the ornaments of Paradise disappeared from round them, and they were delivered to shame and nudity and abjection. Then, as is narrated, Adam accused Eve in the Presence; but our Lady Eve (upon whom be the Pity and the Recompense) accepted (the blame of) all that had been done.
When the Serpent and the Peacock had each received their portion for their evil contrivances (for the punishment of Eblis was reserved) the Divine Decree of Expulsion was laid upon Adam and Eve in these words: ‘Get ye down, the one of you an enemy to the other.’ Adam said: ‘But I have heard that Thy Compassion exceeds Thy Wrath.’ It was answered: ‘I have spoken. The Decree shall stand in the place of all curses.’ So they went down, and the barriers of the Garden of the Tree were made fast behind them.
It is further recorded by the stringers of the pearls of words and the narrators of old, that when our pure Forefather the Lord Adam and his adorable consort Eve (upon whom be the Glory and the Sacrifice) were thus expelled, there was lamentation among the beasts in the Garden whom Adam had cherished and whom our Lady Eve had comforted. Of those unaffected there remained only the Mole, whose custom it was to burrow in earth and to avoid the light of the Sun. His nature was malignant and his body inconspicuous, but, by the Power of the Omnipotent, Whose Name be exalted, he was then adorned with eyes far-seeing both in the light and the darkness.
When the Mole heard the Divine Command of Expulsion, it entered his impure mind that he would extract profit and advancement from a secret observation and a hidden espial. So he followed our Forefather and his august consort, under the earth, and watched those two in their affliction and their abjection and their misery, and the Garden was without his presence for that time.
When his watch was complete and his observation certain, he turned him swiftly underneath the earth and came back saying to the Guardians of the Gate: ‘Make room! I have a sure and a terrible report.’ So his passage was permitted, and he lay till evening in the Garden. Then he said: ‘Can the Accursed by any means escape the Decree?’ It was answered: ‘By no means can they escape or avoid.’ Then the Mole said ‘But I have seen that they have escaped.’ It was answered: ‘Declare thy observation.’ The Mole said: ‘The enemies to each other have altogether departed from Thy worship and Thy adoration. Nor are they in any sort enemies to each other, for they enjoy together the most perfect felicity, and moreover they have made them a new God.’ It was answered: ‘Declare the shape of the God.’ The Mole said: ‘Their God is of small stature, pinkish in colour, unclothed, fat and smiling. They lay it upon the grass and, filling its hands with flowers, worship it and desire no greater comfort.’ It was answered: ‘Declare the name of the God.’ The Mole said: ‘Its name is Quabil (Cain), and I testify upon a sure observation that it is their God and their Uniter and their Comforter.’ It was answered: ‘Why hast thou come to Us?’ The Mole said: ‘Through my zeal and my diligence; for honour and in hope of reward.’ It was answered: ‘Is this, then, the best that thou canst do with the eyes which We gave thee?’ The Mole said: ‘To the extreme of my ability!’ It was answered: ‘There is no need. Thou hast not added to their burden, but to thine own. Be darkened henceforward, upon earth and under earth. It is not good to spy upon any creature of God to whom alleviation is permitted.’ So, then, the Mole’s eyes were darkened and contracted, and his lot was made miserable upon and under the earth to this day.
But to those two, Adam and Eve, the alleviation was permitted, till Habil and Quabil and their sisters Labuda and Aqlemia had attained the age of maturity. Then there came to the Greatest Substitute and his Consort, from out of Kabul the Stony, that Peacock, by whose contrivance Eblis the Accursed had first obtained admission into the Garden of the Tree. And they made him welcome in all their ways and into all their imaginings; and he sustained them with false words and flagitious counsels, so that they considered and remembered their forfeited delights in the Garden both arrogantly and impenitently.
Then came the Word to the Archangel Jibrail the Faithful, saying: ‘Follow those two with diligence, and interpose the shield of thy benevolence where it shall be necessary; for though We have surrendered them for awhile (to Eblis) they shall not achieve an irremediable destruction.’ Jibrail therefore followed our First Substitute and the Lady Eve — upon whom is the Grace and a Forgetfulness — and kept watch upon them in all the lands appointed for their passage through the world. Nor did he hear any lamentations in their mouths for their sins. It is recorded that for an hundred years they were continuously upheld by the Peacock under the detestable power of Eblis the Stoned, who by means of magic multiplied the similitudes of meat and drink and rich raiment about them for their pleasure, and came daily to worship them as Gods. (This also lay in the predestined Will of the Inscrutable.) Further, in that age, their eyes were darkened and their minds were made turbid, and the faculty of laughter was removed from them. The Excellent Archangel Jibrail, when he perceived by observation that they had ceased to laugh, returned and bowed himself among the Servitors and cried: ‘The last evil has fallen upon Thy creatures whom I guard! They have ceased to laugh and are made even with the ox and the camel.’ It was answered: ‘This also was foreseen. Keep watch.’
After yet another hundred years Eblis, whose doom is assured, came to worship Adam as was his custom and said: ‘O my Lord and my Advancer and my Preceptor in Good and Evil, whom hast thou ever beheld in all thy world, wiser and more excellent than thyself?’ Adam said: ‘I have never seen such an one.’ Eblis asked: ‘Hast thou ever conceived of such an one?’ Adam answered: ‘Except in dreams I have never conceived of such an one.’ Eblis then answered: ‘Disregard dreams. They proceed from superfluity of meat. Stretch out thy hand upon the world which thou hast made and take possession.’ So Adam took possession of the mountains which he had levelled and of the rivers which he had diverted and of the upper and lower Fires which he had made to speak and to work for him, and he named them as possessions for himself and his children for ever. After this, Eblis asked: ‘O, my Upholder and Crown of my Belief, who has given thee these profitable things?’ Adam said: ‘By my Hand and my Head, I alone have given myself these things.’ Eblis said: ‘Praise we the Giver!’ So, then, Adam praised himself in a loud voice, and built an Altar and a Mirror behind the Altar; and he ceased not to adore himself in the Mirror, and to extol himself daily before the Altar, by the name and under the attributes of the Almighty.
The historians assert that on such occasions it was the custom of the Peacock to expand his tail and stand beside our First Substitute and to minister to him with flatteries and adorations.
After yet another hundred years, the Omnipotent, Whose Name be exalted, put a bitter remorse into the bosom of the Peacock, and that bird closed his tail and wept upon the mountains of Serendib. Then said the Excellent and Faithful Archangel Jibrail: ‘How has the Vengeance overtaken thee, O thou least desirable of fowl?’ The Peacock said: ‘Though I myself would by no means consent to convey Eblis into the Garden of the Tree, yet as is known to thee and to the All–Seeing, I referred him to the Serpent for a subtle device, by whose malice and beneath whose tongue did Eblis secretly enter that Garden. Wherefore did Allah change my attuned voice to a harsh cry and my beauteous legs to unseemly legs, and hurled me into the district of Kabul the Stony. Now I fear that He will also deprive me of my tail, which is the ornament of my days and the delight of my eye. For that cause and in that fear I am penitent, O Servant of God.’ Jibrail then said: ‘Penitence lies not in confession, but in restitution and visible amendment.’ The Peacock said: ‘Enlighten me in that path and prove my sincerity.’ Jibrail said: ‘I am troubled on account of Adam who, through the impure magic of Eblis, has departed from humility, and worships himself daily at an Altar and before a Mirror, in such and such a manner.’ The Peacock said: ‘O Courier of the Thrones, hast thou taken counsel of the Lady Eve?’ Jibrail asked: ‘For what reason?’ The Peacock said: ‘For the reason that when the Decree of Expulsion was issued against those two, it was said: “Get ye down, the one of you an enemy unto the other,” and this is a sure word.’ Jibrail answered: ‘What will that profit?’ The Peacock said: ‘Let us exchange our shapes for a time and I will show thee that profit.’
Jibrail then exacted an oath from the Peacock that he would return him his shape at the expiration of a certain time without dishonour or fraud, and the exchange was effected, and Jibrail retired himself into the shape of the Peacock, and the Peacock lifted himself into the illustrious similitude of Jibrail and came to our Lady Eve and said: ‘Who is God?’ The Lady Eve answered him: ‘His name is Adam.’ The Peacock said: ‘How is he God?’ The Lady Eve answered: ‘For that he knows both Good and Evil.’ The Peacock asked: ‘By what means attained he to that knowledge?’ The Lady Eve answered: ‘Of a truth it was I who brought it to him between my hands from off a Tree in the Garden.’ The Peacock said: ‘The greater then thy modesty and thy meekness, O my Lady Eve,’ and he removed himself from her presence, and came again to Jibrail a little before the time of the evening prayer. He said to that excellent and trusty one: ‘Continue, I pray, to serve in my shape at the time of the Worship at the Altar.’ So Jibrail consented and preened himself and spread his tail and pecked between his claws, after the manner of created Peacocks, before the Altar until the entrance of our pure Forefather and his august consort. Then he perceived by observation that when Adam kneeled at the Mirror to adore himself the Lady Eve abode unwillingly, and in time she asked: ‘Have I then no part in this worship?’ Adam answered: ‘A great and a redoubtable part bast thou, O my Lady, which is to praise and worship me constantly.’ The Lady Eve said: ‘But I weary of this worship. Except thou build me an Altar and make a Mirror to me also I will in no wise be present at this worship, nor in thy bed.’ And she withdrew her presence. Adam then said to Jibrail whom he esteemed to be the Peacock: ‘What shall we do? If I build not an Altar, the Woman who walks by my side will be a reproach to me by day and a penance by night, and peace will depart from the earth.’ Jibrail answered, in the voice of the Peacock: ‘For the sake of Peace on earth build her also an Altar.’ So they built an Altar with a Mirror in all respects conformable to the Altar which Adam had made, and Adam made proclamation from the ends of the earth to the ends of the earth that there were now two Gods upon earth — the one Man, and the other Woman.
Then came the Peacock in the likeness of Jibrail to the Lady Eve and said: ‘O Lady of Light, why is thy Altar upon the left hand and the Altar of my Lord upon the right?’ The Lady Eve said: ‘It is a remediable error,’ and she remedied it with her own hands, and our pure Forefather fell into a great anger. Then entered Jibrail in the likeness of the Peacock and said to Adam: ‘O my Lord and Very Interpreter, what has vexed thee?’ Adam said: ‘What shall we do? The Woman who sleeps in my bosom has changed the honourable places of the Altars, and if I suffer not the change she will weary me by night and day, and there will be no refreshment upon earth.’ Jibrail said, speaking in the voice of the Peacock: ‘For the sake of refreshment suffer the change.’ So they worshipped at the changed Altars, the Altar to the Woman upon the right, and to the Man upon the left.
Then came the Peacock, in the similitude of Jibrail the Trusty One, to our Lady Eve and said: ‘O Incomparable and All–Creating, art thou by chance the mother of Quabil and Habil (Cain and Abel)?’ The Lady Eve answered: ‘By no chance but by the immutable ordinance of Nature am I their Mother.’ The Peacock said, in the voice of Jibrail: ‘Will they become such as Adam?’ The Lady Eve answered: ‘Of a surety, and many more also.’ The Peacock, as Jibrail, said: ‘O Lady of Abundance, enlighten me now which is the greater, the mother or the child?’ The Lady Eve answered: ‘Of a surety, the mother.’ The disguised Peacock then said: ‘O my Lady, seeing that from thee alone proceed all the generations of Man who calls himself God, what need of any Altar to Man?’ The Lady Eve answered: ‘It is an error. Doubt not it shall be rectified,’ and at the time of the Worship she smote down the left-hand Altar. Adam said: ‘Why is this, O my Lady and my Co-equal?’ The Lady Eve answered: ‘Because it has been revealed that in Me is all excellence and increase, splendour, terror, and power. Bow down and worship.’ Adam answered: ‘O my Lady, but thou art Eve my mate and no sort of goddess whatever. This have I known from the beginning. Only for Peace’ sake I suffered thee to build an Altar to thyself.’ The Lady Eve answered: ‘O my Lord, but thou art Adam my mate, and by many universes removed from any sort of Godhead, and this have I known from the first. Nor for the sake of any peace whatever will I cease to proclaim it.’ She then proclaimed it aloud, and they reproached each other and disputed and betrayed their thoughts and their inmost knowledges until the Peacock lifted himself in haste from their presence and came to Jibrail and said: ‘Let us return each to his own shape; for Enlightenment is at hand.’
So restitution was made without fraud or dishonour and they returned to the temple each in his proper shape with his attributes, and listened to the end of that conversation between the First Substitute and his august Consort who ceased not to reprehend each other upon all matters within their observation and their experience and their imagination.
When the steeds of recrimination had ceased to career across the plains of memory, and when the drum of evidence was no longer beaten by the drumstick of malevolence, and the bird of argument had taken refuge in the rocks of silence, the Excellent and Trustworthy Archangel Jibrail bowed himself before our pure Forefather and said: ‘O my Lord and Fount of all Power and Wisdom, is it permitted to worship the Visible God?’
Then by the operation of the Mercy of Allah, the string was loosed in the throat of our First Substitute and the oppression was lifted from his lungs and he laughed without cessation and said: ‘By Allah, I am no God but the mate of this most detestable Woman whom I love, and who is necessary to me beyond all the necessities.’ But he ceased not to entertain Jibrail with tales of the follies and the unreasonableness of our Lady Eve till the night time.
The Peacock also bowed before the Lady Eve and said: ‘Is it permitted to adore the Source and the Excellence?’ and the string was loosened in the Lady Eve’s throat and she laughed aloud and merrily and said: ‘By Allah I am no goddess in any sort, but the mate of this mere Man whom, in spite of all, I love beyond and above my soul.’ But she detained the Peacock with tales of the stupidity and the childishness of our pure Forefather till the Sun rose.
Then Adam entered, and the two looked upon each other laughing. Then said Adam: ‘O my Lady and Crown of my Torments, is it peace between us?’ And our Lady Eve answered: ‘O my Lord and sole Cause of my Unreason, it is peace till the next time and the next occasion.’ And Adam said: ‘I accept, and I abide the chance.’ Our Lady Eve said: ‘O Man, wouldst thou have it otherwise upon any composition?’ Adam said: ‘O Woman, upon no composition would I have it otherwise — not even for the return to the Garden of the Tree; and this I swear on thy head and the heads of all who shall proceed from thee.’ And Eve said: ‘I also.’ So they removed both Altars and laughed and built a new one between.
Then Jibrail and the Peacock departed and prostrated themselves before the Throne and told what had been said. It was answered: ‘How left ye them?’ They said: ‘Before one Altar.’ It was answered: ‘What was written upon the Altar?’ They said: ‘The Decree of Expulsion as it was spoken —“Get ye down, the one of you an enemy unto the other.”’
And it was answered: ‘Enough! It shall stand in the place of both Our Curse and Our Blessing.’
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:10