|Source: Abu'l-Fazl 'Allami, A'IN-I AKBARI (3 vols.). Vol. 3 trans. H. S. Jarrett, 1894. Vol. 3, pp. 478-524. Ed. *ZDJ*|
Book 5, Chapter 14: An Account of the Author
|The writer of this important work
had it in his mind to draw up a memoir of his venerable ancestors and some
particulars of strange incidents in his own life, and form of them a separate
volume which should be a source of instruction to the intelligent who look
afar; but various occupations, especially the composition of this work,
absorbed his attention to the exclusion of all else. At this juncture a
secret inspiration prompted the thought that the world would not welcome
the detailed journals of personal biography in an isolated form, and that
it would be more opportune to append an account thereof to this work and
to intersperse here and there some practical and didactic comments. Accepting
this happy suggestion, I have thrown off this sketch and liberated my soul.
Since to vaunt of lineage is to traffic from empty-handedness with the bones of one's ancestors and to bring the wares of ignorance to market, and is to be foolishly vain of the merits of others while blind to one's own defects, I was unwilling to touch the subject or indulge in such idle vapouring. In this demon-haunted wilderness, to be linked by any chain deters advance and the irrigation of the genealogy of the outer world is of no profit to the interior spirit.
Be not, as fools, alone thy father's son;In ordinary parlance genealogy signifies seed, race, tribe and the like, and the term embraces the distinctions of high and low. Any rational man recognises that the one reverts to the other, inasmuch as among intermediaries in the line of descent some one individual has become distinguished for material wealth or spiritual eminence, and thus become celebrated by name or title or profession or place of birth; whereas the vulgar who, though accounting mankind to be the sons of Adam their primitive father, yet by attending to romantic fictions accept only these assumptions, are evidently led astray in this matter by the remoteness of the line and do not realize the actuality of that patriarch. Why then should any upright and discerning man be deluded by these fables and trusting to them, withdraw from the pursuit of truth? What availed the son of Noah his father's communion with the Almighty, and how did the idolatry of his race injure Abraham the friend of God?
Jami! serve God through love, nor lineage heed,Nevertheless through the decrees of fate I am linked to worldlings and associated with those who give priority to birth above worth. Thus I am compelled to allude to it, and to furnish a table for such as them.
[Abul Fazl's ancestors in their home in Yemen. His fifth forefather settles in Sewistan as a teacher and pious man.]
The count of honourable ancestry is a long history. How may I retail their holy lives for the unworthy inquisitiveness of the moment? Some wore the garb of saints, some were immersed in secular studies, some were clothed in authority, some engaged in commerce and others led lives of solitude and retirement. For a long period the land of Yemen was the home of these high-born and virtuous men. Shaykh Musa, my fifth ancestor, in his early manhood, withdrew from association with his fellows. Abandoning his home he set out on travel, and accompanied only by his knowledge and his deeds he traversed the habitable globe with a step that profited by what he saw. In the ninth century by the decrees of heaven, he settled in quiet retirement at Rel, a pleasant village of Sewistan, and married into a family of God-fearing and pious people. Although he had come from the desert to a civilized town, he did not exchange his retired habits for the occupations of the world. Ever contemplative on his prayer-carpet of introspection, he wrestled in prayer with himself and spent his precious days in the ordering of the wayward spirit. His virtuous sons and grandchildren following his example lived happily, and were instructed in the esoteric and exoteric doctrines of philosophy. In the beginning of the tenth century Shaykh Khizr set out impelled with the desire of visiting the saints of India and of seeing Hijaz and the people of his own tribe. Accompanied by a few of his relatives and friends he came to India. At the city of Nagor, Mir Sayyid Yahya Bokhari of Uch, who, was successor to Makhdum-i-Jahaniyan and had a large portion of the spirit of sanctity, Shaykh Abdur Razzaq Qadiri of Baghdad (who was one of the distinguished descendants of that paragon among eminent saints, Sayyid Abdu'l Qadir Jili), and Shaykh Yusuf Sindi who had traversed the fields of secular and mystic lore and had acquired many perfections of the religious life, were engaged in the instruction and guidance of the people, and multitudes were profiting by their direction. In his zeal and affection for these eminent teachers and under the attractive influence of the soil of this ancient country, that wandering exile there took up his abode.
[Author's father Shaikh Mubarak Nagori—his birth, precocious genius, vast learning and long travels.]
In the year A.H. 911 (A.D. 1505), Shaykh Mubarak (my father) came forth from the realm of conception into visible personality and was clothed in the mantle of existence. Through a miraculous efficacy of will, at the age of four he displayed the light of his intelligence and a daily-increasing illumination shone from his auspicious countenance. When nine years old he was already considerably well-informed, and at fourteen had run through the usual course of the studies and had by heart the text-books of every science. Although the grace of God guided the caravan of his wakeful fortune and he had received alms from the street of many a learned mystic, he principally attended Shaykh Atan through whose instruction he increased his interior thirst. This Shaykh was of Turkish extraction and lived to the age of one hundred and twenty. In the reign of Sikandar Lodi he had taken up his residence in that city and had attained to an eminent degree of knowledge under Shaykh Salar of Nagor who had studied in Iran and Turan.
Briefly to resume, Shaykh Khizr returned to Sind, his whole object being to bring some of his relations back with him to this country. He died on his journey. Meanwhile a severe famine had befallen Nagor, and an epidemic plague added to the disaster. Except his mother, all other members of his family perished. A resolution to travel had always been uppermost in the enlightened mind of my venerable father, and the desire of seeing the eminent doctors of every land and of soliciting their godly assistance was vehement within him; but that queen of virtue, his lady mother, suffered him not, and no thought of disobeying her entered his righteous mind. In this hesitancy of spirit, he came under Shaykh Fayyazi of Bokhara—may God sanctify his soul: —and his agitation of mind increased. In his early days of study the peerless eyes of that discerning sage had fallen upon a certain servant of God with whom it was his daily fortune to receive interior enlightenment and (guidance to) eternal salvation. He solicited his direction in the choice of a settled course of life. He received the following answer: "About this time a certain person will become an acknowledged master of instruction and will be established as a guide to those who seek knowledge; his name is U'baydu'llah and his distinguishing epithet Khwajah i-Ahrar (master of the free of spirit): attend his lectures and follow the course he points out." The Khwajah at that time was footsore from his long investigations and assiduously sought the great theriac [[=antidote]] of truth. In due time he attained this eminent rank and Fayyazi learnt from him how to seek God. His seclusion was directed to be in absolute obscurity and his (spiritual) office was determined without formal delegation. Wherever the Khwajah in his allusions refers to "the dervish," he means this wonder of the world (Fayyazi). For forty years he resided in Turkistan, and in deserts and mountains enjoyed the ecstasy of solitude. He had attained the age of one hundred and twenty years and the fire of his soul was burning with undiminished intensity. One night my father, in the city of my birth, was discussing the subject of religion with some godly and pious persons and many edifying matters had been brought forward, when suddenly the sound of a sigh was heard and a flash of heavenly light shone. However much they attempted to account for this, they could find nothing. The next day after much investigation and a diligent search, it was discovered that this mystic personage was in retirement in a potter's house. My father now for a space reposed in the light of his direction and his own distracted mind ceased to wander. For four months consecutively he enjoyed this happiness and was daily tested by the alchemy of his glance. Within a short period, the time of the Shaykh's departure to heaven drew nigh, and with his mind filled with divine truths, he gave forth his counsels of guidance for those who were seeking revelation, and in ecstasy of spirit and with a serene mind he passed away.
About this time that pattern of pure womanhood who had given my father his earliest instruction, departed this fleeting life. The affair of Maldeo/1/ caused an interregnum; my venerable father withdrew towards the seacoast with a view to greater seclusion. His sole purpose was to travel over the country and to derive some profit from intercourse with various classes of men.
[Mubarak's encyclopaedic scholarship—his teachers.]
At Ahmadabad he fell in with distinguished doctors and further improved his knowledge, and received a high diploma for every important branch of learning. He acquired a various acquaintance with the doctrines of Malik, of Shafi'i, of Abu Hanifah, of Hanbal, and of the Imamiyah [Shi'a] school, both in the principles of law and the law itself, and by strenuous application acquired the dignity of a mujtahid. Although traditionally from his ancestors he belonged to the theological school of Abu Hanifah yet he had always adorned his conduct with discretion, and avoiding a servile following of opinion, submitted only to demonstration and took upon himself the things which the flesh resisted. Thus by his greatness of soul and fortunate destiny he passed from the knowledge of the visible to the understanding of the invisible, and the pleasure-ground of the material world led the way to the kingdom of truth. He had read treatises on Sufism and transcendental theology, and had perused many works on contemplation and worship, especially the verities of Shaykh-b-Arabi, of Shaykh-b-Faridh and of Shaykh Sadru'ddin of Iconium. Many doctors of physics and ontology honoured him with their countenance, and many successes attended him and uncommon precepts of direction added to his fame. Among the chief divine graces vouchsafed to him was that he became a disciple of the Khatib Abu'l Fazl Kazarun. This personage from his appreciation of merit and knowledge of men, adopted him as a son and diligently instructed him in various knowledge, and made him commit to memory the subtleties of the Shifa, the Isharat, the Tazkirah and Ptolemy's Almagest. Thus the garden of learning was refreshed with irrigation and the penetration of his vision was further increased. That learned man at the instance of the princes of Gujarat, had come from Shiraz to the country, and the groves of wisdom received a renewal of bloom. He had acquired learning under diverse theologians of the time, but in the great branch of mystical contemplation he was the disciple of Maulana Jalalu'ddin Dawwani. That learned doctor had first received the leading principles of science from his own father, and subsequently, in Shiraz had attended as a pupil the lectures of Maulana Muhyi'ddin Ashkbar, or the Weeper, and Khwajah Hasan Shah Baqqal, these two theologians being among the principal pupils of Sayyid Sharif Jurjani. He for a time also frequented the school of Maulana Humamu'ddin Gulbari who was proficient in drawing horoscopes and there lit the lamp of erudition, and through good fortune thus acquired a wonderful extent of knowledge. He had also made a thorough study of philosophical works the principles of which he explained with much elegance, as his treatises on that subject evidence and commendably illustrate. In the same city of grace, my venerable father had the good fortune to attend upon Shaykh U'mar of Tattah, who was one of the greatest saints of the time, and that night-illumining jewel possessing the power of an exquisite discernment, inspired him transcendentally with elevation of soul and sublime knowledge. He also fell in with many doctors of the Shattari, Tayfuri, Chishti and Suhrawardi orders, and profited by their instruction. In the city likewise, he made the acquaintance of Shaykh Yusuf, who was one of the most ecstatic and inspired of mystics, and through him was filled with new wisdom. He was ever absorbed in the ocean of the divine presence, and omitted no minute particular of ceremonial worship. From the holy influence by which he was surrounded, his desire was to erase altogether from the expanse of his mind the impressions of knowledge, and withdrawing entirely from the conventional obligations of intercourse, to become absorbed in the contemplation of the divine perfection. But that reader of the secrets of the heart's recesses discovering his intention dissuaded him therefrom, and he courteously communicated to him that a ship was about to sail, and that he should visit Agra, and if his difficulties were not there overcome, he should proceed to Iran and Turan, and wherever the spirit led him or a call directed him, thither should he go and occupy himself with secular teaching.
[Mubarak comes to Agra in 1543 and marries.]
Conformably to this direction in the first of the (Persian) month of the Urdibihisht (April), in the Jalali year 465, corresponding to Saturday, the 6th of Muharram 950 A.H. (A.D. 10th April 1543), he happily alighted in that prosperous seat of empire which may God guard from all adversity! In that delightful residence he happened to become acquainted with Shaykh Alau'ddin Majzub or the ecstatic, who could read the tablets of the heart and the secrets of the tomb. This saint, in one of his returns to consciousness from an ecstatic trance, informed him that it was God's will that he should remain in that city and abandon further wanderings, and he announced to him good tidings and comforted his roving spirit. He took up his residence on the banks of the Jumna, in the vicinity of Mir Rafi’ u’ ddin Safawi of Ij. He here married into a Quraysh family distinguished for wisdom and virtue, and lived on terms of intimacy with its head, the chief of the quarter; and this upright personage, looking upon the arrival of that nursling of wisdom as a rare distinction, received him with warmth of affection and cordiality. Since he was a man of much wealth, he wished my father to share his mode of life; but by the guidance of fortune and grace, he did not consent, and preferring the threshold of reliance and an independent mind, he pursued a life of interior recollection combined with worldly pursuits. The Mir was one of the Hasani and Husayni Sayyids. Some account of his ancestors is given in the works of Shaykh Sakhawi. Although their birthplace was originally the village of Ij of Shiraz, yet for a long time past they preferred to live at Hijaz, and some members of the family have been continually settled in both places where they have been the givers and recipients of benefit. Although he had studied philosophy and theology under the direction of his own parents, he nevertheless, as a pupil of Maulana Jalalu'ddin Dawwani, reached a higher distinction therein. In Arabia he studied the various branches of traditional lore under Shaykh Sakhawi of Cairo in Egypt, who was a disciple of Shaykh Ibn-i-Hajr al-Asqalani, and when he died in A.H. 954 (A.D. 1547), my father retired to his own seclusion.
[Mubarak sets up as a teacher at Agra.]
He continued his efforts in the regeneration of his soul while attending to the perfect propriety of his exterior conduct, and was assiduous in his worship of God. He employed himself in teaching various sciences and made the expounding of the opinions of the ancients an occasion for withholding his own, and gave no tongue—that fatal member—to the expression of desire. Some few prudent and virtuous persons of whose sincerity he was assured, he admitted to his society and appreciated their merits, but from the rest he held himself excused and avoided association with them. In a short time his house became the resort of the learned where high and low were honourably received. Among gatherings of friends, there were also conclaves of the envious, but these did not depress him, nor those elate. Sher Khan, Salim Khan and other grandees proposed for him a stipend from the State revenues and to settle on him a suitable freehold, but as he possessed a high spirit and lofty views he declined and thus raised his own reputation.
As he was gifted with an innate aptitude for the direction of men, and held a divine commission for the enunciation of truth, while at the same time he had the concurrence of the saints of his time and the affection of his well-wishers daily increased, he undertook the guidance of those who frequented his lectures and sought enlightenment, and he denounced all evil habits. Self-interested worldlings took offence and entertained unseemly intentions. As he had no desire to oppose any hostile discussion and allowed no thought of acrimony or servility to enter his mind, he did not the less continue to speak the truth boldly and to reprove evil-doers, and did not attempt to win over quarrelsome seceders. And this occasioned that the Almighty miraculously blessed him with true friends and spiritually-minded sons. Although he employed his hours in teaching philosophy, during the time of the Afghans he lectured little on theology. When the lofty crescent-bearing standards of Humayun shed a new splendour over Hindustan, some students from Iran and Turan attended the school of that knower of the mysteries of the spirit and of the world, and his lectures grew in repute, and the field of the thirsty in the drought-year of discernment overflowed with water, while timid travellers encamped in the pleasure-ground of repose. Affairs had now scarcely got into train when the evil-eye fell on them, and Hemu/2/ now rose in the ascendant. The well-disposed withdrew into obscurity and retired in disappointment. My venerable father with a stout heart, continued firm in his own seclusion, and by the favour of God, Hemu sent messengers with expressions of apology, and through the interposition of a man of my father's excellent character many were released from the oppression of anxiety and entered the meads of joy.
[Abul Fazl's recollections of the famine and plague in Hindustan in 1556.]
In the beginning of the year of the accession of His Majesty to the imperial throne, as though wild rue. were set on fire upon the State with the view of arresting the evil-eye, a great famine occurred, which raised the dust of dispersion. The capital was devastated and nothing remained but a few houses. In addition to this and other immeasurable disasters, a plague became epidemical. This calamity and destruction of life extended throughout most of the cities of Hindustan. Still that enlightened sage remained in his seclusion and the dust of tepidity settled not in the serene chamber of his mind. The writer of this work was then five years old, and the luminary of discernment so blazed before the arch of his vision that its expression cannot enter the mould of language, nor, if expressed, would it find access to the narrow hearing of mankind. He has a perfect recollection of this event, and the evidence of eye-witnesses confirms his testimony. The distress of the times ruined many families and multitudes died. In that habitation about 70 people, in all, male and female, high and low, may have survived. Contemporaries marvelled at the easy circumstances and general cheerfulness of the dervishes and attributed it to magic and incantation. Sometimes a ser of grain would be obtained, which was set to boil in earthenware vessels, and the warm water distributed amongst these people. Most strange of all was that there occurred no difficulty of provision in my father's house, and except the worship of God no other thought disturbed his mind, and save an examination of his own conscience and a perusal of the travels of the spirit no other occupation employed him, until the mercy of God was vouchsafed unto all and a universal affluence lit the countenance of joy. The royal standards shone again with splendour and by a daily increasing justice filled the world with a new radiance. The palace of wisdom grew in amplitude and the wares of knowledge rose to a high price. Science in its many branches and learning of every kind were now diffused. New elucidations, high and lofty views and important discoveries were published abroad and all classes of men received countless benefits from the treasury of intellect. The quiet retirement of that discerning nature became the resort of the learned of the universe, and the highest topics were matters of discussion. But the envy that had been chilled now warmed to life, and the malevolence of the wicked increased. My father steadily followed his own course disregarding the fashion of the times, and sitting at the gate of independence pursued not the road of prescribed conventionality. Men of little influence and envious, losing patience, followed the path of detraction. Most of them accused him of attachment to the Mahdawi doctrines, and uttered the most absurd fictions. They stirred up the simple and ignorant, and did their best to produce keen annoyance by their evil intrigues. The chief instrument in their hands was the affair of Shaykh Alai.
[Affair of Shaikh Alai, a follower of Mir Sayyid Muhammad of Jaunpur, who was regarded as the predicted Mahdi.]
There is a sect in India who regard Mir Sayyid Muhammad of Jaunpur as the predicted Mahdi and go to extreme lengths in this assertion, and forgetting the other demonstrations/3/ of this mission besides doctrine, works, and blameless moral conduct, adopt this movement. In the reign of Salim Khan, a youth called Shaykh Alai, irreproachable in his character and conduct, fell into this whirlpool, and came into that auspicious city (of Agra), originally for the purpose of seeing my vernearble father with a view to a life of seclusion and retirement. Certain seditious men who sought but a pretext, were loud in their frivolous accusations and gave occasion to scandal. The learned of the day who are ignorant pretenders and sell poisonous herbs under show of antidotes, rose up in malice against him and conspired to put him to death, and even obtained judicial decrees. My father did not concur with them and found neither reason nor tradition on their side. They sought to bring the dispute before the Emperor of Hindustan, and strove for their own undoing. The king assembled a council of the learned of the time, and great efforts were made to obtain a legal sentence. My venerable father was also summoned to attend. When his opinion was asked, he gave it against the crafty pretenders who sought but their own advancement. From that day, they maliciously imputed to him an attachment to that cause, and on so trifling a point as to whether the mission of the Mahdi is a tradition of authority or otherwise, out of sheer malignity, they proceeded to such lengths that he was ruined. Some evil-minded men reviled him for the Shiah tendencies which they presumed he held, not understanding that knowledge is one thing and profession is another.
[Theologians opposed to Mubarak denounce Mir Muhammad as a heretic. Before Islam Shah Sur Mubarak defends the Mir's doctrines as orthodox.]
At this very time they also made a suspect of one of the Sayyids of I'raq who was among the choicest souls of the age, whose character and conduct were alike virtuous and his precepts harmonized with his actions; but by the royal favour their arm was shortened from reaching him. One day in the royal presence, they represented that no religious authority should be accorded to the Mir, and that since his views were repudiated, it would be inconsistent to recognize his leadership in religious functions. They adduced some cases in point from ancient Hanafi treatises in support of their contention that the teaching of I'raq dignitaries (ashraf), ought not to be accepted. The prospects of the Mir were gloomy. As he was on terms of fraternal religious intimacy with my father, he laid the whole truth before him, and my father comforted him with judicious counsel and encouraged him to confront more boldly the suggestions of the wicked, and in refutation of the traditionary authority that had been cited against him, he stated that they had not understood its drift. What had been brought forward from the Hanafi works referred not to Persian but to Arabian I'raq, and many passages he quoted in confirmation thereof; and further that they had not distinguished between dignitaries par excellence (ashraf i ashraf) and the nobles (ashraf), for the degrees of royal rewards and punishments are assigned distributively to four classes. The first is the pre-eminent (ashraf i ashaf), such as doctors, divines, Sayyids, and holy men. The second is termed ashraf, the noble, that is the officials and land proprietors and the like. The third is styled awsat, or the intermediate, which is understood as comprising the industrial and commercial professions. The fourth comprises the inferior orders who do not rise to the preceding degree, such as the mob and the low rabble. Each of these orders is subject to a separate code of sanctions regulating the acknowledgment of honourable service and the penalties of misconduct. And, indeed, if every evil-doer was to receive the same punishment, this would be a deviation from justice. The Mir was emboldened by this assurance and much rejoiced, and in order to clear himself and expose the ignorance of his traducers, he submitted the opinion of the Shaykh for the royal consideration. Those wicked men with their evil machinations were confounded. When they discovered the source of their confusion, they were inflamed with jealousy. Similar instances of assistance such as this were divulged and contributed to the turbulence of the ignorant. Praise be to God that all men agreed in this, that there is no creed that may not in some one particular be in error, nor yet any such that is entirely false, and therefore, that if any one, according to his conviction, speaks favourably regarding a doctrine which seems at variance with his own faith, his motives should not be misunderstood, nor should people rise to decry him. After a long controversy, this point was abandoned and they reverted to the accusation of his Shiah tendencies; but by the protection of God the detractor was covered with shame, his infamy exposed and he was overwhelmed with confusion; nevertheless, in his recusancy and blindness he took no admonition and continued to seek his occasion, confirmed in his malice, until the wondrous ways of destiny and the caprice of fortune were manifested, and a vast dispersion came as an exemplary warning.
[In 1570, Shaikh Mubarak sets up as a public teacher in Agra. The bigots in envy form a plot to ruin him.]
In the fourteenth year of His Majesty's reign, corresponding to A.H. 977 (A.D. 1569-70), my father came forth from his retirement, and great troubles presented themselves, of which I shall briefly make mention as a hortatory instruction. Although the hornet's-nest of envy was still in commotion, and the viper's hole alive with the brood, the night-lamp of friendship dim and even the good intent on molestation had closed the door of estrangement, as has been already alluded to, at this time I say, when learning was regarded with honour and the distinguished of the day were his disciples and the numbers at his lectures were in full attendance and my father, according to his custom, denounced all evil habits and exhorted his friends and well-wishers to avoid them, the learned doctors and divines of the time who regarded his beautiful soul as a mirror to their own defects, maliciously conspired to restore their position. Labouring under the convulsions of their tortuous purposes, they represented to themselves that if they could but adduce some particular instance to convince His Majesty who loved justice, it would signally re-establish their former titles to esteem and result in a condition disastrous (to my father). Oppressed by grief and vexation, they continued their intrigues and boldly advanced in a course of detraction and by their sophistries and crafty insinuation they led astray many of the couriers with their show of affected regrets. Some amongst the evil-disposed they roused by an appeal to their bigotry.
Although for a considerable period this unseemly conduct had continued, yet by the aid of virtuous and truthful individuals, the conspiracies of the wicked had always been defeated. At this juncture, however, this honest and trusty band were remote, and the chief of these intriguers at court set himself to gratify his malice. These shameless wretches and unclean spirits of evil found their opportunity. My venerable father had gone to the house of a servant of God and I had the happiness of accompanying him. That overweening braggart with his affected haughtiness was also present at the visit and began his crafty discourse. The conceit of learning and exuberant youth possessed me. I had never before set foot outside of college to be present at any public functions, but his vain words drove me to open my lips and I spoke so much to the point that he was ashamed and the spectators were amazed. From that day, he vowed to avenge his being convicted of ignorance, and emboldened those who had lost heart. My venerable father was unconscious of their designs and I in my pride of knowledge, gave no heed. At first those worldlings without religion, like crafty schemers, convened assemblies ostensibly in the interests of truth and religion, and by persecuting assaults on those who sought but quiet, many were hunted to death. Whenever a monarch, well meaning and with every good intention, leaves the direction of religion, education and justice entirely to a body who are outwardly respectable, and himself assumes in their regard the mantle of indifference, the influence of the truthful and righteous wanes and the crooked-moving white-ants of learning and the courtiers unite in intrigue against these few and bigotry has full sway. And it comes to pass that families are subverted and reputations totally ruined. At such a time when these wretches had gained credit for virtue, like a bride that is falsely passed off for a virgin and proves a harlot, and when graceless worldlings were triumphant, and the sordid and blind of heart were united in purpose, sympathetic friends remote, the honest of speech secluded, and the gatherings of contention of the profane frequent, these conspiracies were hatched and compacts of persecution made.
[In a dark night Shaikh Mubarak and his two elder sons flee from their home, on hearing a treacherous friend's false report of an impending attack by their enemies.]
One of the double-faced and fickle,
a fallen angel of malevolent cunning who had insidiously crept into the
lecture-rooms of my venerable father under a show of sincerity and was
in collusion and understanding with that body, was found and despatched
at midnight inspired with impious deceits and spells to infatuate. That
clever imposter at dead of night with a trembling heart and tearful eyes,
a pallid colour and dejected countenance, hastened to my elder brother's
chamber and his evil spells disturbed that simple soul and seduced one
ignorant of guile and deceit. The purport of his information was this:
"The principal men of the day have been for a long time hostile, and the
faithless and ungrateful without shame. They have now found this opportunity
and mean persecution. Many of these turbaned divines are witnesses and
having appointed a prosecutor, have incited him to procure an investigation
on colourable pretexts into their slanders. Every one knows the influence
these men have at court and how many eminent men for their own aggrandizement
they have had put out of their way, and what highhanded persecutions
they have enforced. I have a friend in their secret counsels. Even
now at midnight he informed me of this, and I have in trepidation come
to you lest when day breaks it may be too late to mend matters. Now my
advice is that they should convey the Shaykh to some concealment without
any one’s knowledge and let him for a few days live retired until his friends
can assemble and he can represent his case fully to His Majesty.” That
good soul [Faizi] took alarm and with much agitation went to the Shaykh's
chamber and informed him of the case. He answered: "Though my enemies may
be powerful, the Almighty is vigilant and a just monarch now rules the
world. If a handful of godless unprincipled men are unrighteously filled
with envy, the obligation of pledges is still binding and the door of investigation
is not closed. Moreover, if the decrees of God for my injury have not been
issued, though all are united against me they can avail nothing and can
do no evil nor inflict harm upon me; but if the will of the Creator be
this, I will cheerfully and gladly give my life and withdraw from the possession
of this fleeting existence." As my brother was scarce master of himself
and afflicted with grief, mistaking truth for self-deception as he had
mistaken a false pretext for condolence, he drew his dagger and said,
"Practical business is one thing and religious mysticism is another; if
you do not go I will at once kill myself; for the rest, look you to it.
I shall not await here the day of ruin." The paternal bond and fatherly
affection induced compliance with his wish. At the command of that serene
sage I was also awoke.
With outstretched arm against me comes the foe;
Driven to extremity, after a thousand difficulties we arrived at the house of a person regarding whose fidelity my brother was assured and of whom I, fasting in the morn of existence and of little account in the market of this elemental frame, had not the least suspicion. At the sight of his peaceful and dignified visitors, the man was surprised and regretted our coming and was in hesitancy how to act. At last he found a place for our lodging. When we entered the house it was more forbidding than his own heart. A strange scene took place and an exceeding sorrow filled our minds. My elder brother hung round me saying, "Notwithstanding my greater experience, I have been mistaken, and thou with little knowledge of men hast judged aright. Now what is to be done and what is the course proposed, and where may we take refuge?" I replied, "Nothing has as yet happened; let us return to our own home and let me be the spokesman, and perhaps the badges of office of these worldlings will be removed and the trouble that threatens be overcome." My father applauded and approved the counsel, but my brother would not consent and said, "Thou hast no knowledge of this business nor perceive the fraud and diabolical malignity of these men. Let us leave this place and discuss as we go along." Although I had not traversed the desert of experience nor the good and evil ways of men, a divine inspiration suggested a person to my mind and I said, "It has occurred to me that if things go fairly well, such a one will help, but in a time of serious trouble it will be difficult for him to join us." As time was pressing and our minds in perplexity we set out in his direction. Footsore we proceeded through ways clogged with mud and reflected on the vicissitudes of fortune. Loosing hold of the "strong handle" of reliance in God, trudging onwards dispirited and thinking the world in pursuit, we advanced each step with difficulty, breathing with effort, oppressed with exceeding sorrow and believing the day of the resurrection of the wicked at hand.
At dawn we reached his house. At the news he met us with cordiality and found us a suitable lodging and our many cares were somewhat abated.
[Shaikh Mubarak's enemies get a royal warrant issued to arrest him for trial according to the Quranic law against heresy.—Akbar orders his release—Mubarak's enemies still persecute him.]
In this retreat after two days, we learnt that these envious agitators had lifted the veil of shame and openly divulged the intentions of their foul minds and like crafty intriguers on the morning of that night they represented their case to His Majesty and perplexed his august mind. An order was issued from the imperial palace that affairs of state should not be transacted without consultation with them, that this was a question of faith and religion the issue of which lay entirely in their hands, that the fugitives should be summoned before the judicial tribunal and whatever the illustrious law decided and the heads of the government determined should be carried out. The royal pursuivants were set on and despatched in search, and when they learnt what had happened they made every effort at discovery. Some evildoers, plotters of villainy, accompanied them and not finding us in our dwelling and believing a vain report, they surrounded the house and finding my brother Abu'l Khayr in the house they took him to the court and reported our flight with a hundred embellishments, and made it an occasion of shameless accusations. By an extraordinary favour of heaven His sagacious Majesty was apprised of this gathering of interested detractors and their manner of insinuation, and replied, "Why is all this hostility shown against an obscure dervish and learned ascetic, and what is the object of this senseless clamour? The Shaykh constantly travels and has now probably gone abroad for recreation. Why have they brought this boy? and why interdicted the house?" The boy was at once released and the prohibition against the house removed. The breeze of favour now blew upon that dwelling. Since some difficulties were in the way and apprehension was uppermost and various rumours contradicted the above, we fugitives disbelieving it remained in concealment. The base villains covered with confusion now thought that as their victims were without house and home, this was the time to carry out their designs and that some dark-minded miscreants should be engaged to kill them wherever they met them, lest they should learn what had happened and introduce themselves to the royal court and secure justice by the lustre of their talents. Concealing, therefore, the answer of the King, they put forth some alarming and awe-inspiring language as though uttered by his august lips and thus terrified unsuspecting and time-serving friends. And they issued some plausible documents misleading men into wrong conclusions and thus held them back from intended assistance. After a week, the master of the house too becoming discouraged, began to be vexatious and his servants discontinued their former civility. The minds of the fugitives were under apprehension, and their agitated hearts were convinced that the first report had no foundation, that the King was investigating and the world in pursuit, and that the master of the house would undoubtedly surrender them. An exceeding grief overwhelmed them and a great fear entered their hearts. I said: “Judging for myself, of this much I am assured: that the original rumour is correct, otherwise they would not have released my brother nor would the guards over our house have been removed. May not this supposed incivility be only outward? In a time of security whenever an ill rumour was heard, even good men, led away by it, rose against us; now if a man like the master of the house is afraid, what is there to wonder at? and if he intended to apprehend us, there would have been no change in his outward demeanour and he would not have delayed. The fabrications of malevolent reprobates have undoubtedly bewildered him and have induced his men to this, so that seeing this discourtesy we should leave the house and relieve his mind of anxiety." Thus reflecting we were somewhat recovered and set ourselves to devise some plan, and a dark day dawned more distressful than the first night, and gloomy was the prospect before us. They applauded both my first opinion and this statement of my views and recognized me as a counsellor and trusted adviser and overlooking my youth they promised not to oppose my advice in future.
[Wanderings of the persecuted Shaikh Mubarak and his sons—the dangers and privations they underwent when fleeing from the bigoted heresy-hunters.]
When evening drew on, with hearts filled with a thousand anxieties and wounded bosoms and minds oppressed with sorrow, we went forth from that dreadful abode of woe, without a helper in sight, with fainting limbs, no place of refuge visible nor any prospect of peace. On a sudden in that gloomy haunt of demons, a flash shone and gladness smiled again. The house of one of the disciples appeared in sight and there for a while we rested. Although his abode was darker than his heart and his heart blacker than our first night, we reposed a while and recovered from bewilderment; but though at the end of our resources and in the depths of depression, our minds continued active and our thoughts were roused to reflection. As we found no place of rest and nothing to comfort us I remarked that we had of late seen all that our best friends and oldest pupils and most steadfast disciples would do for us. The most advisable course to pursue was now to take ourselves away from this city of hypocrisy which was a dungeon inimical to learning and injurious to perfection, and to withdraw from these double-faced friends and unstable acquaintances whose loyalty rests on the breeze of spring and their performance on a rushing torrent. Perhaps a corner of privacy might be obtained and a stranger take us under his protection. There we might learn somewhat of the condition of His Majesty and discover the measure of his anger or clemency. It was possible to fall in with some kindly and upright friends and get a savour of the state of the times. If the occasion be favourable and fortune propitious we may again see better days, and if not, why the expanse of the world has not been contracted. Every bird has its perch and the corner of its nest and there is no commission of perpetual residence in this region of penalty. A certain noble, having obtained an assignment of land in the neighbourhood of the city had here settled; we might decipher the impressions of truth from the daily journal of his circumstances and the odour of his friendship be inhaled by the sense of a penetrating brain. Let us therefore abandoning all else, betake ourselves to him that we may repose somewhat in that inaccessible spot. Although the amity of worldlings has no fixed centre or constancy, there is this much at least that he has no further intercourse with those people. My good brother, changing his garments, set out at once on the road and hastened in that direction. Our friend was delighted at the news and cordially welcomed our advent as a piece of good fortune. And since it was a time of insecurity, he brought some soldiers with him so that no harm could come to us on the road and we should not be at the mercy of evil-disposed pursuers. In the midnight of despair that ready and vigilant friend arrived and conveyed the good tidings of comfort and brought the message of repose. On the instant we changed our garments and started on our journey and by divers roads arrived at his dwelling. He displayed great geniality and did us the highest service and an exceeding contentment was the harbinger of our happiness. For ten days we rested in his house and were safe from the warfare of the world, when suddenly a disaster more overwhelming than the preceding fell upon us from the firmament of fate. For, verily, the man was summoned to the royal court, and with the same strong potation with which the second man had been intoxicated, they finished this one's business and he became more hopelessly drunk than the former. He straightway rolled up the parchment of acquaintance.
One night, leaving that place we came to another friend. He welcomed our auspicious arrival as a privilege. But as he lived in the vicinity of an evil-disposed and turbulent person, he fell into great bewilderment and exceeding anxiety nearly drove him distracted. When the house was all asleep, we set forth without any definite destination in prospect, and however much we thought and pondered we found no resting place and therefore with an agitated heart and minds oppressed with sorrow, we returned to his house. Strangely enough the men of the house were not aware that we had left it. For a short space we who had severed the cord of reliance on God, took repose and thus forgot our troubles. My brother expressed his opinion that our leaving the place was an impulse of fear, not a counsel of wisdom. However much I represented to him that the man's vacillation was a sufficient guide and the change of manner in his servants a clear proof, it was of no avail and as the signs of dissatisfaction in our host increased, no other remedy was at hand. When that light-headed, improvident and overreaching individual reflected in his mind that these people ignorant of the inconvenience they cause, will take no hint and will not vacate the house, at daybreak without taking counsel with us or saying a kind word, he marched off and his venal servitors loading their tents took their departure. Here were we three left stranded in the wilds, in the neighbourhood of which a cattle-market had been established. A strange predicament it was—no place to abide in—no idea of whither to go—and no veil to conceal us. On every side were double-faced friends, determined enemies, base and cruel men, and time-servers banded together in pursuit, and we sitting in the dust of helplessness, in a wilderness without shelter, with gloomy prospects, in present distress and sunk in prolonged grief. However, in any case it was necessary to rise and proceed. Through that concourse of miscreants we passed on; the protection of God hung a veil before the eyes of men, and under the divine assistance and guard we went forth from that place of terror, and abandoning the fears of companionship and all trust in men, we escaped from the reproach of strangers and the God-speed of friends. We happened to come upon a garden where some kind of refuge offered itself. Our lost vigour returned and our hearts were greatly strengthened. And now it suddenly became manifest that some of our graceless pursuers frequented the place. Wearied with our search we rested for a while. Then with minds distracted and outwardly woebegone we came forth. In whatever direction we went, some unforeseen calamity filled us with gloom and our places were scarcely warm ere we set forth again in the wilderness of danger, until at length in this restless wandering and blind vagrancy the gardener recognised us and our condition became desperate. We were nigh expiring and resigning the bond of life. That good man with many expressions of good will restored our drooping spirits and charitably took us to his house and endeavoured to console us. Although my dear brother was still in the same wretched state and every moment grew paler, my spirits on the contrary rose. I read the signs of probity in the countenance of that genial person. My venerable father himself in communion with God was on the prayer-carpet of prudence and watched the course of events. Some part of the night had passed when the master of the gardener came forward with great cordiality and lengthened the tongue of reproval saying, “What! with such a friend as I am here, do you alight in this place of confusion! Why have you plucked your skirts from me?" and he acted in a manner which we could not have anticipated. I answered: "In this storm, which is according to an enemy's desire, we sought withdrawal from all our sincere friends and loyal well-wishers lest any injury befall them on this account." He was somewhat confused and said : "If you are not contented to stay in my house, let us see what can be done." He indicated to us a place of safety; the appearances of sincerity were evident from his language and following his wish, we chose a quiet nook and there alighted. We found here a retreat such as we desired, and from that place we despatched truthful accounts to people of just and commendable dispositions and to faithful friends, and each one became cognizant of our condition and set about remedying it and thus our pulses were quieted.
[A noble intercedes for Shaikh Mubarak. Akbar summons the Shaikh to his presence.]
We remained a little more than a month in that restful place and my good brother went from Agra to Fathpur, meaning when he reached the royal camp, to make our devoted partisans more zealous in our behalf. One morning that all-loving and circumspect soul returned with a thousand anxieties and troubles, bringing distressing news. It seems that one of the chief nobles and grey-beard elders of the imperial court on the information of these envious wretches, became furious, and without soliciting the usual permission or paying his submissive respects, entered the presence of Majesty with brusqueness and roughly said, "Has the world come to an end or is the day of resurrection at hand that in this court malicious fanatics have their way and good men are confounded? What ordinance is this that we have; and what ingratitude is this now shown?" My brother who loved peace, acknowledging his good intentions said, "To whom dost thou allude and what dost thou want of this person? Hast thou seen a vision? or is thy brain distracted?" When he mentioned the name, His Majesty was surprised at his wrong impression and said: “All the chief men of the day seem determined to persecute and do him to death and have passed judicial decrees against him. They give me no peace for a moment. Although I know that the Shaykh is in such and such a place (mentioning our retreat), I purposely take no notice of it, and I answer each one of them with a rebuke. Thou art clamorous without knowing and dost overstep due limits. Let some one go tomorrow morning and summon the Shaykh to the presence and an assembly of the divines shall be held." My good brother as soon as he heard of this disturbance came post-haste, and without any one's knowing, as before, we changed our clothes and set out and an anxiety more painful than on any previous occasion of disappointment, filled our minds with misgiving. Although it was in some degree evident how far people were in accord with us and what representations had been made by them to His Majesty and the extent of his knowledge of our circumstances,—knowledge that could read the invisible—nevertheless a greater apprehension disquieted us. Without our host's being aware, that very morning we began our journey. The blazing light of the sun, the dark plots of the wicked, the crush in the streets of the city, the movements of the spies, the absence of friends, the lack of these to share our burdens—what power has a pen of wood to tell but a fraction of this situation? and where even eloquent lips would stammer, what craft can lie in its divided tongue? At last with many heart-sinkings we turned into unbeaten tracks and escaped in some measure the turmoil of the city and the eyes of enemies.
[Painful wanderings of Shaikh Mubarak and his sons in search of a safe refuge—no friend bold enough to shelter them—their privations and residence in hiding.]
Since the condescension of His Majesty had newly become manifest, we now proposed to get together some horses and from those wilds to hasten on to the city of auspiciousness and alight at the residence of a certain person of whose integrity we had had long experience. Then perchance this turmoil might abate and the King put forth the hand of clemency. Of necessity, then, like prudent men, we prepared the requisites of travel and on a night darker than the minds of the envious and more protracted than the machinations of the vain of speech, we set out on the road. Withal the inexperience of the guide and his crooked proceedings, in the dawn of morning we arrived at that gloomy place. Our not very cordial host though he did not deny us, yet told such a tale of discomfiture as cannot be expressed, and by way of consideration for us said that the occasion had now passed and that His Majesty's august mind was somewhat irritated; had we come before, there would have been no detriment and our difficulties would easily have been overcome: that he could point out a village, in the neighbourhood, in the obscurity of which we might pass a few days until the hallowed pleasure of the King might incline to favour. Putting us into a conveyance he sent us off in that direction. We became a prey to a variety of sorrows. When we reached the spot, the land-proprietor in dependence on whom we had been sent, was absent. We alighted without a shelter in that ruin in the midst of civilization. The overseer had occasion to read a document and discovering the signs of intelligence in our appearance, he sent for us. As we were pressed for time we hurried along the road of refusal and it shortly appeared that this village belonged to one of those said stony-hearted miscreants. The man in his stupidity had sent us here. With much disquietude and full of anxiety we flung ourselves out of the place and taking an unknown guide we made for a village in the dependency of the capital city of Agra whence some savour of friendliness had reached us. Travelling for three kos, on the same day by devious paths we reached our destination. That good man shewed us every courtesy, but it was discovered that there also one of those vain schemers had a farm and that at times he visited the place. Retiring thence, at midnight with downcast hearts we set out for the city and reaching Agra, the capital, at daybreak we discovered the abode of a (supposed) friend. Here for a space in this dust-heap of disappointment and dormitory of oblivion, this place of depravity abounding in demons, this defile of ignorance, we reposed, but it was not long before he began to speak of those malevolent enemies of God and shameless intriguers. In the companionship as we were, of such a lying, crazed and quarrelsome fanatic, our minds were verily oppressed by a new grief and exceeding bewilderment. And since our feet were worn with tramping, our heads with thoughts of night-travel, our ears with the sound of "come in", and our eyes with the pricking of sleeplessness, an extraordinary anguish filled our spirits and a weight of grief was in stewardship of our hearts. Of necessity we thought of other plans and the master of the house also, occupied himself in finding a place for us.
[A good householder kindly entertains Mubarak and his sons of two months, while they seek for some friend at Court who would speak for them to the Emperor. Mubarak and Faizi are presented to Akbar.]
Two days we spent in this interior agitation, and passed the hours in thinking each moment was our last until the recollection of a certain well-disposed person occurred to the saintly mind of that serene sage (my father), and by the aid of the master of the house and his assiduous search he was discovered and a thousand happy announcements brought us security. Straightway we went to that abode of peace and received comfort from the cordiality and genial reception of its master. The breeze of prosperity now blew upon the garden of our hopes and the face of our circumstances was newly refreshed. Although he was not one of the infallible guides to truth, he possessed a large share of virtue. In obscurity he lived with good repute; he was rich though possessing little, cheerful in his poverty, and though old in years, youth shone from his aspect. We here had a delightful retreat and we again began our correspondence and sought to repair our fortunes.
For two months we continued to abide in this home of comfort and the door of our desire was unclosed. Well-wishers seeking justice came to our rescue and men of experience and high position girt themselves in our aid. With speech of persuasive friendliness and sweet words of reconciliation they won over the seditious intriguers and ignoble wrong-doers, and next they brought before His Majesty the exemplary conduct of the Shaykh and made their representations in an engaging and conciliatory spirit. His Majesty in his foresight and knowledge of character, vouchsafed the most gracious answers and in his generous impulse and magnanimity desired his attendance. As I was inexperienced in worldly affairs, I did not accompany him, and that illumined sage with my elder brother set the face of supplication to the royal court. At once the hornets' nest of the ungrateful was quiet. The disturbed world was at peace. The courses of instruction and the quiet sanctuary of holy recollection were established as before, and the age again displayed the ways of the just.
Love's quarrels of the past, O night, bring never back their pain,
About this time my venerable father went on a pilgrimage to holy Delhi and took me with him, accompanied by some of the disciples of his saintly conferences. Since the time he had taken up his abode in the metropolis he was so much absorbed in spiritual contemplation in that hermitage of light that he had had no leisure to observe the marvels of the earth. Suddenly this desire took possession of his heart and he loosened the skirt of resolve, and honouring me with unique consideration, he made me, who over and above the earthly bonds of sonship was attached by spiritual ties, a partaker of his secret.
To recount briefly; once at early dawn, when his heart was lifted up to heaven and he was upon the carpet of praise and supplication, between sleeping and waking, Khwajah Qutbuddin U'shi and Nizamu'ddin Awliya appeared to him, and upon this numerous divines gathered together and a conference was held for consultation as to what it was advisable to do, and it was proposed to visit their tombs by way of propitiation (of the spirits of the two saints) immediately and there perform a religious ceremonial after their ordinances. My venerable father after the manner of his saintly ancestors, preserved an exact outward decorum and indulged not in the hearing of songs nor the vanity of silk attire, and did not approve of the ecstasies of music and dance affected by the Sufis. He spoke against the followers of this practice and he used constantly to say that on the assumption of the indifference between rich and poor, praise and blame, earth and gold, which was one of the principles on which this system proceeded, it contained within itself the volatility of unrest and he regarded it as a place of blacksliding unto the wise. He commanded a rigid abstention therefrom, withdrew from it himself and restrained his friends. But in truth, on this night, these slumberers on the couch of vigilance who looked on this ceremony as they would on their last journey, went into such exhaustive proof of the innocence of their intention and the morality of the act that they carried away the concurrence of my father. In that happy journey many of the tombs of those who sleep in that land of roses were passed, and hearts were filled with light, and blessings were vouchsafed (whereof if the narrative were detailed, men would regard it as an idle fiction and in suspicion might impute the stain of sin), until I was carried from the hermitage of seclusion to the court of wordly intercourse and the gate of prosperity was opened and I obtained the summit of distinction. The condition of the inebriate with greed and those who were a prey to envy became gloomy and my heart was pained and compassionated their confusion. I made a steadfast vow to the Almighty and I promised myself that the wronging of these blind souls who are as a lamp without light and an invisible sign, should be effaced from the path of my upright heart and I would allow no feeling but kindness to enter therein. By the aid of the grace of God I enforced this resolve and gained new satisfaction and my mind new vigour. Men abandoning evil-doing took to sociability and drew the breath of repose. My venerable father occupied himself in admonition and exposed the quarrelsomeness, the crooked ways, the untruth and the unworthiness of men and enjoined the chastisement of evildoers. I was inclined to be reticent about speaking of these close secrets and was ashamed to reply to my venerable father. Eventually I was compelled to represent what had happened to him to His Majesty and relieved the ebullition of my father's spirit. Many of his anxieties were now relieved and his long-open wounds were healed.
To make a long story short, when the imperial standards advanced to the capital of Lahore for reasons of state, and my heart was sore at parting from that preceptor of truth, in the thirty-second year of the reign, corresponding with the lunar year 995 (A.D. 1586-87), I invited his gracious visit. On the 23rd of the 3rd month (Khurdad) of the Divine Era and the thirty-second year of the reign, coinciding with Saturday, the 6th of Rajab of the above lunar year (31st May, 1586), that knower of all things material and spiritual fulfilling my desire, cast the shadow of his beneficence on me who though engaged in the world preferred solitude, and honoured me by special kindnesses. He ever found delight in seclusion, and renouncing all else passed his days in self-introspection and in the renovation of the ever-capricious spirit.
Inasmuch as he troubled himself little about worldly knowledge, his conversation was always regarding the essence and attributes of God and he took heedful warning and led an independent life apart and gathered the skirts of liberation of spirit until his august health lost its elementary equilibrium. Although he had often suffered in the same way before, he learnt on this occasion, that it was his last journey and summoning this bewildered creature addressed me in words of salutary advice and went through the last obligations of farewell. As all that he said was between us alone and he shared with me in confidence his inmost thoughts, I kept down my anguish of heart and with many efforts commanded some self-restraint and by the miraculous efficacy of that leader in the world of sanctity, to some extent was calm. After seven days, in full consciousness and at the very dawn of the 24th of the 5th month (Amurdad) of the Divine Era, on the 17th of Zi’qaadah. A.H. 1001 (Tuesday, 4th August, 1593) he passed into the gardens of paradise. The luminary of the firmament of knowledge became obscured and the light of an understanding that knew God grew dim. The back of Learning was bowed and the days of Wisdom itself passed away. Jupiter withdrew his robe from his head and Mercury destroyed his pen.
Gone from the world is he its peerless sageThis has been to some extent evidenced in what has gone before.
[Abul Fazl's birth—his early intellectual brilliancy— diversified education—hard study for ten years.]
As I have now recounted somewhat of my ancestors, 1 proceed to say a few words regarding myself and thus unburden my mind, in order to refresh this narrative and loosen the bonds of my tongue. In the year 473 of the Jalali era, corresponding to the night of Sunday, the 6th of Muharram 958 of the lunar reckoning (14th January 1551), my pure spirit joined to this elemental body came forth from the womb into this fair expanse of the world. At a little over one year I had the miraculous gift of fluent speech and at five years of age I had acquired an unusual stock of information and could both read and write. At the age of seven I became the treasurer of my father's stores of knowledge and a trusty keeper of the jewels of hidden meaning and as a serpent, guarded the treasure. And it was strange that by a freak of fortune my heart was disinclined, my will ever averse, and my disposition repugnant to conventional learning and the ordinary courses of instruction. Generally I could not understand them. My father in his way conjured with the spell of knowledge and taught me a little of every branch of science, and although my intelligence grew, I gained no deep impressions from the school of learning. Sometimes I understood nothing at all, at others doubts suggested themselves which my tongue was incapable of explaining. Either shame made me hesitate or I had not the power of expression. I used to weep in public and put all the blame upon myself. In this state of things I came into fellowship of mind with a congenial helper and my spirit recovered from that ignorance and incomprehension. Not many days had elapsed before his conversation and society induced me to go to college and there they restored to rest my bewildered and dissipated mind and by the wondrous working of destiny they took me away and brought another back.
The temple as I entered, drew they nighThe truths of philosophy and the subtleties of the schools now appeared plain, and a book which I had never before seen gave me a clearer insight than any thing I could read. Although I had a special gift which came down upon me from the throne of holiness, yet the inspirations of my venerable father and his making me commit to memory the essential elements of every branch of science, together with the unbroken continuity of this chain, were of immense help, and became one of the most important causes of my enlightenment. For ten years longer I made no distinction between night and day, teaching and learning, and recognized no difference between satiety and hunger, nor discriminated between privacy and society, nor had I the power to dissever pain from pleasure. I acknowledged nothing else but the bond of demonstration and the tie of knowledge. Those who had a regard for my constitution, from seeing that two and sometimes three days passed without my taking food, and that my studious spirit had no inclination therefore, were amazed, and stood out strongly against it. I answered that my withdrawal,was now a matter of habit and custom, and how was it that no one was astonished when the natural inclination of a sick man on an attack of illness was averse from food. If therefore my love of study induced forgetfulness, where was the wonder? Most of the current arguments of the schools, frequently misquoted and misunderstood when heard, and abstruse questions from ancient works, had been presented to the fresh tablet of my mind. Before these points had been elucidated and the attribution to me of extreme ignorance had passed to that of transcendent knowledge, I had taken objection to ancient writers, and men learning my youth, dissented, and my mind was troubled and my inexperienced heart was in agitation. Once in the early part of my career they brought the gloss of Khwajah Abu'l Qasim, on the Mutawwal. All that I had stated before learned doctors and divines of which some of my friends had taken notes, was there found, and those present were astounded and withdrew their dissent, and began to regard me with other eyes and to raise the wicket of misunderstanding and to open the gate of comprehension. In my early days of study, the gloss of Isfahani more than half of which had been eaten by white ants, came under my observation. The public being in despair at profiting by it, I removed the parts that had been eaten and joined blank paper to the rest. In the serene hours of morning, with a little reflection, I discovered the beginnings and endings of each fragment and conjecturally penned a draft text which I transcribed on the paper. In the meanwhile the entire work was discovered, and when both were compared, in two or three places only were there found differences of words, though synonymous in meaning; and in three or four others, (differing) citations but approximate in sense. All were astounded.
[Abul Fazl's strange mental disturbance at the age of twenty.]
The more my will was engaged, the more my mind was illumined. At the age of twenty the good tidings of my independence reached me. My mind cast off its former bonds and my early bewilderment recurred. With a parade of much learning, the intoxication of youth effervescing, the skirts of pretension spread wide, and the world-displaying cup of wisdom in my hand, the ringings of delirium began to sound in my ears, and suggested a total withdrawal from the world. Meanwhile the wise prince-regnant called me to mind and drew me from my obscurity, somewhat of which I have in its entirety and somewhat but approximately suggested and acknowledged. Here my coin has been tested and its full weight passed into currency. Men now view me with a different regard, and many effusive speeches have been made amid felicitous congratulations evoked.
On this day which is the last of the 42nd year of His Majesty's reign (A.D. 1598), my spirit again breaks away from its yoke and a new solicitude arises within me.
My songster heart knows not King David's strains:I know not how it will all end nor in what resting-place my last journey will have to be made, but from the beginning of my existence until now the grace of God has continuously kept me under its protection. It is my firm hope that my last moments may be spent in doing His will and that I may pass unburdened to eternal rest.
[Thirty-two ways in which Abul Fazl has derived benefits from the grace of God.]
As the enumeration of the benefits
of God is one way of expressing gratitude therefor, I here set down a few
of these and invigorate my spirit:—
[His brothers.]=The twenty-fifth, my marriage into an honourable house and a family distinguished for learning and the respect in which it was held. This gave my outward person credit and was as a leading rein to my unruly spirit; Hindu, Kashmiri and Persian wives were occasions of great joy to me.
=The twenty-sixth, the blessing of a dear and virtuous son. He was born on the night of the 18th of Day Mah (December) in the 16th year of the reign, corresponding to Monday night, the 12th Shaban 979 (29th Decemoer 1571). My father named him Abdu'r Rahman. Although he is of Hindustani extraction, he has the Greek temperament and is fond of study, has much experience of the good and evil of life, and his countenance displays the marks of a happy fortune. His Majesty has allied him in marriage with his foster family.
=The twenty-seventh, the sight of a grandson. On the night of the 30th of the month of Amurdad Mah i Ilahi in the 30th year of the reign corresponding with Friday, 3rd Zi'l Qaadah 999 (13th August 1591), in an auspicious moment, this child of happy destiny appeared and the favour of God became manifest. His Majesty gave this sapling in the garden of felicity the name of Bishutan. It is my hope that he may be blessed with the highest perfections of nature and grace and attain to the fruition of eternal bliss.
=The twenty-eighth, a love for the study of moral treatises.
=The twenty-ninth, knowledge of the rational soul. For many years I had studied the principles of ontology and physics and had conversed much with the professors of these two sciences and all the proofs by indagation [[=investigation]] and evidence, inductive and ocular, had come under my observation. Still the path of doubt remained unclosed and my mind was not satisfied. By the blessing of faith this difficulty was solved and I became convinced that the rational soul is a subtile divine essence separate from the body, having, however, a peculiar union with this elemental form.
=The thirtieth, that from high principle, the awe of the great in place has never withheld me from speaking the truth nor interfered with my pursuit of knowledge and light, nor the fear of ruin to property, life and reputation made me falter in this resolution; thus my course has run on like a flowing stream.
=The thirty-first, indifference to wordly considerations.
=The thirty-second, the grace to complete this work. Although the motive of this divine book is the praise of God which I have proclaimed with a tongue under the spell of a daily increasing felicity and gratitude for His favours expressed by the language of my pen, nevertheless it is the fountain-head of various knowledge and a mine of wisdom to many. To industrious workers it is a guide, and the triflers and gay will find their portion therein. To youth it will be a source of pleasure, to manhood a cause of pride. The stricken in years will there find the experience of ages, and those who lavish the silver and the gold of this world will therein recognise the ordinances of manly fortitude. To the jewel of perspicacity it is a glad weighing-place; to the grasses of freedom, a fertile soil. It is the wicket of the laboratory of skill for the morn of felicity, the deep sea of creation's gem. The favored who seek for fame will in it find the road thereto, and the godly who pursue truth will rejoice in the custody of the volume of their deeds. Merchants of every kind of ware will learn the ways of profit, and champions in the arena of valour will read therein the tablets of heroism. Those who mortify the flesh for the edification of the spirit will take therefrom the institutes of virtue, and the blessed and sincere of heart will gather thence treasures without end, while those who repose in the pleasant vales of truth will by its means attain to their desire.
A wondrous work herein behold
Although the son of Mubarak is at the present time the object of resentment and held up as a warning to mankind, and a strife of love and hate is kindled in his regard, the worshippers of God who seek truth give him the name of Abu'l Wahdat, and account him a unique servant of the Supreme Giver. The valourous in the field of bravery style him Abu'l Himmat and deem him one of the wonders of carnal self-denial. Wisdom proclaims him Abul-Fitrat, and considers him a choice specimen of that sublime house. In the writings of the vulgar herd which are noisy dens of ignorance, some attribute wordliness to him and hold him to be one of those plunged into this whirlpool, while others regard him as given up to scepticism and apostacy, and band together in reproof and condemnation.
Of me a hundred fictions rumoured fly,God be praised that I am not moved from these honourable dispositions by watching the strange vicissitudes of life, nor turn from well-wishing both to those who blame and those who commend, and defile not my tongue with reproof or praise.
The dullard's eye to sterling merit dim,
/1/ Blochmann refers to this as the Maldeo disturbances without further comment. I think he misapprehends the sense. Abul Fazl must refer to the affair subsequent to the final defeat of Humayun by Sher Shah, near Kanauj, in 1540 A.D. Humayun fled to Sind, and failing in his attempts there marched by way of Jesalmer to Nagor and Ajmer then ruled by Maldeo the most powerful of Hindu rajas. This prince determined to seize him and make him over to Sher Shah. Warned in time Humayun fled at midnight to Amarkot.
/2/ Hemu was a shop-keeper whom Salim Shah had made Superintendent of the markets, and who was raised by Muhammad Shah Aadili to the highest honours and entrusted with the whole administration. He certainly proved his great capacity, for he suppressed the revolt of Sikandar Sur in the Punjab, crushed Muhammad Sur in Bengal, captured Agra from the Mughal troops, and defeated Akbar's general Tardi Beg at Delhi. He was, however, eventually beaten at Panipat by Bayram Khan on the 5th November 1556, after a desperate battle in which he fought with the greatest bravery. He had been shot in the eye by an arrow in his howdah, and though in great agony, he drew the arrow with the eyeball out of its socket and wrapt it in his handkerchief, and continued the fight to encourage his troops. He was taken prisoner and carried before Akbar. Bayram recommended the king to slay him with his own hand and fulfill a meritorious act. Akbar lightly touched him with his saber and became entitled to the honours of a Ghazi [a slayer of infidels]. The deed itself, he suffered Bayram to execute, who decapitated Hemu at a single blow. Saladin, a true Ghazi, would have spared so gallant a foe.
/3/ Amongst these are that he must be of the tribe of the Quraysh and of the family of Fatima. His countenance will be open and his nose aquiline, and he will fill the earth with equity and justice as it has been filled with tyranny and oppression. A rival, also of the Quraysh, will be raised up to oppose him, who will levy war against him and obtain aid of his uncles of the tribe of Kalb. During the reign of the Mahdi, heaven and earth will be pleased with him and there shall be abundant rains, and the earth will give forth her fruits and men's lives will pass pleasantly, and he will continue on the earth seven, eight or nine years, and dying, will be prayed over by the Muslims. Other tokens have been predicted, such as the black ensigns coming from the direction of Khorasan; but these were additions made in the interest of the Abbasides and for the glory of that house.
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