Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PEARLS OF THE FAITH: 45. ALLAH-AL-MUJIB, by EDWIN ARNOLD



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PEARLS OF THE FAITH: 45. ALLAH-AL-MUJIB, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Our lord the prophet (peace to him) doth write
Last Line: Better is prayer than food or sleep!
Variant Title(s): Ali And The Jew
Subject(s): God; Islam; Jews; Prayer; Judaism


Allah-al-Mujîb, Who biddest men to pray,
And hearest prayer; thus praise we Thee alway

Our Lord the Prophet (peace to him!) doth write—
Sura the seventeenth, intituled "Night:"—
"Pray at the noon, pray at the sinking sun,
In night-time pray; but most when night is done,
For daybreak's prayer is surely borne on high
By Angels changing guard within the sky."
And in another verse, "Dawn's prayer is more
Than the wide world with all its treasured store."

Therefore the Faithful, when the growing light
Gives to discern a black hair from a white.
Haste to the mosque, and, bending Mecca-way,
Recite Al-Fâtihah while 'tis scarce yet day:
Praise be to Allah, Lord of all that live.
Merciful King and Judge, to Thee we give
Worship and honor! Succor us and guide
Where those have walked who rest Thy Throne be side;
The way of peace, the way of truthful speech,
The way of righteousness. So we beseech."
He who saith this, before the east is red,
A hundred prayers of Azan hath he said.

Hear now this story of it—told, I ween,
For your soul's comfort by Jelalu-'d-deen
In the great pages of the Mesnevî;
For therein, plain and certain shall ye see
How precious is the prayer at break of day
In Allah's ears, and in his sight alway
How sweet are reverence and gentleness
Done to his creatures:—"Ali" (whom I bless!),
The son of Abu Talib—he, surnamed
"Lion of God," in many battles famed,
The cousin of our Lord the Prophet (grace
Be his!), uprose betimes one morn, to pace,
As he was wont, unto the mosque, wherein
Our Lord (bliss live with him!) watched to begin
Al-Fâtihah. Darkling was the sky, and strait
The lane between the city and mosque-gate,
By rough stones broken and deep pools of rain;
And therethrough toilfully, with steps of pain,
Leaning upon his staff an old Jew went
To synagogue, on pious errand bent;
For those be "People of the Book," and some
Are chosen of Allah's will who have not come
Unto full light of knowledge; therefore, he,
Ali, the Caliph of proud days to be—
Knowing this good old man, and why he stirred
Thus early, ere the morning mills were heard—
Out of his nobleness and grace of soul
Would not thrust past, though the Jew blocked the whole
Breadth of the lane, slow hobbling. So they went,
That ancient first; and, in soft discontent,
After him Ali, noting how the sun
Flared near, and fearing prayer might be begun;
Yet no command upraising, no harsh cry
To stand aside, because the dignity
Of silver hairs is much, and morning praise
Was precious to the Jew, too. Thus their ways
Wended the pair; great Ali, sad and slow,
Following the greybeard, while the east, aglow,
Blazed with bright spears of gold athwart the blue,
And the Muezzin's call came, "Illahu!
Allah-il-Allah!"
In the mosque, our Lord
(On whom be peace) stood by the mimbar-board,
In act to bow and Fâtihah forth to say.
But, while his lips moved, some strong hand did lay
Over his mouth a palm invisible,
So that no voice on the assembly fell.
Ya! Rabbi'lalamîna—thrice he tried
To read, and thrice the sound of reading died,
Stayed by this unseen touch. Thereat amazed,
Our Lord Muhammad turned, arose, and gazed,
And saw—alone of all within the shrine—
A splendid Presence, with large eyes divine
Beaming, and golden pinions folded down,
Their speed still tokened by the fluttered gown:
Gabriel he knew, the Spirit who doth stand
Chief of the Sons of Heav'n, at God's right hand;
"Gabriel! why stay'st thou me?" the Prophet said,
"Since at this hour the Fâtihah should be read."
But the bright Presence, smiling, pointed where
Ali toward the outer gate drew near,
Upon the threshold shaking off his shoes,
And giving "alms of entry," as men use.
"Yea!" spake th' Archangel, "sacred is the sound
Of morning praise, and worth the world's great round.
Though earth were pearl and silver; therefore I
Stayed thee, Muhammad, in the act to cry,
Lest Ali, tarrying in the lane, should miss,
For his good deed, its blessing and its bliss."
Thereat the Archangel vanished, and our Lord
Read Fâtihah forth beneath the mimbar-board.

Us, too, Mujib! in hearing keep;
Better is prayer than food or sleep!





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