From Diwan al-Shafi’i

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah

I was reading Imam al-Shafi’i’s book of poetry and came across some thought-provoking entries…

بقَدْرِ الكدِّ تُكتَسَبُ المَعَالي *** ومَنْ طَلبَ العُلا سَهِرَ اللّيالي
ومَنْ رامَ العُلى مِن غَيرِ كَدٍّ *** أضَاعَ العُمرَ في طَلَبِ المُحَالِ
تَرُومُ العِزَّ ثم تَنامُ لَيلاً *** يَغُوصُ البَحْرَ مَن طَلَبَ اللآلي

Loftiness is attained in accordance to one’s struggles
And whoever seeks nobility, remains vigilant by night
Whoever wishes to achieve, without due effort
Will waste their life in seeking the impossible
You search for glory and yet you sleep at night
It is only the seeker of pearls who dives deep into the sea.

§-§

قالوا : سكت و قد خوصمت، قلت لهم: *** ان الجواب لباب الشر مفتاح
الصمت عن جاهل أو أحمق شرف *** و فيه أيضا لصون العرض إصلاح
أما ترى الاسد تُخشى و هي صامتة ؟! *** والكلب يخسى لعمري و هو نباح

They said, ‘You’ve been disputed but yet you keep silent?’
I said, ‘Indeed a response will only be a key to the doors of evil.’
Remaining silent from an ignorant one is indeed a virtue
And in it is also reform and protection of honour
Do you not see how the lion is feared, although he is silent?
And yet dogs are disgraced, but by God do they bark.

§-§

وما أحد من ألسن الناس سالماً *** ولو أنه ذاك النبي المطهرُ
وإن كان سكيتاً يقولون أبكم *** وإن كان منطيقاً يقولون أهدرُ
وإن كان صواماً وبالليل قائماً *** يقولون زرَاقٌ يرائي و يمكرُ

Nobody is safe from the tongues of people
Even if he were to be the Prophet so pure
If one is silent, they say he is voiceless
And if he speaks, they say he talks much
Were he to fast and stand to pray at night
They say he’s blind, he shows off, he deceives.

§-§

أقبل معاذيرَ من يأتيكَ معتذراً *** إنْ يرَّ عندكَ فيما قال أو فجرا
لقد أطاعكَ منْ يرضيك ظاهره *** وقد أجلَّكَ من يعصيكَ مستترا

Accept the apology of he who comes apologising to you
Regardless of what he said: if it was sinful or true
He whose outward character pleases you, has indeed obeyed you
And he who disobeyed you secretly, has in fact honoured you.

13 thoughts on “From Diwan al-Shafi’i

  1. You are missing the word tukhshaa (after the word asad) in the verses about silence. This word is needed for the meter and the word play al-Shafi’i is observing, may Allah have mercy on him.

    Nice work, Sister. I think you should include basic linguistic notes for the advanced Arabic students in the future. I send students to your blog all the time and I’m sure they’d benefit from insight into vocabulary or the various mansubat or elisions, for example.

    Jazakallah.

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