The Diwan: Poems of Shaikh Ahmed Al Alawi – Radhiya Allahu Anhu

you can find the entire original diwan of Shaikh Ahmed Al Alawi in the arabic version of this site. clik here

This section contains few of the Diwan Poems that have been nicely translated by Martin Lings, May Allah have mercy on his soul, in his book A Sufi Saint of the Twentieth Century: Shaikh Ahmed Al-’Alawi – His spiritual heritage and legacy.

The original Arabic full version is available in the Arabic Section of this website.

Introducing Chapter XIV of his book on Shaikh Ahmed Al Alawi, Martin Lings said:

“The Titles are mine. The first six extracts are taken from the Shaikh’s longest poem, with which his Diwan opens, pp. 3-12. These I have Translated into the metre of Beowulf, with four heavy stress, variously arranged, in each line, but to avoid forcing the translation I have taken many liberties with rithm, and have invariably sacrificed the alliteration-The Old English metre’s outstanding characteristic-when it would not come easily. All the other extracts, except `Laila`, are complete poems in the original…”

The Intellect

The Sun’s Light shineth in the Moon of the dark.

I am of its branches, and it is my Root.

Our intelligences are made drunk with the wine of love,

As though we were mad, yet mad we are not.

Thou seest us amongst men, but we are not as thou seest,

For our Spirits shine clear above the highest heights.

Ours is an intelligence, as flawless jewel,

Exquisite in beauty; it perceiveth naught but God.

This is the bond which bindeth, be it but glimmering.

Folk, ye are welcome, the elect of your Lord,

The works of His Art, made perfect for Himself.

You hath He privileged by lifting the veil

From the Light of His Face. What gratitude can give thanks

For the Infinite? Yet give what gratitude ye may

Unto Him who hath vouchsafed what transcendeth all price.

Exult then upon the Throne and upon the soil of earth,

For ye, none but ye, are the slaves of God.

In you bodies that were bone-dust have life

For ye are of God’s Spirit that entered into Adam,

Breath that Gabriel breathed into Mary.

Dance then in ecstasy and pride and joy,

And trail ye the robes of the glory that is your due.

The Impostor

But thou, hast thou sensed aught of what they perceive?

If thou art as they, then authority is thine,

But if thou findest nothing in thyself of what is theirs,

Then claim justice from thy soul; heed this description:

Hast thou folded up the world out of sight with one look,

Witnessed the All-Merciful where Manifest He is?

Hast effaced mankind from thy ken with one glance,

And strayed beyond the bounds of all, beyond the heights

Of heaven and earth’s deep? The whole universe

Hast encompassed with full pilgrimal visitation?

And hath that same universe made thee its shrine,

The holy axis of its reverential orbit?

Have the screens vanished from before thee in thine honour?

Hath the cloak been thrown off, the veil set aside?

And hath it been said unto thee: ‘Draw nigh:

Here is Our Beauty: welcome, enjoy it

As thine, at thy most intimate ease’?

Hath the Summoner summoned thee, and hast moved to his Command?

Hast doffed thy sandals, as one that is steeped

In the courtesies of the path? Hath the Infinite closed

Around thee on all sides? And when the moment came

For Union, didst to it lean with all thy bent?

Hast kept faithfully the Secret of God

After Its revelation, robing thyself in His Qualities?

All this would be some evidence of thy nearness.

Else-there are secrets which are not for the many.

If to this description thou answerest, then all hail!

If not, then art thou far from the Presence of the Lord.

Stand away from the lore of the Folk: thou art not of them;

Nor lay hands on the heritage of the orphan, offence

Most grievous. Unto God it is hateful to put

Painted promises in the place of deeds.

What use is tongue that in euphemies is fluent?

What good to o’ergild gashes and not heal them?

Doth aught but his cure avail the sick man?

Doth the exile take delight in an alien folk?

Rehearse well thy speech; thou canst talk as they talk,

But ’tis the hornet’s wax, not the honey-comb of the bee.

The Path

Will the seeker of God be content to be far?

Nay, for he needeth no less than Union.

The true seeker hath a sign on his face,

A light shineth gleaming upon his forehead.

Ever near is he, courteous, reverential,

Resolute, forbearing before censure, true friend

Honouring. His purpose all purposes transcendeth:

Naught can prevent him, the steep he seeth as level.

He hath no aim aside from his mark.

Longing for family diverteth him not, nor blame.

Fair his description, he needeth no other

But this, most excellent, that he seeketh the Truth.

Whoso is Its seeker, he maketh his quest

Sole object of his eyes. Then strippeth he his soul

Of all faults he can detect, and when stripped, robeth it

In their opposites. God’s slave at each time and place,

His bounden debt of worship fulfilling,

He addeth theereunto of his own free will,

Until the truth is his Hearing, Sight,

Tongue and Utterance, and Hands and Feet.

He dieth before his death to live in his Lord,

Since after this death is the supreme migration.

He calleth himself to account ere he be called,

He herein most fitted to act for the Truth.

The Truth’s Being he seeth before his own,

And after it, and wheresoever he turn.

Alone God was, and with Him naught else.

He is now as He was, lastly as firstly,

Essentially One, with naught beside Himself,

Inwardly Hidden, Outwardly Manifest,

Without beginning, without end. Whate’er thou seest,

Seest thou His Being. Absolute Oneness

No ‘but’ hath and no ‘except’. How should God Essence

Be confined with a veil? No veil there but His Light.

The Master

If a summoner call unto guidance, alluding

To his attainment of the Truth, and the Supreme Station,

Of remissness beware, and examine well his words.

Question him of Union; see if he reflect It.

If he say It be far, ’tis because he is far,

But if he say It be near, count him most worthy.

He will make plain to thee the path unto the Truth

Whereby thou mayest seek the face of God.

He will take thee at once, even at thy first meeting,

And set thy foot on its way unto the Lord.

Keep in thy mind’s eye the Name’s letters

Through his grace thou wilt come to see them shine

Clear on the horizons, though they shine but in thy Heart,

And when the Name is thine, all forgetfulness will vanish.

Magnify then the Letters to as large as thou canst;

Trace them on all things, both high and low.

Through keeping the Name in thine eye, thou wilt rise

By Its Light to where the worlds vanish into nothingness.

But at the Shaikh’s order, not at thine, do they vanish.

He is the Finger with which God pointeth.

Trust him then to take thee out of the cramp of prisons

To Freedom, to the First, who all beginnings doth precede,

And thou seest the whole world nothing in His Essence,

Less than nothing in the Infinity of the Lord.

When the Infinite doth appear thereat thou vanishest,

For ‘thou’ hast never been, from first until last.

Thou seest not who thou art, for thou art, yet art not ‘thou’.

Thou endurest, yet not as thyself; no strength is there but God’s.

After thine extinction to Eternity thou wilt rise,

Endlessly in Eternity of Eternity art affirmed,

Crown of all Altitude; for is it not Face

To Face with the Truth that our riders dismount?

The Cup

Sweet is the Folk’s drink. I tell of its flavour,

And I mean not wine nor mean I honey,

But an Ancient Draught beyond my power to describe,

For words ever fail Beauty’s describer.

Its cup is like it, can also be drunk,

Sufficient unto itself, and needing naught else.

I marvel at this cup that itself quencheth thirst,

And of itself goeth the round, from lover unto lover.

Of its qualities is magic that is graven round its rim:

To gaze on this seal is to be emptied of all strength.

Wondrous that I have not uttered its secret.

Other than me, drinking it, would neither fast nor pray.

If the prayer-leader beheld its beauty’s light

He would bow down to it rather than towards Mecca.

If the learned in mid lesson scented its perfume

They would cease teaching on the instant without delay.

If the pilgrim is full course between Safa and Marwah

Sighted its splendour he would stop, nor go round

The Ancient House, nor kiss the Black Stone.

Nay, the rim of this cup demandeth to be kissed

Where each one seeth, in his mirrored self,

The meaning of his quest. How shall he be restrained

Who thought himself vile and is become full of hounour?

He must needs break all bounds in exultation and joy.

This an ancient wine, most rare to drink;

It inciteth to no harm; fear no bemusedness.

In it is no heat, nor any cold,

Nor cloudeth it the wits, causing them to falter.

Subtle it is, elusive, beyond my powers to describe,

For words ever fail Beauty’s describer.


Accept none other for thy love but God.

All things apart from Him are pure illusion.

Here is my counsel, if thou canst counsel take.

The rememberers are ever absent in their Beloved,

For none have life save those who are near to Him.

Between such and the Truth there is no veil.

What are the Blessings of Paradise to them?

Passion God’s slaves hath melted; they have drunk,

And still drink, His eternal-treasured Wine,

The draught whereof hath robbed them of themselves.

Would thou couldst take one sip out of their cup!

‘Twould help to bridge the gap twixt thee and me.

A good slave he who saith: ‘I am at Thy service,’

Hearing God’s Call which I address to him.

If God thou seekest, then companion me:

For thee, be very sure, there is no way else.