Having become tired of my friends in Damascus, I went into the desert of Jerusalem and associated with animals till the time when I became a prisoner of the Franks, who put me to work with infidels in digging the earth of a moat in Tarapolis, when one of the chiefs of Aleppo, with whom I had formerly been acquainted, recognized me and said: ‘What state is this?’ I recited:
‘I fled from men to mountain and desert
Wishing to attend upon no one but God.
I remember having in the days of my youth passed through a street, intending to see a moon-faced beauty. It was in Temuz, whose heat dried up the saliva in the mouth and whose simum boiled the marrow in my bones. My weak human nature being unable to endure the scorching sun, I took refuge in the shadow of a wall, wishing someone might relieve me from the summer heat and quench my fire with some water; and lo, all of a sudden, from the darkness of the porch of a house a light shone forth, namely a beauty, the grace of which the tongue of eloquence is unable to describe. She came out like the rising dawn after an obscure night or the water of immortality gushing from a dark cavern, carrying in her hand a bowl of snow-water, into which sugar had been poured and essence of roses mixed. I knew not whether she had perfumed it with rose-water or whether a few drops from her rosy face had fallen into it. In short, I took the beverage from her beautiful hands, drank it and began to live again.
The thirst of my heart cannot be quenched
By sipping limpid water even if I drink oceans of it.
A disciple without intention is a lover without money; a traveller without knowledge is a bird without wings; a scholar without practice is a tree without fruit, and a devotee without science is a house without a door. The Qaroon (Korah) was revealed for the acquisition of a good character, not for chanting written chapters. A pious unlettered man is like one who travels on foot, whilst a negligent scholar is like a sleeping rider. A sinner who lifts his hands in supplication is better than a devotee who keeps them proudly on his head.
A good humoured and pleasant military officer
Is superior to a theologian who injures men.
I never lamented about the vicissitudes of time or complained of the turns of fortune except on the occasion when I was barefooted and unable to procure slippers. But when I entered the great mosque of Kufah with a sore heart and beheld a man without feet I offered thanks to the bounty of God, consoled myself for my want of shoes and recited:
‘A roast fowl is to the sight of a satiated man
Less valuable than a blade of fresh grass on the table
A vezier paid a visit to Zulnun Misri and asked for his favour, saying: "I am day and night engaged in the service of the sultan and hoping to be rewarded but nevertheless dread to be punished by him." Zulnun wept and said: "Had I feared God, the great and glorious, as thou fearest the sultan, I would be one of the number of the righteous."
If there were no hope of rest and trouble
The foot of the dervish would be upon the sphere
Who has renounced appetites for the sake of approbation by men has fallen from licit into illicit appetites.
A devotee who sits in a corner not for God’s sake
Is helpless. What can he see in a dark mirror?
I have seen a fat fool, dressed in a costly robe, with a turban of Egyptian linen on his head, riding on an Arab horse. Someone said: ‘Sa’di, what thinkest thou of this famous brocade upon this ignorant animal?’ I replied: ‘It is like ugly characters scrawled with gold-water.’
Verily he is like an ass among men,
A calf, a body which is bleating.
Three things cannot subsist without three things: property without trade, science without controversy and a country without punishment.
Speak sometimes in a friendly, conciliatory, manly way
Perhaps thou wilt ensnare a heart with the lasso.
Moses, to whom be salutation, beheld a dervish who had on account of his nudity concealed himself in the sand exclaiming: ‘O Moses, utter a supplication to God the most high to give me an allowance because I am, on account of my distress, on the point of starvation.’ Moses accordingly prayed and departed but returning a few days afterwards he saw that the dervish was a prisoner and surrounded by a crowd of people. On asking for the reason he was informed that the dervish had drunk wine, quarrelled, slain a man and was to be executed in retaliation.
If the humble cat possessed wings
He would rob the world of every sparrow-egg.