Two Poems by Al–Mu’ayyad fi’l–Din al–Shirazi
The Pure Progeny
Peace be upon the pure progeny,
and welcome to their resplendent lights.
I begin with peace upon Adam from whom
came all mankind, whether nomadic or sedentary.
Peace be upon the one who with his staff
overpowered the unbelievers of the tyrant Pharaoh.
Peace be upon Jesus, the Holy Spirit,
who by his coming, bestowed honor on Nazareth.
Peace be upon Muhammad, the chosen,
the one who intercedes in the hereafter.
Peace be upon Ali, the beloved,
and those descended from him, the radiant stars.
Peace be upon you, O Sovereign Lord
of Cairo, and all their gain abides with you.
I sacrifice my soul to Mustansir,
who is supported by the legions of heaven.
I bear witness that it is your blessed face
which illumines the faces of your followers.
You are the custodian of the fountain of life,
and may the fountain of your enemies perish!
The Ascension of Intellect
How many observers are there
with eyes that cannot see?
How many seers are there
with hearts that cannot reflect?
For the human eye to see,
there are certain conditions;
he who disregards them
loses his way in the darkness.
The eye is of no avail
if it does not receive light
from the sun or the moon,
or from the burning torch.
Similarly the intellect,
during reflection by itself,
remains in the throes of
doubt and bewilderment.
Except when it is helped
by a light from outside;
then it ascends the ladder
of enlightened contemplation.
Please also read an inspiring account by the same poet at Literary Reading: “Dazzled by the Light” – An Encounter with the Imam of the Time. Al–Mu’ayyad fi’l–Din al–Shirazi lived during the reign of the Fatimid Imam-Caliph Mustansir-bi-Allah. He was the mentor of Nasir-Khushraw.
The following quote by His Highness the Aga Khan captures the spirit of the second poem above:
* …The Divine Intellect Aql-i kull, both transcends and informs the human intellect. It is this intellect which enables man to strive towards two aims dedicated by the Faith: that he should reflect upon the environment Allah has given and that he should know himself. It is the light of intellect which distinguishes the complete human being from the human animal and developing that intellect requires free enquiry….” (from speech made at the inauguration of the Aga Khan University in Karachi, 1985).
Poems reproduced from Shimmering Light: An Anthology of Ismaili Poems, ed. Faquir M. Hunzai and Kutub Kassam, pub. I. B. Tauris in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 1997. Note: The second poem above appears under the title “The Light of Intellect” in the Anthology.