not want to preserve worldly glory and renown which consists of hypocritical, undeserved fame; may God bless those who help in destroying it! So all that remains is my death and that is in the hands of the All-Glorious Creator. Who has the power to intervene in it before the time of its coming? Anyway we are one of those who prefer honourable death to degradation in life. Someone resembling the Old Said spoke the following lines: “We are those for whom there is no middle way; For us is either a place of honour among the people, or the grave.”1
In any event, service of the Qur’an prohibits me from thinking of socio-political life. It is like this: human life is a journey. I saw at this time through the light of the Qur’an that the way has entered a swamp. The caravan of mankind is stumbling forward in stinking, filthy mud. Part of it is travelling a safe way. Another part has found certain means to save itself as far as is possible from the muddy swamp. But the great majority are travelling in darkness in the midst of it. Twenty per cent suppose the filthy mud to be musk and ambergris because they are drunk, and are smearing it over their faces and eyes; they stumble on till they drown in it. However, eighty per cent understand it is a swamp and realize it is stinking and filthy, but they are bewildered and cannot discern the safe way. There are two solutions:
The First: to bring the drunken twenty per cent to their senses with a club.
The Second to point out the safe way to the bewildered by showing them a light.
I look and see that eighty people are brandishing clubs at the twenty per cent, while the light is not properly shown to the unhappy, bewildered eighty. Even if it is shown, since those showing it hold both the club and the light in the same hand, it does not inspire confidence. The bewildered person anxiously wonders: “Does he want to attract me with the light then hit me with the club?” And sometimes when, due to some defect, the club is broken, the light flies away too or else is extinguished.
Thus, the swamp is mankind’s dissolute social life, which breeds heedlessness and misguidance. The drunkards are those obdurate people who take delight in misguidance, while the bewildered ones are those who detest misguidance but cannot extract themselves from it. They want to be saved, but cannot find the way; they are confused. As for the clubs, they are the political currents, and the light, the truths of the Qur’an. Light can
Abu Firas al-Hamadani. (Tr.)