Al-Ma'arri on ahimsa #

If ye unto your sons would prove,
By act how dearly them ye love,
Then every voice of wisdom joins,
To bid you leave them in your loins.


Thou art diseased in understanding and religion. Come to me, that thou mayst hear the tidings of sound truth.
Do not unjustly eat what the water has given up [i.e., fish], and do not desire as food the flesh of slaughtered animals,
Or the white (milk) of mothers who intended its pure draught for their young, not for noble ladies.
And do not grieve the unsuspecting birds by taking their eggs; for injustice is the worst of crimes.
And spare the honey which the bees get betimes by their industry from the flowers of fragrant plants;
For they did not store it that it might belong to others, nor did they gather it for bounty and gifts.
I washed my hands of all this; and would that I had perceived my way ere my temples grew hoar!


O fools, awake! The rites ye sacred hold
Are but a cheat contrived by men of old,
Who lusted after wealth and gained their lust
And died in baseness—and their law is dust.

Selections from Maʿarrī's poetry found on pages 139, 134, and 173 respectively in Reynold Alleyne Nicholson's Studies in Islamic Poetry. Cambridge: University Press, 1921.

/misc | Aug 23, 2021

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