March 11, 2007

From the Archives: The Tasin of jokes that are not funny

The Tasin of jokes that are not funny

This was the end of a paper I wrote for a class on Sufism, my senior year of college.

Khizr. Did you hear the one about the mystic who, realizing both light and darkness flow from the same head, embraced both?

Musa. No, I haven’t heard that one.

Khizr. His body and soul were elongated both up and down the river of life!

Khizr. What’s the difference between the ‘ayni from which Iblis fell and the ‘ayn of ‘ayn from which Ahmad averted his gaze?

Musa. The source is unmoved by the motions it moves?

Khizr. How do you know? You know nothing. When citizens of the British Empire were visiting the Indian colony, the pricier cabins on the ships around the coast of Africa were on the left side there and the right side back – for a purer vision of the shore. This is where the expression ‘posh’ comes from – Port Out, Starboard Home. Direction determines everything.

Khizr. Did you hear the one about the Pharoah who only believed in himself?

Musa. Through the power of the One, We increased his plagues ninefold until he was an isolated unit of individuality?

Khizr. No. His pure atheism led unto an absolute annihilation and unification.

Khizr. What happened when Rabi‘a so witnessed the creator that it preoccupied her from gazing on the creationii?

Musa. What?

Khizr. What happened when Narcissus fell in love with his own image and drowned?

Musa. What?

Khizr. What?

Musa. They’re both dead?

Khizr. Didn’t I say to you that you would not be able to be patient with meiii?

Khizr. What happened when Echo pined away with love for Narcissus?

Musa. You will find me patient, God willing, and I will not disobey you in anything.

Khizr. Did you hear the one about the mystic who memorized the whole Book?

Musa. No, I have not.

Khizr. They released it in paperback.

Musa. No, really, what happened? Was he able to translate it into every moment in Time and Space across which he came? Did even his subconscious become a sign?

Khizr. Has the Lord again been telling you he will show you his face, and then merely crumbling mountains?

Khizr. Did you hear about the mystic who closed his eyes?

Musa. He ran into a tree?

Khizr. No. But the pigeon never crooned so mellifluous.

Khizr. Did you hear the one about the abject lover whose separation from God was complete?

Musa. No. What happened to him?

Khizr. He was given back his name, the Faithful.

Musa. But if there were no darkness, there would be all light.

Khizr. This is the parting between you and me.

i“Because of its rich semantic base, the Arabic word ‘ayn is frequently difficult to translate. It can mean ‘eye’, ‘source’, ‘spring’, or ‘essence’, or even ‘concrete manifestation’ of something.” Michael Sells, Early Islamic Mysticism, 1996, Paulist Press, New York; pg. 273.

ii ibid., pg.165

iii Qur’an 18:75, trans. Kristin Zahra Sands

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