A ghazal by Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahim Dawlat Ilaki (1881–1947), by Stéphane Dudoignon


Figures 1 and 2: Front cover and ghazal on p. 36 of one of the Cyrillic editions of the ‘Unveiling of Secrets’, and anthology of ghazals from the diwan of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahim Dawlat Ilaki, ed. Mirzohusain Badalipur & Shaikh Qamariddin Darvozi, Dushanbe: Humo, 2000

Arabic-Script Transcription

شوی غافل ز یاد حق، به دل حسرت شود پیدا به دنیا دل مبند، طالب، شود ظلمت به دل پیدا
که شاید او تو را رهبر شود، حبّش شود پیدا بسوی عاشقان دل کباب رو، شو غلام از صدق
که احیای دل غافل شود از باده چون پیدا حیات جاودان خواهی، بنزد باده نوشان رو
که اعجاز مسیح از می باده شود پیدا بشو تو باده نوش از صحبت پیران و می نوشان
که خون دختر رز از لب ساغر شود پیدا به یاد نرگس شهلا دل مجروح ز مجگان کن
که تیغ اصل را برّش ز استاد می شود پیدا مبین تو، زاهدا، از راه فقر عیب خداجویی را
که طعن مردمان کردن شود ظلمت به دل پیدا مزن تو طعن، ای زاهد، ز راه عیب خلقان را
ادب، عبد الرحیم، کن تو، شود نورش به دل پیدا چه خوش باشد ادب در راه عشق آن خداوندی

Latin Transcription from the Cyrillic:

Ba dunio dil maband tolib, šavad zulmat ba dil paido
Šavī ġofil ba iodi Haq, ba dil hasrat šavad paido.
Ba sūi ošiqoni dilkabob rav, šav ġulom az sidq,
Ki šoiad ū turo rahbar šavad, hubbaš šavad paido.
Haioti jovidon xohī, ba nazdi bodanūšon rav,
Ki ēhioi dili ġofil šavad az boda čun paido.
Bišav tu bodanūš az sūhbati pironu mainūšon,
Ki ēʿjozi Maseh az mai boda šavad paido.
Ba iodi nargisi šahlo dili majrūh zi mijgon kun,
Ki xuni duxtari raz az labi soġar šavad paido.
Mabin tu, zohido, az rohi fikr aibi xudojūro,
Ki teġi aslro burriš zi ustod mešava paido.
Mazan tu taʿn, ei zohid, zi rohi aib xalqonro,
Ki taʿni mardumon kardan, šavad zulmat ba dil paido.
Čī xuš bošad adab dar rohi išqi on Xudovandī,
Adab, Abdurrahim, kun tu, šavad nuraš ba dil paido.

Traduction française

In Journal of Sufi Studies 10/2 (2021), pp. 203–4.

English Translation

No attachment here below, creep: you would be its plaything,
Forgetting Him, you would sink into affliction.
Rather, apply to His suitors and submit to the Truth:
Who knows, they might guide you in His worship.
Looking for eternal life? Join the drinkers:
Your languished heart, the cup will bring it back to life.
Make yourself a tippler, hang on the lips of those who toast:
That is where you will find the signs of the Messiah.
The memory of a beauty hurts you? Console yourself:
The daughter of the vine bleeds by the lip of a glass.
Dereliction, you say, zealot, does not boost your faith?
The spur depends on the magisterium.
So stop mocking those who love Him, hermit:
Of this mockery you’ll soon be the object.
Better to cultivate their way of supreme love!
Do the same, you, ‘Abd al-Rahim, you will be enlightened.

Comments

Among the Muslim men of God of the Soviet period, gnostic poets are, in Tajikistan, venerated since the first printings of their works at the turn of the century. There are several reasons for this. One is these poets’ embodiment today, for many a Tajik, of the heritage of Arabic and Persian adab. This code of values and norms of deportment was transmitted throughout the twentieth century by a didactic literature in verse taught, commented and (re-)produced in numerically small but interconnected circles of the traditional Sufi Paths (turuq). Reinterpreted as a vector of spiritual refinement and forswearing, adab contrasts, for the world of the turuq, with today’s vilified moral decay, corruption and antireligious repression.

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahim Dawlat Ilaki (1881–1947), has a special place in this memory thanks to his belonging to a group of Sufi lineages connected with Dahbid — a rural satellite of Samarqand associated with the figure of their great ancestor, the Naqshbandi guide and preacher Khwaja Ahmad Kasani, alias Makhdum-i A‘zam (d. 1542). Embodied too by such figures as Ishan ‘Aziz Khwaja of Qizil Qal‘a (see RedGold’s Augmented Document 1) or Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahim’s own disciple Damulla Iskandar Bidaki (see RedGold’s Augmented Document 3), these lineages have been distinguishing themselves, during the twentieth century, by their activity of copying and commenting on Persian classics like ‘Attar, Mawlana, Hafez or Jami.

What his posterity has preserved of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahim is also his personification of local Sunni Persian tradition. Seen as a survival, this tradition could be developed in the Tajik SSR by the highlanders of the Qarategin upper valley, against the backdrop of Sovietisation and of the growing influence, from the 1940s to the 1980s, of Uzbek-speaking scholars in the confessional bureaucracy of the Spiritual Board of the Muslims of Central Asia, whose formal piety is often half-heartedly mocked. In this context, the valorisation of a specifically Persian heritage took a particular significance. The influence of ‘Attar is particularly remarkable, and of this fifth/twelfth-century master’s insistence of the key role of a spiritual master.

The central theme of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahim’s verses is the exhortation of a master to his disciples to follow the Naqshbandi Path, but to be careful not to engage in it alone. The hierarchical, ritualised and spiritually refined Sufi sociability (suhbat) of the ‘Elders and Wine Drinkers’ is the best defence against the violence and the ineptitude of a time of ‘idolatry’. Key principles of the Naqshbandi tradition such as ‘ascesis in society’ (khalwat dar anjuman) and the constant practice of the inner dhikr (invocation of the Divine) are praised, too, with insistence, as highly adapted to hostile contexts. For Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahim, the Soviet Muslim anchorite is the connected protagonist of a religious field protected from global society.

What differentiates this work from its predecessors is a bias towards rhythm and hermeticism. Transmitted orally, easy to memorise, it realises the potentialities of the ghazal, dominant in Persian poetry since the fifth/twelfth century. In this short, mono-rhyme genre, the sacred and the profane, libertine and devotional themes use to merge. Made for a time of troubles, the verses of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahim endeavour to transmit a heritage at risk to cenacles of initiates with good command of the ‘codes’ (rumūz) of Islamic gnosis. Apparently conservative, they question the issues of an Islamic dissidence in Soviet Central Asia and of historical change and continuity in this region through the short twentieth century.

Sources and references

Badalipur, Mirzohusain, ‘Haiot va ejodiioti Shaikh Abdurahimi Davlat’ [The Life and Works of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahim Dawlat], in M. Badalipur & Q. Darvozi, ed., Kashf-ul-asror: gulchini az ghazaliiot az devoni Shaikh Abdurahimi Davlat [The ‘Unveiling of Secrets’: Anthology of Ghazals from the Diwan of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahim Dawlat] (Dushanbe: Humo, 2000), pp. 21–27; Stéphane A. Dudoignon, ‘Fragments de Gnose Musulmane Soviétique: Quelques Ghazals du Dīwān de Shaykh ʿAbd al-Raḥīm Dawlat Īlākī (1881–1947)’, Journal of Sufi Studies 10/2 (2021), pp. 197–214


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