The Message of the People of the Mystery

Dear companions, open the knot of the tress of the Friend;
It is a pleasant night. Lengthen it by this means!

It is an intimate retreat, the gathering of friends.
Recite: And indeed would almost; and close the door!

The rebeck and the harp are saying in a loud voice:
‘Listen with understanding to the message of the people of the mystery!’

By the Friend’s soul, grief will not pull away your veil,
If you rely on the favours of the Caretaker.

There is a great difference between lover and Beloved:
When the Beloved shows feigned disdain, you make supplication.

The first advice of the pîr of the assembly is this:
‘Avoid the company of wrong friends!’

For everyone who is not alive by love in this circle,
Say the prayer of the dead before his death on my authority.

But if Hafez seeks from You a favour,
Assign him to the heart-cherishing lips of the Friend.

معاشران گره زلف یار باز کنید
شبی خوش است بدین وصله اش دراز کنید

حضور خلوت انس است و دوستان جمعن
و ان یکاد بخوانید و در فراز کنید

رباب و چنگ به بانگ بلند می گویند
که گوش هوش به پیغام اهل راز کنید

به جان دوست که غم پرده بر شما ندرد
گر اعتماد بر الطاف کارساز کنید

میان عاشق و معشوق فرق بسیار است
چو یار ناز نماید شما نیاز کنید

نخست موعظه پیر صحبت این حرف است
که از مصاحب ناجنس احتراز کنید

هر آن کسی که در این حلقه نیست زنده به عشق
بر او نمرده به فتوای من نماز کنید

وگر طلب کند انعامی از شما حافظ
حوالتش به لب یار دلنواز کنید


1-2: Khwaja Hafiz starts a ghazal with these lines. As for the outward meaning, the ‘opening of the knot of the tress’ may simply point to a relaxing start of a pleasant night. Let’s go deeper: Here it may also represent the pleasure of intimacy with the Beloved.

According to the Suhrawardi Sufi Jamali of Delhi, the ‘tress’ refers to the mystery of concealment. When the tress is seen as a veil, the opening of the knot of the Friend’s tress implies the manifestation of Divine mysteries.

3-4: The opening of the knot of the Beloved’s tress takes place in an intimate and safe atmosphere. The door of the place of retreat gets bolted because secrets from the unseen may be revealed. How are things protected? By the recitation of Wa in yakâdu – And
indeed would almost. This formula is taken from Qur’an 68:51 and serves as a safeguard against the evil eye or ill-wishers.

5-6: Who are the people of the mystery? Are they the invisible guardians of our planet earth who ‘seed’ ideas into our societies? Are they the distributors of light in dark times? Is the Persian word for mystery [rãz] similar to secret [sirr]? Are the people of the mystery those who have awakened their sirr [innermost consciousness]. Is it true that the ‘secret’ can only be given and not taken? Let us wait and see what Khwaja Hafez heard when listening to the message of the people of the mystery.

7-8: Khwaja Hafez tells you not to complain of suffering. The curtain between lover and Beloved will thereby not disappear. Addiction to grief haunts you in the form of the archetype of the abandoned child. Let it go! It is, of course, good to put your trust in the Friend, but His favours can come in unexpected shapes and at unexpected times. The Friend may even feign disdain [nâz] towards you.

9-10: Nâz means among other things ‘feigned disdain’ and niyâz ‘supplication’. The attitude of the lover is one of submission to the amorous playfulness of the Beloved. Khwaja Hafez is also aware that in Persian both terms are used in the same expression: Nâz u niyâz kardan means: ‘to supplicate’, ‘to entreat soothingly’.

11-12: The outward meaning of avoiding ignoble persons is obvious: Seek to be in good company! You are, in fact, all of the time in the company of your own self. Most people are dominated by their lower self [nafs al-ammâra], which is a ‘wrong friend’. Dervishes
wish to be in the company of their pir in order to get inspired by this conversational companionship [suhbat] and receive a training to purify their lower faculties. The deeper meaning of this advice is therefore that you should aim to be the owner of a pure heart.

13-14: The ‘circle’ is the Sufi halqa wherein your heart gets truly alive by love.

15-16: The Suhrawardi Sufi Jamali of Delhi explains the lips as ‘the sweet brooks from God’s favour’. He adds that His favour ‘gives the light of faith. It gives life to a body dead for a hundred years’.