Belief brings me closer to You, but only to the door.
It is only by disappearing into Your mystery that I will come in.
– Hakim Sanai
In the late summer of the following year, Professor Freeman completed his translation. Tonight he is to come to the khaniqah and present his work. The Master is also to return this evening. He has been traveling abroad nearly the entire year, recently accompanied by Aaron and Rebecca. Their return has thrown us into a frenzy of preparation and joy.
Glad Tidings! My brother and sister darvishes are to be married later this month, and a feast has been ordered to celebrate the return of the Master and the confluence of all our labors.
As happy as I am that the Master will soon be here, and that all the companions will be together once more, I am most curious about the final translation of the Jinn i Nama, the Book of the Jinn, in which I have had some small part.
I have not yet seen Professor Freeman’s final draft, and from the beginning the difficulties of such a task thoroughly daunted us. The Jinn do not speak as humans do, but communicate directly to each others’ minds. They know the full meaning and context of each others’ thoughts as well as the full range of emotions behind them. It is as complete a philology as is possible of a language without words. They also cannot lie to one another, and thus have no concept of deception. And they are the second children of Allah; their thought encompasses past, present and future, though how far into the future they see is still a mystery.
Soon after we began the translation, Professor Freeman and I approached the Master with these concerns.
“How can I possibly do justice to such a work?” the Professor asked. “My mind is locked in the present.”
“Remember that this book was given as a gift,” the Master said. “And as such, since he knows your innate natures, he is also speaking to both of you through it.”
“But how am I able to help with the translation?” I asked. “I do not know Canaanitish. Why could not the Jinni have used a language we both could understand?”
“You have listened, but you have not heard,” the Master said. “You will know Canaanitish before the end. Did I not say that the tale would also translate you? It is the faqir who wrote the book, not Ornias the Jinni, and he meant it for both of you: One to decipher the words, the other to help bring forth the subtler meaning. Consider, O darvishes, that when he aided you by allowing your minds to see through his, he also read your minds and hearts, their distinctiveness and their similarities, but he already knew both of you. Do you still not understand? Time is not a veil to his kindred. The book was written before you both were born, but he wrote the book for you!
“Oh my God!” the Professor said.
So there is no need to fear, Shlomo! As you continue on the path, even the meaning of the words you thought you knew will reveal their hidden depth, and the tale will become the clearer still.”
The tale will also translate you!
The thought emboldened us. Did we not survive fire and deep water, storm and demons? We resolved to begin without delay. Here, after all, was the real treasure of our journey. Within its pages we hoped to glimpse a measure of living history, witnessed by a being that lived it, unaltered by time and memory.
“Guide us then, Master!” the Professor implored. “How shall we begin?”
“Begin as a darvish would when undertaking any new task,” the Master said. “Ask God’s blessing, and commit your affairs to Him. Then clear your hearts of all motives related to yourselves, for no blessing arises from anything in which selfish interest has a part.”
The Master departed on his travels the next day, and we were left without his further guidance. No doubt he meant for us to decipher the ancient tongue and its meaning by ourselves, but it was soon apparent that Ornias had written not only a history, but a cosmology.
And God, the One, made first the Angels, the Holy Ones, and they were born of His light, the first children of his thought, and they served the Lord and dwelt in the house of His mercy.
And the second offspring of His design were the Jinn, and they were created out of the fire of His will, and they dwelt in the Subtle Realm, near to Him, though farther than the Angels who served Him only. And the Jinn were given free will, both a blessing and a curse.
In the green beginnings of the earth we made our home, on a vast mountainous island in the midst of the sea. And the mountains burned.
Great fires spewed forth, and rivers of molten earth ran into the waters, so that the land was utterly surrounded by vast walls of steam. Here we thrived and grew strong, for God was ever with us, and we rejoiced in Him. Our fiery spirit was well suited to the land, and we dwelt in the great cave cities of the high mountains.
Yea, the memory of the Jinn spans the ages, and the Jinn do not forget!
Note: These pages are from the sequel to Master of the Jinn: A Sufi Novel, which will be forthcoming, inshAllah (God-willing), by the end of the year. To read excerpts, reviews and comments from Master of the Jinn: A Sufi Novel, click Here!