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Yā Nafsu – O My Soul

Yā Nafsu in Lam Taẓfarī (يا نفس إن لم تظفري) is a qasida written by the 19th–century saint and scholar Imam ‘Alī al-Ḥabshī of Haḍramawt, Yemen. In it, the author reprimands his own soul (nafs), rousing it from heedlessness and despair, and calling it to patience, contentment and trust in God. The poem has been expertly translated into English by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, retaining both metre and rhyme.

“And all the caravan drank deep, their thirst alleved.” Detail from a painting by C.T. Frere.

LyricsAudio

Lyrics

— 1 —

yaa nafsu in lam taẓfaree laa tajza‘ee
wa-ilaa mawaa’idi joodi Mawlaaki hra‘ee
wa-idhaa ta’akhkhara maṭlabun fa-larubbamaa
fee dhaalikat ta’kheeri kullul maṭma‘ee

Should you not gain your wants, my soul, then be not grieved;
But hasten to that banquet which your Lord’s bequeathed.
And when a thing for which you ask is slow to come,
Then know that often through delay are gifts received.

— 2 —

wasta’nisee bil man‘i war‘ee ḥaqqahoo
innar riḍaa waṣful muneebil alma‘ee
wa-idhaa badaa min naaṭiqil wijdaani maa
yad‘ooki lil ya’sidh dhameemil ashna‘ee

Find solace in privation and respect its due,
For only by contentment is the heart relieved.
And know that when the trials of life have rendered you
Despairing of all hope, and of all joy bereaved,

— 3 —

fasṭayqiẓee min nawmatil ghafalaati wal–
yakunir rajaa laki marta‘an feehi rta‘ee
innal ‘aṭaa imdaaduhu mutanawwi‘un
yaa ḥusna haadhaakal ‘aṭal mutanawwi‘ee

Then shake yourself and rouse yourself from heedlessness,
And make pure hope a meadow that you never leave.
Your Maker’s gifts take subtle and uncounted forms.
How fine the fabric of the world His hands have weaved.

— 4 —

waradoo ilaa nahril ḥayaati wa kulluhum
shariboo wa kam fir rakbi min mutaḍalli‘ee
ḥaashal Kareemu yarudduhum ‘aṭshan wa qad
waradoo wa aṣlul joodi min dhal manba‘ee

The journey done, they came to the water of life,
And all the caravan drank deep, their thirst alleved.
Far be it from the Host to leave them thirsty there,
His spring pours forth all generosity received.

— 5 —

yaa Rabbi lee ẓannun jameelun waafirun
qaddamtuhu amshee bihi yas‘aa ma‘ee
kullul ladhee yarjoona faḍlaka umṭiroo
ḥaashaaka an yabqaa hasheeman marba‘ee

My Lord, my trust in all Your purposes is strong,
That trust is now my shield; I’m safe, and undeceived.
All those who hope for grace from You will feel Your rain;
Too generous are You to leave my branch unleaved.

— 6 —

thummaṣ ṣalaatu ‘alal ḥabeebi Muḥammadin
sababil qawiyyi ilal maqaamil arfa‘ee
huwa ‘iṣmatee huwa ‘urwatee fastamsikee
yaa nafsu bil majdil ‘aẓeemil amna‘ee

May blessings rest upon the loved one, Muhammad,
Who’s been my means to high degrees since I believed.
He is my fortress and my handhold, so my soul,
Hold fast, and travel to a joy still unconceived.
— 1 —

— 2 —

— 3 —

— 4 —

— 5 —

— 6 —
— 1 —
yaa nafsu in lam taẓfaree laa tajza‘ee
wa-ilaa mawaa’idi joodi Mawlaaki hra‘ee
wa-idhaa ta’akhkhara maṭlabun fa-larubbamaa
fee dhaalikat ta’kheeri kullul maṭma‘ee

— 2 —
wasta’nisee bil man‘i war‘ee ḥaqqahoo
innar riḍaa waṣful muneebil alma‘ee
wa-idhaa badaa min naaṭiqil wijdaani maa
yad‘ooki lil ya’sidh dhameemil ashna‘ee

— 3 —
fasṭayqiẓee min nawmatil ghafalaati wal–
yakunir rajaa laki marta‘an feehi rta‘ee
innal ‘aṭaa imdaaduhu mutanawwi‘un
yaa ḥusna haadhaakal ‘aṭal mutanawwi‘ee

— 4 —
waradoo ilaa nahril ḥayaati wa kulluhum
shariboo wa kam fir rakbi min mutaḍalli‘ee
ḥaashal Kareemu yarudduhum ‘aṭshan wa qad
waradoo wa aṣlul joodi min dhal manba‘ee

— 5 —
yaa Rabbi lee ẓannun jameelun waafirun
qaddamtuhu amshee bihi yas‘aa ma‘ee
kullul ladhee yarjoona faḍlaka umṭiroo
ḥaashaaka an yabqaa hasheeman marba‘ee

— 6 —
thummaṣ ṣalaatu ‘alal ḥabeebi Muḥammadin
sababil qawiyyi ilal maqaamil arfa‘ee
huwa ‘iṣmatee huwa ‘urwatee fastamsikee
yaa nafsu bil majdil ‘aẓeemil amna‘ee
— 1 —
Should you not gain your wants, my soul, then be not grieved;
But hasten to that banquet which your Lord’s bequeathed.
And when a thing for which you ask is slow to come,
Then know that often through delay are gifts received.

— 2 —
Find solace in privation and respect its due,
For only by contentment is the heart relieved.
And know that when the trials of life have rendered you
Despairing of all hope, and of all joy bereaved,

— 3 —
Then shake yourself and rouse yourself from heedlessness,
And make pure hope a meadow that you never leave.
Your Maker’s gifts take subtle and uncounted forms.
How fine the fabric of the world His hands have weaved.

— 4 —
The journey done, they came to the water of life,
And all the caravan drank deep, their thirst alleved.
Far be it from the Host to leave them thirsty there,
His spring pours forth all generosity received.

— 5 —
My Lord, my trust in all Your purposes is strong,
That trust is now my shield; I’m safe, and undeceived.
All those who hope for grace from You will feel Your rain;
Too generous are You to leave my branch unleaved.

— 6 —
May blessings rest upon the loved one, Muhammad,
Who’s been my means to high degrees since I believed.
He is my fortress and my handhold, so my soul,
Hold fast, and travel to a joy still unconceived.

Audio

Muhammad Attas al-Habshi (Arabic)
Omar M. (English)
Omar M. (Arabic & English)

Rakan Jabr (Arabic)

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