Halting at the Sea

He stood me in the sea, and I saw the vessels founder and the planks floating; then the planks also sank.

And He said to me:

“Whoever voyages is not safe.”

“Whoever throws himself in and does not voyage takes a risk.”

“Whoever voyages and takes no risk perishes.”

“In risk is a portion of salvation.”

And the wave came, lifting what was underneath it, and ran along the shore.

And He said to me:

“The surface of the sea is an unattainable light, and its depths an unfathomable darkness; between them are sea-creatures that provide no security.”

“Do not voyage upon the sea, lest I veil you by the means of transport; do not throw yourself into it, lest I veil you by it.”

“The sea has brinks; which of them will hold you?”

“When you give yourself to the sea and drown in it, you become like one of its creatures.”

“I act most dishonestly towards you if I guide you to other than Me.”

“If you perish in other than Me, you belong to that in which you perish.”

“This low world belongs to whoever I turn away from it and from whom I turn it away; the next world belongs to whoever I bring it close to and whom I bring close to Me.”

Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Jabbar ibn al-Hasan an-Niffarī (d. 965)