Metaphors in Sufi Poetry
From Selections by Dr. Nahid Angha. Published by the International Association of Sufism, San Rafael, CA. 1991.
(Words in parentheses are Farsi)
Allah - Generally means God, C reator, Source of Life. The Holy Qu'ran describes Allah as the light of the earth and of the skies.
Alchemy (kymia) - In Sufi poetry alchemy represents the process of purification of the heart.
Angha - Phoenix, the bird which rises from the ashes.
Beloved (ma'ashough) - Refers to God, Allah, who is the Beloved and Friend in Sufism. The eternal beauty.
Black Hair (gisouy-e-siyah) - Hair represents the path taken by the seeker; black refers to the essence of the Divine.
Breath (nafas) - Life. In terms of Sufism, a person who becomes stable and balanced in his/her own being will receive the Divine breath, and this new breath will take him/her to the stage of spiritual life and living.
Breeze of Dawn (ha'ad-e-saba'a) - The Divine breath.
Candle (shamm) - The Divine light that shines into the heart of the salek and illuminates his/her heart.
Cup (ja'am) - The heart of the Sufi filled with Divine illumination and awareness.
Drunk (mast, madhoush) - The state of ecstasy a seeker falls into through practices of meditation and concentration.
Ecstasy (bikhodi) - State of rapture and annihilation in the Divine.
Elixir (exiri) - Metaphor from alchemy that signifies the perfected human.
Falcon (baaz, ughaab) - Refers to the intellect and sometimes to the nature or the world of possibilities.
Ghaf - Highest mountain peak; goal of the seeker's journey.
Heart (del, ghalb ) - Heart has many meanings, but especially a metaphor for Divine treasure where the secrets of the hidden can be understood.
Love (eshgh) - Extreme attraction; in Sufi poetry it has been referred to as that fire which burns the lover and so purifies him/her, and also to the ocean that drowns the lover into the stages of annihilation.
Moth (parvaneh) - Salek or lover, attracted to the flame of the candle of Divine understanding.
Nafs - Self, ego, nature.
Pain (dard) - Longing for the Beloved.
Pen (ghalam) - Refers to the verse of the Qu'an where it is recorded that the whole world of creation is like a book, with beings as its words written by the pen of destiny and by the hand of intellect.
Poor (gedaa, faghir ) - One searching for the Divine manifestation to whom anything other than the Divine holds no value.
Salek - Spiritual seeker.
Tablet (louh) - Refers to the abstract unity and has also been used to mean the essence of a human being.
Tulip (laleh)- The reflection of the beauty of the Beloved upon the heart of the lover.
Tur - The mountain where Moses received his inspiration.
Wine (mey, shara'ah, ba'adeh) - The extremity of love that occurs only at the state of perfection.
Wine Bearer - Allah, the Divine, the Beloved.
Winery (khomkhaneh, meykaddeh)- The celestial world, but also the inner self or the heart of the perfected Sufi.