Rahman Baba was born in 1650 and lived near Peshawar towards the end of the Mughal era. He wrote at a time when the mystical face of Islam, known as Sufism was dominant in local culture. Like other Sufi poetry, a delicious ambiguity exists in the expression of love for the Divine and the human beloved.
These are a few selected translations of poetry of Rahman Baba by Robert Sampson.
Of all the ones who might
Give themselves to you,
None can give up all, as I do.
There is no love like you in all the world.
My world, my home, ache
For your face.
Only when I give up the Spirit
Will I accept separation from you.
Till then, I stand in line to worship
With the crowd.
Kings and beggars join me;
The whole world is rising, falling
In love with you.
But I have not fallen
By my own will;
It’s you who summoned me.
In Your Garden
Each of the flowers in your garden is brighter
than a lamp;
In your garden a black crow becomes like a
phoenix for me.
For Rahman there is no contentment without the
And all earthly concerns ~ then
Embrace true love.
You cannot cling to self
And useless things
Yet hold her too.
Spinning, spinning, the wheeled world
Pries her from your grasp.
Loosen too the dreamy lust for sensuous release.
The lover is with you
Here and now.
Drink deep the draught
Of love she holds.
You only need call her
If I meet my lover at her door
I’ll never budge from it all my days.
In life or death may God
Implant me there.
It’s the entrance to all devotion;
The direction of my prayers.
I’d easily abandon the prayer-niche of the mosque
For her sweet lips.
I know the dazzling brightness of my lover
Glows in church and temple too.
The ones who delve in deep and mystic ways
Surely love her more than I.
I deplore the vain worship of conceited ones;
Driven by custom and habit alone.
Those who dispense reprimand by day
But frequent the sorcerer’s pub by night.
Religion is just a trap, set in the path of life
To snare the fanatic savages.
Clerics only pay attention to those
Who come with fat donations.
I stay away from such as these,
Who delight to rebel.
A Softened Heart
I am Rahman, whose heart is softened
By the girls whose waists are as thin as a hair.
Sleep and laughter are for the carefree;
But when you yearn for the Beloved, how can
you sleep or laugh?
God created love from fire;
There is no sleep in the flames.
Now a hundred restless nights yield no sleep;
Tomorrow may bring separation from the lover.
If for a soul-mate you dream,
See past the alluring fashion of her dress.
The vision of such flowing hair
Entwines around the heart, but
Constricts and squeezes out the one it
Instead, follow the creator of this world,
Who fashioned each soul from love,
And made passion the highest goal.
The time to start the quest is now.
There is no second chance
To embrace the joy, the pain,
Of the one