“Better than Cabbage Soup”
Rumi on the deeper meanings of fasting in Ramzan
What sweetness lies in an empty stomach!
Man is like a lute: no more, no less.
If the lute is full
it cannot sing a high or low note.
If your mind and stomach
burn with the fire of hunger
it will be like a heavenly song for your heart.
In each moment that fire rages
It will burn away a hundred veils
And carry you a thousand steps
toward your goal.
and weep with the fullness of the reed flute.
and discover the mysteries of the reed pen.
If your belly is full on the day you are called
pain will come instead of freedom,
worldly cares will come instead of paradise.
When you fast, good qualities will gather round you
like faithful friends and servants.
Don’t break the fast
for it is Solomon’s Seal.
Don’t give the Seal to harmful spirits.
Don’t destroy your kingdom with a full belly.
Even in your kingdom falls
and your armies abandon you,
keep the fast.
Soon they will return
with their banners high in the air.
I say, by the prayer of Jesus,
Heaven’s Table will come to your fasting tent.
Fast and remember that the abundance
of Heaven’s Table will soon be yours –
And I assure you,
the food on that Table
is better than cabbage soup!
— Version by Jonathan Star
“Rumi – In the Arms of the Beloved”
Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, New York 1997