A Donkey’s Tail with Angel’s Wing

From Rumi’s World by Annemarie Schimmel

This is an impressive image by Rumi, for it portrays the human condition, the fact that the only creature with a certain amount of free will is situated between beast and angel, between the world of pure matter and that of pure spirit. If he follows his lower instincts, he will fall deeper than any animal, for the animals are constrained in their actions and have no choice. If, however, he purifies himself and develops his God-given spiritual qualities, he will reach a station higher than the angels, for angels, too, cannot act according to their own inclination; their role of constant worship and obedience is once and for all prescribed. Humans, however, have to wander along an extremely narrow path as they choose between good and evil, matter and spirit; they are, as Maulana says, like ducks, which belong to both water and earth; or else they are half honeybee, half snake, capable of producing both honey and venom.
Did not the angels cry out in horror when the Lord told them at the beginning of time that He would place a vice-regent on earth, whereupon they foresaw that the new creature would he “bloodshedding and ignorant” (Sura 2/31)?

But God knew better what He was planning, and so the angels had to prostrate themselves before the newly created Adam, who thus became masjud al-mala’ika, “the one before whom the angels fell down.” He was singled out by the Divine Word in the Koran: karamna, “We have honored the children of Adam” (Sura 17/70). Maulana reminds his listeners time and again of this Divine Word, and he sees the greatest danger to humanity in the risk of their forgetting the high position allotted to them by God. God “taught Adam the names” (Sura 2/32). Read more here….

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