The mystic Sarmad (d. 1661 CE) came to India from Persia, but was probably Armenian, and some say a Jew, by birth. He came as a trader to India, there fell in love, and in the end renounced the world and became a homeless dervish. He spent his last years in Delhi, where he attracted the enmity of the orthodox Muslims for his open questioning of religious conventions. He also provoked the strictly religious emperor Aurangzeb, both for his radical utterances and for his friendship with the king’s brother (and competitor for the throne) Dara Shikoh, a follower of the Sufi path. In 1661 Aurangzeb had Sarmad beheaded for apostasy on the steps of the Jama Masjid; his tomb is located nearby.
He who unveils for you is a friend.
He who spends all on you is a friend.
You ask of Him and he gives freely;
He helps you when in need, he is a friend.
* * *
Not only the Kaaba or the temple are His;
The world and the heavens are His.
Why should not the world be mad for Him?
Wise is he who is enthralled by Him.
* * *
Not everyone knows the secret of Love and wine;
Those dead of heart will never learn this truth divine.
The puritan has no clue of God or Love;
The ignorant can never know this wisdom fine!
* * *
Lover, Love, idol, deceit — what are they?
Who knows of this in Kaaba and temple, pray?
Come into the garden and see the unity in colour;
Ponder the lover, Beloved, rose and thorn.
from Islamic Mystical Poetry
Ed. and tr. Mahmood Jamal