Rumi: A Hundred Ways to Pray (From Persian)

A Hundred Ways to Pray
By Jalâluddin Rumi
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

We're wasted with pure spirit: drunk today and every day.
Lock up your anguished musings. There is music yet to play.
There are some hundred ways to make prostrations in that Mosque
Where your Beloved's beauty is your Mecca: turn and pray.

The Original:

امروز چو هر روز خرابیم خراب
مگشا در اندیشه و برگیر رباب
صدگونه نماز است و رکوعست و سجود
آنرا که جمال دوست باشد محراب

Tajik Cyrillic:

Имрӯз чу ҳар рӯз харобем, хароб,
Магшо дари андешаю баргир рабоб.
Сад гуна намоз асту рукӯъ асту суҷуд,
Онро, ки ҷамоли дӯст бошад меҳроб.


Imrōz ču har rōz xarābēm, xarāb,
Magšā dar-i andēša u bargīr rabāb.
Sad gūna namāzast u rukū'ast u sujūd,
Ānrā, ki jamāl-i dōst bāšad mihrāb.


Here's another translation which is as literal as I can make it:

Today, like every day, we are wasted, wasted!
Do not open the door of vexation, rather, take up the rabāb
There are a hundred kinds of prayer, bowing and prostration
For one whose mihrāb is the Beloved's beauty.

Now a commentary:

Line 1: The word rendered above as "wasted" means "ruined, destroyed" but (like the translation) also means "drunk" and is related to the word for wine-tavern (xarābāt)

Line 2: A rabāb is a kind of lute, rather like a zither-harp, played during musical sessions of ecstatic prayer (samā')

Line 3: Namāz is ritual prayer. Rukū' and sujūd are different postures assumed at various stages of prayer.

Line 4: All Muslims must pray in the direction of the Ka'ba in Mecca. The mihrab, or prayer-niche, is in essence a marker pointing the worshiper in that direction. The dōst, or "beloved" is a common name for God in Sufi poetic traditions.

For outrage's sake, here's Coleman Barks' "translation." In my opinion it is prime *headdesk* material for the way in which it erases Rumi's religion. I mean, heck, reading Barks' version you can't even tell that the author is a Muslim!

If today, like every other day
we wake up empty and frightened.
We don't have to open the door to the study
and begin reading.
We can take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do
there are hundreds of ways
to kneel and kiss the earth


  1. Thanks for this, being so dependant on translations it's shocking to see Barks' version in comparison!

  2. Just wondering when you posted this? I am using your translation for a paper and yes, I am giving you credit...that's why I need the date :)

  3. Your translation blew me away. Such a profound way of looking at it. It's sometimes pity to know that a lot of times poets such as Rumi are interpreted in a way that give an idea that they are atheists altogether, despite they very much referring to God indirectly.

    Can i kindly have your Facebook name and add you over there, it's going to be great to keep in touch and stay upto date with your work on it.


  4. I prefer the literal version, though the first ones nice too. Wasted is also colloquial english for being badly drunk. Do you think that is just a coincidence?

  5. tnx alot. I'm Iranian I had Coleman Barks' translation and i was searching for the original poem and i think the translation is quite far from original poem


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