ولا غروَ أن سُدْتُ الألَى سبقوا ، أو قدْ *** تمسَّكتُ ، من طهَ ، بأوثقِ عُروةِ
عليها مجازيُّ سلامي ، فإنَّما *** حقيقتُهُ منِّي إلَّيّ تحيَّتي
وأطيبُ ما فيها وجدتُ بِمبتدا *** غرامي ، وقدْ أبدَى بِهَا كلَّ نذرةِ
ظهوري ، وقدْ أخفيتُ حاليَ مُنشداً *** بها ، طرباً ، والحالُ غيرُ خفيَّةِ
بدتْ ، فرأيتُ الحزمَ في نقضِ توبتي، *** وقامَ بها عندَ النُّهى عُذرُ مِحنتي
فَمنها أماني منْ ضَنى جسدي بِها، *** أمانيُّ آمالٍ سَخَتْ ، ثمَّ شحَّتِ
وفيها تلافي الجسمِ ، بالُّسقمِ صحَّةِ *** له ، وتلافُ الَّنفسِ نفسُ الفتوَّةِ
ومَوتي بِها ، وَجداً ، حياةٌ هنيئةٌ، *** وإنْ لم أمُتْ في الحبِّ عِشتُ بغُصّةِ
فيا مُهجتي ذوبي جَوىً وصبابةً، *** ويا لوعَتي كوني ، كذاكَ ، مُذيبتي
ويا نارَ أحشائي أقيمي ، مِنَ الجوَى، *** حَنايَا ضُلوعي ، فهيَ غيرُ قويمةِ
ويا حُسنَ صبري ، في رِضى من أُحبُّها، *** تجمَّل ، وكن للدَّهرِ بي غيرَ مُشمِتِ
ويا جَلَدي ، في جنبِ طاعةِ حُبِّها، *** تحمَّل ، عَداَكَ الكَلُّ ، كُلَّ عظيمةِ
ويا جسَدي المُضنَى تسَلَّ عن الشِّفَا، *** ويا كبِدي ، مَنْ لي بأنْ تتَفتَّتي
ويا سقَمي لا تُبْقِ لي رَمقاً ، فقدْ *** أبيتُ ، لبُقيا العِزِّ ، ذُلَّ البقيَّةِ
ويا صحَّتي ، ما كانَ من صُحبتي انْقضى، *** ووصلُك في الأحشاءِ ميتاً كهجرَةِ
ويا كُلَّ ما أبقَى الضَّنى منِّي ارتحِلْ، *** فما لَكَ مأوىً في عظامٍ رميمةِ
ويا ما عسَى منِّي أُناجي ، توهُّماً *** بياءِ النّدا ، أُونِستُ منكَ بوحشةِ
وكلُّ الَّذي ترضاهُ ، والموتُ دونَهُ، *** بهِ أنا راضٍ ، والصَّبابةُ أرضَتِ
ونفسيَ لمْ تجزَعْ باتلافهَا أسىً، *** ولو جَزِعَتْ كانت بغيري تأسَّتِ
وفي كُلِّ حيٍّ كلُّ حيٍّ كَميِّتٍ *** بها ، عندَهُ قتْلُ الهوى خيرُ مَوْتَهِ
Ibn al-Farid’s father moved from his native town, Hama in Syria, to Cairowhere he Umar was born. Some sources say that his father was a respected farid (an advocate for women’s causes) and others say that his profession was the allocation of shares (furūḍ) in cases of inheritance. Whichever is the case, Ibn al-Farid’s father was a knowledgeable scholar and gave his son a good foundation in belles lettres.
When he was a young man Ibn al-Farid would go on extended spiritual retreats among the oases, specifically the Oasis of the Wretches (Wadi al-Mustad’afin), outside of Cairo, but he eventually felt that he was not making deep enough spiritual progress. He abandoned his spiritual wanderings and enteredlaw school studying in the shafi’i school of law.
One day Ibn al-Farid saw a greengrocer performing the ritual Muslim ablutions outside the door of the law school, but the man was doing them out of the prescribed order. When Ibn al-Farid tried to correct him, the greengrocer looked at him and said, “Umar! You will not be enlightened in Egypt. You will be enlightened only in the Hijaz, in Mecca…”
Umar Ibn al-Farid was stunned by this statement, seeing that this simple greengrocer was no ordinary man. But he argued that he couldn’t possibly make the trip to Mecca right away. Then the man gave Ibn al-Farid a vision, in that very moment, of Mecca. Ibn al-Farid was so transfixed by this experience that he left immediately for Mecca and, in his own words, “Then as I entered it, enlightenment came to me wave after wave and never left.”
Shaykh Umar Ibn al-Farid stayed in Mecca for fifteen years, but eventually returned to Cairo because he heard the same greengrocer calling him back to attend his funeral. Upon return, he found the greengrocer on the point of death and they wished each other farewell.
Upon Ibn al-Farid’s return to Cairo, he was treated as a Saint. He would hold teaching sessions with judges, viziers and other leaders of the city. While walking down the street, people would come up to him and crowd around him, seeking spiritual blessings (barakah) and try to kiss his hand (he would respond by shaking their hand). Ibn al-Farid became a scholar of Muslim law, a teacher of the hadith (the traditions surrounding the sayings and life of the prophet Muhammad), and a teacher of poetry.
Unlike many other respected poets of the day such as Ibn Sana al-Mulk, Ibn Unayn, Baha al-Din Zuhayr and Ibn Matruh, Ibn al-Farid refused the patronage of wealthy governmental figures which would have required him to produce poetry for propaganda, preferring the relatively humble life of a teacher that allowed him to compose his poetry of enlightenment unhampered. One time al-Malik al-Kamil, who was the Ayubbid sultan at that time, liked sone of his odes so much that he sent the poet an exorbitant amount of money and offered to build a shrine for him. Ibn al-Farid denied both the money and the offer of the shrine, choosing to trust in God to supply for his needs. His position as a teacher at the Azharmosque allowed him to provide for his family, which included three children.