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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

al-Hariri: His Prayer

By Arabic Literature

From the ‘Makamat’ of al-Hariri of Basra: Translation of Theodore Preston

WE praise thee, O God,

For whatever perspicuity of language thou hast taught us,

And whatever eloquence thou hast inspired us with,

As we praise thee

For the bounty which thou hast diffused,

And the mercy which thou hast spread abroad:

And we pray thee to guard us

From extravagant expressions and frivolous superfluities

As we pray Thee to guard us

From the shame of incapacity and the disgrace of hesitation:

And we entreat thee to exempt us from temptation

By the flattery of the admirer or connivance of the indulgent,

As we entreat thee to exempt us from exposure

To the slight of the detractor or aspersion of the defamer:

And we ask thy forgiveness

Should our frailties betray us into ambiguities,

As we ask thy forgiveness

Should our steps advance to the verge of improprieties:

And we beg thee freely to bestow

Propitious succor to lead us aright,

And a heart turning in unison with truth,

And a language adorned with veracity,

And style supported by conclusiveness,

And accuracy that may exclude incorrectness,

And firmness of purpose that may overcome caprice,

And sagacity whereby we may attain discrimination;

That thou wilt aid us by thy guidance unto right conceptions,

And enable us with thy help to express them with clearness,

And thou wilt guard us from error in narration,

And keep us from folly even in pleasantry,

So that we may be safe from the censure of sarcastic tongues,

And secure from the fatal effects of false ornament,

And may not resort to any improper source,

And occupy no position that would entail regret,

Nor be assailed by any ill consequences or blame,

Nor be constrained to apology for inconsideration.

O God, fulfill for us this our desire,

And put us in possession of this our earnest wish,

And exclude us not from thy ample shade,

Nor leave us to become the prey of the devourer:

For we stretch to thee the hand of entreaty,

And profess entire submission to thee, and contrition of spirit,

And seek with humble supplication and appliances of hope

The descent of thy vast grace and comprehensive bounty.