::.:. Iqbal in Cordova Mosque

Last Updated :.:. April 7th 2k3 


'Iqbal in Masjid-e-Qartaba'

Thou, in beauty and dignity, man of God’s witness,
He is the beautiful and dignified, thou art beautiful and dignified.

Firm are thy foundations, numberless are thy pillars,
Soaring like ranks of palms over the Syrian desert.

Light of the Valley of Peace gleams on thy walls and roof,
On thy minaret’s height Gabriel stands in glory.

The Muslim shall not perish for by his Azan,
The secret of Moses and Abraham is revealed.

Limitless in his world, boundless his long horizon,
Tigris and Danube and Nile but a wave in his sea.

His times are wondrous, his legends are strange,
To the ages outworn he gave the command to depart.

of men of taste, horseman of the realm of desire,
Pure and unmixed his wine, tempered and glittering his steel.

Warrior armed in the mail of La Ilah,
Under the shadow of swords succored by La Ilah.


The poet, again, says to the Mosque that “you are the interpretation of the Momin’s dreams in the world, the exposition his high-mindedness and the exemplification of his soul in brick and mortar.

“The hand of Momin, in power and dominance, in the dispersal of difficulties and the fulfillment of needs, is the Hand of God and an instrument of Providence. Apparently, he is born of clay but in reality, he has the nature of Light. There is the reflection of Divine Attributes in his being. He is indifferent to the allurements of the world. His desires are few but his aims are high. He is the embodiment of grace and strength, love and sternness. He is gentle of speech but warmth in quest. In peace he is soft like silk but in war he is hard as steel.
“The faith of the Believer is the pivot on which the world turns. His existence is the essence of creation and all the rest an illusion. In him thought and intellect and faith and love find their highest expression.

Strength and felicity in life and beauty and elegance in the world owe their presence to him. He is the end and object of the pilgrimage of love and heart and soul of the universe.”

Behold is thy stones are all the Believer’s secrets,
Fire of passionate days, rapture  of melting nights.

High is his station and great his thoughts are,
Ecstasy, burning desire, self-abasement and pride.

The hand of the Momin is the Hand of Allah-
Dominant, resourceful, creative, ensuring success.

Fashioned of dust and light, slave with the Master’s attribute.
His heart is indifferent to the riches of the worlds.

His earthly hopes are few, his aims are high.
Courtesy in his men, gaining all hearts with his glance;

He is soft of speech but fierce in the hour of pursuit,
In war and in peace, pure in thoughts and in art.

The point of God’s great compass the Believer’s firm faith,
All this universe else-shadow, illusion, deceit.

He is the goal of love, he is the end of Love,
He, in the circle of the firmament, sets all spirits aglow.

Iqbal proceeds to pay a tribute of never-fading charm to the Mosque. “Thou art the Mecca of the seekers of the Art.”, he says, “the place of pilgrimage for the devotees of love and the symbol of the glory of Islam. Thanks to thee, the soul of Cordova is vying for sacredness and elevation with the heavens. If anything can compare with thee it is the heart of the true Believer.” Here Iqbal loses control of his feelings. He looks in the distant past and centuries roll back in his imagination. He begins to live in the Muslim ascendancy in Spain. Combining romanticism with classicism he asks, “Where are the Moorish horsemen, the men of virtue, the embodiments of faith and the champions of truth? Where has their unrelenting caravan stopped? Where have the Arab rulers, the precursors of European Renaissance, gone whose government was another name for social justice and public welfare?”

Iqbal feels that Spain still bears the floral imprint of Arab blood. Oriental charm, hospitality and sincerity can even now be seen among its people. Its air is filled with the scent of Najd and Yemen and the the music of Iraq and Arabia reverberates in the atmosphere.

Shrine of the seekers art! Glory of the manifest Faith!
Thou Andalusia’s soil sacred as Mecca hast made,

If there is underneath the sky beauty equal to thine,
Nowhere shall it be found but in the Muslim’s heart.

Ah those champions of Right, those fearless horsemen of  Arabia,
Bearers of high morality, knights of the truth and faith!

By their rule this strange secret to all was revealed,
Men of pure hearts hold away, not to enslave but to serve.

East and West by their eyes gained instructions,
In the darkness of Europe their minds showed the path.

Even today Andalusia, rich with their blood, is seen,
Gay and friendly of heart, simple and bright of face;

Even today in this land, eyes like the soft gazelle’s,
Dart their glances, giving pleasure to the hearts;

Even today in its breeze fragrance of Yemen endures,
Even today in its song echoes subsist of Hejaz.

In the midst of these sorrowful recollections Iqbal’s imagination is fired with the desire for change. He says that through the land of Andalusia enjoys the high position of the heaven it has not heard the Azan for ages and in spite of the fact that winds of revolution are blowing in the world there is no evidence of a ripple in its stagnant waters. Martin Luther’s movement of Protestant Reformation in Germany not only led to the decline of Papal authority and the extinction of the hegemony of the Church but it also made its impact on language, literature and civilizations and paved the way for the cultural revival of Europe.

The philosophy of Rousseau and Voltaire brought about the Revolution of France and set the stage for the emergence of the industrial era. Conservative Italy, too is showing signs of regeneration. Against his background Iqbal yearns for an Islamic revolution. He believes that the revolutionary spirit of Muslims is also uneasy but one does not know when it is going to assert itself. To Vadi-El-Kabir (Guadalquiver)  he says: “On your bank a stranger is seeing the image of the future in the mirror of the past. Fascinating though the dream is, it is so intolerable to Europe that it cannot listen calmly to my plain-speaking.”

 The destination of nations is forged in strife and revolt. Those who watch their steps carefully and analyze their feelings and keep an eye on their mental process are successful in life and make their mark in history. About art and thought, poetry and literature, Iqbal once again emphasizes that a philosophy which is not written with the blood of the heart is no more than a mental exercise. The vital flame, the breath of life, is missing from it. Likewise, the greatest works of art fade into oblivion if the blood of the artist does not flow into them and music that does not spring from the depths of the soul is transient and superficial. This is Iqbal’s concept of art as well as of life.

Thy land is like the heavens in the sight of the stars –
For ages, alas, thy atmosphere has remained bereft of the Azan.

In what dale and glen, in what stage of the journey,
Love’s undaunted caravan now happens to be?

Germany saw, long ago, Change and Revolution-
Obliterating the old ways, sweeping away every

Holiness of the Pope fast became an erroneous word,
Thought in its fragile boat launched on its dangerous course;

The eye of France, also, has seen Revolution rage,
That overturned the world, the Westerners had known;

The Roman nation, old and tired with ancient traditions,
With the joy of Rejuvenation discovered again her youth

Now that tempest has seized even the soul of Islam,
A Divine secret it is whose meaning cannot be told by the tongue.

Watch! from the surface of this ocean what portents finally emerge,
What new turn the blue revolving dome takes!

Drowned in the twilight is the cloud in the mountain gorge;
The sun has left behind heaps of the rubies of Badakhshan,

Running water of Guadalquiver! on your bank is a stranger,
Lost in his thoughts, dreams of another age,

Behind the Destiny’s curtain the new world is yet concealed,
But to mine eyes its dawn already stands unveiled.

Were, I to lift the veil from the face of my thoughts,
Europe could not endure the burning heat of my songs.

Death, not life, is the life in which no revolution takes place,
Strife and revolt are the sustenance of nation’s souls.

Keen as a sword that nation is in the hand of Fate,
Which at every moment takes account of its works and deeds.

Works of creation are incomplete without the heart’s warm blood,
Music, an immature frenzy, without the heart’s warm blood.

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