The free man is strong through repetition of Fear not1;


in the battlefield we are hesitant while he is daring;


the free man is clairvoyant through There is no deity,


he does not fall into the snare of kings and lords;


like the camel, the free man carries burdens2:


he carries burdens but lives on thorny bushes.3


He sets his foot so firmly on the ground


that the pulse of the pathway begins to throb with his ardour;


his soul becomes more everlasting through death,4


his call of takbir is beyond words and sounds.5


The dervish gets tribute from kings,6


who regards the stones of the pathway as mere glass.7


The warmth of your nature is due to his red wine;


your stream is watered by his river.


Kings in their silken robes


are pallid from fear of that naked faqir.8


The essence of faith for us is report, for him it is vision9


he is within the house while we are outside the door;


we are friends of the Church, we sell mosques,10


He quaffs cups from the bands of Mustafa himself;11


He is not indebted to the wine-seller, nor has be the cup in his hand ;12


we have empty cups, while he is intoxicated since eternity.13


The face of the rose is red through his grace,


his smoke is brighter than our fire.


He has in his bosom a clarion call14 to nations,


their destiny is inscribed on his forehead.15


We turn in worship16 sometimes to the Church and sometimes to the temple,


he does not seek his sustenance from others’ hands;


we are all slaves of the Franks, he is His slave,17


he cannot be contained in this world of colour and smell.18


Our days and nights are spent in anxiety for livelihood;


but what is our end ? – pains of death.


He alone has stability amidst this world of instability;


death for him is one of the stations of life.19


The people of the heart20 feel frustrated in our company,


but the grace of his company puts a heart even into dust.


Our life is subject to doubts and misgivings,


he is all activity and little talk;


we are beggars roaming the streets and destitute,


his Faqr is equipped with the sword of There is no deity;


We are mere straw caught in a whirlwind,


his stroke on the mountain brings out springs of water.21


Get acquainted with him and avoid us,


destroy your present house and acquire a new one.


Complain not of the revolving sky


revive yourself through associating with that living person.


Association is better than knowledge of books,


companionship of free men is creative of men.


A free man is a deep and shoreless sea,


get your water from an ocean and not from a canal.


His breast is in ferment like a boiling kettle,22


for him a solid mountain is like a heap of sand.


In peace, he is the ornament of the assembly,23


like spring wind to the garden;


on the day of battle, he, the knower of his destiny,


digs his own grave with his own sword;


fly from us like an arrow,


and catch hold of his skirt with a frenzy.


The seed of the heart does not develop out of water and clay,


without the look of the people of the heart.


In this world you do not count more than a piece of straw


unless you attach yourself to the skirt of somebody.


1.             ‘Fear not” (la takhaf) occurs repeatedly in the Qur’an in several contexts, e.g. xi. 70.

2.             Iqbal has described man (Asrar-o Rumuz, pp. 45 ff.) on the first stage of development as similar to an elephant whose traits are service and toil and whose -ways are patience and perseverance.

[He eats little, sleeps little, and is accustomed to toil.]

3.             “Eating of thorns” stands for a simple crude fare.

4.             Cf. the following

Javid Namah, p. 217

[The free individual has a distinct dignity,
death bestows on him a new life.]

Zabur-i ‘Ajam. p. 230

[Why fear death which comes from without?
When the “I” ripens, it is free from death.]

5.         Takbir, to express greatness of God by saying: Allahu Akbar. “Beyond words and sounds” signifies that his takbir is the result of his conviction and is uttered in spirit rather than in words.

6.         He is so possessed of power that the kings fear him and pay him tribute.

7.         Stone and glass. This contrast emphasises that for a free man difficulties of great magnitude become insignificant in face of his strong will.

8.         See .Asrar-o Rumuz, pp. 26-29, where Iqbal relates the story of a king who got unnerved at the wrath of a dervish.

Naked faqir. By nakedness of Faqr, Iqbal seems to denote complete and full manifestation of Faqr, the qualities of an ideal man. See lines 357-58 above:

When Faqr becomes naked under the Sun,
the Sun and the Moon tremble through its fear.

9.         The polarity of khabar, information, report, and nazar, vision, is as recurrent in Iqbal as the polarities of jamal (beauty) and jalal (majesty), love and reason, light and fire (nur and nar), seclusion and association (khalwat and jalwat), dhikr and fikr, et’. Report denotes knowledge gained through books, hearsay, i.e. from second-hand sources, and stands for reason, while vision stands for knowledge gained through personal experience and hence leading to deep conviction (Mahmud Nizami, Malfuzat, p. 21).

Bal-i Jibril, p. 70

[Reason possesses nothing but khabar,
your remedy lies in nazar (vision).]

In Bal-i Jibril (p. 184), Iqbal asks Rumi : What is the goal of man, khabar or nazar ? Rumi replies:

[Man is but sight, the rest is mere skin
true sight means seeing the beloved.]

As he states in Zabur-i ‘Ajam, p. 232 (see also p. 180), the really free man, the leader of mankind, is one who has enjoyed this vision. Though this vision in its complete and perfect form is vouchsafed to a few only, its reflections can and do reach ordinary people, for it is the degree of this vision which will determine the place of the individual in the scale of moral and spiritual excellence. A person’s religiousness, he states, depends upon this degree of vision. See below, verse 563:

“If you do not enjoy vision, your faith is only compulsion.”

10.        This verse (453) as well as verse 461 refers particularly to the position of the Muslims in the subcontinent Some groups were allied to the Hindus, others, to the British- It is on record that the Muslims sold lands attached to the mosques and even the mosques themselves to the Hindus.

11.        That is, his faith is based on direct inspiration from the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

12.        Mughan, plural of mugh, a Zoroastrian priest. In Persian poetry, mugh is associated with wine-selling and, therefore, mughan stands for wine-seller. The verse signifies that the intoxication of the Free Man is not dependent upon the wine-seller or upon the cup of wine.

13.        Alast occurs in the Qur’anic verse, vii. 172: “Am I not your Lord?’ These words refer to man’s covenant with God before the creation of the world and hence the word alast in Muslim literature stands for eternity.

14.        Clarion call, takbir-i umamm. The word takbir (explained in note 5) is used here most probably for sur, trumpet of Israfil, summoning people from the graves on the Day of Resurrection. See the Qur’an, lxviii. 18. The Free Man’s call makes the dead nations alive once again. Iqbal speaks of God’s Vicegerent (Asrar-o Rumuz, p. 50):

[At his cry “arise,” the dead spirits
rise in their bodily tombs like pines in the fields.]

15.        Forehead, jabin. It is commonly said that the fate of a person is inscribed on his forehead. This physiognomical belief may be right or wrong, but it has given to the literary tradition a lot of phrases and idioms like the present. See the couplet in Darb-i Kalim (p. 180):

[Now write your destiny with your own pen,

God’s pen has left your forehead empty.]

16.        Qiblah, direction of the Ka’bah. the place to which Muslims turn for prayers, hence the object of adoration to which we turn for prayers and supplication, for the fulfilment of our wishes and desires. Cf. the following verse (Javid Namah, p. 170):

[Now it makes concord with the Church.
anon it turns entreating to the people of the Temple.]

17.        ‘Abduhu, His slave. It is based on the famous Qur’anic verse describing the Prophet’s ascension :‘ ‘Glory to Him Who carried His Servant by night from the Sacred Mosque . - .“ (xvii. 1).

The Qur’an uses words like ‘abdina, ‘abdan, ‘ibadan, etc., all signifying God’s creatures, as, for instance, xix. 93: There is none in the heavens and the earth but comes to the Beneficent as a servant (‘abdan).” the ‘abduhu (His slave) is used here by Iqbal in the sense of Perfect Man, especially the Holy Prophet.

Asrar-o Rumuz, p. 105

[When the station of Servanthood is established,
Beggar’s bowl becomes Jamshed’s cup.]

Javid Namah, p. 78

[That he may share in “the eye turned not aside,”
He stands steadfast on the station of His Servant.]

“The eye turned not aside” has reference to the Qur’anic verse liii. 17. And then there is the famous discourse in Javid Namah (p. 150) where, on the basis of these words, Iqbal develops his doctrine of Logos

[“Servant” is one thing, “His Servant” is something different:
we are all in expectation, he is the Expected One.]

It is a said of the Ideal Man (Aramghan-i Hijaz, p. 128):

[His station is that of His Servant, but
he is the nourisher of the world of ecstasy.]

18.        With regard to the character of the Perfect Man, expressed in this verse, Iqbal says: “Maulana Rumi has very beautifully expressed this idea (of man’s absorption of God into himself]. The Prophet, when a little boy, was once lost in the desert. His nurse Halima was almost beside herself with grief but while roaming the desert in search of the boy she heard a voice saying [Mathnavi, iv, 976]:

‘Do not grieve, he will not be lost to thee;

Nay, the whole world will be lost in him.’

The true individual cannot be last in the world ; it is the world that is lost in him” (quoted in Nicholson, Tr., Secrets of the Self, Intro., pp. xix-xx, footnote).

Zabur-i ‘Ajam, p. 212

[He is not contained in this world of retribution,
it is only a station on his journey.]

Darb-i Kalim, p. 39

[An unbeliever’s sign: he is lost in the universe,
a believer’s sign : the universe is lost in him.]

19.        (ll. 466-68). Here two kinds of death are mentioned : one, the death of ordinary people, the other, the death of strong personalities. Rumi has also described (Mathnavi, iii, 3435) these two kinds of death:

[That one in whose eyes death is destruction,
he takes hold of God’s command: do not cast yourself into destruction;
that one to whom death is the opening of the gate,
he is addressed by God as: vie ye with one another in hastening.]

Iqbal believes that if life had been led without pursuit of ideals and the state of tension has not bean maintained, then death would lead to dissolution of personality. To one who has led a life of fruitful activity death is only a kind of passage to another world (Reconstruction, pp. 19-20; Nicholson, Tr., Secrets of the Self, Intro., p. xxiv).

Darb-i Kalim, p. 25

[If Khudi is self-examining, self-creative and self-grasping,
‘tis possible you may not die after death.]

Iqbal distinguishes these two kinds of death (Zabur-i ‘Ajam, p. 230):

[Why fear that death which comes from without?
For when the “I” ripens into a self,
It has no danger of dissolution.
There is a more subtle inner death which makes me tremble.
This death is falling down from love’s frenzy,
Saving one’s spark and not giving it away freely to the heaps of chaff.]

[Translation by Iqbal, in his article “McTaggarts Philosophy,” in Indian Art and Letters, 6, 1932.)

Iqbal calls (Armaghan-i Hijaz, p. 43 ; also pp. 44-45) the second type of death as “incomplete death”:

[A believer who lived without He is Allah
meets an incomplete death.]

About the first kind of death, he says (ibid., p. 53):

[I wandered throughout the world but did not meet
a believer before whom death trembles.]

Payam-i M’ashriq, p. 36

[Thy heart grieveth at the thought of Death,
Pale as a lime in terror thou dost lie;
Come to thyself, make thyself more mature,
If thou dost, thou wilt not die after death.]

20.        Heart, dil. In Muslim literature, the word dill or qalb stands for the source of spiritual experience, ilham, inspiration. The idea was developed by Ghazali in Ihya’. It is based on the Qur’anic verse: “Then He made him (man) complete and breathed into him of His spirit, and gave you ears and hearts. . .“ (xxxii. 93).

Commenting on this verse, Iqbal says: “The ‘heart’ is a kind of inner intuition or insight which, in the beautiful words of Rumi, feeds on the rays of the sun and brings us into contact with aspects of Reality other than those open to sense-perception. It is, according to the Qur’an, something which sees,’ and its reports, if properly interpreted, are never false” (Reconstruction, pp. 15-16). Cf. Rumi’s Mathnavi, i, 1126-27

[The light which gives light to the eyes is in truth heart’s light,
eye’s light is produced by the heart’s light.
Again, the light that illumines the heart is God’s light,
pure and different from that of intellect and sense.]

Distinguishing heart from sense and intellect, Iqbal says Payam-i M’ashriq, p. 20

[Love had not been, nor all love’s tumult,
if heart possessed mind’s intelligence.]

ibid., p. 30

[When reason developed burning, heart was born.]

Rumi speaks (Mathnavi, I, 722) about the effect on a person’s personality, when he associates with men of heart

[Though you be marble or rock,
you become a jewel when you reach the man of heart.]

21.        Reference may be to Moses’s striking of a rock and the gushing forth of water. See the Qur’an, ii. 60.

22.        It is related of the Prophet that noise like that of a boiling pot used to issue from his breast while he was saying his prayers.

23.        (II. 487-90). Cf. the following verses (Javid Namah, p. 192) where Iqbal describes the characteristics of a strong leader;

[On the day of war, conquering the land by force of arms,
on the day of peace, by the winning ways of love.]