I have learnt many things from the Master of Rum,


especially have I burnt myself in (the fire of) these words of his:


“‘If you carry money for the sake of the Faith,1


that money is a blessing,’ says the Prophet.”


If you don’t keep this point in mind,


you are a slave and money is your lord.


The welfare of the nations is in the hands of the poor,


while the rich man causes disruption to the nations.


In his eyes, novelty is something mean,2


he buys only old things;


what is wrong he regards as right


and is afraid of the upheavals of revolution.


The capitalist usurps the portion of the labourer,


and robs the honour of his daughter.3


The labourer bewails before him like a reed,


with constant cries issuing from his lips.


His cup lacks wine;


he builds palaces but is himself a homeless wanderer.


Praise be to the rich person who lives like a dervish


and is God-oriented in an age like ours.4


Unless people understand the significance of a lawfully earned food,5


life of society becomes miserable.


Alas! Europe is not aware of this principle,


her eyes do not see through God’s light;6


she does not know lawful from unlawful,


her wisdom is immature and all her activities defective7


One nation preys on another,


one sows the seed, another takes away the harvest.


It is “wisdom” to snatch food from the weak


and to rob their body of the soul.


The way of the new culture is to murder people;


and this killing is done under the garb of commerce.8


These banks, the result of clever Jews’ thinking,


have taken away Cod’s light from the heart of man.


Unless this system is destroyed completely,


knowledge, religion and culture are mere empty names.9


In this world of good and evil, man seldom knows10


what is profitable to him and what is harmful;


nobody knows the right and wrong of an act,


which path is straight and which crooked.


The Shari’ah grows out of life’s bosom11;


its light illumines the darkness of the universe.


If the world were to accept its judgment regarding what is forbidden,


this system would endure for ever.


It is not for the jurists to evaluate it, O son,


look at it in another way ;12


its legal formulations are based on justice and submission to Divine Will,


its roots lie in the bosom of Mustafa.13


it is through “separation” (from God) that desires warm the hearts.14


When “He” manifests Himself, you will cease to exist.


This separation is no doubt hard to bear,


try not to seek union with Him, rather submit to His will.15


Mustafa communicated His will to us;


the injunctions of religion consist of nothing else.


The throne of Jamshid is hid under the mat (of a faqir),


 Faqr and political authority are both stations of (submission to God’s) Will;


accept the injunctions of the Shari’ah and do not complain,


the field of battle is not the place to argue why.


So far as you can help, do not disobey its law,16


so that nobody may disobey your orders.


Be of “the best make” through the Shari’ah,17


and inheritor of Abraham’s faith.18


O man of lofty attributes, what is Tariqah?19


to see the Shari’ah in the recesses of life’s heart.


If you wish to see the essence of religion clearly,


look but into the depth of your heart;


if you do not enjoy vision, your faith is only compulsion;


such a religion is a veil between you and God.


If man does not see God fully manifest,


he cannot rise higher than (the polarity of)


free-will and determinism.20


Dive into your inner nature for a moment,


become a man of truth, don’t rely on mere conjecture –


that you may see the right and wrong of things,


and know what secrets lie behind these nine veils.


He who shares in the experiences of the Prophet


gets close to the faithful Gabriel.21


O you who are proud of having the great Qur’an,


how long will you sit (inactive) in cell?


Reveal to the world the essence of religion,


and the significance of the clear Shari’ah;


none need be dependent on another (for one s primary needs),22


this is the sum and substance of the clear Shari’ah;


the jurists and the theologians have spun long tales;


the faithful have failed to grasp this point.


A living nation met its death due to misinterpretations,


her heart lost fire (of life).


I have seen sufis of pure heart


and taken good stock of the teacher in school,


my age produced a prophet too,23


who could see in the Qur’an nothing but himself;


every one of them is fully conversant with the Qur’an and the traditions;


but they are totally unaware of the true significance of the Shari’ah.24


Reason and tradition both have fallen prey to lust,25


their pulpit is a counter for the display of their wares.


There is no hope of salvation from these reformers.26


What is the use of the sleeve when it lacks the White Hand?27


The problems of the nations cannot be set right by you,


Unless you prove by action that you are the bearer of truth.



1.         Rumi’s point of view in the controversy between unalloyed material-ism, which totally ignores the demands of the spirit, and fake spiritualism. that flies from involvement in -the mundane affairs, is that of Islam which treads the middle path between the two extremes. Rumi does not denounce wealth as such but only its misuse and undesirable consequences that follow from its possession (Mathnavi, i. 983):

[Water in the boat leads to its destruction,
water under it helps to push it forward.]

What is condemnable -is not wealth or efforts towards acquiring it but the attitude of mind that breeds capitalistic blindness to human welfare and deadens sensitivity to the miseries of the exploited people.

2.         This verse refers to the capitalist’s aversion to change and his striving to maintain the status quo at al cost.

3.         (Il. 507-10). These verses refer to the capitalist’s blatant violation of moral values which, as Iqbal seems to imply, is the natural consequence of amassing of wealth when divorced, motivationally, from spiritual orientation.

4.         Iqbal characterises the present age as lacking in spiritual orientation (Armaghan-i Hijaz, p. 68), ecstasy (ibid., p. 69), sincerity (ibid., p. 135). If amidst such an environment, a person, having wealth, lives a simple life of piety and abstinence, surely it is a matter of great significance.

5.         In the economic system of Islam, the first and foremost principle is the distinction between what is lawful and what is not lawful. Islam places restrictions on the scope of acquisition of wealth as well as on that of expenditure. The contemporaries of Prophet Shu’aib, when advised by him to be careful in their business dealings lest they violate the basic moral principles of equity and justice, remarked: “Does your prayer enjoin you that we should not do what we please with regard to our property?” (Qur’an, xi. 87).

These limitations, born out of moral considerations alone on the acquisition and expenditure of wealth, cut at the root of economic imbalance in society. With such an economic System in force, there is no fear of economic exploitation and class-war.

Rumi explains that unlawful food inexorably leads to immoral behaviour. If you find anybody overwhelmed by greed, jealousy, lust, cruelty, you could very easily and correctly argue that his food had not been lawfully acquired, for food is the seed and thoughts in one’s mind are the fruit (Mathnavi, i, 1642 ff).

6.         Reference is to the famous tradition of the Prophet:

[Fear the sagacity of the believer, for he sees through the light of God.]

7.         Iqbal quotes (Bal-i Jibril, p. 190), Rumi’s verse:

[True knowledge is born of lawful food,
love and compassion are born of lawful food.]

in Javid Namah (p. 240), he says:

[The essence of religion is: truthful speech and lawful food.]

8.         (II. 523-28). About the Western system of Government, Iqbal says (Zabur-i ‘Ajam, p. 233):

[Intellect is nothing but fostering of unbelief,
the art of the West is nothing but man-killing.
A group lies in ambush against another group,
may God protect her in her predicaments.]

See also the following (Javid Namah, p. 210):

[Its dazzling shows have burnt down abodes,
consumed branch, leaf and nest.]

Iqbal says: “Believe me, Europe to-day is the greatest hindrance in the way of man’s ethical advancement” (Reconstruction, p. 179). The reason for this, according to him, is that European culture is divorced from the spiritual basis of life, what he calls nur-i haqq here. A few lines earlier, he says in the same lecture: “Humanity needs three things to-day-a spiritual interpretation of the universe, spiritual emancipation of the individual, and basic principles of a universal import directing the evolution of human society on a spiritual basis.”

9.         (II. 531-32). Iqbal thinks that Western culture which is through and through secular in complexion cannot be expected to face the challenge of the new age. No change, superficial or far-reaching, can stave off its doom. What is needed is : total destruction of this culture. It is the same remedy that was suggested by Waliullah: total and complete revolution. See the present translator’s articles “Wali Allah : His Life and Times,” Iqbal Review,. October 1965, p. 25, Footnote 3.

10.        Iqbal thinks that human reason is not capable of arriving at the universal moral truth for which man has to fall back upon revelation. Conclusions in the field of morality arrived at by human intellect are more often marred by the natural prejudices to which man is subject.

Javid Namah, p. 78

[The self-seeking intellect heeds not another’s welfare,
it sees only its own benefit, not another’s
God’s revelation sees the benefit of all,
its regard is for the welfare of all.]

Darb-i Kalim, p. 67

[He got so much involved in the web of his wisdom,
he could not decide what is harmful and what profitable.]

11.        Life’s bosom, a’maq, plural of ‘umq, depth.

In the true mystic tradition, Iqbal believes that the innermost depth of heart is the place where man receives spiritual illumination, revelations from the God of life. Ghazali in Ihya’ (111/9, 23-24) describes this fact in a symbolic way. There are two ways to fill a pond. First is to pump water into it from some reservoir. The other is to dig the ground underneath to such a depth that water gushes out of the bottom and thus the pond begins to receive ever fresh and sweet water and no longer stands in need of external supply. The first is the way of reason while the second is the way of the mystic. Says Rumi (Mathnavi, ii, 160ff.):

[The sufi’s book is not (composed of) ink and letters,
it is naught but a heart white as snow.]

Discussing the relative merits of the two paths, symbolised in another story of the Chinese and the Greeks, the former decorating the wall with diverse paints while the latter only polishing the wall, Rumi says (Mathnavi. i, 3489):

[Reason here becomes silent or (else) it leads into error,
because heart is with God or indeed the heart is He.
The burnishers of heart have escaped from scent and colour,
they behold Beauty at every moment without tarrying.
They receive a hundred impressions from the Empyrean, the Chair and the Void,
What impressions? Nay, ‘tis the very sight of God.]

This mystic conception of polishing (saiqal) the heart has its counterpart in Iqbal in ‘umq, depth. This term is used sometimes with damir as in verses 561-62 below

[If you wish to see the essence of religion clearly,
look but into the depth of your heart.]

But most often he uses the word damir (or a’maq) alone to indicate the innermost recesses of the heart as the source of inspiration. See, for instance, the following verse (Zabur-i ‘Kalim, p. 94).

[Happy is the man who reached deep into Being’s heart,
drew forth jewel-like words and spoke fluently.]

In another verse (ibid., p. 176), he speaks about his own experience of illumination:

[My thought dived deep into Life’s heart
till I could lay my hand upon your secret thoughts.]

It is only outstanding people, of great intellectual stature who can reach these depths. Comparing him with ordinary run of people, he says (Darb-i Kalim, p. 73):

[Desire to reach the shore is not yet born in thee,
he is aware of “depths” through his nature’s purity.]

This awareness of “depths” is what Iqbal calls the vital way of appropriating -the universe. It is. as he states in severa1 places, out of illumination experienced in the innermost recesses of the heart that great Prophets and great reformers have been able to lay the foundation of a new world order. In verse 544 below, be speaks about the source of the Shari’ah:

[Its roots lie in the bosom of Mustafa.]

This question of a’maq, depths, damir heart, is very intimately bound up with the question of intuition, or ilham, and its relation to reason. Iqbal holds (Reconstruction. p. 2) and so was the position of Ghazali, that both reason and intuition or ilham spring up from the same root. Reason plunges down into the “depth” and brings out jewels while what we call ilham is the same reason plunging deeper down into the “depths” of the self and bringing out more precious jewels. It is wrong to bold that reason and intuition are mutually antagonistic. All scientists and philosophers and all thinkers have been using both these. What is denounced in Iqbal. Ghazali and Rumi is not reason but sophistry. For Iqbal, see my art. on “Ilm and ‘Ishq” in the monthly Adabi Dunya for April 1972 (VI, 42), pp. 9-24 For Ghazali, see Dr Nabih Amin Faris, Tr., The Book of Knowledge, pp. 235 if. For detailed discussion of relation between the two, see my art. “Intellect and Intuition,” in Quarterly Iqbal, for January 1956, pp. 93-97.

12.        “Looking in another way,” in contrast to the legal and formalistic attitude of the jurist, is the penetrative insight born of spiritual regeneration which, though based on reason, goes beyond reason and is the essence of what Rumi and Iqbal call Faqr.

13.        “Bosom of Mustafa,” innermost heart of the Prophet, i.e. the revelation received by him from God on his heart, as stated in the Qur’an (xxvi. 194). Speaking about a prophet, Iqbal says : ‘In his personality the finite centre of life sinks into his own infinite depth only to spring up again, with fresh vigour, to destroy the old, and to disclose the new directions of life” (Reconstruction, p. 125).

14.        Separation, .firaq, in opposition to union, wasl.

Very early in the history of sufism, a conflict raised its head in the fundamental tension between the esoteric and the exoteric, batin and zahir, the emphasis being laid on the former to such an extent that tasawwuf came to be regarded as a rival of the Shari’ah. Genuine attempts, however, were made by people like Ghazali and Ibn Taimiyyah, among others, to arrive at some integrative experience which might resolve this tension and help to arrive at some synthesis.

Hujwiri has tried to evaluate both the terms of the tension, and it seems that he is personally inclined to the superiority of the Shari’ah and its concomitant categories. Yet it must be admitted that no scientific attempt seems to have been made by him to resolve this tension.

Following Sirhindi, Iqbal tried to emphasise the true spirit of Islam as it manifested itself completely in the Shari’ah. His emphasis on firaq in contrast to wasl is in the same spirit. He is emphatic that in the highest experience, which the mystics call unitive, the true individual retains his separate existence and self-possession while face to face with God (see Javid Namah, pp. 140, 156-57, 159, and Zabur-i Ajam, pp. 220-21). In one of his letters to Khwajah Hasan Nizami, Iqbal says: “Imam-i Rabbani has discussed in one of his letters whether gusastan (breaking away, separation) is better or pal wastan (joining together, union). According to me, the former is Islam and the latter renunciation of the world or Magian mysticism” (Quarterly Iqbal, April 1954, p. 45).

15.        The ideal for Iqbal is not to seek unitive experience, experience of oneness with God, but to follow God’s Will which is given in concrete shape in the Shari’ah.

16.        This verse reminds one of Sa’di’s well-known verse

[You too should not disobey God’s commands,
that others shouldn’t disobey your orders.]

17.        Reference is to the Qur’anic verse “Certainly We created man in the best make” (xcv 4). But if he fails to follow the true path, he is brought to ‘‘the lowest of the low”.

18.        Islam has -a particularly intimate relation with the personality of Abraham. The Qur’an states that Islam is the “faith of your father Abraham” who “named you -Muslim . . .“ (xxii. 78). In another place (ix. 4) it is said that “there is for you a good example in Abraham and those with him.. . It was Abraham who first enunciated and elucidated the implications of tauhid.

19.        Tariqah, path. This is another term in mysticism that is sometimes opposed to Shari’ah (see Hujwiri, Kashf al-Mahjub (Urdu-trans.), pp. 565.66). Iqbal tries to explain that Tariqah is Shari’ah when its laws are followed in their real spirit.

Cf. the following note of Rumi in the Preface to the fifth volume of the Mathnavi: “[he religious law is like a candle showing the way. Unless you gain possession of the candle, there is no wayfaring; and when you have come on to the way, your wayfaring is the path and when you have reached the journey’s end, that is the truth. The law is knowledge, the path action, the truth attainment unto God.”

20.        (II. 563-66). What Iqbal describes here can be elucidated by a reference to some passages in the last lecture of the Reconstruction. Here he gives three stages of religion In the last stage, he says (p. 181) “. . . metaphysics is displaced by psychology, and religious life develops the ambition to come into direct contact with the ultimate reality. It is here that religion becomes a matter of personal assimilation of life and power ; and the individual achieves a free personality, not by releasing himself from the fetters of the law, but by discovering the ultimate source of the law within the depths of his own consciousness.”

Javid Namah, pp. 4-5

[Without tajalli from God no wise man found the way,
he dies buffeted by his own imaginings;
without tajalli life is a mortal sickness,
reason becomes veil and religion constraint.]

Musafir, p. 7

[What is religion ?-to discover one’s essence;
life is death without seeing one’s self]

Iqbal expressed the same idea by quoting (Reconstruction, p. 181) from a Muslim sufi: “No understanding of the Holy Book is possible until it is, actually revealed to the believer just as it was revealed to the Prophet.”

Bal-e Jibril, p. 112

[As long as the Book is not revealed on your heart,
neither Razi nor Kashshaf’s author can unravel the knot.]

Kashshaf is a comment. on the Qur’an by the famous Mu’tazilite Zamakhsbari.

Iqbal says: “Iman is not merely a passive belief in one or more pro-positions of a certain kind; it is living assurance begotten of a rare experience. Strong personalities alone are capable of rising to this experience and the higher ‘Fatalism’ implied in it. . . . [This] fatalism . . . is . . . life and bound-less power which recognizes no obstruction, and can make a man calmly offer his prayers when bullets are showering around him” (Reconstruction,. pp. 109-10).

21.        The angel Gabriel is described in the Qur’an as “the faithful spirit (ruh u1-amin) that has brought revelation on thy heart . . .“ (xxvi. 193). “Close to Gabriel” may signify that the person now enjoys the privilege of receiving direct revelation from God.

22.        This is in a nutshell the consequence of the enforcement of the Shari’ah. For Iqbal’s concept of economic reform in Muslim society, see Javid Namah, pp. 78, 80.81, 89-90, 125. In one of his letters to the Quaid-i-Azam, Iqbal has unequivocally stated that if the Shari’ah of Islam is enforced, the essentials of a peaceful life are fully assured.

23.        The “Prophet” refers to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian. For Iqbal’s early attitude towards him, see his article “The Doctrine of Absolute Unity as Expounded by Abdul Karim al-Jilani,” published in The Indian Antiquary, September 1900. For his later and mature views about him, see his different statements as given in “Shamloo,” Ed., Speeches, etc., pp. 93-144. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad tried to interpret certain Qur’anic verses so that he could prove the genuineness of his Prophethood.

24.        Their knowledge is theoretical only; they lack fire of conviction and zeal for activity, for they have missed the true spirit of the message.

25.        “Reason” and “tradition” stand for two kinds of knowledge into which pursuit of learning was divided in classical Islamic period, corresponding to what is called ‘aql and naql. The latter stands for all those aspects of learning that deal exclusively with religious problems, while the former refers to all those branches of learning that today come under the title of science and humanities.

26.        “Reformers,” Kaliman, plural of Kalim, the title of Moses. Kalim in Iqbal stands for an ideal reformer, prophet, teacher.

27.        “White Hand” is a miracle of Moses. See the Qur’an, xx. 22. Staff and White Hand are two miracles of Moses -that correspond to Jamal (beauty) and jalal (majesty), qahiri (might) and Dilbari (mercy).