O Himalayas! O Attock! O Ganges!


how long shall we go on living sordidly like this ?


The old lack insight,


the young are devoid of love;


East and West are free, but we are slaves of others;


our bricks go to the building of others’ mansions.1


To live according to the wish of others


is not deep slumber; it is eternal death;


this is not a death that comes from the sky;


its seed grows out of the depths of one’s soul.2


Its prey waits neither for the undertaker nor for the grave,


nor for friends from far and near;


no clothes are torn in grief over his death,


his hell is not on the other side of the skies.


Do not seek him among the crowd on the Day of Judgment,


his tomorrow lies in his today.3


What use is there to produce before God one4


who has both sown the seed and reaped the fruit in this world?


A nation that does not relish the prodding of desire


is wiped off the face of the earth by Nature.


It is through magic that the crown and the throne acquire authority5


what is frail as glass becomes through magic bard as stone.


Under the influence of this “clear enchantment,”6


Muslims abjured their faith and unbelievers, their unbelief,


The Indians quarrel with one another


having revived their old differences,


until a Frankish nation from the land of the West


assumed the role of a mediator between Islam and kufr.


Nobody knows water from mirage,


Revolution, O revolution, O revolution!


O you who are always anxious for material sustenance,


ask of God a living heart7;


although its seat is in water and clay


yet the nine heavens are under its authority.


Do not think it belongs to the earth,


it really comes from the highest heavens.


The world is for it the Friend’s abode


and gets the Friend’s smell from the tulip’s tunic.


It is constantly at war with the world,


the stones on the path are broken to pieces by its strokes;


it is familiar with the pulpit and the gibbet,


and keeps a strict watch over its own fire;


it is only a streamlet but has oceans in its lap,


its ripples bring tidings of storms;


it is not by bread that it lives,


it dies as soon as it loses its vision of the Truth;


it is like a lamp in the dark chamber of the body:


it illumines both multitude and solitude.


Such a heart, ever watchful of itself and God-intoxicated,


is not achieved except through Faqr.


O young man, catch hold of its skirt firmly,


you have been born in slavery, now live free.


1.         (II. 595-600). Iqbal speaks of India of his days, his native land, with great anguish. in Payam-i M’ashriq, while addressing Amanullah, the then king of Afghanistan, he gives vent to this agony which the Muslims were then experiencing. While describing the plight of the Muslim world, he speaks of the Muslim (Payam-i M’ashriq, p. 4) of this land:

[The Indian Muslim is a slave to his stomach,
extremely selfish and alienated from his faith.]

In another place (ibid., p. 168) he says:

[Life’s Song seems ineffective in the land of Ind,
for Davids song cannot bring the dead to life.]

David, the Prophet-king of the Israelites (1004-965 B.C..), had revelation from God forming Zabur or Psalms which form part of the Old Testament. David was a beautiful singer who would sing hymns in praise of God so charmingly.

The same sense of disgust at the sad plight of Indian Muslims is expressed by Iqbal in Javid Namah (pp. 169-70), where the Spirit of India appears before him, bewailing of the miserable plight of the people who “have estranged themselves from their selfhood”:

[Ja’far is dead, but his spirit is living still;
as soon as it escapes from the chains of one body,
at once it makes its nest in another flesh.
Now it seeks concord with the Church,
anon it turns entreating to the Brahmin.]

Eng. trans. by A. J. Arberry, p. 108.

2.         (ii. 603-04). “Death from the sky” means natural death. “Death from the depth of the heart” means spiritual death as a result of wrong ideological affiliations.

3.         These verses (605-10) describe the state of spiritual death and there-fore the ceremonies usually performed on the natural death of a person are not performed on this occasion.

Iqbal describes elsewhere (Zabur-i ‘Ajam, p. 230) this kind of death:

[This is a more subtle inner death
which makes me tremble!
Cutting one’s shroud with one’s own hands;
seeing one’s death with one’s own eyes.
This death lies in ambush for thee,
fear it, for that is really our death.]

4.         The idea that those who work for gain in this life only will be given their reward here, is based on the following verse of the Qur’an, xvii. 18: “Whoso desires this transitory life, We hasten to him therein what we please. . . .“ After death, he will be deprived of the opportunity to experience Beatific Vision.

5.         Magic, sahiri, enchantment. Iqbal calls (Bang-i Dara, p. 295) imperialism as sahiri

[If ever subjects from their sleep
half rose themselves, the sure
enchantment of their rulers steep
their wits in dreams once more. . . .]

Eng. trans. by V. Kiernan, Poems from Iqbal.

6.         Clear enchantment, sehr-i mubin. See the Qur’an, v. 110, where this phrase is used about Jesus’ prophetic mission and his miracles, as interpreted by the unbelievers.

7.         “Heart.” Iqbal has written much about it. In one place, he says:

Armaghan-i Hijaz, p. 168

[You say that heart is of earth and blood,
is caught in this created world’s snare.
Although our heart is within our breast,
it belongs to a sphere beyond this world of ours.]

Payam-i M’ashriq, p. 30

[Heart is heart because of the joy of striving,
when this joy of striving disappeared, it became mere clay.]