The West has put mankind in grievous pain,


and, through it, life has lost all charm.1


What should then be done, O people of the East ?-


that the life of the East may once again brighten up.


A revolution has occurred in the East’s heart,


night has passed away, and the sun has risen.


Europe has fallen prey to its own sword ;2


it has laid the foundation of secularism in the world ;3


it is a wolf in the garb of a lamb,


every moment in ambush for a prey.


The difficulties of mankind are due to


it, it is the source of all the hidden anguish of man.4


In its eyes man is nothing but water and clay,


and the caravan of Life has no goal.5


Whatever you see is the manifestation of God’s light;


the knowledge of things6 is a part of God’s -secrets.


He who sees God’s signs7 is a free man,


the basis of this wisdom is God’s order: “Look.”8


Through it the believer is more successful in life than the non-believer


and more sympathetic towards others.


When knowledge illumines his mind,


his heart grows more and more God-oriented.9


Knowledge of things is like elixir to our dust,


alas! its effect in the West is different.


Its (the West’s) reason and thought have no standards of right and wrong,10


its eyes know no tear,11 its heart is hard as stone.


Knowledge, through it, has become a disgrace for all,


Gabriel, in its society, has become Iblis.


The wisdom of the Franks is an unsheathed sword,


ever ready to destroy the human species.


In this world of good and evil, intoxication of knowledge


does not suit mean natures.


May God protect us from the West and its ways,


and from its secular thinking;


the Westerners have changed true knowledge into magic,


nay, rather into unbelief.


A hundred mischiefs have raised their head on all sides,


snatch away the sword from the hands of this highwayman.


O you who know the distinction between body and soul,


break the spell of this godless civilisation.l2


Breathe the soul of the East into the West’s body,


that it may afford the key to the door of Reality.


Reason under heart’s guidance is godlike;


When it frees itself from the heart, it becomes satanic.


At every moment life is a struggle,


the situation in Abyssinia affords a warning;13


the law of Europe, without any doubt,


allows wolves to kill sheep.


We should set up a new order in the world,


there is no hope of relief from these plunderers of the dead.14


There is nothing in Geneva except deceit and fraud,15


this sheep is my share, that is yours.


There are many subtle ideas of the West which cannot be expressed in words,


a world of mischiefs and disorders lies hidden in them.


O you who are enamoured of colour, rise above colour;


have faith in yourself, deny the Franks.


The strings of gain and loss are in your hands,


the honour of the East depends on you.


Bring all the ancient nations together;


raise the flag of sincerity and rectitude.


The life of the votaries of truth depends upon their possessing power,


and the power of every nation depends upon unity.


Wisdom without power is deceit and enchantment,


power without wisdom is ignorance and madness.


Ardour, harmony, sympathy and compassion-all come from Asia,


both the wine and the cup are Asia’s.


We taught love the way of ravishing hearts


and the art of creating man.


Art as well as religion came from the land of the East


whose sacred dust is the envy of the heavens.


We revealed to the world all that lay hidden,


the sun is from us and we are of the sun.


Every oyster has its pearl through our spring rains,


the majesty of every ocean is due to our storms.


We have discerned our souls in the songs of the nightingale


and the blood of Adam in the veins of flowers.


Our thought, seeker of the secrets of Existence,


was the first to strike the note of life


We had in our breast a wound of passion,


made by us into a lamp to illumine the pathway of life16


You are the trustee of religion and culture,


bring out the White Hand from under your sleeve.


Rise and solve the problems of the nations,


put out of your head the intoxication of the West.


Set the pattern for the unity of Asia,


snatch yourself away from the hand of Ahriman.


You know the West and its deeds,


how long will you remain tied to its strings?


The wound, the lancet and the needle are all West’s,


ours is the pool of blood and the expectation that incision will be stitched up.


You know that kingship is power to rule,


but power, in our times, is mere commerce.


The shopkeeper17 is a partner in political power,


trade brings in profit and political power brings in tribute.


If a ruler is also a shopkeeper,


you will find good on his tongue, but evil in his heart.


If you can assess him properly,


you will find your coarse cloth finer than his silk


Pass off his workshop unmindful of everything,


do not buy his fur in winter.


His principle is: to kill without striking;


death lurks in the movement of his machines;


do not exchange your mat for his rugs


and your pawn for his queen;


his pearl is blemished, his ruby impure,


the musk of this merchant is from the navel of a dog.


Sleeping on his velvet will rob you of your eyes,


and its beauty will rob you of yourself.


You have made a muddle of your affairs,


do not build up your prestige on his basis;


a wise person would not drink wine from his pitcher,


and anyone who did would drop dead in the tavern;


while negotiating a business deal, he is all smiles and sweet word,


we are like children and he is a sweetmeat seller.


He fully knows the heart and look of the buyer,


O God! is this commerce or magic?


Those dealers in merchandise take away all the profit,


we buyers are all blind.


O free man, sell, wear and eat


only that which grows out of your own soil.


Those pure of heart, who are aware of themselves,


have themselves sewn their simple garments.


O you unaware of the deeds of the present age,


see the skilfulness of the people of Europe.


They weave out of your wool and silk,


and then offer them to you for sale.


Your eyes are taken in by their appearances;


their colour and glamour turn your head.


Alas for the river whose waves did not fret,


and which bought its own pearls from the divers!



1.         Iqbal has expressed his disgust against the mischiefs of the West in several places. His protests are basically against the ideological basis of European culture, viz. its secularism. In the following verses, he expresses this protest in a very forceful language (Zabur-i ‘Ajam, p. 98):

[A tumult, in whose swelling breast
Two hundred tumults wait
That maiden is, who dwells caressed
In Europe’s craddle yet.]

In another place (ibid., p. 118), he says:

[Against Europe I protest.
And the attraction of the West:
Woe for Europe and her charm,
Swift to capture and disarm!
Europe’s hordes with flame and fire
Desolate the world entire.]

Translation in both cases is from Arberry, Persian Psalms, pp. 61 and 76, respectively.

2.         On 19 Match 1907, while he was still in England, Iqbal wrote the following verse (Bang-i Dara, p. 150):

[Your civilisation will commit suicide with its own hands.]

See Guftar-i Iqbal, p. 250

3.         Iqbal himself defines secularism in the footnote : to divorce the affairs of the State from moral and religious principles.

4.         Iqbal has discussed this aspect of Western culture in almost all his books. See Zabur-i ‘Ajam, pp. 135-36, 217, 233, and Javid Namah, pp. 79, 210.

5.         Here Iqbal is referring to the purely materialistic attitude of the West which, denying the spiritual basis of life, is plunged into deep despair about-the future of mankind.

Discussing the implications of the theory of evolution in the West, Iqbal says: .... . the formulation of the same view of evolution .. . in Europe has led to the belief that ‘there now appears to be no scientific basis for the idea that the present rich complexity of human endowment will ever be materially exceeded.’ That is how the modern man’s secret despair hides itself behind the screen of scientific terminology” (Reconstruction, p. 187).

6.         “Knowledge of things,” hikmat-i ashya’, refers to the Qur’anic verse (ii. 31) : “And He taught Adam all the names.” Iqbal regards knowledge of things as the basis of modern science. He says “. . . man is endowed with the faculty of naming things, that is to say, forming concepts of them. and forming concepts of them is capturing them. Thus the character of man’s knowledge is conceptual, and it is with the weapon of this conceptual knowledge that man approaches the observable aspects of Reality” (Reconstruction, p. 13).

Asrar-o Rumuz, p. 168

[Knowledge of names is the source of Adams glory;
this knowledge serves to fortify him.]

Payam-i M’ashriq, p. 6

[Knowledge of things is the knowledge of the names,
it serves both as Moses’ Staff and his White Hand]

7.         “Signs of God” (ayat-i Khuda) here and “light of God” (anwar-i Haqq) in line 821. signifying the world of phenomena, imply Iqbal’s belief in Pan-psychism. “The world, in all its details, from the mechanical movement of what we call the atom of matter to the free movement of thought in the human ego, is the self-revelation of the ‘Great I am’. Every atom of Divine energy, however low in the scale of existence, is an ego” (Reconstruction, p. 71).

8.         “Look,” unzur, refers to the Qur’anic verse (lxxxviii. 17-20): “See they not the clouds bow they are created ? And the heaven, how it is raised high. And the mountains, how they are fixed! And the earth, how it is spread out.” The verse quoted in the footnote of the text begins with : which is incorrect. The correct words are: [See they not ?].

The point Iqbal wishes to emphasise in lines 821-24 is that in science when we are dealing with concrete objects of the material world, we are, as a matter of fact, dealing with an aspect of God’s behaviour and, therefore, Iqbal says: “The scientific observer of nature is a kind of mystic seeker in the act of prayer” (Reconstruction, p. 91).

9.         Cf. the Qur’anic verse (xxxv. 28): “Those of His servants who are possessed of knowledge fear Allah.”

10.        See lines 535-36 above.

11.        “Eyes know no tear.” A person who is not spiritually oriented is not moved by compassion towards others or feels remorse over his own sings The modern materialistic culture tends to deaden the heart.

Javid Namah, p. 243

[I have wandered in the world so long,
I have seldom seen tears in the eyes of the rich.]

Bal-i Jibril, p. 52

[The eye, lighted by the collyrium of the West,
is clever and deceitful, but knows no tear.]

12.        See lines 53 1-32 which teach the same lesson, viz, destroying the present Western culture.

13.        On his return from Europe after attending the Round Table Conference, Iqbal visited Italy and met Mussolini. He seems to have been greatly impressed by his personality and, what I feel, particularly liked his anti British policy. He expressed appreciation of his work among the younger generation of Italians (Bal-i Jibril, p. 202) But when, later on, Mussolini’s imperialistic role came to surface, he could not restrain himself from condemning him and his expansionist policy in Abyssinia. Fin wrote two different poems in 1935 (“Abyssinia” 18 August, and “Mussolini,” 22 August, included in Darb-i Kalim, pp. 147 and 151-52, respectively) which express his sentiments. The following three lines from the first are relevant (Darb-i Kalim, 147):

[Culture’s zenith is the decline of nobility.,
nations of the world indulge in destruction:
every wolf seeks some innocent iamb.]

14.        “Plunderers of the dead,” those who steal away the shrouds from the graves of the dead. Writing in 1923 (Payam-i M’ashriq, 233), Iqbal characterised the League of Nations as “Plunderers of the lead”.

15.        On League of Nations and Geneva, its headquarters, see Darb-i Kalim, pp. 54, 158, 163.

16.        (II. 871-86). These lines refer to the various creative and fruitful contributions made in the past by the people of Asia to world culture.

17.        As is commonly known. Napoleon characterised the British as a nation of shopkeepers.