THE RENAISSANCE OF ISLAM
This is the last of the nine long poems in this book. Its position at about the end of the book and immediately after Khiîar-i-R«h is not incidental. Many poems in the book express ‘All«mah Iqb«l’s frustration at the state of affairs in the Muslim world and the Muslim society in it. Khiîar-i-R«h is the last such poem . Perusal of these poems creates some degree of frustration in the reader which is only temporary till he reads the next poem. ńulë-i-Isl«m leaves the reader filled with lasting enthusiasm produced by the message of hope contained in it, as he finishes the serious part of the book.
The poem was written in the early 1920s soon after World War I, and deals with the aftermath of that war with respect to the Muslims. Though it deals with the defeat and dismemberment of the `Uthm«niyah Khil«fah into small secular nation states and complete subjugation of these states by the Western Christian powers at the end of the war, it brings the good news of hope and encouragement. It consists of nine stanzas, each with a different cadence and covers the following subjects:
1. The starting point and the leading theme is the reassuring thought that the time has come for re-awakening of the Muslim world and re-assertion of Islamic values.
2. In order to regain their past glories Muslims must:
(a) Recognize the elevated place of Man in the universe, which can be attained only by acquiring Islamic virtues, and appreciate the unity of mankind, which is above race and color. This is also the essence of the teachings of the Holy Qur’«n as has been explained and documented at appropriate places earlier.
(b) Recognize their high destiny as the architect of the new world order.
(c) Review the degeneration of the Muslim world, which has resulted from complaisance and ignoring the message of God in the Holy Qur’«n.
(d) Recognize the value of Ąm«n and develop it in their lives.
(e) Work together in the struggle for establishment of a new world order of a united super-national millat instead of unconnected geographical nations.
3. Attention has been drawn to the ethical degeneration of the Western world and society to show the impropriety and inadequacy of their norms as guidelines for the Muslim world.
The fading glitter of stars is the signal of a bright dawn
The sun has risen from the horizon, the time of deep stupor is gone!
Life-blood has started flowing through the dead arteries of the East
This secret is incomprehensible to Sân«1 and F«r«bâ ! 2
The storm of the West has made the Muslim into a real Muslim
Only the upheavals of the sea bring the pearl’s beauty to its perfection
The Muslim is to be endowed again from the God’s Court with
Turkoman’s dignity3, Indian’s intellect4, Arab’s eloquence5
If some slumber is lurking still in the flower buds
“Strike the beat harder if the taste for music is lacking” 6
Jump restlessly in the garden, in the nest, in bowers
It is impossible to deprive mercury of its restlessness
Why should the eye used to chaste things see coat of arms
When it is able to see the valor of the Gh«zâ’s 7 soul!
O God, light the candle of Longing in the tulip’s heart
Make every speck of garden’s dust a martyr searching for the Truth
The effect of spring showers exists8 in the Muslim’s tears
Pearls are to be produced again in the ocean of Ibr«hâm
The Book of the Muslim nation is being organized again
This Hashimite Branch 9 is going to blossom again!
The beloved of Shiraz has won the hearts of Tabriz and Kabul10
The zephyr produces its fellow traveler from rose’ fragrance!
The avalanche of calamity over Uthmanis is not to be bereaved
As the dawn is produced after destruction of myriad’s of stars!
Insight into the world is more difficult than the world’s sovereignty
Insight is produced only when the heart melts into blood!
For thousands of years narcissus bemoans its lack of luster
The discerning person is produced in the garden with difficulty
Sing O Nightingale so that with your modulations
The falcon’s heart in the pigeon’s frail body be produced
Concealed within your heart is the secret of life
Relate to the Muslim the traditions of pathos of life
You are the potent hand and the word of the Eternal God
O imprudent one! Develop Faith as you have been overcome with doubts11
The Muslim’s destination is beyond the azure colored sky
You are the caravan the dust of whose trail are stars!
The house is ephemeral, the dweller is momentary, yours are the Beginning and the End
You are the Final Message of God and you are eternal!
Your life-blood adorns with myrtle the bride called tulip
Your origin is from Ibr«hâm, you are the world’s architect!
Your nature is the custodian of all life’s possibilities
So to say you are the touch-stone for world’s hidden jewels!
From the material world to the Eternal world
You are the gift which the Holy Prophet took!
The history of the Muslim nation reveals the secret
That you are the protector of the nations of Asia
Learn again the lesson of Truth, Justice, and Bravery
You are to be entrusted with the world’s leadership!
This alone is the creation’s objective, this alone is Islam’s secret
That there should be universal brotherhood, abundant love!
Breaking the idols of race and color merge into the millat
There should be neither Turanian12, nor Iranian, nor Afghanian!
How long the companionship of garden’s birds inside the garden’s confines?
Your wings are capable of the flight of Quhist«n’s13 falcon!
In the world of existence full of doubts, the Muslim’s Faith
Is like a beacon of light in the dark night of the wilderness’
What could demolish the grandeur of QaiĹer 14 and Kisr« 15?
Nothing but Łaider’s16 prowess, Bë Dhar’s17 faqr 18, Salm«n’s 19 truth
With what dignity did the free men of the millat march out?
The centuries-old prisoners are only watching the spectacle through door’s crevices!
Stability of life in this world is bestowed by firm Faith
The Turanian has proved even longer lasting than the German20
When Faith is created in this earthly ember
It itself creates wings and plumage of Jibril!
Neither swords nor plans are of any avail in slavery
Chains are cast away when taste for Faith is created
Can anyone assess the strength of his arms?
Destinies are changed by the Believer’s mere glance!
Sainthood, sovereignty, the universality of material knowledge
What are all these except unraveling of the secrets of Faith!
It is however difficult to develop Ibr«hâm’s vision
Greed creates subconscious images stealthily in the vision!
The ruled and ruler’s discrimination is the bane of humanity
Beware, O oppressors the punishments of God for this are severe!
The essence of everything is the same, be it of dust or light
Sun’s blood would drip by cutting the core of dust’s speck21
Firm Faith, constant struggle, Love, conquest of the universe
These are the swords for the brave men in the battle of life
What is expected from the brave? High disposition, sincere creed
Warm heart, immaculate vision and restless soul!
Those who had attacked like eagle emerged as wingless22
The evening stars after diving into dusk’s blood emerged shining!
Those accustomed to swimming under the sea were buried under the sea
Those who bored ocean waves’ dashes emerged as pearls!23
Those who were proud of alchemy are like the way side dust
Those who humbly prostrated before God emerged as elixir makers24!
Our slow-moving messenger has brought the message of life
Those who got electric messages emerged as uninformed25!
The Łaram has been disgraced by the priests’ short-sight
With what excellent insight the T«t«r youth have come out 26!
Angels, the denizens of celestial world, were saying to the earth
These earthly men emerged more lively, more virulent, more splendid!
The men of Faith live in the world like the sun
Set here, come out there, set there, come out here27!
The individual’s Faith is the means of national renaissance
This is the force which shapes the nation’s destiny!
You are the secret of Kun Fik«n 28, be manifest to yourself
Become the knower of the secret of Khudâ, become interpreter of God
Human greed has torn the human race into pieces
Be the declaration of fraternity, become the language of Love
This is Indian, that Khur«s«nian, this Afghanian, that Tur«nian is
O you disgraced by nationalism, jump out and become boundless
Your wings and plumage are polluted with race and color’s dust
O Łaram’s bird29 flutter your wings before you become ready for flight
O imprudent one! Dive in Khudâ , this is the secret of life
Relinquishing the narrow confines of time become eternal
In the battle of life acquire the nature of steel
In the Love’s bed-chamber become soft like silk30
Transcend mountains and deserts like a furious flood
If there be a garden in your path, become a melodious brook
The bounds of your Knowledge and Love are none
Melody sweeter than you in the Divine orchestra is none!
Humanity is still the helpless prey to imperialism
Outrageous that Man is the hunter of the human race!
The glitter of modern civilization dazzles the eye
But this is the luster of unreal jewels only!
The science which was the pride of the West’s sages
Is the battle-sword in the blood-stained clutches of greed!31
The magic of prudence cannot make stable
The civilization which is based on capitalism32
Dynamism establishes life; bestows heaven as well as hell
This earthly creature in its nature is neither angelic nor infernal
Partake the nightingale’s clamor, open the flower bud
As your person is the spring breeze for this garden 33
The spark of Love has again risen from the Asia’s heart
The world is the parading ground of the satin-clad T«t«rs
Come, a purchaser has appeared for this frail soul
“After a long time a caravan has arrived at our place”34
Come, O cup-bearer, the sad bird’s music is coming from the bower
Spring has come, the beloved has come, as the beloved has come tranquillity has come!
The spring cloud has established its camp up hill and down dale
The sound of waterfalls from the mountain tops has come!
I have surrendered my life to you, O cup-bearer, you should also sing the future’s songs
Because in rows after rows groups of singing birds have come!
Withdraw from the ascetics and fearlessly draw the wine cup
After long nightingale’s song from this old branch has come!
Narrate to Lovers the traditions of Badr and Łunain’s Master35
His hidden meanings clear to my eyes have become36!
The other branch of Khalâl37 is greening up with our blood
In Love’s market-place our currency full value has become
I am sprinkling tulip petals at the martyr’s grave
As his blood favorable to our nation’s sapling has become!
“Come, so that we may sprinkle flowers and pour wine in cup
Rend asunder the sky’s roof and establish a new foundation”
1. Abë Alâ Łusain `Abd Allah Ibn Łasan Ibn ‘Alâ Sân«- See Appendix I, No. 41.
2. Muéammad Ibn Muéammad Ibn ńarakhan NaĹr F«r«bi- See Appendix I, No. 27.
The above two intellectuals are very eminent philosophers of the Muslim world. The former was also a very famous physician whose books were used as text books in Europe till only about two centuries ago. What ‘All«mah Iqb«l means is that even these two luminaries of the intellectual world are unable to understand the secrets of Divine and spiritual knowledge through which the miracles related in this verse had been enacted.
3. Turkom«ns- They are members of any of the chiefly Muslim Turkish tribes inhabiting Turkomanistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakistan. During the period of the zenith of the Muslim world the people of this region were a formidable force and ruled over a vast territory from Central Asia to India. They were very much respected for their prowess and political power.
4. In ancient times in the fourth and fifth centuries B.C. India was famous for its learning and intellect. In this respect it was one of the five prominent cultures of that period, viz. Indian, Greek, Zoroastrian, Egyptian, and Chinese.
5. In the pre-Islamic as well as in the early Islamic period Arabs were famous for their proficiency in language. They were so proud of the richness, prosody and rhetoric of their language that they called other nations as dumb and mute (`ajam). This word became and still is synonymous with “non-Arab” though the epithet no longer applies.
6. This is the first line of a verse of the famous Persian poet of India, Saiyyid Muéammad Jam«l al-Dân Urfâ for whom see Appendix I , No. 76. The complete verse is as follows:
(223) Strike the beat harder if the taste for music is lacking
Strike livelier the marching songs if the load is heavy
7. Gh«zâ- He is a Muslim fighter in the cause of God.
8. Nes«n- This is the spring rain. In Persian and Urdu legends its drops are believed to produce pearls in some bivalves. The metaphor means that the tears produced by the Muslims’ eyes as a result of the calamities they are facing will result in pearls, i.e. their apparent calamities will soon turn into successes.
9. H«shimâ, “Hashimite Branch” or Banâ H«shim- This is the branch of the Ismelite section of the progeny of S. Ibr«hâm A.S. As the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) belonged to Banâ H«shim the term is extended to all Muslims.
10. Turk-i Shâr«zâ- This refers to Shaikh MuĹleé al-Dân Sa`dâ Shâr«zâ for whom see Appendix I, No. 66. His poetry is very popular among all Muslims including Afghans, which is a sign of the attachment of Muslims to their heritage.
11. This verse stresses the importance of âm«n in achieving success.
12. Tër«nâ- The term applies to any of the peoples who live in Tër«n, which is the region north of the River Oxus.
13. Quhist«n- This is a tract of land in Kerm«n, now in Iran. The falcons of Quhist«n are famous for the elegance and swiftness of flight.
14. QaiĹer- This is the collective name for the Caesars of the Roman Empire.
15. Kisr«- He is the Persian Emperor in whose reign Iran was conquered by Muslims.
16. Łaider- This is another name of S. ‘Alâ R.A.
17. Abë Dhar- He is a well known companion of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) who is proverbial for his piety, which includes Faqr. For more details see Appendix I, No. 2.
18. Faqr- See Chapter 3, paragraph “Faqr”
19. Salm«n- See Appendix I, No. 68.
20. Reference to the continuation of war by the Turks against Greeks after the formal termination of World War I. As the Greeks were fighting on the strength of British support this was really a war against the British, who were a world power at that time.
21. Allusion to the creation and existence of the spiritual universe, which also contained angels, made of light, and the material universe, which includes Man made of dust. This verse, read with the previous one means all creation of God is equal.
22. Reference to the defeat of Germans in World War I which rendered them powerless.
23. Allusion to the inability of submarines, invented by Germans, to win the war.
24. Allusion to scientists and materialists.
25. Allusion to spiritual persons whose spiritual powers attain what arms and ammunition cannot.
26. This refers to the damage to the Holy Land and the world of Islam in general and to the glory and sanctity of the Holy Ka‘bah in particular by the treachery of the Arabs. For details see Poem 144 (Khiîar-i-Rah), Explanatory Note 7.
27. Allusion to the Holy Qur’«n 2:154 and 3:169, according to which people who lose their physical life in the cause of God should not be considered as dead. Also, the light of Truth which illuminates the heart of a man of Faith cannot be extinguished. Faith keeps on fighting and struggling in the pursuit of their goal incessantly all over the world in cooperation with each other . This makes the infidels lose the war at the end.
28. This is an invitation to Muslims to realize the greatness of Man and specially that of Muslims, whose life is totally dedicated to God and who live for and die in His cause. This whole stanza is an invitation to the Muslim Ummah to acquire Islamic virtues.
29. Łaram’s Bird- Allusion to the Muslim Ummah.
30. This and the next verse is an allusion to the Holy Qur’«n 48:29, which instructs Muslims to unite and be firm against infidels and kind and affectionate to believers.
31. Allusion to the atrocities to and usurpation of the wealth of non-European peoples, especially Muslims by the Europe’s imperialist nations during their entire history.
32. This is a warning by ‘All«mah Iqb«l that the Western system, based on capitalism-imperialism, will not last in spite of the magic of political maneuvering. In view of the collapse and ultimate demise of the communist world this seems to be paradoxical. This is so because we are accustomed to considering only two systems, i.e. capitalism and communism. The Muslim world has been so much frustrated and over-awed by the glitter of the Western world that it has completely forgotten the potential of the Islamic political-economic system. ‘All«mah Iqb«l’s works also give the false impression that he was pro-Communist and anti-capitalist. However, a little thought and deep study of his works would show that his support of communism was only apparent and transient and revealed only his temporary satisfaction in the sense that in his view the advent of communism posed the first threat to the capitalist system. The capitalist-communist fighting gave the Muslims a respite and a golden opportunity to reconstruct their material and spiritual world and eventually be able to deal a final deadly blow to both these systems and establish the Islamic system. He has repeatedly shown his disapproval and unhappiness with the communist system, as he has done with the capitalist system. His forecast contained in this verse has been partially fulfilled in the demise of communism. Now that the Islamic world is waking up from its deep stupor the conflict with the Western world and its systems is inevitable. In this conflict the Islamic system will succeed. However, it will not come as a miracle but will have to be achieved by the Muslim world through their sweat and blood. This latter thought is conveyed in the next two verses.
33. This and the following verses to the end of the poem contain the message of hope and prompting for struggle for Muslims. The climax is reached in the last verse of the poem in which the poet invites Muslims to revolutionize the world and establish the new Islamic world order.
34. Allusion to the Holy Qur’«n 12:19. The arrival of the caravan at the well into which S. Yësuf A.S. had been thrown was the turning point in his life. In the same way the present time, when the Western world is losing its credibility, is the turning point in the life of the Muslim Ummah.
35. Reference to the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.). The battles of Badr and Łunain are of critical importance in Islamic history. The former was the first battle between the fledgling Millat of Muslims in Madânah Munawarrah and the pagan Quraish. This battle was critical in that the victory of Muslims brought credibility and political stability to them. The battle of Łunain was fought immediately after the conquest of Makkah Mu‘ďďamah. This battle also was decisive in the sense that Muslims were almost defeated on account of their pride and reliance on their numbers, arms and material resources instead of their Faith in the Truth of their mission and the help of God. Ultimately, the Muslims were victorious. This victory completed the sovereignty of the Islamic State of Madinah over the Arabian Peninsula and provided the launching pad for their expansion into the world.
36. The Muslim Ummah.
37. For Khalâl see Appendix I, No. 43.