Muhammad Iqbal.

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That is a mercy to his friends and this to his foes.
He opened the gates of mercy to his enemies, 385
He gave to Mecca the message, “No blame shall be laid upon
We who know not the bonds of country
Resemble sight, which is one though it be the light of two
We belong to the Hijáz and China and Persia,
Yet we are the dew of one smiling dawn. 390
We are all under the spell of the eye of the cupbearer from
We are united as wine and cup.
He burnt clean away distinctions of lineage,
His fire consumed this trash and rubble.
We are like a rose with many petals but with one perfume: 395
He is the soul of this society, and he is one.
We were the secret concealed in his heart:
He spake out fearlessly, and we were revealed.
The song of love for him fills my silent reed,
A hundred notes throb in my bosom. 400
How shall I tell what devotion he inspires?
A block of dry wood wept at parting from him.[41]
The Moslem’s being is where he manifests his glory:
Many a Sinai springs from the dust on his path.
My image was created by his mirror, 405
My dawn rises from the sun of his breast.
My repose is a perpetual fever,
My evening hotter than the morning of Judgement Day:[42]
He is the April cloud and I his garden,
My vine is bedewed with his rain. 410
I sowed mine eye in the field of Love
And reaped a harvest of delight.
“The soil of Medina is sweeter than both worlds:
Oh, happy the town where dwells the Beloved!”[43]
I am lost in admiration of the style of Mullá Jámí: 415
His verse and prose are a remedy for my immaturity.
He has written poetry overflowing with beautiful ideas
And has threaded pearls in praise of the Master -
“Mohammed is the preface to the book of the universe:
All the world are slaves and he is the Master.” 420
From the wine of Love spring many qualities:
Amongst the attributes of Love is blind devotion.
The saint of Bistám, who in devotion was unique,
Abstained from eating a water-melon.[44]
Be a lover constant in devotion to thy beloved, 425
That thou mayst cast thy noose and capture God.
Sojourn for a while on the Hirá of the heart,[45]
Abandon self and flee to God.
Strengthened by God, return to thy self
And break the heads of the Lát and Uzzá of sensuality.[46] 430
By the might of Love evoke an army,
Reveal thyself on the Fárán of Love,[47]
That the Lord of the Ka’ba may show thee favour
And interpret to thee the text, “Lo, I will appoint a
vicegerent on the earth.”[48]


[36] For the sense which Iqbal attaches to the word “love,” see the
Introduction, section 3. THE EDUCATION OF THE EGO.

[37] A prophet or saint.

[38] See note 26 on l. 95. Tabríz is an allusion to Shams-i Tabríz, the
spiritual director of Jalálu’ddín Rúmí.

[39] Najd, the Highlands of Arabia, is celebrated in love-romance. I
need only mention Lailá and Majnún.

[40] Her father, Hátim of Tai, is proverbial in the East for his

[41] The story of the pulpit that wept when Mohammed descended from it
occurs, I think, in the _Masnaví_.

[42] When, according to Mohammedan belief, the sun will rise in the

[43] A quotation from the _Masnaví_. The Prophet was buried at Medina.

[44] Báyazíd of Bistám died in A.D. 875. He refused to eat a
water-melon, saying he had no assurance that the Prophet had ever
tasted that fruit.

[45] Mohammed used to retire to a cave on Mount Hirá, near Mecca, for
the purpose of solitary meditation and other ascetic observances.

[46] Lát and Uzzá were goddesses worshipped by the heathen Arabs.

[47] Fárán, name of a mountain in the neighbourhood of Mecca.

[48] Koran, ch. 2, v. 28. In these words, which were addressed to the
angels, God foretold the creation of Adam.


_Showing that the Self is weakened by asking._

O thou who hast gathered taxes from lions, 435
Thy need hath caused thee to become a fox in disposition.
Thy maladies are the result of indigence:
This disease is the source of thy pain.
It is robbing thine high thoughts of their dignity
And putting out the light of thy noble imagination. 440
Quaff rosy wine from the jar of existence!
Snatch thy money from the purse of Time!
Like Omar, come down from thy camel![49]
Beware of incurring obligations, beware!
How long wilt thou sue for office 445
And ride like children on a woman’s back?
A nature that fixes its gaze on the sky
Becomes debased by receiving benefits.
By asking, poverty is made more abject;
By begging, the beggar is made poorer. 450
Asking disintegrates the Self
And deprives of illumination the Sinai-bush of the Self.
Do not scatter thy handful of dust;
Like the moon, scrape food from thine own side!
Albeit thou art poor and wretched 455
And overwhelmed by affliction,
Seek not thy daily bread from the bounty of another,
Seek not waves of water from the fountain of the sun,
Lest thou be put to shame before the Prophet
On the Day when every soul shall be stricken with fear. 460
The moon gets sustenance from the table of the sun
And bears the brand of his bounty on her heart.
Pray God for courage! Wrestle with Fortune!
Do not sully the honour of the pure religion!
He who swept the rubbish of idols out of the Ka’ba 465
Said that God loves a man that earns his living.
Woe to him that accepts bounty from another’s table
And lets his neck be bent with benefits!
He hath consumed himself with the lightning of the favours
bestowed on him,
He hath sold his honour for a paltry coin. 470
Happy the man who thirsting in the sun
Does not crave of Khizr a cup of water![50]
His brow is not moist with the shame of beggary;
He is a man still, not a piece of clay.
That noble youth walks under heaven 475
With his head erect like the pine.
Are his hands empty? The more is he master of himself.
Do his fortunes languish? The more alert is he.
The beggar’s wallet is like a boat tossing in waves of fire;
Sweet is a little dew gathered by one’s own hand. 480
Be a man of honour, and like the bubble
Keep thy cup inverted even in the midst of the sea![51]


[49] The Caliph Omar was a man of simple habits and self-reliant

[50] Khizr is supposed to have drunk of the Fountain of Life.

[51] The bubble is compared to an inverted cup, which of course
receives nothing.


_Showing that when the Self is strengthened by Love it gains dominion
over the outward and inward forces of the universe._

When the Self is made strong by Love
Its power rules the whole world.
The Heavenly Sage who adorned the sky with stars 485
Plucked these buds from the bough of the Self.
Its hand becomes God’s hand,
The moon is split by its fingers.
It is the arbitrator in all the quarrels of the world,
Its command is obeyed by Darius and Jamshíd. 490
I will tell thee a story of Bú Ali,[52]
Whose name is renowned in India,
Him who sang of the ancient rose-garden
And discoursed to us about the lovely rose:
The air of his fluttering skirt 495
Made a Paradise of this fire-born country.
His young disciple went one day to the bazaar -
The wine of Bú Ali’s discourse had turned his head.
The governor of the city was coming along on horseback,
His servant and staff-bearer rode beside him. 500
The forerunner shouted, “O senseless one,
Do not get in the way of the governor’s escort!”
But the dervish walked on with drooping head,
Sunk in the sea of his own thoughts.
The staff-bearer, drunken with pride, 505
Broke his staff on the head of the dervish,
Who stepped painfully out of the governor’s way,
Sad and sorry, with a heavy heart.
He came to Bú Ali and complained
And released the tears from his eyes. 510
Like lightning that falls on mountains,
The Sheikh poured forth a fiery torrent of speech.
He let loose from his soul a strange fire,
He gave an order to his secretary:
“Take thy pen and write a letter 515
From a dervish to a sultan!
Say, ‘Thy governor has broken my servant’s head;
He has cast burning coals on his own life.
Arrest this wicked governor,
Or else I will bestow thy kingdom on another.” 520
The letter of the saint who had access to God
Caused the monarch to tremble in every limb.
His body was filled with aches,
He grew as pale as the evening sun.
He sought out a handcuff for the governor 525
And entreated Bú Ali to pardon this offence.
Khusrau, the sweet-voiced eloquent poet,[53]
Whose harmonies flow from the creative mind
And whose genius hath the soft brilliance of moonlight,
Was chosen to be the king’s ambassador. 530
When he entered Bú Ali’s presence and played his lute,
His song melted the fakir’s soul like glass.
One strain of poesy bought the grace
Of a majesty that was firm as a mountain.
Do not wound the hearts of dervishes, 535
Do not throw thyself into burning fire!


[52] Sheikh Sharafu’ddín of Pánípat, who is better known as Bú Ali
Qalandar, was a great saint. He died about A.D. 1325.

[53] Amír Khusrau of Delhi, the most celebrated of the Persian poets of


_A tale of which the moral is that negation of the Self is a doctrine
invented by the subject races of mankind in order that by this means
they may sap and weaken the character of their rulers._

Hast thou heard that in the time of old
The sheep dwelling in a certain pasture
So increased and multiplied
That they feared no enemy? 540
At last, from the malice of Fate,
Their breasts were smitten by a shaft of calamity.
The tigers sprang forth from the jungle
And rushed upon the sheepfold.
Conquest and dominion are signs of strength, 545
Victory is the manifestation of strength.
Those fierce tigers beat the drum of sovereignty,
They deprived the sheep of freedom.
Forasmuch as tigers must have their prey,
That meadow was crimsoned with the blood of the sheep. 550
One of the sheep which was clever and acute,
Old in years, cunning as a weather-beaten wolf,
Being grieved at the fate of his fellows
And sorely vexed by the violence of the tigers,
Made complaint of the course of Destiny 555
And sought by craft to restore his fortunes.
The weak man, in order to preserve himself,
Seeks devices from skilled intelligence.
In slavery, for the sake of repelling harm,
The power of scheming becomes quickened, 560
And when the madness of revenge gains hold,
The mind of the slave meditates rebellion.
“Ours is a hard knot,” said this sheep to himself,
“The ocean of our griefs hath no shore.
By force we sheep cannot escape from the tiger: 565
Our legs are silver, his paws are steel.
‘Tis not possible, however much one exhorts and counsels,
To create in a sheep the disposition of a wolf.
But to make the furious tiger a sheep - that is possible;
To make him unmindful of his nature - that is possible.” 570
He became as a prophet inspired,
And began to preach to the bloodthirsty tigers.
He cried out, “O ye insolent liars,
Who wot not of a day of ill luck that shall continue for
I am possessed of spiritual power, 575
I am an apostle sent by God for the tigers.
I come as a light for the eye that is dark,
I come to establish laws and give commandments.
Repent of your blameworthy deeds!
O plotters of evil, bethink yourselves of good! 580
Whoso is violent and strong is miserable:
Life’s solidity depends on self-denial.
The spirit of the righteous is fed by fodder:
The vegetarian is pleasing unto God.
The sharpness of your teeth brings disgrace upon you 585
And makes the eye of your perception blind.
Paradise is for the weak alone,
Strength is but a means to perdition.
It is wicked to seek greatness and glory,
Penury is sweeter than princedom. 590
Lightning does not threaten the corn-seed:
If the seed become a stack, it is unwise.
If you are sensible, you will be a mote of sand, not a
So that you may enjoy the sunbeams.
O thou that delightest in the slaughter of sheep, 595
Slay thy self, and thou wilt have honour!
Life is rendered unstable
By violence, oppression, revenge, and exercise of power.
Though trodden underfoot, the grass grows up time after time
And washes the sleep of death from its eye again and again. 600
Forget thy self, if thou art wise!
If thou dost not forget thy self, thou art mad.
Close thine eyes, close thine ears, close thy lips,[55]
That thy thought may reach the lofty sky!
This pasturage of the world is naught, naught: 605
O fool, do not torment thyself for a phantom!”
The tiger-tribe was exhausted by hard struggles,
They had set their hearts on enjoyment of luxury.
This soporific advice pleased them,
In their stupidity they swallowed the charm of the sheep. 610
He that used to make sheep his prey
Now embraced a sheep’s religion.
The tigers took kindly to a diet of fodder:
At length their tigerish nature was broken.
The fodder blunted their teeth 615
And put out the awful flashings of their eyes.
By degrees courage ebbed from their breasts,
The sheen departed from the mirror.
That frenzy of uttermost exertion remained not,
That craving after action dwelt in their hearts no more. 620
They lost the power of ruling and the resolution to be
They lost reputation, prestige, and fortune.
Their paws that were as iron became strengthless;
Their souls died and their bodies became tombs.
Bodily strength diminished while spiritual fear increased: 625
Spiritual fear robbed them of courage.
Lack of courage produced a hundred diseases -
Poverty, pusillanimity, lowmindedness.
The wakeful tiger was lulled to slumber by the sheep’s charm:
He called his decline Moral Culture. 630


[54] These expressions are borrowed from the Koran.

[55] Quoted from the _Masnaví_.


_To the effect that Plato, whose thought has deeply influenced the
mysticism and literature of Islam, followed the sheep’s doctrine, and
that we must be on our guard against his theories._[56]

Plato, the prime ascetic and sage,
Was one of that ancient flock of sheep.
His Pegasus went astray in the darkness of philosophy
And galloped over the mountains of Being.
He was so fascinated by the Ideal 635
That he made head, eye, and ear of no account.
“To die,” said he, “is the secret of Life:
The candle is glorified by being put out.”
He dominates our thinking,
His cup sends us to sleep and takes the world away from us. 640
He is a sheep in man’s clothing,
The soul of the Súfí bows to his authority.
He soared with his intellect to the highest heaven,
He called the world of phenomena a myth.
‘Twas his work to dissolve the structure of Life 645
And cut the bough of Life’s fair tree asunder.
The thought of Plato regarded loss as profit,
His philosophy declared that being is not-being.
His nature drowsed and created a dream,
His mind’s eye created a mirage. 650
Since he was without any taste for action,
His soul was enraptured by the non-existent.
He disbelieved in the material universe
And became the creator of invisible Ideas.
Sweet is the world of phenomena to the living spirit, 655
Dear is the world of Ideas to the dead spirit:
Its gazelles have no grace of movement,
Its partridges are denied the pleasure of walking daintily.
Its dewdrops are unable to quiver,
Its birds have no breath in their breasts, 660
Its seed does not desire to grow,
Its moths do not know how to flutter.
Our philosopher had no remedy but flight:
He could not endure the noise of this world.
He set his heart on the glow of a quenched flame 665
And depicted a world steeped in opium.
He spread his wings towards the sky
And never came down to his nest again.
His phantasy is sunk in the jar of heaven:
I know not whether it is the dregs or the bricks. [57] 670
The peoples were poisoned by his intoxication:
He slumbered and took no delight in deeds.


[56] The direct influence of Platonism on Moslem thought has been
comparatively slight. When the Moslems began to study Greek philosophy,
they turned to Aristotle. The genuine writings of Aristotle, however,
were not accessible to them. They studied translations of books passing
under his name, which were the work of Neoplatonists, so that what
they believed to be Aristotelian doctrine was in fact the philosophy
of Plotinus, Proclus, and the later Neoplatonic school. Indirectly,
therefore, Plato has profoundly influenced the intellectual and
spiritual development of Islam and may be called, if not the father of
Mohammedan mysticism, at any rate its presiding genius.

[57] _I.e._ it is worthless in either case. The egg-shaped wine-jar is
supported by bricks in order to keep it in an upright position.


_Concerning the true nature of poetry and the reform of Islamic

‘Tis the brand of desire makes the blood of man run warm,
By the lamp of desire this dust is enkindled.
By desire Life’s cup is brimmed with wine, 675
So that Life leaps to its feet and marches briskly on.
Life is occupied with conquest alone,
And the one charm for conquest is desire.
Life is the hunter and desire the snare,
Desire is Love’s message to Beauty. 680
Wherefore doth desire swell continuously
The bass and treble of Life’s song?
Whatsoever is good and fair and beautiful
Is our guide in the wilderness of seeking.
Its image becomes impressed on thine heart, 685
It creates desires in thine heart.
Beauty is the creator of desire’s springtide,
Desire is nourished by the display of Beauty.
‘Tis in the poet’s breast that Beauty unveils,
‘Tis from his Sinai that Beauty’s beams arise. 690
By his look the fair is made fairer,
Through his enchantments Nature is more beloved.
From his lips the nightingale hath learned her song,
And his rouge hath brightened the cheek of the rose.
‘Tis his passion burns in the heart of the moth, 695
‘Tis he that lends glowing hues to love-tales.
Sea and land are hidden within his water and clay,[58]
A hundred new worlds are concealed in his heart.
Ere tulips blossomed in his brain
There was heard no note of joy or grief. 700
His music breathes o’er us a wonderful enchantment,
His pen draws a mountain with a single hair.
His thoughts dwell with the moon and the stars,
He creates beauty in that which is ugly and strange.
He is a Khizr, and amidst his darkness is the Fountain of
Life:[59] 705
All things that exist are made more living by his tears.
Heavily we go, like raw novices,
Stumbling on the way to the goal.
His nightingale hath played a tune
And laid a plot to beguile us, 710
That he may lead us into Life’s Paradise,
And that Life’s bow may become a full circle.
Caravans march at the sound of his bell
And follow the voice of his pipe;
But when his zephyr blows in our gardens, 715
We stay loitering amongst tulips and roses.
His witchery makes Life develop itself
And become self-questioning and impatient.
He invites the whole world to his table;
He lavishes his fire as though it were cheap as air. 720
Woe to a people that resigns itself to death,
And whose poet turns away from the joy of living!
His mirror shows beauty as ugliness,
His honey leaves a hundred stings in the heart.
His kiss robs the rose of freshness, 725
He takes away from the nightingale’s heart the joy of flying.
Thy sinews are relaxed by his opium,
Thou payest for his song with thy life.
He bereaves the cypress of delight in its beauty,
His cold breath makes a pheasant of the male falcon. 730
He is a fish, and from the breast upward a man,
Like the Sirens in the ocean.
With his song he enchants the pilot
And casts the ship to the bottom of the sea.
His melodies steal firmness from thine heart, 735
His magic persuades thee that death is life.
He takes from thy soul the desire of existence,
He extracts from thy mine the blushing ruby.
He dresses gain in the garb of loss,
He makes everything praiseworthy blameful. 740
He plunges thee in a sea of thought,
He makes thee a stranger to action.
He is sick, and by his words our sickness is increased:
The more his cup goes round, the more sick are they that
quaff it.
There are no lightning-rains in his April, 745
His garden is a mirage of colour and perfume.
His beauty hath no dealings with Truth,
There are none but flawed pearls in his sea.
Slumber he deemed sweeter than waking:
Our fire was quenched by his breath. 750
By the chant of his nightingale the heart was poisoned:
Under his heap of roses lurked a snake.
Beware of his decanter and cup!
Beware of his sparkling wine!
O thou whom his wine hath laid low 755
And who look’st to his glass for thy rising dawn,
O thou whose heart hath been chilled by his melodies,
Thou hast drunk deadly poison through the ear!
Thy way of life is a proof of thy degeneracy,
The strings of thine instrument are out of tune. 760
‘Tis pampered ease hath made thee so wretched,
A disgrace to Islam throughout the world.
One can bind thee with the vein of a rose,
One can wound thee with a zephyr.
Love hath been put to shame by thy wailing, 765
His fair picture hath been fouled by thy brush.
Thy ill-usage hath paled his cheek,
Thy coldness hath taken the glow from his fire.
He is heartsick from thy heartsicknesses,
And enfeebled by thy feeblenesses. 770
His cup is full of childish tears,
His house is furnished with distressful sighs.[60]
He is a drunkard begging at tavern-doors,
Stealing glimpses of beauty from lattices,
Unhappy, melancholy, injured, 775
Kicked well-nigh to death by the warder;
Wasted like a reed by sorrows,
On his lips a store of complaints against Heaven.
Flattery and spite are the mettle of his mirror,
Helplessness his comrade of old; 780
A miserable base-born underling
Without worth or hope or object,
Whose lamentations have sucked the marrow from thy soul
And driven off gentle sleep from thy neighbours’ eyes.
Alas for a love whose fire is extinct, 785
A love that was born in the Holy Place and died in the
house of idols!
Oh, if thou hast the coin of poesy in thy purse,
Rub it on the touchstone of Life!
Clear-seeing thought shows the way to action,
As the lightning-flash precedes the thunder. 790
It behoves thee to meditate well concerning literature,

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Online LibraryMuhammad IqbalThe Secrets of the Self → online text (page 3 of 6)