Muhammad Iqbal.

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It behoves thee to go back to the Arabs:
Thou must needs give thine heart to the Salmá of Araby,[61]
That the morn of the Hijáz may blossom from the night of
Thou hast gathered roses from the garden of Persia 795
And seen the springtide of India and Iran:
Now taste a little of the heat of the desert,
Drink the old wine of the date!
Lay thine head for once on its hot breast,
Yield thy body awhile to its scorching wind! 800
For a long time thou hast turned about on a bed of silk:
Now accustom thyself to rough cotton!
For generations thou hast danced on tulips
And bathed thy cheek in dew, like the rose:
Now throw thyself on the burning sand 805
And plunge into the fountain of Zemzem!
How long wilt thou fain lament like the nightingale?
How long make thine abode in gardens?
O thou whose auspicious snare would do honour to the Phœnix,
Build a nest on the high mountains, 810
A nest embosomed in lightning and thunder,
Loftier than eagle’s eyrie,
That thou mayst be fit for Life’s battle,
That thy body and soul may burn in Life’s fire!


[58] _I.e._ in his body.

[59] Khizr, according to the legend, discovered the Fountain of Life in
the Land of Darkness.

[60] In this passage the author assails the Persian and Urdu poetry so
much in favour with his contemporaries.

[61] Arabic odes usually begin with a prelude in which the poet makes
mention of his beloved; and her name is often Salmá. Here “the Salmá of
Araby” refers to the Koran and the ideals for which it stands.

[62] It is related that an ignorant Kurd came to some students and
besought them to instruct him in the mysteries of Súfism. They told him
that he must fasten a rope to the roof of his house, then tie the loose
end to his feet and suspend himself, head downwards; and that he must
remain in this posture as long as possible, reciting continually some
words of gibberish which they taught him. The poor man did not perceive
that he was being mocked. He followed their instructions and passed
the whole night repeating the words given him. God rewarded his faith
and sincerity by granting him illumination, so that he became a saint
and could discourse learnedly on the most abstruse matters of mystical
theology. Afterwards he used to say, “In the evening I was a Kurd, but
the next morning I was an Arab.”


_Showing that the education of the Self has three stages: Obedience,
Self-control, and Divine Vicegerency._


Service and toil are traits of the camel, 815
Patience and perseverance are ways of the camel.
Noiselessly he steps along the sandy track,
He is the ship of those who voyage in the desert.
Every thicket knows the print of his foot:
He eats seldom, sleeps little, and is inured to toil. 820
He carries rider, baggage, and litter;
He trots on and on to the journey’s end,
Rejoicing in his speed,
More patient in travel than his rider.
Thou, too, do not refuse the burden of Duty: 825
So wilt thou enjoy the best dwelling-place, which is with
Endeavour to obey, O heedless one!
Liberty is the fruit of compulsion.
By obedience the man of no worth is made worthy;
By disobedience his fire is turned to ashes. 830
Whoso would master the sun and stars,
Let him make himself a prisoner of Law!
The wind is enthralled by the fragrant rose;
The perfume is confined in the navel of the musk-deer.
The star moves towards its goal 835
With head bowed in surrender to a law.
The grass springs up in obedience to the law of growth:
When it abandons that, it is trodden underfoot.
To burn unceasingly is the law of the tulip,
And so the blood leaps in its veins. 840
Drops of water become a sea by the law of union,
And grains of sand become a Sahara.
Since Law makes everything strong within,
Why dost thou neglect this source of strength?
O thou that art emancipated from the old Custom,[63] 845
Adorn thy feet once more with the same fine silver chain!
Do not complain of the hardness of the Law,
Do not transgress the statutes of Mohammed!


Thy soul cares only for itself, like the camel:
It is self-conceited, self-governed, and self-willed. 850
Be a man, get its halter into thine hand,
That thou mayst become a pearl albeit thou art a potter’s
He that does not command himself
Becomes a receiver of commands from others.
When they moulded thee of clay, 855
Love and fear were mingled in thy making:
Fear of this world and of the world to come, fear of death,
Fear of all the pains of earth and heaven;
Love of riches and power, love of country,
Love of self and kindred and wife. 860
The mixing of clay with water nourishes the body,[64]
But he that is drowned in sin dies an evil death.
So long as thou hold’st the staff of “There is no God but
Thou wilt break every spell of fear.
One to whom God is as the soul in his body, 865
His neck is not bowed before vanity.
Fear finds no way into his bosom,
His heart is afraid of none but Allah.
Whoso dwells in the Moslem Faith
Is free from the bonds of wife and child. 870
He withdraws his gaze from all except God
And lays the knife to the throat of his son.[66]
Though single, he is like a host in onset:
Life is cheaper in his eyes than wind.
The profession of Faith is the shell, but prayer is the
pearl: 875
The Moslem’s heart deems prayer a lesser pilgrimage.[67]
In the Moslem’s hand prayer is like a dagger
Killing sin and frowardness and wrong.
Fasting makes an assault upon hunger and thirst
And breaches the citadel of sensuality. 880
The pilgrimage enlightens the minds of the Faithful:
It teaches separation from one’s home and destroys
attachment to one’s native land;
It is an act of devotion in which all feel themselves to be
It binds together the leaves of the book of religion.
Almsgiving causes love of riches to pass away 885
And makes equality familiar;
It fortifies the heart with righteousness,[68]
It increases wealth and diminishes fondness for wealth.
All this is a means of strengthening thee:
Thou art impregnable, if thy Islam be strong. 890
Draw might from the litany “O Almighty One!”
That thou mayst ride the camel of thy body.[69]


If thou canst rule thy camel, thou wilt rule the world
And wear on thine head the crown of Solomon.
Thou wilt be the glory of the world whilst the world lasts, 895
And thou wilt reign in the kingdom incorruptible.
‘Tis sweet to be God’s vicegerent in the world
And exercise sway over the elements.
God’s vicegerent is as the soul of the universe,
His being is the shadow of the Greatest Name. 900
He knows the mysteries of part and whole,
He executes the command of Allah in the world.
When he pitches his tent in the wide world,
He rolls up this ancient carpet.[71]
His genius abounds with life and desires to manifest itself: 905
He will bring another world into existence.
A hundred worlds like this world of parts and wholes
Spring up, like roses, from the seed of his imagination.
He makes every raw nature ripe,
He puts the idols out of the sanctuary. 910
Heart-strings give forth music at his touch,
He wakes and sleeps for God alone.
He teaches age the melody of youth
And endows everything with the radiance of youth.
To the human race he brings both a glad message and a
warning, 915
He comes both as a soldier and as a marshal and prince.
He is the final cause of “God taught Adam the names of all
He is the inmost sense of “Glory to Him that transported His
servant by night.”[73]
His white hand is strengthened by the staff,[74]
His knowledge is twinned with the power of a perfect man. 920
When that bold cavalier seizes the reins,
The steed of Time gallops faster.
His awful mien makes the Red Sea dry,
He leads Israel out of Egypt.
At his cry, “Arise,” the dead spirits 925
Rise in their bodily tomb, like pines in the field.
His person is an atonement for all the world,
By his grandeur the world is saved.[75]
His protecting shadow makes the mote familiar with the sun,
His rich substance makes precious all that exists. 930
He bestows life by miraculous works,
He founds a new system to work by.
Splendid visions rise from the print of his foot,
Many a Moses is entranced by his Sinai.
He gives a new explanation of Life, 935
A new interpretation of this dream.
His hidden being is Life’s mystery,
The unheard music of Life’s harp.
Nature travails in blood for generations
To compose the harmony of his personality. 940
When our handful of earth has reached the zenith,
That champion will come forth from this dust!
There sleeps amidst the ashes of To-day
The flame of a world-consuming morrow.
Our bud enfolds a garden of roses, 945
Our eyes are bright with to-morrow’s dawn.
Appear, O rider of Destiny!
Appear, O light of the dark realm of Change!
Illumine the scene of existence,
Dwell in the blackness of our eyes! 950
Silence the noise of the nations,
Imparadise our ears with thy music!
Arise and tune the harp of brotherhood,
Give us back the cup of the wine of love!
Bring once more days of peace to the world, 955
Give a message of peace to them that seek battle!
Mankind are the cornfield and thou the harvest,
Thou art the goal of Life’s caravan.
The leaves are scattered by Autumn’s fury:
Oh, do thou pass over our gardens as the Spring! 960
Receive from our downcast brows
The homage of little children and of young men and old!
When thou art there, we will lift up our heads,
Content to suffer the burning fire of this world.


[63] The religious law of Islam.

[64] _I.e._ water is an indispensable element in the life of the body.

[65] The first article of the Mohammedan creed.

[66] Like Abraham when he was about to sacrifice Isaac or (as Moslems
generally believe) Ishmael.

[67] The lesser pilgrimage (_’umra_) is not obligatory like the greater
pilgrimage (_hajj_).

[68] The original quotes part of a verse in the Koran (ch. 3, v. 86),
where it is said, “Ye shall never attain unto righteousness until ye
give in alms of that which ye love.”

[69] _I.e._ overcome the lusts of the flesh.

[70] Here Iqbal interprets in his own way the Súfí doctrine of the
_Insán al-kámil_ or Perfect Man, which teaches that every man is
potentially a microcosm, and that when he has become spiritually
perfect, all the Divine attributes are displayed by him, so that as
saint or prophet he is the God-man, the representative and vicegerent
of God on earth.

[71] _I.e._ his appearance marks the end of an epoch.

[72] Koran, ch. 2, v. 29. The Ideal Man is the final cause of creation.

[73] Koran, ch. 17, v. 1, referring to the Ascension of the Prophet.

[74] For the white hand (of Moses) cf. Koran, ch. 7, v. 105, ch. 26, v.
32, and Exodus, ch. 4, v. 6.

[75] These four lines may allude to Jesus, regarded as a type of the
Perfect Man.


_Setting forth the inner meanings of the names of Ali._

Ali is the first Moslem and the King of men, 965
In Love’s eyes Ali is the treasure of the Faith.
Devotion to his family inspires me with life
So that I am as a shining pearl.
Like the narcissus, I am enraptured with gazing;
Like perfume, I am straying through his pleasure-garden. 970
If holy water gushes from my earth, he is the source;
If wine pours from my grapes, he is the cause.
I am dust, but his sun hath made me as a mirror:
Song can be seen in my breast.
From Ali’s face the Prophet drew a fair omen, 975
By his majesty the true religion is glorified.
His commandments are the strength of Islam:
All things pay allegiance to his House.
The Apostle of God gave him the name Bú Turáb;
God in the Koran called him “the Hand of Allah.” 980
Every one that is acquainted with Life’s mysteries
Knows what is the inner meaning of the names of Ali.
The dark clay, whose name is the body -
Our reason is ever bemoaning its iniquity.
On account of it our sky-reaching thought plods o’er the
earth; 985
It makes our eyes blind and our ears deaf.
It hath in its hand a two-edged sword of lust:
Travellers’ hearts are broken by this brigand.
Ali, the Lion of God, subdued the body’s clay
And transmuted this dark earth to gold. 990
Murtazá, by whose sword the splendour of Truth was revealed,
Is named Bú Turáb from his conquest of the body.[76]
Man wins territory by prowess in battle,
But his brightest jewel is mastery of himself.
Whosoever in the world becomes a Bú Turáb 995
Turns back the sun from the west;[77]
Whosoever saddles tightly the steed of the body
Sits like the bezel on the seal of sovereignty:
Here the might of Khaibar is under his feet,[78]
And hereafter his hand will distribute the water of
Kauthar.[79] 1000
Through self-knowledge he acts as God’s Hand,
And in virtue of being God’s Hand he reigns over all.
His person is the gate of the city of the sciences:
Arabia, China, and Greece are subject to him.
If thou wouldst drink clear wine from thine own grapes, 1005
Thou must needs wield authority over thine own earth.
To become earth is the creed of a moth;
Be a conqueror of earth; that alone is worthy of a man.
Thou art soft as a rose. Become hard as a stone,
That thou mayst be the foundation of the wall of the garden! 1010
Build thy clay into a Man,
Build thy Man into a World!
If thou art unfit to be either a wall or a door,
Some one else will make bricks of thine earth.
O thou who complainest of the cruelty of Heaven, 1015
Thou whose glass cries out against the injustice of the stone,
How long this wailing and crying and lamentation?
How long this perpetual beating of thy breast?
The pith of Life is contained in action,
To delight in creation is the law of Life. 1020
Arise and create a new world!
Wrap thyself in flames, be an Abraham![80]
To comply with this ill-starred world
Is to fling away thy buckler on the field of battle.
The man of strong character who is master of himself 1025
Will find Fortune complaisant.
If the world does not comply with his humour,
He will try the hazard of war with Heaven;
He will dig up the foundations of the universe
And cast its atoms into a new mould. 1030
He will subvert the course of Time
And wreck the azure firmament.
By his own strength he will produce
A new world which will do his pleasure.
If one cannot live in the world as beseems a man, 1035
It is true life to give up one’s soul.
He that hath sound intelligence
Will prove his strength by great enterprises.
‘Tis sweet to use love in hard tasks
And, like Abraham, to gather roses from flames.[81] 1040
The potentialities of men of action
Are displayed in willing acceptance of what is difficult.
Mean spirits have no weapon but spite,
This is their one rule of life.
But Life is power made manifest, 1045
And its mainspring is the desire for victory.
Mercy out of season is a coldness of Life’s blood,
A break in the rhythm of Life’s music.
Whoever is sunk in the depths of ignominy
Calls his weakness contentment. 1050
Weakness is the plunderer of Life,
Its womb is teeming with fears and lies.
Its soul is empty of virtues,
Its milk is a fattening for vices.
O man of sound judgement, beware! 1055
This spoiler is lurking in ambush.
Be not his dupe, if thou art wise:
Chameleon-like, he changes colour every moment.
Even by keen observers his form is not discerned:
Veils are thrown over his face. 1060
Now he is muffled in pity and gentleness,
Now he wears the cloak of humility.
Sometimes he is disguised as a victim of oppression,
Sometimes as one whose sins are to be excused.
He appears in the shape of self-indulgence 1065
And robs the strong man’s heart of courage.
Strength is the twin of Truth;
If thou knowest thyself, strength is the Truth-revealing
Life is the seed, and power the crop:
Power explains the mystery of truth and falsehood. 1070
The false claimant, if he be possessed of power,
Needs no argument for his claim.
Falsehood derives from power the authority of truth,
And by falsifying truth deems itself true.
Its creative word transforms poison into nectar; 1075
It says to Good, “Thou art bad,” and Good becomes Evil.
O thou that art heedless of the trust committed to thee,
Esteem thyself superior to both worlds![82]
Gain knowledge of Life’s mysteries!
Be a tyrant! Ignore all except God! 1080
O man of understanding, open thine eyes, ears, and lips![83]
If then thou seest not the Way of Truth, laugh at me!


[76] Murtazá, “he whom with God is pleased,”( - _See Transcriber’s
Note_) is a name of Ali. Bú Turáb means literally “father of earth.”

[77] A miracle of the Prophet.

[78] The fortress of Khaibar, a village in the Hijáz, was captured by
the Moslems in A.D. 628. Ali performed great feats of valour on this

[79] A river of Paradise.

[80] See note 33 on l. 213.

[81] The burning pyre on which Abraham was thrown lost its heat and was
transformed into a rose-garden.

[82] The “trust” which God offered to Man and which Man accepted, after
it had been refused by Heaven and Earth (Koran, ch. 33, v. 72), is the
divine vicegerency, _i.e._ the duty of displaying the divine attributes.

[83] A parody of the verse in the _Masnaví_ quoted above. See l. 603.


_Story of a young man of Merv who came to the saint Ali Hujwírí - God
have mercy on him! - and complained that he was oppressed by his

The saint of Hujwír was venerated by the peoples,
And Pír-i Sanjar visited his tomb as a pilgrim.[84]
With ease he broke down the mountain-barriers 1085
And sowed the seed of Islam in India.
The age of Omar was restored by his godliness,
The fame of the Truth was exalted by his words.
He was a guardian of the honour of the Koran,
The house of Falsehood fell in ruins at his gaze. 1090
The dust of the Panjáb was brought to life by his breath,
Our dawn was made splendid by his sun.
He was a lover, and withal a courier of Love:
The secrets of Love shone forth from his brow.
I will tell a story of his perfection 1095
And enclose a whole rose-bed in a single bud.
A young man, cypress-tall,
Came from the town of Merv to Lahore.
He went to see the venerable saint,
That the sun might dispel his darkness. 1100
“I am hemmed in,” he said, “by foes;
I am as a glass in the midst of stones.
Do thou teach me, O sire of heavenly rank,
How to lead my life amongst enemies!”
The wise Director, in whose nature 1105
Love had allied mercy with wrath,
Answered: “Thou art unread in Life’s lore,
Careless of its end and its beginning.
Be without fear of others!
Thou art a sleeping force: awake! 1110
When the stone was anxious on account of the glass,
It became glass and got into the way of breaking.
If the traveller thinks himself weak,
He delivers his soul unto the brigand.
How long wilt thou regard thyself as water and clay? 1115
Create from thy clay a flaming Sinai!
Why be angry with mighty men?
Why complain of enemies?
I will declare the truth: thine enemy is thy friend;
His existence crowns thee with glory. 1120
Whosoever knows the states of the Self
Considers a powerful enemy to be a blessing from God.
To the seed of Man the enemy is as a rain-cloud:
He awakens its potentialities.
If thy spirit be strong, the stones in thy way are as water: 1125
What recks the torrent of the ups and downs of the road?
The sword of resolution is whetted by the stones in the way
And put to proof by traversing stage after stage.
What is the use of eating and sleeping like a beast?
What is the use of being, unless thou have strength in
thyself? 1130
When thou mak’st thyself strong with Self,
Thou wilt destroy the world at thy pleasure.
If thou wouldst pass away, become free of Self;
If thou wouldst live, become full of Self![85]
What is death? To become oblivious to Self. 1135
Why imagine that it is the parting of soul and body?
Abide in Self, like Joseph!
Advance from captivity to empire!
Think of Self and be a man of action!
Be a man of God, bear mysteries within!” 1140
I will explain the matter by means of stories,
I will open the bud by the power of my breath.
“‘Tis better that a lovers’ secret
Should be told by the lips of others.”[86]


[84] Hujwírí, author of the oldest Persian treatise on Súfism, was a
native of Ghazna in Afghanistan. He died at Lahore about A.D. 1072.
Pír-i Sanjar is the renowned saint, Mu`ínuddín, head of the Chishtí
order of dervishes, who died in A.D. 1235 at Ajmír.

[85] These lines correct the Súfí doctrine that by means of passing
away from individuality the mystic attains to everlasting life in God.

[86] _I.e._ allegorically. This verse occurs in the _Masnaví_.


_Story of the bird that was faint with thirst._

A bird was faint with thirst, 1145
The breath in his body was heaving like waves of smoke.
He saw a diamond in the garden:
Thirst created a vision of water.
Deceived by the sunbright stone
The foolish bird fancied that it was water. 1150
He got no moisture from the gem:
He pecked it with his beak, but it did not wet his palate.
“O thrall of vain desire,” said the diamond,
“Thou hast sharpened thy greedy beak on me;
But I am not a dewdrop, I give no drink, 1155
I do not live for the sake of others.
Wouldst thou hurt me? Thou art mad!
A life that reveals the Self is strange to thee.
My water will shiver the beaks of birds
And break the jewel of man’s life.”[87] 1160
The bird won not his heart’s wish from the diamond
And turned away from the sparkling stone.
Disappointment swelled in his breast,
The song in his throat became a wail.
Upon a rose-twig a drop of dew 1165
Gleamed like the tear in a nightingale’s eye:
All its glitter was owing to the sun,
It was trembling in fear of the sun -
A restless sky-born star
That had stopped for a moment, from desire to be seen; 1170
Oft deceived by bud and flower,
It had gained nothing from Life.
There it hung, ready to drop,
Like a tear on the eyelashes of a lover who hath lost his heart.
The sorely distressed bird hopped under the rose-bush, 1175

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Online LibraryMuhammad IqbalThe Secrets of the Self → online text (page 4 of 6)