Muhammad Iqbal.

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The dewdrop trickled into his mouth.
O thou that wouldst deliver thy soul from enemies,
I ask thee - “Art thou a drop of water or a gem?”
When the bird melted in the fire of thirst,
It appropriated the life of another. 1180
The drop was not solid and gem-like;
The diamond had a being, the drop had none.
Never for an instant neglect Self-preservation:
Be a diamond, not a dewdrop!
Be massive in nature, like mountains, 1185
And bear on thy crest a hundred clouds laden with floods of rain!
Save thyself by affirmation of Self,
Compress thy quicksilver into silver ore!
Produce a melody from the string of Self,
Make manifest the secrets of Self! 1190


[87] _I.e._ if he swallow a diamond, he will die.


_Story of the diamond and the coal._

Now I will open one more gate of Truth,
I will tell thee another tale.
The coal in the mine said to the diamond,
“O thou entrusted with splendours everlasting,
We are comrades, and our being is one; 1195
The source of our existence is the same,
Yet while I die here in the anguish of worthlessness,
Thou art set on the crowns of emperors.
My stuff is so vile that I am valued less than earth,
Whereas the mirror’s heart is rent by thy beauty. 1200
My darkness illumines the chafing-dish,
Then my substance is incinerated at last.
Every one puts the sole of his foot on my head
And covers my stock of existence with ashes.
My fate must needs be deplored; 1205
Dost thou know what is the gist of my being?
Thou art a condensed wavelet of smoke,
Endowed with the properties of a single spark;
Both in feature and nature thou art star-like,
Splendours rise from every side of thee. 1210
Now thou becom’st the light of a monarch’s eye,
Now thou adornest the haft of a dagger.”
“O sagacious friend!” said the diamond,
“Dark earth, when hardened, becomes in dignity as a bezel.
Having been at strife with its environment, 1215
It is ripened by the struggle and grows hard like a stone.
‘Tis this ripeness that has endowed my form with light
And filled my bosom with radiance.
Because thy being is immature, thou hast become abased;
Because thy body is soft, thou art burnt. 1220
Be void of fear, grief, and anxiety;
Be hard as a stone, be a diamond!
Whosoever strives hard and grips tight,
The two worlds are illumined by him.
A little earth is the origin of the Black Stone 1225
Which puts forth its head in the Ka`ba:
Its rank is higher than Sinai,
It is kissed by the swarthy and the fair.
In solidity consists the glory of Life;
Weakness is worthlessness and immaturity.” 1230


_Story of the Sheikh and the Brahmin, followed by a conversation
between Ganges and Himalaya to the effect that the continuation of
social life depends on firm attachment to the characteristic traditions
of the community._

At Benares lived a venerable Brahmin,
Whose head was deep in the ocean of Being and Not-being.
He had a large knowledge of philosophy
But was well-disposed to the seekers after God.
His mind was eager to explore new problems, 1235
His intellect moved on a level with the Pleiades;
His nest was as high as that of the Anká;[88]
Sun and moon were cast, like rue, on the flame of his
For a long time he laboured and sweated,
But philosophy brought no wine to his cup. 1240
Although he set many a snare in the gardens of learning,
His snares never caught a glimpse of the Ideal bird;
And notwithstanding that the nails of his thought were
dabbled with blood,
The knot of Being and Not-being remained untied.
The sighs on his lips bore witness to his despair, 1245
His countenance told tales of his distraction.
One day he visited an excellent Sheikh,
A man who had in his breast a heart of gold.
The Sheikh laid the seal of silence on his lips
While he lent his ear to the Sage’s discourse. 1250
Then he said: “O wanderer in the lofty sky,
Pledge thyself to be true, for a little, to the earth!
Thou hast lost thy way in wildernesses of speculation,
Thy fearless thought hath passed beyond Heaven.
Be reconciled with earth, O sky-traveller! 1255
Do not wander in quest of the essence of the stars!
I do not bid thee abandon thine idols.
Art thou an unbeliever? Then be worthy of the badge of
O inheritor of ancient culture,
Turn not thy back on the path thy fathers trod! 1260
If a people’s life is derived from unity,
Unbelief too is a source of unity.
Thou that art not even a perfect infidel
Art unfit to worship at the shrine of the spirit.
We both are far astray from the road of devotion: 1265
Thou art far from Ázar, and I from Abraham.[91]
Our Majnún hath not fallen into melancholy for his Lailá’s
He hath not become perfect in the madness of love.
When the lamp of Self expires,
What is the use of heaven-surveying imagination?” 1270

Once on a time, laying hold of the skirt of the mountain,
Ganges said to Himalaya:
“O thou mantled in snow since the morn of creation,
Thou whose form is girdled with streams,
God made thee a partner in the secrets of heaven, 1275
But deprived thy foot of graceful gait.
He took away from thee the power to walk:
What avails this sublimity and stateliness?
Life springs from perpetual movement:
Motion constitutes the wave’s whole existence.” 1280
When the mountain heard this taunt from the river,
He puffed angrily like a sea of fire,
And answered: “Thy wide waters are my looking-glass;
Within my bosom are a hundred rivers like thee.
This graceful gait of thine is an instrument of death: 1285
Whoso goeth from Self is meet to die.
Thou hast no knowledge of thine own case,
Thou exultest in thy misfortune: thou art a fool!
O born of the womb of the revolving sphere,
A fallen-in bank is better than thou! 1290
Thou hast made thine existence an offering to the ocean,
Thou hast thrown the rich purse of thy life to the highwayman.
Be self-contained like the rose in the garden,
Do not go to the florist in order to smell sweet!
To live is to grow in thyself 1295
And gather roses from thine own flower-bed.
Ages have gone by and my foot is fast in earth:
Dost thou fancy that I am far from my goal?
My being grew and reached the sky,
The Pleiades sank to rest under my skirts; 1300
Thy being vanishes in the ocean,
But on my crest the stars bow their heads.
Mine eye sees the mysteries of heaven,
Mine ear is familiar with angels’ wings.
Since I glowed with the heat of unceasing toil, 1305
I amassed rubies, diamonds, and other gems.
I am stone within, and in the stone is fire:
Water cannot pass over my fire!”
Art thou a drop of water? Do not break at thine own feet,
But endeavour to surge and wrestle with the sea. 1310
Desire the water of a jewel, become a jewel!
Be an ear-drop, adorn a beauty!
Oh, expand thyself! Move swiftly!
Be a cloud that shoots lightning and sheds a flood of rain!
Let the ocean sue for thy storms as a beggar, 1315
Let it complain of the straitness of thy skirts!
Let it deem itself less than a wave
And glide along at thy feet!


[88] A mysterious bird, of which nothing is known except its name.

[89] Rue-seed is burned for the purpose of fumigation.

[90] “The badge of unbelief”: here the original has _zunnár_ ([Greek:
ζωναριον: zônarion]), _i.e._ the sacred thread worn by Zoroastrians and
other non-Moslems.

[91] Ázar, the father of Abraham, was an idolater.


_Showing that the purpose of the Moslem’s life is to exalt the Word of
Allah, and that the Jihád (war against unbelievers), if it be prompted
by land-hunger, is unlawful in the religion of Islam._

Imbue thine heart with the tincture of Allah,
Give honour and glory to Love! 1320
The Moslem’s nature prevails by means of love:
The Moslem, if he be not loving, is an infidel.
Upon God depends his seeing and not-seeing,
His eating, drinking, and sleeping.
In his will that which God wills becomes lost - 1325
“How shall a man believe this saying?”[92]
He encamps in the field of “There is no god but Allah”;
In the world he is a witness against mankind.
His high estate is attested by the Prophet that was sent to
men and Jinn -
By the most truthful of witnesses. 1330
Leave words and seek that spiritual state,
Shed the light of God o’er the darkness of works!
Albeit clad in kingly robe, live as a dervish,
Live wakeful and meditating on God!
Whatever thou doest, let it be thine aim therein to draw nigh
to God, 1335
That His glory may be made manifest by thee.
Peace becomes an evil, if its object be aught else;
War is good if its object is God.
If God be not exalted by our swords,
War dishonours the people. 1340
The holy Sheikh Miyán Mír Walí,[93]
By the light of whose soul every hidden thing was revealed -
His feet were firmly planted on the path of Mohammed,
He was a flute for the impassioned music of love.
His tomb keeps our city safe from harm 1345
And causes the beams of true religion to shine on us.
Heaven stooped its brow to his threshold,
The Emperor of India was one of his disciples.[94]
Now, this monarch had sown the seed of ambition in his heart
And was resolved on conquest. 1350
The flames of vain desire were alight in him,
He was teaching his sword to ask, “Is there any more?”[95]
In the Deccan was a great noise of war,
His army stood on the battlefield.
He went to the Sheikh of heaven-high dignity 1355
That he might receive his blessing:
The Moslem turns from this world to God
And strengthens policy with prayer.
The Sheikh made no answer to the Emperor’s speech,
The assembly of dervishes was all ears, 1360
Until a disciple, in his hand a silver coin,
Opened his lips and broke the silence,
Saying, “Accept this poor offering from me,
O guide of them that have lost the way to God!
My limbs were bathed in sweat of labour 1365
Before I put away a dirhem in my skirt.”
The Sheikh said: “This money ought to be given to our Sultan,
Who is a beggar wearing the raiment of a king.
Though he holds sway over sun, moon, and stars,
Our Emperor is the most penniless of mankind. 1370
His eye is fixed on the table of strangers,
The fire of his hunger hath consumed a whole world.
His sword is followed by famine and plague,
His culture lays a wide land waste.
The folk are crying out because of his indigence, 1375
His empty-headedness, and his oppression of the weak.
His power is an enemy to all:
Humankind are the caravan and he the brigand.
In his self-delusion and ignorance
He calls pillage by the name of empire. 1380
Both the royal troops and those of the enemy
Are cloven in twain by the sword of his hunger.
The beggar’s hunger consumes his own soul,
But the sultan’s hunger destroys state and religion.
Whoso shall draw the sword for anything except Allah, 1385
His sword is sheathed in his own breast.”


[92] See Introduction, note 7 in Section 1. THE PHILOSOPHICAL BASIS OF

[93] A celebrated Moslem saint, who died at Lahore in A.D. 1635.

[94] Aurangzíb.

[95] Koran, ch. 50, v. 29.


_Precepts written for the Moslems of India by Mír Naját Nakshband, who
is generally known as Bábá Sahrá’í._[96]

O thou that hast grown from earth, like a rose,
Thou too art born of the womb of Self.
Do not abandon Self! Persist therein!
Be a drop of water and drink up the ocean! 1390
Glowing with the light of Self as thou art,
Make Self strong, and thou wilt endure.
Thou gett’st profit from this trade,
Thou gain’st riches by preserving this commodity.
Thou hast being, and art thou afraid of not-being? 1395
O foolish one, thy understanding is at fault.
Since I am acquainted with the harmony of Life,
tell thee what is the secret of Life -
To sink into thyself like the pearl,
Then to emerge from thine inward solitude; 1400
To collect sparks beneath the ashes,
And become a flame and dazzle men’s eyes.
Go, burn the house of forty years’ tribulation,
Move round thyself! Be a circling flame!
What is Life but to be freed from moving round others 1405
And to regard thyself as the Holy Temple?
Beat thy wings and escape from the attraction of Earth;
Like birds, be safe from falling.
Unless thou art a bird, thou wilt do wisely
Not to build thy nest on the top of a cave. 1410
O thou that seekest to acquire knowledge,
I say o’er to thee the message of the Sage of Rúm:[97]
“Knowledge, if it lie on thy skin, is a snake;
Knowledge, if thou take it to heart, is a friend.”
Hast thou heard how the Master of Rúm 1415
Gave lectures on philosophy at Aleppo? -
Fast in the bonds of intellectual proofs,
Drifting o’er the dark and stormy sea of understanding;
A Moses unillumined by Love’s Sinai,
Ignorant of Love and of Love’s passion. 1420
He discoursed on Scepticism and Neoplatonism,
And strung many a brilliant pearl of metaphysic.
He unravelled the problems of the Peripatetics,
The light of his thought made clear whatever was obscure.
Heaps of books lay around and in front of him, 1425
And on his lips was the key to all their mysteries.
Shams-i Tabríz, directed by Kamál,[98]
Sought his way to the college of Jalálu’ddín Rúmí
And cried out, “What is all this noise and babble?
What are all these syllogisms and judgements and
demonstrations?” 1430
“Peace, O fool!” exclaimed the Maulavi,
“Do not laugh at the doctrines of the sages.
Get thee out of my college!
This is argument and discussion: what hast thou to do with it?
My discourse is beyond thy understanding, 1435
It will not brighten the glass of thy perception.”
These words increased the anger of Shams-i Tabríz
And caused a fire to burst forth from his soul.
The lightning of his look fell on the earth,
And the glow of his breath made the dust spring into flames. 1440
The spiritual fire burned the intellectual stack
And clean consumed the book of philosophy.
The Maulavi, being a stranger to Love’s miracles
And unversed in Love’s harmonies,
Cried, “How didst thou kindle this fire, 1445
Which hath burned the books of the philosophers?”
The Sheikh answered, “O unbelieving Moslem,
This is vision and ecstasy: what hast thou to do with it?
My state is beyond thy thought,
My flame is the Alchemist’s elixir.” 1450
Thou hast drawn thy substance from the snow of philosophy,
The cloud of thy thought sheds nothing but hailstones.
Kindle a fire in thy rubble,
Foster a flame in thy earth!
The Moslem’s knowledge is perfected by spiritual fervour, 1455
The meaning of Islam is _Renounce what shall pass away_.
When Abraham escaped from the bondage of “that which
He sat unhurt in the midst of flames.[100]
Thou hast cast knowledge of God behind thee
And squandered thy religion for the sake of a loaf. 1460
Thou art hot in pursuit of antimony,
Thou art unaware of the blackness of thine own eye.
Seek the Fountain of Life from the sword’s edge,
And the River of Paradise from the dragon’s mouth,
Demand the Black Stone from the door of the house of idols, 1465
And the musk-deer’s bladder from a mad dog,
But do not seek the glow of Love from the knowledge of to-day,
Do not seek the nature of Truth from this infidel’s cup!
Long have I been running to and fro,
Learning the secrets of the New Knowledge: 1470
Its gardeners have put me to the trial
And have made me intimate with their roses.
Roses! Tulips, rather, that warn one not to smell them -
Like paper roses, a mirage of perfume.
Since this garden ceased to enthral me, 1475
I have nested on the Paradisal tree.
Modern knowledge is the greatest blind -
Idol-worshipping, idol-selling, idol-making!
Shackled in the prison of phenomena,
It has not overleaped the limits of the sensible. 1480
It has fallen down in crossing the bridge of Life,
It has laid the knife to its own throat.
Having fire, it is yet cold as the tulip;
Having flame, it is yet cold as hail.
Its nature remains untouched by the glow of Love, 1485
It is ever engaged in a joyless search.
Love is the Plato that heals the sicknesses of the mind:[101]
The mind’s melancholy is cured by its lancet.
The whole world bows in adoration to Love,
Love is the Mahmúd that conquers the Somnath of
intellect.[102] 1490
Modern science lacks this old wine in its cup,
Its nights are not loud with passionate prayer.
Thou hast misprized thine own cypress
And deemed tall the cypress of others.
Like the reed, thou hast emptied thyself of Self 1495
And given thine heart to the music of others.
O thou that begg’st morsels from another’s table,
Wilt thou seek thine own kind in another’s shop?
The Moslem’s feast is burned up by the lamps of strangers,
His mosque is consumed by the Christian monastery. 1500
When the deer fled from the sacred territory of Mecca,
The hunter’s arrow pierced her side.[103]
The leaves of the rose are scattered, like its scent:
O thou that hast fled from thy Self, come back to it!
O trustee of the wisdom of the Koran, 1505
Find thy lost unity again!
We, who keep the gate of the citadel of Islam,
Have become unbelievers by neglecting the watchword of Islam.
The ancient Saki’s bowl is shattered,
The wine-party of the Hijáz is broken up. 1510
The Ka`ba is filled with our idols,
Infidelity mocks at our Islam.
Our Sheikh hath gambled Islam away for love of idols
And made a rosary of the _zunnár_.[104]
Our spiritual directors owe their rank to their white hairs 1515
And are the laughing-stock of children in the street;
Their hearts bear no impress of the Faith
But house the idols of sensuality.
Every long-haired fellow wears the garb of a dervish -
Alas for these traffickers in religion! 1520
Day and night they are travelling about with disciples,
And ignoring their religious duties.
Their eyes are without light, like the narcissus,
Their breasts devoid of spiritual wealth.
Preachers and Súfís, all worship worldliness alike; 1525
The prestige of the pure religion is ruined.
Our preacher fixed his eyes on the pagoda
And the mufti of the Faith sold his decision.
After this, O friends, what are we to do?
Our guide turns his face towards the wine-house. 1530


[96] This appears to be a pseudonym assumed by the author.

[97] Jalálu’ddín Rúmí.

[98] Bábá Kamáluddín Jundí. For Shams-i Tabríz and his relation to
Jalálu’ddín Rúmí see my _Selected Poems from the Diváni Shamsi Tabríz_
(Cambridge, 1898).

[99] Abraham refused to worship the sun, moon, and stars, saying, “I
love not them that set” (Koran, ch. 6, v. 76).

[100] See note 81 on l. 1040.

[101] In the _Masnaví_ Love is called “the physician of our pride and
self-conceit, our Plato and our Galen.”

[102] The famous idol of Somnath was destroyed by Sultan Mahmúd of

[103] The pilgrims are forbidden to kill game.

[104] See note 90 on l. 1258.


_Time is a sword._

Green be the pure grave of Sháfi`í,[105]
Whose vine hath cheered a whole world!
His thought plucked a star from heaven:
He named Time “a cutting sword.”
How shall I say what is the secret of this sword? 1535
All its brilliance is derived from Life.
Its owner is exalted above hope and fear,
His hand is whiter than the hand of Moses.
At one stroke thereof water gushes from the rock
And the sea becomes land from dearth of moisture. 1540
Moses held this sword in his hand,
Therefore he wrought more than man may contrive.
He clove the Red Sea asunder
And made its waters like dry earth.
The arm of Ali, the conqueror of Khaibar, 1545
Drew its strength from this same sword.
The revolution of the sky is visible,
The change of day and night is perceived.
Look, O thou enthralled by Yesterday and To-morrow,
Behold another world in thine own heart! 1550
Thou hast sown the seed of darkness in thy clay,
Thou hast imagined Time as a line:
Thy thought measures length of Time
With the measure of night and day.
Thou mak’st this line a girdle on thine infidel waist; 1555
Thou art an advertiser of falsehood, like idols.
Thou wert the Elixir, and thou hast become a peck of dust;
Thou wert born the conscience of Truth, and thou hast become
a lie!
Art thou a Moslem? Then cast off this girdle!
Be a candle to the feast of the religion of the free! 1560
Knowing not the origin of Time,
Thou art ignorant of everlasting Life.
How long wilt thou be a thrall of night and day?
Learn the mystery of Time from the words “I have a time with
Phenomena arise from the march of Time, 1565
Life is a part of the contents of Time’s consciousness.
The cause of Time is not the revolution of the sun:
Time is everlasting, but the sun does not last for ever.
Time is joy and sorrow, festival and fast;
Time is the secret of moonlight and sunlight. 1570
Thou hast extended Time, like Space,
And distinguished Yesterday from To-morrow.
Thou hast fled, like a scent, from thine own garden;
Thou hast made thy prison with thine own hand.
Our Time, which has neither beginning nor end, 1575
Blossoms from the flower-bed of our mind.
To know its root quickens the living with new life:
Its being is more splendid than the dawn.
Life is of Time, and Time is of Life:
“Do not abuse Time!” was the command of the Prophet. 1580

Oh, the memory of those days when Time’s sword
Was allied with the strength of our hands![107]
We sowed the seed of religion in men’s hearts
And unveiled the face of Truth;
Our nails tore loose the knot of this world, 1585
Our bowing in prayer gave blessings to the earth.
From the jar of Truth we made rosy wine gush forth,
We charged against the ancient taverns.
O thou in whose cup is old wine,
A wine so hot that the glass is well-nigh turned to water, 1590
Wilt thou in thy pride and arrogance and self-conceit
Taunt us with our emptiness?
Our cup, too, hath graced the symposium;
Our breast hath owned a spirit.
A new age hath been endued with our beauty 1595
And hath risen from the dust of our feet.
Our blood hath watered God’s harvest,
All worshippers of God are our debtors.
The _takbír_ was our gift to the world,[108]
Ka`bas were built of our clay. 1600

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Online LibraryMuhammad IqbalThe Secrets of the Self → online text (page 5 of 6)