Islamica Ummă


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Dedication to the Muslim Community


You, who were made by God to be the Seal [1]

Of all the peoples dwelling upon earth,

That all beginnings might in you find end;

Whose saints were prophetlike, whose wounded hearts

Wove into unity the souls of men;

Why are you fallen now so far astray

From Mecca’s holy Kaaba, all bemused

By the strange beauty of the Christian’s way?

The very skies are but a gathering

Of your street’s dust, yourselves the cynosure

Of all men’s eyes; whither in restless hate

Do you now hurry like a storm-tossed wave,

What new diversion seeking? No, but learn

The mystery of ardour from the moth

And make your lodgement in the burning flame;

Lay Love’s foundation-stone in your own soul,

And to the Prophet pledge anew your troth.

My mind was weary of Christian company,

When suddenly your beauty stoop unveiled.

My fellow-minstrel sang the epiphany [2]

Of alien loveliness, the lovelorn theme

Of tresses and soft cheeks, and rubbed his brow

Against the saki’s door, rehearsed the chant

Of Magian wenches. I would martyr be

To your brow’s scimitar, am fain to rest

Like dust upon your street. Too proud am I

To mouth base panegyrics, or to bow

My stubborn head to every tyrant’s court.

Trained up to fashion mirrors out of words,

I need not Alexander’s magic glass. [3]

My neck endures not men’s munificence;

Where roses bloom, I gather close the skirt

Of my soul’s bud. Hard as the dagger’s steel

I labour in this life, my lustre win

From the tough granite. Though I am a sea,

Not restless is my billow; in my hand

I hold no whirlpool bowl. A painted veil

Am I, no blossom’s perfume-scattering,

No prey to every billowing breeze that blows.

I am a glowing coal within Life’s fire,

And wrap me in my embers for a cloak.

And now my soul comes suppliant to your door

Bringing a gift of ardour passionate.

A mighty water out of heaven’s deep

Momently trickles o’er my burning breast,

The which I channel narrower than a brook

That I may fling it in your garden’s dish.

Because you are beloved by him I love

I fold you to me closely as my heart.

Since Love first made the breast an instrument

Of fierce lamenting, by its flame my heart

Was molten to a mirror; like a rose

I pluck my breast apart, that I may hang

This mirror in your sight. Gaze you therein

On your own beauty, and you shall become

A captive fettered in your tresses’ chain.

I chant again the tale of long ago,

To bid your bosom’s old wounds bleed anew.

So for a people no more intimate

With its own soul I supplicated God,

That He might grant to them a firm-knit life.

In the mid watch of night, when all the world

Was hushed in slumber, I made loud lament;

My spirit robbed of patience and repose,

Unto the Living and Omnipotent God

I made my litany; my yearning heart

Surged, till its blood streamed from my weeping eyes.

“How long, O Lord, how long the tulip-glow,

The begging of cool dewdrops from the dawn?

Lo, like a candle wrestling with the night

O’er my own self I pour my flooding tears.”

I spent my self, that there might be more light,

More loveliness, more joy for other men.

Not for one moment takes my ardent breast

Repose from burning; Friday does not shame [4]

My restless week of unremitting toil.

Wasted is now my spirit’s envelope;

My glowing sigh is sullied all with dust.

When God created me at Time’s first dawn

A lamentation quivered on the strings

Of my melodious lute, and in that note

Love’s secrets stood revealed, the ransom-price

Of the long sadness of the tale of Love;

Which music even to sapless straw imparts

The ardency of fire, and on dull clay

Bestows the daring of the reckless moth.

Love, like the tulip, has one brand at heart,

And on its bosom wears a single rose;

And so my solitary rose I pin

Upon your turban, and cry havoc loud

Against your drunken slumber, hoping yet

Tulips may blossom from your earth anew

Breathing the fragrance of the breeze of Spring.


Of the Bond between Individual and Community


THE link that binds the Individual

To the Society a Mercy is;

His truest Self in the Community

Alone achieves fulfilment. Wherefore be

So far as in thee lies in close rapport

With thy Society, and lustre bring

To the wide intercourse of free-born men.

Keep for thy talisman these words he spoke

That was the best of mortals: “Satan holds [5]

His furthest distance where men congregate.”

The Individual a Mirror holds

To the Community, and they to him;

He is a jewel threaded on their cord,

A star that in their constellation shines;

He wins respect as being one of them,

And the Society is organized

As by comprising many such as he.

When in the Congregation he is lost

‘Tis like a drop which, seeking to expand,

Becomes an ocean. It is strong and rich

In ancient ways, a mirror to the Past

As to the Future, and the link between

What is to come, and what has gone before,

So that its moments are as infinite

As is Eternity. The joy of growth

Swells in his heart from the Community,

That watches and controls his every deed;

To them he owes his body and his soul,

Alike his outward and his hidden parts.

His thoughts are vocal on the People’s tongue,

And on the pathway that his forebears laid

He learns to run. His immaturity

Is warmed to ripeness by their friendship’s flame,

Till he becomes one with the Commonwealth.

His singleness in multiplicity

Is firm and stable, and itself supplies

A unity to their innumerate swarm.

The word that sits outside its proper verse [6]

Shatters the jewel of the thought concealed

Within its pocket; when the verdant leaf

Falls from the stem, its thread of hope for Spring

Is snapped asunder. He who has not drunk

The water of the People’s sacred well, [7]

The flames of minstrelsy within his lute

Grow cold, and die. The Individual,

Alone, is heedless of high purposes;

His strenght is apt to dissipate itself;

The People only make him intimate

With discipline, teach him to be as soft

And tractable as is the gentle breeze,

Set him in earth like a well-rooted oak,

Close-fetter him, to make him truly free.

When he is prisoner to the chain of Law

His deer, by nature wild and uncontrolled, [8]

Yields in captivity the precious musk.

Thou, who hast not known Self from Selflessness,

Therefore hast lost thyself in vain surmise.

Within thy dust there is an element

Of Light, whose single shaft illuminates

Thy whole perception; all thy joy derives

From its enjoyment, all thy sorrow springs

From its distress; its constant change and turn

Keep thee in vital being. It is one

And, being one, brooks no duality;

Grace to its glow I am myself, thou thou.

Preserving self, staking and making self,

Nourishing pride in meek humility,

It is a flame that sets a fire alight,

A spark that overshoots the blazing torch.

Its nature is to be both free and bond;

Itself a part, it has the potency

To seize the whole. I have beheld its wont

Is strife incessant, and have called its name

Selfhood, and Life. Whenever it comes forth

From its seclusion, and discreetly steps

Into the riot of phenomena

Its heart is impressed with the stamp of “he”,

“I” is dissolved, converting into “thou”.

Compusion cuts the freedom of its choice,

Making it rich in love. While pride of self

Pulls its own way, humility is not born;

Pull pride together, and humility

Comes into being. Self negates itself

In the Community, that it may be

No more a petal, but a rosary.

“These subtleties are like a steely sword: [9]

If they defeat thy wit, quick, flee away!”



[1] Muhammad ﷺ este numit Pecetea Profeților întrucât, prin el, Allah a încheiat șirul revelațiilor Sale pogorâte omenirii; Iqbal întrebuințează sintagma ilustrând Comunitatea Islamică precum Pecetea Popoarelor.

[2] mențiunea se referă la uzuanțele poeților, în urdu, de a imita stilul regăsit în Persia al poeziei de dragoste. Țara Persiei este conceptualizată în versul de față, și în alte versuri, ca simbol al îndepărtării, în religie, de strictele rigori și acceptarea influențelor străine pe care Iqbal le percepe cauze de căpătâi ale degenerării islamului.

[3] Alexandru cel Mare, se povestește într-o legendă persană, deținea o magică oglindă în care întrezărea lumea întreagă.

[4] vinerea este, desigur, Sabatul musulman.

[5] „Cel mai bun dintre muritori” este Muhammad ﷺ; Iqbal parafrazează o relatare atribuită lui.

[6] un vers, în teoria poeziei persane, trebuie să fie de la sine-înțeles, și este considerat cu greșeli dacă necesită completări prin cuvinte, propoziții sau fraze în versuri anterioare sau ulterioare.

[7] „fântâna sacră” se referă la Zemzem, fântâna Meccăi de la care pelerinii musulmani iau apă și beau.

[8] moscul cerbului, mult prețuit de către persani, poate fi colectat doar de la un cerb viu.

[9] acest vers și următorul citează din marele mistic-poet Rumi (1207-1273).


Stray thoughts Reflections



Art is a sacred lie.



Our soul discovers itself when we come into contact with a great mind. It is not until I had realised the infinitude of Goethe’s imagination that I discovered the narrow breadth of my own.



Human intellects is nature’s attempts at self-criticism.



The charitable man really helps the non-charitable, not the indigent. For what is given to the poor is virtually given away to those who do not give anything to the poor. The non-charitable, therefore, are kept in their state of non-benevolence, and the benevolent man pays for them. This is the economics of charity.



My friends often ask me, “Do you believe in the existence of God?” I think I am entitled to know the meanings of the terms used in this question before I answer it. My friends ought to explain to me what they mean by “believe”, “existence” and “God”, especially by the last two, if they want an answer to their question. I confess I do not understand these terms; and whenever I cross-examine them I find that they do not understand them either.



Heart: – “It is absolutely certain that God does exist.”

Head: – “But, my dear boy! existence is one of my categories, and you have no right to use it.”

Heart: – “So much the better, my Aristotle!”



The satisfaction of vanity has an economic value with us. Call me Sub-Assistant Surgeon instead of Hospital Assistant and I am quite contented even if you do not increase my salary.



Excuse me a bit of cruel psychology. You fail in your enterprise, and now you wish to leave your home and try your luck in other climes. It is not because your ambition has received a fresh spur from your failure; but chiefly because you wish to hide your face from those who have witnessed your failure.



Belief is a great power. When I see that a proposition of mine is believed by another mind, my own conviction of its truth is thereby immensely increased.



Christianity describes God as love; Islam as power. How shall we decide between the two conceptions? I think the history of mankind and of the universe as a whole must tell us as to which of the two conceptions is truer. I find that God reveals Himself in history more as power than love. I do not deny the love of God; I mean that, on the basis of our historical experience, God is better described as power.

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