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That the Community is made up of the Mingling of Individuals,

and owes the Perfecting of its Education to Prophethood


Upon what manner is bound to man;

That tale’s a thread, the end whereof is lost

Beyond unravelling. We can descry

The Individual within the Mass,

And we can pluck him as a flower is plucked

Out of the garden. All his nature is

Entranced with individuality,

Yet only in Society he finds

Security and preservation. On

The road of life, the furnace of life’s fire,

That roaring battlefield, sets him aflame.

Men grow habituated each to each,

Like jewels threaded on a single cord;

Succour each other in the war of life

In mutual bond, like workmen bent upon

A common task. Through such polarity

The constellations congregate, each star

In several attraction keeping each

Poised firmly and unshaken. Caravans

May pitch their tents on mountain or on hill,

Broad meadow, fringe of desert, sandy mound.

Yet slack and lifeless hangs the warp and woof

Of the Group’s labour, unresolved the bud

Of its deep meditation, still unplayed

The flickering levin of its instrument,

Its music hushed within its muted springs,

Unsmitten by the pounding of the quest,

The plectrum of desire; disordered still

Its new-born concourse, and so thin its wine

As to be blotted up with cotton flock;

New-sprung the verdure of its soil, and cold

The blood in its vine’s veins; a habitat

Of demons and of fairy sprites its thoughts,

So that it leaps in terror from the shapes

Conjured by its own surmise; shrunk the scope

Of its crude life, its narrow thoughts confined

Beneath the rim of its constricting roof;

Fear for its life the meagre stock-in-trade

Of its constituent elements; its heart

Trembling before the whistle of the wind;

Its spirit shies away from arduous toil,

Little disposed to pluck at Nature’s skirt,

But whatsoever springs of its own self

Or falls from heaven, that it gathers up.

Till God discovers a man pure of heart

In His good time, who in a single word

A volume shall rehearse; a minstrel he

Whose piercing music gives new life to dust.

Through him the unsubstantial atom glows

Radiant with life, the meanest merchandise

Takes on new worth. Out of his single breath

Two hundred bodies quicken; with one glass

He livens an assembly. His bright glance

Slays, but forthwith his single uttered word

Bestows new life, that so Duality

Expiring, Unity may come to birth.

His thread, whose end is knotted to the skies,

Weaves all together life’s dissevered parts.

Revealing a new vista to the gaze,

He can convert broad desert and bare vale

Into a garden. At his fiery breath

A people leap like rue upon a fire

In sudden tumult, in their heart one spark

Caught from his kindling, and their sullen clay

Breaks instantly aflame. Where’er he treads

The earth receiving vision, every mote [10]

May wink the eye at Moses’ Sinai.

The naked understanding he adorns,

With wealth abundant fills its indigence,

Fans with his skirts its embers, purifies

Its gold of every particle of dross.

He strikes the shackles from the fettered slave,

Redeems him from his masters, and declares,

“No other’s slave thou art, nor any less

Than those mute idols.” So unto one goal

Drawing each on, he circumscribes the feet

Of all within the circle of one Law,

Reschools them in God’s wondrous Unity,

And teaches them the habit and the use

Of self-surrender to the Will Divine.


First pillar: The Unity of God


THE Mind, astray in this determinate world,

First found the pathway to its distant goal

By faith in God the One; what other home

Should bring the hapless wanderer to rest?

Upon what other shore should Reason’s barque

Touch haven? All men intimate with truth

The secret of the Godhead have by heart,

Which is implicit in the sacred words [11]

“He comes unto the Merciful, a slave.”

In action let faith’s potency be tried,

That it may guide thee to thy secret powers:

From it derive religion, wisdom, law,

Unfailing vigour, power, authority.

Its splendour doth amaze the learned mind,

But giveth unto lovers force to act;

The lowly in its shadow reacheth high,

And worthless earth becomes like alchemy

Precious beyond compute. Its mighty force

Chooseth the slave, whereof it doth create

Another species; sprightlier he treads

Upon the path of truth, and in his veins

The blood burns hotter than the lightning’s shaft.

Fear dies, and doubt; toil is new vitalized;

The vision sees the inner mystery

Of all creation. When in servanthood

To God man’s foot is stablished, beggary’s bowl

Becomes the magic cup that Jamshid bore. [12]

“There is no god but God”: this is the soul [13]

And body of our pure Community,

The pitch that keeps our instrument in tune,

The very substance of our mysteries,

The knotted thread that binds our scattered thoughts.

And when these words, being uttered on the lips,

Reach to the heart, they do augment the power

Of life itself; graven upon the rock,

They wake a heart therein; but if the heart

Burns not with the remembrance of that faith

It doth convert to clay. When we inflamed

The hearts within us with the passionate glow

Of this belief, we set ablaze the barn

Of all contingency with but a sigh.

This is the lustre glittering in the hearts

Of men, those steely mirrors liquefied

By Faith’s consuming flame, whose torch is like

A tulip in our veins, and so we bear

No other mark of glory but its brand.

Through this true Faith black man becomes as red,

Kinsman to Omar, aye, and Abu Dharr. [14]

The heart’s a lodge to Self and the Not-self,

And passion quickens when the cup is shared;

When several hearts put on a single hue

That is Community, which Sinai

Grows radiant in one epiphany.

Peoples must have one thought, and in their minds

Pursue a single purpose; to one draw

Their temperaments respond, one testing-stone

Discriminates their hideous from their fair.

Unless the instrument of thought possess

The fire of truth, it is impossible

Its range can be so wide. We Muslims are,

Children of Abraham, which fact is proved

(If proof thou seekest) by “Your father he.” [15]

Though nations’ destinies their lands control,

Though nations build their edifice on race,

Thinkest thou the Community is based

Upon the Country? Shall so much regard

Be blindly paid to water, air and earth?

It is dull ignorance to put one’s boast

In lineage; that judgement rests upon

The body, and the body perishes.

Other are the foundations that support

Islam’s Community; they lie concealed

Within our hearts. We, who are present now,

Have bound our hearts to Him who is unseen,

And therefore are delivered from the chains

Of earthly things. The cord that links this folk

Is like the thread which keeps the stars in place,

And, as the sight itself, invisible.

Well-pointed arrows of one quiver are we,

One showing, one beholding, one in thought;

One is our goal and purpose, one the form,

The fashion, and the measure of our dream.

Thanks to His blessings, we are brothers all

Sharing one speech, one spirit and one heart.



[10] în Sfântul Coran se relatează că Moise (pacea fie asupra lui) s-a ridicat pe muntele Sinai rugându-se lui Allah pentru a Îl vedea. Allah l-a îndemnat să privească spre munte iar dacă acesta va îndura Prezența Sa atunci și el Îl va vedea. Allah S-a revelat pe Munte iar muntele s-a spulberat; Arāf, 143: Când Moise veni la întâlnirea cu Noi, şi Domnul său îi vorbi, el spuse: „Domnul meu! Arată-mi-te ca să te văd!” Domnul spuse: „Tu nu mă vei vedea, dar să te uiți către munte, dacă va rămâne la locul său, mă vei vedea.” Când Domnul lui se arătă însă prezent pe Munte, acesta se sfărâmă în bucăţi, iar Moise căzu trăsnit. Când s-a trezit, el a spus „Mărire Ţie!” La Tine mă întorc iar eu sunt cel-dintâi credincios!

[11] Maryam, 93: Toţi cei care sunt în ceruri şi pe pământ vin către Milostivul ca robi umili.

[12] Se povestește că anticul regele persan Jamshid deținea un magic potir ce îi dezvăluia lumea, asemănător oglinzii lui Alexandru.

[13] Invocare ce deschide mărturisirea de credință a musulmanului.

[14] Omar a fost al doilea calif al islamului iar Abu Dharr un companion al lui Muhammad ﷺ onorat pentru pietatea sa.

[15] Islamul afirmă că este adevărata religie revelată lui Avraam iar iudaismul o corupere a credinței originale; Haj, 77: Străduiţi-vă pentru Allah cu străduinţa ce i se cuvine Lui. El este Cel ce v-a ales. El nu v-a prescris nimic neplăcut în Lege, credinţa tatălui vostru, Avraam. El este Cel ce v-a numit supuşi, odinioară, ca Profetul să fie martor asupra voastră, iar voi să fiţi martori asupra oamenilor. Faceţi-vă rugăciunea, daţi milostenia! Ţineţi de Allah cu tărie: El este Stăpânul vostru Cel minunat, Cel care vă apără, Cel care vă ajută!


Stray thoughts Reflections



Hegel’s system of philosophy is an epic poem in prose.


15TH MAY, 1910

Yesterday morning at about 4, I saw that glorious visitor of our hemisphere known as Halley’s comet. Once in seventy-five years this superb swimmer of infinite space appears on our skies. It is only with the eyes of my grandsons that I shall see it again. The state of my mind was quite unique. I felt as if something indescribably vast had been closed up within the narrow limits of my clay; yet the thought that I could not see this wanderer again brought home to me the painful fact of my littleness. For the moment all ambition was killed in me.



“Let fools fight for the forms of government,” says Alexander Pope. I cannot agree with this political philosophy. To my mind government, whatever its form, is one of the determining forces of a people’s character. Loss of political power is equally ruinous to nations’ character. Ever since their political fall the Musalmans of India have undergone a rapid ethical deterioration. Of all the Muslim communities of the world they are probably the meanest in point of character. I do not mean to deplore our former greatness in this country, for, I confess, I am almost a fatalist in regard to the various forces that ultimately decide the destinies of nations. As a political force we are perhaps no longer required; but we are, I believe, still indispensable to the world as the only testimony to the absolute Unity of God. Our value among nations, then, is purely evidential.



It is idle to seek logical truth in poetry. The ideal of imagination is beauty, not truth. Do not then try to show a poet’s greatness by quoting passages from his works which, in your opinion, embody scientific truth.



Personal immortality is not a state; it is a process. I think the distinction of spirit and body has done a lot of harm. Several religious systems have been based on this erroneous distinction. Man is essentially an energy, a force, or rather a combination of forces which admit of various arrangements. One definite arrangement of these forces is personality – whether it is a purely chance arrangement does not concern me here. I accept it as a fact among other facts of nature, and try to find out whether this arrangement of forces – so dear to us – can continue as it is. Is it then possible that these forces should continue to work in the same direction as they are working in a living, healthy personality? I think it is. Let human personality be represented by a circle – which is only another way of saying that these forces result in describing a definite circle which may be obliterated by an upsetting of the arrangement of forces constituting it. How then can we manage to secure the continuance of this circle? Evidently by energising in a way calculated to assist the constitutive forces in their regular routine of work. You must give up all those modes of activity which have a tendency to dissolve personality, e.g. humility, contentment, slavish obedience, modes of human action which have been erroneously dignified by the name of virtue. On the other hand, high ambition, generosity, charity and a just pride in our traditions and power fortify the sense of personality.

Personality being the dearest possession of man must be looked upon as the ultimate good. It must work as a standard to test the worth of our actions. That is good which has a tendency to give us the sense of personality, that is bad which has a tendency to suppress and ultimately dissolve personality. By adopting a mode of life calculated to strengthen personality we are really fighting against death – a shock which may dissolve the arrangement of forces we call personality. Personal immortality then lies in our own hands. It requires an effort to secure the immortality of the person. The idea I have dropped here has far-reaching consequences. I wish I could have time to discuss the comparative value of Islam, Buddhism and Christianity from the standpoint of this idea; but unfortunately I am too busy to work out the details.



History is a sort of applied ethics. If ethics is to be an experimental science like other sciences, it must be based on the revelations of human experience. A public declaration of this view will surely shock the susceptibilities even of those who claim to be orthodox in morality but whose public conduct is determined by the teachings of history.



I confess I am a bit tired of metaphysics. But whenever I happen to argue with people I find that their arguments are always based on certain propositions which they assume without criticism. I am, therefore, driven to examine the value of these propositions. The practical in all its shapes drives me back to the speculative. It seems to me to be impossible to get rid of metaphysics altogether.



All nations accuse us of fanaticism. I admit the charge – I go further and say that we are justified in our fanaticism. Translated in the language of biology fanaticism is nothing but the principle of individuation working in the case of a group. In this sense all forms of life are more or less fanatical and ought to be so if they care for their collective life. And as a matter of fact all nations are fanatical. Criticise an Englishman’s religion, he is immovable; but criticise his civilisation, his country or the behaviour of his nation in any sphere of activity and you will bring out his innate fanaticism. The reason is that his nationality does not depend on religion; it has a geographical basis – his country. His fanaticism then is justly roused when you criticise his country. Our position, however, is fundamentally different. With us nationality is a pure idea; it has no material basis. Our only rallying point is a sort of mental agreement in a certain view of the world. If then our fanaticism is roused when our religion is criticised, I think we are as much justified in our fanaticism as an Englishman is when his civilisation is denounced. The feeling in both cases is the same though associated with different objects. Fanaticism is patriotism for religion; patriotism, fanaticism for country.



Islam appeared as a protest against idolatry. And what is patriotism but a subtle form of idolatry; a deification of a material object. The patriotic songs of various nations will bear me out in my calling patriotism a deification of a material object. Islam could not tolerate idolatry in any form. It is our eternal mission to protest against idolatry in all its forms. What was to be demolished by Islam could not be made the very principle of its structure as a political community. The fact that the Prophet prospered and died in a place not his birth-place is perhaps a mystic hint to the same effect.



Justice is an inestimable treasure; but we must guard it against the thief of mercy.

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