Thursday, 10 October 2013

Shikwa by Allama Iqbal

Sent by Ali Mohammed @AliPoetry 

Iqbal's Shikwa and Jawaab-e-Shikwa - Translated by Khushwant Singh

Why must I forever lose, forever forgo profit that is my due,
Sunk in the gloom of evenings past, no plans for the morrow pursue.
Why must I all attentive be to the nightingales lament,
Friend, am I as dumb as a flower? Must I remain silent?
My theme makes me bold, makes my tongue more eloquent,
Dust fills my mouth, against Allah I make complaint. 

We won renown for submitting to Your willand it is so;
We speak out now, we are compelled to repeat our tale of woe.
We are like the silent lute whose chords are full of voice;
When grief wells up to our lips, we speak; we have no choice.
Lord God! We are Your faithful servants, for a while with us bear,
It is in our nature to always praise You, a small plaint also hear.

That Your Presence was primal from the beginning of time is true;
The rose also adorned the garden but of its fragrance no one knew.
Justice is all we ask for. You are perfect, You are benevolent.
If there were no breeze, how could the rose have spread its scent?
We Your people were dispersed, no solace could we find,
Or, would Your Beloveds following have gone out of its mind?

Before our time, a strange sight was the world You had made:
Some worshipped stone idols, others bowed to trees and prayed.
Accustomed to believing what they saw, the peoples vision wasnt free,
How then could anyone believe in a God he couldnt see?
Do you know of anyone, Lord, who then took Your Name? I ask.
It was the muscle in the Muslims arms that did Your task.

Here on this earth were settled the Seljuqs and the Turanians,
The Chinese lived in China, in Iran lived the Sassanians.
The Greeks flourished in their allotted regions,
In this very world lived the Jews and Christians.
But who did draw their swords in Your Name and fight?
When things had gone wrong, who put them right?

Of all the brave warriors, there were none but only we.
Who fought Your battles on land and often on the sea.
Our calls to prayer rang out from the churches of European lands
And floated across Africas scorching desert sands.
We ruled the world, but regal glories our eyes disdained.
Under the shades of glittering sabres Your creed we proclaimed.

All we lived for was no battle; we bore the troubles that came,
And laid down our lives for the glory of Your Name.
We never used our strength to conquer or extend domain,
Would we have played with our lives for nothing but worldly gain?
If our people had run after earths goods and gold,
Need they have smashed idols, and not idols sold?

Once in the fray, firm we stood our ground, never did we yield,
The most lion-hearted of our foes reeled back and fled the field.
Those who rose against You, against them we turned our ire,
What cared we for their sabres? We fought against canon fire.
On every human heart the image of Your oneness we drew,
Beneath the draggers point, we proclaimed Your message true.

You tell us who were they who pulled down the gates of Khyber?
Who were they that reduced the city that was the pride of Caesar?
Fake gods that men had made, who did break and shatter?
Who routed infidel armies and destroyed them with bloody slaughter?
Who put out and made cold the sacred flame in Iran?
Who retold the story of the one God, Yazdan?

Who were the people who asked only for You and no other?
And for You did fight battles and travails suffer?
Whose world-conquering swords spread the might over one and all?
Who stirred mankind with Allah-o-Akbars clarion call?
Whose dread bent stone idols into fearful submission?
They fell on their faces confessing, God is One, the Only One!

In the midst of raging battle if the time came to pray,
Hejazis turned to Mecca, kissed the earth and ceased from fray.
Sultan and slave in single file stood side by side,
Then no servant was nor master, nothing did them divide.
Between serf and lord, needy and rich, difference there was none.
When they appeared in Your court, they came as equals and one.

In this banquet hall of time and space, from dawn to dusk we spent,
Filled with the wine of faith, like goblets round we went.Over hills and plains we took Your message; this was our task.
Do you know of an occasion we failed You? is all we ask.
Over wastes and wildernesses of land and sea,
Into the Atlantic Ocean we galloped on our steed.

Jawab-e-Shikwa (The answer to the complaint)
Translated by Khushwant Singh

Words spoken from the heart never fail to have effect; 
Sacred and pure their origin, on lofty heights their sights are set. 
They have no wings and yet they have power to fly; 
They rise from the dust and pierce through the sky. 
So headstrong and insolent was my love, so much on mischief bent, 
So outspoken my plaint, it tore through the firmament. 

The aged vault of heaven heard. There is someone somewhere, said he. 
The planets spoke, Here on these ancient heights someone must be. 
Not here, said the moon, it must be someone from the earth below.
Spoke the Milky Way, It must be someone hidden here we do not know. 
Only the gatekeeper of Eden did some of my plaint recognize 
And understood that I was the man thrown out of paradise. 

He even rails against Allah, he has become so proud; 
Is he the same Adam before whom the angels bowed? 
He knows about things, their quantity and quality; 
Yes, these he knows, but nothing of the secret of humility. 
Their power of speech men always proudly flaunt, 
But of the way of the speaking they are quite ignorant. 

Spoke the Voice: Your tale is indeed full of sorrow; 
Your tears tremble at the brim and are ready to flow. 
Your cry of lament the sky has rung; 
What cunning your impassioned heart has lent your tongue! 
So eloquently did you word your plaint, you made it sound like praise. 
To talk on equal terms with Us, man to celestial heights did rise. 

Limitless is Our bounty, but none for it will pray. 
Theres no one on the seekers path; to whom do We point the way?
Not one proved worthy of the care with which they were raised; 
You are not the clay of which another Adam could be made. 
If there were one deserving, Wed raise him to regal splendor, 
To those who seek, We would unveil a new world of wonder. 

You have no strength in your hands; in your hearts God has no place; 
On the name of My messenger, you people have brought disgrace. 
Destroyers of false gods are gone; only the idol-maker thrives; 
The sons of Abraham have departed, Azars idolatrous breed survives. 
Strange the company you keep; from new vats a new vintage wine you brew; 
You have built yourselves a new Kaaba with new idols because you yourselves 
are new. 

There were days when this very Allah you regarded as sublime; 
The tulip of Islam was the pride of the desert in blossom time. 
There were days when every Muslim loved the only Allah he knew; 
Once upon a time He was your Beloved; the same Beloved you now call untrue. 
Now go and pledge your faith to serve some local deity 
And confine Muhammads following to some one locality. 

Who blotted out the smear of falsehood from the pages of history? 
Who freed mankind from the chains of slavery? 
The floors of My Kaaba with whose foreheads swept? 
Who were they who clasped My Koran to their breasts? 
Your forefathers indeed they were: tell Us who are you, We pray? 
With idle hands you sit awaiting the dawn of a better day. 

The only people in the world of every skill bereft are you. 
The only race which cares not how it fouls its nest are you. 
Haystacks that within them conceal the lightnings fires are you. 
Who love by selling tombs of their sires are you. 
If as traders of tombstones you have earned such renown. 
What is there to stop you in trading in gods made of stone? 

Heavy weighs the light of dawn, how loathe you are to rise? 
Why protest you love Us? It is your slumber that you prize. 
On your carefree spirit Ramadans fast does heavily press; 
Ask yourselves and answer: Is this the way of faithfulness? 
A people are bound by faith; without faith they cease to be; 
If nothing binds you, you are like meteors, not stars in a galaxy. 
Your mentors are immature: theres no substance in what they preach; 
No lightning flashes enlighten their minds. Theres no fire in their speech. 
Only a ritual the call to prayer; the spirit of Bilal has fled. 
Theres no end to philosophizing; Ghazzalis discourse remains unread. 
Now mourn the empty mosques. No worshippers fill them with prayer. 
The likes of noble Hejazi gentlemen are no longer there. 

You are one people, you share in common your weal and woe, 
You have one faith, one creed and to one Prophet allegiance owe. 
You have one sacred Kaaba, one God and one holy book, the Koran, 
Was it so difficult to unite in one community every single Mussalman? 
It is factions at one place; divisions into castes at another, 
In these times are these the ways to progress and to prosper? 

All of you drink the wine of bodily indulgence, lead lives of ease without 
You dare to call yourselves Muslims? Is this the Mussalmans way of life? 
You take neither Alis pledge of poverty, nor Osmans path of wealth pursue; 
What kinship of the soul can there be between your ancestors and you? 
As Muslims your forefathers were respected; 
You gave up the Koran and are by the world rejected.

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