Sir Muhammad Iqbal

Shikwaa [The Complaint]

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Why should I be destructive and remain reckless of betterment?
Think not of the future, remain occupied in today’s problems?

Should I hear nightingale’s wails, and remain completely silent?
O companion! Am I some flower so that I may remain silent?

The strength of my poetry is encouraging to me
Woe be to me! My remonstrance is against God!

It is true that we are famous in the methods of obeisance
But we are relating our story of pain out of compulsion

Though a silent orchestra, we are full of complaint
If the wailing comes to lips we are excusable

O God! Listen to the remonstrance also from the faithful
Listen to some complaint also from the one accustomed to praise you

Though Thy Eternal Essence had existed since eternity
The flower existed in the garden but fragrance had not dispersed

Justice is a condition, O Lord of Universal Benevolence
How could flower’s fragrance spread if zephyr did not exist?

This problem’s solution was the source of satisfaction to us
Otherwise was the Holy Prophet’s Ummah insane?

The scene of Thy world was strange before us
Stones were adored somewhere, trees were worshipped somewhere

The eyes of Man were accustomed to tangible forms
How could they be amenable to accept the Unseen God?

Doth Those know who ever told Thy beads?
The strength of the Muslim’s arm completed Thy task!

Seljuks 2 were living here and the Turanas also
The Chinese in China and in Iran the Sassanas also

The Greeks were also living in the same habitation
In the same world were the Jews and the Christians also

But who raised the sword in Thy name?
Who reclaimed the despoiled world in Thy name?

We alone were the marshals of Thy troops!
We were fighting now on land and now in the oceans

Some times we were calling adhans in the Europe’s cathedrals
And sometimes in the scorching African deserts

We never cared for the grandeur of monarchs
We recited the Kalimah under the shade of swords

If we lived we lived for the calamities of wars
If we died we died for the grandeur of Thy name

We did not wield the sword for our kingdoms
Did we roam about the world fearlessly for wealth?

If our nation had been greedy of worldly wealth
Why would we have been idol breakers instead of idol sellers?

Once firmly standing in the battle we were immovable
Even lions in the battle against us would be in flight

We were enraged if some one rebelled against Thee
Not to talk of sword we were fighting against canons

We impressed Tawhids’s picture on every heart
We conveyed this message even under the dagger

Tell us Thou, by whom was uprooted the gate of Khaibar7
By whom was conquered the city which was Qaisar’s ?

By whom were the images of created gods destroyed?
By whom were the armies of infidels slaughtered?

By whom was the fire temple of Iran extinguished?
By whom was the story of Yazdan restored to life?

Which nation did become Thy seeker exclusively?
And became embroiled in wars’ calamities for Thee?

Whose world-conquering sword did world-ruler become?
By whose Takbar did Thy world enlightened become?

Through whose fear idols did perpetually alarmed remain?
Falling on their faces saying “Huwa Allah O Ahad10 did remain?

If the time of prayer right during the battle fell
Hijaz’ nation in prostration facing the Ka’abah fell

Both Mahmud and Ayaz in the same row stood
None as the slave and none as the master stood

The slave and the master, the poor and the rich all became one!
On arrival in Thy Audience all were reduced to one!

We continuously wandered all over the world
We wandered like the wine-cup with Tawhid’s wine

We wandered with Thy Message in the mountains, in the deserts
And doth Thou know whether we ever returned unsuccessful?

What of the deserts! We did not spare even oceans!
We galloped our horses in the dark ocean!

We effaced falsehood from the earth’s surface
We freed the human race from bonds of slavery

We filled Thy Ka’bah with our foreheads
We put Thy Qur’an to our hearts

Still Thou complaineth that we are lacking fealty
If we are lacking fealty Thou also art not generous

There are other ummahs, among them are sinners also
There are modest people and arrogant ones also

Among them are slothful, indolent as well as clever people
There are also hundreds who are disgusted with Thy name

Thy Graces descend on the other people’s abodes
Lightning strikes only the poor Muslims’ abodes

The idols in temples say ‘The Muslims are gone’
They are glad that the Ka’bah’s sentinels are gone

From the world’s stage the éudâ singers are gone
They, with the Qur’an in their arm pits, are gone

Infidelity is mocking, hast Thou some feeling or not?
Dost Thou have any regard for Thy own Tawhid or not?

We do not complain that their treasures are full
Who are not in possession of even basic social graces

Outrageous that infidels are rewarded with Houris and palaces
And the poor Muslims are placated with only promise of Houris

We have been deprived of the former graces and favors
What is the matter, we are deprived of the former honors?

Why is the material wealth rare among Muslims?
Thy omnipotence is boundless and inestimable

With Thy Will the desert’s bosom would produce bubbles
The desert’s rambler can be facing flood of mirage’s waves

Others’ sarcasm, disgrace and poverty is our lot
Is abjection the reward for Loving Thee?

Now, this world is the lover of others
For us it is only an imaginary world

We have departed, others have taken over the world
Do not complain now that devoid of Tawhid has become the world

We live with the object of spreading Thy fame in the world
Can the wine-cup exist if the cup-bearer does not live?

Thy assemblage is gone, and Thy Lovers are also gone
The night’s sighs and the dawn’s wailings are gone

They had loved Thee, they are gone with their rewards
They had hardly settled down and they were turned out

The Lovers came but with tomorrow’s promise were sent away
Now seek them with Thy beautiful face’s lamp every way!

Lailah’s pathos is the same, and Qais’ bosom is the same
In the Najd’s wilderness and mountains the deer’s running is the same

The Love’s heart is the same, the Beauty’s magic is the same
The Ummah of the Holy Prophet is the same, Thou art the same

Why then this displeasure without reason is?
Why then this displeasure for Thy Lovers is?

Did we forsake Thee, did we forsake the Arabian Holy Prophet?
Did we adopt idol sculpture, did we idol breaking forsake?

Did we forsake Love, and did we forsake the madness of Love?
Did we forsake the customs of Salman15 and Uwais of Qur’an?

We have the Takbar’s fire suppressed in our hearts!
We are living the life of Bilal the Negro!

Granted that Love has lost its former elegance also
We may have lost treading the path of Love also

We may have lost the restless heart like the compass also
And we may have lost the observance of fidelity’s rules also

Thou art changing friendship between us and others
It is difficult to say but Thou art also unfaithful!

Thou perfected the Deen on the peak of Faran
Thou captivated the hearts of thousands in a moment

Thou consumed the produce of Love with fire
Thou burned the congregation with Thy face’s fire

Why are not our breasts filled with Love’s sparks now?
We are the same Lovers, dost Thou not remember now?

The noise of Lovers’ chains in the Najd’s Valley has disappeared
Qais has no more remained longing for the litter’s sight

Those old ambitions, we, as well as the heart have disappeared
The house is destroyed as Thou art not present in the house

O that happy day when Thou with elegance will come back
When Thou unveiled to our congregation will come back

Others are sitting at the stream bank in the rose garden
Listening to the cuckoo’s call with wine-cup in their hand

In the garden on a side far from the riotous crowd are sitting
Thy Lovers are also patiently wanting for a Hu!

Again endow Thy moths with Longing for burning themselves
Give the command for consumption in Love to the old lightning

The wandering nation is riding again towards Hijaz
The taste of flight has carried the unfledged nightingale

The fragrance of humility is restless in every flower bud
Just start the music, orchestra is seeking the plectrum

Songs are restless to come out of the strings
ñër is impatient for burning in the same fire

Make easy the difficulties of the blessed Ummah
Place the poor ant shoulder to shoulder to Sulaiman

Make the invaluable produce of Love accessible again
Change the idolatrous Muslims of India into Muslims again

A stream of blood drips from the frustrations mine
Wailing palpitates in the wounded breast of mine!

The rose’ fragrance took garden’s secret outside the garden
Outrageous that flowers themselves are informers against the garden

The spring is over, broken is the orchestra of the garden
Flown away from branches are the songsters of the garden

Only a nightingale is left which is singing still
In its breast overflows the flood of songs still

Turtle-doves from the juniper’s branches are gone also
Flower petals dropping from the flower are scattered also

The garden’s old beautiful walk-ways are gone also
The branches became bare of the cover of leaves also

But his nature remained free of the season’s restrictions
Would somebody in the garden understand his complaint!!

There is no pleasure in dying and no taste in living is
If there is any pleasure it in bearing this affliction is

Many a virtue is restless in my mirror!
Many an effulgence is fluttering in my breast!

But there is none in this garden to see them
There are no poppies with Love’s stain on their breasts

May hearts open up with the song of this lonely nightingale
May the sleeping hearts wake up with this very Bang-i-Dara

May the hearts come to life again with a new covenant
May the hearts be thirsty again for this same old wine

My alembic may be from `Ajam, but my wine is from Hijaz
The song may be Indian but my tune is from Hijaz

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Sir Muhammad Iqbal