'Jawab-e-Shikwa': Response to Iqbal's 'Complaint'  [ Part 1 of 2 ]  
Dr.  Zafar  M.   Iqbal,   TCCI,  Chicago,  IL


 
Allama Iqbal first recited Shikwa in March, 1911 before a large gathering in Lahore.   Less than two years later he came out with the ‘Jawab-e-Shikwa’.   Both ‘Shikwa’ and ‘Jawab-e-Shikwa’ are included in Iqbal’s first book of Urdu poetry, Baang-e-Dara (1924).  
 
It seems Iqbal already had the ‘Jawab’ in his mind, and Shikwa simply prepared the ground for it.   Shikwa is said to follow the pattern Mir Taqi Mir had set in ‘Wasokth’, except that Mir’s was a complaint to a beloved, while Iqbal’s was to the God.
 
My translation of Iqbal’s Shikwa (‘Complaint’)  was published  earlier in these pages, now I present my translation of ‘Jawab-e-Shikwa’, ‘Response to Iqbal’s Complaint’. Again, with Frost’s caution still in mind, this is another attempt to bring Iqbal’s poetry to those unfamiliar with Urdu (or his Urdu with Persian overtones). This may be a re-play of how an Arabian horse gets metamorphosed into a ‘graceful’ mule across the linguistic border.
 
Anything from the heart
has its effect --
no wings,  but has
the power to fly.
 
Rooted in piety,
it’s set on soaring high.
Rising from dust,
it touches the heaven.      
 
Love of Me was sly, rebellious, [1]
and an agent provocateur –
that made this fearless Complaint      
pierce My heaven.
 
----
 
Wardens of Heaven cried,
look,  someone’s here;
Stars said – someone’s
in  Heaven;
 
Moon added,
No, someone from the earth. 
Constellations told, 
someone hidden right here!
 
Only Rizwan knew  [2]
it was a Complaint
from Man,  once driven out
of Heaven.  
 
----         
 
Angels also wondered
what was that voice;
Heaven dwellers
were confused. 
 
Does Man now have the power
to reach the Sky?
Has a speck of dust
now learned to fly ?
 
Have Earth-dwellers
forgotten their manners?
How rude these lowly
inhabitants of Earth !
 
----
 
How brazen,  he’s angry
even at his own God? 
Is he the same Adam, 
Angels had once bowed to?
 
He is drunk, knows
very little, and yes,
knows nothing
about the secrets of modesty.
 
Proud these humans are
only of their power of speech,
but these ignorants have
no etiquette of speaking.
 
----
 
Your voice has reached Us,
your tale is sad,
your eyes brimming
and tearful.
 
Your impassioned plea,
now spread in the heaven !
How insolent is
your wild heart !
 
Thanks to your
well-phrased complaint,
it made God start talking to
His creation.
 
----
 
We are always kind,  but
no one asks Our help.
Who can We guide when
no one seeks the right path?
 
Our values are well known but
no one worthy of  that gift.
The clay is not the same
with which We had made Adam.
 
On those worthy,
We shower Our gifts.
To those who seek,
We give even a new world.
 
----
 
Our hands are tied
when your hearts lack Faith,
it’s an embarrassment to
Our Messenger.
 
Gone are the idol smashers,
the idol-makers remain;
your father was Abraham, but
you  act as children of Azar. [3]
 
Your wine is new
your ways are new,
your  Ka’aba  new, with
new idols,  and you yourself,  new. 
 
----
 
Those were the days when this
was a treasure of  beauty,
the pride of Spring,
a flower of the desert.
 
One who was Muslim 
used to love  his God.
The same God-loving man,
now this fickle.
 
Make a pact of obedience 
with such a fickle one
and keep the Messenger’s people
together in one place.
 
----
 
How hard it is for you
to wake up for you dawn prayers;
It’s not love for Us,
you love your sleep more!
 
Those who love freedom
find Ramadan restrictions hard.
Tell us if these are your rules
 for being faithful to Us?
 
Religion is what makes your community; 
without religion, you are nothing.
If no mutual feeling, there’d be
no assembly of stars.
 
----
 
Those who know
no art or science,  are you;
those who don’t care much about
home,  are  you.
 
Where a lightning ends up
is where you live;  those who sell
their own fathers’ graves,
are you.
 
When trading tombstones
gives you fame and profit,
why wouldn’t you also sell
golden idols, if you can get them?
 
----
 
Who did erase lies
from the pages of history?
Who did free the people
from slavery?
 
Who did populate My Ka’aba
with foreheads bowed ?
Who did make Muslims clutch
My Quran to their chests ?
 
Those were your forefathers
but who are you,
sitting on your hands
waiting for tomorrow ?
 
----
 
Who said that Muslims should
just wait for the promise of houris?
Even if your Complaint was right,
it has to have some civility.
 
Justice is Our policy from eternity: 
if a non-believer lives like
a true Muslim, he does deserve
the reward of  houris and  palaces.
 
But no one among you
really loves houris.
Glory of burning Sinai is there,
but no Moses among you.  
 
----
 
Your community is one,
share your gains and woes.
You’ve the same Prophet,
same religion, same Faith.
 
One Ka’aba, one Allah, one Quran!
It would have been wonderful
had Muslims been one
and united too.
 
There are sects, 
there are classes --
Is this the way to prosper
in this world ?
 
----
 
Who abandoned the Messenger
and his Faith?
Who decided what is success in
the world, and by whose standards?
 
Who is impressed by
the ways of others ?
Who has become tired of
the ways of their old ?
 
No zeal in your heart
no feeling in your soul
No regard you have
for the message of your Prophet.
 
----
 
Those who line up in the Mosque
are the poor.
Those who take the trouble to fast
are the poor.
 
Those who remember Us
are the poor.
Those who take care of you
are the poor.
 
Those interested only in their wealth
ignore Us.
Your religion lives only
by the dedication  of the poor.
 
----
 
Preachers of the religion
no longer had sound judgment
no quick thinking
no flame to investigate.
 
What was left was the custom of
Azaan, but no soul of Bilaal  [4].
The philosophy was there
but no teachings of  Ghazali. [5]
 
Sad are the mosques
that no Muslims come to pray --
Not, that is, 
the people of Hejaz [6]
 
----
 
Loud is the rumor that
Muslims have vanished from the world.
We say, were there real Muslims
 anywhere in the world ?
 
Your ways are Christians,
your culture, Hindu --
Are these the kind of Muslims
that Jews may pity?
 
You are ‘Syeds’, ‘Mirzas’ and Afghans.
True, you are all this
but whatever you are, tell Me:
Are any of you real Muslims ?
 
----
 
Fearless truth was
at the very heart of Muslim parlance  --
his sense of justice strong,
free of any bias.
 
His strength -- laced with modesty,
like dew on a tree.
His courage, exemplary
far above others.
 
His selfless geniality—
pleasant taste  of  wine;
the flask, refilled with joy,
the moment it’s empty. [7]
 
-----
 
Once every Muslim was
a scalpel to the vein of falsehood;
his actions, sparkling
in the mirror,  like jewels.
 
What he trusted most was
the strength of his own arms;
you are afraid of death,
he had the fear of his God.
 
If a father’s knowledge
isn’t transferred to his son,
what right does the son have
to his father’s estate?
 
----
 
Everyone is besotted,
immersed in easy-living.
You are a Muslim --
Is this the Islamic way?
 
You know nothing about 
Ali’s poverty or Osman’s wealth. [8]
What spiritual bond  do you have
with your predecessors ?
 
Both were highly respected 
true Muslims,  but by giving up Quran
you have deprived yourself
of its blessings!
 
----
 
You fight among yourselves --
they were kind to each other.
You do wrong, find fault in others –
they, forgiving and kind.
 
 
Everyone wishes
to live among stars [9]
but try first to create someone
deserving for the place.
 
They had ruled China,
were used to the throne.
Yours is just idle talk,
do you have their modesty?
 
----
 
Your ways are suicidal,
theirs,  eminent and upright;
You shirk camaraderie;
they gave their lives for their friends.
 
You are all talk, head-to-toe;
head-to-toe, they had  character. 
You,  dying to see a single bud,
they were one garden limitless.
 
Their advice and directions,
countries still remember;
pages of history still bear
stamp of their truth and honesty.
 
----
 
What if
they appeared as stars 
on their country’s horizon, became
Brahmin in love of Hindu idols?
 
They deserted their nest
for the love of flying.
Idle they already were as youth ,
they even doubted their Faith.
 
Their culture set them free
from every bond;
moving  idols from Ka’aba,
they populated their Temples.
 
 
 ==========
 
Notes:
 
 
[1]   “Me” :  God, speaking for Himself, according to Iqbal
 
[2] Rizwan, the Guardian of the Heaven. 
 
[3]   Abraham / Ibrahim  is  believed to be the patriarch of  three monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianty and Islam).  He was the father of  Ishmael / Ismail (from Hagar/Hajira), one of whose descendants was Mohammad,  the Prophet of  Islam.  Azar, regarded by some Muslims as Abraham’s father and by others as his uncle, was an idol-maker.  Abraham was the one who broke Azar’s idols in King’s Temple.
 
[4]   Bilaal was chosen by Prophet Mohammed to be the first muezzin (one who calls for the prayers, or Azaan, five  times a day), because of his wonderful voice.  Bilaal was an Abyssinian.
 
[5]   Abu Hamid Mohammed ibn Mohammed al-Ghazali (1058-1111)  of Persia was an Islamic theologian-jurist-philosopher-scholar-mystic who many Muslims believe,  pioneered the philosophical methods of skepticism.   
 
[6]  Hejaz, a region in Saudi Arabia, where the holiest Islamic cities (like Mecca, Medina)  are located —thus, referring to sacred land for Muslims.
 
[7]  In Persian:  “Khud-gud-azi nam-e-kai-fiyat-e-sehbaish bood
Khali az khaweish shu-dun surath-e-meena-ish bood”
 
[8]  Hyder, or Caliph Ali, who was a cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Mohammed. Ali was the fourth Caliph (after Calif Osman).   Ali and his wife, Fatima, worked hard and were poor.   They had two sons, Hasan and Hussain, who are the Imams of the Shias sect.
 
Caliph Osman, related to the Prophet, and belonged to the same Quraish tribe.  Osman was the wealthiest member of this tribe. He used his wealth to serve da’awa.
 
[9]  To live on ‘Suraiya’, a constellation of 7 stars (‘Seven Sisters’) closest to Earth and can be seen by naked eye.  this constellation is also called ‘Pleiades’ that has different meaning in different cultures.
 
[ To be continued ]

 


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