IlmAurIshq(Knowledge and Love) by Dr Sir Muhammad Iqbal
Translated byDr Basheer Ahmed Khan

(Knowledge is used in this poem in the sense of understanding the benefit and loss resulting from our actions that makes us cautious and cunning. Love is used not in the sense of our carnal response to physical beauty but appreciation of good and perfect objects, causes and ideas and our unfailing altruistic commitment to them unmindful of the benefit or loss.
No translation can ever replace the beauty and the force of the original language. This should not deter one from translating because ideas are a trust of mankind and they should be shared so that people are benefited by them. This is not a verbatim translation but an attempt to capture the spirit of the Urdu poem of a great Muslim thinker in English language.)

Love was taunted by Knowledge that Love is insanity
Love retaliated; Knowledge is only the science of possibility
O you servant of calculus, don’t be at mercy of books
For knowledge confounds the reality,
Love is the vision that expounds the reality.

The struggles in the world are a manifestation of Love
Knowledge is a stage in understanding of reality.
Love is envisioning the ultimate reality
Love is the beauty of our life and its serene end.
Love is the silent answer to questions
That knowledge unsuccessfully mends

Love is a miracle that paves the way to both power and poverty.
Slaves indeed are to Love, the people of crown and royalty.
The Time and the earth owe their existence to the anchor of Love
The world enjoys its success in the certitude of Love

Pleasure of destination is anathema in the journey of Love
In Love turbulence of sea is pleasant
The still of shore kills the excitement
Love enjoys the lightning and is never scared by it.
Love creates the book*; Knowledge is a product of it.

*Dr. Iqbal has used the word Ummul-Kitab in his poem, which is the original book that is with God, of which Qur’an is a part (Ch43 V3-4). The indisputable verses of Qur’an (Muhkamath) are also called Ummul-Kitab (Ch3 V7). It is the love of Allah for mankind that He shares from His hidden book (Ch56 V77-80) from time to time. It is the love of the prophets for their people that they struggle to receive it. No one can receive from either the Qur’an or from the actual UmulKitab, which is with Allah, anything more than what Allah gives (Ch2 V 255). We, with our limited knowledge of the whole reality and a false understanding of it, have corrupted not just the religion but sciences too.
Iqbal had a profound desire to know and preserve all real knowledge for the benefit of mankind. All the knowledge which he got from his teachers Mohammad Hussain or Sir Arnold, at Lahore or at London and Munich universities did not lead him to it. Hence, he turned to this UmmulKitab.
It is easy to be a prolific writer of prose, but to be prolific in writing sensible poetry over decades is nothing but Love. He has built upon the tradition of Jalaluddin Rumi RA whose work was his inspiration and added to whatever progress mankind had made in its consciousness after Rumi RA in his poetry. Dr Sir Muhammad Iqbal (RA) has epitomized his journey of life in this poem.




Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.