IN MEMORY OF MOTHER OF BLESSED MEMORY
By Allama Iqbal
This poem was written in Europe at the time of the death of ‘All«mah Iqb«l’s mother. It is not only an expression of his grief on this sad incident but is also an expression of the philosophy of life and death and the grief created by them. It expands the thoughts expressed in Poem No. 82 Falsafah-i-Gham (The Philosophy of Grief). In spite of realizing that everything in the universe is subject to the Will and Command of God the news of his mother’s death was too hard to bear. He reminisces his whole life and recapitulates some memorable events of his domestic life. He explains with several examples , that death is a transitory phase in existence and is not designed to annihilate a person. The last verse of stanza 8 is important. By comparing man with stars he presents the Islamic concept of man’s superiority over the rest of creation. The last two verses of stanza 10 are important. Though time mitigates all grief the loss of his mother has caused him so much grief that time cannot reduce it. The poem ends in a supplication to God for his mother.
Every particle of the universe is a prisoner of destiny
Prudence is a cover for helplessness and compulsion
The sky, the sun and the moon all are helpless
The fast moving stars are compelled to moving
Breaking is the end of flower bud’s pitcher in the garden
The garden’s verdure and flowers are also compelled to grow
It may be nightingale’s song or conscience’ silent call
Everything is chained in the same universal chain!
When this secret of helplessness becomes evident to the eye
The turbulent flood of tears in the heart dries up
The dance of pleasure and grief does not remain in the human heart
The song remains but the pleasure of treble and bass does not remain
Knowledge and wisdom are robbers of tears and sighs’ wealth
That is the intelligent heart is a piece of diamond!
Though the dew’s freshness does not exist in my garden
My eye is not enriched with the red tears
Ah! I am aware of the secret of human afflictions
But my nature’s orchestra is unaware of complaint’s song
The story of vicissitudes of time does not come on my lips
My heart is not astonished, not laughing, not crying
But O messenger, your picture is one of constant wailing
Ah! this is the contradiction of my firm wisdom!
Life’s foundation becomes lasting with overflowing wailing
The hard hearted Intellect is embarrassed with the knowledge of pathos
My mirror is bright with the wave of sighs’ smoke
My skirt is full with the treasure of tears
The miracle of your picture has surprised me
Which has completely changed the flight of time
As if it brought the past and present together
It acquainted me again with the age of infancy
When that feeble soul was being nurtured by your side
Whose tongue was not adequately familiar with talking
And whose linguistic spice is now the subject of conversation
The pearls of whose jewel-shedding eyes are priceless
The learning’s serious discourses, the shrewdness of old age
The dignity of worldly honors, the pride of young age
We descend from the positions of dignity in life
We descend as a simple child in the lap of the mother
We are laughing informally, we are free from care
We are once more living in the same lost paradise
Ah! Who will now be waiting for me in the homeland?
Who will become restless by not getting my letter?
I will come to your grave carrying this lament
To whose thoughts will I come in the midnight prayers?
With your up-bringing I became fortunate like stars
The house of my ancestors became a source of pride
Your life was written in gold letters in the existence’ book
Your life was a full lesson of secular and religious education
Your love remained in my service for your whole life
When I was able to serve you, you did not survive
That youth who equals the slender cypress in stature 1
Who became more fortunate in serving you than me
That constant companion of mine in the business of life
That picture of yours in love, that source of my strength
He is crying like a helpless infant for you
He is crying with impatience from morning till evening
The love whose seed you planted in our life’s field
By the grief of separation that love became more firm
Ah! This world, this mourning place for the young and old!
In what a strange ever-changing prison man is imprisoned!
How difficult it is to live! How easy it is to die!
Gratitude to Khurram Ali Shafique -- a top scholar of the work and life of Allama Iqbal who when I asked for a poem he loved on grieving sent this poem to me in this form and with the added notes below.
Find both Shafique Sahib's and Allama Iqbal's work as well as that of Iqbal and Rumi students at
Republic of Rumi website/blog
"The end of the fire of life is NOT in the ashes!" ( This line focus was sent in a comment from Akhtar Wasim Dar Sahib -- one of the most literary people on earth whom I'm privileged to know. Plz see his fuller comment below this post. )
* photo url/credit here
1. Allusion to younger brother, which extends up to the end of this stanza.
2. Allusion to the nine planets of the sun's solar system and existence of other systems beyond it.
3. Qudsâs These are the angels surrounding the Divine Throne.