Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Allama Iqbal's Memory of his Beloved Mother

Imam Bibi  --  who's death from this earth was 1914 -- see photo credit/url below*

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. )

Republic of Rumi website and blog

 * photo url/credit here

Explanatory Notes:

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.


Akhtar Wasim Dar said...

Connie this is extremely important poem of Iqbal and one that was written in grief but brought out wisdom of living in grief and sorrow, I personally love following verses:

The end of the fire of life is not in the ashes!

This is not the jewel whose destiny is breaking!

Life is such a beloved in the eye of Nature

Life’s preservation is in everything’s nature

If the death’s hand could efface life’s picture

The system of the universe would not have made it so common

CN said...

Thanx so much...I want to get back to your comment soon...I need to polish this post as in travel suddenly had to leave this...

Back soon.