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The Sort-Lived Joy


This is another short poem which is highly mystical and difficult to understand.
Tasawwuf is based on the inability of the human Intellect to comprehend the marvels and mysteries of the celestial and spiritual worlds. Matters like the Existence of God can be argued for and against with Intellect and logic. Its logic can be understood with the study of "Anfus o ufuq" to which the Holy Qur'an has repeatedly referred for this purpose. Spiritual philosophers and sufis have adjudged God as "Wajib al-Wujud" (the Being whose Existence is essential for the creation and operation of the universe). However, His Dhat (Essence) is incomprehensible and indescribable. For that reason the Islamic system has established ninety nine names, which are really attributes, by which we can get some feeling for His Nature, but not knowledge. `Ibadah, in the broad sense and meditation can enable a person to feel His Essence. Similarly, other spiritual objects, like Paradise and Hell are beyond human comprehension, and their nature can only be felt, rather than described. The Holy Qur'an and Hadith literatures have used highly metaphorical language so as to make the subject somewhat intelligible to the persons of average intelligence. Any other kind of description would have been intelligible to the super or ultra-intellectuals only, if at all. Furthermore, it would have led to perpetual arguments and schisms among Muslims as has happened in other religions, based on philosophies. With this in the background of his thoughts Allamah Iqbal warns us in this poem, in a sarcastic style, that literal explanations of the descriptions of spiritual objects in the Holy Qur'an and Hadith literatures on these matters can lead to gross misunderstanding, particularly in the young and immature minds. Ibadah and meditation are the only means of getting some feeling of these subjects. For example, with reference to verse four it will be profitable to refer to Appendix  III, No. 27, Chapter IV "The Human Ego   His Freedom and Immortality", particularly pages 122 123. The following excerpt discusses resurrection and its aftermath:

The point, however, which has caused much difference of opinion among Muslim philosophers and theologians is whether the re emergence of Man involves the re emergence of his former physical medium. Most of them, including Shah Wali Allah (Appendix I, No. 82), the last great theologian of Islam, are inclined to think that it does involve at least some kind of physical medium suitable to the ego's new environment. It seems to me that this view is mainly due to the fact that the ego, as an individual, is inconceivable without some kind of local reference or empirical background. The Holy Qur'an 50:3,4 throw some light on this point.

'What ! When dead and turned to dust, shall we rise again ? Remote is such a return'. Now know what the earth consumeth and what with us is as a book in which account is kept .

To my mind these verses clearly suggest that the nature of the universe is such that it is open to it to maintain in some other way the kind of individuality necessary for the final working of human action, even after the disintegration of what appears to specify his individuality in his present environment. What that other way is we do not know. Nor do we gain any further insight into the nature of the 'second creation' by associating it with some kind of body, however subtle it may be. The analogies of the Holy Qur'an only suggest it as a fact; they are not meant to reveal its nature and character. Philosophically speaking, therefore , we cannot go further than this   that in view of the past history of Man it is highly improbable that his career should come to an end with the dissolution of his body.

However, according to the teaching of the Holy Qur'an the ego's re emergence brings him a "sharp sight" whereby he clearly sees his "self built fate fastened round his neck" (50:21-22) (read with 17:13)1. Heaven and Hell are states, not localities. The descriptions in the Holy Qur'an are visual representations of an inner fact, i.e. character. Hell, in the words of the Holy Qur'an, is ' God's kindled fire which mounts above the heart ' ! -- the painful realization of one's failure as a Man. Heaven is the joy of triumph over the forces of disintegration. There is no such thing as eternal damnation in Islam. The word 'eternity' used in certain verses, relating to Hell, is explained by the Holy Qur'an itself to mean only a period of time (78:23). Time cannot be wholly irrelevant to the development of personality. Character tends to become permanent; its re shaping must require time. Hell, therefore, as conceived by the Holy Qur'an is not a pit of everlasting torture inflicted by a revengeful God; it is a corrective experience which may make a hardened ego once more sensitive to the living breeze of Divine Grace. Nor is Heaven a holiday. Life is one and continuous. Man marches always onwards to receive ever fresh illuminations from an Infinite Reality, 'which every moment appears in a new glory'. And the recipient of Divine Illumination is not merely a passive recipient. Every act of free ego creates a new situation, and thus offers further opportunities of creative unfolding."

You should not tell me, "Death is a message of luxury and pleasure"
You should not draw the picture of
Sharab-i--uhur's 2 ecstasy

Do not feel grieved by separation from the
Do not present the
Houri in the mirror of words

Do not make me fascinated by the beautiful cup bearer
Do not describe the
Houri, do not relate the Salsabil's 3 story

I do not doubt Paradise being the place of peace
Your message is not proper for the life's prime!

Ah! How long should youth linger in hope
Joy is not joy for which you remain waiting

What worth is the beauty which is in need of the discerning eye
Which is obligated for the tomorrow for its manifestation

Strange is the feeling for life
"Today's joy" is the belief of youth

Explanatory Notes
1.The parentheses are mine.

2. Sharab-i--uhur- This is the holy beverage, or wine of Paradise which, according to the Holy Qur'an is free from the evils of the earthly wines (47:15; 76:21; 78:35 and 83:25 28).

3. Salsabil- This is one of the streams of Paradise.

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