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The Island of Sicily


This poem is complementary to the previous one. It resulted from two things. One was Allamah Iqbal's deep first hand knowledge of the apparent and material prosperity and the outward courtesy of the Western people, but their moral and ethical bankruptcy. The second was the Western nations' inherent hatred for and their machinations against the Muslim world, which resulted in the latter's decline. These feelings attained their climax when he reached the Island of Sicily on his return journey to India.

Sicily had been conquered by the Aghlabad Dynasty of Tunisia in the early ninth century and was ruled by them as well as by other Arab dynasties till it was conquered back by the Normans in the second half of the eleventh century. This poem has resulted from the flood of thoughts which must have streamed through his mind on reaching the Island of Sicily. The sight of the island brought back to his mind the Muslim world with its glory in ethical as well as social, economic and political fields. The Muslim world, which at one time was spread over northern Africa, southern Europe, central, southern and south eastern Asia and was the cradle of the highest civilization of all times, and in moral and ethical spheres, was the highest power, had crumpled down by his time. This sight must have brought to his mind the whole panorama of the period of Muslim suzerainty in Africa and southern Europe. After the Norman conquest of Sicily the Muslim world and society have experienced constant decline which has continued till today. In contrast with the memory of the past glory must have passed his mind the extremely poor condition of the Muslim world in his time. This reminiscence must have made Allamah Iqbal very painfully sad as is evident from the verses of this poem.

At that time little did Allamah Iqbal know that the Muslim Ummah would have to go through much more afflictions than imagined at that time, till he cried out in 1924:

Rendered cheap like water is the blood of the Muslim
You are agitated as your heart is not aware of the secret

(Appendix III, No. 25 )

More perturbing than the affliction itself was his life long realization which poured out of his afflicted heart in 1935:

What an outrage, extinguished is the Love's fire
The Muslim is no more than a heap of burnt ashes !

(Appendix III, No. 29.)

O blood-dripping eye! Now cry to your heart's content
There you can see the mausoleum of the civilization of Hijaz

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