Every breath you draw, Iqbal, Is laden with sighs;
Your smouldering breast is filled with lament.
The lute of your heart has no song of hope:
Your litter, we believe, has not his Layla.
Your ears seek the sound of a song
That has been sung and is no more,
Your heart is unconcerned
With the commotion of the present.
Your fellow‐singers of the garden
Would not hear the tale of the rose:
The assembly would not listen
To your message of old.
Quiet, O bell of the numb‐footed caravan!
Your voice causes much despair—quiet!
It cannot be brought back to life,
The assembly of olden times;
Yesternight cannot be lit up with candles.
I am a Muslim, my friend
A bearer of the message of tawhid
And a witness since eternity to that truth!
To tawhid is due the warm beat
Of the pulse of the existents;
From it, too, the boldness
In the Muslim’s thought.
It is for the sake of this truth
That God created the world,
And to guard that truth He created me.
It was I who abolished
The worship of falsehood—
I, indeed, who proved to be
The protector of the laws of existence.
My existence is a robe
That covers the nakedness of the world:
To destroy me would be
A disgrace to mankind!
Of the fate of the world,
The Muslim is the shining star—
One whose brilliance puts to shame
The spell cast by dawn.
The secrets of life are exposed to my view:
I cannot be said to have despaired
Of waging the struggle of life.
How can I be frightened
By the transient scene of sorrow?
I believe in the destiny of my Community!
Of the element of despair my life is free:
The heat of the battle
Gives notice of complete victory.
Yes, my eyes are fixed on the age gone by,
And to the assembly I tell
The same old story.
To the dust of my being is elixir
The memory of the bygone age.
My past is the exegesis of my future;
I keep in view that exciting age—
In the mirror of the past I see the future.
[Translated by Mustansir Mir]