THE RESPONSE TO THE COMPLAINT
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This long poem is part of the series of long poems in which ‘Allamah
IqbAl has discussed the rise and fall of the Muslim Ummah and has
analyzed its causes, shown his bereavement as well as has offered
its cure and has given the message of hope. A few of these poems
have been mentioned in the Introduction to Poem 88 “Shakwah”
The causes of the fall of the Muslim Ummah can be grouped into two
classes, vs. the machinations of the Western world and the
shortcomings of the Muslim themselves.The present poem is
complementary to Shakwah. In Shakwah the ‘Allmah complains to
God for the deplorable condition of the Muslim world and society
and prays for help. In the present poem he relays the response
given by God to Muslims. The details of the response are generally
restricted to the Muslims’ own faults. These faults can be
summarized as follows:
1. Muslims have distanced themselves from the Holy Qur’an, Islamic
values and the norms of their ancestors, and have adopted
Western norms in thought and deeds.
2. They have given up Islamic learning.
3. Insincere religious and political leadership has appeared.
4. Muslims have lost the Love of God and the zeal for Tawhéâd.
5.They have fallen into traditionalism
6. They have given up activism and struggle in the cause of God and
have adopted asceticism and monasticism.
7. They have lost the urge for struggle in the cause of Islam.
8. Muslim society is riddled with dissensions
9. Muslims are suffering from intellectual slavery.
Whatever comes out of the heart is effective
It has no wings but has the power of flight
It has holy origins, it aims at elegance
It rises from dust, but has access to the celestial world
My love was seditious, rebellious and clever
My fearless wailing rent through the sky
On hearing it the sun said, “Somewhere there is somebody!”
The planets said, “At the ‘Arsh-i-Barân 1 there is somebody!”
The moon was saying, “No, it is some inhabitant of the earth!”
The milky way was saying, “Somebody is concealed just here”!
If someone understood my Remonstrance Rizwann 2 did
He understood me as the Man turned out of the Paradise !
Even angels exclaimed in surprise “What could this voice be!
Unknown even to the ‘Arsh’s keepers what the secret could be!
Is the mankind’s reach really even to the ‘Arsh?
Has this pinch of dust also learned flight?
How ignorant of good manners the earth’s denizens are!
How bold and insolent these denizens of the low are!
Is he so insolent that even angry with God he is?
Is he the same Man who once worshipped by angels was ?
He is the knower of Kamm 3, and of the enigmas of Kaif 4
But, he is unacquainted with the secrets of modesty
Mankind are proud of the power of their rhetoric
These ignorant people are incapable of talking”!
A voice came “Very pathetic is your story
Full of restless tears is your wine-measure
Your ecstatic clamor pervaded the celestial world
How bold in speech is your Loving heart !
You sweetened the Remonstrance with elegant graces
You established intercourse between God and His people
We 5 are inclined to Mercy, but there is no one to implore
Whom can we show the way? There is no wayfarer to the destination
Jewel polishing is common, but there is no proper jewel
There is no clay capable of being molded into ÿdam
We confer the glory of Kai 6 on the deserving
We confer even a whole new world 7 on those who search!
Arms are feeble, hearts are accustomed to apostasy
The ‘believers’ are a source of disgrace to the Prophet
Idol-breakers have departed, the rest are idol-makers
Though the father was Ibrahâm 8 the sons are AAzar 9
The wine-drinkers, the wine, even the decanters are new
The sanctuary of the Ka‘bah, the idols, even you are new
There was a time when this alone was the source of Beauty
The wild tulip was the pride of the season of spring
Whichever Muslim there was, the Lover of God he was
A while ago your beloved this very Unfaithful was 10
Make the covenant of fealty now with some local one
Make the Ummah of the Holy Prophet a local one!
How difficult for you is waking up at the dawn!
You have no Love for Us, sleep is dear to you
Ramadan’s restriction is irksome to your free nature
You tell us ! Is this the appropriate rule of fidelity?
A nation exists on the din, you cease to exist if the din does not exist
Without mutual attraction the assembly of stars does not exist
You are the ones who do not know any art in the world
You are the nation which does not care for its nest
You are the harvest which harbors the lightning
You are those who sell their ancestors’ graves
As you have earned a good name by selling graves
Will you not sell if idols of stone you get?
Who effaced false worship from the face of the world?
Who rescued the human race from slavery? 11
Who adorned my Ka‘bah with their foreheads in Love?
Who put my Qur’an to their breasts in reverence?
They were surely your ancestors, but what are you ?
Sitting in idleness, waiting for tomorrow are you !
What did you say? “For the Muslim is only the promise of houri
Even if the Remonstrance be unreasonable decorum is necessary
Justice is the Creator of Existence’ custom since eternity
When the infidel adopts Muslim ways he receives houris and palaces
Not a single one among you is longing for houris
The Effulgence of Tur exists but there is no Moses 12
The gain of this nation is one, also the loss is one
Only one is the prophet of all, deen is one, Iman is one
The Holy Haram is one, God is one, Qur’an also is one
Would it have been very difficult for Muslims to be one
Sects abound somewhere and somewhere are castes!
Are these the ways to progress in the world?
Who is the renouncer of the laws of the Holy Prophet?
The criterion for whose actions is expediency of time ?
Who is enamored with the customs of the enemies
Whose thinking is disgusted with ancestors’ ways?
No warmth is in the heart, no feeling is in the soul
There is no respect for the message of Muhammad in you!
If some array themselves in mosques, it is the poor
If some endure the discomfort of fasting it is the poor
If some are reverent to Us it is the poor
If some hide your faults it is the poor
The rich in their arrogance of wealth are negligent of Us
The Millat-i-Baida is alive on the strength of the poor
That mature thinking of the nation’s preacher is gone
That natural lightning is gone, fiery speeches are gone
The ritual of adhan has persisted, the spirit of Bilal 13 is gone
Philosophy has persisted, the teaching of Ghazli 14 is gone
Mosques are lamenting that the reciters of prayers are gone
That is those with attributes of Hijaz’ people are gone
Clamor is that Muslims have disappeared from the world
We ask whether the Muslims were present anywhere?
In fashion you are Christians, in culture you are Hindus
Are these Muslims ! Who put the Jews to embarrassment!
Sure, you are even Saiyyid, Mirza and Afghan also
You are all these, say whether you are Musalmans also?
During speech the candor of the Muslim was fearless
His justice was strong, undefiled by consideration of bias
The tree of Muslim’s nature was watered with modesty
In valor he was an incomprehensible existence
Internal warmth was the essence of his wine’s quality
To empty itself was the custom of his decanter
Every Muslim was a lancet for the vein of infidelity
Activism was the polish to the mirror of his life
Whatever trust he had, on his own strength it was
You are afraid of death, he afraid of God alone was
If the art of the father not well-known to the son be
How can the son worthy of the heritage of the father be!
Everyone is intoxicated with the wine of indulgence
Are you Muslims? To you is this the way of Islam?
You have neither the faqr of Haidar 15 nor the wealth of Uthman 16
What spiritual relation between you and your ancestors exists?
They were respected in the world by being Muslims
And you became disgraced by abandoning the Qur’an
You are indignant to each other, beneficent they were
You are guilty and prying into guilts, forgiving and merciful they were
Though everybody wants to reach the zenith of Thurayyah
Every body must first cultivate that kind of affable heart
The throne of Faghfër 17 was theirs, the crown of Kai also
Is this all mere empty talk or you have that ardor also?
You are self-destructive, zealous and self-respecting they were
You flee from brotherhood, lovers and brotherhood they were
You are head to foot talk, action incarnate they were
You tantalize for flower-bud, with garden in their lap they were
Even now nations remember their story
Impressed on existence’s sheet is their fidelity!
Like stars on the nation’s horizon you appeared also
In the Indian idol’s love you became a Brahman also
In the love for flying you became separated from the nest also
Indolent were the youth already, became suspicious of deen also
They have been freed from every restraint by ‘civilization’
Having been brought from Ka‘bah, they have been settled in the temple
Qais may not continue enduring hardships of seclusion in the wilderness
May stroll in the city, may not remain wandering in wilderness
He is insane, he may or may not in the city remain
It is necessary the Lailah’s veil may not remain
Let there be no wailing against ‘tyranny’ or complaint of ‘injustice’
Love is free, why should not the Beauty be free also?
The new age is a lightning, consuming every barn is
Safe from this no wilderness and no rose-garden is
Of this new fire old nations are the fuel
The Ummah of the last Prophet is set afire
If the Iman of Ibrahim is acquired even now
Fire can create the garden’s norm even now
The gardener should not be upset by seeing the garden’s state
Branches are about to appear from the bunches of buds
The garden will be cleared soon of the waste and trash
The red of the martyrs’ blood will be producing rose buds
Look a little the color of the sky somewhat red is
This the glowing of the horizon by the rising sun is!
Some nations in the existence’s garden benefited from their labors are
And some deprived of fruits and even destroyed by autumn are
Hundreds of trees deteriorated and hundreds flourishing are
Hundreds still even concealed in the bosom of the garden are
The tree of Islam a model of flourishing is
This the fruit of eons of gardening efforts is
Your skirt is undefiled by the dust of homeland
You are the Yosuf 18 for whom every Egypt is Kan’an 19
It will never be possible to destroy your caravan
Nothing except the ‘Clarions’s Call’ are your chattel
You are a candle-like tree, in its flame’s smoke your roots are
Your thoughts free from the care of the end are 20
You will not be destroyed by the destruction of Iran 21
Wine’s ecstasy is not connected with its container
It is evident from the story of the invasion of Tatars
That Ka‘bah got protectors from the temple 22
You are the support of the boat of God in the world
The present age is night, you are a glimmering star
This tumult of Bulgaria’s invasion which is afoot
Is the message of awakening for the negligent 23
You think this is the plan for hurting your sentiments
This is a test of your sacrifice and your self respect
Why are you afraid of the hooves of the enemies’ horses?
The enemies’ blows will be unable to extinguish the light of the Truth
Your potential is still hidden from the world’s nations
The assembly of existence still has need for you
The whole world is kept alive by your warmth
Your Khilafah is the star of the possibility’s destiny
There is no time for leisure, there is work to be done
Completion of the light of Tawhéâd is still to be done
Like fragrance you are contained in the flower-bud, become scattered
Become the chattel traveling on the wings of the breeze of the rose-garden
If you are poor, changed from speck to the wilderness be
From the melody of the wave changed to tumult of the storm be
With the Love’s power elevate every low to elegance
With Muhammad’s name illuminate the whole world
If there is no flower nightingale’s music should also not be
In the world’s garden smile of flower-buds should also not be
If there is no cup-bearer, wine, and decanter should also not be
Tawhéâd’s assembly in the world and you should also not be
The system of the universe is stable by this very name
The existence’ pulse is warm with this very name
In the wilderness, on the mountain-side, in the plains it is
In the ocean, in the lap of the wave, in the storm it is
In China’s city, in Morocco’s desert it is
And concealed in the Iman of the Muslim it is
The world’s eyes should witness this sight till eternity
The Elegance of the grandeur of “Rafa‘na Laka Zikrak” 24 should see
The majority people, that is the non-white world 25
The world which would nurture your martyrs
The world reared by the sun, the crescent’s world
What the people of Love call the Bil«l’s world
Is agitated like mercury by this name
Is diving in Light like the Beloved
Intellect is your shield, Love is your sword
My dervish ! 26 Your viceregency is world-conquering
Your Takbâr like fire for Godlessness is
If you are Muslim your prudence your destiny is
If you are loyal to Muhammad we are yours
This universe is nothing the Tablet and the Pen 27 are yours
1. ‘Arsh-i-Barân Literally it means the “High Divine Throne”. It is
difficult to comprehend the nature of the Throne of God because it
so much different from the earthly thrones. For details see
2. Riîwan - The angel who is the gate keeper of Paradise.
3,4. Kaif and Kamm - These are two terms of Greek philosophy
which were adopted by the early Muslim philosophers. They concern
properties of matter. Kaif refers to the qualitative properties or
“attributes”, such as color, taste, big, small etc. Kamm refers to
quantitative properties and is derived from Aristotle’s ten categories.
It includes volume, length, age, weight etc. These two terms were
the precursors of the Muslim philosophy of Existence. This
philosophy dealt with two aspects of the Existence of God, i.e. the
“Sifat (attributes) of God” and the “Dhat (Essence) of God”.
Together these two terms give the complete knowledge about
something. This verse means that though Man is conversant with all
knowledge about God and His universe he is not aware of the
secrets and qualities of modesty.
5. The use of the words “We” and “Us” in this and other poems does
not compromise the concept of Tawéâd of God in Islam. These
words are used instead of “I” and “Me” to indicate His Grandeur and
Glory. These plural pronouns indicate the Majesty of God. The Holy
Qur’«n uses these expressions frequently e.g. (2:34,35).
6. Ka’â - This is the generic name of one of the ancient pre-Islamic
dynasties of pre-Christian Iran (then Persia). As Persia was a world
power for several pre-Christian centuries this dynasty is often used
as a metaphor for grandeur and power.
7. This means the “New World” and alludes to the discovery and
occupation of the continents of America and Australia by Europeans.
8. S. Ibrahâm A.S
10. Har Ja’â - This word in the original literally means “omni-
present”. However, it is commonly used for an unfaithful beloved.
This is a pun on the word and is used as sarcasm for God. Also see
the last verse of stanza 22 of poem 88, “Shakwah” (The Complaint.
11. ‘AllAmah IqbAl has emphasized this achievement of Islam and
early Muslims at many places in his works. See Appendix III, No, 23,
pp. 119-20, Section titled “On the Subject that the Purpose of the
Prophethood of Sayyidina Muéammad S.A.W. was the Formation
and Establishment of Freedom, Equality and Fraternity of Mankind”.
This concept is based on the message of the Holy Qur’«n. Though
this message of the Holy Prophet S.A.W. has been explained in
many verses of the Holy Qur’an and Muslims have been instructed
to make all possible sacrifices in their struggle to make the mission
successful the following three verses are very significant in that the
message has been repeated verbatim three times to emphasize its
importance. These verse were: 9:33; 48:28; and 61:9.
12. S. Mësa A.S
13. S. Bilal R.A.
14. ImAm al-GhazAlâ-
15. S. ‘ÿlâ R.A.
16. S. Uthman Ibn `Affan R.A
17. Faghfër- This is the generic title of the Emperors of Ancient China.
18,19, S. Yësuf A.S. Allusion to the story of S. Yësuf A.S. for which
see the Holy Qur’an Surah 12. The message of this verse is that Islam and Muslims are super-national and are
not restricted to geographical boundaries. This thought has also
been emphasized by ‘AllAmah Iqbal by repeating it in his works. Cf.
(199) When Tariq burnt the boats on the Spain’s shore
People said “Your deed is against common sense
(200) We are far from our homeland how shall we reach back
Renunciation of resources is not permitted by the Shari«h”
(201) He laughed and took his hand to the sword and said
“Every land is our land because it is our God’s land
(Appendix III, No. 24).
20. This is the expression of the Islamic teaching that a true Muslim
should struggle in the cause of God and Truth without caring for his
success and failure. Islam’s history is replete with acts of
unimaginable heroism in the cause of God. ‘All«mah Iqb«l has also
conveyed this message repeatedly in his poems. Detailed
description of Islam’s teachings on this point are contained in the
poem 144. Khiîar-i-R«h (The Guide), section Zindagâ (Life) which
appears later in this commentary.
21. As stated earlier the Muslim world was on the path of decline
even before World War I, which continued for a long time. However,
focusing attention on Ir«n in this verse is not for exigencies of
poetry. Under the Q«j«r dynasty (1794-1925) Ir«n was drawn into
European power politics, entering into treaties with France (1807),
Britain (1814), and ceding most of it’s territory in the Caucasus to
Russia. Though Britain and Russia had guaranteed Ir«n’s
independence in 1834 Britain forced Ir«n’s withdrawal from Afghanist
«n in 1885. The discovery of oil in 1901 increased Western
interference in the Ir«n’s affairs. In 1907 Britain and Russia agreed
to divide Iran into two zones of influence. An army officer Raz« Khan
mounted a coup de`etat and became dictator in 1921, assuming the
title of Raz« Sh«h Pahlavâ in 1925. All these circumstances
bereaved ‘All«mah Iqb«l on account of which he included Ir«n in this
verse. However, he has used it as a conviction of hope for Islam and
Muslims to reduce their frustration at the world affairs vis- a-vis
22. Allusion to the Mongol invasion on and destruction of the Islamic
world in the 13th. century. This included the destruction of Baghd«d
ca. 1218, which was the capital of the Khalâfah and the murder of
Must‘aÅam Billah, the Khalifah. The descendants of Mongols, who
were a branch of T«t«rs embraced Islam and rendered glorious
service to Islam in political as well as cultural fields.
23. Reference to the two Balk«n Wars (October 1912- July 1913) in
which the Balk«n Provinces of the Uthm«niyyah Khil«fah declared
their independence and attacked Turkey. The Bulgarians had
captured Adrianople and were marching on Constantinople, the
Turkish capital. These wars were instigated and supported by the
European imperialist powers in a conspiracy to destroy Turkey.
Their machinations would have succeeded but for the timely bold
and sincere move by General Enver P«shah in which he forced his
way into the cabinet meeting, which was debating surrender, killed
the War Minister, and forced the government to a defense which
ultimately succeeded . By this move he saved the Turkish capital
and even conquered back Adrianople. Obviously, this should have
been an eye-opener to the Turkish Government. If they had
reformed and strengthened themselves they would not have faced
the disgrace of the defeat in World War I.
24. Allusion to the Holy Qur’«n 94:4 which reads “And raised high
the esteem in which you are held”, (addressed to the Holy Prophet S.
A.W.). The pervious Sërah and this one are complementary to each
other and carry the same message to the Holy Prophet S.A.W. and
through him, to the Muslim Ummah. In these sërahs the ups and
downs of human life are referred to and the message of hope and
consolation is conveyed to muslims, on the basis of God’s Mercies.
The Holy Prophet S.A.W. is commanded to pursue the path of virtue
and proclaim the bounties of God. ‘All«mah Iqb«l is reminding the
Muslim Ummah of this message to muster courage and face their
trials and tribulations with heart within and God overhead.
25. ‘All«mah Iqb«l had drawn the world’s attention repeatedly in his
works to the moral degeneration and ethical bankruptcy of the
Western nations which are responsible for all their political,
economic and social evils. Small samples of this message have
been presented previously in notes. He also believed that the
human race will ultimately rise through Islam and not through
Western values. Cf.
“The idealism of Europe never became a living factor in her life, and
the result is a perverted ego seeking itself through mutually
intolerant democracies whose sole function is to exploit the poor in
the interest of the rich. Believe me, Europe today is the greatest
hindrance in the way of man’s ethical advancement. The Muslim, on
the other hand, is in possession of these ultimate ideas on the basis
of a revelation which, speaking from the inmost depths of life,
internalizes its apparent externality.”
(Appendix III, No. 27).
As the Islamic world, being outside Europe, is looked down upon by
Western nations, and called “dark people” the reference here is to
the “world of the dark people”
26. Darvâsh- This a stage in sëfism. According to sëfism when a
person reaches this stage of spiritual elegance he does not need
strict observance of rituals for his soul’s purification. He also has the
ardent Love of God and the latter has much regard for the darvâsh
and grants his supplications. The word is used here in that context, i.
e. God would grant the request of ‘All«mah Iqb«l for alleviating the
sufferings of the Muslim world and improving its condition to
ultimately restore it to its pervious glory.
27. Laué O Qalam Reference to the Laué-i-Muéfëï or the
“preserved tablet” and the “qalam” or pen accompanying it. This
combination exists in the metaphysical world and they are the
implements with which the decrees of God are recorded and in
which they are preserved. The Holy Qur’«n is also preserved in the
same way. See The Holy Qur’«n 85:21-22.