THE MOSQUE OF CORDOVA
(Written in Cordova)
Days’ and nights’ succession unfolds the scroll of events.
Days’ and nights’ succession is the essence of life and death
Days’ and nights’ succession is the twin-colours silks
With which the Almighty weaves the raiment of His attributes.
Days’ and nights’ succession is the sound of eternal music—
The celestial modulations denoting an infinite range.
It weighs the excellence of all thy deeds and mine;
Days’ and nights’ succession is the touchstone of our deeds.
Our days are an illusion, our nights are a dream—
A current of time in which there is neither day nor night.
Wonders in the world of art are all devoured by time;
Mortal is man’s world! Mortal is man’s craft!
Destroyed is the first and last! Destroyed is the known, the unknown!
Destroyed at last is every work of antique form or new!
But immune from the shafts of time is the work of human hand,
When it has been conceived by impassioned men of God.
Love illumines every act of the men divinely inspired:
Love is the essence of life-, love dies not, but death.
Though the tide of’ time rises With mountain waves,
Love itself’ is a torrent, and resists all heaving storms.
In the almanac of love, besides the time that passes,
Are myriad other ages, untold and unnamed.
Love is Gabriel’s breath; love is the Prophet’s spirit;
Love is the apostle of God; love is the Word of God.
It is the passion of love that brightens the rose’s colour;
Love is the purest wine; love is the drink of saints.
Love is the law for the holy; love is the guide for the layman;
Love is the heart’s pilgrim, that visits in a thousand ways.
Love is the lyre that strikes the vibrant chord of life;
Love is the light of life; love is the flame of life.
O Holy Qartaba! Thou wast conceived in love—
Love that ever defies the laws of change and death.
Be it canvas, stone or bronze, harp or song or the Muse,
It is life-blood that nourishes marvels in the world of art.
It is life-blood that melts unmolten hearts of’ flint;
It is life-blood that turns the voice into ecstasy.
Thine is the beauty of light, mine is the song of fire.
Thy beauty exalts the heart; my song inspires the soul.
Man’s heart can reach the heights of the great empyrean,
Though his handful of dust cannot aspire beyond the skies.
What if the angels bright bow in eternal prayer?
They bow not with man’s passion, they bow not with his yearning
Though born of heathen stock, I have a fiery faith,
With prayer and durood in my heart, prayer and durood on my lips.
With passion in my soul, with passion in my song,
I sing a hymn to God through every fibre and vein.
O Qartaba! Thy beauty is a mirror of the man of God;
He has a beatific soul; thou hast a beatific form.
Thy myriad pillars are bright with a flame of power—
An avenue of grace in a paradise, on earth.
Thy edifice is bathed in a light serene, sublime;
Thy lofty minaret is a glimpse of Gabriel.
The Muslim will perish not, for the sound of his azan
Echoes the mystic voice of Moses and Abraham.
For him the earth has no bounds; limitless is his horizon;
Rivers of many clinics are waves of his unfathomed seas.
Marvellous are his annals, astonishing his deeds;
To people steeped in the past he opened vistas new.
Nourisher of noble arts, pioneer of passion;
He has the power of potent wine, the flash of a damascened sword.
He is a soldier impassioned, whose armour is his faith—
A faith that shields him ever in the din of clanging swords.
The secret of a Muslim’s heart is revealed in thy soul—
His heart’s consuming fire by day, his melting ecstasy by night;
His deeds sublime and noble, his thought flame-begotten;
With rapture in his soul, with modesty in his mien;
In every inspired act, like the act of God Himself
Victorious in action; beneficent, exalted.
Human, but angelic, man in the image of God;
Indifferent to both worlds, content with the Divine Will;
Humble in his hopes, lofty in his ideals;
A person charismatic in glance and word and deed.
Soft as a breeze in converse, hot as a furnace in quest;
Pure of heart, pure of conduct, in battle or in peace.
The faith of a man of God reflects the Will of God;
All else in this world is a mirage, a myth, a whim.
He is the goal of reason; he is’ the essence of love;
He is the warmth of life in the cold world of man.
Sacred for lovers of art, thou art the glory of faith;
Thou hast made Andalusia pure as a holy land;
Thy beauty, majestic, serene, has equal none on earth,
Except in the heart of a Muslim, true in his faith and, deeds.
Ah, those men of truth! Those horsemen of Arabia!
Models of noble courtesy, examples of true belief;
Whose rule oil the earth reveals, that tile rule of the men of God
Is the ascetic’s piety, and not the pomp of kings;
Whose lofty, inspired vision blessed the East and the West,
Whose wisdom was a beacon in Europe’s Dark Ages;
Who left an abiding imprint on the Andalusian mind:
A cheerful spirit and warmth, a simple, genial soul.
Abundant in this land today is gazelle-eyed beauty;
So are the shafts that pierce the heart from those gazelle eyes.
Wafted on its breeze still is Yemen’s aroma sweet;
And in its sights and sounds is the holiness of Hijaz.
In the eyes of the gazing stars thy earth is exalted as heaven;
Alas! for long thy walls have not echoed with the sound of azan.
Where, lost in hills and dales, in the twilight of time,
Are the thousand hearts aflame with the fiery passion of love?
The German soil has seen Reformation’s stormy waves,
Which battered and destroyed the bulwarks of the past.
The holy priest’s chastity was exposed as a myth;
New ideas were afloat, like a boat on perilous seas.
The French, too, have felt the raptures of a Revolution,
Which changed the Western mind in a topsy-turvy world.
The heirs of the Roman dream, no more in love with the past,
Now felt the urge of youth, cnamoured of the new.
The Muslim soul is now in the throes of a revolution,
Impelled by a mysterious, unknown divine decree.
Unknown is the shape of things to come in this storm and stress
Unknown is the fate of the world, unknown the divine decree.
The sun has vanished now under a crimson veil;
On the hill and in the valley, the twilight pales the clouds.
The peasant girl’s song is simple, poignant, sweet.
Youth is to a heart what current is to a boat.
O waters of Al-Kabeer! Someone on your shores
In the shades of evening, dreams of a dawning age.
The new age is shrouded yet in the mists and haze of the future,
But my inward eye has seen some glimpses of its dawn.
If I reveal my message, my thoughts, my beliefs,
Some will not endure the power of my prophecy.
Life is death if not impelled by the zeal of revolution;
The essence of a nation’s life is a passion for constant change.
A nation defies death like a sword that flashes amain,
When in every age it guards all its deeds.
Unsuffused with life-blood, no craft is ever complete;
Unsuffused with life-blood, a poet’s song is mere conceit.