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That the Country is not the Foundation of the Ummah

Now Brotherhood has been cut to shreds
That in the stead of Community
The country has been given pride of place
In men’s allegiance and constructive work;
The Country is the darling of their hearts,
And wide Humanity is whittled down
Into dismembered tribes. Men thought to find
Paradise in that miserable abode[i]
Of ruin where they made the peoples dwell.
This tree has banished heaven from the world
And borne for fruit the bitterness of war;
Humanity is but a legend, man
Become a stranger to his fellow-man.
The spirit has departed from the flesh,
Only the seven disjointed limbs remain;
Vanished is humankind;  there but abide
The disunited nations. Politics
Dethroned religion; this tree first struck root
Within a Western garden, and the tale
Of Christianity was all rolled up,
The radiance of the Churches’ lantern dimmed;
Pope powerless and baffled, from his hand
The counters scattered; Jesus’ followers
Spurning the Church; debased the coinage
Of the True Cross’s law. When atheism
First rent religion’s garment, there arrived
That Satan’s messenger, the Florentine[ii]
Who worshipped falsehood, whose collyrium
Shattered the sight of men. He wrote a scroll
For Princes, and so scattered in our clay
The seed of conflict; his fell genius
Decamped to darkness, and his swordlike pen
Struck Truth asunder. Carving images
Like Azar was his trade; his fertile mind[iii]
Conceived a new design; his novel faith
Proclaimed the state the only worshipful;
His thoughts the ignoble turned to praiseworthy.
So when the feet of this adorable
He kissed, the touchstone that he introduced
To test the truth was Gain. His doctrine caused
Falsehood to flourish; plotting stratagems
Became an art. A sad and sorry end
Attended the regime which he devised,
The calthrop  which he scattered on the road
Of the advancing days. Dark night he wrapped
About the people’s eyes; deception called,
In his vocabulary, expediency.

Notes: From ‘The Mysteries of Selflessness’, by Muhammed Iqbal, translation and notes by Professor A.J. Arberry .pp32-33. John Murray (publishers), London 1953.  
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[i] The reference is to Quran 14:33-34
[ii] Iqbal has in mind Machiavelli [and specifically, his work, The Prince]
[iii] Azar, the father of Ibrahim, was an idolater. See Quran vi:74


About Muhammed Iqbal


  1. shahida begum

    The spirit has departed from the flesh,
    Only the seven disjointed limbs remain

  2. Nationalism and patriotism are tools that tyrants, racists and even democrats need to be able to invoke when it sits their political ends..it helps keep a system in place…

  3. Prayer & Work
    These few words might find a welcome in the minds of some Believers.
    Our lesson of oil & vinegar has been brought to us at great expense. More than most of us can bear, then walk the moderate course.
    But we can remember our goals.If we are to destroy the West for aggression, that is one course, if we are to convert the West through persuasion & or arms that is another.
    Few if any people in the West believe that we want to convert them to anything that is better than what they have.
    Even fewer of us in the West believe that we can.
    That leaves but one course for each side, war until one or the other capitulates. The issue is, capitulates to what.
    We say la illaha illah, let us mean what we say. With millions of us hungry, at war with each other, neglecting prayer,selling drugs & women we cannot sell our belief to the West, they already have plenty of that. Allah is Lord of the two Easts & the two Wests, not us.

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