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God's Command to Angels

By Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal

Translated by: M. Shahid Alam

[M. Shahid Alam is an economist, essayist, political satirist, and poet. He teaches economics at Northeastern University, Boston, USA. His recent book, Poverty from the Wealth of Nations, was published by Palgrave (2000). He may be reached at m.alam@neu.edu]

Iqbal was a poet-philosopher born in what is now Pakistan. His poetical works in Urdu and Persian easily earn him the title to the greatest poet in each of these languages in the twentieth century. His lectures,  Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, contain the profoundest attempt in modern times to reinterpret Islam and the Islamic experience in the light of modern science and philosophy. 


Marshall the meek of my world. Arise, set them free.
Seize the towers of the rich. Rock the tyrannies.

Lift the slaves: ignite them. Instill a faith that rocks.
Teach the feeble sparrow to fight the taloned hawk.

Power belongs to the people; their kingdom has come.
Destroy the totems of tyranny; their history is done.

Why do the toiling peasants reap death and misery?
Capture the granite castles. Seize the granaries.

Why do they disconnect the worshippers from me?
I do not need priests to parse my words for me.

I have no use for gilded walls and ornamented frieze.
Build me a tabernacle with mud, thatch and leaves.

This age of smokes and mirrors: is this modernity?
Move the poet: make him rage. Hitch him to Eternity.

 

 

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