Friday, June 22, 2012


Stray Reflections (1910)
Just as the Muslim Community does not recognise any ethnological differences, and aims at the subsumption of all races under the universal idea of humanity, so our culture is relatively universal, and is not indebted, for its life and growth to the genius of one particular people. Persia is perhaps the principal factor in the making of this culture. If you ask me what is the most important event in the history of Islam, I shall immediately answer—the conquest of Persia. The battle of Nehawand gave to the Arabs not only a beautiful country, but also an ancient people who could construct a new civilisation out of the Semitic and the Aryan material. Our Muslim civilisation is a product of the cross-fertilisation of the Semitic and the Aryan ideas. It inherits the softness and refinement of its Aryan mother and the sterling character of it Semitic father. The conquest of Persia gave to the Mussalmans what the Conquest of Greece gave to the Romans; but for Persia our culture would have been absolutely one-sided. And the people whose contact transformed the Arabs and the Mughals are not intellectually dead. Persia, whose existence as an independent political unit is threatened by the aggressive ambition of Russia, is still a real centre of Muslim culture; and I can only hope that she still continues to occupy the position that she had always occupied in the Muslim world.
The Blow of Moses (1936)

پانی بھی مسخر ہے ، ہوا بھي ہے مسخر 
کيا ہو جو نگاہ فلک پير بدل جائے 
ديکھا ہے ملوکيت افرنگ نے جو خواب 
ممکن ہے کہ اس خواب کی تعبير بدل جائے 
طہران ہو گر عالم مشرق کا جينوا 
شايد کرہ ارض کی تقدير بدل جائے 

[Translation from Victor Kiernan:]

An Eastern League of Nations

Conquered the waters,
Conquered the air—
Why should old heaven
Changed look not wear?
Europe’s imperialists
Dreamed—but their dream
Soothsayers soon may
Read a new way!
Asia’s Geneva
Let Tehran be—
Earth’s book of fate new
Statutes may see.

1 comment:

  1. The beauties enriching your part of the world -- from Persian culture -- are beyond compare.

    How grateful I am for the contributions you have helped us to know and feel and see.

    I have been asking myself why I have been drawn
    to your literatures, offerings of wisdom, and
    unique interpretations of religion and spirituality. My recent answer to self has been that the poetry, heart, soul and beauty from Persia and from you are like nowhere else in the world. Some of you, like the Persian poets, Iqbal and you have helped gift these to us in the West.

    I dare to say we'd have less heart without these -- even for reinterpreting our own literature and wisdoms.

    We must protect peaceably -- yet with great and immediate energy -- with all our heart and mind and soul -- beyond regionalism or a superficial, misinformed religion. We must do what we each and together can do to help protect your entire region -- and peoples -- and cultures -- without whose influence the world would be bereft indeed.

    Allama Iqbal speaks once more as he said he was called to do -- to us here now wherever we are.

    What a vision. We cannot turn our eyes as if we cannot see nor our ears as if we cannot hear. Nor our hearts as if they were stone.