Islamic Poems

Iqbal - His Educational Philosophy

By Allama Iqbal

The secret of the West’s strength is not in the  lute and the guitar,

Nor in the promiscuous dancing of her daughters,

 Nor in the charm of her bright-faced beauties,

Nor in bare shins, nor in bobbed hair.

Her strength is not from irreligiousness’

Nor is her rise due to Latin characters.

The strength of the West is due to knowledge and science,

Her light is alight from this fire only.

Knowledge does not depend on the style of your garments,

And a turban is lno obstacle to the acquisition of knowledge.

You have learnt and stored up the knowledge of the strangers

And polished your face with their rouge;

You borrow luck from their ways

Till I know not whether you are yourself or someone else!

Your mind is chained to their ideas;

The very breath in your throat plays on the strings of others,

Borrowed converse pours from your lips,

Borrowed desires nestle in your hearts!

How long this circling round the assembly’s fire?

Have you a heart? Then burn yourself in your own fire.

An individual becomes unique through through self-realisation,

A nation becomes truly itself when it does not compromise.


Arts and Sciences, O lively and eager youths,

Require a keen intellect and Western clothes;

What is needed in this quest is Vision,

Nat this or that particular headdress!

If you have a suttle intellect and a discriminating mind,

They would suffice to guarantee success.


When one steadily burns the midnight oil,

Our gains access athe oteher domain of knowledge and wisdom;

The world of meaning which has no frontiers

Cannot be conquered without a persistent crusade;

The slave of the West, anxious for ldisplay,

Borrows from her only their dance and music;

He barters his precious soul for frivousous sport;

Self-indulgen,, he grabs what is easy;    

And lhis weak nature accewptss it with readiness;;

But the choice of what is easy in life

Proves that the spirit has fled from the body.

I will tell you a subtle point, bright as a pearl

That you may distinguish between the slave and the free.

The slave is by nature repetitive.

His experiences are bereft of originality.

The free man is always busily creative,

His bow-string is librant with new melodies;

His nature abhors repetition;

His path is not like the circle traced by the compass;

To the slave, time is like a chain,

His lips speak only of Fate;

The courage of the free becomes a counselor of Fate;

His is the hand that shapes the events.

Last night I heard the bookworm lament

To the molth in my library:

I have lived in the pages of Saina’s books,

And seen many volumes of Farabi’s writing;

But the secret of life I have failed to grasp,

For my days are still dark and sinless!

Aptly did the half-burnt moth rejoin:

Thou canst not find this secret in a book.

 It is yearning that quickens the tempo of life

Knowledge based on the senses.

 It gives man power which should be

And endows it with lwings to soar.


(The End)





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