That in times of decadence strict conformity is better than free speculation
The present age has many tumults hid
Beneath its head; its restless temperament
Swarms with disorders. The society
Of ancient nations in these modern times
Is in confusion; sapless hangs life’s bough.
The glamour and the glitter of our days
Have made us strangers to our very selves,
And robbed our instrument of melody;
Filched from our heart its pristine fire, and dimmed
Within our breast the radiance and the flame
There is no god but God. Whene’er decay
Destroys the balanced temperament of life,
Then the community may look to find
Stability in strict conformity.
Go thou thy fathers’ road, for therein lies
Tranquility; conformity connotes
The holding fast of the community.
In time of Autumn, thou who lackest leaf
Alike and fruit, break never from the tree,
Hoping that spring may come. Since thou hast
The sea, be prudent, lest a greater loss
Befall thee; the more carefully preserve
Thy own thin rivulet; for it my hap
Some mountain torrent shall replenish thee
And thou once more be tossed upon the breast
Of the redeeming tempest. If thy flesh
Is yet possessed of a discerning eye,
Take warning from the Israelitish case;
Consider well their variable fate,
Now hot, now cold; regard the obduracy,
The hardness of their spare and tenuous soul.
Sluggishly flows the blood within their veins,
Their furrowed brow sore smitten on the stones
Of porticoes a hundred. Though heaven’s grip
Hath pressed and squeezed their grape, the memory
Of Moses and of Aaron liveth yet;
And though their ardent song hath lost its flame,
Still palpitates the breath within their breast.
For when the fabric of their nationhood
Was rent asunder, still they laboured on
To keep the highroad of their forefathers.
O thou whose ancient concourse is dispersed,
Within whose breast the lamp of life is out,
Grave on thy heart the truth of Unity,
And in conformity essay to mend
The ruin of thy fortune. In the time
Of decadence, to seek to exercise
The speculative judgment of the mind
Completes the people’s havoc finally;
Salvation lieth less in following
The blinkered pedant’s dictum, being found
Humble imitation of the past.
Caprice corrupted not thy fathers’ brain;
The labour of the pious was unsoiled
By interested motive, finer far
The thread of thought their meditation wove,
Closer to the Prophet’s way conformed
Their self‐denial. Jaafar’s raptured view
And Razi’s patient delving are no more;
Departed is the glory that adorned
The Arab nation; narrow shrunk for us
The defile of the Faith, whose mysteries
Every impostor boasteth to possess.
Thou, who art stranger to the secret truths
Of Faith, if thou art wise, accord thyself
With one sound Law; for I have heard it said
By those who take and know the pulse of Life,
Thy contrariety severs Life’s veins.
The Muslim lives by following one Law;
The body of our Faith’s community
Throbs vital to the Word of the Quran.
All earth we are; that is our conscient heart;
Hold firm to its protection, since it is
The Cord of God. Upon its sacred thread
Gem‐like be safely strung, or otherwise
Be scattered, as the dust upon the wind.