Summary of the purport of the poem in exegesis of the Surah of Pure Faith
“Say: He is God, One”
I dreamed one night I looked upon Siddiq
And plucked a rose that blossomed at his feet
He, that most generous was of all mankind
Unto our Master, he that stood the first
Like Moses on the Sinai of our Faith,
Whose zeal was as a cloud that showered rain
Upon the tilth of our community,
Second to own Islam, to share the Cave,
Badr, and the Tomb. “O chosen of Love’s choice,”
I cried to him, “whose love is the first line
In the collected poetry of Love,
Whose hand established on a firmer base
A remedy for our immediate woes.”
“How long”, said he, “wilt thou be prisoner
To base desire? Get lustre, and new light
To light thee, from the Surah of Pure Faith.”
This one breath, winding in a hundred breasts,
Is but one secret of the Unity;
Get thee its colour, to be like to it,
Reflective to its beauty in the world.
He, who bestowed this Muslim name on thee,
Drew thee to Oneness from Duality;
’Tis thou thyself hast called thee Afghan, Turk
Ah, thou remainest as thou ever wert!
Deliver now the named from all the names;
Have done with cups; ally thee to the jar!
Thou hast become a scandal to thy name,
A leaf that fell untimely from thy tree;
Attune thee unto Oneness; be thou gone
From Twoness; nor dissect thy Unity.
Thou who art servant unto One, if thou
Art thou, how long wilt thou to school of
Lo, thou hast shut thy door upon thyself;
Take to thy heart that which thy lips imbibed.
A hundred nations thou hast raised from one,
On thy own fort made treacherous assault.
Be one; make visible thy Unity;
Let action turn the unseen into seen;
Activity augments the joy of faith,
But faith is dead that issues not in deeds.
“God, the Self‐Subsistent”
If thou hast bound thy faithful heart on God
The Self‐subsistent, thou hast overlept
The rim of things material. No slave
To things material God’s servant is;
Life is no turning of a water‐wheel.
If thou be Muslim, be not suppliant
Of other’s succour; be the embodiment
Of good to all the world. Make not complaint
Of scurvy fortune to the fortunate,
Nor from thy sleeve reach out a beggar’s hand.
Like Ali, be content with barley‐bread;
Break Marhab’s neck, and capture Khyber’s fort.
Why bear the favour of the bountiful,
Why feel the lancet of their nay and yea?
Take not the sustenance from mean, base hands;
Thou art a Joseph; count thyself not cheap.
And if thou be an ant, and lackest wings
And feathers, go not unto Solomon
To plead thy want. The road is arduous;
Go light‐accoutred, if thou wouldst attain;
Unfettered live thy days, unfettered die.
Count o’er the rosary of Take thou less
Of this world’s goods, and thou shalt riches win
In living free. So far as in thee lies
Become that Stone of the philosophers,
Not the base dross; a benefactor be,
Not a petitioner for others’ alms.
Thou knowest well bu Ali’s eminence,
Accept from me this draught, drawn from his cup –
“Trample Kai‐Kaus’ throne beneath thy foot;
Yield up thy life, but not thy self‐respect!”
The tavern door stands open of itself
To those whose bowls are empty, whose needs none.
Harun Rashid, that captain of the Faith
Whose blade to Nicephor of Byzance proved
A deadly potion, unto Malik spoke
Upon this fashion: “Master of my folk,
The dust before whose door illuminates
My people’s brow, melodious nightingale
Carolling mid the roses of good words,
I am desirous to be taught by thee
The secrets of those words. How long art thou
Content in Yemen to conceal the glow
Of thy bright rubies? Rise, and pitch thy tent
Here, in the homestead of the Caliphate.
How fair the brightness of the shining day,
The captivating beauty of Iraq!
The Fount of Khizer gushes from its vines,
Its earth is healing for the wounds of Christ.”
“I am the Prophet’s servant,” Malik said,
“And only him I love, with all my heart.
Bound to his saddle‐bow, I will not quit
His holy sanctuary. By the kiss
Of Yathrib’s dust I live; my night to me
Is fairer that Iraq’s pellucid day.
Love says, ‘Obey my ordinance; sign not
The articles of service even to kings.’
Thou wouldst become my master, overlord
Of this freed slave of God, that I should wait
Upon thy door to teach thee, and no more
Serve the community, being bound to thee.
Be it thy wish some portion to attain
Of godly knowledge, in my circle sit
And study with the rest. Indifference
To worldly needs engenders fine disdain,
And holy pride takes many splendid shapes.”
Godly indifference is to put on
The hue of God, and from thy robe to wash
The dye of otherness. But thou hast learned
The rote of others, taking that for store,
An alien rouge to beautify thy face;
In those insignia thou takest pride,
Until I know not if thou be thyself
Or art another. Fanned by foreign blasts
Thy soil is fallen silent, and no more
Fertile in fragrant roses and sweet herbs.
Desolate not thy tilth with thy own hand;
Make it not beg for rain from alien clouds.
Thy mind is prisoner to others’ thoughts,
Another’s music throbs within thy throat,
Thy very speech is borrowed, and thy heart
Dilates with aspirations not thine own.
The song thy ring‐doves sing, the leafy gowns
That deck thy cypresses, are meanly begged;
Thou takest wine from others in a bowl
Itself from others taken upon loan.
If he, whose glance contains the mystery
Erred not the sight – if he should come again
Unto his people, he whose candle‐flame
Knows its own moth, who can distinguish well
His own from strangers standing at the gate,
Our master would declare, Thou art not mine.
Woe, woe, alas for us upon that day!
How long wilt thou content thyself to live
The life of stars, that in the risen morn
Lose all their being? Thou hast been deceived
By the false dawn, packed up thy goods and gone
From the broad firmament. Thou art the sun;
Look on thy self a little; purchase not
Some shreds of radiance from others’ stars!
Thou hast engraved thy heart with alien shapes,
Gambled the alchemy and gained the dross;
How long this glittering with others’ shine?
Shake off heavy fumes for foreign grapes!
How long this fluttering about the flame
Of party lanterns? If thou hast a heart
Within thy breast, with thine own ardour burn!
Be like the gaze, wrapped round in thy own veils;
Rise on the wing, but ever wheel back home;
Bubble‐like bar thy little privacy
Against the intruder, if thou wouldst be wise.
No man to individuality
Ever attained, save that he knew himself,
No nation came to nationhood, except
It spurned to suit the whim of other men.
Then of our Prophet’s message be apprised,
And have thou done with other lords but God.
“He begat not, neither was He begotten”
Loftier than hue and blood thy people are,
And greater worth one Negro of the Faith
Than are a hundred redskin infidels.
A single drop of water Qanbar took
For his ablutions is more precious far
Than all the blood of Caesar. Take no count
Of father, mother, uncle; call thy self
An offspring of Islam, as Salman did.
See, my brave comrade, in the honeyed cells
That constitute the hive a subtle truth;
One drop from a red tulip is distilled,
One from a blue narcissus; none proclaims,
“I am of jasmine, of lily I!”
So our community the beehive is
Of Abraham whose honey is our Faith.
If thou hast made of our community
Lineage a part essential, thou hast rent
The fabric of true Brotherhood; thy roots
Have struck not in our soil, thy way of thought
Runs counter to our Muslim rectitude.
Ibn‐i‐Mas‘ud, that lantern bright of Love,
Body and spirit blazing in Love’s flame,
Being distressed upon a brother’s death
Dissolved in tears, a mirror liquefied,
Nor any term to his lamentings saw
But in his grief; as of her child bereaved
A mother weeps, so uncontrollably
He sobbed: “Ah, scholar of humility,
Alas, my comrade in the schools of prayer!
My tall young cypress, fellow traveller
Upon the pathway of the Prophet’s love!
O grief, that he is now denied the courts
Of God’s Apostle, while mine eyes are bright
With gazing fondly on the Prophet’s face!
The bond of Turk and Arab is not ours,
The link that binds us is no fetter’s chain
Of ancient lineage; our hearts are bound
To the beloved Prophet of Hijaz,
And to each other are we joined through him.
Our common thread is simple loyalty
To him alone; the rapture of his wine
Alone our eyes entrances; from what time
This glad intoxication with his love.
Raced in our blood, the old is set ablaze
In new creation. As the blood that flows
Within a people’s veins, so is his love
Sole substance of our solidarity.
Love dwells within the spirit, lineage
The flesh inhabits; stronger far than race
And common ancestry is Love’s firm cord.
True loverhood must overleap the bounds
Of lineage, transcend Arabia
And Persia. Love’s community is like
The light of God; whatever being we
Possess, from its existence is derived.
“None seeketh when or where God’s light was born;
What need of warp and woof, God’s robe to spin?”
Who suffereth his foot to wear the chains
Of clime and ancestry, is unaware
How He begat not, neither was begot.
“And there is not any equal unto Him”
What is the Muslim, that hath closed his eyes
Against the world? This heart attached to God,
What is its nature? On a mountain‐top
A tulip blowing, that hath never seen
The trailing border of the gatherer’s skirt;
The flame is kindled in his ardent breast
From the first breaths of dawn; heaven suffers not
To loose him from her bosom, deeming him
A star suspended; the uprising sun
Touches his lips with dawn’s first ray, the dew
Bathes from his waking eyes the dust of sleep.
Firm must the bond be tied with There is none
If thou wouldst an unequalled people be.
He who is Essence One, unpartnered is;
His servant too no partner can endure;
And whoso in the Highest of the High
Believeth, cannot suffer any peer
In his high jealousy. Wrapt round his breast
The robe of Do not grieve, borne on his brow
The crown Ye are the highest, he transports
On his broad back the burden of both worlds,
Protects both land and sea in his embrace;
His ear attentive to the thunder’s roar,
His shoulders bared to take the lightning’s scourge,
Against the false he is a sword, a shield
Before the truth; evil and good are proved
Upon the touchstone of his ordinance
And prohibition. Knotted in his coals
A hundred conflagrations lurk; life’s self
Derives perfection from his essence pure.
Through the broad spaces of this clamorous world
No music sounds but his triumphant song,
His loud Allahu Akbar. Great is he
On justice, clemency, benevolence;
Noble his temper, even in chastisement.
At festival his lyre delights the mind;
Steel melts before his ardour in the fight.
Where roses blossom, with the nightingale’s
His sweet song mingles; in the wilderness
No falcon is more swift upon the prey.
His heart untranquil scorns to take repose
Beneath the heavens; in the spreading skies
He makes his dwellings, as on soaring wing
He rises far beyond yon ancient hoop
That spans our firmament, to whet his beak
Against the gleaning stars.
Thou, with thy frail
Unspread pinion, tentative to fly,
Art like some chrysalis, that in the dust
Still slunmbers on; rejecting the Quran,
How meanly thou hast sunk, base caviller
Protesting of the turn of Fortune’s wheel!
Yet, lying abject as the scattered dew,
Thou hast within thy grip a living Book;
How ling shall earth content thee for thy home?
Life up thy baggage; hurl it to the skies!