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The Secrets of the Self, by Muhammad Iqbal, tr. by Reynold A. Nicholson, [1920], at

p. 85


Setting forth the inner meanings of the names of Ali.

Ali is the first Moslem and the King of men, 965
In Love's eyes Ali is the treasure of the Faith.
Devotion to his family inspires me with life
So that I am as a shining pearl.
Like the narcissus, I am enraptured with gazing;
Like perfume, I am straying through his pleasure-garden. 970
If holy water gushes from my earth, he is the source;

p. 86

If wine pours from my grapes, he is the cause.
I am dust, but his sun hath made me as a mirror:
Song can be seen in my breast.
975 From Ali's face the Prophet drew a fair omen,
By his majesty the true religion is glorified.
His commandments are the strength of Islam:
All things pay allegiance to his House.
The Apostle of God gave him the name Bú Turáb;
980 God in the Koran called him "the Hand of Allah."
Every one that is acquainted with Life's mysteries
Knows what is the inner meaning of the names of Ali.
The dark clay, whose name is the body—
Our reason is ever bemoaning its iniquity.

p. 87

On account of it our sky-reaching thought plods o’er the earth; 985
It makes our eyes blind and our ears deaf.
It hath in its hand a two-edged sword of lust:
Travellers’ hearts are broken by this brigand.
Ali, the Lion of God, subdued the body's clay
And transmuted this dark earth to gold. 990
Murtazá, by whose sword the splendour of Truth was revealed,
Is named Bú Turáb from his conquest of the body. 1
Man wins territory by prowess in battle,
But his brightest jewel is mastery of himself. 995
Whosoever in the world becomes a Bú Turáb
Turns back the sun from the west; 2

p. 88

Whosoever saddles tightly the steed of the body
Sits like the bezel on the seal of sovereignty:
Here the might of Khaibar is under his feet, 1
And hereafter his hand will distribute
1000 the water of Kauthar. 2
Through self-knowledge he acts as God's Hand,
And in virtue of being God's Hand he reigns over all.
His person is the gate of the city of the sciences:
Arabia, China, and Greece are subject to him.
1005 If thou wouldst drink clear wine from thine own grapes,
Thou must needs wield authority over thine own earth.

p. 89

To become earth is the creed of a moth;
Be a conqueror of earth; that alone is worthy of a man.
Thou art soft as a rose. Become hard as a stone,
That thou mayst be the foundation of the wall of the garden! 1010
Build thy clay into a Man,
Build thy Man into a World!
If thou art unfit to be either a wall or a door,
Some one else will make bricks of thine earth.
O thou who complainest of the cruelty of Heaven, 1015
Thou whose glass cries out against the injustice of the stone,
How long this wailing and crying and lamentation?
How long this perpetual beating of thy breast?
The pith of Life is contained in action,
To delight in creation is the law of Life. 1020

p. 90

Arise and create a new world!
Wrap thyself in flames, be an Abraham! 1
To comply with this ill-starred world
Is to fling away thy buckler on the field of battle.
1025 The man of strong character who is master of himself
Will find Fortune complaisant.
If the world does not comply with his humour,
He will try the hazard of war with Heaven;
He will dig up the foundations of the universe
1030 And cast its atoms into a new mould.
He will subvert the course of Time
And wreck the azure firmament.
By his own strength he will produce
A new world which will do his pleasure.
If one cannot live in the world as
1035 beseems a man,

p. 91

It is true life to give up one's soul.
He that hath sound intelligence
Will prove his strength by great enterprises.
’Tis sweet to use love in hard tasks
And, like Abraham, to gather roses from flames. 1 1040
The potentialities of men of action
Are displayed in willing acceptance of what is difficult.
Mean spirits have no weapon but spite,
This is their one rule of life.
But Life is power made manifest, 1043
And its mainspring is the desire for victory.
Mercy out of season is a coldness of Life's blood,
A break in the rhythm of Life's music.
Whoever is sunk in the depths of ignominy
Calls his weakness contentment. 1050


p. 92

Weakness is the plunderer of Life,
Its womb is teeming with fears and lies.
Its soul is empty of virtues,
Its milk is a fattening for vices.
1055 O man of sound judgement, beware!
This spoiler is lurking in ambush.
Be not his dupe, if thou art wise:
Chameleon-like, he changes colour every moment.
Even by keen observers his form is not discerned:
1060 Veils are thrown over his face.
Now he is muffled in pity and gentleness,
Now he wears the cloak of humility.
Sometimes he is disguised as a victim of oppression,
Sometimes as one whose sins are to be excused.
1065 He appears in the shape of self-indulgence
And robs the strong man's heart of courage.

p. 93

Strength is the twin of Truth;
If thou knowest thyself, strength is the Truth-revealing glass.
Life is the seed, and power the crop:
Power explains the mystery of truth and falsehood. 1070
The false claimant, if he be possessed of power,
Needs no argument for his claim.
Falsehood derives from power the authority of truth,
And by falsifying truth deems itself true.
Its creative word transforms poison into nectar; 1075
It says to Good, "Thou art bad," and Good becomes Evil.
O thou that art heedless of the trust committed to thee,
Esteem thyself superior to both worlds! 1

p. 94

Gain knowledge of Life's mysteries!
1080 Be a tyrant! Ignore all except God!
O man of understanding, open thine eyes, ears, and lips! 1
If then thou seest not the Way of Truth, laugh at me!


87:1 Murtazá, "he whom with God is pleased," is a name of Ali. Bú Turáb means literally "father of earth."

87:2 A miracle of the Prophet.

88:1 The fortress of Khaibar, a village in the Hijáz, was captured by the Moslems in a.d. 628. Ali performed great feats of valour on this occasion.

88:2 A river of Paradise.

90:1 See note on l. 213.

91:1 The burning pyre on which Abraham was thrown lost its heat and was transformed into a rose-garden.

93:1 The "trust" which God offered to Man and which Man accepted, after it had been refused by Heaven and Earth (Koran, ch. 33, v. 72), is the divine vicegerency, i.e. the duty of displaying the divine attributes.

94:1 A parody of the verse in the Masnaví quoted above. See l. 603.

Next: XI. The Young Man of Merv and Saint Ali Hujwírí