following is a translation of the poem 'Taskhir-i-Fitrat' from Payam-i-Mashriq
(A Message from the East), which is the second book in the
canon of Iqbal's writings and was first published in 1923.
The poems seems to be narrating a course of
destiny which is supposed to be fulfilled in the lives of individuals,
nations and the entire humanity. Hence "Adam" here could
mean a single reader, an entire nation or all of the humankind together.
The five segments of the poem also lend themselves to be interpreted
Conquest of Nature
The Birth of Adam
2. Devil's Refusal
3. The Seduction of Adam
4. Adam Speaks on Coming Out of Paradise
5. The Morn of Resurrection (Adam in the Presence
The Birth of Adam
Love exclaimed, ‘Now one has been born who would roll his
heart in blood! Beauty
trembled when she realised that one with a penetrating look had
Nature was distraught because from the dust of a world without will,
one had been born who could Make and unmake himself, and watch over
From the heavens the news went out to eternity’s sleeping-chamber:
Beware, you who are veiled! One has been born who will tear away
Desire, resting in the lap of life and forgetful of itself, opened
its eyes, and a new world was born.
Life said, ‘Through all my years I lay in the dust and convulsed,
until at last a door appeared in this ancient dome."
I am not such a foolish angel that
I would bow to Adam! He is made of dust, but my element is fire.
It is my ardour that heats the blood in the veins of the universe:
I am in the raging storm
and the crashing thunder;
am the bond that holds the atoms together, and the law that rules
the elements; I burn and give form— I am the alchemist’s
What I have myself made I break in pieces, only to create new forms
from the old dust.
my sea rises the wave of the heavens that know no rest — the
splendour and glory of my element fashions the world.
The stars owe their existence to You but they owe their motion to
me: I am the soul of the world, the hidden life that is seen by
You give the soul to the body but I set that soul astir. You rob
on the highway by causing sloth, I guide along the right path with
I did not beg paupers to bow down before me: I am mighty, but do
not need a hell;
I am a judge, but do not need resurrection.
— that creature of dust, that short-sighted ignoramus —
was born in your lap but will grow old in my arms!
The Seduction of Adam
A life of passion and longing is better than eternal quiet; even
a dove that is caught in a trap but keeps flapping its wings changes
into an eagle.
You do no more than bow down in humility; rise like the tall cypress
tree, you who are slow to act!
waters of Kawthar and Tasnim have robbed you of the joy of action.
Take wine from the jug, real wine clear as crystal, made from grapes.
‘Good’ and ‘bad’ are figments of the imagination
of your Lord. Take pleasure in action,
step out and take what you desire.
Come, rise up, so that I may show you a new kingdom! Open your eyes
and go about
Seeing the sights the world has to offer.
Now you are a drop of water worth nothing, become a luminous pearl!
Come down from the heavens and live in the ocean.
You are a flashing sword, strike terror into the world’s soul;
come out of the scabbard and show your mettle.
Spread an eagle’s wings and spill the pheasants’ blood,
for a falcon living in the nest spells death.
You do not yet know this but with union comes the end of longing:
What is eternal life?
To burn-and keep on burning!
Adam Speaks on Coming Out of Paradise
How good it is to fill life with passion and longing; in one breath
to melt the heart of desert, mountain and wild!
To open the door of the cage on to a spacious garden; to take the
path to the heavens and speak with the stars in confidence.
To cast-at times with secret longing but with a show of humility
at times – a knowing glance at the sanctum of His Glory.
At times to see nothing but the One in throngs of tulips but at
times to tell the prickly thorn apart from the rose!
My whole being is a flame that burns for ever and is full of the
pain of desire. I would exchange certainty for doubt, for I am dying
to know and discover.
The Morn of Resurrection (Adam in the Presence of God)
You, whose sun gives the star of life its splendour, with my heart
you lit the candle of the sightless world!
My skills have poured an ocean into a strait, my pickaxe makes milk
flow from the heart of stone.
Venus is my captive, the moon worships me; my reason, which does
great deeds, subdues and controls the universe.
have gone down into the earth and been up into the heavens, both
the atom and the radiant sun are under the spell of my magic.
Although his sorcery deluded me, excuse my fault, forgive my sin:
if this sorcery had not taken me in, the world could not have been
Without the halter of humility, pride could not be taken prisoner.
To melt this stone statues with my hot sighs, I had to don his zunnar.
Reason catches artful nature in a net and thus Ahriman, born of
fire, bows down before the creature of dust!
Translation is adapted from
Tulip in the Desert © Mustansir Mir
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