Translation of Muhammad Iqbal by M. Shahid Alam
Sir Muhammad Iqbal (Urdu: محمد اقبال) born (November 9, 1877 – April 21, 1938) was a Muslim poet, philosopher and politician born in Sialkot, British India (now in Pakistan), whose poetry in Urdu and Persian is considered to be among the greatest of the modern era.
The world changes utterly: the stars spin faster, O Saqi.
In every heart I hear the cry of surrender, O Saqi.
God’s journeymen have lost their arts, their certainty.
Whose artifice deceives them, who has this power, O Saqi.
Weak-willed, weak-hearted, dimly they mope about.
Deep is their need for that life-enhancing elixir, O Saqi.
The Muslim lacks the fire that can ignite his heart.
Why is the birth of spirit so hard to deliver, O Saqi.
There rises none like Rumi from the gardens of ‘Ajam.
Persia is the same, unchanged her sky and water, O Saqi.
Iqbal will not walk away from his fields laid waste.
A little dew and sweat will revive its power, O Saqi.
This dervish is privy to the rites, the rigors of power.
His words are rare, he ignites visions of splendor, O Saqi.
M. Shahid Alam is a professor of economics at Northeastern University, Boston. His writings have appeared in leading economic journals, including Economic Development and Cultural Change, Southern Economic Journal, Journal of Development Economics, American Economic Review, Cambridge Journal of Economics, Studies in Contemporary Islam and Kyklos; in popular newspapers and web sites including Dissident Voice.org, Counterpunch, Al Ahram, Commondreams.org, Dawn, Holiday, Asia Times, Scoop, and Outlook India; in literary journals, including Chicago Review, Marlboro Review and Beloit Poetry Journal.
He has published many books including Poverty from the Wealth of Nations (Macmillan, 2000), Governments and Markets in Economic Development Strategies (Praeger: 1989), and Is There An Islamic Problem (Kuala Lumpur: The Other Press, 2004). Professor Alam was born in Bangladesh. He holds a BA from the University of Dhaka, MA from the University of Karachi, and Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario. He lives in a suburb of Boston.
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