When European colonialism extinguished the light of
Asia, the Indian historian Syed Ahmad Khan (later Sir) foresaw in
that catastrophe the potential that is now unfolding in the Garden.
On your way up the hill there is a point from where
the grave of Syed in the far off Aligarh in India can be seen with
the inward eye.
The Tombstone of Syed
An invisible inscription on the tombstone becomes
visible now and it summarizes the ethics that was going to yield
the Garden at a later stage:
“If your purpose in the world is to teach
religion, do not teach your nation to renounce the world. Never
talk in a manner that promotes sectarianism, for a grave calamity
is hidden in that. Let your writing facilitate union and your
speech hurt no heart. Do not approach new listeners with old
tales that cannot yield results anymore.
“If you practice statecraft, take it from
me that courage is the specter of a true politician. It does
not befit you to hesitate from expressing your point of view:
why fear if your cause is just! The heart of a true believer
knows neither despair nor deceit and is ever so bold in front
of the ruler’s power.
“If your hand holds the pen like a magic
wand and your heart becomes the Cup of Jamshid, guard the purity
of your speech, because then you are God’s own disciple.
Beware that your voice does not fall from Grace! Wake up the
sleepers with the miracle of poetry and burn the house of falsehood
with a fiery voice.”
Piety and Vice
A pious neighbor wonders about the lofty contradictions
in Iqbal’s personality. Iqbal, who believes that sin has
an educative value of its own, confronts the neighbor and says,
“Iqbal himself doesn’t know Iqbal too well and I’m
not even being sarcastic.”
The Picture of Grief
Indians are turning away from the vision of Syed,
and consider this to be enlightenment. Iqbal says to them, “What
good is it if you saw Joseph in the well? O ignorant soul, you
confined that which was beyond definitions.”
The Indian Anthem
Iqbal writes an anthem. The nine couplets give
a new identity to his country:
Our India is better than the whole world: we
are its nightingales and this is our garden.
Our heart resides in our homeland even if we are
in exile: consider us to be where our heart is.
That highest mountain and a neighbour of the sky,
our sentry and our watchman,
Is cradle to thousands of streams that make our
garden the envy of Paradise!
O Waters of the River Ganges, do you remember
those days? When our caravan halted on your bank:
Religion does not teach us to be wary of each
other. We are Indians and India is our homeland.
Greece, Egypt and Rome all vanished from the world
but our fame and banner still remain.
It is for a reason that our life goes on, or else
the changing times have been against us for centuries.
O Iqbal! What would the world know of our longing
when no one there is privy to our secrets!