The Republic of Rumi: A Novel of Reality
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The Republic of Rumi: a Novel of Reality

Chapter 40

The Inner Child

By Khurram Ali Shafique

It is a rough path which Iqbal climbed up the hill. Each poem in this portion is a step on that path.
After the first six steps, the next seven are marked “for Children.” Even if you are a grown-up, Iqbal probably wants you to get in touch with your inner child because each of these steps offers a vision that may be seen best with the eyes of a child.

A Spider and the Fly

A spider tells three lies to the fly: he is a friend from whom she shouldn’t stay away, his parlor is well-furnished and she is very pretty. She refutes the first two but gets tempted by the third and the spider devours her. By accepting the spider’s illusion as her reality, the fly ceased to exist.

A Mountain and the Squirrel
(Adapted from Emerson)

Now the fly has grown up into a squirrel and has overcome the personal insecurity that had turned out to be her nemesis. She answers the mountain’s taunt about her smallness by saying, “So what if I am not big like you: you are not small like me either! Nothing is without purpose in this world and nobody is bad in the Workshop of Providence.”

A Goat and the Cow

Growing up still further and becoming a goat, the creature now learns to talk with maturity and defends the human being against the bickering of a cow. She has recognized the special status of the human being.

The Child's Prayer

The human being now appears as a child and makes a prayer:

O Lord! My longing finds expression as a prayer: may my life be like that of a candle!

May the darkness disappear from the world through me and light spread everywhere by my shining.

May my homeland be adorned by me just as a flower brings adornment to the garden!

O Sustainer! May my life be like that of a moth! May I be in love with the lamp of knowledge, O Sustainer!

May it be my job to stand up for the poor and to love the meek and the weak!

O my Allah! Protect me from the path of evil and make me tread upon the way that is good.

(Adapted from William Cowper)

The soul is now a bird wailing on the Forbidden Tree: knowledge has cast darkness and the bird cannot fly home. Illumination granted through the prayer of the previous poem appears as a glow-worm ready to show light on the path.

The Mother's Dream

The acquiring of this illumination is like a rebirth, and therefore too unsettling for overly possessive parents. In her dream, one such mother is confronted with the consequences of her fear: she sees her child walking among the dead but while everyone else is holding a light in their hands, the lamp of this child has been put out by the mother’s tears.

The Bird's Lament

The illumined soul sees worldly attachments as a prison and longs for returning to the heavenly garden from where it was exiled when it fell into the trap, not unlike the fly beguiled by the spider.


  • Most of the poems in this chapter were adapted from Western poets. Does that make them less useful in your search for Joseph of Iqbal and Rumi?

  • Can these poems be read as the development of a single self?

  • Do these poems match the corresponding items in other sets of seven, such as the dedicatory poem to the King of Afghanistan?

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The reader learns that Joseph is the calling of the inner child of everyone regardless of race, country or religion.
Urdu text

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