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Published on 07 Mar 2011 | over 5 years ago

Jawab-e-Shikwa (The answer to the complaint)
Translated by Khushwant Singh

Words spoken from the heart never fail to have effect;
Sacred and pure their origin, on lofty heights their sights are set.
They have no wings and yet they have power to fly;
They rise from the dust and pierce through the sky.
So headstrong and insolent was my love, so much on mischief bent,
So outspoken my plaint, it tore through the firmament.

The aged vault of heaven heard. There is someone somewhere, said he.
The planets spoke, Here on these ancient heights someone must be.
Not here, said the moon, it must be someone from the earth below.
Spoke the Milky Way, It must be someone hidden here we do not know.
Only the gatekeeper of Eden did some of my plaint recognize
And understood that I was the man thrown out of paradise.

He even rails against Allah, he has become so proud;
Is he the same Adam before whom the angels bowed?
He knows about things, their quantity and quality;
Yes, these he knows, but nothing of the secret of humility.
Their power of speech men always proudly flaunt,
But of the way of the speaking they are quite ignorant.

Spoke the Voice: Your tale is indeed full of sorrow;
Your tears tremble at the brim and are ready to flow.
Your cry of lament the sky has rung;
What cunning your impassioned heart has lent your tongue!
So eloquently did you word your plaint, you made it sound like praise.
To talk on equal terms with Us, man to celestial heights did rise.

Limitless is Our bounty, but none for it will pray.
Theres no one on the seekers path; to whom do We point the way?
Not one proved worthy of the care with which they were raised;
You are not the clay of which another Adam could be made.
If there were one deserving, Wed raise him to regal splendor,
To those who seek, We would unveil a new world of wonder.

You have no strength in your hands; in your hearts God has no place;
On the name of My messenger, you people have brought disgrace.
Destroyers of false gods are gone; only the idol-maker thrives;
The sons of Abraham have departed, Azars idolatrous breed survives.
Strange the company you keep; from new vats a new vintage wine you brew;
You have built yourselves a new Kaaba with new idols because you yourselves
are new.

There were days when this very Allah you regarded as sublime;
The tulip of Islam was the pride of the desert in blossom time.
There were days when every Muslim loved the only Allah he knew;
Once upon a time He was your Beloved; the same Beloved you now call untrue.
Now go and pledge your faith to serve some local deity
And confine Muhammads following to some one locality.

Who blotted out the smear of falsehood from the pages of history?
Who freed mankind from the chains of slavery?
The floors of My Kaaba with whose foreheads swept?
Who were they who clasped My Koran to their breasts?
Your forefathers indeed they were: tell Us who are you, We pray?
With idle hands you sit awaiting the dawn of a better day.

The only people in the world of every skill bereft are you.
The only race which cares not how it fouls its nest are you.
Haystacks that within them conceal the lightnings fires are you.
Who love by selling tombs of their sires are you.
If as traders of tombstones you have earned such renown.
What is there to stop you in trading in gods made of stone?

Heavy weighs the light of dawn, how loathe you are to rise?
Why protest you love Us? It is your slumber that you prize.
On your carefree spirit Ramadans fast does heavily press;
Ask yourselves and answer: Is this the way of faithfulness?
A people are bound by faith; without faith they cease to be;
If nothing binds you, you are like meteors, not stars in a galaxy.
Your mentors are immature: theres no substance in what they preach;
No lightning flashes enlighten their minds. Theres no fire in their speech.
Only a ritual the call to prayer; the spirit of Bilal has fled.
Theres no end to philosophizing; Ghazzalis discourse remains unread.
Now mourn the empty mosques. No worshippers fill them with prayer.
The likes of noble Hejazi gentlemen are no longer there.

You are one people, you share in common your weal and woe,
You have one faith, one creed and to one Prophet allegiance owe.
You have one sacred Kaaba, one God and one holy book, the Koran,
Was it so difficult to unite in one community every single Mussalman?
It is factions at one place; divisions into castes at another,
In these times are these the ways to progress and to prosper?

All of you drink the wine of bodily indulgence, lead lives of ease without
strife.
You dare to call yourselves Muslims? Is this the Mussalmans way of life?
You take neither Alis pledge of poverty, nor Osmans path of wealth pursue;
What kinship of the soul can there be between your ancestors and you?
As Muslims your forefathers were respected;
You gave up the Koran and are by the world rejected.

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