((aurat , "Woman"

Published in .zarb-e kaliim (The Blow struck by Moses) (1936).
From: kulliyaat-e iqbaal urduu (Lahore: Shaikh Ghulam 'Ali and Sons Publishers, 1973 (and later reprints), *pp. 553-559*

These are not exactly great poems; they're here not for their literary interest but for their content. After all, it's striking that Iqbal, who throughout his intellectual life had almost nothing to say to women (or to non-Muslims), in his last volume actually created this specially titled little group of ghazals. It's easy to feel how troubled he was by the aspirations of westernized and educated women, and how he struggled to find a proper place for women in his view of society. Considering how boldly Iqbal urged (male) Muslims to reimagine and remake the world, it's surprising that he was so sexually conservative (and apparently encountered such problems in his personal life too). These ghazals show that even near the end of his life he was unable to get beyond a vision of women as helplessly destined to be primarily child-bearers (with a secondary role as muses and sex objects).

Urdu spellings reflect adjustments made for the sake of the meter.
See the 'script bar' at the bottom of the page for viewing choices.

I. European Man
- = - = / - - = = / - = - = / = =
.... mard-e firang
1) a thousand times the wise men have explained this,
but this problem of woman has remained exactly where it was before ,
 
hazaar baar ;hakiimo;N ne is ko samjhaayaa
magar yih mas))alah-e zan rahaa vahii;N kaa vahii;N
     
2) there's no fault of woman in this ruination
the moon and the Pleiades bear witness to her dignity
 
qa.suur zan kaa nahii;N hai kuchh is ;xaraabii me;N
gavaah us kii sharaafat pah hai;N mah-o-parvii;N
  ....  
3) the turmoil is manifest in European society--
that man is simple, the poor thing; he doesn't understand woman
 
fasaad kaa hai firangii mu((aasharat me;N :zuhuur
kih mard saadah hai bechaarah zan-shinaas nahii;N
   
  ....  

II. One Question
= - = = / - = - = / = =
 
.... ek savaal
1) let someone ask the wise man of Europe,
whose neck-rings [of slavery] are on India and Greece,
 
ko))ii puuchhe ;hakiim-e yuurap se
hind-o-yuunaa;N me;N jis ke ;halqah bah gosh!
     
2) is this the excellence of a society--
man unemployed/useless, and woman without an embrace?
 
kyaa yihii hai mu((aasharat kaa kamaal
mard be-kaar aur zan tihii aa;Gosh?
  ....  

 

III. Pardah
- = = / - = = / - = =/ - = =

.... pardah
1) the lofty sphere has greatly changed its color/style
oh Lord, this world is still where it was
 
bahut rang badle sipihr-e birii;N ne
;xudaa yaa yih dunyaa jahaa;N thii vahii;N hai
     
2) I haven't seen any difference in woman and man,
that one sits in solitude, this one sits in solitude!
 
tafaavut nah dekhaa zan-o-shau me;N mai;N ne
vuh ;xalvat-nashii;N hai! yih ;xiavat-nashii;N hai!
  ....  
3) as yet the offspring of Adam are in pardah,
no one's real self is manifest/known!
 
abhii tak hai parde me;N aulaad-e aadam
kisii kii ;xvudii aashkaaraa nahii;N hai!
  ....  

 

IV. Solitude
= = - / - = = - / - = = - / - = =

.... ;xalvat
1) the lust for solitude has disgraced this age,
the gaze is bright, the mirror of the heart is dirty
 
rusvaa kiyaa is daur ko ;xalvat kii havas ne
raushan hai nigah aa))inah-e dil hai mukaddar
     
2) when the relish of sight grows beyone one's limits,
thoughts become scattered and spoiled
 
ba;Rh jaataa hai jab ;zauq-e na:zar apnii ;hado;N se
ho jaate hai;N afkaar paraagandah-o-abtar
  ....  
3) the one in whose fate there is no embrace of a pearl-oyster,
that drop of forgetfulness never becomes a pearl
 
aa;Gosh-e .sadaf jis ke na.siibo;N me;N nahii;N hai
vuh qa:trah-e nisyaa;N kabhii bantaa nahii;N gauhar
     
4) in solitude the self grasps itself, but
now there's no solitude available in temple or mosque!
 
;xalvat me;N ;xvudii hotii hai ;xvud-giir valekin
;xalvat nahii;N ab der-o-;haram me;N bhii muyassar!
  ....  

 

V. Woman
- = - = / - - = = / - = - = / = =
.... ((aurat
1) through the existence of woman there is color in the picture of creation,
from her instrument is the inner burning of life
 
vujuud-e zan se hai ta.sviir-e kaa))inaat me;N rang
usii ke saaz se hai zindagii kaa soz-e daruu;N
     
2) in dignity her handful of dust is higher than the Pleiades,
for every dignity is the hidden pearl of that casket
 
sharaf me;N ba;Rh ke ;surayyaa se musht-e ;xaak us kii
kih har sharaf hai usii durj kaa dur-e maskuu;N
  ....  
3) she was not able to write the dialogues of Plato, but
from her flame burst out the spark of Plato!
 
makaalamaat-e falaa:tuu;N nah likh sakii lekin
usii ke shu((le se ;Tuu;Taa sharaar-e aflaa:tuu;N!
     
  ....  

 

VI. The Freedom of Women
= = - / - = = - / - = = - / - = =
.... aazaadii-e nisvaa;N
1) I cannot make any decision in this argument,
although I understand very well that this [side] is poison; that [side], sugar
 
is ba;h;s kaa kuchh fai.slah mai;N kar nahii;N saktaa
go ;xuub samajhtaa huu;N kih yih zahr hai, vuh qand
     
2) what's the benefit of saying something, and becoming even more vilified?
already they are angry with me, the offspring of [modern] civilization
 
kyaa faa))idah kuchh kah'h ke banuu;N aur bhii ma((tuub
pahle hii ;xafaa mujh se hai;N tah;ziib ke farzand
  ....  
3) this secret, only the insight of a woman would reveal--
they are helpless, they are [to be] excused, the men of wisdom
 
is raaz ko ((aurat kii ba.siirat hii kare faash
majbuur hai;N ma((;zuur hai;N mardaan-e ;xiradmand
     
4) which thing is greater in adornment and value,
the freedom of women, or an emerald necklace?
 
kyaa chiiz hai aaraa))ish-o-qiimat me;N ziyaadah
aazaadii-e nisvaa;N kih zumurrud kaa guluu-band?
  ....  

 

VII. The Protection of Woman
= = - / - = = - / - = = - / - = =
.... ((aurat kii ;hifaa:zat
1) a living truth/reality is hidden in my breast,
how would he understand, in whose veins the blood is cold?
 
ek zindah ;haqiiqat mire siine me;N hai mastuur
kya samjhegaa vuh jis kii rago;N me;N hai lahuu sard
     
2) neither pardah nor education, whether it be new or old--
the guardian of the femininity of woman is only man
 

ne pardah nah ta((liim na))ii ho kih puraanii
nisvaaniyat-e zan kaa nigah-baa;N hai faqa:t mard

  ....  
3) the community that didn't realize this living truth/reality--
that community's sun very quickly became yellow [and faded]
 
jis qaum ne is zindah ;haqiiqat ko nah paayaa
us qaum kaa ;xvurshiid bahut jald hu))aa zard
     

 

VIII. Woman and Education
= = - / - = = - / - = = - / - = =
.... ((aurat aur ta((liim
1) if from European civilization is the death of motherhood,
for the presence/dignity of man, the fruit of this is death!
 
tah;ziib-e firangii se agar marg-e umuumat
hai ;ha.zrat-e insaa;N ke liye is kaa ;samar maut!
     
2) the knowledge through the effect of which woman becomes non-woman--
this knowledge, the possessors of insight call death!
 
jis ((ilm kii taa;siir se zan hotii hai naa-zan
kahte hai;N isii ((ilm ko arbaab-e na:zar maut!
  ....  
3) if the madrasah of woman would remain a strainger to faith,
then for passion and love, knowledge and skill are death!
 
begaanah rahe dii;N se agar madrasah-e zan
hai ((ishq-o-mu;habbat ke liye ((ilm-o-hunar maut!
  ....  

 

IX. Woman
= - = = / - - = = / - - = = / - - =

.... ((aurat

1) the essence/quality of man is plain, without indebtedness to another,
the manifestness of the essence/quality of woman is in the hands of another!

 
jauhar-e mard ((ayaa;N hotaa hai be-minnat-e ;Gair
((Gair ke haath me;N hai jauhar-e ((aurat kii namuud!
     
2) of her sorrow and grief, this is the point of ardor--
her existence is inflamed with the relish of creating!
 
raaz hai us ke tap-e ;Gam kaa yihii nuktah-e shauq
aatishii;N la;z;zat-ta;xliiq se hai us ka vujuud!
  ....  
3) they open out through this fire, the mysteries of life,
it is warm from this fire, the arena of existence and nonexistence!
 
khulte jaate hai;N isii aag se asraar-e ;hayaat
garm isii aag se hai ma((aarikah-e buud-o-naa-buud!
     
4) I too am very sorrowful at the oppression of women,
but it's not possible, the opening of this difficult knot!
 
mai;N bhii ma:zluumii-e nisvaa;N se huu;N ;Gam-naak bahut
nahii;N mumkin magar is ((aqdah-e mushkil kii kushuud!
  ....  


 
 
 

-- IQBAL index page -- *Platts Dictionary Online* -- FWP's main page --