stanzas 1 through 5

    *Urdu: stanzas 1-3*

Why would I become a loss-causer, would I remain a gain-forgetter?
Would I not think of tomorrow, would I remain absorbed in the grief of yesterday?

  ==The first big "why" most plausibly continues to apply to the remaining clauses, up until the vocative. And of course the subjunctive can also suggest "should."
Would I listen to the lament of the Nightingale, and would I remain all ears?
Fellow-singer! Am I too some rose, that I would remain silent?
  ==This exclamation point is in the Urdu, which was edited by Iqbal; so it's presumably his. Throughout the translation I will put exclamation points exactly where the Urdu puts them.
I have my courage-{taught/teaching} power of speech
I have-- dust be in my mouth!-- a complaint against Allah.

==The versatility of the suffix aamoz enables it to mean either "-taught" or "-teaching"
== "Courage" is only a place-holder; the excellently versatile taab can mean "heat, warmth; burning, inflaming; pain, affliction, grief; anger, indignation, wrath, rage; light, radiance, lustre, splendour; strength, power, ability, capability; endurance" (Platts p.303)
=="Dust be in my mouth" is an idiomatic Persian phrase of self-reproach.

It's true/appropriate, that we are famous in the practice of submission,
We tell a story of pain, for we are under duress.
  == hai bajaa could mean either "it's true that" or "it's appropriate to say that."
We are a silent [musical] instrument, we are well-equipped with complaint,
If a lament comes to our lips, then we are [to be] excused.
Oh Lord! Hear the complaint of the possessors of faithfulness too,
From those accustomed to praising, hear a small complaint too.
It was present from the very eternity-before-creation, Your ancient essence,
The flower was an ornament to the garden, but the perfume was not scattered.
If justice is done, then, Oh Lord of Universal Kindnesses,
How would the scent of the rose have spread, if there had been no breeze?
  == Compare the reversed use of similar imagery in stanza 28.
To us, this scattering was composure/collectedness of mind--
Otherwise, was the community of Your Beloved mad?
  ==The pareshaanii , literally "scattering, dispersing," metaphorically means "anxiety, worry;" so it makes an enjoyable wordplay with the opposite state, peace and composure (literally, "collectedness") of mind.
==That is, we would have been crazy to have undertaken all this trouble for any other cause than devotion to You and Your Beloved, the Prophet.
    *Urdu: stanzas 4-7*
Before us, the scene of your world was strange--
Somewhere stones were bowed down to, somewhere [else] trees were worshipped.
  =="Before us" is "before our time," not "in our presence."
Mankind's gaze was accustomed to sense-perceptible images--
How then would anyone have believed in an unseen Lord?
  ==Iqbal here chooses to ignore the Jews and Christians, though in stanza 5 he acknowledges them.
You are aware of it-- did anyone invoke Your name?
The strength of the Muslim's arm did your work!
  ==The implication seems to be that God wanted more attention than He was getting, but before the Muslims appeared on the scene He was incapable of arranging it.
Right here the Saljuqs, the Turanis, were settling in,
In China the people of China, in Iran the Sasanians too.
  ==The Saljuqs played an important role in Persian history. The term Turani can be used for various Central Asian ethnic groups.
=="China" in traditional Urdu texts usually refers to Central Asia.
==The Sasanians (226-651) were the last Persian dynasty before the coming of Islam.
In that same region, the Greeks too dwelled.
In that same world, the Jews too, the Christians too.
  ==Apparently the Jews and Christians were insufficiently monotheistic, or too unwilling to "lift a sword," to count as proper spreaders of God's name.
==It's possible to read isii instead of usii in both cases, but the difference here seems to be small.
But who lifted a sword for Your name?
The affair that had gone awry-- who fixed it up?
  ==Technically, it's a past participle: "the affair that was in a state of having gone awry."
==The baat was presumably the spread of monotheism. Iqbal seems to assume that God had meant for it to spread earlier, but that He had miscalculated somehow.

*On to stanzas 6-10* -- *"Shikvah" index page*


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