Allama Iqbal, God’s Command To Angels

translated by – M. Shahid Alam

 اٹھو میری دنیا کے غریبوں کو جگا دو

Marshall the meek of my world. Arise, set them free.
Seize the towers of the rich. Shake their tyranny.

Lift the slaves. Ignite them. Instill a faith that rocks.
Teach the feeble sparrow to fight the taloned hawk.

Power belongs to the people: their kingdom has come.
Burn the totems of tyranny: their history is done.

Why do toiling peasants reap death and misery?
Capture the gilded castles. Seize the granaries.

These minders, meddlers, ushers play for a fee.
I do not need priests to parse my words for me.

I have no use for painted walls and ornamented frieze.
Build me a tabernacle with mud, thatch and leaves.

This age of smoke and mirrors: is this modernity?
Move the poet. Make him rage. Hitch him to Eternity.


— M. Shahid Alam is professor of economics at Northeastern University. He is author of Israeli Exceptionalism: The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism (Palgrave Macmillan: 2009).

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