The poems are often noted for their musicality, poetical beauty and depth of thought. Though much of his poetry is written in Persian , Muhammad Iqbal was also a poet of stature in Urdu. Shikwa , published in , and Jawab-e-Shikwa , published in , extol the legacy of Islam and its civilizing role in history, bemoan the fate of Muslims everywhere, and squarely confront the dilemmas of Islam in modern times.
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Translation of both poems was launched in London on Monday. The poetic rhythm and nuances of Urdu have been retained. It is important to remember that this is a translation and any translation is down to interpretation. The idea of course is to get the meaning of the line across in the translation, not to translate it literally. Do you see how the latter means something entirely different than the former? Surely you cannot take a literal translation of the Urdu or Farsi when you translate words.
This is one of Iqbal's most famous poems; it's polemical rather than subtle or sophisticated. Though it's not one of his truly great ones, I like it for its wild, passionate energy that spins off in all directions, and for the glimpses it gives us of the development of his poetic thought. I've presented it here with detailed notes that I hope will be useful to students. The poem consists of thirty-one six-line stanzas [ band ] in the same meter, each of which is made up of four lines in the same rhyming pattern, followed by two lines in a different one that act as a kind of ;Tiip or 'punch-line'. My translation is as literal as it can possibly be, since it's meant for students of the poem and not for literary effect in English. Iqbal first recited it in , at the annual meeting of the Anjuman-e Himayat-e Islam in Lahore. He is said to have refused to perform it in the musical, semi-sung tarannum style, despite the demand of the audience, because he thought it so important.