The Reverse Journey of Allama Iqbal

Still wandering through the verses, uttered in response to his question about Muslim plight world over, the angel was seated in a dark corner, brooding over the answer thoroughly. This question boils in the mind of every Muslim.

The sky was overcast that left the atmosphere damp. Though it was noon, often burninig under an enraged sun, clouds had made it look like an evening, a tranquil evening. Allama was stationed there, contemplating as usual, the divine Angel approached. The luminary gazed at the divinity with questioning eyes. The Angel gladly nodded, pointed towards another Angel, ‘He will be accompanying you.’ Actually the luminary reminded one of his verses which guided him to put a request for a tour to the world:

‘Nagmai nov bahar agar merai naseeb main na ho

Is dam-i-neem soz ko tairiq-i-bahaar kar’

(If of spring I cannot sing as a bird of paradise; make this half-enraptured soul a skylark of Thy spring.)

People advance from here to hereafter but the luminary will have the privilege to sojourn the present world through a reverse journey. The assigned Angel had a doubt, if Allama’s poetry is apropos to the present times with an unanswered question about the plight of Muslims all over world. The angel was sure that the luminary will have an answer.

From the sky Allama saw a deserted place with dilapidated buildings, roads diminished under the heaps of dust; the soil was burnt and turned into ashes. The shrieks of children could be heard followed by the cries of helpless parents. ‘This is Syria’, whispered the Angel with the utmost depressed voice. The angel talked about Syria at length, at the end mentioned the survivors who experienced luxurious life style before war now decaying in the refuge of bizarre lands. Allama pronounced with depressed voice, ‘Tell them (survivors) not to lose hope, reinforce faith which is the real asset and not to worry about losses.’

‘Wahi jahan hai tera jisko tu kare paida

Ye sang-o-khisht nahi, jo teri nigah mai hai’

(The world that you with effort make to you belongs alone: The world of brick and stone you see, you cannot call your own.)

After Syria the angel spoke about other violence entwined countries including Palestine and Burma, also anguished over the fact that despite over 50 Muslim Countries, nothing is done to end the miseries of the Ummah. Allama responded;

‘Foulad kahan rehta hai shamsheer kay layaq

Paida ho agar iski tabiyat mai hareeri’
(The steel can never make or forge a sharp and sturdy sword at all if steel is smooth and soft)

Expressive about the role of Arabs Allama pronounced;

‘Chupa kar aastinoo mai bijliyan rakhi hai gardon ne

Anadil bagh k gafil na baithey aashiyanoo mai’

(The sky has kept thunderbolts concealed up its sleeve; garden’s nightingales should not slumber in their nests.)

The discussion brewed, it was apt to ask his long pending question, although, Allama wanted to leave as the sight was outrageous. The Angel obeyed with despair.

While cruising in the sky, at some place, Allama felt serenity with some pull and asked to land there.

‘Hai agar mujko khatar Koi to Uss ummat say hai

Jiski khakistar mai hai ab tak sharera zindagi’

{From that nation but I feel a threat grave, whose heart yet holds hidden embers. (Satan to his assistants)}

The Angel was amazed that how could Allama recognize the place. You seem to be perplexed. ‘I am surprised’, uttered the Angel. ‘How could you recognize this place?’

The place was alien to Allama. Angel updated him that he spoke everything true about the place. They were at the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. ‘I see, so this is the future’, said Allama.

During discussion the Angel touched India. He praised the country, simultaneously shown concern over growing communal hatred, farmer suicides etc. etc. For today’s farmers Allama said what he said to the slave farmers of British,

‘Jis khet se dehkaan ko moyasar nahi rozi

Uss khet kay har kushai ghundum ko jalado’


(Find the field whose harvest is no peasant’s daily bread: Garner in the furnace every ripening ear of wheat!)

‘Muslims in India need to understand,

‘In taaza khudawon mai bada sabse watan hai

Jo pairahan iska hai, wo mazhab ka kafan hai’

(Country is the biggest among these new gods! What is its shirt is the shroud of Din.)

Allama then asked about Pakistan?  ‘Pakistan is going through the toughest phase of history. Borders are intensely exploited by America and Israel. A sectarian revolt has successfully been developed that left around seventy thousand people dead. I, honestly, worry for the country you dreamed of’, uttered the angel. Allama pronounced, ’Don’t worry.’

‘Isi kovkab ki tabani se hai tera jahan roshan

Zavaal-i-adam khaki ziya tera hai ya mera’

(It is the star that brightens Thy lonely, desolate world; will the eclipse of this star be a loss of Thine or mine?)

Meanwhile the Angel just thought about pending questions when Allama said, ‘Can you take me to a hill, a hill that belongs to Baba Shakrudin.’ ‘You mean Kashmir’, said the angel, realizing that he lost the opportunity.

Allama sat on the hill looking at Vular Lake.

‘Himale kay cheshme ubalte hai kab tak

Khazar sonchta hai Vular kai kinare’

(How long the fonts boil at this mountain flanks, the Khizr thus broods over the Vular’s banks)

Angels said, ‘They are already boiling.

Finally the call was given, the Angel regretted as his question remaining unanswered. Allama surprisingly (without being asked) answered the question. Allama said, ‘this distressed me too, till I realized:’


‘Guft Rumi har banaye kuhan ka-abadan kunand

Mai nadani awal aan buniyad ra veeran kunand’


(Rumi said that every old building that is to be rebuilt! Do you not know that the building is first demolished?)

The angel was stunned hearing the most longed answer.

Then they left. On the way, Angel expressed his gratitude, embraced Allama’s poetry that remained unaffected by time.