Shikwa and Jawab e Shikwa

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Shikwa (Urdu: شکوہ‎) (Complaint) and Jawab-e-Shikwa (Urdu: جواب شکوہ‎) (Response to the Complaint) are poems written by well known Urdu language poet Muhammad Iqbal, which were later published in his book Kulliat-e-Iqbal. "Shikwa" is an Urdu word which translates to "complaint" in English.

Though much of best poetry is written in Persian, he is also a poet of stature in Urdu. Shikwa (1909) and Jawab-i-Shikwa (1913) extol the legacy of Islam and its civilising role in history, bemoan the fate of Muslims everywhere, and squarely confront the dilemmas of Islam in modern times. Shikwa is thus, in the form of a complaint to Allah for having let down the Muslims and Jawab-i-Shikwa is Allah's reply.

When the first part of these poems, Shikwa (1909), was published it created a big confusion amongst Muslim scholars who thought that Iqbal is being rude and harsh in his words when talking to God in his book and being unthankfull of the blessings of God since the second part of his poem (Jawab-e-Shikwa) was not announced with Publication of the first one. But later when Jawab-e-Shikwa (1913) was published all the problems went away and everyone praised Iqbal for his contribution to Urdu Poetry and making a difference in Islamic literature.

More Information[edit]

Iqbal wrote the two poems, “Shikwa” and “Jawab-i Shikwa” (Complaint to God and its Response), in early twentieth century. It was the prime time of his poetic revelation, which is called his third period that began in 1908 and ended at his death in 1938. During that time Muslims in India had almost lost their entity as a nation. They had become the most oppressed community in British ruled India. A little before Iqbal, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-1898) had realised that the major cause of Indian Muslims’ misfortune was their illiteracy and the lack of knowledge. After a long struggle and much hardship he succeeded in establishing an Anglo Oriental College at Aligarh which later on became a university. Presently this university is a big place of learning and research in India. This university became a source of self-awareness among a negligible portion of Muslim minority in India. However, the masses of the community remained deprived of education and ultimately remained suffering in all parts of life. Due to poverty and lack of resources they were unable to educate their children. Among those who were lucky and got education remained unable to get a job. They remained jobless as all the fields of life and key posts were occupied and dominated by non-Muslims and the British. Such a situation gave birth to the persons like Altaf Husain Hali, Shibli Nomani, Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, Ali Brethren, and others who worked in their respective fields to fight for the rights of Muslims. All of them were contemporaries of Iqbal and were among the front-line fighters for freedom. However Iqbal stood alone with his powerful poetic way to waken self-confidence in the people of his community. He and his contemporaries (named above) were able to move the masses and carried them forward on the road to get rid of the British rule. Iqbal nurtured the minds of the people and changed the direction of the society through his melodious voice reciting his own songs in a touching way reminding them of their past glory. He was the person who discovered a leader like Muhammad Ali Jinnah and convinced him to lead the nation under whose banner Muslims of India were united and marched towards independence till the world saw a new country “Pakistan” emerged on the world map with the rising sum of the morning of August 14, 1947.

Iqbal’s poem “Shikwa” was one of his most thrilling poems, which he recited personally in the month of April 1911 at the annual session of Anjuman Himayat-i Islam held in the compound of Islamia College, Lahore. It was largely applauded and subsequently published in the magazines and journals of the country. This poem consists of 31 stanzas having six verses each. In the poem Iqbal has highlighted Islam’s living traditions in such a way that it strikes the very heart of a person. The carefully selected and well-knit words of the poem were immensely effective. They filled the hearts of a deprived nation with new life, courage and enthusiasm. The poem “Shakwa” is a unique example of a complaint to God. We have used English translation from Dr. M.A.K. Khalil’s Call of the Marching Bell, which is English rendering of Iqbal’s Bang-i Dara.

In the first stage of this poem Iqbal counts the chivalrous deeds of the Muslims reminding them of their past glory when they happened to be the leaders and teachers of mankind. They implemented the rule of God on the earth and brought revolutionary reforms in the states under their control where justice prevailed. Hereunder I quote three stanzas from this part of “Shakwa”:[1]

Shikwa and Jawab-i Shikwa[edit]

  • Ham jo jeetey thay to jangon ki museebat ke liye,

Aur marte thay tirey naam ke azmat ke liye, Thi na kuch tegh zani apnee hukumat key liye, Sar bakaf phirte thay kiya dhar men daulat ke liye? Qaum apni jo zaro-maal-i jahan par marti, But faroshi ke iwaz but shikani kiyum karti?

(If we lived we lived for the calamities of wars. If we died we died for the grandeur of Thy name. We did not wield the sword for our kingdoms. Did we roam about the world fearlessly for wealth?. If our nation had been greedy of worldly wealth. Why would we have been idol breakers instead of idol sellers?).

  • Mahfil-i kaun-o Makan men sahar-o sham phiray.

Ma-i tauheed ko ley kar sifat-i jam phiray. Koh men’ dasht mey ley kar tira paigham phiray. Aur maaloom hay tujh ko kabhi nakaam phiray. Dasht to dasht hain darya bhi na chorey hamnay. Bahr-i zulmaat men daura diy-e ghorey hamnay.

(We continuously wandered all over the world. We wandered like the wine cup with Tawhid’s[1] wine. We wandered with Thy message in the mountains, in the deserts. And doth Thou know whether we ever returned unsuccessful?. What of the deserts! we did not spare even oceans!. We galloped our horses in the dark ocean.?).

  • Safah-i dhar se batil ko mitaya hamney

Nau-i insan ko ghulami se churaya hamney Terey kaabe ko jabeenon sey bassaya hamney Terey Qur'an ko seeno sey lagaya hamney Phir Bhi hamsey ye gila hai ke wafadar naheen Ham wafadar naheen too bhi to dildar naheen

(We effaced falsehood from the earth’s surface We freed the human race from bonds of slavery We filled Thy Kaa’ba with our foreheads We put Thy Qur'an to our hearts Still Thou complaineth that we are lacking fealty If we are lacking fealty Thou also art not generous.)

The second part shows the state of decline of Muslim nation. But Iqbal has projected this aspect so beautifully that instead of creating a sense of despair and destitute in the mind it inspires a new vigour and courage to stand up and deal with rival forces. Quoted hereunder are three stanzas of this part:

  • Ummaten aur bhi hain un men gunahgaar bhi hain

Ijz waley bhi hain mast-i ma-e pindar bhi hain Inmey kahil bhi hain ghafil bhi hain hushyar bhi hain Saikron hain ke tirey naam se bezaar bhi hain Rahmaten hain teri aghyar ke kashanon par Barq girti hai to becharey musalmanon par

(There are other nations, among them are sinners also There are modest people and arrogant ones also Among them are slothful, indolent as well as clever people There are also hundreds who are disgused with Thy name Thy graces descend on the other people’s abodes Lightning strikes only the poor Muslims’ abodes.)

  • But sanam khanon men kahte hain musalmaan gai

Hai khushi unko ke Kaabey key nigehbaan gai Manzil-i dhar se unton ke hudi khuwan gai Apni baghlon men dabba-e huey Qur-an ghai Khanda zan kufr hai ehsaas tujhe hai ke naheen ApniTauhid ka kuch paas tujhe hai ke naheen

(The idols in temples say ‘The Muslims are gone’ They are glad that the Ka’bah’s sentinels are gone From the world’s stage the hudi[2] singers are gone They, with the Qur'an in their arm pits, are gone. Infidelity is mocking, hast Thou some feeling or not? Dost Thou have any regard for Thy own Tawhid or not?)

  • Bani aghyar ki ab chahne wali dunya

Rahgai apne liye ek khayali dunya Ham to rukhsat hue auron ney sanbhali dunya Phir na kahna hui Tauheed se khali dunya Ham to jeetey hain ke dunya men tera naam rahe Kaheen mumkin hai ke saaqi na rahey jaam rahe?

(Now the world is the lover of others For us it is only an imaginary world We have departed, others have taken over the world Do not complain now that the world has become devoid of Tawhid We live with the object of spreading Thy fame in the world Can the wine cup exist if the cup bearer does not live?)

The third part of Shakwa is a direct complaint to God. Three beautiful stanzas of this part are quoted as under:

  • Ye shikayat naheen hain unke khazane maamoor

Naheen mahfil men jinhen baat bhi karne ka shaoor Qahr to ye hai ke kafir ko milen hoor-o qasoor Aur becharey musalman ko faqat waida-i hoor Ab wo altaaf naheen ham pe inaayaat naheen Baat ye kiya hai ke pheli si madaraat naheen

(We do not complain that their treasures are full Who are not in possession of even basic social graces Outrageous that infidel are rewarded with Houries and palaces And the poor Muslims are placated with only promise of Houries We have been deprived of the former graces and favours What is the matter, we are deprived of the former honours.)

  • Ishq ki khair wo pehli si ada bhi na sahi

Jada paimaiye tasleemo raza bhi na sahi Muztarib dil sifat-i qiblanuma bhi na sahi Aur paabandiye aaeen-i wafa bhi na sahi Kabhi hamse kabhi ghairon se shanasai hai Baat kahney ki naheen too bhi to harjai hai

(Granted that Love has not the former elegance also We may have lost treading the path of Love also We have lost the restless heart like the compass also And we may have lost the observance of fidelity’s rules also Thou art changing friendship between us and others It is difficult to say but Thou art also unfaithful.)

  • Sarey faraan pey kiya deen ko kamil too ne

Ek isharey pe haszroon kay liye dil toone Aathish andoz kiya ishq ka hasil toone Phoonk di garmiye rukhsaar sey mahfil toone Aaj kiyun seene hmare sharar aabaad naheen Ham wohee sokhta saamaan hain tujhey yaad naheen?

(Thou perfected the Din on the peak of Faran[3] Thou captivated the hearts of thousands in a moment Thou consumed the produce of Love with the fire Thou burned the congregation with Thy face’s fire Why are not our breasts filled with love’s sparks now? We are the same lovers, dost Thou not remember now?)

The fourth part of Shakwa is the ending of this poem. Here we find Iqbal singing as a nightingale in a garden praying and expressing his sentiments in the most beautiful and touching manner. Out of these we quote below four stanzas;

  • Wadiye najd men wo shor-i salasil na raha,

Qais deewana-i nazzarai mehmil na raha Hausley wo na rahey ham na rahey dil na raha Ghar ye ujra hai ke too raunaq-i mahfil na raha Aye khush aan rooz ke aayee wa basad naaz aayee Bay hijabana su-i mahfil-i maa baaz aayee

(The noise of lover’s chains in the Najd’s valley has disappeared Qais has no more remained longing for the litter’s sight Those old ambitions, we, as well as the heart have disappeared The house is destroyed as Thou art not present in the house O that happy day when Thou with elegance will come back When Thou unveiled to our congregation will come back.)

  • Mushkilen ummat-i marhoom ki aasaan ka de

Moor-i bey maya ko hamdosh-i Sulaiman ka de Jins-i nayab-i mohabbat ko phir arzaan karde Hind key der nasheeno ko musalmaan karde Joo-i khoon mi chakad az hasrat-i derina-i ma Mee tapad nala ba nashtarkada-i seena-i ma

(Make easy the difficulties of the blessed Ummah Place the poor ant shoulder to shoulder to Sulaiman[4] Make the invaluable produce of Love accessible again Change the idolatrous Muslims of India into Muslims again A stream of blood drips from the frustrations mine Wailing palpitates in the wounded breast of mine!)

  • Boo-i gul lay gai bairoon-i chaman raaz-i chaman

Kiya qayaamat hai ke khud phool hain ghammaz-i chaman Ahd-i gul khatm hua toot gaya saz-i chaman Ur gai daliyon se zamzama pardaz-i chaman Ek bulbul hai ke hai mahv-i tarannum abtak Uske seeney men hai naghmoon ka talatum abtak

(The rose’ fragrance took garden’s secret outside the garden Outrageous that flowers themselves are informers against the garden The spring is over, broken is the orchestra of the garden Flown away from branches are the songsters of the garden Only nightingale is left which is singing still In its breast overflows the flood of songs still.[5])

  • Lutf marney men hai baqi na maza jeeney men

Kuch maza hai to yihee khoon-i jigar peeney men Kitney betaab hain johar mirey aaeeney men Kis Qadar jalway taraptey hain mirey seeney men Is Gulistaan men magar dekhnay waley hi naheen Daagh jo seene men rakhte hoon wo lalay hi naheen

(There is no pleasure in dying and no taste in living is If there is any pleasure, it in bearing this affliction is Many a virtue is restless in my mirror! Many an effulgence is fluttering in my breast! But there is none in this garden to see them There is no poppies[6] with love’s stains in their breasts).

After one year of reciting Shakwa Iqbal presented Jawab-i Shakwa in a huge gathering in 1913 at a famous public place Outside Mochi Gate of Lahore City. Jawab-I Shakwa contains 36 stanzas of six lines or verses each. This thrilling poem in a way was a call from God rather than a reply to Iqbal’s complaint. It added fire to the already boiling blood of the nation after Iqbal’s Shakwa, as a result of the Indian Muslims arose with a new life filled with enthusiasm, courage and a determination to change their fate. Inspired by Iqbal’s songs they were united, fought the war of independence and achieved victory. Once again the Muslims of India were a free nation and masters of their own destiny living in an independent country called Pakistan, the new Muslim State appeared on the world map on the 14th of. August 1947.

The revelation of Jawab-I Shakwa and its compilation took a long time of over one year. In this poem a comprehensive reply to Iqbal’s complaint to Allah is given This poem contains 36 stanzas out of which I have selected nine stanzas which are quoted hereunder together with their English translation; At the outset Allah says,

  • Ham to mayal ba karam hain koi saail hi naeein

Rah dikhlaeen kisay rahrav-i manzil hi naheen. Tarbiat aam to hai johar-i qabil hi naheen Jis say taamir ho adam ke ye wo gil hi naheen Koi qabil ho to ham shan-i kai detay hain Dhoodnay walay ko dunya bhi nayi detay hain.

We are inclined to Mercy, but there is no one to implore Whom can we show the way? There is no wayfarer to the destination Jewel polishing is common but there is no proper jewel There is no clay capable of being moulded into Adam We confer the glory of Kai on the deserving We confer even a whole new world on those who search. The following three stanzas are in direct reply to the three stanzas in the Complaint (Shakwa):

  • Wo bhi din thay ke yihi maayai raanaa-i thaa

Naazish-i mausami gul laala-i Sahra-i tha Jo musalman tha Allah ka shaida-i tha Kabhi mahboob tumhara yihi harjai tha Kisi yakjai sey ab ahd-i ghulaami karlo Millat-i Ahmad-i Mursil ko Moqami karlo

(There was a time when this alone was the source of beauty The wild tulip was the pride of the season of spring Whichever Muslim there was, the Lover of GOD he was A while ago your beloved this very Unfaithful was Make the covenant of fealty now with some local one Make the Ummah of the Holy Prophet a local one.)

  • Safah-i dahr sey baatil ko mitaya kisne

Nau-i insaan ko ghulami sey churaya kisne Merey kaabae ko jabeenon sey basaaya kisne Merey Qur'an ko seenon sey lagaya kisne Thay to aaba wo tumharay hi magar tum kiya ho Hath par hath dharay muntazir-i farda ho

(Who effaced false worship from the face of the world? Who rescued the human race from slavery? Who adorned my Ka’bah with their foreheads in Love? Who put my Qur'an to their breasts in reverence? They were surely your ancestors, but what are you? Sitting in idleness, waiting for tomorrow are you!)

  • Kiya kaha bahri musalman hai faqat waadai hoor

Shakwa beja bhi karay koi to laazim hai shaoor Adl hai faatir-i hasti ka azal sey dastoor Muslim aaeen hua kfir to milay hoor-o qasoor Tum men hooron ka koi chahnay wala hi naheen Jawai toor to maujood hai Moosa hi naheen

(What did you say? For the Muslims is only the promise of Houri Even if the Remonstrance be unreasonable decorum is necessary Justice is the Creator of Existence’ custom since eternity When the infidel adopts Muslim ways he receives Houris and palaces Not a single one of you is longing for Houris The effulgence of Tur exists but there is no Musa.[9])

At the end of Jawab-i Shakwa the Response offers a new hope for Ummah and also provides the remedy of all diseases of the Muslims. The following 30 verses (five stanzas) are the essence of this poem:

  • Ummateen gulshan-i hasti men samar cheeda bhi hain

Aur mahroom-i samar bhi hain khizan deeda bhi hain Sankron Nakhl hain kaheeda bhi’ baleeda bhi hain Sankron batn-i chaman men abhi poshida bhi hain Nakhl-i Islam namuna hai bromandi ka Phal hai ye sankron saddiyun ki chaman bandi ka.

(Some nations in the existence’s garden benefited from their labour are And some deprived from fruits and even destroyed by autumn are Hundreds of trees deteriorated and hundreds flourishing are Hundreds still even concealed in the bosom of the garden are The tree of Islam a model of flourishing is This the fruit of cons of gardening efforts is)

  • Pak hai gard-i watan say sar-i daman tera

Too wo Yusuf hai ke har misr hai kanaan tera Qafla ho na sakega kabhi veran tera Ghair yek bang-i dara kuch naheen saman tera Nakhl-i shamasti-o dar shola dawad resha-i to Aaqibat soz bawad saya-i andesha-i to

(Your skirt is undefiled by the dust of homeland You are the Yusuf for whom every Egypt is Kan’an[10] It will never be possible to destroy your caravan Nothing except the Clarions’s Call are your chattel You are a candle like tree, it its flame’s smoke your roots are Your thoughts free from the care of the end are.)

  • Misl-i boo qaid haye ghunche men pareeshan hoja

Rakht bar dosh hawa-i chmanistaan hoja Hai tunak maya to zarrey say biyabaan hoja Naghma-i Mauj say hangaama-i toofaan hoja Quwwat-i Ishq sey her past koi balaa kardey Dhr men ism-i Muhammad sey Ujala krdey

(Like fragrance you are contained in the flower bud, become scattered Become the chattel travelling on the wings of the breeze of the rose garden If you are poor, changed from speck to the wilderness be From the melody of wave changed to tumult of the storm be With the Love’s power elevate every low to elegance With Muhammad’s name illuminate the whole world.)

  • Ho na ye phool to bulbul ka tarannum bhi na ho

Chaman-i dhr men kalyun ka tabassum bhi na ho Ye na saqi ho to phir mai bhi na ho khum bhi na ho Bazm-i tawhid bhi dunya bh na ho tum bhi na ho Khema aflaak ka istada isi naam se hai Nabz-i hasti taphis aamada isi nam sey hai

(If there is no flower nightingale music should also not be In the world’s garden smile of flower buds should also not be If there is no cup bearer, wine and decanter should also not be Tawhid’s Assembly in the world and you should also not be The system of the universe is stable by this very name The existence’ pulse is warm with this very name.)

  • Aql hai teri sipar ish a shamsheer teri

Merey darvesh khilafat hai jehangir teri Ma siwallah ke lia aag hai takbeer teri Too Musalman ho to taqdir hai tadbir teri Ki Muhammad se wafa toonay to ham teray hain Ye jahan cheez hai kiya lauho qalam tere hain

(Intellect is your shield, Love is your sword My dervish! Your vicegerency is world-conquering Your Takbir like fire for Godlessness is If you are Muslim your prudence your destiny is If you are loyal to Muhammad we are yours This universe is nothing the Tablet and the Pen[11] are yours.) [2]


  2. ^

External links[edit]

  • Video:Shikwa A recitation of Shikwa with English translation
  • Shikwa, Bang-e-Dra (part 3), at Dr. Iqbal Society of North America (Urdu with option of English translation)
  • Shikwa and Jawab e Shikwa in Urdu and English

See also[edit]