POETRY:  Gabriel and Iblīs

POETRY:  Gabriel and Iblīs

by Allama Iqbal (translated by M. Shahid Alam)

Translator’s note: In the Qur’anic account of man’s creation, God asks the angels to bow down to Adam; they bow down, except Iblīs. God banishes Iblīs but, granting his request, gives him the power to tempt and waylay humans except those who submit in sincerity to their Lord.


Gabriel

Old friend, how is your time spent in banishment?

Iblīs

In fire wrapped, pain-swept, surging, toiling, unbent.

Gabriel

At our heavenly summits, we often talk of you. 
Should you repent, seek grace, give us the cue.

Iblīs

Gabriel, you cannot ever grasp how, fatefully,
my shattered cup uplifts me, fires my fancy.

Your station does not tempt me now, nor ever
will. It lacks the vigor, the tension I prefer.

Cast out, I propel the engines of creation.
Shall I beg for mercy? I thrive in opposition.

Gabriel

Great glory you lost with your insolence. In shame,
we sank a few notches in God’s presence.


Iblīs

My mutiny starts a fire in this clod of dirt.
It spurs man to ambition: he stands tall, alert.

Safely, you watch the cosmic clash of opposites.
Who joins this battle? Who takes the hits?

Neither sages nor prophets can now quell
the fire in men brought under my spell.

Ask God, if you get time of day with him,
‘Why is man His masterwork, not seraphim?’

I trouble the Sublime with my thorny politics.
Your circles chanting Allah-hu make me sick.


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