THE STORY OF MAN
This short poem recapitulates the history of mankind in a nutshell, starting with the time of creation of S. ÿdam A.S. and his spouse and their transfer from the garden of Paradise to earth up to the present age. It describes the achievements as well as the failures of the celebrities of the human race in all walks of life, in all races and in all countries. Though the poem is short it is full of mysticism and has a large number of allusions to the Holy Qur’«n and important events in human history. However, the essence and the raison de’tre for the poem comes in the last two verses. The end purpose of all human research and thinking is ascertaining the nature of the ultimate Truth. Though this effort has built up a large and rich treasure of knowledge the nature of the ultimate Truth is still a mystery. It cannot be ascertained without the Love of God. This concept is one of the favorite topics of ‘All«mah Iqb«l and is often repeated in his works. Cf.
(175) ‘Aèè«r, or Rëmâ, or R«zâ or Ghaz«lâ you may be
Without dawn's wailing nothing achieved will be
(Appendix III, No. 29)
Someone should hear the tale of my emigration1
I ignored the story of the primeval covenant2
I did not feel attachment to the garden of Paradise
When I drank the fiery cup of Intellection 3
I remained in pursuit of the Truth of the universe
I exhibited the excellence of elegant thoughts 4
I got such a change-loving temperament
That I did not settle anywhere under the sky 5
Sometimes I removed the stone idols from the Ka'bah
Sometimes I established the idols in the Haram 6
Sometimes I arrived at ñër in my desire to speak
And I concealed the Eternal Light up my sleeve 7
Sometimes I was nailed to the cross by my own clan
I rose to the Celestial world leaving the earth8
Sometimes I remained hidden in Cave of Hira for years9
Sometimes I gave the world the last cup of Divine wine10
Coming to India I played the Divine Orchestra 11
Sometimes I chose the land of Greece12
When the people of India paid no heed to my call
I populated the countries of China and Japan13
Sometimes I created the universe by combining elements
I did this against the meanings of priests' preaching14
I stained hundreds of lands with blood
When I started the war between Intellect and religion15
When I could not understand the reality of stars
I passed sleepless nights in this contemplation 16
The swords of the Church could not frighten me
When I taught the theory of earth's revolution17
I demonstrated the gravity's secret to the world
Using the far-sighted Intellect's mirror 18
I arrested radiations and the restless electricity
I made the earth the source of envy to Paradise19
Ah! But I could not reach the Existence' secrets
Though I made the world beautiful with my Intellect
In the end as my materialistic eye opened
I found Him lodged in my own heart
1. Allusion to the Holy Qur’«n 2:30‑34, which describes the creation of S. ÿdam A.S. and his spouse and their transfer to the earth.
2. Allusion to the Holy Qur’«n 3:81. This verse describes the pledge of the prophets. This pledge was to support every prophet of God, not to disregard the prophets who were to appear in the future, not to consider themselves exclusive custodians of the true Faith, and not to oppose the Truth. The pledge of a prophet is binding on his Ummah. However, the human race has betrayed this trust throughout its history except a few righteous people who believed in and testified to the Truth and the message of God as brought by the successive prophets.
3. Intellection - This is the process of comprehension of all things as taught by God and is the criterion for Man's distinction from other of God's creation such as angels. Endowed with such a faculty Man was sent to the earth to populate it and maintain its order and beauty as created by God. According to the Holy Qur'«n the emigration of at S. ÿdam A.S. was not a punishment but a responsibility bestowed by God on him for which he had been prepared and pre‑ordained.
4. Search for knowledge has been an inseparable part of Man's nature since his creation.
5. Allusion to the constantly wandering nature of the human race throughout history. It also refers to the constantly changing thought of Man.
6. Allusion to the placing of three hundred sixty stone idols in the precincts of the Ka'bah by the Quraish, in the second hemistich, and to their removal by the Holy Prophet S.A.W. and his Companions at the time of the conquest of Makkah Mu’aïïamah in the first hemistich.
7. Allusion to the ardent desire of S. Mës« A.S. to see and speak with God and the miracle of the illuminated palm (The Holy Qur'«n 27:7‑14; 28:29‑35).
8. Allusion to the crucifixion and ascension to heaven of S.‘¥s« A.S.
9. Allusion to the retirement of the Holy Prophet S.A.W. to the Cave of £ir« where he meditated and prayed for long periods of time over several years and where he finally received the first Divine Revelation (The Holy Qur'«n 96:1‑5).
10. Allusion to the Last message of God to Man contained in the Holy Qur'«n.
11. Allusion to the large number of pious persons who preached Tawéâd of God and that of mankind in India. The number of such preachers is legion. ‘All«mah Iqb«l also includes Gautam Buddha (Appendix I, No. 29) and Guru N«nak (Appendix I, No. 60) among those who preached these doctrines, though they were not Muslims formally. We shall learn more about them in the Poem 126 "N«nak".
12. Allusion to the very early history of Christianity when their leaders had to take refuge in Greece where they worked on their Scriptures. Greek philosophy exerted very great influence on Christian thought for that reason.
13. Allusion to the persecution of Buddhists by the idol worshipping, caste-ridden and Brahman-dominated Hindu society, on account of which Buddhism which stood of Tawéâd-i-Ins«niyat and a caste‑less society all but disappeared from India. Buddhists migrated to and settled in far off places, including China and Japan.
14. Allusion to the cosmology and astronomy as evolved in Europe during the Renaissance period. The findings of astronomy were considered heretic by the Roman Catholic Church under the influence of the Greek cosmology which had entered Christian thought and had assumed the position of being a part of the Christian religion.
15. Allusion to the persecution and bloodshed in the Christendom, due to the differences in belief with the Roman Catholic Church during and after the Reformation.
16. This alludes to the intellectual puzzles of Astronomy.
17. Allusion to Galileo (Appendix I, No. 28) who was a famous Italian scientist who presented the theory of the spherical nature of the earth and its revolution round the sun as opposed to the Greek philosophy which taught the earth to be flat and the center of the universe. The Christian Church was so much influenced by Greek thought that they considered Greek philosophy to be part of the Christian faith. Hence, they declared Galileo a heretic.
18. Allusion to the discovery of gravity and its multifarious manifestations in the phenomena of nature, particularly those enunciated by Albert Einstein (Appendix I, No. 23) in his theory of general relativity.
19. Allusion to the achievements of modern science and technology.