Shikwa (Complaint)

Why must I forever suffer loss, oblivious to gain?
Why think not upon the morrow, drowned in grief for yesterday?
Why must I attentive heed the nightingale's lament of pain?
Fellow-bard! am I rose, condemned to silence all the way?
No; the burning power of song bids me be bold and not to faint;
Dust be in my mouth, but God - He is the theme of my complaint.
True, we forever, famous for our habit to submit;
Yet we tell our tale of grief, as by our grief,
We are muted lyre; yet a lament inhabits it -
If a sigh escapes our lips, no more can sorrow be contained.
God, give ear to the complaint of us, Thy servants tried and true;
Thou art used to songs of praise; now hear a note of protest too.
In Thy everlasting Essence Thou wast from eternity;
Bright the bloom bedecked the garden; undiffused the scent abode.
Lord of universal favor, let impartial justice be -
Could the rose's perfume scatter with no breeze to waft abroad?
Peace of mind and quiet spirit won we of our labors glad.
Else the folk of Thy Beloved - should they be accounted mad?
Strange indeed the spectacle Thy world supplied before our days,
Here men bowed them down to stones, there paid reverence to trees;
Only to the visual image was attuned the human gaze -
How could hearts adore a God no eye percipient may seize?
Well Thou knowest, was there any anywhere to name Thy name?
By the Muslim's strong right arm Thy purpose to fulfillment came.


Kiyu ziya' kar banu sood framosh rahu?
Fikr-e-farda na karu mehv-e-gham-e-dosh rahu?
Naale bulbul ke sunu aur hama tan gosh rahu
Ham navaa! mai bhi koi gul hoo ke khamosh rahu?
Jur'at aamoze miri taab-e-sukhan hai mujh ko
Shikwa Allah se "khakam badahan" hai muhj ko
Hai bajaa shaiva-e-taslim mai mush-hoor hai hum
Kissa-e-dard sunatey hai ke mujboor hai hum
Saaz-e-khamosh hai, furyaad se mehmoor hai hum
Naala aata hay agar lub pe, to mahzoor hai hum
Aey Khudaa! shikwa-e-arbab-e-vafa bhi sun lai
Khogar-e-hamd se thora sa ghilla bhi sun lai
Thi to mojood azal se hee teri zaat-e-kadeem
phool tha zaib-e-chaman, par na praishan thi shamim
Shart-e-insaaf hai aey saahb-e-altaf-e-'amim
Boo-e-gul phailty kis tara jo hoti na naseem?
Hum ko hami'at-e-khaatir ye praishaani thi
Varna ummat terey mehboob ki deevani thi?
Hum se pehlay tha ajab terey jaha ka manzar
Kahi masjood they puthar, kaheen mahbood shajar
Khogar-e-paikar-e-mahsoos thi insaan ki nazar
Manta phir koi un dekhey Khodaa ko kyo kar?
Tuj ko mahloom hai laita tha koi naam tera?
Kuwat-e-baooi muslim ne kya kaam tera!

Note: The poem above was written by Iqbal, a famous Urdu poet. He probably wrote it around 1915. It was one of his first poems which landed him a name in India and Urdu poetry. "Shikwa" is followed by another poem called, "Jawab-i-Shikwa" which is just as popular. Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of it. If you do, please pass it here. This poem was translated from the Urdu by A.J. Arberry.

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