The Self in Hiding
The Self is weakened by asking.
O thou who hast gathered taxes from lions,
Thy need hath caused thee to become a fox in disposition.
Thy maladies are the result of indigence:
This disease is the source of thy pain.
It is robbing thine high thoughts of their dignity
And putting out the light of thy noble imagination.
Quaff rosy wine from the jar of existence!
Snatch thy money from the purse of Time!
Like Omar, come down from thy camel!*
Beware of incurring obligations, beware!
How long wilt thou sue for office
And ride like children on a woman’s back?
A nature that fixes its gaze on the sky
Becomes debased by receiving benefits.
By asking, poverty is made more abject;
By begging, the beggar is made poorer.
Asking disintegrates the Self
And deprives of illumination the Sinai-bush of the Self.
Do not scatter thy handful of dust;
Like the moon, scrape food from thine own side!
Albeit thou art poor and wretched And overwhelmed by affliction,
Seek not thy daily bread from the bounty of another,
Seek not waves of water from the fountain of the sun,
Lest thou be put to shame before the Prophet
On the Day when every soul shall be stricken with fear.
The moon gets sustenance from the table of the sun
And bears the brand of his bounty on her heart.
Pray God for courage! Wrestle with Fortune!
Do not sully the honour of the pure religion!
He who swept the rubbish of idols out of the Ka’ba
Said that God loves a man that earns his living.
Woe to him that accepts bounty from another’s table
And lets his neck be bent with benefits!
He hath consumed himself with the lightning of the favours bestowed on him,
He hath sold his honour for a paltry coin.
Happy the man who thirsting in the sun
Does not crave of Khizr a cup of water! **
His brow is not moist with the shame of beggary;
He is a man still, not a piece of clay.
That noble youth walks under heaven
With his head erect like the pine.
Are his hands empty? The more is he master of himself.
Do his fortunes languish? The more alert is he.
The beggar’s wallet is like a boat tossing in waves of fire;
Sweet is a little dew gathered by one’s own hand.
Be a man of honour, and like the bubble
Keep thy cup inverted even in the midst of the sea!**
* The Caliph Omar was a man of simple habits and self-reliant character.
** Khizr is supposed to have drunk of the Fountain of Life.
*** The bubble is compared to an inverted cup, which of course receives nothing.
~SHEIKH MUHAMMAD IQBAL