English Translation of
ہمد ر د ي
( ماخوذ از وليم کو پر (
بچوں کے ليے

from
Bang-i-Da’rra
Allama Iqbal
Empathy
    Jehan-i-Iqbal    
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Perching on a lonely branch of tree
Was a Bulbul in a sad decree? (1)
Lamenting on the approach of night
The day was spent in carefree flight
How I may reach my nest?
All is but in a dark behest. (2)
Hearing Bulbul’s cry in dismay
A Jugnoo approached him in the way
I’m ready to serve you with heart and soul
Though I’m a little insect of no protocol
The night is dark but nothing is to worry
I will illuminate your way, now you hurry
With a torch Allah hath me blessed
Groomed me so that kindled my self
The better are the people in this world
Those who seek not favor, but help others!
EXPOSITION
NOTES
    This poem is categorized in a collection of poems in Bang-e-dara
    for children. The Urdu title of poem is “Hamdardi” which is usually
    translated as “Sympathy”. According to my understanding of it, I
    have translated it as "Empathy" instead of "Sympathy".

    The Bulbul is the nightingale and the Jugnoo is the firefly. The
    original Urdu words have been used to assign character to the role
    played by the two. It is not purposeless though, while analyzing
    symbols used in Muslim classic literature, we come to know that
    “garden” refers to the garden of life; the rose to the spiritual self
    and the Bulbul to the material, worldly self.

    The bulbul spends most of the time enjoying luxuries of life,
    idolizing rose and claiming to be in love, but seldom showing an
    active pursuit of it. Bulbul's occupation is mostly with the zahir of
    life. While Rose is all spiritual essence of life. Rose, however, is
    not mentioned in this poem.

    The poem also signifies the loneliness and depression one faces
    near the end of life, when all life is spent in pursuit of material
    needs of life seeking ordinary  pleasures, "as said by Iqbal" ---
    Urnay chugnay main  Din guzara"; at the end of the day we realize  
    that we have lost our way. We are nowhere and we don’t know
    who will get us safely to the home.
    A simple Jugnoo (firefly) may help us in such a dire situation. It is
    all by Allah’s mercy.

    The Jugnoo represents inner illumination. In our everyday life, we
    hardly distinguish a Jugnoo from other insects. It remains as
    insignificant and petty a being as ordinary flies can be. In the same
    way we can hardly recognize people with real knowledge in life, the
    Wali Allahs or the friends of Allah. We recognize them only in
    moments of dire need, in a spiritual crisis they appear like a North
    Star in the dark sky and guide us to our desired destination.
 
    May Allah give us all the capacity to empathize with our inner
    selves! Amen!
    (1) In ordinary
    understanding of the
    language, the "decree" is
    some rule or enforced
    law of court. But in
    spiritual text it pertains to
    "taqdeer" the divine law
    dictated for some
    phenomenon or object.
    So it will be understood
    as buri qismat or bural
    haal muqaddar ki waja
    say, which is our first
    feeling whenever we
    meet an unusual or bad
    situation in life.

    (2) First of all "behest"
    though literally means an
    authoritative command.
    Here it means that this
    darkness or ignorance
    has been implemented
    upon us by some cruel
    authority. It could not
    have been our voluntary
    choice.

    Both of these terms
    indicate the confusion
    and misunderstanding,
    and an attempt of our
    ego to project everything
    bad on something
    external to us, and denial
    to admit one's own
    negligence or ignorance.
    In sufistic terms these are
    the primary veils that one
    needs to remove to get
    closer to the Haqq or the
    divine truth.