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Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Meaning Of Ali





I've been looking for the meaning of the word "Ali" for over a year now. I cannot disclose my reasons for now, but it has been a very long and tiring quest. Last night while I was reading Allama Iqbal's Persian poetry book Asrar-e-Khudi (The Secrets of the Self), I came across a poem I am sharing here. This seems to be linked to the quest somehow.


Setting Forth The Inner Meanings Of The Names Of Ali
در شرح اسرار اسمای علی مرتضی

Ali is the first Muslim and the King of men,
مسلم اول شہ مردان علے

In Love's eyes Ali is the treasure of the Faith.
عشق را سرمایہ ی ایمان علے

Devotion to his family inspires me with life
از ولای دودمانش زندہ ام

So that I am as a shining pearl.
در جہان مثل گہر تابندہ ام

Like the narcissus, I am entraptured with gazing:
نرگسم وارفتہ ی نظارہ ام

Like perfume, I am straying though his pleasure garden.
در خیابانش چو بو آوارہ ام

If holy water gushes from my earth, he is the source;
زمزم ار جوشد ز خاک من ازوست

If wine pours from my grapes, he is the cause.
می اگر ریزد ز تاک من ازوست

I am dust, but his sun hath made me as a mirror:
خاکم و از مہر او آئینہ ام

Song can be seen in my breast.
می توان دیدن نوا در سینہ ام

From Ali's face the Prophet drew many a fair omen,
از رخ او فال پیغمبر گرفت

By his majesty the true religion is glorified
ملت حق از شکوہش فر گرفت

His commandments are the strength of Islam:
قوت دین مبین فرمودہ اش

All things pay allegiance to his House.
کائنات آئین پذیر از دودہ اش

The Apostle of God gave him the name Bu Turab;
مرسل حق کرد نامش بوتراب

God in the Koran called him "the Hand of Allah."
حق ’’یداللہ‘‘ خواند در ام الکتاب

Every one that is acquainted with Life's mysteries
ہر کہ دانای رموز زندگیست

Knows what is the inner meaning of the names of Ali.
سر اسمای علی داند کہ چیست

The dark clay, whose name is the body—
خاک تاریکی کہ نام او تن است

Our reason is ever be moaning its iniquity.
عقل از بیداد او در شیون است

On avvount of it our sky-reaching thought plods over the earth;
فکر گردون رس زمین پیما ازو

It makes our eyes blind and our cars deaf.
چشم کور و گوش ناشنوا ازو

It hath in its hand a two-edge sword of lust:
از ہوس تیغ دو رو دارد بدست

Travelers' hearts are broken by this brigand.
رہروان را دل برین رہزن شکست

Ali, the Lion of God, subdued the body's clay
شیر حق این خاک را تسخیر کرد

And transmuted this dark earth to gold.
این گل تاریک را اکسیر کرد

Murtaza, by whose sword the splendour of Truth was revealed,
مرتضی کز تیغ او حق روشن است

Is named Bu Turab from his conquest of the body.
بوتراب از فتح اقلیم تن است
(Bu Turab literally means "Father of the Earth")

Man wins territory by prowess in battle,
مرد کشور گیر از کراری است

But his brightest jewel is masters of himself.
گوہرش را آبرو خودداری است

Whosoever in the world become a Bu Turab
ہر کہ در آفاق گردد بوتراب

Turns back the sun from the west;
باز گرداند ز مغرب آفتاب
(A miracle attributed to Ali)

Whosoever saddles tightly the seed of the body
ہر کہ زین بر مرکب تن تنگ بست

Sits like the bezel on the seal of sovereignty:
چون نگین بر خاتم دولت نشست

Here the might of Khaibar is under his feet,
زیر پاش اینجا شکوہ خیبر است
(The fortress of Khaibar, was captured by the Muslims with the help of Ali in A.D. 628)

And hereafter his hand will distribute the water of Kauthar.
دست او آنجا قسیم کوثر است
(A river of Paradise)

Through self-knowledge, he acts as God's Hand,
از خود آگاہے یداللہی کند

And in virtue of being God's Hand he reigns over all.
از یداللہی شہنشاہی کند

His person is the gate of the city of the sciences.
ذات او دروازہ ی شہر علوم
(Prophet Mohammad PBUH said, "I am the city of Knowledge and Ali is its gate.")

Arabia, China, and Greece are subject to him.
زیر فرمانش حجاز و چین و روم

If thou wouldst drink clear wine from thine own grapes.
حکمران باید شدن بر خاک خویش

Thou must needs wield authority over thine own earth.
تا می روشن خوری از تاک خویش

To become earth is the creed of a moth:
خاک گشتن مذہب پروانگیست

Be a conqueror of earth; that alone is worthy of a man.
خاک را اب شو کہ این مردانگیست

Thou art soft as a rose. Become hard as a stone,
سنگ شو ای ہمچو گل نازک بدن

That thou mayst be the foundation of the wall of the garden!
تا شوے بنیاد دیوار چمن

Build thy clay into a Man,
از گل خود آدمی تعمیر کن

Build thy Man into a World
آدمی را عالمی تعمیر کن

Unless from thine own earth thou build - thine own wall or door.
گر بنا سازی نہ دیوار و دری

Someone else will make bricks of thine earth.
خشت از خاک تو بندد دیگری

O thou who complaints of the cruelty of Heaven,
ای ز جور چرخ ناہنجار تنگ

Thou whose glass cries out against the injustice of the stone,
جام تو فریادی بیداد سنگ

How long this wailing and crying and lamentation ?
نالہ و فریاد و ماتم تا کجا؟

How long this perpetual beating of thy breast ?
سینہ کوبیہای پیہم تا کجا؟

The pith of Life is contained in action,
در عمل پوشیدہ مضمون حیات

The delight in creation is the law of Life.
لذت تخلیق قانون حیات

Arise and create a new world!
خیز و خلاق جہان تازہ شو

Wrap thyself in flames, be an Abraham!
شعلہ در بر کن خلیل آوازہ شو


To comply with this world which does not favour thy purposes
با جہان نامساعد ساختن

Is to fling away thy buckler on the field of battle.
ہست در میدان سپر انداختن

The man of strong character who is master of himself
مرد خودداری کہ باشد پختہ کار

Will find Fortune complaisant.
با مزاج او بسازد روزگار

If the world does not comply with his humour,
گر نسازد با مزاج او جہان

He will try the hazard of war with Heaven:
می شود جنگ آزما با آسمان

He will dig up the foundations of the universe
بر کند بنیاد موجودات را

And cast its atoms into a new mould.
می دہد ترکیب نو ذرات را

He will subvert the course of Time
گردش ایام را برھم زند

And wreck the azure firmament.
چرخ نیلی فام را برہم زند

By his own strength he will produce
می کند از قوت خود آشکار

A new world which will do his pleasure.
روزگار نو کہ باشد سازگار

If one cannot live in the world as be seems a man,
در جہان نتوان اگر مردانہ زیست

Then it is better to die like the brave.
ہمچو مردان جانسپردن زندگیست

He that hath a sound heart
آزماید صاحب قلب سلیم

Will prove his strength by great enterprises.
زور خود را از مہمات عظیم

' Tis sweet to use love in hard tasks
عشق با دشوار ورزیدن خوشست

And, like Abraham, to gather roses from flames
چون خلیل از شعلہ گلچیدن خوشست
(The burning pyre on which Abraham was thrown lost its beat and was transformed into a rose-garden.)

The potentialities of men of action
ممکنات قوت مردان کار

Are displayed in willing acceptance of what is difficult.
گردد از مشکل پسندی آشکار

Mean spirits have no weapon but resentment,
حربہ ی دون ہمتان کین است و بس

Life has only one law.
زندگی را این یک آئین است و بس

Life is power made manifest,
زندگانے قوت پیداستی

And its mainspring is the desire for victory.
اصل او از ذوق استیلاستی

Mercy out of season is a chilling of Life's blood,
عفو بیجا سردی خون حیات

A break in the rhythm of Life's music.
سکتہ ئی در بیت موزون حیات

Whoever is sunk in the depths of ignomity
ہر کہ در قعر مذلت ماندہ است

Calls his weakness contentment.
ناتوانی را قناعت خواندہ است

Weakness is the plunderer of Life,
ناتوانے زندگی را رہزن است

Its womb is teeming with fears and lies.
بطنش از خوف و دروغ آبستن است

Its soul is empty of virtues,
از مکارم اندرون او تہی است

Vices fatten on its milk.
شیرش از بہر ذمائم فربہی است

O man of sound judgment, beware!
ہوشیار ای صاحب عقل سلیم

This spoiler is lurking in ambush
در کمینہا می نشیند این غنیم

Be not its dupe, if thou art wise:
گر خردمندی فریب او مخود

Chameleon-like, it changes colour every moment.
مثل حر با ہر زمان رنگش دگر

Even by keen observers its form is not discerned
شکل او اھل نظر نشناختند

Veils are thrown over its face.
پردہ ہا بر روی او انداختند

Now it is muffled in pity and gentleness,
گاہ او را رحم و نرمی پردہ دار

Now it wears the cloak of humanity.
گاہ می پوشد ردای انکسار

Some times it is disguised as compulsion,
گاہ او مستور در مجبوری است

Sometimes as excusability.
گاہ پنہان در تہ معذوری است

It appears in the shape of self-indulgence
چہرہ در شکل تن آسانی نمود

And robs the strong man's heart of courage.
دل ز دست صاحب قوت ربود

Strength is the twin of Truth;
با توانائی صداقت توأم است

If thou knowest thyself, strength is the Truth-revealing glass.
گر خود آگاہی ہمین جام جم است

Life is the seed, and power the crop:
زندگی کشت است و حاصل قوتست

Power explains the mystery of truth and falsehood.
شرح رمز حق و باطل قوتست

A claimant, if he be possessed of power,
مدعی گر مایہ دار از قوت است

Needs no argument for his claim.
دعوی او بی نیاز از حجت است

Falsehood derives from power the authority of truth,
باطل از قوت پذیرد شان حق

And by falsifying truth deems itself true.
خویش را حق داند از بطلان حق

Its creative word transforms poison into nectar.
از کن او زھر کوثر می شود

It says to good, "Thou art bad," and Good becomes Evil.
خیر را گوید شری ، شر می شود

O thou that art heedless of the trust committed to thee,
ای ز آداب امانت بیخبر

Esteem thyself superior to both worlds!
 ز دو عالم خویش را بہتر شمر
(The "trust" which God offered to Man and which Man accepted, after it had been refused by Heaven and Earth (Quran. ch. 33, v. 72), is the divine vicegerency, i.e., the duty of displaying the divine attributes.)

Gain knowledge of Life's mysteries!
 از رموز زندگے آگاہ شو

Be a tyrant! Ignore all except God!
 ظالم و جاہل ز غیر اللہ شو

O man of understanding, open thine eyes, ears, and lips !
 چشم و گوش و لب گشا ای ہوشمند

If then thou seest not the Way of Truth, laugh at me!
 گر نبینی راہ حق بر من بخند


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