Three Urdu poems, translated by Mabel Khawaja


A Rosary of Love

On the rosary of love, each breath is a conversation with my beloved

I know whom I love and who is loved by my beloved

On the rosary of love, each breath is a conversation with my beloved

Thereís a lover in the temple, and thereís a lover in the mosque.*

On the rosary of love, each breath is a conversation with my beloved.

Drowned in the ocean of love, I am merely a reflection of my beloved.

I have been beading and breathing my rosary of love until the eve of my life

On the rosary of love, each breath is a conversation with my beloved

We are good for nothing until we go crazy in a conversation with the beloved

On the rosary of love, each moment of breath is a conversation with my beloved

My beloved is not to be blamed, for my beloved is infallible

On the rosary of love, each breath is a conversation with my beloved

I just have a bad reputation for my own conversations with my beloved.

On the rosary of love, each breath is a conversation with my beloved
 
 

Poet: Tufail Hoshiarpuri

Translator: Mabel Khawaja

*The globally ecumenical scope of Sufi poetry is echoed overtly in this line where the love of Allah is defined as infinite cosmic love that is not confined to religious boundaries. Sufi poetry integrates human limitation with infinite attributes of Allah. Even though boundaries are relevant to human conversation with the Creator from an individual vantagepoint, these limits of the human soul cannot be applied to Godís boundless love for His creation.
 
 
 
 

You are Allah -- Who exists*

Your sovereign authority is full of majesty and glory.

You have dominion over the universe. You are eternal.

All that exists is a mirror of your perfect beauty.

All that exists needs Your care and protection.

You are Allah -- Who exists-- Allah -- Who exists

You reveal new wonders with the passage of time.

You transform curious eyes into radical amazement

Every branch bows down to praise your creativity divine

Every leaf points to a path of your kingdom sublime

You are Allah -- Who exists, Allah -- Who exists.

How did Ibn Hyder accept a cupful of poison?

How did Tabrez accept the pain of hanging?

How could Mansoor speak from the gallows?

All creation is a toyland; the reality rests with You.

You are Allah -- Who exists, Allah-- Who exists.

Who can dare to challenge your supremacy?

The entire universe seeks Your will to exist.

Your glory is manifest in every nook and corner.

Without a partner, You rule the whole universe.

You are Allah-- Who exists, Allah -- Who exists.

Poet : Iqbal Nafisi

Translator: Mabel Khawaja

"Allah Hu" can be literally translated as "Allah is." Hu means "to be." However, in this hymn of praise to Allah, the scope of meaning for the verb "to be" must embrace the concept of infinity in the phrase Allah Hu, because Allah transcends the limits of existence and reality made manifest to human consciousness within the temporal constraints of the past, present, and the future.
 
 




Dealers and Town-merchants

You are dealers and town-merchants. You don't know 1

what is gain and loss in the transactions of love, or 2

what is the price of the heart and the cost of dreams. 3

You will never know how one pays with oneís life, 4

how lovers can meet, how flowers can bloom, 5

why glances give in, why is there a breathtaking pause, 6

how new roads emerge on horizon, how conversations begin. 7

You won't understand the language of love. 8

You donít feel the communion between lovers

You donít understand the crazy state of lovers torn apart. 9

You don't admire beauty as a force of enchantment,

for you don't know the innermost core of love. 10

You are inflicted with the disease of expediency

You have faith in a calculated and rational remedy.* 11

You won't know when it is time to take a risk.* 12

You won't understand the connection

between wounds and fruition,.

between scars and a burning sensation, 13

between pain and affection.

You don't know what makes one weep. 14

You won't understand the wailing and the tears,

or the blisters of lovers who walk in a desert. 15

You don't understand the sighs and lamentations of love. 16

I know that you have deep appreciation for poetry. 17

It is the art and expression of a refined personality, 18

yet you choose a few words and hear a few sounds. 19

What connects the words with sounds, you won't learn. 20
 
 

Poet: Anonymous

Translator: Mabel Khawaja

*The poet is validating the definition of Sufism as a form of religious learning that reminds the seeker of knowledge about human limitations and the power of mystery behind Allah's will. Mysticism in Sufi literature illustrates how true knowledge transcends the traditional constraints of a strictly rational approach to the process of learning.

**"Rah-e-dinrihan" literally means the designated days for betting. In the context of this poem, betting represents the element of risk which is common to all forms of transactions, but for lovers it represents a moment of recognition and fearless submission to true love.