A Translation of Muhammad Iqbal’s “Gabriel and Satan”

Recently, I had the opportunity to publish a translation, transliteration, and commentary of a poem by Muhammad Iqbal (d. 1938) for The Maydan, an online publication focused on Islamic Studies for academic and public audiences alike. The poem is in Urdu, and it is called “Jibreel-o Iblees,” meaning “Gabriel and Satan.” It is a debate between these two over deep existential questions about man’s purpose of being and what drives him to act in the world. The poem is particularly subversive because it is Satan who emerges victorious in the debate. Why? You’ll have to read to find out!

In the piece, I include a preface and an introduction to Iqbal’s life, to give the reader a strong background of the subject and context. After this, the transliteration and translation follow. In my conclusion, I provide a list of further readings following my final thoughts. No background in Islamic Studies or Urdu is needed to follow along, as it is written with the assumption that the reader is completely new to the subject, though it will be of benefit to the specialist as well.

I would love to hear any thoughts and/or constructive criticisms that you may have, and I look forward to the engagement I receive on this piece.

The translation can be accessed here.

– Asad

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