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“Pity the nation…”

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Khalil Gibran must have been a psychic.

A couple of days ago, Salman emailed me a link to an article that he thought I would find interesting. The article was about a poem written by Khalil Gibran 77 years ago, and the writer was amazed how that poem almost perfectly encapsulates the current situation of Pakistan. I, too, was speechless — Gibran’s character might have been describing the city of Orphalese, but the description very well suits our own motherland… sadly.

Here’s the Urdu translation of that poem that appeared in that article.

میرے دوستو اور ہم سفرو
افسوس اس قوم پر جو یقین سے بھری لیکن مذہب سے خالی ہو
افسوس اس قوم پر جو ایسا کپڑا پہنے جسے اس نے خود بنا نہ ہو
جو ایسی روٹی کھائے جسے اس نے اگایا نہ ہو
ایسی شراب پیےجو اس کے اپنے انگوروں سے کشید نہ کی گئی ہو

افسوس اس قوم پر جو دادا گیر کو ہیرو سمجھے
اور جو چمکیلے فاتح کو سخی گردانے
افسوس اس قوم پر جو خواب میں کسی جذبے سے نفرت کرے
لیکن جاگتے میں اسی کی پرستش کرے

افسوس اس قوم پر جو اپنی آواز بلند کرے
صرف اس وقت جب وہ جنازے کے ہم قدم ہو
ڈینگ صرف اپنے کھنڈروں میں مارے
اور اس وقت تک بغاوت نہ کرے
جب تک اس کی گردن مقتل کے تختے پر نہ ہو

افسوس اس قوم پر جس کی رہبر لومڑی ہو
جس کا فلسفی مداری ہو
جس کا فن پیوندکاری اور نقالی ہو

افسوس اس قوم پر جو ہر نئے حکمران کا استقبال ڈھول تاشے سے کرے
اور رخصت گالم گلوچ سے
اور وہی ڈھول تاشے ایک نئے حاکم کے لیے بجانا شروع کر دے

افسوس اس قوم پر جس کے مدبر برسوں کے بوجھ تک دب گئے ہوں
اور جس کے سورما ابھی تک پنگھوڑے میں ہوں

افسوس اس قوم پر جو ٹکڑوں میں بٹی ہوئی ہو
اور ہر ٹکڑا اپنے آپ کو قوم کہتا ہو

And here’s the original, taken from here.

My friends and my road-fellows, pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion.

Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave, eats a bread it does not harvest, and drinks a wine that flows not from its own winepress.

Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero, and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful.

Pity the nation that despises a passion in its dream, yet submits in its awakening.

Pity the nation that raises not its voice save when it walks in a funeral, boasts not except when its neck is laid between the sword and the block.

Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox, whose philosopher is a juggle, and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking.

Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpetings, and farewells him with hootings, only to welcome another with trumpetings again.

Pity the nation whose sages are dumb with years and whose strong men are yet in the cradle.

Pity the nation divided into fragments, each fragment deeming itself a nation.

Seriously, how did Khalil Gibran know?


khalil gibran

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Nov 2, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Sadly true depiction of our times ….. history repeats itselves ,
how ever people don’t like to learn from it.


Nov 2, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Khalil Gibran didn’t know Pakistan. He knew Muslims. For sadly, this not only reflects us as a nation on the basis of geography; this represents the apathetic attitude we have as an Ummah.


Nov 2, 2009 at 11:54 pm

we sold our souls a long time ago, these are just the reprecussions.


Nov 4, 2009 at 1:48 am

We aren’t alone in idiocies.

That’s how he knew.


Nov 4, 2009 at 1:41 pm

Humans are by nature, slaves to their ego. How else would any atrocity be justified in today’s context. And good writers/poets/philosphers know that.

Such a relevant piece.


Nov 4, 2009 at 9:49 pm

and this piece made me realize that some decisions i took in life were the best because i stomped over the unnecessary ego spills of narcissists!

Hira S.

Nov 4, 2009 at 11:59 pm

have to agree with specs. these are the symptoms plaguing the muslim ummah generally, and pakistan particularly.

it’s funny how there are muslim countries in as diverse regions as eastern europe, the far east, south asia and africa yet all fit the same profile.


Nov 8, 2009 at 12:51 pm

He WAS a psychic. :/

and this sounds sad. :(


Nov 9, 2009 at 8:41 pm

Hey, you’re tagged.

Shahzeb Ihsan

Nov 10, 2009 at 11:23 am

True, very true…reminds me of another quote from him:

“If reward is the goal of religion, if patriotism serves self-interest, and if education is pursued for advancement, then I would prefer to be a non-believer, a non-patriot, and a humbly ignorant man.”

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