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Tarana-e-Milli by Allama Iqbal

by on 09/19/2010

Taranae e Milli translated as Anthem of the community is a piece of poetic art as well as an ideological text for all Muslims. This anthem disregards nationalism and emphasises on the unity of the Muslims nation, with Prophet Muhammad (saws) as the leader. Below is the Urdu text and English translation.



English Translation

1) Central Asia and Arabia are ours, Hindustan is ours
2) we are Muslims, the whole world is our homeland

Though ‘Chin’ nowadays refers to China, it used to be used for Central Asia, and that’s probably how it’s meant here.

1) the trust of Oneness is in our breasts
2) it is not easy to erase our identity [=name and sign]

The English word ‘trust’ here refers not to an emotion, but to something bequeathed or left in trust, for safekeeping. The Arabic word tau;hiid is a theological term, and has the sense of ‘monotheism’.

1) among the world’s idol-temples the first is that house of the Lord
2) we are its door-guards, it is our door-guard

I’ve always been surprised that Iqbal refers to the Ka’bah as an ‘idol-temple’. But he does seem to. One solution would be to interpret ‘first’ as referring not to rank, but to chronology, since the Ka’bah dates from the ancient (pre-Islamic) past; since an omitted verb is normally in the present, however, this reading requires some forcing.

1) we were raised, and have become youths, in the shadow of swords
2) the scimitar of the crescent moon is our ‘group-related’ sign

The word qaum is such a vexation to the careful translator; it can be used to refer to so many different kinds of groups. There’s no such English word as ‘groupal’, alas; and ‘communal’ now has in South Asian English a specially charged sense (‘pertaining to religious chauvinism’). Similarly, the word millii means ‘pertaining to the religious community’; the title of the poem could be more literally translated as as ‘Religious-community-related Song’, which would be suitably parallel to ‘Indian Song’; but that’s too clunky even for me.

1) in the valleys of the west our call to prayer echoed
2) our moving flood did not stop on account of anyone

The verb thamnaa is intransitive, so kisii se thamnaa would mean not ‘to be stopped by someone’ (as in the sense of blocked or prevented), but rather ‘to stop [oneself] because of anyone’.

1) we are not, oh sky, ones to be oppressed by falsehood
2) a hundred times you’ve already tested us

1) oh garden of Andalusia! you remember those days
2) when our nest was in your branches

Here it’s pronounced ‘gul-si-taan’, rather than the usual ‘gu-lis-taan’, to suit the meter.

1) oh wave of the Tigris! you too recognize us
2) till now your river is our story-teller

1) oh pure land! for your sacredness we have been cut down and have died
2) till now our blood moves in your veins

The word pah is short for par , which here means ‘over, about’. The verb ka;T marnaa (short for ka;T kar marnaa ) is entirely intransitive, so that there’s no indication at all of an agent who might have done the cutting down and killing.

1) our leader of the caravan is the Chief of the Hijaz (saws)
2) through that name the peace of our spirit lives on

1) Iqbal’s song is, {‘so to speak’ / ‘speaking’} , the call of a bell
2) again our caravan is on the road

The word goyaa literally means, in Persian, ‘speaking’; in Urdu it’s also conventionally used the way we use ‘so to speak’ in English. Both senses work well in the context of this line, and in classic ghazal style, both should be kept in mind. The phrase jaadah-pemaa literally means ‘road-measuring’; the English ‘on the road’ is a good colloquial equivalent.


From → Allama Iqbal

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