Muhammad Iqbal was a 19th-to-20th-century Muslim poet, philosopher, and politican, one of the most important figures in Urdu poetry and also influential in Farsi poetry, who received a British knighthood and is considered the national poet of Pakistan. One of his famous works is the Urdu poem "Iblees Ki Majlis-e-Shura" ("The Parliament of Satan"), which is a piece of satirical political criticism as well as literary writing.

Wikipedia links to "An uncredited English translation", but the link is dead. There is also "An English explanation of the poem in a youtube video", but I would prefer to be able to read it in English directly. Searching online has led me to various blog posts about the poem, such as this one where it's hard to tell which parts are direct translations and which are commentaries or retellings, and also various academic papers about it, but nary a plain English translation of the poem.

Has an English translation of this poem been published? Is there one available online, just a direct translation with a credited translator?

1 Answer 1



"Iblees Ki Majlis-e-Shura" has been artfully translated as "Satan's Parliament" by V. G. Kiernan in his 1955 book Poems from Iqbal.

The translation is quite different from the snippets translated by Raja for his paper, but by comparing the sections described by Raja with the corresponding sections of Kiernan's translation, you can see that they are the same poem.

Where Raja has (Satan speaking):

I showed the Farangi the dream of kingship
I broke the spell of the Church and the mosque
I taught the poor the lesson of fate
I gave the rich the madness of capitalism
Who can dowse this raging fire
That blazes with the vigor of Iblees (Raja, 2008, p. 42)

Kiernan has:

I it was
Who drew in Europe's brain the fantasy
Of empire, I who snapped the spell of mosque,
Of church, of temple ; I who taught the homeless
That all is ruled by Fate, and filled their guardians
With capitalism's hot frenzy. Who shall quench
The devouring blaze in him whose paroxysm
The fires that rage in Satan's soul have fed (Kiernan, 1955, p. 79)

Later, Raja has (third advisor speaking):

But what’s the answer to the mischief of that wise Jew
That Moses without light, that cross-less Jesus
Not a prophet, but with a book under his arm (Raja, 2008, p. 44)

and Kiernan has (third counsellor speaking):

But what answer shall we give
To that accursed creature, that vile Jew,
That prophet of no Sinai, that Messiah
Without a cross—no messenger of God,
Yet in his clasp a Book? (Kiernan, 1955, p. 81)

There are other parallels. Both Raja (p. 45) and Kiernan in his Notes (p. 110) identify the "Jew" as Karl Marx.

It appears that Raja's translation may have been ad hoc and limited to the excerpts he was quoting in his English-language paper. Kiernan has translated the entire poem as well as over 100 other works.

I recommend reading Kiernan's note on his translation before reading the poem itself. You may also want to refer to the Notes section at the end of the book while reading the poem.


Kiernan, V. G. (1955). Poems from Iqbal. John Murray Ltd.
Raja, M. A. (2008). Muhammad Iqbal: Islam, the West, and the quest for a modern Muslim identity. International Journal of the Asian Philosophical Association, 1(1), 37-49.

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