An Eagle and a Fish: Poem by Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal

Allama Iqbal - Dr. Annemarie Schimmel

Allama Iqbal


Once an eagle stood on the sea shore. A fish in the sea addressed the eagle thus:

“What you see before you is the vast stretch of the ocean. It is no ordinary thing. It is a deep ocean of grear dimensions. Here you have many crocodiles and alligators. Here there are storms and whirlwinds. In the depths of the ocean you find sparkling pearls. When the storm wages here, the life of no one is safe. To crown all, even Time has no effect on the ocean”.

On hearing this the eagle smiled, and having poised itself for flight said to the fish:

“You are not aware of me, and you have in vain tried to overawe me with the vastness of the ocean. O fool, know that I am not attached to the ground level. I am an eagle, and the vastness of space is my dominion. I attach little importance to the ocean. As a matter of fact the entire world is subject to my wings. May be a vast ocean or an extensive desert, I attach little importance to them. Nothing of your world will impress me. I see things from a high level. If you also wish to attain heights, you should rise above the surface, and fly in the air. You will then realise why the ocean Is of little significance for me. The vastness of the ocean, the extent of its waves, its storms and its whirlwinds; its crocodiles and alligators are a source of danger for such persons who live at the ground level. An eagle lives at the heights of space. The dangers which you have recounted cannot touch me.”

The point brought home is that such persons who are attached to the world are impressed with wealth, and power, but those who are spiritually oriented and whose self is developed are not impressed with such petty things.

The message that Iqbal wishes to preach is that we should develop our selves, soar high and be above the petty considerations of ordinary men of the world.

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