This poem was penned by Allama Shibli Nomani, as a satirical response to the Aga Khan’s call to the Ottoman ruler, during the Balkan wars, to vacate the European territories under his rule from centuries, so as to escape the frequent attacks from European nations. This stand of the Aga Khan led to a wave of discontent among large sections of Indian Muslims
To the Turks said the honourable Aga,
Why are you, for no good reason, captive in Europe!
If you withdraw to Asia, then therein you will remain forever;
Spread out your feet at will, and sleep unperturbed!
You will soon realize the futility of modern tools,
The instant you withdraw to the valley of the Tatars.
Now, you will not need the railway;
To relay mail, will come the birds of the Haram.
Admit you will on your own volition: no use there is for musket;
When will be demonstrated your hurling of arrows.
Will depart from your heart the desire for adventure at sea,
When you will notice the intricate knots of the scaling rope-ladder
Of what use the railways now,
In what way is lacking your steed!
When you, in the wilderness, drive the ship of the desert,
No need will there be for steam, nor anxiety about storms.
The melody that bells round the neck of cattle produce, cannot be matched by the whistle (of the train)
None can say of the saddle: it’s no better than a berth.
Where do we find in the glow of the bulb,
The allure that a candle radiates in a gathering.
Decisions taken in the village square, by village elders,
Stand greater chance of implementation than European laws.
Agreed, Europe is Paradise personified;
Sheikh Saadi of Shiraz has recorded thus:
“My father bartered the garden of heaven in exchange for two grains of wheat.
I would not be a worthy son of my father, if I didn’t sell it in return for a grain of barley”.
The original Persian couplet of Saadi Shirazi is as follows:
پدرم روضه رضوان به دو گندم بفروخت/ نا خلف باشم اگر من به جویی نفروشم