An amusing poetic conversation between Ghalib, Iqbal & Faraz


Let me imbibe in the mosque, O priest, let me there drink my wine
Else show me someplace God doesn’t go, where his light does not shine

-Ghalib (1797-1869)


A mosque’s no fitting place to drink, its purpose is God’s praise
If ‘tis drink you want, find an infidel’s heart, where God no longer stays

-Iqbal (1877-1938)


I have known an infidel’s heart, for I have visited there
God does indeed dwell therein, only the infidel isn’t aware

-Faraz (1931-2008)



Zahid sharab peene de masjid mein beth kar,
Yaa woh jagha bata jahan Khuda nahin..
(Mirza Ghalib)

Masjid khuda ka ghar hai, peeney ki jagha nahin,
Kaafir ke dil mein ja, Wahan khudaa nahin..
(Allama Iqbal)

Kaafir ke dil se aya hon mein yeh dekh kar,
Khuda maujood hai wahan, Par usey pata nahin..
(Ahmad Faraz)



Three great Urdu poets of different temperaments, from different ages  and with different outlooks towards life.

Ghalib’s couplet is a challenge to the conventions of society and its strictures, it’s a comment on the hypocrisy inherent in the institutions of people.

Iqbal, being deeply religious, takes Ghalib’s verses as a challenge to his faith, and answers admonishingly. The tone in his couplet is slightly disdainful.

Ahmed Faraz reconciles the earlier two declarations by offering a compromise of hope and optimism.

A great example of the wit and versatility of the Urdu language.



5 thoughts on “An amusing poetic conversation between Ghalib, Iqbal & Faraz

  1. contrary to most Kashmiri interests I am not very fond of Urdu poetry, but when I first read the English translation I thought that the poem was originally written in English.
    smitten by it and all your other translations.

  2. I am so happy to read this post on such wonderful translation of the verses. I was writing a post about these and would be quoting you and your work in my post. Your website must be a great resource for beautifully translated poetry that I must explore! Thank you!

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