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The Devil’s Cabinet A Captivating Poetic Drama by Iqbal

This poem carries various dramatic elements expertly intermingled in its construction. A drama should contain characters; and it has six characters; one is head of the parliament ‘Iblees’ and the other five are his advisors.

Words, to be delivered by the characters, have been very carefully selected. The words accord the attributes of the speaker and satisfy the demand of the role. Iblees talks in first person with an egoistic assertion, and uses the words ‘MaiN, meray, meri, maiN nay’ quite frequently. It shows his proud and snobbish being.

Academically it is said that a play should begin with an announcement (visual/verbal) of the principal conflict that intertwines the fabric of the theme.
This poem, indeed a drama, too begins with the devil’s proclamation that the Creator of the universe is at the verge of destroying it right away. He created this material universal with a lot of longings, but now the creatures under the skies are no more on the right path.

The devils’ announcement at the opening of the poem means a lot for the forces of the good, upon whom the Creator once relied heavily, and predicted the eventual defeat of the devil.

As a matter of fact, this poem begins with the proclamation of the end of the good, the end of the eternal conflict between the good and the bad at the triumph of the devil and his companions.

The devil has called in the cabinet members/advisors in order to discuss the future agenda as to how to drive the world from here onwards.

It means, the ‘hook’ technique to open up a drama has been expertly used by the writer of this poem, the great Iqbal. For, the poem hooks up the reader right in the beginning and carries through the agenda of the meeting and the substance under discussion.

The word ‘Iblees’ has been derived from a greek word ‘diabolos’ but after the transliteration to Arabic, ‘was discarded and only ‘iabolos’ was left. And iabolos stands for ‘lier’ ‘fitna pardaz’.

This poem is basically a dialogical drama which is being played among the heavenly cabinet members of the devil, in the mid of 1930s. The devil and his advisors have gathered to analyze the state of command-and-control of the devil over this world and the performance of his advisors in this regard, especially in the east & the west.  Background of this poem is the political scenario of the world in 1930s; Isms like Socialism, Capitalism and Marxism were working behind all the major developments. And the scene of the east was quite opposite to that of the west. Muslims had become accustomed in performing rituals only like offering prayer, paying zakat, performing hajj and keeping fast without keeping the true spirit of Islam in view, that is, movement; action. They were imbibing passivity from their once-revolutionary religion. That is why they were not effectively contributing to the overall socio political setup of the world.

Through the discussion among Iblees and his advisors, Iqbal establishes that, it is only iblees, who is behind all the catastrophe the world was going through. Iblees has a one-point agenda, that is, to rule the world by thrashing the worst enemies who are, to Iqbal, the true Muslims.

To attain his goal, Iblees makes attempts in different ways; under the garb of a religious reformist, an ardent communist, a cunning socialist, and an almighty king.
Through his advisors he comes to know that all was going well.
For example: His first advisor says’

‘Ye hamari saey-e-peham ki kramat hay kay aaj’.sufi-o-mulla malookiyat k banday hain tamam’
‘Taba-e-mashriq kay liye mozoon yehi afiyoon thi’ warna ‘Qawwali’ say kuch kam tar nahi ‘elm-e-kalaam’

‘Hay twaf-o-hajj ka hungama agar baqi to kya’.kun’d ho kar reh gyi momin ki taigh-e-bay-nyam’
‘kiski no-meedi pay hujjat hay ye farmaan-e-jadeed?……….’hay jahaad iss daur main Mard-e-musalman par haraam’
And at the end of the point made by other four advisors, the fifth advisor alerts the devil:
‘Meray Aaqa wo jahaan zer-o-zabar honay ko hay’ .jis Jahaan ka hay faqat Teri sayadat par madaar’

After hearing all news, Iblees, who used to say:

‘Kon kar sakta hay usski aatish-e-sozaan ko sard’..jis kay Hungamon main ho, Iblees ka soz-e-daroon’
‘jiski shakhain hon hamari aab-yari say buland’ kon kar sakta hay uss Nakhal-e-kohann ko ser’nigoon’.

 The word ‘Iblees’ has been derived from a greek word ‘diabolos’, but after the transliteration to Arabic, ‘was discarded and only ‘iabolos’ was left. And iabolos stands for ‘lier’, ‘fitna pardaz’.
 Iblees gets upset, because only he knows, that there is not a single power in this universe, which can destroy his dynasty, except Islam. This is very clear to him that, only true spirit of Islam and its true followers and believers can take over his establishment. He is frightened of the true Muslims.

He (the devil) warns:

‘Al-hazr! Ayeen-e-Peghambar say so baar Al-hazr’ Hafiz-e-namoos-e-zann, Mard aazma, Mard afreen’

‘har Nafas darta hoon iss Ummat ki bay’daari say main’ hay haqiqat jiskay deen ki, Ehtesab-e-Kayenat’

However, Iblees finds a soothing factor; and that is that, the relationship between the Muslims of the time and the Quran, Allah and Rusoolullah SAWW has weakened and deteriorated to the maximum. The sustenance of a weakened relation ensures the ultimate triumph of the devil. He exclaims thereupon’

‘Chashm-e-Aalam say rahay Posheeda ye Aayee’n to khoob’.ye ghanimat hay kay khud momin hay mehroom-e-yaqeen’

And at the end of his address he orders his advisors:

‘MAST RAKHO ZIKR-O-FIKAR-E-SUBH’GAHI MAIN ISSAY’.PUKHTA-TAR KAR DO MIZAJ-E-KHANQAAHI MAIN ISSAY.’

‘Iblees ki majlis-e-shoora’ has all dramatic elements in its construction. A drama should contain at least two characters, and it has six characters, one is head of the parliament ‘iblees’ and the other five are his advisors. These advisors have no specified colour, age, or gender. The parliament is situated in sky, and this element (set) makes it so spiritual to watch. Human beings have a great relation with the skies. So with the help of the place, Iqbal makes the backdrop more abstract and mysterious.

All advisors are genius, which depicts that Iblees has chosen wise characters as his advisors. Next element of drama is dialogue; we found appropriate dialogues in this poem.

Words, to be delivered by the characters, have been very carefully selected. The words accord the attributes of the speaker and satisfy the demand of the role. Iblees talks in first person with an egoistic assertion, and uses the words ‘MaiN, meray, meri, maiN nay’ quite frequently. It shows his proud and snobbish being.

Interestingly, we find that there is only one dialogue delivered by the second advisor. The question is, why so? The connotation is up to the reader of the poem.
And 3rd element is plot. Only plot tells as to when and how a drama can hook and hold its reader or viewer. And it’s, again, the plot that decides the crests and troughs of the conflict of drama.

‘Iblees ki majlis-e-shoora’ has been expertly plotted by Iqbal.
At the opening address of the session, ‘Iblees’ deliveres such a dialogue which cradles the conflict’ the very backbone of a drama; he says:

‘Ye anaaser ka purana khel ye duniya-e-doon’ .Saknaan-e-Arsh-e-azam ki tammanaon ka khoon’
And after this proclamation, the reader finds the house open for a heated debated with a convincing conclusion’ in the terms of Drama, the resolution’

 

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