The sky of Venus, between imperialism and paganism

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In the 4th chapter of “The Heavenly Poem”, Iqbal will launch a ferocious attack on paganism and imperialism, guilty, among other things, of stealing even from the dead

The sing of Baal

[…] The days of voluptuousness have returned to the world, religion has been defeated by monarchy and racism. Who cares more about Muhammad’s lamp, since they blow it off one hundred Abu Lahab?

Even if the cry of “There is only a God” rises, how can what has now been erased from the heart remain on the lips? The magic of the West has revived Ahriman; the day of God has paled for fear of the night! Oh ancient gods, it has come, our time has come!

As soon as they arrive on Venus, Rumi and Iqbal meet all the ancient gods gathered there; at that point Baal will take the word, an ancient Phoenician deity, who will produce the song that we have reported here in part. Essentially here the poet makes a speech very similar to the pivotal one of American Gods or the concept of “believing” and divinity. In Neil Gaiman’s book, in fact, this topic is explored in its depths with a history that sees the “ancient” gods as opposed to the “modern” ones, which are nothing more than the “things” to which we dedicate our time. .


Iqbal’s reasoning is obviously linked to his time, a moment of extreme archaeological fervor, so much so that one of the sentences in the passage is precisely: “Long live the European Orientalist, the one who pulled us out of the cold slabs of the sepulcher!”. This concept will violently return a little further on with Pharaoh, but here the Poet makes a speech more tied to atheism than to real imperialism. According to the latter, in fact, a society without divinity will tend to rediscover ancient cults or reinvent new ones and this can happen both consciously and not; examples of this are: the cult of the homeland, the main theme of imperialism, and an incredible materialism, generated by the death of the death of the heart.

The poets sink into the sea of Venus and see the spirits of Pharaoh and Kitchener there

Alas! I have lost religion and reason: I saw it, and yet I did not recognize it, this light! Oh rulers of the world, look at me! Look at me, O enemies of humanity! Woe to that people blinded by avarice, who steals rubies and pearls from the dust of the graves! A mummified figure has its home in the Museum of Wonders, which has a fairy tale on its lips sealed by silence!

It tells the story of imperialism, gives significant glances to blind people! What is the fate of imperialism? Create secure discord through hypocritical provisions! And for this bad teaching, the fate of the kingdom is disheartened, its provisions become increasingly confused and useless. If now I could still see He who spoke with God (Moses), I would ask him for a seer heart.


Here the attack on imperialism becomes clearer and more heated, criticizing bitterly things such as the British archaeological expeditions. Thinking about it, it is in fact absurd how, even today, there are museums all over the world that exhibit objects stolen or purchased during the colonial period; if we think of mummies and tombs, then, the image that comes out is that of disturbing looters of tombs, something disturbing and present in Iqbal’s mind.


The Pharaoh, then, is identified as the first of the imperialists, a warning to his successor, Kitchener, with whom he will share the fate: “Both were pharaohs: small one, large the other. Both died of thirst drowned in the embrace of the sea. Everyone knows the bitterness of death, but the death of tyrants is one of the Signs of God.”

Sudan dervish appearance

[…] The Mahdi said: “O Kitchener! If you have shrewd eyes, look at the revenge of the dust of a dervish! Heaven has not given a grave to your dust: it has not given you a sepulcher except in the salty sea “! Then the words broke in his throat and a sigh broke from his lips that broke the heart:

“Oh soul of the Arabs, wake up! Like the ancestors, be the creator of worlds! Oh Fu’ad, oh Faisal, oh Ibn Sa’ud, as long as you are wrapping yourself up like smoke? Ignite that ardor again in your chest gone, bring back those good days gone! Oh Batha soil, once again gives life to a Khalid, once again sings the melody of the unity of God! […]

Lord Kitchener

In the latter text of “The sky of Venus”, Iqbal launches a real call to awaken the whole Islamic world, in particular the Arab world, which has long been stingy with glories. A lament that the Poet chooses to express through the Mahdi, a legendary Sufi leader from Sudan, who fell just as he fought the British.

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