Iqbal: A Brahmin told the Creator on the Day of Judgement: the flowering of life was the moment of a spark, but I would say if you do not mind, the idol was more lasting than the man. What is he referring to? The material strength of one? Or that paganisms hold on human imagination was stronger than that of belief? But paganism is not just a crude, primitive manner of searching for truth. It is also the source of the arts, of the search for beauty. When Pygmalion suddenly saw Galatea coming to life, did he think of Aphrodite who had given life to her or was he lost in the sensation of her hands growing warm under his grip? To how many is given the privilege of turning their ideal into a living person? In our, as in Persian poetry, kufr means the liberation of the heart from hypocrisy and from such social mores as stand between the heart and the truth. We can find traces of the concept of paganism even in French poetry: faisant jaillir ta gorge en globe, montrant tous nus tes bras paiens. (Making your breasts stand out in their roundness, showing in all their nakedness your pagan arms). Idol worship is also an effort to reach the Truth. After all, Ibn Arabi held that if an idol is adored, the Creator invests it with some of His divinity. Perhaps, that is an extreme statement of Pantheism. But it is also an unqualified affirmation of the equality of man, where an ordinary, illiterate savage has the same dignity in the eyes of the Creator as an Aristotle or an Ibn Sina. Apparently, Iqbal does not agree. Sang mi baash o dar in kargah-e-shisha guzar, Vaaye sanggai kay sanam gasht o ba meena na raseed. (Be a stone and pass through this house of crystal, woe to the stone that turned into an idol and yet could not attain the source of the elixir). But pure thought cannot ultimately escape the logic of materiality because that is the only mode of existence known to man. Thus we encounter certain difficulties in treating the Shireen-Farhad romance in sufistic terms. Forget the later interpolations like Shireen being a princess of Armenia and Farhad son of the emperor of China. She was a slave-girl of Armenian origin, purchased in one of the numerous slave-markets of the period. If she had been a free member of the Iranian ruling family, Farhad would not have dared to ask for her. Anyway, Farhad had not won her heart. He had had a glimpse of her from his perch on the Besutoon hill, as she passed through the royal gardens, on her way to the kings bedchamber. Khusro had agreed to give her to him because she was one of many slaves at his disposal. Her transfer would have been no more than a chattel passing from one owner to another. Thus, our Amir Khusros lengthy description of the love scenes of Khusro and Shireen, too, was misplaced and the efforts of various poets to fill the story with sufistic meaning forlorn. But let us look at it another way: Shireen was an idol, which turned into a beautiful woman inside Farhads heart. Thus, he died not for a slave-girl but for an ideal. The writer is a former ambassador.