Search This Blog

Thursday, 5 November 2015


Remembering Iqbal (Nov. 9)
“Islam Itself Is Destiny
And Will Not Suffer Destiny”
– Allama Iqbal

(M. Javed Naseem)

“Nations are born in the hearts
of poets, they prosper and die
in the hands of politicians”
– Allama Iqbal

An independent state (Pakistan) for the Muslims of South-Asia was the brain-child of Muhammad Iqbal, (commonly known as Allama Iqbal), the spiritual disciple of Rumi. I cannot find words to pay him enough tribute worthy of his contribution not only to the creation and history of Pakistan but also towards the motivational and inspirational poetic literature of Urdu and Persian languages.

9th of November was the day when Iqbal was born 138 years ago (in 1877). And I would like to take this opportunity to remember this great personality of the East, and, at the same time, remind the new generation of Muslims about the legacy of Iqbal. His message is universal and alive. He wanted you to wake up and take charge of your own destiny. You and only you can change the plight of the Muslim Ummah!

I feel great pride in having the honor of ‘once’ (in 1970) affiliated to the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany, from where Allama Iqbal had received his Ph.D degree. His statue was still there in the park in front of the university. I studied German language there as I was registered at that University for my M.A. (Economics) – ‘Diplom-wirtschaft’, but six months later I moved to Cologne University (Koln am Rhine) as I had landed a job in Cologne as ‘international broadcaster’ with the (West) German radio ‘Deutsche Welle’ (The Voice of Germany)’s Asian-Urdu service.

(Iqbal Ufer: A boulevard named after Allama Iqbal in Heidelberg, Germany)
(Allama Iqbal's memorial plaque in a garden near Heidelberg
University, Germany, where he lived in 1907)
Allama Iqbal:
As per Iqbal Academy, Pakistan, Iqbal is the best articulated Muslim response to Modernity that the Islamic world has produced in the 20th century. His response has three dimensions:

1. A creative engagement with the conceptual paradigm of modernism at a sophisticated philosophical level through his prose writings, mainly his ‘The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam’, which present his basic philosophic insights.

“The main purpose of the Quran is to awaken
in man the higher consciousness of his manifold
relations with God and the universe.”
--- Allama Iqbal
(From: The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam.)

2. His Urdu and Persian poetry which is the best embodiment of poetically meditated thought, squarely in the traditional continuity of Islamic literature and perhaps the finest flowering of wisdom poetry, or contemplative poetry or inspired poetry in the modern times.

3. As a political activist/ social reformer – rising up to his social responsibility, his calling at a critical phase of history.

‘Why have You made me born in this country,
The native of which is content with being a slave?’
--- Iqbal

Western Democracy:

“Woe to the constitution of the democracy of Europe!
The sound of that trumpet renders the dead still deader;
Those tricksters, treacherous as the revolving spheres,
Have played the nations by their own rules, and swept the board!”
“Robbers they, this one wealthy, that one a toiler,
All the time lurking in ambush one for another;
Now is the hour to disclose the secret of those charmers –
We are the merchandise, and they take all the profits.”
-- Muhammad Iqbal
(From: Divine Government, Javid-Nama)

The Open University, UK, adds:
Mohammad Iqbal was born in 1877 in SialkotPunjab, to father Sheikh Nuruddin Mohammad, a tailor by profession and of Kashmiri background, and mother Imam Bibi. He was educated at the Scotch Mission College, where he also took up poetry, and later, in 1895, at Government CollegeLahore, where he would come into contact with Sir Thomas Arnold. In 1903, he published a treatise on economics entitled “Ilmul-Iqtesad”, and in 1904, he wrote the Indian patriotic song “Sare Jahan se Achccha Hindostan Hamara”.
He would once again work with Thomas Arnold when he was admitted to Trinity CollegeCambridge, as a student of Philosophy in 1905. He obtained his degree at Cambridge and went on to Munich University where he obtained a doctorate; his thesis was entitled, ‘The Development of Metaphysics in Persia’.
He later qualified as a barrister. In London, he delivered a series of lectures; his lecture at Caxton Hall was widely reported in the papers. While in Europe, Iqbal became influenced by Kant, Bergson and especially Nietzsche.
In August 1908 he returned to Lahore where he joined the Government College as a part-time professor of philosophy and English literature while also practicing as a lawyer in Lahore High Court. After a while, he resigned from the College and focused on law. Besides law he found time to develop his poetry in the 1920s, but he was also drawn into politics by his friends, Jogendra Singh, Zulfikar Ali Khan and Khawaja Shahabuddin.
His Persian ‘masnavi’ sequence ‘Asrar-i-Khudi’ (1915), (‘Secrets of the Self’, 1920), and ‘Rumuz-i-Bekhudi (1918), ('The Mysteries of Selflessness', 1920) were the foundation of Iqbal's philosophical poetry. In them he combined his ideas of the ego striving to achieve freedom and to develop a fuller personality with the moral, spiritual and intellectual values of Islam. He continued to develop these ideas in his poetry for the rest of his life. It is on the basis of these that he is known as the poet-philosopher of Pakistan.

From 1926 to 1930 he served on the Punjab Legislative Council and was President of the All-India Muslim League in 1930. That same year, he gave evidence before the Simon Commission, and in 1931-2 he was a delegate to the Second and Third Round Table Conferences, visiting London again.

By the mid-1930s, his health had deteriorated so much that he had to decline to give a series of Rhodes lectures at Oxford in 1935. He continued to write poetry but died on 21 April 1938. He is buried near the Shahi Mosque in Lahore.

The ‘Magnum Opus’:

‘Iqbal’s magnum opus’, writes his biographer S. A. Vahid, ‘is the Javid Namah. Within a few years of its publication the poem became a classic, and. one great scholar proclaimed that the poem will rank with Firdausi’s Shah Namah, Rumi’s  ‘Mathnawi’, Saadi’s ‘Gulistan’ and the ‘Diwan’ of Hafiz. Nor was this tribute an exaggeration, as subsequent criticism showed ... In judging a poem we have to consider two things: the style and the substance.
So far as the style is concerned, Javid Namah belongs to the very first rank of Persian verse. It is unsurpassed in grandeur of expression, in beauty of diction and in richness of illustration.
As regards theme, the poem deals with the everlasting conflict of the soul, and by telling the story of human struggle against sin, shows to mankind the path to glory and peace. In every line the poet makes us feel that he has something to say that is not only worth saying, but is also fitted to give us pleasure. Thus, as regards style as well as theme the poem is a masterpiece.’
The ‘Javid-Nama’, having been frequently reissued in lithograph – the edition on which the present translation is based was published in 1946 at Hyderabad (Deccan) – was first translated, into Italian, by Professor Alessandro Bausani under the title II Poema Celeste (Rome, 1952).
A version in German verse, Buch der Ewigkeit (Munich, 1957), has come from the pen of Professor Annemarie Schimmel.
A French version, by E. Meyerovitch and Mohammed Mokri, has the title Le Livre de l’Éternité (Paris, 1962).
In 1961 a translation in English verse was published in Lahore, ‘The Pilgrimage of Eternity’, by Shaikh Mahmud Ahmad. The poem has thus reached a truly international public, and has already taken its rightful place amongst the modern classics of world literature.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.