“Nations are born in the heart of a poet, they prosper and die in the hands of a politician.” Stray Reflections.
Today we, the Pakistani nation, proudly boast of being the nation who was born in the heart of one of the greatest poet of world history. Dr. AllamaIqbal stands tall among the giants who go on living despite of having ceased to exist in the world. Iqbal is one of those people who personify the concept of immortality. After many decades of his death, he still lives in many forms among us; through his written work, his services, and his ideas. He is among those few people who are cherished and owned equally by East and West and his work has been researched and appraised by scholars around the world.
When I started studying AllamaIqbal, the thing that struck me most was the grandeur he attributed to the human being. He exalts the individual whose perfect culmination was in the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him).
The human being is essentially good and powerful enough to take down anything is his recurring theme. The fact that the person is capable of almost anything is mind blowing. I have always seen how people are treated on different levels in our society so it was very hard for me to imagine the equality suggested by him in his different anecdotes. I was awe-struck when a mere soldier of a Muslim army pledged peace to a deadly enemy [being unaware that he is the one they had to kill]. When his commander came to know about the pledge, he immediately accepted it and forgave the enemy on account of one of his soldiers.
Iqbal states that “man must be regarded as a unit of force, an energy, a will, a germ of infinite power, the gradual unfoldment of which must be the object of all human activity.”… The idea that the human being is endowed with infinite power and he has so many courses open to him, he can take whichever course he likes and make his life, is so empowering and revitalizing. It is a perfect explanation of the phenomenon mentioned in Quran, “And that there is not for man except that [good] for which he strives.” Al-Quran [53:39]
He admits the flaws and limits in the human beings but he insists and proves that despite of these defections the human was sent as a trustee of God and that alone makes him special and trustworthy. There is also a possibility [a strong one] that in the course of his life a man is perfectly capable to get rid of the personality flaws or reduce them to minimum level.
He had an incredible insight. For example he describes the transgression of Adam in Lecture IV, in unique terms: Adam’s first transgression was forgiven [he was not sent on Earth as a punishment rather it’s a blessing and Earth is a dwelling place. But the point to be noted is the value of the human being. “That God has taken this risk shows His immense faith in man; it is for man now to justify this faith.” Lecture III
The status Iqbal re-asserts in his poems for an individual, his relation with his society and God was absolute opposite of what was/is going on in the Muslim Community. Those poems changed a lot of thought-processes in the community. The false humility and weak-spirit garbed in virtuousness had to end. He wanted them to realize that the fall of the Muslim empire was due to specific reasons and most of those reasons were borne out of the Muslims’ attitude towards their own lifestyle and thinking. The stagnation, dead spirit and most of all the despicable character of later Muslims were among the many reasons of the downfall. He reminded them that “it has always been Islam that saved the Muslims in their difficult times and not the Muslims who saved the Islam.” This implies that the Muslims need to come back to the spirit of Islam which is absolutely anti-classical. The core messages of equality, justice, freedom, self, selflessness, being true to one’s faith were all but forgotten.
Even a verse from him is not short of a miracle. After reading him, the person feels fresh. His/her vision shifts dynamically and he/she has the urge to do something valuable, to add worth to life. And Iqbal’s objective is exactly that; to make the person aware of their true potential. In his paper, Islam as a Moral and Political Ideal, he states: “Give man a keen sense of respect for his own personality, let him move fearless and free in the immensity of God’s earth, and he will respect the personalities of others and become perfectly virtuous.” The strong individual is one of the fundamental reality in Iqbal’s world and we cannot move ahead without giving it its due status in the society. The importance given to the development of a strong individual is so crucial for a healthy society that the interests of the existing generation are sacrificed for the future generation. In the course of time, we have neglected the individual and instead over-emphasized the objects. In our world, which is a stark contrast to Iqbal’s world, individuals are sacrificed in the name of law and order.
It is proven that when people took up Iqbal’s message and tried to gain that spirit back they never failed. Agha Hashr Kashmiri and others produced some top class literature and carved new ideals for the nation which eventually helped them to go through the most difficult journey of their life; Partition. For once, the whole nation was at one to dream the collective future. Iqbal made them dream in daytime.
We are always looking down upon our triumphs and talk about our glory wistfully, led to think as if we are never going to gain it back again. What we need most today is that same confidence, attitude of winning ourselves and the world, in short we need to come back to the voice of Iqbal which beckons us towards the glory of humanity. He always insisted that “will, not intellect” is essential principle for growth. His message is not limited to a single area nor does it get old. It is as fresh today, even after so many decades. He covers almost everything, as if standing on the vintage point. He points the reader to the right direction and motivates them to take the journey on their own just like the Simorgh. He would not map out the whole journey for you;that is not his style. Neither does he leave you stranded. He leaves the signs and signals on the way to reassure the reader and means to test themselves if they are on the right path.
We all wish for the change around us yearns for our country to prosper and unity of people but how many of us are ready to go through that change, sacrifice our personal interests, the petty/non-existential issues? Once again, Dr. Iqbal, our ideological father pointed out that “He who desires to change an unfavourable environment must undergo a complete transformation of his inner being.” [The Lahore Address] Isn’t it unfair with Iqbal that we, his own people, are always ready to turn our backs to him when he becomes inconvenient for us to carry forward? When will we stop using him for our qawwalis, folk music and take him to the platform of politics, education, literature, science, religion? When will we start using him as our sword and shield against the corporate, imperial, colonial monsters? We need to seriously think about our priorities and walk the talk instead of just delivering the monologues of how great Iqbal was or what he failed to deliver.
- Islam As a Moral And Political Ideal. This paper was read by AllamaIqbal at the anniversary celebration of the Anjuman-e-Himayat-e-Islam, Lahore. It was first published in The Observer of Lahore, in April 1909 and was fully reproduced in The Hindustan Review of Allahabad in its issues for July and December 1909
- Muslim Society- A Sociological Study
- Islam As A Moral And Political Ideal, 1909
- A story written by Persian poet Fariuddin Attar showing the unity of humanity.
- That is what I have been able to understand from studying his works.
- It is a sequel of Allahabad Address. The Lahore address was delivered in 1932.
I wrote this article for the group, Pakistan Ka Khuda Hafiz.