COLUMN: Iqbalian style

Updated 24 Aug 2015


THE word imitation when used in the context of arts and literature is taken as a derogatory term and its Urdu translation naqli is also a derogatory term. But in Urdu there is another word taqleed which we often use when required. This term has a different connotation from that of imitation but when Iqbal says

he is treating this word as a derogatory one, equal in meaning to naqli.

Iqbal could not manage to protect his poetry from those who tried to imitate his style, and who justified it saying that they are trying to follow the line of Iqbalian thought. On their part they tried to be treated as muqalladin or followers of Iqbal. But they did not really succeed in gaining such a status and may be seen as lost souls of Urdu poetry.

I recently received a large volume of the selected verses of a late poet which could be taken as a resurrection of someone from among these lost souls. But no, the pride of this poet does not allow him to be treated as such. I am talking about Amin Hazeen Sialkoti. His first collection of verses was published in 1940 under the title Gulbang-e-Hayat. The present collection of his selected verses carries within it an introductory note written on Oct 18, 1946. Therein he says, “In the opinion of a number of critics my poetry is [a] naql of Allama Iqbal’s poetry. This impression has no basis. This opinion is the outcome of a superficial study of my poetry.” Clarifying his position he says “No doubt I have been 100 per cent under the influence of Iqbal. And I take pride in saying so. But this influence has not led to a blind imitation of him. Instead it is the outcome of a deep critical study of his central thought, I mean ‘khudi’.”

At 567 pages, the present collection has been published by RB Publishers Karachi under the title Intikhab-e-Kalam-e-Amin Hazeen Sialkoti. The compiler is Dr Jahan Ara Pal who is the daughter-in-law of the poet. Her foreword to the book is followed by an article written by Shakeel Pal, the grandson of the poet, while the third article is an introduction by the poet himself.

These three writings tell us much about the poet. His name is Khwaja Mohammad Masih Pal but he is known more by his takhallus Amin Hazeen. He was born in Sialkot in 1884 and died in 1968. While still at school he developed a taste for poetry. Living in the same city, which was the birthplace of Iqbal, he soon found himself under the influence of that great poet. Soon he grew to be a prolific poet himself; his first collection of poetry was published as aforementioned in 1940, with an introduction by Sir Sheikh Abdul Qadir.

In his article Shakeel tells us that after his grandfather’s demise one day the family received a big parcel sent by the new owner of their ancestor’s house which had been sold. When opened this turned out to be a large carton full of handwritten manuscripts. “These were the precious papers containing a lifetime of work done by my grandfather,” he says.

Consequently these papers posed a problem for the family: how to sort them out and compile them, should they be presented in one big volume or in a series of volumes? Shakeel points out that the family contacted a number of writers and publishers, but while they had useful proposals, none were willing to help in compiling and publishing the work. Eventually, says Shakeel, his grandmother took it upon herself to sort out the papers. When she started to do so, she found to her amazement that they had already been compiled in a series of volumes date-wise under different titles. As listed on the last page of the book, there are 14 volumes. Shakeel informs us in his article that there were 16 volumes from 1904 to 1960 — and in Intikhab-e-Kalam-e-Amin Hazeen Sialkoti they chose to include a selection of verses from all these volumes.