ISLAMABAD: Allama Mohammad Iqbal’s literary work should be used as a guideline to deal with today’s challenges, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said at the ‘Taqreeb Bayad-i-Iqbal’ event held to commemorate Iqbal’s 140th birth anniversary.

The event was organised by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) at the Pak China Friendship Centre on Iqbal Day.

“Allama Iqbal had given the message of independence and prosperity. We should start believing ourselves. Things are improving in Pakistan as there was no electricity almost four years ago but now things are totally changed,” Mr Iqbal said.

“Allama Iqbal taught self-esteem through his poetry, as low self-esteem leads to a lack of self-confidence and inferiority complex, pushing people into slavery. Iqbal’s Khudi is not arrogance but an amalgamation of self-confidence and humility,” he said.

HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed called upon the youth to groom themselves to become leaders and stressed the need for reinvigorating the spirit of Iqbal’s teachings. He said it was time to enliven nationalism among the citizens of Pakistan, adding that problems facing the country, such as social, political and religious segregation, require solutions in accordance with the thoughts propagated by Iqbal.

“Real homage to Iqbal is to acknowledge his services to the Muslims of the subcontinent. His thoughts played a great role in uniting the Muslims, ultimately leading them to attain a new country. Spreading his thoughts once again is the need of the hour. Before 1947, a nation needed a country, now the country is looking for a nation,” he said.

Illustration of Iqbal’s poems launched

A book containing M. Hadi Hussein’s translations of poems from Allama Mohammad Iqbal’s Payam-i-Mashriq, titled Tulip of Sinai and illustrated and published by Shireen Gheba Najib, was launched at AQS – The Art and Craft Village on Iqbal Day.

Ms Najib, an educationist, writer and artist, said Payam-i-Mashriq was published in 1923 and that she had wanted to share it. She added that she had been an educationist for 20 years, and was pleased to note that children were also in the audience at the launch.

Members of the audience and people involved in the publication of the book read selected verses. Later during the launch, 13-year-old Mustafa read various verses, including one of Ms Najib’s favourites, from the book.

Discussing one of the verses, Ms Najib highlighted the symbolism in Iqbal’s work. “[What he is telling us is] don’t get involved in these nitty-gritty things... get on with your purpose in your life,” she said.

Ayub Sabir, a writer and scholar on Iqbal, also spoke at the launch. Quoting various verses by Iqbal, Mr Sabir spoke about Iqbal’s foresight when it came to regional and international politics, including his perspective on Iran, the Soviet Union and Afghanistan.

Artists Hajra Mansoor and Mansoor Rahi also spoke at the event, focusing on Ms Najib’s work.

Mr Rahi remarked on the depth in Iqbal’s poetry, and said his poetry was less like a page of writing and more like opening a door into another world. He said he stopped reading Iqbal because “I feared I might enter a very large world, and might lose myself”.

An exhibition of Ms Najib’s work was also inaugurated, which featured the illustrations in Tulip of Sinai as well as other pieces. The illustrations, which accompany various verses in the book, are vibrant and vivid. Ms Najib described her style as “basically cubistic and expressionistic, impressionistic”.

When asked about the process of making these illustrations, Ms Najib said the process lasted “years and years”.

“Actually, whenever I see or read something, as an artist a picture comes in my mind. So it just happened randomly, and I would do one painting; like in 1999, I held an exhibition here and that had about two, three paintings,” she said. “It just evolved through the years, and I kept trying one thing and the other accidentally. Then I published a few books and then now I suddenly [thought], no, I’ll do it myself. You know, that one eureka moment.”

Rawalpindi

Various events were held in the garrison city to celebrate the birth anniversary of Allama Mohammad Iqbal on Thursday.

A play highlighting Iqbal’s poetry - titled Sitaroon pe Kamand – was performed at the Rawalpindi Arts Council (RAC), which was directed and written by Yar Mohammad and attended by residents of the twin cities.

The play highlighted Iqbal’s work and the problems facing the new generations.

At the Fatima Jinnah Women University, the Urdu department held a seminar on Fiqar-i-Iqbal and the youth. Dr Ahsan Akbar, a renowned literary figure, was invited as the chief guest.

He said Iqbal’s poetry taught khudi, optimism and idealism, because he knew that “the Muslim youth is very talent and intelligent, and only need the right direction”.

Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Samina Amin Qadir said Iqbal had achieved a lot in his life not only for himself but also for the nation.

“Allama Iqbal was a motivator, a philosopher, a leader, a legendary poet and a man of great ideas and values. The nation salutes him for his divine efforts and beliefs,” she said.

Ikram Junaidi and Aamir Yasin also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2017

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