IT has become a trend in recent years to commemorate the centennial or bicentennial of a writer or poet, and it is an appreciable trend, no doubt. The authors are remembered on such occasions and then are forgotten, at least for the time being.

But there are two authors of Urdu who have never been forgotten and are remembered every so often. Books and articles on them keep appearing and no other author of Urdu can rival them when it comes to being a topic of research and critical works. The two poets bestowed with this everlasting popularity are none other than Ghalib and Iqbal.

As usual, Iqbal will be remembered on his death anniversary on April 21, but new books and articles on him keep pouring in all through the year. Here we can have a look only at a few of many recently published books on Iqbal and his art:

Iqbal, Islam aur Roohani Jamhooriyet

Prof Fateh Muhammad Malik is a veteran scholar known for his ideological commitment with Pakistan and Iqbal. Among a large number of books that Prof Malik has penned, quite a few are on Iqbal and/or Pakistan. The latest one, Iqbal, Islam Aur Roohani Jamhooriyet, is a collection of his articles but what binds them all together is the stance that he has taken in these articles: Iqbal, Pakistan and Islam cannot be separated, albeit he believes in Islam that is far from what is perceived as Islam by the mullah. In his brief intro Prof Malik says that though as a result of Iqbal’s vision, Pakistan has been created physically, ideologically the dream is yet to come true. He thinks there are some quarters that feel the sovereignty of common people or democracy, or “sultaani-i-jamhoor” as put by Iqbal, is quite dangerous since it jeopardises the interests of those quarters. But he is quite careful to not name those quarters.

Some misconceptions on very sensitive and vital issues too have been dispelled by Prof Malik in this book. For instance, he has discussed a letter by Iqbal, which is often quoted by some scholars and was once quoted by Pandit Nehru even. The letter by Iqbal, published in Oct 12, 1931, issue of London’s Times, proves that, it is alleged, Iqbal was not in favour of creation of Pakistan and he had just suggested the creation of Muslim provinces in his famous 1930 Allahabad address. Prof Malik has clarified in his article included in the book that Iqbal was indeed in favour of creation of Pakistan and the critics were in fact reading too much into the letter. Published by Lahore’s Sang-i-Meel Publications, the book has raised many burning questions and answers to them must be found.

Iqbal Ki Naat

Compiled by Sabeeh Rahmani and subtitled Fikri-o-Usloobiyati Mutal’a, the book is a collection of articles by well-known scholar on Iqbal’s naat, or the verses praising the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The book includes some in-depth articles by scholars as renowned as Ghulam Mustafa Khan, Jameel Jalibi, Fateh Muhammad Malik, Farman Fatehpuri, Tehseen Firaqi, Rafiuddin Hashmi, Abid Ali Abid, Usloob Ahmed Ansari and many others. The articles included analyse different aspects of Iqbal’s Urdu and Persian poetry with elements of naat. Karachi’s Academy Bazyaft has published it.

Iqbal Aur Shakespeare

William Shakespeare was one of the legendary writers and thinkers who impressed and inspired Iqbal much. In his poem titled ‘Shakespeare’, which is included in Baang-i-Dara, Iqbal has paid rich tribute to Shakespeare.

Mohammad Ejaz-ul-Haq, a young researcher, decided to compare and analyse the topics common in both Iqbal and Shakespeare’s poetry for his MPhil dissertation published by Lahore’s Aks Publication. The comparative study is quite interesting and it shows that the young scholar has quite deeply studied both Iqbal and Shakespeare.

Humanity Beyond Creed

Prof Dr Zahid Muneer Aamir is a prolific writer and has penned a large number of books on varied subjects. His new book, subtitled A Study in Iqbal’s Thought, is in English and has been published by Lahore’s Iqbal Academy. A collection of articles, the book analyses different aspects of Iqbal’s thought as reflected in his Urdu, English and Persian writings.

Allama Iqbal Ki Muntakhab Nazmen (Translations)

It is a fact that Iqbal’s poetry has been translated into many languages of the world. But, strangely, very little portion of Iqbal’s poetry has been rendered into some Pakistani languages. Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) has now published translations of Iqbal’s selected poetry into eight Pakistani languages. These languages are: Brahvi, Balochi, Balti, Hindko, Punjabi, Pashto, Seraiki and Sindhi. Eleven of Iqbal’s most popular and admired poems have been rendered into these languages. Though only the experts of these languages can comment on the standard and literary value of these translations, one feels that PAL has done something badly needed.

Published in Dawn, April 16th, 2019