THE article ‘6 lesser known facts about Allama Iqbal’ on the Dawn website (Nov 9) could well stand the inclusion of a seventh little-known aspect of his poetry. Iqbal’s inspiration from Islam also led him to Zarathustra (or Zoroaster), the founder of the religion of ancient Persia, who lived around 1300 BCE. Zoroastrianism was the majority faith of the great Persian empires, and some of its followers live in Pakistan as well.
According to Zarathustra, to reach god, human beings are expected to work out their own salvation by their own efforts. God has endowed humans with the faculty called ‘Vohu Mana’, the ‘Good Mind’ that enables them to choose for themselves between the good and the evil. Thus, Zarathustra first formulated the concept of mankind’s freedom of thought and action.
The website of the Iqbal Academy in Pakistan includes an article by Abadullah Farooqi on ‘Zoroastrianism and Iqbal’ which provides the following verse in which the great Muslim poet gave expression to the concept of freedom propounded by Zarathustra:
As translated by Farooqi: “Cut your path with an axe of your own; It is sin to tread the beaten path of others; It [sic] you achieve something unique and original; Even sin becomes virture [sic].”
Farooqi has given other examples of Iqbal’s views parallel to Zoroastrian thoughts which can be viewed at the relevant website (http://allamaiqbal.com/publications/journals/review/oct64/1.htm).
Kersi B. Shroff
Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2020