FOR the last few years, the national media has stopped giving due importance to what was earlier called the Iqbal Day. This year, too, Nov 9, the great man’s birthday anniversary went almost unmarked in terms of media coverage, which was disappointing. The man deserved better. He really did.

The subcontinent has been home to great leaders, politicians, writers, thinkers, philosophers and poets who left indelible marks on the face of the planet. Allama Muhammad Iqbal was one of those men of letters who helped in shaping and moulding the history of the Muslims of united India.

Born on Nov 9, 1877, he was a representative philosopher and poet of his age, generally known as the ‘Poet of the East’. Through his remarkable and scintillating poetry, and with a revolutionary zeal, he awoke the Muslims from their deep slumber of oblivion.

Along with the able leadership of the Quaid-i-Azam, he laid the foundation of Pakistan by presenting the idea of a new country for the Muslims of the subcontinent. He had an observant and keen eye which enabled him to foresee that the Muslims could not prosper and flourish until they achieve for themselves a separate piece of land.

Indubitably, Pakistan movement was the brainchild of Allama Iqbal. His long-cherished dream was realised years after his departure.

In his famous Allahabad presidential address in 1930, he gave a clear direction to the unwavering struggle of the Muslims. Till then, they were just groping in the dark. For him, complacency was tantamount to a crime, and slavery was a curse. He mobilised the masses with his charged poetry.

He ignited the flame of liberty among the Muslims in such a way that freedom became the buzzword in that era. It was Iqbal who convinced the Quaid to return to India and liberate the Indian Muslims from the barbaric clutches of the British rule and communal prejudice.

The Quaid, too, had a great love and regard for Iqbal. He paid tribute to him by stressing that if he had to make a choice “between the works of Iqbal and the rulership of [a] Muslim state, I would prefer the former”.

His poetry carried the message of hope, optimism and freedom. His world-acclaimed poems were, and still are, a source of inspiration for the Muslims of the subcontinent. His Shikwa and Jawab-i-Shikwa have no parallel in the history of poetic tradition.

He was adept at writing in both Persian and Urdu languages. Asrar-i-Khudi, Zarb-i-Kaleem, Bang-i-Dara and Baal-i-Jibrael are amongst his best works. In 1922, he was knighted by King George V, granting him the title of Sir.

He wrote poetry for every age group. His main aim was to exhort the youth to action. Whenever he addressed the young, he equated them with a shaheen, a true Muslim, a self-respecting man with an optimistic dispensation. He focussed on those youngsters who had the ability and panache to steer the ummah in the right direction.

Iqbal was an undisputed leader, scholar and poet of the 20th century. He rendered a valuable service to the people of India. He had a selfless soul. His sagacity and wisdom proved a beacon for the denizens of the subcontinent.

And yet, we, the government, the masses and the national media, have little time for Iqbal Day. What a pity. We are ignoring the man and his thoughts at our own peril.

Muhammad Fayyaz Nawrha

Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2021



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