CAN a year pass by without any new books being published on Allama Iqbal? The question came to my mind when I knew of two books that had just been published, coinciding with Iqbal’s birth anniversary falling on Nov 9.
The answer is a definite ‘no’, at least during the last 85 years or so, maybe more, not a single year has passed by without a book being published on Iqbal, who died on April 21, 1938 and since then every year new titles on him have been pouring in. And it is not limited to Urdu: a large number of writings on Iqbal have appeared in different languages of the world, 41 of them, to be exact. That’s one of many important pieces of information that one gathers from Kitabiyaat-e-Iqbal, a gigantic and truly great descriptive bibliography of books on Iqbal’s life and his works.
This, a whopping 1,732-page, gigantic work lists about 6,000 books, special issues of magazines, translations, letters, exegeses and dissertations that have been written on Iqbal during the last 123 years, as well as Iqbal’s own works in prose and poetry in Urdu, English and Persian, beginning from 1900. The Herculean task took some 45 years to complete!
Compiled by Dr Rafiuddin Hashmi, a veteran researcher — and published by Islamabad’s International Institute for Research and Dialogue, International Islamic University — the book is the most comprehensive and all-inclusive bibliographic work on Allama Iqbal that has ever been published.
As Dr Hashmi has mentioned in the preface, he had published a bibliography on Iqbal in 1977, but so many new books on Iqbal kept appearing that an updated version was needed. So he decided to update it and began work on it. When Iqbal Academy, Lahore, knew of it in 1988, they requested him to let them publish the work when finished. But when he almost finally finished it in 1992, the computer crashed (poor computer, how could it sustain the burden of such colossal knowledge). Luckily manuscript was safe so fresh composing began and by the time it finished Dr Hashmi was compelled to add to the bibliography many more new books that had been published during the period.
Meanwhile, some new bibliographic information would come his way from different libraries that he would visit in search of works on Iqbal. Incorporating that info would take some time and in the meantime there would appear some more books on Iqbal. So he was never able to catch up. Finally he decided to fix a finishing line and that was December 2017. The final draft, composing and proofreading took some years. But Dr Hashmi, being a perfectionist, kept on jotting down new works separately and when it was finally sent to press in early 2023, a new bibliographic list covering works on Iqbal published between January 2018 and February 2023 was ready, which made it to the book as appendix.
As mentioned by Dr Waheed Qureshi in his intro, bibliographic works and indices are not something new for Muslims. Ibn-e-Nadeem’s Al-Fehrist and Haji Khalifa’s Kashf-uz-Zunoon are but a few instances of a golden tradition of love of knowledge, though latter-day Western scholars established the bibliographic techniques on more scientific principles. Dr Qureshi has mentioned some other bibliographic works on Iqbal and their lacunas. He has commended Hashmi’s work for certain techniques and the corrections that he has made to the previous works. Had Dr Qureshi been alive today he would have been much more proud of the finally published work as it is truly unprecedented in Urdu. Such bibliographic works are a great help for researchers as they can save their time, resources and labour.
Another research work on Iqbal is compiled by Dr Syed Taqi Abedi. Titled Baqiyaat-e-Iqbal and published by Jehlum’s Book Corner, the book is a collection of Iqbal’s verses that have not been included in any of his published works during his lifetime. Much of this stuff contains the verses that Iqbal himself had ejected and did not include them in his collections of poetry.
Dr Abedi says in his foreword that to understand Iqbal in toto, it is necessary to study each and every line of Iqbal, whether included by him in his works or discarded by him. As admitted by Dr Abedi, there have been at least eight works that present Iqbal’s verses that he did not include in his works and these collection are: Rakht-e-Safar (Anwer Haris), Baqiyat-e-Iqbal (Syed Abdul Vahid Moini), Tabarrukaat-e-Iqbal (Muhammad Basheerul Haq), Sarood-e-Rafta (Ghulam Rasool Mehr and Sadiq Dilaweri), Navadir-e-Iqbal (Abdul Ghaffar Shakeel), Rozgar-e-Faqeer (Faqeer Waheeduddin), Ibtidai Kalam-e-Iqbal (Gian Chand) and Baqiyat-e-Shear-e-Iqbal (Sabir Kaloorvi) .
Dr Abedi has included many Persian couplets that are not part of Iqbal’s published Persian works and has translated them into Urdu. He has also mentioned some invaluable sources that would help researchers working on Iqbal.
Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2023