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The dream of reality

Published Nov 09, 2009 12:19pm

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In his prose work, Allama Muhammad Iqbal foresaw the trajectory of the Pakistani masses, writes Khurram Ali Shafique. The best resource for understanding the work of Allama Iqbal is the collective experience of the Pakistani masses, including the unschooled. Call it a dream, but I consider it to be reality.

Let me give an example. The greatest prose work of Iqbal is in English, and is called The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam. It was first published from Lahore in early 1930, and later (with some addition) by the UK-based Oxford University Press in 1934. Few Iqbal scholars claim that they can explain even half of the seven lectures contained within that volume. Hence, there is not the slightest chance that the masses of Pakistan, mostly unschooled, may have read, studied, or even heard about it.

Yet, if we divide the history of our community from 1887 to 2026 into seven periods (and this division is based on certain principles adopted from Iqbal), we discover that the topic of one lecture from the book becomes the dominant issue for the masses in each period. The sequence is exactly the same in which they appear in the Reconstruction. Of course, scholars prefer to discuss the book in its entirety (though with little results). But it is more productive to consider how one particular topic became the dominant issue for the people at each historical stage. The lectures contained in the Reconstruction are:

1.    1887-1906: Knowledge and the Revelations of Religious Experience 2.    1907-1926: Philosophical Test of the Revelations of Religious Experience 3.    1927-46: Conception of God and the Meaning of Prayer 4.    1947-66: Human Ego – His Freedom and Immortality 5.    1967-86: The Spirit of Muslim Culture 6.    1987-2006: The Principle of Movement in the Structure of Islam 7.    2007-26: Is Religion Possible?

The first stage (1887-1906) was dominated by the spirit of inquiry instilled by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-1898), who focused on the connection between ‘Knowledge and Religious Experience’ (in this context, ‘religious experience’ also means Divine Revelation). Even the simplest peasants from villages thronged the annual sessions of the Mohammedan Educational Conference where this issue was tackled in many forms. At the end, the birth of All India Muslim League fore grounded the next stage.

The second stage, 1907-26, was dominated by the restlessness of those educated youth who, partially due to the new learning and partially due to certain widespread misunderstandings, demanded a ‘Philosophical Test of the Revelations…’ These were the youth on whom the wider community depended for their survival, and hence the issue became pertinent to everybody. The end came through the elections of 1926, a landmark event revealing a scattered verdict without any single party dominating the scene.

The third stage, 1927-46, saw the steep rise in Muslim separatism, culminating in the demand for Pakistan, defined by the masses as ‘Pakistan ka matlab kiya? La ilaha illa Allah’ (What does Pakistan mean? There is no god except God). Regardless of how historians interpret the event, it has remained practically impossible for this nation to ignore the verdict passed by the masses at that point on the issue of ‘the Conception of God and the meaning of prayer.’ Despite the Bhuttos, Khans, Musharraf and whoever else has assumed power, sovereignty has perpetually belonged to God in our constitution and we may as well learn to deal with it.

The fourth stage, 1947-66, introduced two changes. If this connection between Iqbal’s Reconstruction and the shifts with Pakistan’s masses is making even a fraction of sense, then one can extend the argument to suggest that an explanation of this kind of historical phenomenon exists in every single work of Iqbal, including the Allahabad Address, where he concluded his concept of Pakistan on the following promise: ‘I do not mystify anybody when I say that things in India are not what they appear to be. The meaning of this, however, will dawn upon you only when you have achieved a real collective ego to look at them.’

The birth of Pakistan, then, was construed by Iqbal to be an attempt at achieving ‘a real collective ego’ which, according to the thinker, is the secret behind the ‘Human Ego – His Freedom and Immortality.’ This stage reached its climax in 1966 with the emergence of an incomparably popular leader in either wing of the country: Sheikh Mujibur Rehman of East Pakistan and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of West Pakistan. One important point was proven at that time, despite the tumults of history and politics: the country could break, but not even the broken fragments would lose the independence gained after Partition. Freedom and immortality were retained, but the question of whether Pakistan is a ‘real’ collective ego remains. Let’s not be in a hurry to say no.

The fifth stage, 1967-86, corresponds with the fifth lecture, ‘The Spirit of Muslim Culture.’ Who can deny that this became the question that would not take a second seat – even for non-Muslims – whether it was during the Islamic Summit Conference organised by the left-leaning government of Z.A. Bhutto, the Constitution of 1973, or reforms imposed by the right-leaning regime of General Ziaul Haq.

The sixth phase, 1987-2006, ending three years ago, thrust upon us questions about ijtehad, which is the topic of the sixth lecture, ‘The Principle of Movement in the Structure of Islam.’ Can a woman become the head of a Muslim state? Can we revert to Sunday as a weekly holiday after adopting Friday as the day off? Can we modify or repeal the Hudood Ordinance? What is the difference between opposing the shariat and opposing a Shariat Bill? Can we support a non-Muslim superpower in its invasion of Muslim countries? The questions were not new, but never before did the entire nation have to face them so boldly and with such urgency on a large scale (and with considerably more freedom than before). Some of these issues have been practically resolved by the masses now, regardless of how the secular and religious elite quibble in their closets.

Since 2007 we have moved into a phase where the topic of the last lecture has suddenly come alive in more ways than we may ever have imagined before: ‘Is Religion Possible?’ Is it possible for those who believe that it calls upon them to commit suicide? Is it possible for those who are threatened by such extremists? Above all, is it possible in the sense in which Iqbal uses the word ‘religion,’ which is to have a direct vision of the Ultimate Reality in this mundane life?

‘The modern world stands in need of biological renewal,’ says Iqbal in the seventh lecture. ‘And religion, which in its higher manifestations is neither dogma, nor priesthood, nor ritual, can alone ethically prepare the modern man for the burden of the great responsibility…’ (Iqbal’s usage of ‘biological renewal’ would fit a phenomenon like the one presented here).

Presently, it is less important whether or not you agree that history is following a certain pattern, or that the pattern was foreseen by Iqbal. It is far more urgent to accept that the message of Iqbal can be interpreted in the light of the collective experiences of the masses of Pakistan. For that acceptance, the lives of the masses would first need to be interpreted on their own terms. They deserve that much respect. In any case, the educated elite can choose their own destinies, but the trajectory of the masses might be destiny itself.

Khurram Ali Shafique is a research consultant at the Iqbal Academy and the author of Iqbal: An Illustrated Biography, which recently won the Presidential Iqbal Award.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Comments (68) Closed



Naim Naqvi Nov 09, 2009 12:56pm
Sare Jahan se achcha Hindustan Hamara, Hum bulbulen hain iski yeh gulsitan hamara.
suraiya kasim Nov 09, 2009 10:28am
Thank you for this article. It is very well written and informative, a bit scary though that Iqbal could actually predict the future, but an eye opener for us all and it is time we open our eyes.
M. Asghar Nov 09, 2009 10:54am
This is a good and timely peace of analysis. Yes, Iqbal is the eagle of khudi: self-hood, with a fulsome and flashing flight through the windy and lacerating space and time, AND the persistant and unavoidable need for the biological renewal of faith to face the merciless survival-of-the-fittest struggle. Where are we as people in all this?
Absar Nov 09, 2009 10:57am
Nice write up. Sir Iqbal, we're sorry. We wanted to make a Pakistan which You and Jinnah envisioned. But We and Political Leaders unitedly steered Pakistan towards a pitiful direction where You and Jinnah would never had wanted to see us to go.
Raagi Nov 09, 2009 11:00am
Iqbal had written, "Saare Jahan se acchha Hindostan hamara". The Hindus still sing it in India. The Indian Army bands play it very well. Why cant we follow what he said about the Millat. "Muslim hain hum watan hai sara jahan hamara".
Adnan Khan Nov 09, 2009 12:21pm
I humbly disagree here and really don't think Iqbal intended his book to be interpreted to represent linear eras in time. I also do not agree to the notion that this work can be understood in the light of collective experiences of the masses of subcontinent. I think its a philosophical dissection of religion with the intention of grasping the very basic nature of both 'religion' and 'Islam'. Had the Muslim masses, or even the intellectuals, been able to follow this spirit of inquiry and reconstruction, we would have been a much more mature society. But unfortunately, as you mentioned only a fraction of the people in our nation are able to fully understand this brilliant piece of work, let alone the masses being able to grasp the concepts. There has been, in my opinion, no serious attempt whatsoever at the masses' level to understand religion in this way over the last few hundred years (especially because we have carefully steered away from the advances in social sciences and philosophy).
NASAH Nov 09, 2009 12:23pm
Sorry to say this -- sometimes it is difficult to absolve Allama Iqbal for what is happening now in Pakistan -- bless his soul.
sanjeev Nov 09, 2009 01:58pm
Raagi Says: November 9th, 2009 at 16:00 "Iqbal had written,
qasim Nov 10, 2009 10:17am
Congratulations Iqbal. Your country and its press are listening to the people of its neigbours. I think we Pakistani's are moving on the right track. Since we are also adding the views of our Indian brothers and sisters, on this i must say anybody can freely express his or her views. No doubt Iqbal would feel proud of us.
umar tosheeb Nov 09, 2009 02:31pm
This is one of the best article that I have seen on Dawn; a fascinating article. It makes me love and respect Iqbal even more.
noor.e.sahar Nov 09, 2009 02:32pm
Well I partially agree with you and on most points I disagree. Iqbal is a thinker of all time if he point out some of religious negligence then it doesn
saqib mushtaq Nov 10, 2009 10:23am
Indians sing "Sare Jahan se acha Hindustan hamara", for very right reasons. Iqbal was a muslim and so are millions in India Today this Nation Need Such type of Personalities & leaders that can lead the nation & Country in a well manner. Allama Iqbal Insist especailly Youngers to Come forward to survive! Sir Iqbal, we
syed makki shah Nov 09, 2009 02:57pm
If The Allama Saab was alive today, he would not recognise the Pakistan that he dreamed of. Instead I fear he would be sitting in exile in London, as his views would upset everyone from the Generals to Presidents, and those idle beggars on our streets. His life was of action and endevour, all he would see in Pakistan is a country tooled up to the hilt, under seige with the defenceless having been murdered and the strong sitting in their pavilions, periodically issuing statements inviting foreign investment. If he were alive now, I would ask him, would you have worked so hard for a Pakistan which is like the one today?
farrah k raja Nov 09, 2009 11:46am
Iqbal, larger than all tags, of being a poet or a philospher, a visionary. One thing is for sure, in following Iqbal's footsteps, one realises the self, faces the challenges and discovers the truth. If one follows Iqbal or reads his Master Rumi the ultimate message is same but Iqbal was more of a sane and he put things into prospective and made life as a realisation of abstract. How he did that is quite amazing grappling with mataphysics, social orders and psychology and than staying on ground realities, he was constantly thinking about Islam and I must say about his existance. Was he satisfied? I do not think so. To him this was all equal to nothing. For a Mard-e-mumin does not realise one is Murd-e-mumin and neither the spiritual thirst of knowledge is quenched in this world unless one is joined with the Supreme Being, Allah Himself. For me a woman of twenty first century, Allama is my hope, he offers solution to many spiritual and personal problems, he ignites the light of hope he does not decide the destination for you, constant change and movement, acceptance and maintaining honour in disgrace, and immense patiance and believe in Allah. he assures me big time that the essence of intellectual being is Realisation of Allah in a sufi way. The supreme sufi master with a political vision. His intution and vision was guided. The need is his message should be made easier, should be translated into Urdu from Persian and even from difficult urdu text of earlier 19th century. This poet must live on. I am not ready to accept that he was a sacred poet, so we should keep him in the highest shelves of the library only. Need is to celebrate Iqbal to own him, to interpret him and to discuss him, to sing his songs. Let us stop owning him so that we can liberate him to the world. If Rumi is alive, why have we murdered Iqbal and hidden him in the coffins of Urdu departments and lughats.
Zeeshan Nov 09, 2009 09:19am
The Work Of ALLAMA IQBAL is really commendable. Today this Nation Need Such type of Personalities & leaders that can lead the nation & Country in a well manner. Allama Iqbal Insist especailly Youngers to Come forward to survive! Today Our Country need Us & we have to come forward in order to save Our Country & to bring it out from the problems.
A. Khan Nov 10, 2009 08:02am
Once upon a time in Pakistan, the youth were taught Urdu and Persian in Schools all across the country. More than fifty percent of Iqbal
M. Asghar Nov 09, 2009 05:02pm
The comments here on this blog are far away reaching theme of Iqbal, makes me aware of the lack of reflection of and in the society concerned as whole on its present and future direction.
ali hassan Nov 09, 2009 05:16pm
Iqbal was not a poet or philosopher. He was what he termed, mard-e-momin. He, in my opinion had reached to the level of identification of "khudi". It was only for this reason that he could explain The Holy Quran in his poetry (No other poet has done that so beautifully). And it was no difficult either for him to see or guess the future of muslims in particular and world in general. we have to set him free to the world from urdu departments of out universities. We first have to really analyse and appreciate what he actually was.
Mohan Nov 09, 2009 06:53pm
The man who wrote "Sare Jehan se acha Hindustan hamara", got confused in later years and forgot the real meaning and how the Hindustani Identity got evolved over 5000 years of our civilization. Indian's did not forget that Identity and kept it intact and still proud of it. There are more than billion people, including 150 million Muslims who can relate to this Identity and call India, Bharat or Hindustan as home. Pakistani's rejected it and now they don't know where they belong to.
Arvind Bhatt Nov 09, 2009 06:59pm
Iqbal was a legendary poet worthy of a Nobel Prize for literature. In my point of view if he would have stayed in India, he would have been better honored and aptly revered in a spirit of Hindu/muslim co-existance.
Suraj Kapoor Nov 09, 2009 07:06pm
When someone told me that
neerja Nov 09, 2009 07:36pm
We are very proud to sing Sare janhan se acha Hindustan Hamara written by Great Poet Iqbal. He used word "Hindustan" but that did'nt mean only Hindu, Hindustan means we all citizens of Hindustan. Hindu, Muslims, Sikh, Christan, Parsi are all integral part of India. Since childhood, we have very great respect for Iqbal.
junaid Nov 09, 2009 07:51pm
well, Ias a youngster, am quite fascinated by Iqbal's work especially his concept of Khudi. Having read the above article and being a medical doctor, I would like to ask what exactly Iqbal means by 'Biological renewal'? and does it offer any solution for the religious extremists of today, or on a broader perspective, from the current wave of terrorism in the Country? I would really appreciate explanation of this part because in my view this part of Iqbal's speech needs the most attention today, rather than merely discussing how Iqbal was able to predict the future course of the Muslims of the subcontinent! I would also like to add that i have an e copy of this book 'The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam' in english and i can email this book if somebody wants it.
omar Nov 09, 2009 07:53pm
Iqbal was a confused philosopher, but Iqbal academy seems to have gone well ahead of their hero. Amazing.
Mohinder Nov 09, 2009 09:38pm
Indians sing Sare Jahan se aacha Hindustan hamara, for very right reasons. Iqbal was a muslim and so are millions in India.
Al beruni Nov 09, 2009 09:45pm
Real weird stuff. Basically Iqbal says in fancy words that muslims are superior to others and cannot live by side-by-side with them. Its all cloaked in fashionable european language and with reference to nietzsche and so on. But the real meaning is pretty ugly and indeed, in Pakistan this kind of vision has come true. Now muslims cannot even live with their own.
Amit Nov 09, 2009 11:01pm
Although everyone sings "Saare jahan se acha" here in India. Alas no one knows much about this great poet. I plan to read his autobiography soon.
Muhammed Ali Khan Nov 09, 2009 11:19pm
No matter what we discuss and no matter what opinion we may agree and disagree upon things will never change until we stop saying that we need personalities like Allam Iqbal and Quaid-e-Azam to get us out of this socio-political mess. We all understand what Allama and Quaid wanted from each individual member of our nation. Honesty, hard work, modern education, nationalism and vision for prosperity were just a few ingredient passed on by them to get us started. But unfortunately while still in their capable hands our nation became dependent and forgot completely to develop our own traits. Today whenever I hear people discuss the situation of Pakistan, the end result is always that we need a true leader like Allama and Quaid but there are no leaders in sight with those qualities and traits, so we have no option but to wait for one. I ask what it will take and how long it will take for our nation to understand that we are the leader if we believe in ourselves. What we need to action now, we need to be working on developing the traits of Allama and Quaid so we can lead this nation to prosperity. But alas we will still hope someone some where is developing these traits and will come to our rescue.
A Believer Nov 10, 2009 04:15am
May Allah Bless his soul and grant us another Allama Iqbal to united us
ashok Nov 10, 2009 06:17am
Iqbal was a very confused person.
sonia shah Nov 10, 2009 06:27am
Salute to Iqbal. Pakistan its time to wake up now.
Tariq Mian (Mississauga, Canada) Nov 10, 2009 05:30am
Indeed, the ever-inspiring Iqbal
Jehangir Nov 10, 2009 07:12am
Iqbal was not a good poet in my humble view. He advocated fundamentalism through his poetry and therefore his poetry is much liked by our clergy.
NASAH Nov 10, 2009 05:34am
This write up about Iqbal tells me why it is so difficult to find a readable book about the many U-turns in Iqbal's literary life and political career.
Ummer Rashid Nov 10, 2009 08:59am
Hi I am Kashmiri living in Indian side. I am proud of Iqbal because he was from us. He changed the scenerio of muslims in sub contnent. He and Mr. Jinnah gave you a Pakistan after a long struggle.
H. Gul Nov 10, 2009 09:24am
Is the medium, "the message"? The portrayal of Iqbal's persona to be larger than the enlightened wisdom in his message may not be the right track to follow. No doubt he was the gem of his age. The difference in the East and west lies in the conceptual perception of the individual and the collective. Iqbal's realization of the self and his quest for the truth confronted him with experience quoted as "collective self". The understanding of the structural design of the individual self permits sufi's and sometimes philosophers to orient with the collective self beyond the parameters of time and space, including past present and sometimes uncalculated and indefinate future. This collective self (by the author) is portrayed as the nation of Pakistan here. This is why the human arts portray messages beyond time or space in particular states of the mind. More important today is being a human, and taking important contributing roles in being effecient and productive parts of our collective self 'PAKISTAN' than idealizing personalities. Therefore, all of you, can and should be 'Iqbal of the ages' within themselves and for others.
Murtaza Razvi Nov 10, 2009 01:08pm
Khurram, What a brilliant piece. Very enlightening, as always. Thank you for your effort. This can open up a whole new debate about the neglect of the people and how in the final analysis, it is they who collectively decide their own destiny. Very refreshing indeed.
Chris Nov 10, 2009 05:02pm
I was quite surprised to see the parallels between Iqbal and Hasan Al-Banna, the founder of Muslim brotherhood. Iqbal seems to have the same reactions to his experiences in the west and developed the same ideas regarding the need for Islam to be the guiding principle for government. He used Jinnah to realize his goal of creation of Pakistan, but his real goals were achieved later. It is quite fitting that the perverse child of the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Quaida, has now found its home in Pakistan since the founder-inspirers of both had similar visions. Sad for all the common people who were hoodwinked.
Larry Stout Nov 10, 2009 05:36pm
Epic poems, wishful thinking and when you look up, there's stark reality.
Amjad Ali Nov 10, 2009 06:57pm
@Raagi "Iqbal had written, Saare Jahan se acha Hindustan hamara. The Hindus still sing it in India. The Indian Army bands play it very well. Why cant we follow what he said about the Millat. Muslim hain hum watan hai sara jahan hamara." This is an example of how facts have been distorted in muslim mindsets through false associations. The Hindus sing it in India; and so do the Muslims, Sikhs, Parsees, Christians, Jains, Buddhists. This is what makes India - India. Iqbal said "Hindi hai hum, watan hai..." not "Hindu hai hum...". Hindi stands for people of Hind and not a religion. Iqbal had a broader vision, while "Muslim hai hum.." is a narrower vision that represents muslim extremism.
Jahiz Nov 10, 2009 10:57pm
I am not very knowledgeable of this book you speak of, I have only read Iqbal's latter poetry. Hence, I actually think your article is poorly written as it seems you expect me to see the connection of what has transpired in history to the ideas that are placed in the chapter you refer to. In this article you only mention the issues we have faced through our history but I didnt see any connection as to how this relates to the words in Iqbal's chapter and how he foresaw all these issues. I would have expected something better from a scholar on Iqbal. Sorry but thats how I feel.
Jehangir Nov 11, 2009 10:25am
"in taza khudawo main baraa sab sai watan hai jo parahan is ka hai wo mazhab ka kafn hai" One wonders, how come Iqbal goes against his above versed principle and put forward a demand for Pakistan(watan).
Muhammed Ali Khan Nov 10, 2009 11:20pm
@ Jahangir, Mr. Jahangir, you obviously does not know what Iqbal was and why he is a hero not only to us Pakistani's but also to millions around the world, including India. Not only that he gave us the idea of Pakistan, he fought for it, it was him who brought Quaid back to Pakistan. It was his poetry that not only translated the past but predicted the future and still show us the right path to follow. Lets forget what Iqbal was, lets see you a critic of Iqbal has achieved in life. Calling Iqbal a fundamentalist. He was the one who asked all muslims to get modern education, and not only for boy also the girls should be educated equally well.
Khurram Ali Shafique Nov 10, 2009 11:40pm
The statement appearing beneath the title to the effect that "Iqbal foresaw the trajectory of the Pakistani masses" is an editorial note. In my article, I have been careful not to use such words, because I understand that Iqbal believed in free will. However, the choices we make have consequences, and the consequences of choices made by nations can spread over centuries. Someone who knows the deeper currents of life can guess some of the "possibilities" that lie ahead due to choices alread made. Iqbal claimed to know this deeper current of life, and nothing more. However, the thrust of my article is not so much on the greatness of Iqbal as it is to win for the common Pakistani the right to be respected unconditionally and without discrimination on any basis, including EDUCATION. Even an unlettered person has got soul, and it is soul which gives him or her the right to choose. I am very grateful to all who have posted comments here, and I also thank the editor of this blog for making my article accessible to such large audience.
Jehangir Nov 10, 2009 12:41pm
Some one has written that Iqbal's authentic and readable biogaraphy is required. I am afraid that it can be produced because there are many objectionable aspects of his character which can dent his image made in pakistani's mind. Our children have been taught to regard him as a national hero by including him in compulsory subjects of Urdu and english in every class starting from class one upto graduation. He does not deserve the status given to him by our governments. He is a good poet but his ideas are obscurantic and retrogressive. He not only believes in the past but also lives in the past.
faisal Nov 10, 2009 11:37am
This is IQBAL who is telling us with a smile that, "I was one & alone but had done what I wanted but you are now a nation".
Absar Nov 10, 2009 11:41am
@ Jehangir I think you haven't read Iqbal so intensely that's why you profess this belief about him. You should read his book "Reconstruction of Religious Thoughts in Islam" And about fundamentalism, you're wrong. Iqbal advocated secularism too. Do read about his structure of government in Muslim majority areas and how he defines his secularist theory. Iqbal, on the other side, was a practicing Muslim, but he never advocated extremism. Being Fundamentalist doesn't mean one is Extremist.
hassan chaudhry Nov 10, 2009 11:50am
Iqbal, the best of all. I am proud to be a ravian as Iqbal is. If one wants to go through the history of nations just go through his poetry.
Masroor Nov 11, 2009 12:30am
"Qaom Mazhab say hai Mazhab jo Nahi Tum Bi Nahi" As per Iqbal basis of nationhood is religion; which is a direct antithesis of modern western philosophy of separation of Church and State. He forewarned the Islamic world that it would cease to exist if it does not adopt what is called "fundamentalism" by the West and some "secular muslims".
Siddiqui T Nov 11, 2009 06:53am
People living in hatred and bias based on ethnicity will never be able to understand and evaluate Iqbal and assess his contributions for the freedom of people.
GP65 Nov 11, 2009 01:18am
Ragi, You say that Iqbal's song 'Saare Jahaan se acha' has the stanza 'Iqbal had written,
Prof Ramesh Manghirmalani-Geneva Nov 11, 2009 02:32am
In May 1899, a few months after Iqbal's graduation with a master's degree in philosophy, he was appointed as the reader of Arabic at the University Oriental College of Lahore. From January 1901 to March 1904, when he resigned from the position, Iqbal taught intermittently as assistant professor of English at Islamia College and at the Government College of Lahore. In 1905, Iqbal went to Europe, where he studied in England and Germany. In London, he studied at Lincoln's Inn to qualify at the bar and at Trinity College of Cambridge University, he enrolled as a student of philosophy while he prepared to submit a dissertation in philosophy to Munich University. Munich University exempted him from a mandatory stay of two terms on the campus before submitting his dissertation, "The Development of Metaphysics in Persia." After his successful defense of his dissertation, Iqbal was awarded a Ph.D. degree on 4 November 1907. Iqbal was never at home in politics, but he was invariably drawn into it. In May 1908, he joined the British Committee of the All-India Muslim League. With the exception of one brief interruption, Iqbal maintained his relationships with the All-India Muslim League all his life. When Iqbal came back from Europe in 1908 after earning three degrees in England and Germany, he started his professional career as an attorney, professor, poet, and philosopher all at once. At length, however, the poet and philosopher won out at the expense of the attorney and professor while he continued to be partially active as a political leader. Iqbal was elected a member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly from 1926 to 1930 and soon emerged as a political thinker. In 1930, the All-India Muslim League invited him to deliver a presidential address, which became a landmark in the Muslim national movement for the creation ofPakistan. Iqbal's philosophical and political prose works are actually few in number, most notably The Development of Metaphysics in Iran (1908) and The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam (1930). The latter work was actually a collection of his seven lectures that he had delivered in December 1928 in Madras. The lectures are reflective of his mature philosophical and rational approach to Islam, emphasizing a responsible itihad, the right of interpreting the Qur'an and the Sunna. A third work is Iqbal's Presidential Address to the Annual Meeting of the All-India Muslim League (1930). This address is an extensive review of the interaction among the British, the All-India National Congress, and the All-India Muslim League from the perspective of a Muslim thinker. In it, Iqbal expounded the concept of two nations in India. This address came to be known as the origin of the idea for an independent state of Pakistan. Iqbal composed his poetry in Persian and Urdu. His six Persian works are Asrar-e-Khudi wa Ramuz-e -bekhudi (1915), Payam Mashriq (1923), Zabur-e-Ajam (1927), Javid-Namah (1932), Pas Chas Bayad Kard Ay Aqwam-e-Sharq (1926), and Armaghan-e-Hijiz (1938). His Urdu works, which are primarily responsible for his popularity in Pakistan as well as in India, are Bang-e-Dara (1924), Bal-e-Jibril (1935), and Darb-e-Kalim (1936). Poetry like visual art, is susceptible to varied interpretations; consequently, his admirers, relying primarily upon his poetry, have attempted to prove him a nationalist, a Muslim nationalist, a Muslim socialist, and even a secularist. Iqbal remained a steady supporter of the founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah (1876
Jehangir Nov 11, 2009 06:28am
Iqbal says "juda ho deen siasat sai tu hojatee hai changezee" but it proved the other way round. We have seen Taliban worse than changez and we have seen our religion- political parties not only openly supporting Taliban but their past government in NWFP served as a leeward for these childern of changez. Someone has said here Iqbal would feel proud in India I disagree with him because even the genius poet Ghalib's eternal abode is in dilapidated condition in Dheli. They have never declared his birth day or death day as a holiday.
NASAH Nov 11, 2009 04:20am
Jahangir says: "He (Iqbal) does not deserve the status given to him by our governments. He is a good poet but his ideas are obscurant and retrogressive. He not only believes in the past but also lives in the past." Jahangir is partially right. Allama Iqbal was more than a 'good' poet. He was the Poet Laureate par excellence not only of Pakistan but of the entire Urdu speaking subcontinent and of the Persian speaking neighboring countries. However it is true that Iqbal was an obscurant, he had a fascination for the grandeur of Islam's conquest of more than half of the first millennium world. And indeed Iqbal wistfully dreamed of unleashing yet another wave of world conquests by Islam. Yet Iqbal was not among the first who brought the religion into the politics or the politics into the religion.
GHAZAN KHAN Nov 11, 2009 04:20am
I agree with Jehangir. Iqbal is a poet and should be regarded as an excellent poet but not as a national hero. Almost all poets are not pragmatic persons as they have chosen to speak out their thoughts but not to practice them. Similarly Iqbal has chosen to give sermons like mullas. He cannot be compared with Quaid-e-Azam and therefore should not be graded like him. Moreover the philosophy of Iqbal as is revealed from his poetry is not to believe in your motherland rather he has condemned nationalism which contradicts his own philosophy of selfhood, or he has prescribed this selfhood for personal characters and not for national character but that too is contradictory because individual characters make national character.
akbar khan Nov 11, 2009 04:42am
Good lyrics by Iqbal but he made a poor choice as to where he wanted to spend his last day. India would have made him proud unlike our Pakistan.
Akhtar Wasim Dar Nov 11, 2009 05:59pm
Khurram Ali Shafique is a stylist when it comes to writing. He is always at his best when it comes to Iqbal. His thesis is cultivated through a deep understanding of history and Iqbal studies. It is such unfortunate that most of the people commenting just did that without reading and just spelled their mindset. A useful contribution towards our understanding of this world will need an impartial and dispassionate discourse. Iqbal was a visionary and is still relevant, and his work stands out illuminating the paths on which the caravans have been marching to seek the light that he was.
tabinda rehman Nov 11, 2009 07:58pm
Iqbal is my favourite poet. He took the support of his pen for establishment of Pakistan. His poetry teaches us the right direction towards Islam and tells us about our hidden success that to avoid western cultures and norms. Here I want to quote his one beautiful couplet that is "suraj hamein har shaam ye dars deta hai....maghrib ki taraf jaogey to doob jaogey" and now we are going towards it's opposite direction which refers our failure.
sherzdil Nov 11, 2009 08:20pm
No doubt Leaders like Iqbal born once in centuries. But is it not necessary to mention the people who scarified their life, their property, their freedom to make this dream of Allama comes true. People who clashed with Hindus and compel them to accept division of India. I think that when every creation of Pakistan is discussed we should not forget to mention those great people who struggle for this country without caring for their life, property, their love ones.
samyak gowda Nov 12, 2009 06:45am
I look at Iqbal as a brilliant poet and an opportunist. At one stage he wrote "Hindi hai hum". He also wrote "Mazhab nahi sikhatha, apas main bair rakhna". On the other hand he was so disillusioned by INC that he pretty much hated the idea of a secular government. I didn't live in his time and no one will ever know what goes on in one's mind and with in a group of people, unless they write about it themselves. So, I can't say that I know him or no one can say that they knew him. It might as well be the congress because of its idiosyncratic policies and pseudo-secularist views, alienated Iqbal and he himself was at no fault. We may never know. But on the outset he seems like an opportunist, because as soon as the idea of an independent Muslim state came into picture, he dissociated himself from everything Hindustani. Maybe he saw better benefits in living in a Muslim state. He was a Sunni, but surprisingly trusted Jinnah to be the sole leader of Indian Muslims. Was that opportunism? or just broadmindedness? hard to tell.
sherzdil Nov 12, 2009 06:47am
Everyone quote Iqbal Presidential address of 1930. Can anyone tell me where i can find full text of Iqbal speech?
NASAH Nov 15, 2009 07:17pm
Jahangir asks: "in taza khudawo main baraa sab sai watan hai jo parahan is ka hai wo mazhab ka kafn hai" One wonders, how come Iqbal goes against his above versed principle and put forward a demand for Pakistan(watan)." One explanation is OLD AGE. As Momin probably would have intended to say: "Umre tou saree kutee ishq-e butaan main Momin. Aakhree waqt main hum phir se Mussalmann hongay" When scholarly men hit the mid life crisis, they either turn secular like Salman Rushdie or become devoted 'poet' like Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi.
ali hassan Nov 16, 2009 08:58pm
In my opinion, poetry without a basic theme is no poetry. In case of Iqbal, it was 'Mazhab' and he didn't come around this theme in his 20s or 30s. He had twists and turns in development of his intellect. A natural process of reaching maturity, I believe. That's why his poetry has different shades prompting some to declare him fundamentalist, extremist, nationalist etc. What however is important to see is that what he was in his last days? The days when he had reached his mental as well as spiritual maturity and floated the idea of 'Khudi' and 'Shaheen'. And this is where we should focus and take his poetry as 'Last and Latest Edition'
NASAH Nov 17, 2009 01:47pm
Ali Hasan says: "In my opinion, poetry without a basic theme is no poetry." Then what would you call a magnificent Ghazal no poetry? A thematic poetry is called a "Nazam" a tougher genre to master than the Ghazal and Iqbal was the Michelangelo of Urdu 'Nazam'. He took a Urdu language of the schizophrenic Ghazal, composed of scattered pearls of two liner complete thoughts, carved it into a monumentally beautiful, exquisitely proportionate sculpture that overnight rivaled the thematic poetry of any other well developed European language . Yet who can deny the charm of a carefully disorganized ideas of an unrivaled Urdu Ghazal representing the carelessly disorganized life of the Indo-Pakistani-Persian culture.
ali hassan Nov 18, 2009 09:00pm
To NASAH, I would term Ghazal as Kohi - e - Noor in Queen of England`s Crown. Its pride of the poetry. However, a particular Ghazal still is composed on some idea/theme. Just to clarify, Faiz Ahmed Faiz's poetry revolves around revolutionary ideas and liberation of human being from subjugation by other humans. Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi, too, was a revolutionary poet but diverted during last phase of his life. A couplet, what to talk of magnificent Ghazal, is composed due to some inside ripples caused by an event, thought, feeling which makes it a theme for the couplet.
rajeev Nov 19, 2009 12:19pm
NASAH: I agree most of your thoughts here but you need to correct yourself here: you said: As Momin probably would have intended to say:
Namrah Mahmood Dec 01, 2009 06:30pm
I am speechless, what a deep analysis of something we all know but tends to ignore. This article helps us go inside the world of Iqbal's vision and I must thank khurram for writing such a remarkable piece about Iqbal. Iqbal was someone who was free of any boundaries of time and space his level of maturity and sensitivity of mind made him a true momin, a person capable of performing miracles and believing in the practicalities of life at the same time. He changed the world he lived in and asked every human being to change, evolve and purify himself and his soul. Just like lead turning to gold by the alchemists so if we call Iqbal an alchemist, it won't b wrong!!!! And any nation throughout the history has made progress only when every individual within a society respects the views of other person no matter how opposing they are!!! This is what every sufi taught, and this is how sufi
Afaq Dec 10, 2009 12:57pm
AoA, I think if we want a solution to our present problems then we have to consult the one who so long ago told us about the problem we will face (i.e. Iqbal)