Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Iqbal Day Today

9th November is celebrated throughout Pakistan as the birthday of Dr Muhammad Iqbal, commonly known as Allama Iqbal. Born in 1877 at Sialkot, studied at the famous Government College Lahore, obtained his PhD from the Munich University, this poet philosopher was the man who dreamt of a separate state to be carved out of the British India to be the homeland of the Muslims. Later in 1934, Rehmat Ali, a student at Oxford coined the word PAKISTAN.

Due to hectic efforts and the driving force of motivation of Dr Iqbal, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, also widely known as the Quaid-e-Azam, led the struggle under the flag of All India Muslim League to realize the dream of Iqbal and win a homeland for the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent on 14 August 1947.

As a poet philosopher, Iqbal’s audience was the Muslim youth of then British India. In his writings, he addressed and exhorted them to stand up and boldly face life's challenges. The central theme and main source of his message was the Qur'an. His poetry and philosophy, written in Urdu and Persian, stress the rebirth of Islamic and spiritual redemption through self-development, moral integrity, and individual freedom. His many works include "The Secrets of the Self"; a long poem; "A Message from the East" and "The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam". His Persian poetry is still being taught in Iran and is known as Iqbal Lahori.

The sufferings of the Muslims, specially in the Balkans, after the World War I, the end of the Ottoman Empire and sufferings of the Muslims of the Indian sub-continent and the unjust attitude towards them from the British and Hindus compelled Iqbal to enter the politics and was elected to the Punjab provincial legislature in 1927. He became the president of the all India Muslim League in 1930. In his historic Allahabad Address the same year, Iqbal visualized an independent and sovereign state for the Muslims of North-Western India. He said, "I would like to see the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sind and Balochistan amalgamated into a single State. Self-government within the British Empire, or without the British Empire, the formation of a consolidated North-West Indian Muslim State appears to me to be the final destiny of the Muslims, at least of North-West India."

To boost the morale of the youth, which he referred to as Uqaab (Eagle), he wrote:

Tundi-e-bad-e-mukhalif say na gabhra ay uqaab

Yeh to chalti hay tujhay ooncha uranay kay liye

(O’ Eagle, don’t be afraid of the opposing winds, these are blown to make you fly higher)

Iqbal set the Pakistan movement in motion and steered it to the path of success, both through his political acumen and meaningful poetry. It was a big blow to the movement when he died in 1938, nine years before his dream of an independent Pakistan could realize.

Much research has been carried out on Iqbal’s poetry. But it would be unjust not to mention the name of famous German scholar Annemarie Schimmel (1922-2003), who is remembered and revered for her lifelong research on the life and poetry of Iqbal. Her book Gabriel’s Wing– A Study into the Religious Ideas of Sir Muhammad Iqbal (1963, rpt. 1989) is still the finest specimen of her insight in Iqbal studies and Islamic thought in general. This is testified by the fact that from among a large number of books written in the major languages of the world, Gabriel’s Wing was declared as the best work on Iqbal studies, in the international languages, for the period 1947-1981. Apart from these works she was the author of hundreds of articles and dozens of books on Iqbal and Islam. She also funded the Annemarie Schimmel scholarship for Women Studies in Pakistan.

Related Reading:Dr Allama Muhammad Iqbal (Pakistanpaedia)