Aubaid Ahmad Akhoon
“In front of our eyes pass the poetic creations of many renowned poets, whether it be a masnavi, qaseeda, or rubai. These works encompass both the romantic and the real, leaving a lasting impact with a flexibility that imparts profound essence. When listening to or reading the verses of these poets, certain lines embed themselves in our minds, and the poets behind these verses become our favorites. Similarly, the verses of the spiritual poet Allama Sir Muhammad Iqbal have become a profound source of inspiration for me.”
“When it comes to Allama Iqbal’s poetry, his verses offering advice and his ghazals stand as exemplary works that will be remembered as long as this world exists.”
Allama Iqbal’s thought-provoking poetry resonates with this concept. He urges individuals to delve into the depths of their own consciousness and seek the true purpose of their lives. His poetry famously states
‘Apne mann mein dhoob kar paa ja suragi zindagi,
Tu agar mera na ban saka, na bann apna toh ban.’
“Immerse yourself in your own being and discover your purpose. If you cannot conform to my expectations, at least understand your true self and purpose in life.”
“Allama Iqbal possesses a monumental personality, not merely as a poet but also having achieved the stature of a philosopher. When Allama embarked on his journey in poetry, he was influenced by poets like Daagh and Mir. However, he introduced fundamental changes, transforming Urdu ghazal into a powerful mode of expression. Indeed, it is accurate to say that in the present century, Urdu ghazal first encountered modernity through Allama’s hands.
“Reviving Ghalib: The Poetic Rebirth of Allama Iqbal” (A tribute)
According to Sheikh Abdul Qadir, the former proprietor of the “Makhzan” magazine, who initially presented Allama Iqbal’s poetry to the public in the preface of ‘Kulyat-e-Iqbal,’ wrote: “Who could have foreseen that after the passing of Ghalib, another luminary would emerge in India, breathing new life into the body of Urdu poetry? Through him, Ghalib’s unparalleled imagination and distinctive style would revive, becoming instrumental in the flourishing of Urdu literature. Witness the eloquence of Iqbal; in that era, a poet was born whose words have become a currency in the hearts of Urdu-speaking people worldwide. His fame has extended to Rome and Iran and even to France.
Ghalib and Iqbal share many commonalities. If I were inclined towards reincarnation, I would undoubtedly assert that Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib, captivated by Urdu and Persian poetry, left his soul steeped in obscurity even after death. He was compelled to reappear in a mortal body, revitalizing the gardens of poetry. He took a second birth in a corner of Punjab, known as Sialkot, and was named Muhammad Iqbal.
During his stay in Europe, Sheikh Muhammad Iqbal extensively studied many Persian books. A summary of this study was published in the form of a scholarly book. Upon seeing this book, the Germans conferred upon Sheikh Muhammad Iqbal the title of Doctor of Philosophy.”
Regarding Allama’s respect for the Teacher
“In 1923, when the British government began addressing Allama Iqbal as ‘Sir,’ the obedient and teacher-loving Allama Iqbal insisted that his teacher, Maulvi Mir Hasan, should also be honored with the title ‘Shams-ul-Ulema.’ In another instance, Allama Iqbal refused to accept the title of ‘Sir.’ However, the British government insisted, citing the absence of a book that justified withholding the aforementioned title. It was then that Allama Iqbal uttered the historic phrase with no parallel: ‘I am a walking embodiment of what my teacher has taught me.’ In response, the British government had no choice but to confer the title of Shams-ul-Ulema upon Maulvi Mir Hasan as well. Consequently, he is now renowned as Doctor Sir Muhammad Iqbal.”
Allama Iqbal’s ancestors were of Kashmiri origin
Regarding Allama’s father, Sheikh Noor Muhammad, an expert in Iqbaliyat believes that he belonged to the Kashmiri ‘Sapro’ Brahmins. Hence, in a verse from ‘Zaboor Ajam,’ Iqbal acknowledged his Brahmin ancestry and expressed his connection with Maulana Rumi and Hazrat Shams Tabrizi.”
Mera bangar ki darr Hindustan deegar name beeni
Brahman zadah ramz aashnaye room wa tabrez asth
“Look at me in Hindustan, for you will not find another like me. As a Brahmin, I am acquainted with the mysteries and symbols of Rumi and Shams Tabriz.”
Iqbal’s Journey into Poetry
The beginnings of Allama Iqbal’s poetry were evident from his childhood; at times, he would effortlessly compose rhythmic verses. In 1895, Iqbal passed the FA examination, followed by obtaining a BA degree in 1898. In the same year, he enrolled in MA (Philosophy) and excelled in the philosophy exams in Punjab in 1899.
Though poetry was a constant in his life, it wasn’t as serious during this period. In November 1899, a casual gathering at Hakeem Imtiaz-ul-Din’s place marked a turning point. “The audience, including Mirza Arshad Gorkhani, spontaneously applauded, unintentionally initiating Iqbal’s fame as a poet.
Iqbal recited a ghazal, and with the couplet: “Mauti samajh ke Shaan Karami ne chun liye, Qatray jo thay mere arq-e-infaal ke.”
Translation: Perceiving the magnificence of divine benevolence, the Almighty handpicked pearls the crystallized essence of my earnest endeavors.
In the sacred precincts of Almighty’s reverence, tears cascade from vigilant eyes, and a solitary droplet of blood, a sacred offering from a warrior’s frame on the battlefield. Iqbal eloquently shares that when, humbled by his imperfections and ignorance, he seeks redemption and repents for his lapses and disobedience to Allah, even the tears and perspiration emanating from his being assume the brilliance of precious gems and invaluable stones, a testament to the divine grandeur.
Iqbal’s Perspectives on East and West (Appreciation & Criticism)
“Mashriq se ho bezaar na magrib se huzur kar, fitrat ka ishara hain ki her subuh ko sehar kar.”
Translation “Disdain not the East, nor from the West, turn away, Nature’s sign is that every night transforms today.”
This verse conveys Iqbal’s urging not to dismiss the East and to remain receptive to the West, suggesting that every night holds the potential for a new dawn. While Iqbal has acknowledged and praised the contributions of Western scholars to his knowledge, this verse serves as a reminder that his allegiance doesn’t solely align with the West.
In the context of this verse, it serves as a cautionary note against presumptions that Iqbal would exclusively embrace Western ideologies. Additionally, his poetic expression,
“Khairan na kar saka mujhe jalwah danishi farang, surma hain meri aankh ka khaaki madeena wa najaf.”
“I couldn’t earn respect from the connoisseurs of the West, The dust of Medina and Najaf is the kohl for my eyes.”
Iqbal acknowledges that he couldn’t win the approval of Western scholars with the brilliance of their knowledge. Instead, he finds solace and spiritual insight in the dust of Medina and Najaf, emphasizing his deep connection to the sacred sanctuaries of Islam. This sentiment aligns with the broader critique on the West found in Iqbal’s poetry, shared with contemporaries like Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar, who, despite Western education, ardently criticize Western ideologies while emphasizing their allegiance to Islamic spirituality.Allama Iqbal and Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar, despite acquiring education from Western institutions, emerge as two prominent figures known for their vehement critique of the West. However, the critique embedded in Iqbal’s poetry, exemplified in verses like the aforementioned, goes beyond a mere disapproval of Western ideologies. Instead, it serves as a poignant expression of his unwavering allegiance to the spiritual sanctuaries of Islam
“Maikhane magrib k dastoor nirale hain, detay hain saroor awal le aatay hain sharaab aakhir.”
Translation “The knowledge hubs of the West have unique customs; they offer the initial intoxication of knowledge, but the true essence, akin to the intoxication of wine, is unveiled in the end.”
However, Iqbal doesn’t merely criticize; he beautifully expresses this sentiment by metaphorically likening Western knowledge to a unique tavern. Initially, it captivates the human intellect with its allure, resembling the initial intoxication of wine. Yet, as the verses unfold, Iqbal suggests that the true essence of Western knowledge is unveiled, leading to a renewed sense of intoxication—a poignant commentary on the ephemeral nature of materialistic brilliance.
Instead, it serves as a poignant expression of his unwavering allegiance to the spiritual sanctuaries of Islam.
Critical Views on Iqbal’s Greatness
Dr. Husain Qureshi praises Iqbal, stating, “Few poets in history have had as profound an impact as Iqbal on the Muslims of the subcontinent.” Even his adversaries acknowledge his greatness, attributing it mainly to his mesmerizing poetry.
According to Professor Rafi-ud-Din Hashmi, Iqbal stands as an unparalleled figure in Urdu literature, his exceptional artistic skill, and unique intellectual greatness setting him apart. Professor Hashmi contends that Iqbal’s ability to seamlessly blend purpose and artistry represents a rare and beautiful fusion, a quality not easily found even in global literature. When contemplating Iqbal’s contributions, it would not be an exaggeration to declare him the pride of Urdu poetry and literature. The harmonious coexistence of his unmatched artistic prowess and profound intellectual greatness presents a challenge to find in the vast landscape of world literature.
In the “Iqbal Nama,” on page 26, Chiragh Hasan Hasrat describes a unique aspect of Allama Iqbal’s poetry as follows:
“When reciting poetry, Dr. Saheb [Allama Iqbal] had a distinctive manner. He would recline as he spoke, often changing his position, with expressions of restlessness or joy alternating on his face. Below his pillow, there was a table with a copy placed on it – whenever inspiration struck, he would start writing. Occasionally, someone would come, and he would dictate a verse.”
Describing Iqbal’s poetry style, Dr. Safdar Mahmood beautifully explains, “When reciting, Dr. Saheb had a unique quality. He would often lie down, changing sides, and sometimes his face would show restlessness, sometimes delight. Beneath his pillow, there was a table with a copy on it – whenever inspiration struck, he would begin writing. Occasionally, someone would come, and he would dictate a verse.”
Allama Iqbal’s Reflections on His Poetry
“I don’t consciously prepare to recite poetry; rather, it is usually a contemplation within my mind that appears to be worthwhile. This idea circulates in my thoughts, and then, spontaneously, the composition takes shape. Frequently, a complete quatrain or verse is beautifully crafted, almost as if it were penned by someone else. There are instances when the poetry flows so effortlessly that capturing it in writing becomes a challenge. Subsequently, for several days, not a single verse materializes satisfactorily. Efforts and intentions often prove futile.” (Makhzan, April 1949)
Allama Iqbal’s Perspective on Love in His Poetry
Allama Iqbal’s era coincided with the time when Altaf Hussain Haali had already composed the Muqadma Shayiro, and Urdu poetry had reached its zenith. The custodians of Urdu verse had even attributed to it the label of a semi-wild or ‘naked’ genre. Noteworthy circles of Urdu poetry, specifically Dabistani Delhi and Dabistani Lucknow, had already established their presence.
During this epoch, Allama Iqbal embarked on his poetic journey. In a literary milieu saturated with themes of gulo-bulbul (romantic love) and wajoodi zann (women’s poetry), Iqbal, dissatisfied with the prevailing scope of love poetry, boldly proclaimed, “I have changed it.”
This era, marked by the confluence of poetic innovation and societal shifts, witnessed Iqbal’s audacious departure from the conventional, ushering in a new era of profound exploration and transformation in Urdu poetry.
In Iqbal’s perspective on love, women are not mere riders in the realm of gulo-bulbul; rather, his love transcends the confines of romanticism and women-centric poetry. His love is a pursuit of reaching the epitome of true, profound love. This transformation in the concept of love reflects Iqbal’s quest for the actual essence of love, moving beyond conventional notions and aspiring to the highest realms of true love.
“Sadki khaleel b hain ishq, azmi hussain b hain ishq, morika wajood main badro hunain b hain ishq.”
“Sadiq-e-Khalil is love, determination of Husain is love, In the battlefield, Badr and Hunain are also love.”
“Sadki Khalil is love, determination of Husain is love, in the battlefield, Badr and Hunain are also love.”
This verse reflects Allama Iqbal’s poetic expression, where he associates various qualities and contexts with the concept of love, suggesting that love manifests in different forms and situations, including loyalty, determination, and even in the challenges of the battlefield.
Allama Iqbal, in his poetry, considers love for Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as the fundamental condition of true religion. He asserts that without love for the Prophet, one’s beliefs are limited to mere idolatry and falsehood.
According to Professor Jagan Nath Azad, the impact of Iqbal’s familiarity with Urdu and Persian poetry extends to the styles of poets such as Josh Malihabadi, Ehsan Danish, and Sardar Jafri. Professor Azad contends that if Iqbal lacked this influence, the poetic styles of these renowned poets would have been significantly different. The revolutionary atmosphere that shaped Josh into the poet of the revolution is attributed, in large part, to the intellectual climate fostered by Iqbal’s thoughts.
Furthermore, Professor Azad suggests that Iqbal’s revolutionary influence wasn’t confined to specific poets alone. Had Iqbal not catalyzed a transformation in the ghazal genre, the poetry of Faiz and Roshan Sahar might have taken an entire century to achieve the popularity they eventually gained. Therefore, Iqbal’s pioneering efforts are acknowledged as instrumental in expediting the widespread acceptance and acclaim of subsequent poets, marking a significant impact on the trajectory of Urdu poetry.
Iqbal’s Criticism on Education for the Youth
“Khush toh hain hum jawano ki taraki se magar,
Labon se nikalti hai faryaad bhi saath.
Hum samajte thay ki laye gi faragat taleem,
Kya khabar thi ki chala aaye ga ilhaad bhi saath.
We find joy in the strides of the youth,
Yet from our lips, a lament emerges.
We believed education would bring liberation,
Little did we foresee the advent of atheism.
In these verses, Alama Iqbal articulates the dual emotions of joy and sorrow in the wake of youth’s progress, highlighting the unforeseen consequence of atheism. The lines also recognize Iqbal’s endeavors to shield against Western influences and advocate for genuine spiritual education.
Allama Iqbal’s prose work, “Ilm ul Iqtisad” is acknowledged as the first economic treatise in Urdu literature. Beyond his poetry, exploring his writings provides a rich insight into his thoughts, theories, and personality.
Alama iqbal’s letters holds the same significance In urdu literature as Ghalib’s correspondence Alama iqbal’s letters, encompassing stories, historical accounts, and his philosophical style, offer a vivid portrayal. According to Renowed Scholar Late Prof. AAl Ahmad Suroor the letters of Alama iqbal denotes a comprehensive and insightful analysis of Iqbal’s poetic works, providing a deep understanding of the themes and verses present in his poetry or interpretation of Iqbal’s Poetic work
According to experts in Iqbaliyat, the number of his published letters exceeds thirteen hundred. Alama Iqbal wrote the most letters to the late Syed Nazir Niyazi, and before his passing he published them in 1957 through the Iqbal Academy Lahore under the title “ Maktoobat-e- Iqbal
The late Syed Niaz Niyazi is honored for obtaining permission from Allama Iqbal to publish the first translation of his English speeches, ‘The reconstruction of Islamic Thoughts in Islam’ under the title “ Illahiyyat-e- Islamiyah”
Allama Iqbal the poet of the East. Not only a professor, but also a philosopher, advocate, poet, and politician, his contributions were vast and diverse. Through his profound insights, he authored numerous influential books in Urdu, English, and Persian, solidifying his authority in various languages. His impact transcends time, serving as an unwavering source of inspiration for millions worldwide. Allama Iqbal’s teachings encouraged individuals to embrace progress, freedom, happiness, and self-respect, resonating across cultures and continents. His verses have woven into the very fabric of education, discussed passionately within schools, colleges, universities, and even the peaceful corners of mosques. His poetic expressions often reflect themes of remembrance for Islam’s past glories, an earnest lamentation for its current decline, and an earnest call to unite and enact reform, echoing with a timeless urgency that continues to shape generations. was a visionary philosopher, poet, and thinker whose poetry ignited the flames of self-discovery and empowerment among Muslims in the Indian subcontinent during a crucial period in history. His verses carried profound metaphors and messages, among which the Shaheen (falcon) stood as a symbol of strength, aspiration, and the relentless pursuit of higher ideals.
Given below are some of the prominent messages squeezed from the amazing writings of the poet of the East with special reference to Shaheen:
The Metaphor of Shaheen
The symbol of the “shaheen” (eagle) in Allama Iqbal’s poetry is a powerful representation of his ideals. The shaheen embodies the spirit of freedom, ambition, and self-soaring aspiration. Iqbal employed this majestic bird to epitomize the Individual’s journey towards self-realization and the pursuit of lofty goals. Just as the shaheen soars high, defying limitations, Iqbal urged humanity to transcend mediocrity, break free from constraints, and embrace its inherent potential. The shaheen symbolizes not only the resilience of the self but also the collective yearning of a nation to rise, awaken, and contribute to a brighter future. The following couplets reflect Iqbal’s emphasis on self-elevation, aspiration, and the pursuit of higher ideals, using the “shaheen” symbol to convey his message of transcendence and self-discovery.
“Shaheen se bhi zyada unchayon mein udne ki azadi,
Haasil hai us insaan ko jo imaandaar hai khud se.”
‘’Shaheen Kabhi parwaaz se thak kar nahin girta,
Par dum hai agar tu, toh nahin khatra-e-iftaad.’’
Inquisitiveness and Curiosity: Iqbal values curiosity, symbolized by the Shaheen’s sharp vision and vigilance. He believes that individuals should possess inquisitiveness, as it enables them to explore the mysteries of the universe and acquire knowledge.
The Call for Freedom: Freedom, both personal and intellectual, is a recurring theme in Iqbal’s poetry. He appreciates the Shaheen’s freedom and connects it to human freedom, urging individuals, particularly the Muslim youth, to break free from mental slavery and pursue their destinies with vigor.
A Quest for Higher Aims: The Shaheen’s lofty flight symbolizes the pursuit of noble goals. Iqbal encourages individuals to adopt this quest for higher aims, striving to reach beyond their limits and make a meaningful impact on the world.
The Power of Detachment: Iqbal emphasizes the importance of choosing one’s companions wisely. The Shaheen avoids the company of pigeons and crows, symbolizing the need to surround oneself with those who elevate one’s character and ambitions rather than lead them astray.
Rejecting Superficial Comforts: Iqbal often criticized the notion of building nests, symbolizing a rejection of superficial comforts. The Shaheen does not seek the security of a nest but instead chooses the ruggedness of mountains and cliffs. This characteristic encourages individuals to resist the allure of comfort and strive for higher purposes.
Contentment and Independence: In Iqbal’s verses, the Shaheen embodies contentment and independence. It is a bird that thrives on the bare necessities of life and does not succumb to the temptations of materialistic pleasures. The poet admonishes against becoming like pigeons or crows, easily enticed by worldly desires.
Service to Country: Allama Iqbal believed that serving one’s country was a sacred duty. He emphasized the importance of individuals actively participating in the progress and development of their nation. He saw service to the country as a way to fulfill one’s responsibilities and contribute to the collective growth and welfare of society.
Service to Humanity: For Iqbal, service to humanity was a higher calling that transcended national boundaries. He envisioned a world where individuals worked together to alleviate human suffering and promote justice and compassion. He believed that helping others and working for the betterment of society were integral aspects of a meaningful and purposeful life.
Search for the Creator: Allama Iqbal encouraged individuals to engage in a personal quest to discover and connect with the Creator. He believed that understanding one’s relationship with the divine was essential for leading a fulfilling and spiritually enriched life. He urged people to explore their inner selves and seek a deeper understanding of their purpose in the context of the universe.
Self-Realization: Iqbal stressed the importance of self-realization as a means to unlock one’s true potential. He believed that individuals should strive to understand their strengths, weaknesses, and unique qualities. Through self-reflection and introspection, people could work towards personal growth and contribute more effectively to the world around them.
Quran is the Best Guide for Humanity: Allama Iqbal regarded the Quran as an eternal source of guidance for humanity. He believed that the Quran’s teachings encompassed a comprehensive framework for living a just, ethical, and harmonious life. He emphasized the need for individuals to deeply engage with the Quran’s wisdom and derive insights that could shape their actions and attitudes.
Gain Education: Education held a special place in Iqbal’s philosophy. He believed that gaining knowledge was vital for individual and societal progress. Education empowered people to think critically, embrace innovation, and contribute meaningfully to their communities. Iqbal advocated for a holistic education that combined spiritual and intellectual growth.
Remember Your Glorious Past: Allama Iqbal urged people to connect with their rich historical and cultural heritage. He believed that acknowledging and learning from the past was essential for charting a successful future. By remembering the achievements and lessons of their ancestors, individuals could draw inspiration and insight to overcome challenges and shape their destiny.
Reading Iqbal’s poetry, one can assert that he was a truly God-fearing poet. His impact on our minds transcends his thoughts, ideas, and theories in his poetry. His writings, dedicated to various scholars and poets of his time, narrate the story of an era, the history, and the reflective style of Iqbal’s thought. According to Iqbal’s scholars, the number of his letters published so far exceeds thirteen hundred. The late Professor Syed Niyaz Niyazi, a renowned Iqbal scholar and critic, provided a comprehensive explanation of Iqbal’s letters. Niazi translated Iqbal’s famous lectures, “The Reconstruction of Islamic Thoughts,” into English as “The Philosophical Foundation of Pakistan.”
(The author is a renowned columnist & motivational Speaker. He currently serves as the Senior EDP Head at DD Target PMT Kashmir and can be reached at [email protected])