By Didar Ali
I have been listening and reading about Allama Muhammad Iqbal since my childhood; yet the haziness continues buzzing in my subconscious as to whether Iqbal was a philosopher, a Sufi, a Communist, a political icon, a statesman, a poet, a revolutionist or a religious bigot??? A reflection on his life will help us to understand the paradigm shifts and varying moods of his life.
Mr. Iqbal was a student of German Philosopher Professor Arnold, who was a gem in the philosophical sphere of influence. He turned into a refined diamond after completion of his doctorate philosophy, gaining deep understanding of eastern and western philosophies.
At length, gracefully and remarkably, he did analyze Muslim’s eon, but in the end when a layman would rather expect that doctor Iqbal would talk about IJTIHAAD (the use of reason to arrive at a knowledge of truth in religious or other matters), which could have been a pragmatic or futuristic way forward for the Muslims; Iqbal, instead chose to recommend obsolete, 1400 years old solutions.
Being Hindustani lured him too much; egging him on to come up with “Saare Jahan Say Acha, Hindustan Humara.” Years down the line, the epoch of research and experiments of Muslim scientists inspired him to an extent that he joined the Enlightenment Movement. Iqbal played active part to uphold the brighter side of Islamic ideology and practices.
On the other side, having deep knowledge of a large assortment of philosophies of the East and the West, he cherished Communism and he considered it pro-people’s system. One can witness this element in his poetical thought;
“jiss kheth say dehqaan ko muyassar na ho rozi,
Oss kheth k har khosa-e-gandum ko jala do.”
Since there is no ambiguity in communism, there is always support for underprivileged working class of the society.
Iqbal’s poetic thought “Aikhon Muslim Haram ki Pasbaani K liye, Neel K saahil say layker Ta-b-khak-e-Kashger,” reveals that he wasn’t in favor of the great divide or any bitterness among Muslim Uma.
Shadows of the so called Muslim evangelists followed him ubiquitously; therefore he failed to break the cocoons.
Normally, a poet does not care about fame or appreciation, but Iqbal’s involvement in active politics of the subcontinent kept him in the lime light, which proved to be a knock out of his philosophical ideologies. Iqbal did not sacrifice his fame of being a popular leader, nor did he stand for his true philosophical thought; being ignoramus towards philosophy shoved him out unpretentiously.
The dismayed condition of the Muslim world forced him to write “SHIKWA” (a complaint to God), but he had to face immense pressure, especially from pious, and spiritual, devout, sacred and HOLY Muslim evangelists. The power of resistance was so immense he surrendered and failed to stand his words.
Many religious free-lancers even cursed him and called him Kaafir (disbeliever), Angraizon ka Agent (British agent) – an all-time adored conspiracy theory stuffed mantra of the so-called pious Muslims. Even today, the conspiracy theory is in full practice among Muslims across the world, especially Pakistanis, but with slight change: Yahudiun ya Amrikiun Ka Agent (Jewish or American Agent).
To avoid further damage, Iqbal reluctantly engraved “Jawab-e-Shikwa” (Answer to the complaint-God) that be best described as a trick of tranquility. His damage control move worked wonders and bagged him a colossal appreciation, even from his strong critics. They even jubilated, like a crazy gone-crazy, over his priceless words and praise.
It was a turning point in Iqbal’s life. He just went with the flow rather than resisting the misinterpretations and conflicts of thoughts. His Islamic teaching extended the gap between science and religion. During the era when there was a dire need of revival of Islamic civilization, he promulgated swordsmanship and chauvinistic beliefs.
“Khudi Ka sir-e-Nihan la-Ilaha Il-Allah” &“Shahadat hay matloob-o-maqsood-e-Momin,” such stirring poetries overshadowed the major and enlightened part of his poetical dimensions, where he debated about social changes, political revival and people.
Running between perplexed ideologies, he journeyed towards Sufism in search of internal peace. Some critics have even called it an escape attempt. One can see impressions of Maulana Rumi’s poetical thoughts in his words; undoubtedly he did fair justice to his mystical journey.
Maneuvering in circles of Maulana Shiblee, Qasim Nanatwi (at that time he was Chief of Deoband), Salman Nadvi and many others, who were highly influential clerics among the Muslims of subcontinent, Iqbal was dreadfully baptized by these clerics, which prompted his holy journey to Egypt and Saudi Arabia. In the aftermath of his journey, he unsurprisingly became a directional completely and armored himself with certain Islamic beliefs.
Ironically, he criticized Sufism (which he once cherished), considering Sufism guilty for all kind of damage to Islam and the so called Muslim Uma. Iqbal betrayed Maulana Rumi, Mansoor Hallaj and other Sufis, who he once admired and followed. He then joined the camp of Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi, who was a key influential religious leader of the Wahhabi sect.
Apart from every controversy, I regard Iqbal as a great poet having boundless flair and styles of poetries ranging from Urdu, Persian and Arabic. Iqbal acquired and polished his poetical skills to a greater extent from his famous teacher Daagh Dehlwi, who lived and died famous.
Wodana-e-subul, khatm-ul-Rusul, Maula-e-Kul Jiss nay
As one can witness his poetic brilliance in a couplet above, such master pieces are hard to ignore, being a rational decrier. But, if I consider him a philosopher, for me he will remain a confused soul.
Such delusional characteristic of Allama Muhammad Iqbal and its interpretations have left this nation muddled.
The views expressed by the writer, the reader comments, the perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes expressed through this blog are those of individuals and participating users, and are not necessarily aligned with the views, policies, standards, and practices of Mountain TV.