ne of the longest serving leaders in Asia and in Imran Khan’s words, “The hero in whole Muslim world”, Dr Mahathir bin Muhammad after chairing the challenging job of Prime Minister of Malaysia, managed to research all of the poetic work of the great philosopher and visionary poet Allama Iqbal. He determined his nation to apprehend and plunge into the deep ocean of knowledge of this great legendary figure. And soon after that the way Malaysia progressed is quite apparent to the naked eye.
Indubitably, there was “something” extraordinary in compositions of this sublime personality which paved the road of prosperity for entire nations. The great scholar of all times, Allama Iqbal unquestionably was a man of letters; a man whose vision and philosophy is beyond description; a man who was exceedingly blessed with farsightedness and awesomely striking expression of it. Every time you read his work, you come across something novel, something motivating and something intuitional.
At times I wonder, despite having gems in our own pocket why we rummage around for them in that of others? There are nations who have discovered the pathways of their lives in the beacon of Iqbal’s poetry — the simile of teachings of Holy Quran. But we, the genuinely expected-beneficiaries of this precious asset are wandering like a rolling stone. We utterly have flunk in realising and implementing the essence of the glorious work of our national poet. The work of this legend has been confined within our course books. If truth be told, it’s nothing; nothing but ill fortune.
From Asrar-i-Khudi (The secrets of the Self, 1915) to posthumous Armaghan-i- Hijaz (Gift of the Hijaz, 1938) every work of his is a paradigm of excellence and virtuosity. The series of lectures which he delivered at Madras, Hyderabad, and Aligarh in 1930 is also of immense significance for today’s Muslims. The compilation of these spiritually reviving lectures titled The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam was published in 1930. Iqbal was a proponent of devising new social and political institutions according to the need of the hour but not at the cost of religious foundations. According to him, the revival of Muslim society can only take place by obeying the laws of Islam, willpower, and believing that we are vicegerent of Almighty Allah and we are absolutely accountable for our every action.
What we are? Why we are? For what we are? Getting up early in the morning, being off to office/university/college/school, returning home in the noon, wrecking brain over TV, computers, and games, might have ever put these aforementioned queries before you. These few lines may seem a little diverting from the topic, but in fact they are closely associated with Iqbal’s philosophy of Khudi. I’m not supposed to start Urdu class here by further elaborating the idea of Khudi. In reality, for me an interestingly disappointing thing is that on average every one of us, the educated class, can elaborate the gist of Khudi (self realisation) handsomely but unfortunately fails to instil the idea in our lives and materialising this glorious philosophy of the glorious philosopher.
As a matter of fact, Iqbal was the advocate of “deed” instead of “idea”. If someone feels thirsty, the glass of water would not ramble towards him/her. Unless the thirsty person GOES (or asks someone) and fetches the glass of water, the thirst can never be quenched. The same rule applies in our case as well. We are in sheer need to study, apprehend and apply the ideas of the poet of nation to resolve the dilemmas we are undergoing these days. Believe me, it is not meant to embellish the course books; it’s the source of our rescue.
November 9 is the birth anniversary of Allama Iqbal.
At times, I feel that the people of our society are not the guilty party; it’s their mechanical routine that is the real culprit. Those who even scarcely manage time to have their meals how can they afford to enmesh their brains in any other activity? The hectic routine of today’s man doesn’t allow to him to spend time with family and friends and have some fruitful discussion. But the question that arises is: how long would it last? Forever? That’s not a fair deal, however. What are we supposed to do in such circumstances? Chair on dinning table and criticise others over the smoke of a cigarette? It won’t resolve the enigma but definitely would smoulder your inner self. Believe me cigarette can do this all single-handedly!
How do nations get onto the path of prosperity? Ever thought about it? It’s not a rocket science. A mere change in their perception, direction and willpower does the trick. The simplest example is that of China. Mao Zedong, a great Chinese leader, merely showed his nation the path towards their destination and it is owing to their own willpower and hard slog that paved the road of success for them. If we talk about Muslims, the direction and the pathway has been given more than 1,400 years ago. Iqbal awe-inspiringly recalled it in his poetry. According to him the destination of Muslims itself chases them if they only opt for the right path. “Hum tou Ma’il-e-Ba Karam hain, Koi Sa’il he nahi, Rah dikhlaeen kisay, Rahraway Manzil he nahi” God Himself is dedicated to bestow Muslims but it’s our negligence, we lack devotion and willpower.
Iqbal was not a proponent of western culture. He firmly believed in Islamic ideology as the only way of success and prosperity in both worlds. For that reason when he was in London he addressed his son, Javed Iqbal, as, “Utha na Sheesha giran-i-farang k Akhsan, Safal-i-Hind sy Meena-o-Jam paida ker” (Don’t be at the beck and call of Europeans; earn your name following your own ideologies).
Iqbal might be considered to be an all time serious personality. Nevertheless, decent humour was also a significant characteristic of Dr Iqbal’s personality. His puns pertaining to Sir Shahab-ud-deen are extremely joyful. Shahab’s complexion was not fair. Once he arrived somewhere in black suit, Allama retorted, “Aaj tou aap nangay he chalay aa’ay” (you have come naked today).
Legends like Iqbal are born once in centuries. His legendary work is a beacon of success in both worlds. His own couplet describes him best.
Hazaron saal nargis apni be noori pay rooti hai
Bari mushkil sey hota hai chaman main deedawar paida
(Dawn, November 08, 2008)