M Zafar Khan Safdar |
The advent of the 20th century marked the consolidation of national states based on regional fidelities. Reason replaced religion as the focal point of culture and civilization. Minor states merged into powerful nations and soon evolved a common outlook based on affinities of historical, cultural, and linguistic traditions.
These nation-states guided mainly by their interests entered a race for profit, power, and prestige, which soon resulted in a bitter conflict between them in a bid to redistribute backward areas of the world as their colonies. During such time born a child in a family of modest means in far-off Sialkot.
Iqbal was greatly impressed by the Marxian thought and in his later poems, published posthumously in his last collection ‘Armughan-e-Hejaz’, he described Socialism as the next greatest threat to all evil in the world.
The child was given the name of Mohammed Iqbal who grew up into a highly educated young man well versed in Philosophy, Law, and Arabic and became an epoch-making poet who practically over-shadowed all his predecessors and contemporaries in Urdu literature.
He taught Arabic, philosophy, and practiced law but what made him immortal was his Urdu and Persian poetry. He wanted to explore the power and energy that a single word can contain; with that electrifying energy and conviction of ideas, he revolutionized the minds of his fellow-men that led to the dream of an independent homeland for the Muslims.
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A number of personalities and philosophies left a deep impact on Iqbal, though he could not be totally led by them. Among them is Karl Marx and his socialist ideas which were translated into action in 1917 by Lenin. Iqbal was greatly impressed by the Marxian thought and in his later poems, published posthumously in his last collection ‘Armughan-e-Hejaz’, he described Socialism as the next greatest threat to all evil in the world.
Even though he partially subscribed to the Marxian ideology, he had objections to its atheism, on the one hand, and its continuation of statehood on the other. Nevertheless, his sympathies with the peasants and workers and inclination towards Lenin and Marx were unmistakable.
It was a period of anti-imperialist struggle for political independence, which needed integration between various communities in India and consolidation of anti-imperialist forces in India, West and Central Asia.
Though today is Allama Iqbal’s birthday but remembering him 80 years after his death still remains worth-while because the imbalances pointed out by him still persist. Asia, though now largely free from imperialist rule, still faces the challenge of the dominating self of the West. The slumber of the centuries still remains to be broken and the passion for progress, devotion to ideal and dedication to action are yet to be acquired.
The turmoil of the West, too, is getting more and more intense, and the crisis the world is passing through calls for an equilibrium pleaded by Iqbal. Iqbal sang of change, change has also made a part of Iqbal obsolete and unacceptable but there still survives the essential part of Iqbal’s poetry which could give a new vision to a desperate world.
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Allama Iqbal has often been painted in black and white. To many, he is a hero, a poet-philosopher whose poetry and thought remain flawless expressions of the Bergsonian life force. To others, he remains a nodding Homer, whose erratic thinking led to the Partition of the Indian sub-continent.
But Iqbal was much too complex a personality for such simplifications. Undoubtedly, he ranks among the greatest poets of all ages. His melody not only vibrates with the verve and vitality of his own personality but also with the aspirations and longings of his country, desperately struggling against political enslavement and social and cultural degradation.
Convinced of the power of poetry and its revolutionizing effect on human thought, Iqbal chose to make his poetry a vehicle of a life-giving philosophy which he considered to be the only panacea for human ills.
Again, he was one of the first Indian poets who dreamt of the liberation of Asia and clearly visualized a historic role for the continent in the emancipation of mankind, which alone could provide the spiritual guidance to a universe lost in pursuance of material happiness.
Allama Iqbal was primarily concerned with nothing less than a human predicament, and with his search for the hidden laws of human development, he propounded his philosophy of Ego ‘Khudi’ with certain social checks and balances ‘Bekhudi’. It is in this context that his contribution to world poetic thought remains invaluable. His achievements are undoubtedly outstanding and nowhere has he failed to pose thought-provoking questions of great significance.
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Allama Iqbal lived in an era of great social turmoil. It was a period of anti-imperialist struggle for political independence, which needed integration between various communities in India and consolidation of anti-imperialist forces in India, West and Central Asia. In these parts, a battle was going on between two alternatives to social regeneration – puritanism versus modernism.
It is not, therefore, surprising that Iqbal’s work does not show any great enthusiasm for the movement for the restoration of Khilafat while he was full of praise for Ataturk and dedicated Payam-e-Mashriq to Amanullah Khan, not merely because he was an anti-imperialist but also a great exponent of modernism and social revolution in the Islamic world.
In the modern context, Allama Iqbal can be membered as the one who sang of the glories of mankind, inspired millions to struggle for the emancipation from political slavery and all sorts of human exploitation.
His passion for modernization was so strong that he welcomed even Mussolini as its symbol. Iqbal’s opposition to Mulla and Sufi and his dedication to the norms of Western philosophy mark a break from medievalism. He had adopted a new attitude with respect to the theories of the duality of nature and mind.
Despite his being a votary of the philosophy of ego, he did not refuse to accept the reality of the external world. Convinced of the power of poetry and its revolutionizing effect on human thought, Iqbal chose to make his poetry a vehicle of a life-giving philosophy which he considered to be the only panacea for human ills.
As a true idealist philosopher, he sincerely believed that thought comes first and all action stems out from it, so the war of liberation of mankind must begin in the minds and hearts of men. Minds may be conquered easily, for the impact on mind soon loses its effect, but hearts conserve the imprints much Ionger.
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In the modern context, Allama Iqbal can be membered as the one who sang of the glories of mankind, inspired millions to struggle for the emancipation from political slavery and all sorts of human exploitation. He kindled a new courage and self-confidence in the weak and the humble, gave aesthetic pleasure, sensibility, and awareness to generations.
M Zafar Khan Safdar is Ph.D. in Political Science. His area of specialization is political development and social change. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and tweet@zafarkhansafdar.The Views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.