Allama Iqbal: Distinguished Philosopher, Failed Politician

1877-1938

ख़ुदी को कर बुलंद इतना कि हर तकदीर से पहले,

ख़ुदा बन्दे से ख़ुद पूछे बता तेरी रज़ा क्या है

Allama Iqbal the man who in 1904 gave us one of the most patriotic songs "Saare Jaahan se Achcha" and then in 1930 gave us the idea on the basis of that it was formulated what we call two-nation theory which spiritually led the foundation of Pakistan.

In India he is remembered for the Tarana-i-Hind, while on the other hand in Pakistan he is known for the other aspect of his life, he is regarded as the "Spiritual Father of the Nation" as well as the National Poet.

Background

Allama Mohammad Iqbal was born on 9th November 1877 in Sialkot, British India, now in Pakistan in a family whose roots were descended to Kashmiri Brahmin family of Sapru clan which were converted to Islam somewhere around 200 years ago before the birth of Allama Iqbal, the first ancestor to convert to Islam has been identified as Haji Lal, a Sufi mystic. It was in the early 19th century when his grandfather migrated to Punjab and resided in Sialkot where he was born.

Philosophical Transformation

It was in 1904 when he wrote the "Saare jahaan se achcha" - Tarana-e-Hind and it was quickly accepted by the people of India as the anthem of opposition against the British Rule.

Soon after he left for higher studies in England and on return in 1908 he was philosophically transformed from a secular, country-first to a religion-first person and by 1910, he wrote the anthem of Muslims - "Tarana-e-Milli". Using the same metre and rhyme scheme which he used in "Saare jahaan se achcha". The song begins with the lines as follows:

"Cheen-o-Arab humara, Hindostan humara

Muslim hain hum, watan hai saara jahaan humara"

Read the entire song here

The philosophical transition could be seen into his work before leaving for Europe and after arriving from Europe, where he started to confine his work more upon the glory of past of Muslim and Islam.

By 1930, when he was the president of All India Muslim League he delivered that 1930 Allahabad Session address on 29th December 1930, where he suggested the "Muslim India within India". He was feared which was shared by many Muslim leaders of that time from the dominance of Hindus will isolate the Muslims in terms of heritage, culture and political influence.

Distinguished Philosopher, Failed Politician

No one could point out that he was not a great philosopher, there is no doubt about that he was a great thinker, philosopher, poet, writer, and academic scholar this is the reason he is regarded as Shair-e-Mashriq (Poet of the East), Hakeem-ul-Ummat (The Sage of the Ummah). Although as a politician he was not that successful as he was as a philosopher and barrister, his vision of "Muslim India within India" eventually led to the foundation of Pakistan, however, because of his efforts Pakistan bestowed him as Mufakkir-e-Pakistan (The Thinker of Pakistan) and Musawwar-e-Pakistan (Artist of Pakistan). But even if he looks into the current situation he would himself along with Jinnah regret on his suggestion of the two-nation theory. Pakistan has only bestowed him by the titles, named Sialkot as the "City of Iqbal" and celebrates his birthday is as "Iqbal Day" where government observes a public holiday every year but failed miserably on the idea that was actually visioned by Iqbal during that address.

The Allahabad address that formulated the two-nation theory eventually caused the tragedy during the partition of two nations he also emphasized on the fear of the aftermath on which quoted

"Nor should the Hindus fear that the creation of autonomous Muslim states will mean the introduction of a kind of religious rule in such states. I have already indicated to you the meaning of the word religion, as applied to Islam."

However, if we look into the current situation of both the countries there is no denying what is the condition of minorities in Pakistan, and we often used to celebrate the firsts who have broken the shackles, unlike India.

Conclusion

As a poet of the levels of Ghalib, he visioned a nation first with the eye of secular and latter with the eye of religion - I am not condemning any, but I can recall his own words as I observe the situations on both side of the border,

"Nations are born in the hearts of poets, they prosper and die in the hands of politicians."

His vision is what on which I can't agree but there is no denying that his vision was ruined by the greed of the politicians. And on the closing note, I am leaving you with his one of the most iconic lines ever penned, the lines which help me a lot in the process of overcoming from disappointments and to keep me motivated. It goes like:

"ख़ुदी को कर बुलंद इतना कि हर तकदीर से पहले,

ख़ुदा बन्दे से ख़ुद पूछे बता तेरी रज़ा क्या है"

Elevate thyself to such extent, that before every decree,

The God himself ask the man "what is your desire"


Read entire ghazal here