Allama Iqbal Remembered

Allama Iqbal - Shair-e-Mashriq

Allama Iqbal - Shair-e-Mashriq

I have always been captivated by the electrifying and often highly passionate poetry of Dr. Allama  Mohammad Iqbal. Considered one of the greatest minds of early 20th century, Shair-e-Mashriq’s (Poet of the East) poetry and philosophy has had a deep impact on the thoughts and minds of millions across the whole of South Asia.

I remember my first impression of him was reciting poetry of  wonderful stories with a high moral content during my grade school. Poems like Ek Pahar aur Gulehri, Bulbul aur Jugnu. And others like Lub pe aatee hay dua and ofcourse, every Indian kid reciting, Saray jahan se acha, hindustan hamara among thousands of his greatest. Yes, arguably the greatest poet of Urdu Language, who dreamed up the idea for separate homeland for Muslim India, wrote many poems directed towards children.

Perhaps the greatest contribution that Iqbal ever did was talk about “Khudi” the “individualism” among the youth of India. He wanted them to rise above the rest and take the destiny into their own hands. He was probably one of the earliest poets of Urdu language to use “Poetry for a purpose” or “maqsadi shairee”. A trend started in late 19th century by Moulana Hali, Iqbal took it to its zenith during the struggle for independence for Indians which finally culminated with the freedom from the British raj in 1947 with the creation of India and Pakistan (nine years after his death).

He also passionately advocated to Muslims around the world (almost half of his poetry is in Persian and the rest in Urdu) to not get bogged down with the disaster of the Great War (where the Ottoman territories was broken up by the colonial powers of Britain and France among themselves) and the dismantling of their homeland at the hands of colonial powers. But resist and struggle on.

Here is a great stanza from his “Jawab-e-Shiva” poem where he urges, as if the God is speaking to His followers, the Muslim youth to stand up and struggle on and not get bogged down and give up. It is so true even today while the Muslim world struggles to cope with Talibanism on one hand and ruthless and sometimes pointless War on Terror waged by America.

Stanza from Jawab-e-Shikva

Stanza from Jawab-e-Shikva

Today, April 21, 2009, the fans of Allama Iqbal quietly celebrated his 71st death anniversary.


About Atif Mumtaz
A serial entrepreneur who loves to travel, discuss politics and hikes on weekends.

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