Iqbal: A Thumb-Nail Sketch
Iqbal was a poet who wrote powerfully in Urdu and still more powerfully in Farsi -- Persian. For anyone who has any sense of language and literature, Iqbal’s poetry is among the finest in the world -- in any language or culture.
Iqbal loved Muslims. But at the same time Iqbal also loved all people, Muslim and non-Muslim.
He was a Muslim who loved God, but he was also a human being who loved God’s creation.
Iqbal was a visionary and a thinker, a poet and a philosopher, a leader and a reformer, of extraordinary sagacity, wisdom, talent, reach, depth, perspicacity and insight -- and complexity.
So, Tell Me Now Who You Are and Where You Stand
So tell me who you are, and where you stand, and I will tell you who Iqbal was.
But really and truly, it does not matter who you are; it does not matter where you come from; and it does not matter what your personal, literary, linguistic, national, ethnic, political, religious or cultural affiliation or identity is. Nor does it matter what your stand is on a billion things that may be important to you or to the world.
You still owe it to yourself to know Iqbal. And you have no excuse for not knowing him.
Nor does it matter what your Aqeedah or Madh-hab or Maslak or Jama’at or Tanzeem or organization or religion or philosophy or ideology or political party is or who your Ameer, Shaikh, Peer, Murshid, Imam or Murabbi is.
You still owe it to yourself to know Iqbal.
You and Iqbal
If you are from Kashmir, you must know Iqbal, for Kashmir had no greater son. If you are a Pakistani, you must know Iqbal, for Pakistan may owe its very existence to a dream and vision Iqbal had that later some Muslims turned into the reality of Pakistan. If you are an Indian, you must know Iqbal, for Iqbal was an Indian who sang proudly and touchingly of India and its many wonders.
Or if you are from the United Kingdom, you must be particularly proud of Iqbal, for Iqbal was an alumnus of Cambridge University. Or if you are from any part of the Western world, you must still admire Iqbal, for Iqbal’s doctorate was from Germany, Europe and the West.
If you love language and poetry, you must know Iqbal, for Iqbal was a master of both in both Urdu and Farsi.
If you are a Muslim -- of any kind or description -- you must know Iqbal, for Iqbal was the best friend, fan and spokesperson Muslims had in a long time.
If you are someone who is actively engaged in serving Islam and Muslims in some organized form or fashion in any part of the world, you must know Iqbal, regardless of your particular language, region or organizational affiliation, for as a true and dedicated servant of the Deen of Allah, Iqbal had few peers.
A Beacon of Light -- And a Nation Unto Himself
Iqbal was a beacon of light in a foggy, moonless night that kept a near-solitary vigil over the stormy sea of Muslim life and events around the world. Like Ibrahim, Alaihis Salatu was-Salam, Iqbal stood almost alone: he was very nearly the lone Islamic thinker, theorist, reformer and visionary, of his class and caliber, before many of the other thinkers, theorists, reformers and leaders made their appearance.
And like Ibrahim, Alaihis Salam, Iqbal was a nation -- an Ummat -- unto himself.
How Sad and Embarrassing!
Therefore, how embarrassing, painful and disappointing it is, both as a Muslim and as a human being -- and as someone blessed by God with a touch of taste for language and literature and with a shade of concern for the Qur’an, Islam, Muslims and the people of the world -- that anyone in the world today, Muslim or non-Muslim, Arab or Indian, Punjabi or Kashmiri, man or woman, should ask: Who in the world is or was Iqbal!
When someone does ask me that embarrassing question, I can do no better than turn to that master of irony and eloquence, Asadullah Khan Ghalib -- that other genius that Muslims and the world of Islam produced in the Indian subcontinent in the 19th century.
Like Iqbal, Ghalib also wrote some of the most marvelous and magical poetry that one can find in any language. And like Iqbal, Ghalib also wrote in both Urdu and Farsi -- the two major Muslim and Islamic languages of the time after Arabic.
Here is how Ghalib put it:
Poochtay Hain woh kay Ghalib Kaun Hai, Ko-i Batlaaye Kay Ham Batlaayen kya?
Paraphrased, it means: Ghalib says, My beloved asks me, Who is Ghalib? Will someone tell me what I should say?
What Is Your Excuse?
So, what is your excuse -- regardless of who you are and regardless of what your Aqeedah or Maslak or affiliation or organization or Jama’at or background or culture or nationality or language or religion is -- for not knowing Iqbal?
And what do you expect me to tell you?
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Nothing but Drafts
Do bear in mind, however, that our manuscripts -- whatever we write, put on the Web or send in the form of letters and E-mails, etc. -- are mostly drafts in need of further research and revision, which we are often unable to undertake or complete due to serious time and resource constraints.
Part of that time and resource constraint is our inability to be more exact in our Transliteration. If there are inconsistencies, please overlook them.
Don’t Forget Us in Your Du’as!
As you read, please do not forget me, my family, my parents, my teachers and my ancestors in your Du’as.
And all those wonderful people, Allah bless them, who may help me, now or in future, with this immense project. Especially, our wonderful Webmaster, Allah bless him, who slaps these E-Letters on the Web with the same speed with which I finish writing them.
And do please find within you the generosity and compassion to forgive me if I have in any way offended you; or said something I should not have said; or said it in a way that you thought was not appropriate.
Ask Allah to forgive me for any errors that there may be in my E-Letters and to protect me from them in future.
May Allah be with you!
Where and in the way you want him to be!
Allahummaghfir Li-Ummati Muhammadin, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam!
Wassalaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullah!
© 2006 Syed Husain Pasha
Dr. Pasha is an educator and scholar of exceptional
talent, training and experience. He can be reached at DrSyedPasha [at]
AOL [dot] com or www.IslamicSolutions.com.