Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim!
In the Name of Allah, The Most Merciful, The Most Merciful!
DR. PASHA’S ISLAMIC SOLUTIONS
08 Safar 1427/08 March 2006
From the United States of America
(Bringing Islam to the World One Concept at a Time!
Taking the Qur’an to Every Home and Heart that Needs It --
And which One Does Not?)
- These E-Letters!
- Nothing But Personal Reflections
- God Almighty: The Only Subject
- It Is All Talk About Him
- Pining for Sanskrit: A Language I Never Met
- A Qur’anic Truth in Sanskrit Language?
- Making a Mess of Allah’s World
- Khair Ummat: The Great Muslim Disconnect
- Helpless Spectators, Hapless Victims
- Who in the World Is or Was Iqbal?
- Who in the World Are You?
- Motionless Majesty of the Mountains – Their Imperturbability as Jawahar Lal Nehru Called it
- Do You Love Islam and Muslims – And Allah’s World and Your Fellow Human Beings?
- Then Iqbal Is Your Man!
- A Lover of Humanity
- A Heart on Fire
- That Book — Dhaalikal Kitaab
- A Lover of His Land — and His People
- A Muslim — Plain, Pure and Simple
- Breathing a New Life in Muslim Ummah
- All Deen, All Dunya: All at the Same Time
- Muslim Parents, Brahmin Roots: Gathering All of Humanity Under the Shade of a Giant Tree
- Islam and Muslims: Feeling the Pain of All of Allah’s Creation
- Voice of the Qur’an
- Admirers and Friends of Iqbal
- Iqbal: A Thumb-Nail Sketch
- So, Tell Me Now Who You Are and Where You Stand
- You and Iqbal
- A Beacon of Light — And a Nation Unto Himself
- How Sad and Embarrassing!
- What Is Your Excuse?
- I Am Glad You Are with Us
- Feel Free to Share the Good News
- Write Back
- Nothing but Drafts
- Don’t Forget Us in Your Du’as!
I hope you are in good health and spirits.
Well, here we are again. Another one of our E-Letters to you. Letter # 13, I suppose.
I say Al-Hamdulillah. I don’t know what you will say.
Personally, I consider it a privilege -- and a blessing from Allah, for, what could be a greater privilege than to be blessed by Allah -- that I am able to reach you this way. It is entirely up to you to take it how you want. If it is an unwanted encroachment, forgive me, and may Almighty Allah forgive me too. If you find it useful in some way, make Du’a for me, my parents, teachers and my family.
Nothing But Personal Reflections
As I have said before, there is no theme or topic to these E-Letters. Nor is there, generally speaking, any continuity to them in terms of the subject matter they discuss -- taking one topic and talking about it till it is “completed.” That is not what these E-Letters do.
Often, it is one theme or topic scattered over several E-Letters. Sometimes, revisited and repeated, maybe with some variation here and there.
They are nothing but the personal reflections of a man who has tirelessly tried to learn a thing or two about Allah’s world. And who, by the blessing of Allah, has been able to see and observe a thing or two in this world.
That is why these E-Letters have no special topics or themes of any kind. They are just a collection of thoughts -- random and quite possibly disjointed.
But if you ask me, these reflections are all about that one overall subject that truly matters -- matters to me; should matter to you; and matters in and of itself: Almighty Allah, Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala.
In fact, it is the only subject that there is in this world. Except that people talk about it in different ways and at different levels.
God Almighty: The Only Subject
God Almighty -- he is the only subject. And the total focus. As someone said: A-Laa Kullu Shai-in Maa Khalallaha Baatilu. If you insist, I will give you the name: Labeed, I think.
Paraphrase? Everything other than Allah is null and void. And you know what Allah’s beloved Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, said about that quote? He said it is the truest thing any poet ever said.
So, no matter how and in what language or using what title, topic or heading you talk, it is still talking about him: about his existence; about his attributes and their manifestation in the universe; about his varied and limitless creation; about those who believe or don’t believe in him; about those who play games with him; about his forgiveness and retribution; about good or bad actions as judged by him; about the reward or punishment structure he has prepared for all of us; about life and death and multiple shades and combinations of those two states; or about anything and everything else in the universe created, owned and run by him.
It Is All Talk About Him
So, talk about any of it is still talk about him, one way or another.
That is why the whole universe talks about him -- everyone and everything in Allah’s kingdom: Yusabbihu Lahoo Maa Fis-Samaawaati Wal Ard! They all sing his praises -- everyone and everything that is in heavens and earth. What else can or will they do -- knowing what they know and having been created and programmed the way they have been?
How beautifully the Qur’an puts it -- I am paraphrasing it here broadly. Say: “Call Allah or call Ar-Rahmaan! Surely, all beautiful names and attributes belong to him!”
What a statement! Subhaanallah! What a declaration!
Pining for Sanskrit: A Language I Never Met
But it is not just the Qur’an that makes that statement. Other sources and documents do too. For example the Hindu scripture. Oh, how I pine for Sanskrit -- the language that I never met.
Allah bless my young friend, the Brahmin gentleman whose mother tongue is Sanskrit and who became a Muslim recently. What a rare expertise he has, Mashallah. I hope he will be able to teach me, Inshallah.
But why would a fairly average Muslim like me pine for Sanskrit language? That is because I lament my lack of proficiency in it, that is why. But where are we Muslims -- generally speaking that is -- in relation to Sanskrit? Even those who may be born, brought up and laid to rest, as they say, in India?
Well, what can I say? That is just Muslims being Muslims I guess -- a lot of them, that is. They have lived in India for so long and yet how many taught themselves and their children the most important religious and cultural language of the majority of the population in their land -- today numbering nearly one billion people around the world?
A Qur’anic Truth in Sanskrit Language?
Here are the Sanskrit words I am talking about -- the words that seem to reflect the eternal truth of the Qur’an: Ekam Sat, Viprah, Bahudaa Vadanti.
Did I say that right? Did I spell it right?
If I had a measure of grounding in Sanskrit I would not be asking you that question, would I? That is why I say I lament my lack of knowledge of Sanskrit. As a fairly average Muslim who spent a fair amount of his early life in India, I should have learned Sanskrit. May Allah forgive me. And those who were responsible for my education.
Paraphrase of those Sanskrit words: “Truth is one, those who know call it by different names” -- the wise would you say? The Cognoscenti? The Gyanis?
Allahu Akbar! What a beautiful rendering of that beautiful Aayat of the Qur’an it is -- and to me all Aayats of the Qur’an are beautiful: Qulid-Ullaha Awid-Ur-Rahmaan, Ayyam Maa Tad’oo, Fa-Lahul Asmaa-Ul Husnaa!
Making a Mess of Allah’s World
Muslims, Muslims, Muslims! Dear, dear Muslims! Our colossal ignorance of things that are important to us, that are vital to our interests -- in both Deen and Dunya! As I said, it is just Muslims being Muslim I suppose. They call themselves Allah’s representatives on earth, but so many of them are so sadly oblivious of and indifferent to the state and realities of this world.
With such colossal lack of knowledge as their preparation for life, and with such near-total indifference to the affairs of the world as their attitude to living, I wonder how Muslims manage to run the affairs of Allah’s world as Allah’s Khaleefah on earth.
Because that is who the Muslims are: Allah’s Khaleefah on earth. Of course all human beings are Allah’s Khaleefah on earth -- Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Atheists, everyone. But Muslims are the ones who say they accept their charge from Allah.
Muslims are the ones who have actually signed the contract with God -- the contract that says that they accept him as their true owner and master and which further says that they accept to live their life and run the affairs of his world based on his instructions and directives.
Khair Ummat: The Great Muslim Disconnect
I also wonder how Muslims -- generally with such monumental ignorance about and indifference to the world of Allah -- keep repeating that they are the best people in the world -- citing the Qur’an that says Kuntum Khaira Ummatin. Especially the “better” ones among them.
How are we the Khair Ummat? By what definition? I am not saying we are not. That is a different argument -- and I have made that argument elsewhere: saying why we are indeed the Khair Ummat. And I also know the Qur’an’s definition of it.
But what I am asking here is something entirely different. I am asking if you really think that we look, talk and behave like the best and finest people in the world? If not, then what do you think is going on? Do you think we have our heads buried in sand like the ostrich?
Do you think somehow there is a disconnect with reality on the part of the Muslims? A phenomenon that I call The Great Muslim Disconnect?
Do you think somehow we are really not who we proclaim ourselves to be? Forgive me, but what we so often pretend to be?
Do you think somehow, as a result of all this, we made a mess of Allah’s world -- the world that he left in our care and custodianship for a very long time -- instead of turning it into an earthly Paradise for all his creation?
Helpless Spectators, Hapless Victims
Do you think, maybe that is why we are no longer permitted by Allah to run the affairs of his world? Do you think, maybe that is why we have been reduced to the status of helpless spectators and hapless victims of the events and actions that unfold in Allah’s world before us?
I don’t know, I am just asking. Remember, I am more of a question-man than an answer-man, even though Allah has been merciful enough to bless me with one or two little answers to one or two small questions?
That is partly why I write these E-Letters to you -- to share some of those answers with you, if I may, and to throw a lot of these questions in your lap, so you can wrestle with them and come up with your own answers.
Who in the World Is or Was Iqbal?
But I also wanted to share with you some thoughts on Iqbal. People today ask: Who in the world is or was Iqbal? A lot of “very good” Muslims among them. I have trouble believing my ears when they tell me they don’t know Iqbal or they never heard about him.
And they ask about Iqbal. Among them Muslims and non-Muslims. Among them Indians, Pakistanis, Arabs and others. Among them educated and uneducated people. Among them people of a wide range of Aqeedahs and Maslaks and Madh-habs and organizations. They all ask: Who is or was Iqbal?
And I say: Is Saadagee Pay Kaun Na Mar-jaa-ay Ai Khudaa? How naive and uninformed can we be?
Who in the World Are You?
Well, let me put it to you this way: Who in the world are you? In other words, you tell me who you are and I will tell you who or what Iqbal is or was.
Are you a Muslim? Are you a Pakistani or an Indian or a Bangladeshi? Are you an Arab or an Iranian? Do you have anything to do with the United Kingdom? Are you in some shape or form connected with Europe or any other part of the Western world? Are you from just about any part of what people call the Muslim World -- from Chechnya to Arabia and from Morocco to Malaysia?
Are you an educated person? Are you one who appreciates literature and poetry, science and philosophy? Are you tantalized by the miracle of human language and expression? Are you at all moved or mesmerized by the magic that words hold?
Motionless Majesty of the Mountains -- Their Imperturbability as Jawahar Lal Nehru Called it
Does the motionless majesty of the mountains, the churning of the surf in the sea, the soaring of the birds in the sky, the whispering of the winds in the branches of the trees and the dancing of water drops in pearly brooks and silver streams stir and awaken your mind and sooth and soften your soul all at the same time?
Can you appreciate design, symmetry and color in things you see in nature, and in human artistry and creativity, and recognize rhythm and balance and cadence in the sounds you hear?
Are you one to be intrigued by the power of ideas and to be dazzled by the wonders of human reason, logic and imagination? Are you one who cares about culture and civilization and about some of the higher and finer forms of human expression and achievement?
Are you a lover of humanity? And are you passionate about such nobler ideals of human life as truth, justice, freedom, fairness, equality and human dignity and decency?
Do You Love Islam and Muslims -- And Allah’s World and Your Fellow Human Beings?
Do you love Islam, Muslims, Qur’an, Hadith, Allah and Rasulullah, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam? Are there moments in your life when you find yourself thinking and wondering about what the real message of Islam and the Qur’an is to the world, and what the wonderful model of the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, was all about?
Are there times when you lie awake at night asking yourself what it was that propelled the Muslims with such spectacular rapidity to the pinnacle of power, wealth, virtue and glory in the world, and how it is that they seem to have descended in our days to the bottom of the pit of ignominy, humiliation, destitution, helplessness, crisis of character and powerlessness?
Or are you, at a more basic and rudimentary level, a human being who in some form or fashion cares about your fellow human beings? And is there in your heart a drop or two of what Shakespeare calls the milk of human kindness?
Then Iqbal Is Your Man!
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you must know Iqbal, because Iqbal is your man. You must know who he was and what he did. And more importantly what he said.
That is right, Iqbal’s life is not about what he did, but about what he said. For, it was in what he said, in his poetry, that Allah appears to have elevated him over a lot of others in the world and made him a very special manifestation of his power and glory on earth.
Allah says in the Qur’an that he not only has elevated, exalted and honored the human race in a special way, but among the children of Adam themselves he confers greater exaltation and glory on some relative to some others.
Wa Laqad Karramnaa Banee Aadam: We exalted and honored the children of Adam
Faddalnaa Ba’adahum Alaa Ba’ad: We exalted and honored some over some others.
Maa Faddalallahu Bihi Ba’adakum Alaa Ba’ad: How Allah has exalted and honored some of you over others.
That would imply Allah creates different people -- at different times and in different places -- with different talents and gifts. Some he gives the gifts of action; some he gives the gifts of thought, observation, analysis and understanding; and some others he gives the gifts of speech and expression.
It is all part of the larger divine scheme of Wa Tilkal Ayyaamu Nudaaviluhaa Bainannaas: That is how we alternate the days among people.
If Sayyidina Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, was the perfect human embodiment of all of the above, Iqbal was part of the short list of those blessed by God with special powers of thought, analysis, understanding and expression. The kind humanity so rarely sees -- in any language, culture, time or place.
He was part of the glory of Allah that bursts out of the Aayats of the Qur’an: Arrahmaan, ‘Allamal Qur’an. Khalaqal Insaan. ‘Allamahul Bayaan. Paraphrase: the most merciful and loving one; taught the Qur’an; created the human; taught him expression.
And the glory that shines through the blessed words attributed to our beloved prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam: Inna Minal Bayaani La-Sihra! Paraphrase: Surely, some expression is like magic.
A Lover of Humanity
Iqbal was a lover of Islam, Muslims, humanity and the world -- all at the same time. He was blessed by God with an amazing understanding of Islam and of the world, and with an equally brilliant ability to express that understanding in the form of some of the most powerful and imaginative poetry ever produced by the human mind -- in any language or culture.
Iqbal was a lover of humanity regardless of race or religion, color or creed, class or gender, history or geography, Maslak or Madh-Hab, Aqeedah or Jama’at. His soul danced and sang at humanity’s many triumphs. And he cried tears of fire and blood for the sad fate of human beings in this world.
Consumed by the majesty and power of God’s glory in his creation, Iqbal wrote and sang passionately and powerfully of that majesty and glory.
Those who knew him, or are familiar with his work, will easily call him superman -- Mard-e-Kaamil. The kind his own eager and pained eyes were searching for in people like Raza Shah the Iranian and Mustafa the Turk.
A bewitched and grateful Ummat conferred upon him the tiles of Mowlana -- even though he was, for the record, no Moulvi -- and ‘Allaamah.
Yet he was merely a beardless, mustachioed man, sometimes in a three-piece suit, and with a Ph.D. from Heidelberg, Germany. And with an understanding of Islam, Muslims and the world and a command over Arabic, Farsi and Urdu that defied comprehension or description.
A Heart on Fire
And yet his heart, mind and soul were on fire by a book that the Archangel Gabriel, God bless him and all those angels that are close to God, brought to an Unlettered Man, Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, in Arabia, 1400 years ago.
The Qur’an that was most glorious not only in everything that it was, but also, not the least, in the most miraculous manner in which it was a continuation and affirmation of the earlier books that the same angel --Hazrat Jibraeel, Alaihis Salaam -- had also brought to Moses and Jesus, Allah’s peace and blessings be upon them. Qur’an itself calls itself that book -- Dhaalikal Kitaab.
That Book -- Dhaalikal Kitaab
Iqbal was held in thrall by that book -- Dhaalikal Kitaab -- the Qur’an. Iqbal was mesmerized by that book -- Dhaalikal Kitaab -- the Qur’an.
Iqbal was both tongue-tied as well as energized, galvanized and empowered by that book -- Dhaalikal Kitaab –– the Qur’an. A book that on the one hand rendered him dazed and speechless out of sheer awe and wonderment and which, on the other hand, conferred upon him near-superhuman powers of thought, observation, analysis, understanding, speech and articulation.
As a result, Iqbal wanted the whole world to know about that book –– the Qur’an. He wanted the whole world to see the wonders of that book even as he himself was able to see them. As he had been shown them by God Almighty whom he loved with a passion greater than all the powerful and consuming passion with which he loved the creation of God Almighty.
A Lover of His Land -- and His People
At the same time, Iqbal was also a simple and ordinary lover of his land and his people. But which land was his land, and which people his people? What a question indeed. If only the world would stop to think about it for a moment.
How much of the conflict in the world -- and how much of the devastation suffered by the world and how much of the pain and anguish heaped upon how many billions of human beings all over the world -- will be diminished, if not completely removed, if only the world took a deep breath and pondered the true meaning and significance of that question: Which land is truly your land and which people are truly your people?
Iqbal was anything but a mindless worshipper of territory, geography, language, race, culture, color, nationality or ethnicity.
On the contrary, Iqbal was a man whose brilliant mind had been touched by God’s mercy, grace and glory and illumined and expanded by the divine light that shines through heaven and earth to take in the entire universe. As a result, to Iqbal all land was his land, for it was his God’s land:
“Har Mulk Mulkay Maast,” he said, “Ki Mulkay Khudaa-i Maast.”
No one said it better or more clearly or forcefully.
So also for him all people were his people, for they were his God’s people -- whom God had created with his own two hands from a common ancestor, Adam.
A Muslim -- Plain, Pure and Simple
As a result, Iqbal was a lover of all humanity and of all the world of Allah. And he sang about it all with a love, tenderness, power, eloquence, authority, pain, exuberance, joy, insight and passion that set on fire the souls and minds of countless millions upon millions of those who ever read or listened to his poetry.
And above it all, Iqbal was a Muslim -- plain, pure and simple.
And he was most unapologetic about his love for his Deen -- and for his God; and for the Qur’an; and for the noble messenger of God, Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam. And for the spirit of liberty, truth, equality and justice they inspire. And for all humanity and all of the creation of God, which he saw as candidates for God’s unbounded love, grace and mercy.
And Iqbal wore this love on his sleeve. And he wrote and sang about it with a voice, energy, insight, sincerity, devotion and enthusiasm that are matched by few before him or since.
And Iqbal was a Muslim who loved and respected all Muslims, regardless of their Madhaahib and Masaalik -- regardless of whether they were Bareilvis, Deobandis, Ahle Hadith, Hanafis or Shafi-is. And regardless of their racial, national and ethnic labels such as Sayyid, Shaikh, Afghan, Irani or Toorani. And regardless of their party or organizational connections.
Breathing a New Life in Muslim Ummah
Iqbal chided Muslims for their narrow-mindedness and bigotry; for their factionalism, divisions and strife; for their laziness, ineptitude and incompetence; for their ignorance of their Deen, their heritage and their culture as well as for their ignorance of their Dunya; and for their social, economic, educational and political backwardness. And he warned them, in the starkest terms, against becoming worshippers of the idols of race, tribe, country, class, wealth and power.
Iqbal was there, painting a powerful message of liberation, dignity, education and awakening on the horizon of Islam and Muslims, before a lot of others were there -- standing tall and almost alone, right at the turn of the century -- Ala Ra’si Kulli Qarn, as Allah’s beloved Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, once put it.
Iqbal was there before there was Hasanul Banna; or Abul Kalam Azad; or Muhammad Ali Jauhar; or Muhammad Ali Jinnah; or Maududi. If I got my history right that is. If I got the dates mixed up, Iqbal’s place in the service of Islam, Muslims and the world is still secure and safe. For, the point I am making is that and not the chronology of events.
Before all these people made their mark on Muslim history, there was Iqbal. And Iqbal’s thinking, understanding and elucidation of the role of Islam and Muslims in human life and history blazoned the pathway for others to follow. Right at the top of the 20th century -- ‘Ala Ra’si Kulli Qarn -- Iqbal valiantly, and almost single-handedly, tried to breathe a new life into the battered body and faltering spirit of the Muslim Ummah.
All Deen, All Dunya: All at the Same Time
As I said earlier, Iqbal was a man who loved Allah, and Allah’s Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, and the Qur’an, and Muslims -- and the world and all the people that Allah created. All at the same time.
At one level, Iqbal was all Deen, all Qur’an, all Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, all Haqq, all Aakhirat -- the next world. At another level, Iqbal was all humanity, all Muslim, all practical everyday Islam, all Dunya -- this world. All at the same time and in the same breath.
Just like Islam really is -- both Deen and Dunya at the same time.
In terms of geography, Iqbal was a child of that lovely land that so captivated the heart of the Mughal emperor Babar and which we all know as Kashmir -- but he was also from Punjab, the noble land which Hazrat Baba Farid made his home. Iqbal was not a Pakistani -- for he died before the creation of Pakistan -- but he was the man who is said to have dreamed the dream that later became Pakistan.
Muslim Parents, Brahmin Roots: Gathering All of Humanity Under the Shade of a Giant Tree
Iqbal had wonderful Muslim parents but he never forgot his Hindu and Brahmin roots.
Iqbal’s thought and poetry embodied the advice Hazrat Baba Farid is reported to have given to his Murid and Khalifah, Hazrat Khawja Nizamuddin Auliyaa of Delihi: Be like a big tree under whose shade vast multitudes of humanity can gather and find rest and comfort.
If it sounds too much like a chip of the old block of Rahmatul Lil-Aalameen, that is not by coincidence. That is how it is supposed to be. That is how Allah’s Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, was. And that is how Hazrat Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali were -- may Allah be pleased with them all.
And the miracle of the Rahmat of Rahmatul-Lil-Aalameen continues till the end of time. In every conceivable form and shape. In every single age and place. Now as Iqbal and now as someone and something else!
Islam and Muslims: Feeling the Pain of All of Allah’s Creation
Allah’s Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, was a man who felt the pain of all of Allah’s creation. He even felt the pain of the bird whose chicks had been stolen from its nest. He ordered the offending individual to restore the stolen chicks to the nest of the grateful bird.
He was the man, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, to whom an abused, malnourished, poorly tended and overburdened camel complained and cried for help. He ordered the owner of the beast to lessen the camel’s burden and increase and improve his care and feed.
And he was the man, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, who interrupted his Khutbah and climbed down the Mimbar to comfort a bereaved and bawling tree trunk in his mosque on which he used to lean to give Khutbah before the construction of his new Mimbar.
What a Rasul he was -- Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam. And what a personification of compassion -- Rahmat -- to all of the creation of Allah he was -- Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
That is how good Muslims of any kind were in any part of the world throughout history. They cared deeply about their fellow human beings. And about the entire creation of Almighty Allah.
And that is how Iqbal was too: Like a giant tree that provided shade for all.
And I hope -- and pray -- that is how all of us will be: a solution to the problems of the world and not a problem for the people of the world.
Voice of the Qur’an
More than anything else, Iqbal said so himself, his ideas and words were a reflection of the Qur’an. “Humiliate and dishonor me on the Day of Judgment!” he begged Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, “If my words contain anything other than the Qur’an.”
His words in Farsi were something like this -- I think: War Ba-Harfam Ghair-e Qur’an Muzmarast … Roozi Mah-shar Khaar-o-Ruswa Kun Mura …
Who in their right mind would say something like that unless they really believed it?
More than anything else, Iqbal was the voice of the Qur’an. Nothing less, nothing more.
Admirers and Friends of Iqbal
Iqbal’s admirers have conferred upon him the title of Shaa’ir-e-Mashriq, as if his poetry was limited to the East. And as if the West had a greater poet than him!
Those who look at him from the point of view of Islam and Muslims would call him Shaa’ir-e-Islam, or Shaa’ir-e-Ummat, or Shaa’ir-e-Deen, or Shaa’ir-e-Qawm or Shaa’ir-e-Millat.
But those who would consider his work in the light of the work of everyone else in the world, and would consider the breadth, reach and universality of his vision and his concerns, would accept nothing less than Shaa’r-e-Aalam or Shaa’r-e-Kaa-inaat?
Personally, when I read the Qur’an and then I read Iqbal’s poetry, I ask myself, isn’t his work really Qur’an in poetry? And shouldn’t we all be calling him Shaa’ir-e-Qur’an?
This becomes clearer when we understand why it is that some people find difficulty navigating Iqbal’s poems. It is not because his language is difficult, which it is in some ways, but because his poetry is full of borrowings from Aayats, passages, events and expressions from the Qur’an -- something not too many Muslims seem to be familiar with these days.
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?
I Am Glad You Are with Us
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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.