Allama Muhammad Iqbal

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(1877 - 1938)


Iqbal, Sir Muhammad (1873-1938), philosopher, poet, and political leader, was born in Sialkot. In 1927 he was elected to the Punjab provincial legislature and in 1930 became president of the Muslim League. Initially a supporter of Hindu-Muslim unity in a single Indian state, Iqbal later became an advocate of Pakistani independence. In addition to his political activism, Iqbal was considered the foremost Muslim thinker of his day. His poetry and philosophy, written in Urdu and Persian, stress the rebirth of Islamic and spiritual redemption through self-development, moral integrity, and individual freedom.His many works includeThe Secrets of the Self (1915), 23); a long poem; A Message from the East (19and The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam (1934).

Although Iqbal did not live to see the creation of an independent Pakistan in 1947, he is nevertheless regarded as the symbolic father of that nation

Allama Muhammad Iqbal is generally known as a poet and philosopher, but he was also a jurist, a politician, a social reformer, and a great Islamic scholar. People even bestowed on him the title of "Shaere-Mashriq" (Poet of the East!). It may sound strange that Iqbal never considered himself a poet as is evidenced by his correspondence with Syed Sulaiman Nadvi [1885-1953].

"I have never considered myself a poet. Therefore, I am not a rival of anyone, and I do not consider anybody my rival. I have no interest in poetic artistry. But, yes, I have a special goal in mind for whose expression I use the medium of poetry considering the condition and the customs of this country."
(translated from the original in Urdu; Maktoobat, Volume I, page195)
Iqbal's contribution to the Muslim world as one of the greatest thinkers of Islam remains unparalleled. In his writings, he addressed and exhorted people, particularly the youth, to stand up and boldly face life's challenges. The central theme and main source of his message was the Qur'an.

Iqbal considered the Qur'an not only as a book of religion (in the traditional sense) but also a source of foundational principles upon which the infrastructure of an organization must be built as a coherent system of life. According to Iqbal, this system of life when implemented as a living force is ISLAM. Because it is based on permanent (absolute) values given in the Qur'an, this system provides perfect harmony, balance, and stability in the society from within and the source of security and a shield from without. It also provides freedom of choice and equal opportunity for the development of personality for everyone within the guidelines of Qur'an. Thus, in Iqbal's opinion, Islam is not a religion in which individuals strive for a private subjective relationship with God in the hope of personal salvation as it is done in secular systems. Iqbal firmly opposed theocracy and dictatorship and considered them against the free spirit of Islam.

Humanity, as a whole, has never faced the challenge posed by the enormity and the complexity of human problems, such as it is facing today. The problems have taken on a global dimension now and transcend the barriers of race, color, language, geography, and social, political and religious ideologies. Most of the problems of mankind are universal in nature and, therefore, require a universal approach to the solution. Iqbal's universal message is an attempt to address this challenge faced by humanity.

Through his travels and personal communications, Allama Iqbal found that the Muslims throughout the world had detached themselves from the Qur'an as a guiding principle and a living force. After the disaster following the Balkan War of 1912, the fall of the caliphate in Turkey, and many anti-Muslim incessant provocations and actions against Muslims in India (1924-27) and elsewhere by the intellectuals and so called secular minded leaders, Allama Iqbal suggested that a separate state should be given to the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent so that they can express the vitality of Islam to its fullest. In his 1930 Presidential speech delivered to the annual session of Muslim League at Allahabad, Allama Iqbal stated:

"I, therefore, demand the formation of a consolidated Muslim state in the best interests of India and Islam. For India, it means security and peace resulting from an internal balance of power; for Islam, an opportunity to rid itself of the stamp that Arabian imperialism was forced to give it, to mobilize its laws, its education, its culture, and to bring them into closer contact with its own original spirit and with the spirit of modern times."
Iqbal's "Deeda-war" (visionary), is like Iqbal himself. He could foresee what others could not. Whereas others only have a short term view of things, a visionary sees the problems in a long term perspective and develops some sort of cosmic sense. A nation is indeed fortunate if it produces a few such individuals in centuries. Such individuals, although very rare, change the course of history forever, as indeed Iqbal did. Pakistan owes its existence to Allama Iqbal. Thus, the people of Pakistan owe a great deal of gratitude to this extraordinary visionary. Allama Iqbal's contributions are numerous and it is not possible to give even a glimpse of his work here. A brief outline of Allama Iqbal's life and achievements is presented below:



1877 Born at Sialkot (present Pakistan) on Friday, November 9, 1877. Kashmiri origin.
1893-95 High School and Intermediate - Scotch Mission College, Sialkot.
1897 B. A. (Arabic and Philosophy) - Government College, Lahore. Awarded Jamaluddin Gold Medal for securing highest marks in Arabic, and another Gold Medal in English.
1899 M.A. (Philosophy) - Government College, Lahore. Secured first rank in Punjab state and awarded Gold Medal.
Reader in Arabic, Oriental College, Lahore.
1900 Read his poem "Nala-e-Yateem," (Wails of an Orphan) at the annual function of Anjuman-e-Himayat-e-Islam at Lahore.
1901 Poem 'Himala' published in Makhzan.
Assistant Commissioner's Examination (didn't qualify due to medical reasons).
1903 Assistant Professor, Government College, Lahore. Published his first book, "Ilmul-Iqtasad" (Study of Economics), Lahore.
1905 Traveled to England for higher studies.
1907 Ph.D., Munich University, Germany (Thesis: Development of Metaphysics in Persia).
1907-08 Professor of Arabic, London University.
1908 Bar-at-Law, London. Returned to India.
Started law practice on October 22, 1908.
Part-time Professor of Philosophy and English Literature.
1911 Wrote and read famous poem "Shikwa" (Complaint) at Lahore.
Professor of Philosophy, Government College, Lahore.
1912 Wrote the epoch-making "Jawab-e-Shikwa" (Reply to Complaint).
1913 Wrote "History of India" for middle school students, Lahore (now out of print).
1915 Published a long Persian poem "Asrar-e-Khudi" (Secrets of Self). Resigned from professorship to spread the message of Islam.
1918 In counterpart to "Asrar-e-Khudi", published "Rumuz-e-Bekhudi" (Mysteries of Selflessness) in Persian.
1920 English translation of "Asrar-e-Khudi" by Prof. R.A. Nicholson of Cambridge University entitled "Secrets of Self."
Visited Kashmir and presented his famous poem "Saqi Nama" at Srinagar.
1923 Awarded knighthood "Sir" at Lahore on January 1, 1923. Published "Pay am-e-Mashriq" (The Message of the East) in Persian. It was written in response to Goethe's West-Ostlicher Divan.
1924 Prepared an Urdu course material for Grade 6,7 students at Lahore. Published "Bang-e-Dara" (Call of the Caravan) in Urdu in March 1924.
1926 Elected to Punjab Legislative Council, Lahore (1926-1929).
1927 Published "Zaboor-e-A'jam" in Persian.
1929 Delivered his famous six lectures at Madras, Osmania University at Hyderabad, and Aligarh. He made very thought provoking comments on the latest scientific and philosophical developments of the 1920s in the light of Islamic teachings.
1930 President, All India Muslim League. Elaborated on the idea of an independent Muslim state in his presidential speech at Allahabad. [Refer to 1924-28 events in particular and 1912-29 in general in the Muslims in the Indian Subcontinent - V 1800 - 1950 CE].
1931 Published "Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam," - a collection of six lectures, Lahore; it was also published by Oxford University.
Participated in Mo'tamar-A'lam-e-Islami (World Muslim Conference) in Palestine.
Participated in the Second Round Table Conference, London, September 7 - December 31, 1931.
1932 Visited Paris and met French philosophers Bergson and Massignon. Bergson was astonished to hear his remark on the Islamic concept of time.
Published "Javed Namah" in Persian. It was a reply to Dante's 'Divine Comedy'.
Participated in the Third Round Table Conference, London, November 17 - December 24, 1932.
1933 Allama Iqbal met Mussolini in Rome after Mussolini expressed his interest to meet him.
Visited Qurtuba, Spain and wrote the poems "Dua" (Supplication) "Masjid-e-Qurtuba." (The Mosque of Cordoba).
Served as Advisor to the Government of Afghanistan on higher education (October 1933).
Awarded Honorary D. Litt degree by Punjab University on Dec. 4,1933.
1934 Musafir (Traveler) in Persian.
1935 Published "Bal-e-Jibril" in Urdu.
1936 Published "Zarab-e-Kalim" in April 1936, "Pas Che Bayad Kard" in Persian, and "Payam-e-Mashriq" in September 1936.
1937 Ulema from Al-Azhar University visited Allama Iqbal at Lahore.
1938 Jawahar Lal Nehru visited Allama Iqbal at Lahore in January 1938.
Allama Iqbal died at Lahore on April 21,1938. He was a versatile genius-poet, philosopher, lawyer, educationist, politician, and a reformer. "Armughan-e-Hijaz" published posthumously. It was a collection of Urdu and Persian poems.

Allama Iqbal's other famous poems include 'Zubur-e-Ajam' in Persian, and 'Shama-o-Shaer' (The Candle and the Poet), 'Taswir-e-Dard' (The Picture of Agony), 'Naya Shiwala' (New Temple), 'Tuloo-e-Islam' (The Dawn of Islam), all in Urdu. The last three were written to unite his countrymen for the common good.


Translations
English "Shikwa" (Complaint) and "Jawab-e-Shikwa" (Reply to Complaint) translated by Altaf Husain.
Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam," - a collection of six lectures, translated by Prof Arberry, Oxford University.
Arabic "Zarab-e-Kalim" and "Payam-e-Mashriq" translated by Dr. Abdul Wahab Azzam, Professor, Al-Azhar University, Cairo.
Turkish "Payam-e-Mashriq" translated by Dr. Ali Ganjeli.
German "Payam-e-Mashriq" translated by Professor Hell.
French Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam," - a collection of six lectures, translated by Madame Eva Meyerovitch, Paris.
Latin 'Javed Nama' translated under the title 'II Poema Celeste' by Professor Alessander Busani.
Indonesian Asrar-e-Khudi translated by M. Burhan Rangkuti.

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