73rd Death Anniversary of Allama Iqbal, 21-April-2011

Allama Iqbal, great poet-philosopher and active political leader, was born at Sialkot, Punjab, in 1877. He descended from a family of Kashmiri Brahmins,

Allama Iqbal, great poet-philosopher and active political leader, was born at Sialkot, Punjab, in 1877. He descended from a family of Kashmiri Brahmins, who had embraced Islam about 300 years earlier. Iqbal received his early education in the traditional maktab. Later he joined the Sialkot Mission School, from where he passed his matriculation examination. In 1897, he obtained his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Government College, Lahore. Two years later, he secured his Masters Degree and was appointed in the Oriental College, Lahore, as a lecturer of history, philosophy and English.

The first period of Iqbal’s poetic career ended in 1905, when he left for higher studies in Europe. During his three years of residence in Europe, Iqbal composed twenty-four small poems and lyrics. Iqbal studied in both Britain and Germany. In London, he studied at Lincoln’s Inn in order to qualify at the Bar, and at the Trinity College of Cambridge University, he enrolled as an undergraduate student to earn a bachelor of arts degree. This enrollment was unusual since he already had a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of the Punjab, Lahore, and was simultaneously preparing to submit a doctoral dissertation in philosophy to Munich University. The German University not only allowed him to submit his dissertation in English, but also exempted him from a mandatory stay of two terms on the campus before submitting his dissertation, titled: “The Development of Metaphysics in Persia”. After his successful defence of the dissertation, Iqbal was awarded Doctorate Degree. This dissertation, which was published the following year in London, was dedicated to T.W. Arnold.

In 1915, Iqbal published his major Persian philosophical Poem “Asrar-i-Khudi”. Its continuation, Rumuz-i-bekhudi (Mysteries of the selflessness) appeared in 1918. These poems initiated a series that included Payam-i-Mashriq (The message of the East, 1923) a response to Goethe’s West Ostriches Divan; Zubur-i-Ajam (Iranian Psalms, 1927); and Javid Nama (1932) which has been called “an Oriental Divine Comedy”. His generally shorter, more lyrical Urdu poems were also published in several collections, notably Bang-e-Dara (The Sound of the Bell, 1924) and Bal-e-Jabril (Gabriel’s wing, 1936). A collection of his English lectures on Islamic philosophy was published titled: The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam (1930). At his best, Iqbal is one of the great Urdu poets and a great Indo-Persian Poet as well.

A Philosopher by temperament he was not interested in politics although he had been associated with the Muslim League from his London Years. He was elected a member of the Executive Committee of the London branch of the Muslim League in 1908. However, political circumstances of the last decade of his life forced him to take part in politics. In 1926, he was elected as a member of the Punjab Legislative Council; three years later he was chosen President of the All-India Muslim League which met for its annual session at Allahabad in 1930.

Earlier, a spilt leading to two factions of the All-India Muslim League had occurred in 1927 which forced Iqbal to side with one of these. This rift continued up to February 1930. Thereafter, the Fourteen Points of the Quaid became a charter of unification between the two factions. On 28 February, 1930, Sir Muhammad Shafi and Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah met in Delhi by which the two factions of the All-India Muslim League were merged. Thus the League again became united making Quaid as its President.

By 1928, his reputation as a great Muslim philosopher was solidly established and he was invited to deliver lectures at Hyderabad, Aligarh and Madras. These series of lectures were later published as a book ‘The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam. In 1930, Iqbal was invited to preside over the open session of the Muslim League at Allahabad. In his historic Allahabad Address, Iqbal visualized an independent and sovereign state for the Muslims of North-Western India. In 1932, Iqbal came to England as a Muslim delegate to the Third Round Table Conference.

It may be recalled that when Allama Iqbal proposed the idea of a separate Muslim State, the Muslim politicians and intellectuals failed to measure up to Iqbal’s prescient views and remained bogged down in the stereotypic politics. At that time, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had withdrawn from politics for the time being. Allama Iqbal was the dreamer of Pakistan and well-wisher of Muslim nation. He was a Muslim Leaguer and great admirer of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. In his opinion the Quaid was the only Muslim in India to whom the community had a right to look for safe guidance through the storm which was coming to North-west India and perhaps to the whole of India.

A Philosopher by temperament he was not interested in politics although he had been associated with the Muslim League from his London Years.
In March 1938, Iqbal fell ill very seriously. Despite the best medical help and the most careful nursing, the poet-philosopher of Islam died in the early hours of 21st April, 1938.He was given a funeral which kings might envy and his remains were buried near the gate of the historic Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, late in the evening, in the presence of thousands of mourners.A few days before his death he had told his brother:
“I am a Muslim and I am not afraid to die.”

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah issued the following statement on the death of Allama Mohammad Iqbal:-

“I am extremely sorry to hear the sad news of the death of Sir Muhammad Iqbal. He was a remarkable poet of worldwide fame and his work will live forever. His services to his country and the Muslims are so numerous that his record can be compared with that of the greatest Indian that ever lived. He was an ex-President of the All-India Muslim League and a president of the Provincial Muslim League of the Punjab till very recent time when his unforeseen illness compelled him to resign. But he was the staunchest and the most loyal champion of the policy and programme of the All-India Muslim League.”To me he was a friend, guide and philosopher and during the darkest moments through which the Muslim League had to go he stood like a rock and never flinched one single moment and as a result just only three days ago he must have read or been informed of the complete unity that was achieved in Calcutta of the Muslim leaders of the Punjab, and today I can say with pride that the Muslims of the Punjab are wholeheartedly with the League and have come under the flag of the All-India Muslim League, which must have been a matter of greatest satisfaction to him. In the achievement of this unity Sir Muhammad Iqbal played a most signal part. My sincerest and deepest sympathy go out to his family at this moment in their bereavement in losing him, and it is a terrible loss to India and the Muslims particularly at this juncture.”On the death of Iqbal, Tagore remarked “the death of Iqbal creates a void in literature that, like a mortal wound, will take a very long time to heal. India whose place in the world is too narrow can ill afford to miss a poet whose poetry had such universal value”.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru held the view that Iqbal was a poet, an intellectual and philosopher of a great order. He writes in his Discovery of India that:

“Iqbal opposed, any society that seemed to him without a religious foundation”. The vision of Iqbal is not very different from the ideal of democracy as understood in the West.

By: Capt(r) Syed Muhammad Abid Qadri

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