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IQBAL

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AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

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IQBAL

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AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

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Khurram Ali Shafique


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IQBAL ACADEMY PAKISTAN


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PUBLISHER
MUHAMMAD SUHEYL UMAR

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DIRECTOR

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IQBAL ACADEMY PAKISTAN
GOVERNMENT OF PAKISTAN

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MINISTRY OF CULTURE

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6th Floor, Aiwan i Iqbal Complex, Off Egerton Rd, Lahore, Pakistan

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Tel: 92-42-6314510/9203573
Fax: 92-42-6314496

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Website: www.allamaiqbal.com

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Email: director@iap.gov.pk

ISBN 969-416-370-6
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First published in Pakistan by Iqbal Academy in June 2006


Second Edition April 2007
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Third Edition 2010


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Quantity: 2500
Price: Rs. 1000/-
Printed at Darul Fikr, Lahore
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Copyright Iqbal Academy Pakistan 2006


The moral right of the author has been asserted.
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All rights reserved.


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No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or


transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the
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publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in
which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being
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imposed on the subsequent purchaser.


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Design and layout by Khurram Ali Shafique


Jacket design by Kanwar Schahzeb
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CONTENTS

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PREFACE

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PAGE 5

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PROLOGUE
VOICES

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PAGE 7

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CHAPTER 1
THE YOUNG POET-PHILOSOPHER

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18771905

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PAGE 15

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CHAPTER 2
THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL
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190513
PAGE 41
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CHAPTER 3
ILLUMINATION
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191422
PAGE 79
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CHAPTER 4
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UNSUSPECTED HARMONIES 192330


PAGE 101
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CHAPTER 5
WHAT LIES BEYOND 193138
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PAGE 149
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EPILOGUE: LEGACY
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PAGE 197
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CHRONOLOGY
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PAGE 203
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I am born in the world as a new sun,


I have not learned the ways and fashions of the sky:
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Not yet have the stars fled before my splendor,


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Not yet is my quicksilver astir;


Untouched is the sea by my dancing rays,
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Untouched are the mountains by my crimson hue.


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The eye of existence is not familiar with me;


I rise trembling, afraid to show myself.
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SECRETS OF THE SELF, l. 2128


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Translated by R. A. Nicholson
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PREFACE
The present volume was conceived both as a book as well as an exercise in

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visual art. One of the ways a piece of art greatly differs from a plain
statement of facts is that it provides a virtual experience and stimulates

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feelings. The artistic aim of this book is to simulate a sense of consulting
several resources instead of just one. Through juxtaposition of visuals and

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words, sometimes in an unusual manner, this volume seeks to create the

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impression of a well-equipped library where one can check cross-references
or even take a break with entertaining diversions and then resume study.

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In terms of information, this book presents:

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(a) a biography of Iqbal;
(b) brief introductions to the events and people most relevant to his

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life and thought; On a personal note I would like to add

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(c) synopses of all published works and major uncollected writings; that the idea of this book emerged
when I met Mr. Suheyl Umar. His input
(c) extracts from collected writings; and

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was so synergetic that it is difficult for
(d) complete texts of four important masterpieces: (i) the posthu-

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me to say whether the final product is
mously published notebook Stray Reflections; (ii) the much talked something I wanted to do, or something

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that he always had in his mind. I think, it
about Presidential Address presented in Allahabad in 1930; (iii) The is both.
Mosque of Cordoba, which is regarded by some as the greatest
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poem in Urdu literature; (iv) text of the New Year Message
broadcast in the last year of Iqbals life.
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Nearly all available pictures of Iqbal are also included here, some being
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printed for the first time. Also included are facsimiles from first drafts and
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manuscripts of his works.


I am obliged to M. Suheyl Umar for his support. Not only in his capacity
as the Director of Iqbal Academy Pakistan had he a vision for undertaking
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a project of this magnitude but also as a scholar and a friend his input at
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each stage of preparation was indispensible.


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Others who helped me are numerous but I must mention Dr. Rafiuddin
Hashmi, the good-natured Iqbal scholar whose affection and patronage is
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almost proverbial among the younger generation of scholars working on


the subject.
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I am stylistically indebted to Mary Renaults The Nature of Alexander,


which served in some ways as a model for writing the biography of a great
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mind.
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KHURRAM ALI SHAFIQUE


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Many a poet was born after his death,


Opened our eyes when his own were closed,
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And journeyed forth again from nothingness,


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Like roses blossoming oer the earth of his grave.


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SECRETS OF THE SELF, l. 2128


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Translated by R.A. Nicholson


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PROLOGUE:

VOICES
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8 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

On April 21, 1938, Iqbal died in Lahore. People swarmed to his house; they
included Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. His friends selected a vacant spot on the
left side of the steps of the gigantic Mughal mosque as his burial place. The
site belonged to the archaeological authorities and hence the Chief Minister

)
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of Punjab Sir Sikander Hayat Khan had to be contacted in the middle of his
Calcutta visit. He refused (and later got himself buried on the other side of
the same entrance). The British Governor was more helpful and through him

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the permission was secured from Delhi by the afternoon.

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By that time the newspapers had printed special supplements so that when

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the funeral procession started in the evening it contained no less than twenty
thousand people. Children from the orphanage of Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam

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paid their homage by holding little black flags in their hands and standing

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silently in a queue on a nearby road. They lowered their flags when the
procession passed by. It was not forgotten that the poet had started out as a

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fundraiser for parentless children some forty years ago.

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The body was lowered into the grave at 9:45 pm after the funeral prayer
had been offered twice once in the playgrounds of the Islamia College

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(where, we are told, some fifty thousand people attended it) and a second

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time in the grand Mughal mosque where he had seldom missed the biannual

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Eid prayers in his life.
His last book, an imaginary travelogue to Madinah in Persian verse was
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still unpublished. It came out later that year by the title he had given to it,
Armughan-i-Hijaz; his last unfinished Urdu anthology was appended to it as
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an additional section.
In March 1940, less than two years after Iqbals death, the All India Muslim
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League held its annual session in Lahore at Minto Park, just outside the
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Mughal complex in which he was buried. A resolution was passed to create


Pictures on the preceding pages:
a Muslim state in the Northwestern provinces of India and two years after
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p.1 (frontispiece): Himalaya and that Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Quaid-i-Azam, published a bunch of letters
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Ganges by Tabassum Khalid written to him by Iqbal in his last days. Referring to the recent expansion of
illustrating Iqbals allegory of
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tradition versus modernity from his partys influence to the majority provinces in addition to the minority
Iqbals didactic poem Asrar-i-Khudi
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(Secrets of the Self).


p.2 (inside frontispiece): In the Divine
Presence by Tabassum Khalid,
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illustrating the culmination of the


heavenly voyage in Iqbals epic
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Javidnama.
p.3 (inner-title): Detail from an award-
winning portrait of Iqbal by Ajab
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Khan (See p.103 for a larger


picture)
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p.4 Detail from painting by Shireen


Najib, illustrating the landscape of
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Iqbals earlier nature poetry (tones


have been changed).
p.6 Literature by Tabassum Khalid,
)2

illustrating a chapter from Asrar-i-


Khudi.
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Right: Photographs of Iqbals funeral


procession corroborate the eye
witness accounts of thousands of
people swarming the streets of the city.
IQBAL 9
PROLOGUE: VOICES

provinces, he paid tribute to Iqbal, who had played a very conspicuous


part, though at that time not revealed to public, in bringing about this
consummation.
The nationalists read this statement with suspicion. They claimed that Iqbal

)
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had only forwarded a proposal for rearrangement of provinces while he
would have never approved of partitioning the country since he too had
been a nationalist once. Jinnah succeeded, however, and Pakistan was carved

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out of India when the British gave independence to the country on August

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15, 1947. Since the astrologers in India regarded the day as inauspicious, the

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Prime Minister designate Jawaharlal Nehru called the first session of his
parliament on the 14th and let it linger on till midnight when he could greet

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the awakening of his country with a moving speech. The session did not

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adjourn until Suchitra Kirplani, who would later become the first woman
Chief Minister in an Indian province, had sung Iqbals Saray jahan say achha

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Hindustan hamara (Our India is better than the whole world) alongwith Jana

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mana gana of the national poet Tagore.
The next morning in Karachi, Jinnah hoisted a green and white flag to

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start the first days work in the state that was officially seen as the brainchild

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Pakistan, founded by Quaid-i-Azam
of Iqbal. Here, each successive ruler would feel obliged in one way or another Muhammad Ali Jinnah (above) in 1947,

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to pledge commitment to the message of Iqbal. is officially seen as the brainchild of
Iqbal. Although the poet-philosopher
The two states fought three wars against each other in less than three never lived to see the birth of this state,
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decades but Iqbal remained dear to them both. Twenty-six years later his he enjoys the prestige of its national
poet as it is claimed to be born out of
birth centennary was celebrated in India while the Prime Minister was Nehrus the vision he presented at the annual
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daughter an apocryphal story went round to the effect that her late father session of the All India Muslim League
had enjoined upon her to always honor the memory of Iqbal since he was in 1930: In Islam God and the universe,
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spirit and matter, church and state, are


indebted for being mentioned in Iqbals greatest work, Javidnama. She initiated
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organic to each other. Man is not the


a second round of accolades for Iqbal by way of an international conference citizen of a profane world to be
in New Delhi when Pakistan announced its own centennial of the poet four renounced in the interest of a world of
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spirit situated elsewhere. To Islam


years later. However, it would be wrong to guess that such appreciation in matter is spirit realizing itself in space
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India was restricted to the Nehru family Morarji Desai, who wrested power and time... (See pp.136-150 for the
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complete text of Iqbals Presidential


from Indira Gandhi in the meanwhile, took pains to ensure that the conference Address)
in New Delhi takes place as planned.
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Indian nationalism and Pakistans two-nation theory were not the only schools
of thought disputing to claim him as their own. The progressive writers of
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South Asia, generally having a Marxist orientation, had formed an association


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in 1936 and even their condolence essays on the poets death affirmed their
literary descent from him. In some later writings Faiz Ahmad Faiz stated that
)2

Iqbal represented the new middle class against the decadent aristocratic tastes
in Urdu literature. This class had emerged as a result of exposure to modern
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education offered by the British, said Faiz, but it was surprising that no other
poet presented the experience of knowledge in his poetry. The poetry of
ideas reached perfection through Iqbal in our own times, he wrote a year
after Iqbals death. The task required a great personality. He used the case
to prove that poetry of ideas could be spontaneous too.
10 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

In the earlier writings the progressives had denounced Iqbal for instance,
the seminal essay by their thinktank Akhtar Husain Raipuri in 1935 accused
him of being a fascist. Their change of heart came from a realization that
without him, the progressive thought in Urdu poetry might not have been

)
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possible. Their own contribution to the understanding of his works was to
create a widespread confusion about whether he was a socialist or not.
Yet another type of opinion was represented by those who felt envy,

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resentement or aversion. He was not a poet and could hardly write a line

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without making errors, was a common slogan of the school that had its

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origins in the pangs of jealousy felt by contemporary poets when at the age
of twenty and something he attained more renown than any other Urdu

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poet had acquired at a similar age. In the beginning he attempted to refute

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such objections with philological arguments and precedents from authentic
texts but soon gave it up with a sarcastic indifference: he was a messenger

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Above: The picture of Iqbal resting his
head on his arm is famous, but contrary
and didnt wish to be known as a poet, he said.

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to the common perception, this might Like all other celebrities, he too was a popular subject for gossip. In his
not be a thinking pose: actually he was own lifetime he was sometimes enigmatic and therefore always under the

w
resting after a fit of cold and fatigue
risk of being misrepresented, as he himself complained even in his earliest

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from a walk in Paris, 1933 (See pp.
165-66 for more detail). poems. Later, his fame gave rise to a wholesale industry of synthetic fables

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about his life, especially private life, until there were people claiming to have
been his neighbors in cities he had never visited. Consequently there emerged
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a group of scholars who, perhaps finding the area of serious discussion
saturated, turned their attention to a psychological study of his mind of
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course excluding his thought, which could have been too tough for these
popstars of the academic world. The letters of Iqbal to Atiya Faizi (written
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in 1909-11 but published in 1947) were a godsend, and soon there were half-
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baked psychological studies of Iqbal. On closer analysis they were neither


psychological nor succeeded in studying anything. The shortcomings of such
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writings gave birth to the complaint that Iqbals life was whitewashed and the
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true picture could emerge only if there were more details. Supply follows
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demand, and rumors came forward to fill the gaps.


Last, but not least, was a group of hardworking and sincerely devoted
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but artistically challenged scholars who suffered from an irredeemable


overdose of Western philosophy and an unctrollable urge to display their
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familiarity with difficult subjects. Iqbal and Bergson, Iqbal and post-Kantian
voluntarism, Iqbal and Schaunpenhaur, and every other possible
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conglameration of this sort became the vogue and produced copious volumes
of unreadable essays, papers and books. On the shelves of Iqbaliyat in public
Iq

libraries, colleges and universities these lethally boring products pushed aside
the slim and slender volumes of Iqbals own cheerful and alive prose, which
4,

was now regarded incapable of explaining his thought. Readable efforts at


01

critical appreciation of his works (of which there were many) came to be
seen as less prestigious.
)2
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IQBAL 11
PROLOGUE: VOICES

)
Meanwhile, Iqbals friends had been busy erecting a suitable mausoleum over

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his earthly remains. One design was rejected because it had a Catholic ethos.
Another design, submitted by an architect from Hyderabad (Deccan) was

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found more suitable but rather too delicate. Its architect Zain Yar Jang was
called to Lahore where Iqbals trustee Chaudhry Muhammad Husain took

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him to the poets grave. Look, Nawab Sahib! He said, On one side is the

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moseque, which represents the religious glory of the Muslims; on the other is
the fort, which represents their worldly power. The tomb between them

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would look nice only if it effuses simplicity with strength. Besides, these were

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also the prominent aspects of Iqbals own temperament.

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Construction started towards the end of 1946 according to Zain Jangs
second design and completed in 1950. Funds came from devotees without

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necessitating a general appeal to the public. The Government of Afghanistan

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donated lapis lazuli for the platform, sarcophagus and tombstone Zahir
Shah was the king at that time and Iqbal had raised funds to support the

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struggle of the Shahs liberal father to gain the throne, visited Afghanistan on

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his request and mentioned him in his poems.
That same year the provincial government of Punjab in the newly created
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Pakistan also established an Iqbal Academy in Lahore. The name was changed
to Bazm-i-Iqbal when an act of Parliament created another Iqbal Academy
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under the federal government in Karachi in 1951 (which has since then also
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moved to Lahore and currently functions under the Ministry of Culture and
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Sports). One of the first initiatives of Bazm-i-Iqbal was to commission a


standard biography from a renowned journalist, Abdul Majeed Salik, who
had personally known the subject. Zikr-i-Iqbal was published in 1955. Among
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those who vehementaly criticized it were Agha Shorish Kashmiri, another


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journalist, who did the right thing for the wrong reason. Representing the
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morbid conscience of the masses, he complained, not that the book was Below: Iqbals tomb in Lahore
superficially written as it was, but that it
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did not present Iqbal as a perfect role


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model for the youth of the nation; he


should have been presented as a flawless
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human being.
With a few exceptions owing to
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individuals who ran these organizations at


different times, both Bazm-i-Iqbal and
4,

Iqbal Academy commendably resisted to


01

act as censors and remained busy with


organizing and disseminating knowledge
)2

on Iqbals life and thought. The world of


Iqbal scholarship will be endlessly indebted
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to the efforts of these institutions as well


as numerous private publishers, authors
and amateurs, who laboriously preserved
invaluable primary data that would have
been otherwise lost with time.
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Javid Manzil (Lahore), where Iqbal spent the last


three years of his life, is now the Iqbal Museum.
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Seen on this page are (top:) the facade of the


building; (above:) the wall clock from his personal
4,

use - set at the time of his death; (above right:) his


dressing table - of which he may have had very
01

little use in his life, since he was well-known for


disregard to personal appearance; and (right:) his
death-bed along with his shawl, pillow and the
)2

famous hookah.
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IQBAL 13
PROLOGUE: VOICES

Morbid censors have existed in the society, however, and mainly known
by three names: textbooks, newspapers and television. Each of these (with
the recent exception of some private channels on television) have usually
been guided by trends that reduced the discourse on Iqbal to a handful of

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harmless and meaningless cliches. The man who was known for an exuberant
sense of humor in his own lifetime is often presented on these mediums as
one who might never have said or done anything of the slightest human

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interest. Showing reverence to this incongruous effigy and quoting him as

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your favorite poet, philosopher and guide is a national duty, these sources tell

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the unsuspecting masses innocent children included.

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Above: This profile is now a household
picture. It was taken in Simla (India) in

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1929, while Iqbal was at the residence
The process of recognition beyond his own region, which started in his of his friend Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Khan

w
lifetime, did not diminish after his death. In England and Germany there are (See pp. 116-18 for detail).

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university chairs in his name and scholarship on him exists in many more
countries, including the US, the Soviet Union and many countries in Africa

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and Asia.
Within the Muslim World his position as the last flowering of the Persian
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wisdom poetry, and an important thinker of the modern times, is pre-eminent.
Divergent opinions, however, are present accused by some mystics for
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criticizing Hafiz, and by some staunch radicals for being too mystical, Iqbal
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seems prophetically true to his early verses: Some think that Iqbal is a Sufi,
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while others accuse him of running after lovely dames. I am right there before
everyone and yet opinions differ so much about me what would happen if
perchance I were to disappear.
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Below: It is interesting to notice how


the popular imagination has replaced
the Western attire in Iqbals Paris
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photograph (p. 10) with the Kashmiri


shawl of the Simla photograph (above)
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and given him a book instead of an


India celebrated the Iqbal Centennary in 1973 and Pakistan in 1977 (owing to opportunity for the much needed rest.
The indoor background also gives way
disagreement over his date of birth). In retrospect the two centennaries seem
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to the vast expanse of the clouded sky,


to be the closing of curtains on the first phase of scholarship in the field, signifying the magnificent atmosphere
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which remained dominated by his peers and younger contemporaries. They of his works. Portrait by Saeed Akhtar
were too close to his own times and, more significantly,
4,

they had witnessed the unfolding of his ideas so


gradually that they were set against elemental difficulties
01

in taking a birds eyeview of his life and thought. Their


)2

contributions were crucial without them the existing


bank of primary sources would not have been as large.
(c

However, reorganization and reassessment was needed.


A new age of Iqbal scholarship dawned and its
harbinger was, not coincidentally, Javid Iqbal. He was
the younger son whose name had been used as a
metaphor of the future generations. From 1979 to 1984
14 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

he published the first authoritative biography of his father in three volumes,


Zindah Rud. I was only thirteen and a half at the time of Iqbals death, he
wrote in the foreword of the first volume. Therefore I cannot claim to be
his contemporary but my distance from his times makes it easier for me to

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keep an objective approach. With the same intellectual humility that was a
prominent feature of his father he stated that he was writing this book for
those who would come after him because they might be able to understand

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his father better than him; after all, Iqbal is a poet of tomorrow and of the

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future.

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Merely a couple of years after the publication of the last volume of
Zindah Rud came the first variorum edition of Iqbals poetry although

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restricted to the early period. Incidentally, it was compiled by a Hindu scholar

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from India. The next important resource book also came from the same
side of the border; it was a complete collection of letters arranged in

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chronological order.

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The landmark works of the new age of Iqbal scholarship have made it
possible for the present cohort to take a holistic view of him. The older

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stylistics, where a favorite line was arbitrarily picked up and subjectively

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expanded or a fleeting emotion taken as guideline for an entire thesis is now

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giving way to a newer set of more detached but also more balanced writings
on the life and works of Iqbal.
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Filtered and refracted through these layers of meaning, emotion, and
contradictory opinions a thing inseparable from him alive or dead the
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voice of Iqbal has come down to us.


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ONE
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4, CHAPTER
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THE YOUNG
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POET-PHILOSOPHER
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1877
to 1905
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)
16 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

Iqbals parents came together in 1857. Shiekh Nur Muhammad was a middle
class Kashmiri from Sialkot; his wife, Imam Bibi, was also of Kashmiri
descent. Nothing but an arranged marriage could have brought together
such divergent personalities as these two, and their long years of common

)
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happiness may indicate some extraordinary sensitivity in both. Nur
Muhammad was an ascetic, whose lack of formal education couldnt prevent
him from mastering complex themes of divine love from the gatherings of

.c
mystics. Imam Bibi was a down to earth woman with an acute sense of

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everything related to the practical world.

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Shiekh Muhammad Iqbal, their fourth child to survive infancy, is now
generally thought to have been born on November 9, 1877 (see Chronology

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for other possible dates of births). He was preceded by a brother (about

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eighteen years older), and two sisters. He was followed by two younger sisters.
He was around two when leeches were applied to his forehead as a

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traditional remedy for some illness. This affected his right eye, which became

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useless for the rest of his life. I never remember seeing anything with my
Above: This earliest picture of Iqbal right eye, he was later going to report. Apart from the obvious difficulty it

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dates from circa 1899 when he was
might have caused in perception of distances, the dysfunction of one eye

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around twenty-two.
also became an impediment when he later applied for civil service. He was

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Picture used on p. 15 was painted by
Ajab Khan from this photograph. disqualified on medical grounds. Although vision and sight are conventional
metaphors in religious discourse and mystical poetry, yet it might be less than
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a coincidence that these found an unusual mention in Iqbals verse, especially
in the early period.
st

The house was teeming with caring relatives by the time he grew up and
by all reports he was a very social child. Of course, he excelled in recognizing
ki

the Arabic alphabet and learning the verses of the Quran by heart almost
Pa

the entire syllabus of his early childhood education in a mosque school. He


was a little above four when he met the person who changed the course of
y

his life. This was a vernacular teacher, Syed Mir Hasan.


m

Syed Mir Hasan was some sort of a social rebel and a staunch follower of
de

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. He was also a supporter of Urdu, an effective preacher
in his own aloof manner and what turned out to be most significant for
ca

Iqbals career a trusted friend of Shiekh Nur Muhammad. It is said that he


noticed Iqbal while visiting the mosque school and used all his powers of
lA

argument to change the long-cherished plans of Shiekh Nur Muhammad.


The mystic father had always dreamed of dedicating his younger son to the
ba

service of Islam which meant to him a religious education culminating in a


lifetime of leading prayers in some mosque or serving a Sufi order. The plans
Iq

were now altered and Iqbal was admitted to the Scotch Mission School where
he studied modern subjects till the 12th Grade before leaving for further
4,

education in Lahore at the age of eighteen. Much had changed in his life by
01

then.
As a child he was drawn to music and poetry. He delighted in bringing
)2

popular ballads from the market and reciting them to the women in the house
who were working till late in the night. Reportedly, the child also parodied
(c

these ballads to make fun of people he knew. Before passing the high school
he mastered the classical skills of the craft of poetry, such as arooz (the science
of metre) and even abjad, or the numerology of verses. He could write
chronograms, compose ghazals and had some working knowledge of the
classical Indian music (later he could also play sitar).
IQBAL 17
THE YOUNG POET-PHILOSOPHER 1877-1905

)
In the first twenty-eight years of his life he appears as a natural poet growing

om
up against a background of material progress and social change around him
while disappointments in personal life only prompt him to be, on one hand,

.c
more ambivalent about his poetic talent, and on the other, more down to
earth in his analysis of philosophical ideas.

al
The material progress was set in motion by the onslaught of

qb
industrialization and Western enlightenment in the wake of the British
subjugation of India. Sialkots transformation into a prosperous town with

ai
an industry in sports goods took place right in front of the adolescent Iqbal;

m
the modern education also promised, or was seen as promising, instant

lla
gratification through lucrative government jobs or successful careers in such
fields as law.

.a
Of course, there was resistance to the evils of modernization aspiring Above: Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-

w
for material progress was disdainful in a society where professions were 1898).
hereditary and stepping up the ladder of social status was properly obscene.

w
Founder of Mohammaddan Anglo-
It was precisely this state of mind that Ram Mohan Roy and Sir Syed Ahmad

(w
Oriental College at Aligarh and pioneer
Khan aimed to change in the Hindu and Muslim sections respectively. of such reformative journals as Tehzibul
In retrospect, it seems that the community spirit nurtured for centuries Akhlaq, Syed was the herald of
an
educational, social, religious, political
by feudalism and blind obedience was now merely changing its character. and literary change among the Muslims
One for all and all for one was still the watchword but the direction was of Northern India. Iqbal was influenced
st

by him through his mentors Mir Hasan


reversed: instead of looking backward the community was now geared towards
ki

and Thomas Arnold and even other-


changing together. wise.
Pa

The post-enlightenment European concept of individualism was nowhere Syed finds mention in the poem
Syeds Tombstone and long Persian
in the picture (except as a latent idea in the writings of the great Syed, who mathnavi, Pas Cheh Bayad Kerd
was far ahead of his times in almost everything). The spirit of change and
y

(1936), which was inspired by his


appearance in a dream. His vision of
eagerness to participate in community service in the Victorian India was
m

emancipated individuals contributing to


seemingly based on the assumption that the individual had no identity save as
de

the greater good of the community


a part of the larger mass of people. This larger mass was the biraderi, literally found a larger than life culmination in
Iqbals worldview.
meaning fraternity or community but also conveying a mystifying awe to the
ca

His grandson Sir Ross Masud was


Eastern mind it was the lowest common denominator to which the Iqbals close friend in later life.
lA

individuals must submit their ego, their desires and their souls. Also, one
could belong to various communities at the same time. For instance, Iqbal
ba

was a Kashmiri by caste, a Muslim by religion and a Brahmin by race (which


last identity his ancestors forfeited when they converted to Islam a few
Iq

centuries ago).
In his subsequent works and in his psyche we find lucid documentation
4,

of this conflict between the individual and the community. While he would
01

denounce the unthinking masses he would also preach to the individual to


find salvation, not through annihilation in God but through annihilation in
)2

the national ideals.


God, individual and the community was, in a way, the love triangle he
(c

had to deal with from the very beginning. Readjusting the roles of these
coordinates was the task he assigned to himself before very long.
18 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

)
Iqbal had much to complain about by his early twenties as the singularly

om
most brilliant student of his batch he must have expected rewards at the end
of his studies. Far lesser peers had carved out prosperous careers for

.c
themselves. One example was Gulab Din, a groundling from Sialkot who
was groomed by Syed Mir Hasan to become a successful lawyer and a

al
considerably prominent social figure in Lahore. Iqbal, however, flunked the

qb
law examinations (incidentally, he failed in jurisprudence, a subject on which
Iqbal absorbed influences from
he later wrote his famous Sixth Lecture) and he was disqualified as a candidate

ai
contrasting sources, such as the
remnants of the bygone Mughal for public service, since his right eye was dysfunctional. Hence, he was stuck

m
civilization (represented above in the
landmark monument of its glory, the
with a contracted job in a second class college for the first few years of his

lla
famous Taj Mahal at Agra near Dehli, professional life and if his fathers part in him could tell him to be content
which was praised by Iqbal in Persian with what he got, the genes of his mother must have made him impatient to

.a
Psalms in 1927) and the sporadically
emerging social institutions of a new
strive for more (my urge for worldly progress was due only to her presence,

w
society under the British Raj. Iqbal wrote in a letter upon her death in 1914). His early failures fade away in
the light of his later achievements, but they may serve as pointers in a biography

w
The poet Dagh, from whom Iqbal
received guidance in poetry through
of his mind. It seems that the major impediments in his life at that point

(w
mail during his college days, was an
epitome of the decadent society of the were emotional dissatisfaction in his personal life and dissipation of creative
Mughal Dehli including all its cultural
energies.
an
flourish. Himself associated with the
household of the last Mughal emperor Iqbal got married to an incompatible partner at the age of sixteen, and
he was uprooted in the turmoil of 1857 apart from producing two children within the next few years there was little
st

and spent most of his later life as a


interaction between the couple he never brought his wife to Lahore, who
ki

court poet in the princley state of


Hyderabad (Deccan) where he received thus spent most of her time at her parents house in another city from two
Pa

stipend from Nizam, the ruler. years after marriage.


Textbook writer, translator and fiction
writer Nazeer Ahmad was known in his By 1902, the difficulties in marriage were prominent enough to be
mentioned in a biographical essay that couldnt have been printed without
y

own lifetime as the first Urdu novelist


although later criticism does not accord
the young gentlemans willing approval. Iqbal himself would jest about his
m

his books the status of proper novels.


He was one of the famous five quest for female company in some of his poems the most celebrated
de

elements of modern Urdu writing the reference comes from The Inconstant Lover (1909) and translates as:
other four being Sir Syed, Hali, Shibli
feminine beauty is a thunderbolt to your nature; and how strange that your
ca

Nomani and Muhammad Husain Azad.


At one time a staunch supporter of the love is indifferent too!. However, he was far from being a Byron in such
lA

Aligarh Movement (and later its critic) matters, and displayed some kind of pious masochism. (Spotless like the
he was nevertheless a speaking
monument of Sir Syeds rational daybreak is his youth, Iqbal proudly quoted a critic in a 1904 poem titled
ba

approach to religion and social reform. Piety and Sinfulness).


A frequent visitor to the annual
He is said to have developed a strong affection for a singing girl from the
sessions of Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam,
Iq

Lahore, his lectures against the mullahs old city area in Lahore, Ameer Begum, around 1903-4. She is mentioned by
and orthodoxy were almost certainly an name in a letter to a friend and anonymously called the raison datre of his
4,

influence on Iqbal during the graduation


years at Government College (Lahore).
grand poem The Pearl-laden Cloud (1903) in another. However, a biographer
01

looking for substantially scandalous material would be rather disappointed;


the poems from this period betray a desire to discover the pleasure of longing
)2

whereby separation becomes a romantic ideal and unfulfilled desires provide


nourishment to the soul. Reportedly, the girls mother resented her daughters
(c

attraction to the frugal professor and eventually stopped her from seeing
him at all.
Whether that was true or not, he had certainly discovered a cornerstone
of his later philosophy: separation is better than union.
F AMILY
Iqbals father Shiekh Nur
Muhammad (c.1837-1930),
commonly known as Nathoo
by friends was a mild-tempered
person who made his living by

)
selling Kashmiri shawls and at

om
one point invented a special cap
to be worn by men and women

.c
alike. However, his tempera-
ment was not suited to business,

al
which he left to a son-in-law

qb
around the 1890s. Nur
Muhammad remained a major

ai
influence on Iqbal, especially in

m
terms of mystical tendencies.
Iqbal would recall incidents of

lla
spiritual nature about him from
childhood, and it was he who

.a
taught him a key concept about

w
the Quran: the Holy Book can
reveal itself to the readers ac-

w
cording to their spiritual de-

(w
grees.
Nur Muhammads forgiving
an
nature and spiritual concern for
humanity left deep impact on
st

Iqbals mind. The other day he


was having meals when he sud-
ki

denly said, I wonder how long


Pa

the human being has been away


from his Creator, and burst into
tears, Iqbal narrates about him
y

in a letter.
m

Nur Muhammad was also the


de

person who persuaded Iqbal to


expunge the offensive portion
ca

about Hafiz Sherazi from later


editions of Asrar-i-Khudi.
lA
ba
Iq
4,

Above: Shiekh Nur


Muhammad photographed
01

around 1900.
)2

Left: A later picture of


him taken in 1922 at
(c

Iqbals residence in
Anarkali (Lahore).

19
(c
)2
01
4,
Iq
ba
lA
ca
de
m
y
Pa
ki
st
an
(w
w
w
.a
lla
m
ai
qb
al
.c
om
)
Iqbals mother Imam Bibi (died 1914) Iqbal had two elder sisters Talay Bibi
was a worldly-wise woman with pi- (18701902), and Fatima Bibi; and
ous habits and supervised the cottage two younger ones, Karim Bibi (died
industry of caps and strings which 1958) and Zaynab Bibi. Karim was
were sold at her husbands shop in next to him in order of birth and

)
the front room. She was good at sav- closest to him as she shared his sense

om
ing money and was later able to help of humor and easygoing attitude to-
orphaned girls from the neighbor- wards life. Zaynab was reserved and

.c
hood. Amazingly for her times, she superstitiously religious (Karim
was quite averse to superstitions and would taunt her as Maulvi Sahib).

al
would often criticize her youngest Fatima and Zaynab both faced

qb
daughters leanings towards faith heal- stresses in marriage at some point.
ing. She was also capable of putting

ai
her foot down and could take offense Opposite: Imam Bibi at an advanced
age. Inset: Iqbals younger sisters, Karim

m
if her opinion was ignored. For in-
stance, when an unfriendly neighbor Bibi (right) and Zaynab Bibi (left).

lla
was dying of plague and requested a
Below left: Iqbal Manzil (ancestral
visit from Nur Muhammad to ask Shiekh Ata Muhammad (c.1859-1940)

.a
house) in Sialkot as it stands now. The
forgiveness, Imam Bibi opposed the virtually brought up his younger
place was originally purchased by

w
idea. Her husband had to please a brother and sponsored his education
grandfather Shiekh Rafique and later
wife who wouldnt speak to him in in Lahore (1895-99) and Europe (1905-

w
expanded and rebuilt by Iqbals elder
addition to combating the risk of 8). Iqbal felt morally indebted to him

(w
brother Shiekh Ata Muhammad. Inset:
plague when he returned home (and and would normally put up with his
Front view of a balcony.
fortunately suceeded on both counts). dominating attitude and fiery tempera-
an
Although usually good-natured and Below right: Rorki Headworks, a ment although silently pursuing his
generous, Imam Bibi could also be pioneering achievement of British civil own ways.
st

haughty on occasions a poorer engineering in fighting famine. Iqbals Ata had a large family (he divorced
cousin stopped visiting her after her his first wife when Iqbal was about 8
ki

brother Shiekh Ata Muhammad was


son was called inferior to Iqbal. On posted here for some time. or 9, and remarried), and retired in
Pa

the whole Imam Bibis temperament 1912. Concern for returning favors by
seems to have provided her younger Top right: Shiekh Ata Muhammad looking after Atas 3 daughters and 3
son with a much-needed balance sons was among the reasons why Iqbal
y

against the otherworldly tendencies could not permanently shift to Eu-


m

inherited from the father. rope, something he desired very much


de

at that time.
Atas eldest son Ijaz turned Ahmedi
ca

and, according to him, Ata also had


the same faith. Other family traditions
lA

and scholarship contradict this asser-


tion.
ba
Iq
4,
01
)2
(c

21
Left: Iqbals first wife Karim Bibi at an advanced age.

Below: Marriage Contract between Iqbal and Karim Bibi, dated May 4, 1893 and signed
by witnesses including, among others, Iqbals mentor Syed Mir Hasan. Wager was

)
Rs.2000, a steep amount for those times.

om
Right: Aftab Iqbal in his youth. Inset: A picture from his childhood.

.c
Far Right: Meraj Bano.

al
qb
ai
m
lla
Iqbals first wife Karim Bibi (c.1874-

.a
1947) came from a well-to-do family
in Gujarat (Punjab). Her father

w
Shiekh Ata Muhammad (1850-1922)

w
received the title of Khan Bahadur

(w
from the British Government in 1887
for services as a physician and was an
honorary surgeon to the viceroy at
an
one time. He was also a Kashmiri
with deep interest in spiritualism and
st

these affinities are supposed to have


ki

prompted his approval of a match


Pa

for her daughter that was otherwise


below his social status.
Karim Bibis marriage with Iqbal
y

took place on May 4, 1893 (the same


m

day when Iqbals Entrance Exami-


nation results were announced).
de

Iqbal was opposed to an early mar-


riage but conceded to the whim of
ca

his elders. The marriage wasnt very


successful and the couple was for-
lA

mally separated sometime between


1910 and 1913 (Karim Bibi re-
ba

quested to be spared the stigma of


divorce). Iqbal continued paying her
Iq

a stipend till his death. Virtually


nothing is known about her personal
4,

traits without being tainted with bias


01

either to prove her case against Iqbal


or the other way round.
)2

Karim Bibi had one elder brother


and four younger sisters, one of
(c

whom mothered the famous music


composer Khwaja Khurshid Anwer.

22
)
om
.c
al
qb
Miraj Bano (1895-1914) was the first

ai
child of Iqbal and died young. She was
a favorite in the family.

m
Aftab Iqbal (1898-1979) received

lla
education at Sialkot, Lahore and Delhi
before proceeding to London for

.a
Masters in Philosophy and Bar at Law

w
(sponsored by his maternal grandfa-
ther). His father was estranged to him

w
by the time Aftab returned to Lahore

(w
to practice law in 1931. According to
his younger stepbrother Javid, Aftab
an
had come to believe that his mother
was treated unfairly, and hence turned
against his father. Iqbal faced much
st

embarrassment due to his sons habit


ki

of approaching celebrities and asking


Pa

for help by sharing his woes. His pov-


erty is much talked about among the
Muslim circles [of London], the
y

Prime Minister of Hyderabad


m

(Deccan) Sir Akber Hyderi informed


de

Iqbal on one occasion while mention-


ing that Iqbal is criticized there for
ca

being unfair to his son.


Aftab served teaching assignments
lA

at London University and Islamia Col-


lege (Lahore) before establishing him-
ba

self as a barrister in Lahore, Karachi


and London consecutively.
Iq

His grievance against his father sub-


sided after the latters death apart
4,

from patronizing a hostile book de-


fending his own mother. He also
01

publically spoke about his fathers phi-


losophy but slants against Fatima
)2

Jinnah in support of General Ayub


Khan during the Elections of 1964,
(c

and an interpretation of Iqbals verses


to oppose the legitimacy of female rule
came as unpleasant surprises.

23
EDUCATION

)
om
.c
al
qb
ai
m
lla
Syed Mir Hasan (18441929) be-

.a
longed to a religious family of East-

w
ern physicians but didnt opt for that
profession for reasons of aesthetics;

w
likewise he also refused to take up a

(w
career as traditional prayer leader
because he didnt want to live on
an
charity. Much to the horror of his
family he ended up teaching at a ver-
st

nacular school run by Christian mis-


sionaries. At the age of nineteen he
ki

also visited Delhi to meet the famous


Pa

poet Mirza Ghalib, and later became


a staunch supporter of Sir Syed
Ahmed Khan, whom he had the
y

opportunity to meet in person on


m

numerous occasions.
de

Mir Hasan did not believe in dis-


cipline by the rod, and his answer to
ca

a principal who once asked him why


his class was noisy, was, I am teach-
lA

ing the kids. When faced with the


task of teaching English (a language
ba

he didnt know at all), he brought a


dictionary and invited his pupils to
Iq

join him in learning the new tongue.


He taught literature through com-
4,

parison of couplets from Urdu, Per-


sian, Arabic and Punjabi. Iqbal was
01

known to consult him even long af-


ter leaving the school, and obtained
)2

the title of Shamsul Ulema for him


when he himself was offered knight-
(c

hood in the early 1920s. Asked


whether his teacher wrote any books,
he made the famous reply, I am the
book he wrote.

24
)
om
.c
Above: F. S. Jamaluddin Medal awarded

al
to Iqbal in 1897 for standing first in

qb
Arabic in B.A. (he also got another
medal for topping in Arabic).

ai
Above right: Khan Bahadur Nawab

m
Bakhsh Medal awarded for Masters in Iqbal studied at the Government Col-

lla
Philosophy (he secured third division but lege, Lahore from 1895-99 and later Thomas Walker Arnold (1864-1930)
he was the only candidate). taught here at various intervals. The studied at Magdalene College, Cam-

.a
college was affiliated with the Univer- bridge where his poor performance
Far right: Thomas Walker Arnold.

w
sity of Punjab (established since in the classics Tripos was attributed
1882), and it was considered a presti- to wide reading in other areas, includ-

w
Far left: Syed Mir Hasan (above) and
gious institution. The monthly fees ing Sanskrit. While teaching philoso-
Scotch Mission School (below).

(w
for F.A. (High School), Bachelors and phy at Aligarh he rose to fame through
Left: Question paper of English for the Masters were Rs.7, 8 and 10 respec- his groundbreaking work, The Preach-
tively but could be deposited any time
an
Entrance Examination from 1893, the ing of Islam, completed under the aus-
year Iqbal took it. The examiner was prior to the exams since attendance pices of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan to re-
was not compulsory. Masters exami-
st

Mian Shahdin Humayun, later a friend fute the allegation that Islam spread
and admirer; he was also a justice in the nation could be taken anytime after through sword. He was known for
ki

Chief Court when Iqbal got to practise graduation. The college building was wearing Muslim attire occasionally
Pa

there as a barrister, and would often also home to two other educational and became a good friend of Shibli
remark that Iqbals talent was being institutions: Oriental College and Law Nomani before leaving Aligarh in
wasted in law. Iqbals elegy on him is School (where Iqbal studied law 1898 for the Government College,
y

included in Bang-i-Dara. sometime between his graduation Lahore, where Iqbal met him as the
m

and Masters). only candidate for Masters in Philoso-


de

Below left: Iqbals Entrance Certificate. A students hostel was available and phy that term. A pupil such as him
Below : Government College in late 19th Iqbal moved there after his first year. turns a teacher into a researcher and
ca

Century. a researcher into a more ardent re-


searcher, Arnold is said to have re-
lA

marked about the young genius.


He was a major influence on Iqbal
ba

in the formative phase. He guided the


young poet in acquiring a modern fla-
Iq

vor (Arnold had a profound interest


in Urdu poetry), inspired him to pur-
4,

sue higher education at Cambridge


and helped him secure jobs at the Ori-
01

ental College and Government Col-


lege in Lahore in the meanwhile. His
)2

special recommendation of Iqbals


doctoral thesis (which was dedicated
(c

to him) at the Univesity of Munich


enabled the young scholar to secure a
PhD in the little time he had at hand.

25
NOSTALGIA

)
om
Iqbal started writing poetry at a young

.c
age and was posting it to Dagh
Dehlavi for correction by the early

al
years of college (the earliest surviv-

qb
ing published ghazal comes from a
late 1893 issue of a poetry magazine).

ai
A first high point was a poetry recital

m
in Bazar-i-Hakeeman, Lahore, in
1896 where he received generous

lla
praise from Arshad Gurgani, an eld-
erly poet of Mughal descent.

.a
Iqbal became at least regionally well-

w
known through his recitals to large
gatherings at the annual sessions of

w
a Muslim social organization of

(w
Lahore, Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam
from 1900. The purpose of these
an
sessions was mainly fundraising for
asylums and educational institutions,
st

and Iqbal was exceptionally success-


ful in eliciting grand contributions
ki

from an audience spellbound by his


Pa

moving verses and sweet voice (he


often sang his poetry).
Iqbal owed his wider fame to the
y

stylish monthly literary journal


m

Makhzan starting from April, 1901.


de

Publication of Himalaya in this is-


sue resulted in an overnight recog-
ca

nition by almost the entire Urdu


readership of India and contempo-
lA

raries were addressing him as friend


and guide in their poems before very
ba

long. In 1904 he established himself


as a passionately patriotic celebrity
Iq

with Our Homeland (i.e. Hamara


Des, beginning Saray jahan say achha
4,

Hindustan hamara), which is better-


known to us by its revised title,
01

Tarana-i-Hindi, and remains a most


popular national song even in mod-
)2

ern India despite the poets later


change of heart. Above: Title page of Makhzan, May 1901 (the second issue). Above right: Inside title of the same.
(c

Top left: Bazar-i-Hakeeman, Old City, Lahore. Iqbal recited his early ghazals in poetry sessions held on
the platforms visible in this picture and the shops inside.

26
)
om
.c
al
qb
ai
m
Sir Abdul Qadir (1874-1950) was born

lla
in Ludhiana and graduated from
Forman Christian College, Lahore, in

.a
1893 before taking up job as a sub-

w
editor in The Observer, a reputed En-
glish daily. He started Makhzan from

w
April 1901 soliciting contributions

(w
from the best literary minds of the
age, young and old.
an
Makhzan may have been a reaction
to the utilitarian literary ideals of the
st

Aligarh Movement; it opened the


floodgates of romantic imagination,
ki

tasteful innovation and stylistic experi-


Pa

ments in Urdu by promoting such


fresh writers like Iqbal (whom Abdul
Qadir knew personally from Bazar-i-
y

Hakeeman recitals), Khushi


m

Muhammad Nazir, Sajjad Hyder


de

Yaldrem, Shatir Banarsi and many


others.
ca

Sir Abdul Qadir obtained a bar at


law from London in 1907 and prac-
lA

ticed law at Delhi, and later Lahore,


before taking up job with the State
ba

of Layallpur (situated in the present-


day Faisalabad, Pakistan). He rose to
Iq

the bench at Lahore High Court in


1921, presided over the Punjab Leg-
4,

islative Council in 1922 and held the


portfolio of education in 1924; rep-
01

resented India in Geneva and pre-


sided over the Muslim League in 1926;
)2

and migrated to London in 1934 be-


fore returning as the Chief Justice,
(c

Bahawalpur High Court from 1942


5. He spent his last years in Lahore.

26
28 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

Either due to emotional impediments or out of its own drive his power
of imagination became his crown and his cross at the same time. The young
scholar from Bhati Gate was ambitious way too ambitious for his own
good. He had acquired six languages Punjabi, Urdu, Persian, Arabic, English,

)
om
and Sanskrit (German would be added later), with power to write world-class
literature in at least three of these. Quite possibly, he had read everything in
the libraries of Lahore on philosophy, literature and economics. Most certainly,

.c
he had also mastered history, classical music (Indian as well as Persian) and

al
the theory of fine arts. He was also churning out a few good poems every

qb
month and at least one longer masterpiece every year besides participating in
the activities of two (or more) social service organizations in the city. And

ai
yet, all of the above and his salaried work at the various colleges of Lahore

m
were mere pastimes and absolutely unrelated to the profession he was aspiring
to chose, i.e. to become a lawyer, or failing that, at least get a post in the civil

lla
service. He had yet to learn a basic lesson: the powers of your mind may be

.a
unlimited but the time at hand is always measured.
Unlike the young barrister from Bombay, Muhammad Ali Jinnah (about

w
Below: Singing girls like this one from
Lucknow painted by a British artist in whom Iqbal was going to hear in a few years), he could not dedicate himself

w
the late 18th Century were still in vogue
in important cities in the days of Iqbal. to career building first and politics later while shutting out all other venues of

(w
Before gramophones (which made their interest. If he had tried harder he might have succeeded in giving up some of
first appearance in India with coarse his other pursuits, but not poetry. To him, poetry was not a matter of choice;
recordings at the beginning of the 20th
an
Century), these women were the major he was a poet by nature. Not having any time at hand (for instance, being
source for musical entertainment and busy checking answer sheets) could not prevent him from dictating over two
st

were often well-versed in classical


Persian and Urdu poetry.
hundred couplets of outstanding value in a single sitting (that is exactly how
The Pearl-laden Cloud came into being). Born a hundred years ago, or a
ki

hundred years later, he could have taken pride in this remarkable capability
Pa

but here was the irony: he lived in an age that looked down upon poets as
unnecessary evil. In the days of the Mughals they had lived on stipends from
y

princes and nobles by pleasing them with high-flown eulogies. The formidable
m

Sir Syed denounced such practices as beggary and his disciple Hali, himself
de

the greatest poet of his generation, painted a repulsive picture of them in his
immortal Musaddas: the world would become unbearable if the sweepers went
ca

on strike but would become so much cleaner if all poets were to vanish; the
culmination of their lifetime achievement is that their songs are sung by
lA

prostitutes. Iqbal wanted to be known as anything but a poet. I am not a


poet, he was going to insist until his last breath, and I havent even studied
ba

the craft properly (which was a self-flattering understatement since his


command over classical devices of Urdu and Persian poetry was comparable
Iq

with the past masters of the Mughal Court). Then how did he explain his
verse-making activity if he wasnt a poet? He was, of course, a learned thinker
4,

expressing his ideas in verse rather than prose, he would explain (strange
01

logic to come from a teacher of philosophy?).


However, a learned thinker he was, even in those early years. The Doctrine
)2

of Absolute Unity as Expounded by Abdul Karim Al-Jili, Iqbals first known


thesis (completed in March 1900 and printed in a research journal six months
(c

later) was something Nietzsche should have paid attention to (incidentally,


the German iconoclast was alive until a few days before its publication but
Iqbal had not heard of him).
IQBAL 29
THE YOUNG POET-PHILOSOPHER 1877-1905

)
Before we look further into the Al-Jili thesis we should set some ground

om
rules for the study of Iqbals thought.
The first thing is to differentiate between the three vehicles of expression Above: The Oriental College in the

.c
he used for his thought: (a) prose; (b) short poem (including the longer ones 19th Century. Iqbal was teaching here
when he wrote his first research paper,
among them, such as The Mosque of Codoba); and (c) mathnavi. While

al
an exposition of the work of the
prose could be the most dependable medium for rational thought, the mathnavi

qb
medieval Muslim thinker Al-Jili.
too was to be trusted for articulate expression there was at least a thousand-
The Doctrine of Absolute Unity as
year old tradition of Persian literature in which great masters, including Sanai,

ai
Expounded by Abdul Karim al-Jili in the
Attar and Rumi, had perfected this genre as a medium for coherent discourse Indian Antiquary, Bombay, September

m
1900, summarized the Islamic Meta-
of any desired length. The mathnavi was even prefereable to prose where the physical Mysticism as represented in Al

lla
thrust was a mix of logic and emotion. Insan al Kamil by Al-Jili (767 AH-811
The case of the short poem was different. Both the ghazal and the modern AH) and drew comparisons with modern

.a
thinkers, mostly German (but excluding
poem adapted from the Western literature were focused on brevity rather Nietzsche, with whom Iqbal was not

w
than logic and while it was possible to be thoughful in ghazal (like Urfi and yet familiar).
Ghalib) or in poem (like Donne and Browning) the thoughtfulness itself had

w
Al-Jilis work comprises of two
volumes: expose and glossary.
to adopt the garb of artistry first even our understanding of the

(w
According to him, the existing essence
metaphysical meaning of Donnes poetry is directly proportional to our is of two kinds: (1) Absolute; and (2)
creation-nature (existence joined with
enjoyment of his craft.
an
non-existence).
An interesting example is the bunch of poems on nationalist themes in The Absolute Being (which is beyond
the first part of Bang-i-Dara (and which will be revisited later in this chapter). naming, understanding or any other
st

relationship) leaving its Absoluteness


These were written in 1904-5, around the same time when Iqbal also wrote
ki

undregoes three stages: Oneness


a detailed essay National Life. The issues regarded crucial in that essay and (represented in His proper name); He-
Pa

discussed in much detail there are not even touched upon in the poems. ness (represented in His Attributes);
and I-ness (represented in creation or
Why? Because the theme of the poem A New Temple was just a new temple; nature).
National Song of Indian Children was just a song; Saray jahan say achha was
y

The human being ascending towards


the divine must take the reverse three
just about feeling good for belonging to your country. It is true that the poet
m

steps and move upwards from the I-


must have wanted to say the things he said in each of these poems, but what
de

ness. Such a Perfect Man becomes a


else did he have to say, and how much? Were there ifs and buts in his mind? god-man during union with the divine (in
which neither time nor distance can
The poems dont tell us. They would have been bad poems if they did.
ca

intervene, since they are both cre-


The same cannot be said about the mathnavis. If we compare Asrar-i-Khudi ations), but comes back, for a great
lA

with the numerous essays Iqbal wrote on the subject around the same time moral force would have been lost and
society overturned otherwise.
we find that nearly every important aspect of the argument presented in Unlike the Hindus (whose philosophi-
ba

prose is also substantially covered in the mathnavi. Likewise, Javidnama contains cal acumen is admittedly superior), Al-
Jili doesnt consider this world to be
nearly everything he had to say about the world, and it says it in detail almost maya or illusion nature is crystalized
Iq

to the extent of quoting references. This would not have been possible in idea, mainly of God, and is the light
some other genre. through which God sees Himself (this
4,

last idea reappears in the climax of


While it is often discussed why Iqbal switched over to writing poetry in Javidnama, where God sees Himself
01

Persian in later life it is completely overlooked that he did not just shift to through the poets eyes just as the poet
Persian, but essentially to Persian mathnavi, and that too only when he wished is seeing Him).
)2

to present a complete exegesis of his philosophy. Shorter poems in Persian


were either incidental or a by-product of his mathnavis and were merely a
(c

handful as compared to the huge bulk of such poems in his Urdu Kulliyat.
(On a few occasions he attempted sustained philosophical argument in Urdu
poems too such as In the Memory of My Late Mother (1914), The Khizr
of the Way (1921), Saqinama (1935) and some other poems, but even these
were capsule summaries as compared to his mathnavis).
It might be said that if a poem is like a painting, then
a mathnavi is like a feature
film. The difference in scope
and purpose is obvious but

)
failing to recognize this has led the

om
scholars of Iqbal to either distrust poetry
as expression of his thought or to approach

.c
the short poems in the same manner as the

al
mathnavis. It would be safer to treat his prose and mathnavis
both as major exponents of thought while using his short

qb
Iqbals poems with necessary literary preparation.

ai
portrayal of Satan was
starkly different from the common
The two over-arching subjects in his prose and poetry
are the human being and the society (with the devil as a

m
Western perceptions (such as this
one). r u n n e r - u p for the third major subject). None of these subjects can be

lla
Satan is an important character in
Iqbals later poems but he was separated from their position towards God.
Al-Jili might have caught Iqbals attention as a commentator of Ibn Arabi

.a
acquainted with literary treatment of
this character through Miltons Paradise (although an unreliable one, as we now know) and it is remarkable that while

w
Lost and classics of Sufism in his
student days (in addition to Aeschylus the medieval mystic named his book Al-Insan al-Kamil (The Perfect Man),

w
Prometheus Bound, Marlows Faust, Iqbal refered to the Divine rather than the human in naming his paper.
and quite possibly Shelleys

(w
Prometheus Unbound) although he
Apparently this led him to a more comprehensive study of the development
may not have read Goethes Faust until of metaphysical thought in Persia, which he carried out in Cambdirge a few
his stay in Germany (1907). I hope I years later.
an
shall not be offending the reader when I
say that I have a certain amount of The Absolute Reality cannot even be named, let alone be understood, for
it is the absence of all attributes and name is an attribute while understanding
st

admiration for the devil, Iqbal wrote in


his paper Islam as a Moral and is a relation even One-ness is a step away from that which is being described
ki

Political Ideal (1909) and stated that


the devil showed a high sense of self- as One, Iqbal presented Al-Jilis argument. Yet, Essence and attributes are
Pa

respect by refusing to prostrate before identical, or else one could not have represented the other and the veil is
Adam whom he honestly believed to
be his infrior, and was not punished for
removed when we understand this: The perfect man is the pivot around
y

this act but for denying absolute which revolves all the heavens of existence, and the sum of the realities of
m

obedience to the Divine will. material existence corresponds to his unity, the young scholar went on to
In Javidnama (1932) he is introduced
state that the Throne of God, the Footstool, the Lote Tree, the Pen, and the
de

as the Leader of the Separated Ones,


a thoughful elderly gentleman with Preserved Tablet correspond respectively to the heart, the I-ness, the spiritual
statation, the intellect, and the mind of the perfect human being. Likewise,
ca

penetrating eyesight (he could see the


soul in the body at a single glance)
wandering around the firmament of the elements of nature, matter, air, Heaven and the skies correspond to the
lA

Jupiter. Other portrayals include temperament, faculty of perception, the occupied space, the imagination and
Gabriel and Iblees in Bal-i-Gibreel
(1935) and The Satans Parliament
the intelligence of this ideal human the list goes on. Here, in seminal form,
ba

(1936) in Armaghan-i-Hijaz (1938). was the essence of nearly half of Iqbals later poetry, whose metaphysical
background would come from Al-Jilis description of reality:
Iq

God is the essence of reality and cannot be comprehended by


the human mind; comprehension is a bonding and God, or the
4,

Absolute Reality, is beyond it. Yet, the human being can approach
01

the Divine Presence, if not through knowing then through


becoming.
)2

Two myths overshadow our understanding of the


development of Iqbals ideas. The first is a presumed change
(c

of heart whereby, it is supposed, he gave up all his early beliefs

Left: Young John Milton visiting the old iconolcaust Galileo in Florence.
Iqbal was not only inspired by Paradise Lost but in his college days he
also wanted to use the story of Husains martyrdom at Karbala for writing a
rejoinder to Paradise Regained.

30
IQBAL 31
THE YOUNG POET-PHILOSOPHER 1877-1905

while coming up with a new idea during his stay in Europe,


which he presented a few years later as the secrets of the self.
This myth also feeds on Iqbals later statements against
mysticism, which are often taken in isolation from the rest of

)
om
his writings. For instance, in an article published in 1917 he
admitted that he no longer believed in Al-Jilis theory about
the Absolute Reality stepping down from its podium in order

.c
to become creation or nature. However, the draft of an aborted

al
history of Sufism written in Urdu at the same time reads, There

qb
would have been no harm if these various grades of existence
were seen as manifestations of the Divine omnipotence, but

ai
alas they were presented in a pantheistic light. This unpublished

m
statement gives us a better insight into the working of Iqbals
mind: he retained most of his earlier knowledge but shifted the emphasis.

lla
Above: Queen Victoria with an Indian
attendant.
Evolution of thought is not a mechanical process and an organic paradigm

.a
would bring us closer to the truth: the seed was sown and it sprouted. While Queen Victoria became the direct
fresh flowers kept appearing all the time the plant remained the same. sovereign of India when it came under

w
the British Parliament in 1858. Her
Taking this approach most writers on Iqbal have failed to trace the proper

w
famous proclamation guaranteed
origins of his ideas. In the garb of mysticism [Al-Jili] has dropped remarks amnesty and, most notably, freedom of

(w
which might be developed so as to result in a philosophical system, Iqbal worship to the peoples of India. In 1877
she assumed the title the Empress of
stated at the end of his thesis, but it is a matter for regret that this sort of India, (translated as Kaisara-i-Hind for
an
Idealistic Speculation did not find much favor with later Islamic thinkers. her South Asian subjects).
Victorias Golden Jubilee was
This is precisely the task Iqbal took upon himself: to develop the idea.
st

enthusiastically celebrated in India in


The second trap is to overrate the influence of Western philosophers. In an 1897. Iqbals mentor Mir Hasan was
ki

age of comparative studies and intellectual dominance of the West he had to also among those who addressed his
countrymen in a local meeting held at
compare the ideas of his favorite Muslim thinkers (as well as his own) with well-
Pa

Sialkot. He offered justifications for the


known thinkers of the West if he wanted to be understood by his European British rule from the Quran and hadith,
audience or even the educated youth in his own country. However, an apologetic as was common those days.
y

Iqbal wrote an elegy on her death


approach has its inherent perils and what happened to Iqbal is an example:
m

quite a graceful masterpiece for a


beginning with his translator Nicholson and coming down to our own age is an young poet, although it never found its
de

way to his anthology. It was also


endless line of scholars who failed to see the difference between comparison translated into English most probably
and adaptation. If, for instance, Iqbal said that Bergsonian ideas were also found by Iqbal himself and printed as a
ca

in the poetry of Bedil (who preceded Bergson), then this should be a reason to booklet (he was a government servant
under the Department of Education at
trace similar ideas in Iqbals own poetry to Bedil more than Bergson. Iqbal tried
lA

that time).
to make it very clear in a letter to Nicholson in 1921: I claim that the philosophy
of the Asrar[-i-Khudi] is a direct development out of the experience and
ba

speculation of Old Muslim Sufis and thinkers. Even Bergsons idea of time is
not quite foreign to the Sufis. He explained that the Quranic views on the
Iq

human life and destiny rest on metaphysical propositions and he was not putting
4,

new wine (i.e. Western ideas) in old bottles but rather his work was only a
restatement of the old in the light of the new.
01
)2
(c

To see is to see not, Iqbal wrote in one of his ghazals (incidentally, from his
days of affection for Ameer Begum). Iqbals experience of God in this phase
tends to be guided by wahdat al wujud he was born into a great mystic
32 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

tradition and even


claimed to be a
formal initiate into
the Qadriya

)
om
Order through his
father.
His early poet-

.c
ry (especially the

al
uncollected po-

qb
ems) reveal a
strong inclination

ai
towards the doc-

m
Above: The tomb of Ibn Arabi near trines of the clas-
Damascus. sical Spanish mys-

lla
The Sufi Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn
tic Ibn Arabi, pas-

.a
Arabi (1165-1240) is called Muhyi ad- sages from whose
Din (the animator of religion) and ash- Bezels of Wisdom

w
Shaykh al-Akbar (the greatest master)
used to be taught

w
in the esoteric circles of Islam.
He belonged to the Arabic tribe of to gatherings at

(w
Hatim at-Tai. He was born at Murcia in Shiekh Nur Mu-
Andalusia (Muslim Spain) and died in
Damascus after traveling widely and hammads home
an
leaving behind numerous books and while Iqbal was
treatises, most of which seem to be
definitely lost. His surviving doctrinal
growing up.
st

work imposes itself by its synthesis as Among the recur-


ring themes in
ki

well as by its reference to the most


elevated aspects of Sufism through the
these poems are
Pa

incisive form of certain formulations.


The most well-known of his writings the interrelated
include Futuhat al-Makkiyah or The natures of ordi-
y

Revelations of Makkah, constituting a


sort of sum of esoteric sciences; and nary love and love
m

Fusus al-Hikam or The Wisdom of the for God (clearly


Prophets (also translated as The
de

Bezzels of Wisdom), which was


an influence of Ibn Arabi), similarity of all human religions, reverence of the
drafted in 1220 in Damascus and is Prophet as a prism for the Divine Light (and sometimes an exalted status for
ca

often considered as the spiritual the Caliph Ali).


testament of the master.
Iqbals attitude towards Ibn Arabi has A thought that encompasses his spiritual life at this stage is that God is the
lA

posed a problem but it seems that his separated beloved whom the human being has to find in everything beautiful,
reverence towards the Great Shiekh including ones own heart. The thousands of forms in this world are like
ba

never died despite an effort to combat


certain altruistic offshoots of his ideas thousand veils across the face of a single Reality. True seekers learn to ignore
(and a transitional and temporary the appearance (majaz) of whatever they see, and concentrate instead on the
Iq

outburst against the Shiekh himself


around 1915-18). Ibn Arabi receives
unseen, the Reality (haqiqat). In other words, God exists everywhere and
those who can see beyond appearance see Him manifest in things as little as
4,

deference in The Reconstruction of


Religious Thought in Islam (1930) and a a glow-worm and as huge as the Himalaya.
01

remarkably subtle parable by him


illustrating the freedom of will is The Pearl-laden Cloud (1903) is a remarkable poem for the manner in
translated in Zarb-i-Kaleem (1936). which it exalts at once the amorous yearning (majaz), the devotion to the
)2

Prophet and the love of God. Seemingly diverse loves are alloyed into a
typically mystical unity as the mystic is ever ready to perceive God as Beauty.
(c

A grand vision of the human soul in the divine context seems to underline
Iqbals evolution towards preferring separation to union (mentioned above).
The individual was discovering its own importance in the crowd your ego
corresponds to the Footstool of God, and how can you betray Him?
IQBAL 33
THE YOUNG POET-PHILOSOPHER 1877-1905

Iqbal wrote three essays in Urdu for


Makhzan in 1902. They were Training
and Education of Children (January), a
general write-up on child psychology;
Urdu Language (September),

)
His interest in economics was derived partly from the fact that he was supposed translation of a paper on the develop-

om
to teach this subject and partly from his desire to balance his daydreaming ment of Urdu; and Urdu language in
Punjab (October), a rejoinder to hostile
with something practical (or at least something practical in theory!). The criticism from Hasrat Mohani (who used

.c
outcome was his first Urdu publication, a handbook for students titled Ilmul the psuodonym Hamdard, or well-
Iqtisad (1904). For good reasons he called it outdated some two and a half

al
wisher). Mohani had maintained that it
would be better if Urdu was not spoken
decades later. Unfortunately, many Iqbal scholars have turned that comment

qb
in Punjab at all than being spoken
into an excuse for not reading the book carefully or sometimes not at all. A incorrectly.
What is the standard of correct and
willingness to do otherwise is rewarded with a portrait of the poet as a young

ai
incorrect? Iqbal asked in view of the
thinker since the book is generously punctuated with comments of moral, fact that Urdu, according to him, was

m
political and philosophical import. The essence of these observations may still a language in the making.

lla
He also defended most of his
be presented as follows. criticized verses by quoting precedents
from classical Urdu poets but accepted

.a
n The balance between individual freedom and common good of the one mistake with a frank apology.
community is an important concern.

w
n Humans aspire for wealth and prosperity and would probably achieve

w
it if wrong ideals dont rob them of aspiration itself. Nihilistic religious

(w
philosophies are chief among such robbers.
n Economic revolution in India is desirable (this idea permeates the
an
entire book).
n Economics should not be seen as a normative science; right and
st

wrong must be decided on a moral basis. However, what is useful for


ki

a community at one point in time may become harmful at some


other time and therefore customs need to be revaluated and reformed.
Pa

(Against what criteria? He doesnt raise that question here, but the
answer he provided later was: the divine revelation and a pragmatic
y

test of your own understanding of that revelation).


m

n Freedom, in its political economic sense is also emphasized. You


de

know that the labor of slaves cannot match the labor of independent
workers. Why is that so? Why is the labor of slaves devoid of the
ca

virtue of performance? The answer provided here is: the whip


cannot provide the motivation that comes only from a desire of
lA

wealth and the tension of self-respect. (Obviously, this is a


forerunner of such later discourses as The Book of Slaves in Zuboor-
ba

i-Ajam).
Iq

The remarkable optimism of the preface provides us the best key to Iqbals
entire worldview: A question has arisen in this age, viz., is poverty an
4,

unavoidable element in the scheme of things? He pretends to hide the fact


01

that he already has an answer in his hat, Can it not happen that the
heartrending sobs of a humanity suffering in the back alleys of our streets be
)2

gone forever and the horrendous picture of devastating poverty wiped out
from the face of this earth? Economics alone cannot answer, because the
(c

answer lies to a great extent in the moral capabilities of the human nature
Javidnama, his magnum opus written some twenty-eight years later, was evidently
his personal answer to the question, and the entire body of his work from
now on, a lifelong effort to expand those moral capabilities of the human
nature.
SYNOPSIS
Ilmul Iqtisad (1904)
Ilmul Iqtisad (Political Economy) was but
Iqbals first published book. Written
in simple Urdu prose it was mainly a
compilation of current ideas on the

)
om
subject and as such became obsolete
during the authors own lifetime. To-
day, however, it has a historical sig-

.c
nificance as many of his later ideas

al
can be seen in their seminal form
between the lines here.

qb
Preface describes poverty as a peril
that ought to be eradicated, and while

ai
political economy doesnt tell us

m
whether that can be done (since the
possibility depends rather on the

lla
moral capabilities of human nature),
the study of income and expenditure

.a
does enlighten us about events and not discussed while private and the population is increasing by

w
consequences related with the ideal ownership is described as a the day. Nature cures it with famine
necessary factor in the current state and epidemic but we must also free

w
of universal prosperity.
Part One defines political economy of civilization, and the product of ourselves from childhood marriages

(w
and reviews the scope of this sub- labor, or wealth, is distributed and polygamy; spend our capital
ject. Iqbal doesnt see the subject as a according to this very factor. more wisely; increase wages in our
an
normative discipline but refutes the Part Five discusses population, country by paying more attention to
argument that the study of this sub- demand and usage. Iqbal favors industry; and use more foresight in
st

ject leads to greed or materialism. control in the increase of thinking about the end, so that our
Part Two concerns with the produc- population. You can well imagine country is saved from the dreadful
ki

tion of wealth and discusses land, la- what is required of us in view of consequences of poverty and attains
Pa

bor, capital and national capability as the current state of things in India, those higher ranks in civilization on
its sources. Iqbal favors a balance he writes while concluding the which our real prosperity depends.
between individual freedom and the chapter about demand, sources of
y

livelihood are scarce in our country


m

collective good of the community but


doesnt favor syndicalism or industrial Top Left: Cover of a brochure issued by
de

democracy: managing a business is a the British Government in 1906 to depict


specialized skill and cannot be left up its prosperity;
ca

to the labor.
Part Three takes up various factors Top Right: Bazar scene of Lahore from a
lA

related to exchange of wealth: the contemporary postcard.


question of evaluation, international
ba

Left: Ilmul Iqtisad was published in


commerce, composition and evalua-
November 1904 (and not in 1903, as
tion of currency, the right to coin-
sometimes assumed); Munshi Abdul
Iq

age, paper currency, and credit and


Aziz supervised printing at Khadimu
its composition. The value of a good
Taleem Press of Paisa Daily. Shibli
4,

is determined by utility and scarcity,


Nomani revised the language probably
and not by the amount of labor spent
01

on request from his friend and Iqbals


on its production.
teacher, Thomas Arnold (whose interest is
Part Four regards partners in the
)2

evident from his acquisition of the


production of wealth; tax, interest,
Manuscript for his personal collection from
profit, wages, imperfect competition
(c

Attiya Fyzee, to whom it was prsented by


and excise are discussed here.
the author in 1907).
Communist attack against the right
to private ownership is mentioned
IQBAL 35
THE YOUNG POET-PHILOSOPHER 1877-1905

The essay National Life (Urdu)


appeared in two parts in Makhzan,
October 1904 and early 1905. At least
the first part was based on a lecture
Iqbal delivered while visiting his elder

)
Apparently a by-product of Ilmul Iqtisad was his essay National Life (1904- brother Ata Muhammad in Abbotabad in

om
the summer of 1904 (contrasts between
5). If in his Al-Jili thesis he had expounded a description of the human being the opening of the first part and the
in relation to God, then National Life defined the relationship of the human closing of the second seem to indicate

.c
being with his or her surroundings. some shift of thought between the
writing of the two).
The opening passage stated the same things that were later summed up

al
Declaring that life has changed
more tersely at the opening of the New Year Broadcast in the last year of drastically with the human supremacy

qb
over nature through science, Iqbal
his life. It can be quoted from there without risking anachronism: The modern applied the Darwinian theory of struggle
age prides itself on its progress in knowledge and its matchless scientific

ai
for existence to the lives of the nations;
developments. No doubt, the pride is justified. Today space and time are nations can survive only if they cope

m
with changes and therefore must think
being annihilated and man is achieving amazing successes in unveiling the futuristically while individuals should act

lla
secrets of nature and harnessing its forces to his own service. It is obvious for the greater good of the community.
Religion, taking its strength from the
although he did not say it in National Life that any positive achievement to spiritual observations acquired by the

.a
him was a manifestation of that Divine element in the human being which he extraordinary faculties of a prophet, is

w
had detailed in the previous thesis. the inspiration for such sacrifice (and
also teaches liberty, which is most
However, a human being doesnt live in isolation. People live in groups

w
important for national character); our
and this leads us to the next cornerstone in Iqbals worldview: his concept of rational mind equips us for survival by

(w
adapting to change.
society. Society as a voluntary association of people in the political sense Only Chinese, Hindus, Israelites and
does not appear in this essay. Instead, what we have here is the concept of Parsis among the ancient nations have
an
survived to the modern age while
the society as an organism a living organism that almost springs out from Japanese and Italians have succeeded
the earth like plants, animals and humans. A society might be organized
st

in national resurrection. The secret of


according to territory, as in the case of nation states like Italy (whose reformer the survival of the Israelites and Parsis
ki

lies in their acumen for commerce, and


Mazzinni was Iqbals hero those days); or it might be organized around a race the same is the case with Japan, thanks
Pa

principle, as in the case of the Jews; or it could be a community of people to its educational reforms (hence this is
the country Iqbal prsents as a model for
with the same religion, as in the case of the Muslims (and a few years later he the Indian Muslims to follow, whose
would describe Islam as a society whose membership is open to any like-
y

backwardness is mainly due to a


minded individual). However, no matter how a society defines itself it had to
m

meaningless trust in God, which


prevents them from being practical).
face a constant struggle for existence in the nature and only those societies
de

Areas where reformation is needed


survived who were capable of adjusting to change just as the giant organisms most urgently include: (1) religious law;
(2) womens rights especially relating
of the ice age became extinct because they could not keep pace with the
ca

to polygamy (which Iqbal finds obsolete


changing climate, so do societies become extinct if they fail to grow with the and dangerous), purdah and basic
lA

pulse of time Greece, Egypt, Rome, all vanished from the face of the education; (3) wasteful customs and
traditions; (4) universal education; and,
earth but we, the Indians still have our name and glory; there must be most important of all, (5) promotion of
ba

something about us that has sustained us against centuries of hostile changes, commerce and industry, since agricul-
ture cannot lead to economic indepen-
he said in his famous Saray jahan say achha Hindustan hamara, printed in the dence.
Iq

same issue of Makhzan. This vision of life might sound starkly indebted to
Darwin, yet Iqbals worldview was not essentially Darwinian since it was based Below: A 19th Century engraving from a
4,

on the recognition of the Divine in every human being, even in those who photograph of Abbotabad.
01

lagged behind in the struggle for existence (he


later criticized Darwin as one of the reasons
)2

why Nietzsche remained totally blind to his


own vision).
(c

The individuals might be called upon to


make sacrifices for their community, Iqbal
suggests in his essay. The justification provided
here is much simpler than the one he would
present in The Muslim Community a
Sociological Study six years later. He just says
NOSTALGIA
Altaf
Husain Hali (18371914), above,
was a disciple of Ghalib and later
associated with

)
Sir Syed Ahmed

om
Khan (of both
these giants Hali

.c
wrote the most
important biog-

al
raphies). Sir

qb
Syed also in-
spired Halis

ai
Musaddas (1879),

m
a long overview
of the rise and

lla
fall of the Muslim civilization, which
remained a lifelong favorite with

.a
Iqbal. During a brief stay in Lahore

w
in the 1870s, Hali helped Dr.
Leitner, the British educationist who

w
was trying to persuade Urdu poets

(w
to write modern poetry. The poems
written by Hali are generally re-
an
garded as the pioneering
masterpices of modern Urdu po-
st

etry.
Hali was awarded the prestigious
ki

title of Shamsul Ulema in 1904.


Pa

The same year he attended the an-


nual session of Anjuman Himayat-
i-Islam in Lahore where his poem
y

was re-read by Iqbal, since the voice


m

of the elder poet was too weak to


de

reach the audience (Iqbal also read


out his own Picture of Grief in that
ca

session).
lA

Top Left: Altaf Husain Hali

Top Right: A group photo from the


ba

1904 session of Anjuman Himayat-i-


Islam; Hali is seated at front while
Iq

Iqbal is standing 4th from right in 1st


row.
4,

Right: Opening page of Picture of


01

Grief from collected works published by


Iqbal Academy, Pakistan.
)2
(c
IQBAL 37
THE YOUNG POET-PHILOSOPHER 1877-1905

that religion comes to the aid of the society by way of


establishing sacrifice as a spiritual principle (in the later lecture
he would expand this whole theory to a formidable
cosmological scale as we shall see in the next chapter).

)
om
Interestingly enough, Iqbal used the word qawm (nation)
interchangeably with society in this essay and, more significantly,
the title did not refer to a homogenous Indian nation but only

.c
to the Muslim community living in it. As far as we can see, it

al
seems highly unlikely that he subscribed to the idea of Indian

qb
nationalism as propounded by Congress and that should not
surprise us given the influence of the Aligarh Movement on

ai
Iqbal in his early days. The common perception that Iqbal was

m
once a staunch nationalist and later turned in the other direction
(like his contemporary Jinnah), seems to have originated from

lla
an isolated reading of his Urdu poems from this period.

.a
Keeping them in a proper perspective with his prose writings
it seems more plausible that despite his Aligarh bias he kept a

w
fairly independent mind. Only five years later he said in a lecture

w
that he was approaching the religious system of Islam strictly

(w
as a critical student (and by the religious system he could have
also meant the Muslim Community in its conceptual form),
an
and explained, The attitude of the mind which characterises a
critical student is fundamentally different from that of the
st

teacher and the expounder. He approaches the subject of his


inquiry free form all presuppositions, and tries to understand the organic
ki

Lord Nathaniel Curzon (below), the


Viceroy (1899-1905), announced the
structure of a religious system, just as a biologist would study a form of life
Pa

partition of Bengal in 1904, enacting it


or a geologist a piece of mineral. His object is to apply methods of scientific the next year. The emergence of a
research to religion, with a view to discover how the various elements in a Muslim majority province, East Bengal,
y

offended the nationalist politicians and


given structure fit in with one another, how each factor functions individually, activists whose protest prompted
m

and how their relation with one another determines the functional value of mainstream Muslim leaders to form an
de

All India Muslim League in 1906 to


the whole. He went on to list history, geography and ethics as some of the support the government against
perspectives through which a system should be studied. demands for revocation (it turned anti-
ca

This gives us a fair picture of Iqbals attitude towards things in a phase of Raj and joined hands with the Hindu
radicals when the partition was annulled
life that lasted till 1913 when he eventually felt that he had enough substance
lA

in 1912). Iqbal compared Curzon with


to formulate a worldview of his own and to use it as a pivot for future the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb
thought. they both faced the
ba

wrath of Hindu
His so-called nationalist poetry coincided with aggressive protests from extremists
the Indian National Congress to the Viceroys announcement of the encouraged by
Iq

lenient
impending partition of Bengal in 1904 (the partition was planned to take predecessors,
place the next year). A careful examination of these poems shows that they
4,

Emperor Akbar
werent addressed to the British government but rather represented his Muslim and Lord Rippon,
01

respectively.
nation to the Hindu compatriots. We, the Muslims, too are patriotic, he seemed
to be suggesting, and we belong to India just as much as any other people
)2

living here; Islam is as much a part of the religious and cultural heritage of
India as the indigenous religions are. O Brahmin, you estranged yourself
(c

from your kin in the name of idols; likewise, God taught war and mayhem
to the preacher of Islam, he says in his poem A New Temple (1905), and
goes on to construct a new deity made of gold and receiving adoration from
38 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

all religions (this somewhat bizarre imagery was expunged in a later revision
of the poem before inclusion in Bang-i-Dara). Lets label the god India, and
to him we should pray for fulfillment of all our deep desires, he says.
The question ignored by his commentators is this: what are these deep

)
om
desires, which must be addressed to the new idol of India and which cannot
be fulfilled without its blessing? We can safely assume that Iqbal is referring
to an economic revolution in the country the idea that permeated through

.c
the entire Ilmul Iqtisad a while ago. Even in his 1910 lecture on the Muslim

al
community he proposed that, despite a distinct national identity of this

qb
community it had to approach the economic question in a broad impartial
non-sectarian spirit. The economic forces in a region affect all communities

ai
alike, he believed.

m
lla
Shiekh Abdul Qadir wrote in his preface
to Bang-i-Dara that if he believed in

.a
reincarnation he would see Iqbal as a
rebirth of Ghalib (above). There were

w
similarities in temperament, and the
diction of Iqbals Urdu poetry owed as

w
much to Ghalib as his Persian style It would be interesting to draw a mind map of the poet in his young age
owed to Hafiz and Urfi.

(w
Mirza Asadullah Ghalib (1797-1869) from the poems surviving from 1893 to 1905. Six distinct subjects appear:
was among the earliest Indian Muslims (a) nature; (b) personalities; (c) parables and dialogue; (d) autobiographical
to grasp the real significance of the anecdotes; (e) monologues; and (f) ghazals.
an
modern Western civilization and he
passed on his observations to the future The strands of his thought (already discussed in this chapter) cut across all
st

reformer Sir Syed. In the world of Indian these subjects. Objects in nature are seldom described without emotional
literature he stands as one of the
underpining in the very description itself (unlike his predecessor Hali, who
ki

greatest figures who chisselled the Urdu


language into a splendid vehicle for didnt have the advantage of reading Wordsworth). The imagery is dynamic
Pa

conveying complex ideas (Urdu was and invariably philosophical, often metaphysical. O Himalaya! The Natures
sometimes regarded as a less
prestigious language before his times hand has but created you as a playground for the elements, Iqbal says to the
y

despite some very good poets, and in great mountain, Pray tell us a tale from those early days when the first
m

any case Ghalib was the first celebrity humans found a dwelling in your outskirts; tell us about that simple life
to use this language for private
unstained by the rouge of civilized pretenses. Everything in nature represents
de

correspondence, which used to be


carried out only in Persian until then). mystical secrets to him; flowers, streams, rivers and meadows may be mute
ca

Ghalib is the subject of a beautiful


poem in Bang-i-Dara and also appears
to other listeners but not so to the poet. He explores their mystery, connects
in Javidnama as a free soul wandering to the vibrations of the Divine rhythm emanating from them, and develops
lA

around the firmament of Jupiter after a wavelength with birds, bees and animals. This is an Ibn Arabi utilizing the
having refused the Paradise just like the
mystic Hallaj and the Persian martyr mind of Wordsworth for writing verses in Urdu. Of course, the influence
ba

Tahira. of the Vedantic poetry is also quite visible (and we must remember that Iqbal
had some familiarity with Sanskrit and he never stopped quoting the great
Iq

poets of that language in his own poetry).


However, it is also Iqbal, and very distinctly so: You dont know how the
4,

thorn of unresolved problem pricks the heart, he says to The Colorful


01

Flower. Neither Ibn Arabi nor Wordsworth would have remembered to bring
up the issues of the mind during a blissful union with nature. Iqbals flower is
)2

also ripe with sensuous undertones: O colorful flower! Perhaps you dont
carry a heart in your bosom, is a line that could be addressed to an unmerciful
(c

dame as well.
Just like the objects of nature, the personalities in his poems also serve as
mouthpieces to various thoughts and opinions. The poets mission is to see
and tell (Ghalib), learning is a labor of love under a worthy mentor (The
Lament of Separation, written on Arnolds departure from India), blessed
IQBAL 39
THE YOUNG POET-PHILOSOPHER 1877-1905

are those who suffer for the sake of love, (Bilal),


and so on. The elegy on Dagh commences Iqbals
lifelong struggle to prove lifes supremacy over death.
The symphony of immortality, reaching its choral

)
om
peak in the epic Javidnama twenty-seven years later,
begins with a soft whimper in this first of Iqbals
approved elegies: The colors of autumn too are a

.c
reason to stay in the garden, he writes at the end of

al
this poem (and the verse can also be translated to

qb
mean that the colors of autumn too are part of
what created the garden, or even a source of

ai
permanence for the garden). The same universal

m
law governs all: carrying the odor of the sweet
flower beyond the garden gates, and the flower-

lla
gatherer beyond this world. This brand of According to an entry in Iqbals

.a
optimism seems to be a theorizing activity by a clever mind under crushing private notebook, Wordsworth
pressures of perceived or real grief. saved him from atheism in the

w
student days. The editorial note to
His qasidas, or eulogies might also be counted among the poems centered

w
The Himalaya in the first issue of
on personalities but he included none of those in his anthology later on. Makhzan also introduced Iqbal as

(w
the Indian Wordsworth.
Here, he followed the arrogant but loveable Persian poet Urfi, who was While his attitude towards the
notorious for showing conceit even while praising superiors. philosophers of the West
an
Parables and dialogue, beginning with the famous adaptation of The Spider remained condesending when not
outright critical he certainly had
and the Fly was predominantly limited to more inspirations from English more soft corners for their poets
st

poetry but it was a genre that would eventually come to a grand finale in The and might be seen as a distant
ki

Satans Parliament two years before Iqbals death. heir to the Romantic Movement
launched by the five giants
Autobiographical anecdotes appear in great proportion and they are
Pa

pictured above (from right to left):


refreshingly free from egotism in a poet who would otherwise become the William Wordsworth (1770-1850),
Lord Byron (1788-1824), Percy
prophet of the ego. In real life as well as in poetry he thoroughly enjoyed a
y

Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822),


good joke about himself and none of his critics ever came up with better
m

who might have inspired that


satire on him than he himself provided in such poems like Piety and temptation from which
de

Wordsworth is supposed to have


Sinfulness. The poem was inspired from a puritan neighbors criticism of rescued Iqbal, John Keats (1795-
contradictions in Iqbals personality: I hear that Iqbal is so much influenced 1821) and Samuel Taylor
ca

by philosophy that he doesnt count a Hindu among non-believers anymore, Coleridge (1772-1834).

the neighbor is quoted in this poem. Nor is he averse to women of the


lA

ignoble profession, but oh that ought to be expected of our poets; I, however,


fail to understand the wisdom of listening to a singing girl in the night before
ba

reciting the Holy Quran in the morning The pious critic goes on to fear
that this crazy young philosopher might end up inventing a new religion.
Iq

Iqbals reply, appearing at the end of the poem, has now become famous:
4,

Iqbal bhi Iqbal say agah nahin hai (Iqbal too is not aware about Iqbal; and
this is not a jest, by God it is not!). In other autobiographical anecdotes,
01

such as the one about his little nephew who used to gaze endlessly at the
candle, the poet penetrates beneath the surface of common observation.
)2

Why are you so amazed, O moth-like child? Thus begins the poem A
Child and the Candle and goes on to state that the childs fascination with
(c

light stems out of some ancient acquaintance; the candle is naked flame while
the human being is light contained in the chandelier of opaque dust.
Iqbals monologues and dramatic monologues cover a wide range and
this manner of poetry (apparently inspired from Robert Browning) and his
numerous prayers may also be included in this category (even The Complaint
40 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

written later would be, ironically, a prayer; but that will be discussed in the
next chapter). The dramatic monologues include one by an imaginary
tombstone of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan; the opening is starkly proud and
optimistic: O the living! Look at the rehabilitation of this once deserted

)
city! This indeed is the society I used to be so concerned about, so look at the

om
fruits of my patience and perseverance. My tombstone has become fond of
speech, so read its inscription with your inward eye. The commandments

.c
invisibly inscribed on the tombstone enjoin that thou shalt not turn thy back

al
on the world, nor use thy pen and speech for creating dissentions, and so on.

qb
Ghazal used to be the dominant genre in Urdu poetry before Hali in
other words, until the days of Iqbals adolescence. It was still popular but

ai
Iqbal was not a ghazal-writer by temperament although not averse to the
genre either. He wrote fewer ghazals than nazm (poems) and they follow

m
Ghalibs manner of sustaining an idea through the various couplets although

lla
the genre allows the poet to be disjointed since each couplet is supposed to
be a standalone unit.

.a
w
w
(w
an
Iqbal on the eve of his departure for studies abroad was far from being the
nave, bewildered student portrayed in some biographies. By all means he
st

was an accomplished young intellectual, aware of what he wanted to do and


ki

which direction he would like to take. From that he never swerved although
Pa

he was ever quick to accept his humility before any new manifestation of
truth.
y
m
de
ca
lA
ba
Iq
4,
01
)2
(c
(c
)2

TWO
01
4, CHAPTER
Iq
ba
lA
ca
de
m
y
Pa

THE SOUL
ki
st
an
(w

THE DARK NIGHT OF


w
w
.a
lla
m
ai
qb
al

to 1913
1905
.c
om
)
42 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

It is my belief that a people who value their own freedom cannot be envious
of others liberty and I find much evidence of this in what I see of the
British society here, Iqbal wrote to the editor of a nationalist newspaper of
Lucknow a few months after his arrival in England. He was commenting on

)
om
the Sawdeshi movement (the movement for economic self-reliance started by
the anti-British protestors in India). However, we must develop competence
[to govern ourselves], and that can come mainly from the focusing of

.c
economic norms, to which our people have fortunately started paying attention

al
now. Iqbals belief in the fairness of the Europeans was about to be shaken

qb
very soon but his fundamental approach of seeing everything in its larger
picture would remain forever.

ai
What did Europe mean to Iqbal at age 28, when he first set foot on its

m
soil? It was a treasure trove of knowledge, the seat of universal law and the
house of the empire builders. Iqbal, the genius who thought he was a know

lla
all, was adamant at discovering Europe in all these dimensions. The vast

.a
Iqbal stayed in Europe from 1905-8. collections of ancient and modern writings, including rare manuscripts of
This picture was taken sometime during classical Muslim thought, would be unearthed by him from the libraries and

w
that period.
museums of England in order to reconstruct a coherent history of

w
Picture used on p. 41 was painted by metaphysical thought in Persia a subject nobody had written about. Secondly,

(w
Master Iqbal (Faisalabad) from this
photograph. he was going to study the source of the European power, its universally
applicable law, and celebrate his mastery of it with a Bar at Law from the
an
prestigious Lincolns Inn (hopefully, as he must have assumed at that time,
the certificate would pave the path of material prosperity). However, all law
st

is useless unless there is a competent authority to execute it, and the execution
of the British law over an empire where the sun never set and the political
ki

supremacy of the European civilization over all others at that time pointed
Pa

at the deeper secrets of successful politics; the secret of empire-building,


which was once known to the Muslims but could now only be learnt from
y

the West. Little did he know that he would soon discard all three knowledge,
m

existing law and current politics and unwittingly become part of that critical
de

mass of thinkers and activists who changed the values of the human race in
Iqbal joined the Honorable Society of
that first half of the Twentieth Century.
ca

Lincolns Inn (below) on November 6, The crucial turning point was a year and a half after his arrival. March
1905, and was called to bar on July 1, 1907 is a date he didnt want to be overlooked by any future biographer of
lA

1908.
his mind; he wrote the date at the top of a ghazal that didnt need any heading,
and he counted back his intellectual reincarnation to this year in numerous
ba

letters, speeches and statements. Curiously enough (but very typically) he


doesnt tell us anything else about it. What happened, exactly, in that month?
Iq

He didnt tell us, but obviously he wanted us to find out. Lets not assume,
please, that it was some beautiful woman he met he hadnt seen Attiya
4,

Fyzee till a month later, and Emma Wegenast didnt occur to him till the
01

summer. Call him a chauvinist if you will, but he was just not the type whom
a woman could cause to change the course of life (much less the direction of
)2

mind, which was evidently more precious to him than life). A careful study
of his life and works makes it plausible that the big thing about March 1907
(c

was his discovery of an answer to the question he had raised a few years ago;
in his Ilmul Iqtisad, he had wondered whether poverty and needfulness could
be made extinct; he had also suggested that the answer lied in the moral
capabilities of the human race. Now he discovered a formula for enhancing
those moral capabilities: understanding Islam not as an irrational insistence
IQBAL 43
THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL 1905-13

on preserving the past but as a means for a giant leap into the future. How he
arrived at this awareness is an interesting odyssey of the mind.
We admit the superiority of the Hindu in point of philosophical acumen,
he had written in the introduction to his thesis on al-Jilani seven years ago,

)
om
The post-Islamic history of the Arabs is a long series of glorious military
exploits, which compelled them to adopt a mode of life leaving but little time
for gentler conquests in the great field of science and philosophy. They did

.c
not, and could not, produce men like Kapila and Sankaracharya, but they

al
zealously rebuilt the smoldering edifice of Science, and even attempted to

qb
add fresh stories to it. This inferiority complex does not resurface anywhere
in his thesis The Development of Metaphysics in Persia (completed in February

ai
1907 and submitted to the Trinity College on March 7). Eighteen months of

m
first-hand interaction with the works of great Muslim philosophers and
scientists made him aware that the Muslims, too, had been great thinkers!

lla
Since then the contribution of the Muslim scientists to the modern science Above: Syed Ameer Ali

.a
has not only been acknowledged but in the Muslim world it is sometimes In the saga of the Muslims in the early
even overrated in ways that have rubbed out the freshness of those great modern period, Syed Ameer Ali (1849-

w
geniuses of the past, and therefore it is difficult for us to understand Iqbals 1928) stands as a signpost of the road

w
not taken. His reputation rests on The
sense of discovery when he first found proof of what Justice Ameer Ali in Spirit of Islam (1891/1922), arguably

(w
the second volume of his Spirit of Islam, and Shibli Nomani in some of his the most objective analysis of the life of
the Prophet and the subsequent
papers had merely suggested. Neither of these two great historians had held cultures of the Muslim World written
an
formal higher education in Western philosophy and therefore it was left for from an apologetic milieu. His other
Iqbal to grasp the full significance of the classical Muslim thought. Iqbal had work of fame, A Short History of the
st

Saracens (1899/1927) was refresh-


now discovered that the Muslim thinkers had not rebuilt an already existing ingly original and hardly apologetic.
body of science and philosophy; they had constructed a new, grand and
ki

Ameer Ali also founded the London


magnificent edifice of thought. The ancient Greek ideas, devoid of empirical Muslim League on May 6, 1908 and
Pa

Iqbal instantly became a member


spirit as they were, could not have provided a basis for the modern European although the influence of Ameer Ali on
civilization without input from the great Muslim mind. Islam is inherently Iqbal during the latters stay in London
y

is not well-documented apart from this


opposed to a duality between matter and spirit or at least that is how Iqbal
m

collaboration. A staunch supporter of


understood it and therefore the Muslim thinkers had been able to unleash the Muslim participation in politics even
de

the hitherto unknown capabilities of human thought. This proposition about since those days when the older Sir
Syed was opposed to such ideas,
the magnitude of human thought contains, as we can see, its own antithesis Ameer Ali advocated an essentially
ca

within it. If the human mind can only realize its true potential by engaging parliamentarian approach. He also
with the divine revelation then thought must also be transcended in order to presided in absentia over the annual
lA

session of the Muslim League in 1910.


collect the fruits of thought. The mystic in Iqbal told him that this was indeed His rationalism in historiography as
the case. well as politics was subsequently
ba

washed away by Shiblis sentimentalism


Iqbals renewed confidence in the intellectual gifts of the Islamic revelation in both fields. He could not concede to
must have also led him to believe that a system of law better than the modern
Iq

the agitational politics of Muhammad Ali


one was possible indeed that reconstruction became his central focus towards (Jauhar) and Wazir Hasan, which was
sweeping the scene following Shiblis
the later part of his life. His study of the British law even in those days must
4,

political lead after 1911. They eventually


have been moderated by a strong bias towards the superiority of an Islamic forced Ameer Ali to resign on October
01

law not the law that existed in the antiquated books of jurisprudence 27, 1913 and the London Muslim
League liquidated soon afterwards.
tampered by whimsical monarchs of the medieval times, but the undiscovered
)2

Ameer Ali came from an elitist family


law whose seeds were contained in the Quran (the true potential of Islam in Bengal and at various times served
as member of the Legislative Council
has not yet unfolded, he would later state on more than one occasion). This
(c

and the Viceroys Council, justice of


undiscovered law of Islam was one of the many alternate worlds that the Bengal High Court and after his
Holy Book could offer and the idea was outright thrilling (the concept of an permanent settlement in London where
he had married the British Isabella as
alternate world any alternate world could stir deepest emotions in Iqbal the first Indian member of the Judicial
at any given moment in his life). Committee of the Privy Council.
44 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

Last, but not least, was the challenge of the Western political superiority.
That was comparatively easy to handle, since even in his al-Jili days, he had
been proud of the military and imperialistic achievements of the medieval
Muslims. Now, however, he recognized the fragility inherent in the strength

)
om
of the Western civilization itself: it had disregarded the spiritual in its eagerness
to overcome the material aspects of existence. O dwellers of the West! The
city of God is not a marketplace, he poured out his feelings in the ghazal

.c
titled March 1907. What you have been holding as currency will now turn

al
out to be counterfeit. In the same vein he goes on to say that the lion that

qb
once emerged from the desert and devoured the great Roman Empire, is,
according to what the poet has just heard from the angels, about to reawaken.

ai
This critique of the Western civilization and protest against exploitation

m
of the weaker nations was an about turn until a year ago he had held such
firm belief in the natural fairness of the British rulers that he risked defending

lla
them against hostile left wing activists of India. Giving up such a strong

.a
The Holy Quran remained a source of conviction often coincides with release of immense emotional energies and
inspiration throughout Iqbals life. His an ecstatic experience of feeling free. For someone born in Sialkot in the

w
personal response to the divine book
heyday of foreign imperialism, it also meant a recovery of political pride in

w
was emotional as well as intellectual.
Although it was the word of God in ways that would have been incomprehensible even to the great Sir Syed Ahmed

(w
every sense (Iqbal believed that it was Khan (who was now dead for nine years). It was Iqbals discovery of himself,
revealed to the Prophet verbatim), it
was also a living expression of the and not an encounter with some other person, that marked the significance
an
prophetic glory of the greatest human of March 1907 and started the process of his psychological reconstruction.
being, and for whom Iqbals devotion
knew no bounds. The ideals of the
st

Quran were only partially revealed in the


ki

known history since the book was


inexhaustible and Iqbal was excited at
Pa

the thought of discovering new worlds,


even new destinies from the powerful
and flawless lines of the last covenant
Iqbals academic pursuits in Europe and the influence of Western philosophers
y

between God and humanity.


Iqbal owed his mystical bonding with
m

the Holy Quran to the influence of his on him are generally seen as interlinked, but they need not be. Iqbals field of
research at Cambridge didnt include Western philosophy, except by way of
de

father while his independent approach


to the understanding of the text might
comparison. His Ph.D. from Germany (awarded on the same dissertation),
have stemmed from Sir Syeds famous
wasnt even issued in the area of philosophy (although he applied for that),
ca

dictum that the Quran would stand any


test of science or reason since it was and technically, it was a Ph.D. in Arabic. Iqbals acquaintance with the Western
lA

the word of God while the world of


nature was the act of God and there
philosophers apart from what he learnt about them during early studies in
could be no contradiction between the Lahore, or later teaching responsibilities there was mostly extra-curricular,
ba

two. However, it was through Syeds and we cannot date his readings very accurately. His supervisor, Dr. McTeggart,
adverse contemporary Jamaluddin
Afghani that Iqbal included a detailed however was an expert on Kant and Hegel, and Iqbal attended his lectures
Iq

exegesis on the relevance of the Quran on these two philosophers afterwards discarding them both as way off the
to the modern times in Javidnama.
point. It would be erroneous to state that the boundaries of Iqbals metaphysics
4,

Top: Illustration by Tabassum Khalid were predetermined by Kant; to put it rather frankly, some Iqbal scholars
01

for Secrets & Mysteries in the Junior have made too much of such similarities in order to showcase their own
Edition Series published by Iqbal
Academy Pakistan. familiarity with hardcore philosophy. Kants argument against the logical
)2

proofs of the existence of God were useful (and Iqbal made good use of
them), but he also maintained an almost patronizing attitude towards the
(c

critic of pure reason who failed to recognize that thought itself was part of
the reality it tried to understand and contain; the fundamental difference
between Kant and Iqbal was that according to Kant, the existence of God
could not be proved but we should act as if He existed; to Iqbal, a
philosophical test of religious experience was possible.
IQBAL 45
THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL 1905-13

About the champion of antithesis, Iqbal later wrote that Hegels The contribution of Western philosophy
to the thought of Iqbal has been
indifference to personal immortality has more or less affected all those who exagerrated and Immanuel Kant (1724-
received inspiration from him, and certainly Iqbal doesnt seem to be among 1804), Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831),
them his long-winded comparison of Hegelianism with Akbar Allahabadi Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) and

)
Henri Bergson (1859-1941) seen

om
should not be interpreted as a deference to the German philosopher; Iqbals below from left to right are often
love for variety could burst out in magnanimous appreciation of ideas quoted as influences. This misunder-
standing started with the translation of
diametrically opposite to his own beliefs, and his frequent appraisals of the

.c
Iqbals Asrar-i-Khudi by R. Nicholson in
Ahmedi movement until the 1930s is one case in point. Despite some initial 1920 and its reviews in the Western

al
praise for Hegel he eventually criticized him without mercy in Payam-i-Mashriq press, including a flawed write-up by the

qb
novelist E. M. Forster. Iqbal was quick
and elsewhere, even to the extent of saying that his system of philosophy to refute the suggestion in a letter to
was a mere illusion and like an empty oyster. Nicholson.

ai
There was, however, one major conviction he upheld in the later years His attitude towards Western
philosophers was often condescend-

m
that sounded rather like a Muslims compromise with the Hegelian indifference ing. He suggested that Kant was
to personal immortality. Iqbal asserted (at least as early as in 1910), that inferior to Ghazali; Hegels spellbinding

lla
thought was an oyster without pearl, a
personal immortality could not be taken for granted; the human being is mere illusion; and Nietzsche should

.a
merely a candidate for it. In other words, the human soul may or may not be have learnt metaphysics from Iqbal.
resurrected after death, depending on the strength or weakness of its ego. Bergson received more courtesy, may

w
be because he was still alive, but it
Again, it might be observed that Shiekh Ahmad Sirhindi (Mujaddid Alf Sani)

w
was comeraderie and not deference
had also spoken about the possibility of the annihilation of some souls, that Iqbal meted out to the French

(w
although in a very different context. philosopher whom he eventually met in
Paris in 1932 (and discussed, among
This was fundamentally different from the views of McTeggart himself. other things, the Islamic view of time).
an
Iqbals atheist supervisor believed in the absolute immortality of the individual When not addressing the Western
audience Iqbal would explain his ideas
ego, held the time and space as unreal and was rather confused between the in the light of the Quran and the Muslim
st

predominance of action and love. Iqbals emotional attachment to him could Sufis and thinkers, e.g., [Ibn Arabi] and
be gauged from the fact that he tore up the manuscript of a thesis on the
ki

Iraqi (pantheism), Al-Jili (the idea of the


Perfect Man) and Mujaddid Sarhindi
reality of time when McTeggart criticized it bitterly. According to Iqbal, pure
Pa

(the human person in relation to the


time was different from serial time; our appreciative self exists in pure time Divine Person), he stated in his letter to
although our efficient self exists in serial time. Of course, McTeggart Nicholson, and added that even
y

Bergsons idea of time is not quite


apologized profusely when a little later the same ideas received acclaim in foreign to Sufis.
m

England through the French contemporary Bergson.


de

Iqbals advances towards the Western philosophy were much like the
metamorphosis of a lover who is at first striken by the majesty of a beautiful
ca

face but quickly moves on after getting fed up with the woman behind it
(exactly the kind of sexual chemistry he confesses in his The Inconstant
lA

Lover.) The fountainhead of his creative thought was neither in the East,
nor in the West, but lied in the inexhaustible riches of his own ego.
ba
Iq
4,
01
)2
(c
SYNOPSIS
Development of Part I: Pre-Islamic Persian
Metaphysics in Persia Philosophy
(1908) Chapter I: Persian Dualism.
Development of Metaphysics in Persia Zoroaster condensed the principles of

)
was Iqbals graduation thesis (which law and conflict in the dual realities

om
later earned him a doctorate as well). of Ahuramazda, or the good spirit,
and Durj-Ahriman, or the evil spirit.
Dedication to Professor T. W. Arnold. Mani (3rd Century) and Mazdak (6 th

.c
Introduction Century) developed a cosmology

al
The most remarkable feature of where good and evil were essentially

qb
the character of the Persian people separate entities and the universe was
is their love of Metaphysical specu- supposed to have been born from a

ai
lation, but the Persian thinkers re- regrettable mixing of the two. The
frain from presenting any compre- net result of this period of Persian

m
hensive system of thought, appar- speculation is nothing more than a

lla
ently because the Persian mind is materialistic dualism. Chapter III: Islamic Rationalism.
rather impatient of detail. The Per- Chapter II: Neo-Platonic Aristotelians of Upheld by the Mutazila thinkers, this

.a
sian also sees the inner unity of Persia. was an insurrection of the ancient

w
things like the Brahmin but rather Ibn Maskawiah and Avicenna (Bu Ali Persian tendency for subjectivity, re-
than exploring it in all aspects of jecting external standards of truth.

w
Sina) were among illustrious students
human experience, it appears to be of Greek philosophy. Issues ad- The chapter covers materialism as the

(w
satisfied with a bare universality. dressed by Ibn Maskawiah include the metaphysics of rationalism, contem-
existence of the ultimate principle, the porary thought (skepticism, Sufism,
an
Top right: The winged disc of knowledge of the ultimate, how the and the revival of authority, or Ismail-
Ahuramazda with sphinx from an one creates the many, and the soul. ianism), and the Asharite reaction
st

ancient Persian specimen. Avicenna defined love as (the transfer of dialectic method to
the appreciation of the defense of the authority of the
ki

Below: Avicenna (Bu Ali Sina), the beauty, while beauty is Divine Revelation).
Pa

renowned Muslim scientist, perfection; things not


philosopher, poet and musician of Chapter IV: Controversy between Realism
at the highest level of and Idealism
the 11th Century whose deep perfection strive to
y

influence on Iqbal has been The Asharite denial of Asritotles Pri-


m

reach there and this is ma Materia and their views concerning


usually overlooked. loves movement to- the nature of space, time and causa-
de

wards beauty. tion, awakened an irrepressible spirit


of controversy. Principle points on
ca

which the Realists differed from the


Asharites as well as other idealist think-
lA

ers were the nature of the essence, the


nature of knowledge and the nature
ba

of non-existence.
Iq

Chapter V: Sufism.
The origin and Quranic justification
4,

of Sufism are covered in the light


of pre-existing intellectual, po-
01

litical and social conditions,


which alone make the existence
)2

of any phenomenon in the in-


tellectual evolution of a people
(c

possible. Stages in the souls jour-


ney towards union or identity
with the ultimate source of all

46
)
om
.c
al
qb
Above: Fakhruddin Razi.

ai
things, according to Sufi fraternities,

m
are: (1) belief in the Unseen, (2) search

lla
after it, (3) its knowledge, and (4) the
realization. Aspects of Sufi thought

.a
are (1) Reality as self-conscious Will Cambridge University was established in 1284. Famous students include Mil-
ton, Wordsworth, Byron and Tennyson among poets; Newton and Ruther-

w
(expounded by Shaqiq Balkhi, Ibra-
him Adham, Rabia Basri, etc); (2) Re- ford Maxwell among scientists; Wittgenstein and Russell among philosophers;

w
ality as Beauty (expounded by Maruf William Pitt and Jawaharlal Nehru among politicians (Nehru joined in 1907,

(w
Karkhi, Al-Qushairi, Mir Sayyid Sharif, just when Iqbal left). Until 1920 the University didnt have regulations to award
Husain Mansur Hallaj, Nasafi and PhD and only used to award full doctorate (D.Sc. and D.Litt.). Candidates of
doctorate would usually apply to German universities.
an
Rumi; certain implications were op-
posed by Umar Khayyam, Ibn Henry VIII established Trinity College in 1546; Christopher Wren con-
structed the library in 1676-90. Iqbal was admitted on October 1, 1905 (the
st

Taimiyya, Wahid Mahmud, and pos-


sibly, Hafiz of Shiraz); and (3) Reality register he signed into was opened in the 1820s and closed in 1913). He was
ki

as Light (expounded by Al-Ishraqi, pensioner (self-financed student) under tutelage of Professor Adam Sedgewick
(1854-1913). Scholars associated with the University at that time included George
Pa

whose ontology, cosmology and psy-


chology are discussed here) or Thought Moore, A. N. Whitehead, Sorley (1855-1935) and R. A. Nicholson (1868-1945).
(expounded by Al-Jili, whose Perfect Iqbal prepared his thesis under the supervision of McTaggart and submitted
y

Man is a joining link between nature it to the Faculty on March 7, 1907. He was awarded a Bachelors degree for it on
m

and God, in whom all divine at- June 13 the same year but did not apply for the Masters, which could have been
obtained for a fee after a few years without further examination. Perhaps he
de

tributes reappear).
didnt need it after he acqruired a Ph.D. from Munich (Germany) on the revised
Chapter VI: Later Persian Thought version of the thesis in early November the same year.
ca

Under the rude Tartar


invaders of Persia, who The Development of Metaphysics in Persia, first
lA

could have no sympathy published by Luzac & Company (London) in July 1908. The
with independent thesis (a revised version of Iqbals submission for B.A. Degree
ba

thought, there could be at Trinity College, Cambridge), had earned him a doctorate in
no progress of ideas. Arabic from the Munich University in November last year.
Iq

The philosophers of the


later period include,
4,

among others, Mullah


01

Sadra and the Bahai re-


formers.
)2

Far right: T.W. Arnold


(c

(left) in Eastern attire.


The Development of
Metaphysics in Persia
was dedicated to him.

47
48 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

)
The encounter that has long captivated the imagination of some biographers

om
(and misled quite a few) did take place on April 1, 1907 in London. Atiya
Fyzees account of her first meeting with Iqbal offers some traces of harmless

.c
social flirtation that faded away very quickly and gave way to a long lasting
sober friendship.

al
Miss Beck [hostess of the party where this meeting took place] had

qb
impressed on me the fact before he arrived that he had particularly wanted to
see me and being straightforward and outspoken, I asked him the reason

ai
why, Ms. Fyzee writes in her book Iqbal, first published nine years after the

m
poets death. His deep-set eyes did not reveal if he meant to be sarcastic or

lla
complimentary when he said, You have become very famous in India and
Atiya Fyzee (1881-1967) came from a London through your travel diary, and for this reason I was anxious to meet

.a
liberal aristocratic family in Bombay. Her
sister Nazli Begum was married to the
you. I told, I am not prepared to believe that you took the trouble to come

w
Nawab of the nieghboring Janjirah. all the way from Cambridge just to pay me this compliment, but apart from
this jest, what is the real idea behind this object? He was a bit taken by

w
Atiya had an interest in Indian music
and Persian poetry, for which she
surprise at my sudden bluntness, and said, I have come to invite you to

(w
earned much admiration from Shibli
Nomani who was a family friend. Cambridge on behalf of Mr. & Mrs. Syed Ali Bilgrami as their guest, and my
However, Shiblis references to her as a
mission is to bring your acceptances without fail. If you refuse you will bring
an
muse for his romantic Persian poetry
evoked her resentment when brought to the stigma of failure on me, which I have never accepted, and if you accept
her notice through the publication of his the invitation, you will be honoring the hosts.
st

private correspondence with other


Iqbals request was granted, and Ms. Fyzee accompanied him to Cambridge
ki

friends.
Atiya visited Europe in 1907 and 1908 a dinner and a tea party later the dinner was the one where Atiyas
Pa

(around the same time when Shiblis appreciation of the thoughtful and delicate arrangement was met with the
interest developed in her) and met Iqbal
in London, Cambridge and Hiedelberg. statement that has now become well-known about Iqbal, I am two
personalities in one, the outer is practical and business-like and the inner is the
y

They kept in touch through letters,


especially until 1911 and occasionally
dreamer, philosopher, and mystic.
m

even after that. Iqbal visited her at her


The dinner was not, however, a very private one, since some other guests
de

Bombay residence on his way to and


from London for the Round Table had also been invited, whom Iqbal introduced to Ms. Fyzee as German
Conferences in 1931 and 1932-3.
scholars. For all we know, they could have been white men with bad
ca

She married a Parsi painter Fyzee


Rahamin in 1912. She later moved to pronunciations, since Iqbal was always known to pull pranks and in all
lA

Pakistan where she established an likelihood he played at least some practical jokes on Atiya too: her account of
Academy of Islam.
She was an author of several books Iqbals academic activities as well as her autobiographical ramblings are
ba

on Indian music including Indian Music wrought with such inaccuracies that require deliberately wrong statements on
(in 2 volumes) and Sangeet of India, but
today her renown as a writer rests on
his part or a remarkably bad memory on hers.
Iq

her candid recollections of Iqbal from


the days of their youth. The book, titled
4,

Iqbal and published in 1947, included


private letters of the poet addressed to
01

her.

Below right: Atiya Fyzee and Iqbal in


)2

1907. The inset is a remastered copy of


the faded original.
(c
NOSTALGIA

My dear Miss Fayzee, I enclose here-


with one of the poems I promised to
send you, and shall feel obliged if you

)
considered it carefully and let me

om
know of your criticism... Iqbal wrote
to Atiya Fyzee on April 24, 1907 two

.c
days after a picnic in Cambridge where
she was a special guest on his request.

al
It is very likely to have been the occa-

qb
sion about which Shiekh Abdul Qadir
(later Sir) euphemistically wrote in his

ai
preface to Bang-i-Dara (1924). While
mentioning that Iqbals inclination

m
Relics from a towards writing poems in Persian

lla
memorable might have resulted from the wide
picnic in readings he had to carry out as part

.a
Cambdrige, April of his research in Cambridge, he also

w
1909. writes about a party that apparently
started it. He was asked whether he

w
Above: a photograph had written in Persian and had to con-

(w
(Iqbal is seated in the fess that he had written merely a few
centre with Atiya verses in that language so far. It was
an
Fyzee on his right; such a moment and the request in-
Abdul Qadir is spired him in such a manner that per-
st

second from right in haps he kept composing verses in


the the picture). Persian while lying in his bed after
ki

returning from there and recited two


Pa

Right: The letter fresh ghazals when we met, first thing


Iqbal sent to Aatiya in the morning.
Fyzee two days later Iqbal himself later said about his
y

and (below) the Persian poetry that it comes to me


m

enclosed ghazals. in Persian. On another occasion he


de

said that he turned to Persian because


he didnt want his thought to reach
ca

too many people in India.


lA
ba
Iq
4,
01
)2
(c
50 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

Emma Wegenast (August 16, 1879- In all likelihood Atiya might have been the friend anonymously mentioned
October 16, 1964) was the fourth child
of a small business owner from by Sheikh Abdul Qadir in the preface of Bang-i-Dara as asking Iqbal to write
Heilbronn (Germany) and met Iqbal in something in Persian. He did send a few ghazals to Atiya the very next day
Heidelberg where she was probably a after her trip to Cambridge, but she or any other friend from Cambridge

)
language coach for foreign students.

om
She received a passing reference in could not have been the reason why he turned to Persian for later masterpieces
Atiya Faizis Iqbal (1947) but the letters he had written in Persian before, and for all we know he didnt write
of Iqbal to Emma (brought to public
anything in Persian for four years after the poems sent to Atiya on this occasion.

.c
notice by a Pakistani researcher Saeed
Akhtar Durrani in the 1980s) suggest a Of one thing we can be sure. If dissatisfaction with his first marriage had

al
strong emotional involvement corrobo- sent Iqbal looking around for a second wife, or if Atiya was contemplating

qb
rated by the oral traditions current in
the Wegenast family to this day. settling down at that point in life, then they were far from being the perfect
Emma was good looking, elegant and match for each other and they both knew it. Iqbal, despite his brilliant sense

ai
tall (about 5 feet 7 inches). She had of humor, was also capable of giving jitters to Atiya by his mere presence.
black hair, blue eyes and chiseled

m
features. She did not receive university He was much fond of himself as a man primarily and a great scholar
education or taught at any university, after. There was no getting out of it, Atiya wrote in an article published only

lla
since these privileges were not
available to women until the First World
after her death in 1967. My first impression of Iqbal was that he was a

.a
War. Together with her eldest brother complex, a mixture of good and evil, extremely self-contained and fond
Karl, she was considered to be the of his own opinion a bad sign, I said to myself! Elsewhere, she assessed

w
brains of the family and a major
him as a male chauvinist who regarded women as some sort of necessary

w
breadwinner. It seems that she wished
to move to India around 1907 or 1908 evil. To him, on the other hand, the emancipated woman from Bombay

(w
but was dissuaded by him. must have appeared as rather too bold. If Iqbals first marriage had floundered
Emma served as a Red Cross nurse
during the First World War and as a because of the high spirits of his wife and her superior social status then any
an
technical assistant at the University likelihood of marrying this other woman of much higher spirits and properly
Pharmacy from 1920 to 1958. She
never married.
aristocratic background should have irked him just as much as his fondness
st

Her sister Sophie recollected in a for his own opinion was putting her off. In due time they became good
German newspaper in 1966 that Emma friends who understood each other very well.
ki

used to meet Professor Iqbal every day


Pa

in Heidelberg and found joy in uplifting


discourses on Goethe, who was Iqbals
favorite poet.
y

Two gold brooches of Indian make


that formed part of her heirloom could
m

have possibly been presented by Iqbal.


de

Emma Wegenast was a different case. German women are incomparably


fonder of domestic bonding than their English counterparts, Iqbal later
ca

rambled in his evening gatherings, and Emma was indeed a German woman.
lA

Iqbal met her during his brief stay at Heidelberg in the summer of 1907.
She was some kind of a language coach (and not a university teacher as naively
ba

believed by Atiya Fyzee, who visited Heidelberg in that period). She had little
importance to the biographers of Iqbal till the late 1980s when the poets
Iq

letters to her emerged through a Pakistani research tourist who subsequently


gathered information about her family too (Emma herself handed over the
4,

original letters to the Pak-German Forum sometime before her death in the
01

early 1960s, but that set was never heard of again). Emmas replies to Iqbal
may have been lost to us along with some other private papers reportedly
)2

destroyed by him near the end of his life.


From what we can gather now from the surviving one-side of the
(c

correspondence, he did have some sort of emotional attachment to her. An


oral tradition runs in her family about her wanting to leave for India sometime
around 1907 and being stopped by her brother. Ive forgotten my German,
Iqbal wrote to her sometime after his return to India, Excepting a single
word: Emma!
)
om
.c
al
qb
ai
m
lla
.a
w
w
(w
an
st
ki
Pa
y
m
de
ca
lA
ba
Iq
4,
01
)2

Above: Emma Wegenast


(c

(August 16, 1879 - October 16, 1964)


NOSTALGIA
Lahore (India)
11 January 1909 Right:
My Dear Miss Emma, Pension Sherrer (or The
Thank you very much for your kind Sherrer Hostel) in Hiedel-
letter. It is very kind of you to have writ- berg. Iqbal was here in 1907.

)
ten to me although I am so far away Below: First page of a letter

om
from Germany. I did not receive any Iqbal wrote to Emma We-
letter of yours from Hiedelberg. Your genast in German after his

.c
letter was perhaps lost and I am sad to return. (See translation on
learn that mine was also lost on the way. the left).

al
The people of my country gave me

qb
great honors when I returned to India.
I can hardly describe it in words.

ai
Around forty poems were sent to me
from all over the country as a welcome

m
from friends and other people. On my

lla
arrival in Lahore I was given a garland
of gold and it was put around my head.

.a
Thousands of people had gathered on

w
every railway station from Bombay to
Lahore and Sialkot, where I saw many

w
boys and grown ups singing my poems

(w
on the platforms.
I was happy to find my parents in
good health when I came home. My
an
sisters and my mother are much glad
that I am with them now.
st

I am now in Lahore and working as


ki

an advocate. It is not possible for me


Pa

to forget your beautiful country ever


where I learnt so much. And... please
keep writing to me for ever. We might
y

meet each other again in Germany of


m

India. In some time after collecting


de

enough money I will make a home in


Europe. This is my ideal, and I hope to
ca

fulfil it.
I was grieved to hear about the death
lA

of Herr Chaubal. Perhaps you would


remember that I mentioned his health
ba

to him so many times.


Please do not forget the friend of
yours who always keeps you in his heart
Iq

and who can never forget you. I remem-


ber my stay in Hiedelberg like a beauti-
4,

ful dream, a dream I wish to repeat. Is


01

that possible? You would know better.


With hearty good wishes,
)2

Yours,
S.M. Iqbal,
(c

Bar-at-Law,
Lahore (India)

Translated from German (see facsimile on


the right).
IQBAL 53
THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL 1905-13

Some business in Paris, Iqbal received his PhD (left)


from Ludwig Maxmillian
about which we dont University, Munich, in
know anything, prevented November 1908. The
him from making a return University did not have

)
competence to judge Persian

om
trip to Germany on his way metaphysics but an unusual
back to India and despite provision was made, appar-
ently due to Iqbals own merit
two more journeys to

.c
as well as a strong recommen-
Europe in the 1930s, he dation from Thomas Arnold

al
was never able to revisit (whose opinion of Iqbals

qb
thesis conveyed in a letter to
Germany or meet Emma the main examiner played a
after those few blissful days decisive role). The principal

ai
in Heidelberg. She is quite subject was Arabic Philology in
which Iqbal secured 1st Grade

m
likely to have been the muse while the subsidiary subjects
for those movingly were English Philology and

lla
Philosophy in which he
romantic poems from secured 2nd and 3rd grades

.a
Iqbals stay in Europe that respectively (making 2nd Grade
were once wrongly in aggregate) but the degree

w
was awarded Magnum Cum
surmised as dedications to

w
Laude, or With Great Praise.
Atiya Fyzee. However, the The thesis was an improved

(w
influence of German version of Development of
Metaphysics in Persia, which
romantics of a century ago had earlier acquired a degree
an
should not be overlooked as a significant source of inspiration too: Iqbal of B.A. from Cambridge (the Cambridge
University did not start awarding PhDs
made acquaintance with their thought during his stay in Germany. Our soul until 1920). It was submitted to the
st

discovers itself when we come into contact with a great mind, Iqbal was to German university in English but Iqbal
jot down three years later. It is not until I had realized the infinitude of
ki

mastered the German language for the


viva voce (although more by way of
Geothes [sic. Goethes] imagination that I discovered the narrow breadth of
Pa

convenience rather than a formal


my own. requirement).
He submitted his application, and
y

perhaps also the thesis, in July and


then retired to Heidelberg where he
m

stayed at Pension Sherrer (or The


de

Sherrer Hostel), which now carries a


memorial plaque while the nearby road
is named after him.
ca

The general contempt for the poet by a society who loved poetry cannot be Below: Iqbal and a group of students at
lA

Sherrer hostel with the landlady.


better illustrated by the fact that at one point its greatest poet of the age
decided to quit his craft for good and even curb his frequent, irresistible
ba

spontaneous overflow of emotion recollected in tranquility. Fortunately, this


shift took place away from the society whose views would have condoned it
Iq

and the matter was brought to the attention of Thomas Arnold, who in
London had resumed his mantle of being Iqbals mentor. Mustering the
4,

willing suspension of disbelief that was required to accept any likelihood of


01

Iqbals quitting poetry, he went on to convince the reluctant artist that his
competence was a boon to his nation, and his verses could do wonders.
)2

The seriousness given to this incident by its narrator, Sir Abdul Qadir,
requires that we take it as another landmark in Iqbals mental odyssey. He
(c

became more conscious of his role as a thinker and the obligation to use his
verse mainly for telling others of what he saw as the solution to their problems.
For nearly two and a half years after his return from Europe he was still not
prepared to be seen as a poet of any kind although he couldnt help composing
a good poem every other month usually expressing some Islamic idea in
54 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

Right:Activists his unique powerful manner. However, his major


patrolling the streets in focus was his legal practice which remains the
Turkey after compelling
the Caliph to grant most ill-researched area of his life. It does seem,
democratic reforms in however, that even in this unsuitable profession he

)
om
1908. gained some success, thanks to a penchant for
The paper Political
hardwork that only a Victorian could have
possessed (and Iqbal was very Victorian in some

.c
Thought in Islam was
published in The regards) and contrary to the negative impression

al
Sociological Review,
London, in 1908. It spread by his rivals and epitomized in Justice

qb
summarizes the Shadilals disqualifying comment on his candidature
political theories about caliphate after for the bench of the Lahore High Court in the 1920s, We know him as a

ai
establishing two basic principles: (1) the
Muslim Commonwealth is based on poet, but not as a lawyer). Meanwhile, the overreacher in him turned to

m
psychological like-mindedness or the prose.
unity of religious and political ideals

lla
(hence all Muslims are equals); and (2)
there is no distinction between the

.a
Church and the State (hence there is no
priesthood).

w
The early theories about caliphate
developed from the pre-Islamic customs

w
of political succession in Arabia and
The period from 1908 to 1913 is seen as a dark phase in his life by all

(w
true to those customs the Prophet left
no instruction about his succession
while the statements of the second biographers on his own authority. Tracing the roots of agony to his decision
to separate his first wife, his familys initial resistance to the idea or the
an
caliph Umar implied that political
sovereignty resided in the people.
temporary misunderstandings after the marriage to Sirdar Begum, is only a
Three distinct views on the issue of
partial discovery of the truth. Other pieces must be added to the picture.
st

caliphate among the later constitutional


lawyers were: (1) the Sunni view of Humanism could mean the elimination of the divine from the human
ki

elective monarchy (relationship between


life, in which sense Iqbal deplored it. In another way the term could mean a
Pa

the caliph and the people, and the roles


of ministers and other officials is shift of focus to the human interests and in that sense he welcomed the
discussed here); in theory all Muslims birth, or as he called it, the re-birth of humanism in the Muslim World.
possess the right to vote but women
Personality being the dearest possession of man must be looked upon as
y

and slaves never exercised it); (2) the


m

Shia view of divinely appointed the ultim ate good, he wrote in the privatenotebook Stray Reflections, which
hereditary caliphate (the absence of the
he kept for some time in 1910. It must work as a standard to judge the
de

12th imam while his authority was still


binding through the priests was a clever worth of our actions. That is good which has a tendency to give us a sense of
personality, that is bad which has a tendency to suppress and ultimately dissolve
ca

separation of the church and the state);


and (3) the various theories of the
Khawarij republicanism.
personality.
lA

The fundemental principle laid down There was the rub. Every journey begins by taking into account, not only
in the Quran was the principle of the importance of the destination but also its distance from the starting point.
ba

election but it could not be realized due


to the anti-democratic temeperament of Those who set out to discover God by looking inside their own souls sometime
the Persians and the Mongols and the have to first understand how the human being is different from God in order
Iq

imperialistic ambitions of the Arabs


to save themselves from mistaking a shadow of their own mind as the Ultimate
(political expansion... serves as an
Reality. The result is a temporary cynicism. My friends ask me, Do you
4,

unconscious handmaid of despotism,


Iqbal warns his European readers too). believe in the existence of God? Iqbal wrote in the same notebook. I
01

think I am entitled to know the meaning of the terms used in this question
before I answer it. My friends ought to explain to me what they mean by
)2

believe, existence and God, especially the last two, if they want an answer
to their question. I confess I do not understand these terms; and whenever I
(c

cross-examine them I find that they do not understand them either.


In the three prose pieces from this period of his thought he speaks about
Islam, the Prophet, the Divine law, the Muslim community and the need for
a great personality but nowhere does he tell us what role, if any, does the
Almighty play in this order of things. That must not surprise us, because the
IQBAL 55
THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL 1905-13

traditional role of God was transferred to the Community in the worldview The lecture Islam as a Moral and
Political Ideal was delivered at the
Iqbal came to present in these writings. The mistake was corrected three annual session of Anjuman Himayat-i-
years later when he sat down to write Asrar-i-Khudi (which will be discussed Islam in 1909 and published in The
in the next chapter). Observer, Lahore, and The Hindustan

)
Review, Deccan, in April and December

om
In the paper The Muslim Community a Sociological Study, the society that year respectively.
is given many attributes that were reserved for the Divine existence in The eternal proposition regulating the
structure of Islam is that there is fear in
traditional Muslim mysticism. For instance, the society is described here as

.c
nature and the human being must be
the real organism and the individuals almost like those micro-organisms that liberated from fear and thus become

al
reside inside a body but cannot exist on their own. He mentioned some recent conscious of himself or herself as a

qb
source of power; there is no mediator,
biological research that had proven that even the life-spans of the individuals since God is the birthright of every
are determined by the needs of the group-organism. He did not quote the human being.

ai
source of his information, if there was any, but over a year later the thought A strong will in a strong body is the
ethical ideal of Islam, completely

m
resurfaced in the famous lines in The Candle and the Poet where he said: missing in the Indian Muslim; a great
The individual is sustained by the nation and is nothing on its own; the wave personality is needed for ethical revival

lla
of a people. An educational system
is whatever it is in the ocean and nothing outside it. (Fard qayim rabt i millat sai reflecting its national ideals is the next

.a
hai, etc). No Muslim mystic of the past had ascribed such omnipotence to the best option.
society and all of them had ascribed it to God. Democracy is the most important

w
political value in Islam while two
In the same paper he proclaimed that the Society has, or tends to have a

w
fundamental princples regulating its
consciousness, a will and an intellect of its own, and that the individual political structure are that (1) the law of

(w
mind was nothing but a channel through which flows the stream of mentality God is supreme, since the authority of a
human being except as an interpreter of
of the society, and therefore the individual mind is never completely aware law is inimical to the unfoldment of
an
of its own states of consciousness. Again, this was almost the equation that human individuality; and (2) all humans
are equal.
previously existed between the limited human consciousness and the absolute Historically, the democracy of the
st

knowledge of God (of course, Iqbal made one slight difference by saying Muslims lasted only thirty years and
that certain thoughts passing on through individual minds were conceded to
ki

disappeared with their political expan-


sion; the task of liberating Asia from
remain below the threshold of social sensibility).
Pa

despotism was therefore left to the


That same unidentified recent biological research is supposed to have British Empire which is the greatest
revealed that in the successful group-life it is the future that must always Mohammadan Empire in the world not
y

because so many Muslims live in it but


control the present; to the species taken as a whole, its unborn members are also by way of its own spirit.
m

perhaps more real than its existing members whose immediate interests are Unfortunately the Muslims in India
have out-Hindued the Hindu in
de

subordinated and even sacrificed to the future interests of that unborn infinity adhering to castes and sub-castes.
which slowly discloses itself from generation to generation. Perhaps this Religious and social sectarianism must
ca

was in his mind when he said in his famous Prayer (1911): Grant us to see be condemned if the Muslim Comminity
is to fulfill its mission of freeing the
lA

humanity of superstition.

Left: A group photograph from Iqbals


ba

life. Not dated.


Iq
4,
01
)2
(c
56 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

The Muslim Community a Sociologi- the signs of the impending


cal Study was a lecture delivered by
Iqbal in the Stratchy Hall (right) at doom; grant us to think of
Aligarh College in March 1911. tomorrow amid the
confusion of today.

)
The community is an existence in its

om
own right and the only real concern is Society is much more
to ensure a continuous national life. than its existing individuals, he
Hence, the lives of the individual as
wrote. It is in its nature

.c
well as the activities and values of the
community must all be subjected to this infinite. Was it not how

al
futuristic need.
The preliminary points in the study of
mystics had described God in

qb
the Muslim community are: (1) its the light of wahdat al wujud?
general structure transcends regional They had maintained that the individual ego must be renunciated in a union

ai
boundaries and rallies around a purely
subjective agreement on a certain view with the divine and it should not surprise us that Iqbals thought eventually

m
of the world; (2) members of the led him to Rumuz-i-Bekhudi (1917) where it was declared that the individual
Muslim community must also assimilate ego must be renunciated, not in the Absolute Ego, but in the ego of the

lla
the uniform culture of Islam (although
historically it is a mix of the Semitic and community.

.a
the Aryan ideas), in order to produce a The forces of Nature appear to respect neither individuals nor nations,
uniform mental outlook; (3) a self-
he also wrote. Her inexorable laws continue to work as if she has a far-off

w
controlled character dominated by a
serious view of life (foreshadowed by purpose of her own, in no sense related to what may be the immediate interest

w
the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb) is or the ultimate destiny of man. Indeed, this was a bleak picture of the

(w
essential for the life of the Muslim
community in India, and has found an universe. True, it is illuminated by a eulogistic description of the human
expression in the Qadiyani sect (this capabilities (Man is a peculiar creature. Amidst the most discouraging
an
last comment is often quoted in circumstances, his imagination, working under the control of his
controversies raging over Iqbals later
change of position towards the understanding, gives him more perfect vision of himself and impels him to
st

Ahmedis). discover the means which would transform his brilliant dream of an idealized
The work done in (1) education and
self into a living actuality). However, this description of the human being
ki

(2) the uplift of the masses in the last 50


lacks an explicit statement of its Divine origins that was found in the Al-Jili
Pa

years presents a bleak situation.


The proposed Muslim University thesis and was later restored in Asrar-i-Khudi.
should combine diverse energies of
Nadva, the Aligarh and the theological It is not surprising that in this temporary phase his perception of the
y

seminary of Deoband. Muslim culture is more earth-rooted than elsewhere. The Muslim culture
m

Higher education of women is and not only the faith of Islam must be adopted although he confesses that
undesirable as their primary function is
de

motherhood. this culture was substantially influenced by the pre-Islamic heritage of Persia.
The economic issue affects all Yet, to the Royal family of Persia, the loss of Persias political independence
ca

communities alike and therefore


demands broad, impartial, non-
would mean only a territorial loss; to the Muslim culture such an event would
sectarian spirit. be a blow much more serious than the
lA

Tartar invasion of 10 th (sic. 13 th )


Left: The lecture was
Century.
ba

translated into Urdu by


Iqbals friend and journalist Difference of opinion was
Zafar Ali Khan (left).
intolerable in this worldview since non-
Iq

Right: Nawab Mohsinul Mulk at conformity would dilute the organic


unity of the group-organism,
4,

Islamia High School,


Hoshiarpur, in 1908. Iqbal is
something so vital for its survival (and
01

second-last in the right row and


peeping into the camera. individuals could not exist independent
of their communities). Islam is one and
)2

indivisible; it brooks no distinctions in


it, Iqbal had called upon his listeners in
(c

the 1909 session of Anjuman Himayat-


i-Islam and condemned religious and
social sectarianism in the name of God,
humanity, Moses, Jesus Christ and the
IQBAL 57
THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL 1905-13

Last Prophet: Fight not for the interpretation of the truth, when the truth Left: The
Victorian poet
itself is in danger. Robert
Can truth ever be in danger? Two years from now Iqbal was going to Browning
refute his fears by saying that Islam could not perish by the fall of Persia. (1812-89)

)
om
However, the universe presented a more depressing picture from where he In 1909-10,
was standing at the moment and if this had not been the case, his personal Iqbal tempo-
problems would have also appeared more tolerable to him. As a human rarily resumed

.c
teaching at
being I have a right to happiness, he wrote to Atiya Fyzee in 1909 while

al
Government
rambling over his desire to get rid of his first wife. If society, or nature, Colleg, Lahore,

qb
deny that to me I defy both. The only cure is that I should leave this wretched at the behest of the educational
authorities. His farewell lecture in
country forever, or take refuge in liquor which makes suicide easier. These December 1910 was about the poetry of

ai
dead barren leaves of books cannot yield happiness; I have sufficient fire in Robert Browning.The content of the
lecture is not recorded.

m
my soul to burn them up and all social conventions as well. A good God Browning was seen as a prophetic
created all this, youll say. Maybe, but facts of this life, however, tend to a

lla
poet in those days and it was supposed
different conclusion. It is intellectually easier to believe in an eternal omnipotent that he had a message of hope for the
ailing humanity. His influence might

.a
Devil than a good God. explain Iqbals preference for dramatic
In a Persian ghazal written around the same time (but published much monologue.

w
later in Payam-i-Mashriq) he addressed his Creator, A hundred worlds bloomed He also finds a very favorable

w
reference in Payam-i-Mashriq (1923),
from the fields of my imagination, like flowers; You created only one, and where he is shown in the company of

(w
that too with the blood of our longing. Byron, Ghalib and Rumi. I found the
liquor of life losing its quality, so I took
Unlike Kant, Iqbal could not find it sufficient to believe in God because some water of life from Khizr and
an
it was expedient to do so. Like an offended lover he asked His Creator to poured it into the cup, Browning is
answer some questions, and indeed those were some difficult questions he given to claim in that poem (Khizr being
st

a legendary character from Eastern


penned down in that season of his discontents, the winter of 1910-1911. folklore who found the water of life).
ki

Brownings influence on Iqbal must


have been moderated by the Victorian
Pa

poets disregard for the common


asethetics of language. Ruggedness of
expression, a hallmark of Browning, is
y

entirely absent in Iqbal who prefered to


m

chissel his lines to a classical perfec-


tion.
de

Left: Iqbal with some pupils, circa 1910.


He is seated in the middle, leaning on
ca

his walking stick, which was still very


much in fashion.
lA

Below: The Chief Court (later the High


Court), Lahore, where Iqbal practiced as
ba

a barrister from 1908.


Iq
4,
01
)2
(c
58 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

Right: A detail from Turkish


miniature marks the victory
of Sulieman the Magnificent
over the Hungarians. Our
call for prayer could be

)
heard in the valleys of the Despair, anger and hope were catalyzed by the political

om
West, Iqbal wrote in The disappointments in the world of Islam (especially Iran and
National Anthem (Tarana-i-
Milli). No one could stop Turkey) and distilled under such pressure in his otherwise optimist

.c
the flood that we were. mind that they found catharsis through his greatest poem so far
(and the most famous one ever), The Complaint (Shikwah).

al
Two types of imagery
Your world presented a strange sight when we arrived on the

qb
dominate Iqbals poetry. The
first type is related to political power scene, Iqbal ventured to remind his Creator, and went on with
while the second evokes contemplation
a succinct description of pagan religions and how the armies of Islam crushed

ai
and introspection.
The Complaint, The National them. Today, however, the bounties of God were bestowed exclusively upon

m
Anthem, and other such poems written the non-believers while the Muslims were destitute and humbled. Shifting

lla
soon after 1910 are more abundant in
the imagery of power while the imagery
your affections between us and our rivals every now and then? Iqbal treaded
of contemplation, signified by a vast close to disrespect, I dare not say it, but indeed you, too, are such an inconstant

.a
range of Sufi vocabulary, such as jazb, lover!
zauq, and qalanderi, appear throughout

w
his poetry. What prevents the poem from becoming disrespectful is the deep
emotional bonding between the human soul and its Creator, and a remarkable

w
absence of personal arrogance. Strictly speaking, The Complaint is a prayer:

(w
Allow the song of this solitary nightingale to pierce the hearts of the listeners,
Iqbal eventually comes to the point after his long detour of slants and sarcasm.
an
Let this caravan bell wake up the hearts from deep slumber to be refreshed
with a new covenant, thirsting after the same old wine; Oh, what if my glass
st

is of Persian origin, the wine I have to offer is none but Arabic; Oh, what if
ki

the song I am singing is Indian, the tune I render to it is none but Arabic.
Pa

The poetic landscape of The Complaint is deceptive if studied in isolation


from the prose works. The onward march of sword-swashing Arab warriors
might serve as an effective poetic imagery but it stands in variance with Iqbals
y

own contention that territorial expansion serves as handmaid to tyranny and


m

that the Arab imperialism was a disservice to Islam something he was


de

asserting forcefully in his lectures delivered around the same time and
emphasized it again in his famous Presidential Address in 1930 where one of
ca

the very reasons why he proposed a modern Muslim state in India was that
lA

the Muslim politics might stand a chance of developing on lines different


from the ones adopted in the past. However, a complete argument could not
ba

have appeared in The Complaint without disrupting the unity of thought so


essential to a poem. Yet, the answer he wrote to his own poem within a year
Iq

by the title of The Candle and the Poet suggests that the causes of political
decline among the Muslims were not that they had become unwilling to fight
4,

Below: Sufis in ecstasy. Detail from a but rather that they had stopped looking within. Another sequel by the title
01

17th Century miniature. The Answer (Jawab-i-Shikwah), which came a little later, balanced the imagery
of The Complaint with the imagery of rationalism and
)2

contemplation: the Muslim World is in a bad shape because


there are no more Ghazalis in it.
(c

All said and done, The Complaint takes a steep departure


from conventional devotion by opening a discourse on God
from the human point of view; the duality between our attitude
to the world and our attitude to God withers away as we
approach the Divine altar without taking off the cloak of human
sentiments and basic instincts.
STRAY REFLECTIONS

Stray Reflections
In 1910 Iqbal started noting his private
The charitable man really helps the
thoughts in a notebook called Stray Reflec-
non-charitable, not the indigent.
tions (edited and published by Javid Iqbal in
For what is given to the poor is
1962).

)
virtually given away to those who

om
do not give anything to the poor.
The non-charitable, therefore, are
kept in their state of non-benevo-

.c
lence, and the benevolent man

al
pays for them. This is the econom-

qb
ics of charity.

ai
m
My friends often ask me, Do you
believe in the existence of God?

lla
I think I am entitled to know the
meaning of the terms used in this

.a
question before I answer it. My

w
friends ought to explain to me
what they mean by believe, ex- your face from those who have wit-

w
istence and God, especially by nessed your failure.

(w
the last two, if they want an an-
swer to their question. I confess I
an
do not understand these terms; Belief is a great power. When I see
and whenever I cross-examine that a proposition of mine is be-
st

them I find that they do not un- lieved by another mind, my own
He discontinued the practice after a few derstand them either. conviction of its truth is thereby
ki

months but the notes might have served him immensely increased.
Pa

for a long time. Some of the entries were


revised and printed in 1917 while many ideas Heart: It is absolutely certain that
jotted down here found reflection in his prose
y

God does exist. Head: But, my Christianity describes God as love;


and poetry later.
m

dear boy! Existence is one of my Islam as power. How shall we de-


The following is a complete transcript of categories, and you have no right cide between the two conceptions?
de

the notebook. Typos have been corrected (most to use it. Heart: So much the I think the history of mankind and
notably Geothe, which was Iqbals persis- better, my Aristotle! of the universe as a whole must
ca

tent misspelling of Goethe).


tell us as to which of the two con-
ceptions is truer. I find that God
lA

The satisfaction of vanity has an reveals Himself in history more as


Art is a sacred lie. economic value with us. Call me power than love. I do not deny the
ba

Sub-Assistant Surgeon instead of love of God; I mean that, on the


Hospital Assistant and I am quite basis of our historical experience,
Iq

Our Soul discovers itself when we contented even if you do not in- God is better described as power.
come into contact with a great crease my salary.
4,

mind. It is not until I had realised


01

the infinitude of Goethes imagi- Hegels system of philosophy is an


nation that I discovered the nar- Excuse me a bit of cruel psychol- epic poem in prose.
)2

row breadth of my own. ogy. You fail in your enterprise,


and now you wish to leave your home
(c

and try your luck in other climes. It is Let fools fight for the forms of gov-
Human Intellect is natures attempt not because your ambition has re- ernment, says Alexander Pope. I can-
at self-criticism. ceived a fresh spur from your failure; not agree with this political philoso-
but chiefly because you wish to hide phy. To my mind, government, what-
STRAY REFLECTIONS

15th May, 1910:


Yesterday morn-
ing at about 4, I
saw that glorious

)
visitor of our

om
hemisphere
known as Halleys
comet. Once in

.c
seventy-five years this superb swimmer of infinite space appears on our

al
skies. It is only with the eyes of my grandsons that I shall see it again. The

qb
state of my mind was quite unique. I felt as if some thing indescribably vast
had been closed up within the narrow limits of my clay: Yet the thought

ai
that I could not see this wanderer again brought home to me the painful
fact of my littleness. For the moment all ambition was killed in me.

m
lla
ever its form, is one of the determin- tion. Man is essentially an energy, a

.a
ing forces of a peoples character. Loss force, or rather a combination of forc-
of political power is equally ruinous es which admit of various arrange-

w
to nations character. Ever since their ments. One definite arrangement of as the ultimate good. It must work as

w
political fall the Musalmans of India these forces is personality whether a standard to test the worth of our

(w
have undergone a rapid ethical deteri- it is a purely chance arrangement does actions. That is good which has a ten-
oration. Of all the Muslim communi- not concern me here. I accept it as a dency to give us the sense of person-
ties of the world they are probably fact among other facts of nature, and ality, that is bad which has a tendency
an
the meanest in point of character. I try to find out whether this arrange- to suppress and ultimately dissolve
do not mean to deplore our former ment of forces so dear to us can personality. By adopting a mode of life
st

greatness in this country, for, I con- continue as it is. Is it then possible calculated to strengthen personality we
ki

fess, I am almost a fatalist in regard to that these forces should continue to are really fighting against death a
Pa

the various forces that ultimately de- work in the same direction as they are shock which may dissolve the arrange-
cide the destinies of nations. As a po- working in a living, healthy personal- ment of forces we call personality. Per-
litical force we are perhaps no longer ity? I think it is. Let human personal- sonal immortality then lies in our own
y

required; but we are, I believe, still in- ity be represented by a circle which hands. It requires an effort to secure
m

dispensable to the world as the only is only another way of saying that the immortality of the person. The
de

testimony to the absolute Unity of these forces result in describing a def- idea I have dropped here has far-reach-
God. Our value among nations, then, inite circle which may be obliterated ing consequences. I wish I could have
is purely evidential. by an upsettal of the arrangement of time to discuss the comparative value
ca

forces constituting it. How then can of Islam, Buddhism and Christianity
lA

we manage to secure the continuance from the standpoint of this idea; but
It is idle to seek logical truth in of this circle? Evidently by energising unfortunately I am too busy to work
in a way calculated to assist the con- out the details.
ba

poetry. The ideal of imagination


is beauty, not truth. Do not then stitutive forces in their regular routine
of work. You must give up all those
Iq

try to show a poets greatness by


quoting passages from his works modes of activity which have a ten- History is a sort of applied ethics. If
dency to dissolve personality, e.g. hu-
4,

which, in your opinion, embody sci- ethics is to be an experimental science


entific truth. mility, contentment, slavish obedi- like other sciences, it must be based
01

ence, modes of human action which on the revelations of human experi-


have been erroneously dignified by the ence. A public declaration of this view
)2

name of virtue. On the other hand, will surely shock the susceptibilities
Personal immortality is not a state; it high ambition, generosity, charity and even of those who claim to be ortho-
(c

is a process. I think the distinction a just pride in our traditions and pow-
of spirit and body has done a lot of dox in morality but whose public con-
er fortify the sense of personality. duct is determined by the teachings of
harm. Several religious systems have Personality being the dearest pos-
been based on this erroneous distinc- history.
session of man must be looked upon

60
STRAY REFLECTIONS

it has a geographical basis his coun-


try. His fanaticism then is justly
I confess I am a bit tired of meta- roused when you criticise his coun-
physics. But whenever I happen to try. Our position, however, is funda-
argue with people I find that their ar- mentally different. With us national-

)
guments are always based on certain ity is a pure idea; it has no material

om
propositions which they assume with- basis. Our only rallying point is a sort
out criticism. I am, therefore, driven of mental agreement in a certain view
to examine the value of these propo-

.c
of the world. If then our fanaticism
sitions. The practical in all its shapes is roused when our religion is criti-

al
drives me back to the speculative. It cised, I think we are as much justified

qb
seems to me to be impossible to get in our fanaticism as an Englishman
rid of metaphysics altogether. is when his civilisation is denounced.

ai
The feeling in both cases is the same
though associated with different ob-

m
All nations accuse us of fanaticism. I jects. Fanaticism is patriotism for re-

lla
admit the charge I go further and ligion; patriotism, fanaticism for
say that we are justified in our fanati- country.

.a
cism. Translated in the language of

w
biology fanaticism is nothing but the
principle of individualisation work- sound religious education, for she is

w
Islam appeared as a protest against
ing in the case of group. In this sense idolatry. And what is patriotism but virtually the maker of the community,

(w
all forms of life are more or less fa- a subtle form of idolatry; a deifica- I do not believe in an absolute system
natical and ought to be so if they care tion of a material object. The patri- of education. Education, like other
things, is determined by the needs of a
an
for their collective life. And as a mat- otic songs of various nations will
ter of fact all nations are fanatical. bear me out in my calling patriotism community. For our purposes religious
education is quite sufficient for the
st

Criticise an English-mans religion, he a deification of a material object. Is-


is immovable; but criticise his civili- lam could not tolerate idolatry in all Muslim girl. All subjects which have a
ki

sation, his country or the behaviour its forms. What was to be demolished tendency to de-womanise and to de-
Pa

of his nation in any sphere of activi- by Islam could not be made the very Muslimise her must be carefully exclud-
ty and you will bring out his innate principle of its structure as a politi- ed from her education. But our educa-
fanaticism. The reason is that his na- cal community. The fact that the tionists are still groping in the dark;
y

tionality does not depend on religion; Prophet prospered and died in a place they have not yet been able to prescribe
m

not his birthplace is perhaps a mys- a course of study for our girls. They
de

tic hint to the same effect. are, perhaps, too much dazzled by the
glamour of western ideals to realise the
difference between Islamism which
ca

constructs nationality out of a purely


Justice is an inestimable treasure; but
lA

abstract idea, i.e. religion, and west-


we must guard it against the thief of ernism the very life-blood of whose
mercy. concept of nationality is a concrete
ba

thing, i.e. country.


Iq

From what I have said above on Is-


4,

lam and patriotism it follows that our In the economy of nature each nation
solidarity as a community rests on our has a function allotted to it. The func-
01

hold on the religious principle, the tion of the German nation is the or-
moment this hold as loosened we are ganisation of human knowledge. But
)2

nowhere. Probably the fate of the they have recently started on a com-
Jews will befall us. And what can we mercial enterprise which may give them
(c

do in order to tighten the hold? Who an empire, but they will have to suffer
is the principal depositary of religion the displacement of a higher ideal by
in a community? It is the woman, the the all-absorbing spirit of trade.
Musalman woman ought to receive

61 61
STRAY REFLECTIONS

one common centre! The modern ing the various streams of his energy
Hindu is quite a phenomenon. To me from their wonted channels and bring-
It is extremely interesting to watch the his behaviour is more of a psycho- ing them to pour forth their whole
birth and growth of a new ideal logical than a political study. It seems force into this new channel of activi-
among a people. Of the enthusiasm that the ideal of political freedom ty. When he has passed through this
it inspires and the force with which it

)
which is an absolutely new experience experience he will realise his loss. He

om
attracts all the energies of a people to to him has seized his entire soul, turn- will be transformed into an absolutely
new people new in the sense that
he will no longer find himself domi-

.c
The political genius of Aurangzeb was extremely comprehensive. His one aim
of life was, as it were, to subsume the various communities of this country nated by the ethical ideals of his an-

al
under the notion of one universal empire. But in securing this imperial unity cestors whose sublime fancies have

qb
he erroneously listened to the dictates of his indomitable courage which had been a source of perpetual consola-
no sufficient background of political experience behind it. Ignoring the factor tion to many a distressed mind. Na-

ai
of time in the political evolution of his contemplated empire he started an tions are mothers of ideals; but ideals,
endless struggle in the hope that he would be able to unify the discordant in course of time, become pregnant

m
political units of India in his own lifetime. He failed to Islamise (not in the and give birth to new nations.

lla
religious sense) India just as Alexander had failed to Hellenise Asia. The En-
glishman, however, came fully equipped with the political experiences of the

.a
nations of antiquity and his patience and tortoise-like perseverance succeeded Philosophy is the logic of right, his-

w
where the hasty genius of Aurangzeb had failed. Conquest does not necessarily tory the logic of might. The cannons
mean unity. Moreover, the history of the preceding Muslim dynasties had taught of this later logic appear to be more

w
Aurangzeb that the strength of Islam in India did not depend, as his great sound than those of her sister logic.

(w
ancestor Akbar had thought, so much on the goodwill of the people of this
land as on the strength of the ruling race. With all his keen political perception,
an
however, he could not undo the doings of his forefathers. Sevajee was not a
The verdict of history is that buff-
product of Aurangzebs reign; the Maharatta owed his existence to social and
er states have never been able to
st

political forces called into being by the policy of Akbar. Aurangzebs political
form themselves into great politi-
perception, though true, was too late. Yet considering the significance of this
ki

cal units. So was the case with Syria a


perception he must be looked upon as the founder of Musalman nationality in
buffer state between the Empire of
Pa

India. I am sure posterity will one day recognise the truth of what I say. Among
Rome and that of the Persians. It
the English administrators of India, it was Lord Curzon who first perceived the
seems difficult to forecast the future
truth about the power of England in India. Hindu nationalism is wrongly
y

of Afghanistan.
attributed to his policy. Time will, I believe, show that it owes its existence to the
m

policy o Lord Ripon. It is, therefore, clear that in their political purpose and
de

perception both the Mughals and the English agree. I see no reason why the
English agree. I see no reason why the English historian should con- Matthew Arnold defines poetry as crit-
ca

demn Aurangzeb whose imperial ideal his countrymen have followed icism of life. That life is criticism of
and whose political perception they have corroborated. Aurangzebs poetry is equally true.
lA

political method was certainly very rough; but the ethical worth of his
method ought to be judged from the standpoint of the age
ba

in which he lived and worked. In the sphere of human thought Mu-


hammad, Buddha, and Kant were prob-
Iq

ably the greatest revolutionaries. In the


sphere of action Napoleon stands un-
4,

rivalled. I do not include Christ among


the worlds revolutionaries, since the
01

movement initiated by him was soon


absorbed by pre-Christian paganism.
)2

European Christianity seems to me to


be nothing more than a feeble transla-
(c

tion of ancient paganism in the lan-


guage of Semitic theology.

Above: Emperor Aurangzeb detail of painting by A.R.Chughtai

62
STRAY REFLECTIONS

losophy of Nietzsche at least in the


domain of ethics is an attempt ra-
The Jewish race has produced only tionally to justify the conduct of Eu-
two great men Christ and Spinoza. rope, yet this great prophet of aris-
The former was God incarnated in the tocracy is universally condemned in
Son, the latter in the universe. Spino-

)
Europe. Only a few have realised the

om
za was only a completion of the great- meaning of his madness.
est teacher of his race.

.c
If you ask me what is the most im-

al
I have the greatest respect for Aristo- portant event in the history of Is-

qb
tle, not only because I (living in the lam, I shall say without any hesita-
twentieth century) know him much tion: The Conquest of Persia. The

ai
better than the older generations of battle of Nehawand gave the Arabs
my community, but also because of

m
not only a beautiful country, but also
his vast influence on the thought of an ancient civilization; or, more prop-

lla
my people. The tinge, however, of erly, but also an ancient civilization;
ingratitude revealed in his criticism of or, more properly, a people who

.a
Platos doctrine of ideas withholds me could make a new civilisation with

w
from giving him my fullest admiration. the Semitic and Aryan material. Our
I do not deny the truth contained in Muslim civilisation is a product of

w
his criticism of his masters views; the cross-fertilisation of the Semitic

(w
The popularity of a poem does not
but I detest the spirit in which he and the Aryan ideas. It is a child who depend on the amount of logical truth
chooses to approach them. inherits the softness and refinement revealed in it. Goldsmiths Deserted
an
of his Aryan mother, and the ster- Village is extremely popular; yet the
ling character of his Semitic father. poem is full of scientific inaccuracies
st

There are strange inconsistencies in But for the conquest of Persia, the and bad economic reasoning.
civilisation of Islam would have been
ki

the nature of man. If I marry a pros-


titute I indicate thereby that I do not one-sided. The conquest of Persia
Pa

object to such nasty alliances. But if gave us what the conquest of Greece
gave to the Romans. I confess I owe a great deal to Hegel,
you make my conduct the subject of a
Goethe, Mirza Ghalib, Mirza Abdul
y

story I take it ill I condemn in theo-


Qadir Bedil and Wordsworth. The first
m

ry what I permit in practice. The phi-


two led me into the inside of things;
As far as I can see Mirza Ghalib the
de

the third and fourth taught me how to


Persian poet is probably the only remain oriental in spirit and expres-
permanent contribution that we In-
ca

sion after having assimilated foreign


dian Muslims have made to the gen- ideals of poetry, and the last saved me
eral Muslim literature. Indeed he is
lA

from atheism in my student days.


one of those poets whose imagina-
tion and intellect place them above
ba

the narrow limitations of creed and


nationality. His recognition is yet to To explain the deepest truths of life in
Iq

come. the form of homely parables requires


extraordinary genius. Shakespeare,
4,

Maulana Rum (Jalaluddin) and Jesus


Christ are probably the only illustra-
01

A disinterested foreign rule is an im- tions of this rare type of genius.


possibility. Yet the tutelage of na-
)2

tions is a necessity. The fee paid for


this tuition is sometimes a nations
(c

daily bread. The Mexicans had to un- In the development of universal civil-
dergo a severe training under the isation the Jewish factor cannot be
Spaniards before they could under- regarded as a negligible quantity. The
take a manage their own affairs. Jews were probably the first framers

63 63
STRAY REFLECTIONS

of the principles of business morality


summed up in the idea of righteous-
ness. Ideas act and react on each other. The
growing spirit of individualism in pol-
itics is not without its influence on

)
contemporary scientific thought.

om
The true sphere of Mazzini was liter- Modern thought regards the universe
ature, not politics. The gain of Italy is a democracy of living atoms.
not much compared to the loss which

.c
the world has suffered by his devotion

al
to politics.
The progress of thought cannot be

qb
divorced from other phases of human
activity. Our histories of philosophy

ai
Modern science ought not to mock at tell us what various peoples have
metaphysics, for it was a metaphysi-

m
thought, but they give us no infor-
cian Liebnitz who first gave sci- mation as to the various causes so-

lla
ence her working idea of matter. The cial and political which have deter-
substance, said he, is essentially mined the character of human

.a
force resistance. Borrowing this thought. To write a complete history
notion from metaphysics, science de-

w
of philosophy would certainly be a
votes herself to the study of the be- tremendous task. A mere theologian

w
havior of this force. And it is clear that cannot fully reveal to his readers the

(w
she could not have discovered it for rich content of Luthers Reform. We
herself. are apt to isolate great ideas from the
an
general stream of mans intellectual ac-
tivity.
st

The spendthrift is natures own child. She does not like the accumulation of
ki

large masses of wealth in the hands of a few individuals. When the maker of
a family succeeds in amassing a fortune, is often happens that in the third or The institution of polygamy was nev-
Pa

even in the second generation a spendthrift appears and scatters the whole er meant to be a universal institution.
wealth. But for this agent of nature the circulation of wealth would be clogged. It was permitted to exist in order to
y

What is true of individuals is also true of nations. When a nation, by industry meet certain difficulties which are not
m

or otherwise, amasses and hoards up wealth thus clogging the wheel of the peculiar to Muslim society alone. The
worlds industry, the working of which depends on the continual circulation worst of permitted things, according
de

of money robber nations appear on the scene and set the imprisoned wealth to Islam, is divorce. It was partly to
at liberty. Warren Hastings, Clive and Mahmud are the representative types avoid divorce becoming a common
ca

of such nations which are unconscious agents of nature in the advancement social phenomenon that polygamy
of worlds industry. The robbery of Warren Hastings finds its true explana- was tolerated. Of the two social evils
lA

tion in the history of the European currencies in the seventeenth and eigh- divorce and polygamy (evils if uni-
teenth centuries. versalised), the later is certainly the
ba

lesser. But the avoidance of di-


Right: vorce is perhaps not the only
Iq

Warren justification for this institution;


Hastings it is partly a concession to the
4,

with wife nature of the male who, accord-


and
01

ing to this institution, is allowed


Indian to indulge in his inclination for
maid;
)2

variety without escaping scot-


detail free from the responsibility aris-
from 18th ing out of this indulgence. In
(c

Century England the individual, does in


British some cases, indulge in such in-
painting. clinations, but the law leaves
him absolutely free from the respon-

64
STRAY REFLECTIONS

sibilities which may arise from his sex- votes. To me it is nothing more than
ual freedom. He is not responsible for a riot of the unemployed.
the education of the children he pro-
duces. Nor can such children inherit
their father. The consequences, in
It is Goethes Faust not the books

)
some cases, are awful. France has been

om
supposed to have been written by the
compelled to recognise prostitution
Galilean Fishermen which reveals
as a social institution which it is the
the spiritual ideals of the German na-

.c
ugly duty of the State to keep healthy.
tion. And the Germans are fully con-
But perhaps the greatest criticism on

al
scious of it.
monogamy is the existence of the su-

qb
perfluous women in several Europe-
an countries where various forces of

ai
a social and political nature are tend- Love is more than elixir. The latter is
ing to enhance the number of wom- supposed to turn baser metals into

m
en who cannot secure husbands. They gold; the former turns all the baser

lla
cannot become mothers, and conse- passions into itself. Christ and Bud-
quently they are driven to seek inter- dha were absolutely correct in their

.a
ests, other than the bringing up of perception of the nature of love; but
children. They are compelled to con- in their passion for ethical idealism

w
ceive ideas instead of children. Re- they ignored the facts of life. It is too

w
cently they have conceived the inspir- much to expect to man to love his nary legend into a systematic expres-

(w
ing idea of votes for women. This enemies. Some extraordinary individ- sion of mans ultimate ideal is noth-
is really an attempt on the part of the uals may have realised this maxim in ing short of Divine workmanship. It
superfluous woman, or, if you like an their life; but as a principle of nation- is as good as the creation of a beauti-
an
attempt on her behalf, to create in- al morality the maxim clearly falls ful universe out of the chaos of form-
terests for her in the sphere of pol- down. The results of the Russo-Japa- less matter.
st

itics. If a society cannot allow their nese war would have been different
ki

women to produce and bring up chil- if the Japanese had acted on the prin-
Pa

dren they must give them something ciples of morality associated with
The Puritan theology of Milton can-
else to be occupied with. The Suffrag- their religion.
not appeal to the imagination of our
ette movement in Europe is at bot- age. Very few people read him. Vol-
y

tom a cry for husbands rather than taire is quite true in saying that Mil-
m

Individuals and nations die; but their tons popularity will go on increasing
de

children. i.e. ideas, never die. because nobody reads him. There is,
however, one thing in Milton. No
ca

poet has been more serious about his


An English gentleman once told me task than he. His style a gigantic ar-
lA

that he hated the Jews, because they chitecture consecrated to false deities
believed themselves to be the Chosen will always stand untouched by the
ba

People of God a belief which im- palsied hand of time.


plies and perhaps justifies contempt
Iq

of other nations. He did not remem-


ber that the phrase White Mans Bur- The soul of Oscar Wilde is more Per-
4,

den concealed the same Jewish belief sian than English.


01

in a different garb.
)2

The memory of man is generally bad


Goethe picked up an ordinary legend except for the offences he receives
(c

and filled it with the whole experi- from his fellow men.
ence of the nineteenth century nay,
the entire experience of the human
race, this transformation of an ordi-

65 65
STRAY REFLECTIONS

ter is the invisible force which deter-


mines the destinies of nations, and an
intense character is not possible in a In so far as the evolution of religious
majority. It is a force; the more it is ideas is concerned there are principal-
distributed, the weaker it becomes. ly three stages in the development of
a community:

)
om
1) The Attitude of scepticism to-
wards traditional religion are volt
There are some people who are scepti- against dogma.

.c
cal and yet of a religious turn of mind. 2) But the need of religion as a so-

al
The French Orientalist Renan reveals cial force of great value is at last
the essential religious character of his

qb
felt and then begins the second
mind in spite of his scepticism. We stage an attempt to reconcile re-
must be careful in forming our opin-

ai
ligion with reason.
ion about the character of men from 3) This attempt leads necessarily to

m
their habits of thought. difference of opinion which may

lla
have awful consequences for the
very existence of a community. Dif-

.a
There is my uncles son walking along ference of opinion, if not honest
the edge of a precipice. Shall I go and, (and unfortunately it is generally

w
from behind, push him down the rocky not honest), must lead to utter dis-

w
valley to die without a dawn? Consid- integration.

(w
There are no amusements in Muslim ering his treatment I am perfectly jus- The Mussalmans of India are now
countries no theatres, no music tified in doing so; but it is mean and in the third stage; or, perhaps partly
halls, no concerts, and better so. The unmanly to do such a thing. in the second, partly in the third. The
an
desire for amusement once satisfied So says the Arab poet in the Hamasa. period in the life of our community
soon becomes insatiable. The expe- This passage may be taken as a typical appears to me to be extremely critical;
st

rience of European countries clearly specimen of Arab poetry. No poetry but I am glad that there are forces of a
ki

proves this deplorable fact. The ab- is so direct, so straightforward and so different nature at work which have a
sence of amusement in Muslim manly in spirit. The Arab is intensely tendency to preserve the solidarity of
Pa

countries indicates neither poverty attached to reality; brilliancy of colour the community though their influ-
nor austerity nor bluntness of the does not attract him. The poet ence, I fear, will be only temporary.
y

sense for enjoyment; it reveals that Mutanabbi, however, may be regarded


m

the people of these countries find as an exception; but he is an Arab poet


ample amusement and enjoyment in by language only; in spirit he is thor-
de

the quiet circles of their homes. The oughly Persian.


European critic ought not to be so
ca

hasty in his denunciation of the


Muslim home. I admit that indiffer-
lA

Wonder, says Plato, is the mother of


ence to outdoor amusement is not a all science. Bedil (Mirza Abdul Qadir)
necessary consequence of domestic
ba

looks at the emotion of wonder from


happiness; nor does love of amuse- a different standpoint. Says he:
ment necessarily mean domestic un-
Iq

happiness.
4,

To Plato wonder is valuable because


01

The fate of the world has been prin- it leads to our questioning of nature;
cipally decided by minorities. The his- to Bedil it has a value of its own, irre-
)2

tory of Europe bears ample testimo- spective of its intellectual conse-


ny to the truth of this proposition. quences. It is impossible to express the
(c

It seems to me that there is a psy- idea more beautifully than Bedil.


chological reason why minorities
should have been a powerful factor
in the history of mankind. Charac-

66
STRAY REFLECTIONS

History is only an interpretation of What is the law of things? Continual


human motives; and, since we are lia- struggle. What must, then, be the
ble to misinterpret the motives of our end of education? Evidently, prepa-
contemporaries and even of our inti- ration for the struggle. A people

)
om
mate friends and associates in daily life, working for intellectual superiority
it must be far more difficult rightly to reveal thereby their feebleness.
interpret the motives of those lived

.c
centuries before us. The record of his-

al
tory, therefore, should be accepted Power is more divine than truth. God

qb
with great caution. is power. Be ye, then, like your father
who is in heaven.

ai
The working power of an idea de-

m
pends on the force of the personality The powerful man creates environ-

lla
in which it embodies itself. Muham- ment; the feeble have to adjust them-
mad, Buddha and Jesus Christ are the

.a
selves to it.
great embodiments of the ideas of
have a tendency to preserve the health

w
equality yet Islam is the only force in
the world which is still working in of the organism e.g. the birth of a

w
the direction of equality. Power toucheth falsehood & lo! it is great personality which may revitalise

(w
transformed into truth. the dying organism by the revelation
of a new ideal.
an
God created things; man created the
worth of things. The immortality of Civilization is a thought of the pow-
st

a people depends upon their inces- erful man. Self-Control in individuals builds fam-
ilies; in communities, it builds empires.
ki

sant creation of worths, said Ni-


etzsche. Things certainly bear the
Pa

stamp of Divine manufacture; but Give up waiting for the Mehdi the
their meaning is through and through personification of power. Go and Both Islam and Christianity had to deal
y

human. create him. with the same adversary, i.e. idolatry.


m

The difference, however, is this that


Christianity made a compromise with
de

The idea of nationality is certainly a her adversary; Islam destroyed it alto-


gether.
ca

healthy factor in the growth of com-


munities. But it is apt to be exagger-
lA

ated, and when exaggerated it has a


tendency to kill the broad human ele- The more you reflect on the history
ba

ments in art and literature. of the Muslim community, the more


wonderful does it appear. From the day
Iq

of its foundation up to the beginning


No one can fully understand the sig- of the sixteenth century about a
4,

nificance of Kants categorical imper- thousand years, this energetic race (I


say race since Islam has functioned as
01

ative who does not study the politi-


cal history of the German people. a race-making force) was continually
The rigour of Kants conception of busy in the all-absorbing occupation
)2

duty finds its full explanation there. of political expansion. Yet in this
storm of continuous activity this
(c

wonderful people found sufficient


time to unearth and preserve the trea-
A diseased social organism sometimes sures of ancient sciences, to make
sets up within itself forces which material additions to them, to build a

67 67
STRAY REFLECTIONS

moral value of other factors. Yet such


a religious system was a necessity to
Matthew Arnold is a very precise poet. the European mind in order to sup-
I like, however, an element of obscu- plement the beautiful but one-sided
rity and vagueness in poetry; since the Hellenic ideal. The Greek dream of
vague and the obscure appear pro-

)
life was certainly the best, as Goethe

om
found to the emotions. says: but it was wanting in the co-
lour-element of suffering which was

.c
supplied by Christianity.
History is a sort of huge gramophone

al
in which the voices of nations are pre-

qb
served. If you have got a big library and know
all the books therein, it only shows

ai
that you are a rich man, not necessar-

m
At least in one respect sin is better than ily that you are a thinker. Your big li-
piety. There is an imaginative element brary only means that your purse is

lla
in the former which is lacking in the heavy enough to hire many people to
think for you.

.a
literature of a unique character, and latter.
above all to develop a complete sys-

w
tem of law the most valuable lega-

w
cy that Muslim lawyers have left us. Sin has an educative value of its own. The question is not whether miracles

(w
Virtuous people are very often stupid. did or did not happen. This is only a
question of evidence which maybe in-
terpreted in various ways. The real
an
Given character and healthy imagi- question is whether belief in miracles
nation, it is possible to reconstruct Life, like the arts of poetry and paint- is useful to a community. I say it is;
st

this world of sin and misery into a ing, is wholly expression. Contempla- since such a belief intensifies the sense
veritable paradise. tion without action is death.
ki

of the supernatural which holds to-


gether primitive societies as well as
Pa

those societies (e.g. Islam) whose na-


Suffering is a gift from the gods in It is determination, not brains, that tionality is ideal and not territorial.
y

order to make men see the whole of succeeds in life. Looked at from the standpoint of so-
m

life. cial evolution, then, belief in mira-


cles appears to be almost a necessity.
de

If you wish to become a public leader


ca

A mathematician cannot but a poet you ought to know how to flirt with
can enclose infinity in a line. the Dame Public. Entertain her with Democracy has a tendency to foster
lA

platitudes and, if necessary, with lies. the spirit of legality. This is not in
Recognise your limitations, estimate itself bad; but unfortunately it tends
ba

The world-spirit conceals the vari- your capacities, and your success in life to displace the purely moral stand-
ous phases of her inner life in sym- is assured. point, and to make the illegal and the
Iq

bols. The universe is nothing but a wrong identical in meaning.


great symbol. But she never takes the
4,

trouble to interpret these symbols There is something of the plant in the


01

for us. It is the duty of the poet to lazy mind; it cannot dance. The imperial ambitions of the vari-
interpret these symbols for us. It is ous nations of Europe indicate that
the duty of the poet to interpret the westerners are tired of democracy.
)2

them and to reveal their meaning to No religious system can ignore the The reaction against democracy in En-
humanity. It would, therefore, appear gland and France is a very significant
(c

moral value of suffering. The error of


that the poet and the world-spirit are the builders of Christianity was that phenomenon. But in order to grasp
opposed to each other; since the they based their religion on the fact the meaning of this phenomenon the
former reveals what the latter con- of suffering alone, and ignored the student of political sciences should
ceals. not content himself merely with the

68
STRAY REFLECTIONS

investigation and discovery of the


purely historical causes which have God! I thank Thee
brought it about; he must go deeper for my birth in this
and search psychological causes of world of rosy
this reaction. dawns, flame-clad

)
sunsets and thick

om
forests, wherein the
gloom of natures
The ancients produced personalities;

.c
bygone nights rests
we produce moral readers.
in eternal sleep!

al
qb
Our young prophets of social reform

ai
think that a few doses of education The beauties of na-
on western lines will revitalise the ture can be realised only through the

m
dead Musalman woman and make her eyes of a lover. Hence the importance
Philosophy is a set of abstractions

lla
tear her ancient shrouds. This is per- of a true marriage.
haps true. But I fear, finding herself shivering in the cold night of human

.a
naked, she will have once more to hide reason. The poet comes and warms
her body from the eyes of these young them up into objectivity.

w
prophets. Both God and the Devil give man op-

w
portunities only, leaving him to make
use of them in the way he thinks fit.

(w
Nature was not quite decided what to
Nations are born in the hearts of po- make of Plato poet or philosopher.
The same indecision she appears to
an
ets; they prosper and die in the hands
of politicians. have felt in the case of Goethe. Think of the Devil and he is sure to
appear. This is equally true of God.
st
ki

A prophet is only a practical poet. A woman of superb beauty with a


Pa

complete absence of self-conscious- The psychologist swims, the poet


ness is to me the most charming thing dives.
on Gods earth.
y
m

In a certain class of Indian families


de

The attitude of toleration and even mostly creatures of the British rule
conformity without belief in dog- the tendency to collect and print testi-
ca

ma is probably the most incom- monials from various officials has


prehen sible thing to the vulgar mind. grown into a sort of instinct, which
lA

If such is your attitude, keep quiet reveals itself sometimes very early in
and never try to defend your posi- the offspring. I look upon it as a kind
ba

tion. of moral infirmity developed by an un-


healthy environment.
Iq
4,

All the wonderful booklore in your


library is not worth one glorious sun- If you wish to study the anatomy of
01

set on the banks of the Ravi. the human mind, you may go to Wind,
Ward, James or Stout. But a real in-
)2

sight into human nature you can get


from Goethe alone.
True political life begins not with
(c

the claiming of rights, but with the


doing of duties.
As a plant growing on the bank of a
steam heareth not the sweet, silver mu-

69 69
STRAY REFLECTIONS

vidual only. In reality, he is humanity


individualised.
No nation was so fortunate as the
Germans. They gave birth to Heine at
the time when Goethe was singing in
I judge the worth of my days, months

)
full-throated ease. Two uninterrupted

om
and years from the experiences which springs!
they bring to me; and sometimes I am
surprised to find that a single moment

.c
is more valuable in an a whole year.
In words like cut jewels Hafiz put the

al
sweet unconscious spirituality of the

qb
nightingale.
Every experience evokes something

ai
from the soul of man. Even the expe-
rience of sin will reveal some aspect

m
of your soul of which you were not Love is a playful child. She makes our
individuality and then quietly whispers

lla
cognizant before. Experience, then is
a double source of knowledge; it gives in our ears Renounce it.

.a
you an insight into what is without
you, as well as an insight into what is

w
sic which sustains it from beneath, within you. I have often played hide and seek with

w
so man growing on the brink of in- wisdom; she conceals herself always

(w
finity listenenth not to the Divine behind the rock of determination.
undertone that make the life and har- Nothing is more commonplace than
mony of his soul.
an
facts; yet mankind were blind to them
until Bacon opened their eyes. If you wish to be heard in the noise
st

of this world, let your soul be domi-


Come, dear friend! Thou hast known nated by a single idea. It is the man
ki

me only as an abstract thinker and So are we drawn, as wood is showed. with a single idea who creates politi-
Pa

dreamer of high ideals. See me in my By others sinews each may moved. cal and social revolutions, establishes
home playing with the children and Montaigne remarks on the above lines empires and gives law to the world.
giving them rides turn by turn, as if
y

of Horace: We go not, but we are car-


I were a wooden horse! Ah! see me
m

ried, as things that float, now gliding


in the family circle lying at the feet gently, now hulling violently, accord- Science, philosophy, religion all have
de

of my grey-haired mother, the touch ing as the water is either stormy or limits. Art alone is boundless.
of whose rejuvenating hand bids the calm. While reading this passage in
ca

tide of time flow backward, and gives Montaigne I was put in mind of a verse
me once more the school-boy feel- by our late and lamented poet Azad
lA

ing in spite of all the Kants and who has given an expression to this The result of all philosophical thought
Hegels in my head! Here Thou will idea much more beautifully than either is that absolute knowledge is an im-
ba

know me as a human being. Horace or Montaigne. Says he: possibility. The poet Browning turns
this impossibility to ethical use by a
Iq

very ingenious argument. The uncer-


tainty of human knowledge, teaches
Philosophy ages; poetry rejuvenates.
4,

the poet, is the necessary condition


of moral growth; since complete
01

knowledge will destroys the liberty of


Both Shakespeare and Goethe re- human choice.
)2

think the Divine thought of cre- Literary criticism does not necessarily
ation. There is, however, one impor- follow the creation of literature. We
(c

tant difference between them. The find Lessing at the very threshold of
German literature. Flattery is only exaggerated good man-
realist Englishmen re-thinks the in- ners.
dividual-the idealist German, the uni-
versal. His Faust is a seeming indi-

70
NOSTALGIA

)
om
.c
The Complaint was recited in

al
April 1911 to the annual session

qb
of Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam in
the hostels of Islamia College,

ai
Lahore. This was Iqbals first po-
etry recital since 1904 and con-

m
trary to his former practice he did

lla
not bring printed copies of the
poem to be sold for fundraising,

.a
nor did he sing the poem.

w
The poem consisted of 31 stan-
zas of 6 lines each and was in-

w
cluded in Bang-i-Dara with only

(w
minor revisions at four places.
However, an initial draft shows
some more revisions before the
an
first recital.
The argument of the poem is
st

an address to God, complaining


ki

of the political downfall of His


Pa

most faithful servants, the Mus-


lim Community. The past glory
of Islam is mentioned in this con-
y

text. The long discourse culmi-


m

nates in a prayer that the poem


de

may wake up the people and set


them on for attaining with the
ca

Grace of God what they had lost.


The poem has remained im-
lA

mensely popular ever since its


first recital. It was published in
ba

several magazines at that time,


and has always been in print as a
separate booklet (unofficially
Iq

printed) along with its second


Above: Pages from an early draft of the poem in Iqbals own hand (his poems up to 1923 part The Answer (which came
4,

were collected in three separate notebooks, and this facsimile comes from the second one, which more than a year later).
01

contains the poems belonging roughly from 1911 to 1915). The accusations that the poem
was disrespectful were only mi-
)2

Top right: Uqbah Bin Nafe runs to meet the Atlantic Ocean in an outburst of missionary nor and negligible Iqbal did not
zeal the scene is immortalized for the Urdu speaking world by the famous lines in The earn a fatwa of renunciation due
Complaint.
(c

to this poem (as is sometimes


believed) although he faced such
perils fourteen years later due to
other verses.
1911 was the year of Iqbals comeback
as a public poet (for the last seven
years he had published his poems in
literary journals but had refrained
from recitals and shown a general lack

)
of enthusiasm for poetry).

om
Apart from The Complaint, the
year 1911 also saw two other poems

.c
becoming a rage: National Anthem
(not to be confused with the current

al
national anthem of Pakistan) and

qb
Prayer. Muhammad Ali Jauhar turned
the first into a gramophone record and

ai
ran quarter-page advertisements in his

m
newspaper Comrade.

lla
Right: Initial drafts of National
Anthem (Tarana-i-Milli) and Prayer.

.a
Below: Shibli Nomani with his Turk

w
guests in the days of the Balkan Crisis.

w
He had lost his right foot by then and was

(w
using a wooden replica. an
Shibli Nomani (1857-1914) is best taries of the Quran by classical authors December 1911 at Delhi where Iqbal
remembered for such biographies as which had interpreted certain passages was officially presented garlands on be-
st

Al-Farooq (1899) and the unfinished of the Holy Book to establish that half of the Muslim Community in
ki

biography of the Prophet, Seeratun women too had been prophets. India.
Nabi. He was also a poet and a polit- Shiblis impact on Iqbal was immense As a political activist Shibli was the
Pa

ical activist while he was far ahead of and deep even if it might not have pioneer of agitational politics among
his times as a religious thinker in been too obvious in their own times. the Muslims of India, beginning from
y

1905 he highlighted those commen- Shiblis historical works provided the the protest against the British Gov-
m

fabric of historical background in ernment on the annulment of the par-


Iqbals poetry (although the analy- tition of Bengal at the end of 1911.
de

sis was his own) while Shiblis In that he was perhaps hasty and par-
ideas about ijtehad and his unfin- tially guided by feelings of personal
ca

ished dream of reconstructing a rivalry against the mainstream lead-


new metaphysics for religious ers of the Aligarh Movement, such
lA

thought in Islam found its cul- as Nawab Mohsinul Mulk. Such po-
mination in Iqbals lectures. ems of Iqbal as Patriotism, which
ba

Shibli was responsible for revis- contain bitter criticism of territorial


ing the language of Iqbals only nationalism among the Muslim poli-
Iq

prose publication in Urdu, Ilmul ticians could have been directed


Iqtisad (1904), he was mentioned against the policies of Shibli Nomani
4,

in the footnotes of Development and his ardent disciples such as


01

of Metaphysics in Persia, and a cru- Muhammad Ali (Jauhar) and Abul


cial passage from Shah Waliullah Kalam Azad.
)2

possibly found way in Iqbals Re- Other notable pupils of Shibli in-
construction lectures through cluded the journalist Zafar Ali Khan
Shiblis Ilmul Kalam. He was also
(c

and the religious scholar Syed


the chief guest for a ceremony at Sulaiman Nadvi, both of whom were
the annual session of Muham- Iqbals friends.
madan Educational Conference in

72
)
om
.c
al
qb
ai
m
lla
.a
w
w
(w
an
The Candle and the Poet was recited
at the annual session of Anjuman
st

Himayat-i-Islam in February 1912.


ki

Iqbal described it as his own reply to


The Complaint recited the last year
Pa

and called upon the audience,


especially those familiar with English
y

literature, to pay attention to his craft


m

as well as his message a rare appeal


de

to come from him.


The first poem consists of 11
ca

stanzas (including the opening stanza


in Persian). It starts with the poet
lA

wondering to the candle at his home


why no moth comes to him though
ba

he also burns like a candle. The candle


answers him to say that it burns out
Iq

of an inner calling while the poet


4,

burns pretentiously; the candle burns


silently till her single sigh, which
01

announces her death, whereas the


poet churns out a poem with every
)2

Above: A page from an initial draft of The Candle and the Poet from Iqbals second breath. The rest of the poem presents
an analysis of social and national
(c

notebook of poetry.
problems through the candles speech
and ends on a note of optimism: the
dawn is not too far.

73
Italy invaded the Ottoman strongholds in not finish until a year later when the Bulgar-
North Africa in 1911, beginning with Tri- ian invasion of Balkan, closer to the Turk-
poli on October 20. Ben Ghazi was fin- ish capital, forced the Ottomans to give up
ished quickly and on November 5, the the African colonies in order to concentrate
conquerors announced the annexation of on defending their own home.

)
om
Libya, Tripolitania and Cyrenaica. How- The resistence movement in Tripoli was
ever, that was only the end of the begin- widely supported by the Muslims through-
ning. out the world, including India, where news-

.c
The Turkish garrison had retreated into papers like Al Hilal poured out supportive

al
the desert and there it enlisted the sup- articles, pictures and news items.
port of Arab villagers including men,

qb
women and even children to put up re- Right: Women volunteers leaving for the front
sistance against the Italians. The war did a picture from Al-Hilal.

ai
m
Fatima Binte Abdullah was an elev-

lla
en-year-old Arab girl who got killed
while serving water to the wounded

.a
Turk soldiers in the battlefield. Her

w
picture (below) was printed in Al Hi-
lal on November 13, 1912, along with

w
a detailed covering article.

(w
Iqbal was deeply moved and wrote
a poem that has remained very popu-
an
lar, especially among students.
In the poem Fatima Binte
st

Abdullah, the Arab girl turns into a


symbol of the future regeneration of
ki

the Muslim World there is hope if


Pa

the young are spirited like her. On October 6, 1911, Iqbal recited a the blood of the martyrs of Tripoli.
brief poem of 24 lines to maximum
Below: Picture of Fatima Binte Abdullah effect at Badshahi Mosque, Lahore, Above: Iqbal reciting his poem in the
y

from Al Hilal, Calcutta, November 13, where people had gathered to raise Mughal (Badshahi) Mosque at Lahore.
m

1912. funds for supporting the Ottomans in October 6, 1911.


de

Tripoli. A photograph taken on this


Below: A zoom on Iqbal from the same
occasion is the only surviving picture
picture.
ca

of Iqbal reciting poetry.


The poem, The Arabian
lA

Nightingales Offering Before the


Holy Prophet (included in Bang-i-Dara
ba

with shortened title) tells of the poets


imaginary ascension to heavens where
Iq

angels take him to the presence of the


Holy Prophet of Islam. It was hard
4,

to collect a suitable gift from the world


since everything here is polluted with
01

impurity and infidelity but the poet


was able to offer one flask of glass
)2

(symbolically it could be interpreted


as a tear also), which was filled with
(c

something that was matchless even in


the Paradise. The honor of your fol-
lowing is reflected in its contents, the
poet says to the Prophet. It contains
On a personal level the poem must have provided
a much-needed catharsis to him because after writing
it he became willing to be seen as a poet once again.
Then, soon afterwards, he embarked on the

)
om
fulfillment of his primordial dream: a formula for
global prosperity.

.c
al
qb
Above: An aeroplane used by the
Ottomans for bombarding the enemy

ai
during the Balkan War, 1912. The
caption with this picture in Al-Hilal
The first impediment in the way of human happiness was the fragmentation

m
stated that the bomber completed
of humanity into interest-driven groups. The grouping took place, according several successful sorties from the

lla
to Iqbal, not on the basis of class-conflict as suggested by Marx, but on the Chatalja Fort.
basis of reduced identities. In the past these false identities were the various

.a
Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia formed an
idols, which were fortunately not revered anymore (he didnt count the Hindu alliance in 1912 to liberate the Euro-

w
deities among idols but interpreted them as somewhat corrupted notions of pean territories from the Ottomans. The

w
war started in October and the Turkish
angels). However, the modern times presented the humanity with new capital Constantinople was at once

(w
impediments instead of the old ones, and chief among these fresh idols is threatened as the Ottoman armies
country, he unfurled his banner in the poem Patriotism or country regarded faced unremitting defeat.
The Muslims across the world saw the
as a political ideal. And hence he decided that it was his aim to discover a
an
war as an invasion against Islam. The
universal social reconstruction. Caliph at Turkey saw it also as an
attack against imperialism he counted
st

Religious belief could serve as an antidote against parochial grouping of


his empire among the European
humanity by uniting the human with the Divine and creating a universal
ki

imperialists and asked the other great


bonding through the unity of the Creator. All religions lead to the same powers to intervene before it was too
Pa

late. The fall of Constantinople could


destination but it seemed to Iqbal that Islam was a suitable starting point in launch a World War and disintegrate
the modern age, since, unlike Hinduism and Judaism, it was not a racial belief Europe, it was feared.
y

and unlike Buddhism The first casualty was Libya, from


m

where the Turk soldiers had to be pulled


and Christianity it back for defending their homes. A
didnt turn its back on
de

peace treaty was signed within a


the material world. month Albania became independent
and the Ottoman Empire lost significant
ca

The idea that Islam parts of its Greek and Serbian


offered a model for a territories.
lA

In India, the Urdu newspaper


universal citizenship Zamindar came of age through efficient
had settled in his mind reporting of the Balkan Crisis in India.
ba

while he was in Iqbal recited The Answer, a long


rejoinder to The Complaint on
Europe where he
Iq

November 30, 1912 in a fundraising


ecstatically sang in a event called by Zafar Ali Khan, the
ghazal: That Arabian editor of Zamindar.
4,

architect gave it a Left: A page from an initial draft of The


01

unique construction: Answer in Iqbals hand.


the fortress that is our
)2

religion is not founded


in the unity of the
(c

homeland.
Some initial
conclusions drawn
out of this otherwise
sound principle were
75
(c
)2
01
4,
Iq
ba
lA
ca
de
m
y
Pa
ki
st
an
(w
w
w
.a
lla
m
ai
qb
al
.c
om
)
IQBAL 77
THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL 1905-13

bizarre. In his 1909 lecture he declared that since the political Facing page and
left: Sirdar
ideal of Islam was democracy and the British Empire was Begum (c.1892-
democratizing the world therefore the British Empire was a 1935), the third
Muhammadan Empire! Thankfully, he never repeated this wife of Iqbal and

)
the mother of

om
statement but apart from the psycho-logical relief that he may Javid (b.1924)
have found in re-interpreting the British rule he might also have and Munira
(b.1930)
been wondering if the Muslims were the only followers of the

.c
path laid open by Islam: in the poem The Answer (1912) the

al
Sirdar Begum
Divine Justice bestows the rewards of the Muslims upon was an orphaned

qb
heathens who have become Muslims in practice even if not in name. Likewise, Kashmiri girl
living in Lahore when Iqbal married her
towards the end of his life he stated in a conversation that all truth is an in the winter of 1910. Only nikah was

ai
interpretation of the Quran even if it comes from a non-believer, or from performed on this occasion while the
rukhsati was to be held later but got

m
Lenin. Islam, in the mind of Iqbal, was not a monopoly whereby some self- indefinitely postponed when the
righteous persons should sit in judgement upon the spirituality of the others.

lla
bridegroom received hoax letters
God is the birthright of every human being, he said in another writing. casting doubts about the brides
character. It was only in the summer of

.a
Somewhere along the way he outgrew his late anxieties over the plight of 1913 (after Iqbal had married another
the Muslim World. You will not perish by the fall of Iran, God informed woman, Mukhtar, and completely given

w
the Muslim complainant in The Answer (1912). The effect of the wine up the idea of Sirdar) that it was learnt

w
that the letters did not contain any truth
doesnt depend on the cup in which it is served. and were written by someone who

(w
This was the transformation famously mistaken as his shift from wanted Sirdar for his own son.
Sirdar herself wrote to Iqbal, saying
nationalism to Islamism. His concern remained the humanity, always. that she would never remarry and hold
an
His interest in Islam was also heavily focused on doing something for the him responsible for her grief writing
human race through the undiscovered wisdom of this religion. The nations such a letter was a bold step by the
st

standards of those times and Iqbal, with


of the world remain unaware of your reality, God tells the Muslims in The his second wifes permission, brought
Answer. The world still needs you as you are the warmth that keeps it alive
ki

her to his home.


and your mantle is the ascendant of the Possibilitys destiny. It is not the time She remained his favorite wife. It is a
Pa

strange tale of love. I wish I had known


to rest and relax, for work still remains; it still remains to culminate the light the truth before taking the second wife,
of Unity. Ironically, it was just the time when the Muslim masses in India he wrote to a friend. Other friends felt a
y

change in his life style: he would now


had been roused for the first time by Shibli and his disciples to join hands
m

spend nearly all his time at home.


with the Congressional patriots to construct a regional identity. Iqbal didnt Apparently this new routine precipitated
de

openly criticize them; such criticism would have defeated its purpose and the completion of Asrar-i-Khudi, his first
long Persian poem and exegesis of his
would have been mistaken as a service to the policies of the colonial rulers. philosophy.
ca

However, the fact that he wrote his most bitter criticism of regional patriotism Sirdar died of prolongned illness in
in those same days is a sufficient indication of his views. May 1935, merely a few days after
lA

shifting to their own house Javid Manzil,


1913 was the year when Iqbal settled down. His domestic life acquired a which was purchased and built partially
blissful character after separation from the unfortunate first wife and from her savings and jewelery.
ba

Iqbal never forgot her he felt that


consummation of two more marriages (although he would have been content her soul was in contact with him even
with only one, if the strange bent of circumstances had not forced him to
Iq

after her death. She has often told me


take two he wrote in a private letter). It was also the year when he was that she has been judged and has
passed the purgatory, he used to say.
offered a generous stipend by an extremely cultured patron Maharjah Kishan
4,

Prashad, the Prime Minister of Hyderabad (Deccan). The offer, which would
01

have been accepted by any poet of the old school as a natural order of
things and bought him endless time to spend for creating masterpieces, was
)2

respectfully but firmly declined by Iqbal. He was a poet of the new order
perhaps belonging to an age that was yet to be born.
(c

This decision was taken by him around the same time when he was
beginning to write down a long Persian poem about the most important
issue in the human life: The Secrets of the Self.
FAMILY
Mukhtar Begum (d.1924)
was Iqbals second wife and
died in her first childbirth in 1924.
She left no offspring.
Iqbals marriage to Mukhtar was

)
almost a case of mistaken identity,

om
we are told by his friend Mirza
Jalaluddin. Iqbal and his family were

.c
under the impression that they had
proposed the daughter of a well-to-

al
do person in Ludhiana (Punjab), but

qb
it was only learnt after the marriage
that Mukhtar was the orphaned

ai
niece of the gentleman. However,

m
it was hardly an issue and Iqbal was
quite happy with her.

lla
Mukhtar had an amiable nature
and fond of keeping pets, especially

.a
a cat.

w
Mukhtar and Sirdar became preg-
nant around the same time and it is

w
reported that they affectionately

(w
decided to exchange their children.
Iqbal accompanied Mukhtar to
an
her parental home for the childbirth
and was much moved by her death.
st

When I asked her minutes before


her death how she was doing she just
ki

replied, I am fine, although she was


Pa

about to die and knew it, he wrote


to his elder brother Ata Muhammad.
To bring forth an ordinary human
y

being into this world where he would


m

not even live more than fifty or sixty


de

years the nature gives so much pain


to a weak woman!
ca

Right: Picture of Mukhtar Begum from


lA

the Iqbal Museum (Javid Manzil),


Lahore
ba
Iq
4,
01
)2
(c

78
(c
)2
01
THREE
CHAPTER
4,
Iq
ba
lA
ca
de
m
y
Pa
ki
st

ILLUMINATION
an
(w
w
w
.a
lla
m
ai
qb
al

to 1922
1914
.c
om
)
80 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

Thirteenth Century scholar Rumi was lecturing his pupils when he was
interrupted by a wandering dervish Shams Tabriz, who pointed at the books
and asked what were they. He was met with sarcasm by the irritated scholar,
Something you would not comprehend. Presently, Tabriz threw the books

)
into a nearby pond and when Rumi was devastated on their loss he took them

om
out, dry and unharmed or, according to another variation on this parable
the dervish burnt the books and later restored them from the ashes. In either

.c
case, when Rumi asked him in disbelief what was it he had done, the dervish

al
returned him his own words, Something you would not comprehend! Rumi
fainted and found himself a changed man when he recovered several days

qb
later.

ai
This historically unreliable anecdote contains a candid metaphorical
approximation of what happened when Rumi met Tabriz who was to become

m
his master. The passage from knowing to witnessing is indeed nothing less

lla
than a miracle and requires a master to perform it for the disciple. The master
who came to Iqbals aid was, remarkably, none other than Rumi himself. For

.a
Copies of this portrait are quite well- it is said that Iqbal dreamed that the master of Rum was asking him to write

w
known but the original (above) is now
damaged. Not dated. a mathnavi. You command us to negate the self whereas it appears to me

w
that the self ought to be strengthened, Iqbal protested in this dream. The
Picture used on p. 79 was painted by
meaning of what I say is not different from what you understand, said the

(w
Ajab Khan from this photograph.
cryptic master of Rum before Iqbal woke up to find himself inspired for
writing his own mathnavi.
an
He intended three volumes. The first would define the source of all good
in the practical world: the human ego, or the self, receiving its illumination
st

from the Absolute Reality and in turn illuminating all areas of human existence.
ki

The second part would establish the relation between the individual ego and
Pa

the society, and how an ideal nation could emerge from the collective will of
enlightened individuals. The third and the final volume would predict the
possible destinies of such a nation and what it could achieve in terms of
y
m

human history.
The human possibilities, Iqbal thought, were as yet unexplored and he
de

truly believed that his message was derived from those meanings of the Quran
that were awaiting the modern times to be fully realized. Little did he imagine
ca

that he would soon be accused of misinterpreting the divine book and


lA

muddling the stream of religious thought with greed and egotism.


The perception of being alone, and unique, made it easy for Iqbal to see
ba

himself as a poet from another time and space: a poet of tomorrow. It liberated
him from his world so that he could open himself to what he would frequently
Iq

describe, in various ways, as the source life itself. What he later said of some
contemporaries was equally true of himself too: Such men are liable to
4,

make mistakes. But the history of nations shows that even their mistakes
01

have sometimes borne good fruit. In them it is not logic but life itself that
struggles restless to solve its own problems. It is this connectedness (in the
)2

New Age sense) that makes Iqbal sound so contemporary in the 21st Century.
Life is but a manifestation of the selves, he opened the first chapter of
(c

his book after the prelude, Everything you see is counted among the secrets
of the self. The self (or the ego) is the creator of its own opposites, it
manifests itself through power, strife, love, life and death hence in one
sweep Iqbal flies through anonymous allusions to Hegels philosophy and
Nietzsches will to power. However, the self is none of these and more the
IQBAL 81
ILLUMINATION 1914-22

references to these attributes are merely poetic references to figures of speech


comprehensible to the readers. The point Iqbal really wants to make is that
whatever we know about life and the universe, whether we know it through
science, religion or metaphysics, eventually boils down to one basic fact: by

)
strengthening the ego you live; through its renunciation you perish. True and

om
lasting expansion does not come from invading the space of others; it comes
from growing stronger in yourself. The principle of growth is inward-out,

.c
not out-and-out. The seed contains the stem in it, and likewise by nurturing

al
the fountainhead within and not by envying the power of others a human
being grows stronger.

qb
Thinkers who aspire to present a coherent picture of the world often

ai
take off by focussing on one issue as a starting point and the central problem
to Iqbal, in life as well as thought, remained the nature of love. Here, he tried

m
to make sense of the ultimate madness, i.e. love. If there were no others in

lla
the world and no distances, no pangs of unrequitted feelings (and the spurns),
then there would have been no desire; and desire is to the ego what fuel is to

.a
an engine and water to all living things. Desire is the lifeblood of the ego. Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-73), best known

w
for his multi-volume Mathnavi (started
Rumi started his mathnavi by saying that the music of the flute was nothing c.1260) was born to a renowned

w
but the reeds cry in pain over separation from its source. Iqbal ventured to jurisprudent and mystic, whom he
show, rather boldly, the other side of the coin: the flute became what it was succeeded at the age of twenty-four.

(w
He received further guidance from
by separation from its source. True, the separation is virtual rather than real Burhanuddin Tirmizi, but it was a
(and Rumi had already pointed out that the music is coming from the breath chance encounter with the enigmatic
an
Shams Tabrizi at the age of thirty-seven
of the player and hence there is no distance between the two ends of the that exteriorized his contemplative
flute). Iqbal accepted Rumis perception of the Divine origin but went on to
st

states in the form of poetry and set the


state that separation had its own virtues: in a perfect union things would turn ocean of his being into a motion which
ki

resulted in the vast waves that


to nothings. transformed the history of Persian
Pa

The anatomy of desire is usually seen as comprising of love and begging. literature, (as a modern biographer
Iqbal was probably right in claiming that he was unravelling the secrets no aptly comments).
Iqbal revered Rumi in invariably every
one else dared reveal in the East before him: he was the first Eastern thinker
y

book written after 1913 Rumis spirit


m

to point out that love and begging were the opposites of each other and you appears before him even to lead him
through the celestial journey in his
could only choose one of these two. Love, in its essence, is the tool through
de

greatest masterpiece Javidnama


which the ego elevates itself above the impediments of the physical world; (1932). However, just as the influence
love could teach rebellion to the humblest creatures. The hardest rocks are
ca

of Shams Tabrizi on Rumi should not be


overrated, so the influence of Rumi on
shivered by Loves glance, said Iqbal. Love of God at last becomes wholly Iqbal needs to be defined carefully.
lA

God. Asking, however, dissociated the ego from its Divine source of Rumi was a role model and Iqbal even
illumination. attempted to reinterpret the master for
the modern world (his prediction that
ba

Naturally enough he deplored much of the Eastern literature for following the modern world stands in need of
conventions of self-negation and perpetuating a distorted image of love that Rumis message, which is most suited
Iq

for its emotional and spiritual require-


equated desire with beggary (it was Iqbals criticism of Hafiz in the first ments seems to be coming true at least
edition of Asrar-i-Khudi that raised the storm of protest in 1915). Iqbal also in the North America today). Yet, Iqbals
4,

criticized Plato, as should be expected from someone whose position on the poetry is not a series of footnotes on
01

Rumi; the points of departure include


reality of the physical world and the significance of purpose in defining insistence on separation rather than
things was in a direct line of inheritance from the man who said that A is A union and even the doctrine of the self
)2

(Iqbals dislike for being labelled would prevent him from wanting to be (khudi) is a rather bold reinterpretation
of the master, which few would have
seen even as an Aristotelean; in his notebook he jotted down difference with dared to attempt.
(c

the Greek philosopher over a non-issue after admitting agreement on the


basics).
In his characteristic spirit of ruthless objectivity Iqbal glorified Time, which
to him was niether a sequence of day and night, nor just another dimension
of space, but was nothing less than a Divine manifestation. Do not villify
82 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

Time, for God says I am Time, the Prophet had told his followers. With
thisrem arkablehadith, Iqbal also used a quotation from Imam Shafii by way
of further explanation: Time is a sword. One who reads the signs of the
Time instead of finding faults with it is the one who masters all difficulties.

)
Escape from Time is lethal and here we may add that nostalgia for the past

om
and unrealistic wishes for the future are two chief examples. The ego needs
to discover a symbiotic relationship with the sublime energy that is Time.

.c
Moving from the general to the specific, Iqbal points out the love his

al
Muslim readers carry for the Prophet and shows them that the education of
the Self has three stages: (a) obedience; (b) self-control; and (c) the divine

qb
vicegerency. The purpose of the Muslims life was to exalt the Word of God.

ai
Jihad, if it be prompted by land-hunger, was unlwaful in the religion of Islam.
Iqbal had to move on from the exaltation of the individual ego to a

m
glorification of the society, since he was coming from a philosophical position

lla
where the individual was an organic component of the larger social organism.
The society was an ego too, he propounded in Rumooz-i-Bekhudi, the second

.a
Above: Opening page of the chapter
from the first edition of Asrar-i-Khudi part of his mathnavi. The individual finds an everlasting strength by submerging

w
denouncing Plato and Hafiz of Shiraz, his or her ego into that of the nation. The Muslim nation was independent
while exonerating Urfi of Shiraz. The

w
chapter was the major reason of of time and space and its eternity was promised (unlike the individual, whose
immortality was only conditional). The two fundamental principles of this

(w
outrage against the book and was
expunged from subsequent editions.
nation were monotheism (which cured fear and despair, the two spiritual
The diction of Iqbals Persian ghazal diseases fatal to the ego), and prophet-hood (which aimed at providing liberty,
an
borrowed from two poets of Shiraz
(Iran) more than from anyone else:
equality and fraternity to the human race).The nationality of Islam, fortunately,
was based on the principle of equality and freedom (in the proof of which
st

Hafiz (1326-91) and Urfi (c.1555-91). In


terms of literary ideals both were Shibli had left behind enough anecdotes from history before dying in
ki

diametrically opposed to each other, as


November 1914, while Iqbal was still working on the first part of the mathnavi).
Pa

Iqbal proposed in the first edition of


Asrar-i-Khudi. What is more significant is that Iqbal provided an alternate position on
Hafiz is known as a mystic and the relationship between the individual and the society, rooted in love and
aesthete who prefers inner peace over
like-mindedness rather than whim or racist principles.
y

struggle. Iqbal denounced him as an


m

escapist although he never ceased to The idea of the individual ego merging into the larger ego of the community
take inspiration from the literary quality
was a movement of growth: one cannot achieve what many can achieve
de

of his poems.
Urfi was a short-lived romantic who together, as we are now realizing through such concepts as synergy and
teamwork in management sciences. What could not be achieved in the world
ca

came to India, reportedly besotted by


the young Mughal prince Salim (later
Emperor Jehangir) and was perhaps the
if the entire human race could turn into a like-minded creative whole?
lA

only classical poet to celebrate pride


and ceaseless struggle. According to
ba

Shibli Nomani, he was also the only


Persian poet who managed to translate
complex philosopical ideas into natural
Iq

emotion and put it into seemless


couplets. In short, he was an Iqbal born
in the Mughal period.
4,

In addition to praising Urfi in the first Back in 1910 he had made a mental note on shifting the focus of the Eastern
metaphysics from the existence of God to the existence of the human being.
01

edition of Asrar-i-Khudi, Iqbal also


offered him glowing tribute in an Urdu
poem Urfi written around the same
The anatomy of the human ego presented in Asrar-i-Khudi was glowing with
)2

time and now included in Bang-i-Dara. the light of the Divine Existence. I have conceived the Ultimate Reality as
The poem praises the fruits of his an Ego, he later wrote. From the Ultimate Ego only egos proceed.
imagination as superior to the glass-
(c

houses of Avicenna and Al Farabi. Individuality implies finitude, and although he did not raise the issue in Asrar-
i-Khudi, he addressed it boldly many years later in The Reconstruction of Religious
Thought in Islam. The Ultimate Ego is... neither infinite in the sense of spatial
infinity nor finite in the sense of the space-bound human ego whose body
closes him off in reference to other egos. The infinity of the Ultimate Ego
Iqbal grieved like a little child upon
the death of his mother Imam Bibi
(November 9, 1914). My interest in

)
om
the worldly matters and my urge to be
successful in life was due only to her,
he wrote to a friend. Now I am just

.c
awaiting my death Even if that was

al
an overstatement it wasnt un-
founded, for In the Memory of My

qb
Late Mother stands out among his
poems for its mellow tone, gentle

ai
rhythm and touching statements of

m
personal grief all very unlike Iqbal.
The argument of the poem moves

lla
from recollections of maternal love,
the universality of death and the even

.a
greater abundance of the life instinct

w
in the world. It follows that existence,

w
and not annihilation, is natures
favorite and hence there must be hope

(w
for life after death. The poem ends
with a brief prayer that has become
an
perhaps the most common epithet
on tombstones after the Quranic
st

inscriptions in the Urdu-speaking


world: Aasman teri lehed per shabnam
ki

afshani karay (May the sky shed


Pa

dewdrops on thy grave; may this


abode be guarded by ever-growing
blossoms).
y
m

The poem was also sent to his


father Shiekh Nur Muhammad in a
de

neat copy prepared by a professional


scribe along with a summary in Iqbals
ca

own hand (now preserved in the


Iqbal Museum).
lA

Above: Imam Bibis grave in Sialkot.


ba

Right: Detail from a page of the copy sent by Iqbal to his


father Shiekh Nur Muhammad. It was calligraphed by
Iq

some professional scribe.


4,
01
)2
(c
SYNOPSIS
Like elsewhere in
Secrets and mysteries Iqbals poetry, nature
Asrar-o-Rumooz, the collected edition images abound in
of Asrar-e-Khudi (1915) and Rumooz- Asrar-o-Rumooz. The
e-Bekhudi (1918), is the most detailed mountain here re-
bukes the river for

)
expostulation of Iqbals philosophy

om
of khudi, or the self. Individuality making its exist-
fervently emphasized in the first part ence an offering
to the ocean,

.c
must be subjected to the teachings
of the Prophet in order to promote To live is to

al
an egalitarian society of the Islamic na- grow in thyself/
and gather roses

qb
tion.
from thine own flowerbed.
Secrets of the Self (1915)

ai
poetry and the reform of Islamic of India by Mir Najat

m
Prefatory: Naqshbandi, who is generally
literature
Opening the book with verses from known as Baba Sahrai

lla
n Showing that the education of
Rumi and Naziri, Iqbal goes on to Time is sword
the self has three stages: n
emphasize that the book is focused

.a
obedience, self-control, and n An invocation
on message and must not be treated
divine vicegerence

w
as mere poetry. Mysteries of Selflessness (1918)
n Setting forth the inner meanings

w
The usually detailed headings of the of the names of Ali
This part opens with couplets from Rumi

(w
subsequent chapters (translated by R. A. n Story of a young man of Merve
and Urfi, and a dedication to the Islamic
Nicholson) are to a great extent self- who came to the saint Ali Hajveri
millat. The chapter headings are as
explanatory. God have mercy on him and
an
follows:
n Showing that the system of the complained that he was op-
universe originates in the self, pressed by the enemies
st

n Preface, on the connection


and that the continuation of the n Story of the bird that was faint
between the individual and the
ki

life of all individuals depends on with thirst


nation
Pa

strengthening the self n Story of the diamond and the


n Showing that nation is born in
n Showing that the life of the self coal
the mingling of individuals and
comes from forming desires and n Story of the Sheikh and the
comes of age with prophet-hood
y

bringing them to birth Brahmin, followed by a conver-


m

n Fundamental principles of the


n Showing that the self is strength- sation between Ganges and
Islamic nation; the first principle,
Himalayas to the effect that the
de

ened by Love
monotheism
n Showing that the self is weak- continuation of social life
depends on firm attachment to
ca

ened by asking
n Showing that when the self is the characteristic traditions of
lA

strengthened by Love it gains the community


dominion over the outward and n Showing that the purpose of the
inward forces of the universe Muslims life is to exalt the Word
ba

n A tale of which the moral is that of Allah, and the jihad, if it be


negation of the self is a doctrine prompted by land-hunger, is
Iq

invented by the subject races of unlawful in the religion of Islam


mankind in order that by this Precepts written for the Moslems
4,

means they may sap and weaken


01

the character of their rulers


n To the effect that Plato, whose This money aught to be given to our Sultan,
)2

thought has deeply influenced /Who is a beggar wearing the raiment of a


the mysticism and literature of king, the pious Mian Mir admonishes the
(c

Islam, followed the sheeps ambitious Shahjehan in Iqbals poem. The


doctrine, and that we must be on conversation is probably fictitious and might
our guard against his theories not have occured during the kings meeting
n Concerning the true nature of with the saint depicted in this Mughal minia-
ture.
and the ideal of the Islamic
National life requires a nation is the preservation and
physical center and the propagation of monotheism
Holy Kabah is the center n Showing that the national life
of the Islamic nation, extends by attaining supremacy
said Iqbal in Rumooz-i- over the physical world

)
Bekhudi (1918). However, n Showing that the perfection of

om
he maintained that the national life is when the nation
real unity came from attains an awareness of Self like a

.c
grasping the national ideal, since Islam was essentially a community of like- single individual and this
minded people. The ideal of the Islamic nation is to eliminate fear through the awareness is possible through the

al
preservation and propagation of monotheism. discipline of national traditions

qb
n Showing that the preservation of
n Showing that despair, sorrow and strengthens by following the species is from motherhood;

ai
fear are sources of all evil and divine constitution Islam is about preserving and
enemy of life; and monotheism n Showing that the beauty of respecting motherhood

m
cures these evil diseases national character is from n Showing that Lady Fatima is an

lla
n Dialogue between the arrow and respectfulness to the manners of ideal of perfection for the women
the sword the Prophet of the Islamic nation

.a
n Story of the lion and Emperor n Showing that national life n Address to the women of Islam
requires a physical center and the Summarizing the mathnavi

w
Aurangzeb (may God have mercy n

on him) Holy Kabah is the center of the through a commentary of the

w
n Second fundamental principle: Islamic nation Surah Akhlas

(w
prophet-hood n Showing that real unity comes n An invocation before the Prophet
n Showing that liberty, equality and from grasping the national ideal
an
fraternity of the human race is the
purpose of the prophet-hood of Asrar-e-Khudi was first published on September 12, 1915. The scribe was Munshi
Fazl Ilahi; Hakeem Faqir Muhammad Chishti Nizami, who also paid the cost,
st

Muhammad (peace be upon him)


n Story of Abu Ubaida and Jaban, supervised printing. Only 500 copies were printed,
ki

showing the meaning of which sold out fast as the poem became controver-
sial.
Pa

fraternity in Islam
n Story of Sultan Murad and the Accordingly, some portions were omitted from
architect, showing the meaning the next edition and the text underwent more
y

of equality in Islam changes when reprinted in a collected edition with


m

n Showing the meaning of liberty its second part Rumooz-e-Bekhudi (first published
separately in 1918). The collected edition, Asrar-o-
de

in Islam, and the secret of the


tragedy of Karbala Rumooz, appeared most probably in 1923.
ca

n Showing that since the Islamic Right: The page on which it all started. It comes from
nation is based on monotheism Iqbals earliest surviving notebook of poetry. The lines
lA

and prophet-hood, hence it is free were written in


of regional boundaries 1911 and crossed
ba

n Showing that nationality is not out later but


based on country incorporated into
Iq

n Showing that the Islamic nation Asrar-i-Khudi


is free of periodical boundaries in 1913 with
4,

too, since its eternity has been many changes.


promised
01

n Showing that a constitution is Right and far


essential for organizing a nation, right: First
)2

and the Quran is the constitution editions of


of the Islamic nation Asrar-i-Khudi
(c

n Showing that taqleed is better and Rumooz-i-


than ijtehad in this age of Bekhudi.
degeneration
n Showing that national character
Showing that the system of hundred todays over it;
the universe originates in In order to achieve the dawn of a The wave, so long as it remains a
single morrow. wave in the seas bosom,
the self, and that the con- Its flames burned a hundred Makes itself rider on the seas back.
tinuation of the life of all Abrahams Light transformed itself into an eye

)
individuals depends on That the lamp of one Muhammad And moved to and fro in search of

om
strengthening the self might be lighted. beauty;
Subject, object, means, and causes When the grass found a means of

.c
The form of existence is an effect of All these are forms which it assumes growth in its self,
for the purpose of action. The self Its aspiration clove the breast of the

al
the self,
Whatsoever thou seest is a secret of rises, kindles, falls, glows, breathes, garden.

qb
the self, Burns, shines, walks, and flies. The candle too concatenated itself
When the self awoke to conscious- The spaciousness of Time is its And built itself out of atoms;

ai
ness arena, Then it made a practice of melting

m
It revealed the universe of Thought. Heaven is a billow of the dust on the itself away and fled from its self
A hundred worlds are hidden in its road. Until at last it trickled down from its

lla
essence: From its rose-planting the world own eye, like tears.
Self-affirmation brings Not-self to abounds in roses; If the bezel had been more self

.a
light. Night is born of its sleep, day secure by nature,

w
By the self the seed of opposition is springs from its waking. It would not have suffered wounds,
It divided its flame into sparks But since it derives its value from

w
sown in the world:
It imagines itself to be other than And taught the understanding to the superscription,

(w
itself worship particulars. Its shoulder is galled by the burden
It makes from itself the forms of It dissolved itself and created the of anothers name.
an
others atoms Because the earth is firmly based on
In order to multiply the pleasure of It was scattered for a little while and itself,
st

strife. created sands. The captive moon goes round it


It is slaying by the strength of its arm Then it wearied of dispersion perpetually.
ki

That it may become conscious of its And by re-uniting itself it became the The being of the sun is stronger
Pa

own strength. mountains. than that of the earth


Its self-deceptions are the essence of Tis the nature of the self to Therefore is the earth fascinated by
Life; manifest itself the suns eye.
y

Like the rose, it lives by bathing itself In every atom slumbers the might of The glory of the red beech fixes our
m

in blood. the self. gaze.


de

For the sake of a single rose it Power that is expressed and inert The mountains are enriched by its
destroys a hundred rose gardens Chains the faculties which lead to majesty,
ca

And makes a hundred lamentation in action. Its raiment is woven of fire,


quest of a single melody. Its origin is one self-assertive seed.
Inasmuch as the life of the universe
lA

For one sky it produces a hundred When Life gathers strength from the
comes from the power of the self, self,
new moons,
Life is in proportion to this power.
ba

And for one word a hundred The river of Life expands into an
When a drop of water gets of Self s ocean.
discourses.
lesson by heart,
Iq

The excuse for this wastefulness and


It makes its worthless existence a
cruelty
pearl.
4,

Is the shaping and perfecting of


Wine is formless because its self is
spiritual beauty.
01

weak;
The loveliness of Shirin justifies the
It receives a form by favour of the
anguish of Farhad.
)2

cup.
One fragrant navel justifies a Asrar-i-Khudi
Although the cup of wine assumes a
hundred musk deer. was translated by
(c

form,
Tis the fate of moths to consume in R.A.Nicholson as
It is indebted to us for its motion.
flame: Secrets of the
When the mountain loses its self, it
The suffering of moths is justified by Self and published
turns into sands
the candle. from London in
And complains that the sea surges
The pencil of the self limped a 1920.
IQBAL 87
ILLUMINATION 1914-22

consists in the infinite inner possibilities of His creative activity of which the
universe, as known to us, is only a partial expression. In one word, Gods
infinity is intensive, not extensive.
Other important elements in his conception of God, from the intellectual

)
perspective, would be later named as Creativeness, Knowledge, Omnipotence

om
and Eternity. In each of these God is superior, and elementally different,
from the human being since the universe and reality is not an other to Him.

.c
The Absolute Ego... is the whole of Reality, Iqbal would state in The

al
Reconstruction. The perfection of the Creative Self consists... in the vaster
basis of His creative activity and the infinite scope of His creative vision.

qb
Iqbals position on Sufism has long posed a problem in the study of his

ai
thought, beginning with Asrar-i-Khudi. The preface to the first edition
denounced wahdat al wujud (which was subsequently translated as pantheism

m
in his English writings). Like his predecessor Shiekh Ahmad Sirhindi, who

lla
had done the same in the early 17th Century, Iqbal could not access the
original writings of Ibn Arabi to whom the popular opinion ascribed the

.a
origin of wahdat al wujud (Iqbals adolescent familiarity with The Bezzels of

w
Wisdom was far from an ideal starting point for an understanding of Ibn Above: Khwaja Hasan Nizami, a best
friend who temporarily became

w
Arabi). Iqbal, like the Orientalists, ignored the fact that wujud in Arabic had embittered adversary on the publication
the same root as wajdan (intuition) and carried a second meaning of finding.

(w
of Asrar-i-Khudi.
These connotations were tragically lost through translation as the unity of
Iqbals writings and interviews on
being or the unity of existence. To equate it with pantheism (as Iqbal did)
an
mysticism from this period include: (1)
was an even bigger blunder. Interview in Tareeqat, an Urdu weekly
from Lahore, August 1914 (while Asrar-
The corrupted usage of this term, current especially in India as early as
st

i-Khudi was not yet printed); (2) Asrar-i-


the days of Sirhindi, was even far removed from the origins. Here, the handful Khudi and Mysticism (Urdu) in Wakil,
ki

of the ruling Muslim elite understandably needed some philosophical Amritsar, January 15, 1916; (3) Islam
Pa

and Mysticism (English) in The New


justification for the weakening of their nerves (which was an unavoidable Era, Lucknow, July 28, 1917; and (4)
consequence of living in a perpetual tug of war with multitudes of unwilling Our Prophets Criticism of Contempo-
rary Poetry (English) in the same
Hindu subjects). Wahdat al wujud became a convenient variable to be substituted
y

journal the same month.


m

with the value of anything that could defend procrastination, lack of While the first interview praised the
determination or inaction on any given occasion. Hence the couplet of a early saints, the other writings more
de

directly attacked the later mystics. The


Pathan poet, aptly quoted by Iqbal in a hostile essay: I used to turn away intellectual decadence of the Muslim
armies in the battlefield but ever since I became familiar with the wahdat al
ca

World was attributed to (i) a spirit of


wujud I squirm away even from breaking a straw since it might hurt God magism with its tendencies towards
escape and fatalism, always awaiting a
lA

(since the Almighty was supposed to be existing in everything according to master with supernatural powers; and
the corrupted usage of this doctrine). Ibn Arabi would have been schocked (ii) wahdat al wujud, which Iqbal
ba

erroneously interpreted as pantheism.


at this blasphemy but, due to heaps of misunderstandings, Iqbal was led to Dominant schools of Eastern literature
believe that the Spanish mystic was the original perpetrator of such attitudes. were criticized as antithesis of the
Iq

Consequently, although Ibn Arabi was spared slants in the poem itself he healthy ideals the Holy Prophet might
have recommended.
was shown no reverence in table talk and correspondence for some time.
4,

Meanwhile Tarikh-i-Tasawwuf (A
The Bezzels of Wisdom used to be taught at my fathers house while I was History of Sufism) was taken up but
01

growing up, Iqbal wrote in a letter. From what I know, it contains nothing soon aborted due to scarcity of primary
sources. Rudimentary notes depict an
but atheism and impiety. This view was changed afterwards and reverence intellectual position from which Iqbal
)2

was restored to Ibn Arabi. soon moved on: the mystic Mansur
Hallaj, denounced here, was later a
Hence it should not surprise us that while Iqbal denounced wahdat al
(c

hero. Iqbals writings on mysticism from


wujud on one hand he was also the most eloquent mouthpiece of some of its this period should therefore be
aspects. Mir Dard included, the entire repertoire of mystic poetry in Urdu approached with caution and his
position on the issue determined from
cannot furnish one example to match this remarkable couplet from Bal-i- later works, especially The Reconstruc-
Gabriel (1935): The gnosis can thus be summarized: life is an arrow spent tion of Religious Thought in Islam
and yet never far removed from the bow. Another couplet from a Persian (1930/34) and Javidnama (1932).
88 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

ghazal gives us this analogy for the distance (or closeness) between the human
being and its Creator: Between me and Him is the equation of the eye and
the sight, for one is with the other even in the greatest of distances.
Critics have found difficulty reconciling such expressions with his well-

)
known stand against wahdat al wujud, and the most convenient alibi is, of

om
course, to say that Iqbal had yet another change of heart some time after
writing Asrar-i-Khudi! We can avoid such melodramatic explanations if we

.c
simply understand that Iqbal, like most of his contemporaries, confused two

al
different concepts: the wahdat al wujud as experienced by Ibn Arabi and the
greater mystics, and the wahdat al wujud as perceived by the decadent Muslim

qb
societies of the later period. Since Iqbal believed that both were the same he

ai
criticized both. His inner life, however, discovered and retained a contact
with the Divine illumination which, whether he knew it or not, was directly in

m
line with the original Sufi connotations of wujud.

lla
All said and done there was one irreconcilable point of departure. All
Akbar Allahabadi (1846-1921), a mystics, including Rumi (and especially Rumi), favored union over seperation.

.a
senior friend and role model for Iqbals
few attempts at satirical poetry is seen
Union was a blessing while separation was a curse: the drop becomes the

w
here as a young official of the Raj ocean itself by becoming a part of it. According to Iqbal, however, the drop

w
judiciary. This rare photograph was shuold lodge itself in an oyster and become a pearl.
printed in Makhzan in 1907.
The wave, so long as it remains a wave in the seas bossom makes itself

(w
Touch of Hegelianism in Lisanul Asr rider on the seas back, he stated in Asrar-i-Khudi (The same imagery had
Akbar was a short write-up in English been used earlier in The Candle and the Poet (1912) to illustrate the
an
appearing in The New Era, Lucknow,
August 18, 1917. Iqbal interpreted a dependence of the wave on the ocean). Here, an emphasis was added on the
couplet from Akbar to show that in a importance for the wave of retaining its own form and identity within the
st

few simple and well-chosen words he


ocean.
ki

revealed a metaphysical reality about


the nature of conflict inherent in the From a traditional mystical position this sounds like an affront to love.
Pa

physical existence. However, this is just another point where Iqbal seems to be in touch with the
Akbars superb word play, subtle
attack on the Western culture and bold pulse of our times even more than that of his own. Today, the society itself
seems to be imposing the mixed blessing of personal space on individuals
y

defense of the Eastern civilization all


m

made him attractive to Iqbal, who the large percentage of broken marriages and an increased number of people,
treated him like a mentor and visited
women included, who opt for living single are already being interpreted by
de

him thrice at his Allahabad residence,


the first time in 1913 (they had started some observers as a change in the patterns of personal growth in the modern
corresponding a few years ago).
world.
ca

Iqbals satirical poems were also a


tribute to the great master (first Mysticism had a unique role in the East where the traditional society was
lA

published as a pamphlet, Akbari Iqbal, polarized between the court and the shrine. In the absence of political
in 1914, some of which were later
included in Bang-i-Dara along with new movements the shrine provided catharsis for the socially oppressed classes
ba

pieces). (and any non-conformist drop-outs from the elitist circles, such as the
Akbar mediated between Iqbal and aristocrat Ameer Khusro and the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh). Obviously,
Iq

Hasan Nizami in their controversy over


mysticism but he was personally averse this was also a safety valve that prevented the masses from questioning the
to Iqbals approach and while he didnt roots of oppression. Iqbal appeared at a time when this non-questioning
4,

oppose it in public he wrote about it with


bitterness in his private correspondence
character of the Eastern society was changing due to contact with the Western
01

to other friends. political thought and it was therefore inevitable that his interpretation of the
tradition, no matter how mystical, could not be in full conformity with the
)2

past. In that he was guided, fortunately, not so much by logic but more by
what he termed as an inner synthesis of life.
(c

Beyond his own age Iqbal was also criticized by such eminent writers as
Syed Hossien Nasr. That Iqbal was not a Darwinian becomes evident in the
light of what has passed in the present book up to this point. The other
accusation that Iqbal departed from the traditional Muslim thinking (which is
IQBAL 89
ILLUMINATION 1914-22

implied in Nasrs comment) should be seen in the light of Nasrs own position Shiekh Ghulam
Qadir Girami
on the issue of tradition. (c.1856-
Nasr and his school has played a pivotal role in restoring the original 1927) was
context of the classical Muslim thought for the first time after the medieval probably

)
the last
period an achievement measurable in historic terms. It should not surprise

om
great
anyone if the energy necessary for such a monumental task carries the thrust Persian
just a little too far. Isolating the classical writers from every other context poet of the

.c
classical
except the true context of their own thought restores their originality but an order in

al
indulgence with this approach brings us close to that self-restricting India.
isolationism for which Sprengler was notorious in the days of Iqbal. While

qb
Girami was
Iqbal had deep respect for tradition he was almost fanatically committed to a close friend

ai
the principle of human growth. To him, the humanity was one and the since the early days
of the century and Iqbal usually
differences between cultures were to be used for empowerment of the people

m
consulted him on his Persian poems. It
and not to be idolized as pseudo-identities: Give up not on the East, nor was on Giramis suggestion that the

lla
shun the West when the Nature itself signals you to turn every night into a famous line about Plato rahib-i-awwal
flatoon-i-hakeem (see illustration on
bright morning, was his message.

.a
p.84) was changed to the more
semantically elegant rahib-i-dirina

w
aflatoon hakeem after the second
edition of Asrar-i-Khudi.

w
Girami was a court poet with the

(w
Nizam of Hyderabad from 1890 to 1917
but remained a simpleton to the end of
his life. In the later years he often used
an
to stay with Iqbal at Lahore and many
Considerable portion of Asrar-i-Khudi was devoted to the philosophy of jokes about his forgetfulness are well-
art, especially literature, and this theme recurred in many subsequent writings known.
st

A tonga (two-wheel horse carriage)


most notably in The Book of Slaves in Zuboor-i-Ajam(1927) and Zarb-i- was once brought to take him to the
ki

Kaleem (1937). All such views taken collectively form a kind of poetics of railway station for his return home.
Pa

Engaged in some literary conversation


Iqbal, and may be approached from two aspects. Firstly, the psychology of with Iqbal, Girami let the carriage wait
creation, and secondly, the aim of art and literature. for hours in the scorching sunlight and
So much has been written about Iqbals lofty ideals in arts that it is very then finding its seat too hot, sent this
y

message home: The tonga became


often forgotten how much importance he placed on the basics. The craft is
m

hot. I will now return in the winter.


important. Iqbal himself mastered the classical skills of poetry while still at Once he ordered Ali Bakhsh to cook
de

school. These included the science of metre, numerology of alphabet and cabbage for dinner, saying that he had
not eaten it in a long time but rebuked
the rules governing various genres. The medieval tradition of apprenticeship
ca

him thoroughly when the dish was


held these rules as inviolable and there was a degree of truth in that belief: served: You are giving me cabbage all
the time, do you want to kill an old man
the rules of any art are not made by the masters but discovered by them. They
lA

with gastric trouble? It was to no avail


are just like the laws of nature; you need to discover the laws governing that the astonished servant tried to
gravity if you want to make an aeroplane. Likewise, you need to understand
ba

remind him that this was the first time


the vegetable was cooked during his
the effect of language on the listeners if you wish to move them with your visit and he himself had ordered it. Iqbal
Iq

poem. It is true that the poet may be inspired with an idea that is difficult to laughed at this and told the servant,
be expressed through conventional manner of writing. However, it is the Since asking you to cook it this
4,

morning he has eaten it so many times


destiny of a true artist to struggle against the scientific laws of his or her in his imagination. Hence both of you
craft, so that the great idea becomes more than an idea so that it becomes
01

are right!
His terrible amnesia was restricted to
a piece of art that can appeal not only to the mind but to the entire being of everyday life only he was famous for
)2

the audience. It was with reference to these labors and rigors that Iqbal later holding an unbelievable repertoire of
said in Zarb-i-Kaleem: Although the invention of meaning is natures boon, Persian verses in his head.
(c

yet from striving and struggling the craftsman cannot be free. By the heat in
the masons blood does it take its life: be it the tavern of Hafiz or the temple
of Behzad! Without persistent labor no talent reveals itself, for the house of
Farhad is illuminated by the sparks of his spade.
90 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

The first criterion for any piece of art, therefore, is perfection. It should
be beautiful, grand and pleasing. It must give pleasure. However, since ego is
the most cherished value in life, a piece of art must also aim at strengthening
the ego and not at weakening it. Thus the idea of personality gives us a

)
standard of value, he wrote in his explanatory notes to Nicholson when the

om
latter set out to translate Asrar-i-Khudi a few years later. That which fortifies
personality is good, that which weakens it is bad. Art, religion, and ethics

.c
must be judged from the stand-point of personality. My criticism of Plato is

al
directed against those philosophical systems which uphold death rather than
Plato and his pupil Aristotle (depicted
life as their ideal systems which ignore the greatest obstructions to life,

qb
above from The School of Athens, by
the Rennaissance painter Raphael) namely, matter, and teach us to run away from it instead of absorbing it.

ai
represent opposite worldviews that can
hardly be reconciliated (Al-Farabis
It is here, in his theory of art, that Iqbal comes closest to Aristotle (a point
often ignored). His concept of art rests heavily on such dictums as A is A,

m
attempt to do so was a failure, as Iqbal
suggested in a footnote in Asrar-i- contradictions do not exist, purpose defines the object, and growth is a central

lla
Khudi).
value in life basic Aristotelean dictums. It is quite likely that although he was
According to Plato, objects in this world acquainted with Aristotles writings too, he absorbed these ideas more

.a
are mainly reflections of archetypes.
As Iqbal complained in Asrar-i-Khudi,
passionately through the tradition of the Muslim thinkers of the medieval

w
this position leads to a falsification of period who reinterpreted Aristotle. Similarities between Iqbal and the

w
the earthly existence, regarding it American author Ayn Rand (1905-1982) present a kind of laboratory test on
virtual rather than real.
how far Iqbals literary views were enriched by the Aristotelean tradition in

(w
Plato presented his views as dialogue
of his teacher Socrates (whose trial is the Muslim thought as well as the Romantic Movement of the West. Iqbal
recorded with superb dramatic force in
and Ayn Rand never heard of each other and while their views were
an
The Apology). Modern scholarship,
however, has doubts about how much of diametrically opposed on some other issues their writings were almost literal
translations of each other when it came to defining the purpose of art. Rand
st

the argument presented in such books


as The Republic and The Laws could be
described art as the technology of soul and the means for the human
ki

safely attributed to Socrates himself


other historical material we have on him, beings psychological survival. Passages from The Romantic Manifesto,
Pa

such as the Memorabilia of Xenophone, published by her in 1971, could easily pass for Iqbals own words if one
gives us a different picture.
Aristotle placed more importance on didnt know better: Since mans ambition is unlimited, since his pursuit and
y

reality, emphasized that contradictions achievemebnt of values is a lifelong process and the higher the values, the
m

do not exist, A is A (i.e., each identity is


different from another) and things are
harder the struggle man needs a moment, an hour or some period of time
in which he can experience the sense of his completed task, the sense of
de

defined, not only by their physical


properties but also by their purposes living in a universe where his values have been successfully achieved. It is like
something that has four legs and a seat
a moment of rest, a moment to gain fuel to move further. Art gives him that
ca

but on which you cannot sit, may look


like a stool but technically speaking it fuel. Art gives him the experience of seeing the full, immediate, concrete
lA

cannot be a stool. It must be something reality of his distant goals.


else, and only by finding out what it is
meant for can you discover what it is. It is interesting to notice that Rand deplored the influence of Plato on the
ba

Aristotle wrote over 170 books. All intellectual life of the West while Iqbal deplored the same in the East. The
were lost and his reputation to posterity
common strand was Aristotelean, rooted in that fundamental alternative,
Iq

rests on some 40 lecture notes on


various subjects sufficient to establish existence or non-existence.
him as the man who organized almost
4,

ever subject of classical knowledge


and practically founded many of them.
01

Poetics, Ethics and Politics may be


regarded as the most influential of his
)2

notes.
Both Aristotle and Plato influenced the
currents of Muslim thinking through
(c

translations of their works into Arabic, The third part of the mathnavi, describing what the human race in general
though it may be said that most writings could gain from following this philosophy, got delayed for some reason. When
attributed to Plato by the Arabs were
actually the works of Neo-Platonic he attempted it many years later his poetic inspiration ended up with something
interpretors of later Alexandria. very different the much more lyrical and therefore also more ambiguous
Zuboor-e-Ajam (to be discussed in the next chapter). However, it seems that he
IQBAL 91
ILLUMINATION 1914-22

never completely gave up this strand of thought and his last Persian mathnavi,
Pas Cheh Bayad Kerd (1936), extensively answers the questions one might ask at
the end of Rumooz.
You know very well, he says in Pas Cheh Bayad Kerd, Monarchy is about

)
the use of brute force. This brute force, in our own times, is commerce. The

om
shop is now an extension of the throne: they acquire profit through commerce
and tax through kingdom. He advises the Eastern nations to strengthen

.c
their self-esteem by drawing upon the healthy traditions of the past, and by

al
attaining economic independence. He insists that healthy personalities cannot
develop without political independence, and he explains that political wisdom

qb
is either divinely inspired or diabolic. The divinely inspired political wisdom
liberates, like Moses; the diabolical political wisdom enslaves, like the Pharaoh.

ai
The object of my Persian poems is not to make out a case for Islam, he

m
stated to the Western audience at one point. My aim is simply to discover a

lla
universal social reconstruction, and he explained why it was philosophically
impossible to ignore a social system that met this ideal of combining matter

.a
with spirit. He might have also seen the religious belief as a useful latent

w
resource for mobilizing the people. If they were willing to die in the name of

w
faith then there must be no limit to the wonders they could achieve if their
faith was reinterpreted as a formula of universal social reconstruction.

(w
However, this approach was not without its fatal drawback and with our
knowledge of what happened to his message after his death we can see the
an
irony more clearly than he might have anticipated in his own times. If he
were expecting that the masses would jump with a pleasant surprise at finding
st

a more liberating interpretation of their ancient beliefs then he was obviously


ki

overlooking those countless numbers to whom religion wasnt necessarily a


Pa

tool for self-actualization but rather a convenient escape from critical thinking.
This was evident in the reaction to his poems. The first appearance of
Asrar-i-Khudi was met with a widespread outrage but criticism was restricted
y
m

to the authors irreverence to Hafiz and his dedication of the poem to a


Iqbal made at least two aborted
controversial personality. Virtually nobody questioned the main argument of
de

attempts at writing the third part of his


the book or asked the author whether his philosophy was practicable or not, mathnavi, but ended up with metaphysi-
cal ghazals the two pages of
whether it was based on fact or delusion; people were not bothered about the
ca

notebook shown below were discarded


truth of what he was saying, they were merely concerned with its propriety. while the piece written after them went
lA

Once the storm subsided, his former reputation as a poet of Islam was into Zuboor-i-Ajam.
ba
Iq
4,
01
)2
(c
92 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

Right: Sir Ali remembered and in fact, new colors added to it. Then the balance tilted in
Imam, the the other direction with an equal sway of emotion: his works were scanned
Muslim
politician from to pick up references to Muslim kings and warriors until those few and
Punjab, to sparse verses where he had glorified the past became his best known lines.

)
Mercilessly taken out of their context they were printed on calendars and

om
whom Asrar-i-
Khudi was
dedicated in banners in his own lifetime and ever since, and serve as fuel to whatever
the first direction the mass hysteria takes at any given time. Holistic view of Iqbals

.c
edition.
message has been rare while the real worth of his poems perhaps still lies

al
Sir Syed Ali undiscovered as he himself prophesied at the beginning of Asrar-i-Khudi:

qb
Imam (1869-1931) was a leading My own age doesnt know my secrets; this isnt the market for what I have
barrister and the first Mulim nominee to
the Viceroys Executive Conference, the
to sell Many a poet there has been who are born after they die, opening

ai
first Indian to represent India at Geneva our eyes while closing their own; like flowers they sprout from the soil of
their tombs.

m
and at one time the Prime Minister to
the Nizam of Hyderabad.
Political correctness is one issue that seems very relevant here. Indeed,

lla
He presided over the annual session
of the Muslim Educational Conference Iqbal is held in such reverence in his own country that the idea of apologizing
in Amritsar in 1908 in which Iqbal
on his behalf is understandably offensive to many. It must be remembered,

.a
participated but had to leave early due
to his brothers sudden illness. however, that he himself was quicker than most thinkers in responding to

w
He participated in the Second Round ever new manifestations of reality and even when he had to retract from a

w
Table Conference (traveling on the
same ship with Iqbal) but fell ill due to
previously held proposition he did so not with a grudge or dismay but with

(w
the cold London climate and returned an almost childlike fascination at finding the possibility of a new position.
quickly. He died soon afterwards. This is what he did throughout his life and this is what he might have wanted
Iqbal dedicated Asrar-i-Khudi to him in
to do even after his death: he even anticipates growth in the grave when he
an
1915 and was criticized for flattering a
knighted dignitary. The dedication was mentions that like flowers some poets sprout from the soil of their tombs.
st

expunged from the second edition.


How would he modify his thought if he were living in the 21st Century? This
question cannot be irrelevant to the legacy of a living philosopher and can be
ki

answered at least in some parts if we distinguish his thought from analogy,


Pa

principle from example.


One such issue is Iqbals position on the womens role in society. Rumooz-
y

i-Bekhudi doesnt finish without An Address to the Maidens of Islam, in


m

which the poet emphasizes the importance of motherhood in ways that sound
today like a denial of the woman as an individual in her own right. Indeed it
de

might be so, but we must remember that neither England nor America had
ca

granted its women the right to vote by that time. In stating the views that he
stated in his writings, Iqbal wasnt being backward but only taking sides with
lA

a large section of men and women throughout the world who feared that
womens equality with men could not be translated into practice. That the
ba

world didnt come to an end when the women eventually started participating
in political life is such an obvious fact that it is hard to believe that Iqbal
Iq

would have missed it if he was living in our times. That he advocated many
social rights for women in his later life (which will be discussed in their proper
4,

place), is a reassurance to this, if needed.


01
)2
(c

The First World War (1914-1918) began while Iqbal was writing the first part
of his poem, and ended after the publication of the second. Meanwhile came
the Russian Revolution and afterwards, Gandhis non-cooperation tactics
(including the great Khilafat Movement of the Muslims of India). Iqbal gave
IQBAL 93
ILLUMINATION 1914-22
Right: Punjab
two cheers to the first, and perhaps only one to the second. He was obviously witnessed an
delighted to see the uprising of the downtrodden against an oppressive system additional
in Russia, but communism was alien to his fundamental thesis that the nature emphasis on
military
of reality is essentially spiritual and the human capability grows organically recruitment

)
from within to master the physical world. Iqbal was moved, not by the ideology during the

om
four rigorous
of the Bolsheviks but the earth shattering cry of freedom that came from years of the
the throats of millions in a grand unison during that Red October. First World

.c
Gandhis heroic defiance of the British imperialism also won some versified War (a Eureopan War, according to
Iqbal).

al
praise from Iqbal (which remains half-forgotten today, since it was later kept
out of the collected edition of Urdu poems). However, just as the Bolsheviks

qb
Iqbal attended two poetry recitals in
had denied the spiritual principle in the name of modern technology, Gandhi 1918 connected with the War, mainly
because he was approached by the

ai
apparently denied modernity in the name of some spiritual principle that was Governor through one of his close
only partially revealed to him yet, and his followers were promised to be friends, Sir Zulfiqar Ali Khan. The first

m
was aimed for boosting the recuirtment
updated periodically when and as, and if, the gurus inner light illuminated

lla
efforts of the British and Iqbal recited a
him. Iqbal joined the Khilafat Movement initially but quitted it over minor poem, The Answer of Punjab,
disagreement on constitutional procedures the Khilafat leaders were well- which opened with a eulogy of the

.a
Government and culminated with an
known for being driven by a noble expediency that often made them incapable address of the Spirit of Punjab to its

w
of fulfilling rational requirements, and it is interesting to recall that Jinnah sons, urging them to join the battle.

w
also dissented from the Indian National Congress around the same time over Needless to say, it was not included in
his anthology.
similar disagreements with Gandhi.

(w
On the second occasion he recited
Khizr of the Way, the Urdu poem Iqbal recited in 1921, captured his two poems an untitled fragment in
Persian and a beautiful poem A Ray of
appraisal of the current affairs and in some ways summarized the contents
an
the Sun, in Urdu (the latter is included
of the third part of his Persian poem, which was very much on his mind at in Bang-i-Dara). The Persian fragment,
that point but he was delaying its writing (and the composition of an exhaustive
st

later discared, was a candid statement


on the role assigned to various nations
Urdu poem could be one reason why he was left without the appetite to
ki

in the scheme of things (a theme


revisit the subject even in Persian too soon). closely associated with Iqbals
Pa

Khizr, the traditional ever living guide of Islamic folklore, gives a quick perception of a community as an ego):
Do you know, the Creator of Life
recap of the principle of movement and existence as if for the benefit of bestowed upon France colorful
those who might have missed Iqbals longer Persian dissertations on the subject
y

imagination, a warm heart and red wine.


m

Russia was given the equipment to bind


and then comes to three crucial issues: imperialism, capital versus labor, the people together so that the
and the Muslim world.
de

mountains may tremble at their unified


Imperialism is sorcery of the dominant nations, the old sage speaks power. Government, strategem and
trade was invested in Britain while upon
through Iqbal, and euphemistically criticizes the recent constitutional reforms
ca

Germany was bestowed a curious eye


of the British government as mere eyewash. and a longing heart. So that the harp of
lA

Through Khizrs salute to the Russian people, Iqbal comes out as most the world may forever play the song of
freedom, a plecturm was given to the
magnanimous; he goes to the extent of defending the Bolshevik philosophy American President.
ba

against his own spiritual principle. The human spirit broke free of all fetters, Hence, everything was taken away
and the Creator was left with nothing for
says Khizr. After all, how long, could Adam weep for a lost paradise?
Iq

us [i.e. the Muslims], so He gave


References to the current situation of the Muslim world in this poem are, Himself over to us!
simply, poetic expression at its best. The sons of the Trinity took away the The postwar friction between the
4,

British masters and their subjects


legacy of Abraham; the dust of Arabia turned into a brick in the wall of the resulted in the brutal massacre of
01

Church, Khizr comments on the tactful subjugation of the Middle East by protestors at Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar,
the British by pitting the Arabs against the Turks. The tulip-colored cap [a by the Martial Law Administrator
)2

Brigadier R.E. Dyer in April 1910. The


reference to the traditional Turkish fez] earned a bad reputation in the world, incident elicited another brief poem from
and those who were used to be coy and vain are now forced to beg and Iqbal, not included in the anthology:
(c

The sacred soil [of Jallianwalla Bagh]


borrow [apparently referring to the negotiations between the Ottoman Sultan asks all visitors to beware of the
and the Allied conquerors over a humiliating treaty]. Iran is buying from the strategems of destiny. Since it has
West, a liquor that will melt the container with its heat [alluding to the trade sprouted on the blood of the martyrs,
spare not any tears that you may shed
treaties between Iran and the Western imperialists]; the stratagem of the West on this plant.
did to the Muslim nation what rust does to gold and turns it into pieces. The
94 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

Palestine (especially its capital city blood of the Muslims is being taken at the price of water; however, your
Jerusalem) had a twofold importance for
the Muslim World. It was the land of the anxiety is based on ignorance. Rumi said long ago: whenever an old foundation
prophets, and even the Holy Prophet is to be resurrected, do you not know that the ancient edifice is first
was believed to have ascended from demolished?
here on his celestial journey of miraj. It

)
Iqbals advice to the Muslim world was starkly variant to the dominant

om
was also the home to over 450,000
Arabs who constituted 95% of the total trends of those days, represented by the leaders of the Khilafat Movement,
population in the 1880s when the
who, on one hand were forging alliances with the Hindu community without

.c
Jewish immigrants started pouring in
with their investments. any constitutional basis, and on the other hand taking deputations to those

al
Palestine, like the rest of the Middle very colonialists against whom they were struggling on other fronts.
East, was ruled by the Ottomans at the
Let the country slip out of your hands if it does, Iqbal had said two

qb
time of the First World War. The Arabs
rose against them when the British years ago in a poem titled The Beggars of the Caliphate. You must not

ai
promised the Husain of Makkah (in their deviate from the commandments of the Truth! Now, Iqbal advised through
correspondence in 1915-16) the
Khizr that the Muslim countries must unite, regardless of their political

m
independence of all Arab countries after
the war. However, in the secret Sykes- situations, and the message came in the verses that have since then become

lla
Picot Treaty (1916) the British promised
France and Russia to divide the Middle
proverbial: The Muslims ought to unite in order to defend their Holy Shrine;
from the banks of the Nile to the soil of Kashghar (Eik houn Muslim harem

.a
East and rule it with them. On Novem-
ber 2, 1917, the Jews were also ki pasbani kay liye/ Neil kay sahil say lay ker tabakhak-i-Kashghar). He advised

w
promised a homeland in the heart of
Palestine through the Balfour Declara- the Muslim world to hold its calm and fix its eyes on the long-term vision,

w
tion (named after the British statesman ignoring the emergent opportunities that seemed expediently attractive but
Arthur James Balfour), later incorpo- defeated the ultimate goals.

(w
rated into the Lague of Nations mandate
on Palestine on July 14, 1922. By
establishing a Zionist state under their
an
protection in the Middle East, the British
hoped to control the terminus of
st

pipelines from the rich oil-bearing


nations and an important checkpost on
ki

the trade route to India.


The Palestinians rejected the right of
Pa

the British to barter away their country


to a third party and feared disposses-
sion.
y

Iqbal was first invited by the British


m

government to participate in one of its


conferences on the Palestine problem
de

in 1919 but could not travel due to


financial considerations (which seems
ca

justified, since his foreign travels over a


decade later proved fatal to his legal
practice). He visited the Palestine in
lA

1931 on his way back from the Second


Round Table Conference in London.
In his poetry he supported the
ba

Palestinian cause and criticized the


British policy, the jugular vein of the
Iq

Europe is in the grip of the Jews.

Right: The Allied armies enter


4,

Jerusalem after defeating the Ottoman


garrisons with Arab support. Iqbal
01

regretted the Arab defection, calling it


a disgrace.
)2

Below right: Iqbal participates in the


inaugural session of Mutamar al Alam
(c

al Islami in Palestine, 1931 (He is


seated fourth from the right).
IQBAL 95
ILLUMINATION 1914-22

Events in the following years proved that Iqbal, the alleged dreamer, was
correct on every count and the heroic men of action were wrong in each of
their disagreements with the poet-philosopher.

)
om
.c
al
Asrar-i-Khudi was translated by R. A. Nicholson in 1920, a year before Iqbal

qb
recited Khizr of the Way. The English speaking world noticed it at once, Maulana Muhammad Ali (1876-1931)
and two years later the Lieutenant Governor of Punjab (the Raj jargon for

ai
more famous after his death by his
the Governor of Punjab), upon hearing the name of Iqbal from a foreign penname Jauhar and his brother

m
Shaukat Ali often found themselves at
journalist, woke up to the pertinence of raising the native poet to the status odds with the British Government since

lla
of an Indian Knight. In the meanwhile, the mainstream literary current of their involvement in political agitation
the West had taken an outrage against Iqbals philosophy. Whatever the world around 1912. Jauhar brought out the

.a
well-received English newspaper
might have thought at that time a fresh reading of those reviews stir our Comrade from Calcutta and later its

w
sympathy for Iqbal as a giant stranded among pygmies. Urdu counterpart Hamdard from Delhi,
both of which praised Iqbal as a Muslim
To begin with, the well-meaning noble Nicholson had an unfortunate gift

w
inspirational poet. They remained close
for grasping details with penetrating understanding while missing out the friends despite contrasting opinions.

(w
larger picture even if it were thrust under his nose. Prior to the publication Iqbal displayed a lack of enthusiam
for the Khilafat Movement launched by
of his translation he asked Iqbal for a summary statement, which the poet- the Ali Brothers and voiced disagree-
an
philosopher hurriedly drew up. ment with Gandhis program of civil
The idea of personality gives us a standard of value: it settles the problem disobedience. Jauhar accused him of
st

inaction, complaining that the poet was


of good and evil, Iqbal wrote in his notes for Nicholson. That which fortifies generally lethargic and specifically
ki

personality is good, that which weakens it is bad. Art, religion, and ethics unwilling to act what he preached a
Pa

widespread misconception precipitated


must be judged from the stand-point of personality Nicholson, despite by Iqbals own light-hearted remarks,
the benefit of Iqbals complete statement (which ran into several pages), had such as You dance while I sing.
the adamant capability of presenting him as a religious enthusiast, inspired Jauhars activism was led by his
y

passion for the international solidarity


by the vision of a New Mecca [sic. Makkah], a world-wide, theocratic, Utopian
m

of Muslims (to him signified by the


state in which all Moslems, no longer divided by the barriers of race and Ottoman Caliphate) and his distrust of
de

country, shall be one It must be observed that when he speaks of religion the European powers as conspirators
against this solidarity. In his zeal he
he always means Islam. Non-Muslims are simply unbelievers, and (in theory,
ca

overlooked the grievances of the Arabs


at any rate) the jihad is justifiable, provided that it is waged for Gods sake against their Turk masters as well as
the democratic struggle of the Turkish
alone. It is a lucky coincidence that Iqbal was called afterwards by the
lA

people against their Ottoman despot.


Governor with an offer of knighthood and not by the Inspector General of From Iqbals point of view he was also
CID for further investigation.
ba

overlooking the separate national


identity of the Muslim community in India
Leslie Dickinson, an acquaintance from Cambridge who had tried to and the need for its recognition by the
Iq

draw similarities between William Blake and Oriental sages for Iqbals benefit Hindus.
Jauhar was a fiery speaker, un-
daunted journalist and a hasty leader,
4,

who had to change his position on


01

several occasions, most notably in the


late 1920s when he reconciled with
both Iqbal and Jinnah. His dramatic
)2

death merely a few days after telling the


British in London that he would not
return to an enslaved homeland earned
(c

a final tribute from Iqbal.

Far left: Muhammad Ali Jauhar

Left: Shaukat Ali, the elder brother of


Jauhar, boarding a police van during
internment by the British Government.
96 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

in those days, was quick to take alarm. Quite clearly Mr. Iqbal desires and
looks forward to a Holy War, and that too a war of arms, Dickinson wrote
in The Nation, London, and lamented that weary of a Great War, the West
was now looking towards the East to look for a new star but what they find

)
there is not the star of Bethlehem, but this blood-red planet (Dickinson

om
might have read Yeats latest poem, The Second Coming). The East, if it
arms, may indeed end by conquering the West but if so, it will conquer no

.c
salvation for mankind, he concluded. The old bloody duel will swing

al
backwards and forwards across the distracted and tortured world Is this
really Mr. Iqbals last word?

qb
Dickinsons et tu Brutus, then fall Caesar feeling was coming from the

ai
fact that the optimists in Europe at the end of the Great War had begun to
hope that there would not be any more wars, especially since the establishing

m
of the League of Nations. Iqbal, as much as he might have desired peace,

lla
was under no illusions; the League of Nations was a rendezvous of coffin
thieves for distribution of graves. He wrote to Nicholson asking him to pass

.a
References to Karl Marx, socialism or on the message, Mr. Dickinson is quite right when he says that war is

w
some related theme are present in destructive, whether it is waged in the name of truth and justice, or in the

w
every poetic work of Iqbal after 1917.
Perhaps the most memorable of these
interests of conquest and exploitation. It must be put an end to in any case.
We have seen, however, that Treaties, Leagues, Arbitrations and Conferences

(w
is the trilogy of poems in Baal-i-Gabriel
(1936): Lenin in the Divine Presence, cannot put an end to it. Even if we secure these in a more effective manner
The Song of the Angels and The
than before, ambitious nations will substitute more peaceful forms of the
an
Divine Will. Eslewhere he praised Marx
as a Moses without a Sinai, a Messiah exploitation of races supposed to be less favored or less civilized. The truth
without a cross.
is that we stand in need of a living personality to solve our social problems,
st

However, Marxism didnt go well with


to settle our disputes, and to place international morality on a sure basis
ki

Iqbals fundamental premise that the


ultimate nature of reality is spiritual and Iqbal looked forward to the possibility that the evolution of civilization
Pa

his advice offered through the spirit


of Jamaluddin Afghani in Javidnama
may one day outgrow war and conflict, but, he added, I confess, I am not an
(1932) and otherwise on several idealist in this matter and believe this time to be very distant. I am afraid
instances was that the economic mankind will not for a very long time to come, learn the lesson that the Great
y

prinicples of the Quranic teaching


m

should be rediscovered. He laid a European War has taught them.


special emphasis on the verse of the The reviewer had also complained that Iqbal applied his universal
de

Quran that bids the Prophet to tell his


followers that all surplus should be
philosophy only to a particular nation while the non-Muslims were kept out
of the promised kingdom. Replying to that he pointed out that universal
ca

given away (Qul al-afu).


humanitarian ideals need to be started with a group of like-minded people
lA

Below: Karl Marx (1818-83), the co-


founder (with Friedrich Engels) of when it comes to putting them into action. While it was not his purpose to
scientific socialism (modern commu- make a case for Islam at all, he had still chosen to start with the Muslim
ba

nism). society because it has so far proved itself a more successful opponent of
the race idea which is probably the hardest barrier in the way of the
Iq

humanitarian ideal Tribal or national organizations on the lines of race or


territory are only temporary phases in the unfoldment of collective life, and
4,

as such I have no quarrel with them; but I condemn them in the strongest
01

possible terms when they are regarded as the ultimate expression of the life
of mankind. It might have been very difficult to grasp the full significance
)2

of his statement in those days, but it is perhaps easier to do so today when


the natural course of human development has presented us with the word,
(c

global village.
The unkindest cut of all came from none other than the novelist E. M.
Forster (whose Passage to India was still in the making and would appear two
years later). Reviewing Nicholsons translation in The Athenaeum, he lamented
the fact that Iqbal had not been translated earlier, unlike Tagore; he compared
IQBAL 97
ILLUMINATION 1914-22

him with Tagore in a more favorable light, Tagore was little


noticed outside Bengal until he went to Europe and gained the
Nobel Prize, whereas Iqbal has won his vast kingdom [among
his own people] without help from the West. This compliment

)
was truer to the characteristic self-respect of Iqbal than any

om
from his own people. However, Forster was a blind visionary
and he anachronistically placed the so-called nationalist poems

.c
of the Bhatti Gate period as Iqbals latest; his understanding

al
was that the poet, after writing Islamic poetry, changed his
position to join the mainstream Indian liberation movements

qb
and was now coming close to the vision of a homogenous
Above: Lenin addresses the Bolshevik

ai
Indian nation! crowds. The Russian Revolution
Through this same fatal review, the kind and well-meaning but also myopic

m
received a glowing tribute in Khizr of
and ignorant Forster reinforced the misunderstanding originally made by the Way.

lla
Nicholson and subsequently picked up by every reviewer: Nietzsches alleged Khizr of the Way can be considered as
influence on Iqbal. However, Forster went a step further than the rest. The

.a
a capsule summary of Iqbals two-part
significance of Iqbal is not that he holds [the doctrine of Nietzsche] but that Persian mathnavi. The Urdu poem also

w
contained the gist of what he had in
he manages to connect it with the Koran. Two modifications, and only two, mind for a third part of the mathnavi

w
have to be made (which eventually expanded into Pas
Cheh Bayad Kerd in 1937). The poem
One can only imagine how Iqbal must have felt at reading this utter

(w
was recited at the annual session of
nonsense. [The writer in the Athenaeum does not] rightly understand my idea Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam, Lahore, on
of the Perfect Man which he confounds with the German thinkers Superman, April 16, 1921.
an
The poem opens with picturesque
Iqbal complained to Nicholson, I wrote on the Sufi doctrine of the Perfect description of a river to which the poet
Man more than twenty years ago, long before I had read or heard anything of
st

has come with a heavy heart (much like


Nietzsche He went on to quote the date of publication of his Al-Jili Javidnama a few years later). There he
ki

is met by Khizr, a traditional guide in the


thesis and also hoped that if the reviewer had known some of the dates of Muslim folklore who is supposed to
Pa

my Urdu poems referred to in his review, he would have certainly taken a have found the Water of Life and hence
living perptually some believe him to
totally different view of the growth of my literary activity. Frankly, we cannot be the unnamed sage who knows more
be so sure of that. Firstly, Forster was in a habit of mugging up his facts in
y

than Moses in a story in the Quran, and


m

another article, years after Iqbals death, he attributed to him not only poems Iqbals poem also draws upon this view.
Asking him why he lives in the desert,
in Urdu and Persian, but also in Punjabi! Secondly, Forster was diametrically
de

the poet seeks to understand (a)


opposed to Iqbal in his beliefs about art and literature, and Iqbal should not existence, (b) imperialism, (c) conflict
have hoped for any good from him despite the best intentions. between labor and capital, and (d) the
ca

destiny of Islam.
A Passage to India is generally hailed as Forsters humanitarian outcry against The answers (divided by subheadings
lA

racism, and therefore the evils of that book have gone unnoticed: why are in Bang-i-Dara) describe life as a
continuous struggle and point out that
the best examples of personalities from both sides the Indian as well as the there is always more to the world than
ba

British absent in that book? This pathetic piece of self-deprecating guilt meets the eye.
originated a long line of writings in which the sub-continent is presented as Says Rumi: Whenever an old
Iq

foundation is to be resurrected, do you


home to pitiable creatures tormented by the advances of a cruel modernism, not know that the ancient edifice is first
and this tradition has come down to our own times in many presumed demolished? This is Khizrs comment
4,

masterpieces. on the fragmentation of the Muslim


World after the First World War, and
01

Long time ago, Iqbal made a prediction about the future of Western incidentally the first reference to Rumi in
literature but kept it to himself; in 1920 he still might not have realized that Iqbals Urdu poetry (except for some
)2

uncollected verses from his students


his prophecy had come true with more accuracy than he could grant it. By days, facilitating a teacher for his
the time I arrived in England in 1905, I had come to feel that despite its translation of Rumi).
(c

seeming beauty and attraction, the Oriental literature was devoid of a spirit Khizrs applaud for the Bolshevik
Revolution in this poem led to a
that could bring hope, courage and boldness, Iqbal stated at one point. widespread impression that Iqbal was
Looking at the Western literature [while in Europe], I found it quite uplifting a socialist a suggestion he immedi-
but there, the science was poised against humanities and infusing pessimism ately refuted through a press state-
ment.
98 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

R. A. into it. The Western literary situation was no better than the Oriental in my
Nicholson
(1868-1945) eyes by the time I returned in 1908.
stood first in With uncanny prophetic accuracy, Iqbal the last romantic foresaw the
the Tripos of dawn of an age when loss of pride in the human soul would manifest itself

)
Indian
in all walks of life through fascism, Nazism and tyranny of the masses in

om
Languages in
1892 from politics; through an obsession with exploring mental diseases without defining
Trinity
mental health in psychology; and in art through disintegration of form itself

.c
College,
where he was and an aversion to beauty (form, according to Iqbal, was important for the

al
appointed a existence of the ego, and he defined it as some kind of local reference or
fellow the very
empirical background).

qb
next year and Sir Thomas Adams
Professor of Arabic after Browns death In the aftermath of abundant reviews on his poem in the British literary

ai
in 1926. He translated selections from circles (and perhaps also alarmed at their intellectual deficiencies), he decided
Rumi into English as part of his thesis
to give a helping hand to the West. His next work was going to be addressed

m
for the fellowship and several portions
from the masters Diwan-i-Shams Tabriz to the Europeans. Payam-i-Mashriq, or A Message From the East!

lla
in 1898. His translation of the entire six
volumes of Rumis Mathnavi and two

.a
volumes of commentary played a major
role in the understanding of Rumi in the

w
Western world.
Nicholson offered to translate Asrar-

w
i-Khudi. The translation was published
in 1920 as Secrets of the Self, received

(w
instant notice in the academic circles of
Europe (and severe criticism as well)
and finally led to Iqbals knighting.
an
Unfortunately, Nicholsons introduction
to the book was way off the point in
st

introducing the author as a shortsighted


Muslim revivalist who was recycling
ki

Nietzsche (misconceptions that Iqbal


vigorosly tried to correct through his
Pa

correspondence with Nicholson).


y
m
de
ca
lA
ba
Iq
4,
01
)2
(c
Letter from Iqbal to M. K. Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand
Gandhi (1869-1948) received
November 29, 1920 some initial acclaim from
Declining the offer of Vice-Chancellorship of Jamiah Iqbal for indomitable cour-
Milliyah Islamiyah, Aligarh age in the face of foreign rule,
Thank you so much for your letter which I received but the admiration soon

)
the day before yesterday. I regret very much my in-

om
faded out. The two met at
ability to respond to the call of those for whom I the Amritsar session of the
have the highest respect, for reasons which need not Khilafat Movement in 1919,

.c
and perhaps cannot be mentioned at present. While I but no details of that inter-

al
am a strong supporter of National Education I do action survive. A more com-
not think I possess all the necessary qualifications for prehensive encounter

qb
the guidance of a University which requires a man occured during the Second
who would steer the infant institution through all the Round Table Conference in

ai
struggles and rivalries likely to arise in the earlier stages London, 1931, where Iqbal

m
of its life. And I am, by nature, a peacetime worker. was thoroughly disap-
There is one further point. Situated as we are, po- pointed by Gandhis refusal

lla
litical independence must be preceded by Economic to concede constitutional safeguards
independence and in this respect the Muslims of India are far behind other

.a
to the minorities in India. Love with-
communities of this country. Their principal need is not Literature and Phi- out justice turns into emotional black-

w
losophy but Technical Education which would make them economically inde- mail and Gandhi may be accused of

w
pendent. And it is on this latter form of education that they should, for the employing it successfully against the
present, focus all their energies. The gentlemen responsible for the creation of

(w
Untouchables (Dalits) in September
the new University of Aligarh will be well advised if they make it an institution 1932 when he announced a fast unto
devoted mainly to the technical side of Natural Science supplemented by such death unless the Untouchables surren-
an
religious education as may be considered necessary. dered the right to separate elctorates
There is no doubt that in view of the events that have happened in the Mus- granted to them by the British Gov-
st

lim world especially with regard to Arabia and the Holy places the Mussulmans ernment.
of India will consider themselves justified in adopting some form of Non-
ki

According to Iqbal, the political


cooperation, but the religious aspect of the question of education is, to my mind, methods of Gandhi arose out of a
Pa

still obscure, and I have already published proposals for a thorough discussion contact between the opposing world-
of the whole question. I am afraid I am not an expert on the Sharia, but it is my consciousnesses of the Western mind
conviction that in connection with the question of education the law of Islam
y

(chronological and evolutionary) and


cannot fail to give us a suitable line of action under our present limitation.
m

the Eastern mind (non-historical).


Hoping you are well. The British as a Western people can-
de

not but conceive political reform in


India as a systematic process of
ca

gradual evolution. Mahatma Gandhi


as an Eastern man sees in this atti-
lA

tude nothing more than an ill-con-


ceived unwillingness to part with
ba

power, Iqbal stated in his Presiden-


tial Address to a session of the Mus-
Iq

lim Conference in Lahore, 1932. Ac-


cording to him, the communal issue
4,

was the only real problem in India


01

(and not the inherently temporary


British colonial rule).
)2

In 1933, when Jawaharlal Nehru ac-


cused Iqbal of standing in the way
of nationalism he retorted, Perhaps
(c

the greatest anti-national leader in


India today is Mr. Gandhi who has
made it a life-mission to prevent the
Top: Gandhi with a spinning wheel upheld as a symbol against industrialization and
fusion of Untouchables with other
adopted by many Muslims during the Khilafat Movement in the early 1920s (above).
communities.
)
om
.c
al
qb
ai
m
lla
.a
w
w
(w
an
st
ki
Pa
y
m
de
ca
lA
ba
Iq
4,
01
)2

Sir Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Khan (1873-1930), a friend and ad-


(c

mirer of Iqbal, wrote the first book on him, The Voice of the
East (1922). He was the scion of a feudal family from Malir
Kotla and an important political and social figure in Punjab.

Above: Iqbal and Sir Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Khan in the 1920s.
(c
)2

FOUR
01
4, CHAPTER
Iq
ba
lA
ca
de
m
y
Pa

HARMONIES
ki

UNSUSPECTED
st
an
(w
w
w
.a
lla
m
ai
qb

to 1930
1922
al
.c
om
)
(c
)2
01
4,
Iq
ba
lA
ca
de
m
y
Pa
ki
st
an
(w
w
w
.a
lla
m
ai
qb
al
.c
om
)
IQBAL 103
UNSUSPECTED HARMONIES 1923-30

On January 1, 1923, Shiekh Muhammad Iqbal of Lahore,


formerly of Sialkot, officially became Sir Muhammad
Iqbal through the announcement of his Knighthood by
His Majestys Government of India. This was the second

)
om
time within eight years that he outraged his people, the
first time being his censure of Hafiz and conventional
mysticism in Asrar-i-Khudi. The nationalist press

.c
denounced him and the most powerful attack came from

al
one Abdul Majid Salik, a young journalist and a disciple

qb
of Iqbal for ten years, Sirkar ki dehleez pay Sir ho gaye
Iqbal! This was a robust pun on the noun Sir, which in

ai
Urdu is also a verb carrying the meaning of being

m
overcome by an adversary, and the line became famous
overnight. Salik could not face Iqbal for quite a while

lla
afterwards but when a meeting eventually happened he

.a
was amazed to find no change in the warmth and affection Above: This portrait of Iqbal was taken
of his former mentor. by an admirer Dr. Shuja Namus in 1923

w
when he got his copy of Payam-i-
Iqbal must have anticipated the adverse reaction (as Mashriq signed by the author (previous

w
well as prestigious receptions now being held in his honor page).

(w
by the loyalists), but he was not a man to care for public opinion. He must Left: The medal awarded to Iqbal at the
have also known, unlike his reactionary critics, that he was not taking a favor time of knighthood.
an
from the government but giving one; this was a time when the British regime
Portrait used on p.101 was painted by
of India was being criticized even by its own people, who were too weary Ajab Khan from this photograph and
st

after the Great War. It was a timely gesture for the Anglo-Indian rulers to won the first prize in the All Pakistan
Iqbal Painting Competition held by
save their face back home by showing a sign of cooperation from a great
ki

Iqbal Academy Pakistan in 2003.


Indian poet whose songs of liberation were by that time well-known among
Pa

the informed circles of England. On his own part Iqbal had shown the British
Government that the non-cooperation movement was an essentially Hindu
y

affair and he, as a prominent spokesperson of the Muslim nation, was willing
m

to defy it. In other words, as far as Iqbal was concerned, the Hindus and the
de

Muslims were two separate nations despite the Ali Brothers.


Other things had been happening around the world, such as the victory
ca

of the Turks at Smyrna on September 9, 1922. Apparently, the Allied had


overlooked one small detail while meticulously charting their division of
lA

Turkey after the Great War; and that small detail was a relatively little known
soldier Mustapha Kemal Pasha, who now turned the tables.
ba

The Turks had won temporary victories even in the Tripoli and Balkan
wars and throughout the Great War, and the Indian Muslim newspapers had
Iq

celebrated each of them like a final triumph. Iqbal, who remained unmoved
by those was now roused to prophetically announce the birth of a new age
4,

and came up with The Dawn of Islam. This could have been the greatest
01

Urdu poem if he had stopped writing after that. No other Urdu poem, by
him or anyone else, has such high concentration of verses to become
)2

proverbial even beyond the poets admirers: The nargis weeps over her
blindness for thousands of years for it is not every day that a seer is born in
(c

the orchid (Hazaroan saal nargis apni baynoori pay roati hai, etc), is well-known
even to those who do not know that the subject of these lines was Ataturk.
Likewise, Neither strategem nor swrods come to avail in slavery but the
chains can be broken with the ecstasy of belief (...Jo ho zauq-i-yaqeen paida,
etc) is not only well-remembered but also very often misinterpreted.
104 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

Indian Muslims retained keen interest in


the affairs of Turkey since the Ottoman
Emperor Selim III (1789-1808) declared
himself caliph. Being situated at the

)
geographical crossroads of Europe and In March, 1923, just after reciting The Dawn of Islam he received a book

om
Islam led to three different strands of from an admirer that set him on a new course of thought. It was an American
thought in Turkey: (a) the religious
(millat) culture; (b) the Western publication on Muslim financial laws and it mentioned that according to

.c
(tanzimat) culture; and (c) the national some Muslim jurisprudents even the clear sanctions of the Quran could be
overruled with common consensus among the Muslims. Was that so? This

al
(Turkish) culture. The last was advo-
cated by the poet-philosopher Zia
was a question Iqbal tried to answer substantially, and honestly, over the next

qb
Gokalp, who wrote, The humanity is
heading towards an international society few years.
by the federation of free nations, and
Meanwhile, he had completed Payam-i-Mashriq, which came out in May

ai
called upon the Turks to adopt Western
culture while remaining Turks and 1923. An anthology of his poems was long overdue, and until a few years ago

m
Muslims. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1888- he was thinking of compiling his Urdu and Persian poems together but his

lla
1938) was essentially a product of this
outlook although he evolved his own
newfound motivation to address the issue of Western art and literature inspired
brand of Kemalism and antagonized a different plan: the book should have a character to it, just like Goethes

.a
many veterans such as Halide Edib Divan. It is significant that he chose Goethe as comrade from the other side.
(1882-1964) and Rauf Bay (1881-1964)

w
both of whom, incidentally, visited Goethe was not only a herald of that Romantic Movement of which Iqbal
was the last remnant now, but had also been peculiarly alive to the tradition

w
India in the 1930s and offered
extensive lectures presided over by
of the Persian poetry. Iqbal could not be misunderstood as pleasing the white

(w
Iqbal.
Iqbal advised the Indian Muslims to masters if he responded to one of their poets who himself imitated the
offer a healthy conservative criticism Persians. Besides, the Germans had never ruled over India and were in fact
an
on modern Turkey. If the renaissance
of Islam is a fact, and I believe it is a
an ally of the defeated Turks against the British in the recent war.
The book was dedicated to Amanullah, the king of Afghanistan, through
st

fact, we too one day, like the Turks, will


have to re-evaluate our intellectual a poem clearly reminiscent of Urfi as far as the poet ventured to praise himself
ki

inheritance. In his article Islam and


Ahmedism (1935) he mentioned Zaghlul before a king. With due respect he also went ahead to offer some unsolicited
Pa

Pasha of Egypt, Raza Shah of Iran and advise, asking the despot to look inside, open up to the deeper meanings of
Mustafa Kemal as a set of men
emerging on the grounds prepared by
life and remember his obligation towards his people. (Incidentally, King
Amanullah was deposed by his people a few years later for doing these very
y

reformers like Jamaluddin Afghani.


Such men are liable to make mistakes sort of things and received Iqbal in Rome in 1931 while still in exile).
m

but the history of nations shows that


This same book was also the first detailed expose of a theme that
de

even their mistakes have sometimes


borne fruit. In them it is not logic but life dominated Iqbals poetry from this point onwards: the conflict between love
that struggles restless to solve its own (ishq) and reason (aql, or khirad).
ca

mysteries.
He had lightly touched upon it earlier, and one couplet from 1904 was
lA

Below: Mustafa Kamal Pasha Ataturk already proverbial by then: The heart ought to be chaperoned by reason, but
let it be abondoned too. (Achha hai dil kay saath rahay pasban-i-aql/Leikin
ba

kabhi kabhi issay tanha bhi chhor day). However, the concept was not elaborated
before in such detail as now appeared, for instance, in The Message, which
Iq

opened the Western section of the book. Here, Iqbal invoked the Western
philosopher to rise above the limitations of a reductionist logic and become
4,

aware to the ever living powers of love.


01

We can assume that Iqbal would have expected his audience in the East as
well as the West to interpret his notion of love in the light of Asrar-i-Khudi
)2

(or its English translation) where several chapters were dedicated to its
explanation. Love in that sense was not anti-reason, but rather a connectedness
(c

with ones sense of life.


Reason is also divinely originated but it is a tool to be used. Also, it has a
dubious tendency to be subdued by the other and therefore the owners
sense of life must keep a check on it, as he now proposed in A Dialogue
Between Knowledge and Love, where Love invokes upon Knowledge: Come,
IQBAL 105
UNSUSPECTED HARMONIES 1923-30

just take a little of my sympathies and lets create a lasting paradise Iqbals fascination with Johann
Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832),
on earth. We are comrades since the Day of Creation; we German poet, dramatist, novelist,
are the high and low notes of the same song. and scientist (seen left) might
His fellow-philosophers of the West he addressed in have started in the college days

)
but he studied Faust (1808/32)

om
a spirit of comraderie and felicitated the advancement in original German in 1907 in
of the sciences. Springing forth from the solitude of Heidelberg (Germany). The
immediate impact was, by his
love we turned humble dust into a mirror and burnt

.c
own admission, a recognition
the old world with the fire in our hearts, went on the of the infinitude of Goethes

al
poem, The Message. However, love turned into lust imagination, and the discovery
of the narrow breadth of his

qb
and breaking free of all bondage it preyed upon own. Comparing him with
humanity. Shakespeare he observed that

ai
Elsewhere in the book he criticized the materialistic while both rethink the Divine
thought of creation the realist

m
bias of the Western civilization and the injustices of the English playwright rethinks the
Western imperialism but balanced his censure with a individual whereas Faust is

lla
humanity individualized. Iqbals
remarkable tongue-in-cheek appreciation of the British gifts Payam-i-Mashriq was a literary

.a
to India. The British should not complain about the unruly behavior response to Goethes Weststlicher
of the Indians because it were none other than they themselves who taught Divan (1819), which had represented

w
the Oriental Movement in German
volition to the worshippers of fate in this sub-continent (In an open letter to

w
literature.
a British author in 1931 he would again emphasize the need for keeping the References to Goethe in the poems of

(w
sense of humor alive if India and Britain were to get over their grievances Iqbal are generally concentrated in
Payam-i-Mashriq but resonance of his
once independence was gained by India). thought may be felt throughout.
an
The inner turmoil of the nations, which we cannot fully comprehend Goethes emphasis on the right and
power of the individual to enquire freely
since we, too, are subject to it, is precursor to some great spiritual and cultural into affairs both human and divine, and
st

change, Iqbal wrote in the Preface of his book. The Great War of Europe to work out his or her own destiny, was
was an apocalypse, he went on (he would always refer to the First World
ki

close to Iqbals own heart and while the


favorite motif of the running stream in
War as a European war), and it has annihilated the old world order in
Pa

Iqbals poetry might have preceded his


nearly every dimension. Nature is now creating a new Adam and a new acquaintance with Goethes Mahomets
world to suite him in the depths of life from the ashes of culture and civilization Gesang (The Song of Muhammad,
y

which Iqbal later translated for Payam-i-


and we can see a vague glimpse of this in the writings of the philosophers Mashriq), the Prologue in Heaven at the
m

Einstein and Bergson. Iqbal then warned his European counterparts to pay opening of Javidnama as well as
various other songs of the angels were
de

attention to the decline of the West, which, according to some Western almost certainly modeled after Faust. In
statesmen, was already set in motion. Looking from a purely literary point a poem Jalal and Goethe (Jalal being
ca

of view the debilitation of the forces of life in Europe after the ordeal of Rumis first name) in Payam-i-Mashriq,
the German poet recites his Faust to
the Great War is unfavorable to the development of a correct and mature
lA

Rumi in heaven and elicits the favorable


literary ideal. Indeed, the fear is that the minds of the nations may be gripped comment, Cunningness belongs to the
by thatdecadent and slow-pulsed Persianism, which runs away from the Devil, love to the human being.
ba

difficulties of life and cannot distinguish between the emotions of the heart
and the thoughts of the brain. However, America seems to be a healthy
Iq

element in Western civilization, the reason for which perhaps is that it is free
from the trammels of old traditions and that its collective intuition is receptive
4,

to ideas and influences.


01

He did not forget to have a word for his Eastern readers too at the end of
his introduction to the book that was primarily addressed to the West. The
)2

East, and especially the Islamic East, has opened its eyes after a centuries-
long slumber, he wrote. But the nations of the East should realize that life
(c

can bring no change in its surroundings until a change takes place in its inner
depths and that no new world can take shape externally until it is formed in
the minds of the people.
Nicholson was quick to respond with his usual lack of perception.
Reviewing the book in a European journal, he reminded the English-speaking
106 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

world that Iqbal had two voices of power. One appeals to the Indian patriot
in Urdu while the other, Which uses the beautiful and melodious language
of Persia, sings to a Moslem audience
Of course, Nicholson conveniently overlooked those poems that didnt

)
om
substantiate his view of Iqbal as a narrow-minded Muslim preacher. A true
lover makes no distinction between the Kaba and the temple, for the Beloved
meets openly in one place and privately in the other, Iqbal had said in one of

.c
the many ghazals of Payam-i-Mashriq that invoked upon the humanity to rise

al
above petty differences. Such references could not prevent Nicholson from

qb
wondering why membership of [Iqbals ideal society] should be a privilege
reserved for Moslems?

ai
Chastised by Iqbals previous strong objection to the naming of Western

m
philosophers as his mentors, the absent-minded professor was careful to
recount that Iqbals spirit remained essentially Oriental although he has been

lla
profoundly influenced by Western culture but complained that his criticism
Albert Einstein (1879-1955) presented

.a
his theory of relativity in installments of the West, though never superficial was sometimes lacking in breadth. With
from 1905 onwards and received the the Humanistic foundations of European culture he appears to be less

w
Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921. Iqbal intimately acquainted, he wrote. The truth was that Iqbal was as close to the

w
somewhat hastily infered that Classical
Physics has learned to criticize its own Humanistic foundations of Europe as any living European author with such

(w
foundations. As a result... the kind of inclinations, but unfortunately there werent many who belonged to that creed
materialism which it originally necessi-
tated is rapidly disappearing and the
anymore.
an
day is not far off when Religion and The mind of Europe was already in the grip of the very same pessimism
Science may discover hitherto unsus- Iqbal was trying to warn it against; Payam-i-Mashriq, or A Message from the East,
st

pected mutual harmonies.


Iqbal paid glorious tribute to Einstein, went unattended by those to whom it was addressed and who were
unfortunately more prepared to embrace poetry of boredom and the aesthetics
ki

starting with a poem in Payam-i-


Mashriq: Like Moses he sought a of dadaism than listening to the songs of ego and human greatness.
Pa

theophany until his mind, in quest of


light, unveiled its mystery, and Once again, a parallel may be drawn between Iqbal and Ayn Rand, since
commenting that a Zarathustra has they shared the same ideals in art and literature. In 1923, Iqbal was expressing
y

come from the Jewish race.


his fear that the West may be gripped by that decadent and slow-pulsed
m

In the first lecture of The Reconstruc-


tion of Religious Thought in Islam, Iqbal ideals in art that run away from the difficulties of life and cannot distinguish
de

stated: Personally, I believe that the between the emotions of the heart and the thoughts of the brain. Forty
ultimate nature of reality is spiritual: but
in order to avoid a widespread misun- years later, Ayn Rand was recording her disagreement with the mainstream
ca

derstanding it is necessary to point out currents of the Western literature in these words: It is rationality, purpose
that Einsteins theory, which, as a and values that they regard as naive while sophistication, they claim, consists
lA

scientific theory, deals only with the


structure of things, throws no light on of discarding ones mind, rejecting goals, renouncing values and writing four-
the ultimate nature of things which letter words on fences and sidewalks. Scaling a mountain, they claim, is easy
ba

possess that structure. The philosophi-


cal value of the theory is twofold, since
but rolling in the gutter is a noteworthy achievement... Mans soul, they proclaim
with self-righteous pride is a sewer... It is a significant commentary on the
Iq

it shows that substance is not a


persistent thing but a sequence of present state of our culture that I have become the object of hatred, smears,
events and, secondly, that space is
denunciations, because I am famous as virtually the only novelist who has
4,

dependent on matter.
However, the theory presented one declared that her soul is not a sewer, and neither are the souls of her characters,
01

great difficulty, i.e., the unreality of time. and neither is the soul of man. (The Goal of My Writing, 1963). This was
To regard time as a fourth dimension of
how the mainstream treated the novelist who dared say that if a dedication
)2

space is likely to present the future as


already given and as indubitably fixed page were to precede the total of my work, it would read: To the glory of
as the past; Iqbal pointed out that it was
Man.
(c

very difficult to understand what the


real nature of Einsteins time was, This comparison also helps us understand why Iqbal became a target for
although it seemed to be neither many liberals in his own region in the later part of the 20th Century. The
Bergsons pure duration nor serial time.
mainstream literature, whether in South Asia or elsewhere, could not forgive
any man or woman for glorifying the human soul.
NOSTALGIA
Dawn of Islam was
recited in the annual session
of Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam in
March, 1923.
The inspiration was provided by

)
om
the victory of the Turks over the
Greeks at Smyrna, which ensured
the survival of Turkey as an inde-

.c
pendent state and also its rebirth as

al
a young, vibrant member in the in-
ternational community of nations.

qb
The poem takes a lead from
Iqbals previous long Urdu poem,

ai
The Khizr of the Way, and pro-

m
claims the birth of the new world
order promised at the end of that

lla
poem. Other themes include the

.a
position of the Muslim commu-
nity in the cosmic scheme of things

w
as well as its role as the defender of

w
Asia at a more earthly level; an ap-
praisal of the First World War (1914-

(w
18); and general dissatisfaction with
the exploitative principle of the na-
an
tion states apparently Iqbal hoped
that with the acquisition of political
st

and economic independence (which


ki

was now in sight at least in Turkey,


Egypt and Iran) the Muslims would
Pa

succeed in presenting an alternate


model of international relations
based on the Islamic ideal of hu-
y
m

man unity.
From a literary point of view the
de

poem is a delightful exercise in brev-


ity, imagery and variety of expres-
ca

sion. Many verses from it have be-


come part of the linguistic furni-
lA

ture in the region.


ba
Iq
4,

Above: A page from The Dawn of Islam in the collected


works of Iqbal produced by Iqbal Academy Pakistan.
01

Left: A famous couplet from The Dawn of Islam was


)2

used on the banner over the dais on the occasion of the


famous Lahore Session of the All India Muslim League
(c

(March 1940), where the Pakistan Resolution was passed.


Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan can be seen in this picture
while Chaudhry Khaliquz Zaman seconds the resolution.

107
SYNOPSIS
Payam-i-Mashriq The tulip traditionally identified
(1923) with the lover in the Eastern peotry
The impulse that brought forth the was elaborately described in Payam-i-
Payam-i-Mashriq was provided by the Mashriq as a primordial entity that lent
Weststlicher Divan of the German phi- flame to the celestial bodies but subse-

)
losopher of life, Goethe, Iqbal wrote quently lost its fire upon donning the

om
in the preface to his third book of robe of existence as a flower. It now longs
poems. There is undoubtedly some to borrow back its heat from the sun.

.c
resemblance between Germany as it
was a hundred years ago and todays

al
East. The truth, however, is that the The Leftover Wine THE PERFUME OF THE
45 ghazals follow the poems most

qb
internal unrest of the worlds nations, FLOWER
which we cannot assess properly be- of them blatantly reminiscent of Hafiz
cause of being ourselves affected by Sherazi, whom Iqbal had earlier con- In a bower of heavens garden,

ai
it, is the forerunner of a great spiritu- demned for being a nihilist. Indeed, A houri became anxious and said:

m
al and cultural revolution. Apparent- the ghazals here represent the best tra- No one ever told us about the region
ly, Iqbal hoped to provide some de- dition of oriental poetry in a distinctly On that side of the heavens.

lla
sirable options for cooping with that contemporary manner. I do not understand
impending revolution. About day and night; morning, and

.a
Western Themes
Dedication 24 poems, significantly covering West- evening,

w
The book is dedicated to Amanullah, ern themes, remind us of the imme- And I am at my wits end

w
the ruler of Afghanistan. diate inspiration of the book. Just as When they talk about birth and
Weststlicher Divan betrayed the influ- death.

(w
The Tulip of Sinai She became a waft of perfume
ence of Persian poetry on Goethe, so
The 163 quatrains of the first section And emerged from a flower-branch;
in many ways define the range and does this section of Payam-i-Mahsriq
an
acknowledge Iqbals debt to the West- Thus she set foot
flavor of Iqbals poetry for the years
to come: metaphysics, dialogue with ern thought and poetry Byron and In the world of yesterday and
st

God, human supremacy over nature, Browning are found conversing with tomorrow.
She opened her eyes,
ki

Gnosis and contemporary politics in Rumi and Ghalib in paradise, the phi-
its wider context are just some of the losophies of Locke, Kant, Nietzsche, Became a bud, and for a time smiled;
Pa

subjects that feature here in fluid and Schopenhauer, Hegel, Tolstoy, Karl She turned into a flower,
powerful language. Marx and Bergson are discussed while Which soon withered and crumbled
to the ground.
y

Reflections Goethe himself receives complimen-


m

tary feedback on Faust from Rumi. The memory of that lovely maiden
51 poems revisit in greater detail the
Her feet unshackled
themes fleetingly covered in the qua-
de

Fragments Is kept alive


trains. The imagery stands halfway 17 aphorismistic pieces appear at the By that sigh of hers which is called
between Iqbals earlier poetry (such as
ca

end of the book: If only the good


perfume.
the one contained in Bang-i-Dara) and people had freed themselves from fol-
lowing the bygone! For, if following
lA

his final masterpieces. His old favor- Translated by Mustansir Mir


ite, glowworm, for instance reappears the past was a virtue then the Prophet
to signify self-containment while that himself would have followed his an-
ba

most well- cestors.


known of
Iq

all Iqbals
s ym bo ls,
4,

the proud
Payam-i-Mashriq was first published in May 1923;
01

falcon,
scribed by Abdul Majeed (Parveen Raqam), and print-
makes its
ed at Kareemi Press (Lahore) of Mir Ameer Bakhsh;
)2

debut in
supervised by Chaudhri Muhammad Husain, who
these very
looked after the printing of Iqbals works from now
(c

poems.
on. Nearly half of the copies sold out within a week;
a thoroughly revised and expanded second edition
appeared 10 months later.

108
SYNOPSIS
Baang-i-Dara
(1924) T HE N IGHT A ND T HE
THE POET
POET I sow pearls in the soil of your
Preface by Shiekh Abdul Qadir, Barrister-at-
Law, Editor Makhzan moon;
THE NIGHT
Hiding from men, I weep like

)
This is a succinct literary biography of Why do you roam about in my

om
Iqbal up to 1924, the year when the book dawn.
moonlight, I am reluctant to come out in the
was first published. So worried, busy day,

.c
Part I (Up to 1905) Silent as a flower, drifting like per- And my tears flow in the solitude
fume?

al
Contains 49 poems and 14 ghazals from of night.
the earliest period almost all of them Perhaps you are a jeweler The cry pent up inside me,

qb
thoroughly revised and edited by Iqbal Dealing in the pearls that are Whom should I get to hear it,
himself. The poems reflect a generally mys- called stars, And to whom can I show my

ai
tical approach and a distinctly Wordswor- Or are a fish that swims in my burning desire?

m
thian attitude towards nature. The section river of light; Lying on my chest the lightning
also includes a few poems for children and Or a star that has fallen from my of Sinai sobs:

lla
a bunch of nationalist poems perhaps brow, Where is the seeing eye has it
And, having forsaken the heights,

.a
the most famous of which is The Indian gone to sleep?
Anthem, (Saray jahan say achha Hindustan Now resides in the depths below. My assembly hall is dead like the

w
hamara). The strings of the violin of life candle at a grave.
are still;

w
Alas, night! I have a long way to
Part II (1905-1908) My mirror reflects life as it sleeps.

(w
go!
Contains 24 poems and 7 ghazals from The eye of the vortex too is sleep- The winds of the present age are
Iqbals stay in Europe (including three later ing not favorable to it:
an
poems: On Seeing a Cat in the Lap of, In the depths of the river; It does not feel the loss it has suf-
The Song of Sorrow and The Inscon- The restless wave hugs the shore fered.
st

stant Lover). and is still. The message of love,


This section features some of his most The earth, so busy and bustling,
ki

When I can no longer keep it to


lyrical personal poetry alongwith the ear- Slumbers as though no one lived myself,
Pa

liest intimations of his later philosophy of on it. I come and tell it to your shining
political and social reconstruction. But the poets heart is never at stars.
peace
y

Part III (Since 1908)


How did you elude my spell? Translated by Mustansir Mir
m

Contains 70 poems, 8 ghazals, and an ad-


ditional chapter of 29 satirical poems.
de

Most of Iqbals longer poems feature here,


such as The Complaint, The Answer,
ca

Khizr of the Way, and the Dawn of Is-


lam. This section composed when the
lA

poet was also expostulating his philoso-


phy of the Self and his program for Mus-
ba

lim revival in Persian marks the matura-


tion of Iqbal as a poet-philosopher of the
Iq

East.
4,
01

Above right: The poems for children in Part I


(and mostly adapted from English works for
)2

Bang-i-Dara remains the most popular of all poetical


inclusion in textbooks at the beginning of the
works of Iqbal among all ages of readers. It was the long-
20th Century) include A Spider and a Fly
(c

awaited collection of the poets most popular pieces that


and A Cow and a Goat, illustrated here by
appeared almost a quarter century after those verses first
Bina Ilahi for a publication of Iqbal Academy
came in demand. Right: The title page of the first edition
Pakistan.
published in 1924.

109
110 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

In 1922, Iqbal moved to a bigger house


on 116, McLeod Road (Lahore), and
settled down in his famous armchair
routine. When at home, especially in
the evening, his time was spent in open-

)
ended conversations with anyone who Soon after Payam-i-Mashriq came the Urdu anthology, quite aptly titled Bang-

om
cared to visit, and strangers were
i-Dara, or The Caravan Bell, an expression used more than once in the poems
welcome without prior appointment.
Among those who left recollections of included between the covers.

.c
such meetings was Prof. Hameed The poems were presented in a roughly chronological order and divided
Ahmad Khan, a college student at that
into the three phases of his life up to that point: (a) up to 1905, before he left

al
time.
One displays many mental and for Europe; (b) from 1905 to 1908, while he was studying abroad; and (c)

qb
physical states in life but deep thinking from 1908 to the present (1924), since his return home.
was above all other shades of personal-
The early poems were thoroughly revised, abridged and polished, and

ai
ity in the case of Iqbal, writes Khan.
Whether speaking or silent, peaceful or nearly half of them were discarded either because they were artistically

m
agitated, he was a thinker first and
deficient or because they represented that Eastern sentimentalism deplored
last... A little pause in the conversation,

lla
and he would be visibly lost in some in the preface of Payam-i-Mashriq (written around the same time when Bang-i-
new direction of thought. Dara was being compiled).

.a
This also meant that he was rather
unmindful of normal human relation-
Poems from the European period were so scant that many written in the

w
ships. A passionate involvement in same strain in the years following his return had to be smuggled into that
section this anachronism could only be deliberate, since it is unlikely that he

w
conversation did not mean he was
interested in the person but simply that
could have forgotten the occasions of such poems as On Seeing a Cat in

(w
he was moved by the idea he was
expressing at that time. He could even Lap of ....
remain silent and be a good listener, but
The third section was obviously the longest and although The Complaint
an
people had ceased to be individuals for
him; they were hangers on which he and The Answer were usually seen as twin poems they were separated here
could conveniently put his ideas. He not only by smaller poems but also by the longer The Candle and the Poet,
st

was not talktaive as such but belonged


as should have been the case.
ki

to that old type of Eastern teachers


whose favorite passtime used to be On the whole the book was an enjoyable document of his mental odyssey
Pa

sitting among pupils and providing and it was possible to trace the steps of his intellectual evolution from a
insights on every topic that came up.
careful reading of these poems.
Below: Iqbal in the 1920s. Most of them had explanatory prefaces and notes when they were
y

published in Makhzan but this editorial material was now done away with.
m

The most fateful of such omissions was related to The Sun, Iqbals translation
de

of Gayetri, a widely recited sacred mantra of the Hindus. O Sun! Grant us


a ray of awareness and illuminate our intellect with the splendors of the
ca

heart, the poem concluded after addressing the star as parvardigar (a Persian
lA

expression meaning the Sustainer which was reserved for God among
the Muslims). Iqbal had explained in the prefatory note in Makhzan that the
ba

Sun metaphorically addressed there was the Divine Illumination from which
the celestial body received its light. The omission of this explanation earned
Iq

him a formal denunciation by the mufti of the second largest mosque in


Lahore within a year of the publication of Bang-i-Dara (the fatwa appeared in
4,

1925, and was not a reaction to The Complaint, as is commonly believed).


01

It was a common practice in live recitals those days to precede a long


poem with some ghazal, quatrain or qata (a brief poem, usually not longer
)2

than a stanza). Iqbal himself followed this practice while reciting his poems
in such public gatherings as the annual sessions of Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam.
(c

In his Urdu anthology he was probably aiming to provide a similar experience


to his readers when he preceded each long poem with some shorter curtain-
raisers.
There was only one exception to this rule: The Khizr of the Way was
followed without interval by The Dawn of Islam, and this exception
IQBAL 111
UNSUSPECTED HARMONIES 1923-30

highlighted how the prophecy made at the end of one poem came true
before the next one was written.
It is a pity that Iqbals anthologies are seldom studied in their entirety and
therefore the relationship between the poems, the significance of their

)
sequencing, transitions from one piece to another and the rich subtexts are

om
lost upon the general readers as well as the specialized scholars. This is mainly
because most readers become so partial to some famous poems through

.c
textbooks and media that when they open a volume of Iqbal for the first

al
time they dive right away for favorite poems. The overall scheme of the book

qb
is usually ignored. Also, because Iqbal is portrayed as heavily biased towards
the seriousness of his task it is not expected of him to bother about subtext

ai
and subtleties. That is a grave error. Iqbal was a meticulous editor of his own
work and a shrewd creator of subtexts as should have been expected

m
from a man of his wit and sensitivity.

lla
Their is ample reward for those who may take the trouble of reading
between the lines in his books. For instance, in Bang-i-Dara, the poem

.a
Imprisonment, in which he felicitates the release of the Ali Brothers from

w
Many intimate prayers were included in
the British gaol is immediately followed by one that is tilted The Beggars of

w
Zuboor-i-Ajam (literally, and aptly,
Caliphate. Both poems together with an elegy form an informal prelude, a meaning The Persian Psalms and

(w
curtain raiser, to The Khizr of the Way. (His mastery of subtext and published in 1927). These were
apparently aimed at reviving the
arrangement reached its peak in Baal-i-Gabriel, as we shall see in Chapter 5). mystical dimension of worship in the
an
complexity of the modern times. The
following (translated by Mustansir Mir)
occurs as Number 39 in the first part:
st

If a sight causes loss of self, it is


ki

better hidden from view:


Pa

I do not accept the deal, Your price is


too high.
The question arising from the American publication eventually led to a renewed Speak to us unveiled, the time for
being reserved is gone
interest in ijtihad (interpretation), which was one of the four sources of
y

When others told us whatever it was


m

jurisprudence in Islam. You wanted of us.


The religious scholars whose opinion he sought on the American authors My insolent eyes have pierced the
de

blue sky.
statement all replied in the negative; no Muslim jurisprudent of the past or If you want to have a barrier between
present was known to have said that the sanctions of the Quran could be
ca

us, build another world.


overruled. Iqbal accepted that position. However, within the carefully defined How You look out for Yourself ! For all
Your unconcern,
lA

boundaries of the Muslim law there was enormous scope for reinterpretation, You demand the blood of friends to
and this he wanted to emphasize by way of empowerment and intellectual prove you exist.
ba

Worship is one station, love is


liberation of the people. Traditional Muslim scholars by his own times had another:
come to hold that only the Quran, hadith and consensus of previous lawgivers You want angels to bow before you,
Iq

were active sources of Muslim law while ijtihad must be held in abeyance. but men to do still more.
With love I convert the crude copper I
Iqbal, despite his passion for change and emancipation, had maintained
4,

have into gold,


in Rumooz-i-Bekhudi that in an age of decadence it was more prudent to follow For when I meet you tomorrow, You
01

the institutions laid down in a healthy past than trying to invent new ones will want a gift from me.

that might carry the inherent evils of decadence in them. The resurgence of
)2

Turkey must have marked the end of that period in modern Muslim history,
as he was going to say a while later in The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in
(c

Islam, If the renaissance of Islam is a fact, and I believe it is a fact, we too


one day, like the Turks, will have to re-evaluate our intellectual inheritance.
And if we cannot make any original contribution to the general thought of
Islam, we may, by healthy conservative criticism, serve at least as a check on
the rapid movement of liberalism in the world of Islam.
112 IQBAL
AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY

He was referring to the innovations of Kemal Ataturk when he made this


statement in 1929, but back in 1924 those innovations had not taken place
although the banishment of the Caliph occurred that year. Iqbal, however,
insisted on the availability of the right to ijtihad, since in his mind, the argument

)
om
was based on the finality of the prophet-hood of Muhammad out of
many prophets only he claimed to be the last one and insisted that there
would be no other after him. To Iqbal, this was nothing less than a declaration

.c
of freedom for the human intellect.

al
The birth of Islam is the birth of inductive intellect, he was going to

qb
Iqbal was a member of the Punjab
Legislative Council (above) from 1926 write in The Reconstruction. In Islam prophecy reaches its perfection in
to 1930 (he didnt seek re-election). He discovering the need of its own abolition. This involves the keen perception

ai
was elected as an independent that life cannot forever be kept in strings; that, in order to achieve full self-
candidate backed by the Khilafat

m
Committee and usually endeavored to consciousness, man must finally be thrown back on his own resources. Mystic
protect the interests of the lower and experience, according to Iqbal, was possible and God may still speak to

lla
middle classes against the feudal lords.
Nine of his speeches are on record:
individuals in whatever manner He chose by His divine grace. However, such

.a
(1) On the Budget for 1927-28 (March intuition could not be binding upon another individual: the abolition of
5, 1927); (2) On the Cut Motion on priesthood and hereditary kingship in Islam, the constant appeal to reason

w
Governments Demand for Grant under
Education (March 10, 1927); (3) On and experience in the Quran, and the emphasis it lays on Nature and History

w
Governments Demand for Supplemen- as sources of human knowledge, are all different aspects of the same idea of

(w
tary and Additional Grants, 1927-28 finality. Everyone was ones own guide now; the last revelation of God was
(July 18, 1927); (4) On the Motion for
Adjournment regarding Communal Riots there to stay and must be obeyed but since there were going to be no more
an
in Multan (July 18, 1927); (5) On the prophets it was the privilege and responsibility of every human being to
Resolution regarding Filling of Posts by
Open Competitive Examination (July 19,
understand the word of God on their own. The right to interpret religion
st

1927); (6) On the Resolution regarding was inviolable.


Iqbal lectured on this issue to a wide audience in Lahore in 1924 and
ki

the Unani and Ayurvedic Systems of


Medicine (February 22, 1928); (7) On
ended up creating yet another uproar against his irreverence to convention.
Pa

the Resolution regarding Application of


the Principles of Assessment of Income He then tried to pen that long overdue final sequel to Asrar and Rumooz but
Tax to the Assessment of Land his mind went metaphysical. O You Who Sustain My Life! He addressed
y

Revenue (February 23, 1928); (8) On


the Budget for 1929-30 (March 4, the Almighty in Persian verse, Where is your sign? The world and hereafter
m

1929); (9) On the Budget for 1930-31 are but ripples of my existence, where is your world? Soon afterwards he
de

(March 7, 1930).
informed his friends that he was writing a book of verse in Persian for which
the working title was, The Songs of a Modern David. It was finished and
ca

printed three years later as Zuboor-i-Ajam (The Persian Psalms). By that time
he was also a member of the provincial legislative council and dabbling in
lA

politics. Lets look at the development of his metaphysical thought first.


ba
Iq
4,
01

Right: Iqbals
accountant
Munshi
)2

Tahiruddin
who became a
(c

trusted friend.
He earned
fame and
fortune from a
patent
medicine
Dilroze.
(c
)2
01
4,
Iq
ba
lA
ca
de
m
y
Pa
ki
IQBAL

st
an
UNSUSPECTED HARMONIES 1923-30

(w
w
w
.a
lla
m
ai
qb
al
113

.c
om
)
FAMILY
Right: Iqbals wife Sirdar
Next to his writings Iqbal was known Begum (left) and niece
for his sense of humor. During his Wasima (right).
stay in Europe he often met people
Wasima Mubarak
who perceived India as a wilderness

)
(1912-93) was the

om
and when one such lady asked him if
youngest daughter of
there was a snake under his bed every
Shiekh Ata Muham-
morning when he was in India, he re-

.c
mad, Iqbals elder
plied solemnly, No, every third day!
brother. Iqbals wife

al
He would sometimes express even
Sirdar Begum adopted
his deliberate opinions flippantly.

qb
her from infancy and
Once, when he was praising the im-
she lived with them till
pression of strength and permanence

ai
her marriage in 1934. Her oral reminiscences form the basis of Iqbal Daroon-i-
in the Moorish architecture and was

m
Khana, Volume I (1971), a memoir of Iqbals domestic life by Wasimas son Khalid
asked about the Grand Mosque of
Nazeer Sufi. A few extracts follow:
Delhi (which was rather too delicate

lla
for his tastes), he replied, She is a 1

.a
lady. He had a loud voice and usually spoke with authoritative tone. His eyes would
On another occasion when a visitor shrink while he was speaking but opened wide if the conversation picked up pace

w
claimed that God used to speak to and then his face would also turn ruddy with emotions. He recited from the Holy

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him, Iqbal remarked, Dont believe Quran in a sweet voice every morning and usually wept while he read it so that his
everything He tells you. Sometimes He

(w
tears stained the pages of the Book.
doesnt mean it. (Which was a rather He prefered a simple living, usually wearing only a dhoti with a short-sleeved
unorthodox manner of stating the im- vest which he would often forget to change and remained occupied with dis-
an
portance of distinguishing between persing the gems of wisdom to the visitors in the drawing room...
intuition and illusion, as any Sufi mas-
st

ter would have pointed out to that 2


My uncle [i.e., Iqbal] did not approve of watching movies and nobody from the
ki

person).
house was allowed to go to the cinema, which was rather close to our residence
Pa

on the McLeod Road. He was even against playing radio or gramophone at home
although Aunty Sirdar was quite fond of listening to music. My elder brother
Mukhtar [Iqbals nephew] once brought a gramophone and some records for her,
y

which we would play behind closed doors in the room at the back after we were sure
m

that my uncle has retired to his room and slept. Aunty Sirdar used to say that
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music is nourishment for the soul.


ca
lA

Left: A rare picture of Iqbal.


He forbade its publication
because showing teeth even in
ba

laughter was considered bad


manners.
Iq

Right: Iqbal reclining in an


4,

armchair. He was rather slow


01

by nature, writes Wasimas


son on the authority of his
)2

mother. He could forget food


if preoccupied with reading and
would later ask innocently,
(c

Have I taken my meals?

114
Iqbals younger son Javid (born 1924) has writ-
Shiekh Ejaz ten several books and papers on his father, in-
Ahmad (1899- cluding Zindah Rud (1979/84), the authoritative
1994) was biography. The following extracts are taken from
Iqbals neph- his paper Iqbal: My Father, presented at a sym-
ew and the el- posium in the United States in 1964.

)
om
dest son of
1
Shiekh Ata
A year or so before I was born (1924), father
Muhammad.
visited the mausoleum of Shaikh Ahmad Sirhin-

.c
He turned
di, also known as Mujaddid Alf Thani... At the

al
Ahmedi in
mausoleum, my father prayed for a child a son
the lifetime of

qb
whom he could bring up in accordance with his
Iqbal and
own ideals of religion and morality. If God did
some of his claims, such as that Ejazs

ai
grant him a son, he promised the saint that he
father (Ata Muhammad) was among
would one day bring him to the mausoleum.

m
the earliest Ahmed is have made con-
His prayer was heard, and later, in the summer
troversial his otherwise risque and

lla
of 1934, when I had attained an impressionable
touching reminiscences of his uncle,
age, he took me to Sirhind. I can recollect our
Mazloom Iqbal (1985).

.a
visit to the mausoleum of Shaikh Ahmad, for it is impressed vividly on my
An interesting anecdote about a jour-
mind. Father took me inside the mausoleum, sat close to the grave of the saint,

w
ney to Campbellpur in 1913, in which
and recited the Quran...

w
Ejaz accompanied his uncle, is about
the time they spent from midnight to 2

(w
dawn at the Wazirabad Railway Station. Father rarely gave me an opportunity to judge how much affection and love he
Iqbal offered a one-ruppee tip to the felt for me. He seldom held me close or kissed me, and because of this, I never
an
loader if he could procure a hooka. The really felt the warmth of fatherly affection. When he saw me running about the
concequent hooka was very dirty and house, he would smile faintly, as if someone was forcing him to smile... How-
st

half broken but my uncle was ever, it would be wrong to conclude that he was incapable of loving or bestow-
jubiliant at seeing it. He ordered his
ki

ing affection. Although his love for me was devoid of youthful vigor, it had the
mattress to be taken out of his hold- depth of maturity. I was, as it were, not only his son but the younger genera-
Pa

all and to be spread out on the plat- tion of Islam personified the little cubs of today who were to be trained so
form. There he sat, sharing the dirty that they could learn to involve themselves deeply with and provide a life-
hooka with the loader conversing with giving response to the dead world in which he lived.
y

him in an uninhibited manner till the


m

Although mother was very strict and punished me if I was mischievous, fathers
morning while I stayed in the train rebuke always proved a better corrective. On very few occasions did father
de

compartment... beat me. The reasons usually were rudeness to the servants (which he resented
most) or running about barefooted in the summer sun...
ca

As a child I was very fond of painting, but father was not aware of my inter-
Top right: Iqbal with 5-year-old Javid at the ests. When he learnt that I liked painting and saw a few of my works of art,
lA

residence of friend Mian M. Aslam, Haveli he encouraged me a great deal and purchased large prints by French, Italian,
Barood Khana (Lahore) on the occasion of and Spanish masters for me. I was also very fond of music, but he had neither
ba

Eid, February 17, 1929. a gramophone nor a radio in the house. Despite this lack, father, too, enjoyed
music and even played a sitar before he went [to Europe, 1905-8] for higher
Below: Javid and Munira (born 1930) as little
Iq

studies. His love for music never died. In the later phase of his life, Faqir Najm-
kids. Below right: An earlier picture of Javid
ud-Din, one of his friends, occasionally played the sitar for him. Whenever a
as an infant.
4,

singer came to our house and sang some of his ghazals, father sent for me.
In 1931, when father went to England to attend the
01

Round Table Conference, I was about seven years old. I


wrote him a letter asking him to bring me a gramophone.
)2

The gramophone never arrived, but my letter moved him


to write the poem, To Javid on Receiving His Letter [be-
(c

ginning]:
Build in loves empire your heart and your home;
Build Time anew, a new dawn, a new eve!
Your speech, if God give you the friendship of nature,
From the rose and the tulips long silence weave.

115
NOSTALGIA
The cool hill station of
Simla was developed by the
British as the summer capital of the
Raj and it remained a favorite retreat
for Iqbal especially during the 1920s.

)
There he would always stay at the res-

om
idence of his close friend Nawab
Zulfiqar Ali Khan (author of A Voice

.c
From the East, the first book on Iqbal
published in 1922).

al
Later, the friends became estranged

qb
but such was their emotional bond-
ing that when Iqbal stayed somewhere

ai
else during a visit to Simla, the Nawab

m
wept bitterly. A patch up was at-
tempted by their mutual friend Mirza

lla
Jalaluddin but the Nawab passed away
before Iqbal could meet him again.

.a
Iqbal paid homage to his friend by

w
visiting his grave.
Iqbal was often photographed dur-

w
ing his stay at Simla, as can be seen

(w
on these pages. Also, it was here at
Simla that his famous profile in a
an
shawl was photographed (see p.118).
st
ki
Pa
y
m
de
ca
lA

Top: A view of Simla from the Raj days.


ba

Middle: A group photograph taken at the


residence of Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Khan
Iq

at Simla in the 1920s. Iqbal is seated on


the right.
4,

Bottom: Iqbal leaning on a bed; Simla,


01

1929.
)2

Facing page: Iqbal sitting in a sofa in his


usual informal manner; Simla, 1929.
(c

After the next page: Iqbal wearing a


shawl. This well-known picture was also
taken at Simla in 1929.

116
(c
)2
01
4,
Iq
ba
lA
ca
de
m
y
Pa
ki

117
st
an
(w
w
w
.a
lla
m
ai
qb
al
.c
om
)
(c
)2
01
4,
Iq
ba
lA
ca
de
m
y
Pa
ki
st
an
(w
w
w
.a
lla
m
ai
qb
al
.c
om
)
SYNOPSIS
Zuboor-i-Ajam (1927)
Zuboor-i-Ajam (The Persian Psalms), for
which the working title was The Songs Things that Gnostic knows?
of a Modern David, represents both the The Book of Slaves
lyrical and didactic strands in Iqbals poetry
The final section expounds that the true

)
kept mostly separate here from each oth-

om
spiritual awareness cannot be separated
er. The arrangement of the book is note- from the necessity of political freedom,
worthy the reader is smoothly guided and goes on to compare the arts of slaves

.c
from moving sufistic themes to a re-inter- (music, painting) and their religion with
pretation of the world around.

al
the architecture of free men: divorced
from power, charm is sorcery;/ Combined

qb
To the Reader
Prefatory verses are a reminder to the with power, it is prophethood/ Love
unpredictable ways of love and, hence, the makes both charm and power work for

ai
spontaneity required for all spiritual un- it:/ It pools two worlds into a single one.

m
derstanding. Note: Translated verses are taken from M. Hadi
Husain

lla
Part One
A prefatory couplet and invocation are Come witness and admire the art of free

.a
followed by 56 poems addressed to God. men, the creations of an Aibak or a Suri,

w
The poems are captioned with numbers if you have a living heart and eyes that

w
instead of titles, and while most in this are not blind, says Iqbal in The Book
section and the next conform to the tra- of Slaves. Architecture of free men rep-

(w
ditional form of ghazal, some are distinctly resented to him the greatness of their
not ghazals. Each poem is coherent in souls and he was especially partial to the
an
terms of meaning unlike traditional Quwatul Islam Mosque in Delhi (seen
ghazal and all 56 together lend a wider below the Qutub Minar on the right, both
st

thematic unity to the entire cycle. built by Qutbuddin Aibak).


ki

Part Two
Pa

A prefatory couplet and a versified note


for the reader is followed by 75 poems,
just like the previous section, but these are Excerpt from Part 1, Ghazal 16 Nor desire another land.
y

addressed to humanity.
m

Thinkest thou that to the thresh- In the far, fond hope that, haply,
The New Rose Garden of Mystery old Thou wilt hunt for me one day,
de

The spiritual themes and their implications I have made this pilgrimage? From the spinning noose of
for action are now condensed into nine With the master of the household princes
ca

questions and answers, fashioned after an I have business to engage. Like a fawn I lept away.
older Persian work by Mahmud Shabistri
lA

called The Rose Garden of Mystery. The ques- Never more will I look backward And if thou wilt be so gracious,
tions are: (1) What is the kind of thinking On the road that I have traced; I will give these friends of mine
ba

which the Path lies in? And why is think- Tis to gain the far to-morrow A bright glass or two delightful
ing sometimes prayer and sometimes sin? That, like Time, I forward haste. Of my night-consoling wine.
Iq

(2) What means this union of Necessity Lo, loves ocean is my vessel, Translated
and Possibility? What is involved in Dis- And loves ocean is my strand;
4,

by A. J.
tance and in Quantity? (3) How did the For no other ship I hanker, Arberry
01

Eternal and the Temporal/ Become two


things from one? (4) O tell me who I
)2

am and then explain/ What the exploring


of oneself may mean; (5) What is the part Zuboor-i-Ajam was first published in June 1927. It was
thats greater to the whole/ What path to scribed by Muhammad Siddique and printed on Su-
(c

tread if its attainment be your goal? (6) per Fine paper.


Whom can I designate the Perfect Man?
(8) What does the claim, I am the Truth, Right: First edition of Zuboor-i-Ajam
imply? (7) What after all are those/

119
SYNOPSIS
The Reconstruc- I. Knowledge and Religious municability, and (5) some relation to
tion of Religious Thought in Experience common (normal) experience. Mystic
Religion is opposed to the limitations experience is not satanic, as proven by
Islam (1930/34) of human being in looking for answers the followers of Freud, although Iqbal
to fundamental questions about life doesnt find sufficient evidence to ac-

)
and universe. Since it aims to guide and cept the theory of unconscious, nor the

om
transform the humans who are enti- attribution of religious consciousness
tled to question the validity of the path to the working of sex impulse.

.c
before following it religion stands in
need of a rational foundation of its II. The Philosophical Test of the

al
ultimate principles, and this point be- Revelations of Religious Experience
The three logical proofs of God of-

qb
comes obvious from the history of
religious thought in Islam. fered by scholastics have rightly been
shown as insufficient; cosmological ar-

ai
Regretfully, the complementary na-
ture of thought and intuition has been gument (i.e. everything has a cause and

m
misunderstood too frequently a big the final cause is God) sets at naught
the very law of causation on which the

lla
mistake common to Ghazali and Kant
is that they see idea as static and finite, whole argument proceeds; teleologi-

.a
while in fact it is infinite in its deeper cal argument (i.e. there must be a mak-
motion or else even the finite thinking er of the universe) proceeds on an anal-

w
wouldnt have been possible. ogy that is of no value at all because

w
On the other hand, the heart (which the human artificer works upon exter-
nal material while nature also acts from

(w
is a kind of inner intuition or insight)
is an equally important source of within; the ontological argument (i.e.
The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in knowledge and this knowledge comes can we perceive a perfect being? If the
an
Islam comprises of seven lectures de- through mystical experience; while answer is yes, then it follows that the
livered from 1929 to 1932. Iqbal was sense-perception makes indirect con- perfect being must also exist, because
st

rightly proud of this work, although nections with the Ultimate Reality in otherwise it wont be perfect) only
ki

he accepted its transitory character: the external world, the mystical expe- proves that the idea of a perfect be-
There is no such thing as finality in ing includes the idea of his existence
Pa

rience establishes a direct association


philosophical thinking. As knowledge with that reality as it reveals itself but doesnt bridge the gap between the
advances and fresh avenues of thought within. If the humans are meant to idea of a perfect being in my mind and
y

are opened, other views, and probably be co-workers with God in re-shaping the objective reality of that being.
m

sounder views than those set forth in the destiny, and attain supremacy over However, the last two arguments will
these lectures, are possible. Iqbals reveal their true significance only if we
de

surroundings (as Iqbal thinks is indi-


premise for these lectures was that cated by the Quran), then we need were able to show that the human situ-
Classical Physics has learnt to criti- thought as well as heart. ation is not final and that thought and
ca

cize its own foundations, and with the Through sense-perception being are ultimately one.
weakening of the materialistic ap-
lA

we acquire knowledge of
proach in Physics the day is not far those external forces so that Left: First edition of
when Religion and Science may discov- we can tame them, but when the lectures printed
ba

er hitherto unsuspected mutual harmo- those forces thwart us we need from Lahore, 1930
nies. a capacity to build a much was printed at Kapoor
Iq

vaster world in the depths of Art Printing Works,


Preface
[our] own inner being, which Lahore, and published
4,

Habits of concrete thought are signif-


could save us from pessimism. by Gulab Chand
icant in the modern mind, and there-
01

Also, it will prevent us from Kapoor.


fore Iqbal sets forth to reconstruct
Muslim religious philosophy with due using our power to unfair ends.
Right: Iqbal with his
)2

regard to the philosophical traditions There are five characteristics


admirers in Madras,
of Islam and the more recent devel- of mystical experience: (1)
1929.
(c

opments in the various domains of immediacy, (2) un-analyzable


human knowledge. wholeness, (3) momentary in-
timate association with the
Unique Other Self, (4) incom-

120
Iqbal proceeds to analyze a number ness, Knowledge, Omnipotence, and Right: The second
of contemporary theories of physics Eternity. edition was
and philosophy especially the works The human being has a relatively per- published by
of Einstein, Whitehead, Bergson (re- fect ego, and is a co-worker with God Oxford University
futing McTaggart) and Bertrand Russell (the Quranic version of the Fall ex- Press, London, in

)
(refuting Zeno) to arrive at the conclu- cludes the serpent and the rib-story al- 1934. The text

om
sion that the Ultimate Reality is a ra- together, introduces two trees instead was slightly revised
tionally directed creative life; hence of one, and declares the earth to be a by Iqbal and the

.c
the ultimate nature of Reality is spiri- source of profit for the humans; hence seventh lecture was
tual, and must be conceived as an ego. indicating mans rise from a primitive added.

al
Hence the philosophical test of the state of instinctive appetite to the con-

qb
revelation of religious experience is scious possession of a free self, capable
possible if taken on the terms that in- of doubt and disobedience).

ai
tuition reveals life as a centralizing ego. Worship is an agency that brings as- IV. The Human Ego his Freedom and
This knowledge, however imperfect sociation with the Ultimate Reality; Immortality

m
is a direct revelation of the ultimate na- the act of worship, however, affects Three aspects of the human being,

lla
ture of Reality. different varieties of consciousness dif- perfectly clear from the Quran are
ferently, and therefore search for that the human being is (a) the cho-

.a
III. The Conception of God and the knowledge is essentially a form of sen of God; (b) despite many faults,
Meaning of Prayer prayer too while the scientific ob-

w
meant to represent God on earth; and
God has individuality (the metaphor of server of Nature is a kind of mystic (c) the trustee of a free personality.

w
light in the Quran must be interpreted seeker in the act of prayer. Regretfully, the unity of human con-
to mean His absoluteness, and not pan-

(w
Likewise, vision and power must sciousness, mentioned in the Quran as
theistic omnipresence; God is not infi- unite because vision without power one of the three sources of human
nite in the sense of spatial infinity but does bring moral elevation but cannot
an
knowledge along with History and
consists of infinite inner possibilities give a lasting culture. Therefore, the Nature, never became the center of
of His creative activities hence His in- spirit of all true prayer is social, and
st

Muslim thought, otherwise it would


finity is intensive, not extensive). in Islam it also reflects the true unity have long been established that deny-
ki

Other important elements in the and equality of the human beings. ing reality to the human ego is impos-
Quranic conception of God are Creative-
Pa

sible, even though its reality is too


y
m
de
ca
lA
ba
Iq
4,
01
)2
(c

121
profound to be intellectualized, and
characterized by (a) a unity of mental
states; and (b) essential privacy (God
Himself cannot feel, judge, or choose
for me).

)
The soul, according to the Quran, is

om
a directive of the Ultimate Ego, imma-
nent in Nature, and thus personality is

.c
not a thing but an action (Iqbal refutes
both Ghazalis perception of ego as a

al
soul-substance, and William James per-

qb
ception as the appropriation of one
pulse of thought from another within

ai
a stream of thought).
Emerging out of matter, or a colony

m
of lower egos, the soul may rise to a

lla
level of complete independence.
Refuting the mechanistic interpreta-

.a
Above: Iqbal waiting
on the dais to deliver tion of consciousness, Iqbal establishes

w
his lecture at Gokhale the human ego as a free personal ca-
Hall, Madras, while sualty, whose independence is not re-

w
the hosts present
stricted by the rules of Nature, since it

(w
welcome address.
Inset: Iqbal being is the inventor of those rules and they
received at Central are not a final expression of Reality
an
Railway Station, (the contrary fatalism of qismat, long-
Madras.
held in the Muslim world, was due to
st

Right: A group photo philosophical thought, political expe-


from the same trip; diency and gradual diminishing of the
ki

the picture was taken life-impulse, and must be discarded).


Pa

on January 5, 1929
(the day he arrived in Ibne Rushd didnt achieve anything out
Madras and delivered of his metaphysical approach to im-
the first lecture). mortality while Kants ethical approach
y

also leaves much to be desired; Ni-


m

Right: Iqbal stopped


at Bangalore (where etzsches doctrine of Eternal Recur-
de

this picture was rence, while a positive construct in it-


taken) on January 9, self, is fatalism worse than qismat.
ca

1929 on way to Materialistic denial of immortality


Mysore, which was
the next leg of the notwithstanding, the fundamental pre-
lA

tour. His travel cepts of immortality derived from the


companion Abdullah Quran are: (a) ego has a beginning; (b)
ba

Chaghtai can be seen there is no possibility of return to this


seated first from right.
The car had to move earth; (c) finitude is not misfortune.
Iq

slow because It can be maintained that an ego af-


admirers started ter having reached the very highest
4,

running along it, point of intensity will retain its indi-


Chughtai wrote back
viduality in the face of death, apoca-
01

to a newspaper in
Lahore. lypse or even in the case of a direct
contact with the all-embracing Ego.
)2

Right: Another picture


However, resurrection can only happen
from the same
occasion. through a life-process within the ego
(c

and therefore it cannot be taken for


granted; humans are only candidates to
it. It is difficult to say whether a form
will accompany the resurrection of the

122
ego, but some kind of local reference mentals can be passed on from one cul- conservative reaction against Rational-
or empirical background seems nec- ture to another). ism; (b) ascetic Sufism, which absorbed
essary for an ego. the best minds of the Muslim society
However, Barzakh, Heaven and Hell VI. The Principle of Movement in the and left the legal discussions in the
are all states, not localities, through Structure of Islam hands of intellectual mediocrity and
Ijtihad (literally meaning to exert) is

)
which the human ego marches always the unthinking masses; and (c) the fall

om
onward to receive fresh illuminations the principle of movement in Islam, of Baghdad, which prompted a rigid
from an Infinite Reality since the religion reaches a dynamic organization in the Muslim society out
view of the universe and a unity of

.c
of fear of disintegration.
V. The Spirit of Muslim Culture humans that is not rooted in blood re- Two distinct movements to revive

al
Examining a culture can be a way of lationship. ijtehad can be traced in the later Mus-

qb
judging a prophets religious experience, Decline of ijtihad in the history of Is- lim history: Ibne Taimiyyahs revolt
since culture springs out of the will of lam can be credited to three reasons: (a) against the finality of the earlier schools
its prophet. By asserting the finality of

ai
the prophet-hood of Muhammad, Is-

m
lam ushers in the era of intellectual Below: Iqbal with students in Mysore, 1929. Bottom: Iqbal with students in

lla
independence of the human being, and Hyderabad (Deccan), which was the last stop in his lecturing tour in January
since the possession and enjoyment

.a
of the Infinite was the ideal in both
the realms of pure intellect and higher

w
Sufism (religious philosophy), Islamic

w
culture focused on the concrete, the

(w
finite, for purposes of knowledge, for
it is the intellectual capture of, and
power over, the concrete that makes it
an
possible for the intellect of man to pass
beyond the concrete.
st

All lines of Muslim thought, there-


ki

fore, converge in a dynamic concep-


tion of the universe (time and space),
Pa

and even some idea of evolution was


suggested by the Islamic philosophers
y

and scientists, for whom the highest


m

stage in evolution was the transcend-


ing of the time and space by a human
de

soul this concept of human evolu-


tion doesnt deny immortality to the hu-
ca

man being, unlike the modern theory


of evolution that has brought so much
lA

despair.
Another ruling concept in the culture
ba

of Islam is historical criticism, which


is based on two principles from the
Iq

Quran: (a) the unity of human origin;


and (b) life as a continuous movement
4,

in time. Therefore the contemporary


01

sociologist Spengler is wrong in assum-


ing that Islam belongs to the Magian
)2

group of cultures, directly opposed to


the anti-classical spirit of the modern
(c

times: this very spirit arose out of the


revolt of Islam against Greek thought,
(which Spengler fails to understand that
because he doesnt believe that funda-

123
Hence, the closing Three periods in religious life are (1)
of the door of Ijtihad faith; (2) thought (with emphasis on
is pure fiction sug- metaphysics); and (3) discovery (with
gested partly by the crys- emphasis on psychology, since the
tallization of legal religious life develops an ambition to

)
thought in Islam, and come in direct contact with the ultimate

om
partly by that intellectual Reality, through which the ego discov-
laziness which, espe- ers its uniqueness).

.c
cially in the period of The question whether religion is pos-
spiritual decay, turns sible, is legitimate because there are

al
great thinkers into idols. potential types of consciousness ly-

qb
If some of the later ing close to our normal consciousness
doctors have upheld and can bring life-giving and life-yield-

ai
(resulting in the Wahhabi Movement this fiction, modern Islam is not bound ing experience.
in Arabia), and the Religious Reform by this voluntary surrender of intellec- The question must also be raised be-

m
Movement in Turkey (led by Said tual independence (none of the cause of its scientific interest and prac-

lla
Halim Pasha), which upholds the trans- founders of Islamic law claimed finality tical importance (since naturalism has
fer of the caliphate from an individual of their schools). destroyed faith in future and the mod-

.a
to an assembly. The modern world needs (1) spiri- ern human being has ceased to live

w
The rest of the Muslim world must tual interpretation of the universe; (2) soulfully, i.e. from within while the
look at the Turkish reforms with an in- spiritual emancipation of the indi- medieval techniques of mysticism have

w
dependent mind, e.g. the ideas of the vidual; and (3) universal principles to also stopped producing original expe-

(w
poet Zia Gokalp about regional sover- guide the evolution of human society rience due to conservatism).
eignty, replacement of Arabic with lo- on a spiritual basis. Thought alone can- Both science and religion are purifi-
an
cal languages for better understanding, not have a lasting impact, and the re- ers of experience in different spheres
and gender equality. Liberalism must sponsibility falls upon the Muslims, of inquiry while in science we deal with
st

be greeted with a careful protection who must appreciate their position, re- the behavior of reality, in religion we
against racism and disintegration that construct their social life, and, evolve, deal with its nature. The end of the
ki

usually accompanies liberalism. out of the hitherto partially revealed egos quest is a more precise definition
Pa

Conservative public in modern India purpose of Islam, that spiritual democ- of individuality a vital rather than an
may not be prepared for a critical dis- racy which is the ultimate aim of Is- intellectual act.
cussion on fiqh (Islamic Law), but it lam.
y

must be remembered that: (1) there was Above left and below: Iqbal at Aligarh to
m

no written Islamic law up to the rise of VII. Is Religion Possible? deliver his lectures. Sir Syeds grandson and
This chapter comprises of the lecture Iqbals close friend Ross Masud is
de

the Abbasides; (2) early theologians also


passed from deductive to inductive delivered in London in 1932 on request prominent (to the left of Iqbal in each
of the Aristotelian Society. picture).
ca

methods in their efforts to answer the


questions of their times; and (3) possi-
lA

bility of further evolution of the Is-


lamic law becomes evident when we
ba

carefully look at its four sources: (a)


Quran, which is not a legal code but
Iq

rather aims to awaken in man the


higher consciousness of his relation
4,

with God and the universe; (b) Hadith,


which mainly demonstrates examples
01

of how the Prophet applied the


broader principles to a specific socio-
)2

cultural context; (c) Ijma (consensus),


which may be imparted to a democrati-
(c

cally elected assembly in a modern


Muslim state; and (d) Qiyas (analogical
reasoning), which is just another word
for ijtihad.

124
IQBAL 125
UNSUSPECTED HARMONIES 1923-30

During his trip to Madras Iqbal was


given a reception by Anjuman
Khawateen-i-Islam on January 7, 1929.
Iqbals speech on this occasion was
later summarized as The Status of Men

)
Zuboor-i-Ajam was written at the same time when he was putting down the and Women in the Muslim Law for the

om
first three lectures on The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam (of course Lahore based daily, Inqilab. Although he
observed that it did not include some of
in English prose) while the subject matter of the next three lectures was the key points it still remains an

.c
apparently there in his mind too. Together, the two books are a bold attempt important document of his views on this
subject.
to challenge the conventional notions about the nature of God in order to

al
Iqbal stated that men and women
bring some radical changes in the course of human life.

qb
have complete equality in Islam; the
On the surface his Persian poems seem as if he is being fresh with God, famous verse from the Quran quoted in
support of male superiority should be
and indeed that is also true. However, it is important to understand his motive

ai
more appropriately translated to mean
and reason. As he once jotted down in Stray Reflections, he held that the worth that men are the protectors of women.

m
of things was through and through human although God created those things. He mentioned that the guiding principle
of Islam in such matters was that

lla
A diamond, for instance, owed its price not so much to what God made it, as religion should bring convenience.
it did to the fact that the humans preferred it above other stones. The human While assigning women a different role

.a
from men by the law of Islam as well as
being, according to Iqbal, was a creator too and God was a co-worker with by the law of nature and criticizing the

w
him. When attracted by the forces around him, man has the power to shape female emancipation movement in the
and direct them; when thwarted by them, he has the capacity to build a much

w
West, he highlighted some important
legal rights, which he said must be
vaster world in the depths of his own inner being, he summarized the

(w
asserted against convention. These
functions of outward and inward dimensions of human intelligence in his include: (1) Womens right to own
lecture on religious experience. Hard his lot and frail is his being, like a rose- property and attain economic indepen-
an
dence; (2) Delegation of the right to
leaf, yet no form of reality is so powerful, so inspiring, and so beautiful as the divorce; (3) Restriction on polygamy.
spirit of man!
st

Zuboor-i-Ajam was a celebration of this creative relationship with the Divine.


ki

Many of its lyrical poems were prayers offered to the divine Beloved by a
Pa

self-aware devotee: From whence comes the burning desire in my bosom,


the second lyric started. The cup is from me, but from whence comes the
wine in it? I understand that the world is dust and I am a handful of it, but
y

from whence comes the thirst for discovery in my every particle? The other
m

Below: Iqbal at the mausoleum of


poems were aimed at explaining this relationship forgotten in the East and
de

Sultan Tipu during his visit to Bangalore,


ignored in the West. It is the lot of man to share in the deeper aspirations of January 1929. Tipu found substantial
reference in Javidnama as well as in a
the universe around him, Iqbal wrote in the lecture, and to shape
ca

later poem included in


his own destiny as well as that of the universe, now by adjusting Zarb-i-Kaleem.
lA

himself to its forces, now by putting the whole of his


energy to mould its forces to his own ends and
ba

purposes. And in this process of progressive change


God becomes a co-worker with him, provided man
Iq

takes the initiative: Verily God will not change


the condition of men, till