November 12, 2020

Remembering Dr. Sir Mohammed Iqbal

Allama Sir Muhammad Iqbal was a poet, philosopher and politician born in Sialkot, British India (now in Pakistan), whose poetry in Urdu, Arabic and Persian is considered to be among the greatest of the modern era and whose vision of an independent state for the Muslims of British India was to inspire the creation of Pakistan. He is commonly referred to as Allama Iqbal‎, Allama meaning “Scholar”. Iqbal was a strong proponent of the political and spiritual revival of Islamic civilisation across the world, but specifically in India; a series of famous lectures he delivered to this effect were published as The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam. One of the most prominent leaders of the All India Muslim League, Iqbal encouraged the creation of a “state in northwestern India for Indian Muslims” in his 1930 presidential address. Iqbal encouraged and worked closely with Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and he is known as Muffakir-e-Pakistan (“The Thinker of Pakistan”), Shair-e-Mashriq (“The Poet of the East”), and Hakeem-ul-Ummat (“The Sage of Ummah”). He is officially recognized as the “national poet” in Pakistan. Dr Iqbal’s forefathers belonged to Soper village of Kulgam district of valley and was the eldest of five siblings in a Kashmiri family. Iqbal’s father Shaikh Nur Muhammad was a prosperous tailor, well-known for his devotion to Islam, and the family raised their children with deep religious grounding. Iqbal was educated initially by tutors in languages and writing, history, poetry and religion. His potential as a poet and writer was recognized by one of his tutors, Syed Mir Hassan, and Iqbal would continue to study under him at the Scotch Mission College in Sialkot. The student became proficient in several languages and the skill of writing prose and poetry, and graduated in 1897. Following custom, at the age of 15 Iqbal’s family arranged for him to be married to Karim Bibi, the daughter of an affluent Gujrati physician. The couple had two children: a daughter, Mi’raj Begam (born 1895) and a son, Aftab (born 1899). Iqbal’s third son died soon after birth. The husband and wife were unhappy in their marriage and eventually divorced in 1916.
Working under the supervision of Friedrich Hommel, Iqbal published a thesis titled: The Development of Metaphysics in Persia. For children Iqbal has written many sweet poems which are read during morning prayers in schools.

Iqbal entered the Government College in Lahore where he studied philosophy, English literature and Arabic and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree. He won a gold medal for topping his examination in philosophy. While studying for his masters’ degree, Iqbal came under the wing of Sir Thomas Arnold, a scholar of Islam and modern philosophy at the college. Arnold exposed the young man to Western culture and ideas, and served as a bridge for Iqbal between the ideas of East and West. Iqbal was appointed to a readership in Arabic at the Oriental College in Lahore, and he published his first book in Urdu, The Knowledge of Economics in 1903. In 1905 Iqbal published the patriotic song, Tarana-e-Hind (Song of India). At Sir Thomas’s encouragement, Iqbal traveled to and spend many years studying in Europe. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Trinity College at Cambridge in 1907, while simultaneously studying law at Lincoln’s Inn, from where he qualified as a barrister in 1908. In Europe, he started writing his poetry in Persian as well. Throughout his life, Iqbal would prefer writing in Persian as he believed it allowed him to fully express philosophical concepts, and it gave him a wider audience. It was while in England that he first participated in politics. Following the formation of the All-India Muslim League in 1906, Iqbal was elected to the executive committee of its British chapter in 1908. Together with two other politicians, Syed Hassan Bilgrami and Syed Ameer Ali, Iqbal sat on the subcommittee which drafted the constitution of the League. In 1907, Iqbal traveled to Germany to pursue a doctorate from the Faculty of Philosophy of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität at Munich. Working under the supervision of Friedrich Hommel, Iqbal published a thesis titled: The Development of Metaphysics in Persia. For children Iqbal has written many sweet poems which are read during morning prayers in schools. A couple of weeks ago a well known writer of valley Dr Gulzar Ahmad Wani’s book ” شاہین بچوں کے اقبال ” was released during a national Urdu Seminar at Hotel Shahanshah Palace Beleauvard Srinagar. It covers all the poems of Iqbal for children, their historical background along their summaries. This book is beautifully designed and has the potential to transform Iqbal’s vision and philosophy in the minds of children.

(Author is a teacher at Ganderbal. Views are his own) [email protected]

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