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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Iqbal Day (Nov. 9th)

Street named after Iqbal in Heidelberg, Germany

Iqbal Day falls on November 9th. It is the birth anniversary of Mohammad Iqbal  (1877-1938), a poet and a philosopher of the Indian subcontinent.

I wonder why this website http://www.allamaiqbal.com/ has two birth dates of Iqbal on 2 different pages.

If we click here we will see that his personal information is as follows:

"Dr. Mohammad Iqbal was born in the same family about two hundred and fifty years after its conversion to Islam. Iqbal's father, Shaikh Noor Mohammad was a petty trader; more than business he was keen on moving in the company of theologians and leading a simple life of piety. He had two sons. The elder one, Shaikh Ata Mohammad was 14 years senior to the second son, Shaikh Mohammad Iqbal who was born in 1873, and was destined to be a great poet of Urdu and Persian. "

This same website here says that he was born in 1877. This is the year we learned as children in our Pakistan Studies books when Iqbal was first inroduced to us in the syllabus. Why can we NOT confirm his birthdate and how irresponsibly can we post anything in the websites? Allama Iqbal's family still live in Lahore and all these dates can be easily validated.

Iqbal is a poet of all times and for all the people irrespective of region or religion. I do NOT agree that he is "only" the poet of the East - as he is referred to generally.

One of his famous poems - the most cited and loved poems in his work is:

saare jahan se achha Hindustan hamara
hum bulbule hai iski ye gulsitan hamara

But nothing can take the place of :

Lab pah aatee hai doa ban kay tammanna meri
zindagi shamma ki soorat ho khudaya meri

...which used to be a compulsary part of our assembly when we first started school. Though we had no clue of what it really meant at a tender age of 4 and were explained over and over again at school and at home, it took a while to absorb and understand it fully however, we knew it by heart.

Today, when I look back, it makes me sad that we haven't had good teachers who could inspire us or instill in us the understanding of great literary and revolutionary works such as that of Iqbal. I do NOT remember that when we were in our early teens, anyone among us said, she wanted to specialize in Iqbaliat or do further research on work of such great importance and insight. I mean to say that though we have produced great people and works - our teachers have failed to instill love, affection, intrigue of any sort to insire students or to guide and motivate them to work in the field of studies other than medicine, engineering and sorts. I wish I could turn back the clock!

I also remember that Iqbals's poems SHIKWA (Complaint to God) and JAWAB E SHIKWA (Answer to the Complaint)  were the part of our 10th Grade Urdu literature book and almost always made it to final exams. I wonder that in this age and time, would the religious zealots have spared him for these revolutionary poems and the subject matter? Had he not been dragged into blasphemy of some kind? Had he NOT made more enemies than friends - on his critique of the muslims? One of my favourtie verse is (poem no. 26 in Bal Jibreel):

Na tu zamee(n) kay liyee hai na asman kay liyee
Jahan hai teray liyee tu nahi jahan kay liyee

Iqbal's work is a beacon of light for all but especially it offers a lot to Pakistanies of today who have no clue of anything whether it is religion, whether it is governance of the state or  whether it is about the relationship amongst people.

Anyhow, on this auspicious day an exhibition relating to Iqbal’s works will be held at Aiwan Iqbal, Lahore and also a books exhibition on Iqbal at Iqbal Academy, Lahore - I'm sure that many people will visit these venues and enlighten from his work.

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