Beyond the Rhetoric

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Remembering Allama Iqbal

By: Noor Ul Hasan Andrabi

‘Iqbal Bhi Iqbal Say Aagah Nahi Hai..

Kuch Iss Mein Tamaskhur Nahi Wallah Nahi Hai

The intended pun in the above quoted couplet of Iqbal is in fact a hint that Allama Sir Mohammad Iqbal was a multi faceted literary genius whose works have greatly influenced the way many see the world. It is also a reality that Allama Iqbal holds a great influence over our society especially through his Urdu and Persian poetry. Apart from the research that his works are subjected to in our universities, almost all our events- be they celebration, commemoration or condolence resonate with the recital of his couplets.

Iqbal, the poet, philosopher, the bard of the east, is credited with giving a clarion call to Muslims for upholding the basic tenets of Islam to ensure peace and order on this planet. His concept of “Mard-e-Momin” has been copiously used by almost all the contemporary revolutionary movements of the Asian Peninsula. He is also considered, by many as a great mystic, drinking deeply from the spring of eternal love for Prophet Mohammad (SAW).

Apart from being ardent lovers of his poetic genius or the avowed votaries of his political thought, we as a nation have the privilege of sharing our birthplace with that of his forefathers. Iqbal, for most of us, is a great son of the soil, the brightest star in the constellation of luminaries that our land has ever produced. His love for Kashmir and his concern about its people is a much known and documented fact. The benefactor of this ‘Quom-e-Najeeb’ Charb-Dast-o-Tar Dimag’ was in fact the founder president of the Kashmir community constituted to find a solution to the miseries of Kashmiris in the beginning of 20th century. But, despite the fact that his presence looms large in all our literary or political discourse, we have not so far been able to institutionalize his memory.

The political dispensations managing this region for decades have consciously chosen to accord less lower a place to Allama Iqbal in the realms of our collective memory. The brazen expression of this deliberate apathy is evident. Allama Iqbal is conspicuous by his absence when it comes to commemorate his greatness through institutional means. True, we have had successive regimes of representative governments claiming to restore lost glory of this nation, but unfortunately the only example of commemorating Allama Iqbal was naming a badly managed, dilapidated and misused piece of land as Allama Iqbal Park. Had it not been for the J &K Bank that renovated and is managing the park under its CSR imitative, the park was an eyesore, a slap on our conscience and an affront to our sensibilities!

The University of Kashmir, its Allama Iqbal institute, is so far the only academic institution dedicated to Allama Iqbal and his works while the poet philosopher deserves a much larger space. What about setting up of centres of excellence in his name wherein efforts are made to take Allama Iqbal’s works to larger masses through translations and explanations of his works? Especially when Urdu language is retreating from our curriculum and Persian is a long forgotten odyssey!

Allama Iqbal is once said to have remarked that he switched to Persian language from Urdu as he felt that Urdu was too young and too raw a language to accommodate his thoughts. The Persian works of Allama Iqbal are hardly known to the young generations. His ‘Armaga-e-Hijaz’,’Bas Che Bayad Kard Aay Aqwame Mashriq’ etc are all beyond our reach. Unfortunately, we are fast losing a generation that was well versed with Persian and reveled in the glory of its rich literature. If Khushwant Singh-for all what he stands for cam translate Iqbal’s highly political poem””Shikwaj-Jawaab-e-Shikwah””into English, should we not commission our efforts towards translating his acclaimed works, especially the ones written in Persian? Can’t we have even a single platform that could conduct special part-time classes for those who want to and understand Iqbal and his works? Expecting that to happen from the government would be wishful thinking and it is the individual efforts that are needed for setting up of a ‘Iqbal Consciousness Centre’ to help people to know much more about this iconic personality. This would be much fruitful than organizing a few self commemorating symposia on his birthday.

The author can be reached at [email protected] and hails from Lolab Khurhama.

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