COMMENT: Is this Iqbal’s Pakistan? —Faheem Amir - Friday, April 29, 2011

Our rulers are fearful that Iqbal’s iconoclastic message can infuse a revolutionary spirit among the youth of Pakistan and they may rise against their cruel rule and corrupt system

The history of the Pakistan Movement cannot be written without mentioning Allama Iqbal’s meritorious services, which he rendered in the literary, political, philosophical and religious realm to the Muslims of the Subcontinent. Iqbal, through his poetry and prose, not only infused a new spirit of action in the dormant and sluggish body of Indian Muslims but also gave them a vision for an independent Muslim state.

While many functions and programmes were arranged under the auspices of government and private organisations to pay homage to Mufakar-e-Pakistan (Thinker of Pakistan) and Shair-e-Mashriq (Poet of the East), Allama Muhammad Iqbal, on his death anniversary, some intriguing questions come to mind.

What was the dream of Iqbal about the Muslims of India? Does Pakistan reflect the true aspirations of Iqbal? After the mutiny in 1857, the Muslims were caught between Scylla and Charybdis. The British imperial power put the entire blame for the revolt on the Muslims and, on the one hand, developed anti-Muslim policies, which reduced the Muslims to the status of serfs and servants, and on the other, the Hindus were promoted in every walk of life. The Hindus also started anti-Muslim movements like Shuddhi movement launched by the Arya Samaj to check the spread of Islam and promote Hinduism among the people of India. Dr Hunter, member of the civil service, wrote about the pitiable plight of Bengali Muslims in 1872: “A hundred and seventy years ago, it was impossible for a well-born Musalman to become poor; at present it is almost impossible for him to continue rich.”

In these gloomy and hopeless circumstances, the majority of Muslims took refuge in getting and protecting religious teachings. They confined themselves only to mosques and madrassas. They shut their eyes to modern education and thus gave way to the Hindus to perform political, economic and administrative functions under the British Raj.

Iqbal urged the Muslims to shun their reclusive behaviour and follow the true spirit of Islam, which makes education and struggle in every field of life obligatory for every Muslim. In his presidential address at the annual session of the All-India Muslim Conference in Lahore in 1932, Iqbal said: “Politics have their roots in the spiritual life of man. It is my belief that Islam is not a matter of private opinion. It is a society, or if you like, a civic church. It is because present-day political ideals, as they appear to be shaping themselves in India, may affect its original structure and character that I find myself interested in politics.”

Iqbal also writes in his famous book The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam that, “Islam is non-territorial in its character, and its aim is to furnish a model for the final combination of humanity by drawing its adherents from a variety of mutually repellent races, and then transforming this atomic aggregate into a people possessing a self-consciousness of their own.”

To create a model for the final combination of humanity and free the Indian Muslims from economic, political and cultural subjugation, Iqbal spelt out the idea of a separate homeland for Indian Muslims at Allahabad on December 29, 1930. Iqbal’s thoughts electrified the Indian Muslims, and they struggled hard under the matchless leadership of the Quaid-e-Azam to materialise Iqbal’s cherished dream.

In 1940, the great Quaid paid his matchless tribute to Iqbal in these words that if he lived to see the ideal of a Muslim state being achieved and if he were then offered to make a choice between the works of Iqbal and the leadership of the Pakistan state, he would prefer the former.

In 1947, the state of Pakistan was created but the dream of Iqbal’s Pakistan — a state, which gets its inspiration from the egalitarian teachings of Islam — is still unfulfilled. In Iqbal’s view, a political system, which is not based on ethical foundations, would lead to changezi, or tyranny, and in Pakistan we are seeing this changezi in its worst form as our political system is devoid of any ethics. Our corrupt, opportunistic, venal, self-aggrandising and incompetent politicians are blind to the sufferings of the poor and downtrodden people. They are real demagogues who feel no compunction in creating bad blood among the people just for fulfilling their own nefarious designs.

Iqbal had aptly said, “Nations are born in the hearts of poets, they prosper and die in the hands of politicians.” WikiLeaks has exposed that our obsequious and pusillanimous rulers do not feel any hesitation even to bow before American state officers to get power in Pakistan. These insane leaders have put the very sovereignty of our state in jeopardy.

Iqbal berates materialism, slates capitalism and rejects feudalism, while Pakistani society is riddled with these ills. Iqbal urges common people to break their shackles of slavery and revolt against the prevailing cruel systems. He says:

“Arise and awake the poor of my world,

Shake the doors and walls of the mansions of the rich,

Kindle the blood of slaves with the fire of faith,

Give the humble sparrow the strength to fight the falcon!”

Our rulers are fearful that Iqbal’s iconoclastic message can infuse a revolutionary spirit among the youth of Pakistan and they may rise against their cruel rule and corrupt system. So, every effort is made to discourage Iqbal’s teachings among young Pakistanis. Our leaders should pay heed to the message of Alexandre Dumas, a famous French author and dramatist. He said that man can be seen; you can touch him; you can arrest him; you can level charges against him; you can put him behind bars; you can hang him. But you cannot check ideas; the more you try to suppress them, the more they spread.

The writer is a staff member. He can be reached at

Source :\04\29\story_29-4-2011_pg3_5

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