SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Agency) – Iqbal’s range, quality, and quantity are truly impressive. Apart from Urdu, he also wrote prodigiously in Persian and is regarded as one of the most important poets of modern India. In addition to his indubitable genius as a poet, Iqbal is also considered by many as a very important thinker and philosopher.
His legacy endures in the country (Pakistan) he is believed by many to have envisioned. However his recognition and influence go far beyond his country as his thoughts and poetry have made him a cultural icon for many around the Muslim world. His revitalizing philosophy has inspired many leading figures.
Questions regarding the coherence of Iqbal’s views –questions such as whether these views could all be taken together without contradiction, whether readers should discredit any particular view if proven incoherent or incompatible with others, and the like– continue to draw the attention of more objective historians and philosophers. Taking this approach, however, risks confusing Iqbal’s legend as a poet with what is significant for one in his philosophical thought.
While I do not necessarily subscribe to Iqbal’s ideology and his political philosophy, I have great admiration for him as a poet and as a colossal literary figure. I do not confuse between the two ‘Iqbals’ as either of them neither diminishes nor augments the other. The advent of Moharram each year particularly reminds me of Iqbal because Iqbal’s inspiration from Karbala transcends well beyond any sectarian confines, as does Iqbal himself. Iqbal propagates a universal message to mankind to emulate Imam Hussein who sacrificed his life at the altar of Truth. Indeed, Imam Hussein’s heritage is for all noble people and cannot be reduced to one Muslim sect or the other.
Here is some of Iqbal’s poetry about Imam Hussein.
Haqeeqat e abadi hey maqaam e Shabbiri
Badaltey rehtey hei’n andaaz e kufi o shami
(Bal e Jibril)
Hussein was the symbol of devotion to truth and love for God. The inspiring glory of his martyrdom is an eternal certainty that will forever provide guidance to drive our conduct. It represents truth that never changes. Whereas the shenanigans of the ilk that ruled Kufa and Syria continue to change garbs and use new tricks to gain ascendency through deceit, expediency, manoeuvring, and cruelty.
Amidst many sterling examples that adorn the human history, no one has exercised his right to say NO with so much courage and resolve as Hussein. Hussein showed that our rights and freedom go hand in hand with our duty and dignity. There are so many occasions in everyday life that make us confront the relation between the goods of life and human dignity and we can always draw on Karbala’s unique capacity for moral guidance and spiritual awakening bestowing intrinsic dignity and integrity upon the moment in question and upon our life overall.
Ik faqr hey Shabbiri is faqr mei’n hey miri
Meeras e musalmani sarmaya e Shabbiri
(Bal e Jibril)
Iqbal says that Hussein exemplifies empowerment without worldly riches and might. This is the power of truth represented by a noble life and death rather than by the ways of a hermit seeking seclusion. Hussein’s conduct and nobility constitute a proud heritage for the Muslims. It is incumbent upon Muslims to follow Hussein in always adhering to truth and justice when making choices in life’s situations. It is only in honouring Hussein’s legacy of courage, sacrifice, and steadfastness that Muslims can find real glory in this world and hereafter.
Gharib-o-sوپda-o-rangi’n hay dوپstوپn-e-Haram
Nihوپyat iski Hussain ibtida hay Ismوپil
(Bal e Jibril)
Iqbal says the narrative of Kaba is simple, straightforward, and interesting. It starts with Prophet Ismail, who laid the first stone and suffered great pains in its construction. He offered for sacrifice his own life but the sacrifice was not completed as he was replaced by a ram and according to the Holy Qur’an the great sacrifice or Zibh-e ‘Azim was to come later and be completed by one of his descendants, Hussein. In between we had a number of prophets till Prophet Muhammad rid it of idols and restored its purity. Then came Hussein, as the culmination of Zibh e Azim, who sacrificed his life and preserved the glory of Kaba for eternity.
Roney wوپlوپ hoon shaheed-e-Karbala kay gham may mei’n
Kyوپ durrey maqsad na dai’ngay Sوپqi-e-Kausar mujhey
(Baqiyat e Iqbal)
Not only does Iqbal cry over the Karbala’s tragedy and Imam Hussein but he also sees it as a source of his salvation. He believes that Saqi-e-Kausar (Lord of Cistern in Paradise), Prophet Muhammad, loves those who weep for Imam Hussein and thus would also fulfil Iqbal’s heart’s desire.
Reg e Iraq muntazir, kisht e Hijaz tashna kaam
Khoon e Hussain bazdeh Kufa o Sham khuwesh ra
(Zaboor e Ajam)
While the sand of Iraq is avidly looking forward to kiss Hussein’s feet, the land of Hijaz is miserable because Hussein is departing from it. Iqbal movingly describes the fields of Hijaz as thirsty as an allegory of Hussein’s thirst in Karbala. Then Iqbal says that every age has its own Kufa and Syria and a dignified human existence calls for upholding the values defended with his blood by Hussein.