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Archive for category Allama Iqbal-Poet of the East



by Aadil Farook

Allama Iqbal said (in Urdu),

“Khudi ko kar buland itna ke har taqdeer se pehle

Khuda bande se khud pooche bata teri raza kya hai”

The most common translation in English with which I do not agree at all is:

Raise your self so that before every decree
God will ascertain from you: “What is your wish?”

The entire misuderstanding arose due to this false translation. Many people did not get what Iqbal meant. Secular people saw link between this & self-actualization of Western thinkers. Some religious people saw conflict between Khudi (self) and Sufism’s self-annihilation / self-negation (khud ko mitana / khud ki nafi). Both parties are wrong.

1. Self-actualization as understood in the West means to unleash one’s maximum potential as far as abilities/skills/talents are concerned. The sole focus is on brilliance (qabliat). It has nothing to do with spirituality (rohaniat). Steve Jobs, Wasim Akram & Michael Jackson were self-actualized individuals because they attained genius in their fields irrespective of whether they were spiritual or not. Spirituality is not the criterion here at all.
2. Iqbal was a spiritual thinker. His entire thought can only be understood if seen with spiritual lenses. Iqbal actually did not say anything different from what Sufis had been saying. Sufis say that due to sins, the corrupted self of people has to undergo many stages of inner purification before it reaches its true real original self. That is why there is so much importance given to denial or opposition of one’s Nafs-e-amarah (lower-self NOT self). Iqbal obviously knew all that. What he really meant can be translated as:-  
Raise your PURIFIED self so that before every decree
God will ascertain from you: “What is your wish?”
Thus Iqbal did not say anything new at all. However, his greatness lies in the exact choice of words selected. Why did he use words that seem totally different from what Sufis say?
3. Iqbal’s entire goal was waking, motivating & inspiring Muslims especially of subcontinent whose spirits, courage, confidence and energy level was completely zero. Since his audience was already demotivated shattered crushed demoralised, he could not afford to use words like khud ko mitana (diminish your self) or khud ki nafi (negate your self). His deep wisdom was using words which do 2 things at the same time – endorse spirituality and raise morale of Muslims.
4. Islam is obviously not against self-actualization at all but it demands humans to first cross the spiritual path before pursuing self-actualization so that their genius has ikhlaas (purity of intention) in it. The aim of a momin (genuine believer) is not glory itself at all but to benefit humanity or glorify Islam with his God-given gifts or knowledge or caliber in anything. If Allah grants him glory in the process, he thanks Him. If Allah does not grant him any glory at all, he is still equally happy. That is sign of Nafs-e-Mutmainah (contended soul).
Holy Prophet (SAW) is the ideal human because his spirituality & brilliance both reached their highest possible level. That is why he is still the most influential person in history!

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Inayet Ullah



Something blissful happened in the year 1877 that witnessed the birth of a great poet-philosopher named Muhammed Iqbal who is thriving as a shining star on the horizon of Urdu Literature.

It is impossible, in this article, to make an assessment which encompasses fully all aspects and qualities of Iqbal’s poetry and his greatness. It is just a meager attempt to broadly highlight the salient features of his Urdu poetical works.

Iqbal’s poetry makes a distinctive deviation in the subject matter of Urdu poetry. Before Iqbal, the subject matter of Urdu poetry of most of his predecessors was “woman” and her physical beauty. Although, poetry is actually the expression of observations and experiences of a poet in life, and the subject matter can be anything in the world. In Iqbal’s own words “Shaair-e-hind ke asaab pe aurat hai savar.

In order to understand and appreciate Iqbal’s poetry, and for that matter the poetry of any major poet, it is necessary to have a knowledge of religious, social and cultural background as well as his thoughts, philosophies and the ideals he believed in.

The most recurring theme in Iqbal’s poetry is “Ishq” and the comparison of Ishq and Aql. Iqbal uses “Ishq” in a special sense of his own. In his poetry “Ishq” is a unique and exclusive feeling, devoid of reason or Aql which drives one to great achievements. A task performed with the feeling of “Ishq”, when completed, is a unique achievement and its beauty and form transcends time and becomes immortal. Masjid-e-Qartaba, which perhaps is his masterpiece, amply depicts his idea of “Ishq”. When he visited the mosque in Spain he was overwhelmed by its beauty, form and craftsmanship that prompted him to create a great work of art.

“Ishq” also enables you to face a gigantic and seemingly impossible task and drives you to make an impulsive and fearless decision:

Be khatar kood para aatishenamrood mein ishq                                                                     Aql hai mahve tamasha-e-labe baam abhi.










A part of Iqbal’s poetry is a remarkably explicit poetical interpretation of the verses of Holy Quran, the eloquence, and the impact of poetical interpretation on the reader is deep. The Quran’s language itself, which without a doubt is the word of God, is highly literary wherein literary techniques like simile, metaphor, allegory, parable, and symbolism have been used that effectively impresses the mind of the reader. The spirit of Islamic teachings, contained in the Quranic verses, are beautifully revealed in some of his following lines:

Na bacha bacha ke tu rakh ise tera aaina hai wo aaina                                                             ke shikasta ho to Aziz ter hai nigah-e-aaina saz mein

(Do not try to protect your “aaina” (heart), because when broken, its dearer in the eyes of God).

Kafir ki ye pehchan ke aafaq mein hai gum                                                                

Momin ki ye pehchan ke gum is mein hai aafaq

Shauq agar na ho meri namaz ka imam                                                                                    mere qayam bhi hijab, mere sujood bhi hijab

Another aspect of Iqbal’s poetry is optimism which is depicted in some of his following lines:

Tu hi naadaan chand kalyun per qanaat kar gaya                                                                verna gulshan mein elaj-e-tangiye damaan bhi hai

Zara nam ho to ye mitti bahut zarkhez hai saqi                                                                        (If it follows the right path the Muslim umma has a great potential).

Man is great – a significant feature of Iqbal’s poetry. The potential integrity of character and the inherent self-pride is manifested in his various verses, like:

Tu shab aafridi, chiragh aafridum                                                                                               (You (God) created night, I created lamp

Jachte nahin bakhshe hue firdaus nazar mein                                                                   Jannat meri pinhaan hai mere khoon-e-jigar mein.

Baaghe Bahisht se mujhe hukme safar diya tha kyun                                                           Kar-e-Jahan daraz hai ab mera intezar kar

A typical example of man’s self-pride is his poem: “Rooh-e-Arzi Adam ka isteqbal karti hai”. The following grand and dramatic opening lines are relative to the theme:

Khole aankh zamin dekh falak dekh fiza dekh                                                                 Mashriq se ubherta hue sooraj ko zara dekh

When man was expelled from paradise to the earth for disobedience, he (with Eve) had to toil for his living. The desolate earth lay before him, yet he was ready to face all the hardships and challenges to create a new world of his own:

Theen pesh-e-nazar kal to farishton ki adain

Aaina-e-ayyam mein aj aapni ada dekh

Iqbal is no more with us but his poetry continues to be a source of sunshine in our life.

Raftaid vale na az dil-e-maa

(You departed but not from our heart)



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