Iqbal the Alchemist


Sir Allama Muhammad Iqbal, is not just a poet, in fact even the term “Revolutionary Poet” doesn`t do justice to Iqbal. Iqbal is a sage whose thoughts and ideas extend over time just like Rumi (Iqbal has frequently claimed Rumi to be his spiritual guide) . A single article or for that matter even a single book will not be enough to synthesise Iqbals entire life, his thought, his message ,his inspiration and his ideals. Therefore I`ll restrict this article only to a few key areas of Iqbals thought.

Iqbal came at a time when Muslims were sliding into darkness, the glorious past was fading away, Muslims of the old world were enchanted by the spell of Orientalist thought. Detached from their roots, the Muslims cocooned themselves, going into a self imposed seclusion to save themselves from the evils of the contemporary world. Not realising that burying head in the sand never helps. Iqbal saw through this error and just like Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, he tried to reignite the passion and the fire within the Muslims to come out of this seclusion by claiming their lost treasure i-e knowledge and education.

Without going into much details, it should be noted that when Iqbal speaks of knowledge and education, he means knowledge which transforms sand into gold, knowledge which changes us, which brings us out of darkness into the light, knowledge which makes us human so that we may strive towards a better society.

Hum Samajhte The Ke Laye Gi Faraghat Taleem
Kya Khabar Thi Ke Chala Aye Ga Ilhad Bhi Sath

We had thought education would bring economic freedom
We did not know that atheism would also come with it

There fore it is of utmost importance to study Iqbals ideals before studying his work. At times Iqbals work gets so complex that young and un trained minds fail to grasp the true essence of his message.

Iqbal was a vehement opposer of the plague of “Mullahism”. For Iqbal the Islam of Mullahs is different from the Islam of  Prophet Muhammad [Peace be upon him]. The Islam of mullahs portrays everything that is wrong with the Muslims. For Iqbal, the mullahs never understood the true message of Islam, they got tangled in the outer forms and failed to dive deeper into the vastness of the message given by Prophet Muhammad [ Peace be upon him ] . Iqbal preached that in order to rise, the Muslims have to come out of this paradigm, Islam came not to benefit a few individuals, Islam is not meant to bind you to shackles, Islam came with a message to free the man so that he could take flight and attain the real purpose of his creation. Mullahs shackle you by keeping you tangled in sectarianism and fatwas of Kufr. This in fact is not a new message, Iqbal is only passing us the message of the Sufi mystics, as he himself was a “Qadri” ( connected spiritually to Shaykh Abdul Qadir al Gilani al Baghdadi ).

Andaz-e-Byan Gharche Bohat Shaukh Nahin Hai
Shaid Ke Utar Jaye Tere Dil Mein Meri Baat

Though I have little of rhetorician’s art,
Maybe these words will sink into your heart:

Ya Wusaat-e-Aflak Mein Takbeer-e-Musalsal
Ya Khak Ke Aghosh Mein Tasbeeh-o-Munajat

A quenchless crying on God through the boundless sky—
A dusty rosary, earth‐bound litany—

Woh Mazhab-e-Mardan-e-Khud Agah-o-Khuda Mast
Ye Mazhab-e-Mullah-o-Jamadat-o-Nabataat

So worship men self‐knowing, drunk with God;
So worship priest, dead stone, and mindless clod.

Here Iqbal is essentially coming as a synthesis between the traditional and the contemporary world for the Muslims. During the time when Muslims were at a loss of their identity, the world was changing and they couldn`t find a place to fit in, at such a crucial juncture in the history of world and history of Muslims in particular, Iqbal came up with a message to guide the Muslim youth which was ready to step into the world and take charge.

Iqbal reminded them their glorious past, reminded that once their ancestors had ruled from Arabia to Spain. He reminded the Muslims that their salvation lies in following the true teachings of Prophet Muhammad[ Peace be upon him]. In doing so , he connected the youth with the modern world, bridged the gap, but he didn`t do it alone. Iqbal needed a specimen , a role model, a person who could do all that he had envisioned and show the Muslim youth that they still had that fortitude and fervour in their hearts. Luck smiled upon Iqbal and he met Muhammad Ali Jinnah. A fine example of a modern Muslim man. Educated and well versed in the ways of the modern society, yet firmly grounded in Islamic way of life. Iqbal mentored Jinnah for quite some time. They met quite a few times in London when Mr Jinnah was in a self imposed exile. Iqbal convinced Mr Jinnah to return to the sub-continent to take control of the All India Muslim League and carve out a nation state.

Mr Jinnah went through a mental transformation, Iqbal had come to Jinnah like Shams had come to Rumi. Totally transformed, Jinnah returned to India with a passion which was never extinguished.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah was personification of Iqbals “Shaheen”. Forgetting his abode, Mr Jinnah took a leap of faith, never for once stopping to ponder over the sheer stupendous size of the task he had set forth to achieve. Taking both the Hindus and British Imperialists at once, Mr Jinnah never faltered even for a second and never rested even after he achieved his goal of carving out Pakistan.

This is not a fairy tale, this is the power Iqbal`s thought can give to an individual. Iqbal is an Alchemist, who took the essence of the message from Quran and Hadith and synthesised it for us.

Na Asia Mein Na Yorap Mein Souz-o-Saaz-e-Hayat
Khudi Ki Mout Hai Ye, Aur Woh Zameer Ki Mout

Death to man’s soul is Europe, death is Asia 
To man’s will; neither feels the vital current.

Dilon Mein Walwala-e-Inqilab Hai Paida
Qareeb Aa Gyi Shaid Jahan-e-Peer Ki Mout!

In men’s hearts stir a revolution’s torrent; 
Maybe our old world is nearing death.

by Danial Ahmed
Team Operation Pakistan

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