Translating Allama Iqbal: A Preview of ‘National Life’ (1904)


Background Those who stand well informed regarding Allama Muhammad Iqbal and his thought and are well aware of the various stages of his life in terms of the development of his philosophical thought. In the life of Allama Muhammad Iqbal, there are three distinct periods, or stages, of thought. Although many academics and scholars of the philosophy of Allama Muhammad Iqbal suggest that these three periods demonstrate the ‘change’ of the thought over a period of time, I am personally inclined towards the opinion that Allama Muhammad Iqbal ‘developed’ his earlier thought due to various factors of religious, spiritual and political nature which rendered into the complete Allama Muhammad Iqbal that is known to the world today. The foundations were present from his childhood yet life experience and maturity thought knowledge and experience transformed his thought into a beacon of light for a higher aim. These periods are portrayed in his various poetic works. Prior to 1905, Allama Muhammad Iqbal was a great advocate of Indian nationalism at a time where India was a colony of the British Empire following centuries of Muslim rule. In 1905, Allama Muhammad Iqbal left the sub-continent for further studies in the UK, here his Pan-Islamic thought commenced which eventually started taking shape upon his return to India in 1908. Consequently, his thought developed over the period of the next 3 decades; his thought is preserved in various poetic works of Persian and Urdu literature and his notable work of Prose in English- The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam. Prior to the departure of Allama Muhammad Iqbal to Europe, nationalistic and patriotic elements are clearly translated from his mind onto paper via the medium of the poetic expression, for example in the renowned poem known as the ‘Taraana-e-Hind’ (The Anthem of India), Allama Muhammad Iqbal exclaims: Sarey Jahaan Sey Acha Hindustaan Humaara Hum Bubuley Hein Iskey Ye Gulsitaan Humaara However, when Allama Muhammad Iqbal returned, his thought had changed to a large extent. In 1910, Allama Muhammad Iqbal wrote another poem entitled ‘Taraana-e-Milli’ (The Anthem of the Religious Community) asserting the universal ambit of Islam and the Muslim nation: Cheen o Arab Humaara, Hindustaan Humaara Muslim Hein Hum Watan Hai Saara Jahaan Humaara The work at hand is a preview of an article by Allama Muhammad Iqbal that was published in the Urdu journal of Sir Abdul Qadir ‘Makhzan’ in 1904. At this stage, it must be set firm in the mind of the readers that this article was published at a time whereby Allama Muhammad Iqbal propagated Muslim and Hindu unity to free the Indian Sub-continent from British colonialism. Therefore, there will be evident differences with the latter thought of the maestro philosopher of the 20th century. Also, this is a preview and the entire article will be published soon, if God wills. We ask Allah to forgive us for any shortcomings and to accept his insignificant service from us and the readers and to grant us the true understanding of the thought of Allama Muhammad Iqbal and to ponder over it and act upon it, for indeed the work of Allama Muhammad Iqbal are a translation of the Quran and Ahadith of the Prophet (Peace be upon Him) from the Arabic language into the Persian and Urdu languages. It must be remembered that this is a simple translation of the work and a detailed analysis will form the basis of a separate work. Muhammad Umair 19th June 2015 / 2nd Ramadan 1436 A.H A Preview of ‘National Life’ Throughout history, the realisation of the present condition of a nation, and if they want to make their place one of high stature In the World, working for the betterment of the coming generations stands as a critical time. There was a time when nations decided on the outcome of their mutual conflicts by using swords. This was the most powerful device and method in the ancient world. In today’s strange world, the fate of the nations is neither dependant on the quantity of man power, strength nor the powerful weapons possessed. Rather in the modern world, the life of the nation depends upon the power of the pen. Today, it is neither necessary for the nations to laden their people with powerful weapons in a battlefield to kill and shed blood. These strategies were relevant in ancient history but in our time the dependence of survival, annihilation of a nation and the basis on which one nation can annihilate the other while working in its own boundary is founded upon knowledge. Thus, the age of fighting wars with hands has gone. It’s a time of resignation of mind, civilization and culture. With this war, the wounds cannot be healed by medicines. The apparent distance between nations that was huge has now decreased with the amazing inventions of the vehicles and electronic messages. Those countries which too remote to be contacted, reached or generally unknown due to the seas between them; the people of one country can now travel to the other country with the help of the remarkable invention of sailing the ships on the seas therefore making these countries appear like neighbours to each other (in the form of a global village). In this manner, the culture of nations and civilisation is affected or impacted upon by one another on a daily basis. The glow of light which in the earliest civilisations was known to have the religious effect on the human heart is now the means as to which messages are conveyed. The Sun which has deceived the subtle sight of Abraham and also affected the minds of one civilised nation is now used for its heat and light by Man due to scientific advancements. In short, all the object of the natural system, the impossible interpretation of which led the nations to adorn them with the clothing of lordship and build their enormous idols. These objects are now the servants of Man through the modern sciences. In recent times, Man is carrying the burden of that immense trust that the mountains refused to carry. Due to His adoration of the best of His creation, questioning eyes are opening the secrets of nature and the mind with the scientific development is ruling over the mountains, seas, rivers and even the moon, sun and stars. This is the amazing transition that distinguishes the past from the present and whose reality requires that all nations must provide the new things due to the establishment of modern spiritual and physical necessities. My motive in terms of this change is that I look over the present condition of the South Asian nation, especially the Muslims and make it clear that in the tough walk of life, what difficulties we are facing and what measures we must take to compensate such difficulties. My aim is to attract the reader’s mind and heart to the important question of national life. If even one of the readers is convinced to think on this important issue, then I will think that this article is not unfruitful. Allama Muhammad Iqbal ‘Quami Zindagi’ (Makhzan Journal, 1904)

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