Thinking Iqbal in today’s Pakistan makes you look away
INKSIGHT BY MEHMOOD UR RASHID
Today’s Pakistan is not a matter of interpretation or analysis. It is rather a graspable tragedy. Those who revel in denial also find it now difficult to get away with their usual ways of turning down. The monster of violence, produced by intolerance, has grown so high and huge that even a blind feels stumbling against it. Thinking in terms of strategy, security and political instability is less likely to explain the present day Pakistan. US on the western side and India on the eastern is not the geography of threat. Pakistan as a state may overcome these difficulties before long by slightly shifting its strategic emphasis or redrawing its economic imperatives, but that won’t end its miseries. Pakistan’s enemy is stationed in the individuals living in that country. Could Iqbal live among such individuals. Could he produce the thought shaking poetry and get away unscathed. Could he pointedly express his unease with the religious thought and live in a country of his own imagination!!!
It is not a fantasy; neither a crazy way of demeaning a country. It is not even adding a decibel to the international shrill about Pakistan being the centre of terror. It is an uneasy thought sneaking its way into the mind all by itself. Just imagine for a moment; Iqbal banished from Pakistan. Now the gravity of the problem pulls you down. It starts sinking in.
Why do we then find Pakistan abound with Iqbal. From primary schools to universities Iqbal is found everywhere. From families to institutions Iqbal occupies all. He feeds both politician and preacher. Everyone loves him and each stands in awe of Iqbal. The reason is that everyone has his own Iqbal. Governments and states their own and people and parties their own. It is not about Iqbal’s text subjected to different interpretations and approached through different disciplines of knowledge. That would never have been a problem driving Iqbal out from the country. The problem is where everyone clings fiercely to his viewpoint and fits Iqbal violently into it. Iqbal only reinforces the biases and helps craft a ring of justification around the violence – mental and actual – that each produces against the other. Would Iqbal appear for a moment and speak for himself all these violences – silent and expressed – would rush down menacingly towards him. He could have no longer lived in a country he cradled in his poetry.
If this becomes difficult to imagine, think of someone like Fazlur Rehman. If that sounds remote Ghamidi is a reminder. Both left Pakistan because they seriously questioned the religious thought that drives the Pakistani society and in turn produces political and economic consequences. Iqbal’s Reconstruction of Religious Thought would not have been such a welcome thing with the religious mind of Pakistan. After all what people were targeted for in this society was in line with the idea of inquiry identified by Iqbal. Long back Fazlur Rehamn had underlined the element of ‘rage and anger’ in the Islamic movements and a necessity to understand the test afresh. And it has now been quite a time that people like Ghamidi precisely pointed out the same.
The ever diminishing capacity of the Pakistani society to accommodate dissent is far bigger a problem than the hovering drones in its ‘sovereign’ skies. The habit of externalizing the problem makes people very sharp in locating a drone in the skies but willingly oblivious of the explosives in the backyard. No doubt it is naïve for Pakistan to think of US as just a presence in the west. Similarly India and many other factors demand a consistent engagement. Economy of peace and politics of stability are very charming ideas but states cannot lower the guard hurriedly, and permanently. This all is true but the truth of the moment is the societal crisis. Inability to accommodate difference.
And when we say accommodating difference, it is not like having multiple political parties. We have a plethora of them in Pakistan. Even the religious schools and parties are no less in number. Amidst this violence we see them forming alliances and joining hands on issues. Difference becomes a challenge when conclusions are questioned, when established thinking is displaced. Iqbal did the same when he was alive. But could he do it now! Of course he could but not without earning an exile. Thank God, he left well before the country was born.
Tailpiece: Iqbal says:
Dahar Kai Gam Khaanai Main Tera Pata Milta Nahi
Jurm Kya Thaa Afrinish Bhi Ki Tu Ruposh Hai
Yu haven’t left a trace in this tragic theatre of time
Was creation such a crime that you went into permanent hiding
Was Pakistan such a being that Iqbal left well before its becoming!!
Lastupdate on : Wed, 18 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 18 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 19 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST
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