Why Iqbal matters?
He matters as he inspires us to think beyond him
WRITE HAND BY AJAZ UL HAQUE
Every year twice we commemorate Iqbal. (Some may object and ask as to why trot out the same old verses, the same old couplets on each anniversary). We sound so lavish while showering our love and devotion on this man who, for about a century now, has come to symbolize our collective identity. There are two Iqbals, one dead one alive. Or to phrase it more aptly, one long irrelevant and the other ever relevant. And when we celebrate we celebrate the living Iqbal. This dead-alive or relevant-irrelevant division is not applicable to Iqbal only, but to all thinkers in the human history. Their theories were first a response to their own condition. All they said or wrote was the outcome of the conflicts of their time. To this norm, Iqbal is no exception. And to this norm no book, no idea, no theory can be an exception.
To a section of Iqbalian scholars Iqbal matters because he represents Muslims, because he symbolises Islam and because he takes all his energy and force from the Qur'an and from his boundless love for the prophet of Islam. (May peace be upon him). Their reverence for Iqbal is rooted in devotion. Premising our study on an emotion-based faith or a faith-based emotion has a danger of making us parochial. This way Iqbal will appear to us matchless, but we won't be able to apprehend that matchlessness in the way it needs to be apprehended? This faith-ridden way of studying Iqbal harms two ways. One, it limits our vision as readers and the second, it confines the appeal of art and literature. And we must not forget how emphatically Iqbal denies to be a poet, Iqbal is the poet first, the poet last.
Another route to Iqbalian thought is intellectual. When I say intellectual, I don't mean rational. Reason alone (the same way as faith alone) can't get us near the truth of anything. Applying logic to poetry will be like applying arithmetics to art. It will make the whole edifice of literature fall apart. The intellectual approach we adopt has got to be informed by spiritual ideals. And if I say by intellectual, I don't mean necessarily `rational', I add that by spiritual I don't mean `religious'. A creative experience like Iqbal's demands to be approached creatively and that is where the living Iqbal emerges. Here do we come to realise that why Iqbal matters?
Iqbal matters as Iqbal incites to question. His own journey of seeking knowledge was not static but ever-flowing. How can we lock him when he urges us to unlock the human mind. If, in a quest to know an Iqbal that matters, we come across an Iqbal who doesn't really matter, there won't be any tribute more befitting than this.
(Abstract of the paper presented at Iqbal day organised by Iqbal Institute KU this week)
Lastupdate on : Sat, 21 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 21 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 22 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST
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