Eighty one years back on 21 May, the Poet-Philosopher, thinker and towering South Asia’s Political intellectual Mohammad Iqbal (Allama Iqbal) passed away.
He left a huge legacy and even after his death has millions of followers from Pan Islamists to Socialists. His poetry, Philosophy has rich legacy and followers from all the school of thoughts and all over the places attached to his intellectual though and spirit.
The spiritual father of Pakistan Iqbal has been praised by his arch rivals like freedom fighter and India’s first woman governor Sarojini Naidu and Asia’s first Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore also. She calls him “Poet Laureate Of Asia” and Tagore says “India just cannot ignore Iqbal whose poetry has universal appeal “(Iqbal, The Life of a Poet, Philosopher and Politician, Zafar Anjum). Public Intellectual Pankaj Mishra calls him “the most important Muslim Philosopher of Modern Times”.
He even says “Even before more famous critics of West India’s Tagore and China’s Qichau, Iqbal was there”.(The Birth Of A Nation, The New York Review, Pankaj Mishra). Yahya Michot ,a famous scholar writes that “Iqbal is the great Muslim thinker in the lineage of Ghazzali, Razi and Shah Walliullah”.
Robert L. Arrignton in his encyclopedic book “A Companion To Philosophers, Oxford 1999) writes about him in eight philosophers who shaped the modern world” Not only admirers, followers Iqbal has been misinterpreted also. W.C Smith calls him anti intellectual.
(Modern Islam in India, W.C Smith) and E. M Forester compares his philosophy with the philosophy of Mughal emperor Akbar’s Deen I Elahi.(Mohammad Iqbal in two cheers for democracy, E.M Forester).
Iqbal is one of the most renowned philosopher of South Asia with peerless impact. His philosophy is used by Islamists, Ultra Orthodox’s and ultra modernists, supporters and opponents of democracy and socialists, communists.
They all claims the legitimacy of Iqbal. Prominent scholar on Iqbal Annemerie Schimmel in her book “ Gabriel’s Wings” writes “ Iqbal continued to establish connection between Islamic traditions and new Western research by these comparative studies. His stand was that Muslims should learn Islamic knowledge and wisdom for, as the west has been indebted to Islamic civilisation for learningand wisdom, Muslims won’t loose anything by learning Western Science and Technology”.
This is the main crux of Iqbal’s Philosophy. Iqbal used poetry as a means to express his philosophy and provide programme for the development of the Muslim community, to criticize the conditions of the period.
He championed the cause of justice, equality and oppression. His poetry is full for message of love. He wanted to awake Muslims.
Iqbal was a veteran Politician, activist also. He was president Of Kashmir Committee also. For his pro Muslim politics and uplifting the cause of Kashmiri Muslims, where he had his roots, he was attacked and labelled for doing it to become Prime Minister of Kashmir which he rebutted strongly in Zamindar (Kashmir Exposing The Myth, Behind The Narrative, Khalid Bashir Ahmad). In 1933 he visited Afghanistan with Sulaiman Nadwi and Sir Ross Masood to shape education policies of Afghanistan on the invitation of Shah of Afghanistan.
During the same period he represented Indian Muslims in Round Table meetings. He represented Muslims in Matamari International Islamic conference also in Jerusalem .
Iqbal didn’t write poetry only but did translations of many books like Abdul Karim Jilli’s work to writing books like Ilmul Iqtisaad (his first book) on Economics, his Phd thesis Development of Metaphysics In Muslim Persia (comparison of Eastern and Western Philosophers), Stray Reflections to his lectures on Islam, modernity etc which were compiled into book Reconstruction Of Religious Thought In Islam later published by Oxford. Iqbal was working on many manuscripts which he couldn’t complete due to his ill health.
He wanted to write a book on Quran (letter to Sir Ross Masood, grandson of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, who was secretary to Nawab of Bhopal that time, and later became VC of AMU.
Islam as I understand it which was his paper on Ijtihaad, wanted to elaborate it into book ( his letter to Syed Akbarabadi). Besides writing books he wanted to re-interpret Islamic laws for which he wrote letter to Anwar Shah Kashmiri for help when Kashmiri left Deoband.
Iqbal having such a great legacy will be never be forgotten by people. There is hardly any poet in the Muslim history who had such influence on Muslim consciousness.