That poetry which is par excellence always comes out of a conflict between the poet’s soul and the poet’s surroundings. A genuine poet, like a genuine teacher and leader, is one who can change his society by changing their thinking and outlook, through not just his poetry but also his actions. Allama Iqbal has succeeded in doing so in a beautiful form. Without a strong convection, a poet can never conquer his milieu. In this sense Iqbal was a great conqueror. When one goes through the writings and sayings of Iqbal, it is easily seen that he had a purpose as well as a beautiful view of life. To live was to conquer.
Iqbal as a poet-philosopher of Islam gives the message of love, hope and dignity of man. Both the poetic and philosophical source of inspiration for Iqbal was the Holy Quran and the teachings and noble life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Iqbal was of the firm belief that a man can only realise his potential and achieve success, both in the here and hereafter, when he follows the commandments of Almighty Allah and the illustrious examples of the Holy Prophet (SAW) in letter and spirit.
The Quran was revealed upon our Holy Prophet (SAW) by Almighty Allah as the book of guidance for the whole of humanity. Azaz Ahmad in his book writes that after reading Iqbal’s poetry, one feels obliged to read a lot else to understand him, such as Rumi, Nietzsche, Bergson, Al-Jilli, Greek philosophy, Muslim philosophy, Ancient Hindu philosophy, Modern European philosophy, German, Latin and English poetry, Persian and Urdu ghazal, and after having read all this when you come back to Iqbal you feel that you have yet to read and study a lot about Iqbal. Azaz Ahmad further says in his book that to understand Iqbal well, one must also need to have knowledge of Arabic literature because the source of his philosophical thought comes from the Quran which is in Arabic language and claimed by Iqbal as:
If my jar is Persian, does not matter,
My wine is Arabian,
If my song is Indian, does not matter,
My melody is Arabian.
Dr A Schimmel remarked about Iqbal that “nobody will assert that he was a prophet, for it would be wrong both from the point of history of religions and its incompatibility with the Islamic dogma of the finality of prophethood, but we may admit that he has been touched by Gabriel’s wing”. A famous poet says about Iqbal:
“He did the work of a Prophet, though one may not call him a prophet”.
Abu Ala Modudi said about Iqbal that whatever he sees, he sees it in the light of the Quran. He goes to the extent of saying that Iqbal is the leader of the Mufasreens of the past four-hundred years. The reality and Quran was one and the same in the eyes of Iqbal. Dr Waheed Ishrat says that Iqbal had profound knowledge and understanding of holy Quran and all his ideas came from it. He says that for Iqbal the solutions for all the problems of humanity lie in the Holy Quran. Dr Yousuf Husaain said that Iqbal’s poetry is the translation of the Holy Quran. Rumi’s Masnavi was considered the translation of Holy Quran in Persian language and I have no hesitation in saying that Iqbal’s poetry is the translation of the Holy Quran in the Urdu language. Maulana Syed Akbar Abadi also says that the source of Iqbal’s ideas is the Holy Quran. Alama Arashi Amratsari in one of his columns writes that Iqbal found his source, inspiration, and ideas in the Holy Quran. Similarly, Abu Ala Nadvi says that it is apparent that Iqbal has a deep understanding of Holy Quran and that he sought to match his thinking with the teachings of the Holy Quran.
As we all know that Allama Iqbal studied and saw both east and west and read the philosophies of western scholars, but he never took (which many claim) his ideas from western philosophers. Iqbal’s philosophy and ideas were based on strong conviction, the source of which was the Holy Quran. As Allama Iqbal himself says:
“What I say was beyond the intellect of those western philosophers.” Allama Iqbal in one verse says that if I say anything which contradicts the Holy Quran, hold me accountable on the Day of Judgment.
Iqbal was also against, as we see it in his poetry and speeches, slavery and blind imitation, aimlessness in thought and action, despondency, defeatism and faithlessness. He was a poet of hope and inspiration whose works continue to illuminate the hearts of those who use intellect and insight.
In a nutshell, Allama Dr Sir Muhammad Iqbal was a great scholar of repute whose works were admired both in the east and in the west. He had profound knowledge of oriental and occidental philosophies, but the source of his inspiration and the foundation of his philosophical thought was the Holy Quran. As Iqbal says, “Europe has given me the taste for innovation, but my way of conduct is still that of the Quran and what it has ordered in its verses.” Iqbal also says that the Quran was the source of his ideas:
“A hundred new worlds lie within its verses,
Whole centuries are involved in its movements”.
When Iqbal met Shah Sahseed, he gave him the Holy Quran as gift and said:
“In the court of that bounteous Muslim,
I have brought the gift of the Great Holy Quran.”
—The writer is a PhD research scholar in Srinagar. [email protected]