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Remembering Allama Iqbal

Dr Allama Iqbal, a Sialkot born philosopher and poet, studied literature, law and philosophy at Government College at Lahore, Cambridge University, and then did his PhD atthe University of Munich. Eighty years down the line, his dreamof Muslims return to an early phase of Islam without losing some of the best features ofit seems unfulfilledon many fronts. He was both versifier of Islam and the poet of mankind and tried to get rid Muslim community from the dormant mode of life. Being an acknowledged poet of East and the Wiseman of the Ummah on the grounds of unchallengeable qualities, he believed that it was the narrow conception of patriotism that was responsible for all strife’s and wars in the world and thought it was an insult to Divine Unity that humanity should be divided into so many sections or tribes or nations. Iqbal felt restless as he found humanitygroaning under the burden of the materialistic system of the west with their terrible features of colonialism, imperialism and a bleakcivilization. To him,it was nothing short of a crusade to breakdown all the barriers that unfortunately divided humanity even to this day.

Iqbal vehementlycondemned the European materialistic and politico-economic theories and institutions for the reason that they had initiated and increased strife, degeneration and indigence inthe Eastern hemisphere.

HeemphasizedthatIslamic community will achievestrength and perfectsolidarity byadopting theuniversal code ofconduct free from any biased approach. He strongly opposed the westernnationalistic concept of life because it providesunlimited powers to the powerful and corrupts the liberty of weak people.

He wrote originally in Urdu, then in Persian in order to reach a wider Muslim audience. Iqbal admired the role of Jamal-ud-din Afghani who was the first to harmonize his philosophy of Pan-Islamism. He furtherharmonized it and evolved what came to be known as (Ummah). He expressed his confidence that the new philosophy oftheMillat-Islam he had propounded in his Rumuz would certainly prove an eye-opener to those whom he describes as Muslims belonging to the new school to the real nature ofIslamic nationalism. This concept is totally in contradiction of which Europe was not proud. He rejected the westernthesis of nationalism as a politicalideology and did notconcede its superiority over Islam. He believed that the acceptance of western nationalism as supreme value leads to fascism. His notion thatexistingMuslim states are no more than colonialencroachments on the ruins of anIslamic entity was based on his philosophical thought on Islam. These encroachments were erected only to makeMuslims feel at homerather than to have them think about living as one Ummah.

Had Iqbal been alive today he must have reprimanded more than 50 Muslim countries who presently are divided on all fronts as there are fifty-eightMuslim countries, with fifty-eightpolicies andfifty-eightShirk-infested national anthems, divided interests and unclear strategies. The Organizationof Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Arab League which arerelatively doing nothing substantial has also divided Muslims into many fronts. Ummah, thus, is seemingly the most dreaded word for those who harbour hatred for Islam and consider followers of Islam as ‘communal’ or so-called‘terrorists’.

The ideology of Islam is the challenge to overcome the anti-Islam alliance of Christian-Zionists and capitalists. There is according to the principles ofIslam,no basis for division among Muslims with respect to theplace of birth, ethnicity, culture, language, national boundaries or nationality.Iqbal stressed upon the Muslims to shun down their difference and work under the banner of Ummahbecause he believed that the faith did not depend upon the region, caste and colour.His conceptual goal was to analyze the reasons for the decay of Muslim culture and provide the tools by which Muslims may reclaim their faith and reorganize themselves under the banner of Ummah. He had greatly contributed to Islamic revivalism in order to build a nation state on the ground of Pan-Islamism.

Iqbal was the most important Muslim thinker of the twentieth century, who strongly condemned Muslims for failing to live up to the ideals of Islam. He alsocondemned the various aspects of Western thought, especially the secularism and Nationalism of the West and its materialistic ideology that lead to colonialism and racism. Heabhorred the culturallycentredviews of westernthinkers suchas the political thinkers like Hegel and great sociologists like AugustComte on the basis that they lead to a fatalistic and deterministic understanding of man’s evolution, denying human freedom and creativity.Iqbalalso strappinglycondemned all thoseSouth Asian Muslims who left their countries and took rehabilitation in comfort zones Western countries. He pointed out that they sold their consciousness andthey did not realize the significance of their responsibility. At a time when the Muslim world is commemorating his eightieth death ceremony, the need of the hour for all of us is to follow his message by letter and spirit. Better late than never.

The authors are the RTI activists and can be mailed at [email protected]&[email protected]