By Amir Suhail Wani –
Is it true that in Asrar I Khudi, Iqbal had so much glorified the individual and so vehemently emphasised the subjective that it had almost invariably led him to the denail of collective and made him forgetful of the objective. This is what was believed by many critics of Iqbal, Abdul Rehman Bijnori being the most notable. These critics and their followers believed that Iqbal preached a subtle form of fascism and was reiterating the Nietzschean formula of superman. These charges catalysed the plan Iqbal had chalked earlier and went on to take his project of Ramooz I Bekhudi more seriously. Though he had long before, immediately after the appearance of Asrar, intended to write down something on the lines of Ramooz, and critics only helped to catalyse the process. In score of letters, he informed his learned friends about Ramooz I Bekhudi, and at times himself went on to stress the subtleties of this book. The architecture of Asrar O Ramooz is such that starting with the individual self, it proceeds to chalk out the blueprint of society at large based on based on Spiritual interpretation of life and universe and rooted in fundamental teachings of Islam. The year 1916 saw Iqbal busy with his professional activities, the preparation of Ramooz and replying to the accusations thrown at him in view of Asrar I Khudi.
While Iqbal was busy in writing a sequel to Asrar, the West had entered the first World War and despite its far reaching importance, Iqbal showed no special interest in the happenings of War and described it as an imperial and colonial enterprise aiming to exploit the oppressed and promote the interests of imperial powers. But he kept deepening his thought regarding the issues faced by his country and community and simultaneously ensured to keep his poetics in evolution. In 1917, a post of judge fell vacant in Hyderabad after the death of Sayyid Hashim Bilgrami and Munshi Din Muhammad, editor Municipal gazette recommended Iqbal’s name for the post. Iqbal himself seemed interested in the offer as it would have freed him of economic concerns of daily life, but his posting couldn’t mature. Akbar Hyderi offered Iqbal lectureship in law at Hyderabad, but Iqbal denied and continued his practice at Lahore and the process of writing Ramooz I Bekhudi . In a letter addressed to Niyaz Ud Din Khan, Iqbal notes that he is about to complete Ramooz and went on to say that its content is so unique that it will be a source of joy and surprise for Muslims, as these themes have never before been expressed the way they have been expressed them in Ramooz. He further wrote that Ramooz will make explicit the issue of Muslim nationalism and will be entirely novel in approaching the idea. In a letter to Shad, Iqbal makes a mention of book on Fiqh being under construction and writes that he wanted to draft it on the pattern of Imam Nasfi. But providence had it that Iqbal could never complete this book as his financial demands kept him on move and provided him little time to delve whole heartedly into research and writing.
In 1918, Ramooz I Bekhudi went on to be released. Iqbal sent a copy to Sayyid Sulaiman Nadvi for pointing ideological errors, but according to Ghulam Rasool Mahr, all errors brought to fore by Syed Sulaiman were unfounded. Abdul Rehman Bijnori went on to say in his review that Iqbal has come like a messiah to Muslim community. It is only when we understand Asrar O Ramooz in essence that Islam will awaken to a call whose results will be fruitful. It is important to note that Asrar I Khudi was already translated by Nicholson into English and had became a point of discourse in Western academia. Dickson, in his review of the English version of Mathnavi “The secrets of the Self” and blamed Iqbal for plagiarising Nietzsche. Iqbal responded briefly by noting that he had written on the concept of The perfect man some twenty years ago and that was the time when little was known of Nietzsche. Herbert Reed went on to praise Iqbal’s understanding of man and placed him beyond Whitman and Nietzsche in his understanding of the man’s essence. This translation by Nicholson and the series of articles that were published in sequel proved seminal in introducing Iqbal to the Western world. Within no time, the scholars and intellectual elite of West turned their attention to Iqbal and this process has only continued to augment with time. It is pertinent to note that Iqbal’s message of Mardi Kamil was propelled by the deteriorated state of man in the West. Modern man, which had emerged against the backdrop of industrial and technological revolution was no more a man of will, determination, higher ideals and self-realisation. He had surrendered himself and his destiny to science and technology and had embraced the ideal of material progress, discounting all other dimensions of life. No wonder that Iqbal came to be received and appreciated in West – as this was the original stimulus to his Falsafae Khudi. At one point of time, Iqbal lamented the fact that his countrymen, for whom the book was written, have derived no benefit from it, but have instead made it a subject of criticism and disdain, while as people abroad are valuing this book and benefiting from it.
A strange incident is recorded in Rozgar I Faqir that a dervish had made his stay at the famous shrine of Data Ganj Bhaksh and Iqbal intended to ask him few questions. Next morning, while Iqbal was sitting, Ali Bhaksh informed him that some saintly figure wanted to meet. The elderly man came in and told Iqbal, “You wanted to ask me a question, I have came to answer” and read the following couplet
“Guft Rumi Har Binaaye Kohna Ka Badaa Kunand
Tu Nadani Awal Aa Bunyaad Ra
(Rumi said that every construction to be restructured must be subjected to demolition first)Iqbal says that he lost sense of his immediate surroundings for a moment and after regaining his senses, he couldn’t found the saint anymore. He tried to call Ali Bhaksh, but he too wasn’t seen around.
(Amir Suhail Wani is a Kashmir based freelancer, Comparative Studies Scholar, and R&D Engineer with SA Power Utilities Pvt Ltd. Feedback at [email protected])