Muslim Scientists and Thinkers–Allama DR. Muhammad Iqbal

April 9, 2009 by  


By Syed Aslam, science@muslimobserver.com

Youth_Allama_Iqbal Allama Dr. Muhammad Iqbal was born in Sialkot, Punjab,  in 1877 CE. His grandfather was a Kashmiri Brahman who accepted Islam and moved to Sialkote. Iqbal’s father Shaikh Nur Muhammad was prosperous businessman and a devout Muslim. Allama Iqbal graduated from Government College, Lahore with Bachelor of Art degree in philosophy  and completed his MA degree in philosophy from the same collage in 1899 CE with gold medal.   He became lecturer in philosophy and taught there until 1905. Sir Thomas Arnold the professor and scholar of modern philosophy noticed Iqbal’s extraordinary talent and suggested him to go for higher education in Europe. Iqbal left Lahore for England in 1905 and studied Philosophy at the Trinity College, Cambridge University and Law at Lincoln’s Inn. He went to  Germany in 1907 CE and completed his thesis in a short period of one year and received his PhD in philosophy from Munich University and returned back  home. Rejoined  his service at government college but  after some time he resigned and started  a law practice.

Allama Iqbal was knighted by the British in 1922 CE, though he was not an active politician, he was elected to the Punjab legislature for four years and president of the Muslim League of India in 1930. He visited a lot of Muslim countries including Spain and after returning from his trip abroad in 1933 CE his health deteriorated.   He still devoted his time to politics and writing excellent Urdu poetry till he breathed his last on April 21st 1938 CE  in Lahore, leaving a host of mourners in the Indian subcontinent and the Islamic world.

Allama Iqbal started writing poetry at an early age, his early poems have patriotic touch which include Tarna-e-Hind and others. His thinking changed during his stay in Europe, now his poetry reflected a global Muslim perspective which included Islamic  heritage, history and philosophy. The poem  Khizr-e-Rah, Tulu-e-Islam and others reflects his new thoughts.  His poetry has huge philosophical depth, passion, force and eloquence, it can stir the core of your heart.

Allama Iqbal preferred to write poems in Persian probably because of larger Muslim audience. Out of twelve thousands verses, seven thousands are in Persian and the rest is in Urdu. The first  work of poetry in Urdu; Bange-e-Dra published in 1924 CE. It is a collection of poems written in different phase of his life, next came Bale-e-Jibril published in 1935 CE, is considered  Allama’s most elegant work which is said to have been inspired by his visit to Spain. In his third Urdu poetry work; Zarb-e-Kalim (Rod of Moses) published in 1936 CE, here Allama has  declared war on present with his powerful yet eloquent poetry. He presented an idea how to rescue the Muslims from the ignorance and shackle of slavery, just as Moses had rescued the Israelites. 

Allama Iqbal was deeply influenced by the poetry and philosophy of poet Mawlana Rumi which reflects in his Persian poetry. His first work in Persian Asrar-e-Khudi (Knowledge of Self Respect) was published in 1915 CE. Here Allama has tried to explain his philosophy of Khudi or self respect. He emphasizes that the aim of life should be self-realization and self-perfection so as to become the vice-regent of God on earth. His philosophy of Khudi can be summed up in his one  Urdu couplet,

Khudi ko kar buland etna ke her taqdir  se   pahle
Khoda bande se khud puche bata teri raza key hai
Raise your self respect so high that before God decide your fate
God Himself come to you and ask o’ man! what do  you want? 

Allama’s second Persian work is; Rumz-e-Bekhudi (Hints of Selflessness) was published in  the year 1917 CE. Here he is addressing the Ummah about an ideal community based on Islamic social and ethical value where self sacrifice is the essence and the need of the nation is prime, which comes first. Allama’s third work  in Persian is Payam-e-Mashriq (The Message of the East)  is really a reminder to the west about the importance of spirituality, morality and religion. In his fourth Persian work of poetry; Zabur-e-Ajam, Allama denounces slavery and reminds on remembering the past, excelling the present and making preparation for the future. His fifth work Javaidnama is addressed to his son and young people at large arguing that Muslim traitors were responsible for the many victories of British in the Indian subcontinent which led to shackle of slavery.  His other Persian works are  Pas Chih Bayad Kard and Armaghan-e-Hijaz.

Allama Iqbal first book in English; ‘The Development of Metaphysics in Persia’ was his PhD thesis which became  a masterpiece in  its own right. His second  book in English is the Reconstruction of  Religious Thought in Islam, which is a collection of his lecture delivered at the big cities of India. It was published in 1930 CE and again in 1934 adding one more chapter; ‘Is Religion Possible’. In this book Allama Iqbal has tried to reconstruct true  spirit of Islam which had been misinterpreted and diluted through ages.

Another contribution of Allama Iqbal to the contemporary Islamic thought is his insistence that  modern science is compatible  with God consciousness.  He considers it more precious than mere belief in God and says that the scientific study of nature brings man closer to God,  a kind of mystic search and an act of prayer.

Allama Iqbal passed through the very painful part of the Islamic history – Turkey and its ally had lost the first world war. The vultures of England and France were looming at the horizon  of Islamic land with the aim to divide it into small pieces with the sole purpose  of making the Ummah weak, for ever. Allama saw  the ugly events unfolding in the Muslim land before his own eyes. He turned to Islam for inspiration and rejected nationalism as a disease of the West. He argued that Muslims must find their destiny through a pan-Islamic movement that ignored national boundaries.

In 1930 Allama Iqbal was elected President of Muslim League of India. In his Presidential Address at the Annual Session  at Allahabad  he boldly asserted the Muslim demand for the creation of a Muslim state within India, thus he laid the foundation of Pakistan. He persuaded  Mohammad Ali Jinnah in 1934 CE to return from England and lead the Muslims of the Indian Sub-continent in their struggle to create Pakistan.

Allama Iqbal was a great friend and supporter of Mohammad Ali Jinnah because he saw in him those very qualities that were needed by the Muslims at the time to lead them to independence. Jinnah was also a great admirer of Allama Iqbal and said about him when he passed away.

“Allama Iqbal was, undoubtedly one of the greatest poets, philosophers and seers of humanity of all times. To me he was a personal friend, philosopher and guide and as such the main source of my inspiration and spiritual support.”

Aslamsyed1@yahoo.com

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