Allama Iqbal, the greatest thinker and poet of the east, was born in the Punjab on February 22, 1873. His ancestors, who were Kashmiri Brahmans, had embraced Islam two hundred years earlier. Iqbal’s father was a devout Muslim with Sufistic bent of mind.
Iqbal received his early education in Sialkot. After passing the entrance examination, he joined Intermediary College. Mir Hassan, a great oriental scholar, had a special aptitude for imparting his own literary taste to his students. Under his influence, Iqbal was drawn towards Islamic studies, which he regarded to be an outstanding favour that he could not forget it all his life. Passing on to the Government College of Lahore, Iqbal did his graduation with English Literature, Philosophy and Arabic as his subjects. At the college he met Prof Arnold and Sir Abdul Qadir.
lqbal’s poem, Chand (moon) and other early poems appeared in the journal (which belonged to Sir Abdul Qadir) in 1901 and were acclaimed by critics as cutting a new path in Urdu poetry. It did not take him long to win recognition as a rising star on the firmament of Urdu literature. In the mean time he had done his MA in Philosophy and was appointed as a Lecturer in History, Philosophy and Political Science at Oriental College, Lahore. He then moved to Government College to teach Philosophy and English Literature.
Wherever Iqbal worked or thought his versatility and scholarship made a deep impression on those around him. Iqbal proceeded to Europe for higher studies in 1905 and stayed there for three years. He took the Honors Degree in Philosophy and taught Arabic at the Cambridge University in the absence of Prof Arnold. From England, he went to Germany to do his doctorate in Philosophy from Munich and then returned to London to qualify for the bar. He also served as a teacher in the London school of Commerce and passed the Honors Examination in Economics and Political Science.
During his stay in Europe Iqbal not only read voraciously but also wrote and lectured on Islamic subjects which added to his popularity and fame in literary circles. Iqbal returned to India in 1908. The poet had won all these academic laurels by the time he was 32 or 33. He practiced as a lawyer from 1908 to 1934, when ill health compelled him to give up his practice. In fact, his heart was not in it and he devoted more time to philosophy and Literature than to legal profession. He attended the meetings of Anjuman Himayat-l-lslam regularly at Lahore. The epoch making poems, Shikwa and Jawab-e-Shikwa, which he read out in the annual convention of it one year after another, sparkled with the glow of his genius and made him immensely popular.
They became the national songs of Millet. Iqbal’s other poems Tarana-e-Hind (The Indian anthem) and Tarana-e-Milli (the Muslim Anthem) also became very popular among masses and used to be sung as symbols of National or Muslim identity at public meetings. The Balkan wars and the Battle of Tripoli, in 1910, shook Iqbal powerfully and inflicted a deep wound upon his heart. In his mood of anger and frustration, he wrote a number of stirring poems, which together with portraying the anguish of Muslims were severely critical of the West. The spirit of change is evident in poems like Biad-e-lslamia (the lands of lslam), Wataniat Nationalism), Muslim, Fatima Bint Abdullah (who was killed In the siege of Cyralnca, Siddiq, Bilal, Tahzib-e-Hazir (Modem civilization) and Huzoor-e-Risalat Maab Mein (in the presence of Sacred Prophet). In these poems, Iqbal deplores the attitude of Muslim leaders who lay a claim to Islamic leadership and yet are devoid of a genuine spiritual attachment to the blessed Prophet.
Iqbal was shaken by the tragic events of World War I and the disaster the Muslims had to face. The genius had passed through the formative period. He had attained maturity as a poet, thinker, seer and crusader who could read the signs of tomorrow in the happenings of today, make predictions, present hard facts and unravel abstruse truths through the medium of poetry and ignite the flame of faith selfhood and courage by his own Intensity of feeling and force of expression. Khizr-o-Raah (The Guide) occupies the place of pride among the poems he wrote during this period. Bang-e-Dara (The caravan bell) published in 1929 has held a place of honor in Urdu poetry and world poetry. Iqbal preferred Persian for poetic expression because its circle was wider than that of Urdu In Muslim India. His Persian works, Asrar-e-khudi (Secrets of the selt), Rumuz-e-Bekhudi (Mysteries of Selflessness), Payam-e-Mashriq (Message of the East), Javed Nama (The Song of Eternity) belong to the same period of his life. And so is Reconstruction of Religious Thoughts in Islam, which was extensively appreciated and translated into many languages.
Academies were set up in Italy and Germany for the study of Iqbal’s poetry and philosophy. In 1927 the poet was elected to the Punjab Legislative assembly. In 1930, he was elected to preside over at the annual session of Muslim League. In his presidential address at Allahabad, Iqbal for the first time introduced the Idea of Pakistan. In 1930-31, he attended the Round Table conference, which met in London to frame a constitution for India. He breathed his last in the early hours of April 21, 1938, In the arms of his old and devoted servant, leaving behind a host of mourners sit over the Islamic world. There was a faint smile playing on his lips, which irresistibly reminded One of the last criterions, which he laid down for a truthful Muslim.
Allama Iqbal had made clear in his addresses that “From Islamic point of view a state is the end product of an effort to translate ideal concepts of Islam into realities of space and time. This is a task of converting these lofty concepts into collective human conduct”.
Source: The Nation