Do we Really Love Iqbal? – Adfar Shah

It is heart touching when I notice even young Turkish Students so obsessed and working so genuinely to glorify Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (a legendry Muslim theologian-1878-1960) and his mission and message, what they generally call Nursi Movement. I witness even Muslim Turkish youth organizing literary events like young Academicians conferences/debates or student meets in Turkey and fund Indian and other students to study, read and write on Nursi, even they raise funds from rich Turkish people to afford big conferences on Nursi and fund academics and students to read and speak on Nursi in literary functions simply to adore, pay tribute, run the mission, disseminate the Nursi’s literature free and propagate the Nursi movement even when out of their homeland. This obsession of such young Turks with Nursi makes me to compare our obsession, passion and love for Iqbal, who always felt proud to call himself the son of this soil.

Contrarily, I feel ashamed what as Kashmiris we have returned to Allama Iqbal-the legend whose heart not only palpitated for the valley, but who always aired and acted his concerns for the oppressed people of Kashmir and always took pride in saying:
‘Tanam Gilay Zi Khayabaan-e-Jannate Kashmir’

Today, what we have in turn produced is a plethora of “Iqbal readers” and plenty of “Hufaaz-e-Iqbal” who despite remembering and reciting his poetry, understand very little of it in real sense. We also have a majority of “Iqbal orators” who can eloquently speak on Iqbal. As a mark of tribute these people not only misinterpret Iqbal by adjusting his magnificent urging as per the demands of time and space, but also make use of derogatory rhetoric to beat their drum. We also have gradually developed an ideology better to be termed as Iqbalism, wherein Allama has been compared to every damn theme, even animals and sometimes even to police and CRPF (I read a long time ago). In an attempt to substantiate our arguments with Iqbalian thoughts, a very negative direction has been rendered to Iqbal Studies. A plethora of papers have been jotted down without any practical Iqbalian Vision, true interest, objective utility, original credibility and research orientation. The heartrending question is, are we especially as Kashmiris doing justice with Iqbal and shall Iqbal be happy with the pace of work done and progress made in his mission in Kashmir? Are we really concerned about Iqbal and his thought and if yes, what have we done to spread what he called ‘His Noor-e-Baseerat’ even in our families not to talk of society. The message of Quran and Islam to which Allama devoted his whole life are rare in our lives. Our dichotomy reaches its heights when we simultaneously claim to love Iqbal but instead, do averse to his teachings. The practical void therefore leaves enough space for a prickly criticism and calls for a serious introspection especially for the Kashmiri youth.
We keep on reciting the poetry of Iqbal-e-Lahori but have we ever tried to explore Iqbal of Kashmir-the son of soil and is such a legendry Hakim-ul-Ummat known to every Kashmiri? If not who is accountable? In this context, it must be borne in mind that our aim in revisiting Iqbal should never be an attempt to canonize him. No matter how elegant his intellectual legacy stands, his word can never overtake the word of God. Nor is it aimed to present Iqbal in the preview of “hero worshipping”. Some people generally now a days put forth their bold blames that Iqbal is misconceived as a parallel to prophet hood, but as my mentor Prof. (Dr) Nehvi, an eminent Iqbalian scholar always laments and refutes such baseless claims as an emanation of ignorant minds thereby, reflecting the dearth of a realistic, full sprit and true Iqbal Shinasi.
We have deviated from his mission and forgotten the legend, who worked so tirelessly for the change and dreamed of the social and intellectual empowerment of the oppressed. Iqbal’s passion for weaving out the Unitarian ethos among all Muslims has been tarnished by us all in the politics of sectism, sectarian hatred, violence, intellectual backwardness and bankruptcy, identity and personality crisis, moral and spiritual corruption and what not. No doubt we have transformed and drawn our societies on material patterns, but having done so, we have also invited an argument as to what Iqbal aspired from us? Today, on Youm-e-Iqbal (135th birth anniversary), we have to really introspect about our Love for Iqbal. Today we may have attained individual economic autonomy, but we have registered a worst failure in surrendering our rich collective and cultural ethos grounded in high values and morality simply to secure in economic privileges.
The irony rather the remorse is, should we still treat Iqbal a proud Kashmiri or does our material drives and spiritual and intellectual decline with futile achievements tantamount to dishonor his unforgettable and towering persona because the truth is that we have failed Iqbal, turned so apathetic to him and ignored his path. By turning apathetic to such a charismatic figure we have been apathetic to Kashmir and to whole humanity.

(Adfar Shah is a Doctoral Candidate of Sociology at JamiaMilliaIslamia, New Delhi.


  1. CynicalCynical /

    Iqbal was a poet and a very good one at that. Beyond that he was an utopian ideologue, who has little understanding of ways of man. His concept of ‘Ummah’is tantamount to viewing humanity as a herd of sheep, who need a shepherd.

  2. swaleha /

    Allama Iqbal is great for his preaching of optimism, an active attitude towards life and man’s high purpose in the world; he is great for his assertion on the principles of humanism, democracy, and peace. Not an easy task for any and everybody to understand his great work. We have to first understand his work then comment on him.

  3. Adfar Rashid Shah /

    Iqbal was a thinker at first place even acclaimed by european intellectuals……again not a man with the idea of ummah only but the person who wrote asaarr jahan sr accha…….

  4. Adfar Shah /

    Cynical Cynical Ji u need to read Iqbal seriously.Iqbal was primarily a thinker not a poet just.see his prose also.

    • Adfar Shah /

      Allama Iqbal is the most interpreted Asian philospher.Those who just treat him a poet are ignorant of Iqbal.He stood for human dignity and collective consciousness.I believe Cynical Cynical should read Iqbal and especially his prose.

  5. Gulzar Bhat /

    Beautiful words. Indeed we have forgot Iqbal’s message.

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