Pakistan celeberates Allama Iqbal’s death anniversary on April 21 with the usual lip-service. The key messages of Iqbal seem to have been lost in the maze of officialdom. This is further exacerbated by the hijacking of Islam and politics by vested interests.
Iqbal opposed Mullahism, emphasised the principle of movement in Islamic thought and highlighted “Ijtehad” (re-interpretation) of Islamic teachings through a modern parliamentary framework. Alas, all of that is nearly forgotten.
I read a thought-provoking piece by Suroosh Irfani, a professor of culture studies who urges the country (and by default much of the Islamic world) to reclaim Iqbal and Rumi’s messages of dynamic sufism and adoption of reason in national affairs. Ifrani states:
“Pakistan urgently needs to reclaim Rumi and Iqbal’s message for stemming the slide into the home-grown swamps of aspiring suicide bombers, who are threatening to set the country ablaze in the name of Islam and Sharia
The 13th-century mystic Maulana Rumi and the 20th-century poet-philosopher Iqbal have a common message for Muslims: de’dan day’gar amuz, shan’idan day’gar amuz (learn to see and think in a new way). The message sums up an outlook of life as a forward assimilative movement, even as one remains rooted in an Islamic heritage. Indeed, the message arose in a historical context when old certainties were crumbling and the new were struggling to be born: Rumi lived at a time when the Muslim world was traumatised by Mongol invasions, while Iqbal’s was a time of awakening of the colonised masses that eventually led to the independence of India and Pakistan.”
This article is based on a paper that was written for a Seminar on Contemporary Relevance of Rumi and Iqbal, recently held in Lahore. It is a deft summation of some critical thought processes common to Rumi, Iqbal and Dr Ali Shariati.
Thanks, Mr Irfani for enlightening us. Hope this piece is read widely.