Sunday, November 22, 2009

'Iqbal would have reacted to affairs in Pakistan the same way as Gandhi to affairs in India'

November 9 was the birth anniversary of Allama Iqbal. This post is a bit late, but then one need not remember the birth and death anniversaries of a personality like Allama Iqbal to write about him. Allama Iqbal is an evergreen personality, and will always be popular among academicians and scholars.

The great poet-philosopher captured the imagination of the masses and filled the void caused by the death of Mirza Ghalib. However, unlike Ghalib, Iqbal's body of work was not restricted to poetry. His lectures and talks on issues facing the Muslim world are discussed around the world.

Five years back I interviewed Javid Iqbal (in picture with Allama Iqbal), son of Allama Iqbal, to try and know more about him. Javid Iqbal is a former chief justice of Lahore high court and retired judge of Pakistan Supreme Court. The interview was published in the Sunday edition (November 21, 2004) of Mid Day, Mumbai. Javid Nama, one of the several books written by Allama Iqbal was named after him. I reproduce the interview here:

Although much has been written about Jinnah and his role in the creation of Pakistan, Allama Mohammed Iqbal seems to have faded away from public memory.

Many historians believe it was Iqbal's letters to Jinnah, written to him when he was in England, that got him back to India, after which Jinnah took up the cause of Pakistan fervently. Dr Javed Iqbal talks about his father to Sunday Mid Day.

Do you think historians and politicians from India and Pakistan have viewed Iqbal according to their own convenience, making Iqbal, the poet, suffer in the bargain?

Iqbal was a multi-dimensional thinker. It is possible that he is known in India more as a poet, whereas in Pakistan he is acknowledged essentially as poet-philosopher and a political thinker. He has not suffered in the bargain because he is poet, philosopher and political thinker at the same time.

Is it true that some of Allama Iqbals lectures are banned in Saudi Arabia?

No. However, I am aware that some conservative Muslim scholars disagree with his interpretation of Islamic thought.

Muttahida Qaumi Movements MQM, (a party which represents Muslims who migrated to Pakistan from India in the post-partition era) leader, Altaf Hussain, has admitted that Partition was a big mistake. After the creation of Bangladesh, dont you think culture is a more binding force than religion? Even poet Iqbal called Lord Ram Imam-e-Hind.

The MQM leader who made this statement has fled from Pakistan under the fear of assassination at the hands of his own party faction.

He has adopted British nationality and lives in England as opposed to India, which seems inconsistent with his views on Partition.

As far as Bangladesh is concerned, if culture is a more binding force than religion, then Bangladesh should have merged with West Bengal rather than emphasising on its own identity as an independent Muslim nation-state.

Iqbal did consider Lord Rama as Imam-e-Hind because he respected the religion and culture of the Hindus. His Muslim philosophy was not based on the hatred of religious and cultural traditions of others.

Jinnah is quoted as saying, Iqbal is not a politician. He is a poet and a poets dream. How do you describe their relationship?

The statement attributed to Jinnah is false. In the introduction to Iqbals Letters To Jinnah, he writes that Iqbal was not only a poet and a philosopher, but he was his guide and stood as a rock by his side during the struggle for the establishment of Pakistan.

He is also stated to have remarked that if he was given the choice between becoming the head of state of Pakistan and acquiring all the works of Iqbal, he would chose the latter.

There were many other Muslim leaders like Maulana Azad, Dr M A Ansari, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, Maulana Hussain Madani, who were certainly more devout than Jinnah. Why did Iqbal choose Jinnah, who even didnt know Urdu, to plead for Pakistan?

Because Iqbal felt that Jinnah was more sincere to the cause of Muslims than any other Muslim leader of the sub-continent.

How would have Iqbal reacted to the present state of affairs in Pakistan?

The same as Mahatma Gandhi would have reacted to the present state of affairs in India. I am referring to the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the massacre of Muslims in the state of Gujarat.

From Sare Jahan Se Achcha Hindustan Hamara to his poems respecting Hindu gods, Iqbal has devoted much of his work in praise of India and its composite culture. Doesnt this show that he had a sense of belonging with India?

No. The poem was written during the earlier phase in Iqbals life, when he was an Indian nationalist. He was thereafter forced to change his mind as he became disappointed with the Hindu leaderships inflexibility and rigidity.

Is your ancestral family, who didn't embrace Islam, still in Kashmir?

I do not know exactly. In the Sapru clan, one Hindu gained eminence the late Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru. He did not live in Kashmir but I understand he lived and died in Allahabad.

What according to you is the solution to the Kashmir problem?

The Kashmiris must be given the choice to consider remaining with India or joining Pakistan.

Who was Allama Iqbal?

Allama Iqbal, poet, philosopher and political leader, was born in Sialkot, Punjab, in 1877.

After studying in Lahore and Europe he became a barrister. He returned to India in 1908. Besides teaching and practicing law, Iqbal remain devoted to his passion writing poetry.

By 1928, his reputation as a great Muslim philosopher was established. In 1930, Iqbal was invited to preside over the open session of the Muslim League at Allahabad.

In his historic Allahabad address, Iqbal visualised a sovereign state for Muslims in north-western India.

Later, through a series of letters dated between June 1936 to November 1937, Iqbal conveyed to Jinnah his personal views on the political problems of Indian Muslims and persuaded him to come back from England. Iqbal died on April 21, 1938.

He lies buried in Lahore.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Vande Mataram and Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind

The recent controversy over the fatwa on Vande Mataram has brought into focus Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind. The body endorsed the fatwa given by Darul Uloom on Vande Mataram in its session in Deoband. The fatwa said that Muslims should not sing Vande Mataram as it violates their faith. I do not know what prompted the Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind to come up with the resolution.

This has started a debate with some parties and leaders opposing the Jamiat's view. Jamiat's stand has been termed as unpatriotic and anti-national. However, the endorsement of the fatwa has nothing to do with love towards the nation. It is purely on religious grounds that the body is opposing the rendition of the national song. The founding fathers of the Jamiat were champions of freedom struggle and strove to drive the British out of the country.

While going through some papers at the British Library, I came across a report prepared by the CID on a meeting led by Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani. The report had the abstract of a speech delivered by Maulana Madani at the 'Juma Masjid, Moradabad' on 27th February, 1931. I reproduce below the abstract in its entirety as recorded by the British police officers. It was attended by 1000 people.

The abstract says: "Naushey Khan captain of the volunteers of the Jamiat read a poem called 'Shikwe Iqbal' after the Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani delivered a speech of which an abstract is given below

If a man claims to be faithful his claim is not accepted unless and until he produces evidence. No colonel or soldier is believe to be loyal unless for his King’s service he throws his life into danger. If you want that the government should do you honour then you will have to sacrifice your religion, nation, country and self respect. Then and only then you will get high sounding titles and chairs.

In the great war some people of Moradabad helped the government with no less than 11,000 recruits to fight against the Turks thus when you had sold your religion and had proved yourselves to be called 'todis' then the government rewarded you with honours. So if you want to get honour in the nation and country you should sacrifice for your people and country and then you get honours. You cannot get respect among your people be merely becoming a leader unless you make some sacrifice. You cannot be accepted unless you make some sacrifice.

You cannot be accepted as a leader by becoming a mere graduate unless you serve your religion and people by doing sacrifice. The foreign people permitted the body of Maulana Mohammed Ali to be buried in Palestine on account of his sacrifices. Every honour has to undergo an examinaton. The Prophets had to pass this examination. It is the tradition of our Prophet (peace be upon him) that we should lead a crusade against the enemies of Islam by our life, property and tongues.

The thing which will injure prestige of the enemy of Islam destroy his power or do some damage to him is called crusade. Wearing a khaddar cap makes the enemies heart to tremble and the weavers of Liverpool have to suffer a great loss of no less than 33 and half crores of Rs in 1930. By whichever means you break the enemies power it is crusade. You should do economic fight against the government which has destroyed your rule form the whole world. The Christians have occupied no less than 75 lakh square miles of the Muslim land. The policy of the present government has annihilated civilisations, cultures and humanity.

The Englishmen even confess that they have destroyed the Indian sciences and the old treasures of Indian science have been thrown in the back ground and are being forgotten as the time passes. As in the olden days the powerful and influential men were made lazy and useless by administering opium juice to them so our government has made us Indians quite useless. You should at least boycott English goods.

The Muslims have suffered at the hands of the government much more than the Hindus. They are destroying our religious law. The Hindus are fighting for freedom and we should help them in their efforts as it is our religious duty. The Muslims had joined the round table conference with their points but the British Prime Minister has not acceeded to any of them. Saying that you should settle your point with the Hindus. By purchasing English cloth you are helping the enemies of Islam and your money is going out of India.

Portugal, Spain, Herzegovina, Bosinia, Bulgaria and Greece were all under the Muslim rules, These christian wolves uniting together have spoiled the Muslims of them and by treacheries and cruleties have killed and destroyed the Muslims. The most powerful and rich of our enemies is Britain. In face if all this you say that the English are your friends. India is as great as a continent. It was under your rule form one end to another- and your Kalma La Ilaha Illallaah was honoured through the lenght and breadth of India. The law of this land was not penal code but the fiats of Alamgir. Who has destroyed our rule and empire? Have the Hindus done this? No it has been destroyed by the European world.

In this very India no less than 400 colleges in (Thath inly) of various sciences as stated by Alexander Kaiten. God knows how many thousands of colleges will be at Delhi the capital of India. It is praised that the British government has spread education in India. There are only 700 colleges throughout the country. While in Muslim period there were 400 colleges in a single city only.