Geelani’s Testament

I believed. And I do believe that Kashmir movements have all along suffered an intellectual famine. If there has been any intellectual input to our movements at any point of time it has been from outside. It is historical reality whatever little intellectual content our struggle against the feudal autocracy had it came from outside.  It has been for the intellectual content in our struggle that it has moved from dark tunnels to the darker tunnels. Sometimes back in my search for an Edward Said or Franz Fanon for bearing a torch that could lead people out of depressing and  pitch dark tunnels I had failed to   find an iconic figure- and perhaps made a bold statement that there is ‘no Edward Said or Franz Fanon on our side.’

My writing had turned earlobes of some activists red and enraged a  school time friend who has been in Kashmir struggle from the age of fourteen and undoubtedly is an embodiment of sacrifices. I had written in our parched intellectual landscape the poetry and writings of Allama Muhammad Iqbal are an oasis. I had concluded that for Kashmir and Kashmiris he will remain an icon for many more decades to come and his poetry and writings will lead us.

It was on the other day, when Syed Ali Geelani at selected gathering of about a hundred people released second volume of his book     “Ruh-e-Din Ka Shinasa Iqbal”   that I was reminded of the ‘statement’ that I had made two years back- my belief got further strengthened that Iqbal continues to be the leader who can deliver people out of the dark tunnels of uncertainty.

I had not made the statement, “that Iqbal will continue to guide Kashmir intelligentsia and people till the time another Iqbal is born in his ancestral land for his being founder of Kashmir struggle.  It was not for his heading Kashmir Committee at an important juncture of our history and for giving voice to voiceless people of the state in other parts of India in thirties. It was not for his poetry had energized people of the erstwhile entire state of Jammu and Kashmir to tear the ‘Sale Deed’, under which Kashmiri had been sold as merchandise to shreds.   I looked at him as icon around whom Kashmiri would rally around for many more decades to come but it was for my belief that he was one of the greatest political philosopher of the twentieth century whose ideas have the potential of surviving the tides and times.

I found a supporter of my idea that Iqbal will continue to be an icon around which Kashmiris will rally around in Syed Ali Geelani after going through second volume of his book on the poet.

Iqbal was a great poet.  In a span of less than hundred years more than five thousand books have been written on him. Many popularly call him as poet-philosopher of the East. True, his main interests were scholarly but I often have been looking at him at a political philosopher and statesman  who was deeply concerned about the political situation of the sub-continent.  It was both political isolation and suppression of Muslims in India that had become his concern.  ‘Absorbing the teaching of Shibli, Ameer Ali, Hasrat Mohani and other great Indian Muslim thinkers and politicians, listening to Hindu and British voices, and watching the   Indian scene closely for approximately 60 years, he gave content to the ideas of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan about the future of Indian Muslims.’    He was a man with great political foresight and wisdom. Some see divine insight in his political wisdom. He had a political foresight. In December 1931 when he was invited to Cambridge to address students, he referred to what he had said in 1906.  

“I would like to offer a few pieces of advice to the youngmen who are at present studying at Cambridge …… I advise you to guard against atheism and materialism. The biggest blunder made by Europe was the separation of Church and State. This deprived their culture of moral soul and diverted it to the atheistic materialism. I had twenty-five years ago seen through the drawbacks of this civilization and therefore had made some prophecies. They had been delivered by my tongue although I did not quite understand them. This happened in 1907….. After six or seven years, my prophecies came true, word by word. The European war of 1914 was an outcome of the aforesaid mistakes made by the European nations in the separation of the Church and the State.”

Iqbal was not only just a theorist who propounded the idea of a separate Muslim state but also guided it being translated into reality. The letters written by him to Muhammad Ali Jinnah during 1936 and 1937 fully testify that he understood the nuances and undercurrents of the movement of the Muslim and had clarity of vision about it reaching to a logical conclusion. These letters written over a period one year testify his mastery over the political statecraft. Quaid Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in his introduction to letters from Iqbal published for the first time tells us about the statesmanship of Iqbal in these words:

 “I think these letters are of very great historical importance, particularly those which explain his views in clear and unambiguous terms on the political future of Muslim India. His views were substantially in consonance with my own and had finally led me to the same conclusions as a result of careful examination and study of the constitutional problems facing India, and found expression in due course in the united will of Muslim India as adumbrated in the Lahore resolution of the All India Muslim League, popularly known as the ‘Pakistan Resolution’ passed on March 23, 1940.”

Though Geelani Sahib has not benefitted from the prose writings of Iqbal and has confined himself to mostly to his Persian poetry yet from his book Iqbal the political thinker and statesman makes his presence felt very vividly. The organizers of the release of the second volume of  the book called the function as a literary function but I see  the  392 page   book Ruh-e-Din Ka Shinasa Iqbal”   as  Syed Ali Geelani’s testament for the posterity.

‘Iqbal had no interest in in poetic artistry. But had a special goal in mind for whose expression he used the medium of poetry”. In tune with the spirit of Iqbal’s poetry he has used the idiom of Iqbal poetry for identifying pit holes and conveying his ideas about Kashmir “struggle and freedom”.  The book spreading over thirty chapters is a political treatise that encompasses Kashmir struggle and global politics in Iqbal’s idioms. The first chapter of the book is titled as (Marde hur) “the free man”- in this chapter through the poetry of Iqbal he conveys his ideas about the freedom and the freeman. He writes, “One of Iqbal’s poem is titled as the freeman. In this poem he writes about a freeman. Every human being has an urge for freedom. Freedom is cry from the conscience of man- it cannot be suppressed and it cannot be denied… It is only humans who struggle for freedom – it is only humans who are chained and suffer under slavery”. He dwells in detail about the sufferings of the chained and oppressive tactics of oppressors.” He rekindles a faith in people quoting from Iqbal’s poetry and asks him to imbibe the qualities of ‘freeman’ as envisaged by Iqbal.

Like master craftsman Geelani has used Iqbal’s poetry for commenting on disappointments of contemporary Kashmir politics and quoting profusely from the great poet of East he suggests ways and means for removing   the  clouds disappointments from the political horizons of the state. He writes:

“In contemporary times wings of the slave nations are clipped. The contours of their culture and civilization are erased. Doors to their moral and material progress are latched. Roads of freedom from the cordons and clutches of oppressors are blocked. The slave nations are made subservient for everything perceivable.  Confusions worst confounded are created. And crooks called politicians melodiously and sonorously tell these caged birds- you unlucky bird make your nest in hunters home. They tell these caged birds if you do not make your nest in hunter’s home you will be prey to hawks and wild animals.”

The book is not only a grand commentary on contemporary situation in Kashmir but Syed Ali Geelani’s gospel for posterity.
Geelani through the idiom of Iqbal’s poetry has succeeded in reaching out to the new generation of Kashmiri and made them believe that in all bizarre political situations  it is Iqbal’s ideas, thoughts and philosophies that can serve as guiding stars for them.

(For comments and observations feedback at zahidgm@greaterkashmir.com