The legendary poet of East

On legendary poet philosopher’s 73rd death anniversary, there is so much that comes to mind, as the legendary poet of the east was not confined to just a few stray thoughts, or one field or stream of poetic or philosophical thought, it was in fact an ocean of thoughts, that come to fore for any student of Iqbaliyiat, which has over the years acquired the status of separate academic discipline.

There are some aspects, however, which readily come to mind, just to get a peep into a bunch of thoughts, although we might not be doing justice to one, who meant so much to so many, not only until he lived in flesh and blood; but remains embedded in the minds of all those, who get into essence of what he meant to say, for which he made poetry the vehicle. He did have the heart of a poet; however, poetry constituted means to an end. The target remained providing means to shape human personality, through self-appraisement-Khudi, as he called it, and it was Khudi, which constituted the essence of his philosophical thought. We may however take some of the other aspects in view-his thoughts on time, creation and work ethic.

Iqbal’s concept of Time:       

Iqbal’s philosophical approach to time relates that everything in universe is relatively placed, however, there is but one reality, one universal truth; that is the Ultimate/Infinite and that is HIM, the Lord of the Universe! The speed of light…1; 86,172 miles/sec calculated by Einstein is mind bogging. It comes to a mere breath; the time taken by the light to descend from high up in the sky. Mind cannot conceive it, as the time in our notice is the ‘Serial time’. It engages our physical self, which rather remains caged in it. It has a past, present and a future. It is related to our material needs. The real time or the time related to universal pattern is related to our ‘Valued self’ or the values, which never change. These are values, which are enduring and endearing; do not change from one age to another. Such are the values that shape human personality.

The time governing the universe, setting the cosmic pattern cannot be tied in past, present or future. It an organic whole and is ever present. In the religious lore, it is but a sign of one who is always present. Call it the Universal Truth/the Ultimate Reality/the Infinite. Iqbal’s concept of time sprang from his religious belief. A ‘Hadith’ (edict) of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) has it as:

Yuzeni ibn Adam Yusubu Al-Dahar Ana Al-Dahr…Says Allah, you trouble me, if you abuse time; I am the time
It is there in Hindu religious lore, too!

  ‘Mei’n Samay Hou’n; Mei’n Hi Samay Hou’n’…………. ‘I am the time; I am in reality the time’
 Iqbal put this edict (Farman in Persian) in a couplet of rare beauty:

                    Zindagi az Dahar va Dahar az Zindagi Ast
                    La sabut-ul-Dahr Farman Nabi (AS) Ast!
Translated, it would mean:
                   Life springs from time and time from life
                   Don’t abuse time, so said the Prophet (AS)!
In Al-Quran [29:55] it is related as:
  ‘Kul Yum Howa Fi Shan’ denotes his presence ever & always!
‘Omnipresence and omnipotence’ is evident in [Al-Quran/112:2] Allah-u-Samad!
Creativity or Creative Art of Nature:
Creative concept of physical self is different from that of spiritual self. The creation of physical form is named ‘Khalq’ in Al-Quran, as seen in following verse:

  Lakad Khalq’nal Insan Fi Kabad… [90:4] ‘WE have created human being with effort’!
The physical form is bound to dictates of creator, hence has to decay and perish with time.
The creation of spiritual form, on the contrary, is named ‘Amr’ as seen in following verse:
 Zalika Amr’illah Inzili’ha Alikum… [65:5] ‘Allah’s Guidance has descended on you/come to you’

The two forms of creative activity were underlined by Allama Iqbal in his famous lecture series in Madras/Chennai, way back in nineteen thirties, a series that subsequently got published, with the title ‘Reconstruction of religious thought in Islam’. In no other language are the two diverging aspects of creation, separately named, although the physical and spiritual form is elucidated adequately in all religious texts, especially ancient Hindu scriptures.

‘Amr’ is guidance; hence spirit is guided, in contrast to physical self, which is dictated. It is for the spirit, to be, what it wants to be, given the good and bad, high and low, right and wrong; the spirit gets to witness. It can get elevated to be a partner in creativity, provided the self is valued and all that is good and decent, performed. On the contrary, it may sink lower than the lowest imaginable depths.  Call it ‘Ruh’/ ‘Atma’ it knows no decay and could break free of physical self, of its need and greed and get rid of bondage of past, in-adequacies of present and worries of future.

Divinity and work ethic:
God is much above where you seek ‘HIM’ in places and objects of worship; mere prayer or work, devoid of dedication, determination and devotion in character building is not going to be productive; GOD has given you the world and entrusted his creatures to shape it; ‘GOD has entrusted his creatures to shape the world’ is not meant to be literal, but allegorical. The concept of predestination takes away the initiative for purposeful action. Fatalism governs. Individual effort slackens- the national fibre weakens. National resolve becomes a casualty. ‘Amal’ the work ethic shapes ‘Surag and Narakh/Janat and Jhanam’ so base your life on evolving it.

The philosophy finds echo in Iqbal’s famous and often quoted couplet:
               Amal Say Zindagi Bante Hai Janat Bi Jhanam Bi
          Yeh Khaki Apni Fitrat Say Na Noori Hai Na Naari Hai!
Amal (effort) makes your life Janat or Jhanam/Surag or Narakh; this being of clay (Khaki; a human being) by his natural inclination (Fitrat) is neither assigned with glitter (Noori/ alluding to the glitter of paradise) nor with the blaze (Naari/alluding to hell fire).

Yaar Zinda Sohbat Baqi
[Reunion is subordinate to survival]

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