Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Iqbal, also fondly known as Allama Iqbal especially in Pakistan, also happens to be one of my favorite Urdu poets. I wonder if that might count as an anti-national sentiment for some of my brethren. Perhaps even for some of us who think that peace is the only way forward with our neighbors.

A quick glance at his life. He was born in Sialkot, in Punjab (Punjab, Pakistan) in a very modern Kashmiri family, about eight years after the birth of Gandhi in Porbandar (Gujarat, India). Many aspects of his life are perhaps worth discussing here, but what interests me the most are his political leanings and of course his poetry.

Iqbal was always in favor of the revival of the Islamic polity and was critical of the INC for being pro-Hindus during the freedom struggle. He was the first to propagate the idea of a separate state of Pakistan (pretty much the Pakistan as it stands today) way back in 1930 at the Allahabad session of the Muslim League. In fact, Jinnah warmed up to the idea of Pakistan much later in 1940.

Iqbal also wrote the famous poem 'Saare Jahan se Accha'; something that is sung regularly in Indian schools even today. But most of his other works is generally forgotten here. My favourite Iqbal poem is the evergreen 'Khudi ko Kar Buland Itna'. Its just exceptional. The 'Junoon' version of the poem became very popular again in the 1990s in Pakistan as well as India. Most of his work is in Persian (which, unfortunately, I don't understand) and Urdu (which I can understand fairly well, if not completely).

There is no dearth of information on Iqbal on the net, and one can find most of his poems too. Its just great to read him, even if you may not completely agree with what he writes about. There are many poems on conversations with god; though largely Islamic in nature, they are still an interesting read.

Iqbal died in the year 1938 at Lahore. In Pakistan he is still often revered as the "ideological founder of the state'.

Following is a beautiful ghazal by him.

Gulzaar-e-Hast-o-Bood Na Begaana Waar Dekh!

Gulzaar-e-Hast-o-Bood Na Begaana Waar Dekh!
Hai Dekhne Ki Cheez Ise Bar Bar Dekh!

Do not look at the garden of existence like a stranger!
It is a thing worth looking at, look at it again and again.

Aaya Hai Tu Jahaan Mein Mashaal-e-Sharaar, Dekh.
Dam De Na Jaaye Hasti, Napaayedaar Dekh.

You have come into the world like a spark, beware!
Lest your short span of life may end suddenly, beware.

Maana Ke Tere Deed Ke Qabil Nahin Hain Ham.
Tu Mera Shokh Dekh Mera Intezaar Dekh.

I accept that I am not worthy of Your (God's) Sight.
You should look at my zeal, and look at my perseverance (patience).

Na Aate, Hamein Ismein Takrar Kya Thi?
Magar Waada Karte Huwe Aar Kya Thi?

If you had not come I would have had no occasion for contention?
But what reluctance in making the promise was with me?

Tumhare Payami Ne Sab Raaz Khola;
Khata Ismein Bande Ki Sarkaar Kya Thi?

Your messenger disclosed every secret
O Lord!What fault of Man in this was?
(Allusion to Quran as a source of all knowledge)

Bhari Bazm Mein Apne Aashiq Ko Tadha;
Teri Aankh Masti Mein Hoshiyaar Kya Thi?

You recognized Your Lover in the full assembly.
How alert Your eye in the middle of the ecstasy was!

Ta'mmul To Tha Unke Aane Mein, Qasid!
Magar Ye Bata Tarz-e-Inkaar Kya Thi?

True! Reluctant was he to come, O messenger!
But tell me what the manner of denial was?

Kheenche Khud ba Khud Jaanib-e-Toor, Moosa;
Kashish Teri Aye Shokh-e-Deedar Kya Thi?

Moses was effortlessly attracted to Toor!
How strong, O Zeal your attraction was!?

Kahin Zikr Rehta Hai Iqbal Tera!
Fasoon Tha Koi, Teri Guftaar Kya Thi!

Your fame continues somewhere, O Iqbal!
Some magic, not your speech it was!


  1. nice ghazal... another one that i like from his collection is

    "ajab waiz ki din-dari hai ya rab
    adawat hai ise sare jahan se

    Strange is the piety of the preacher, O Lord!
    He has animosity (hatred) towards the whole world

    koi ab tak na ye samjha k insan
    kahan jata hai ata hai kahan se

    Nobody has so far understood that Man!
    Where he is going, and where is coming from?

    wahin se raat ko zulmat mili hai
    chamak taron ne pai hai jahan se

    From the same source has the night obtained darkness!
    The source from where the star has obtained brightness.

    ham apni dard-mandi ka fasana
    suna karte hain apne razdan se

    The tale of our compassion is; Always related by our sympathizer.

    bari barik hain waiz ki chalen
    larazta hai awaz-e-azan se"

    Very subtle are the ways of the preacher;
    He trembles on hearing the voice of adhan!

  2. nice nice.... I shud go hide sumwhr..!! ;)

  3. good post... inspiring. :)
    And I don't think this might count as an anti-national sentiment for anybody who loves any kind of art in the world. I think I should start reading his work, after I finish 'vishwa sufi sahitya ki chuninda kahaniyaan'!!!

  4. @ ashish: its beautiful, good to find people who appreciate his work.

    @ nidhi: u write well too, your poem is quite nice...

    @ bhavin: yes that book looks interesting, but reading it would be a daunting task. its rather big and in hindi!

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