Iqbal’s Forgotten Message
An Iqbal Day special Lysias article by Areesha Saif | Class of 2021
parray hai chargh e neeli faam say manzil musalman ki,
sitaray jiski gard e raah hon woh karwaan hai tu
beyond the blue sky, is the Muslim’s destination,
you are the explorer for whom the stars are like the dust on your path
Envisioning a country that would be a safe space for Muslims in India who felt isolated, Iqbal proposed an Islamic state that sheltered them against discrimination. Today Pakistan proudly showcases the “Islamic Republic” in its name, claiming to stand up heroically for Palestine but once its streets were flooded with millions chanting “Shia Kafir” and stones pelted the walls of a sacred Imam bargah, a peaceful space; one that provided refuge to the displaced during the heavy rains, it was clear that the Islamic Republic of Pakistan chose to protect those whose Islam fitted a narrow version deemed as appropriate by the state, for it has been easy to stand up for the Kashmiris and the Palestinians, but the cause of the Uighurs has been conveniently brushed under the rug.
Iqbal dreamed of Muslims channeling their energy towards uplifting their situation by promoting science and innovation. Entangled with daily political brawls amongst politicians within the parliament, Pakistan’s focus has hardly ever been education. With a defence budget largely exceeding the education one, and a federal education board characterised by rote learning, corruption and undermarking students, Pakistan has grown so distant from science that when its neighbour was planning a Mars mission, Pakistan was busy criticising it using nationalist rhetoric, almost assured that its Mars mission won’t fail because it never would try launching one.
As a nation, we celebrate Iqbal Day every year, but we barely know Iqbal. We may read his poems, or memorise a paragraph about him when studying Pakistan studies, but we don’t have left within our country anything Iqbal stood up for. Perhaps in the end we can only hope, hope that the power of our solidarity and the boldness of our voice may lead our country forward. As Iqbal said,
nawa paira o bulbul k ho tere tarannum say,
kabutar k tan e nazuk me shaheen ka jigar paida
it’s a new dawn, o nightingale, through your song
the fragile spirit of pigeon will transform into the soul of an eagle
The Lyceum celebrates our national poet, Dr Allama Muhammad Iqbal every year on his birthday. Born in 1877 in Sialkot, Iqbal was a poet, philosopher and thinker par excellence. His commentary on the social, political and cultural conditions of Muslims in India is considered foundational to the Pakistan Movement.
As per tradition, the Lyceum paid homage to Allama Iqbal with a short virtual programme, on his birthday, the 9th of November. The programme featured Lyceum members speaking about different aspects of the poet’s life and rendering some of his work. Watch the video here: https://youtu.be/dhWP1V3JS3g