[Orginally published in The nation on november 9, 2009]
Allama Muhammad Iqbal can truly be acknowledged as the best gift for the Muslims of the world in the last two hundred years. At a time when virtually the entire Islamic world was being colonized, Iqbal came as a ray of strong hope, reviving the very soul of millions of Muslims. It was him who gave the Muslims of India the resolve to make an independent homeland for themselves, inspiring them to take roles of gallant leadership, the most shining example being that of our beloved Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
Iqbal’s knack for writing exemplary inspirational poetry was accentuated by his study of literature, languages, and philosophy. His father allowed him to pursue a western education only upon the condition that he devote his academic, philosophic, and poetic skills to the service of Islam and its followers. Thus began continuous inspiration emanating from Iqbal’s rhetoric and poetry that continues to spell his readers in all parts of the world.
Iqbal’s primary philosophy was concerned with the concept of ‘Khudi’ i.e. selfhood. Iqbal believed that if each individual tried to make the best of his conduct, abilities, and utilize his full potential, then the greater forces of nature would automatically enable him to shape his own destiny. This philosophy is manifested in his couplet:
“Khudi ko kar buland itna, ke har taqdeer se pehle,
Khuda banday se khud pooche, bata, teri raza kya hai!”
Such is the philosophical truth in these lines that the importance of their meaning cannot be over-emphasised. The greatness achieved through ‘khudi’. Iqbal believes can help an individual achieve greatness not only for himself but his society and even his nation.
When Iqbal envisioned the idea of Pakistan, a sovereign homeland for the Muslims of India, he gave a striking confidence to the people to realize this vision. Our forefathers sacrificed immensely, often migrating empty-handed to their ideological homeland. Each and every individual contributed through his/her blood and sweat to what became Pakistan. This idea is manifest in Iqbal’s famous line:
“Har fard hai millat ke muqaddar ka sitara.”
After six decades and the loss of an organ of the original Pakistan, it is for each and every citizen of this great nation to strive for personal greatness and selfhood which will ultimately contribute to the strength and sustainability of this nation of brave and beautiful people. It is up to us to educate ourselves, work hard in any field we choose, have firm faith in our cause, and be responsible citizens in order to feel our presence with pride in the white star on our beautiful green, and in order to feel this chill down our spines upon hearing “Pak Sar Zameen Shaad baad”.
“Yaqeen muhkam, amal paiham, muhabbat faateh-e-aalam,
Jihad-e-Zindagi mein yeh hain mardoun ki shamsheeren!”
(Firm faith, ceaseless action, love, the all-conquering might,
These are the swords with which the brave wage the war of life.) –Iqbal