The sudden announcement of a national holiday on Iqbal Day by the federal government has left a pleasant surprise for students and working adults as well.
“Is it fine to celebrate a national celebrity’s birth anniversary with a nationwide holiday?” asked my daughter.
I told her that during our school days, we had national holidays on the birth and death anniversaries of Dr Allama Iqbal, and Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Defence Day (September 6).
The newspaper job does not allow many holidays. Working journalists have to sacrifice their days in the newsroom and field on days like February 5, March 23, May 1, August 14, Muharram 9 and December 25 when the whole country is on leave.
Taking advantage of the lean hours, as news supply is less on national holidays, I started browsing articles on Allama Iqbal.
Pakistan’s national poet, Allama Muhammad Iqbal, was one of the founding fathers of the country who conceived the idea of a separate Muslim state.
It was his philosophy that led Muslim leaders to build Pakistan. However, Iqbal is not limited to the Pakistan Movement. Iqbal was born in Sialkot, Punjab, British India, in 1877. He went on to become a lawyer, philosopher, and poet and is considered one of the greatest modern poets. He wrote his poetry in Urdu and Persian, and his works are famous for Islamic philosophy and political thought. Through his poetry, he revived the spirit of young Indian Muslims who had lost touch with their roots, which had led to their decline and the rise of others in the country.
Outstanding poet and philosopher Muhammad Iqbal was arguably the most significant Muslim thinker of the 20th century. Though eclectic and influenced by both Muslims and Western thinkers, including Nietzsche and Bergson, as well as al-Ghazali and Rumi, Iqbal’s philosophy had its fundamentals in the Quran, which he read with the sensitivity of a poet and the wisdom of a mystic. The philosophy of Khudi, or selfhood, is a term used to describe Iqbal’s thinking. Iqbal rejects the idea of original sin or “fall” from Eden and sees the creation of humans as a glorious event because Adam was chosen by God to be His vicegerent on earth. Humans are not merely unintended byproducts of evolution. The self’s emergence and ultimate perfection are made possible by the cosmos. The goal of life is the development of the self, which takes place as people learn more about both their inner selves and the outside world. Iqbal’s philosophy is essentially one of action, and it focuses on inspiring people to work toward fully realizing the potential they were given by God.
Today, it is necessary for the youth in Pakistan to get in touch with Iqbal’s ideas. The nation has forgotten the former glory of Muslims around the world, and many of them have no idea about the great Muslim philosophers, mathematicians, scientists, and thinkers who shaped the world we know today. Today, the youth of the country jump on the bandwagon without realizing the consequences of their actions. They are not concerned with expanding their horizons and realizing their full potential without being slaves to any person or philosophy. Iqbal taught the Muslims of South Asia the concept of Khudi so that they could prosper while being independent and righteous. His poetry instills the idea of strengthening the self by mirroring divine attributes so that no one can challenge or put down the Muslims. For Iqbal, it was extremely important to keep the self intact because if that is gone, there remains no passion in people. Without passion, people do not have a purpose, and without a purpose, they live unfulfilled lives.
It is of utmost importance for the youth today to reform themselves and use their intellect which is a divine gift. The issue with young Muslims in today’s society is their tendency to act like sheep: they cannot reason, make decisions, and take independent actions. Like the Muslims who worked towards the creation of Pakistan following Iqbal’s philosophy, the youth today should also learn from him and reform and revive themselves.