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A Short Analytical Review On The Life-Legacy and Prose-Poetry Of Allama Iqba

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Sir Allama Muhammad Iqbal, the profiled Urdu poet originally Punjabi, has reserved a great gain for the enrichment of the Urdu language. Getting a circumstance to act for society and religion he had instrumented the literature to struggle against the decaying heap of clemency. Thus, he has managed to occupy two fields with one sewing, viz. enriching the Urdu literature to a limit that the world can’t deny their need in it, and serving the community though the out-strikers can’t step ahead with their swaying plan.

Along with these two instrumental sides in Iqbal’s poetry, the lighting realms of philosophy, spirituality, religion, nationalism etc. are not themes of negligence in his literature. The literature in accordance to Iqbal way is to be utilised through various means. Thus, the theological transformation from prose to poetry is a subject of deep study in his literary analysis.

Undoubtedly, he had a dashing capability in prose, too. In a short life span, the curious educational journeys affect his poetic life profoundly. For this reason, if a close look is given, his poetic lines come up with pearls of knowledge and reality. He had composed his task in a shape that fit human minds and hearts with a base of education or literacy. That’s why his poems were popular once and are popular even today, so much so that people, whether academic or not, recite them in their daily communication.

This is really a great direction showed by Iqbal, especially in Urdu poetry. After all, most of the poets have failed to receive applaud from all sorts of people. To extend further beyond, poetry was not the profession of Iqbal but his interest and self shouldered duty. That’s why he had quit judicial work and academic professions and entrusted upon himself the realisation of reality and proclaim whether it may be bitter to many. In the words of his reviewers, he had sensed the necessity of ‘reform’ and being a ‘reformer’ of the 20th century.

A Short Review Of Iqbal’s Life

Allama Muhammad Iqbal, popularly known as Iqbal, was born in a Kasmiri family in Sialkot in February 9, 1877. His ancestors were originally from a Brahmin clan but a migration to the valley made them converted to Islam. Somehow, Iqbal was an inborn Muslim. His father was named Sheikh Nur Muhammad and his mother Imam Bibi were practising religious pair.

His Education

Iqbal received his elementary education from home and local traditional maktab school. He was admitted to the Sialkot Scotch Mission later on in 1883. There, got a glistening touch with Farsi and Arabic [1] through the help of his well-known teacher Mir Han. In 1893, he cracked the matric examination from Sialkot with astonishing distinction. After completing the Higher Secondary (intermediate) course in 1895, he took admission to the Government College of Lahore to pursue higher education. He successfully completed his  BA years in 1897. Soon, he was availed of a chance to meet Professor Orlando [2]. Availing of this opportunity, he joined Punjab University and came out with PhD degree in Philosophy in 1905.

Professions And Interest

He was now convened for the post of professor in Arabic and English in Lahore Oriental College and Government College of Lahore respectively. A fire of deep knowledge was etching him then. To put off the fire and curiosity for attaining knowledge further, he set out on a journey for Europe. He came to a broad realisation about Islam and others. In 1908, he received a barrister degree from London.

After some deep research on several Islamic topics related to metaphysics, Iqbal returned to the homeland and joined the Government College of Lahore as a Philosophy professor again. But within a few months, he resigned from the post and started working as a barrister. He continued this for a long period. That’s why he was entitled ‘Sir’ by English in 1920 after remembering his educational approach.

Curiosity For Poetry

As to stress on his poetry power, his inclination to the poetry is a reserved box here. He had an interest with inner depth in poetry. He had started writing poems from his childhood. He participated in several seminars and presented his works in many stages. At first, he learned about writing and composition from the famous poet Dag Dehlawi. But the signature of Dag Dahlawi is scarcely found in Iqbal’s poetry. Actually, Iqbal Poetry was a unique founding by himself. It’s incompatible and unmatchable. Without relating some narratives from his childhood poetry, it is asserted that his poetry had been natural to him to an extent to ‘only impression and expression.’

This high profiled Urdu poet, the Poet of East (Sha’eer-e-Mashriq), quit the world in 1938, leaving behind a huge source to enrich the literature of Urdu language and spread it further not with compellation but beautification.

Iqbal’s Signature In Prose Or Non-Poetic Lines

It is generally admitted that the role of Iqbal in the path transformation of Urdu poetry is unforgettable; he had a crystal capacity in non-poetic lines, too. There are several stamps to hold in the witness box to claim this career of  Iqbal. It was a philosophical prospect to adapt poems and prefer them to prose pages.

Representational image

Every standard period has stood up from the blink of the abyss through the force of some catalytic courage or rage. Literature, unanimously acknowledged, has played a key role in all catalysis with varying means and methodology. Someone took poems while other prose or articles or play etc. All these means and streams have pushed the literature flow forcibly. But behind the preference of poetic literature, Iqbal had furnished an intentional aim and sure he found it in his time and later.

Prose or lectures show up with mental, but his poetic lines conjure with mystical or spiritual, emotional force and intellectual appeal. Further, this force can’t be wiped out. That’s the realisation Iqbal had attained and explored. To review forward, he has achieved it. Additionally, Iqbal had ability in prose, too. This capability in non-poetic lines reveals in his degree thesis ‘The Development of Metaphysics in Persia’ and ‘Reconstruction of Religious Thoughts in Islam’.

Classification Of Iqbal’s Poetry

It is difficult to measure and count the huge contribution of Muhammad Iqbal in Urdu Poetry in a fistful hand. To dissolve into a solution to this question, veterans and literature observers have found a comprehensive method of classification. By dividing Iqbal’s poetry into several streams, his poetry has come to be more scrutinised. Every stream deserves full-flowing emotional expression and explanation.

They have classified the Iqbal poetry into three:

  1. Unity Poetry
  2. Natural Poetry
  3. Revolutionary Poetry[3]

A single poet’s triangle visions even in a single language are a matter of unnatural occurrence. This discovery of Iqbal has lifted the language to the world stage and made Urdu literature to the West a considerable subject. It is, regarding one’s calibre to capture the depth of literature, obvious that every group has an inter-connection with two others and all categories have further branches. In bellow lines, aforesaid three classes of Iqbal Poetry have been briefly explained.

All poems and literatures that stress universal unity — an indispensable matter for the stability and solidity of society and religion — are included in the first class of the Iqbal Poetry i.e. Unity Poetry. In several means, Iqbal has stressed the importance of integrity and unity which has exhorted people against the track laid by the British. It is impossible for anyone to establish their colonialism in a country like India. But their plot of divide and rule made it possible. Iqbal had realised this. That’s why he was shouting for the unity of Hindu-Muslim.

مذھب نہیں سکھاتا آپس میں بیر رکھنا ** ہندی ہے ہم وطن ہے ہندوستاں ہمارا[4]

 The religion never teaches to keep enmity among ourselves;

We are Hindi (Indian, our nation is Hindustan). 

In the Natural Poetry of Iqbal, all poems related to nature are included. He wrote most of these poems before the travel to Europe. Actually, he had started his arts literature firstly from nature and environment. Most of these poems are categorised as children. Still, his all poems deserve inner contemplation and deep analysis. Some of his Natural Poetry consist ‘Chand’ (the Moon), ‘Jugno’, ‘Subh ka Sitara’ Ek Makra aur Makkhi’, ‘Chand aur Tare’, ‘Bacca aur Shama’, etc. widely popular among children as well as old ages.

The third category of Iqbal’s poetry, i.e. revolutionary poetry, is his most unique and memorable creation. His most of poems are included in this class. These poems are reliable on deep concentration and in-depth meaning of philosophy and spirituality. His Revolutionary Poetry is also classified into two groups based on religion and society. 

Iqbal’s Poetry: The Struggle Against The Curse Of Circumstance

Iqbal of inseparated India had a giant podium to work. The ground that Iqbal would have to grave can be imagined by observing the lifespan and his living period. The time during 1877-1938 is found to be cluttered with the stuff of matters in terms of religion, nationalism, colonialism, community and society. It is somehow identified that he had strode several steps at the prospect of religion and nation.

The theme is addressed in his clutches of poetry prediction. In this mean, his poetry can be termed as a weapon against the current stagnation. In these addresses, Iqbal is one of the greatest reformers and strugglers of 19th century India. Two main factors that had affected Iqbal in poetry were politics in nationality and religious chaos.

Religious Factor

The religious lane of nineteenth-century was not straight nor adorned with gardenias plants or flowers; rather, it was the subject of new emerging plots and conspiracies. Sects and segments came out as a threat to the peaceful bound of Islam. The British spies from the Ministry of Commonwealth had a mission of separating Islam, making it hybrid and destroying the power of the Ottoman. At that time, they had spread out throughout Arab countries and the South East. India was not an exception. They had schooled intelligents as within or interior enemy of Islam.

Thus, their colonialism got also easy to prevail long in these regions. The invasion and imperialism of Russia in Iran (1908) had produced a deep sense of apathy in the heart of Iqbal. The agony of the felt has been elucidated in his several lines of ‘Shikwah(the Complaint). Actually, this was a strike in Muslim minds to break their oblivion in the dawn and prepare for a new day. Thus, it is to say as evidence that the current circumstance was a subject of Iqbal Poetry. In this period, his poetry was a hindrance against the conspiracy of the British Ministry of Commonwealth to annihilate Islam from the face of Earth.[5]

Nation Or Social Factor

In the course of national curses, Iqbal was in the environment of colonised India-full of darkness and endurance of tyrannical imperialism. For the past three centuries, the British had consolidated their administration throughout India in the appearance of traders. They not only plundered the treasure of India but also bound the weak citizens with shackles of inhumane oppression. They targeted to break down the strength of the country through separation and spreading illiteracy or schooling minds on their realms.

Thus, the integrity of India in terms of religious and cultural diversity had gone to wane. In addition to the exterior extremism, India was also suffering from dogmas and bad traditions. Keeping women away from education, prohibition of literature and science knowledge, burning of wives after the demise of their husbands (the custom is known as Shati daha Pratha.) and other false beliefs and bad practices were common in India of that time.

These factors had made the country powerless to revolt against the British raj too. British wicked officers played the destructive role of ‘Divide and Rule’ among these common and unaware people. But Iqbal and persons like him had stood upholding their sword in one hand against the plan of the British. He imposed unity based emotional and war declaring poems and invited the countrymen to come under one rope and march against the foreigners.

موج ہے دریا میں بیرون دریا کـــچھ بھی نہیں۔ …

The wave is considered when it in the ocean; it is nothing when taken out.

Intimating Rumi: Philosophy And Spirituality

One of the important innovations of Iqbal in Urdu literature is his injection of philosophy and spirituality in his poetic lines. His travels to Europe pursuing higher education had taught him a sense of realisation. The journey of three years (1905-1908) had made him realise the true nature of humans. This expenditure has helped him to affirm the nature of Islam and its authenticity. His many lines of poems bear this evidence.

His place to place travel throughout the West had made him avail of many opportunities to come across with the day’s renowned philosophers. He learned plenty of ideas and knowledge about the temporary material life through them. He met famous philosophers of the time and took a share of their philosophical ideology. But across Europe, he couldn’t find a spiritual ideal. The clemency in spirituality affected him in deep.

Amid his research, he came across the 13th century great spiritual master Allama Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi (May Allah shower upon him His mercy). Then what is to wait. Iqbal had found what he was searching throughout the West in a vain attempt. Iqbal adopted Rumi as his SpiritualMurshid (Mentor). After returning from Europe to India (British India), he studied Rumi poetry and his spirituality with deep analysis. He got a touch of Rumi’s spiritual fruit Masnavi[6].

He found that Rumi had sewed it with spiritual seeds. Iqbal realised that spiritual power is unputdownable. It was one of all main factors that raised Muslims to the top spot in past but the time they lost it Muslims were thrown to the stage of stagnation. Iqbal discovered that the base of this spiritual power is the love of the Lord. But the love of the Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) is a roadmap to this goal. The Qur’anic verse:

“و الذين أمنوا أشد حبا لله”

is translated poetically by Rumi as:

“مومن از عشق است و عشق از مومن است”

and Allama Iqbal writes it in Urdu as:

[7]“قوت عشق سے ہر پست کو بالا کردے **دہر میں اسم محمد سے اجالا کردے”

Now it is proved that the prevalence of spirituality is one of the new comings in Urdu poetry that was openly welcomed by Iqbal as exemplified before.

In addition, Iqbal has intimated the philosophical thoughts of Rumi in his poetry too. Iqbal began to put forth emergence of the eternal love in his literature. Like Rumi, Iqbal started to underline the Qur’anic and Prophetic lines in his poems. Plenty of examples can be found in this regard. No need to bring all these lines here in the witness-box. Both of them had emphasised with premium in their literature the significance of ma’rifat (Realisation of Allah) and His closeness in a man as his natural inclination towards these is acknowledgeable. This kind of Iqbal poetry is found on a large scale in both Urdu and Persian.

Some Similarities In The Influence Of Rumi’s And Iqbal’s Poetry 

  • As Murshid Jalaluddin Rumi in the 13th century made a large influence of his spiritual poetry power on the people of that time and till the day somehow, Iqbal has occupied the same place in the 20th century. The acceptance of Iqbal poetry in the West is one of the great recognition for the 20th century Rumi – Allama Iqbal. Iqbal poetry was popular to an extent that ranging from farmers to traders and politicians all has made it their chanting.
  • Iqbal’s ‘Asraar-e Khudi’(the Secret of Self), ‘Ramooz-e Bekhodi’(the Mysteries of Selflessness) and ‘Javed Nama’(the Song of Eternity) can serve the place of Rumi’s Masnavi.
  • Like Rumi, Iqbal has also strived to find and pursue the Perfect Man. He is none but the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him).


After taking all aforementioned discourses in a nutshell, it can be asserted that the contribution of Allama Iqbal to the Development of Urdu literature especially the poetry stream is undoubtedly acknowledgeable. His literal power has pushed Urdu to the Western minds and made it a subject of deep consideration too. No slew of negligence is bearable as it deserves not. Urdu literature platform is adorned with philosophical thoughts and spiritual qualities. No doubt, Allama Iqbal has an important role to give Urdu a frame fitting these.

As a spiritual leader, he tried to guide the community like Rumi, at the same time he dressed the rage of a struggler against the prevailing oppression and darkness in the society. His poetic fruits are still plucked out to beneficiate in the field of knowledge, reality, spirituality and humanity. As a Muslim, Iqbal composed his poems with the touch of the Qur’an and Hadith and as a man, he has dedicated it for the whole community. Deferring from this, Iqbal had magnificent capacity in prose too. Still, he changed the root for some reasonable and intentional purpose. Surely, he has attained his intention.

[1]For this reason, in his various poetry works Farsi and Arabic has taken a core place.

[2]His famous analytical religious work based on deep research and scrutiny is ‘the Spread of Islam.’

[3]Prof. Shahab Muhammad Altaf, Iqbal and the triuph of Human Spirit, Iqbal Review-Hyderabad, p.3.

[4]Allama Iqbal, Bang-e Dara, Tarana-e Hind

[5]Confessions of a British Spy and British Enmity Against Islam

[6]His famous collection of spiritual poetic lines in the shape of Rabayya or four lines, which English translation is widely recited in the West.

[7]Allama Iqbal, Shikwa Jawab-e Shikwa, (p.7)

Note: The article was originally published here

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