Islamist lies about Allama Iqbal

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

On 9th November this year, Pakistan was off on account of the great poet and philosopher Iqbal’s birthday. I wonder why? It is time we had a discussion on whether Iqbal was legitimately a founding father of this country. In my opinion, Pakistan has only one founding father and that is Mahomed Ali Jinnah not Iqbal, without belittling Iqbal’s contribution to the idea of Pakistan.  However it does not end there. The right wing in Pakistan – including Zaid Hamid and the Jamaat-e-Islami – not only claims that Hazrat Allama Iqbal Rahmat ullah alei was a founding father but was a spiritual father who wanted a rigid Islamic state.

Allama Iqbal- his literary and philosophical contributions to Muslims of India and the nascent idea of Pakistan notwithstanding- was not a founding father of Pakistan.  There is no question that Allama Iqbal as an Islamic modernist and a thinker was an extraordinary man.  My issue with Allama Iqbal as the founding father has nothing to do with his ideas per se, some of which were quite good and agreeable. Indeed if Iqbal is read holistically,  Mullahs and right wingers would find his legacy far more problematic than liberals. 

My issue however is the posthumous glorification of the great poet philosopher as a founding father at par with Jinnah himself. This is historically untenable.  His contribution to the idea of Pakistan in a concrete form was perhaps even less than Chaudhry Rahmat Ali and Mian Kifayet Ali (famously known as “A Punjabi”). Jinnah used Mian Kifayet Ali’s arguments in his famous “two nation theory” speech.  The Lahore Resolution was drafted and vetted by Sir Zafrulla. It was presented by A K Fazlul Haq and seconded by Sir Sikandar Hayat, the same Sikandar Hayat that Iqbal had advised Jinnah against collaborating. If Iqbal is the founding father what about all these other people?  

 Yet our Khakis and their Mullah ideologues insist that Iqbal was nothing less than a founding father because Iqbal championed the concept of a Muslim superman i.e. the Mard-e-Momin and shaheen which in turn is used as a justification for military’s trampling of civilian and constitutional rule in Pakistan. The idea of a strong civilian leader be it Jinnah or Bhutto makes our military minds uncomfortable at a subconscious level. Therefore Jinnah – who was quintessentially a lawyer and a parliamentarian- must be balanced out by Allama Iqbal’s vague Islamic imagery of Mard-e-Momin and Shaheen.

Our Islamic Ideology champions claim that Iqbal was the founding father of Pakistan because he gave the idea of Pakistan.

Truth: K K Aziz counts 88 other schemes for a separation of provinces that make Pakistan between 1880 and 1930 that preceded Allama Iqbal’s Khutba-e-Allahabad.  At Allahabad, Iqbal eloquently expressed this sentiment to a handful of people in the following words:

The principle of Europeandemocracy cannot be applied to Indiawithout recognising the fact of communal groups. The Muslim demand for the creation of a Muslim India within India is, therefore, perfectly justified. The resolution of the All-Parties Muslim Conference at Delhi is, to my mind, wholly inspired by this noble ideal of a harmonious whole which, instead of stifling the respective individualities of its component wholes, affords them chances of fully working out the possibilities that may be latent in them. And I have no doubt that this House will emphatically endorse the Muslim demands embodied in this resolution.Personally, I would go farther than the demands embodied in it. I would like to see the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan amalgamated into a single State. Self-government within the British Empire, or without the British Empire, the formation of a consolidated North-West Indian Muslim State appears to me to be the final destiny of the Muslims, at least of North-West India.

Hindus should not fear that the creation of autonomous Muslim states will mean the introduction of a kind of religious rule in such states. I have already indicated to you the meaning of the word religion, as applied to Islam. The truth is that Islam is not a Church.

For India, it means security and peace resulting from an internal balance of power; for Islam, an opportunity to rid itself of the stamp that Arabian Imperialism was forced to give it, to mobilise its law, its education, its culture, and to bring them into closer contact with its own original spirit and with the spirit of modern times.”

One columnist, associated with the Jamaat-e-Islami and writing for Daily Ummat translated Iqbal’s words “amalgmated into one state” as “islami riyasat mein munazam”  or “organised into a single Islamic state”.  Even an ordinary reading of the text shows that not only was Iqbal not clear about what he was proposing – was it one or many Muslim states, or what their status was going to be vis a vis the rest of India, he explicitly ruled out “religious states”.  Not only that but he spoke of liberating Islam from the “stamp of Arab imperialism”. He also did not oppose Western Democracy as a concept but called for recognition of communal groups as a basic condition for such Western Democracy to work.

In any event it is about time the Islamists and their Khaki patrons stopped trying to impose Iqbal on Pakistan as a founding father or even presenting him as an Islamist which he was not, even if he was quite confused about things or operating on a different plane altogether.



Filed under History, Pakistan

17 responses to “Islamist lies about Allama Iqbal

  1. amar

    9th of November 1938
    That was the beginning of the burning of jewish synagogues in Nazi Germany.
    On the 11.11. most synagogues were attacked and burnt down.

    Opportunistic prevarications are to be found everywhere – even by Iqbal. There are no clear-good legacies anywhere.

    Iqbal opposed sufis vehemently – and then opportunistically turned around without disproving his earlier position. Just irresponsible opportunism. Islam is an ideology that inevitably lands you under arabic imperialism and totaliatarianism, no matter how and where you start. The mullah knows that too well. The liberal muslim will always be helpless against that.

    We have to start anew. Completely anew.

  2. Khalid

    There is no doubt Iqbal was a great poet. We should try to understand his poetry what he said about the Muslim rather to discuss his idea about Pakistan. I think the poetry is still valid specially Shikwa, jawab e Shikwa and many others.

  3. Nadeem A. Butt

    Good and self explainatory essay! Iqbal, who once labeled as kafir, now is being imposed as a “Rahmatullah Alaih”, “Mard-e-Momin” and to shut up the sane and learned voices of Pakistan. And Ironically, those groups like Ahrar and jamat-e-Islami are using his name to gain their losing strength, who actually were the main opponents of the Idea of pakistan and eventually of Iqbal’s ideas too. It just reminds me of a drowning man who catches even at a straw! No Taqwa, no Logic … means no Character!
    “Badalta hay Rang aasman kaise kaise”
    May Allah Mercy them!

  4. ashraf lodhi

    To understand why Pakistanis are such a confused nation, one ought to read Iqbal.

  5. Bilal Ahmad

    I respect Iqbal for his literary work for Muslims of British India, but his work didn’t pave the way for popularity of Muslim League and idea of Pakistan among the general public. Creation of Pakistan was democratic in context of 1946 elections which clearly shows who was at what side, in favor of Pakistan or against it. It was due to great character and firm political resolve of Jinnah that Pakistan became a reality.
    If Iqbal and his so called “Shaheenism” has played any role in it, then why East Pakistan went away in 1971 from Muslim Brothers of Fort of Islam, and why today they are banning religion in politics and Maudoodi’s writings. Reason is that freedom of South Asian Muslims is not achieved on basis of religion but on basis of enlightened political struggle which initiated from wise political leadership who were declared Kafir-e-Azam and NaPakistan by today’s supporter of Iqbal’s Shaheenism.

  6. Prasad

    //East Pakistan went away in 1971 from Muslim Brothers of Fort of Islam//

    This is because rulers in Islamabad treated Bengalis like piece of shit for decades. Secondly they did not understand the term ‘diversity’

    Incidentally ‘diversity’ is not understood even now !!

  7. Prasad

    The way you debate about Allama Iqbal on Founding father story, we need to debate about Narasimha Rao…This man rid India of all the socialist nonsense, initiated privatization vigorously result of which we saw in recent CIL public listing – amazing listing……This great politician got embroiled in some unknown scam involving a UK pickle king (Lakhu bhai pathak) and got marginalised… He was 10,000 times better than sonia gandhi and Manmohan Singh was a product of his school of thought…Narasimha Rao ought to be named as Father of Liberal India which is not dependent on Nuclear tests, socialism, Jyoti Basu-karat axis, congress games et al…..machinery is working and will work against all odds thanks to the man who revised Industrial policy, delicencing, liberalisation, telecom policy, connecting with India knowing around 20 languages et al

    Narasimha Rao rocked true chanakya indeed!

    your views pls

  8. Ahsan

    In my view first and foremost have to detach the divinity we so often associate with Pakistan.

    The birth was an event in history, OK, unprecedented but as a student of history I can’t analyze events zealously and fanatically.

    It is just indecipherable that with the passage of time we muslims have developed such hatred of reason and rationality which our forefathers bequeathed to us.

  9. Bin Ismail


    Very well said indeed. Iqbal was a good poet, but personally, I am of the opinion that if anyone truly qualifies for the title of “Qaumi Sha’ir”, it’s Faiz.

  10. Humanity

    @ Bin Ismail

    Both Faiz and Iqbal as poets are masters in their own ways.

    We find it troubling that Iqbal in the end was subdued by political pressures and personal conflict. It appears he failed to uphold the principles that he expressed so powerfully through verse. His human frailty should not be held against the beauty and power of his poetry. He was after all a human.

    The breadth and depth of his work in a culmination of a lifetime of influences, endeavor, and synergies. Let’s not forget this fact.

    All said and done Iqbal was a progressive Muslim humanist who yearned to free the Muslims from the shackles of ignorance.

    Quoting from YLH’s post Iqbal was very clear that creation of autonomous Muslim states will be “an opportunity to rid itself of the stamp that Arabian Imperialism was forced to give it, to mobilise its law, its education, its culture, and to bring them into closer contact with its own original spirit and with the spirit of modern times.”

    The disingenuous peddlers of religion, true to their lack of integrity and character, have to marginalize the role of the Quaid as the father of the nation. They can try every trick and every treachery. They must also know that in the end truth prevails and it shall, isA.

  11. T.S. Bokhari

    A good and timely article which has been epitomized well by amar, to start with.

    In Iqbals words I can say to the Islamic peddlers:

    “Sach keh doon aiey brehman (religious peddlers) gar tu bura nah maaney
    Terey sanam qadey ke but ho gaey puraaney”

  12. Bin Ismail

    @Humanity (November 14, 2010 at 2:30 am)

    “…..The disingenuous peddlers of religion, true to their lack of integrity and character, have to marginalize the role of the Quaid as the father of the nation. They can try every trick and every treachery. They must also know that in the end truth prevails and it shall, isA…..”

    Well said.

  13. Muhammad Hassan Miraj

    I disagree with YLH on account of following:
    1. Founding father is not a biological father so there can be more than one. America has as many founding fathers as that declaration of independence could have the space for signatures, so Iqbal can also share the space with Jinnah.
    2. Iqbal`s vision is still valid for almost all the things which qualifies him for an intellectual par excellence.
    3. Iqbal was, amongst his contemporary , the only sane voice as far as religion was concerned, only his not so public works need to be read.

    I agree with YLH on following accounts
    1. Iqbal has been misused by Military / Mullah
    2. Iqbal is often misrepresented and misquoted and was used massively for hawkish propaganda.

    Please YLH, no offence, its just an opinion and I admit my lack of knowledge before you mention it or relate my comments with my ignorance

  14. YLH

    I don’t have a problem with having Iqbal as a founding father so long as you recognise the following on the same level as Iqbal (though not Jinnah):

    1. Ch. Rahmat Ali 2. Mian Kifayet Ali 3. Ch. Zafrulla 4. Sir Sikandar Hayat 5. A K Fazlul Haq 6. Husseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy 7. Khawaja Nazimuddin 8. Jogindranath Mandal 9. Ch. Khaliquzzam 10.Mian Iftikharuddin 11. M A H Isphahani 12. Shahnawaz Bhutto 13. Ghulam Hussain Hidayatullah 14. Abul Hashim 15. G M Syed 16. Raja of Mahmudabad 17. Aga Khan III 18. Begum Jahanara Shahnawaz 19. Begum Shaista Ikramullah 20. HH Nawab Hameedullah Khan 21. Maulana Hasrat Mohani 22. Allama G A Parvez 23. Pothan Joseph 24. I I Chundrigar 25. Abdul Rab Nishtar 26. F A Faiz or Faiz Ahmed Faiz as the editor of Pakistan Times at the height of the struggle for Pakistan. 27. M D Taseer 28. Jagganath Azad (for writing the national anthem) 29. Nawab Ismail 30. Ayub Khuhro 31. Raja Ghazanfar Ali 32. C E Gibbon 33. S A Latif 34. Sajjad Zaheer 35. PC Joshi 36. G Adhikari

    (Liaqat Ali Khan omitted because he is recognised already as Quaid e Millat and kind of like Ismet Inonu is in Turkey).

    This list – not exhaustive- contains people who have a greater contribution to the idea and creation of Pakistan than Iqbal.

  15. Humanity

    Thank you YHL for compiling a list of the founding fathers of Pakistan!

  16. YLH

    Due to a problem with my track ball I am unable to browse the internet … However let me state unequivocally: I DID NOT POST THE RESIGNATION AS CO-EDITOR.

    I have a commitment to Raza bhai and given that he has always stood by … I will not abandon ship the first sign of trouble. Infact Raza Rumi would have to kick me out to get rid of me.


  17. YLH

    *stood by me like a rock