Tag Archives: Muslim identity

Three Poems By Iqbal IV: Dialogue Between God And Man

By Dr. Ali Hashmi

Muhawaraa Maa Bain Khuda-o-Insan (Dialogue between God and Man):

 The third poem in this selection, ‘Muhawaraa maa bain Khuda-o-Insaan’ features one of Iqbal’s favorite styles, a dialogue or interplay between earthly and celestial figures. It also employs one of Iqbal’s favored poetical styles, the Socratic Method (or Socratic Debate), named after the Classical Greek philosopher Socrates, a form of inquiry and debate between individuals with opposing viewpoints based on asking and answering questions to stimulate rational thinking and to illuminate ideas. It is a dialectical method, often involving an oppositional discussion in which the defense of one point of view is pitted against the defense of another. One of the most famous examples of this genre is Iqbal’s lengthy poem ‘Shikwah’ or ‘Reproach’ in which Man(representing the Muslim faith) complains to God about the shabby treatment meted out to Muslims by God inspite of the sacrifices that Muslims have made on God’s behalf. The poem, which caused quite a stir when first read by Iqbal in public, is a bold criticism of God’s indifference to a people who feel they deserve better: Continue reading

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Three Poems By Iqbal III: Khizr The Guide

By Dr. Ali Hashmi

Khizr-e-Rah (Khizr the Guide)

Al-Khizr (Arabic: “the Green One”) is an enigmatic figure in Islam. He is best known for his appearance in the Qur’an in Sura al-Kahf. Although not mentioned by name, he is assumed to be the figure that Musa (Moses) accompanies and whose seemingly violent and destructive actions so disturb Moses that he violates his oath not to ask questions.

Islamic tradition sometimes describes him as Mu’allim al-anbiya (Tutor of the Prophets), for the spiritual guidance he has shown every prophet who has appeared throughout history. In Sufi tradition, Khizr has come to be known as one of those who receive illumination direct from God without human mediation. He is the hidden initiator of those who walk the mystical path and also figures into the Alexander Romance as a servant of Alexander the Great. Al-Khizr and Alexander cross the Land of Darkness to find the Water of Life. Alexander gets lost looking for the spring, but Khizr finds it and gains eternal life. Continue reading

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Three Poems By Iqbal II: Maa Ka Khawab.

By Dr. Ali Hashmi

A Psychological Interpretation of ‘A Mother’s Dream’

On the surface this poem is simply a description of a mother’s dream about her young son who is lost somewhere. Some commentators have described it as a lament by a mother whose child has died. However, there is a more life affirming explanation which makes more sense psychologically.

The poem starts out simply enough. It is in the first person with a mother describing her dream:

‘Main soey jo ik shab toe dekha yeh khwaab

Badha aur jis say meraa iztiraab

Yeh dekha kay main jaa rahi hoon kahin Continue reading

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Three Poems By Iqbal: Introduction

A Psychological Interpretation

 By Dr. Ali Hashmi

‘Everywhere I go, I find that a poet has been there before me’ Sigmund Freud

One of Iqbal’s translators, the Scotsman Victor Kiernan wrote ‘Mohammad Iqbal, the ‘Poet of the East’, lived a life of which outwardly there is little to be said and inwardly, of which little is known.’ Works on Iqbal by scholars and academicians would fill up a small library, particularly in Pakistan, where he is revered as one of the country’s founding fathers. He was one of the early proponents of the idea of a separate state for the Muslims of British India, a fantastically improbable idea at the time. His eventual whole hearted support for the idea of Pakistan was surprising considering that one of his early poems ‘Tarana-e-Hindi’ (‘Song of India’), first published in 1904, is still sung and revered widely in India. Mahatma Gandhi wrote to Iqbal that he sang it hundreds of times during his many prison terms for sedition and political activity against the British Raj. Iqbal did not live to see his dream of a separate homeland for India’s Muslims brought to fruition and would, surely, have ‘recoiled in horror’, as Kiernan wrote, had he witnessed the communal blood bath that accompanied the birth of his vision. There are still no accurate estimates of the number of people that perished on both sides of the newly created border but half a million people killed and twelve million made homeless is one estimate. All this came much later though. Before all this was the poetry, page after page of lyrical, melodious poems reflecting on themes as simple as mountains, animals and insects and as exalted as God, Heaven, Angels and everything in between. Continue reading

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Mukul Kesavan’s India and Pakistan

Mukul Kesavan has always impressed me.  His novel “Looking Through the Glass”  for example has an interesting fictional discussion between the main protaganist who is a waiter at Cecil Hotel in New Delhi, and Mahomed Ali Jinnah, the leader of the Muslim League. Though fictional the discussion between two is based on Ayesha Jalal and H M Seervai’s view of Jinnah and his demand for Pakistan: a semi autonomous or even completely automonous Muslim majority part of an over all India whole, standing on equal footing with Hindustan through a confederation or common arrangements.    Continue reading

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