Iqbal’s thoughts were deeply influenced by the greatest Sufi poet, Jalaluddin Rumi
Sir Muhammad Iqbal, famously known as Allama Iqbal (‘The Great Scholar’), was a legendary icon of South Asia.
A poet, philosopher, barrister and a scholar, Iqbal is considered as one of the most pivotal figures in literature especially for those works written in Urdu and Persian.
He was born on November 9, 1877, to a Kashmiri Pandit lineage in the Punjab Province of India, which is now Pakistan.
He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Cambridge and his PhD from Ludwig Maximilian University in Germany.
Iqbal’s thoughts were greatly influenced by the greatest Sufi poet, Jalaluddin Rumi’s poems and philosophy.
His poems are deeply provocative and extremely spiritual. He focused on awakening of the human conscious as well as revitalising the inner self.
Iqbal’s unique style of writing was enriched by experiences he acquired from Western Europe and the Middle East.
His philosophies even inspired the creation of a new state, Pakistan.
DESIblitz have selected 5 of the greatest poems by Allama Iqbal.
The Child And The Candle
Oh Child with moth-like nature, “How strange that
You keep gazing at the flame of the candle for hours
What is this movement, when you are in my lap?
Are you intending to embrace the light?
Though your tiny heart is surprised at this spectacle
But this is recognition of some object already seen!
The candle is but a flame, you are the Light embodied
Ah! In this assembly that is manifest, you are concealed
It is not known why the Nature’s hand made it manifest!
And concealed you in the dark soil’s mantle
Your light has been concealed under the veil of Intellect!
The veil of Cognition is a mere mist to the wise eye!
What is called life really a mirage it is…
A dream, a swoon, an ecstasy, oblivion it is
The Nature’s assembly is the Beauty’s boundless ocean
For the discerning eye every drop is the Beauty’s storm
Beauty is in the frightening silence of the mountain
In shedding of sun’s light, and in night’s darkness
It is in the morning sky’s mirror-like glitter
In the night’s darkness and in the twilight’s floridity
It is in the disappearing relics of the old magnificence
In the small child’s effort to commence speaking
It is in the harmony of the denizens of the rose-garden
In the nest-building efforts of the tiny little birds
In the mountain stream, in the ocean’s freedom is Beauty
In the city, the forest, the wilderness, the habitation is Beauty
The soul but longing for some lost object is
Or else why is it lamenting in wilderness like a bell?
It is restless even in this general splendour of Beauty
Its life is like a fish out of water
A beautiful poem, ‘The Child And The Candle’ expresses the magnificence and everlasting beauty of the Divine Love and the effort of portraying them through the worldly objects.
A Mother’s Dream
As I slept one night I saw this dream
Which further increased my vexation
I dreamt I was going somewhere on the way
Dark it was and impossible to find the way
Trembling all over with fear I was
Difficult to take even a step with fear was
With some courage as I forward moved
I saw some boys as lined in nice array
Dressed in emerald-like raiment they were
Carrying lighted lamps in their hands they were
They were going quietly behind each other
No one knew where they were to go
Involved in this thought was I
When in this troupe my son saw I
He was walking at the back, and was not walking fast
The lamp he had in his hand was not lighted
Recognising him I said “O My dear!
Where have you come leaving me there?
Restless due to separation I am
Weeping every day for ever I am
You did not care even a little for me
What loyalty you showed, you left me”!
As the child saw the distress in me
He replied thus, turning around to me
“The separation from me makes you cry
Not least little good does this to me”
He remained quiet for a while after talking
Showing me the lamp then he started talking
“Do you understand what happened to this?
Your tears have extinguished this”!
The poem ‘A Mother’s Dream’ on surface seems to be a simple description of a mother’s dream but it carries far more depth.
It talks about the grief and sorrow of parents as children grow into adulthood and become independent individuals moving away from them.
A nation whose youth are endowed
With self as strong and hard as steel:
No need of piercing swords in war
Such people brave can ever feel.
The world of Pleaders and the Moon
By natural laws is chained and bound:
Whereas the world in which you dwell
Owns insight, will and mind much sound.
What do the quivering waves imply?
Save enormous zeal and zest for quest?
What lies concealed in mother shell?
Is a gift of God who knows it best?
The hawk is never tired of flight,
Does not drop gasping on the ground:
If unwearied it remains one wing,
From hunters’ dread is safe and sound.
The magnificent piece, ‘Open Secrets’, investigates the enormous capacity of the human potential and the significance of self worth.
Coal to Diamond
My flesh is so vile, I am less than dust
while your brilliance out-blazes the mirror’s heart.
My darkness defiles the chafing-dish
before my cremation; a miner’s boot
tramples my cranium; I’m covered with ashes.
Do you know my life’s bleak essence?
Condensations of smoke, black clouds stillborn
from a single spark; while in feature and nature
star like, your every facet’s a splendour,
gleam of the King’s crown, the sceptre’s jewel.
“Please, friend, be wise,” the diamond replied,
“assume a gemlike dignity! Carbon must harden,
to fill one’s bosom with radiance. Burn
because you are soft. Banish fear and grief.
Be hard as stone, be diamond.”
The poem ‘Coal to Diamond’ beautifully portrays the sweat and toil one has to go through to achieve something great in life.
The Beauty and Love
Just as the moon’s silver boat is drowned
In the storm of sun’s light at the break of dawn
Just as the moon-like lotus disappears
Behind the veil of light in the moon-lit night
Just like the Mosa’s radiant palm in the Nur’s effulgence
And the flower bud’s fragrance in the wave of garden’s breeze
Similar is my heart in the flood of Thy Love
If Thou art the assembly, I am the assembly’s splendour
If Thou art the Beauty’s thunder, I am the produce of Love
If Thou art the dawn, my tears are Thy dew
If I am traveller’s night, Thou art my twilight
My heart harbours Thy dishevelled hair locks
My bewilderment is created by Thy picture
Thy Beauty is perfect, my Love is perfect
Thou art the spring’s breeze for my poetry’s garden
Thou gave tranquillity to my restless imagination
Since Thy Love took residence in my breast
New lights have been added to my mirror
Love’s nature gets stimulation for Perfection from Beauty
My hope’s trees flourished through Thy favour
My caravan has reached its destination.
This poem ‘The Beauty and Love’ is the impulsive expression of Divine Love. Iqbal uses very mystical and figurative language throughout.
These traits of the Love of God can be translated to anyone whom one is in love with.
Before his death in 1938, Iqbal famously recited: “The melodies bygone may come again; or never more. The Zephyr (Soft breeze) from Hijaz may come again; or never more.
“The days of this Faqir (poor wander) are ended now; for evermore. And yet another seer may come or not; forevermore!”
Allama Iqbal’s poems have been translated to many languages across the globe and his work triggered a renaissance in the literary world.
A dynamic philosopher of his time, his poetry will continue to inspire many generations to come.