Zafar Anjum chronicles the life of poet Iqbal

The Singapore-based journalist’s book narrates the poet-philosopher’s life as a novel so that the common man could better understand him:

iqbal frontAnjum’s narrative in lucid prose is engaging without becoming a boring history book. It gets interesting after Iqbal’s return from Europe to Lahore. Iqbal while practicing law also gets vociferous with his two-nation theory.

One of his famous poems, “Shikwa”, on the plight of Muslims world over was penned in 1912. The ulemas disapproved of this poem for being disrespectful. While Iqbal spoke of Muslim brotherhood and solidarity, he did not talk about world domination by Muslims.

At the Allahabad address of 1930, one of the statements he made was: “I entertain the highest respect for the customs, laws and religious institutions of other communities. Nay, it is my duty, according to the Quran, even to defend their places of worship if need be.”

On the personal front, Iqbal unhappy with his marriage unburdened his heart to Atiya Begum, a modern Muslim woman, whom he befriended in London. Emma Wegenast, his German tutor was another woman with whom Iqbal shared a close bond that continued even after his return to India through letters.

Not many know that Iqbal did not have funds to buy a piece of land to build a house, but thanks to his second wife, Sardar Begum’s foresightedness, the family eventually had a house of its own.

Most poignant is the moment when the narrative draws to a close with Iqbal’s demise in 1938. His 13-year-old son, Javed puts on a brave front for his younger sister, Munirah’s sake. It leaves you misty eyed.

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