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

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.”

Indeewara Thilakarathne reviews Iqbal: The Life of a Poet, Philosopher and Politician in the Ceylon Today

“But the universe, as a collection of finite things, presents itself as a kind of island situated in a pure vacuity to which time, regarded as a series of mutually exclusive moments, is nothing and does nothing.” – Muhammad Iqbal

iqbal frontMeticulously researched and brilliantly written biography of Allama Mohammad Iqbal by Zafar Anjum sheds light on the hitherto-unexplored areas in the life of a great intellectual, philosopher, poet and politician and his enduring vision for Pakistan and India. Although Sarojini Naidu acclaimed Inqbal in his life time as ‘Poet laureate of Asia’ and considered on par with Tagore, Iqbal is, now, a largely misunderstood and ignored poet in India. His role as a politician and philosopher in the independence of India and the subsequent creation of Pakistan was unique. Iqbal is considered as the national poet of Pakistan and ‘Spiritual Father of Pakistan’.

However, Zafar Anjum has noted with dismay that Iqbal’s vision for a peaceful and prosperous Pakistan has turned out to be a nightmare ‘Closer home, Iqbal’s dream of a separate state for Muslims in the north-western province was realised. But, unfortunately, that dream has turned into a nightmare. Today, Iqbal’s Pakistan is on the verge of collapse, ridden with violence, terrorism, corruption, and mismanagement. Not only Pakistan, India too continues to fail Iqbal’s expectations. As far as India is concerned, going forward, the onus of proving Iqbal right or wrong lies with the majority community. If Muslims are allowed to prosper in India as equal citizens in a peaceful and non-violent environment, with their cultural identity intact, then Iqbal will be proved wrong.’

A misnomer persists amongst the academics that after Allama Mohammed Iqbal was nominated the “the national poet of Pakistan”, he was relegated to pages of the sub-continent’s unwritten history and ignored in India: The Deccan Herald

iqbal frontWhile that may be true of his place of birth, it’s certainly untrue as he continues to be read, recited, referred to, and his poetry frequently quoted and musical compositions of many of his verses listened to reverentially.

And his role as the harbinger of Islamic revivalism debated. At the same time, any revival of his life, philosophy and politics is bound to raise questions, especially with regards to his relevance in the sub-continental life. Any attempt to relive the life of a controversial public figure is to raise doubts.