We, as Pakistanis, have not really been kind to the legacy of either man. We turned both into idols. And once we convinced ourselves that these were ‘supermen’ we conveniently absolved ourselves of the responsibility to learn from – let alone emulate – either. We are fond of celebrating but incapable of incorporating either the actions of Mr. Jinnah nor the thoughts of Mohammad Iqbal.
After all, once we turned Mr. Jinnah into the ‘Quaid-i-Azam’ and conferred near-divine status on him it became all too easy to say that we, mere mortals, could not be expected to act in the way – or even on the principles – that he did. His blemishes were to be denied, not just because we hold him in reverence but also because to acknowledge them is to accept that maybe ordinary – even flawed – human beings can stil have principles worth following. We have done the same to Iqbal. Because his the ‘the’ Allama, he is to be put on a pedestal. His work read with respect and honor; to be savored, but not really to be understood. Certainly not to be questioned, and absolutely not to be allowed to influence that we do. After all, he is an Allama; and we are not.
The Allama-ization of Iqbal, just like the Quaid-i-Azam-ization of Jinnah has been a disservice to both. For ultimately it has turned these two giants into mere statues; the iconography of the ‘Allama’ and the ‘Quaid’ have enabled us to turn them into dieties of reverence while at the same time distancing ourselves – if not outright disowning – the thought of the first and the actions of the later.
We at ATP have been rather remiss in not paying enough tribute to Mohammad Iqbal. This is a mistake I have been wanting to rectify. Today, the eve of Pakistan Day is a good time to begin doing so. The events and the idea behind the 23rd of March owes more to Iqbal than anyone else. And as a first offering of tribute to Iqbal I offer you this wonderful video. I found it on YouTube:
I do not really know who produced it although for some reason the voice sounds familiar. The selection of poetry as well as the pictures are excellent. Indeed, I wou urge you to focus on both. The pictures are not the ones you usually see of him and many of them evoke a humanness that is lost in many of our ‘official’ portraits on the man. But also focus on the ideas. This is a work less known that, say, Shikwa and Jawab i Shikwa, but it has ideas that are so contemporary that he may as well have been talking about the events of last week. For example:
anpay watan meiN houN kay ghareeb-ud-diyar houN
Darta houN daikh daikh kay iss dasht-o-dar ko meiN