Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What Would Iqbal Say?

A couple of days ago was the day celebrated in Pakistan as "Iqbal Day". Allama Dr. Sir Mohammad Iqbal is the thinker and poet that wrote a song that is de facto an alternative national anthem for India on the one hand, and who Pakistanis consider "the philosopher of Pakistan", the person who came up with the very idea that became Pakistan. [Please, I am just relating what the national story accpeted in Pakistan is; I know others--Indian lovers of the "Hakeem", or Doctor, in particular--disagree. I am not here to re-argue that one.]

So what would Iqbal say about today's Pakistan, a friend asked on Facebook? No need to ask the question. There's a famous poem by him in the form of a prayer "Lab pay aati hai dua bun kay tamanna meri" which Pakistanis love to quote--but don't much pay attention to the lines about what action to take:

Ho mera kaam garibon ki himaayat karna /
Dard-mandon se zaiifon se mohabbat karna
[May my work be to work in support of the poor
To love the afflicted and the weak]

And on Mullahs:

When in a vision I saw
A mullah ordered to paradise,
Unable to hold my tongue,
I said something in this wise:

‘Pardon me, O Lord,
For these bold words of mine,
But he will not be pleased
With the houris and the wine.

He loves to dispute and fight,
And furiously wrangle,
But paradise is no place
For this kind of jangle.

His task is to disunite
And leave people in the lurch,
But paradise has no temple,
No mosque and no church.’

See: for one posting of the original and a translation.

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