Sunday, September 7, 2014

Iqbal: Kabhi Ai Haqeeqat-e-Muntazar

Muhammad Iqbal (Urdu: محمد اقبال‎) (1877 – 1938) was a poet and politician in British India. His voice is an important counterpoint to the syncretist Sufi; during his lifetime Iqbal underwent a transformation from Indian to Muslim.

Written in 1904, Iqbal's Saare Jahan Se Achchha Yeh Hindustan Hamara (Better Than the Whole World This Hindustan of Ours) quickly became an anthem of opposition to the British rule in India. The song, an ode to Hindustan—the land comprising present-day Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan—both celebrated and cherished the land even as it lamented its age-old anguish. It remains one of the most popular of Urdu songs to this day.

Later in life, Iqbal wrote another song for children, Tarana-e-Milli (Anthem of the Religious Community), which was composed in the same metre and rhyme scheme as Saare Jahan Se Achcha, but which renounced much of the sentiment of the earlier song. The sixth stanza of Saare Jahan Se Achchha is:

Maẕhab nahīṉ sikhātā āpas meṉ bair rakhnā, Hindī haiṉ ham, wat̤an hai Hindūstāṉ hamārā.

Religion does not teach us to bear mutual ill-will, We are of Hind, our homeland this Hindustan of ours.

contrasts with the first stanza of Tarana-e-Milli:

Cīn o-ʿArab hamārā, Hindūstāṉ hamārā, Muslim haiṉ ham, wat̤an hai sārā jahāṉ hamārā

China (i.e. Central Asia and Xinjiang) and Arabia are ours, Hindustan is ours, We are Muslims, the whole world is our homeland.

Here is Iqbal's antidote to the Sufis' Belovedism, performed by Raahat fateh Ali Khan.

कभी ऐ हक़ीक़त-ए-मुन्तज़र नज़र आ लिबास-ए-मजाज़ में
के हज़ारों सज्दे तड़प रहे हैं मेरी जबीन-ए-नियाज़ में

Kabhi aye haqeeqat-e-muntazar, nazar aa libas-e-majaz mein
ke hazar sajde tadap rahe hain meri jabeen-e-niaz mein

For once, O awaited Reality, reveal Thyself in dress (ie form) material
For a thousand prostrations quiver in agony on my pensive brow

तू बचा बचा के न रख इसे तेरा आईना है वो आईना
के शिकस्ता हो तो अज़ीज़तर है निगाह-ए-आईना-साज में

Tu bacha bacha ke na rakh isey, tera aeena hai woh aeena
ke shikasta ho to aziz-tar hai nigah-e-aaeena saaz mein

Do not try to protect it, thy mirror is the mirror that
Be dearer in mirror-Maker's eye if it broken be

न कहीं जहाँ में अमाँ  मिली जो अमाँ मिली तो कहाँ मिली
मेरे जुर्म-ए-ख़ानाख़राब को तेरे उफ़्वे-ए-बंदा-नवाज़ में

Na kaheen jahan mein amaan mili, jo amaan mili to kahan mili ?
mere jurm-e-khana-kharab ko, tere ufw-e-banda nawaz mein

Nowhere in all world I found refuge, where refuge found I where was it?
My house of sin and misdeed - their only refuge was in Thy grace

न वो इश्क़ में रहीं गर्मियाँ न वो हुस्न में रहीं शोख़ियाँ
न वो ग़ज़नवी में तड़प रही न वो ख़म है ज़ुल्फ़-ए-अयाज़ में

No more has Love that fire, no more beauty that cheer
Neither anguish in Ghaznavi nor hair-lock-curls of Ayaz are

Mahmud of Ghazni (971-1030), founder of the Ghaznavid Empire, fell in love with Malik Ayaz, a Turkish slave who was rewarded with generalship, and their relationship became the epitome of idealized love in Islamic literature. The story goes that Ayaz asked Mahmud who the most powerful man in the kingdom was. When the sultan replied that it was himself, Ayaz corrected him, claiming that in fact Ayaz was the most powerful, since Mahmud was his slave.  “Slave to a slave” became a favorite trope in Persian literature.  One day, Ayaz sported a lock of wanton curl in his hair, which so aroused the Sultan's lust that he had to remove himself lest the sin of carnality be committed and the general turned into a catamite. Upon his return, he observed that sensing Mahmud's discomfiture (or perhaps out of more prosaic precaution) Ayaz had cut off the incendiary lock.

जो मैं  सर-ब-सज्दा कभी हुआ तो ज़मीं से आने लगी सदा
तेरा दिल तो है सनम-आशनाअ तुझे क्या मिलेगा नमाज़ में |

Jo mein sar ba-sajda huwa kabhi, to zameen se aane lagi sada
tera dil to hai sanam ashna, tujhe kya milega namaz mein ?

Even as I lower'd my head in prostration a cry arose from the ground:
Thy heart's in Beloved-idolatry, what reward wilst thou for prayer get?

In a letter to Jinnah in 1937 Iqbal wrote:

"A separate federation of Muslim Provinces, reformed on the lines I have suggested above, is the only course by which we can secure a peaceful India and save Muslims from the domination of Non-Muslims. Why should not the Muslims of North-West India and Bengal be considered as nations entitled to self-determination just as other nations in India and outside India are."

This makes him an early proponent of the two-nation theory which resulted in the partition of India. In another ghazal he says:

The lion who had emerged from the desert and toppled the Roman Empire is
As I am told by the angels, about to get up again.
You the dwellers of the West, should know that the world of God is not a shop ...
Your civilization will commit suicide with its own daggers.

It has been noted that Iqbal’s politics routed through his poetry keeps him firmly in place as Pakistan’s supreme icon today. Like Samuel Huntington he frames the world exclusively in terms of us-versus-them and the superiority of one civilization over all others. More on Pervez Hoodbhoy's take on Iqbal is here.

जो मैं  सर-ब-सज्दा कभी हुआ तो ज़मीं से आने लगी सदा
तेरा दिल तो है सनम-आशनाअ तुझे क्या मिलेगा नमाज़ में |

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