Iqbal’s Philosophy- A Solution to Contemporary Challenges


Alama Iqbal, Pakistan, Poet of East, Shaheen, Two Nation Theory, Contemporary Challenges

Come, let us lift suspicion’s thick curtains once again,
Unite once more the sundered, wipe clean division’s stain.
Too long has lain deserted the heart’s warm habitation—
Come, build here in our homeland an altar’s new foundation. [1]

Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal, better known as Allama Iqbal in Pakistan and the Poet of the East across the globe is the national poet of five countries. His repute transcends culture, religion and national borders. Many prestigious educational institutes including the University of Cambridge and Heidelberg University have officially dedicated ‘Iqbal Chairs’ to commemorate his excellence and to appreciate his efforts in initiating intellectual exchange between the East and the West.

Iqbal’s biography and his accreditation as a poet and philosopher has been explored all too well throughout the last century, and has always remained a subject of discourse amongst the literary elite. The objective of this article however, is not to delve in any further details about the personal life of the Poet of the East but it is merely a humble attempt at re-discovering his vision for his people.

67 years have passed since Pakistan came into existence, and today within it dwells a nation torn into extreme religious and political sectarianism. Every group whether religious or secular, educated or illiterate, political or apolitical, propagate their views mirroring the same ‘extremist’ approach, insofar that it is difficult to distinguish between them. It would seem like the nation has been inhaling the fumes of hatred for far too long, carefully administered by their respective ‘leaders’. In this situation we must seek an effective antidote to this poison as soon as possible, before we are doomed by this malice.

For these false gods, witless victim, you have rushed upon your doom
And been robbed of life’s bright treasure for the taste of its mad fume. [2]

Iqbal was a visionary not only concerned with the progress and spiritual nourishment of his own people, but he extended his thoughts universally. In his own words: “my aim is simply to discover a universal social reconstruction, and in this endeavour, I find it philosophically impossible to ignore a social system which exists with the express object of doing away with all the distinctions of caste, rank and race; and which, while keeping a watchful eye on the affairs of this world, fosters a spirit of un-worldliness so absolutely essential to man in his relations with his neighbours. This is what Europe lacks and this is what she can still learn from us.”[3]

Perhaps the time has arrived where we refrain from further experimentation and begin to implement the universal principles which were proposed by our forefathers, as quoted below:

Come, let us lift suspicion’s thick curtains once again,
Unite once more the sundered, wipe clean division’s stain.

The cardinal point to be noted here is that the chief operators of every “social reconstruction” are the individuals of that particular social group; Pakistan being a country entrusted with a large proportion of young population, it now befalls the youth of today to sincerely wipe clean all stains of divisions from their own hearts as the primary step, and only then further renovation will ensue. It is worth reiterating, that for Iqbal the only force capable of changing the course of history is the youth and who is also the targeted audience of his work. Iqbal prays to Allah the Almighty in Javednama to grant them the understanding:

I, who despair of the great sages of old,
have a word to say touching the day to come!
Render my speech easy unto the young,
make my abyss for them attainable. [4]

Iqbal too was a poet raging with emotions, a fair proportion of his work expresses his destitution on the mindlessness of his nation but never does he convey disillusionment. Today, the nation has fallen prey to the dashing but ineffective eloquence of politicians and other social leaders, their emotions exploited merely for political sloganeering. Consequently, the constructive power of passion has been totally lost. We must borrow some optimism from Iqbal and must endeavour to channelize our physical and sentimental energies towards positivity.

As aforementioned, Iqbal’s primary concern was the welfare of people, and for which he did not subscribe to any particular modern political ideology if he did deem it truly beneficial. He despised the newly emerging Western political ideologies which were then being thrust upon the rest of the world, and saw them merely as new faces of the ever existing Imperialism. He linked the new Imperialist democracy to the oppression of the weak in the following words:

Colossal oppression
Masquerades in the robes
Of democracy, and with iron
Feet it tramples down the
Weak without remorse [5]

Presently there are many schools of thoughts who wish to exploit the credentials of Iqbal to further their own personal agendas, and sadly the unfamiliarity of the masses with the true vision of Iqbal allows them to be successful. An in depth study of Iqbal reveals that for him the only system which mattered was the one providing ultimate justice and fulfilling the rights of the weak, which clearly is not the shiny new democracy of Pakistan.

Iqbal’s concept of democracy is deeply entrenched within the essential principle of Islamic monotheism and the teachings of the Prophet (SAWW). It is a concept which frees us from political and economic slavery and teaches us the importance of unity in diversity. We must resolve to make sincere efforts to re-discover the pragmatic principles of this great poet and not just reserve him as a subject of awe inspiring literature. The teachings of unity and harmony amongst the nation need to be invoked and the true spirit of Islamic democracy that was envisaged by Iqbal must be revived.

The individual is firm by nation’s coherence, otherwise nothing
The wave is only in the ocean, and outside it is nothing. [6]



1]. Naya Shiwala, Bang e Dara. Translation as available on  (
[2]. Jawab e Khizr, Bang e Dara. Translation as available on (
[3]. Iqbal as cited by Rifat Hassan,available  from (
[4]. Javednama, Prayer. Translated by A. J. Arberry
[5]. Freeland Abbott, in the Foreward by Rafiq Zakariah of Muhammad Iqbal: Shikwa and Jawab-i-Shikwa: Complaint and Answer: Iqbal’s Dialog with Allah
[6] Shama Aur Shayer, Bang e Dara. Translation available from (


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Discussion1 Comment

  1. Actually words lose their impact if person himself/herself not following what he/she recommended to others.
    Hate somewhere existing . . .

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