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Iqbal in Politics
Adopted from Zinda Rud, Biography of Allama Iqbal by DR. JAVID IQBAL
Author: Dr. Hafeez Malik
Price: Rs. 750

qbal died in 1938 in the sanctity of his glory, and in the full bloom of his international fame. Iqbal was a master poet in Urdu and Persian, and a philosopher of repute, who was universally acknowledged, and admired even in our contemporary times. However, much less is known about his political role, which was initiated in 1926, when he was elected from a constituency of Muslim voters in Lahore to the Legislative Council of the Punjab. In other words, his participation in the electoral politics to the year of his death spanned not quite twelve years. All of his contemporaries, including Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Qaide-i Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan, had dedicated nearly all of their lives to the political struggles of India under the British Raj.
Iqbal’s political leadership entailed a dual responsibility – one of struggle for the independence of India, and the other heavy responsibility to safeguard the Muslims’ political rights through negotiations with the Hindu leadership, especially its vanguard in the All-India National Congress, then dominated by the secular Hindu nationalists. The latter believed that the joint electorate employing one man, one vote formula should satisfy the Muslims’ aspirations as it would integrate them into the mainstream of Indian politics. In addition, this formula ejected religion from the pantheon of politics, and made Islam strictly a personal commitment. Secularism thus became the national ideology of territorially united India. 
To the Muslim nationalists, who functioned through the All-India Muslim League, the Congress’ formula of one man, one vote would lead to the Muslim society’s domination by the caste Hindus, and their eventual assimilation into the pervasive Hindu culture. This process, they feared would completely assimilate the Muslims into the Hindu society. Muslims constituted 24 percent of the populations of India, while they were the significant majority in the Northwest Frontier Province (92%), the Punjab (57%), Sindh (71%), Balochistan (88%), and Bengal (55%). Whether or not this social and political fear was justified or was simply overblown is now a moot point. To preserve the territorial unity of India good faith negotiations between the Muslim leaders and the Congress were urgently needed. The Congress leaders’ recitation of the mantra that Hindu-Muslim cultures are the same, and that you scratch a Muslim and underneath you would find a Hindu, sounded to the Muslim leaders, including Iqbal, a self-satisfying dogma designed to assimilate the Muslims into the sea of Hindu population. The guarantee of secularism was just not adequate and not even desirable.
The joint electorate vs. the separate electorate became a fault line. One side stood with the Congress, and the other side was occupied by the League. However, within the ranks of the Muslim leaders political unity did not exist during the 1920s and 1930s. The founder of Pakistan Jinnah and the poet-philosopher Iqbal remained on opposite sides of the barricade. Finally, Jinnah adopted Iqbal’s ideological position in the 1940s, and in this shift paid a tribute to Iqbal’s wisdom, while Iqbal retained a firm faith in Jinnah’s leadership and his personal charisma.
Javid Iqbal, the son of the poet-philosopher, wrote a comprehensive biography of his father in Urdu – Zinda Rud (The Living Stream), which was published in 1979 in three volumes. The third volume described Iqbal’s last twelve years of his life, which were devoted primarily to domestic and international politics. In domestic politics, as pointed out, his role started with his election to the Punjab Legislative Council (1926-1930). In 1929 Iqbal was invited by the Muslim Association of Madras in South India to deliver a series of lectures on Islamic philosophy. In 1930, he delivered his historic address in Allahabad, which eventually became the foundation of the Muslim League’s resolution of Lahore in 1940, enunciating the establishment of Muslim state(s) in India.
The British government designated Iqbal a member of the delegation to the Second and Third Round Table Conferences (1931, 1932) in London. These conferences were designed to explore the avenues of constitutional advancement for India toward eventual self-determination. In 1932, Iqbal was elected the President of the Muslim Conference and Chairman of the Kashmir Committee (1931-1933). In 1933, King Nadir Shah invited him along with Sir Ross Mas`ud and Mawlana Sulaiman Nadvi to visit Afghanistan to make recommendations on Afghanistan’s educational system. Iqbal’s interest in the affairs of the Muslim world led him to visit Egypt and Jerusalem, when he attended the Muslim World Congress on the invitation of Mufti Amin al-Husseini of Palestine. Iqbal also visited Spain and Italy, where he visited with Mussolini, the ruler of Italy. In addition to these major political milestones, Iqbal remained engaged in local affairs of the Punjab and Kashmir.
Javid Iqbal’s biography of his father not only discussed these big and small activities of his father, but also interspersed them with his domestic engagements – the birth of his children, relations with Javid’s mother, and other relatives. When I read this book some years ago, the discussions of Iqbal’s political activities fascinated me. I thought Iqbal’s political role must be made accessible to the English knowing world of scholarship, and general readers who might be familiar with his poetry, but have really no knowledge of his contribution to the emergence of Pakistan. Javid and I discussed this issue some years ago, and he very kindly agreed to my translating the third volume, which deals with Iqbal’s political role.
In the process of translating this volume, I edited this volume extensively, shuffled paragraphs and chapters, and added materials which are part of my research on Iqbal. In addition, I eliminated all references to the domestic affairs, and frequent quotations of his poetry. I have turned this biography into strictly a political study. Despite these extensive changes, I have remained faithful to Javid’s language and thought, while the translation is free, and is by no means verbatim. Javid has read the manuscript, and made this comment, which I take as a compliment: “You have added a fourth volume to the three volume biography of Iqbal.”
I am confident that this volume would prove to be a valuable addition to the study of Iqbal’s contributions to the genesis of Pakistan.
Some of Iqbal’s contemporary politicians called him the “idealist,” a “romantic political dreamer,” and whatever derogatory term they could invent. If politics can be defined as a struggle for power among competing groups, or as (in Harold Laswell’s words) “who gets what and how,” then Iqbal could not be considered an actor on the political scene of the Punjab or of India. In a Laswellian sense, the true politicians of the Punjab were Mian Muhammad Shafi, Fazl-i Husain, Chaudhary-Shahab-ud-Din, and Sikander Hayat Khan. In practical politics, Iqbal played second fiddle to these professional politicians. But if politics is viewed as a milieu “in which the actor strives for the attainment of various values for which power is a necessary (and perhaps also sufficient) condition,” then Iqbal was a statesman par excellence and surpassed all of his contemporaries. For Iqbal the highest moral and political value was the preservation of Indic Muslims’ cultural entity and their eventual self-determination. The fact that the Muslims were a nation in their own right and not just a religious minority was realized and enunciated by him gradually. Javid Iqbal’s research (and my own) has highlighted this evolution in substantial detail in the volume.
A lively debate about Iqbal’s social class affiliation has persisted among scholars. Some have emphasized his modest family origins and his proletarian sympathies; others have identified him with the Muslim bourgeoisie and its aspirations; and those who failed to understand his philosophical system resolved the dilemma by explaining simultaneously what they called progressive and reactionary trends in Iqbal’s thought. Professor V.G. Kiernan’s assessment comes closest to the truth: “Iqbal, a man of the middle class, was close enough both to the landlords and princes above it, and to the laborers and peasants below it, to be able to look at life through the eyes of all of them, and his ideal of religious brotherhood derived from this fact.”
Against this background it would be an injustice to Iqbal if the impression were given that he was a parochial nationalist, whose mental horizon was not wider than the boundaries of a Muslim national state. Before Iqbal, Muslim political thought was primarily concerned with Muslims in India. For instance, to Sir Sayyid love was like a pyramid: at the top was the noblest form of love – love for the universe. “This kind of love,” he stated, “was unattainable.” In the middle was love “for those who share human qualities with us.” Lofty though this sentiment is, for Sir Sayyid, it “was far too elusive a quality to comprehend.” He reasoned that “at the bottom of the pyramid is placed a sentiment which I call love of nation, which I understand and am capable of.”
On the other hand, Iqbal’s intellectual evolution was the reverse of Sir Sayyid’s. In his early works, Iqbal was absorbed in himself, lamenting his disappointments and personal sorrows. From himself his emotional horizons expanded to include India, particularly the Indian Muslims and the larger world of Islam. Then his love enveloped mankind, and at still a later stage it changed into a passionate involvement with the universe. Despite his commitment to the concept of a separate Muslim state, he remained a philosophic humanist, and humanism was truly his message.
It is precisely for this reason that the advent of Pakistan has not greatly tarnished his popularity in India. In India Iqbal day is still celebrated, his poems are sung on All-India Radio, and periodically literary journals publish special issues exclusively devoted to his life and thought. Although Pakistanis feel that by virtue of Iqbal’s support for the creation of Pakistan they have a better claim on the poet-philosopher, Indians, with considerable justification, call him their own. After all, it was Iqbal who wrote a truly nonsectarian national anthem for India, which India failed to adopt in the heat of political passions.
In closing these introductory remarks it is my delightful obligation to express sincere appreciation of the supportive role of those individuals and institutions, who have been involved in my life. Villanova University has not only been an intellectual haven for me, but it has also generously supported over the last thirty years the Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, the Pakistan-American Foundation, and the American Institute of Pakistan Studies, (which I had established in 1973 with the support of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto), has received generous support from the Ministry of Education of the Government of Pakistan. I am equally indebted to Fr. Peter Donohue (President), Fr. Edmund J. Dobbin (former President), Dr. John R. Johannes (Vice President of Academic Affairs), and Fr. Kail C. Ellis (Dean of Arts and Sciences, and Founder-Director of the Center for Contemporary Arab and Islamic Studies) of Villanova University. (Also, I am a member of this Center). 
A colleague at Villanova University, my wife, Lynda P. Malik, a sociologist specializing on Islamic societies, was supportive and helpful in many ways. I have remained deeply appreciative of her endeavors in support of my scholarly activities. Among my friends, I single out Nadia Barsoum, who helped me in many ways to make this publication a successful enterprise. Some of my friends, both in the United States and abroad, have always been a source of encouragement and support: Muhammad Rafiq Tarar, my childhood friend, (who later became the President of Pakistan for three years), Yuri V. Gankovsky, Afaq Haydar, Jack Schrems, Zaheer Chaudhry, Kamran Khan, Stanley Wolpert, M. Imtiaz Ali, Igor V. Khalevinsky, Vyacheslav Ya. Belokrinitsky, Anwar Aziz Chaudhry, Ralph Braibanti, Sharif Faruq, Syed Jamil Shah, Sharif al-Mujahid, (Akhuna) Khalil Ilyas, Jawahirah and Rashid Makhdoomi, Aiyesha and Muhammad Latib, and Syed Abid Ali, and his devoted wife, Naznin Syed. 
Special mention must be made of three very dear families—Sadaqat Gul and Waqar Asim Mansuri; Nasira and Javid Iqbal; and Nuria and Walid Iqbal, the latter graduated from the position of a “nephew” to a dear friend. I value their friendship and cherish their affection. Always a source of encouragement and help, Javid Iqbal was available for consultation in translating this volume of his father’s biography. Happily, he not only accepted my extensive editorial rearranging of this volume, but also accepted the insertion of my interpretations. A dynamic educator in her own time, Amina (Begum) Majeed Malik, my aunt, was a source of inspiration, and was always admiringly supportive of my endeavors. 
Dr. Hafeez Malik
Professor of Political Science
Villanova University 
Villanova, Pennsylvania

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