Allama Iqbal’s Idea of Khudi and Shaheen: Remembering the Poet of East on his 143rd Birth Anniversary

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Allama Iqbal’s Idea of Khudi and Shaheen: Remembering the Poet of East on his 143rd Birth Anniversary

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Allama Iqbal (1877-1938), a poet, philosopher, and politician was born on 9 November 1877 in Sialkot, then a city of undivided India, now in Pakistan. He has been undisputed one of the most prominent philosophers of contemporary India. Allama Iqbal, also known as Shayer-e-Mashriq (Poet of East), had extremely deep concerned with the miserable plight of Muslims during British colonisation in sub-continent. Shayer-e-Mashriq had been quite reluctant with Muslim religious-philosophical tradition, which had been harshly penetrated throughout the Muslim community. The widely circulated metaphysics of Ibn Arabi, “Wahdat al Wujud”  (The Unity of Existence) propagates ” the purpose of a human being is to get absorbed in God, and disassociate oneself from the materialistic world so that it cannot be an obstacle in the way of God.” Similar philosophies have also been advocated by Hegel and Plato.

On contrary, Iqbal had proposed Falsafa-i-Khudi (Philosophy of Self) and wrote a famous book on the very topic “Asrar-i Khudi”. The author’s discourse talked about the concept of self and the vital significance it possesses. Apart from Asrar-i Khudi, there are numerous books written by him, where he widely deals with the secret of self.

According to him, the significance of self in an individual is the ultimate way through which one can bring himself/herself closer to almighty God. Further, he says that by mastering the material, one can absorb God into himself/herself. This point has garnered immense criticism from traditional religious figures.

Iqbal has dived so deep into the ocean of self through his very unique way with highly literally and poetic method to explain his creative idea of self, that it has become so difficult for common sense to grab it. Moreover, he narrates a couplet verse, in which he says

Khudi ka sirr e nihaN la ilaha il Allah
The hidden secret of self is la ilaha il Allah

Apney man men doob kar paajaa suragh-i zindagi
Plunge into the inner depth of yourself and get the secret of life.

Khudi men doob ja ghafil ye sirr-i zindagi hay
Dive into your own self, it is the very secret of life.

Khudi Ki Jalwaton Mein Mustafai
Khudi Ki Khalwaton Mein Kibriyai
Khudi Ki Zad Mein Hai Sari Khudai!

Selfhood in the world of men is prophethood;
Selfhood in solitude is godliness;
The earth, the heavens, the great empyrean,
Are all within the range of selfhoodʹs power.

All these aforementioned couplets reflect how important the philosophy of self is for him. It shows the connection between self and secret of life, which eventually led to eternal life.

Iqbal usages Shaheen (eagle) as a source motivate the youth since he was deeply concerned with the youth of his generation. At that time, the youth had been engulfed by despair and disappointment. Being a visionary man, he believed that youngsters have the ability to bring out the Muslims of sub-continent from its destitute condition in the coming future. 

Shaheen possesses some unique qualities that make them great among the birds- its sharp vision, courage, daring attitude, struggle, devotion and dedication. They never eat the corpses of others hunt and they fly beyond the horizon of other birds’ access and sit on high spots. They can even see their prey from the higher sky. 

When the great Ottoman Empire was collapsed, Iqbal had evaluated the frustration and hopelessness amongst the Muslims youth, then he narrated a renowned stanza, which instilled a light of hope among the youth:

Agar Usmaniyon Par Koh-E-Gham Toota To Kya Gham Hai
Ke Khoon-E-Sad Hazar Anjum Se Hoti Hai Sahar Paida

If a mountain of grief collapsed upon the Ottomans, then why lament?
For the dawn arises from the blood of a hundred thousand stars.

Iqbal’s youngster is ‘Mard-e-Momin’ as he had depicted them as the wealth and strength of nations and possesses the vast power to build the countries. According to Iqbal, the young minds have the charisma to bring the revolution.

Parwaaz hai dono ki isi ek fizaan mein ;
Karghaz ka jahan aur hai, Shaheen ka jahaan aur ;
Alfaz-o-maani mein tafawat nahi lekin ;
Mullah ki azaan aur, mujaajid ki azaan aur.

The vulture and the falcon fly in the same sky,
 But both have different ways of living.
The mullah and the mujaahid both utter the same words (Allahu Akbar)
But there is a difference in their spirit

Allama Iqbal even today continues to resonate with the youth of the subcontinent and remains the epitome in the knowledge of Muslim theology and philosophy of self.

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About Md Shahbaz Ali

Md Shahbaz Ali is currently pursuing MA Mass Communication from Aligarh Muslim University. He has a great enthusiasm for reading and writing and wishes to explore Delhi's unprecedented cultural heritage and history.

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