Studies on Muhammad Iqbal

Book: Jamia Kashmir aur Iqbaliyat (Kashmir University and Iqbaliyat - Urdu)
Author: Dr Badruddin Bhat
Publisher: Iqbal Institute of Culture and Philosophy, Kashmir University, Srinagar, J&K
Year of Publication: 2009
Price: Rs 400                   
Pages: 529+ plates
Mushtaq ul Haq Ahmad Sikandar

Dr Sir Muhammad Iqbal occupies a special place in the hearts and minds of people of Kashmir. The vale of Kashmir has given birth to numerous legendary personalities and nurtured them in her bosom who later on left their imprint on the course of history, but it is also an irony of fate that only a few of these great souls could leave an imprint while residing, working and contributing in Kashmir, as most of them had left Kashmir since ages and contributed and made a mark outside Kashmir, but in their veins the Kashmiri blood used to run. Two such personalities were Allama Iqbal, the Poet of the East and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of Independent India. They both originally hailed from Kashmir and their ancestors had migrated to other provinces of India but they used to take pride in their Kashmiri origin. Allama Iqbal is remembered with love and reverence by Kashmiris as he deeply empathized with their sufferings and raised his voice against their exploitation thus shaking the corridors of power. He was concerned at the pathetic state of Kashmiris, and tried to change it for the better.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, was at first revered by Kashmiris when he supported their leader Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah against the rule of Dogra Maharaja Hari Singh, but in the aftermath of partition, Nehru came to be hated in Kashmir due to his hostile political stance against Kashmiris which included caging their leader and a series of betrayals, broken and unfulfilled promises.

The book under review isn’t a political treatise deliberating the political stance of these two stalwarts viz Kashmir but is a study of the thirty year journey of Iqbal Chair which evolved to the present Iqbal Institute of Culture and Philosophy, a prestigious department of the Kashmir University which is included among the renowned centres of Iqbalian studies in the world.

The Iqbal Chair was established in Kashmir University in the year 1977 under the chairmanship of the renowned critic and Urdu literary giant Prof Ale Ahmad Suroor and till date has been progressing with leaps and bounds. Three Directors including Prof Suroor, Prof Muhammad Amin Andrabi and now presently Prof Bashir Ahmad Nehvi have contributed towards making the Iqbal Institute scholarly, academic and vibrant.

The author of the book Dr Badruddin Bhat himself a renowned Arabic and Iqbalian scholar was requested by Prof Nehvi to pen down the thirty year long journey of the institute, and Dr Bhat initiates the book with the Historical background of Kashmir. The life of Allama Iqbal, his visit to Kashmir and role he played in the freedom struggle of Kashmir, are dealt in individual scholarly chapters. Allama’s Kashmiri roots are unveiled, the number of times he visited Kashmir is deliberated, the poems which Allama wrote after being inspired by Kashmir are discussed, Allama’s tribute to Ghani Kashmiri is taken into account, his role in highlighting the atrocities committed by Dogra soldiers on Kashmiris in the aftermath of 1931 uprising at the Second Round table Conference are deliberated and for this role Allama Iqbal was debarred for life from entering the Vale of Kashmir by the Maharaja.

After dealing with the life of Allama particularly his involvement with Kashmir, Dr Bhat forges to measure the progress of the Institute under the chairmanship of Prof Suroor, Prof Andrabi and now Prof Nehvi in separate chapters, which include the number of seminars held, journals published, MPhil’s and PhD’s granted and the books on Iqbalian studies published.

The research works undertaken by the Institute are separately discussed in a chapter, and we come to know that till date more than sixty two Mphil’s and PhD’s have been conferred by the Institute on the research scholars of Iqbalian studies, particularly women which is in sharp contrast to other departments where women taking serious academic projects is rare. Iqbal Institute publishes its annual journal Iqbaliyat in which scholarly, academic research papers on Iqbal are contributed by the Iqbalian scholars, till date nineteen issues have been published, besides more than sixty books have been published by the Institute on varied topics related to Iqbalian studies, and Dr Bhat painstakingly reviews all these publications in a separate chapter, and one is amazed that the Institute has left no topic related to Iqbalian studies under the sun untouched.

The faculty of the Institute is separately dealt, and their credentials are separately brought to the fore. The last chapter deals with the library of the Institute which we come to know has rich world class material available related to Iqbalian studies.

Iqbal Institute of Culture and Philosophy, marks its presence as one of the prestigious departments of the Kashmir University, and the other departments must emulate and take inspiration from the feats achieved by this Institute against heavy odds and prevalent political instability in Kashmir which is an excuse for other departments to justify their being defunct and having low quality of research.

Dr Badruddin Bhat deserves our kudos, appreciation and encouragement for penning down the journey in a quite lucid manner. We wish him success in his future endeavours too.

The book is a welcome read for all, and the paper and printing quality is good. The book can be read as a scholarly treatise on various facets of Iqbal too, as it doesn’t confine itself particularly to the journey of Iqbal Institute only.

The reviewer is a writer-activist based in Srinagar, J&K

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 June 2011 on page no. 27

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