Opinions

Allama Iqbal was world's first Global Citizen

Dr Muhammad Iqbal, whose birthday falls on November 9, was modern world's first Global Citizen, though Socrates called himself a global citizen nearly four thousand years ago. According to world's foremost Islamic scholar John Renard, Professor of theological studies, St. Louis University, US, 'Iqbal may have become pro-Islam toward the fag-end of his life and demanded that the sub-continental Muslims should have a separate country which gave birth to Pakistan, his vision was truly universal and remained so till the end.'

It's said that if you want to know the persona of Iqbal and Ghalib, two greatest Urdu-Persian poets of the Subcontinent, read their letters also, not just their poetry because both the stalwarts bared their hearts and minds through their letters and only partially through their vast repertoire of magnificient poetry.

In an Urdu letter to Motilal Nehru in 1926, Iqbal wrote, 'Vatanparasti se badhkar bhi ek jazba hai aur woh hai insaaniyat ka. Mujhe nahin lagta ki insaaniyat ko kisi mulk ki had mein qaid kiya jaa sakta hai. Jahaan tabhi tashaddud aur tangnazari se oopar uth sakega jab mulk ki soch hi bebuniyaad aur naapaaydaar ho jayegi' (There's a sentiment far greater than nationalism and that's the universal idea of humanity. I don't think that humanity can be imprisoned in the confines of a nation or country. The world will rise above violence and parochialism only when the very concept of a nation will become unfounded and baseless).

In a letter to C Rajgopalchari, Iqbal wrote in 1932, 'Hindu, Muslim, Christian and other religious identities are somewhere associated with the flawed notion of a country. The west belongs to Christians and Jews and the east belongs to Hindus and other eastern faiths is a constrained territorial thinking that engenders countries and their respective faiths. When this very idea of a nation will not be there to think over, the religions will also go away and a new human will emerge who will intentionally have no faith and no nation to call his own. He will belong to the mankind.'

To quote Nirad C Chaudhury, 'Iqbal was not a pro-Muslim or pro-Islam. He was forever pro-humanity with an exalted vision that encompassed and went beyond the narrow precincts of a nation, religion, sect and a specific ideology. He belonged to the world and vice versa.'

Certain political requirements and interpretations against the backdrop prevalent in the 1930s, caused Iqbal to tilt temporarily and grudgingly towards a separate country for Muslims. But his inner soul never approved of that and he remained an internationalist till the end. It's time, we removed the veneer that somewhat hides Iqbal's lofty and boundless acceptance of mankind irrespective of their nations, colours, ethnicity and other mundane concerns and conceded that he was truly a world citizen.

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