May 20, 2013 | 11:20 AM (BD Time)
20 May, 2013 Monday
Women in the poetry of Iqbal
Humaira Shahbaz :
Colour in the portrait of universe is from woman,
From her warmth the inner warmth of life
In glory her dust is greater than Plaedias,
Each glory is the hidden pearl of her shell;
Dialogues of Plato she could not write,
Yet Plato's spark by her flame was broken.
(A short poem by Mohammad Iqbal)
Among the distinguished poets of East who have shed luster on the place of their birth and have left it richer in thoughts and culture, the name of Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal has an unrivalled place. Sir Muhammad Iqbal, born in November 9, 1877, was a poet, philosopher and politician, whose poetry in Urdu and Persian is among the greatest of the modern era. He died in the peak of his glory and fame in early hours of 21 April 1938 in Lahore and is buried in the precincts of Badshahi mosque in Lahore. He is best known for his poetic works. This noble and renowned poet of the subcontinent clearly forwards the sorrow and sufferings of human being in his poetry irrespective of cast and creed. On the one side the heritage and greatness of Islam embodied and personalised in his poems and on the other hand he devoted himself to emancipate the nation from the imperialistic design and clutches. Being a great poet he is not limited within the boundary of particular land or nation rather his message is for all mankind. Especially he addresses the younger generation and suggested them the guideline to face and coup with the challenges of their time, as at his time Muslims of the subcontinent were ruled by the British Raj.
While addressing the nation he is not forgetting the equal and important component of society that is women. In the following paragraphs we will learn about a few aspects about women in Iqbal's poetry. First we will know some women of great importance in his life who have definitely influenced and modified the thoughts and personality of this great poet.
Mother's lap is the first institution of child. Imam Bibi, mother of Iqbal was a religious and pious woman. She was uneducated in the formal sense but she learnt and studied the Quran and some kinds of prayers. Once a local deputy Wazir purchased a new singer machine to Sheikh Nur Mohammad, the father of Allama Iqbal. Imam Bibi, his wife mistrusted the legitimacy of the income and believed that the larger part of it had been derived from un-Islamic and illegal pursuits and thus refused to spend any part of her husband's income on herself. Sheikh Nur Muhammad eventually left his job and started the embroidery of Muslim women's hoods. Iqbal was brought up in the lap of such a pious mother. Iqbal's mother died on November 9,1914. He composed a very long poem on her death, a poem of great philosophical significance for both Muslims and non Muslims, the following lines are a part of it expressing the feelings of Iqbal on the death of his mother:
Who would wait for me anxiously in my native place?
Who would display restlessness if my letters fail to reach?
I will visit thy grave with this complaint;
Who will now think of me in midnight prayers?
All thy life thy love served me with devotion,
When I become fit to serve thee, thou hast departed.
Another important name in the life history of Iqbal is that of Attiya Faizee. While Iqbal was in Europe he met Miss Faizee, a brilliant Indian woman. She came from the cultured Fayzee branch of the Fyzee Tayabjee family. Iqbal was very much impressed by the personality of this educated woman. When Attiya Faizee again visited Europe in 1908, she met Iqbal and was there with him for some times. Iqbal wrote a few verses in the autograph album of her sister- in- law. He also sent some verses to Miss Faizee after she left Europe. The poems hurt with candor of earthy emotions of a man for a woman's. Later when, Miss Faizee accused Iqbal of 'indifference' 'and 'hypocrisy' Iqbal wrote in reply:
"If opportunity comes I shall certainly show you how intensely I have my friends and how deeply my heart feels for them all. People hold life dear and rightly so I have got the strength to give it freely away. No! Do not call me indifferent and hypocrite, not even by implication for it hurts my soul and makes me shudder at your ignorance of nature. I wish I could turn inside outward in order to give you better view of my soul which you think is darkened by hypocrisy and indifference."
In the life of Iqbal, we come through names of three more women that is Karim Bibi, Sardar Begum and Mukhtar Begum, the wives of Iqbal. Ali Buksh, his lifelong faithful servant, says that when these three women were living together with Iqbal, he never discriminated among them and that his behaviour towards them was based on the principle of justice and equality.
After knowing a few about the women in life of Iqbal now we will look forward for the women in poetry of Allama Iqbal, and the most important names are Fatima binte Muhammad and Fatima binte Abdullah. When we come to the Persian poetry, Allama Iqbal praises the dearest daughter of Holy Prophet, Fatima bint e Muhammad in Ramoz-e-Bekhudi.
Iqbal describes Hazrat Fatima as a role model for Muslim women. In Urdu poetry of Allama Iqbal we come through a poem titled "Fatimah binte Abdullah". Fatima, daughter of Abdullah, was an Arab girl who was martyred while serving water to the fighters against infidels in the battle of Tripoli, 1912. In this poem Allama Iqbal pays tribute to one of the martyrs in this war. He is not only paying his tribute but is showing the high status of a martyr in Islam. In this particular case an unknown girl was elevated to the elegant rank of a Shaheed by giving her life in the cause of Allah.
"Fatimah The honor of the blessed L Ummah you are
All specks of your handful of dust innocent are
O nymph of wilderness this happiness in your destiny was
Serving water to fighters against infidels your destiny was
This holy war in Gods cause without armaments is!
How courage-inspiring this desire for martyrdom is!
Some activity in your silent grave is
A nation being reared in this lap is
New stars appearing in the celestial space are
Whose light waves strange to the human eye are
Who just arisen from the dark house of time are
Whose lights unaware of limitations of day and night are
In whose brightness the old as well as the new ways are
And also the shadows of stars of your destiny are"
Now after knowing about the women in poetry and life of Iqbal, in following paragraphs characteristics of an ideal Muslim woman will be discussed as described by Allama Iqbal. Allama Iqbal's poetry reflects the teachings of Islam, be it any aspect of his thoughts, he is influenced by the guidance from Islam. When it comes to guide the women, a major portion of society, he seeks light from the teachings of the Quran. Islam respects women on being herself. Woman is truly honoured. Islam is the complete way of life. Women are half of humanity. She is a mother, wife, daughter and sister.
When we go through the Urdu and Persian poetry of Allama Iqbal, the most important role of a woman as Iqbal observes is the character of "Woman as a Mother". As Iqbal himself was brought up in the lap of a pious mother, he has put so much emphasis on the mothers of nation in his poetry. As a role model for the mothers of nations Iqbal brought the example of Hazrat Fatima-tu- Zahra, the mother of Hazrat Imam Husain and Imam Hasan.
Iqbal praises Hazrat Fatima. He says Hazarat Mariam has only one reference for being dear to us and that is being the mother of Hazrat esa(Jesus). But Hazrat Iatima is dear to us because of her three references as being the daughter of Holy Prophe
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