Iqbal and Faiz and Nietzsche’s Superman
By Noman Ali Khan
The term “romance” in Urdu has an
entirely different meaning than the
meaning it has in the Western culture.
In Urdu, romanticism is considered the account
of individualistic struggle between rivals
to conquer the heart of a loveable lady
or vise versa. On the other hand, the Western
concept of “romance” actually revolves
around the tales of heroes of bloody wars or
protectors of collective ideals. It’s all about
Faiz stands out among all his predecessors, except Iqbal, and among his contemporaries, for one characteristic of his poetry. It’s his ecstatic announcement of his resolve, and its recurring echo in all his poetry, to endear his personal love above everything else in his life. Yet, contrary to all other “romantic” poets of Urdu, he does not stop there. His actual announcement, in fact, takes off from here.
He announces to sacrifice his most precious personal love (Eastern romanticism) in the struggle to fulfill collective/ social ideals (Western romanticism). This unique blend of Eastern and Western “romanticism” in poetry puts him into the ranks of the world’s most exclusive idealist poets, and is self-explanatory why he so beautifully penetrates the hearts. However, it was Iqbal who had actually prepared that ground for Faiz by introducing the Western concept of romance in Urdu poetic tradition. Iqbal’s Mard-e- Momin is more close to Greek mythological war heroes than Majnu or Farhaad.
There is some thing special about the month of November. It reminds the day of birth and the day of death of these two legendary poets of Urdu language, in the same order as their legend had begun and ended. Sialkot, a medium size city located in the North-East of Pakistan, happens to be the birth place of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and his predecessor, Dr. Sir Allama Mohammad Iqbal. There are two sides of Iqbal; officially painted side and the honestly painted side. It is usually commented that Iqbal has yet to be discovered. In Pakistan, departments of “Iqbaliyaat” of various universities stay busy in discovering Iqbal, day and night, under the obvious “guidance” on “what” to discover about him that would suit the official doctrine and the related slogans.
With regard to discovering Iqbal, certain German and Pakistani experts on Iqbal, however, have done a tremendous job and quite rightly drawn comparisons between Goethe and Iqbal. This is mainly due to both having common grounds in the Philosophy of Ego. However, this tendency sometimes undermines the influence of Nietzsche’s Philosophy of Superman, which has left a significant impression on Iqbal’s poetry. I, however, do not see any single modern thinker who is not influenced by Nietzsche’s philosophy, one way or another.
Iqbal had various influences, but his inspirations could not overtake his originality. Iqbal is an original thinker because his main source of inspiration and wisdom comes from the holy book, Al-Qur’an. Iqbal learned from the Qur’an the grandeur of speech and thoughtfulness. He never attempted to interpret the Qur’an but used the extraordinary diction that he was bestowed to by, perhaps, God Himself, to share with his reader those divine secrets which had been revealed to him intuitionally and were conveniently exempted from commentary by most Islamic thinkers earlier. His poem, Iblis Ki Majlise Shouraa, is one example.
Pakistan is said to have been created on the basis of a “dream” that Iqbal had one night. Syllabus of academic Iqbaliyaat does not allow any one to have any other dream for Pakistan than what they claim was Iqbal’s dream. The United States is one more country on this planet where there is, somewhat, an official dream policy. It’s called the “American Dream”. The difference between the two is that the former does not encourage any one to dream anything other than the official dream or they might face nightmares. The latter encourages everyone in their domain to dream about a free world where all other dreams of the rest of the world carry a tag, “Conditions Apply”.
There are some unique features that are common in Urdu and English languages. Both these languages have almost the same age. Both are blends of several other languages and dialects, local and foreign. They both emerged as language of the common people. Both developed enough muscles to replace the more noble languages of their times, such as Latin and Persian which had been the medium of expression among the respective intelligentsia in England and India. The most significant aspect is that both the languages received admiration only when poets like William Wordsworth, Shakespeare and several others in Europe and Mir Taqi Mir, Ghalib and Iqbal in Urdu, embellished them by their creative craft of inventing new words and terminology. They gave the modern nourishment of adage, axiom, aphorism, dictum, sleekness, articulation and cliché to these two languages.
For poetry, powerful thought requires compatible diction (medium of expression). Ghalib slightly modified his contemporary diction to adapt to his poetry. It’s the power of Ghalib’s thought that he still exists with full strength. This formula applies to most of the poets of his level. It’s only Iqbal in the history of Urdu poetry who came with the most powerful and exceptional original thought along with the most mesmerizing unique original diction, precisely compatible to express his highly stimulating thinking to its fullest extent. The “thought” of Iqbal still survives. Iqbal’s diction died with him and could not be carried forward. That diction was a part of the grand scheme that Iqbal’s poetry consists of. No one could copy both together. Only Abdul Aziz Khalid wrote poetry in Iqbal’s diction. That’s why his poems just “sound like” Iqbal’s. The irony is that no one after Iqbal has attempted to carry forward his “thinking”, out of those outlines that Iqbal himself had set. Iqbal envisioned the coming of an “egoist superman” (Marde Momin) rising from the East. This superman would exercise his power to kneel down the whole human race to his dictates. “Qahaariyo, Ghaffario, Quddusio jabrroot, yeh cchaar anasir hoN tau bantaa hai MusalmaaN” and “Khudaa bande se khud poocchay bataa teri raza kiyaa hai”
However, Faiz Ahmed Faiz came up with a different option. He proposes by his poetry, the elimination of the brutal exercise of power by any one and for any cause but to uplift the status of the most downtrodden of the society. He appears to be completely against the use of power for the sole purpose of making other human beings bow down to its dictates. Iqbal seems standing by the power and its beholder among human beings. In contrast Faiz stands up to defend the weak and looks forward, patiently, to the coming of The One, who would help the weak to acquire his real human status. He will be the one who would destroy all the idols of power, acquisition and greed.
“Jub hirso havas ke kohe giraaN…….. Jub arze Khudaa ke Kaabe se sub bout utthwaae jaiNge
Jub raaj karegi khalqe Khudaa
Sub taaj oucchaale jaiNge
Sub takht giraae jainge…….
However, there is no iota of doubt that
both these great idealist poets offer so much
to be discovered by the coming eras and generations
…. Until Iqbal’s Marde Momin arrives
Har Lehzaa hai Momin ki Nai Shaan Nai
until comes he about whom Faiz cries
Tum Aae ho naa shabe intizaar guzri hai
Talaash mei hai sahar baar baar guzri hai
No one knows when “he” will come, but
he will; “…. Ke
Aa rahi damadum sadae Kun faiyo Kun”