Remembering Justice Javed Iqbal
By Dr Basheer Khan
Garden Grove, CA
It was a strange coincidence that my last article in the series of “Fikr e Iqbal” was published on Oct 2, 2015 in Pakistan Link, and I got the news through newspapers that his son Javed Iqbal breathed his last after battling with cancer for some time on Oct 3, 2015. This kindled memories of my brief meeting with him when he visited ISOC in late 90s of last millennium or early years of this. I am not sure of the year when he visited. This visit was to improve the strained US-Pakistan relations and also to build hope in the Pakistani diaspora.
When they announced after the Friday prayer that Javed Iqbal will be visiting ISOC the coming Sunday, I was overwhelmed with the thought of meeting the son of the doyen of Urdu poetry, Allama Iqbal, whom I held in great reverence. I thought that by meeting Justice Javed Iqbal I will be fulfilling the deficiency of not being able to see Allama Iqbal and lived in his time. Besides this emotional reason, I wanted to ask him about the poem which Allama had written to him after receiving the first hand- written letter from him when Allama was visiting Britain to attend the Round Table Conference in 1931 for a discussion on the future of British India.
In the little time that was there before Zuhr Prayer after his lecture and the question-answer session, I sat near his feet holding his knee to express my respect for Allama Iqbal through his illustrious son. As I was sitting at his feet I realized that worthy children of illustrious parents command the same respect and hold the same aura. I asked him as to what was his request that Allama Iqbal wrote such a powerful poem to a child to give a strong message to the grownups. He told me: Those days gramophones were new and I was fascinated as a child and asked him to bring one for me as it was produced by HMV, a British enterprise. He further said that this couplet in the poem points to it.
Utha Na Shisha Garan e Farang Ke Ehsan
Sifal e Hind se Meena O Jaam Paida Kar
Your joy and your pleasure should come from the goblets that you can make from the soil of your land and you should not sacrifice it for the beauty of the goblets which the glass blowers of the West create.
The whole poem is full of eloquence and has a strong message to build self-esteem and resentment against colonialism and its ways.
Islam recognizes the importance of fine arts as a tool of inspiration and solace in facing the rigors of life. But it is against using them as a mean to escape the realities of life and destroy life itself. This whole poem reflects this spirit. Even though Javed Iqbal was a little child when this poem was written for him but he imbibed its meaning and put it to practice as he grew up is evident from his life. Apart from having excelled in his education he had an illustrious career. He was a prolific writer and had many books to his credit. The biography of his father “Zinda Rood” which is in three volumes is an invaluable reference to understand the life and literature of Allama Iqbal through the most authentic source. The other on the philosophy of Islamic law is a good source to understand the hidden humanness behind its apparent harshness and also a critique of its abuse. All his life, Justice Javed Iqbal shunned the temptation of getting into political limelight even though he had plenty of offers during the reign of every dictator and democratic ruler of Pakistan. The wish of his father expressed in this poem was translated into action by this illustrious son and I am proud to have sat at his feet for few minutes and relish this memory even to this day. I will conclude by translating this poem with its original text for the benefit of all the parents with great expectations from their children and all the children who have great ambitions in life. May Allah fulfill them all. Amen.
Dayar e Ishq Mein Apna Muqaam Paida Kar
Naya Zamana Naye Subh O Shaam Paida Kar
Make your place in the world of love not by imitating the trends but by creating your own new mornings and nights of shining accomplishments.
Khuda Agar Dil e Fitrat Shanaas De Tujh ko
Sukoot e Lala O Gul se Kalaam Paida kar
May Allah give you a heart that recognizes the beauty of nature so that you can enjoy the beauty of tulips and other flowers in the quiet rather than be drowned in the din of music.
Main Shakhe Thaak Hoon Meri Ghazal hai Mera Samar
Mere Samar se Ma’ye Lala faam Paida Kar
The fruit of the branch of my grapevine is my poetry and if you can, brew from it the wine that can give you meaningful pleasure.
Mera Tareekh Ameeri Nahin Fakhiri Hai
Khudi na baych Gharibi mein Naam Paida Kar.
My life is humble and not opulent, so guard your self-respect and establish your credential within your own means.
Life is not about how long one lived but how he lived. Javed Iqbal not only lived a long life of 91 years but also lived it well. May his soul rest in peace and may the poetry of Allama Iqbal continue to inspire all people at all times till the end of this world. Amen.