Iqbal Day Program at Pakistani American Cultural Center
By Dr Waheed Siddiqee
Milpitas, CA: The Pakistani American Cultural Center (PACC) organized a special program on Saturday, October 31, 2015 to celebrate Iqbal Day. The program started with a brief presentation by Dr Waheed Siddiqee about the very first Iqbal Day program that was held in Hyderabad Deccan in January 1938 during the lifetime of Iqbal. In that program, four prominent scholars of those days - Dr Latif, Dr Mohiuddin, Mr Akbar Wafaqani, and Mr Makhdoom - discussed various aspects of Iqbal’s philosophy and poetry. Three well-known poets of the time - Wajd, Maikash and Makhdoom - recited poems paying rich tributes to Iqbal. Dr Samina Husaini then recited these three poems. The Maqtas (last couplets) of these poems are given below as a sample:
Makhdoom: Arsh ki Qandeel hai Ek aasmani Raag hai - Raag kiya hai sar se paa tak Ishq ki ek Aag hai
Maikash: Qalb-e Sha-er se Sadaqat lekey nikli Shaeyri - Sach kaha hai “Shaeri Juzweest az Paghambari’
Wajd: Usay Kia Qeht-e-Maey ho jis ki janib chasmey Saaqi hai - Tujhey kia Gham hai aey Urdu abhi Iqbal baqi hai
Dr Abdul Jabbar was the main speaker of the program. He gave a talk titled “Allama Iqbal on the connection between
the individual, the community, and the world”. His talk was based on a detailed research of Allama Iqbals poetry,
his essays, and writings of several Iqbal scholars. Dr Jabbar stated that Iqbal’s vision of the foundation of a global civilization consists of three main interconnected components: the individual, the community or nation, and the world. The first two are a means to an end and, if not handled with caution, can lead to human fragmentation rather than harmony.
We can have an idea of Iqbal’s concerns and vision from his following message to the world that was broadcast from the All India Radio in Lahore on January 1, 1938. Allama Iqbal was too sick to go to the radio station. He had someone else read out his words:
“The world’s thinkers are stricken dumb. Is this going to be the end of all this progress and evolution of civilization, they ask, that men should destroy one another in mutual hatred and make human habitation impossible on this earth. Remember, man can be maintained on this earth only by honoring mankind, and this world will remain a battleground of ferocious beasts of prey unless and until the educational forces of the whole world are directed to inculcating in man respect for mankind. Only one unity is dependable and that unity is the brotherhood of man, which is above race, nationality, color or language. So long as this so-called democracy, this accursed nationalism and this degraded imperialism are not shattered, so long as men do not demonstrate by their actions that they believe that the whole world is the family of God, so long as distinctions of race, color and geographical nationalities are not wiped out completely, they will never be able to lead a happy and contented life and the beautiful ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity will never materialize”.
Iqbal dreamt of a world where the poor tax the rich and where capital is not allowed to accumulate so as to dominate the real producer of wealth. Iqbal’s following lines relate to his important theme of human brotherhood:
Nor Afghans, Turks or sons of Tartari, But of one garden, of one trunk are we,
Shun the criterion of scent and hue, We all the nurslings of one spring time be.”
Some of the poems Dr Jabbar mentioned in his talk included Bachey Ki Dua, Hayat-e-Abadi, Mashriq o Maghrib, Jihad, and Shukr-o-Shikayat. In addition he used some quotations from Allama Iqbal’s The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam and also quoted from several Iqbal scholars, such as Victor Kiernan, Verinder Grover, Reynold Nicholson, S. A. Vahid, Hafeez Malik, etc. The audience was very impressed by Dr Jabbar’s presentation. He is writing a detailed paper on the topic of his talk.
The following audience members also made short contributions and added to the sublime proceedings of the program:
Sr. Atiya Hai recited one of Iqbal’s poems Har Lehza hai Momin ki nai aan nai shaan”. Mohammad Ahsraf recited Iqbal’s poem Jibraeel o Iblees and discussed interesting aspects of Iqbal’s thoughts pertaining to Iblees and Jibraeel. Dr Nazir Ahmed said that according to Iqbal each one of us should fulfill his/her individual responsibilities toward other fellow human beings with full sincerity. This will automatically create a peaceful society. Professor Ahsan Syed, a very learned Urdu scholar, recited the poems Fatima Binte Abdullah and Huzoorey Risalat Maab Main and gave a very moving and passionate explanation of the poems discussing their historical contexts.
More than 50 people attended the function and enjoyed it thoroughly. Tea and delicious snacks were served at the end.