Iqbal
Op-ed

Iqbal and Nehru: Memories of the Past

Professor Waheed Uz Zaman Tariq

Allama Iqbal (1877-1938) was a great visionary, who have turned to political guidance of his nation. He had his own ideas and ideals. That was the time, when courtesy, simplicity and straightforwardness prevailed in the politics. Those great people rose above their party politics and showed respect for others. Allama Iqbal has open heartedly acknowledged, the active role of his political opponent, in the independence movement. He too was a descendent of Brahmins of Kashmir, like Nehru. His family has embraced Islam, few centuries earlier. By early nineteenth century, his great-grandfather had moved to Sialkot, Punjab.
Before the start of British raj in India, there was a kind of social order and people had adjusted, accordingly. India had undergone a demographic change and Persian influence had prevailed, in different parts of the subcontinent. Kashmir was called as “Little Iran”. Hindu Brahmins and Muslim scholars read the same books and their body language was similar. Educated lot of Kashmiri intellectuals was respected all over the bureaucratic set up of India and they had strong credentials. Lately, we see people like Pundit Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, Pundit Rattan Nath Sarshhar and Nehrus among the Hindu Brahmins. What to talk of Muslim scholars from Kashmir? Allama Iqbal was one of the great examples. Here, my main idea was to highlight the amount of respect, which existed in between them and they felt comfortable, while talking to each other. They shaped the history and led their respective nations.
Iqbal’s book Javid Nameh was his master piece. Zia ud Din Tabatabi (1888 in Shiraz- 29. August 1969 in Teheran) was Allama Iqbal’s contemporary, who had been the prime minister of Iran. He was a great scholar of the Farsi literature. He called it a divine “kalam” (poetry), in one of the meetings in London, in 1931. Iqbal himself had considered this book as a miracle of his songs. It was compiled in a classical Persian language, which had been used in India. He used an emotional vocabulary and spiritual tune, while following the footsteps of his spiritual guide, Rumi.
According to Javed Nameh, he goes hand in hand with Rumi and passes in between the stars and galaxies. In his spiritual journey to heaven, he heard the words of praise for Jawaharlal Nehru (14 November 1889- 27 May 1964) and his father Motilal Nehru (6 May 1861-6 February, 1931), from the mouth of a great Persian poet of Kashmir, Mullah Tahir Ghani Kashmiri (1630-1671), son of Mulla Talib Hamdani of Iranian descent, who was addressing to Hazrat Ali Hamadani, in the presence of Rumi.
Mullah Tahir Ghani Kashmiri was the greatest Sufi poet of Persian language and tradition in Kashmir, who lived in the days of Mughal Emperor Shah e Jahan. Sheikh Syed Ali Hamadani (1314–1384 AD) was an Iranian preacher, who introduced Islam and Persian culture in Kashmir, seven centuries ago. He came to Kashmir with seven hundred artisans from Iran and provided vocational training to Kashmiri people, so that they might set a cottage industry, for the sake of respectable way of life. Moreover, he brought knowledge, religion and art there. At that point, Allama Iqbal had praised Nehru in his Persian verses.
These verses are in Persian and have a great mystic influence as these were composed in Rumi’s style of Masnavi. About Nehru, Mr Jaswant Singh, the ex-minister of foreign affairs, defense and finance of India has recorded that he belonged to highly Persianised Brahman clan of Kashmir. Indeed, it was due study of Persian that Nehru’s forefather shifted to Delhi, for seeking government job, in the court of Later Mughals. In the debacle of 1857, after the tragic end of Mughals, his family left for Allahabad.
Iqbal too was proud of his Brahman ancestry. He studied diligently, in an attempt to trace his geology and shared information, with his father. Then, he discussed with Foq, about his Kashmiri legacy. This is given in detail in his biography by the name of “Zinda Rood”, written by his son, Late Justice Javed Iqbal. Allama Iqbal wrote in a Persian verse:
Translation “Look at me as you will not find a person of this nature in India. I am son of a Brahmin but I know the secrets of Rum (Rumi) and Tebriz (Shamas Tabrizi; the spiritual guide of Rumi).”
We have no political view of ours, on such a delicate issue. At times we end up with childish outbursts of emotions.
We have compartmentalized everything and every personality. Our elders; like Iqbal had different thinking. Despite their political differences, they had a great respect for each other. They sat and discussed and never took it as personal. Unfortunately we have been now left with politicians and statesmen, who are intellectual pygmies. Those great days have passed.
Nehru personally went to see Iqbal in his home, Lahore in January 1938. He mentioned of Iqbal with a great reverence and pays his homage in his book, “India Wins Freedom”. Recently, Allama Iqbal’s daughter Mrs Munira Salahuddin has given the details of that meeting, as an eye witness in her TV interview.
Nehru visited his house in January 1938, when Iqbal was terminally ill. Nehru came with Mian and Mrs Iftikharuddin and received by Mian Mohammad Shafi and Javed Iqbal. Both talked about the political facing to India, in those days. Their discussion included, Socialism, future of India, need for cooperation between communities for independence and communal concerns. The meeting went well but ended unpleasantly, when Mian Iftikharuddin criticized the leadership of Jinnah. Iqbal was unhappy on that point. Nehru noted that despite political differences there was a great sense of mutual respect and it was not difficult to work with him.
Nehru was of the view that it was the meeting of minds, in spite of the differences. It was easy i to work with him. Allama Iqbal was recalled the memories of past. Different topics came in the discussion. Nehru kept on listening him. Nehru admits being a fan of his poetry and was pleased to note that Iqbal liked him too and had a good opinion of him. Shared Kashmiri ancestry was important, besides genuine esteem, which was mutual.
Late Justice Javed Iqbal remembered that meeting. He wrote in his book “Zinda Rood” that Nehru greeted him with great affection and carried his hands while coming inside. He told me that he was a member of the Pakistani delegation in the UN, after many years of independence in early 1960, where he met Nehru in the corridors if the UN building in New York. Nehru still remembered his visit to their home and met him warmly

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Mian Bilal

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