Manama: Akhbar Al Khaleej Editor-in-Chief Anwar Abdulrahman was a key speaker at the Writers’ Association.
He outlined the philosophy and poetry of Allama Mohammed Iqbal, one of the great thinkers of the Subcontinent.
He explained that Iqbal, like many other leaders of that era, was born after the Great Indian Mutiny, which, until today, presents historians with a dilemma – was it a revolution, or insubordination?
Mr Abdulrahman cited intellectuals, politicians and literary figures who stood out in the wake of that rebellion namely Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Muhammad Iqbal and Rabindranath Tagore.
But Iqbal wasn’t only a poet or a philosopher but also a prominent national militant, Mr Abdulrahman said.
He referred to Iqbal’s Brahmin Hindu origins but said his ancestors embraced Islam in the 17th Century.
Mr Abdulrahman drew a comparison between Iqbal and Tagore, both poets. Iqbal wrote his poetry in Urdu and Farsi, while Tagore wrote in Bengali and English. Both played a key role in the struggle against the British Empire – each in his own poetic style and cultural influence, though.
They also played a crucial historical role in liberating the Indian intellect from foreign cultural dominance, Mr Abdulrahman pointed out.
Nevertheless, he said, there were basic differences between both giants in their approach and vision.
Iqbal believed in the necessity for revolution, while Tagore was more inclined to humanitarian romanticism, to the point that one could hear the sound of music emanating from his poems, Mr Abdulrahman said.
On the other hand, you could see and hear flames of fire and sound of cannons in Iqbal’s poetry.
Mr Abdulrahman went on to say that Iqbal was a major controversial figure.
Such differences grew more acute in the wake of the partition, Mr Abdulrahman said.
In most of his works, Iqbal was the son of a unified, non-split India and he died a century before the birth of Pakistan state, said Mr Abdulrahman.
By ignoring Iqbal, India is actually ignoring a whole rich era of its history, he noted.
Later, he answered participants’ questions and was honoured.