Pakistan and Afghanistan share
deep-rooted historic bonds of culture, geography and faith. They also cherish
common customs, languages, literature and heroes. This historic bond between the
two nations was revived by Allama Iqbal – the national poet of Pakistan –
through his poetry.
Iqbal was a strong proponent of political and spiritual revival of Islamic
civilization across the world. He conceived the creation of a Muslim state in
South Asia . Therefore, he is known as Muffakir-e-Pakistan (the thinker of
Pakistan ). He is also called Hakeem-ul-Ummat (the sage of Ummah) and
Shair-e-Mashriq (the poet of the East).
Iqbal’s poetry is mostly in Persian. Out of 12,000 verses, some 7,000 are in
this language, which makes Iqbal Lahori a household name in Afghanistan .
The primary focus of Iqbal’s intellect is on spirituality and development of
human society. His thoughts were influenced by several Western philosophers such
as Friedrich Nietzsche, Henri Bergson and Goethe but he abhorred the Western
society’s obsession with materialism.
Iqbal’s study of culture and history of Islamic civilization was because of his
strong liking of Jalal-ud-Din Rumi/Balkhi whom he called hisMurshid (guide). The
poetry and philosophy of Jalal-ud-Din influenced Iqbal more than any other
In his 1932 work Javed Nama (Book of Javed), addressed to his son, Iqbal
depicted himself as Zinda Rud – a stream full of life through various heavens
and spheres. As Zinda Rud Iqbal approaches divinity and come in contact with the
divine light. The whole idea is a reiteration of Jalal-ud-Din Balkhi’s thought.
Iqbal’s dislike for political divisions amongst Muslim nations is evident both
from his poetry and prose. He promoted the global Muslim community – the Ummah .
A concept influenced by Syed Jamal-ud-Din Afghani.
In 1915, Iqbal published his first collection of poetry, Asrar-e-Khudi (Secrets
of the Self) in Persian. In this book Iqbal has explained his philosophy of "Khudi"
(Self). He advocated that the whole universe obeys the will of "the Self". Iqbal
also condemned self-destruction.
In his Ramuz-e-Behkudi (Hints of Selflessness), Iqbal considers Islamic way of
life as the best code of conduct for a Muslim nation’s survival. He said a
person should preserve his individual characteristics but sacrifice his person
for the betterment of the nation.
The three messages of Asrar-e-Khudi and Ramuz-e-Bekhudi i.e., (i) Khudi; (ii)
condemnation of self-destruction; and (iii) sacrificing self for the nation are
particularly relevent for us in Pakistan and Afghanistan in today’s uncertain
and dangerous era.
In his poetry, prose and speeches Iqbal repeatedly referred to the heroic
struggle of Afghans against imperialism. He was greatly impressed by Afghans’
love for freedom and their natural hatred of attempts to subjugate them.
Iqbal idealized the bravery of Afghans.
Iqbal praised, and wrote about, Afghanistan and its people more than any other
country or people. In his book Ramuz-e-Ajam, he said:
Iqbal was also impressed with the love of Afghans for Islam. He said:
Iqbal’s book Payam-e-Mashreq is dedicated to Amir Amanullah Khan in recognition
of his heroic struggle for a free Afghanistan . In his first visit to
Afghanistan , he presented Payam-e-Mashreq to Amanullah Khan and addressed him
with following message:
Iqbal also advised Afghan nation that only knowledge was the basis of progress
and not the blind following of alien cultures:
Iqbal gave a message of unity to Afghan nation, in addition to several other
messages, by saying in an Urdu poem:
Iqbal was an ardent admirer of great sons of Afghanistan such as Maulana
Jalaluddin Balkhi, Sayed Ali Hajwari, Sanai Ghaznavi, Abdur Rehman Jami and
Sayed Jamaluddin Afghani.
Iqbal wrote about them extensively for example about Sayed Jamaluddin Afghani he
Iqbal also admired Afghan conquers and kings like Zaheer Uddin Babar, Sultan
Mohammad Ghori, Nadir Shah, Alauddin Khilji, Sher Shah Suri, Mahmud Ghaznavi,
Ahmad Shah Baba and Amanullah Khan.
In 1933, at the invitation of King Nadir Shah, Iqbal came to Afghanistan on his
second visit. He paid homage at the mausoleums of Babar at Kabul , Sanai
Ghaznavi and Sultan Ghaznavi at Ghazni and Ahmad Shah Baba in Kandahar . He
extensively wrote about this visit but what he said at the grave of Emperor
Babar was resounding:
Iqbal’s love for Afghanistan , its scholars and mystics, its rulers, its people
and its customs and traditions was unlimited. He, therefore, called Afghanistan
the heart of Asia and said trouble in this land was likely to extend to the
whole continent. He said:
Iqbal, yearning for the freedom of his own homeland, further said if Afghanistan
was free the whole of Asia would be free:
Iqbal’s poetry was greatly instrumental in re-introducing their heroes to the
people in Pakistan . Almost all these heroes had roots in Afghanistan .
Afghanistan has an important role in the historic evolution that led to the
creation of Pakistan – a Muslim state in South Asia . Our faith, culture,
languages and attire – that made us a separate nation on the continent – all
came from, or through, Afghanistan .
Iqbal could dream of a separate homeland for Muslims of South Asia because of
what came to the Subcontinent via Afghanistan and created a separate nation in
South Asia .
(This paper was read at a Seminar on Iqbal held in Kabul by the Ministry of
Information and Culture of Afghanistan jointly with the Embassy of Pakistan on 1
May 2010 )
To view the poetry in Farsi then go through the following link.
IQBAL’S THOUGHTS ON THE PEOPLE AND LAND OF AFGHANISTAN AND THEIR RELEVANCE FOR
By Ambassador Mohammad Sadiq