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My meeting with Allama Iqbal: Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi

My meeting with Allama Iqbal: Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi

I had a meeting with the illustrious poet, which was worthy of being remembered. On 22nd November 1937 I visited Iqbal with my uncle and his son. The poet was confined o his house owing to long and protracted illness, which ultimately proved fatal. In spite of it he received us with great warmth and we stayed with him for over three hours. His old and devoted servant, Ali Bux, came in many times and tried to stop him from overexerting himself, but the Allama ignored his advice and went on talking to us. His heart seemed to have opened up and freely expressed his views on various views.

On Poetry

Speaking of pre-Islamic Arab poetry, the poet remarked that he admired its realism and vitality and the spirit of chivalry and heroism it breathed and also recited a few verses of Hamsa.

On Philosophical speculation and its futility

He said Islam enjoined upon its followers, resolute action and love of reality and added that positive sciences were closer to Islam in their rejection of speculative speculation. For two centuries, the Muslim kept alive this tradition and remained steadfast in faith, morality and active endeavor till under the impact of alien thought, mainly Hellenistic, the whole of the East was intellectually crippled. Islam became a ‘sick man’. Iqbal remarked that the renaissance of Europe was possible only when it had thrown off the yoke of Greek metaphysics and learning. But in the present age problems arose which set Europe also in the path of reaction. The Arab temperament was most suitable for Islam but Hellenistic thought did the same to Islam, which it had done to Islam what it had done to Christianity. It overpowered both the religions.

On Sufism

With regard to Mysticism, Iqbal deplored the ideological intemperateness of the Muslim mystics and observed that while the companions of the sacred Prophet took delight in horsemanship and martyrdom, the Sufis reveled in Sama’ (music) and Wajd (ecstasy). Talking about the resurgence of Islam in India, he praised the efforts of Sheikh Ahmed Sarhindi, Shah Waliyullah Dehlavi and Emperor Aurangazeb. But for them and their endeavors, Indian philosophy and culture would have swamped Islam.
Separate homeland
He spoke of the demand of Pakistan (it should be noted that his idea which materialized in 1947 after his death) and remarked that a people without a homeland could neither preserve their faith nor develop their culture. The preservation of religion and culture was dependent on political power. Hence, Pakistan was the only solution to the problem of Indian Muslims. Including their economic difficulties. In this connection he also referred to the Islamic institutions of Zakat and BaitulMal.

Uplift of the Ummah

About the future of Muslims in India, he told us that he had drawn the attention of some Muslim princes to the need of the preaching and propagation of Islam among non-Muslims. He had also been laying stress o the religious reform and uplift of Muslims, the promotion of Arabic language and the establishment of a World (Muslim) Bank. It was also necessary to have a first class daily English newspaper of Muslims for supporting their cause and lending strength to their voice.

Poor leadership of Ummah

But he sorrowfully added that the petty and shortsighted princes did not appreciate the gravity of the situation and the significance of the changes taking place in the world.

Farewell

The poet wanted to go on with the conversation but we felt that in view of his illness it would be better to depart. So we said good-bye to him and left. We came away from Lahore within a few days.

This was our last meeting.

 

(The article was first published on Jaihoon.com)