South Asia can rightly be called the most fertile region for spiritual Saints and Sufi poets. Although presence of Sufis and poets of Afghanistan, Iran and Arab are also very high in religion and literature, this is the distinction of South Asia that the inspired poetry of Sufi here conveys the message of mysticism and reality to the masses on almost all topics of religion.

Sufi’s and their role

These Sufi’s made their pen an interpreter of reality while maintaining the highest literary taste in Arabic, Persian, Punjabi and Urdu languages. Sultan Bahoo, Fariduddin Ganjshakar, Bulleh Shah and Waris Shah holds an important position in Sufi poets. Since the words of these poets are based on inspiration and come to their inward from the Almighty, there is surprising similarity in their words. In spite of different terms and styles, the similarity in concepts and ideas is a proof that the source of these Sufi words is Allah Almighty.

Iqbal and Saints

Seekers can get guidance from them in every age. Whenever they study this inspired poetry in search of truth and gnosis of Allah, they understand a new meaning from these poems every time. In this poetry which is several hundred years old, the seeker observes the same conditions and feelings that they are currently going through. The seekers heart testifies that this is the word of truth.

A unique name in the list of Sufi poets of the sub-continent is Allama Iqbal, whose words are full of inspiring elements. The message and spirit of every preacher of truth is reflected in Iqbal’s words. Be it Hafiz or Rumi, Ibn Arabi or Sayyid Abdul Karim bin Ibrahim al-Jili, Sultan Bahoo or Sheikh Saadi. Irrespective of the spiritual positions and degrees of these persons who are exalted by the closeness of Allah, if we only look at the praise and acceptance of their words in the world, then Iqbal is undoubtedly the dearest Sufi of the Muslim world and a unique poet. The world’s literature appreciated Iqbal’s words and translated them in their own language.

Is Iqbal’s poetry only a reflection of his literary and scholarly abilities?

The amazing and miraculous aspect of Iqbal’s poetry is that it guides the reader in any way he wants to apply it to the field of religion and the world. Whether it is Sufism or mysticism, politics or culture, nationalism or art, spirituality or society, Iqbal’s poetry is unparallel in terms of eloquence and thematic scope. This is the reason why people with literary taste all over the world are using Iqbal’s amazing and miraculous words in their respective fields. In his speech, Iqbal informs his reader of the fact that his poetry is not due to his intellectual abilities but is revealed by Allah Almighty to his heart. It is the code of religion and the mysteries of world. The court of God’s favour and closeness was exalted.

 

میری نوائے پریشان کو شاعری نہ سمجھ

کہ میں ہوں محرم رازِ درونِ مے خانہ

Explanation: Do not think that my poetry is just some words from merely another man because it is beyond that. I am the confidant of the most hidden secrets of the tavern (God Himself).

Iqbal as a poet

حق رموزملک و دیں برمن کشود

نقش غیر از پردہ چشمم ربود

 

Explanation: Allah has opened the mysteries of world and religion to me. He has removed the veil of everything other than Allah from my eyes. He has opened the secrets and made me oblivious from everything other than Allah. In other words, along with the secrets of Allah, I have been given the true understanding of the religion as well.

اے ترا حق داد جان ناشکیب

تو زسرملک و دین داری نصیب

 

Explanation: Oh, that person (Iqbal), Allah has given you a restless soul. This restlessness is for the Beloved. He has bestowed you and made you aware of the secrets the country as well as religion.

ساز تقدیرم و صد نغمہ پنہاں دارم

Meaning: I am the instrument of fate and destiny. My inward contains hundreds of hidden melodies.

The secrets which Allah bestowed to Iqbal through inspiration, he conveyed to the world through his poetry.

جزنالہ نمی دانم، گویندغزل خوانم

ایں چیست کہ چوں شبنم برسینہ من ریزی

 

Explanation: I do not know anything except invocation and pleading to Allah. People say I am reciting poetry, then     what is this thing that you are dropping on my chest like dew? That is, people are considering me as a   poet, although I am saying exactly what Allah is sending down on my inward through inspiration.

ازاں معنی کہ چوں شبنم بجان من فرو ریزی

جہانے تازہ پیدا کردہ ام عرض فغانے را

 

Explanation: From the various meanings as in the mysteries that you have showered on my soul like dew, I have created a new world to describe my restlessness. In other words, a new world of poetry has been created to convey your inspired message to the world.

نیازانہ ز شوریدہ نوایم مگذر

مرغ لاھوتم و از دوست پیامے دارم

 

Explanation: Do not ignore my passionate cry! I am a bird of the realm of Divinity and have brought a message from a friend. As in don’t ignore my poetry by considering it as the poetry of an ordinary poet but think about it. Understand the meaning hidden in it because it is the message of Allah which he has revealed to my soul on the realm of Divinity during my journey of gnosis of Allah.

Iqbal and Quran

The message of Allah refers to the true understanding of Holy Quran. The Quran is a treasure of knowledge and wisdom, a world of mystery and meaning is hidden in it, the real meaning and insight of which is accessible only to special servants of Allah.

Iqbal says:

صد جہان تازہ در آیات اوست

عصر ہا پیچیدہ در آنات اوست

 

Explanation: There are hundreds of new worlds in the verses of this Quran. As in every verse has a lot of depth and can be interpreted in many ways. Many eras are present in one era of the Holy Quran.  That is, many worlds of meaning and explanations are hidden in the verses of Quran.

allama-iqbal

یک جہانش عصر حاضر را بس است

گیر اگر در سینہ دل معنی رس است

 

Explanation: Among the world’s hidden in the verses of the Quran, only one world is sufficient for the present. If you possess a heart strong enough and the will to reach the reality, then attain this world of mystery. In other words, get the true understanding of the Holy Quran as it is the source of complete guidance for mankind.

مثلِ حق پنہاں و ہم پیداست ایں

زندہ و پایندہ و گویاست ایں

 

Explanation: Like Allah Almighty, this Quran is both visible and hidden. Quran has an external existence and an inner real existence. It is always living, speaking and conveying its message to its readers.

A person who has access to the truth of the Quran becomes the possessor of the light of Vision and the possessor of abundant treasures of wisdom. He begins to understand the external and internal aspects of religion and the world. He is much more intelligent than ordinary people.

 

چوں بجاں در رفت جاں دیگر شود

جاں چو دیگر شد جہاں دیگر شود

 

Explanation: When this Quran is absorbed in the soul, the soul becomes something else. When the soul becomes something else, the world becomes something else. That is, when the soul gets the understanding of the Quran, the reality of everything changes in the eyes of man. He gets rid of rust, veils, sensual desire and turns away from outer things. He becomes an observer of the reality of everything.

The pure heart and conscience of the believer is the source of the original understanding of the Book of Wisdom. This guides and untangles the believer in every matter of religion and the world.

ز رازیؒ معنی قرآن چہ پرسی

ضمیر ما بہ آیاتش دلیل است

 

Explanation: Why do you ask others for the meaning and understanding of Quran. Our own heart and conscience are the proof of its verses.

Why Allama Iqbal’s work is so famous?

رے ضمیر پہ جب تک نہ ہو نزولِ کتاب

گرہ کشا ہے نہ رازیؒ نہ صاحبِ کشاف

 

Explanation: Iqbal is the one of those specially chosen servants of Allah on whose heart and inward the truth of Quran is bestowed.

He says:

گہر دریائے قرآن سفتہ ام

شرح رمزِ صبغۃ اللہ گفتہ ام

 

Explanation: I have taken pearls out of the sea of Holy Quran and sprinkled them in my poetry. There is a vast treasure of knowledge in the Holy Quran out of which some I have mentioned. I have described the interpretation of the secret of Allah. As in, I have explained the inner real hidden meaning of the Quran in my words.

دارم اندر سینہ نور لا اِلہٰ

در شراب من سرور لا اِلہٰ

 

Explanation: I carry the Divine light of inward verification, “There is no God but Allah,” in my heart. My wine as in my thoughts consist of nothing else but Allah’s pleasure and satisfaction. In other words, just as all the Quran is the detail of inward verification La Ilaha similarly my poetry is also Divine truth. I get guidance only from the light of Allah.

Ashraf Ali Thanwi
This is the reason why we find a unique and wise interpretation of verses and hadiths in Iqbal’s work. After reading them, the reader is amazed at the wisdom of Ashraf Ali Thanwi who claims that Iqbal is guided by the light of Allah.

Allah says, “Assuredly, We alone have revealed this Glorious Admonition (the Quran), and surely We alone will guard it.” (15:9)

 

اُمتِ مسلم ز آیاتِ خدا ست

اصلش از ہنگامہ قالوا بلٰی ست

از اجل ایں قوم بے پرواستے

استوار از نحن نزلنا ستے

ذکر قائم از قیام ذاکر است

از دوام او دوام ذاکر است

تا خدا اَنْ یُّطْفِئُوْا فرمودہ است

از فسردن ایں چراغ آسودہ است

 

Explanation: The Muslim umma is one of the signs of Allah Almighty so it can never end. It exists since the souls made their promise to Allah in eternity, “Yes!” (You are our Sustainer.) The Islamic nation is completely unconcerned with death, it cannot die because through this verse Allah promised stability and permanence to them.

quran

Muslims and Quran

As Allah says that We have revealed this invocation and surely, we are its stability of Guardian. The protection of Quran is entrusted to the Islamic nation hence the proof of stability of Muslim nation. Invocation (Quran) can only last as long as there are people who invoke Allah. When the promise of continuous invocation has been made then there is no doubt in accepting that the promise of continuous invoker has also been made. Allah has clearly said that Allah will not let go without perfecting the light of religion even if the disbelievers do not like it. This clearly means that the lamp of our nation is safe from being extinguished.

Surah Al-Ikhlas

In this way Iqbal applies Surah al-Ikhlas which is a proof of Oneness of Allah to the Muslim umma especially to the unity of believers. Iqbal interprets Surah Ikhlas in Rumuz-e-Bekhudi.

قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ

(O Esteemed Messenger!) Proclaim: ‘He is Allah, Who is the One.’ (112:1)

Abu Bakr

Iqbal presents the interpretation of this verse through the reference of Abu Bakr may Allah be blessed with him. He says,

“One night I saw Abu Bakr in a dream and I picked flowers from the dust of his path. I requested a remedy for our disease as in the decline of Muslim umma, which is causing us great trouble. Just like he has strengthened our foundation and put an end to disorder of Muslim umma at the root of all the temptations that arose after the Holy Prophet peace and blessings be upon him.”

Annihilation in Allah

گفت تا کے در ہوس گردی اسیر

آب و تاب از سورۃ اخلاص گیر

اینکہ در صد سینہ پیچد یک نفس

سرے از اسرارِ توحید است و بس

رنگ او برکن مثال او شوی

در جہاں عکس جمال او شوی

آنکہ نام تو مسلمان کردہ است

از دوئی سوئے یکی آوردہ است

 

Explanation: How long will you remain a prisoner of greed and lust? Get shine and radiance from Surah al-Ikhlas. Pay attention to the same breath that is moving in hundreds of bodies, this is also one of the secrets of Islamic creed.

Iqbal

What is the main idea of Iqbal?

If you adorn yourself with the beautiful colour of Allah then you will become like him. In the world you will become a reflection of the beauty of him who has given you the name of Muslim. That is, just as Allah is One, if the Muslim umma also becomes one by knowing the truth of Oneness of Allah, then it will truly become the vicegerent of Allah in the world and possess the same glory. It is Allah who has brought you from abundance to unity and named you Muslim, meaning the one who lives in peace.
Allah says,

ھُوَ سَمّٰکُمُ الْمُسْلِمِیْنَ

Meaning: It is he (Allah) Who has named you Muslims both before and in this (the Quran). (22:78)

یک شود توحید را مشہود کن

غائبش را از عمل موجود کن

 

Explanation: Muslim umma should become One. A representative of the reality of Oneness of Allah to the world practically. Disclose the meaning hidden by the word Shahada not only verbally but by inward verification as well. Your actions should represent the hidden secrets of shahada.

اَللّٰہُ الصَّمَدُ

Allah is the Transcendent of all, the Protector and Far-Superior to all. (112:2)

گر بہ اَللّٰہُ الصَّمَدُ دل بستہ ئی

از حد اسباب بیرون جستہ ئی

بندۂ حق بندۂ اسباب نیست

زندگانی گردش دو لاب نیست

مسلم استی بے نیازازغیرشو

اہل عالم را سراپا خیرشو

پیش منعم شکوہ گردوں مکن

دست خویش ازآستین بیرون مکن

چوں علیؓ درساز بانان شعیر

گردن مرحب شکن خیر بگیر

 

If you have attached your heart to Allah then you should understand that you have left the realm of physical things and sources. The seeker of Allah cannot become a servant of means and desires. As, life is nor a cycle of pleasures neither a pursuit of causes. If you are a Muslim, be independent of everything other than Allah. Only then you will become a source of good and blessing for the world. Do not approach a rich person and complain about your own employment. In this way do not open the door of question for yourself. As in do not beg or ask anything from anyone.

Ali ibn Talib

Like Ali ibn Talib make eating barley bread your habit. Following the footsteps of Ali ibn Talib break the neck of the Marhab bin Al-Harith, the powerful knight and capture Khyber the strongest place. In other words, get rid of the powerful desires of inciting self and gain complete control of your inward.

 

سبحۂ اقلل من الدنیا شمار

از تعش حرا شوی سرمایہ دار

 

Explanation:  In this poem, Iqbal has pointed to the saying of Umar ibn Khattab, “Reduce worldly pleasures, needs and lead a free life.” Iqbal says such a beautiful saying of Umar ibn Khattab. He asks the believers to lessen their worldly desires. Make this quote your habit and get independent of such needs and lead a free life.

بے نیازی نازہا دارد بسے

ناز اواندازہا دارد بسے

بے نیازی رنگ حق پوشیدن است

رنگ غیراز پیرہن شوئیدن است

Explanation: There is gracefulness in indifference to worldly pleasures and there are countless ways of these pleasures. Indifference means that Muslims assume the colour of truth regardless of everything else. Also, they should wash away the colour of falsehood, that is, become free from everything other than Allah.

لَمْ  یَلِدْ وَلَمْ  یُوْلَدْ

 

He has not begotten any nor is He begotten (112:3)

فارغ از باب و ام و اعمام باش

ہمچو سلمانؓ زادہ اسلام باش

نکتۂ اے ہمدم فرزانہ بین

شہد را در خانہ ہائے لانہ بین

قطرہاز لالہ حمراستے

قطرہ از نرگس شہلاستے

ایں نمی گوید کہ من از عبہرم

آں نمی گوید من از نیلوفرم

Explanation: O believer! Free yourself inwardly from the relationship of father, mother and uncles. Connect a strong relationship with Islam just like Salman the Persian became a child of Islam. As when he asked about his lineage, he said, “I am Salman bin Islam. O wise friend, let me tell you a point, look at the honey in the different beehive boxes. Bees make honey by sucking the juice of different flowers. Some drop is taken from the red flower of the lily, some from the daffodils (narcissus), but have you ever heard that any drop says, “my origin is narcissus” or another said, “I am made of lotus juice.” It is as if honey was produced from different flowers, but when it reached the hive, it became one species.”

Worldly Relations

In the same way, when a believer reaches the level of Oneness of Being. His inward is freed from old relationships carried away in a single stream of Oneness of Allah.

Love of Prophet Mohammad

At this point, love for Prophet Mohammad is indispensable for reaching Unity with Allah. When the Companions were immersed in the love of the Holy Prophet, their old relatives and relationship had no importance for them. Their every relation was connected with the beloved Prophet. The Companions fulfilled the love of the Holy Prophet and their duty to religion by freeing themselves from the shackles of their worldly relations and obligations.

Iqbal says in this regard,

عشق او سرمایہ جمعیت است
ہمچوں خون اندر عروق ملت است
عشق در جان و نسب در پیکر است
رشتہ عشق از نسب محکم تر است
عشق ورزی از نسب باید گذشت
ہم ز ایران و عرب باید گذشت

Explanation: The love of the Holy Prophet is an important point for us to stay together. It is running in the veins of the nation like blood is circulating in body. Divine love descends into the soul whereas lineage is limited to the body only. Moreover, this proves that the bond of Divine love is stronger than the bond of lineage. If you have fallen in love with the Messenger of Allah, then be dissociated from everyone even break your ties with Iran as well as Arab. That is, the entire Muslim ummah should be freed from all personal ties and become One with Allah in order to achieve Divine Oneness.

اُمت او مثل او نورِ حق است

ہستی ما از وجودش مشتق است

نورِ حق را کس نجوید زاد و بود

خلعت حق را چہ حاجت تارو پود

ہر کہ پا در بند اقلیم وجد است

بے خبر از لم یلد و لم یولد است

Explanation: Like the Holy Prophet, the entire Muslim umma is from the Divine Light. In fact, our entire existence came into being from the light of the Holy Prophet. Who can find the real truth of Divine light? Iqbal says, there is no need of a fabric for a dress which itself is related to Divine light. In other words, why does such a nation whose reality is Divine light, the truth needs external worldly relations? A person whose feet as in the inward is tied to bonds of country and lineage, he must be aware that he is completely ignorant of reality, “He neither begets nor is born.”

Ideal Characteristics of Muslim

In short, the meaning of this verse of Surah Ikhlas is that a Muslim is not bounded by any geographical boundary or state, nor is he bounded by colour (race) or lineage. A Muslim who remains restricted in these relations or aspects of life cannot have complete true faith on the above-mentioned verse.

 

وَلَمْ  یَکُنْ  لَّہٗ  کُفُوًا اَحَدٌ

‘Nor is there anyone equal to Him.’ (112:4)

رشتہ با لم یکن باید قوی

تا تو در اقوام بے ہمتا شوی

آنکہ ذاتش واحد است و لاشریک

بندہ اش ہم در نسازد باشریک

مومن بالائے ہر بالا ترے

غیرت او بر نتابد ہمسرے

خرقہ لا تحزنوا اندر برش

انتم الاعلون تا جے بر سرش

Explanation: O Muslim! You should strengthen your relation with this attribute of Allah which has been described, there is no one equal to Him. If this relation with Allah becomes strong then Muslims will become unparalleled among the nations of the world. He is the Pure One who is alone and has no partner. Even his seeker cannot have a partner in his inward. The believer’s inward is higher than the highest of people and his honour cannot bear another mate. Moreover, he does not feel sad. Altogether, he wears the crown of victory as said,

انتم الاعلون

This is pointing towards Surah Imran:

“And do not lose heart or feel grieved; and it is you who will be victorious, provided you maintain (perfect) faith.” (3:139)

می کشد بارِ دوعالم دوش او

بحر و بر پروردہ آغوش او

بر غوتندر مدام افگندہ گوش

برق اگر ریزد ہمی گیرد بدوش

پیش باطل تیغ و پیش حق سپر

امر و نہی اوعیار خیروشر

در گرہ صد شعلہ دارد اخگرش

زندگی گیرد کمال از جوہرش

در فضائے ایں جہان ہائے و ہو

نغمہ پیدا نیست جز تکبیر او

عفوو عدل و بذل و احسانش عظیم

ہم بقہر اندر مزاج او کریم

Explanation: There is no one like a believer who carries the burden of both the worlds on his shoulders. Both wet and dry bloom in his embrace. Furthermore, his ears are glued to the sound of lightning and if snow falls, he carries it on his shoulder.

Believers

Believer

When faced with falsehood, the believer becomes a sword. Likewise, when there is an opportunity to protect the truth, the believer becomes a shield for the protection of truth. His commandments are the criteria of good and bad, i.e. what a believer commands is good and what he forbids is evil. There are hundreds of flames in its group of embers. Life is perfected by his essence. Alas, no melody can be born in the atmosphere of this world except the arrogance of a believer. His rank is very high in justice and fairness, generosity and benevolence. Even in a state of anger, his mood is dominated by kindness and subtleness.

unity

Unity

Through this commentary on Surah Ikhlas, Iqbal is teaching the Muslim umma a lesson of unity. Basically, the stages a Muslim must go through in order to become a believer. Moreover, when a Muslim becomes indifferent to everything in the world, breaks all ties, and gets rid of everything other than Allah, only then he gets out of duality and reaches a level of Unity with Allah. This is the place where he attains the highest position above all creatures, where no one can equal him because he has completely annihilated in Divine attributes. Certainly, he has become worthy of being called a ‘believer.’

Conclusion

Through this interpretation of Surah Ikhlas, Iqbal is encouraging as well as guiding Muslims to reach the level of a believer. May Allah grant the Muslim umma the ability to use Iqbal’s poetry and benefit from this according to his wish. Ameen

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