Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Andaz Mehramana (2009)

Andaz Mehramana is my new small book on Iqbal Studies published by Iqbal Academy Pakistan a few weeks ago. As you know, the academy works under the Federal Ministry of Culture and I am Research Consultant for it.

Unlike most of my other work, Andaz is not so much for general readers as it is for specialists and academics. I have tried to briefly mention my recent findings in the field (which have been elaborated more artistically in my full-length book The Republic of Rumi: A Novel of Reality). Basically:
  1. It is somewhat erroneous to say that the thought of Iqbal does not follow a system. The system is there but one has to discover it and Iqbal scholars have mostly failed in doing that because the works of Iqbal haven’t been classified properly: most scholars fail to distinguish between work and biography (this error was apparently imported from modern Western scholarship because it is most evident in the works of foreign scholars writing about Iqbal).
  2. It shouldn’t need anything more than common sense to see connections between poems occurring together in an anthology but unfortunately the practice has been uncommon among academics working on Iqbal. I have offered examples from a few poems which reveal an astonishing subtext when studied in textual context.
  3. Well-known poems “for children” in Baang-i-Dara (The Call of the Marching Bell), including the most-often recited “Lab pay aati hai dua ban kay…” (“God make my life a little light”), are a case in point: about two years ago I noticed that in the order in which they are presented by the author they form a single story about the journey of a soul from the state of “a fly” which is easy prey for the spider (Satan) to the state of “a caged bird” in whose heart the memory of the primordial state has been vividly awakened (this is a story which I would like to share in detail in this newsletter sometime).
  4. Iqbal claimed to be aware of the major events of several next centuries as well as their purpose. As early as July 1917, he intimated a friend about his “resolve” to write down a book about the future history of Islam although he said that it would be published after his death “or whenever the time is right for it.” Even if someone discards his claim, it cannot be denied that he himself believed in it up to his last breath. Hence, the major issue for his biographer as well as critic is to show how his life and work reflect this perception of his and what were his guesses about our times as well as the times to come (this doesn’t mean that one has to necessarily agree with him but at least it needs to be explored in proportion with the emphasis which he himself laid on it).
The book is only 40 pages and its price is Rs.50. I intend to conduct a workshop about it soon at Teachers’ Development Centre, Karachi, under auspices of Iqbal Academy Pakistan.