In 1932, Iqbal made a second visit to Europe (earlier
he had been there for his studies) to renew old acquaintances and make
new ones and to reflect and write. He attended conferences in Britain
and met various scholars and politicians, including the French
philosopher Henri Louis Bergson and the Italian dictator Mussolini.
In January 1933, he visited Spain (with special permission from
until not long ago, Muslims and Jews were forbidden to enter Spain). This visit inspired three beautiful
poems, which were later incorporated into a major composition, Bal-I Jibril (Gabriel's Wing).
The trip also provided him an opportunity to experience Spain's
heritage. That heritage, indeed, has its reminders in every nook and
of contemporary Spain, but especially in the province of Andalucia.
where the two most prominent monuments of Islam's legacy are located:
Granada (Arabic Gharnata) and Cordoba (Arabic Qurtaba).
He saw, through the eyes of his eyes, the presence of Muslims in
history, especially conspicuous because he could see former mosques in
every little town along the way. Among the various monuments of
Islamic Spain, the most intense yearning of his soul was to experience
the Grand Mosque (Le Mezquita) of Cordoba, built in the 8th century by
Emir Abdul Rehman I, but now called The Holy Cathedral. [The
construction of the great mosque of Cordoba began in 786 CE on a site
purchased for 100,000 gold dinars].
For Iqbal, just being there was overwhelmingly
therapeutic, for there, before his own eyes, was about the most vivid
reminders of the Golden Age of Islam, an era that provided the roots of
At the great mosque of Qurtaba, he wrote
Masjid-e-Qurtaba and offered his prayers, although this ritual had
been forbidden by the Government of Spain. About this dilemma, "The Mosque of Qurtaba," he
Oh Holy Mosque of Qurtaba, the shrine for all admirers of art
Pearl of the one true faith, sanctifying Andalusia's soil
Like Holy Mecca itself, such a glorious beauty
Will be found on earth, only in a true Muslim's heart
As he walked through Alhambra, he
vicariously absorbed into the past and began to experience an enormous
sense of pride and awe at the glory that was Islam. There he recalled
about the Muslim ruler, Abu Abdallah who had signed
the treaty on November 25, 1491 for eventual surrender of Granada in
January 1492 to the Catholic King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel. [The
Treaty of Granada]. And when Abu Abdallah shed
tears and cried out, "Allah O'Akbar," his mother said to him,
you like women over a kingdom lost that you
could not defend like a man."
Indeed, my eyes observed and absorbed Granada; but
My soul is at peace neither from travelling, nor stopping
Saw so much, absorbed so much; told so much, heard so much;
Yet, solace to the heart is neither from seeing, nor from hearing
Through his travels and personal communications, Allama
found that the Muslims throughout the world had detached themselves
from the Qur'an as a guiding principle and a living force. One's
knowledge of a divided and impoverished present world of Islam,
subject to Western hegemony almost since the Crusades, is actually the
correct interpretation of Iqbal's observation of Muslim decline.
In the end, Iqbal penned down his observation in the poignant poem