Iqbal’s love for the Prophet has become proverbial. His visitors have related almost unanimously that whenever there was discussion about the Prophet, Iqbal was deeply touched and tears would begin to flow from his eyes involuntarily.1 In one of his letters, Iqbal says about the Prophet: “It is my belief that the Prophet is still alive and the people of this age can get inspiration from him as his Companions did during his mortal life. . ”2
In Asrar-i Khudi, first published in 1915, he spoke of the love for the Prophet in relation to the development of the individual. It is through love, he says, that the Self is made “more lasting, more living, more burning, more glowing”.3 He continues:
“He [i.e. Muhammad] chose the nightly solitude of Mount Hira and [then] founded a state and laws and government.”4 “In the Moslem’s heart is the home of Muhammad, all our glory is from the name of Muhammad.”5 “We are like a rose with many petals but with one perfume: he is the soul of this society, and he is one. We are the secret concealed in his heart: he spake out fearlessly, and we were revealed. The song of love for him fills my silent reed, a hundred notes throb in my bosom.”6
In Rumuz-i Bekhudi, first published in 1918, Iqbal speaks of the role of Prophethood in the life of the community. “God fashioned forth our form,” he says, “and through Apostleship breathed in our flesh the soul of life. . . . [It] shaped our being, gave us Faith and Law, converted our vast myriads into one, and joined our fractions in a mighty whole inseparable, indivisible. . . His was the breath that gave the people life; his sun shone glory on their risen dawn. In God the Individual, in him [i.e. Muhammad] lives the Community, in his sun’s rays resplendent ever; his Apostleship brought concord to our purpose and our goal.”7
At the end of the book. Iqbal expresses his misgivings about the present state of the Muslim society, the ignoble role of its leaders of thought and his prayers for its bright future which depends, as he holds, on the Muslims turning once again to the inspiring leadership of the Prophet. It was the Prophet who lit the lamp of life and infused the spirit of truth in the hearts and minds of the people who, in spite of being weak, rose in revolt against the strongest and thus succeeded in establishing the law of truth and justice. It was love for the Prophet that “hath lit a flame within my heart . . . [and] all my spirit is consumed in me.. . . But now the Muslim is estranged anew unto the Prophet’s secret; now once more God’s sanctuary is an idols’ shrine. . . .As timorous of death as any infidel, his [Muslim’s] breast is hollow, empty of a living heart.”8
Iqbal decides to close the gap that has developed unfortunately between the Muslims and the Prophet, the source of their inspiration, and break down all the barriers raised between them. “I bore him [i e. the Muslim],” he says, “lifeless from the doctors’ hands and brought him to the Prophet’s presence; dead he was; I told him of the Fount of Life, I spoke with him upon a mystery of the Koran. . . . I brought to him perfume sweet pressed from the roses of Arabia.”9
But Iqbal complains that his readers, the Muslims of the subcontinent, accuse him of weaving Europe’s spells with which he bound their hearts and minds. Iqbal claims, on the other hand, that he broke this spell of the West by his poetry.
[I broke the spell of
and managed to tear off the net, after removing the grain;
God knows that like Abraham
I came out of the fire of the West unscathed.] 10
He claims that what he teaches is the truth from the Qur’an which he received through the Prophet. He prays that he may be granted knowledge of the Truth:
[O thou, that to
Busairi grant a cloak
and to my fingers yielded Salma’s lute,
grant now to him, whose thoughts are so stray,
that he can no more recognise his own,
perception of the truth, and joy therein.] 11
In Payam-i M’ashriq (p. 8), first published in 1923, he says about love for the Prophet:
[He who cherishes love
controls everything in the seas and lands.
It is love for him that gives life
and prosperity in the universe to Community.]
In Javid Namah, published in 1932, he states clearly that the present miserable plight of the Muslims is due to the fact that they have ceased to cherish love for the Prophet as they should. Speaking about the modern Muslim, Afghani says:
[In his heart there is
no burning fire,
Mustafa is not living in his heart.] 12
The same idea is expressed by Iqbal in Armaghan-i Hijaz (p. 54):
[I wept bitterly one
night before God and asked Him:
Why is the Muslim so miserable ?
Came the reply Don’t you know,
this Community possesses the heart but has no beloved.]
In other words, it is because the Muslims have ceased to maintain that loving contact with and sentimental attachment to the Prophet that once characterised them, that they have fallen on bad days. The implication is clear. If the Muslims wish to regain their lost glory, they must start loving the Prophet in right earnest and as Iqbal states:
[The meaning of
beholding the Last of Prophets
is to make his rule binding on oneself.] 13
In Armaghan-i Hijaz, published posthumously in 1938, more than sixty pages are devoted to quatrains addressed to the Prophet. I would quote only two here which give a clear picture of Iqbal’s views about the role of the Prophet in the revival of Muslim society:
[The world is based on
Love and Love is derived from your breast,
its intoxication flows from your o]d wine.] 14
[I have lifted veil
from the face of Destiny,
don’t be hopeless, follow the way of Mustafa.] 15
1. Faqir Wahiduddin, Ruzgar-i Faqir, I, pp. 94-95.
2. Sh. Ataullah, Ed., Iqbal Namah, I, 317.
3. Nicholson, The Secrets of the Self, verses 325.26.
4. Ibid., 11. 359-60.
5. Ibid., 11. 351-52.
6. Ibid., 11. 395-400.
7. Arberry, Mysteries of Selflessness, pp. 19-20.
8. Ibid., pp. 79-80.
9. Ibid., p. 80.
10. Armaghan-i Hijaz, p. 70.
11. Asrar-o Rumuz, p. 195.
12. Javid Namah, p. 87.
13. Javid Namah:, p. 151.
14. Armaghan-i Hijaz, p. 73.
15. Ibid., p. 93.