All«mah Iqb«l's works have interested me since very early age. I have derived increasing degrees of pleasure, guidance and inspiration from them with the increase in my knowledge and discernment and with expanding perception. Preparation of a translation or commentary of one of his books has always been my ambition, so that I could share the benefits of All«mah Iqb«l's qualities of the head and the heart with others. However I could not realize this ambition due to excessive preoccupation with my professional commitments. Retirement from the Canadian Forestry Service, a few years ago, provided the necessary opportunity, which I availed of, and started working on the commentary seriously. For reasons given in Chapter 1 I selected B«ng-i-Dar« for this effort.
People with knowledge of Urdu and Persian can derive a good degree of benefit and pleasure from the works of All«mah Iqb«l in original. This translation and commentary is, therefore, directed primarily to the needs of the English knowing admirers of All«mah Iqb«l who do not know Urdu and Persian. It must also be appreciated that a knowledge of Urdu and Persian languages alone is not sufficient for a full comprehension of his works. A good knowledge of Islamic history and thought, particularly the Holy Qur'an, is necessary for this purpose. In addition, some knowledge of world history, particularly its influence on the Muslim world is also essential. It is also necessary to know the life and times of All«mah Iqb«l and their influence on his thought. This material cannot be provided in a mere translation and calls for a commentary, for which reason I have adopted the commentary approach.
Regarding his biography the "Preface" by Sir 'Abd al-Qadir, published with the original book and presented in translation in Chapter 4 is fairly detailed up to 1924. Events of the 1924-38 period and a review of the times of All«mah Iqb«l have been summarized in Chapter 2. Similarly, an account of the sources of All«mah Iqb«l's thought in the secular as well as spiritual fields has been provided in Chapter 3, Section I. This is followed by Section II which has a comprehensive discussion of his views on the subjects included in B«nq-i-Dar«. Other necessary information has been provided in Appendices and in Introduction and Explanatory Notes for each poem.
Much though I had liked to make the translation in verse I realized that the restraints of the rules of prosody would militate against a clear and faithful rendering of his thought in English. Clarity of the subject matter has been of paramount importance in my mind. Consequently I adopted the prose style. However, I have tried to keep the two hemi-stiches of every verse equal to each other as far as possible. Though at times this was a difficult task I have succeeded in doing my best. I have also used the "free verse" in some cases where rhyming was possible without sacrificing clarity.
Transliteration of Arabic, Persian and Urdu words and proper names has been done according to the table appearing before the Preface.
The names of persons mentioned in the text are their last or the most popular ones. Biographical notes have been provided on them in Appendix I, in which their contribution to Islam and Muslims as well as their influence on All«mah Iqb«l have been briefly described. This appendix has been arranged in the alphabetical order of the last or the most popular name of the biographee. The information provided in this appendix is commensurate with the importance of the biographee in Iqb«lics studies, and aims at providing an adequate picture of his life and work. Hopefully, this will widen the reader's perception. References to them have been provided in the explanatory notes. Biographies of a few relatively less important persons from the above point of view have been provided in the form of short notes in the introduction or the explanatory notes of the relevant poem. The source of information for each bigraphee has been indicated after the biography for more details, if desired by the reader.
Some technical terms in Arabic and Persian have no equivalents in English because of the absence of their concepts in the English speaking world. Such words have been used in original in the text and printed in italics. They are explained in Appendix II. This appendix is arranged in the alphabetical order of the term. References to them have not been made in the text or explanatory notes for brevity. The reader is advised to refer to Appendix II where necessary. However, some terms need immediate explanation for understanding the sentence in which they occur. Such words have been explained in the explanatory notes after the chapter or the poem concerned
The literature cited in the text has been listed in Appendix III in the alphabetical order of the last name of the author. References to Appendix III have been made in the introduction and explanatory notes of the relevant poems.
Translations of all Urdu and Persian Verses appearing in Chapters 1-4 and in the "Introduction" and "Explanatory Notes" of individual poems in Chapters 5-7 have been serially numbered in the text. These verses appear in appendix V. This has been done to enable the readers to read them in original, if they want to enjoy their excellence and beauty, without breaking the flow of the text.
All dates are given in the Christian Era calendar for convenience in visualizing the time frame of the event under review. The dates in the Hijrâ calender given in sourse references have been converted into the Christian calendar :
A translation seldom, if ever, equals the original in candor and literary excellence.Translation of verse poses even greater difficulties than that of prose in this respect. Special difficulty arises in rendering Urdu and Persian idioms into English on account of basic differences in the background, history and social environment of these languages compared with English. However, I have used parallel English idioms where they were available. Here also I have tried to be as close to the original as possible.
I want to avail of this opportunity to express my most sincere gratitude and appreciation to the following sources from whose help and cooperation I have been much benefited. First on this list is my good friend, Dr. Anver Rahimatullah, Professor, Department of Bio-chemistry, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's Newfoundland, Canada whose help throughout the work has been invaluable. I also acknowledge the help received from Dr. Abd el-Sal«m Mesbah, Director, Department of Medical Physics, Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Center, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada and Dr. Abd al-Hamâd Salâmâ, Education Officer, Department of Labor Relations, Government of Newfoundland, Canada. The Director, Faculty and reviewers of the Iqb«l Academy Pakistan, Lahore, Pakistan have given me great help and valuable advice in improving the manuscript. Special thanks are due to Dr. Suheyl Umar, Dr. Waheed Ishrat, Deputy Director and Assistant Director respectivety of the Academy for frequent advice and other help in preparing the final draft. The sincere and continuous work of Mr. Babar Sultan, Chief Engineer, I.C.C. lahore, Pakistan in this project deserves special appreciation. The help provided very sincerely by Dr. Wasiulah, Director , Department of Environment, Government of Newfoundland and by Mr. Towhid Bin Muzaffar, Department of Linguistics, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada, in printing and distribution of the book is very cordially appreciated. The perseverance and forbearance as well as the encouragement of my wife, Aleemunnisa Khalil, during the periods of frustration and stress, of which I had a fair share, is deserving of the greatest appreciation. May God reward them all for their help to me in this cause.
Like all human efforts I cannot claim perfection for this book. I am conscious of the possibility of shortcomings, and request the readers to inform me about them so that a better edition may be possible soon and I may get help for other similar work, which I plan to continue.
My prayer to God is that this commentary may be good enough to serve its intended purpose of conveying the message of All«mah Iqb«l to the English knowing world. Only time will show the extent to which this has been achieved.
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada