Epitomising grace and poise, Munira Salahuddin (91), the last living child of Pakistan’s national poet, Allama Sir Muhammad Iqbal has vivid memories of her father.
One of the greatest Urdu and Persian language poets, whose cultural and political ideals conceptualised a separate country for Muslims of South Asia, Iqbal passed away in 1939, when Munira was just seven-year-old.
Grey hair tied into a neat bun behind her head, dressed in a shalwar kameez, Munira who lives in Lahore, tries to remember her father, who was very fond of the Turks and supporter of their war of Independence.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, her son Iqbal Salahuddin said that his mother fumbles and forgets details due to her age.
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“No matter how old you get, you always need your parents. She was just four years old when her mother passed away and seven years old when Allama left the world. She has seen him fighting for his people’s rights. After Allama’s death, she was raised by her aunts and a German lady Mrs Doris, but at this age, she misses her parents the most,” said Salahuddin.
Born on November 9, 1877 in Sialkot, a city now in northern Pakistan in an ethnic Kashmiri Muslim family, Iqbal is also referred as Poet of the East, due to his revolutionary poems against colonial expansion.
Based in Lahore, Iqbal Salahuddin runs an institute with the name of Dabistan-e-Iqbal (Garden of Iqbal) where he teaches the philosophy of his grandfather to the students from different colleges and universities free of cost.
“I got my basic training on Iqbal’s philosophy from my maternal uncle Javed Iqbal and now after reading and understanding Iqbal. I think it is my utmost responsibility to pass on these concepts of Iqbal as it is to the next generation,” said Salahuddin.
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Iqbal was a devotee of the great Turkish scholar Maulana Jalal Uddin Rumi. Iqbal narrates himself as Mureed-e-Hindi (devotee from India) and Maulana as Pir-e-Rumi (saint from Rome).
Letter that reveals Iqbal’s linkage with Maulana
The family of Allama Iqbal possesses a prized letter written by Iqbal to his friend Maharaja Kishan Prasad when he was writing Asrar-e-Khudi (The Secrets of the Self) — published in Persian, in 1915 and his first philosophical poetry book.
The letter contains a lot of secret conversations that happened between Allama Iqbal and Maulana Rumi in his imagination.
“He (Iqbal) had requested his friend Prasad to burn a specific part of the letter because he wanted to keep his imaginative conversations with Maulanasecret. But he (Prasad) didn’t burn it and it is on record. Iqbal has also mentioned where he saw Rumi in his dream and got the guidance for writing Masnavi,” said Salahuddin.
Masnavi is a kind of poem written in rhyming couplets, or more specifically a poem based on independent, internally rhyming lines.
The grandson of Iqbal said young generation needs to learn the philosophy of Iqbal to get inspiration and motivation in this age.
“My mother has always told us how Allama always stressed upon investing in the youth of the nation, to get on the path of success. But sadly, this generation is far away to learn about Iqbal. Government has to step up and propose a plan to include more about Iqbal in the syllabus,” he said.
In one of his translated poems for the youth – Open Secrets -, Iqbal wrote this:
“A nation whose youth are endowed
With self as strong and hard as steel
No need of piercing swords in war
Such people brave can ever feel.”