Friday, 16 December 2016

The Argument of Love

Reading Iqbal on the Beloved Prophet (SAW)

Who was Iqbal? The best description is by his son that he is a lover of the Prophet (SAW). The rest is a corollary or an exemplification. And who is the Prophet he loved? Ideal pole of man, the Meaning of everything, the Alpha and the Omega of all human endeavours. “Since Muslims love you, you should let beard grow” a Molvi advised Iqbal. He replied, somewhat humorously, “You have shaved it from inside and displayed from outside and I have shaved it from outside but let it grow inside.”  One reason for his failure to go to Hajj, opines Mr Ghulam Beigh Neerang – and one feels agreeing – could be providential as he couldn’t afford to see the Prophet’s place and still live. Iqbal was seen to be occupying splendid place in the hierarchy of Prophet’s beloved by a Kashmiri who didn’t know him and he rushed to Lahore to inform him. He refused a job that required his wife to be part of the parties he had to attend. Asked if you have had deedar of his Prophet, he replied that such questions aren’t asked. He, like Ghazzali, regretted his failure to devote all his energies to study the Prophet’s life and work. Iqbal considered it indecent to live more years than were granted to the Prophet. He believed that the Prophet is alive and we can benefit today from him the way Companions benefitted. Iqbal slept a whole night in bathroom and ignored the cozy bed meant for him as he suddenly recalled the Prophet’s simple lifestyle. He was always accessible and down to earth and lived in a simple unadorned house. Inwardly he was a qalander, a faqeer who had been consumed by the love of his Prophet. Although Iqbal wasn’t a regular nimazi in mosques, appeared Englishman in dress and appearance, yet loved the Prophet and upheld and preached, if read between the lines, nothing except this love. All these points, among others, have been deftly treated in Dr Mushtaq’s new book Hubbi Rasool (SAW) aur Fikri-Iqbal published by Kitab Mahal. Building on some clues from Dr Mushtaq’s work and in line with Sufi metaphysics Iqbal largely upholds, let me present the core of Iqbal’s philosophy of love of Muhammad(SAW).
      Arnold in his famous meditation on the crisis of faith in “Dover Beach” sees love as the last resort or boat that takes one out of despairing tumult that modern life is. In the face of the absurd, relationships continue to be meaningful and signposts of eternity. All said and done, we live for love (of families, beauty, life) and can die for it. And love indeed is the meaning of life. And when all philosophical or academic debates on existence of God seem to be rather too abstract and don’t convince many amongst us, there remains a proof that is inscribed in the very substance of our being. And Kierkegaard calls it Love. And the Gospel calls God love. And one can’t love abstract or unmanifest God but the principle of ceaseless creativity or in theological language Messengers of God or that which unveils or manifests God. And this principle is called Muhammad in Sufi view. People don’t differ about this “God”; they are ever seeking to perfect their love of “Him.” We are all lovers, slaves of the beauty that wells up in all things we seek or cherish. How the Prophet unveils God – by way of religious experience, world shaking vision, great transformation of history and consciousness and inspiration for artists, poets, saints, philosophers, many a science – is the subject of Iqbal the philosopher and the poet. Haunting beauty of his verse, depth of his passion, sublime heights of his moral universe all speak of this love.
      Imagine all the beautiful and glorious moments you have enjoyed or cherish in your life – walks and smiles and best dinners with your family member/friends  in the best of gardens, the most enchanting conversations and the most electrifying and intoxicating encounters with nature, with saints and scientists and with all things under the sun that you can’t forget. Imagine the most fulfilling sleep, sounds and colours that this life has been offering you and imagine all that liberates you from yourself because of its supernal beauty and loveliness. Drink deep from the founts of imagination that can summon all the powers in the heavens and the earth and help you forget time and yourself. All the joys in these depths and heights that man cherishes are a glimpse from the eternal fount of joy and beauty that is Muhammad for Sufis and our qalander Iqbal .
      What was Iqbal’s proof of God? Muhammad’s life and work. What was Iqbal’s greatest love? Muhammad (SAW). Those who find Iqbal’s poetry deviating from Ghazzal tradition that celebrated love of women may note that higher or more intense love can transcend or overcome lesser objects of it.
      In Iqbalian or Sufi universe, one can take liberty with God but not with Muhammad. Don’t accuse Iqbal of shirk. In his nigahi ishq o masti the world is transformed into another one where Muhammad (SAW) is the light with which we see. He is the Friend who dissolves all selfish games. When the sun rises and moon smiles and morning breeze blows and flowers bloom it is Muhammad dispersed in sifaat who is before you and around you lightning up the world. How come we can talk about Muhammad (SAW)?
      Muhammad  lives in each of us – or we are dead. A believer is one who  loves Muhammad above everything else and why shouldn’t one love him above everything else because he is being or life in everything . As Principle of Manifestation – superbly presented in zoaq-o-shouq – Muhammad is Life and all its treasures we hold dear (SAW).
      Who is Muhammad – talk to Majzoobs and they will tell you why all the attractions of this world are nothing before his face of which they are enamoured. Ask all the lovers who, consumed by the vision, see Layla everywhere. Ask poets and Sufis and all those devoted believers who have their own way of expressing their love of Muhammad. For all our weaknesses, Muslims everywhere, regardless of sectarian affiliations, seek to love Muhammad above everything. And that is the sanad azad honay ki. May God grant us this freedom! All Muslims including those whom self righteous people would judge as falling short of living by Muhammad’s example – the sinners of all hues – are in tears when it is Muhammad who is named. They will not hesitate for a moment to sacrifice their lives if they hear a blasphemous remark. All Kashmiris including those accused to be religiously lax were on the roads when his hair was stolen. Aes karew jami chak… No not only their  clothes but their very souls they would turn asunder.
      The book is written passionately, lucidly and didactically and not academically. It succeeds in its aim –approaching Iqbal as an aashiq-i-rasool – pretty well. The book deals with most of the questions often raised regarding Iqbal’s claim as a lover of Prophet and the author seeks to show Iqbal’s distance from what has been called the school of love (mazhabi ishq). However, this school as developed in the works of its great traditional exponents is Iqbalian in essence. It is love – and freedom – that saves and Muhammad is Being under all beautiful aspects that one can imagine including love, freedom, joy and gratitude. ( SAW)

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