“Since love first made the breast an instrument
Of fierce lamenting, by its flame my heart
Was molten to a mirror, like a rose
I pluck my breast apart, that I may hang
This mirror in your sight
Gaze you therein.” – Iqbal
When I tell people what I’m doing this month, they are surprised that there is a holiday every day of the month of November. When you think about it, though, there are a lot of silly holidays (like Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day – seriously?!), some made up by companies in order to promote their product, religious festivals, and every country has its own celebrations to honour important figures in their history.
Today is one of those latter days. Happy Iqbal Day in Pakistan. Today Pakistan honours the 134th birth anniversary of poet and philosopher Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal. A great influence on Pakistan’s culture and education system, Iqbal had a vision for a separate country for Muslims of the sub-continent, in which he inspired many through his revolutionary poetry and writings.
Hamayun Iqbal Shami, a bureaucrat and philanthropist said on the occasion of the birth anniversary of the great poet that this is an apt opportunity for the World’s Muslims to realize the poet’s ideals and thoughts which are the glory and grandeur of the Islamic world.
“He neither promoted the Western image of Islam nor was in favour of Talibanization, rather he had painted the real picture of Islam through the concepts taken from the Holy Quran”, he said.
A changing of the guard at Iqbal’s tomb, special programs broadcasted on the television and radio, and a public holiday are some of the events happening in Pakistan to celebrate Iqbal’s life and poetry.
I am not Muslim, nor Pakistani, so I cannot understand completely the history and meaning of this holiday without a lot of further study. I am, however, touched by his poems. Written in Persian and Urdu, Iqbal wrote over 12,000 verses of poetry which has been translated to many languages around the world.
The territory of heart is vacuous for a long time.
Come, let’s make a new shrine in this land.
Our shrine should be taller than all the shrines of the world!
We should make its spire touch the edge of the sky.
We should sing, each morning, the amiable hymns
[and] make all the worshippers drink the wine of love!
[Both] power and peace are implied in the songs of the disciples.
The salvation of the people of the world lies in love!
-Except from Naya Shivala (english translation) by Iqbal
More info on Iqbal Day:
“Iqbal Day celebrated across Pakistan” – defence.pk
“Nation observes 134th birth anniversary of Allama Iqbal” – brecorder.com
“Iqbal Day: Lahore celebrates national poet’s 134th birth anniversary” – tribune.com.pk
“Iqbal Day Special: An existential quest” – dawn.com
“Pakistan Remembers Allama Iqbal” – aglobalworld.com
Recap of Journalist’s Day and Dunce Day
I sure felt like a dunce yesterday! One of those slightly off days where everything is more difficult than it needs to be. My journalistic skills were lacking, so I can appreciate those people on the front lines of journalism who don’t have the luxury of having an off day. I tried wearing a dunce cap to help the flow of knowledge funnel into my brain. Alas, I am proof that it does not work. Just ask my co-workers who had the pleasure of working with me last night…