by Sameer Ul Haq
There is no denying the fact that Allama Iqbal devoted his entire life for Kashmir’s political and economic independence. The plight of Kashmiris suffering from abject poverty, exploitation, oppression and lack of education proved massive on Iqbal’s mind and it had wounded his soul to a great extent. Iqbal always wanted to see the subjugated Kashmiris as a lofty and dignified nation.
Aaj Woh Kashmir Hai Makhoom Majboor-O-Faqeer
Kal Jisay Ahle-E-Nazar KehteThay Iran-E-Sageer
(Today that land of Kashmir, under the heels of the enemy, has become weak, helpless and poor-
Once known among the wise as little Iran)
These lines from one Aramghan-E-Hijaz or The Gift of Hijaz perhaps best narrate the story of Kashmir in a lucid style. His patriotic and socialistic poems and his intellectual struggle against colonial powers rank him one of the major political thinkers of the 20th century. Iqbal’s message due to his mastery over Persian reached Iranian and Afghan readers and his revolutionary poetry influenced to a much extant the Islamic revolution of Iran. He inspired a generation of Iranian thinkers who create the intellectual basis of the Islamic revolution of 1979. Iran’s revolution was “the embodiment of Iqbal’s dream,” said Iran’s supreme leader Sayyid Ali Khamenei in 1986. ‘We are following the path shown to us by Iqbal’, he added.
Born on 9 November 1877 in Sialkot (Pakistan) his ancestors were originally from Kashmir who had converted to Islam from Hinduism few hundred years ago. His grandfather migrated from Kashmir at the beginning of 19th century. Allama had pride of being his Kashmiri lineage who proudly used to say that ‘we actually belong from Kashmir and our village is near Kulgam, from where our grandfather migrated and settled in Sialkot’.
Allama showed his love for Kashmir in several of his poetic verses.
Tanam Gulai Zi Khayanban-e-Janat-e-Kashmir,
Dil Az Hareemi Hejaze Nawa Ze Sheeraz Ast!
(My body comes from the earthy paradise of Kashmir; my heart belongs to the holy land of Hijaz, and my song to Shiraz.)
Iqbal is known as the spiritual father of Pakistan, a brainchild behind the two-nation theory which culminated into the formation of Pakistan on August 14, 1947. Iqbal formally introduced the concept of Pakistan in his Allahabad Presidential address at the annual meeting of the All India Muslim League held on December 1930. Since he was the most vocal proponent of two-nation theory but he did not live up to the day when his dream of a separate nation for Muslims of British India became a reality. He died two years before the Pakistan resolution was adopted on 23 March 1940 at Lahore’s Minto Park.
The works of Allama Iqbal clearly reflected his emotional attachment to Kashmir and its repressed masses. The miserable condition of the Kashmir under the Dogra regime impacted Iqbal’s work to a great extent which is clearly visible from his literary and political speeches. When he visited Kashmir for the first time in June 1921, he saw smoke and fire coming out of the darkened Chinar trees in Nishat garden. In Lolab valley, he observed that the fresh and lively graveyards were deserted. His heart thumped after looking at the Kashmiris plight and hardships. He was supposed to be here only for attending legal Issues, but after staying for about two weeks his heart melted over his ancestral Nation’s troubled waters and miseries. In those times Kashmir was overwhelmed and encompassed with different issues and self-governing people, and without any friend and support. He did not see anything else than the dark, miserable times for Kashmir. After witnessing such state of affairs Iqbal prayed;
ازاں مے فشاں قطرہ بر کشیری
کہ خاکسترش آفریند شرارے
(O butler! So a drop of this wine fell on the heart of Kashmiri,
From which sparks are created from its wet soil (insensitive soul).
Allama Iqbal has drawn a complete map of the dilapidated condition of Kashmiris in his Saqi Nama, in a poem he wrote in Nishat garden during his stay in Kashmir in 1921. Dr Mumtaz Hassan a political activist writes that one day when he was sitting in the company of Allama Iqbal and discussing Kashmir’s political, the poet mentioned about a Persian poem SaqiNama. In one of the verses, he had mentioned that he is amazed that the Kashmiri political struggle started with a rebellion by workers of the silk factory in 1924.
In Javed Namah, Allama Iqbal addressing the League of Nations while lamenting on the treaty of Amritsar (16 March 1846)
Baad Sabah Agar Beh Geneva Guzar Kuni
Hurfi Zama Beh Majlis Aqwaam Baazgo
Dehkaan Wa Kasht Wa Jo Wa Khaya Ban Farokhand
Quoomay Farokhand Wa Chi Arzaa Farokhand!
(Zephyr if you should pass over Geneva, Speak a word of me to the league of nations
They have sold farmer, and cornfield, river and garden, they have sold a people, and at a price how cheap)
In Javed Namah when Iqbal meets Mir Syed Ali Hamdani and Ghani Kashmiri, the topic of the conversation also emerges as Kashmiris dilapidated condition, slavery and the struggle for Independence
Iqbal laments the negligence and indifference of the people of Kashmir in the following couplet;
Cheh Beh Parwa Gazschinad Aaz Nawhaye Subhagah Mann
Ki Bard Aa Shoor Wa Masti Azz Syah Chishmani Kashmiri
چہ بے پرواگزشتند از نوائے صبعگاہ من
کہ برد آں شور و مستی از سیہ چشمان کشمیری !
(How carelessly they passed by with no ear to my lamentations
The Kashmiri black eyes, so lacking in lustre and life, who made them so dead and Mute?)
For most of his life, Iqbal had seen the sinister shadows of a terrible and horrible personal rule hovering over the Kashmir horizon and seeing all this his humanitarian, sensitive and patriotic heart was weeping. Allama who dreamed of independence of Kashmir and wished the people of Kashmir not to prosper only, but with his lips made the Kashmiris realize their plight. The spirit of independence in Kashmir was rising after centuries of violence and oppression, the state wanted to suppress it but Iqbal stressed on the fact that it is impossible, it is a spark of the soul will continue to be a flame.
In 1925, Kashmiri Muslims presents to the Viceroy of India in the form of a historical memorandum, the story of their helplessness and plight of their helplessness. It was prepared on the advice of Iqbal. Allama Iqbal did his best to encourage the youth of Kashmir also to get an education. In Kashmir Magazine Iqbal published an article titled Scholarship to Kashmiri Students in which he lamented that the youth of Kashmir were not interested in education and training. The article reads as Anjuman Kashmiri Muslims in Lahore have arranged for the Muslims of Kashmir valley to study at Aligarh Muslim University and Islamia College Lahore with eight stipends of Rs 10 per month and one stipend of Rs. 20 per month.
In 1931 when the new chapter of the Kashmiri revolution against Dogra repression was funded by the blood of Kashmiris, Iqbal again seemed anxious to go to Kashmir. 13 July 1931 was one of the momentous days in the life of Iqbal when he saw people of Kashmir rebelled openly against the autocratic Dogra rule. The July carnage in which 22 Kashmiris were gunned down by Dogra forces proved massive on Iqbal’s mind and it had wounded his heart badly. Kashmir cause was so dear to the poet and philosopher he never missed an opportunity to talk about Kashmir. Iqbal was instrumental in organising Kashmir day on 14 Aug 1931.
A mammoth meeting held at Mochi Darwaza Lahore was presided over by poet, philosopher Iqbal. Around 50000 people were present in the gathering, Iqbal said, “If Maharaja of Kashmir continues his atrocities on the innocent and unarmed Kashmiris the day is not too far when the autocratic governance in Kashmir will meet its destruction. Today God has caused heat and passion in the blood of Muslims to face the falsehood. We called Kashmiris as timid but these very timid people have taken bullets of an oppressor Government on their chests. We want justice and the Muslims of Kashmir should be given their rights.”
After the July carnage, Iqbal not only helped in raising funds for oppressed Kashmiris, but also persuaded some of the prominent lawyers to visit Kashmir and provide legal aid to those who are languishing in jails. However, the state of Kashmir banned the entry of these lawyers. Iqbal too was disallowed from entering Kashmir, a ban that will nag him for the rest of his life. Allama Iqbal also requested Nawab of Hyderabad Deccan for financial help, and at the time of request did not have the slightest idea whether this requested will be accepted or not. It was because of the efforts of the Allama Iqbal that the British Indian Government conducted an investigation into the July 1931 massacre following which the Glancy Commission was formed.
On being elected as President of the All India Muslim Conference, Iqbal also raised the issue of Kashmir during his presidential address, “I appeal to the Muslims of Kashmir to beware of the forces that are working against them and to unite their ranks. The time for two or three Political parties in Kashmir has not yet come. The supreme need of the moment is a single party representing all Muslims in the state”.
On July 5, 1933, Iqbal at the earliest opportunity sent a letter to the Viceroy of India expressing concern over the deteriorating situation in Kashmir and urged the Dogra government to refrain from coercion. The situation in Kashmir has caused great unrest among Muslim of British India and there are fears that there will be more complications, the statement said. All India Kashmir Committee expects that Dogra Government in Kashmir to refrain from firing, baton charges and arrests in these circumstances.
During his last years of age, Iqbal’s great desire was to visit Kashmir but his wish remained unfulfilled. However, his message is cherishing to every Kashmiri that;
Jis Khaak K Zameer Mein Hai Aatish Chinar
Mumkin Nahi Hai Ki Sarad Ho Woh Khaaki Arjumand
(The earth that enshrines in its bosom the fire of plane tree:
This exalted earth can never be dead and cold)
(Author has done his masters from the Department of History, University of Kashmir. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Kashmir Life.)