A set of two commemorative postage stamps on Dr. Sir Allama Muhammad Iqbal :
Issued by Pakistan
Issued on Apr 21, 1967
Issued for : To observe the death anniversary of Dr. Mohammad Iqbal, the great philosopher-poet and political thinker of the Indo-Pakistan Continent, the Pakistan Post Office is issuing a set of two stamps of 15 Paisa and Re. 1/- denominations on the 21st April, 1967.
Designs : The stamps show a portrait of Dr. Iqbal in the right hand square panel. ‘Pakistan Postage’ is printed in Sepia at the foot of the left hand square panel. The word ‘Pakistan’ in Urdu and Bengali printed in Sepia appears below the panel at the left hand side of the stamps. The name of the poet and his life span dates appear in the bottom right panel, printed in reverse lettering from red in the 15 Paisa stamp and from green in the Re. 1/- stamp. The left hand square of the 15 Paisa stamp contains following verse in Urdu from the poet’s book “” :–
Perfecting thy ego, the striking
Power of Moses would thou attain;
On thy path beset with stones
A thousand springs would gush in train.
This verse is printed reverse from the red panel; below this verse the value ’15 Paisa’ is also shown in reverse lettering.
The left hand square of the Re. 1/- stamp contains a verse in Persian from the poet’s book “” :–
Far from singing melodies am I
Mere pretence is this lay of mine;
Back to the straight path I guide,
The unbridled folk gone awry.
This verse is printed in reverse from the green panel; below this verse the value Re. 1/- is also shown in reverse lettering.
Type : Stamps, Postal Used
Denomination : 15 Paisa and 1 Rupee
15 Paisa – Sepia and Red
Re. 1/- – Sepia and Green
Size of Stamps : 49.2 x 30.7 mm.
Size of Prints : 46.2 x 27.7 mm.
Perforation Gauge : 13 x 13 (C)
Quantity Printed : 15,00,000 each
Number of Stamps in each sheet : 50
Process of Printing : Litho Offset
Printers : The P.S.P.C. Karachi
Name : Muhammad Iqbal
Born on Nov 9, 1877 at Sialkot, Punjab, British India
Died on Apr 21, 1938 at Lahore, Punjab, British India
- Iqbal was born on November 9, 1877, in Sialkot, a city in West Pakistan on the border of Kashmir. His forefathers, originally of Kashmiri Brahmin descent, had embraced Islam some three hundred years before at the hand of some mystic and Iqbal has time and again referred to himself in his works, as “unique in being Brahmin born but familiar with the mysteries of Rum and Tabrez”. In his early life, he was greatly influenced by his own father, Noor Mohammad, who was a deeply religious man and who had advised Iqbal to read the Quran as if it was being revealed to him. Besides, his teacher, Saiyed Mir Hasan, who was an unassuming but a great scholar of Arabic and Persian literature and was known and respected as a man of strong religious convictions and piety, was greatly instrumental in developing the genius of Iqbal in his formative years for developing deep into religious thought and reaching perfection in Persian and Urdu literature.
- On Saiyed Mir Hasan’s advice, who was a great admirer of Syed Ahmad Khan, Iqbal’s father gave him English education and consequently he prosecuted his studies at the Scotch Mission High School, Sialkot. He later moved to Lahore and joined the Government College. He graduated in Arabic and Philosophy and got his Master of Arts’ degree in Philosophy in 1899 from the Punjab University. Here he was fortunate enough to come into contact with Sir Thomas Arnold, who had been in Aligarh before coming over to Lahore. Arnold besides being a great scholar, was a noble and sympathetic spirit. His contribution to the development of Iqbal’s thought is undoubtedly great, as he infused in Iqbal the spirit of constant search for truth as well as the urge to unveil the mysteries of life. This fruitful contact between the two allied spirits continued when Iqbal went to Cambridge in 1905 for higher studies. Sir Thomas Arnold is reported to have said, “Though Iqbal is my pupil, I get instructions from his writings.” On his advice, Iqbal went to Germany and received his Doctorate in Philosophy in 1907 from the Munich University for his thesis on The Development of Metaphysics in Persia. In 1908 he was called to the Bar in London. In 1926, and later in 1930, Iqbal was elected President of the Muslim League. In 1931 and 1932 he attended the Round Table Conferences in London.
- He at one time thought of abandoning the muse and devoting his time to more constructive work, but he was persuaded by Sir Thomas Arnold not to give up poesy. This decision of his proved very beneficial to the people and to the Muslims in particular. It also brought the genius of Iqbal into full play. In later years, he wrote that he did not feel embarrassed in writing poetry with a message as in a period of hundred decades, it is difficult to produce a poet and a mystic like Fariduddin Attar. Iqbal also acknowledges his great debt to Jalaluddin Rumi and considers him as his guide and preceptor.
- The political situation in the Indian Sub-Continent in the early years of the twentieth century was highly turbulent. The wave of patriotic feelings and a new born sense of nationalism was having its effect on the people. Iqbal was also influenced by his environments and sang melodious songs about different earthly symbols of this god of nationalism, the echoes of which continued to resound even in England while he was there. But Iqbal’s stay in Europe soon disillusioned him. The partition of Bengal in 1905 by the British and the possibility of the creation of a province where Muslims could be in a majority had evoked violent protests from Hindus and this exposed the hollowness of the national cause and the intolerance with which the Hindus were likely to treat the Muslims. The operation of Nationalism in Europe itself had led to mutual rivalries among nations which were ready to fly at one another’s throat. Nationalism had also weaned away the Muslim peoples in the Middle East from their traditional alignment with and loyalty to their Umma.
- When this realisation dawned upon Iqbal, a totally new vision arose before his eyes. This was the vision of Man as an embodiment of spiritual and cultural values, the central figure in the whole universe, created in the image of God, to whom everything in the universe was subservient. It was this Man who was being exploited by different ideologies in different garbs. This new vision of Man and his destiny became the starting point of his philosophy. He felt convinced that no ideology, no system of thought, no political or social programme, then existing, gave due recognition to this basic principle except Islam which lays so much emphasis on the worth of the individual. He says : “The Quran in its simple, forceful manner emphasises the individuality and uniqueness of man and has a definite view of his destiny as a unity of life”. It was for the same reason that Islam denounced all distinctions of race, colour, geography, for they all militated against the supreme dignity of Man. To him, maintaining respect of man as man is the only way to alleviate miseries of mankind. Speaking of the dignity of man, he says in Javed Nama –
It is Man who gives value to the universe,
Man by following the golden mean provides the standard of values.
The phenomenal world becomes lost in Man;
While Man can never be lost in the world.
It is Man’s self-display which manifests sun and moon;
Even Gabriel has no access to his experience.
Man is loftier than the heavens,
The very basis of civilization is respect for Man.
- He also firmly believed in the freedom of the human ego and its perfection through self-knowledge, self-affirmation and self-purification based on the love of God and man. In one of his letters to Dr. Nicholson, Iqbal elucidated his stand-point thus : “The humanitarian ideal is always universal but if you (wish to) make it an effective ideal and work it out in actual life, you must start, not with poets and philosophers, but with a society exclusive in the sense of having a creed and well-defined outline, but ever enlarging its limits by example and persuasion. Such a society, according to my belief, is Islam”.
- In short, his philosophy of the ego, the idea of a superman who is not an embodiment of lust for power but a true image of God on earth, the concept of an ideal society that would cater to the spiritual and material welfare of mankind and his clarion call for elimination of divisive forces of nationalism and racialism, and establishment of human brotherhood, equality and freedom as based on the ethical ideal of Tauhid, were put forth with great vigour and found a ready acceptance.
- He embodied the above concepts in his poetical works in Persian beginning with Asrar–i–Khudi (translated into English by R. E. Nicholson under the title The Secrets of the Self and in Urdu verse by Justice S. A. Rahman of the Supreme Court of Pakistan) and Ramuz–i–Bekhudi (translated by Prof. A. J. Arberry under the title The Mysteries of Selflessness), which were continued in his great work Javed Nama (translated in English by (i) Prof. Mahmud Ahmad (ii) Prof. Arberry – in Italian by Prof. Busani – in German by Prof. Schimmel – in French by E. Meyerovitch), that contains Iqbal’s mature thought and represents his philosophy fully. In prose, his monumental work is Reconstruction of Religious thought in Islam, consisting of 7 lectures (since translated into Arabic, Turkish, Bengali and Urdu), written to meet the demand of modern man “for a scientific form of religious knowledge … attempting to reconstruct Muslim religious philosophy with due regard to the philosophical traditions of Islam and the more recent developments in the various domains of human knowledge.” His other works in Persian are Piyam–i–Mashriq (Message of the East), Zabur–i–Ajam, Musafir, Pas Che Bayad Kard and Armoghan–i–Hijaz (partly in Urdu). Most of these works have been translated into foreign languages, such as, German and English. Among his Urdu works, besides the Bang–i–Dara, already mentioned, are Bal–i–Jibril and Zarb–i–Kalim in which he has expressed his views in beautiful and exquisite verse on philosophical, social and political themes. Iqbal even conceived the idea of comity of people of the East and declared that if Tehran could become the Geneva of the East, the destiny of the whole world might possibly change. We find the echo of this idea in the Establishment of the R.C.D. between Turkey, Iran and Pakistan.
- Iqbal was not, however, merely a philosopher and an intellectual. He believed in constant action and strife cemented with a firm faith in God and a world conquering love for man. His contribution towards Muslim renaissance had been truly remarkable. His insight into the history of the Muslim people and the causes which led to their decline have proved perfectly correct. He found the people around him weighed down heavily by the burden of old traditions that had totally lost their relevance and significance and by his poetry roused them from slumber, gave them the zest for new life of progressive advancement, constant strife and endeavour for the realization of spiritual values that had been the sacred heritage of mankind. He exhorted them –
- In the political field, he stood for a state that was democratic and socialistic. In one of his letters to the Quaid–i–Azam, Iqbal says, “For Islam, the acceptance of social democracy in some suitable form and consistent with the legal principles of Islam is……a return to the original purity of Islam.” Like the Quaid-i-Azam, Iqbal tried to solve the political problem of the sub-continent consistent with the interests of the Muslim community. But all attempts, to discover some principle of internal harmony whereby both the communities of the sub-continent could live peacefully and harmoniously, totally failed. With a penetrating insight, Iqbal was able to realise the consequences of this stalemate for the future welfare of the Muslims. It was this realization that forced him to declare in 1930, presiding over the annual session of the Muslim League, “The Muslim demand for the creation of a Muslim India within India is, therefore, perfectly justified…… I would like to see the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan amalgamated into a single State. The formation of a consolidated North-West Indian Muslim State appears to me to be the final destiny of the Muslims, at least of North-West India…… This will eventually solve the problem of India as well as of Asia.” Later on, in one of his letters to the Quaid-i-Azam, Iqbal also included Bengal in this scheme. Very few people at that time could fully realise the profound significance and the far-reaching consequences of this scheme. It, however, became a living reality when in 1940, the Muslim League, in the light of this proposal, formulated its demand for the establishment of Pakistan and the Muslim people responded from the depth of their hearts. It was to be the fulfilment of their destiny in the sub-continent and it became a reality in 1947 when an independent State of Pakistan was born.
- Iqbal died on April 21, 1938 after a protracted illness of several years with a smile on his face as he had himself said :–
- The significance of his contribution to the renaissance of the Muslim people not only of the sub-continent but of the Middle East and elsewhere can be seen in the enthusiasm with which his memory is kept alive everywhere in the world. April 21 has become the symbol of our struggle for the regeneration of the world Muslim community so as to realise the basic Islamic ideal of human brotherhood, peace, freedom and security.
- (Issued in collaboration with Iqbal Academy, Karachi.)
- With the compliments of the Director-General, Pakistan Post Office, Karachi.