On Iqbal’s birth anniversary, Pakistanis must reflect whether the society we have created lives up to his vision.
Referring to Iqbal’s two revolutionary poems, “God’s command”, and “The earth belongs to God”, it is argued that all land belongs to God and the peasants who till the land are holding it as a trust from Him. Iqbal declares in his famous and powerful couplet that if the tiller cannot be fed from the farm on which he works, then every ear of that wheat should be destroyed or burnt. In these poems Iqbal rails against the exploitative feudal and sardari systems that prevail in different parts of the country. He clashed with Sir Fazl-e-Hussain in the Punjab Legislative Council over the issue of land ownership, with Hussain arguing that all land used to belong to the Mughal rulers, and now it is transferred to the British, the current rulers in India. Iqbal challenged that view, and argued that its ownership lay with Allah.
The author also quotes from Iqbal’s poem ‘Gadai’ or “Fakiri”, in which the poet contends that the institution of kingship or royalty thrives by exploiting the helpless and poor subjects. Iqbal repeatedly exhorts in this poem that the outmoded traditions and institutions should be abandoned in favour of a more just economic and social system.
The vision of Iqbal and Quaid remains stillborn due to the glaring shortcomings of our democratic governments, and that in turn has led to the interruption of democratic rule by dictatorships. It is imperative that our policy-makers study Iqbal and try to transform Pakistan according to his vision of a truly just society. Iqbal was acutely aware of the economic backwardness of his country and how it effected the moral and spiritual fiber of the people, and even wrote a book on the “Science of Economics”. Pakistan cannot become truly democratic unless and until the economic empowerment of its people has taken place.
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