Posted by Ranu
In response to daily post’s one-word prompt : Profound
When I think of someone who has a deep understanding and insight, Allama Iqbal comes to mind. Through his poetry and his philosophy he has tried to awaken the mind of a sleeping nation.
I was first introduced to him when I heard the following verses he wrote in Urdu :
Masjid toh bana di shab bhar mein Iman ki hararat walon nay
Mun apna purana papi hai, barson say namazi bun na saka.
You’ve managed to build a mosque overnight
You people of faith,
But your sinful heart,
could not become religious in all these years!
I was curious to know who was the poet addressing and why?
I did some research on the internet and learned, there were two groups who wanted to take possession of a vacant land in Lahore. No one owned it, but among the two groups whoever could successfully build a place of worship would be owners.
Both the groups wanted the land, but one of the groups worked all night to build a mosque. After the building was complete, the people did not show up for prayers.
During the years when India was ruled by the British, there appeared a man named Iqbal who convinced his people, the only way they can regain their independence was to work hard for it. He was a man of deep understanding, he could not bear to witness the plight of the Indians.
He wrote poems, he spoke to the general public in person to make them understand freedom is achievable if they took active part in achieving it. They were successful but Iqbal did not live long enough to see it.
Today’s assignment: What do you do when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing, it depends on the time of day,if I’m finished writing, early morning, I pick up either the Bhagwad Gita or Thich Nhat Hanh,’The Miracle of mindfulness.’ It depends on my mood as well. If I’m happy, I listen to songs on YouTube, mostly Hindi or Urdu or my favorite Bengali songs.
Besides writing I am also registered for an online course, where there are lessons given to us, one every week. I study them, pick a question and answer it.
We the participants are expected to read each other’s comment and give our replies. When I first joined the course, I was bothered by someone, who did not want me to be in the course, because I am a Bengali. I did not say or do anything to make her feel that way. My being a Bengali was the only reason.
At first I toyed with the idea of leaving the course and joining the Memorial University, which is across the street from my house.Then the thought, I have as much right to be in the course as her, made me change my mind.
I’m continuing the course and still enjoying it, the day I feel it’s a burden, I’d leave and concentrate on writing,reading and cooking too.
At the moment, I’m pleased to stay in the course. Our facilitator is a fine gentleman, I’m actually indebted to him for allowing me to register in the course. It’s a course on Allama Iqbal, the poet and philosopher.I did not have any previous knowledge of him, I have learned everything I know by doing this course.
I also spend time cooking, which I love to do. One time I baked a lot, I do not do it anymore, it keeps me from eating cookies and cakes, which really is not good for me, considering the fact,there is too much sugar in them. I have learned sugar is not the best thing to consume if I want to stay healthy.
These are some ways I spend my time. I love writing, when I have nothing to write I translate songs into English.
At what age did you realize you were not immortal? How did you react to that discovery?
I have learned man is ephemeral at the tender age of twelve. I watched my father take his last breath. I came to the sad conclusion I’d never see him again.
Bit by bit I grew up knowing , every living thing comes to this world for a certain number of days, months or years that it varies from plants, to humans, to animals and so on. It was a constant worry for me that my mom like my dad will leave us some day, when it happened I was far away from home, no one saw my tears and did not understand how painful it was for me to lose my mom too.
This I told myself is the cycle of life : we are born, grow up slowly, reach adulthood, get old our organs go through the process of deterioration, the clock of life tells us the journey is over and we must leave. The cycle is complete.
I always knew legendary status is not for me. I will never be remembered like Hitler, thank God for that. He was so brutal,who would like to be remembered as he is reminisced about today.
But Tagore is a legend who has claimed the status of immortality by his life’s work. He was the youngest of his siblings but his name so far has not disappeared from our hearts, as long as we “The Bengalis” are alive Tagore’s name will be alive.
William Wordsworth’s poetry will always warm our hearts and we will say how great he was.
Who can forget Longfellow’s poem : “Tell me not in mournful numbers , life is but an empty dream.”
Yet another poet and Philosopher is worthy of mention in the long line of legends is Iqbal: The following is one of his many poems we love and repeat:
Two planets meeting face to face ,
One to the other cried ‘How sweet
If endlessly we might embrace,
And here forever stay! how sweet
If Heaven a little might relent,
And leave our light in one light blent!’
But through that longing to dissolve
In one,the parting summons sounded.
Immutably the stars revolve,
By changeless orbits each is bounded;
Eternal union is a dream,
And severance the world’s law supreme.
I’ve always known I am not immortal. It wasn’t a surprise for me. I did not have any reaction!
You’re asked to nominate someone for Time’s Person of the Year.Who would it be, and Why?
When I think of all the good things that has happened this year in our online course, I’d gladly nominate our facilitator,Mr. Khurram Ali Shafique.
He is a good teacher. He is humble and he knows his subject well. He offers online courses on, “Iqbal” who is a highly acclaimed Muslim Philosophical thinker of Modern times.
I have learned a lot from him and I thank him for giving me the opportunity of learning about the great Philosopher.
If you could have any author –living or dead— write your biography, who would you choose?
I’d choose Tagore to write the introduction, he is a Bengali like me,he’d be able to begin with an appropriate song, describing the places I visited foods I like, books I read and songs that are my favorite.
I’d love to have Wordsworth write a small paragraph, explaining my love of nature.
The last part I’d implore Iqbal to complete, he was a Muslim, since our religion is the same he’d be able to explain my dedication for daily prayer.
These are the three authors I would select to write my biography. If there are any confusions writing it, Tagore will make it interesting by filling in the blanks with one of his remarkable songs.
If Wordsworth volunteers to get the blanks filled. It would be terrific, his wealth of knowledge of nature will fit in nicely to cover the spaces.
While I think Iqbal would do even better by covering the gap with his philosophy of human mind!
When was the last time you were completely stumped by a question, a request, or a situation you found yourself in? How did you handle it?
Last week we were given a paragraph in our online course which we had to read and quote one brief passage from Iqbal’s prose or poetry which may be connected with this thought— and explain briefly why we think so. And also make an effort to be brief, keeping in mind that my comment needs to be read by others. I am writing it here so that my readers know what the passage is.
Every Muslim believes in the Unseen, and understands the term to include all the invisible realities mentioned elsewhere in the Quran,e.g. angels, heaven, hell, and so on Iqbal wants us to expand that the signs of God in our soul which are mentioned by the Quran itself are to be included in the Unseen in which we believe.
We were expected to quote one brief passage from Iqbal’s prose or poetry which may be connected with this thought–and explain briefly why you think so.
This is where I was stumped I could find the poetry and prose without any problem,but they didn’t seem to be brief. Eventually I found two, which were very brief, here it is: The actual words with translation, ” Hai tujhe wasta bazahir se,
Aur Batin Se Ashna Hun Main.”
Translation : You deal with the outward aspects of things
I know what lies within.
I took the word briefly seriously and wrote my answer accordingly, then found out I didn’t have to be so brief.
So as they say in the phrase,”You live and learn.”
I certainly learned something very valuable.
Another school semester will soon begin. If you’re in school, are you looking forward to starting classes? If you’re out of school, what do you miss about it— or are you glad those days are over?
I am not in school I took care of my studies a while ago. Sometimes I miss the atmosphere of school. I recall one of my profs was quite strange, when we’d see him coming towards us we’d be ready to wish him “Salaam”, meaning peace be on you, our words would be stuck in our throats, he’d turn around and look the other way, this was in the university. as usual we’d talk among ourselves about how strange he was.
Then there was Sr. Joseph Mary in college, before I could wish her,’good morning,afternoon or evening,’ depending on the time of day.
She’d quickly remind me, “Chaman, I hope you won’t go to your uncle’s house for the week-end.”
I’d say nothing and try to move on,then the question is louder,’Did you hear me my dear?’
I’d have no choice but to say, ‘Yes Sr. Joseph Mary.’
In London it was Prof. Baird, he’d wish me before I opened my mouth, “Good Morning, Miss Sabeth, how are you?”
My reply, “I’m fine Mr. Baird.”
I’d then quickly go into the classroom and open my phonetics book and pretend to study, so Prof. Baird wouldn’t ask any further questions.
It was a carefree life in school, after classes depending on where I was, I’d either go straight to my residence or in London I’d go to one of the stores, it was Selfridges , I loved checking all the interesting things, I’d go from floor to floor it was my way of spending time, I dreaded going back to the residence because I knew I’d be homesick.
I miss my Profs., Sister Joseph Mary and also some of my classmates.
Now I registered for online courses, it’s stress-free, I see no one and no one sees me. I love the fact I do not have to dress up to be in this school. I’m studying about poet and philosopher Iqbal and enjoying a lot. The best part is we have no exam. We get a certificate at the end of a course.
I am using a video of Mary Hopkins, the lyrics , “those were the days”, although we didn’t hang out in the tavern or drank,what is similar is we were young, and we never thought our days of fun will be over. Making fun of our teachers was one thing that made us laugh the most.
When the full moon happens, you turn into a person who’s the opposite of who you normally are. Describe this new you.
There is something very unique about the full moon, whenever it happens and the sky is clear, I find myself in a place I’ve never been. I am lost in my thought and go into an imaginary place where it’s me, Tagore, Rumi, Mirza Ghalib and Iqbal. I carefully listen to their conversation.
Tagore and I are the only Bengalis , the rest of them speak Persian. I am fascinated to hear this language which I don’t understand.
Tagore realizes my shortcoming and helps me out. I begin to understand a few words, but cannot carry on a lengthy dialogue. I’m advised to go back to earth and work on my language skills especially in Persian, so I can participate in their discussion.
Back on earth I turn on my computer and Google the language Persian. I know I must be ready for the next full moon, I tell myself did I really see those people or it was all my imagination. Unfortunately it was just that and I didn’t have to count when I’ll meet them again.
They have left the earth and are now in a better place, without any kind of worries, and I am here with all the trials and tribulations of the world!