Should we criticize Iqbal for writing eulogy to Queen Victoria?

Every year, on 9th of November, a poem of Sir Allama Muhammad Iqbal is circulated on the social media. This poem creates controversy between left wing and right wing people. Before commenting further, lets go through the poem first.

Iqbal's poem on queen victoria.
Iqbal’s poem on queen victoria.

Iqbal’s poem on queen Victoria.In this poem, he said that the queen’s patronage on India was like God’s patronage. “Even the throne of God is trembling with mourning of Her Majesty’s death.  We would call this month as Muharram (The month of mourning for Muslims in which the family of the prophet of Islam was martyred). For the funeral of Her Majesty, Iqbal should be the dust of the road.”

In fact, it is too much and not understandable for any one who knows Iqbal as the great freedom fighter of India who tried to instill the thoughts of freedom and self dignity in Indian Muslims. But why did he write it? Was he confused in his ideology?

I used to think that the writers lead the society and show the right path to the masses. But recently, I changed my view points. The state policy makers are the actual king makers and revolutionaries who drive the writers on their lines by feeding them false knowledge and fake wisdom and the writers in turn spread the same fake message in the community through their powerful expression.

Before, the annexation of Punjab 1849, Urdu language had not entered Punjab. The Punjabi literature being written for almost last thousand years was a symbol of interfaith harmony, love and tolerance. But the British language policy very successfully divided the Indian society by associating religion with the languages. Punjabi was banned in Punjab and Urdu was promulgated.  There was public announcement (The proof can be collected from Lahore museum) that two annas for a sword and six annas for a Punjabi Quida. So the Punjabi primers ware collected and burnt. The educated elite after the annexation of Punjab was taught Urdu instead of their mother language.

Most of the time (unless we consciously try to unlearn), we write what we read. Allama Muhammad Iqbal was born on 1877 and here are the excerpts from the Urdu text book of India published in 1899.

Urdu Text book for class 5 published in 1899 India
Urdu Text book for class 5 published in 1899 India
Urdu Text book for class 5 published in 1899 India
Urdu Text book for class 5 published in 1899 India page 13
Urdu Text book for class 5 published in 1899 India Page 14
Urdu Text book for class 5 published in 1899 India Page 14

I try to translate few lines for those who are unable to understand Urdu.

First Chapter about the virtues of her majesty the great Queen.

Boys! this is the image of the Great Queen. Her majesty is the monarch of England and India. We are all her majesty’s people. Her virtues and the good qualities are beyond expression. Anyhow, all the good qualities that parents want to see in their kids, husband in his wife and children in their parents, are found in her majesty’s personality…………….. ……. It is the duty of the people to pray for her majesty. Her majesty is such a just and kind monarch. It is just due to  her majesty’s justness that the world is in peace!

When such lessons are taught to the kids at the very tender age, the hero worship and the slavery is firmly etched on their  minds. The writers reproduce in their writings what is fed to them in school days.  And the most important point is, when you are detached from the language and culture of your soil, you go really strayed. Instead of your next door neighbors, you feel more for some one living across the borders. Had Iqbal chosen his mother tongue as the medium of expression, he has felt the pain of his own community.  Even he tried to write in Punjabi but he could not. He once said, “I want to write in Punjabi but can not find right words for expression”. The reason is obvious that he was not taught Punjabi at any level in school so he could not write in Punjabi.  Even despite the fact that he was living in Punjab, he did not write a single verse about jalliawala bagh massacre. The irony is, he was knighted with the title Sir in 1922 by British government right after two years of this mass murder.

The bitter truth is, the legacy still continues.  This behavior of being alien to our own identity is exactly what our contemporary writers living in Lahore and other areas of Punjab are still showing . Due to excessive dose of Ordoo at the very tender age, they think themselves as the heirs to Ghalib and Meer instead of Warish Shah and Bulle Shah.

So, It is not Iqbal but the education system that should be criticized.