Sahil Sharifdin Bhat
Sahil had always been an ardent admirer of Allama Iqbal, the great poet of Asia. His words had always resonated with Sahil, and he felt a deep connection with the messages conveyed through Iqbal’s poetry. He always had a desire to meet him. After all, Allama’s home was only a few hundred kilometers away from Sahil’s residence. The distance was not significant in the age of bullet trains and swift airplanes. One day, Sahil decided to take a bold step and visit Allama Iqbal at his honourable home in Lahore. As he entered Allama’s home, he felt a rush of excitement and nervousness. He was finally going to meet the star whose words had inspired him so much over the years . As he walked into the study room, he found the his favourite poet sitting at his desk, pen in hand, and deep in thought.
Sahil greeted him with much respect and admiration, and the great poet returned the gesture with warmth and kindness. The great poet remarked that he was expecting his (Sahil’s) visit, but he had been very late. Sahil apologized sincerely and explained that he had been facing some unexpected troubles and tribulations in his life over a few years. To which the great poet replied:
جفا جو عشق ميں ہوتی ہے وہ جفا ہي نہيں
ستم نہ ہو تو محبت ميں کچھ مزا ہي نہيں
The couplet made Sahil smile broadly. Then the great poet asked him to ask him anything he wanted, and Sahil took the opportunity to ask him a series of questions, each one related to Iqbal’s poetry and his philosophy of life.
At the very outset, Sahil asked Allama Iqbal why his poetry was so confusing and seemed to give contradictory messages. Allama smiled and then explained that his poetry was meant to inspire people to think deeply and critically about their lives and their place in the world. He continued that the contradictions in his poetry were at surface level and were meant to challenge voracious readers like Sahil to examine their understanding, efficiency and deep wisdom.
اسی میں دیکھ، مُضمر ہے کمالِ زندگی تیرا
جو تجھ کو زینتِ دامن کوئی آئینہ رُو کر لے
Next, Sahil asked Allama , ” My Spiritual guide, do you believe that there is a God?” To this question, Allama answered abruptly in these words: ”I believe that God is not a distant entity, but rather, the source of all existence and the essence of all things. The universe is a manifestation of His power, and our existence is a reflection of His grace.”
ہم نشیں! مسلم ہوں مَیں، توحید کا حامل ہوں مَیں
اس صداقت پر ازل سے شاہدِ عادل ہوں مَیں
Sahil thought deeply for awhile and then asked Allama Iqbal his next question: ‘’ What is the concept of ‘khuddi’ , my spiritual mentor?’’ Allama took a sip from the cup placed on his desk and said , ” Sahil , this tea is scalding.” Next he explained that ”khuddi” was the concept of selfhood, and that every individual had a unique purpose and destiny in life. It meant recognizing one’s inner strength and capabilities, and striving towards achieving excellence in one’s personal and spiritual development. Khuddi was the key to individual and collective progress and was essential for the advancement of humanity. He told Sahil to embrace his own khuddi and strive to fulfill his potential in life.
خودی سے مردِ خود آگاہ کا جمال و جلال
کہ یہ کتاب ہے، باقی تمام تفسیریں
Sahil then asked Allama Iqbal why he should chase knowledge instead of wealth in the modern wealth-oriented world. The great poet and philosopher sighed before explaining that knowledge was the key to unlocking the true potential of the human mind and that true success and genuine happiness could only be achieved through the pursuit of knowledge.
خودی ہو علم سے محکم تو غیرتِ جبریل
اگر ہو عشق سے محکم تو صُورِ اسرافیل
The thirst of wisdom goaded Sahil to ask Allama Iqbal why he should follow Islam in the modern age of science, technology, and the internet. The poet of the east answered sympathetically that Islam was a way of life that provided a moral framework for individuals to live their lives by. He emphasized that Islam was not incompatible with modernity, but rather offered a way to navigate the complexities of modern life while staying true to one’s principles. He added that a life devoid of Islam is not a divine gift , rather a harsh chastisement.
بازو ترا توحید کی قوّت سے قوی ہے
اسلام ترا دیس ہے، تُو مصطفوی ہے
The next question asked to Allama Iqbal was why he should ignore the corrupt Molvis and Sufis of modern times. Allama Iqbal elucidated that true spirituality was not about blindly following religious leaders but rather about developing a personal connection with God. He advised Sahil to seek out genuine spiritual teachers who embodied the values of Islam, not the big-bellied bears claiming to be the guardians of Islam.
اے مسلماں! اپنے دل سے پُوچھ، مُلّا سے نہ پوچھ
ہوگیا اللہ کے بندوں سے کیوں خالی حرم
الفاظ و معانی میں تفاوت نہیں لیکن
مُلّا کی اذاں اور، مجاہد کی اذاں اور
Sahil wrote down the couplets on a slip and then turned to the great poet asking why the modern Muslims were downtrodden, helpless, oppressed and tyrannized. The question silenced Allama for awhile and moistened his big beautiful black eyes. He wiped his eyes with a silk hanky and then spoke:
”Muslims are downtrodden in the present world because they have forgotten the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and have strayed from the true path of Islam. Their fault lies in their materialistic pursuits and their failure to live up to the spiritual and ethical ideals of their faith. They have lost the courage to fight against oppression and tyranny, and have become complacent in their own suffering. Only by returning to the true essence of Islam, with its emphasis on unity, justice , equity, and compassion, can Muslims hope to regain their dignity and place in the world. They must realise that they are attacking lions , not succumbing sheep.”
صفحۂ دہر سے باطل کو مِٹایا کس نے؟
نوعِ انساں کو غلامی سے چھُڑایا کس نے؟
تھے تو آبا وہ تمھارے ہی، مگر تم کیا ہو
ہاتھ پر ہاتھ دھرے منتظرِ فردا ہو!
Finally, Sahil asked Allama Iqbal why he should live a simple life and deprive himself from fashions , women and wine. Allama raised his black bushy eyebrows high enough to create three parallel wrinkles on his bright and broad forehead and then said that a simple life allowed the youngsters like Sahil to focus on what was truly important in life and to avoid the distractions of materialism, westernism and consumerism. He emphasized that simplicity was a virtue that all Muslims should strive to cultivate. A young Muslim must live like a Darwesh , with pure gaze , pure speech and pure character. He must be an agile lion in a lamb’s clothing.
ہوئی نہ زاغ میں پیدا بلند پروازی
خراب کر گئی شاہیں بچے کو صُحبتِ زاغ
حیا نہیں ہے زمانے کی آنکھ میں باقی
خدا کرے کہ جوانی تری رہے بے داغ
As Sahil listened to Allama’s thoughtful answers, he was deeply impressed by the deep knowledge, profound wisdom and spiritual insight that he possessed. He realized that the poetry of this great poet and philosopher was not just beautiful words, but a roadmap for living a meaningful and purposeful life.
As their conversation drew to a close, Sahil thanked Iqbal for his time and insights, and promised to return soon with a new set of questions. Iqbal smiled and told him that he was always welcome in his home, but advised him to cultivate more patience and to read the Holy Quran more often.
He further told Sahil that he had the potential to become a new star of Asia, but that he needed to be careful not to get distracted by the temptations of modern glitzy and showy life. He encouraged Sahil to continue to seek knowledge, to embrace his Khuddi, and to use his talents to make a positive impact in the world.
Sahil felt inspired and spiritually energized, with a renewed sense of purpose and direction in his life. He recognized that he still had much to learn, but felt confident that he was on the right path, guided by the oceanic wisdom and vast insight of one of Asia’s greatest poets. He decided to rise from his position and hold Allama’s right hand in his own, kissing it as a sign of respect. Suddenly, he heard a gentle knock on the door. It was his mother, Rafiqa Wani, asking him to wake up as the Sehri meal for the last day of Ramadan was ready for him in the kitchen. Sahil opened his eyes and realized that he was in his bed at home.
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