Mohammad Iqbal was a poet and political philosopher, known both for his poetry and his ideas that were influential in the creation of Pakistan.
Mohammad Iqbal was born in Sialkot, Punjab in 1877. He graduated from Government College, Lahore, with a master's degree in philosophy and then taught there until 1905. During this period his poetry expressed an ardent nationalism, but a marked change came over his views between 1905 and 1908, while studying for his doctorate at Cambridge University, England, as he was deeply influenced by the philosophies of Nietzsche and Bergson and became extremely critical of Western civilization, which he regarded as decadent. Iqbal turned to Islam for inspiration and rejected nationalism as a disease of the West. He argued that Muslims must find their destiny through a pan-Islamic movement that ignored national boundaries. These ideas found expression in his long poems 'Asrar-e-Khudi' (The Secrets of the Self) in 1915 and 'Rumuz-e-Bekhudi' (The Mysteries of Selflessness) in 1918, which he wrote in Persian and not Urdu. In his last years Iqbal returned to Urdu as his poetic medium. He died in Lahore on April 21, 1938. This book presents a collection of some of the best nazms and ghazals of Iqbal, along with their English translation as well as transliterations in both Hindi and English so that the readers can enjoy the original beauty of Urdu poetry.
Kuldip Salil specialises in translating Urdu poetry into English and vice-versa. Commenting on his translation of Diwan-e-Ghalib into English, eminent critic and writer Khushwant Singh wrote, "I can say without hesitation, these renderings of Diwan-E-Ghalib' by Kuldip Salil read better than any I have read by scholars of Urdu, be they Indian, Pakistani or Firangi."
He has published seven collections of his poetry including Bees Saal ka Safar, Awaaz ka Rishta , Dhoop ke Saaye Mein and Aaj ke Ghazalkar. His anthology of translated Urdu poetry, Treasury of Urdu Poetry, is extremely popular. He has also translated into English the Urdu poetry of Meer, Ghalib, Faiz, Faraz and Firaq.
Kuldip Salil was born on December 30, 1938 in Sialkot (Pakistan). He completed his post-graduate degree in English and Economics from Delhi University. He retired as a Reader in English from Hans Raj College, Delhi University. He has won a number of awards including the Sahitya Akademi award for translating Urdu poetry into English and the Delhi Hindi Academy award for his poetry.
Translating poetry from one language into another is a difficult, some would say, an impossible task. The challenge here is the challenge of being faithful to the original, and at the same time retaining at least some of its charm and beauty. It is not only the idea of original that is to be conveyed, but its soul, its strength, its poignancy and sweetness and, if possible, its rhythm and resonance should also reach the reader. The goal should be that in translation also it should read like poetry. And the challenge is particularly tough in the case of the ghazal. One of the ways I could think of meeting this challenge was to translate the verse in rhymed couplets, ensuring that the rhymes are not laboured. And wherever rhyming was not possible, it has been dispensed with. After I translated Ghalib, and because the book was well received, I felt encouraged to undertake a translation of Iqbal's Urdu poetry. Although I had translated a few of his nazms and ghazals for an earlier anthology, an independent Nelume of Iqbal's poetry in English was, after my Diwan-e-Ghalib: A Selection, the next logical step in view of my great love and admiration for I is poetry. For the present volume, I have selected mins and ghazals from all the four collections of Iqbal's poetry. The share of Bang-e-Dara is larger than that of the other three because I admire Bang-e-Dara the most. It is only a selection of Iqbal's Urdu poetry, and so, many important ones from his Kuliyat (Complete Works) have regrettably been left out and from some of the longer poems only excerpts have been taken. A number of poems included in this volume have been, as far as I know, translated for the first time. Otherwise also, I have consulted very few translations. However, in my assessment of Iqbal's poetry and for writing about his life and times, I have consulted a large number of scholars. These include Maulvi Abdul Hach Rafiq Zakaria, Mian Bashir Ahmed, Prof. Arberry, Mian Abdul Aziz, Prof. Sunder Das, Dr. Hira Lal Chopra, Dr. William Jordan, Iqbal Singh and M. A. Latif. I acknowledge my debt of gratitude to all of them. I thank Prof. Khalid Ashraf, Prof. S.N. Sharma and Prof. Sadiq for reading through the manuscript and making valuable suggestions. Thanks are also due to Shri O.P. Sapra, Shri Rahul Gupta and Shri Mithuraj Dhusiya for helping me prepare the manuscript. Last but not the least, I thank my daughters Ritu and Sarika and my wife, the last especially, for giving me freedom to work on this book.
Mirza Ghalib (1797-1869) is generally considered to be the greatest Urdu poet, but while reading Iqbal, one sometimes wonders if this pride of place should not go to Iqbal. He is a truly great poet. It can be argued that if Nobel Prize had been awarded fairly, if it was free from linguistic, regional, political and ideological prejudices, Iqbal would have been an obvious choice. I strongly believe that a nation which has not produced a poet like Iqbal is singularly unlucky. For, few other poets have written poetry which can help man realize his hidden potential the way Iqbal's poetry does, and thus builds a nation on the shoulders of men of substance and strength that should be the envy of the world.
Mohammed Iqbal was born in Sialkot on 9th November in 1877. He came of a Kashmiri Sapru Brahmin family which had converted to Islam two generations earlier. It was his grandfather Mohammed Rafiq who had left his ancestral home in Kashmir for Sialkot. His father Nur Mohammed was a deeply religious man who earned his living by selling caps, which he stitched with his own hand. Nur Mohammed was God-fearing, led a pious life and prayed regularly five times a day. He had great love of learning and many scholarly friends gathered for discussion at his business premises. Iqbal took keen interest in these discussions. Nur Mohammed's advice to his son was never to forsake the path of the Prophet, and Iqbal adhered to this advice all his life.
Iqbal was put under the charge of an ascetic scholar Maulvi Mir Hasan, under whom he studied the basics of Islam. Apart from his education in a regular school, it was the Maulvi who gave Iqbal a firm grounding in Urdu, Persian and Arabic. A man of mystic bent of mind, he ingrained in Iqbal a humanistic vision which inspired the poet to take up the cause not only of the depressed and demoralized Muslims, but also to speak out for the oppressed and exploited everywhere. Iqbal was sent to the Scottish Mission School in Sialkot, and then to the Junior College of the same mission. He was married against his wishes to Karim Bibi, daughter of a rich man and three years older than him. He was then twenty years old. From this marriage he had a son and a daughter. The daughter died young.
Iqbal is said to have fallen deeply in love with a dancing girl, Amir, in Lahore. As against Karim Bibi, with whom his relations were never good, Iqbal found in Amir an intellectual companion, beautiful and well versed in Urdu. This infatuation with Amir, though short lived, had left him distraught for a while, because her mother would not allow Amir to meet Iqbal. Though his relations with Karim Bibi were estranged, she continued to live with him even after he shifted to Lahore and took other wives. It was only later in life that she left him for her parental home. Her son Aftab, however, never forgave his father for his treatment of his mother. The relation between the father and son became so bad and Iqbal was so much upset, that he ultimately disinherited Aftab. Iqbal took a Post-Graduate degree in Philosophy from Punjab University, Lahore in 1899. For some time, he taught at Oriental College and later worked in Government College, Lahore. As a student, Iqbal had the good fortune of meeting Sir Thomas Arnold, who taught him Philosophy. Arnold recognised Iqbal's exceptional talent and greatly encouraged him. He introduced Iqbal to all that is best and robust in western thought modern method of critical studies. With the passage of time, the relationship between the teacher and taught grew very close and on retirement Arnold recommended that Iqbal take his place. And it was on Arnold's suggestion that Iqbal went to Europe for higher studies in 1905.
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