Iqbal's role in awakening of the Muslims to a new consciousness began in 1899 when he recited a poem at the annual session of the Anjuman-i-Islam, Lahore. His moving Nala-i-Yatim was symbolic of the echoing cry of the faceless masses of the Indian Muslims, who had long felt themselves sidelined and neglected.
Nature gives birth to great philosophers and poets when the need arises. Natural calamities, wars, epidemics, storms and earthquakes etc causing human sufferings have always given birth to creative minds. Plato was born in 420 BC when his country had almost been ruined as a result of Peloponnesian war. Iqbal was born in 1877 AD when the inhabitants of India were suffering from miseries and deaths while struggling for the Independence of their country from British rule.
This framework makes his periodic forays into discussing and suggesting solutions to the problems of the Muslim world at large and his consuming concern with the Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam.(1930) - a logical extension of his role as a modern Muslim ideologue, attempting to analyze and, see Muslim India's problems and predicament on a wider canvas and in a total context. After all, Iqbal regarded India, if only because of the Muslim numerical strength, as;the greatest Muslim country in the world, to quote his own words. These tasks, both critical and onerous as they were, he fulfilled squarely.
His emotion-leaden and soul-lifting poetry was the medium Iqbal chose to bring his people a new awareness of the depths of degradation to which they had fallen, to diagnose their ailments, their predicament and the prime cause of their decline and to warn them of the dire consequences if they failed to mend themselves in good time. A more effective medium he could not have possibly chosen.
For one thing, poetry is the most powerful medium for touching the deepest emotions of people and for driving a message into their subconscious. For another, the Indian Muslims had been among the most poetry-oriented people in the wold, with a long tradition of readily taking to heart what was written in verse. Political orations may stir and audience into action, but their impact is bound to be restricted to a particular audience and dissipate with time and events. In contrast, a poetic message seeps through the ethos of a nation, working on its psyche all the while.
Hence Iqbal achieved through his poems what a thousand speeches could not. But for the silence mental preparation that had gone on for long decades, the people would not have responded to the call of political leaders - in this case, especially of Jinnah during the 1937-47 epochal decade. No wonder, the pandals of the League sessions from Lucknow (1937) onwards were plastered with Iqbal's couplets, calling on Muslims to rise and take their destiny in their own. Iqbal was quoted oft and on to rouse Muslims to a new awareness of their destiny. All this had an electrifying effect on the audience since Iqbal, though generally complex and couched in an appropriate idiom, was, straightforward and yielded clear guidelines.
Besides being a poet of extraordinary merit, Iqbal was a thinker of a high order. Thus, while Syed Ahmed Khan, Maulana Mohammed Ali and Jinnah provided political leadership to Muslims, Iqbal took upon himself the task of setting the intellectual tone for Muslim thought and action. (Previously, this was done by Sir Syed's, writing and the Aligarh school). In addressing himself to this task, Iqbal brought a revolution in Muslim thinking at various levels, he also made a significant contribution to keeping them stolidly anchored to their pristine ideology and historical legacy.
His role in awakening the Muslims to a new consciousness began in 1899 when he recited a poem at the annual session of the Anjuman-i-Islam, Lahore. His moving Nala-i-Yatim was symbolic of the echoing cry of the faceless masses of the Indian Muslims, who had long felt themselves sidelined neglected.
To the ailments the Muslim world was afflicted with, Iqbal found the solution in Islam and its message. In order to reach the innermost recesses of their consciousness, he invoked the past glory of Islam, telling Muslims of the accomplishments of their ancestors. In so doing, he tried to fight off the prevalent slough of despondency, raising drooping spirit of Muslims and replacing it with a sense of soaring confidence.
He emphasized the imperative need to develop human qualities and the right type of character. He attributed their degeneration to their taking to a life of passivity and resignation for several generations. That debilitating trend could be reversed by opting for initiative and endeavor which, he believed, Islam stood for. To him, an active, struggling non-believer was preferable to a sleeping Muslim.
But if Muslims were to be beckoned to a new destiny, they must first be confirmed as Muslims and they must own up their pristine values. This was all he more necessary in the context of the rise of positivism and skepticism, which posed a serious challenge to the modern Muslim.
The question, ‘do we need Iqbal today? The reply is a clear Yes. It is a need of the time, because the honor of humanity is at stake. The preachers of human rights are abusing humanity. Masses of men are being trampled ruthlessly under the heavy feet of the powerful. There is dearth of love in the world these days. Iqbal is a messenger of love. His message of love is universal, the humanity needs him, we do need him without any doubt..