Muhammad Iqbal, who composed the timeless tune “Saare Jahaan Se Achcha” before going on to play a key role in the movement for the creation of Pakistan, did not get a Nobel prize as the label of a poet for Muslims stuck to him, his grandson Waleed Iqbal has said.
Waleed, who lives in Pakistan, was speaking on Friday at an event in Kolkata where chief minister Mamata Banerjee posthumously conferred the “Tarana-e-Hindi” award on the man considered the national poet of Pakistan.
“The Western press described Tagore as a universalist. That’s why Tagore was conferred the Nobel prize. Muhammad Iqbal was labelled as a poet for the Muslims,” remarked Waleed during his address at Kolkata’s Nazrul Mancha where he shared the platform with Banerjee.
Iqbal too was an universalist and he wrote for farmers and haves-not in society, he said.
Tagore (1861-1941) won the Nobel in 1913, becoming the first Asian to get the award.
Muhammad Iqbal (1877–1938) was a poet, philosopher, barrister, politician and an academic who suggested the creation of a separate homeland for the Muslims of India. As a poet, Iqbal’s contribution is treasured in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Iran.
He became a member of the London branch of the All India Muslim League while studying law in Britain.
During Friday’s event, the poet’s grandson lamented that India and Pakistan were spending huge amounts on their armed forces instead of focusing resources on eradicating poverty.
Waleed, a politician, professor of law and prominent lawyer in Pakistan, said: “We can’t change our neighbour. Since India is bigger in size than Pakistan, India has to expand its heart.”
Quoting from “Saare Jahaan Se Achcha”, Waleed said his grandfather would dream that the brotherly ties between India and Pakistan could be an example for the world.
In her speech, Banerjee announced that an Urdu academy will be formed at Alia University where a chair will be named after Iqbal.
“The works of Iqbal should be translated into different languages so that others could understand it,” she said.
Banerjee said such programmes should be arranged more frequently.
A three-day programme has been organised by the West Bengal Urdu Academy to commemorate Iqbal’s intellectual contributions to Urdu literature. Friday was the first day of the celebrations.