|Street sign in Heidelberg, Germany.|
Of all the intellectuals of the previous century, Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938) holds a unique position at the beginning of the twenty-first. In all likelihood his ideas are going to play an increasingly more important role in shaping the world we live in.
- He is the only poet or thinker whose ideas were directly responsible for the creation of a new state and nation, officially claiming to be his brainchild - Pakistan. In addition, he is either officially the national poet or unofficially a household inspiration in several other countries including Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and India.
- Study of his work and ideas is officially recognized as an academic discipline in its own right: “Iqbal Studies” is a fast-growing discipline in the countries of Iqbal’s influence, especially Pakistan. In the universities of Cambridge and Heidelberg, the academic stature of Iqbal is recognized by the existence “Iqbal Chairs”.
- Recognition of Iqbal as the foremost disciple of Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi is also on the rise: a symbolic grave of Iqbal may now be seen inside the compound of Rumi’s own mausoleum in Konya.
- Places are being officially named after him in many other countries too: the bank of the famous river Neckar in Germany has been named “Iqbal-Ufer”, there is an Allama Iqbal library in Mauritius, and so on.
- Iqbal Academy Pakistan publishes material in more than twenty languages – on a regular basis. One-off publications about him and partial translations of his works are available in many more languages.
- There are more than 5000 books and perhaps more than a hundred thousand papers written about him – this is more than what had been written about any other literary figure, ever, within less than a century from their death.
- Unlike almost all other poets and thinkers from the 20th Century who got recognized as the greatest, the influence of Iqbal is not restricted to the intellectual community: his poems still captivate the hearts and souls of the masses – including the unschooled. His is a household name which is being passed on from mother to children and being called out in religious gatherings as well as pop concerts; his ideas are being owned by liberals, conservatives, progressives, Sufis, atheists, fanatics and altruists altogether.