Thursday, September 3, 2009

Javidnama: an introduction

Javidnama (1932) is an epic poem which Iqbal wrote in Persian from 1927 to 1932. He described it as his “life’s work”:
  • Prayer: Iqbal prays to God that this book may become easy for the youth, who are its primary audience, since Iqbal is fed up with the elder generation
  • Prologue Heavenly: a parable about heaven and earth on the day of Creation, in which a bright future for humanity is guaranteed
  • Prologue Earthly: the spirit of Rumi takes Iqbal on a journey in search of immortality after the appearance of Zurvan, the angel of Time and Space
  1. Moon (Inquiry): Rumi introduces Iqbal to (a) Vishvamitra meditating in a cave of Moon, (b) the music of Sarosh and his poetry, and (d) Yarghamid or the Valley of Prophets where tablets of Buddha, Zarathustra, Christ and Prophet Muhammad can be seen
  2. Mercury (Discovery): Rumi and Iqbal offer prayers after Jamaluddin Afghani, together with Said Halim Pasha, listening to recitation of Surah Najam, after which Rumi introduces Iqbal as “Zindah Rud” and Afghani reveals four principles of Quran through which “new worlds” may be discovered
  3. Venus (Transcendence): Rumi prevents revival of false idols by reciting a ghazal from Iqbal’s Persian Psalms, and then they witness Pharaoh and Lord Kitchener confounded in a dark and lifeless ocean where the spirit of Mahdi of Sudan sings a marching song about journey to Madinah
  4. Mars (Freedom): Rumi introduces Iqbal to an inside-out race which has attained complete liberty, equality and brotherhood after rejecting secularism
  5. Jupiter (Action): Rumi introduces Iqbal to the spirits of Hallaj, Quratul Ain Tahira and Mirza Ghalib, who were offered paradise but they refused it; a dialogue with Devil follows
  6. Saturn (Expansion): the spirit of India laments over the plight of its people as Rumi shows Iqbal two traitors, Mir Jafar and Mir Sadiq, doomed to a worse agony after being refused by hell
  7. Beyond the Spheres (Creation): passing over Nietzsche on the outskirts of the physical universe, Rumi takes Iqbal through the palaces of heaven and introduces him to noble spirits and houris, until Iqbal yearns to move on alone to meet the Creator and discuss immortality, nationhood and destiny
  • Address to Javid – a Word with the New Generation: Iqbal concludes his book with a one on one talk with you, as he prays for you from inside his tomb

The seven main chapters describe seven stations which seem to be metaphors of stages through which a soul must pass in order to attain its goal. In the end, Iqbal meets God alone. He witnesses a present moment in which past and future are merged together. The course of history is discussed with the Creator, and Iqbal gets to see a vision of Destiny. He faints, but in the ‘Address to Javid’, he tells his son (and through him he tells us) that he is still praying for us in his grave. Does this mean that Iqbal finally attained that immortality which he was seeking? Every reader gets to answer this question on their own.


  1. One of the most astonishing and remarkable work ever penned, JAVEDNAMA is not a Book, its an experience of a Poet/Philosopher/Saint who was ABD of the highest caliber and order. This Overview by Khurram Ali Shafique is a reminder a knock, that we must read and understand this unique journey of Iqbal who started this expedition as only himself but at the culmination it was the collective ego that brought all this home. We are also part of this journey, so we must know, what part we are?

  2. It is not easy to understand this highly mystical work, where reality transcends the bounds of time and space. It can only happen if Rumi and Iqbal take us to that immemorial ride. It is full of symbols and meaningful archetypes describing evolution in human history. I wish I were blessed with such elevation in consciousness that truth does not remain mystery for me and becomes reality for me.

  3. Akhtar and Seema Arif, thanks. If it is not easy to understand Javidnama then it may be said that Iqbal's prayer wasn't accepted as he asked God in the beginning of his work, "Make my word easy for the youth."

    But then, they also serve, who only stand and wait :).

  4. Shafique shaib salam,I just recently read Javid nama which was loaned to me by my friend,i had goose bump on my arm when i finished it,like Drariffo I too wish truth does not remain mystery for me and become reality for me,i was just recently introduced to you web site and I am enjoying reading all the posts,although i am a great admirer if Iqbal there are poems that are very hard for me to understand and wish some one could explane them to me so i can understand what Iqbals message is in those poems.Zaibun

  5. This is a very good blog. Though I'm curious why Pakistan is called a republic of our great Mevlana!

    I read Javid Nama some time and it took me by surprise in many ways.

    I must say that initially I felt it derives certain inspiration from Dante's Divine Comedy (poets journey through heavens and hell) and also from Hakim Sinai's 'Conference of the Birds' (discovery of the Self). But it was extra-ordonary indeed.

    I'm very pleased that the author has explained the aspects of Iqbal's journey in this book. It makes me sad that Allama we know is too much focused on Bang-e-Dira, which are child's play compared to his later works, especially the persian ones. The flight of the Shaheen seems to start as Baal-e-Gibreel begins.

    You may like to hear that there is a Symbolic Grave of Allama Iqbal in Turkey, which mentions on its epitaph, the great reverence Allama had for Mevlana.

    Keep the good work coming!


    Waleed Khalid