Monday, November 12, 2012

My "Iqbal Week" on Express Tribune

November 9 was the birth anniversary of Iqbal, which I spent mostly revising my second Urdu biography of Iqbal for a reprint. However, two of my articles were published in The Express Tribune, and I hope that they would be of some interest to those interested in the "applied" side of Iqbal Studies.
Artwork from The Express Tribune
1. Re-Reading History: who wants to be enlightened by Iqbal? (published November 9): "Iqbal's philosophy is a tool for training the minds for looking into the conscience of nations and humanity." This is how the editor captioned the gist of the article (rightly in my opinion). You can read the complete article on ET's website, and also post comments. Personally, I was particularly amused by two of the comments because, while I disagree with them, they are succinct and honest expressions of that approach with which I beg to differ in all my writings:
  • "Whatever message iqbal wanted to convey he did through his poetry. No need for further enlightenment." (Posted by ZQ)
  • "Anybody should think twice before buying an idea, any idea 'for which even the least enlightened man among us can easily lay down his life.'..." (Posted by Cynical).  
Artwork from The Express Tribune
2. Breaking down the Wall (Published November 11): The editor's introduction for this piece is, "If Ravi is India, then who is Vijay? Khurram Shafique revisits the 70s’ Bollywood blockbuster Deewar, a film which has constantly been the subject of analysis, and juxtaposes it with the current state of the subcontinent." Iqbal also features in this article, as he does  in the movie itself (through his lyrics). I hope that the regular readers of this blog would be able to guess that the title of the article, however, was not suggested by me, but I think its good because it can draw more readers. I was particularly drawn to one of the comments posted there by a very polite reader, Manish, but I won't copy it here because it would be out of context then. You can read the article and comments on the website of ET.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Prologue to 2017

2017 published by
Libredux, UK
Dear friends, 
The clouds of war linger over the East and while some people there may suspect the hand of "Western powers", the people in the "West" are themselves harrowed by myriad problems, some of which are essentially similar to those elsewhere. Is it not the time for taking the first practical step towards a meaningful action based on the certainty that regardless of the odds, the intentions may not, would not and cannot fail eventually?
It is not possible for any individual to outline the course for such action, but the first step towards discovering it collectively has to be a common understanding about our past - a simple and optimistic overview of the recent history of humanity highlighting some ideals on which nations have already agreed and may cooperate in future. 
This is the aim of this serialization of my recent publication, 2017, which will appear in weekly instalments on this blog on Fridays, so that input may be gathered from everyone as "comments", and possibly also related posts on other blogs. 
The first instalment is just an attempt to raise the question: can we reclaim the goal of "an age of plenty" for "all the nations" that was a commonly held dream in a recent past?
Khurram Ali Shafique 

On March 5 1946, British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill visited Westminster College in Missouri, USA. In his speech, which later became famous for several reasons, he said:
The United Nations Organisation must immediately begin to be equipped with an international armed force… It would nevertheless be wrong and imprudent to entrust the secret knowledge or experience of the atomic bomb, which the United States, Great Britain, and Canada now share, to the world organisation, while it is still in its infancy… Ultimately, when the essential brotherhood of man is truly embodied and expressed in a world organisation with all the necessary practical safeguards to make it effective, these powers would naturally be confided to that world organisation [i.e. the United Nations].
…If the dangers of war and tyranny are removed, there is no doubt that science and co-operation can bring in the next few years to the world, certainly in the next few decades newly taught in the sharpening school of war, an expansion of material well-being beyond anything that has yet occurred in human experience… there is no reason except human folly or sub-human crime which should deny to all the nations the inauguration and enjoyment of an age of plenty.
Churchill may have been stamping his authority as a world power rather than making a prediction, but the  dreams embedded in his words were being dreamt by so many at that time, even more ubiquitously outside the English-speaking world of the British Prime Minister. Less than seventy years later, those dreams not only seem to have failed but also to be forgotten. It was said that only folly or sub-human crime could prevent an age of plenty.

Instead, we now find ourselves to be in an age where even the remembrance of such promises seems to be sub-human folly, if not also crime. 
The promised paradise may not have happened until now, but can it be reclaimed soon? Why or why not? Post your answers as comments.
Further "reading":