At Markaz Tabadol Kitaab, a popular second-hand book store on bustling Vali Asr Street in central Tehran, there is a large section filled with Persian works by Sir Mohammad Iqbal, affectionately known in Iran as ” Iqbal Lahori “.
Iqbal, a strong supporter of the political and spiritual renewal of Islamic civilization across the world, has never been to Iran. But its imprints can be found everywhere – in textbooks, university theses, poetry clubs, research institutes, political think tanks and even the streets.
Even Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wrote a book about him.
A seller at a leading bookstore in Tehran said Anadolu Agency may Iqbal’s works and books on him remain in great demand among university students.
He is one of the few illustrious names in South Asia to have streets named after him in the Iranian capital, others being Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Mahatma Gandhi, icons of the anti-colonial movement in undivided British India.
Arash Saberi, a scholar who has worked extensively on Iqbal’s Persian works, said he modeled his poetry on the style adopted by the legendary Persian poet, Jalaluddin Rumi.
READ: Iranian military holds annual exercises near Gulf mouth
“Rumi, being one of Iqbal’s greatest spiritual inspirations, played a central role in his transformation from an Urdu poet to a Persian poet,” he said. Anadolu Agency, adding that about 7,000 of the 12,000 lines of his poetry are in the Persian language.
Saberi said that Iqbal was “fascinated” by Iran, its civilization and its culture, which is reflected in many of his works, such as Zabur e Ajam, a book of philosophical poetry in Persian published in 1927, and Maqaalat e Iqbal, an anthology of his writings. published in 1963.
Interestingly, Iqbal’s doctoral thesis that he submitted to the University of Munich was on Persian philosophical thoughts.
In his book “Asraar e Khudi” (Secrets of the Self), published in 1915, Iqbal praised the beauty and nobility of the Persian language.
Unique place in Persian literature
Ali Dehgahi, director general of the Organization for Culture and Islamic Relations, a cultural body affiliated with the Iranian government, said that Iqbal holds a unique place in the field of Persian literature.
Talk to Anadolu Agency, Dehgahi described Iqbal as “the last of the stellar generation of Persian poets in the subcontinent”, after Bidel Dehlavi, Amir Khosrow and Mirza Asadullah Ghalib.
“But Iqbal’s art was not limited to Persian poetry and literature. He was a social thinker and reformer who sought to reform Eastern societies and Islamic countries, and this concern was also reflected in his literary works, “he said, distinguishing Iqbal from other famous Persian poets.
Regarding his popularity in Iran, Dehgahi said it had to do with “his great love and affection for Iran” as well as his priceless Persian works.
“A brief study of his life and thoughts shows that the Holy Quran and the works of Persian mystics and literary giants like Hafez, Sanai and, in particular, Rumi, greatly influenced the formation of his thoughts and ideas” said Dehgahi, who previously headed the House of Iranian Culture in New Delhi.
READ: Wonderful journeys to strange lands
Mohammad Akhgari, a great expert on Persian works of Iqbal and professor at the University of Tehran, said that Iqbal is “one of the most beloved Persian poets” whose poetry made its way into textbooks in Iran for its exquisite wealth.
He said that Lahore, the adopted city of Iqbal, had the reputation of being “one of the active centers of Persian literature” and produced many legendary poets like Ali ibn Othman Jalabi, whose book ” Kashf al Mahjoub “was the first book of mystical prose in the Persian language until Iqbal burst onto the scene.
Iqbal’s visit to Iran did not take place
Another thing that set Iqbal apart from other Persian poets of his time is his response to the German poet, the West-East Diwan of Goethe, Akhgari noted, adding that “no other Persian-speaking poet could do what Iqbal ”.
One of Iqbal’s unfulfilled wishes was to visit Iran, a country immortalized by its Persian poetry.
The “poet of the East” as he is called received little appreciation from the then rulers in Iran, the Pahlavi dynasty, as he had gained immense popularity in the country’s academic circles. .
But Iranian leader Reza Shah Pahlavi is said to have invited popular Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore to Tehran in the early 1930s, but no such invitation was ever sent to Iqbal.
Qadir Hassani Asraar, university researcher in Persian literature, regrets that the great philosopher-poet has never been able to visit Iran.
“Someone who has been praised by people like Murtaza Mutahhiri and idolized by sociologist Ali Shariati, deserved the state’s honor for his unprecedented contribution to the Persian language,” he said.
In 1952, years after the poet’s death, then Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosadeq praised Iqbal posthumously on a radio show, hailing his contribution to Persian literature and his struggle against British imperialism. in India.
“In the following years, his works in Persian started to be published in Iran, and the rest, as they say, is history,” Asraar said.