India highly misunderstood Allama Iqbal: Hamid Ansari

Rana Siddiqui Zaman for The Hindu (Sep 16, 2014)
“India highly misunderstood Iqbal and his philosophy,” said Vice-President Hamid Ansari while launching a book on the noted poet Allama Iqbal at his residence on Monday.

Philosopher, Patriot, Poet
Dr. Ansari called him a “philosopher, patriot and poet in one”. He noted that Mr. Iqbal was “misunderstood as ‘anti-national’ or from ‘Pakistan’ even by the so-called ‘learned’ Ministers in the Indo-Pak polity.”
The book in Urdu, titled Iqbal Ka Harf-e-Sheerin (Iqbal’s Honeyed Verses), has been penned by an international Iqbal scholar Professor Abdul Haq. It was released in the presence of Delhi University Vice-Chancellor Dinesh Singh, Urdu scholar Anis Aazmi and Dr. Zafar Mehmood, who runs the Iqbal Academy.
Mr. Ansari quotes a famous verse from the poet:
Meer-e-Arab ko aayi thandi hawa jahan se
Mera watan wohi hai, mera watan wohi hai
This couplet describes the poet’s love for India and says that even Prophet Mohammad wanted to feel the cool breeze coming from Hind. “India should not only respect Iqbal but also read and take lessons from him,” added Mr. Ansari.

Known to have pioneered research on Mr. Iqbal in India in 1972, it is the 38 book of Professor Haq on the poet. Cracking a joke on himself on the subject, he said: “People say I have ‘wasted’ 50 years only on one shayar. Iqbal is important for the country because he was the only poet who openly challenged the British empire in his verses unlike any other literary figure of his time in any language.”
Vice-Chancellor Delhi University Dinesh Singh said, “I am afraid people in general may not read this highly recommended book for three reasons; they don’t know the Urdu script, there is no interest in poetry and no reading habits among one-line tweet and message-driven younger generation.”

Unrivalled Secularism
Mr. Iqbal’s socialist views were reflected in his verses like khaye kyon mazdoor ki mehnat ka phal sarmayedar (why should an industrialist eat up a labourer’s share). Dr. Mehmood noted, “He is the only Urdu poet who kept Vishwamitra, Gautam Buddha, Jesus Christ, Prophet Mohammad and the Geeta in the same verse. He needs no certificate from anyone to prove his Indianness or secular credentials.”
The book will soon be translated into various languages, including Hindi, English and other regional languages by the Iqbal Academy.