Understanding Iqbal: Watniyat

Allama Iqbal Poetry

On this day in 1877, a man was born who was wise enough to know how words can transform slaves into warriors. I don’t remember how old I was when for the first time I read his writings and it felt like I had them carved on my heart. But even after so many years of studying his poetry, I still find new lessons and new views in it. What I want to share today, is a brief description of a poem by Allama Iqbal describing a line between two things that separate us, Muslims from the rest of the World. So some time ago I came across this poem of his named WATNIYAT (YANI WATAN BAHESIAT AIK SIYASI TASAWWUR KY). اس دور میں مے اور ہے، جام اور ہے جم اور In this age the wine, the cup, even Jam is different ساقی نے بِنا کی روِشِ لُطف و ستم اور The cup-bearer started different ways of grace and tyranny مسلم نے بھی تعمیر کِیا اپنا حرم اور The Muslim also constructed a different harem of his own تہذیب کے آزر نے ترشوائے صنم اور The Azar of civilization made different idols of his own ان تازہ خداؤں میں بڑا سب سے وطن ہے Country, is the biggest among these new gods! جو پیرہن اس کا ہے، وہ مذہب کا کفن ہے What is its shirt is the shroud of Din.

What is Wataniyat(nationalism)? And why has Iqbal called it the shroud for Islam? We live in a confusing world(at least I do), we often merge two concepts separated by a thin but fine line only because of our lack of knowledge about them. And since Ambiguity is the first attack of the devil on us, these confusions lead us astray.

Patriotism and Nationalism are two different things. One is a part of faith, while the other is the ‘murderer’ of faith. Nationalism (what Iqbal calls a political concept of Wataniyat) means loving your nation, your country more than yourself, your parents even your Creator. In the World which is changing continuously, Azar of Culture'(Azar was Hazrat Ibrahim (A.S)’s father, an idol-worshipper) has carved new idols for misleading mankind, as it had been doing since forever. The biggest of these idols is Watan (Country). Shirk isn’t only worshipping idols of stones, fire, and anything that makes you fearful or gives you an advantage. Fearing something more than fearing Allah is also a shirk. Loving something more than loving Allah is also Shirk. Living and dying from something other than Allah is also Shirk. And this is the line that separates a Muslim from the rest of the world. A line between a nationalist and a patriot. یہ بُت کہ تراشیدۂ تہذیبِ نوی ہے This idol which is the product of the new civilization غارت گرِ کاشانۂ دینِ نبَوی ہے Is the plunderer of the structure of the Holy Prophet’s Din بازو ترا توحید کی قوّت سے قوی ہے Your arm is enforced with the strength of the Divine Unity اسلام ترا دیس ہے، تُو مصطفوی ہے You are the followers of Mustafa, your country is Islam نظّارۂ دیرینہ زمانے کو دِکھا دے You should show the old panorama to the world اے مصطفَوی خاک میں اس بُت کو ملا دے! O Mustafa’s follower! You should destroy this idol.

This idol is one of the concealed enemies of Islam, concealed with such perfection that it seems a necessary part of our faith. Iqbal simply wants to deliver a message that a Muslim’s country is the whole world. Islam forbids us to bound ourselves to a specific place.

Let me give a heart-wrenching example here, when the flag bearers , the imams of Muslims chose their country over their religion Islam. In 1916, when the Arabs decided to attack Turkey for the sake of their country’s progress, ignoring their prime goal (spreading the message of Tauheed in the World), this is where a Muslim is tested, this is what Iqbal is trying to portray, that a Muslim can never be a captive of a certain place even if that place is his own country.

For the whole world belongs to Allah the most Powerful of all and as a result to Muslims. And the biggest proof of this thing is that Hazrat Muhammad SAWW, the seal of Prophethood, the last guider, himself didnt die in the place he was born. A Muslim can never be a Pakistani, an Afghani, a Turk, an Arab, a Muslim is only Mustafawi empowered by the power of tauheed. ہو قیدِ مقامی تو نتیجہ ہے تباہی The limitation to country results in destruction رہ بحر میں آزادِ وطن صُورتِ ماہی Live like the fish in the ocean free from country ہے ترکِ وطن سُنّتِ محبوبؐ الٰہی Renouncing the country is the way of the God’s Beloved دے تُو بھی نبوّت کی صداقت پہ گواہی You should also testify to the Prophethood’s Truth by similar action گُفتارِ سیاست میں وطن اور ہی کچھ ہے In political parlance country is something different ارشادِ نبوّت میں وطن اور ہی کچھ ہے In Prophet’s command country is something different, I would want you all to start this band from its last two lines. The concept of loving your country is different in political parlance. This concept means choosing your country over your religion, giving your life for your country (especially when you live in a non-muslim country and its goal is to stop what message Muslims have been trying to give since the start of time), and basically doing everything you’d do for Allah. But In Prophet SAW’s commands, the concept of loving your country is something else, and btw don’t get confused here that Islam is against loving your country, Islam simply tells us not to love something so much that its love in your heart increases than the love you have for Allah, it can be one’s children, one’s money, one’s goals and when this happens the first defense against our destruction in the both world weakens.

We know that Prophets were driven out of their countries when they raised their voice against Shirk. Our Prophet SAW had to leave Makkah, his birthplace , for it too. Ibn ‘Abbas narrated: The Prophet (S.A.W) said, addressing Makkah: “How good you are as a land and how dear you are to my heart! Had your people not forced me out of you, I would have never come out and left you and would have never resided in any other city but you.” [At-Tirmithi & Ibn Hibban]. This shows how even Prophets can stop themselves falling in love with the place that made them everything but in this love, which is of course natural, they do not forget the Greatest of All, The one who deserves all the Praises, Allah. He loved his city but he loved Allah more. This is what differentiates a Watan Parast (country worshipper, Nationalist) and a Muhib e Watan (Patriot). اقوامِ جہاں میں ہے رقابت تو اسی سے The antagonism among world’s nations is created by this alone تسخیر ہے مقصودِ تجارت تو اسی سے Subjugation as the goal of commerce is created by this alone خالی ہے صداقت سے سیاست تو اسی سے Politics have become bereft of sincerity is by this alone کمزور کا گھر ہوتا ہے غارت تو اسی سے The destruction of the home of the weak is by this alone اقوام میں مخلوقِ خدا بٹتی ہے اس سے God’s creation is unjustly divided among nations by it قومیّتِ اسلام کی جڑ کٹتی ہے اس سے The Islamic concept of nationality is uprooted by it Iqbal further says All of these Fasads have only one cause and that is the political concept of Wataniyat (I’d like to emphasize the word POLITICAL CONCEPT OF WATNIYAT here since the Islamic concept of Wataniyat is the complete opposite of it and something that is part of Prophet SAW’s sunnah cant ever be the cause of fitnah. Also, all of the threats to Islam caused by Wataniyat explained in this poem, are the reason for the political concept of Wataniyat, not the Islamic one, and both of these are differentiated by a ‘thin but fine line’ or I must say a mirror which makes both of these things opposite of each other).

The Political concept of Wataniyat makes humans hungry for more and more lands to rule. History tells us about the colonization of the British and the cause for it was only the POLITICAL CONCEPT OF WATNIYAT in a way that forced the British to subjugate underdeveloped countries for the progress of their own country. And lastly Iqbal says Political concept of watniyat divides people , especially Muslims. Prophet SAW has called Muslim ummat a single body , but watniyat breaks the connection of this single body and divides it into several parts lined by borders. Islam has no borders and political concept of watniyat can’t breathe without borders , without dividing the people believing in one Kalma into several parts , creating distances between them , making them forget their prime goal and that’s how watniyat uproots the Mustafawi nationality of Muslims. I hope and pray that we realize that how badly and quietly this watniyat is preying upon our imaan before it’s too late. And I hope and pray that Pakistan stays in the first Row in the fight against fitnah and spreading the message of Allah.