- By: Ibn-e-Taha
The study of Allama Iqbal and Khushal Khan Khattak reveals similarities in opting for poetry for unity and the renaissance of Muslims. Khushal Khan was born in 1613 AD and Iqbal in 1877 AD, despite a gap of 264 years, both have the same universal poetic thoughts and diction.
The study of Iqbal reveals poetic thoughts of Khushal have been rejuvenated. Iqbal came across Khushal’s work during his stay in London, which led to writing an article on Khushal Khan Khattak. This article was published in the quarterly English magazine “Islamic Culture” published by Haiderabad Deccan in 1928.
Iqbal gave new dimensions to poetry in Urdu; Khushal was a trendsetter in Pashto poetry. They both drew influence from Arabic and Persian literature through philosophy, wisdom, history, anthropology, cultural identity, and social interaction. They both have used Arabic and Persian grammar, similes’, metaphors, historical facts, references, allegory, concepts, simplicity, pure thoughts, independence, warrior nature, and ethnocentrism. Iqbal’s Persian poetry is available in the form of books; he also titled Persian names for his Urdu books. All of these books are written in different themes with different tones showing the multi-dimensional class of Iqbal.
Similarly, Khushal had also written poems in Persian with different poetic diction of Persian poetry showing his mastery over the Persian language and grammar.
Iqbal is known to draw inferences from Al-Quran and Khushal mentions the Holy book as a guarantor of righteousness. They both think and write in Islamic tone and ideology in line with the preachings of this last divine book. Surprisingly in one place, they both quote the same ayah of Al-Quran i.e. “Lun-Tanalul-birra-hatta-tunfiqu-mimma-tuhibboon” Translation “Verily you won’t earn blessings of God till you spend the best in His way”.
At another place, both quote “Mun-Arafa-Nafsahu-faqud-arafa-rabbahu” Translation “One who discovers himself, discovers the God”. They are both poets of “Hope” and never get frustrated in line with AL-Quran “La-Tuqnatoo” Translation “Never lose faith in God”. They are convinced, a soldier of God spends nights in prayers for Him and doesn’t indulge in follies. They both idealize this soldier to be soft as silk for friends and hard as solid Iron for enemies. They are a staunch believer of faith in God’s blessings like a saint and feel contended with even limited food and shelter. They symbolically disregard crowns and lust for worldly wealth and stature. Their soul is high thinking, courageous, bold, trustworthy, well versed, and a dedicated element of the universe. They want every Muslim to be an ideal man, a true Muslim as per Allah’s desire.
Both are respectful of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallal-la-ho-alaeh-i-wasallam) with similar perceptions. They describe their love for the Holy Prophet as part of their belief and want it globally announced. God’s awareness is through knowing Prophet Muhammad (Sallal-la-ho-alaeh-i-wasallam). Taha and Yaseen are the names of God. Gabriel is the messenger of God for Muhammad (Sallal-la-ho-alaeh-i-wasallam). Muslim identity, self-identity, faith, and all the traits present in the personality of Muhammad (Sallal-la-ho-alaeh-i-wasallam) are the basics for a human being. Negation of Prophet Muhammad (sallal-laho-alaeh-e-wasallum) or his preaching entails the negation of Islam. They also pay respect to Sahaba-e-Kiram the companions of the holy prophet Muhammad (Sallal-laho-alaeh-e-wasallum) and Ahl-e-bayt ie family of the Holy Prophet (Sallal-la-ho-alaeh-i-wasallam) during their narrations almost in the same words. Interestingly, they both quote the meeting of Moses (Ale-hiss-salaam) with the God at “Toor” in their poetry.
The initial poetry of both Iqbal and Khushal carried shades of native love. If Iqbal says “Hindustan is the best in the world” Khushal also appreciates the “sweet waters of Hindustan”. Both have used iconic synonyms for sword and throne, youth and character, fear of God, and influence of mediation. Both preach steadfastness against the odds and fight for the truth, that’s why they are more popular in thriving nations. They both have a message on how to spend a free yet disciplined successful life. They both had clarity of mind, adaptability, vision, and acceptability of new thoughts.
Iqbal describes “Eagle” as an icon of high aims for the Muslims and Khushal mentions “Falcon” as his ideal with the same characteristics. Eagle/Falcon is a high-aimed species whereas crow, pigeon, kite, and others are low in caliber and quality to an Eagle. They both say “Eagles/Falcons are not bothered by crows in their flight”. They both describe Muslim invaders who preached message of Allah through their administration, management, welfare mind, sensitive heart, and pious soul. They describe the qualities of a leader as a person with bravery, high aims, selflessness, sincerity, truth-lover, generosity, sound character, chivalric, wise, foresighted, honest, polite, and cultured. Imposed decisions and dictatorship were not the aim of any Muslim ruler.
Iqbal and Khushal advise in consultation with peers and colleagues for a better decision. Khushal follows the Pashtun concept of (Da Saloro Faisla, a tradition in Pathans to refer their matters to four elders). Likewise, Iqbal favors a consultation process (sensible and wise) for every system to be successful.
They are both the teachers, leaders, and revolutionaries of their time. They both see life as a dynamic and vibrant event. Their message with a universal philosophy is applicable at all times as they stress constant effort and struggle to guarantee a successful life. Tests and trails are part of future prosperity and bring laurels later. Irritants are destined to shape a personality into a diamond.
A pearl is developed after rugged experiences and toughest times. Iqbal and Khushal encourage the seeking of knowledge in line with the Hadith request to seek knowledge and learn. They both had deep knowledge of Hadith, Tafseer (explanation of Al-Quran), research, logic, counter argument, Sufi-ism, and different political thoughts of all the previous as well as present scholars of their time. They agree success lies in learning and improving oneself continuously.
The Piousness of a human being and his spirit are a pre-requisite to understanding God. They simultaneously promote skill-learning, bravery, generosity, self-awareness, self-restraint, discipline, avoidance of lust for power, self-confidence, sincere thoughts, vision, and a balanced love & logic relationship. As they debate the conflict between Mind and Heart, if Khushal calls the tussle of the mind with passion, Iqbal also describes this struggle in human life as a dominant factor. They say one has to be conscious of the dominance of the mind over the soul.
Iqbal and Khushal desire exploration of the universe and constant endeavor to learn. They are commonly found to be using astronomical signs and names of stars in galvanizing the hi-spirits and futuristic events. Depending upon one’s thoughts a man can be in the skies and scale the universe.
They present “Man” as being a descendant of God as a beautiful creature, that has been created a combination of vice & virtue, fire & water, evil & good, vice-regent of the skies, and the ultimate icon of God. They also describe man as a combination of four elements (Greek myth). A man can match the angels or Satan at the same time (depending on how he conceives). Both mention one is the master of his destiny and becomes eligible for paradise or hell depending upon his earnings. They are convinced discovering oneself makes a man know about his pride and grandeur.
If Iqbal addresses Muslims as a nation, Khushal also calls Pathans descendants of Muslims. The concepts of Millat and Ummah are clearly defined by both of them. If Iqbal wishes to see Muslims as one unit, Khushal also loves to see his people united. They both lament the lost pride, ego, heritage, pride, culture and chivalry of Muslims. They consider the downfall of Muslims to be due to lust for money and power, loss of inherited traits, low ideology, and low spirits.
They preach to eliminate Kufr (the un-aware condition of Muslims) and focus on traditions and values for a better social setup. They proclaim dictums of progress are influenced by social cohesion, unity of action, steadfastness, pursuance, and pre-severance. Both wish for the zenith of Muslim chivalric values and stress with pride and honor.
Muslims can regain glory by achieving cultural and social improvements in their character by following the footsteps of their ancestors and changing of thinking patterns and spotless character. The universal quality of “Constant endeavors” has kept them alive till the day and is followed by all leaders and philanthropists of the world.
Critics call Khushal’s love for the native land a local effect, yet this is the basic idea towards unity of a nation further leading to one Ummah in the world.
Khushal and Iqbal portray traits of Muslim society as hospitality, respect for elders, Islamic pride, open heart and arms, decent language, and adherence to the norms of a culture. They both want to groom society through education, knowledge, communication, attitude, and behavior. They describe an independent life that should be lived with dignity through a motivated struggle for freedom from an ideology. They propagate the implementation of truth and grooming of a society through character and values. During the struggle against tyranny, both are identical as per Al-Quran’s teachings “To hit hard and not to evade”. They both condemn fleeing the grounds.
Iqbal and Khushal are against so-called Theologians and illiterate Mullah. Both reject self-created theologians or pseudo-intellectuals. They both agree “You will be misled if you follow the half-knowledge based, showy, hollow personalities and self-projected Muslim scholars”.
The cunning priests are making a fool of simple Muslims, these jargons are interested in selling their agenda and keeping the pure souls under disguise. These religious elders impose their own meanings and ideology on the public by claiming to be inheritors of the prophets and saints, keeping their business running through false un-Islamic thoughts and rituals. Here again, they both quote Al-Quran “A pious is worse than a sinful, if he possesses his ego”. They are both against masquerading. They desire to make a progressive and developing society by grooming through character and values. They want a dynamic culture with faith in Almighty and avoid hypocrisy, fortune-oriented, and superstitious beliefs. Both have a fair idea of the economics of a society. They believe that without economic stability, a society cannot be balanced. They mention that the welfare of society and economic health cannot be achieved without a change in the thinking and behavior of the individuals.
Today if Iqbal is attributed as the dreamer of Pakistan for the Muslims of Sub-continent, Khushal can be said to have laid down the foundation for these dreams to be implemented by a Muslim.