Creative Aesthetics ::
literary and artistic weltanschauung negates fully timeworn, derivative and
orthodox tendencies. It criticises those artists who sell their souls in the
process of pandering to the interests and tastes of lords and rulers.
The writer is a professor of Urdu Literature at Government College University
DR. Saadat Saeed
Occasionally art and literature guides the audience through negative examples.
They do not project positive examples. Suggestions are used as tools for real
comprehensions. Ethical details are consciously avoided in their themes. If any
artist or poet embraces the methodology involved in propaganda, he is has a
tendency to project a one-sided view with heroes only personifying ideal human
values. Real artists and writers reflect their views through negations. They
remain alert in negating prevalent camouflaged actualities.
The real literary and artistic weltanschauung negates fully timeworn, derivative
and orthodox tendencies. It criticises those artists who sell their souls in the
process of pandering to the interests and tastes of lords and rulers. Those
artists and writers who remained sleeping under quilts of silence and
indifference even after seeing with their own eyes the insults and denigration
imposed on common people around them, could never have told the real stories.
They kept on detaching themselves from man, universe and their surroundings.
They wrote on subjects relating to so called private loneliness instead of being
moved by the collective isolation, dread and suffering around them. How could
they think about victory, when they were fully engrossed in singing to the muse
of their own defeats? Whatever burning creative fire and subjective furnaces of
passion, that may even contain real meaning, that they might have had seemed
buried beneath the ice of their own attitudes. Why did these attitudes prevail?
Iqbal mentions clearly, “Only those artists and writers become cowards who do
not possess khudi (self).” They were not concerned about the matters of the real
world around them and what needed to be done and no doubt their readers or
audience were not interested in listening to the unending cries of people
undergoing hardships of tyrannies, impositions, injustice and inequality in
contemporary societies. Continuing the theme of my previous article on Ghalib,
Iqbal is another one of those great poets of Urdu and Persian literature, whose
writing is fully fired by the flames of the fire-temple of his conscience. He
accepted in the core of his heart, only those traditions of the past which were
of the utmost necessary for his vision of contemporary needs. For him also,
useless traditions were merely old fables. His poetry and philosophy have become
the fountainheads of reconstructive ideas. He inspired and opened up a world of
possibilities to the enslaved and subjugated Muslims of the Subcontinent and
showed them the way to achieve their goals:
There are many more worlds beyond the stars
These atmospheres do not lack life
Hundreds of other caravans too move here.
The traces of Iqbal`s grand style can be found in present day Urdu poetry. Iqbal
with great daring and courage not only exposed forces against humanity but
bravely faced those people who wanted to keep humans enslaved and subjugated at
all costs. His Urdu and Persian poetry encompass an expanse and variety that
reaches the limits of astonishment. As far as artistic heights and refinements
are concerned his poetry works wonders. He accuses the person who loses his way
in the world of being at fault himself. For him the perfect man comprehends the
universe through his subjectivity. He reawakened the declining and dormant
Muslim nation telling them, “Clouds after rain still have lightning and ashes
still have embers which can become a pirouetting flame.” Iqbal`s poems inspired
hundreds and thousands of people from the shore of the Nile to the dust of
Kashgar. In his poetry critics who try to accuse him of being overly idealistic
have yet to point out any place where he has not been relevant to and in fact
fulfilled contemporary visionary needs.
Iqbal through his extensive learning was well aware of the pros and cons of the
latest philosophical, social, political and academic movements of his age. His
audience and readers were fully aware of the positive and negative aspects of
these movements. He was fond of declaring openly the secret of life inside his
heart. Through his poetic and philosophical insight he saw parts in entireties.
His blasting material consists of the passions of an anti-feudalism,
anti-capitalism, anti-imperialism, anti-dictatorship and anti-kingship thought.
He says in one of his Persian verses:
What is the Quran; it is the message of death for the lord.
It helps the slave who is helpless and has no wealth to his credit.
He was in favour of inserting negation with existence. For him the Muslim creed
was the hidden secret for the ‘self’. Iqbal educated Muslim readers on a vast
scale and through his pen waged a holy war against unethical values, both from
the East and West. He used to consider the visions of those philosophers and
mystics who were inclined towards separating themselves from the world as being
harmful. Iqbal was the real spiritual follower of Great Persian poet Rumi. In
one of the discourses of Fi Mafih (Discourses of Rumi) titled, Some one said:
Here is something I have forgotten: “Man has to perform in this world a
particular task, and that task is his goal. If he does not achieve this goal we
can say he has embraced zero.” He further elaborates this point taking wisdom
from the Quran, which says: “We offered the entrusted thing to the universe,
earth and the mountains, but they refused to take it.”
The task, which brought worries to heavens, earth and the mountains, was to be
performed by man. For Iqbal carrying the task given to man brings elevation to
his ‘self’. Performance of this task makes him pious and cautious. Rumi says:
“Man is more precious than all other things that belong to the universe. What
else can be said but only this that he does not know his own worth. He is
selling himself without a price.” People who believe in monotheism and at the
same time creative evolution, after paying great homage to Rumi and Saadi, take
many lessons from their books (Masnavi e Maanvi, Dewane e Shams Tabriz, Fi Mafih,
Gulistan, Bostan, etc). They desire like Iqbal for Muslim states to be founded
on a progressive Islamic ideology. The followers of these great poets and
intellectuals never negate the broad and general tendencies of development and
the eternal rising of the human personality or ‘self’. They never think of
blocking the roads of the creative forces of life working in many directions.
They like receiving both types of education: theological education and modern
education. This phenomenon, I mean preparing a blend of Eastern and Western
education, gives awareness to them that human beings need universal peace and
Taking about the perceived creativity of Iqbal, Khalifa Abdul Hakim says:
“(Iqbal) wanted logical and scientific Reason to expand to a cosmic logos where
it becomes one with intuition and the creative life urge. His Islamic ideology
was not the theology of the fossilised Mullah. He set the example of an
independent philosopher. He assimilated the vital elements of ancient and
contemporary thought. His mind was open on all sides; he had a window open
towards every vista of life. He did not blindly follow anyone and he wanted no
blind followers. He attempted to preserve the uniqueness of his personality and
the individuality of his ego.”
Iqbal after identifying the problem of his age, uncompromisingly stood for an
ideology of Muslim liberation. He wanted to liberate them as individuals and as
a community, from political oppression and cultural assimilation. He
particularly emphasised national identity and socio-economic justice. He too was
a theorist of the movement of Muslim liberation in the Subcontinent. The great
Iranian Philosopher Dr. Ali Shariati praised Iqbal in his precious book Ma o
Iqbal (We and Iqbal). These two personalities essentially complement each other.
Though, as we said earlier: “Occasionally arts and literature guide the audience
through negative examples. They do not project positive examples” but those
poets or artists, who have to guide their nations directly for some revered
ideal, sometimes avoid suggestions as tools for real comprehensions. They
consciously put ethical details in their themes. As they too adopt the
methodology involved in propaganda to a certain poetic degree, they also feel
themselves constrained in projecting heroes personifying ideal human values.
Iqbal as a real poet reflected his views through symbols full of poetic
suggestions. He remained alert in negating prevalent camouflaged actualities
which were the real sources for the prevailing darkness of the night of
oppression. Iqbal dreamt of a golden dawn, which in his poetry appears as an
Ideal. He wrote a number of verses portraying scenes of the rising sun, of
course from the East. After facing countless nights of infertile solitude this
nightingale, the poet from East was joined by many fellow voices, other poets
asserting national aspirations. Iqbal, through his creative contemplation
generated an immense consciousness (with clearly defined thought and emotion)
against an imperialistic system based on feudalism and capitalism.