Allama Iqbal’s Message
Allama Iqbal is undoubtedly the most well-read poet of the East. What distinguishes him from other poets and philosophers is the element of positivity and hope in his works. Throughout his poetry, he elucidates the problems and criticizes those responsible for the state of affairs, yet he remains optimistic and suggests remedies to heal the deep inflicted wounds of the nation.
He considers teachers (religious & secular) and students as one of the most influential groups of people, whom he holds accountable and delegates the responsibility for the reformation and revival of society.
For Allama Iqbal, the youth is like the eaglets and it is the responsibility of the teachers and the educational system to give them the strong wings to soar high. The following verse is a sharp illustration of Allama’s anguish at the prevalent education system (which sadly still exists). He says sorely(Bal-e-Jibril),
شکایت ہےِ مجھے یارب !خداوندانِ مکتب سے
سبق شاہیں بچوں کودے رہےِ ہیں خاکبازی کا
(Meaning: O Lord, I have complaint against teachers for they are teaching the eaglets to grovel in the dust).
He sees teachers as craftsmen whose role is to create the best out of the raw material provided to them, so he says(Zarb-e-Kalim):
شیخِ مکتب ہےِ اک عمارت گر
جس کی صعنت ہے رُوحِ انسانی
(Meaning: A teacher is like a builder whose industry is to build and develop the soul of a human).
It is clearly evident from these two verses why he holds teachers accountable and also his expectations of them.
The present educational system is producing successful professionals like doctors, professors, engineers, accountants etc. but are these educational institutions imparting “Ilm” in the true meaning of the word? The answer is probably, no! This is mainly because the quest for knowledge has been replaced by quest for education, which is determined by market demand. That’s why, students want to acquire a degree with better job prospects. Therefore, today we have education but not Ilm. In Allama Iqbal’s view(Ilm aurDeen, Zarb-e-Kaleem):
و ہ علم,کم بصری جس میں ہمکنار نہیں
!تجلیاتِ کلیم و مشاہداتِ حکیم
(Meaning: Such knowledge is short sighted/ limited which does not illuminate the seeker and the surroundings like Musa (AS) and does not include deep philosophical observations).
Ilm transforms thinking and behavior. It distinguishes one from others in conduct and practice. Hence, linguistically it is completely incorrect to apply word Ilm to modern day education. Furthermore, Ilm enlightens the mind and broadens vision. It creates foresight and understanding. It is like a candle that illuminates its surroundings and shows the way and is not merely a means of living.
Allama Iqbal asserts that the purpose of educational institutions should be to deliver Ilm and not just an educational degree. He says:(Tarbiyat, Zarb-e- Kalim).
علم میں دولت بھی ہے‘ قُدرت بھی ہے ‘ لذت بھی ہے
ایک مشکل ہے کہ ہاتھ آتا نہیں اپنا سُراغ
(Meaning: Modern day Ilm brings wealth, joy, and power but the problem is that it does not develop ‘self’ awareness).
This verse shows that he views contemporary education as completely superficial, worthless and a waste of time. Nonetheless, Allama Iqbal was not against modern education. In his view however, education should be for materialistic gains (to secure a job, status and a means for living) as well as for enhancing knowledge and for spiritual development (understanding the true meaning of life and developing the Selfhood of students). He does not separate material/ secular education from spiritual and religious education. In his opinion, both streams of education can flow concurrently in harmony with each other.
Allama Iqbal asserts more responsibility on the teachers because they play the most central role in the whole equation. Of course, teachers alone cannot accomplish this goal if they are not supported and the overall educational system remains rigidly focused on superficial education. Like every other system, it is fundamental that all elements of the educational system (institutions, scholars, teachers, students and educationists) are aligned and function in harmony with each other towards a common objective. That is, uplift of the society as a whole. This necessitates change at a large scale, which needs to initiate at a grass root level. A change not within the system but also in the basic ideology of acquiring knowledge. Nevertheless, at FCI we are very optimistic as Iqbal says.
نہیں ہے نا اُمیداقبالؔ اپنی کشتِ ویراں سے
ذرا نم ہو تو یہ مٹیّ بہت زرخیز ہے ساقی
May Allah Almighty help us to achieve our goal and accomplished the success in true spirit of Iqbal’s educational Ideology, the Quran and Sunnah. Aameen