Iqbal: from Finite to Infinite

Dawn Sunday Magazine, sometime in 1997

Iqbal: from Finite to Infinite
(Evolution of the Concept of Islamic Nationalism in India)

Author: Moinuddin Aqeel
Publisher: Abul Kalam Azad Research Institute, Karachi
pp. 59

Iqbal makes a guest appearance in this monograph which could have been more appropriately defined by its subtitle alone. The first 36 pages (which is fairly more than half) of the monograph deal with the concept of nationalism as understood in the context of the Turkish experience (Section I) and the Muslim history of the Indo-Pak (Section II). The third section deals with the ideas of Iqbal. Unfortunately it is just another example of a cut-and-paste job from Kulliyat-e-Iqbal and other Iqbal sources, which never takes off to present a coherent view of the subject. Given the restraints of the author’s language, that wasn’t possible anyway.

Dr Aqeel is a well-known scholar of Urdu. In the past he has produced some wonderfully useful books – including the first ever index of Faiz Ahmad’s Faiz poetry back in the early 70’s. It is simply painful to see how poorly edited and un-readably presented is his latest publication. Why couldn’t a scholar of his reputation take a critical look at his monograph to see that some effort by a good editor is what it really needs before getting the ink of the press. Maybe this was the responsibility of Pakistan Historical Society, which published it in its Journal in January to October, 1983.

As things stand, what can one do with a text which goes in a manner like:

“Thanks are also due to Abul Kalam Azad Research Institute and Dr. Abu Salman Shahjahanpuri for taking interest and obtain painstaking in publishing this book respectively.”

The saving grace of the book is the bottom halves of its pages – which are almost always studded with annotations. The monograph, with all its faults, is an excellent resource for references on the subject. The author has taken great pains to go through a wide range of sources to cover the evolution of “Islamic Nationalism” over three centuries in India and one in Turkey. As such the references do not only deal with Iqbal alone but the whole spectrum of political movements that fall under this umbrella. It is this aspect of the monograph that represents the meticulous research scholar that Dr. Aqeel is. It can be safely said that even those who find the upper halves of the pages absolutely unreadable might still feel compelled to add this booklet to their permanent collection due to the extraordinary richness of its annotations.

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