Iqbal praises British rulers of India
Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal wrote poems in praise and adulation of the British
rulers of India. Given below are some extracts from his writings and
statements, all of which we have translated from the original Urdu.
- Upon the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, Dr. Iqbal penned an epicedium
of ten pages, entitled Tears of Blood, from which we give
a few verses below. The Queen died on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr,
and Iqbal wrote:
Happiness came, but grief came along with it,Yesterday was
Eid, but today muharram (Month of the year associated
with the deepest mourning for Muslims) came.
Easier than the grief and mourning of this day, Would be
the coming of the morn of the day of judgment.
Ah! the Queen of the realm of the heart has passed away,
My scarred heart has become a house of mourning.
O India, thy lover has passed away, She who sighed at thy
troubles has passed away.
O India, the protective shadow of God has been lifted from
above you, She who sympathised with your inhabitants has gone.
Victoria is not dead as her good name remains, this is
the life to whomever God gives it.
May the deceased receive abundant heavenly reward, and
may we show goodly patience.
(Baqiyyat-i Iqbal, Poem runs over pages 71 90.)
- In December 1911, on the occasion of the coronation of King George
V, Iqbal wrote and read out a poem entitled Our King:
It is the height of our good fortune, That our King is crowned
By his life our peoples have honour, By his name
our respect is established.
With him have the Indians made a bond of loyalty,
On the dust of his footsteps are our hearts sacrifced.
(ibid., p. 206.)
- During the First World War, Iqbal wrote a poem at the request of
Sir Michael ODwyer, governor of the Punjab, in response to an
appeal from the King. This was read out in 1918. In it, addressing
the King of England, Iqbal says:
If there is freedom of speech and writing here, if there is
peace between the Temple and the Mosque here,
If there is an organised system of business of the
various peoples here, if there is strength in the dagger and life
in the sword here,
Whatever there is, it has been granted by you, O
honoured one, this land is alive only because of your existence.
I am the tree of loyalty, love is my fruit, a just
witness to this statement are my actions.
Sincerity is selfless, so is truth selfless, so is
service, and so is devotion selfless,
Pledge, loyalty and love are also selfless, and devotion
to the royal throne is also selfless,
But being human the thought which arises naturally
is, that your favours are manifest upon India.
This was published in the paper Akhbar-i Haq, the magazine
Zamana of Kanpur, and the book Hindustan aur Jang
'Alamgir (India and the World War) by L. Ralya
Ram. It was then published in Baqiyyat-i Iqbal, on pages
216 to 219. It was first read out by Dr. Iqbal himself at the Punjab
University Hall, Lahore.
- Not only in poetry, but in prose also Dr. Iqbal praised the British
nation. For example, he writes:
Many among us, including myself, believe that England at this
time possesses the capability of leading the whole of mankind towards
this objective. The thinking of the people of that land, their political
understanding based on a deep study of human nature, their unshakeable,
serious, resolve, their moral superiority over others in many aspects,
their astonishing control over material resources, the existence
of many movements among them for the welfare and betterment of human
beings, and their discipline in every walk of life all these
are things which no outsider can refrain from admiring.
(Harf-i Iqbal, p. 167, from the year 1930)
- At the close of his life, Iqbal perhaps felt regret at having praised
British rule. It is recorded by his chronicler:
The Allama said: Ghalib was indeed a very great poet,
but to write poetry in praise of the British government merely to
get an increase in the stipend is to be greatly regretted. This
tendency of Ghalib pains one considerably.
He then said: Slavery is a great curse. It causes
one to say things, deliberately as well as unintentionally, which
one does not want to.
The Allama was perhaps regretting that he himself had composed
verses of poetry in praise of the British government. Whether
this was under compulsion, or due to helplessness, whatever the
reason, it should not have happened. Perhaps with this thought
in mind, the Allama became silent. We too were silent.
(Iqbal kay huzur nashistain aur goftaguain, vol 1, p.
27, 6 March 1938)