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  • Date :
  • 9/11/2011

Payam-e Mashregh

part 2


The second and longest part of the work, simply entitled Afkar ”Reflections,”‌ contains a miscellany of occasional poems followed by a collections of ل¸،azals, the style and content of which foreshadow those of his finest lyric verse that was published three years later (1927) in the collection entitled Zabur-e ‘Ajam ”The Psalms of Persia.”‌ The occasional poems, all of which are given titles, treat themes that Iqbal virtually made his own, such as the birth and fall of Adam, the rejection of Satan, the respective merits of learning and love, philosophy versus poetry, imperialism and slavery. In addition to these, the images of the soaring eagle, the tireless glow-worm, the relentless drop of water, and the gushing stream all give expression to Iqbal’s familiar doctrine of constant effort and activity.

The concluding section, entitled Naqsh-e ferang ”Images of the West,”‌ offers thoughts, sometimes fair and balanced, but often humorous and contentious, on aspects of European civilization, which Iqbal had witnessed at first hand during the three years (1905-08) he spent as a student in Cambridge, Heidelberg, and Munich.

 In Cambridge University he had had the opportunity to study with the neo-Hegelian John McT. Ellis McTaggart (1866-1925), and later he was able to meet the distinguished French philosopher, Henri Bergson (1859-1941), whom he much admired and to whom he paid due homage (Payam-e mashreq, p. 377). It is perhaps not surprising that in this part of the work, which is subtitled Sohbat-e raftagan (Payam-e mashreq, pp. 197 ff.), some Western philosophers, about whose thought Iqbal had strong reservations, come in for pungent and often amusing criticism. Hegel, for example is compared to ”a broody hen that in its enthusiasm lays eggs without the assistance of a cock!”‌ Although Iqbal had some regard for the emphasis placed by Nietzsche on dynamism and self-reliance, he obviously could not accept the atheistic basis of his thought. Indeed he goes so far as to describe the eminent German thinker as a ”madman in the European china-shop.”‌ Einstein, ”the high-priest of light,”‌ is dismissed as ”one who revived the religion of Z oroaster,”‌ while Lenin, elsewhere often treated sympathetically by Iqbal, is nevertheless seen as someone, who merely changed one master for another.

These and many other delights await the reader of Payam-e mashreq, which in the years immediately following its publication became one of Iqbal’s most frequently quoted works. Unfortunately, no English translation of the whole work exists. Only the quatrains were attempted by the Cambridge scholar, A. J. Arberry, in his short work TheTulip of Sinai, which has long since been out of print and is now very difficult to find.

Other Links:

CARPETS x. Afsharid and Zand Periods

CARPETS x. Afsharid and Zand Periods (part 2)

CARPETS x. Afsharid and Zand Periods (part 3)

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