How Allama Iqbal’s Poetry Written Decades Ago Is Still Relevant Today

4 min readNov 12, 2020
Allama Muhammad Iqbal (1877–1938)

On November 9th, people across Pakistan celebrate Iqbal Day. Iqbal Day marks the birthday of Pakistan’s national poet, Allama Muhammad Iqbal. He is regarded as one of Pakistan’s founding father because he envisioned Pakistan to be a separate Muslim state. His poetry revolves around themes of reform, Islam and mysticism.

I came across a poem of Iqbal as I Google’d English translations of the poetry he’s written in Urdu and Persian. I read To A Young Man and immediately became captivated by Iqbal’s words. The words he wrote decades ago still hold so much relevance and value today that I wanted to share the profound lessons found in his poem.

To A Young Man by Allama M. Iqbal

I’ve been in Pakistan for a month now. The words of these poems resonate deeply with me because I have observed the state of the youth here. And it’s no different than how Iqbal describes it in his poem.

The line my eyes weep blood when I see the youth in such luxury and ease is a testament of how monetary wealth drives people to positions of privilege and power. Much of Iqbal’s poetry gives insights on a higher purpose, God’s divinity and the ultimate definition of being a Muslim. In this poem, he points out the inclination of man to possess to splendour of worldly luxuries whilst forgetting that there is a higher purpose. And this purpose is being a believer and among the confidants of God. What does this really mean?

I’ve interpreted this poem to be a much-needed message — as it was when it was written and in the present day. Pakistan is divided in so many different ways (religious sects, caste system, etc) but the most visible division one sees in this country is amongst the wealthy and the poor. I wonder how people can believe that wealth brings about a meaningful life when you lack an ultimate purpose. The mere reality that once you die the wealth you possess will be valueless should be enough for man to realize that life holds a greater purpose.

In Pakistan, and many other parts of the world I have heard people say that if one is making money, they should use it to upscale their lifestyle. This…


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