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Allama Iqbal’s Shaheen: A Symbol Of Aspiration And Inspiration

The symbol of the “shaheen” (eagle) in Allama Iqbal’s poetry is a powerful representation of his ideals. The shaheen embodies the spirit of freedom, ambition, and self-soaring aspiration. Iqbal employed this majestic bird to epitomize the Individual’s journey towards self-realization and the pursuit of lofty goals. Just as the shaheen soars high, defying limitations, Iqbal urged humanity to transcend mediocrity, break free from constraints, and embrace its inherent potential. The shaheen symbolizes not only the resilience of the self but also the collective yearning of a nation to rise, awaken, and contribute to a brighter future.

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Part 1

By: Aubaid Ahmad Akhoon

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Allama Iqbal is the poet of the East.  Not only a professor, but also a philosopher, advocate, poet, and politician, his contributions were vast and diverse. Through his profound insights, he authored numerous influential books in Urdu, English, and Persian, solidifying his authority in various languages. His impact transcends time, serving as an unwavering source of inspiration for millions worldwide. Allama Iqbal’s teachings encouraged individuals to embrace progress, freedom, happiness, and self-respect, resonating across cultures and continents. His verses have woven into the very fabric of education, discussed passionately within schools, colleges, universities, and even the peaceful corners of mosques. His poetic expressions often reflect themes of remembrance for Islam’s past glories, an earnest lamentation for its current decline, and an earnest call to unite and enact reform, echoing with a timeless urgency that continues to shape generations. He was a visionary philosopher, poet, and thinker whose poetry ignited the flames of self-discovery and empowerment among Muslims in the Indian subcontinent during a crucial period in history. His verses carried profound metaphors and messages, among which the Shaheen (falcon) stood as a symbol of strength, aspiration, and the relentless pursuit of higher ideals. Given below are some of the prominent messages squeezed from the amazing writings of the poet of the East with special reference to Shaheen:

The Metaphor of Shaheen

The symbol of the “shaheen” (eagle) in Allama Iqbal’s poetry is a powerful representation of his ideals. The shaheen embodies the spirit of freedom, ambition, and self-soaring aspiration. Iqbal employed this majestic bird to epitomize the Individual’s journey towards self-realization and the pursuit of lofty goals. Just as the shaheen soars high, defying limitations, Iqbal urged humanity to transcend mediocrity, break free from constraints, and embrace its inherent potential. The shaheen symbolizes not only the resilience of the self but also the collective yearning of a nation to rise, awaken, and contribute to a brighter future. The following couplets reflect Iqbal’s emphasis on self-elevation, aspiration, and the pursuit of higher ideals, using the “shaheen” symbol to convey his message of transcendence and self-discovery.

“Shaheen se bhi zyada uchayon mein udne ki azadi,

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Haasil hai us insaan ko jo imaandaar hai khud se.”

‘‘Shaheen Kabhi parwaz se thak kar nahin girta,

Par dum hai agar tu, toh nahin khatra-e-iftaad.’’

Inquisitiveness and Curiosity: Iqbal values curiosity, symbolized by the Shaheen’s sharp vision and vigilance. He believes that individuals should possess inquisitiveness, as it enables them to explore the mysteries of the universe and acquire knowledge.

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The Call for Freedom: Freedom, both personal and intellectual, is a recurring theme in Iqbal’s poetry. He appreciates the Shaheen’s freedom and connects it to human freedom, urging individuals, particularly the Muslim youth, to break free from mental slavery and pursue their destinies with vigor.

A Quest for Higher Aims: The Shaheen’s lofty flight symbolizes the pursuit of noble goals. Iqbal encourages individuals to adopt this quest for higher aims, striving to reach beyond their limits and make a meaningful impact on the world.

The Power of Detachment: Iqbal emphasizes the importance of choosing one’s companions wisely. The Shaheen avoids the company of pigeons and crows, symbolizing the need to surround oneself with those who elevate one’s character and ambitions rather than lead them astray.

Rejecting Superficial Comforts: Iqbal often criticized the notion of building nests, symbolizing a rejection of superficial comforts. The Shaheen does not seek the security of a nest but instead chooses the ruggedness of mountains and cliffs. This characteristic encourages individuals to resist the allure of comfort and strive for higher purposes.

Contentment and Independence: In Iqbal’s verses, the Shaheen embodies contentment and independence. It is a bird that thrives on the bare necessities of life and does not succumb to the temptations of materialistic pleasures. The poet admonishes against becoming like pigeons or crows, easily enticed by worldly desires.

Service to Country: Allama Iqbal believed that serving one’s country was a sacred duty. He emphasized the importance of individuals actively participating in the progress and development of their nation. He saw service to the country as a way to fulfill one’s responsibilities and contribute to the collective growth and welfare of society.

Service to Humanity: For Iqbal, service to humanity was a higher calling that transcended national boundaries. He envisioned a world where individuals worked together to alleviate human suffering and promote justice and compassion. He believed that helping others and working for the betterment of society were integral aspects of a meaningful and purposeful life.

Search for the Creator: Allama Iqbal encouraged individuals to engage in a personal quest to discover and connect with the Creator. He believed that understanding one’s relationship with the divine was essential for leading a fulfilling and spiritually enriched life. He urged people to explore their inner selves and seek a deeper understanding of their purpose in the context of the universe.

Self-Realization: Iqbal stressed the importance of self-realization as a means to unlock one’s true potential. He believed that individuals should strive to understand their strengths, weaknesses, and unique qualities. Through self-reflection and introspection, people could work towards personal growth and contribute more effectively to the world around them.

Quran is the Best Guide for Humanity: Allama Iqbal regarded the Quran as an eternal source of guidance for humanity. He believed that the Quran’s teachings encompassed a comprehensive framework for living a just, ethical, and harmonious life. He emphasized the need for individuals to deeply engage with the Quran’s wisdom and derive insights that could shape their actions and attitudes.

Gain Education: Education held a special place in Iqbal’s philosophy. He believed that gaining knowledge was vital for individual and societal progress. Education empowered people to think critically, embrace innovation, and contribute meaningfully to their communities. Iqbal advocated for a holistic education that combined spiritual and intellectual growth.

Remember Your Glorious Past: Allama Iqbal urged people to connect with their rich historical and cultural heritage. He believed that acknowledging and learning from the past was essential for charting a successful future. By remembering the achievements and lessons of their ancestors, individuals could draw inspiration and insight to overcome challenges and shape their destiny.

To conclude, Allama Iqbal’s message to the world encapsulates the imperative of self-discovery, service to humanity, and the pursuit of knowledge. He beckons individuals to rekindle their connection with faith, realize their potential, and contribute to a just, compassionate, and enlightened global community, guided by the eternal wisdom of the Quran. (The author is a renowned columnist & motivational speaker and an Associate Editor of the Weekly Publication ‘Education Quill.’ He can be reached at akhoon.aubaid@gmail.com)

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