Iqbal: The Life of a Poet, Philosopher and Politician by Zafar Anjum

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Zafar Anjum, Iqbal: The Life of a Poet, Philosopher and Politician, Random House 2014.

Allama Mohammad Iqbal, whom Sarojini Naidu called the ‘Poet laureate of Asia’, remains a controversial figure in the history of the Indian subcontinent. On the one hand, he is considered the ‘Spiritual Father of Pakistan’. On the other, his message of Eastern revivalism places him in the ranks of the twentieth century’s major intellectuals. Iqbal’s tragedy was that after his death, he was made the national poet of Pakistan and largely ignored in India. In his time, he was lauded as much as Tagore but today India celebrates Tagore while Iqbal has been banished from her consciousness.

This meticulously researched biography will redress that erasure. This is the story of Iqbal’s evolution as a poet, philosopher and politician. While his role in the struggle for India’s freedom and the Pakistan movement are well known, not much is known about his personal life. This book highlights some of the least known facets of the poet’s life: how did a nationalist poet transform into a poet of Islamic revivalism and global revolution? How did three years in Europe change Iqbal’s political and philosophical outlook? Why did he start writing in Persian during his stay in Europe? Why did his first marriage fail and how did his romantic relationships affect him? What exactly was the poet’s role in bringing about Partition? Written with the passion of an ardent devotee, Zafar Anjum’s Iqbal answers all of these questions – and many more – in this carefully told biography.

 


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