‘Poet Iqbal’s secularism can’t be confined within religious walls’

Srinagar : It has been a sinister conspiracy to confine poet Iqbal’s secular glory within four walls of religion, Jammu and Kashmir Education Minister Naeem Akhtar said here on Tuesday.

Speaking at a function held to pay tribute to Urdu philosopher-poet Allama Iqbal, Akhtar said, “We have been unfair to Iqbal. We have reduced him to the level of a few slogans.”

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“Whether it is naming a Dhaba, a grocery store or a shopping centre, we catch hold of Iqbal’s name.”

The minister said: “Iqbal is a river that is capable of taking both purity and pollution without offering any resistance.”

“(It’s) unfortunate that we Muslims have mostly, only made attempts to pollute that great river.”

He said Iqbal has been the most positive and modern thinker whose secularism knew no religious boundaries. “Iqbal has always been proud of his Kashmiri Brahmin forefathers.”

“His concept of global competitiveness was such that he told his son towards the end of his life to find secular spaces by adopting modern methods and tools. How long can we bask in the glory of our past by invoking the greatness of our ancestors?”, Akhtar asked.

“There was a time when the world discourse began with reference to Islamic literature, art, architecture etc. Who has subsumed that glory? We, Muslims, alone have done that destruction and that is why all our glory is today condemned with just one word ‘Islamic terrorism’.”

He said the greatest tribute to Iqbal “is to reverse this concept by invoking Iqbal’s secularism and unshackle him from the walls of any single religious heritage”.

“Iqbal has written a long poem in praise of (Lord) Ram and there also his secularism did not end. Iqbal’s secularism is the key to unshackle Muslim intellectual generosity from bondage,” the minister added.