Allama Iqbal’s Jawab e Shikwa
Iqbal concluded the first of his two masterpiece poems “Shikwa” on a wishful note, hoping his call to Muslims would prove fruitful. All the controversies and skepticism raised by Shikwa were clearly answered in its sequel, “Jawab-e-Shikwa” (Reply to the Complaint).
Iqbal portrayed depressed and discontented Muslims in the first poem. In Jawab-e-Shikwa, Iqbal represents Allah Almighty and addresses each and every complaint raised in Shikwa. God answers directly – that the Muslims have deviated from the righteous path, and therefore have been deprived of all the riches of this world, and subjected to oppression.
Iqbal starts Jawab-e-Shikwa by commending his passionate prayers, which proved to be effective. Such was the effectiveness of his daring complaint that it managed to pierce through the sky. Even the Angels wondered whose sound it was. They recognized him as a man expelled from Heaven. He was considered impudent for being so angry with God.
Then there came a voice answering his protest, “Your tale is full of pain filled with spontaneous tears.” Iqbal had bridged the mortal man and the Ever-Abiding God through his speech.
Allah rebukes the Muslims – that the current followers of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) are a source of disgrace to him. He says, in Iqbal’s words, “In this modern era, the idols you worship are new and you, too, are strangers now.”
“Waking up in the morning for prayer seems an ordeal to you. You adore your sleep more than God Almighty. Is this the way you prove your loyalty? If there is no religion, there is no nation.”
“Indeed, those great and successful people whom you have mentioned in your complaint were your ancestors, but are you anything like them”
“The gain and loss, Prophet and faith, God and Quran of this nation are one. It would have been splendid had the Muslims been in unity too. There is great a divide between Muslims of various sects and casts today.”
“Muslims of the past were sincere and fearless in their speech. They scorned even the slightest breath of partiality. They feared God only while the thought of death frightens your craven souls. You have no right to claim your ancestor’s heritage. They were honoured due to their true Faith where as you live disgraced having left the path of Holy Quran.”
After responding to all the Muslims’ objections, Allah proceeds to guide them to a better future. He says that “If the faith of Hazrat Ibrahim (A.S.) is once again born, even fire can create the bloom of flowers. The glow on your horizon’s brow heralds a new sunrise!”
Iqbal ends one of the finest pieces of poetry ever written, with golden advice for his nation: “Your wisdom is your shield, and love your sword. By truly becoming a Muslim, your fate becomes your effort. If you wholeheartedly follow Allah’s Prophet (peace be upon him), this world is nothing; you will command the pen of destiny!”
It is a well known fact that Allama Iqbal’s reputation as a great poet seemed to be in trouble after “Shikwa”, but the publication of Jawab-e-Shikwa earned Iqbal even greater respect. He was greatly praised for poetic excellence and his contribution to Urdu poetry and Islamic literature.