Ever-grateful nation is celebrating 141st birth anniversary of great thinker and poet Dr Muhammad Iqbal on November 9, 2018 to pay homage to him for his great services in the creation of Pakistan. He had awakened the Muslims of the sub-continent and, more importantly and significantly, he had also presented the concept of a separate homeland for the Muslims where they could lead their lives according to their religious tenets and be socially and economically free from economic subjugation. This concept was translated into reality by Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah through his inspiring leadership and statesmanship in a very short period.

As per his concept, Pakistan had come into existence on August 14, 1947 but Allama Iqbal had not lived to breathe in a free homeland and had expired about nine years earlier on April 21, 1938 and since then is lying in eternal rest in peace on the right side of the stairs of historical Badshahi Masjid in Lahore.

Dr Muhammad Iqbal had breathed his last in Javed Manzil which he had himself got constructed in the name of his younger son Javed Iqbal. Javed Manzil has since been turned into Iqbal Museum housing personal belongings and handwritten manuscripts and lot of other daily use articles.

A visit to the Iqbal Museum on the eve of birth anniversary of the great philosopher and poet turned out to be quite an educative and informative experience.

Dr Iqbal had lived in couple of other places in Lahore for varying period prior to getting Javed Manzil constructed and shifting there in May 1935. According to the information gathered from different sources, Dr Iqbal on his return from Germany had lived in upper storey of a shop of Attar Chand Kapur booksellers in Anarkali, Mcleod Road and also somewhere inside Bhatti Gate between 1906 to1916.

Construction of Javed Manzil and its ownership on road leading from Railway Station to Garhi Shahu which has since been named as Allama Iqbal Road makes quite an interesting and illuminating reading in general and particularly for the ‘Iqbaliyat’ research scholars.

While living at rented premises on Mcleod Road, Allama Iqbal had bought a piece of land in 1934 measuring seven kanals in open auction in Mauza Garhi Shahu in the name of Javed Iqbal at which the house was constructed and completed at a cost of Rs 42025 and had shifted there in May 1935. He had rented three front rooms for his living from his son on monthly rent of Rs 50 and rental document “karaya namah” so written can be seen along with several other documents in the museum now. Dr Iqbal was apparently in the habit of putting every transaction in writing and documented these for the posterity to see and learn something.

While living in Javed Manzil for couple of years, Dr Iqbal had many illustrious visitors including Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and his sister Fatima Jinnah in 1936 and Hindus leader Pandit Jawahir Lal Nehru who was also a great admirer of the great poet and thinker.

Within days of shifting to newly-constructed Javed Manzil, Dr Iqbal had suffered a great personal loss when his wife Sardar Begum, mother of Javed Iqbal, expired on May 24, 1935.

Allama Iqbal was born on November 9, 1877 to Shaikh Noor Muhammad in a Kashmiri family in Kashmiri Mohallah Sialkot in a house , which is now known as Iqbal Manzil, which was purchased by Allama Iqbal’s grandfather Sheikh Muhammad Rafiq in 1861. His date of birth was confirmed officially after extensive research by the National Committee for Birth Centenary Celebrations was set up by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who had also visited the mazar of great thinker and poet on January 1, 1977 to mark inauguration of yearlong centenary celebrations. This very committee had also suggested that the federal government should buy Javed Manzil and turn it into a museum where all personal belongings of Dr Muhammad Iqbal be preserved and displayed for the posterity. Allama Iqbal Museum was formally inaugurated on December 2, 1977 by COAS/President General Muhammad Ziaul Haq.

Since then, November 9 is officially celebrated as birthday of great thinker and poet both nationally and internationally by every succeeding federal government and colourful ceremony of change of guards takes place on this at the mazar of Allama Iqbal besides host of other functions are organised officially and otherwise to pay homage and rich tributes to Dr Muhammad Iqbal. Death anniversary of Dr Iqbal is also duly observed with due respect and reverence every year on April 21 and number of functions are held to remember and pay homage to Dr Iqbal for his illustrious services towards creation of a separate homeland for the Muslims besides his literary and poetic works.

This was done accordingly and Javed Manzil possession was taken over by the federal government in December 1977 and turned into Iqbal Museum which was renovated by some Japanese engineers who had especially visited Lahore for this purpose at the invitation of the federal government and Iqbal Museum was formally inaugurated by President/Chief of Army Staff General Muhammad Ziaul Haq in December 1984. During the fag end of tenure of President/Army Chief General Pervez Musharraf, on his express directions about 50 articles on display in the newly converted Iqbal Museum were borrowed and taken to Islamabad and put on display in the newly-established National Monuments Museum there.

Curartor of Iqbal Museum Dr Rustam Khan on being contacted told this scribe that none of these items have so far been returned, there is no harm if these remain there as these have been put on proper and nice display appropriately in the National Monuments Museum. He said that these are being viewed with lot of interest by the visitors there personal belongings of Allama Muhammad Iqbal as the people from Islamabad cannot come all the way to Lahore to visit Iqbal Museum for this purpose.

He said additionally, a library and auditorium are being developed in the Iqbal Museum which is presently in final stages of their completion. He said that in the library so being developed, books on and about Allama Iqbal will be placed for the general visitors particularly the research scholars for benefitting from these books. .

To know much more than this little piece about Dr Muhammad Iqbal, research scholars should be visiting Iqbal Museum more frequently now. There is lot more to see, to know and learn. What is on display there in the museum inclusive of all personal belongings, dresses, handwritten manuscripts in Urdu, Persian and letters etc will be mentioned in another article shortly in detail, please.


The writer is Lahore-based freelance journalist and columnist and retired Deputy Controller (News) Radio

Pakistan Islamabad.