“In its highest form, poetry is more philosophical than philosophy itself”

-Javed Iqbal

Published in September 1924, Bang-e-Dara, or The Call of the Marching Bell, was Allama Iqbal’s first Urdu poetry book. The poems in this collection were written over a span of 20 years and some had previously been published in Persian. Iqbal’s collection reflected both his time in the West and European education, as well as his distinct identity formulated in the pluralistic subcontinent.

Bang-e-Dara spoke of India under British Raj and attempted to accumulate a sense of patriotism. It also both praised and found fault in European values. Finally, it proceeded to remind Muslims of their past greatness and urge them towards action.

Shikwa (The Complaint), one of the most prominent poems, was written as a complaint to God who had abandoned the Muslims. Iqbal recited it first at a poetry gathering by Anjuman-i-Himayat-i-Islam. A response to this poem Jawab-e-Shikwa, was recited by Iqbal at a rally held outside Mochi Gate in Lahore. Jawab-e-Shikwa was a response to the complaint, reminding Muslims of their responsibilities.

Iqbal’s poetry sought from the very beginning to answer fundamental questions regarding the human condition. At the same time however, his poetry remained deeply invested in rationality and reason, urging his readers to ponder and take action.