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Allama Iqbal and Modern Turkish Independence

Turkey was the first country to engage his attention on account of its shifting fortunes. In the eyes of the Muslims of the subcontinent the Ottoman Caliphate was the guardian of Muslim faith and tradition and the symbol of Muslim pride and unity. The western nations, however, frantically conspired to oust the Turk, whom they scornfully called the sickman of Europe, from that continent. Turkey was involved in the Tripoli and Balkan wars in 1911. The end of World War I successively saw the dismemberment of the Turkish empire, a heroic and victorious war of liberation by the Turks, the establishment of the republic of Turkey and the abolition of the Caliphate. Iqbal wrote many poems throughout this period highlighting the desperate courage and heroism of the Turkish nation. Of these Khizr-i-Rah and Tulu-i-lslam are the monumental examples. These are imbued with robust optimism and rising’ hopes.

When Turkey overcame its political crisis, Allama continued to pursue new developments in that country with his characteristic concern. He supported the new constitutional developments in that country in his lecture on “The Principle of Movement in the structure of Islam” and justified the Turkish concept of Ijtihad in regard to the institution of Khilafat. Again, fully agreeing with the Turkish national poet Zia on an international ideal of Islam he says :

“For the present every Muslim nation must sink into her own deeper self, temporarily focus her vision on herself alone until all are strong and powerful to form a living family of republics.”

While concluding his discussion on the subject of re-evaluation of intellectual inheritance and reconstruction of religious thought, Allama again pays homage to modern Turkey in the following words:

“The truth is that amongst the Muslim nations of today, Turkey alone has shaken off its dogmatic slumber, and attained to self-consciousness. She alone has claimed her right of intellectual freedom. She alone has passed from the ideal to the real, a transition which entails a keen intellectual and moral struggle. They (Muslims countries) are mechanically repeating old values, whereas the Turk is on the way to creating new values. He has passed through great experiences which have revealed his deeper self to him. In him life has begun to move, change and ‘amplify, giving birth to new desires, bringing new difficulties and suggesting new interpretations.”