Name of the Book: Israr-o-Ramoz (Persian); original by Dr. Muhammad Iqbal
Translation: Syed Ahmad Esar (Urdu version in verse along with text)
Publisher: Esar Publishing House Trust, Bangalore
Edition: 2008, Pages: 328, Price: Rs. 250/-
Introductory foreword: Dr. Rahi Fidai (Urdu)
English review: Dr. A.G. Khan (abridged)

Khudi denotes self consciousness which ultimately leads to awareness of Khuda (i.e., takes one closer to Allah). The spiritual recognition of Allah’s presence is achieved through self consciousness. The Poet of the East, Allama Muhammad Iqbal, in his epic “Israr-e-Khudi wa Ramoz bekhudi” tried to introduce this notion through several episodes and events into the minds of readers. It is necessary to highlight the fact at this stage that Iqbal’s notion of Khudi is derived from ……….. If this self consciousness is a kind of self awareness or appraisal then it remains highly desirable but when it borders on egoistic assertion then it becomes undesirable because it is not only highly selfish but also denotes ingratitude towards Khuda. In contrast to this, Khudi is a human trait and is, in fact, the justification for creation of Adam. As Professor Naz Qadri maintains:

“My self awareness remains miles away from Egotism.”

Allama Jamil Mazahiri declares:

 “Man having drunk deep the wine of the self
survives by the illusion or else he would collapse under reality.”

There was a period when Arabic and Persian used to be the lingua franca without any religious overtones. These were the languages prevailing in the society of the day; as day to day transactions were carried out through them. Court proceedings were conducted in Persian. Hence, Allama Iqbal deemed Persian a befitting vehicle to communicate his ideas among masses. Inspired by the reformatory zeal to electrify the minds of the Muslims he compiled “Israr-e-Khudi wa Ramoz be Khudi” during (1910-1915).

Because of long spell of ruling; enjoying power and prosperity amidst luxury and grandeur; the Muslim had become infected by bacteria of sloth and indulgence. This community, in spite of remaining the ‘Best of Nations’ had rapidly gone down the slope forgetting its mission of ‘propagating noble deeds and condemning evil.’ To bring them back to awakening from sloth and slumber was not only necessary, but also imperative (as an obligatory duty).

Iqbal first deeply studied human psychology, the nature of divine glory and the call of the faith, and then began his   mission of giving clarion call to masses. He was able to spark their minds and created ripples of revival which instantly electrified their sensibilities. Since, it was a Persian dominated scenario, it was a suitable medium to carry his mission to masses of that time. Allama’s endeavours filled the nation with the quest for freedom and, at the same time, presented the ideals of Islamic conduct and character.

He very sincerely discharged his responsibility as an enlightened soul, as an inspired intellectual who was extremely sensitive to needs of the time. Very soon ‘the message of the self’ began spreading its fragrance in distant lands. It found its echo in a reprint in Iran in 1939.

In the changed circumstances, Persian has became an archaic tongue in our country (recognized with classical status) though its sweetness stirs the soul of those who drink deep from its cup. At the same, the nation finds itself heading towards doom in a fast deteriorating society. Indolence, ignorance among Muslims of the sub-continent, mismanagement and the feeling of inferiority complex among the youth demand that Iqbal’s message must be conveyed once again to revitalize people in the same way as was done in the half of the last century.

It was a tonic that restored them to mental and spiritual fitness. It became necessary to re-attire his message in the Urdu costume. It was not an easy task. It was not merely drawing a few lines here and there and asserts one’s intellectual grandeur. It, first of all, needed divine guidance and then a thorough proficiency in both the tongues – Persian as well as Urdu. Constraints imposed by the translation process and the art of rendering in a poetic form were too stupendous. Neither sacrificing the nuances and sensibilities of poetry nor the subtlety of Iqbal’s inspired message was an equally challenging task. It is indeed Allah’s great bounty that such uphill task could be accomplished.

May Allah bless Hadhrath Syed Ahmad Esar in that he has rendered that celebrated text in verse form in Urdu by incorporating all the subtleties and nuances of the language as well of poetic composition. The translation is quite faithful to the original and, at the same time, extremely conforming to requirements of poetic form. How far his pains have succeeded, and how well has he popularized the message of Iqbal and satisfied his soul, only a connoisseur would be able to judge and pass a verdict.

The book deserves, at least, sincere applause for daring to undertake an uphill task.