In Conversation with Allama Iqbal on Self Esteem

Self esteem is a product of nature and human existence – Journey of discovery and wisdom. It is learnt through experience, knowledge, tolerance and upon principles of humanity.  It is inherent, embedded and its manifestation comes with an awareness of one self and how we relate to others.  By its very virtue of being given and presence, but one has to work towards it. West tried to understand the concept of self esteem through rationale, through logic and reason but the East added more. Allama Iqbal covered this not in one dimension but in multiple dimensions and added more what nobody had done it before- the human dimension and its transactions with the forces of nature and the Universe in itself to create that balance. It is that state or being in that state where the concept of being unique and different, a concept of being rare and accommodating kicks into action and also the concept of loosing oneself in that very existence we call existence, life and its oxygen. At times losing one existence for a bigger cause provides that sense of belonging and awareness which cannot be captured- one can feel it only.

Therefore, what you see in Iqbal and taken up by others as well but no better than Iqbal, that there are stages to what one arrives at. Iqbal used philosophy, poetry and law and most importantly Islamic thought to rebuild and bring it out in the open the concept of “Khudi” which brings out all different forms of human composition in alignment with the nature and its patterns. Second stages of it were the experiences of culture, and different civilisation, travel which enabled him to harness this concept more and finally it was he himself, as a human through reflection and ponder, which really brought it out the notion where not he understood this concept about himself which became the core concept in his poetry, in his writings and all we see through the concept of creation of Pakistan and its ideology but he bounced it off into different directions for all of us to find this.

In a more summarised forms it is one of the most simple and yet the most sought after, this intangible commodity from the early humans and their civilisations up till now – What is it we as humans do? All of us try to and all of us before us tried to answer these questions: from the times of Socrates, Aristotle, Plato to the present world, where some express this true art, some through literature, through philosophy and literature and we through the ideology of change and progression.

The search for our questions continues. That has existed from the moment of time as it kicked off into action with human development and its existence. It is the human composition and its fabric built from these tissues and molecules of spirituality and love, again the product of nature. And its manifestation is human transactions and all our affairs of heart and mind. How we reconstruct our behaviour and actions and expression of thought through the intellect which is been provided to us and its use and the instincts to help out further.

And finally it’s the composition of our thoughts, its expression, behaviour, patterns, all these things that become and make us what we are. We become humans not from what we know of and what we are in the end but how we are viewed as within this universe. The vast and unbounded physical space one side provides a grim view of our miniscule presence and almost forgetfulness but at the same time the very awareness and realisation that this whole Universe Almighty Allah created for us to discover, to learn and to stand upon its wonders and reflect leads us towards only dervishes can discover, the moment of liberation from those physical needs and its presence.

We all are trying to find ourselves in all our different forms and shapes but the road to discovery and objective may be the same. How humans are different through the difference of languages and culture, barriers that exists through the geographical boundaries but there is something that binds all of them and it always has through the period of time, the sense of humanity and its expression and how we work towards it.

And an  example which I have used occasionally when asked or given the opportunity but never really provided the full reasoning actually brings me to this last paragraph below and how it relates to this concept of “Khudi” and self esteem as far as I am concerned in an effort to provide that answer or attain that realisation.

As a young boy, I had always wondered why I have to read Shakespeare, and all the English literature and different mechanics of science. I had always wondered why I am being asked to look into detail and align myself with the effects of English civilisation, culture and its architecture, all that it brought in subcontinent and other parts of the world from the notions of British Empire. Why this effort and awareness to know all this?  Will it bring that respect or determination to succeed or whatever partial means to achieve those end objectives?

It was enthralling to read and to reflect about these experiences in the deserts of Bahawalpur and Multan through its heat.  It provided the shadows of peace and tranquillity. But then life moved on and the question still remained during those years why this? I am sure there be more to it. And that brought me to this distant land; we call England, United Kingdom in search for those questions, as I needed to know the reference point how the English see themselves. How this very civilisation came to bring its very own effects and the rest. This quest was to lead me to read about Roman civilisation and their conquests and their influence in the field of warfare, science, politics and literature and more.

As the story goes, I went like a beggar from English to the Romans and from Rome to Athens, to marvel upon their architecture, and how they developed the concept of thought and rationale, in the writings of Socrates, Aristotle, Herodotus, Plato and many more. But it did not end there- Although I was partially pleased that I have now found the source where it all came from. Few more years down the life, the journey brought upon from Greeks saw Egyptians as their masters and constant references of their pyramids, preservation techniques, the early development of epistemology, etc. Egyptians brought me to the land of Euphrates and Tigris, the land of Babylon and its civilisation.

And few more years went past looking for answers and all those connections I was trying to discover to build my ties with this world and the Universe in general and finally the very realisation came  like the warmth of sun one cannot avoid and the cold of the winter as I retraced the whole journey where it all started from- From English to Romans, Romans to Greeks, Greeks to Babylon, and all looking at where I stood in the very same desert where I had started to look outwards but never looked inwards. All of these civilisation and their traces and journey ended in the land of Indus, in Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, the most ancient civilisation known to mankind and it is where I  stood upon its chest and on its soil. As I looked at the rest of the world from that desert and from that place we call Pakistan, the whole world and the old civilisations looked upon it right at my feet covered in dust and face, carrying all the ancient marks of all those civilisations and their aspirations.  It is then that day I knew that I had become unique, and found those rare patterns to my rare existence which Almighty Allah had placed it in there as a gift. It was there I knew where I was the most oldest person living on this planet earth and all its imprints upon my conscience and intellect and it is where I finally knew the meaning of “Khudi” and self-esteem which Allama Iqbal had so beautifully constructed and explained through his poetry, the breath of imagination and all those dimensions he covered and travelled within that infinite concepts of time and space. It is where I found myself amongst my own people, my own civilisation, culture, art and the journey of time which Islam had provided and all its interconnects to all civilisations before and after. It is where I stood on those grounds that had been borrowed by all, to see their reflection and to have their point of reference. My reference was Islam and its civilisation and its shelter and refuge and all that contained in there which Iqbal had so beautifully and masterfully explained. My references were principles of humanity, wisdom and experience. My references were of justice, self-esteem and all that makes one humble and provides that courage through those compositions of distance and travel to lands unknowns …unimaginably far!



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