Trail of Allama Iqbal's Ancestry

From Dr. Javid Iqbal. Dated: 9/2/2013 12:00:48 AM

An open letter to Bilhan Kaul

Dear Bilhan Kaul ji,
I may thank you for providing me the topic to dwell in on Monday in my weekly cross currents column. Friday evening I was just rolling subjects in my mind, I may write about. A look at your letter in the editorial page provided, what I was looking for. I need to address your concerns. I am indeed surprised, where and how I negated Allama Iqbal's Hindu ancestry. It would indeed be a historical sacrilege to deny that Allama Iqbal included, ancestors of overwhelming majority of Kashmiri Muslim were Hindus. And I may not commit such a sacrilege on several counts. I have had the privilege of being brought up in the cradle of history. My father-Prof. Saif-ud-Din was professor of history, a student of famed Prof. Habib in thirties of 20th century. Prof. Habib of Aligarh University was no run of the mill historian. Pundit Nehru used to consult him on matters historical. Prof. Habib led department of history was the school, where the historical instincts of my father were honed. History was thus all around, as I grew up-loads of books that my father made me to read, historical tales that he would relate with relish. Though medicine became my profession, I never lost trace of my first love.
Bilhan ji-since I have seen undercurrents in your letter, which I consider to be an antipathy of all that is fair in human relationship, I intend to go much beyond making my answer to your letter question specific. I need to relate my upbringing, the trail of my thoughts-how and where it originated and the way it progressed. I believe it is important, as the undercurrents in your letter point to dishonesty in my noting of Allama Iqbal's family trail. Hence, I may open up, as I hardly ever do, so that nothing concerning my person remains unsaid. I believe we are an unfortunate people, not only in the land that you and I share-the vale of Kashmir, but in the subcontinent. We share a history, yet our perception of it is not uniform. The differing perception makes us to adopt different faces tailored to different situations. So, while living in the same world, with same socio-cultural tidings, we end up having different feelings. Take Allama Iqbal's case, your insistence on his father being a Hindu has undesirable undercurrents. You may detect undercurrents, when I insist that what you say is not a fact. I would try to put the facts in proper perspective once again. Before doing that, I may relate a bit more of my antecedents.
You may like to know that West Asian history was my father's special subject in Aligarh. Though West Asian history starts with Mesopotamian times, a period before Indus Valley civilization, 7th century onwards, West Asian history is virtually 'History of Islam'. Father would relate it with relish and I remember most of what I was told. Only occasionally, I consult his notes-a prized family heirloom. Amongst my weekly columns is a Friday column on Islamic history in 'Kashmir Reader'. Now don't get me wrong that I am Islam centric in my narration. Not at all, though I may hasten to add that I observe all that I have to for being a follower of my religion. I pray regularly as per Islamic norms, fast for a month during Ramadan, pay alms whatever due, and crave for going to Mecca for Haj. Nevertheless, I am a keen student of comparative religion. Vedas, Upanishads, Mahabharata and Ramayana line up in my library. One of my pet readings is dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna-the bravest and noblest of Pandovas in the battle of Mahabharata. I am writing a book on Jesus Christ, the Prophet I am in love with, though I retain highest respect and reverence for Prophet Mohammad [PBUH]. I have on occasions narrated the tale of Sri Rama with relish. His spirit of sacrifice remains a remarkable chapter in the study of comparative religion.
Bilhan ji, I am proud of my cosmopolitan outlook, having been a globe trotter for most of my life. I don't relish views-parochial or provincial. We may now come to family trail of Allama Iqbal. You have read my article and arrived at hasty conclusions. Perhaps you have not read in 'Kashmir Times' the full text of Munib Iqbal's confirmation of my take on Iqbal's family trail. Munib Iqbal is Allama Iqbal's grandson running a law firm-Iqbal law associates in Lahore. Since his latter-a welcome surprise indeed landed in my e-mail box, we remain in correspondence. You are insistent upon believing that Rattan Lal was Allama Iqbal's father. You may instead keep in focus what Munib Iqbal notes in confirmation of my take, "The story of Rattan Lal, as pointed out by you, stems from a picture of a Hindu family which Khushwant Singh claims are "close relations" or "cousins" of Allama sb, with one of them having a distinct resemblance (according to Khushwant) to the Allama. I have seen that picture on the net too. The person in question does not have any resemblance at all with Allama sb or any of his relatives. This story has been picked and reprinted recently in a Qadiani newspaper in India and many people have questioned me about it. The entire story is completely false and without any foundation at all."
Now whatever Munib writes does not in any way negate that Allama Iqbal's ancestors were indeed Hindus, family sources of Allama Iqbal confirm what is a common knowledge, Munib Iqbal notes, "Somewhere I have an album of Iqbal in pictures compiled and published by famous Indian Iqbal scholar Jagannath Azad in the late '70's probably called muraqa e Iqbal where he has also traced the lineage of Allama sb from Haji Looli, or lol Haaj, as my father Dr Javid has called him in Zinda Rud, but is somewhat different than the one published in Zinda rood. In my opinion, Zinda roods family tree is most authentic as it was compiled by Dr Javid and sh. Ijaz Ahmed, eldest son of sh. Ata Muhammad, in consultation with other family members sometime in the early 70's. I have the original of it in Sh. Ijaz's hand bearing his signature, along with many other letters and documents my father used during his own research while writing Zinda rood. Both versions, however, are identical showing Allama's descent from Lol Haaj and Shaikh Akbar, and so on down to Sh. Rafique and Sh Noor Muhammad, father of Allama sb. These details of Allama sb's lineage and ancestors were initially published during the Allama's' life are have been continuously agreed upon by all Iqbal scholars worldwide over the years."
Sh--it is an acronym of Sheikh. Dr. Javid is Justice Javid Iqbal-Allama Iqbal's son and father of Munib Iqbal. Ijaz Ahmad is son of Ata Mohammad [Allama Iqbal's brother]. Zinda Rood is Allama Iqbal's assumed name in his spiritual treatise 'Javid Nama' a Persian classic. Justice Javid Iqbal has chosen it as the title of his father's biography. Jagannath Azad was the most authoritative of Iqbal scholars in the subcontinent, he remains so and the fact is accepted by multitudes of Iqbal lovers across the divide. Inspite of 'Iqbaliyaat' a subject denoting philosophy and poetry of Iqbal having a chair in major universities of the world, not withstanding the intense worldwide research going on, Jagannath Azad as Iqbal Shanas [one who understands Iqbal] reigns supreme. The conclusion is thus clear, beyond any shade of ambiguity that it was Haji Looli who converted and not Rattan Lal.
Khushwant Singh's unsubstantiated tale falls flat on several counts. One is the view held by Iqbal scholars worldwide that it was Haji Looli who converted and not Rattan Lal. From historical inferences, it could be made out that Haji Looli or lol Haaj converted in Budshah's time [1420-1470 A.D] or a shade before that in Sultan Sikander's time [Sikander was father of Zain-ul-Abidin-Budshah]. Haji Looli remains in eternal rest in Chrar Sharief by the side of Nasr Baba. He was his disciple, and Nasr Baba in turn was the disciple of Hazrat Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani [RA] the patron saint of Kashmir [born in 1379 A.D/778 A.H]. It could be presumed that by the time he grew up to become the greatest Sufi Saint of Kashmir and had disciples by droves, it would have been the start of 15th century, the historical period we are referring to-either Sultan Sikander's or Budshah's reign. Two, Iqbal's father-Noor Mohammad was born in 1837 A.D, where as Khuswant tale relates that Rattan Lal-Allama Iqbal's presumed father was involved in a bribery case in Afghan period [1750-1819 A.D]. Doesn't it seem strange that he was born much after the alleged case of graft against him, even if such an allegation surfaced in last year of Afghan rule-1819? Need I say more than the facts put forth?
Bilhan Koul ji, you are however absolutely right that Iqbal's family were Saprus'-Kashmiri Brahmin clan, before conversion. Similarly the clan, I belong to - Paray family were Rajputs before conversion [Munshi Mohammad Din Fouq's Tarikh Aqwam-e-Kashmir (a history of Kashmiri clans) pages: 170-173]. Please note that I am as proud of my brave and chivalrous Rajput ancestry, as I am of being a Muslim. Allama Iqbal, my Pir-ou-Murshid [spiritual guide] was proud of his Brahmin ancestry. To enunciate that would need a separate column, a feature perhaps in 'Kashmir Times Sunday Magazine'…wait for that, inshallah it will appear soon to bring forth some home truths…truths to bury undercurrents!
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]
Feedback on: Iqbal.



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