Sir Allama Iqbal, our great national poet, wants Muslims to stop living a life of indolence and accept the challenges of life. Using the garden and the desert as metaphors respectively, for easy and tough life, he tells Muslims in Bang-i-Dara to quit the garden, reminding them to have power to fly like the mountain eagle. What distinguishes the eagle from the other birds is its sharp vision, its ability to soar into the air and rule the skies, its swift movement, its daring and its love of freedom and action. Cultivation of aquiline traits is therefore a requisite for success in life, he wrote in Bāl‑i Jibrīl
If you are bareheaded, develop high resolve,
For here the crown is only for the eagle’s head
Iqbal criticises the teaching institutions of the Muslim world. The teachers, for one thing, have failed to provide the vision and drive the Muslim youth need in order to perform their role with distinction in the world. A few remarks in his poetry, “The Eagle,” highlight the “ascetic” and freedom‑loving nature of the eagle. The eagle shuns the pleasurable but enervating life of the garden, preferring the austere but salubrious environment of the desert. Read below “The Eagle” to understand the eagle motif in Iqbal’s poetry:
I have turned my back on that world.
Where sustenance is called grain and water.
I like the solitude of the wilderness-
I was always a hermit by nature-
No spring breeze, no rose‑plucker, no nightingale,
And no illness of the songs of love!
One must avoid the garden‑dwellers
Their charms are too seductive!
It is the desert wind that gives effect
To the stroke of the brave youth in combat.
It is not that I am hungry for pigeon and dove-
Renunciation is the mark of an eagle’s life-
To swoop, to withdraw, and to swoop again
Is but a pretext to keep up blood heat.
This cast, this west is the pheasants’ world,
Mine is the boundlessness of the blue sky!
I am the monk of the kingdom of birds,
For the eagle is not given to making nests
Contributed by Mr. Shahzad Malik