In Europe, Iqbal began to see the larger horizon of things and to move in spacious realms. He stayed there for three years, and these years played a great part in the development of his thought. It was not a period of deeds but one of preparation. His outlook on life underwent two important changes about this time: he got a n utter dislike for narrow and selfish nationalism which was the root cause of most political troubles in Europe, and his admiration for a life of action and struggle became more pronounced.
One simply cannot set a definition on Iqbal, as he was able to convert everything in poetry. There is no subject he hasn't debated upon in his poetry: Politics, life, love, religion, philosophy, literature, West, East, countries, legends, history, etc. The list is longer as one goes deeper and deeper in Iqbal's poetry - not least discovering that Iqbal beheld the true meaning of poetry, whereas his ambitions and abilities to move the masses were yet still indiscussable subjects. There was never any doubt why he got the title: "Shayer-e-Mashrik" - the Poet of the East.
To the Indian nationalist he appears a fervent nationalist who wrote, `Of all the countries in the world, the best is our Hindustan' (sarey jahan se achcha Hindustan hamara), exhorted Hindus and Muslims to come together, build new shrines where they could worship together and who regarded every speck of dust of his country as divine. Iqbal exhorted the peasantry to rise against its oppressors, uproot the mansions of the rich and set fire to crops which did not provide sustenance for them.
It could be said that Iqbal sang in many voices: he was a nationalist as well as an internationalist, a Marxist revolutionary as well as a supporter of traditional Muslim values and a pan-Islamist. Whatever he wrote was born of passion and executed with the skill of a master craftsman. Few poets of the world have been able to cram so much erudition and philosophy in verse; and fewer still use words both as colors on an artist's palette to paint pictures as well as deploy them as notes of a lute to create music. He was fired by a creative zeal which could only be explained as divinely inspired. Three years in Europe (1905-1908) brought about a complete reversal in his beliefs. The world became real; life had a purpose to serve; latent in every man was a superman who could be roused to his full height by ceaseless striving to create a better world. This post-European phase has been designed as Iqbal's philosophy of khudi. As used by Iqbal what comes closest to khudi is assertive will-power imbued with moral values. This is apparent from these oft-quoted lines:
Endow your will with such power
What exactly did Iqbal want human beings to strive for? Obviously towards some kind of perfection. But he does not care to spell it out in any detail. It would appear that for man ceaseless striving was not to be for material gains in this world or with an eye on rewards in life hereafter. Thus to Iqbal a man who inherits wealth without having striven for it is worse than a beggar, while a poor man who works for the good of humanity is truly rich. Iqbal writes:
In man's crusade of life these weapons has he:
However, Iqbal did not accept the Hindu belief in predestination and assured man that he could be the master of his fate and make the world what he wanted it to be: 'Tis how we act that makes our lives; We can make it heaven, we can make it hell. In the clay of which we are made Neither light nor darkness (of evil) dwells.
Iqbal would have had little patience with the current obsession with meditation (transcendental or otherwise) to induce peace of mind, because he believed that anything worthwhile only came out of a ceaselessly agitated mind:
May God bring a storm in your life;
In the introduction to his Persian work, Asrar-i-khudi ('Secrets of the Self'), Iqbal writes: 'Personality is a state of tension and can continue only if the state is maintained.' What was true of the individual Iqbal believed to be equally true of races and communities. According to him the real sign of vitality in races is that their fortunes change everyday:
In every age this alone marks a vibrant race
So far as Iqbal was concerned, from now onwards there was complete accord in his thought, the goal was clear and the future lines for his work were well-defined. The task that Iqbal had set himself was gigantic and lesser people would have quailed at the immensity of the mission which involved shaking millions of people out of moral inertia that had been paralyzing their spirits for centuries. He flung a challenge to the forces of reaction, inertia, and stupor in unmistakable terms, and never faltered in his mission.
Think of thy country, O thoughtless!
It is ironic how beautifully these words apply to every Indian today and tomorrow. There is no doubt that Iqbal fought for freedom with his words: a freedom that started with self-realization and finished with ceaseless striving.
Sir Dr. Allamah Iqbal died on April 21, 1938