Revisiting Iqbal Museum

Pakistan is observing another yet another death anniversary on April 21 of the great thinker and poet, Muhammad Iqbal. He had awakened the Muslims of the subcontinent to their persecution and proposed the concept of a separate state where they could freely live their lives in accordance with their religious tenets and be socially and economically free. This concept was materialised by Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah through his inspiring leadership.

As per his concept, Pakistan had come into existence on August 14, 1947 but Allama Iqbal had not lived to breathe in a free homeland and had expired nine years earlier on April 21, 1938. He died in the Javed Manzil which has since been turned into the Iqbal Museum. It houses his personal belongings and handwritten manuscripts and a lot of other daily use articles. A visit to the Iqbal Museum on the eve of his death anniversary turned out to be quite an educative and informative experience.

Dr. Iqbal had lived in a couple of other places in Lahore for varying periods of time prior to getting the Javed Manzil constructed and shifting there in May 1935. Upon his return from Germany, he lived in the upper story of a shop of Attar Chand Kapur booksellers in Anarkali and also somewhere inside Bhati Gate between 1906 to 1935. While living here, Allama Iqbal had bought a piece of land in 1934 measuring seven kanals in the name of Javed Iqbal at which the house was constructed at a cost of Rs. 42,025 and he had shifted there in May 1935. He had rented three rooms for himself on a monthly rent of Rs.50 and the rental document can be seen along with several other documents in the museum now. He was apparently in the habit of putting every transaction in writing and documented these for the posterity to see and learn something.

Allama Iqbal was born on November 9, 1877, to Shaikh Noor Muhammad in Sialkot in a house which is now known as Iqbal Manzil. His date of birth was confirmed officially after extensive research by the National Committee for Birth Centenary Celebrations was set up by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who had also visited the mazar of the great thinker. This very committee had also suggested that the federal government should buy the Javed Manzil and turn it into a museum where all his personal belongings could be preserved and displayed for posterity.

This was done accordingly and the Javed Manzil was taken over by the federal government and turned into the Iqbal Museum which was renovated by some Japanese engineers who had especially visited Lahore for this purpose. On the persuasion of General Zia ul Haq, Javed Iqbal had agreed to sell the house as well as all the belongings of Allama Muhammad Iqbal to the federal government for turning it into a museum at the cost of Rs.3.5 million. Afterwards, he had shifted into a bungalow of his choice on Main Boulevard in Gulberg where he had breathed his last couple of years back. The Museum was formally inaugurated on December 2, 1977, by COAS and President General Muhammad Zia ul Haq. A library and auditorium are also being added to the Iqbal Museum.

Since then, November 9 is officially celebrated as Allama Iqbal’s birthday and a colourful ceremony of a change of guards takes place at his mazar. A host of other functions are also organised officially to pay homage. The death anniversary of Dr. Iqbal is also observed with due respect and reverence every year on April 21 and a number of functions are held to remember him for his illustrious services towards the creation of Pakistan.

To know more about Allama Iqbal, research scholars should be visiting the Iqbal Museum more frequently. There is a lot more to see, know and learn.

The writer is Lahore-based Freelance Journalist, Columnist and retired Deputy Controller (News), Radio Pakistan, Islamabad and can be reached

The Museum was formally inaugurated on December 2, 1977.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt