Iqbal: Islam, Aesthetics and Post-colonialism

LAHORE - Javed Majeed, an academic in King’s College London, has put light on Allama Iqbal’s work in giving worth to interrogative reading.

“Iqbal travelled throughout Europe and from there he became part of ‘Khudi.’

Mr Majeed said: “The thing I found interesting about reconstruction, in ‘Javed Naama’ was the relevancy between poetry and politics at the end of the book. Iqbal discussed what is the nature of modernity and how is Islam going to interpret it.”

“It eventually becomes difficult to comprehend and decide what Islam is and what modernity is. Islam made contributions to science, poetry, modernity. I sympathise with the argument. Europe illustrates best of modernity and best of Islam,” he further elaborated.

“At the end of the book it is difficult to decide where Europe ends and Islam begins. His work has become historical history now. It is about redressing the balance.”

Mr Majeed questioned: “What is the role of technology in Islam. What is the nature of technological advancement in Islam? It is quite hard to move from visionary poetry to politics.”

“Let me call back to “Ramooz-e-Bekhudi” between self and selflessness. Just to say in Ramooz e Bekhudi he makes a link, myhijra is the stability of the Muslims. Which means stability and migration goes together. It is a paradoxical way of saying it which means that one might dwell in travel,” he added.

Talking about the post-colonialism landscape for Iqbal and other intellectuals, Javed said: “I know some people may frown at my remarks but I think colonialism was a movement to rehabilitate Indians in India. It is quite interesting that colonialism was suppressive politically and economically. But colonialism gave them open air for creativity. Progressive writers’ movement, in Iqbal and Tamil writers. Colonialism was good for artists and poets. Being mystic man, you have to start thinking about the nature. Iqbal plays with mysticism, used Sufisim to rethink the relationship between human beings, politics and God.”

Some people have the desperate desire to pass on the best of food to the coming generations, and Madhur Jaffery is one of those, the woman who took Curry Global. Her moderator was Anissa Helou, London based cookbook author.

Ms Jaffery shared her story with the participants, and said: “I started off in England and then America. I never wanted to write about food, my only interest was in eating. Grew up in India.

“At the age of 20, I arrived in England. Their food was terrible, best thing you got to eat was fish and chips and others were inedible. I was attending Royal Academy for Dramatic Arts, we had a canteen at the top floor and I would sit there dreaming kharay masalay ka ghosht and alu gobi. Then I used to call my mother and start asking her recipes. She used to give me three liners, thora sa ye daal do, thora sa vo daal do. It is something that I discovered after a long time, that I need to design a plate.”

“Plate is actually the hand of the woman. She has it in her hand. You work it out eventually. I started cooking again and again and again. Then I became more adventurous. I started collecting recipes from different families of different origins. Till then I finished my drama school and by then I was an accomplished actress. But there was absolutely no work for an Indian looking actress. There was no work for me. And then I found refuge in writing.

“Then somebody asked me to write about food, I was completely hijacked by the idea. And then I write and write on food. It took me 5 years to compile a book of recipes. I would try and try recipe again to make it perfect. I don’t trust anybody with my recipes, doing grocery for me or cook for me. Then I got connected to the best food editor in England and she started publishing my work.”

About keeping her passion for cooking alive, she said: “Well, the first thing is I don’t want to bore myself. So I give myself tasks and I am always researching. I have worked out on techniques. For example I am living in US and I am going to Asia, so over the years I have worked out a system. So you live in a place and you get name after name. For example in India, food is exposit in some households.”

She also shared her interesting experiences of getting her hand on the recipes from those who don’t share. “Very often people are generous if they are not I find ways around and you also learn best while watching,” said Ms Jaffery.

Nida Tahseen

Nida Tahseen frequently writes on politics, social issues and fashion for The Nation. She is an alumna of International Center of Journalists (ICFJ), a media consultant and social media strategist. Travel buff. Food enthusiast. She can be reached at

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