Writers and academics have called for reinterpretation of Allama Iqbal’s poetry and thoughts to counter societal malaises and extremism as well as meet modern challenges.

They also emphasised the need for revival of Iqbal’s message of Ijtihad (reasoning) to shun extremism, sectarianism and theocracy.

They were of the view that only parliament and scholars who have a thorough knowledge and the capacity for legal reasoning can initiate Ijtihad.

“Iqbal was a staunch proponent of people's rule and against monarchy, and aristocratic systems of governance as well as theocracy,” said Prof Fateh Mohammad Malik, an eminent scholar, researcher and expert of Iqbal studies, while addressing separate events organised by literary bodies in connection with Allama Iqbal’s 141st birth anniversary.

The first event was held at the National Language Promotion Department (NLPD) on Thursday evening which was presided over by Prof Fateh Malik who spoke in detail about different features and aspects of Pakistani culture in the light of Iqbal’s poetry and philosophy.

Prof Malik said that Iqbal had diagnosed and identified the causes of backwardness of the Indian Subcontinent’s Muslims and held colonialism, outdated traditions and lack of modern scientific education for the sorry state of affairs.

“Ironically the same ills are afflicting almost all Muslim societies in the world, in general, and Pakistani society, in particular,” he said.

“Even in the 21st century we are living under subjugation of neo-colonialism, dictatorships, monarchies and capitalism,” he added.

Prof Malik’s views were echoed by noted poet Iftikhar Arif who described Iqbal as one of the greatest poets of the 20th century and the last great Muslim thinker.

Iqbal’s vision for an egalitarian society can be understood from his famous book The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, which clearly rejects theocracy and outlines a social and democratic state. He also quoted Iqbal’s 1937 letter to Jinnah urging him to lead Muslims and strive for dreamland.

Iqbal had never dreamed of a country where religious minorities were not safe and mullahs were dictating the state and society, he said.

“Today the Pakistani society has been turned into talibanisation and ‘turbanisation’ identifying themselves with different colours of turbans,” commented Mr Arif, referring to rising tide of religious extremism and sectarian divide.

Dr Najiba Arif said that Pakistan was a combination of different cultures and civilisations. There may be points of difference but there are also commonalities that need to be promoted.

She urged thinkers and writers not to highlight differences for political ends rather promote commonalties.

Akhtar Usman said that Iqbal embraced and appreciated the common humanist values of different civilisations but also critiqued both ‘western’ and ‘eastern’ civilisations. He sees civilisation through the prism of dignity of humanity.

PAL Director Dr Rashid Hameed said our literary, religious and civilisational history was incomplete without Iqbal.