By noticing the repeating references to love in the poetry of Iqbal, specifically in his Shikva and Javab-e Shikva, I thought it might be interesting to see how Iqbal employs the notions such as ʿishq (love), ʿushshāq (lovers), muḥabbat (love), and maḥbūb (beloved) to address the question and also the answer he has under his consideration. As we discussed in the class, Iqbal as a reformist, literary figure is intended to bring to Muslim’s attention the necessity of following the true path of the prophet. The words, terms and images are the necessary tools for the poet to express his feelings or convey his message. But why Iqbal repeatedly uses those romantic words and images throughout his conversation with God to address a question that in the first place seems to be essentially theological? Why he refers to the famous Arabian story of Qais and Leila, speaks about the power of love, and faithfulness? Why at the end of his complaint he suggests his fellow Muslims to be equipped with the “sword of love” and “shield of reason”?
Well, my Idea basically is that the love that Iqbal refers to is the divine love of God and His Prophet. But why the poet employs the story of Leila and Majnun (Qais) which is the typical symbol of human love? I assume Iqbal uses the love of Leila and Majnun as an archetype of true love that must be taken as an example for the love of God and the prophet. We already encountered another example of this image of prophet as the subject of love in the Sindhi poetry of ʿAbd ur-Raʿūf Bhāṭṭī, where the prophet is depicted as beloved bridegroom. The last point I would like to mention here is about the protective nature of the love of God and the prophet. By using the image of sword, I think Iqbal considers the lover/believer being in a battle in which the only thing that can save him/her is the love of God and the prophet. This love, of course, is a mutual love.
The piece that I uploaded is in fact the expression of what I have mentioned above. In this picture, Iqbal is praying in the Cordova mosque in Spain. While he is thinking about the love story of Leila and Majnun as a example ot true, pure, faithful love, he becomes inspired by God to compile a poem in Urdu about love and devotion to God and the prophet.