Iqbal’s Concept of an Ideal Woman

Iqbal’s Concept of an Ideal Woman

By MUBASHIR AHMAD KITABA

For Allama Iqbal, Fatima Zahra (RA) is an Ideal woman for the whole Muslim community. Iqbal believed that the life of Holy Prophet( SAW) was and is the best guide for man and woman alike, but the necessity of a female guide for the woman community cannot be ruled out. The life and character of such a woman must be a complete exemplification of the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Prophet(SAW).
Iqbal held such an ideal woman to be Fatima Zahra ( RA), the daughter of Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Her character was and is a combination of virtues worth imitating. Her personality was an embodiment of various good traits; to Iqbal the life of the Fatima( RA) is the perfect pattern and model of Muslim womanhood. In his Ramuz I Bekhudi, Iqbal described, in very lucid and beautiful language, the life of Fatima Zahra( RA). To Iqbal , Mary mentioned as Maryam in the Holy Quran is worthy of reverence in only one respect, that is, she was the mother of the Prophet Jesus(AS). But Fatima (RA) is worthy of reverence in several respects. First, she was the daughter of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Secondly, she was the wife of Hazrat Ali(RA), the khalifa of Islam and the lion of God. And, thirdly, she was the mother of two martyrs of Islam. Iqbal spoke of Fatima’s life and virtues in his Persian poem Ramuz e Bekhudi as:

Mary is hallowed in one line alone
That she bore Jesus; Fatima in three.
For that she was the sweet delight of him
Who came as mercy to all living things?
Leader of former as of latter saints,
Who breathed new spirit into this dead world
And brought to birth the age of a New law.
This lady, she whose regal diadem
God’s words adorn. Hath there come any time,
Then chose one, resolver of all knots
And hard perplexities, the lion of God,
An emperor whose palace was hut,
Accoutered with one sword, one coat of mail
And she, his mother upon whom revolves
Loves compasses, the leader of loves train,
That single candle in the corridor
Of sanctity resplendent , guardian
Of the integrity of that best race
Of all Gods peoples; who, that the fierce flame
Of war and hatred might extinguished be
Trod underfoot the crown and royal ring.
His mother, too, the lord of all earths saints
And strong right arm of every freeborn man,
Hussain, the passion in the song of life,
Teacher of freedom to God’s chosen few
The character, the essential purity
Of Holy children from their mothers come.
She was the harvest of the well-sown field
Of self-surrender, to all mothers she
The perfect pattern, Fatima, the chaste.
Her heart so grieved, because one came in need,
She stripped her cloak and sold it to a Jew;
Though creatures all, of light, alike fire,
Obeyed her bidding, yet she sank her will
In her good consorts pleasure. Fortitude
And meekness where her schooling; while her lips
Chanted the Book, she grind the homely mill.
No pillow needed she to catch her tears,
But wept contrition s offering of pearls
Upon the skirt of prayer; which Gabriel stooped
To gather, as they glistened in the dust,
And rained like dew upon the Throne of God.

To Iqbal the life and character of Fatima( RA) is not only the perfect model of Muslim womanhood, rather it is worth imitating for the entire womankind. The worthy and noble character of the two great personalities of Islam, Hasan(AS) and Husain( AS) is enough to prove the high moral character of Fatima( RA). According to Iqbal, it is the mother who is mainly responsible for instilling good virtues in her children and it is the mother who is the real builder of good character and great personalities of a community’s children. Iqbal spoke of the mother in high esteem:
The character of holy children come from their mothers,
The essence of truth and purity come from their mothers.
The life and personality of Fatima( RA) is worthy of respect , honor and emulation. She was very kind and loving to the poor. Once a needy man came to her home and sought financial help from her. But at that time she had not a single penny at her disposal to help him out. So for his sake, she at once sold her only shawl into the hands of a Jew. Fatima( RA) was sincere, dutiful, helpful and obedient to her husband. She was conscientious and subservient to her husband’s will. Being the beloved daughter of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) she could easily have a maidservant to assist her in household affairs. But she never desired for a servant and did all household work herself. When she used to grind flour in her home hand-mill, the verses of the Holy Quran were on her lips. According to Iqbal, Fatima( RA) knew very well that there is no correspondence or co-relation between unlimited human desires and limited means of satisfaction. So she always tried her best to live within her limited means. This is why there were no problems at her home, despite meager means of livelihood. But unfortunately, today this sense of domestic responsibility is utterly lacking in our women, who are merely being educated on the pattern of western culture and civilization. Today, the majority of our homes are faced with a severe economic crisis as a result of which our homely peace and progress is disturbed. In such an economic crisis, if our women learn to live like Fatima ( RA) we can easily turn every hut into a beautiful garden.

— The author can be reached at: mubashirkitaba@gmail.com

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