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Apologies, once again, for the late announcement of an event that should have already started! We really should start getting these back on time ...


In accordance with our meta agreement to have topic challenges and a later meta agreement to have topic challenges lasting for two months and overlapping by one month, it is (long past) time to announce the January – February 2024 topic challenge.

Based on the number of votes (+5/-1) and the age of the proposal (first proposed in 2020), the first topic challenge fully in 2024 will be:

Muhammad Iqbal


What's a topic challenge?

See the meta posts linked above, and also this main meta post. In short, during January and February 2024 you are invited to try to read at least one work by Muhammad Iqbal and ask questions about it.

Participation is not obligatory in any sense, and questions on other works are more than welcome during January and February too; they just won't count as part of this topic challenge.

How can I take part?

By getting hold of some works of Muhammad Iqbal and asking (or answering!) good questions about them. Questions about these works should be tagged with and language or other tags as appropriate. We'll keep a list of all such questions in an answer to this meta post.

Below is Rand al'Thor's presentation of the topic:

Muhammad Iqbal, sometimes called Allama Iqbal or Iqbal-e Lahori, was a 19th-to-20th-century Muslim multilingual poet, philosopher, and politician, one of the most important figures in Urdu poetry and also influential in Farsi poetry, the so-called "Poet of the East" and national poet of Pakistan. He is considered an important figure in the cultural and political history of several countries:

  • In Pakistan, his birthday Iqbal Day was a public holiday until 2018. He was a major figure in promoting the idea of an independent Pakistan even in the 1930s, and he is still honoured as the national poet of Pakistan.
  • In Iran, his work was popular especially in the 1950s to 1980s, and Ayatollah Khomeini said that "We have a large number of non-Persian-speaking poets in the history of our literature, but I cannot point out any of them whose poetry possesses the qualities of Iqbal's Persian poetry. [...] In spite of not having tasted the Persian way of life, never living in the cradle of Persian culture, and never having any direct association with it, he cast with great mastery the most delicate, the most subtle and radically new philosophical themes into the mould of Persian poetry, some of which are unsurpassable yet."
  • He was awarded a knighthood by Britain (his acceptance of which was criticised by some others in British India) for his poetry written in Farsi.

Iqbal wrote poetry primarily in Farsi in the earlier part of his career, starting in 1915, but after 1930 most of his works were in Urdu. He also wrote two non-fiction books and many letters in English, and some poetry in Punjabi. His writings cover philosophical, religious, social, political, and moral issues. He received a BA from the University of Cambridge and a PhD from the University of Munich, and spent some time working as a professor and as a lawyer as well as writing poetry.

A topic challenge on this poet would be able to feature several different language tags and explore a variety of cultures and viewpoints through his literature.

What's next?

  • Vote for the next topic challenge (February–March), or propose your own topic!
  • Feel free to edit links into this post if you find some good resources of Iqbal works available to read online.
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    K C Kanda's translations of Iqbal are available here
    – verbose
    Commented Jan 19 at 0:38

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