A Message From The East – Allama Iqbal
A Message from the East is an inspirational film about the life and work of Muhammad Iqbal, the national poet of Pakistan. A crew of 10 Chicago Filmmakers traveled from Germany, Dubai, Pakistan, Turkey, Spain, Canada, and parts of the United States to retrace the steps and thoughts of the most inspiring Muslim Poet of the 20th Century.
The story of Muhammad Iqbal, a turn of the century poet/philosopher from South Asia. Through Iqbal’s work we open a dialog between the East and West, refute the notion of a class of civilizations and discover our shared humanity.
This film seeks to answer the misunderstood question: “Where are the moderate Muslims?” and it decisively shows us they are here, their voices are strong, and they have been with us for quite some time.
Muhammad Iqbal was a man who understood the nature of contradiction and the necessity of balancing the converging forces in our lives. An inspiration to the people of the subcontinent and an advocate of cultural understanding and peace, Iqbal was instrumental in the stages leading up to the Partition of India and the Creation of Pakistan. A poet, philosopher, lawyer, and a political activist, Iqbal spoke of the power we have as individuals to strengthen ourselves and our communities through respect for the cultural other and by being engaged with the present moment. Through the inspiration of the 13th Century Mystical Poet Rumi from Turkey, Iqbal believed the problems of his own time would not be solved unless we had a greater understanding of ourselves. It is our responsibility to be actively involved in our own communities and co-creators of the world we wish to see.
In order for us to understand the current situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the rising paranoia of Radical Extremism we need to look at this critical point of history to understand those who where concerned with these same issues 100 years ago.
In a post-9/11 world that is rampant with paranoia and cultural misconceptions it is now more important than ever to embrace those elements which unite us as people rather than to focus on the differences which divide us. The greatest problems of the 21st Century have little to do with radical extremism and everything to do with our perceptions of ourselves and each other. The message of Iqbal is a strikingly contemporary one which encourages us to overcome our suspicions and doubts. Ahead of his time, he understood Einstein’s Theory of Relativity as a vehicle to bridge the differences between Religion and Science. Iqbal will go down in history as a Revolutionary Thinker who spoke for the freedom and dignity of all people.
The basis of Iqbal’s message is clearly represented in his 1938 New Years Address shortly before his death:
“Only one unity is dependable and that unity is the brotherhood of man, which is above race, nationality, color or language. So long as this so-called democracy, this accursed Nationalism, and this degraded imperialism are not shattered, so long as men do not demonstrate by their actions that they believe that the whole world is the family of God, so long as distinctions of race, color and geographical nationalities are not wiped out completely, they will never be able to lead a happy and contented life and the beautiful ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity will never materialize.” – Allama Muhammad Iqbal