Reviews

the universal islamist

“This biography of Allama Muhammad Iqbal redeems the philosopher-poet from political and nationalist stereotypes.” (The Open Magazine, 14 November 2014)

Write Angle: A neglected nationalist

Through a systematic approach, using a technique similar to that of a labourer building a skyscraper, brick by brick, Zafar, shows the real poet, the real philosopher, the politician. As said in the introduction, “Europe infused Iqbal’s life with a singular mission – to revive the dynamism of Islam to save humanity from the ills of materialism. A transformed Iqbal stopped considering himself a poet; to his mind, he became a messenger who used poetry to awaken humanity, especially Muslims, to its ills.” (The Hindu, 26 September 2014)

the contradictory hindustani

I have heard many people recite well-known couplets without the slightest idea that these were composed by Iqbal. After Ghalib, he remains the tallest Urdu poet to have walked the earth. Yet he remains largely unknown. This is the gap that Zafar Anjum’s book fills. It does not try to iron out the complexities in Iqbal’s thoughts, nor does it try to justify what he said or did – it just lays bare all the facts in front of you. This is a fantastic effort that needs to be lauded. (The Business Standard, 30 October 2014)

Relocating Iqbal In A Contemporary Idiom

The volume says it is “an attempt to narrate Iqbal’s life once again for those who have forgotten him” and the author, Zafar Anjum, has succeeded quite well in the endeavour. The book is indeed a welcome addition to the corpus of Iqbal studies. The author acknowledges that it is not “a comprehensive account”, but he has done his best, and the volume, reasonably priced, may well spur curious readers “onto further reading” (Tehelka, 1 Nov 2014)

Hard lines

What he (Anjum) has given us is a useful book for several reasons: the first and foremost being an Iqbal ‘Reader’ for our times. In lucid prose, he presents before the modern reader the life of a visionary poet, and possibly the last of the great  Muslim thinkers. (The Indian Express, 1 Nov 2014)

the enigma of muhammad iqbal 

No doubt, in the hands of a devotee like Anjum, the well-worn details of Iqbal’s personal and public life are brought to life in an engaging narrative style for a newer and younger audience, which may only have been introduced to the poet through a narrow chauvinistic lens. (Dawn, 6 Nov 2014)

nigel collet’s review of iqbal 

The idealization of the strong leader has scarred the Muslim world with dictatorships and military strongmen from the Maghreb to the East Indies. Neither strand of thinking, it seems, has made Islamic states able to function as democracies, nor allowed them to fit comfortably within the world order. Iqbal was a straw in the wind here, one Zafar Anjum lays bare, and this biography is not only a useful account of a great artist but also a door into some of the thinking that still drives the tides in the Muslim world of today.  (Asian Review of Books, 21 Nov 2014)

in between slashes 

The singular achievement of this insightful book is the compassionate manner in which the author deals with the subject, leaving no arena untouched, including the contradictions that remained an indispensable part of his life, including the unrequited relationship with Atiya Faizi, and the German teacher, Emma Wegenast, despite the fact that he was already married thrice concurrently.  (The Deccan Herald, 14 December 2014)

iqbal–largely misunderstood 

What is significant in Zafar Anjum’s biography of Iqbal is that he has not only revisited the life and times of the multi-faceted personality Iqbal but also enunciated his humanistic philosophy primarily based on the teachings of Quran. (Ceylon Today, 14 December 2014)

zafar anjum chronicles the life of IQBAL

Anjum’s narrative in lucid prose is engaging without becoming a boring history book. (Gulf News, 31 December 2014)

larger than life poet of urdu and persian

In Iqbal: The Life of a Poet, Philosopher and Politician, Singapore-based author Zafar Anjum provides a lucid narrative of the maverick’s multi-layered life in this 320-page book published by Random House India. But it is done without trying to explain away the many contradictions in Iqbal’s life and works or defend the serious intellectual flaws in his political philosophy – which later proved costly for the subcontinent. (The Business Times, 2 January 2015)

Eelegance and condensation marks zafar’s work

The book is not only for those whose mind permits the elasticity of its openness to myriad personalities that Iqbal was but also for unenthusiastic wanderers. Zafar makes this well-researched book available to a scholar as well as a novice reader in equal measure. Even a swift, fast reading will help any reader to absorb the crux as all comprehension flows from vivid description of background material which Zafar lays bare before his readers prodigiously. Elegance and condensation marks Zafar’s work. Nothing is over-explained. (The Daily Star, Bangladesh, January 2015)

iqbal as a hero

A new biography of Iqbal fits neatly and uncritically into the existing Iqbal-as-hero narrative. (Mint, India, 3 Jan 2015)

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