On the eve of Afghanistan’s independence day, Looking at a message from Alama Iqbal Lahori to King Ammanullah Khan

Ninety three years ago, a young and dedicated King, Ghazi Amanullah Khan won his country’s independence from the British Empire and by doing so, he did not only gain a high pride amongst his own country people as a nationalist and saving them from an on-going war with the British. He also gained a high level of popularity in the Muslim world and in colonised countries globally, inspiring many others to follow the model and claim their independence. 

Under the guidance of Alama Mahmud Beg Tarzi, a great intellectual of his time, the rule of King Amanullah laid  foundations of nationhood and state-building. As Senzil K. Nawid (2009) writes, this is when stronger and more practical steps towards creating a vision for nation-building started in Afghanistan: 

“In Tarzi’s view, homeland (watan) and nation were symbiotic. He compared “homeland” to a loving father and a nurturing mother and the nation to the children who are protected and nurtured by it. The survival of one will complete the existence of the other.(*)

Tarzi’s search for statehood and nationality was founded on territorially defined conceptions of the modern nation-state and a geographically distinct and historically unique Afghan nation. He sought to awaken a consciousness that would supersede local parochialism, redefining the meaning of the term “watan,” which traditionally meant merely one’s birthplace. The term watan, he wrote, referred to a territory with fixed boundaries to the north, south, east, and west, separating it from other countries. For Tarzi, it included regions, cities, and villages governed by a single state and a single government. The homeland of the Kabuli, Jalalabadi, Mazari, Laghmani, Konari, Nuristani, Shinwari, Safidkohi, Khosti, Mangali, Jadrani, Kohistani, Kohdamani, Nijrawi, Tagawi, Panjshiri, Ghaznichi, Hazarai, Waziristani, Badakhshi, Herati, Maimanagi, Qataghani, Qandahari, etc, is the same blessed land that we call Afghanistan.(**) The changed meaning of the word ‘watan’ and the portrayal of the whole country as ‘native place’ were integral to Tarzi’s idea that the territory of the state was an indivisible whole. The concept of the unity and indivisibility of the Afghan State, as articulated by Tarzi, appeared early in the reign of King Amanullah in the First Article of the 1923 Constitution, following Afghanistan’s declaration of independence.”(***)

Almost a century since winning independence, Afghanistan is still struggling to find its stability and tranquillity. The only ‘golden era’ or peaceful time in the contemporary Afghanistan was when the world was recovering from the second world war damages.  As intense interference and direct occupations by outsiders as well as increasing level of poverty on the people’s side and corruption and divisions on its leader’s or so called leader’s side have never let Afghanistan to follow the vision that was set by Tarzi as an intellectual father and King Amanullah as the King who won the country’s independence from world superpower of the time.

The decades of war and conflict have put us back into an era where the notion of ‘watan’ as Tarzi was trying to redefine and envision for Afghanistan is changing back into the restricted and limited definition of ‘birthplace’ or tribal linages by a minority of so called elites who claim to be the gatekeepers of various tribes and communities. It is very much possible that there is an outside interest in keeping on the fire of war and conflict in the country, but there is a huge responsibility over Afghans to return back and learn lessons that history teaches us on how to use our diversity and colourfulness as a strength and strengthen our spot on the global map as a nation.  

The history of this nation is full of lessons to be looked at and learnt from yet, as is common in many other parts of the world, politicians and power holders continue to dominate and rule without looking in the past.  And even trying to ‘delete’ the past from the mind of their  ‘followers’ or ‘subjects’.

I found this excellent poem by Alama Iqbal Lahori, ‘the east’s message’ to King Ammanullah fascinating in many aspects and decided to leave it here especially for Afghan and regional readers to remind ourselves of what was expected and envisioned for Afghanistan as a nation in the past and how it has been changing in the contemporary era where regional conflicts intensify and attempts are made to fuel more fight, violence and promoting culture of hate and radicalisation even among the locals and ordinary people. Nevertheless, the good news is that Afghans who are not infected by various power holding rival factions and their interests are staying away from such attempts and are still hopeful and united to remain a strong nation. The recent celebrations from a sports hero Rohullah Nikpah & Nisar Ahmad Bahawi to many other smaller occasions in the communities are prove of this fact. Happy Independence Day Afghanistan, and let’s wish the dream comes true one day not very late!

Lets read the ‘message from the east’:


 پیام مشرق

ای امیر کامگار ای شهریار

نوجوان و مثل پیران پخته کار

چشم تو از پردگیهای محرم است

دل میان سینه ات جام جم است

عزم تو پاینده چون کهسار تو

حزم تو آسان کند دشوار تو

همت تو چون خیال من بلند

ملت صد پاره را شیرازه بند

هدیه از شاهنشهان داری بسی

لعل و یاقوت گران داری بسی

ای امیر ابن امیر ابن امیر

هدیه ئی از بینوائی هم پذیر

تا مرا رمز حیات آموختند

آتشی در پیکرم افروختند

یک نوای سینه تاب آورده ام

عشق را عهد شباب آورده ام

پیر مغرب شاعر المانوی

آن قتیل شیوه های پهلوی

بست نقش شاهدان شوخ و شنگ

داد مشرق را سلامی از فرنگ

در جوابش گفته ام پیغام شرق

ماهتابی ریختم بر شام شرق

تا شناسای خودم خود بین نیم

با تو گویم او که بود و من کیم

او ز افرنگی جوانان مثل برق

شعلهٔ من از دم پیران شرق

او چمن زادی چمن پرورده ئی

من دمیدم از زمین مرده ئی

او چو بلبل در چمن فردوس گوش

من بصحرا چون جرس گرم خروش

هر دو دانای ضمیر کائنات

هر دو پیغام حیات اندر ممات

هر دو خنجر صبح خند آئینه فام

او برهنه من هنوز اندر نیام

هر دو گوهر ارجمند و تاب دار

زادهٔ دریای ناپیدا کنار

او ز شوخی در ته قلزم تپید

تا گریبان صدف را بر درید

من به آغوش صدف تابم هنوز

در ضمیر بحر نایابم هنوز

آشنای من ز من بیگانه رفت

از خمستانم تهی پیمانه رفت

من شکوه خسروی او را دهم

تخت کسری زیر پای او نهم

او حدیث دلبری خواهد ز من

رنگ و آب شاعری خواهد ز من

کم نظر بیتابی جانم ندید

آشکارم دید و پنهانم ندید

فطرت من عشق را در بر گرفت

صحبت خاشاک و آتش در گرفت

حق رموز ملک و دین بر من گشود

نقش غیر از پردهٔ چشمم ربود

برگ گل رنگین ز مضمون من است

مصرع من قطرهٔ خون من است

تا نپنداری سخن دیوانگیست

در کمال این جنوان فرزانگیست

از هنر سرمایه دارم کرده اند

در دیار هند خوارم کرده اند

لاله و گل از نوایم بی نصیب

طایرم در گلستان خود غریب

بسکه گردون سفله و دون پرور است

وای بر مردی که صاحب جوهر است

دیده ئی ای خسرو کیوان جناب

آفتاب «ما توارت بالحجاب»

ابطحی در دشت خویش از راه رفت

از دم او سوز الا الله رفت

مصریان افتاده در گرداب نیل

سست رگ تورانیان ژنده پیل

آل عثمان در شکنج روزگار

مشرق و مغرب ز خونش لاله زار

عشق را آئین سلمانی نماند

خاک ایران ماند و ایرانی نماند

سوز و ساز زندگی رفت از گلش

آن کهن آتش فسرده اندر دلش

مسلم هندی شکم را بنده ئی

خود فروشی دل ز دین بر کنده ئی

در مسلمان شأن محبوبی نماند

خالد و فاروق و ایوبی نماند

ای ترا فطرت ضمیر پاک داد

از غم دین سینهٔ صد چاک داد

تازه کن آئین صدیق و عمر

چون صبا بر لالهٔ صحرا گذر

ملت آوارهٔ کوه و دمن

در رگ او خون شیران موج زن

زیرک و روئین تن و روشن جبین

چشم او چون جره بازان تیز بین

قسمت خود از جهان نا یافته

کوکب تقدیر او نا تافته

در قهستان خلوتی ورزیده ئی

رستخیز زندگی نادیده ئی

جان تو بر محنت پیهم صبور

کوش در تهذیب افغان غیور

تا ز صدیقان این امت شوی

بهر دین سرمایهٔ قوت شوی

زندگی جهد است و استحقاق نیست

جز به علم انفس و آفاق نیست

گفت حکمت را خدا خیر کیثر

هر کجا این خیز را بینی بگیر

سید کل صاحب ام الکتاب

پردگیها بر ضمیرش بی حجاب

گرچه عین ذات را بی پرده دید

«رب زدنی» از زبان او چکید

علم اشیا «علم الاسماستی»

هم عصا و هم ید بیضا ستی

علم اشیا داد مغرب را فروغ

حکمت او ماست می بندد ز دوغ

جان ما را لذت احساس نیست

خاک ره جز ریزهٔ الماس نیست

علم و دولت نظم کار ملت است

علم و دولت اعتبار ملت است

آن یکی از سینهٔ احرار گیر

وان دگر از سینهٔ کهسار گیر

دشنه زن در پیکر این کائنات

در شکم دارد گهر چون سومنات

لعل ناب اندر بدخشان تو هست

برق سینا در قهستان تو هست

کشور محکم اساسی بایدت

دیدهٔ مردم شناسی بایدت

ای بسا آدم که ابلیسی کند

ای بسا شیطان که ادریسی کند

رنگ او نیرنگ و بود او نمود

اندرون او چو داغ لاله دود

پاکباز و کعبتین او دغل

ریمن و غدر و نفاق اندر بغل

در نگر ای خسرو صاحب نظر

نیست هر سنگی که می تابد گهر

مرشد رومی حکیم پاک زاد

سر مرگ و زندگی بر ما گشاد

«هر هلاک امت پیشین که بود

زانکه بر جندل گمان بردند عود»

سروری در دین ما خدمتگری است

عدل فاروقی و فقر حیدری است

در هجوم کارهای ملک و دین

با دل خود یک نفس خلوت گزین

هر که یکدم در کمین خود نشست

هیچ نخچیر از کمند او نجست

در قبای خسروی درویش زی

دیده بیدار و خدا اندیش زی

قاید ملت شهنشاه مراد

تیغ او را برق و تندر خانه زاد

هم فقیری هم شه گردون فری

ارد شیری با روان بوذری

غرق بودش در زره بالا و دوش

در میان سینه دل موئینه پوش

آن مسلمانان که میری کرده اند

در شهنشاهی فقیری کرده اند

در امارت فقر را افزوده اند

مثل سلمان در مدائن بوده اند

حکمرانی بود و سامانی نداشت

دست او جز تیغ و قرآنی نداشت

هر که عشق مصطفی سامان اوست

بحر و بر در گوشهٔ دامان اوست

سوز صدیق و علی از حق طلب

ذره ئی عشق نبی از حق طلب

زانکه ملت را حیات از عشق اوست

برگ و ساز کائنات از عشق اوست

جلوهٔ بی پرده او وانمود

جوهر پنهان که بود اندر وجود

روح را جز عشق او آرام نیست

عشق او روزیست کو را شام نیست

خیز و اندر گردش آور جام عشق

(****).در قهستان تازه کن پیغام عشق

(*) Seraj-al-Akhbar, vol. 4, no. 20, Jawza 24, 1294/ June 14, 1915, pp. 4-5.

(**)“Din? Dawlat? Watan? Millat? (Religion ? State? Fatherland,?Nation?),” Seraj al-Akhbar, vol. 4. no. 20, Jawza, 24, 1294/ May 30, 1915, p. 4.

(***) Senzil K. Nawid, 2009 – ‘Tarzi and the Emergence of Afghan Nationalism: Formation of a Nationalist Ideology’.

(****)Source for the poem: http://ganjoor.net/iqbal/payam-mashregh/sh1/ [click here if you wanted to see the poem]


5 Responses to “On the eve of Afghanistan’s independence day, Looking at a message from Alama Iqbal Lahori to King Ammanullah Khan”

  1. August 17, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    I love your posts, can i make you a web blog (your own domain name and site) its very easier and better to have your own http://www.ownblog.com and easier to manage you can also import all of your current posts to that site?

    just leave a reply here and i will contact you.

  2. 2 Afghan
    August 17, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    Excellent! I agree with the above comment. You need your own personal URL.

  3. 3 rameen
    August 21, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Afghnaistan recently celebrated its 93rd year of independence from UK under Amanullah Khan. everyone seems to praise the young king for getting Afghanistan’s independence, pride etc. Its all great but there are some questions:
    1. what did we do with that independence?
    2. could Amanullah Khan have modrenized Afghanistan without the war that cost Afghanistan and the young king so much? which leads to:
    3. did Amanullah Khan have a plan after independence in which independence was a center piece of a master plan? what was that plan?
    4. comparing Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, which country is better off?
    5. have we gotten anything by fighting and getting our independence in the last 300 years?
    6. are we now independent? When were we independent? again, what did we do with independence?

    • August 27, 2012 at 7:51 pm

      Rameen Jan, thank you for reading this piece and also for your valuable comments.
      I think you are raising very valid and important points, and I hope I misunderstand that you are leading into an end that seems to be a nostalgia for Afghanistan being a colony? Especially your questions 1-5 makes me think like that.

      I believe if India and Pakistan [Though Pakistan given its particular recently history is far behind India, but well advanced than us I agree] have reached where they’ve reached, it is precisely the wisdom of its national leaders and they way they managed their countries and dealing with various world powers in the 20th century, the Indian economic boom is not a phenomenon of its colonial era but its recent years I suppose.

      And to your last question whether we are independent now or not, I think can not be linked to the fact that this day should be celebrated and marked nationwide and instead of many other conflicting days of marking wars and civil wars, this will bring the country and its people together. In fact this is the day Afghanistan once in the recent history of last century tried to stand on its own feet. That is something to be marked rather than turning the Afghan calendar full of days chosen by various factions in the past three decades. I am certainly with you that we need to learn from the past. That is the purpose or motive for me to write this piece. I’d suggest you take the last question and write up a piece about it, if possibly go and ask common and ordinary people I’ve and am hoping to continue learn a great deal from our ordinary people who did not touch the war for power and remained observers of what happened like my late grandfather said ‘Fard Nazir, Haft bar haq e Tashkees wa Qazawat ra darad’. [Judgement and assessment of an observing person is seven times more valid than others.] 🙂

  4. 5 rameen javid
    August 31, 2012 at 6:53 am

    Hmm, you make it sound like being a colony is a bad thing. don’t forget that great powers came out of a colony – like the USA. so before you knock colonial status it is best to know what it is. Afghanistan’s major problem is that it does not understand what and who it is – but maybe it does. Meaning, we all know that Afghanistan is a mixture of ethnic groups held together by a forced and shrinking boundary. We know what we do not have a strong national identity. If you ask the 30 million Afghans who or what they think is an Afghan you will get 30 million different answers.

    the example of Pak and India is just one of colonial rule. Talking about India, it is also full of fragmented ethnic and religious groups. It was unified a few times in history but still remained fragmented with different forces controlling it. Rarely it united and it was always a jewel of a prize for foreign conquerors – which there were many! under the colonial rule India came almost under one rule. Yes, there were a lot of other things that finally worked in its favor.

    For example, the education system, the infrastructure system [railroad, roads, communications], bureaucracy, common official language, respect for a common laws, etc. India used these institution after independence to its favor and set the groundwork for progress. This surge in india is a result of the right foundations being put in place. You can also look at the former soviet republics, that have their educated people and the systems that were used before to build on.

    So being a colony aint that bad if we know how to use it. currently, in this chaos of Karzai years, where every man is for himself, in the middle people such as yourself are being educated, people are getting rich, they are seeing the world, communication and infrastructure is slowly developing, etc. Not that any of this was the design of the foreign powers as they are in Afghanistan for their own national interests, not Afghanistan’s! so hopefully the next generation of Afghans won’t be so ready to sell their country to the highest bidder or to any bidder really. Maybe in the next 20 years or so, the pieces fall into place and we can actually understand and appreciate victory and freedom and celebrate it the way it should be.

    As for the average person on the street being asked if they are free, like I said previously not everyone knows and appreciates freedom – not lack of laws – and not everyone in Afghanistan feels the same about Amanullah Khan and or even know of him. I’ve been involved in Afghanistan for 25 years actively and been in touch with a lot of common folk. If you read by blog of buzkashee you will read my views as well on Afghanistan and the common man.

    In short, lets not just celebrate our past “glories” without knowing how it effected us. not to take what is handed to us as unquestionable truth. We are the now and will be the future. It is up to us to set things right and not blindly follow the footsteps of the nearsighted or the blind.

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