Last New Year Message
The following new year message was broadcast
on Iqbal's behalf from the All-India Radio on Januray 1, 1938 (Iqbal
was too ill to deliver it in his own voice).
Happy New Year
The modern age prides itself on its
progress in knowledge and its matchless scientific developments.
No doubt, the pride is justified. Today space and time are being
annihilated and man is achieving amazing successes in unveiling
the secrets of nature and harnessing its forces to his own service.
But in spite of all these developments, the tyranny of imperialism
struts abroad, covering its face in the masks of Democracy, Nationalism,
Communism, Fascism and heaven knows what else besides. Under these
masks, in every corner of the earth, the spirit of freedom and the
dignity of man are being trampled underfoot in a way of which not
even the darkest period of human history presents a parallel. The
so-called statesmen to whom government and leadership of men was
entrusted have proved demons of bloodshed, tyranny and oppression.
The rulers whose duty it was to protect and cherish those ideals
which go to form a higher humanity, to prevent man’s oppression
of man and to elevate the moral and intellectual level of mankind,
have, in their hunger for dominion and imperial possessions, shed
the blood of millions and reduced millions to servitude simply in
order to pander to the greed and avarice of their own particular
groups. After subjugating and establishing their dominion over weaker
peoples, they have robbed them of their religions, their morals,
of their cultural traditions and their literatures. Then they sowed
divisions among them that they should shed one another’s blood
and go to sleep under the opiate of serfdom, so that the leech of
imperialism might go on sucking their blood without interruption.
As I look back on the year that has passed and as
I look at the world in the midst of the New Year’s rejoieings,
it may be Abyssinia or Palestine, Spain or China, the same misery
prevails in every corner of man’s earthly home, and hundreds
of thousands of men are being butchered mercilessly. Engines of
destruction created by science are wiping out the great landmarks
of man’s cultural achievements. The governments which are
not themselves engaged in this drama of fire and blood are sucking
the blood of the weaker peoples economically. It is as if the day
of doom had come upon the earth, in which each looks after the safety
of his own skin, and in which no voice of human sympathy or fellowship
The world’s thinkers are stricken
dumb. Is this going to the end of all this progress and evolution
of civilisation, they ask, that men should destroy one another in
mutual hatred and make human habitation impossible on this earth?
Remember, man can he maintained on this earth only by honouring
mankind, and this world will remain a battle ground of ferocious
beasts of prey unless and until the educational forces of the whole
world are directed to inculcating in man respect for mankind. Do
you not see that the people of Spain, though they have the same
common bond by one race, one nationality, one language and one religion,
are cutting one another’s throats and destroying their culture
and civilisation by their own hands owing to difference in their
economic creed? This one event shows clearly that national unity
too is not a very durable force. Only one unity is dependable, and
that unity is the brotherhood of man, which is above race, nationality,
colour 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, colour and geographical nationalities are not wiped out
completely, they will never be able to lead a happy and contended
life and the beautiful ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity
will never materialise.
Let us therefore begin the New Year with the prayer
that God Almighty may grant humanity to those who are in places
of power and government and teach them to cherish mankind.
Writings and Statements of Iqbal. Compiled and edited by
Latif Ahmad Sherwani. Published by Iqbal Academy Pakistan, Lahore.
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