Iqbal wrote the most Inspiring & Eye-Opening Piece of Work on Cordoba Mosque – Ambassador of Spain

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H. E, Manuel Durán Giménez-Rico, Ambassador of Spain to Pakistan delivered this speech at Ambassadors Conference on 10 Nov 2020, hosted by Pakistan Academy of Letters at President House of Pakistan Islamabad. The topic of the conference was ” The Ideology of Iqbal”. President H.E Dr Arif Alvi  presided over the conference. Here is the text of Ambassador’s speech;

Excellency ,Mr President, what a great honour to be here tonight representing Spain in your presence. Thank you very much.

First and foremost, I would like to state that my contribution to this beautiful event is extremely modest and that, not being an expert in Pakistani literature, my words just come from the heart of a Spaniard who , since the day he arrived in this beautiful land, heard about Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Pakistan´s beloved poet , who wrote the most inspiring and eye-opening piece of work about the Córdoba Mosque.


My intervention does not intend to be a dissertation about this exquisite poem or about the life and works of Iqbal. I leave that to the experts who will certainly shed light here and now upon this monument of the Pakistani letters.

Invited in 1933 by the Spanish Orientalist Miguel Asín Palacios to lecture in Madrid, Allama Iqbal availed himself of this opportunity to head South and visit the Great Mosque of Córdoba.

He became the first Muslim to pray in the Mosque since its Conversion into a Cathedral after the fall of Granada in 1492.

I found this very poetic description by the historian Yaseen Noorani of the very moment of the poet´s encounter with the beauty and the magnificence of the Mosque:

“ By all accounts, the stirring intensity of this experience was nothing less than theatrical. Iqbal, radically moved by the visual sumptuousness of the Mosque, which he equated with an all-embracing majestic aura of Islam, and under a spell of fervent emotions coursing through him as a consequence of this encounter, apparently swooned upon entering it.”

“ His experience gained prosperity thanks to his celebrated Urdu poem “ Masjid-e-Qurtuba”


It is clear that the vision of this splendorous monument touched every chord of Iqbal´s heart and created in him mixed feelings . On the one hand, awareness, joy, pride in the glorious islamic past of the city he was visiting, on the other, pain and disappointment, nostalgia and frustration.

Some people have told me that “ Masjid-e Qurtuba “ can be described as the “ National Anthem of Muslims” . I can only read its English version, and all I can say is that it is brimming with emotions and inspiration even if a lot is certainly lost in translation.

Iqbal obviously admired the beauty and elegance of the Masjid, but for him , it is all about the men who built it, about the faith that invades every stone of the building… it is all about the believers.

Thus, the Mosque is a true symbol of the beliefs, thoughts and aspirations of the Muslim community, a community above territorial limitations…

The message transmitted by the Mosque knows no boundaries and its warmth is all-pervading. The architecture is not as relevant as the men who built it, “ The men of God” as Iqbal referred to them.

Iqbal wrote:

“ Your beauty, your Majesty tells me you were built by a Man guided by God
You are beautiful and Majestic. He too, is beautiful and Majestic”

“Your foundation is stable,you have countless pillars
Which look like the rows of palm trees in the oasis of Syria”

“The radiance of the Sinai valley is spread over your nooks and corners
The land of the man of God is limitless, his sky is boundless”

This dynamic love ( Ishq ) is what really counts. Ishq is all about timelessness, about the irrelevance of the fact that the Mosque was built in a particular moment in time or in that piece of land.

The love and the faith that the monument oozes speaks to Iqbal of the renaissance of Islamic culture .

The poet wrote these beautiful verses:

“ Yet, in this mark, shimmers the colour of permanence and perpetuity
Perfected to its zenith by the man of God.”

“The Act of the Man of God, resplendent with dynamic love
Dynamic Love, the essence of life, on which death is forbidden “

We see, as we read the poem, that it starts on a sad note, but, as soon as the poet introduces the concept of ISHQ, the verses change their mood from sadness to optimism. This Dynamic of love is the willingness to live under the moral teachings of Islam
On a different note, I have recently been approached by a Spanish Constructor who is participating in the project of building a Smart city near Islamabad.

He has a beautiful idea in mind: The Spanish team of architects of the Mosque that will preside over this new city would like to draw their inspiration from the Mosque of Córdoba. The project would bring the spirit of Córdoba and of Iqbal to the very heart of Pakistan.

I really hope this new Mosque will serve as a symbol of the friendship between our two countries and will remind both the Pakistani and the Spaniards who visit this ambitious monument of the glorious Islamic past of our nation and of the splendorous heritage that Islam left in our territory .

 

Let me finish with some verses from “ Masjid-e Qurtuba” in which Spain and the Spanish people are mentioned. Verses that indicate Iqbal´s love for our Country and his willingness to underline the beauty of the heritage left by Islam in Al- Andalus.

“ You are the Mecca of the designers, the apostle of the grandeur of Islam
By virtue of you, the land of Spain has become as hallowed as that of Mecca
If any other model , as exquisite as you , exists in this world
It is in the heart of a muslim and nowehere else”

And referring to “ those men of truth, those Arab cavaliers” who ruled over those lands , he adds :

“ It is because of their blood that, even today, the Spanish people
are friendly, hospitable, simple and handsome.
In this country, even now, people´s eyes look like those of a gazelle
And , even today, the arrows of their sights are enchanting”

Thank you very much for these verses Mr, Allama Muhammad Iqbal.Thank you.

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