Allamah Iqbal loved Hazrat Hussain immensely and considered his life and sacrifice to be a lesson in freedom for humanity. To him Hazrat Hussain’s life was a model for Muslims to emulate and offered a solution to all their problems. Iqbal considered both the arrogant pride of the royalty and the excessive poverty of the hospices to be harmful for Muslims. Therefore a couplet in “Armughan-e-Hijaz” he exhorts Muslim to adopt the example of Hazrat Hussain:
Key Fakhr-e-Khankhahi Hai Faqat Andooh was Dilgiri
(Get out of the hospices and fulfill the obligations of Hussain/For the poverty of the hospice delivers only woe and misery)
Fakhr Uryan Garmi-e-Badr was Hunayn
Faqr Uryan Bang-e- Takbeer-e-Hussain
(The genuine poverty in Islam is that of Badr and Hunayn and the war-cry of Hussain)
Iqbal despised those strains of tasawwuf which distanced Muslims from bravery, action, and struggle and which pushed them towards monasticism and renouncement of the world. He exhorted the Muslims to shun seclusion and urged them to follow in the foot-steps of Hazrat Hussain by adopting sacrifice.
Teer wa Sanan wa Khanjar was Shamsheeram Arzoo Ast
Baman Miya Key Maslake-e-Shabbirem Arzoo Ast
(I long for arrow, lance, dagger and sword/ Oh so-called (Muslim) don’t walk with me because I long to emulate Hussain’s sacrifice).
Iqbal says that following in the foot-steps of Hussain is not an easy task as it if full of sacrifice and genuine love:
Batil Akhir Dagh-e-Hasrat Meri Ast Bahr-e-Haq Dar Khak wa Khoon Ghaltida Ast
Pas Banae La Ilah Garweeda Ast
(Message of truth and justice is alive due to the sacrifice of Hussain who defeated injustice forever. It was to save justice and truth that Hussain and his companions bathed in their own blood. By following this path they renewed the foundations of Islam.) These same sentiments were penned seven hundred years ago by Hazrat Moinuddin Chishti:
deen hast hussain deen panaah hast hussain
sar daad na daad dast dar dast-e-yazeed
haqqa ke binaye laa ilaa hast hussain
(Husayn is lord and the lord of lords.
Husayn himself is Islam and the shield of Islam.
Though he gave his head (for Islam) but never paid allegiance to Yazeed.
Truly Husayn is the founder of "There is no Deity except Allah).
In “Ramooz-e-Bekhudi” Iqbal has penned a long nazm (of 39 verses) in praise of Hazrat Hussain:
Allah Allah Baey Bismillah pidr
Maani zabh-e-azeem Amad-e-pisr
(Hussain is the leader of the lovers and the son of Hazrat Fatima (RA). He is the cypress tree of the Prophet’s garden. In the second couplet Allamah Iqbal is indicating towards a Shiah tradition where Hazrat Ali (RA) reportedly said that the “nuqta” of the letter “Ba” in Bismillah, which is the essence of the Holy Qur’an, is him (Ali). Therefore it points to the glory of Hussain whose father is the “Baey Bismillah” and who himself is the exposition of the ultimate sacrifice.
In Baal-e-Jibraeel Iqbal writes:
Nihayat is ki Hussain, Ibteda Hai Ismaeel
(The story of Kaaba inspite of being plain and interesting sounds strange. Its foundation was laid by Hazrat Ibraheem (AS), in its early days Hazrat Ismaeel (AS) rubbed his feet out of thirst. It was cleansed of idols by Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Its sanctity was protected until the day of judgment through the ultimate sacrifice of Imam Hussain).
Hazrat Hussain was an apostle of love of God and displayed his passionate love like other lovers of God:
Maarkey Wujood Mein Badr was Hunain Bhi Hain Ishq
(The friendship of Ibraheem (AS) is also love and so is the patience of Hussain/ In the struggle of existence Badr and Hunain are also examples of love).
In Ramooz-e-Bekhudi Iqbal expounds on the battle of Karbala :
Hurriyat-e-Raaz har andar kaam reekht
Khast aan sar jalwa khairul umam
Choon sahabe qibla baraan dar khadam
Bar zameene Karbala bareed wa raft
Lala dar weerana ha kareed wa raft
Ta qiyamat qata istabdad kard
Mauje khoon o chaman ijad karad
(When Khilafat strained its relationship with the Qur’an and abandoned Islamic and Qur’anic ideals by transforming it into a kingship and when freedom was poisoned, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) did not tolerate its injustices. Like a blessed cloud he marched forwarded and through his rain of blood transformed the desert into a garden of martyrs. By doing so he ended the reign of injustice and breathed new life into the garden of freedom.
In another couplet Iqbal says:
Doostan aw ba yazdaan hum adad
(Hussain’s enemies were innumerable like grains of the desert sands/ Whereas his companions equaled ‘Yazdaan’ (Lovers). The numerical value of the word ‘yazdaan’ comes out to be seventy two which was the number of Hussain’s companions).
The battle between truth and and falsehood will continue until the end. Expounding on this Iqbal writes:
Aen do quwwat az hayat amad padeed
Sateeza kaar raha hai azal sey ta imroz
Chiragh-e-Mustafwi sey sharer-e-bu lahbi
(Moses and Pharaoh and Hussain and Yazeed. These forces have been in struggle from the beginning. The lamp of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has always faced off with the spark of Abu Lahab.)
Qur’an is the key to success for a Muslim and its secrets too can be learned from the example of Hussain. Iqbal says:
Za Aatish-e-ao Shola ha Andokhtam
(I have learned the secrets of Qur’an from Hussain. I have inflamed my lamps through Hussain’s candle).