By Rahim Hayat Qureshi Pakistan’s ambassador to Iran

The brotherly bond between Iran and Pakistan

June 25, 2020 - 11:30

As I present my credentials to H.E. President Rouhani, it is a moment to reflect over the longstanding fraternal, cultural and historical bonds between Iran and Pakistan.  

There is a famous Hadith on Persia that once Holy Prophet placed his hand on Hazrat Salman Farsi and stated, “Even if faith were near Pleiades, men from amongst the Persians would attain it.” He compared the love of knowledge and scientific enquiry of Persia to the Pleiades constellation (commonly known as Al Surya) which represents the vastness as well as the beauty of the Universe.  Through this Hadith, the Holy Prophet indicated that there was no difficulty or obstacle big enough that could prevent the Persians from aspiring for the truth.    

“He (Allama Iqbal) believed Iran could serve as a central force uniting comity of Muslim nations.” Since ancient times Persia has been recognized as a center of Knowledge, receiving and spreading information from China and South Asia in the East to Greece and Rome in the West. Persian scientists, writers and thinkers have remarkable contributions in various fields of science such as algebra, physics, chemistry, astronomy and biology. History stands witness to the logarithmic tables invented by Al-Khawarazmi, astronomical encyclopedia compiled by Al-Biruni, theory of evolution explained by Al-Tusi and contributions made by Ibn-e-Sina in the field of medicine. Likewise, Persian poets and philosophers have colored the realm of literature, theology and mysticism. The works of Saadi, Rumi and Hafez have not only illuminated hearts of men and women but also given impetus to spread of Islam in the main lands of Central and South Asia.  

Persian Cosmopolitan influence can be traced even today in the South Asian region and Pakistan, which dates back to the Muslim conquest of the Indian sub-continent. The influx of Persian travelers and migrants, for-instance, the famous Mughal Queen Noor Jahan, further accentuated the development of Persian language in the region.

“From the Ghaznavid dynasty till the Mughal Empire, Persian became the lingua franca of the region.”From the Ghaznavid dynasty till the Mughal Empire, Persian became the lingua franca of the region. People from varied ethnicities began acquiring Persian language as well as culture and it rippled out into various parts of the continent with Lahore (capital of Punjab, Pakistan) as its epicenter. Many of the indigenous languages of the region adopted Persian elements in their phonology and syntax. Currently, Pakistan’s official language Urdu (which means lashkar or Army) has been derived from Persian, Turkish, Sanskrit and Arabic and is written in Arabic-Persian script.

The cross pollination of ideas, thoughts and culture has gone both ways. Just as Persian influenced South Asia, the latter also inspired Persian poets and philosophers. For instance, the famous 1001 Arabian nights stories are hypothesized to be a compilation of South Asian tales narrated by Persian poets. Furthermore, the style of poetry also called Sabk-e-Hindi or Isfahani in Iran is said to have its roots in the South Asian culture. Its delicacy and subtlety manifests the infusion of South Asian philosophy with Persian thought. Mirza Muhammad Ali Saeb Tabrizi was the prolific poet who introduced the South Asian style of poetry in Persia. He was given the title of “The King of Poets” by Shah Abbas of Safavid dynasty. A verse from his poetry is as follows:    

پاکان ستم ز دور فلک بیشتر کشند

گندم چو پاک گشت خورد زخم آسیا

                                                  (صائب تبریزی)

The pure ones suffer more from the sky’s revolution

The wheat is wounded in the mill as it gets pure

By the 19th century it is interesting to note that more Persian dictionaries were being produced in South Asia than in Persia. Many of the eminent Urdu poets such as Mir Taqi Mir, Sauda, Mirza Ghalib and Allama Iqbal have their works in this language. The synthesis of two cultures is also showcased in mosques and mausoleums such as Shrine of Shah-Rukn-e-Alam, Taj Mahal, Deccani mosques and Akbar’s tomb. The prolonged cultural relations between the two heritages have fraternized into a bond between Pakistan and Iran today.   

The most cherished poet of the East, Allama Iqbal expresses his thoughts about Iran in following verse:    

‎تہران ہو گرعالم مشرق کا جنیوا

‎کرہ آرز کی تقدیر بدل جائے  شاید

If Tehran be the Geneva of the East
The fate of planet may yet change

He believed Iran could serve as a central force uniting comity of Muslim nations.  Interestingly, today Tehran serves as headquarters to the Economic Cooperation Organization comprising of Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey and the six Central Asian States of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Similarly Iqbal also dedicated the following verse to Iranian youth:       

چون چراغ لاله سوزم در خیابان شما

ای جوانان عجم جان من و جان شما

“I am burning like a tulip’s lamp on your path,

O youth of Iran, I swear by my own life and yours.”

 The Leader of Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei has always appreciated the prominent figures involved in Pakistan’s struggle for independence. At many places he has praised the founding fathers of Pakistan namely: Muhammad Ali Jinnah; Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Maulana Muhammad Ali and Maulana Shaukat Ali. He particularly idealized Allama Iqbal because he was concerned about the Muslim world in general. In this regard, he wrote a book titled “Iqbal:  Manifestation of Islamic Spirit” presenting his views about the works of Iqbal Lahori; the ideological founder of Pakistan.    

Some of the Iranian famous poets have also praised Pakistan’s independence struggle. Most prominently, Malik-ul-Shuarah Bahar who praised Pakistan in following words at the time of its creation:    

همیشه لطف خدا باد یار پاکستان

به کین مباد فلک با دیار پاکستان

May God give grace to our brotherly country of Pakistan

May destiny never bring bad things to the country of Pakistan

 سزد کراچی و لاهور، قبهٔالاسلام

که هست یاری اسلام کار پاکستان

ز فیض روح «‌محمدعلی جناح‌» بود

محمد و علی و آل‌، یار پاکستان

Karachi and Lahore deserve to be the citadels of Islam

As Pakistan aims for the propagation of Islam

Because of the of Mohammad Ali Jinnah

The blessing of Prophet Muhammad and his family is on Pakistan

 Today, the age-old cultural affinities and similarities are forged by the deep fraternal and friendly relations, which continue to flourish between the governments and the people of the two countries.  Both states are fortunate not to have any dispute amongst them and continue to enhance their bilateral relations which are based on mutual respect and close cooperation.    

The two countries continue to support each other on issues of principle and matters affecting the Muslim Ummah as a whole. Supreme Leader and the Iranian government has often voiced support for the longstanding struggle of Kashmiris for self-determination, echoing the verse of Bahar who said:

چو مادری که ز فرزند شیرخواره جداست

نجات کشمیر آمد شعار پاکستان

Like a mother who is far from her nursling

Saving Kashmir is the slogan of Pakistan

Likewise, Pakistan has all along fully supported Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which represents a very good example of negotiated settlement through dialogue and diplomacy. Prime Minister Imran Khan and people of Pakistan have voiced their concerns over U.S. sanctions on Iran and actively reached out to the world for their removal.

Having just arrived in Iran and that too during the most difficult time of the Coronavirus outbreak in the world, I have gotten to witness the efficiency and management of Iranian authorities in dealing with the pandemic. These efforts and cooperation of responsible people of Iran is praiseworthy.    

During my stay here it will be my endeavor to further strengthen the centuries-old relations between our two countries.

***Pakistan-Iran Dosti Zindabad***

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