This docufilm presents the story of Muhammad Iqbal (d. 1938), a turn-of-the-century poet-philosopher from the Indian subcontinent and the national poet of Pakistan. Iqbal’s verse is immersed in a uniquely cosmopolitan literary imagination. It cuts across the manufactured boundaries of both ideological and geographic nature––boundaries that underlie the modern-colonial notions of nationhood, identity, and culture, and thus undergird the divisive geographical and culture of the postcolonial Muslim world. Perhaps Iqbal’s verse is, in this vein, a sharp point of departure toward the refutation of the invented notions of modern nationalism and clash of civilizations.
A Message from the East, named after Iqbal’s own collection Payām-i Mashriq (پیام مشرق) is one of the first English documentaries celebrating his life and work. It was written and directed by Jeremiah Hammerling and produced by Sean Fahey.