Though much of his poetry is written in Persian, Muhammad Iqbal was also a poet of stature in Urdu. Shikwa, published in 1909, and Jawab-e-Shikwa, published in 1913, extol the legacy of Islam and its civilizing role in history, bemoan the fate of Muslims everywhere, and squarely confront the dilemmas of Islam in modern times.
Shikwa is in the form of a complaint to Allah for having let down Muslims and Jawab-e-Shikwa is in the form of God’s reply. The central idea of the poem Shikwa is that God is not fulfilling his promise to protect followers of the Prophet from loss and a decline in fortune.
In Jawab-e Shikwa God answers directly that he has not broken his promise; instead it is the Muslims, his followers, who have turned away from the Path.
The reason why Shikwa raised controversies is that the main theme of the poem was the ‘Complaint to God’ for Muslim’s downfall, ill-treatment and troubles they were facing. When the first of these poems, Shikwa, was published it created confusion among Muslim Scholars who thought that Iqbal was being ungrateful for the blessings of God. “When Iqbal wrote Shikwa, orthodox religious clerics called him an infidel, and in all honesty, Shikwa does emanate a very strong sense of entitlement”. The second poem, Jawab-e-Shikwa, was not announced with the publication of the first, but when it was published four years later Iqbal was praised for his contribution to Urdu poetry and Islamic literature.