Aug. 8, 2023 By Carlotta Mohamed
Local elected officials joined the Pakistani American community on Sunday, Aug. 6, to co-name the corner of 109th Street and 101st Avenue in Richmond Hill as ‘Allama Iqbal Avenue,’ recognizing Pakistan’s rich cultural heritage and one of the most significant leaders of their country.
The American Pakistani Advocacy Group (APAG), along with Assembly members David Weprin and Jenifer Rajkumar and Council Speaker Adrienne Adams’ office, unveiled the ‘Allama Iqbal Avenue’ street sign co-named after Muhammad Iqbal, who was a writer, philosopher and politician widely revered in the Asian subcontinent.
Iqbal was a scholar, lawyer and well known poet. He was commonly referred to as the honorific Allama meaning “very knowing and most learned.” Before Muhammad Ali Jinnah established Pakistan, Iqbal foresaw its creation.
“He had a vision of a culturally and politically independent land that promoted the ideals of Muslims residing in British-ruled India,” said APAG’s Founder and President Ali Rashid. “Allama Iqbal sought to create a free Muslim State to combat the oppression and discrimination that Muslim faced residing in India. The dissemination of western thought and the concepts of democracy were a core foundation in encouraging Allama Iqbal to organize this movement.”
Rashid said the co-naming of the corner as ‘Allama Iqbal Ave’ represents a monumental accomplishment for Pakistani Americans in New York and throughout the United States.
“It is indicative of the sacrifices, the diligence, and the perseverance of Pakistani’s. APAG has utilized this area for tremendous community service work, and it is an honor to bestow it with the name of Allama Iqbal who was a prominent leader in gaining Pakistan’s independence,” Rashid said. “This co-naming ceremony will help develop immense cultural understanding and aid in interweaving our communities further.”
The corner of 109th Street and 101st Avenue in Richmond Hill has been the epicenter for a majority of APAG’s food drives, back-to-school drives and Ramadan drives to assist the community.
“Throughout our journey as the American Pakistani Advocacy Group (APAG), we have consistently strived to give back to the community, touching the lives of those in need on the very street that now stands to be renamed after Allama Iqbal,” Rashid said. “Our food pantries, clothing drives, halal turkey giveaways, back 2 school drives and many other community outreach programs have been a testament to our commitment to uplifting and supporting the diverse fabric of New York.”
As the community approaches Pakistan Independence Day on Monday, Aug. 14, Adams said she is proud to work alongside APAG, which has devoted its efforts to supporting and uplifting its neighbors, and to formally recognize Allama Iqbal and the community’s contributions to the city.
“Hailed as one of the defining poets, scholars, and leaders of his time, Allama Iqbal’s work and vision led to the creation of Pakistan as an independent country. His legacy lives on today in the vibrant Pakistani community that has contributed to the cultural fabric of New York City,” Adams said.