Stray Reflections on Iqbal – 1

Stray Reflections on Iqbal – 1

By Dr Maqsood Jafri

During my visit to some Universities in America, England and Canada, I found dire need to introduce Dr Allama Iqbal to the writers, scholars and the youth. There is no dearth of books in English written on Dr Iqbal and some of them are prodigiously superb. The unfortunate aspect and national travesty is that even the Pakistani Westernized intelligentsia and youth is absolutely unaware of the grand and ennobling message of Dr Iqbal.

The main message of Dr Iqbal is his conception of Khudi (Egohood). His whole philosophy swings around the orbit of Self-cognition. I think it incumbent to introduce his message of Khudi to our younger generation with a sacred mission of promoting the cause of human supremacy and sublimity. The person, who is cognizant of this great secret, shatters the fetters and shackles of slavery and subjugation. He only bows before God and breaks the icons of monarchy, dictatorship and fascism.

The latent and potent message of Self-cognizance is the message of Self-reliance and Self- affirmation. That nation cannot survive or exist with integrity, liberty and prosperity which is oblivious of Self-respect and Self-reliance. Iqbal in a Persian couplet says:

“Where do I stand and what is my concern with melody?
Melody is only a way to line up the astray came.”

By it he meant that he wants to show the path of progress, dignity, respect and vivacity to his nation. Now, the question arises as to what were the political, social and economic parameters of evolution and evocation of his philosophy of Egohood.

Dr Abdul Wahid has aptly annotated upon the parameters and factors that fortify and strength the traits of ego in his book titled “Iqbal: His Art and Thought”. He writes:

“It has been said that all philosophical systems have their origin in perplexing problems. When a great intellect encounters a difficult problem and tries to find out its solution, the thoughts engendered in these attempts when elaborated form a philosophical system. What was the problem that set Iqbal thinking? When Iqbal finished his studies and began looking around, he found a strident and triumphant West riding roughshod over a prostrate East. Towards the close of the nineteenth century, conditions in the East were particularly depressing. The sick-man of Europe was at his best gasp; Persia was being crushed under the weight of two mighty powers.”

‘The Strangling of Persia’ speaks volumes on this pitiable situation. China and India were also in a deplorable situation. The internal dissections in China had had made China a cockpit of warring factions. As Iqbal was a visionary and seer and a great stalwart of human integrity, thus gloomy situation perturbed him much and he meditated to find the root cause of this ailment. He soon found the recipe of this disease and suggested to act upon the doctrine of Egohood. Dr Abdul Wahid in this regard writes:

“His deep and wide knowledge of Sociology and the history of different cultures convinced him that the main responsibility for oriental decadence lay at the door of those philosophical systems which inculcate self-negation, abnegation and Self- abandonment. These systems, instead of buoying man up to overcome the difficulties of life, weakened the moral fibre by teaching him to seek peace in running away from the difficulties, so that higher prizes in another world might be available to him۔”

Actually, the negation of Egohood, drove the Muslims to the dark alleys of asceticism and fatalism which made them oblivious and indifferent to pragmatism and they condemned and cursed the worldly life and sought refuge in pseudo Sufism. Pointing out the causes of the decadence of the Muslims, Dr Iqbal opined that neo-Platonism was the root cause of all abatement of Muslims. This is the reason he criticize the Sufistic trances and reveries propounded by Sheikh-e-Akbar Sheikh Mohayyudin, the famous proponent of Sufism and the author of “Fusoos-ul-Hikam”.

He also criticized Hafiz Sherazi in one of his earlier poems for his hermitic message. Iqbal gave much reverence to Rumi and accepted him as his spiritual mentor but did not accept Rumi’s Pantheism. Iqbal considered Pantheism as the eraser of Individuality and Egohood. In a poem he says that he would not like to be the part of ocean and lose his entity as a drop. In this regard again I would like to cite from the book of Dr Abdul Wahid. He connotes:

“Iqbal’s wide studies in history, sociology and philosophy convince him that the decadent condition of Islam was due to the importation of neo-Platonic Ideas, which regarded the world as a mere illusion not worth striving for. These ideas corresponded in an unusual degree to those ideas on the Vedanta, and found their culmination in Islam in the doctrine of “Wahdat-al-Wujud” or “Unitism”. This doctrine led one to believe in God as immanent and regarded the whole world merely as an emanation.  Thus, a pantheistic deity was substituted for the personal and transcendent God of Islam. Much of which passed under the name of mysticism was actually dope, whose only object was to make men spurn a life of activity and exertion”.

Islam is religion of movement and action. Unfortunately, because of monarchy and clergy, it has been made the religion of passivity and insertion, devoid of action and depending on incantations, amulets and prayers. The role of Jehad and Ijtehad has been entirely uprooted. The influence of Greek philosophy and of the Hindu Vedantic philosophy totally disfigured the real visage of Islam.

Dr Iqbal gave a clarion call against the Greek mythology and Hindu mysticism. He also negated the traditional passive culture of the monastery and voiced for a reformatory and revolutionary mission that grants all humans liberty and equality. His concept of Khudi is the affirmation of Egohood and is the message of human dignity as the Holy Quran ordains to fight oppression, suppression and transgression.


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Categories: Allama Iqbal, Ideology, Islam

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