Stray Reflections on Iqbal – 2

Stray Reflections on Iqbal – 2

By Dr Maqsood Jafri

Traditional religions like Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Taoism and many other local cults stress more on spiritual and moral side and preach Godhood. These religions do not give any charter or program for the social, economic and political aspects of human life. On the other hand, Scientific Communism based on the book titled “Das Capital” of Karl Marx emphasized on the material, economic and social side of man, totally rejecting religion, spirituality and mysticism.

Plato and Moore had propounded the theoretical communism but the “Communist Manifesto” written by Karl Marx gave it scientific form. The systems of Soviet Union (present day Russia) and China are based on Marxism. Marxism stresses on the acceptance of man as the sole figure in the universe and claims to protect the basic rights of all and sundry. Its manifesto is to provide basic necessities to all mankind without any discrepancy.  

Dr Iqbal  admired the spirit of this manifesto but also pointed out its horrendous effects on the liberty and individuality of humans. The regimentation of Communism strangles and suffocates the freedom of citizens of the Communist state. As Iqbal negated monarchy for its hazards that vanish personal freedom and curbs Egohood; similarly Iqbal considered Communism an enemy of Egohood.

Egohood protects individualism and human dignity. In totalitarian, dictatorial and monarchic states, the human freedom is contained and ones ego is smashed and emaciated. Iqbal’s deep and rational study of the Quran convinced him that it is only Islam that keeps a balance between God and Man. Islam is neither a religion in traditional supernatural sense, nor is it a materialistic cult like Marxism.

In Islam, the Rights of God and the Rights of Man are clearly mentioned. Eminent British Philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote a book negating Communism titled “The Road to Serfdom”. He considered Communism as a prison. He rejected One Party rule of Soviet Union and regarded it fascism. Communism is Un-Democratic System.

The French Philosopher Yean Paul Sartre also reacted against Communism and regarded it a system that effaces human individuality and identity. His theory of “Existentialism” rejects Marxism. Dr Iqbal voiced the same notion. His concept of Khudi also rejects totalitarianism and promotes the approval and cognizance of human personality which is called self- awareness and self- affirmation.

Greek Philosopher Socrates had said: “Know thy self.” It entails crucially important psychological impact and imperative narration that a man is the best creation of God and His vicegerent on Earth and deserves best treatment and reverence. This concept strengthens one’s determination in the making of decisions. Self-cognizance is a positive, creative and active propensity. Iqbal’s concept of Egohood also bases on active and practical affirmation of human individuality and distinct character as the Caliph of God on the earth. Hazrat Ali had said:

“The one who cognizes his ego, cognizes his God.”

It means for the cognizance of God, the cognizance of one’s own self is essential. Iqbal in an Urdu poem has counted the traits of ego and said:

“The secret of Self lies in proclaiming that there is no god but God. Ego is a sword and the acceptance of God is its whet- stone.”

In Islam God and Man have a connection. The message of Khudi is quite Quranic message. According to Iqbal the man preserving the qualities endowed by God upon him is a “Mard- e- Momin” (The Faithful Man).

The Mard-e- Momin of Iqbal is not like the “Man of Iron” of German Philosopher Nietzsche. Man of Iron of Nietzsche is an atheist and fascist. It was the impact of his philosophy that a fascist Hitler emerged on the horizon of Germany and brought unprecedented destruction, chaos and cruelty worldwide.

On the other hand, the Mard-e-Momin of Iqbal is modest, honest and virtuous bearing qualities such as fortitude, forbearance, fidelity, faith, sacrifice, contentment, patience and perseverance. This man is the protector of Khudi and is a positive personality.

Allama Abd al-Karim al-Jili had given the concept of Mard-e-Kamil (Perfect Man). The Muslims’ Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) was a Perfect Man and a Balanced Personality as he was not an extremist and proposed moderation and called it “The Straight Path”.  The Quran mentions the Muslims as the Middle Community paving on Middle Path. The man who cognizes and recognizes his ego is the man of faith.

Dr Iqbal himself defined Khudi as self-awareness. It is self-cognizance and self-affirmation that distinguishes a living man from a spiritually dead man.   At a place, he says that the living nations keep the record of every moment and are aware of their importance, identity and existence. The persons or nations oblivious of the secret of Egohood are erased from the page of history.

According to the Quran, man is the vicegerent of God on earth and God has given reverence to all mankind. When God has given man freedom of faith and choice and honoured him, then who are we to enmesh, enslave, and disgrace humans. Monarchy and Communism snatch humans’ natural right to freedom and justice. The core message of Khudi is the protection and promotion of human rights and human dignity.

Iqbal’s concept of Egohood is neither an egomaniac nor egotistic, nor an enigma. It is not a riddle. It is a great reality that breaks the bonds and fetters of slavery. Iqbal gave consciousness to the Muslims of the Sub-continent. He woke them from deep sleep by spurring and stirring them against British colonialism and inoculated in them the spirit of freedom, dignity and revolt.

It was the power and miracle of the clarion call of Iqbal that the suppressed and oppressed Muslims refused to surrender before the alien occupiers. The message of Egohood abetted the plan of Muslims for freedom and averted the supremacy and sovereignty of the colonists. Quaid-e-Azam was in touch with Dr Iqbal and constantly sought his advice on the matters of the Muslims of the Sub-continent.

The letters written by Dr Iqbal to Mr Jinnah depict the great concern of Iqbal about the creation and emergence of Pakistan. Both agreed to make a Muslim State on modern and progressive lines that will be a democratic welfare state. Both, rejected theocratic state and the role of retrogressive sectarian clergy in the making or shaping the future destiny of Pakistan.

An eminent poet, scholar, columnist and senior retired bureaucrat Akram Sohail, in his recently published book titled “Shaoor-e-Asr” (The  Consciousness of the Epoch), has written that it was the message of Dr Iqbal that awoke the Muslims from deep slumber and gave us the clear and real message of the Quran. Iqbal infused the indomitable conviction and spirit in the dead skeletons of the Muslims. Akram Sohail opines that Iqbal gave us light in the dark and dreary night. But, it is a great tragedy that even today; we have not implemented the golden principles given by Iqbal and Quaid-e-Azam. Both of them had rejected feudalism, sectarianism, fascism, parochialism and capitalism, but we could not free ourselves from the clutches of these social evils.

I endorse his stance and strongly appeal to the younger generation to make Pakistan as our founding fathers desired. I feel it pertinent to mention that Pakistan is not an Islamic democratic welfare state. It is under the stone wall of bureaucracy, theocracy and feudalism. The majority of the public is the victim of poverty and illiteracy. The elite class takes benefit of this deplorable situation.

Instead of producing the Shaheen (Eagle) of Iqbal, we are producing crows and vultures. Our youth is absolutely oblivious and ignorant of the message of Iqbal. Islamic State is a pluralistic, Moderate, tolerant and inclusive state. Unfortunately, Pakistan has become a prey to religious extremism and terrorism. The sectarian clerics are destabilizing Pakistan by their hate speeches and no government agency is active to harness them.

Iqbal gave the message of “Movement”, while our clerics are preaching pre-destination and fatalism. The Sufis are busy in narrating spiritual stories and hoodwink the poor and illiterate masses in the name of pseudo Sufism. This state of mind is imperceptible and the Muslims have accepted these taboos imperatively considering them as the real tenets of Islam.

Dr Iqbal rejects all these un-Islamic views and through the message of Egohood gives new vision to the Muslims. The Sufistic trances and the short sightedness of clergy threw the Muslims into the dungeons and slough of insertion and stagnancy. It was the clarion call of Iqbal that shattered the shackles of British colonial rule.

The impact of the message of Dr Iqbal was extensive. So many Muslim countries revolted against alien rulers and got freedom from them after great sacrifices. Libya got freedom from Italy. Morocco and Algeria got freedom from France. Iraq got freedom from Britain. The impact of the message of Egohood of Iqbal on the Muslim world is of great impact.

Dr. Moeen- ud- Deen Aqeel, in his book titled “Iqbal aur Jadeed Islami Dunya”, (Iqbal and Modern Islamic World) sheds ample light on this subject. In a Persian couplet Iqbal had said:

“After me the people will read my poetry, absorb it and say that a man conscious of Egohood had revolutionized the whole world.”

Undoubtedly, this prediction of Iqbal has come true.

Iqbal’s concept of Khudi is multi-faceted. On the education side, it gives the message that we should not blindly follow the foot tracks of the Westerners. He rejected the education system that promotes and produces slaves. The education means development of personality. In an Urdu couplet, he says:

“It is up to you whether you opt to be the servant of God or be the slave of stomach.”

On one side, he abhorred the Western system of education that buttresses material quest and mind-set. In one of his Persian couplets he says:

“Once, I spent a whole day in the company of Western savants but gained nothing as their erudition was sans of ethos.”

He opined that the Western thinkers were devoid of human pathos and clemency and only produced mental butts, busts and bungles. They are the worshippers of Mammon. This money oriented system has manacled human finer feelings of sacrifice and also mangled human Egohood. These teachers and preachers are the slaves of money.

On the other hand, he also rejected the traditional way of Muslim Madrasa (seminary). He found it retrogressive and out-dated system of education based on sectarianism, ritualistic and juristic debates and differences giving no enlightenment. The seminaries failed to produce scientists and thinkers. These short sighted clerics have driven the people in a higgledy-piggledy situation.

Iqbal aspired for a blend of secular and sacred curriculum. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan had rightly and timely felt the need of an education system that could meet the both ends. In Aligarh University, it was compulsory to study English, Islamic Studies and Science. Iqbal also aspired for such a balanced education system.

The book of Khawaja Sibtain tilted “Educational Philosophy of Iqbal”, is a master piece on the notion of Iqbal regarding education. Unfortunately, in Pakistan we could not introduce the education system aspired and prescribed by Dr Iqbal.

Presently, we have three education systems: English medium schools, Urdu medium schools and religious seminaries. We are producing three diametrically opposite classes. We need to abolish this dichotomy. If we want to see the Pakistanis as a one nation, we will have to give them one curriculum.

It is incumbent on an Islamic welfare state to provide free education and medical care to all its citizens. Any state that fails to provide the basic necessities such as house, clothing, food, education and health care to its citizens is not the State of Medina. If we seriously and sincerely want to make Pakistan the State of Medina as envisioned by Dr Allama Iqbal, then we will have to abolish feudalism and sectarianism.

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Categories: Allama Iqbal, Ideology, Islam

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