Stray Reflections on Iqbal – 3

Stray Reflections on Iqbal – 3

By Dr Maqsood Jafri

Francis Bacon had said “histories make Man wise.” It goes without saying that the history is a teacher. The Muslims of the sub-continent passed glorious era when they ruled over India. But they also suffered horrendous times when the British over threw the great poet-ruler Bahadur Shah Zafar. His poetry during his exile in Myanmar (Burma) is heart wrenching. The British with the collaboration of Hindus left no stone unturned to crush the Indian Muslims.

Dr Iqbal was quiet conscious and concerned about the atrocities inflicted on the suppressed Muslims. The identity and ego of the Muslims was fully vanished by the callous rule of the Britishers. Most of the Mughal emperors revelled in wine and women. Similar, was the attitude and lifestyle of the Khalijis, Tughlaqs and Lodhis. Exceptions of nobility, virtuosity and modesty are always found in some of those rulers but, generally, their times were of luxuries, chaos and crisis because of mutinies, revolts and rebellions.

The British ruled with iron hand. Their sole target was to eliminate the Muslims from political scenario. Under the circumstances, Dr Iqbal through his revolutionary poetry awoke the Muslims. His poem title “The Lamentation of a Bird”, portrays the heartache of the Muslims. Alas; even after getting freedom from the British rulers, we are yet unable to make Pakistan as dreamed by Dr Iqbal.

Dr Khalifa Abdul Hakim had written marvellous books in English and Urdu on Islam, Rumi and Dr Iqbal. In his English book titled “Islamic Ideology”, about the freedom of ego that leads to freedom of thought, conscience and deeds; he writes about the reawakening of Islamic Ummah. In his book on Dr Iqbal, he has exclusively stressed on the need of cognizance of Egohood. Dr Iqbal believed that the freedom of ego, we need culture and society based on political freedom.

In my book title “The Message of Islam”, on this specific point, I have written:

“Islamic spirit of political freedom was fully crushed by these callous tyrants who played havoc in the sacred name of Islam. Even, today the Muslim Monarchs are playing in the hands of their foreign masters who are bent upon crushing the Muslims. Islam provides full liberty to all, whether they are Muslims or Non-Muslims. It does not crush human ego. The great Muslim reformers such as Jamal-ud-Din Afghani, Shah Wali Ullah Delhivi, Muhammad Abdhu, Kokabi, Nirwak Mustafa and Dr Allama Iqbal had been trying to re-awaken the slumbered ego of the Muslims and sharpen it against Colonialism and Imperialism. Not only political liberty, Islam ensures religious freedom to all mankind also.”

The father of modern psychology Sigmund Freud in the need of the awareness of ego annotates:

“Each individual is a component part of numerous groups, he is bound by ties of identification in many directions, and he has built up his Ego Ideal upon the most various models. Each individual has, therefore, a share in numerous groups of those of his race, of his class, of his creed, of his nationality, etc., and he can also raise himself above them to the extent of having a scrap of independence and originality. We have interpreted this prodigy as meaning that the individual gives up his Ego Ideal and substitutes for it the Group Ideal.”

James Strachey in his book titled “Sigmund Freud”, writes on page 61:

“There is always a feeling of triumph when something in the ego coincides with the Ego Ideal. And the sense of guilt (as well as the sense of inferiority) can also be understood as an expression of tension between the Ego and the Ego Ideal.”

It is pertinent to mention that Dr Iqbal on first stage believes in the cognizance of ego and on the next stage its affirmation and consciousness. According to Iqbal self-affirmation is necessary for a productive and progressive society. In Hinduism, it is called “Atmanastu Kamaya”, which means Self-realization. Mahatma Buddha found the perfection of Self in moral sublimity.

Great French philosopher Henri Bergson also propounded moral norms for the perfection of personality. He believed when the human soul feels an indefinable presence, there comes a boundless joy, an all absorbing ecstasy or an all enthralling rapture. Darkness is dispelled, everything is flooded in light. The soul in thought and feeling are absorbed in God. Dr Iqbal also was of the opinion that divine traits make a man a “Perfect Man”. To attain the pinnacle of Egohood, we need to inculcate in ourselves the characteristics such as patience, truth, sacrifice, love and honesty.

Dr Iqbal’s concept of Egohood intrinsically is the perfection of “Personality”, leading to Oneness of Mankind. On the first of January 1938 in his broadcast from All India Radio Lahore he said:

“The modern age prides itself on its progress in knowledge and its matchless scientific development but in spite of it the tyranny of Imperialism struts abroad, covering its face in the mask of Democracy, Nationalism, Communism, Fascism and heaven knows what else besides.”

Dr Iqbal gave a clarion call for the “Unity” of humans. A great American poet Robert Frost also gave a message of “Recognition of otherness for one’s own recognition.” It means one must respect others for getting esteem for his own self. Hence, Dr Iqbal proposed:

“Human beings do not demonstrate by their actions that they believe that the whole world is a family of God, so long as the distinctions of race, colour and geographical nationalities are not wiped out completely, they will never be able to lead a happy and contented life and the beautiful ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity will never materialize.”

French revolution also gave these three slogans: “Liberte, Equalite, Fraternite”. Dr Iqbal was much influenced by the French revolution which was a socio-democratic move that eventually emerged in the form of a welfare state based on justice and liberty. This was also the mantra and mission of Dr Iqbal when he gave the idea of Pakistan.

An eminent Pakistani scholar based in America Dr Anwar Dil in his book titled “Iqbal: Poet-Philosopher of Universal Values”, on page 27 writes: “He loved the following lines of King Baber:

“Man cannot approach the divine by reaching beyond the human; he can approach the divine only through becoming human. To become human is what he, the individual man, has been created for.”

Dr Iqbal in the fourth lecture in his book titled “Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam” has also emphasized this point about the nature of “I” and how through “Khudi”, the conscious experiences can reach the soul substance as body and mind become one in action. The core and crux of the concept of Egohood of Iqbal encompasses the man’s dynamic and progressive feature for the betterment of one’s individuality and the welfare of society.


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Categories: Allama Iqbal, Ideology, Islam

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