Islam in Light of Iqbal’s Philosophy
Allama Iqbal was an ardent lover of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) as well as a great thinker and a philosopher of a high calibre. This is supported by the fact that his philosophical approach was not just limited to literary work. Instead, he put his words in practice. Be it the theory of al-Insan al-Kamil (Universal Divine Man), political philosophy or an individual’s moral and spiritual development or religious theology. For every aspect, Iqbal’s theory is based on facts and not superficial knowledge. A close study and analysis of teachings of Iqbal reveal one dominant fact around which all his teachings revolve. That is the ardent love of religion of the Holy Prophet i.e. Islam. Which is evident throughout his teachings and literary work.
The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam
“The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam” is a collection of English lectures of Allama Iqbal. In these lectures, he says about Islam:
Religion (Islam) can be broadly categorised in 3 periods:
In the first stage, according to Iqbal, an individual, a group or a whole nation follow a religion without fully understanding its meaning and purpose as an unconditional order. This kind of attitude and following may lead to significant political or social change in a nation’s history. However, this does not have any impact on a person’s spiritual development and progression. For this to happen, one must progress to the next phase.
The second stage according to Iqbal is thought or meditation. When people adopt a religious system and start practicing it, then gradually that leads to a phase when people begin to understand it rationally. At this stage the metaphysical aspect of religion is thought about and a connection is developed with the cosmos.
Third stage is discovery. In this phase, according to Iqbal a desire arises within oneself to make a connection with the Creator i.e. Allah. At this stage religion becomes a matter of personal assimilation of life and power. There is a saying of a Sufi Saint that, “It is not possible to fully understand the true meaning of Quran unless it reveals on one’s inward like it did to the Prophet (pbuh).
Iqbal explains the inward journey – from Muslim to Momin
If we closely study the aforementioned, we would realise that Allama Iqbal has explained the journey of elevating from a common Muslim to Momin (true believer). Or in other words, he has eluded to the spiritual journey through which one can achieve the real purpose of life in this world i.e. understanding the reason for our creation and recognising our Lord.
Studying the aforementioned three stages as Allama Iqbal explained, we come to a conclusion that apart from Islam, all the other religions in practise in the world today are unable to uncover the Eternal Reality. All other religions can benefit people to the extent of faith or creating a social or political change. For example Buddhism and Hinduism have their own history and there is a profound influence of these religions on their followers. However, when it comes to really understanding the purpose of religion and creating a direct connection with the Lord, these religions become helpless.
People who revert to Islam from other religions say that the reason they chose Islam is that their previous religion was unable to satisfy the restlessness of their inwards. It is only Islam that fulfils the requisites of our inwards (souls) and provides fulfilling answers to every question.
Islam in light of three Periods of Religious Evolution of Iqbal
Analysing a Muslim’s life closely, we come to the conclusion that his life revolves around these three stages. We now go through each in detail.
It is the inward affirmation that testifies a belief or thought. The Arabic word عقیدہ (faith) is a derivative of word عقد which means knot, implying that faith doesn’t change.
A Muslim begins life by believing in and practising the basic pillars of Islam. No act or deed becomes worthy of acceptance until one fully embraces these basic principles. In order to become a Muslim, one has to believe in the core five pillars of Islam i.e. belief in the Oneness of Allah, believe and accept that Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) is the last of all prophets. Belief in the day of Judgement, the angels and the Divine books.
Difference in Faith and Theory
Islam is our faith and not a theory. A theory can change over time but faith doesn’t change. A theory is a result of life’s events. Whereas Allah revealed Islam upon Prophet Mohammad through revelation.
Muslims pray five times a day. Once a year billions of Muslims around the world slaughter animals to follow the Sunna of Prophet Ibrahim. Muslims fast in the month of Ramadan for gaining consent and closeness of Allah. Similarly, soldiers safeguard the borders to protect the lives of their countrymen. Therefore, it is faith that is behind every act.
Islam’s Pillars in light of Quran
Belief in Allah
Belief in Allah means that one believes that Allah is the Creator of the universe and everything in it. He is the Sustainer of everything. He is unique and has no partners. And He is the only one worthy of worship. Allah says in Quran:
قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ۔ اللَّهُ الصَّمَدُ۔ لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ۔ وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌ۔
Meaning: (O Esteemed Messenger!) Proclaim: ‘He is Allah, Who is the One. Allah is the Transcendent of all, the Protector and Far-Superior to all. He has not begotten any, nor is He begotten. Nor is there anyone equal to Him.’ (al-Ikhlās, 1 – 4)
Faith upon the Holy Messenger and Divine Books
Believing in the Holy Prophet as the Messenger of Allah is one of the fundamental requirements of Islamic faith. In addition to believing in the Holy Prophet, Allah has ordered the believers to believe in the holy books before Quran. He says in Quran:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ آمِنُواْ بِاللّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَالْكِتَابِ الَّذِي نَزَّلَ عَلَى رَسُولِهِ وَالْكِتَابِ الَّذِيَ أَنزَلَ مِن قَبْلُ وَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِاللّهِ وَمَلاَئِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلاَلاً بَعِيدًا
Meaning: O believers! Put faith in Allah and His Messenger (blessings and peace be upon him) and in the Book which He has revealed to His Messenger (blessings and peace be upon him) and the Book that He revealed before (it). And he who denies Allah, His angels, His Books, His Messengers and the Last Day has surely strayed far away. (an-Nisā’ : 136)
Belief in Angels of Allah
As part of Islamic faith it is must to believe in the angels of Allah. He says in Quran:
وَمَا يَعْلَمُ جُنُودَ رَبِّكَ إِلَّا هُوَ
Meaning: And no one knows the armies of your Lord except Him. (al-Muddaththir : 31)
Belief in the Last Day
Islam provides the concept of life hereafter. Our life in this world in temporary. Once we die, the next phase of our lives begin and that is the never ending life. The life after death has two phases:
Barzakh – the time between death and the day of judgement.
Resurrection – when Allah will raise the dead and gather them before Him for judgement.
Allah says in Quran:
وَمِن وَرَائِهِم بَرْزَخٌ إِلَى يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُونَ
Meaning: And ahead of them is a barrier (erected) till the Day (when) they will be raised up (from the graves). (al-Mu’minūn, 23 : 100)
The aforementioned verse eludes to the fact that every person will have to spend a time in the grave until the day of Judgement when Allah will raise all from death. And that time will be like a veil for them between the world and the day of Judgement.
سَنُعَذِّبُهُم مَّرَّتَيْنِ ثُمَّ يُرَدُّونَ إِلَى عَذَابٍ عَظِيمٍ
Meaning: Soon shall We torment them twice* (here in this world). Then they will be turned towards a greater torment (on the Day of Rising). (at-Tawbah, 9 : 101)
The aforementioned verse mentions three different torments for the disbelievers: one is the disgrace in the worldly life, second is the torment in the grave and the third is the torment of being thrown in hell.
In order to enter Islam, it is compulsory to believe in the core pillars of Islam. Not just saying with tongue but affirmation by heart is very important. In day to day life, people strive to progress in life and make their everyday lives better. However, when it comes to religious and spiritual matters, the same people don’t pay much attention. Life is synonym for continuous struggle, people who stall are left behind. For spiritual progression, it is must that one firmly believes in the basic principles of Islam and then progresses on esoteric path to gain the closeness and recognition of Allah.
Allah says in Quran:
أَوَلَمْ يَتَفَكَّرُوا فِي أَنفُسِهِمْ مَا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ وَأَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى وَإِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِّنَ النَّاسِ بِلِقَاءِ رَبِّهِمْ لَكَافِرُونَ
Meaning: Have they not meditated within themselves that Allah has not created the heavens and the earth and whatever is between the two except with (a system of) truth and for a fixed term? And surely, most of the people do not believe in the meeting with their Lord. (ar-Rūm : 8)
In this verse, Allah Almighty encourages mankind to ponder and meditate. And at the same time, He has informed the people that His vision is possible. The people who deny this fact, they do not ponder over the sings of Allah’s existence in this universe as well as they do not try to understand their own reality.
The Holy Prophet (pbuh) is reported as saying:
تَفَکَّرُ السَّاعَۃِ خیۡرٌ مِّنۡ عِبَادَۃِ الثَّقَلَیۡنِ
Meaning: Tafakkur (meditation) of a moment is better than the worship of both the worlds.
اَلذِّ کۡرُ بِلَا فِکۡرِ کَصَوۡتِ الۡکَلۡبِ
Meaning: To invoke (verbally) without concentration is like the barking of a dog.
Sultan ul Faqr VI Sultan Mohammad Asghar Ali
All the scientific research and development we see around us today is a result of scientists’ research (concentration). Allah loves those who ponder over things and try to find their reality. Man is honoured to be the best of all creations only because of the ability to think and meditate. Man’s real purpose of life is to become confidant of Allah. And only those reach this status who meditate in His creation. Sultan ul Faqr VI Sultan Mohammad Asghar Ali said:
Meditation and concentration means to think over something deeply to get knowledge about it or to understand it. The entire material and scientific progress where this world stands today, is the result of meditation of scientists upon the material things. This meditation is the base of every invention and discovery.
Similarly, Allah invites man to meditate within himself. He says:
أَوَلَمْ يَتَفَكَّرُوا فِي أَنفُسِهِمْ
Meaning: Do they not meditate within themselves. (ar-Rum : 8)
When a person meditates within himself, he finds the secret mentioned in this Qudsi Hadith:
الانسان سري وانا سرّه
Meaning: Man is My secret and I am his secret.
Man becomes confidant of Allah
When a person becomes aware of this secret, Allah makes him His confidant. That is why, the Mystics always teach to drown into one’s inward, to peep within the closet of one’s body and to enter one’s innerself. It is important to remember that Tafakkur (concentration) is also a name for meditation. Initial stage of meditation is to close one’s eyes and concentrate on Ism e Allah Zaat. However, the accomplished Fakirs observe everything with their open eyes, they don’t need to close their eyes or confine themselves in seclusion. Once Bayazid Bastami said, “I have been in conversation with Allah for forty years, people thought I was talking to them!” (Shams ul Fuqara)
Among the three stages to the completion of the journey of Islam that Allam Iqbal has explained, the third is discovery or kashf. The literal meaning of kashf is to open or reveal. This is the station of observing Divine secrets. A Hadith says: “Beware of the spiritual sight of a Momin (true believer) as he sees with the light of Allah.” Kashf is light (noor) that the spiritual guide bestows upon a seeker of Allah.
Perfect Murshid removes the veils of Innerself
A seeker attains this station when with the continuous invocation and contemplation of Ism e Allah Zaat and the benevolence of the spiritual guide, the veil of innerself is lifted from his inward and his esoteric senses become live. Seekers of Allah who attain spiritual sight, they see the hidden and hence their connection with their Lord goes from strength to strength. There are many traditions from the lives of the sacred Companions of the Holy Prophet where Allah guided them directly through kashf. The cleansing of the inward is a pre-requisite for attaining this spiritual station.
Selection of Poetry of Allama Iqbal
When a Muslim successfully completes the journey through the aforementioned three stages, he develops an independent and mature personality both outwardly and inwardly. As Iqbal says:
خودی کے زور سے دنیا پہ چھا جا
مقامِ رنگ و بو کا راز پا جا
Explanation: In this couplet, Iqbal encourages the man to meditate and ponder within himself. This is so that he may recognise his reality. The origin of man’s soul is the light of Allah. So the soul within him is the real human and is a very powerful entity. When this soul through the continuous invocation of Ism e Allah Zaat and company of an accomplished Murshid enlivens, it gains the power to see and converse with Allah Almighty. (Baal e Jibreel, Iqbal)
On another occasion in the same book, Iqbal says:
خودی کی جلوتوں میں مصطفایَ
خودی کی خلوتوں میں کبریایَ
زمین و آسمان و کرسی و عرش
خودی کی زد میں ہے ساری خدایَ
Explanation: Here, Iqbal reminds the man of his grandeur. Allah created the soul of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) from His light. And then from the light (an-Nur) of the Holy Prophet Allah created all the souls of every creation in the universe. However, our soul is hidden behind the veils of innerself that Satan uses to distract and wayward man from the righteous path. When through the invocation and contemplation of Ism e Allah Zaat and the spiritual attention and benevolence of a perfect Murshid, the veil of innerself is removed and the soul of a seeker enlivens and progresses inwardly.
Eventually it reaches its peak that is the station where the Divine soul manifests within his inward and that is in fact the soul or the Noor of the Prophet Mohammad. Allah is the Lord and Creator of the universe so nothing is beyond His authority. Hence, when the Divine soul manifests in the true seeker, he gains the authority over the entire cosmos, inner as well as outer.
The purpose of our lives is to recognise our reality. And those who manage to recognise the reality of human being, all the secrets of the universe open up to them. As this is all through the benevolence of the Holy Prophet, then such people truly adopt the Sunna of the Prophet (pbuh) and become his ardent lovers.
On another place, Iqbal says:
خودی کا سرِ نہاں لآ اِلہ الا اللہ
خودی ہے تیغِ فساں لآ اِلہ الا اللہ
Explanation: Here, Iqbal refers to the fact that Divine soul is the secret of man. But as mentioned above, the Divine soul is hidden within us behind many veils, i.e the innerself, and the various veils of the soul itself. Once the man crosses these veils and finally reaches the Divine soul, he realises his true origin and potential. This is where he truly understand the meaning of لآ اِلہ الا اللہ i.e. there is none worthy of worship but Allah. According to the saints, the meaning of this part of Islamic creed is that there is none present but Allah in the universe. Iqbal further says that it is this very soul that removes the veil of innerself from the inward.
One can recognise Allah after crossing the stage of recognising oneself. All the Fakirs and Saints have been inculcating their disciples to meditate within themselves in order to unfold the Divine secrets hidden within them. Following and practising the basic principles of Islam strengthens our Iman. However, when someone meditates and concentrates then that leads to opening up of the Divine secrets. Once a man completes these two stages then he is bestowed with kashf and Ilm-e-Laduni (the inspirational knowledge) through which he converses with Allah without any medium. This strengthens his connection with Allah. And he progresses in the stages of certainty; from Ain-ul-Yaqeen (eye of certainty) to Haq-ul-Yaqeen (truth of certainty). This is the station where through the power of Iman, he becomes familiar with such secrets that he himself is left astonished.
On another occasion, Iqbal says:
دِیارِ عشق میں اپنا مقام پیدا کر
نیا زمانہ، نئے صبح و شام پیدا کر
Explanation: Here, Iqbal encourages the seekers of Allah to excel on the path of Divine love. The path of Divine love is in fact the path of loyalty and sacrifice. In order to attain closeness and consent of Allah, one has to sacrifice his/her dearest thing in the way of Allah. The Murshid tests the seeker through various trials before bestowing him/her with success on this path.
How can one establish connection with Allah?
The spiritual journey is all about progressing from a Muslim to Momin. However, it is not possible to tread this path and complete the spiritual journey without a guide who knows this path. No one has ever reached Allah without the medium of a perfect spiritual guide. The below couple has put it beautifully:
اللہ اللہ کرنے سے اللہ نہیں ملتا
یہ اللہ والے ہیں جو اللہ سے ملا دیتے ہیں
Explanation: No one can ever reach Allah by simply invocating the personal name of Allah. This invocation only becomes effective when it is done in company and guidance of a perfect spiritual guide. It’s only those accomplished men of Allah who can remove the veils of innerself from one’s inward and enable to attain Divine vision and closeness.
The world is never void of al-Insan al-Kamil (the Universal Divine Man) who is the perfect spiritual guide in his era. He is on the footsteps of the Holy Prophet and guides the seekers of Allah on the spiritual path as Prophet Mohammad did.
Who is Sultan ul Ashiqeen?
Sultan ul Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib ur Rehman is the present Shaikh of the Sarwari Qadri order. He is the Universal Divine Man of this era and the perfect Murshid. He has turned numerous seekers of the world into seekers of Allah and guided them to their destiny. If you would like to find out more or want to get in touch with Sultan ul Ashiqeen to begin your spiritual journey, please visit the following link:
This article is English translation of Urdu article دین علامہ اقبال کی فلسفیانہ نظر میں Mrs Fatima Burhan Sarwari Qadri penned the original article. Waheed Hassan Sarwari Qadri translated it in English. Tap below to read the original Urdu article: