"The weak lose themselves in God; the strong discover Him in themselves." ~ Allama Iqbal

Monday, December 31, 2012

Iqbal Gold - His Writings on Social & Politicial Issues

Many people know of Allama Iqbal's poetry.  It is a treasure.

There is, however, more gold to be found with Iqbal. There is much, for instance, that Iqbal has shared on social and political issues.  These are of great value, not only to Muslims, but to the entire world.  These writings are available at the Marghdeen Learning Centre.

Please go here for these valuable items.  Click the links below to go directly to the cited resource.

1.  Political Thought in Islam 

2.  14 Points of President Wilson

3. Islam as a Moral and Political Ideal

4. The Muslim Community - A Sociological Study

5. Presidential Address, 1930 (known also as the  Allahabad Address)

6. Presidential Address, 1932

7. Islam and Ahmadism 

Many thanks are due to the generous and expert tutelage of Mr. Khurram Ali Shafique in the many high quality study opportunities he offers through the Marghdeen Learning Centre, his The Republic of Rumi blog, in association with Iqbal Academy Pakistan, the International Iqbal Society, and others.  With his guidance, the very important vision and philosophy of Allama Iqbal are reaching many people.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Origins of a Human & Social Ideal according to Iqbal

In 1930, Iqbal delivered a famous presidential address (known also as the Allahabad Address).  In it are many gems worth deep consideration for anyone who wishes to take practical steps of improving the world.  He is, in this presidential address, speaking to other Muslims.  He is, today, through this presidential address, speaking to me. 

I offer the following as my perceptions of just some of its value for today's modern person.  I offer this as a student of Iqbal, and thus my perceptions are my own, with any mistakes or misguided understandings totally attributable to me.

In this address, Iqbal shares what is clearly a serious concern for him:

"Do not think that the problem I am indicating is a purely theoretical one. It is a very living and practical problem calculated to affect the very fabric of Islam as a system of life and conduct. On a proper solution of it alone depends your future as a distinct cultural unit in India. Never in our history Islam has had to stand a greater trial than the one which confronts it today. It is open to a people to modify, reinterpret or reject the foundational principles of their social structure; but it is absolutely necessary for them to see clearly what they are doing before they undertake to try a fresh experiment."

I find it significant that Iqbal is not arguing for or against any particular sect.  He is, instead, stating, with obvious urgency, that the problem will "affect the very fabric of Islam as a system of life and conduct."  That is a far more foundational concern than whether one believes in this or that sect-based dogma, and is, instead, an argument (as I see it) for a complete reappraisal of the context itself and the direction he apparently saw it heading.

Iqbal makes an argument for what I believe is a major way Islam can contribute to the world outside Islam.  It is also, of course, applicable for Muslims themselves for revivification of ideals within their own social contexts.  It relates to how nations identify themselves.  This self-identification of nations is a root from which springs all manner of worldly conditions. 

Studying this address from Iqbal makes more clear why, in the west, we have such an apparent split between church and state, and why we (not just in the US, but many nations of the world) now find ourselves with a narrow identity according to geographical borders and racial lines.

As Iqbal writes, "If you begin with the conception of religion as complete other-worldliness," then, in this context, it is no great leap to see how man - with a universal view based upon seeing the material world as profane and man as inherently flawed - constructed for itself mankind-derived forms of political organization.  In this context, largely denying the sanctity of man and the world, and with the absence of a political ideal resting upon a divinely revealed truth, there was, as Iqbal states, "the complete displacement of universal ethics of Jesus by the growth of a plurality of national and hence narrower systems of ethics."

One can turn to Islam for a very different universal understanding, and thus a potentially very different outcome in human organization and politics.  As Iqbal writes in this address:

"Islam does not bifurcate the unity of man into an irreconcilable duality of spirit and matter.  In Islam God and the universe, spirit and matter, church and state, are organic to each other. Man is not the citizen of a profane world to be renounced in the interest of a world of spirit situated elsewhere. To Islam matter is spirit realizing itself in space and time."

I personally find this a powerfully profound statement.  This is particularly the case with regard to its practical application to human social organization and politics.  With no separation between spirit and matter, and with the latter being merely a concrete manifestation, in space and time, of the former, the organization and well-being of social mankind are directly sourced from, and are a potential expression of, a divine root.

With this understanding intact, that is, that humans are not divorced from the stars (to which even modern science can attest to the material basis), there is, then, no need to find "expression through varying systems of polity evolved on national lines, i.e., on lines which recognize territory as the only principle of political solidarity."  A different ethic, applicable to human, social, planetary, and universal contextual understanding, already exists. 

According to this Islamic understanding of spirit and matter being one and the same, there is, then, no separation between the spiritual and temporal.  A so-called separation of church and state is impossible with this divinely sourced view of the Universe.  As Iqbal writes, " Man is not the citizen of a profane world to be renounced in the interest of a world of spirit situated elsewhere."   With this in mind, spirit is found here, not elsewhere, and thus spiritual ethics are the guiding principles upon which persons and nations may define themselves.

I wonder how others in the world would feel about Iqbal's aforementioned concerns and views.  Have they been addressed?  Are they still a serious issue?  I suspect that Iqbal might feel that Muslims, or Christians, or any other social unit - racially, geographically, and nationally self-identified as such - cannot save us.  People, then, don't really save the world.  Islam can, however, save people.

I suspect that Iqbal's views on a nation's education revolve around some of these same points.  One doesn't produce good citizens simply by training them intellectually to take jobs doing things that, at the same time, undermine the character of a nation.  To do so is to ignore the aforementioned divinely sourced context in which people find themselves.

One may learn from Islam this freeing from geographic, racial, and nationalistic limitations.  The freeing comes from identifying, uplifting, and coming to a consensus about the value of shared ideals and principles.  Divinely revealed and humanly interpreted and applied, this is a lesson I believe Iqbal has offered the world, if only it would listen.  Without this emphasis, Iqbal notes:

"At the present moment the national idea is racialising the outlook of Muslims, and thus materially counteracting the humanising work of Islam. And the growth of racial consciousness may mean the growth of standards different and even opposed to the standards of Islam."

If I understand Iqbal correctly, I hear him saying that human experience is a divinely rooted experience, and hence can/should constitute a basis for the integrity of a nation ("It is individual experience creative of a social order.").  Empowering the individual with an Islamic ideal of solidarity directly contributes to the vitality of his/her social environment.  In the end, it is indeed not about the individual but about the social unit, coalesced around shared principles, and evolving through time toward a better world.

For me, Iqbal speaks strongly to the need (and potential) for the world today to grasp this dramatically different orientation.  Islamic and non-Islamic nations today exhibit jealousy and defiance toward one another based upon their conflicting views of the Universe, all couched in the language of territory, race, sectarianism, etc.  If we really, truly, desire to create a world of cooperative understanding, and even peace, I believe Iqbal provides a plan on how to go about creating such conditions. 

Go here to read the full Allahabad Address.

Many thanks are due to the generous and expert tutelage of Mr. Khurram Ali Shafique in the many high quality study opportunities he offers through the Marghdeen Learning Centre, his The Republic of Rumi blog, in association with Iqbal Academy Pakistan, the International Iqbal Society, and others.  With his guidance, the very important vision and philosophy of Iqbal are reaching many people.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Becoming Human

God's Lovers are in thousands, roaming here & there in the caves;
I shall adore the one who will be the lover of God's people.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Iqbal on Slavery of the Heart & Liberation Therefrom

Why did Iqbal have to propose a "reconstruction" of religious thought when he wrote his The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam?

Could it be that he perceived well the locus in need of this reconstruction and precisely how the reconstruction needed to occur?  I would argue yes to both points.
In Iqbal's, The Book of Slavery (part of his Persian Psalms, 1927), he wrote:

"The fetters are not on feet, but on the heart and soul; this is indeed a very intriguing situation."

In The Book of Slavery, Iqbal appears to have been anticipating a situation with which many Muslims in the world today resonate.  In his own day, Iqbal saw firsthand the political slavery associated with the colonizers.  He also believed that this political slavery was influencing, and enervating toward, religious beliefs and faith.  It is this that could be termed Iqbal's concept of the religion of slaves. 

Iqbal, applying his deep psychological insight, found this inner, voluntary capitulation to reside in the hearts of the people.  It is this that he was striving to reconstruct.  In The Book of Slavery, Iqbal describes how political slavery affected the religious thought in Islam:

In slavery, religion and love are separated Honey of life becomes bitter. What is love? It is imprinting of Tawhid (Unity) on the heart, Then to strike oneself against difficulties. In slavery, love is nothing but an idle talk,Our actions do not correspond with our professions. The caravan of his ambition has no inclination for a journey, It lacks faith, has no knowledge of the road, and is without a guide.  A slave underestimates both religion and wisdom; In order to keep his body alive, he gives away his soul.  Although the name of God is on his lips, His centre of attention is the power of the ruler— Power that is nothing but ever-increasing falsehood, Nothing but falsehood can come from it. As long as you prostrate before it, this idol is your god,  But as soon as you stand up before it, it disappears.

I comprehend Iqbal's concept of the religion of slaves from a perspective outside of a Muslim society.  That is simply because I happen to have been born in a society not considered Muslim.  I look at Iqbal from where I find myself, and indeed consider him as not only a prominent blessing for the Muslim world, but for all people everywhere.

I understand Iqbal, with regard to The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, as not offering commentary on Islam.  Rather, he was pointing at something that, if not revivified, would stand in the way of the religious understanding and consciousness of Islam.  If brought back to life, it would be a gate-opener.

I perceive Iqbal not as a theologian or interpreter of doctrine (although his work may manifest as such). Rather, I perceive him more as a physician who goes about healing, tuning, and adjusting the human being.

I perceive that Iqbal was not seeking to resurrect religion for the sake of humans. Rather, I sense that he was seeking to resurrect humans for the sake of religion.

His mission, I sense, was in guiding people to find, take back, and keep their righteous mind. Without this locating, reclaiming, and keeping of the righteous mind, mental slavery is inevitable. 

I sense that he fully knew that this was the path to overcoming fear and of attaining genuine independence for the Muslim world.  The movie clip above (The Great Debators) is based upon the true story of African American debate coach, Melvin B. Tolson, at a historically black college wherein he sought to place his team on equal footing with whites in the American south in the 1930s.  The actor, Denzel Washington (as Mr. Tolson), speaks well to the dynamic that it is the mind that must be released from its fetters in order for genuine freedom to be birthed.

Many thanks are due to the generous and expert tutelage of Mr. Khurram Ali Shafique in the many high quality study opportunities he offers through the Marghdeen Learning Centre, his The Republic of Rumi blog, in association with Iqbal Academy Pakistan, the International Iqbal Society, and others.  With his guidance, the very important vision and philosophy of Iqbal are reaching many people.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Application of Iqbal's Vision

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SialkotWriter, teacher, and scholar, Khurram Ali Shafique, has shared the following about the BASIC thing, in his opinion, which we should all keep in mind while seeking to apply the vision of Allama Iqbal.  And isn't the application  - in practical ways - of Iqbal's vision and philosophy one of the greatest ways by which we can thank him for his gift to humanity?

We can (should) unwrap this gift fully, realizing that he has something qualitatively special to share which should not merely be just another chapter in a literature book.  The world needs a revivifying, healing touch.  Iqbal has granted to us such a touch.

If you're not already familiar with the courses and study opportunities offered by the Iqbal Academy Pakistan, through the Marghdeen Learning Centre, in collaboration with other organizations, and facilitated by Khurram Ali Shafique, I strongly urge you to explore these precious resources now.  You will discover there a wealth of opportunities to study, in new ways, the philosophy and vision of Iqbal related to Pakistan, the entire world, literature, politics, history, self-development, religion, and more. 

This is not a sales pitch; this is a humanity pitch!  May we believe afresh, in ourselves, and in each other!

* * * * * * * * *

I want to share the BASIC thing which, in my opinion, we should keep in mind while thinking about the application of Iqbal's vision.

You know that Iqbal believed that literature plays the most important role in the life of a nation. In fact, he treated literature like a collective dream which comes true. Therefore, the most courageous and daring stand which Iqbal Studies demands from us is that we insist that if anything is wrong in the world, its ultimate root can be traced in the kind of literature that has been venerated, and if we want to bring any positive change, the first step has to be the representation of that change in idealistic literature: "No new world can come into being around us until it is first created in the depth of our souls (i.e. in our imagination)."

Therefore, if we have to judge or evaluate the impact of Iqbal on his society, or the overall progress of the nation created through his vision, our survey CANNOT start with politics and economy. It HAS TO start by seeing what kind of literature this society has produced and liked, and whether or not that literature was respected.

You know that the history of Pakistan can be divided into seven stages since 1887. Now, I am presenting here a list of the most POPULAR authors of these stages: one for each stage. Please REMEMBER, that we are not speaking about good or bad authors, only the most POPULAR ones. (Secondly, at present, I am only picking up authors from West Pakistan for the years 1947 to 1971, when in fact Bangladesh also formed the more populous part of Pakistan in those years, but this is for the sake of simplicity right now and I may expand this model later sometime to do full justice to our unique history).

My findings of many years indicate that purely on the basis of statistics it can be stated without any doubt that the most POPULAR authors of the seven stages of Pakistan, and their key messages, have been the following:

If we look at this list, we arrive at three conclusions, and those conclusions are the sum total of what MLC can teach, and the message that should get written on our hearts and minds, and should be disseminated by all of us:

These authors, and their messages, are exactly parallel to the seven stages of ancient history studied in the "DNA Course", the 7 visions of the Sphere of Moon, the 7 chapters of Javid Nama, the 7 verses of Surah Fatiha, the 7 valleys of Attar, and any other model of self-development which we may find reliable.

Sir Syed - the Cave of Vishvamitra, the message of Adam
Jauhar - the Music of Sarosh, the message of Noah
Iqbal - the Poetry of Sarosh, the message of Abraham
Ibne Safi - the Tablet of Buddha, the message of Moses
Waheed Murad - the Tablet of Zarathustra, the message of Zulqarnayn
Tarar - the Tablet of Jesus, the message of Jesus
"I'm Pakistan" (all people attaining a common vision) - the Tablet of Prophet, the message of Prophet (peace be upon him)

What does this mean? By the grace of God or due to the life forces of our own society (but I think that due to both), we have had one major writer in each stage whose intuition guided him to bring out the true meaning of that stage from the depths of our collective ego - the writers listed here were inspired by our collective ego, and their perfect sequence shows that the collective ego of Pakistan has been alive and sound and healthy, and constantly communicating to us through these authors and their colleagues (each of these authors has been the pioneer of a school of thought including many, many other like-minded writers). Now, why did these writers became so popular with all segments of the society?

They became popular because the collective judgement of the Pakistani nation has been sound. There can be no other conclusion. THIS is the main thing which we need to remember - more important than the authors themselves. We need to regain our belief in our collective judgement, in ourselves. We need to understand that our CONSENSUS has been always on those authors who were inspired by the collective ego, and who were presenting the true message of that stage. Then why are we in a state of mess?

We are in a state of mess because, while we appreciated and respected the "consensus" authors in the first three stages, leading us to independence, we FAILED to appreciate and respect the "consensus" authors of the latter stages soon after the birth of Pakistan. Since politics invariably follows the course of literature, our political life was a story of success in the first three stages when we recognized the consensus authors and followed their message, and our political life became the joke of the century when we failed to recognize the consensus writers of the latter stages, and we failed to respect them. Instead, we promoted and venerated other kind of writers who, no doubt were talented according to international standards, but they were selling dreams of pessimism and their dreams came true.

Therefore, our action must begin by getting the messages of these authors understood by the society. We need a cultural revolution, a revolution of love and self-acceptance. This is khudi, in all its meanings: if we lack the courage to accept our own consensus, our own collective choices, how can we claim to have a self, or even self-respect? Needless to say, these authors are not just the heritage of Pakistan but they have got things which can be useful for the whole world. They are the dreams that must true, and almost everyone who hears their dreams wants them to come true. The whole world is looking for exactly the messages which these authors gave, but unfortunately and ironically we are the ones who are getting in the way - then why should we not be in a bad state?  

اُس کی تقدیر میں محکومی و مظلومی ہے
قوم جو کر نہ سکی اپنی خودی سے انصاف

* * * * * * * * *


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Iqbal's Message ~ Belief in the Unseen

There is a need to unlock the wisdom of Allama Iqbal.  It will not simply unfold in front of you when studied through current models of understanding (e.g., literature, history, religion, poetry).  Indeed, forcing Iqbal's wisdom to conform to these models can eviscerate it, leaving hidden the potential of his vital message to humanity.

Many people outwardly profess belief in the possibility of a Marghdeen world to manifest. But I sense that there is nonetheless a present but unspoken incredulousness that is a point beyond which many modern people just refuse to go. It's as if pessimism has become so widespread that it's infected people to the point of blindness. And this active, though disguised, distrust is, essentially, flipping the order from "Thy Will be done" to "My will be done." There is then, at least as I'm thinking of it now, an active, though subtly quiet doubt, that refuses to really, truly believe in the literal real-ness of the Divine. And of course, to harbor doubts along these lines is also to harbor doubts as to just what level of beauty and integrity is able to come through (all) human beings. The doubting of the Divine involves a simultaneous doubting of the sanctity of human beings.

This kind of pseudo-connection to God (i.e., doubting the literal real-ness of the Divine) is a constricted connection, and essentially puts a human-driven limit on the Divine. I sense it is *the* obstacle in need of being overcome. It is like trusting the Divine only so far, and reaching a point beyond which faith is not allowed to go. The trust is, really, counterfeit all along.  This is essentially just another face of, and being one and the same with, being captive to an inner idol, this idol being that which denies the truly-existing reality of The Unseen at the root and crown of humanity. A lack of sincere belief in the Unseen is a crippling disease for humanity. 

There is a great deal of so-called belief in "human potential."  In my opinion, however, a lot (not all) of this is relegated to the understandings of western psychology which still today are extremely limited in their acknowledgement and understanding of states of awareness outside of consensually agreed-upon states.  The fact that subtle states of consciousness are most often pathologized by most of modern psychology is indicative of its (i.e., psychology) adolescent understanding of subtle states of awareness and an Unseen Root to humanity.   

As long as the model that Iqbal offers the world is forced to adhere to pre-existing models of understanding, the r-e-a-l vitality of the keys he shares will remained veiled from humanity.  Until the younger understandings take a seat at the foot of Allama Iqbal - who offers an older, perennial wisdom based entirely in a Quranic understanding - what he offers will remain hidden.

A choice must be made.  One is attractive and addictive.  One leads to another land, a land called Marghdeen.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Open Your Eyes to Yourself

Eid Mubarak to everyone!

The New Moon of Eid

New moon of Eid,
You cannot manage to evade
The eager view
Of people waiting for a sight of you.
A thousand glances have
Conspired to weave
A net to catch you in.
Open your eyes
To yourself. Do not grieve
That you are a bare outline.
Within you lies
A real full moon.

~ Allama Iqbal

Monday, August 13, 2012

Dare and Live: Pakistan Remembered

May Pakistan be remembered, on this Independence Day, in the light of the words of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Allama Iqbal, and the historian, screenwriter, educationist, and Iqbal scholar, Khurram Ali Shafique.

Go here to read the words of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah on the occasion of the celebration of Iqbal Day in 1943.

View this excellent video created by MarghdeenTV.  It includes beautiful art, photographs of Iqbal, and some of Iqbal's most lovely passages from Javid Nama.

Go here to read about the release, on this auspicious date, of Khurram Ali Shafique's new book entitled, 2017: The Battle for Marghdeen.  As he describes:
"Marghdeen is the name of the ideal society conceived by Iqbal, the foremost Muslim thinker of modern times, in 1932. It is a world where life is inside-out, people know their destinies and there is no poverty, neediness, crime or injustice. In 2017: The Battle for Marghdeen, the author shows how such a society can be achieved in a short space of time, as long as we are prepared to change our perception of history and other domains of knowledge. 

This book presents the basic principles for achieving Marghdeen. They are illustrated with examples from modern history. There is a special emphasis on Pakistan and the Muslim world, but the principles can be applied anywhere in the world."
“One of the finest achievements of the human mind is to see, to understand, and to put the things seen and understood into a greater perspective. With Khurram Ali Shafique, some kind of thinking of the heart has returned into the arena: a greater perspective, so to speak.” Dr. Thomas Stemmer
I am personally very excited about the release of this new book, 2017: The Battle for Marghdeen.  My hope and prayer is that it will, God willing, spread by tongue, thought, heart, and soul, and contribute to nothing less than a new world born.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Marghdeen Now

In the Javid Nama, Allama Iqbal shares a journey through 7 stations. He is guided through these 7 by the spirit of Mawlana Rumi. One of the stations includes the planet Mars. Here Iqbal introduces Marghdeen.  Read this excellent abridged version of this Mars journey at:

Marghdeen is, we learn, a world that was the outcome of Barkhia, a Martian ancestor, refusing an offer made by Farzmurz to have a world free of any religious restriction. Indeed, this world offered by Farzmurz to Barkhia would be unknown to God. Barkhia resisted this offer, declined it, with the outcome being that God rewarded the descendants of of Barkhia with Marghdeen.

The people of Marghdeen are described as advanced in science and spirituality. What distinguishes them from earthly humans is that their knowledge is solely dedicated toward improving life. Selfless and simple, they are a race of beings who live soulfully. It is explained that, while the hearts of humans are contained in their bodies, the bodies of the Martians are contained in their hearts.

Marghdeen is described as a world in which no one is poor. No one is ruled by any other. A Martian astronomer offers a dramatic clarification, when asked about whether one might have a destiny of, for instance, being a beggar. He shares that there is no shortage of destinies, and that one only needs to ask God. He explains a secret of destiny: Change yourself and your world changes.

The Martian alludes to earthly humans, stating that they have forgotten themselves, and thus also genuine faith. Humans, he explains, conform to what is outside of themselves (including religion), while, however, leaving unsought and unrealized what is genuinely precious within themselves.

What was Iqbal communicating in this story of Marghdeen?

I propose that he points to a formula for how we human beings may choose to live. I also propose that he was not merely being poetic for the sake of sharing beautiful words. 

He was, I believe, giving something to us in this world, here and now, which, if understood, could be a pathway to a newly created world.  I emphasize that I do not view Marghdeen as merely poetic.  I believe Iqbal was pointing to something that is to be actually (for real) manifested in this place we call the world.

Iqbal believed strongly that all people should seek consensus with each other. That seems very achievable when we love one another. Indeed, love seems to be the way.  It is, I believe, the pathway toward creating a Marghdeen here and now.  

I believe that Marghdeen may consist of genuinely choosing to connect with other people through an ethos founded on Love, instead of through bodies. So we depart from connecting with other people as things. Rather, we connect on the basis of love which has the power to generate the offspring of sincere respect for the opinions of all people. The genuine respect for the opinions of all people is a manifestation of love (and not merely, in the absence of love, what is just tolerance).

In love, one’s personal ego would be eclipsed in the greater being of the collective awareness/consciousness (manifesting as genuine respect for the opinions of all people in one's culture).  Marghdeen can then arise because of a love-rooted acknowledgement and respect for other people.  One truly desires what is best for one's neighbor. 

This awareness of the larger, collective group (culture, nation, all the world) is not merely being aware of the collective self, but actually being a part of it, essentially dousing the personal ego in the waters of the larger, collective self. Adab brings us along this path, acting as a check and balance on one’s personal, willful, self, allowing the natural growth of something much larger to occur.  

Acknowledging our Common Source, and loving This Source (and all people as expressions of It), we can come together with a shared vision of principles upon which all people can agree. It is a like-mindedness of heart, and not merely another contrived way of putting forward a particularized agenda. 

If there's an agenda, it's one of love, adab, and proactively seeking consensus with everyone in one's culture, nation, world.  It is being big enough (by being small enough) to put aside one's personal agendized drive and, instead, holding the Good of All as supreme.

Quenching one’s personal ego by consciously placing it in the larger context, the larger self, of one’s culture, one’s nation, and even all of humanity essentially dethrones the head, and elevates the heart into her rightful, sovereign place. This replicates what is described in the Javid Nama of the bodies of the inhabitants of Marghdeen being inside their hearts.

Our hearts can indeed become like those described in Marghdeen. If they are now different than Marghdeen hearts, perhaps it's only because a very subtle, but powerful, shift (change) has not occurred.

Can we not enable this shift by requesting a new destiny?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sain Zahoor: Pakistan's Mystic of Music

In the most current issue of the magazine "Sufi" (Issue 83, Summer 2012) is a brief interview/article entitled Sain Zahoor: Pakistan's Mystic of Music.  There were a few bits of this interview (by Sheniz Janmohamed) that stand out.
Lines were quoted presumably sung by Sain Zahoor at a 2011 music festival in Canada:
Parh parh ilm te faazil hoya
Te Kaday apnay aap nu parhya ee na
You read to become all knowledgeable
But you never read yourself
The interviewer asked a question about the sectarian violence in Pakistan.
Sain Zahoor responded: We are here for a short time, ultimately we are going to meet the dust.  When our souls fly off, what will count is our deeds, not the differences between us.
The article ended with a quote by Bulleh Shah.
When I acquired the knowledge of love,
I dreaded the mosque.
I fled to my Lord's dwelling,
Where a thousand sounds reverberate.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Jumping Off a Cliff with Ray Bradbury

Science fiction writer, Ray Bradbury, died this last week at the age of 91.  Go here to read a brief but very inspiring article about him.

What immediately struck me, while reading this article, was Bradbury's deep knowing that what he wrote about were possibilities.   Perhaps, though, even more than writing about possibilities, his writings inspired others to pursue possibilities, to reach for horizons yet unknown, to quest. What interests me, and is inspiring to me about Bradbury is less about space exploration, but about that innate core in humankind through which we quest for what is Great.

From a poem in Bradbury's "Mars and the Mind of Man" are the lines:

"I send my rockets forth between my ears, hoping an inch of will is worth a pound of years, aching to hear a voice cry back along the universal mall: We've reached Alpha Centauri. We're tall, oh God, we're tall."

Reading about Bradbury led me to consider Allama Iqbal's writings on the creation and birthing of Ideals.  Iqbal states (in the article, "Our Prophet's Criticism of Contemporary Arabian Poetry"):

"The highest art is that which awakens our dormant will-force, and nerves us to face the trials of life manfully."

Bradbury wrote:

 "Anything you dream is fiction, and anything you accomplish is science.  The whole history of mankind is nothing but science fiction."

I propose that Bradbury is an example of an artist (writer) through which Truth exposed itself, exemplifying an awakening of dormant life-force of which Iqbal speaks.  What is best in humans showed Itself through Bradbury, a man whose writings inspired many others to make manifest the depths and heights of the organ of imagination.

Iqbal wrote that "The ultimate aim of all human activity is Life-glorious, powerful, exuberant."  Bradbury is quoted as saying: "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off.  Build your wings on the way down."  Both of these quotes speak to me that Life is lived from the inside out, and that belief in mankind is itself Faith.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Morn of Resurrection

In Allama Iqbal's poem, "The Conquest of Nature" (from his second book of poetry, "Message of the East"), is the passage below, "The Morn of Resurrection."  In this section, humanity now stands before God at the Day of Judgment.  Earlier, the devil refused to bow to Adam.  Now, at the point at which humanity gives a collective accounting, the devil bows.

After this passage (below), I share my reflections.  I can only, of course, offer reflections according to my personal capacity.  My intention, however, is for this to be helpful.  

Personally, I consider all such reflections on Iqbal's works as (potentially) highly practical, and supportive of humankind's genuine role.  So it is in this spirit, that is, a practical support for realizing collective unity, in this world, now, that this post is offered.  
The Morn of Resurrection
Adam in the presence of God

You, whose sun gives the star of life its splendour,
With my heart you lit the candle of the sightless world!
My skills have poured an ocean into a strait,
My pickaxe makes milk flow from the heart of stone.
Venus is my captive, the moon worships me;
My reason, which does great deeds, subdues and controls the universe.
I have gone down into the earth, and been up into the heavens,
Both the atom and the radiant sun are under the spell of my magic.
Although his sorcery deluded me, excuse my fault, forgive my sin:
If his sorcery had not taken me in, the world could not have been subdued.
Without the halter of humility, pride could not be taken prisoner.
To melt this stone statue with my hot sighs, I had to don his zunnar.
Reason catches artful nature in a net and thus Ahriman, born of fire,
Bows down before the creature of dust!

[Translation by Mustansir Mir]

The above passage speaks to me of hope, of the potentiation of the gold of humankind that is made discoverable by the very seduction of the world.  Without the world, and the devil ever tempting, how could the mettle of humankind be tested?  How could lead be transformed into gold?

But it takes patience to live in the world, and yet not be seduced into thinking that all is lost.  Around us everywhere is (seeming) destruction, negativity, and man's inhumanity to man.  It is the easiest thing in the world to give up hope.  

Loss of hope is a gift of the world.  I can only speak for me, but I refuse to extend my hand to accept that gift.  No matter what evidence may be presented in front of these eyes (and there's a lot of it everyday) to try to convince me that hope is only a dream or wishful thinking, I refuse to accept it.

I sense that this poem speaks to the abiding nature of hope, and to the fact that it is ever-present, if only one does not buy the program of the world.  You buy the program of the world at the cost of hope.  Buying of the program of the world is not the same as being in the world.  The latter is possible without the former occurring.  

According to me, it's the easiest thing in the world to accept loss of hope.  You simply passively accept what the world is saying.  You believe what the physical eyes see.  It actually takes strength and sustained striving to maintain hope, to not be intoxicated with all the apparent hopelessness (which I say is utterly specious), and to look - with intention - at the stars.

I very much like "The Morn of Resurrection."  To me (and I do not pretend to understand it, but only to appreciate it according to my capacity), it speaks to the triumph of humanity.  It is a triumph, however, that seems (to me) to be entirely dependent upon Adam's earlier seduction out of heaven and into the world. Had the temptation of Adam not been successful, would we have this ending?

Similar (I propose) to King Arthur attaining the throne by pulling the sword out of the stone, so too is the halter of humility hidden in the burning world of materiality.  It says in this poem:

"If his sorcery had not taken me in, the world could not have been subdued."

The Devil, and his burning, was a trap. But only by entering the trap could we be set free from it.  By entering the trap, there was some kind of activation of potentiation of self. With the status of heaven gone, now Splendor or Disaster could be willingly chosen.  

I could see (though no one seems to ever talk about it) that the Devil was a bit worried all along that humanity would discover the subtle gold hidden in the dark places of the world.  Or perhaps not, as he might have a role much deeper than the insipidly simple one which most people seem to attribute to him.  Some might say that the devil could be the worthy opponent without which humankind would be without struggle, and thus the opportunity for Overcoming and Triumph.

But...some say, what to make of all the seeming horrors of the world when what is (seemingly) "good" gets trampled over by what is (seemingly) "bad?"  Why cannot justice occur here and now?  That line of thinking, to me, leads to a dark place absent of hope.   

I have spent many years working in fields directly related to man's inhumanity to man. I don't understand it, though I work in the world of mitigating it, in the context of human-determined justice. I sense (meaning simply that I don't know, but merely intuit) that man's justice may be qualitatively different than divine justice. I don't know what is divine justice, but I doubt that it is what is in my mind when I think of justice (as we know it here in creation, in the world).

It is my opinion that the "normal" modern person (any culture, any religion) has an awareness/consciousness that is excessively focused outwardly.  Inwardly focused awareness/consciousness is rare.

I am of the opinion that the bad stuff in the world is a consequence of long-term abandonment, in collective humanity, of an inner orientation.  This is visible (any culture, any religion) in how, for instance, confused and fearful people hijack religious understanding/realization, and/or nationalistic fervor, and/or both, and give it their own, very worldly (burning) spin.  They then mistreat the beautiful, loving, and tolerant aspects of a religion, making it twisted and hurtful, and thus mistreat their fellow man by denying them beauty, love, and tolerance.  And, of course, the mistreated parts of the religions themselves are cited as justificatory reasons for this insanity.   

Then bad is perpetuated, with the justification being simply what can pointed at in the outer world.  Our greatest enemy, then, runs amuck, unchecked, while all problems are projected outwardly onto others.

For me, I very much consciously try, to the degree that I am able, to divorce myself from societal, national, and worldly conditioning (conditioning is ever-present from birth onward). This takes sustained effort to be aware of such conditioning.  I try to lift myself up out of this so that I do not get swept away in the apparent insanity, while, at the same, remaining receptive to currents of collective consciousness. 

I refuse to give up hope that humanity, as a collective whole, will discover its Splendor.  I refuse to give up believing in what all the great ones tell us repeatedly about how people can transform into true human beings. 

I refuse to accept the scissors of separation that are so openly and daily given to us from the world.  I do not want to cut and cut and cut.  I would rather have a needle so that I can sew things together.

I realize, as I write this, that I am denying on the one hand, and affirming on the other. If I don't say "no," with intention, then I'm too easily fooled into believing that "yes" does not even exist.  For me, I have found this to be true.  I must say "no" to this, while saying "yes" to something else.

All of this is, for me, not merely a pleasant myth with which I can be distracted from the challenges of the world.  At the day of humanity's collective accounting, I want the Morn of Resurrection to be the Reality.    

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I like it when messages manifest in music, poetry, etc. that highlight humanity's drive for a better world.

Sometimes they're messages with which I might whole-heartedly agree.  Sometimes, I might like part of it, or even just the intention behind it.

People with intentions to make the world a better place for everyone (not just a select few, group, or portion)...I like that very much.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


"Faust Making His Contract with Mephistophiles" ~ Franz Sinn
                              The Devil’s Refusal

In Allama Iqbal's poem, "The Conquest of Nature" (from his second book of poetry, "Message of the East"), is the passage below, "The Devil's Refusal."  Adam's birth has already occurred.  The angels now bow to Adam, but the Devil refuses.  Iqbal shares "The Devil's Refusal" as the devil's response and perspective. 

After this passage, I share my reflections.  Personally, I consider all such reflections on Iqbal's works as (potentially) highly practical, and supportive of humankind's genuine role.  So it is in this spirit, that is, a practical support for realizing collective unity, in this world, now, that this post is offered.                             

The Devil’s Refusal 

I am not such a foolish angel that I would bow to Adam!
He is made of dust, but my element is fire.
It is my ardour that heats the blood in the veins of the universe:
I am in the raging storm and the crashing thunder;
I am the bond that holds the atoms together, and the law that rules the elements;
I burn and give form - I am the alchemist's fire.
What I have myself made I break in pieces,
Only to create new forms from the old dust.
From my sea rises the wave of the heavens that know no rest – 
The splendour and glory of my element fashions the world.
The stars owe their existence to You, but they owe their motion to me:
I am the soul of the world, the hidden life that is seen by none.
You give the soul to the body, but I set that soul astir.
You rob on the highway by causing sloth, I guide along the right path with burning passion.
I did not beg paupers to bow down before me: I am mighty, but do not need a hell;
I am a judge, but do not need resurrection.
Adam - that creature of dust, that short-sighted ignoramus -
Was born in your lap but will grow old in my arms!

[Translation by Mustansir Mir] 

For me, this poem is powerful in how it overturns the apple cart so often given to us by so-called religious authorities.  I don't pretend to understand it fully, though, and offer the following as intuitive reflections and honest commentary. 

I sense that the devil, in Iqbal's poem, traps and potentiates, at the same time.  In this poem, Iqbal writes:

" The stars owe their existence to You, but they owe their motion to me..."


"You give the soul to the body, but I set that soul astir."


"Adam - that creature of dust, that short-sighted ignoramus -
Was born in your lap but will grow old in my arms!"

Conveyed in these lines is the feeling (to me) that the devil is almost an associate of God, and not the simple adversary as which he is so often depicted.  The subtle implication seems to be that he is a part of a grand plan.

The devil is, in this poem, "the bond that holds the atoms together, and the law that rules the elements."  The devil here is, then, like the fire of the world, of the universe, which keeps things spinning in motion...and (potentially) keeping things trapped.

There is something here of the devil being what enables life ("life" as it's normally understood) to be possible, that is, the manifest life of physical things.  By being manifest humans, however, we are also granted the ability to *choose* to turn toward that which is veiled (God) by struggling against that which traps (the devil).

The devil seems to provide the ground on which this choosing can even be born.  He, then, provides the very opportunity, in (as) the world for remaining trapped and separated from the Divine or in discovering (and manifesting) the Divine in the world.  The devil's gift is, then, the gift of great risk and danger, but a gift that, if not accepted, bars all knowing of the Divine.  

It's as if it's a trap (of being absorbed in the external), but with it also comes the potential to willingly choose to turn toward the Divine. By being trapped, the very potential for struggle is tapped.  Without this struggle, man would be attenuated and weak, less than it is meant to become.  With it, due to the devil's work, wings can sprout.  The devil's tempting is (potentially) a tempering that brings about the very opportunity for the gold in humankind to be found.

Without the trap of being seduced into falling asleep in the arms of the world, how could struggle emerge, and inward striving be initiated?  In a certain sense, it seems this struggle (the devil's work) is a gift.

Reflecting on this leads me to consider that the devil may have an integral role in the process of the world, a role often over-simplified, a role that is central with the work of God and the unfolding of humanity's divine potential.  I sense it as a role more like a partnership with God (in the fullest imaginable context of Divinity, and even, perhaps, beyond what we can imagine through the "normal" lens of our constricted human personality) than an outright obstacle.  To understand the devil as merely an adversarial opponent, seeking only to do harm to others for some kind of self-gain is, in my opinion, short-sighted.

Holding this short-sighted understanding of the devil also, in my opinion, diminishes humanity's genuine nature.  It does so because, in light of Iqbal's writings (and of course my capacity to comprehend his intended meaning), I'm understanding the devil now as not necessarily a figure to fear and fight against in order to remain with God, but rather a dynamic of creation (for lack of a better term) which offers real trials and challenges through which, by willfully choosing to overcome them, we discover God.  The devil, then, offers the opportunity to gain the "with" of "with God." 

A true test of one's mettle is discoverable when there is a worthy opponent, an adversity who, by bringing great trials and challenges, forces you to either give in or discover and actualize what is deepest/highest in you that enables triumph.  That is what I sense the devil does - he is a triumph-enabler.  He doesn't give the triumph, but he certainly provides the arena for one to find it for oneself.

The devil, in the end, for me, in light of Iqbal's poem, is a guardian (I'm using this in a highly nuanced manner) of a threshold.  He is what bars humanity's progress.  He is also, however, what provides the very opportunity to progress, grow, and blossom.

Being granted access into the world could, then, be seen as a gift, a gift that, if not given, prevents discovery, actualization, and unfurling of the splendor of humanity.  We're introduced into an arena where the most worthy opponent waits to challenge, press, and push.  It is by overcoming the deepest, most subtle, fears that the devil is left empty-handed, and we find ourselves on a journey of discovering and growing the "Biggest Real" about ourselves.

May this journey continue for us all.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


You are still tied to colour and to race,
So you call me Afghan or Turkoman.
But I am first of all a man, plain man,
And then an Indian or Turanian.
~ Allama Iqbal

The Unity of Us All.

I perceive a manifestation of Iqbal's message in this short clip from the movie, "The Great Dictator."

 (Many thanks to Yosy for pointing out this clip to me.)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Iqbal's Definition of Art & The Builders (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Included in "Discourses of Iqbal" is an article in which Iqbal writes:

"The ultimate end of of all human activity is Life-glorious, powerful, exuberant.  All human art must be subordinated to this final purpose and the value of everything must be determined in reference to its life-yielding capacity.  The highest art is that which awakens our dormant will-force, and nerves us to face the trials of life manfully."

Different poets may speak, with varying degrees of intensity, in the direction of that which Iqbal so directly points.  To me, the poem below, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, points in this direction. 

The Builders

All are architects of Fate,
Working in these walls of Time;
Some with massive deeds and great,
Some with ornaments of rhyme.

Nothing useless is, or low;
Each thing in its place is best;
And what seems but idle show
Strengthens and supports the rest.

For the structure that we raise,
Time is with materials filled;
Our to-days and yesterdays
Are the blocks with which we build.

Truly shape and fashion these;
Leave no yawning gaps between;
Think not, because no man sees,
Such things will remain unseen.

In the elder days of Art,
Builders wrought with greatest care
Each minute and unseen part;
For the Gods see everywhere.

Let us do our work as well,
Both the unseen and the seen;
Make the house, where Gods may dwell,
Beautiful, entire, and clean.

Else our lives are incomplete,
Standing in these walls of Time,
Broken stairways, where the feet
Stumble as they seek to climb.

Build to-day, then, strong and sure,
With a firm and ample base;
And ascending and secure
Shall to-morrow find its place.

Thus alone can we attain
To those turrets, where the eye
Sees the world as one vast plain,
And one boundless reach of sky.

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"Thou art a sleeping force: awake!"

Please allow me to share with you this bit of poetry (below) from Mawlana Rumi.  When I read it, it struck me as speaking to what I'm beginning to learn from Iqbal about humankind paying attention to itself (its self) and to the awakening of its gift. 

Iqbal writes a poem in "Secrets of the Self" (which I very much like) in which a young man goes to see the venerable saint, Data Ganj Bakhsh.  In it he writes: "Thou art a sleeping force: awake!"

The entire poem is here: http://disna.us/files/SECRETS_OF_THE_SELF.pdf

I was thinking of this poem by Iqbal while reading Rumi's poem below.

Sana'i ! If you don't find a friend, be your own
friend! In this world of every kind of man and every kind of
task, be a man for your own task!
Each member of this caravan is stealing his own
baggage - place your own self behind and sit before your
People sell ephemeral beauty and buy
ephemeral love - pass beyond those two dry riverbeds and be
your own river!
These friends of yours keep on pulling you by
the hand toward nonexistence - steal back your hand and be
your own helper!
These beauties painted on canvas veil the
beauties of the heart - lift up the veil and enter: Be with your
own Beloved!
Be with your own Beloved and be a well-thinking,
good man! Be more than two worlds - dwell in your own
Go, do not become drunk with the wine that increases
arrogance - behold the brightness of that Face and be
soberly aware of your own Self!

~ Ghazal (Ode) 1244

"Iqbal's Relevance Today"

I very much enjoy this very good article by Khurram Ali Shafique.  It speaks to Iqbal's thought, poetry, and politics. 

Please read.   


Monday, April 2, 2012

My Introduction to Allama Iqbal

It was in November, 2011 that someone very dear to me shared some poetry with me by Allama Iqbal.  I am not proud to say this, but I was utterly unfamiliar with Iqbal up to that point.  The poetry shared with me was:

Art thou in the stage of life, death or death in life?
Invoke the aid of three witnesses to verify thy station.
The first witness is thine own consciousness -
See thyself, then with thine own light.
The second witness is the consciousness of another ego -
See thyself, then, with the light of an ego other than thee.
The third witness is God's consciousness -
See thyself, then, with God's light.
If thou standest unshaken in front of this light,
Consider thyself as living and eternal as He!
That man alone is real who dares -
Dares to see God face to face!

That bit of poetry shared with me that November day so captured my attention that I immediately set off on a journey to learn more about this man named Iqbal and what exactly he brought to the world.  I discovered that the poetry shared with me came out of "Javid Nama," a copy of which now follows me around everywhere.

A quick search on the internet yielded results leading me to the websites listed on this blog.  Please go and look at them.  They're a treasure-trove of (free) resources.  I highly recommend them!

You will see on the Marghdeen Learning Centre (MLC) website that there are online courses available for those wishing to get to know Iqbal at both an introductory level and beyond.  I also highly recommend them!

The courses were created by Khurram Ali Shafique, a man who has (as I have come to discover since November) an immense depth of knowledge of Iqbal.  He has received national awards, including the Presidential Iqbal Award for his works in Iqbal Studies.  These online courses that he created are certified by the Iqbal Academy Pakistan, and are offered in coordination with the Dr. Iqbal Society of North America and Topline Publishers Pakistan.

I signed up and participated in the online courses.  They were absolutely wonderful!  For each lesson in the courses, there are writings, mini-lectures, videos, and very friendly and interactive discussions.  The work is not excessive, and is very manageable, even for someone like me who stays very busy with family and work.

I've come to discover that, while Allama Iqbal may be generally associated with a particular nation, his message is truly for all of humanity.  He speaks in a very practical way, but with such depth, height, and beauty, about humanity and unity.

I shall say no more at this point, other than to urge you (if you have not already) to participate in the MLC's courses.  It is not an exaggeration for me to say that the study is transforming the way I view humanity, our collective well-being, and the world which we can all collectively grow together.

DNA of History Recommended Reading List

After completing the "DNA of History" online course, offered by the Marghdeen Learning Centre, I put together this list of recommended reading materials for the course. This very affordable online course (and others too offered by the MLC) is highly recommended.

This course helps you to grasp the story of human beings on this planet, as well as to master the basics of history and easily relate it to your life. This course helps one to understand history according to the manner in which Iqbal understood it.

This course was created by Khurram Ali Shafique. He has received national awards, including the Presidential Iqbal Award for his works in Iqbal Studies. The course is certified by Iqbal Academy Pakistan, in coordination with the Dr. Iqbal Society of North America (DISNA) and Topline Publishers Pakistan.

I hope this list will help those who choose to participate. For more information, go to:

DNA of History Recommended Reading List

Iqbal: In Search of Man's Destiny
Iqbal's Relevance Today
Father of Hypocrisy?
Stendhal according to Iqbal
Matthew Arnold
Reaction against democracy in the West
An Outline of History
Napoleon Bonaparte
The Rightly-Guided Caliphate
Afghanistan, the heart of Asia
The Arab World
The mysteries of the ancient Iran

In addition to these resources, please go to the following link for further recommended readings:

Introduction to Iqbal Studies Recommended Reading List

I put together this list of recommended reading materials after completing the "Introduction to Iqbal Studies" course, offered by the Marghdeen Learning Centre.

This very affordable online course (and others too offered by the MLC) is highly recommended. It is a great introduction into the works of Allama Iqbal and their relevance to today's world.

The online courses were created by Khurram Ali Shafique. He has received national awards, including the Presidential Iqbal Award for his works in Iqbal Studies. The courses are certified by Iqbal Academy Pakistan. and are being offered in coordination with Dr. Iqbal Society of North America (DISNA) and Topline Publishers Pakistan.

I hope this list will help those who choose to participate. For more information, go to:


Introduction to Iqbal Studies Recommended Reading List

Iqbal's Relevance Today
The Works of Iqbal
Javid Nama (Abridged & Illustrated English Edition) – Highly Recommended

Javid Nama (Unabridged Persian Edition) http://allamaiqbal.com/works/poetry/persian/javidnama/text/index.htm
Javid Nama (Unabridged English Edition) http://allamaiqbal.com/works/poetry/persian/javidnama/translation/index.htm
Purpose of the Nine Lessons

Art and Literature
Depiction of Rumi in the Works of Iqbal
Destiny and Free Will
What is an Ideal?
The Social Organism
Goethe and Rumi
Hallaj: Weakness or Power?


An Outline of History