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

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Highest Stage of Man's Ethical Progress

"The truth is that Islam looks upon the universe as a reality and consequently recognises as reality all that is in it. Sin, pain, sorrow, struggle are certainly real, but Islam teaches that evil is not essential to the universe; the universe can be reformed; the elements of sin and evil can be gradually eliminated. All that is in the universe is God’s, and the seemingly destructive forces of nature become sources of life, if properly controlled by man, who is endowed with the power to understand and to control them.  

These and other similar teachings of the Quran, combined with the Quranic recognition of the reality of sin and sorrow, indicate that the Islamic view of the universe is neither optimistic nor pessimistic. Modern psychometry has given the final answer to the psychological implications of Buddhism. Pain is not an essential factor in the constitution of the universe, and pessimism is only a product of a hostile social environment. Islam believes in the efficacy of well-directed action; hence the standpoint of Islam must be described as melioristic – the ultimate pre-supposition and justification of all human effort at scientific discovery and social progress. Although Islam recognises the fact of pain, sin and struggle in nature, yet the principal fact which stands in the way of man’s ethical progress is, according to Islam, neither pain, nor sin, nor struggle. It is fear, to which man is a victim owing to his ignorance of the nature of his environment and want of absolute faith in God. The highest stage of man’s ethical progress is reached when he becomes absolutely free from fear and grief.

The central proposition which regulates the structure of Islam, then, is that there is fear in nature, and the object of Islam is to free man from fear."

~ from "Islam as a Moral and Political Ideal" (Allama Iqbal)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Deepest Truths of Life

To explain the deepest truths of life in the form of homely parables requires extraordinary genius. Shakespeare, Maulana Rum (Jalaluddin) and Jesus Christ are probably the only illustrations of this rare type of genius.
~ Allama Iqbal (from Stray Reflections)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Build in yourself a Kaaba sacrosanct

From being and non-being’s whirlpool free
Yourself; in this world of contingency
Build in yourself a Kaaba sacrosanct
Like Abraham’s home of eternity.

~ Allama Iqbal (from Payam-I-Mashriq)

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Ideal of Imagination

It is idle to seek logical truth in poetry.  The ideal of imagination is beauty, not truth.  Do not then try to show a poet's greatness by quoting passages from his works which, in your opinion, embody scientific truth.
~ Allama Iqbal (from Stray Reflections)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

I am born...

I am born in the world as a new sun,
I have not learned the ways and fashions of the sky:
Not yet have the stars  fled before my splendor,
Not yet is my quicksilver astir;
Untouched is the sea by my dancing rays,
Untouched are the mountains by my crimson hue.
The eye of existence is not familiar with me;
I rise trembling, afraid to show myself.
~ Allama Iqbal (from Secrets of the Self)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A diseased social organism...

A diseased social organism sometimes sets up within itself forces which have a tendency to preserve the health of the organism - e.g., the birth of a great personality which may revitalise the dying organism by the revelation of a new ideal.

~ Allama Iqbal (from Stray Reflections)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

He is one

He in one
Above all ritual
Above all dogma
Above all custom
And only where
These paths cease
Does true faith begin.

~ Ghalib
 (from Ghalib in Translation, O.P. Kejariwal)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Man is a Creative Activity

"When attracted by the forces around him, man has the power to shape and direct them; when thwarted by them, he has the capacity to build a much vaster world in the depths of his own inner being, wherein he discovers sources of infinite joy and inspiration.  Hard his lot and frail his being, like a rose-leaf, yet no form of reality is so powerful, so inspiring, and so beautiful as the spirit of man!  Thus in his inmost being man, as conceived by the Quran, is a creative activity, an ascending spirit who, in his onward march, rises from one state of being to another."

Allama Iqbal (from The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam)

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Pangs of Love

Who indeed
Can control
The pangs of love?
O Ghalib 
It's a fire
You cannot kindle
And one which
You cannot extinguish
At will. 

~ Ghalib (from Ghalib in Translation, Translator O.P. Kejariwal)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Black & White Birds

People's relationships can be compared with two facing walls.  Each wall is full of small holes in which nest black and white birds.  Black birds are dark thoughts. White birds are pure thoughts.
Because of their size, white birds can only enter into the white bird holes.  The black birds likewise.  Now let's suppose there are two people, Usuf and Ali. Usuf, convinced that Ali thinks evil of him, emits thoughts full of hate.  In doing so he releases a black bird and, at the same time, a nest/hole from his wall is freed.  The black bird flies towards Ali and looks for a nest there.  If Ali has not sent his black bird towards Usuf (i.e., if he has not made any negative thoughts about him), then none of his black holes will be free.  Not finding a nest, the black bird will return to Usuf, caring with it the evil vibrations, thus destroying Usuf. 

Lets suppose that Ali has sent an evil thought.  In doing so he releases a hole in his wall in which Usuf's black bird can nest fulfilling its mission!  At the same time, Ali's black bird flies towards Usuf and, finding another empty nest, does the same.  So the two black birds fulfill their mission which is the destruction of their target.

But as soon as they fulfill their mission, they return to their base according to the ancient law: "Everything returns to its source." 

The evil returns to the sender, thus damaging him.  Same with white birds.  If we only send good thoughts to our enemy, while he is sending negative thoughts, then his black birds, not finding a nest, return to him.  While the white birds, not finding a nest, return to us full of positive energy.

In conclusion, if we only send good thoughts, they will return and strengthen us.  That's why we must always bless and wish the best for our friends as well as our enemies.  That way, the blessing not only goes towards others, but also some day returns to us with its blessings.   

This story is from the teachings of Tierno Bokar, a sufi from Mali

Saturday, May 11, 2013

How to Escape Education's Death Valley

Please relax with this brief TED talk.  I find this deeply inspiring. 

For me, when listening to Sir Ken Robinson, I'm thinking not only of the education of children, but also of the education of adults, and the passing of cultural depth and height from one generation to the next. 

I'm also thinking of having social leaders such as politicians who are not about command & control, but rather are devoted to creating a climate of possibility.  A climate of possibility implies to me a melioristic evolving of humanity. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Mary Parker Follett Walks the Talk

I am a big proponent of walking.  Listen to this brief video wherein Nilofer Merchant speaks to the value of the walking-meeting.  Pay especial attention, though, to what she shares at from about 2:30 to 3:00 in the video.  


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Mary Parker Follett on Constructive Conflict

In an essay entitled Constructive Conflict, Mary Parker Follett suggests that we reconsider conflict, not as something that is good or bad, or that must judged one way or another, or that is even considered warfare. Rather, she states, conflict is, essentially, "the appearance of difference, difference of opinions, of interests." 

She shares that it's not useful to condemn conflict, but that we ought to put it to use.  I ask the reader to reflect on the similarities between Follett's psychology of constructive conflict and Allama Iqbal's philosophy of the nature of the social organism, consensus-seeking, and how to achieve a dynamic social stability.

I personally find Follett's commentary on conflict as difference to be quite useful in consideration of a spiritual psychology for not only the individual but for nations as well.  If we think of the political contention in various nations (and between those nations), how refreshingly useful it would be to put to work this re-framing of so-called conflict as difference toward attaining a new social harmony.

On the inevitability of difference, in life, Follett references a passage from her very interesting book, Creative Experience:
"What people often mean by getting rid of conflict is getting rid of diversity, and it is of the utmost importance that these should not be considered the same. We may wish to abolish conflict, but we cannot get rid of diversity. We must face life as it is and understand that diversity is its most essential feature...Fear of difference is dread of life itself. It is possible to conceive conflict as not necessarily a wasteful outbreak of incompatibilities, but a normal process by which socially valuable differences register themselves for the enrichment of all concerned."
Follett speaks to how conflict can indeed be constructive.  She shares an analogy of how the friction that comes about from the driving wheel of a locomotive and the track is necessary to haul the train. She shares: "All polishing is done by friction. The music of the violin we get by friction."  In this manner, she points out that the arising and meeting of differences is what brings change.
Follett outlines three main ways of dealing with conflict: domination, compromise, and integration. She describes domination as the easiest way to deal with conflict, but not the most successful in the long-run.

She states that compromise seems often appropriate as a way to deal with conflict, but that it almost always leads to the conflict arising again and again, in different forms. This is so, she states, because we have to give up part of our original desire and, not being content to rest there, we seek to get the whole of it. Conflict, therefore, continues to re-emerge in various forms.  
With integration, unlike domination and compromise, differences are brought out into the open so that a solution can be found in which both desires (differences) find a place in which neither side has to sacrifice their wishes.  Each party's (underlying) needs are identified and met in what, in today's world, might be called a win-win arrangement.

Integration is, then, an appearing and focusing of differences wherein something new is created out of an original set of seemingly incompatible choices.  Integration involves "invention, and the clever thing is to recognize this, and not to let one's thinking stay within the boundaries of two alternatives which are mutually exclusive." While domination and compromise deal with what already exists, and thus nothing new is created, integration, as "a moment in the interacting of desires," creates something new.  What Follett describes is nothing less than Deep Consensus through a psychological, and one might even say alchemical, coming-together of people and their differences.  
She argues that "progressive differings" can lead to "progressive integrations." This, she writes, is how an individual and a society "becomes spiritually more and more developed as our conflicts rise to higher levels."  If conflict means the appearance of differences, as Follett describes, progressive differings and integrations may then point to a path of evolution wherein an individual or groups of individuals create more and more unity (integration being the channel of birth) in diversity.

So how do we integrate? Follett writes that the first step is to bring the differences out into the open. She warns, however, that one barrier to this is that, if our real aim is not to integrate, but to dominate, then integration will fail. We must strongly desire to bring the differences out into the open, to meet in a field of desires, and to create something new for the benefit of everyone. We must really want conflict (i.e., differences) to become settled, and thus rise to higher conflicts (i.e., a higher form of dealing with ever more subtle differences), and new creations of individual and social harmony. 
Only integration, she argues, will stabilize differences.  She highlights, however, that “stabilize” is not static.  She states very simply, “Nothing ever stays put.”  Particular conflicts are settled after which further ones arise, but on a higher level.  There is a deep spirituality implicit in her discussion of integration. 
When the differences are uncovered and squarely faced, there is often a revaluation of them. She argues that many contentious conflicts can be avoided by bringing "the desires of each side into one field of vision where they could be viewed together and compared." In her very quotable style, Follett writes: "Revaluation is the flower of comparison."
If the first step is to bring differences out into the open, the next step is to  “take the demands of both sides and break them up into their constituent parts,” something Follett refers to as the “breaking up of wholes” in order to create something new, a new whole.  She advises, for this step, that one must seek to “find the significant rather than the dramatic features,” and that a thorough “examination of symbols” occurs.  By this, she means that we must sink beneath the claptrap of dramatic look-at-me behaviors (of the individual or group), seeking instead to find the real, underlying reason behind conflicts.

She mentions how the person “with a genius for leadership” is indeed the wo/man who can articulate the whole-demand, instead of merely part of it. Focusing on only part of the entirety of demands (differences) is a pathway into domination and/or compromise.  It is the wom/an who can speak for all people, including all, and excluding none.

Follett’s psychology of integration is impressive.  She goes on to describe how we need to be very aware of the “circular response.”  She writes: “We must remember that whenever we act we have always ‘started something,’ behavior precipitates behavior in others.”  She adds, “I can never fight you, I am always fighting you plus me.  I have put it this way: that response is always to a relation.”  In a very practical way, Follett argues that we “should work always with the evolving situation, and note what part our own activities have in that evolving situation."  She very much expresses an understanding of human interaction that is nowadays put forth as Emotional Intelligence.

Concluding her essay, she highlights some obstacles to integration.  These include:

1.  The tendency for people to want to fight instead of coming together. This would even include the addiction some people might feel toward the thrill of fighting.
2. Over-emphasis on intellectual agreement alone. Follett warns against this, stating that genuine integration is more likely to spontaneously arise when intellectual theorizing ceases, and a definite course of action is initiated.  
3. She mentions that the language used to work toward integration is of vital importance.  We need to choose our words carefully, when seeking to come together with others (e.g., political parties) just as we would choose our words carefully to soothe the feelings of a spouse.
4. She also cites the “undue influence of leaders – the manipulation of the unscrupulous on the one hand and the suggestibility of the crowd on the other," as another obstacle.  She cautions that the “whole emotional field of human intercourse has to be taken fully into account in dealing with methods of reconciliation.”  This is, again, an example of Follett’s identification of priorities that would later become known as Emotional Intelligence.  Having said this, however, I also acknowledge that Follett's philosophy is, in my opinion, of a unique depth distinct from Emotional Intelligence.
5. Follett states that, by far, the greatest obstacle to integration is our lack of training in it.  She points to how we are taught to debate with others, seeking always to be right.  This, she argues does not support our skills or our desire for integration.  She states, and I agree, that “there should be classes in discussion which should aim to teach the ‘art’ of cooperative thinking."  Follett points out not to confuse cooperative thinking with simple openmindedness (i.e., to others’ opinions).  Cooperative thinking “needs just as great a respect for your own view as for that of others, and a firm upholding of it until you are convinced.  Mushy people are no more good at this than stubborn people.”  
In conclusion, Mary Parker Follett shares this as the most important process, not only for business and government, but for all human relations.  
We are "not to adapt ourselves to a situation – we are all more necessary to the world than that; neither to mould a situation to our liking – we are all, or rather each, of too little importance to the world for that; but to take account of that reciprocal adjustment, that interactive behavior between the situation and ourselves which means a change in both the situation and ourselves."
Follett was a change-agent, disseminating her astoundingly progressive ideas for the benefit of everyone.  Perhaps we can pick up these ideas, create something new, and discover a new unity in our diversity.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

"No bird soars too high, 
if he soars with his own wings."

~ William Blake

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Level of Being: A Life Evolved

Please go here for a very significant article by Khurram Ali Shafique (award-winning Iqbal scholar, historian, screenwriter and educationist) on two distinct models of democracy, both manifestations of worldviews that can be traced to distinctly different religious understandings.  It is clear that the understandings granted to us from differing religious contexts has a profound psychological influence on how we conceive of ourselves, and thus how we grow and evolve in life, and create the outer world.

The ideas in the aforementioned article demonstrate that there is a level of being - not isolated to the intellect - which is a key to be remembered (and developed) if humanity is to liberate itself from its condition, and evolve onward toward more elevated states of life. 

Compare the philosophy of Iqbal to this below by Maurice Nicoll, a British psychiatrist and noted Fourth Way teacher.  Written in 1941, and in the form of a letter, Nicoll writes;

"Ordinarily, of course, we imagine that man can grow and develop in what I might call the natural normal way, simply by education, example, and so on.  Yet, if we look at history, we find that man has not really developed, and particularly if we look at the present day we cannot boast that man has reached any real further stage of development. Look for a moment at the horrors that humanity imposes on itself nowadays.

Yet people are prone to imagine that time means progress and that everything is getting better and better as time passes. And as a rule people take the obvious contradictions as *exceptional.* That is to say, people are always inclined to think that what are really the usual and ever-present circumstances of life, in a bad sense, are exceptional. You will agree with me perhaps that people usually regard war as exceptional.

Yet you must admit that if you pick up any book of history you will find that it deals with war in the main, with war, intrigue, people seeking power, and so on. Actually, unless we have the strength of mind to see what ordinary life on this planet is like, we will remain in imagination, or illusion, if you prefer the word. As you know, in this system of work, amongst many sayings which have a great density of meaning- namely, that it takes a long time to understand- there is one saying that 'the level of being of a man attracts his life.' This saying applies to humanity in general- that is, the general level of humanity with regard to its being attracts the form of life that it experiences. It is useless to think that wars and horrors and revolutions, etc., are exceptional. What is at fault is the level of being of a people. But nobody is willing to understand this and whenever war takes place, as I said, people take it as exceptional, and even speak about a future free from war, as soon as the existing war is over. We can see the same process at work now. History repeats itself because man remains at the same level of being- namely, he attracts again and again the same circumstances, feels the same things, says the same things, believes the same things. And yet nothing actually changes. All the articles that were written in the last war are just the same as the articles written in this war, and will be for ever and ever.

But what concerns us more is that the same idea applies to ourselves, to each individual person. As long as there is no change in the level of being, the personal history of a man remains the same. Everything repeats itself in his own life: he says the same things, he does the same things, he regrets the same things, he commits the same things. And all this belongs to this immensely deep idea that the level of being attracts the life."

Thursday, April 4, 2013

5 Principles of Spiritual Democracy

Go here for a brief yet incisive post from Khurram Ali Shafique (award-winning Iqbal scholar, historian,
screenwriter and educationist) detailing five statements which, according to him, constitute the basic principles of spiritual democracy.

He asks, when examining the statements, if they challenge our existing views in any manner.

If they do challenge our existing views, what shall we do?

What do we typically do when potentially new understandings challenge our existing views?

Please go and read the post now. 

Named must your fear be before banish it you can.
~ Yoda

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Spiritual in Origin

"The great point in Christianity is the search for an independent content for spiritual life which, according to the insight of its founder, could be elevated, not by the forces of a world external to the soul of man, but by the revelation of a new world within his soul....The search for a purely psychological foundation of human unity becomes possible only with the perception that all human life is spiritual in its origin."

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Making Wholes

The secrets of the sun are yours, but you
Content yourself with motes trapped in its beams.
Turn to what truly lives, reject what seems -
Which matters more, the body or the soul?
Be whole: desire and journey to the Whole.

How may we come to create healthy societies in this world?  In what way may different nations cultivate a genuine unity with one another, despite being identified by different religions?  In what ways may a method of education facilitate societies and nations of achieving a genuine integrity, a vital wholeness, and a real collective self?  What do we, the people of a society, need to learn?

In Political Thought in Islam, Allama Iqbal describes how a genuine unity of a nation is not based on geographic boundaries, language or social tradition, but "in the unity of the religious and political ideal; or, in the psychological fact of like-mindedness..."  It is, as Iqbal describes, a unity based upon "the spiritual force of a common ideal" that can bind a people together.  Iqbal emphasizes that Islam itself teaches that nationality is not the pinnacle of political development.  He emphasizes that "the general principles of the law of Islam rest on human nature, not on the peculiarities of a particular people."

Given these teachings from Iqbal, there is every reason to believe that the people of a single nation can come together around shared, common essentials of their one faith, instead of bickering about whose sect or denomination is the only true way.  Given all this, there is every reason to believe that different nations, identified with different religions, can also come together around shared essentials, common to other (perhaps all) religions.  I personally believe that Iqbal was not only showing a nation, but also the totality of humanity itself, how to evolve into a genuine pluralism wherein all people are part of a new social process.

Very significant is the intriguing book by Mary Parker Follett, The New State, published in 1918.  In this early classic of American political theory, Follett outlines several concepts and theories which Iqbal so articulately expressed in his own writings.  On the topic, for instance, of what Iqbal refers to as "the psychological fact of like-mindedness," Follett writes of a "genuine, integrated togetherness," implying a similar like-mindedness.

In The New State is a consistent distinction between the group and the crowd ("group" and "crowd" are her terms).  Follett refers to the latter in various ways, including "the helter-skelter strivings of an endless number of social atoms" which, she states, "can never give us a fair and ordered world."  It is, instead, the group which she argues is based upon a genuine consensus of all persons and an "integrated togetherness" not unlike Iqbal's "psychological fact of like-mindedness" being the key to a nation's self-identity.

This passage from Follett's book, referring to the "helter-skelter strivings" immediately brings to mind Iqbal's admonition (near the end of Islam as a Moral and Political Ideal) where he argues against the chaos of the crowd, and for the order of the coherent group.  He writes:

"Islam is one and indivisible; it brooks no distinctions in it.  There are no Wahabies, Sh'ias, Mirzais or Sunnies in Islam.  Fight not for the interpretations of the truth, when the truth itself is in danger.  It is foolish to complain of stumbling when you walk in the darkness of night.  Let all come forward and contribute their respective shares in the great toll of the nation.  Let the idols of class distinctions and sectarianism be smashed for ever; let the Mussalmans of the country be once more united into a great vital whole."

Very much resonant of this "great vital whole" is the lack of separation between church and state about which Iqbal writes (in Political Thought in Islam).  There is, he says, no "high-priest of Islam."  Continuing, he writes:

"The Prophet himself is not regarded as absolutely infallible by many Muhamaddan theologians (e.g., Abu Ishaq, Tabari).  In fact, the idea of personal authority is quite contrary to the spirit of Islam.  The Prophet of Arabia succeeded in commanding the absolute submission of an entire people; yet no man has depreciated his own authority more than he."

Iqbal's emphasis is apparent that it is the "will of the whole Muslim community," oriented along the lines of a genuine consensus, that is central to a social organism developing as a collective self.  In the last paragraph, he points to the example, par excellence, of how consensus is modeled.  Throughout The New State, about consensus including all and excluding none, Follett is in agreement with Iqbal. 

Iqbal makes it very clear in other writings (e.g., The Muslim Community - A Sociological Study) that the individuals in a society make up something larger that is a distinct social organism which possesses its own totality and evolving consciousness (far beyond zeitgeist).  He shares that the main object of religion is "to build up a coherent social whole for the gradual elevation of life."  The italicization is my emphasis, as I find this definition of religion to be inspired and achievable, if only people could sit still with Iqbal for some time.

The principle of consensus is a key to this process whereby a social whole evolves into being.  Follett makes a point of stating that it is indeed a "process" (her specific term) whereby a genuine pluralistic society is evolved into being, not unlike how a chemical process transforms substances through their combination into something new.  Consensus, then, is not to be understood as a passive, simplistic, and mechanical adding-together of disparate parts, but rather as an active process whereby something new is born and grown.  Social pluralism may then be, with consensus bringing all opinions together around shared principles, gradually birthed (one might say realized) into existence.

Follett and Iqbal share another line of understanding.  Very evident is Iqbal's emphasis on the reality of a social wholism toward which religion can be growing people.  This connects with Iqbal's belief that democracy is "the most important aspect of Islam regarded as a political ideal."  It's clear that Iqbal believed that democracy could be born out of mankind's coming-together, in consensus, with the spirit of religous unity at its core.  In the same manner, Follett writes:

"Democracy is an infinitely including spirit.  We have an instinct for democracy because we have an instinct for wholeness; we get wholeness only through reciprocal relations, through infinitely expanding reciprocal relations.  Democracy is really neither extending nor including merely, but creating wholes."

With further allusions to the "process," and resonating with Iqbal's emphasis on consensus, Follett writes:

"To have democracy we must live it day by day.  Democracy is the actual commingling of men in order that each shall have continuous access to the needs and the wants of others.  Democracy is not a form of government; the democratic soul is born within the group and then it develops its own forms."

She writes that democracy is "done through group organization.  We are sometimes told that democracy is an attitude and must grow up in the hearts of men.  But this is not enough.  Democracy is a method, a scientific technique of evolving the will of the people."

Both Iqbal and Follett are pointing in the same direction, through different cultural lenses.  While Follett's emphasis is very much about political theory, Iqbal speaks to me as political theorist, social craftsman, and insightful cultural healer.

So where does all this lead us with regard to a method of eduation which could support and enhance a social consciousness described by Iqbal and Follett?  Iqbal shares some important points with which we may examine this question.  Turning to Iqbal as our guide, let us question our answers in light of how we now typically think of our systems of education.  It is often by asking the right questions that we can cut through the miasma of conditioned responses.
  • What kind of people and society are we to create with our systems of education?  This is strikingly distinct from simply questioning what ought to be taught (i.e., for worldly success).  Central to this is: How is will, not intellect, grown and evolved (see below)?
  • Are we creating education with the understanding that it contributes to an "orderly transmission" (as Iqbal puts it) of a collective, social mind, from generation to generation, with the emphasis upon the whole, collective social organism (instead of just the individual's elevation and success)?
  • How is an educational method to facilitate society's members of reaching the "highest stage of man's ethical progress" which Iqbal describes as when man "becomes absolutely free from fear and grief" (Islam as a Moral and Political Ideal)?
  • How is an educational method configured to build upon man's "essential nature" which Iqbal describes as consisting of "will, not intellect or understanding?"  This is a major piece of Iqbal's teachings.
  • How might an educational method support the inherent nature of man which includes, according to Iqbal, the fact that man is, ethically, "naturally good and peaceful," and metaphysically, a "unit of force, an energy, a will, a germ on infinite power, the gradual unfoldment of which must be the object of all human activity (keeping in mind the inevitable outcomes of adopting an ethically and metaphysically ill-suited method)?
Iqbal states that "Knowledge for the sake of knowledge is a maxim of fools."  He makes clear his stance on this by expressing that education is to create a Muslim character, avoiding "the false assumption that the idea of education is the training of human intellect rather than human will." 

It is clear that Iqbal (as well as Follett) is thinking of something quite different than what most of us think today when he outlines how education ought to be configured and toward what aims.  He was deeply concerned about the social organism of which he was a part.  He saw that, without education which supports the creation of a strong and evolvable social entity, things would ultimately fall apart.

In a manner which few others have so successfully done, Iqbal emphasized the core essentials and principles of Islam.  He pointed to how these should be inculcated into each member of the society, being explicit as to how this is what creates and transmits, from generation to generation, the growth of the human will, the development of unique personality, and the unfolding of a Muslim character. 

The growable and evolvable will, of each and every person, excluding none, is the power and binding glue which enable the evolution of a social consciousness in such a manner that man is gradually freed from the chains of fear.  Free from fear, there is no finality to humanity.  

There in the Simorgh's radiant face they saw themselves.

* * * * * * * * * 
 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.  Any misunderstandings of Iqbal's vision and philosophy that I may convey are entirely my own. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013


"Every day is a death threat."  She laughs.  "I'm always changing cars, changing bodyguards."  It pains her, a pious Muslim, that some fundamentalists want to kill her in the name of Islam.  She leans forward and becomes even more animated.  "From my heart, I tell you: If they were educated, they would not behave like that.  The Koran has quotation after quotation that says you must treat women well.  Those people who do bad things, they are not educated.  I am a Muslim.  My father was a good Muslim, and he prayed every day, but he did not try to marry me off.  There were many offers for me when I was in the sixth grade, and he said no.  That is why these people are afraid of educating women - they are afraid that then the women will ask questions, will speak up...That's why I believe in education."
 ~ Sakena Yacoobi (Founder, Afghan Institute of Learning)

Please see this TED video about another courageous person.

Note: The title of this post is based upon a Chinese proverb - "Women hold up half the sky."

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Inferiority Complex, Colonialism & Civilization

With interest, concern, and love for Pakistan, Iqbal, and humanity, the following series of articles come highly recommended.  They are expertly authored by M. Umer Toor and Hira Shamim.  Click on their names to be taken to their respective high quality blogs.

Inferiority Complex And The Disease Known as Civilization (I) 

Historical Roots of Inferiority Complex (II) 

Toxic Effects of Inferiority Complex (III)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Perfecting One's Inheritance

Today (January 21, 2013), in the United States, there is a federal holiday recognizing the birth of Martin Luther King Jr. (who was born on January 15, 1929).  Martin Luther King Jr. spoke incisively about the need for humankind to stand up straight, and the psychological consequences of failing to escape to yoke of power-over authority.  He stated:

"We must straighten our backs and work for our freedom.  A man can't ride you unless your back is bent."

Allama Iqbal wrote in Baal-i-Jibreel something that speaks to an awakening that would surely birth a straight path.  

"I fear not the darkness of the night;
My nature is bred in purity and light;
Wayfarer of the night! Be a lamp to thyself;
With thy passion’s flame, make thy darkness bright."

And then there is Tierno Bokar, a Muslim sufi who was born in Segou, Mali, and lived during the French colonial rule.  He speaks to a subject which both Iqbal and King would have appreciated.

"Some believe that to develop is to break completely with all of one's traditions, often through 'snobbism,' in order to adopt those of a race whose ways one admire.  For us, to develop is to perfect our inheritance, which is not made up merely of our homes and our fields: it is also to improve our thinking, our entire way of being.

That which fits in a country of temperate climate cannot entirely suit a tropical country.  We see our Soudanese children copying Arabs or Europeans more or less awkwardly according to their upbringing.  They are like those waterfalls that expend themselves in rushing uselessly over slabs of stone without ever flowing into a lake to ease their mad and fruitless course."

~ Tierno Bokar (from the highly recommended, A Spirit of Tolerance: The Inspiring Life of Tierno Bokar, by Amadou Hampate Ba)

Although these great persons were seemingly speaking to a specific people, about specific conditions, they were really speaking to all of humanityMay the message of these messengers find a home in hearts, and grow there.

* * * * * * * * *

Notable Link: http://www.tiernobokar.columbia.edu/pdfs/estienne_bokar.pdf

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

In the Heart of Man

The World, which has no being of its own
Groped for a way to self-fulfilment, and,
Escaping from non-being’s no-man’s land,
It found its being in the heart of man.
~from Message of the East 
* * * * * * * * * 
May the message of Iqbal spread.  May its essence become known and embodied.  
May humanity come to its senses.  
May humanity not give up on itself.  
May humanity succeed in unearthing its splendors.
Inshallah, may this occur...now.
Happy New Year to All!