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

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Ana al-Haque & Seeing the world through Iqbal's Eyes

The question may be asked: If Mansur al-Hallaj was put to death for uttering "Ana-al-Haque," why was Iqbal not misunderstood by his contemporaries for backing Mansur's stance?

I think Iqbal *was* (*is*) misunderstood, certainly not by all, but by many.  And the misunderstanding can be so subtle.

During our Iqbal studies, made possible by the many high quality learning opportunities provided by the Marghdeen Learning Centre for Iqbal Studies, we have examined how a great deal of so-called "Iqbal Studies" are programs of study wherein Iqbal and his philosophy are approached with a specific academic model already firmly in mind. Academics, then, approach him from a historical model, or a political model, or a psychological model, or a literature model, etc. He then is appropriated by those disciplines, and given a place in those studies.

How, though, may we come to better understand Iqbal and his philosophy if our academics simply absorb him into their studies, interpreting his works according to their firmly defined boundaries and prescribed lens of perception?  How, then, may we (individually) come to understand Iqbal and his philosophy if we simply invite him into our minds which are already full of so many other worldly ideas many of which stand in stark contrast to the transformative shifts that Iqbal (I would argue) is seeking to introduce to us?

The alternative path toward getting closer to Iqbal, and particularly to how we may make practical use of his philosophy (rather than simply relegating him to college lectures and bookshelves), is to approach the study of history, the study of politics, the study of psychology, the study of literature, etc. from an Iqbalian perspective. Here, compared to the former method, the Iqbalian understanding absorbs these disciplines. Here, Iqbal (and we who strive to live the Iqbal philosophy) decides where and how those disciplines fit.  Here, these disciplines stand to be transformed.  Here, we stand to be transformed.

Sticking with the former (and very common) method contributes to a societal spinning of wheels. Things churn, but nothing changes.  The former and very common method of so-called Iqbal Studies is little more than the continuing millstone of society which turns and grinds all that is introduced to it.  We all realize, however, that what is produced from this millstone is little more than world-approved food.  We need food now, however, which will nourish the essence of humanity.  We need sustenance which will not lull the soul to sleep, but awakens and enlivens it!

Many thanks to Khurram Ali Shafique for all his efforts toward introducing Iqbal to the world so that we can see the world anew, and thus transform her.