بسم الله الرحمـن الرحيم
والصلاة والسلام على نبيه الكريم
وعلى اهل بيته الطيبين الطاهرين المظلومين
Having undertaken a painstakingly detailed critical review of Dr. Muhammad Iqbal’s paper Islam and Ahmadism, available in twelve parts, I now turn to another one of his papers published in the Hindustan Review (vol. 20, no. 119, July 1909, Allahabad, India), entitled Islam as a Moral and Political Ideal (Part 1). In it Iqbal boldly writes: “When I say that the religion of a people is the sum-total of their life-experience finding a definite expression through the medium of a great personality, I am only translating the fact of Revelation into the language of science.” (p.30) Likewise, Iqbal writes concerning the reality of prayer: “Similarly, interaction between individual and universal energy is only another expression for the feeling of prayer, which ought to be so described for purposes of scientific accuracy.” (ibid)
Of course, from the perspective of orthodox Islam, divine revelation is not at all the life-experience of a people which finds expression through the medium of a great personality, nor is prayer the interaction between individual and universal “energy”. Iqbal has cleverly attempted to avoid this obvious fact by claiming that he is merely “translating” these Islamic concepts and ideas into the “language of science”. But in doing so he has in reality redefined the core concepts and theology of Islam and not simply translated them. Iqbal definitely exposed himself as nothing more than a naturalist, a denier of the orthodox conceptions of divine revelation and the reality of prayer as held to by the Muslims. The truth is, what Iqbal has written here is not at all a translation of Islamic ideas into modern, scientific terminology, but his own cunning redefining and ugly distortion of some of Islam’s most essential theology. Concerning the nature of the universe, Iqbal writes: “the Islamic view of the universe is neither optimistic nor pessimistic” (p.32). This is in contrast to what Iqbal has mentioned about the Zoroastrian view, that the side of the powers of good will eventually prevail (p.31). Even a cursory reading of the holy Qur’an reveals that, like Zoroastrianism, Islam also teaches that the side of the powers of good will eventually prevail, and so the Islamic view is clearly optimistic as opposed to Iqbal’s false assertion that it is neither optimistic nor pessimistic. In writing such an evidently false statement, Iqbal exposed his own tendency toward deism and his abominable and dishonest effort to read his own preconceived, un-Islamic ideas into the beautiful Religion of Islam. Iqbal makes another egregious misrespresentation of Islam when he claims: “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…the highest stage of man’s ethical progress is reached when he becomes absolutely free from fear and grief.” (p.32) The truth is, however, that Islam considers total and sincere submission to Allah alone as the ultimate path for “man’s ethical progress”, and so the principal obstacle to ethical progress is the failure to worship and submit oneness to Allah alone. Furthermore, the obstacles to worshiping Allah alone are not necessarily “fear and grief” but usually arrogance, obstinance and ignorance. On the contrary, fear in its essence is neither positive nor negative, but it depends on what one is fearing, since fear of Allah alone is in fact not only a virtue but the means to salvation. But now we shall see that by claiming that according to Islam it is man’s fear which is the principal obstacle to his ethical progress, Iqbal was building the foundation for one of his greatest heresies: “If fear is the force which dominates man and counteracts his ethical progress, man must be regarded as a unit of force, an energy, a will, a germ of infinite power, the gradual unfoldment of which must be the object of all human activity.” (ibid) By asserting that man is a “germ of infinite power”, Iqbal has in fact, perhaps inadvertently, negated the Islamic psalm لا حول ولا قوة الا بالله (There is no might and no power except by Allah)
On the contrary, Islam teaches that the nature of man is that he is created weak, and that he is severely limited in power:
وَخُلِقَ الْإِنسَانُ ضَعِيفًا
And man was created weak
Iqbal stated that it is the gradual unfoldment of this “infinite power” which must be the object of all human activity. This is a reference to his wholly un-Islamic view that man must be unrestraint in his pursuit of material progress, and that this pursuit is the primary purpose of man’s existence.
Another great blunder of Iqbal in this paper is his ironic praise of Rousseau and Luther, particularly Luther, whom he describes as “the enemy of despotism in religion” and that his religious thought must be understood as a “virtual denial of the Church dogma of human depravity” (p.33) What an ironic statement, considering the fact that Luther never repudiated the essential Christian dogma of original sin, or in Iqbal’s own words “human depravity”, rather, Luther reinforced this destructive theology which remains an article of faith with Protestantism and Lutheranism.
Continued in Part 2