Monday, 11 June 2018

Iqbal's Islam as a Moral and Political Ideal REFUTED (Part 2)


بسم الله الرحمـن الرحيم

والصلاة والسلام على نبيه الكريم

وعلى اهل بيته الطيبين الطاهرين المظلومين

والعاقبة للمتقين

In this, the second part in my critical review of Iqbal’s Islam as a Moral and Political Ideal, I shall focus on one of the keynote aspects of Iqbal’s irreligious and un-Islamic philosophy, namely, his condemnation of other-worldliness. Iqbal begins by making an inherently false claim: “That which intensifies the sense of individuality in man is good, that which enfeebles it is bad. Virtue is power, force, strength; evil is weakness.” (p.33) From the Islamic perspective, there is immense good in emulating the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam), the concept of Ittiba or following the Prophet’s Sunna is central to orthodox Islam. The Sufis understood this very well, knowing that of all the created human souls, it is the soul of the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) which is the most pure, good and virtuous, and so salvation lies in taking on the persona of the Prophet, even if it requires annihilation of one’s own individuality in the process. The term coined for this phenomenon is Fana fil-Rasul. Iqbal, however, has opposed this strongly when he says that the intensification of the sense of individuality in man is something good which must be pursued as much as possible. Islam does not speak of the “intensification” of man’s individuality, but rather, the purification and reformation of his self or his ego, even if it cannot be achieved without sacrificing certain unworthy aspects of one’s individuality. Next Iqbal postulates that power and strength are inherently virtuous qualities, while weakness is intrinsically evil, a most careless and destructive statement, easily refuted by the fact that there have been indisputably evil persons who were characterized as being powerful and strong, the Pharaoh of Egypt being the best example cited in the holy Qur’an itself, and also masses of virtuous and good people who lived in a state of utter weakness their entire lives. Not only that, they did not seek power but were content with their weakness, i.e., content with the Heavenly decree. Iqbal continues: “self-renunciation, poverty, slavish obedience which sometimes conceals itself under the beautiful name of humility and unworldliness - modes of activity which tend to weaken the force of human individuality - are regarded as virtues by Buddhism and Christianity, and altogether ignored by Islam…Islam looks upon poverty as a vice” (pp.33-34) The truth is, however, that Islam does not view poverty as a vice, rather, it is reported in a Hadith, admittedly weak, that the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) once supplicated to Allah:
اللَّهُمَّ أَحْيِنِي مِسْكِينًا وَأَمِتْنِي مِسْكِينًا وَاحْشُرْنِي فِي زُمْرَةِ الْمَسَاكِينِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ
“O Allah! Cause me to live needy, and cause me to die needy, and gather me in the group of the needy on the Day of Resurrection” (Jami al-Tirmidhi #2352)
Although this Hadith has some shawahid (supporting witnesses), the Muhaddithin have largely concluded that it is not authentic, due to the narrator al-Harith b. Nu’man al-Laythi. Nevertheless, there are some other Hadith which reveal some virtues of poverty, for example:
يَدْخُلُ الْفُقَرَاءُ الْجَنَّةَ قَبْلَ الأَغْنِيَاءِ بِخَمْسِمِائَةِ عَامٍ نِصْفِ يَوْمٍ
“The poor are admitted into Paradise before the rich, by five hundred years, (i.e.) half a day” (Jami al-Tirmidhi #2353)
Another falsehood of Iqbal evident in this paper is his statement: “Man is a free responsible being, he is the maker of his own destiny, his salvation is his own business.” (p.34) Apparently, here Iqbal has denied the belief in Qadr and Taqdir, or the divine decree, incidentally the Sixth Article of Faith in Islam, and also negated the fact that it is Allah Who is the creator of man’s deeds and the One Who has written everything that shall befall him, good and bad, as He says in the Qur’an:

وَاللَّـهُ خَلَقَكُمْ وَمَا تَعْمَلُونَ۞

Allah created you and that which you do

(Sura 37:96)

Regarding salvation, Iqbal has erred again, since it is is a matter that is solely attained through the mercy and grace of Allah Most High. Man cannot save himself of his own effort, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) famously said:
لاَ، وَلاَ أَنَا إِلاَّ أَنْ يَتَغَمَّدَنِي اللَّهُ بِفَضْلٍ وَرَحْمَةٍ
“No! Even I cannot be saved unless Allah bestows His grace and mercy on me.” (Sahih al-Bukhari #5673)
Continued in Part 3

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