“Man in whom egohood has reached its relative perfection, occupies a genuine place in the heart of Divine creative energy, and thus possesses much higher degree of reality than things around him. Of all the creation of God he lone is capable of consciously participating in the creative life of his Maker.” (Iqbal)
Huxley writes in Man’s place in universe: ‘The question of questions for mankind – the problem which underlies all others, and is more deeply interesting than any other – is the ascertainment of the place which Man occupies in the nature and of his relations to the universe of things. Whence our race has come; what are the limits of our power over nature, and of nature’s power over us; to what goal are we tending, are the problems which present themselves anew and with unlimited interest to every man borne into the world.’
Seyyed Hossein Nasr writes that in the study of the relationship between Man and the world al-Biruni accepts the analogy of microcosm and macrocosm, which is closely allied to the concept of the chain of being, without developing these topics in any detail. “And how should a Man wonders at this,” he asks, “it being undeniable that God has the power to combine the whole world in one individual (that is, to create a microcosm).” The body of Man as the physical part of the microcosm is composed of diverse and contradictory elements of the cosmos held together in a unity. (Quote from Chronology of Ancient Nations, P.2). He possesses five senses which bring him knowledge of the physical world. But he exceeds other animals not by acuteness of his senses but by the possession of Intellect, by virtue of which he is God’s vicegerent on earth. It is because Man is the vicegerent of the Creator that things in this world are ordered on his behalf, and he is given power over them. (Kitab al-Jamahir, P.4). What is expected from him is that he should understand that his life on earth is a journey from the company of creatures to that of the Creator. With such an understanding he would realise his noble nature and the purpose for which he was created.
God said to Muhammad, “Soon will We show them our signs in the farthest Regions, and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the truth. Is it not enough that Thy Lord doth encompass all things?”
Iqbal believes in biological unity not only in Man to Man but he says that we, the entire human race, are biologically related to every other thing in the universe. He says poetically,
“Kamal-i wahdat ayaan hay aisa key nok-i nashtar
sey too jo cherey,
Yaqeen hay mujh ko grey rag-i gul sey qatra insaan
key lahoo ka.”
(The unity in the universe is so perfect that if you dissect a rose leaf with the tip of a surgical knife you will observe the drop of human blood trickling out of it.)
I quote hereunder a beautiful passage from Iqbal and Post Kantian Voluntarism by B.A. Dar. (p. 39-40):
In a passage at the end of the Critic of Pure Reason, Kant says, ‘Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the oftener and the most steadily we reflect on them; the starry heavens above and the moral law within … I see them before me and connect them directly with the consciousness of my existence. The former begins from the place I occupy in the outer world; it enlarges the connections in which I stand in that world to an unbounded range with worlds upon worlds and systems upon systems, with limitless time of their periodic motion, its beginning and continuance. The second begins from my invisible self, my personality. It sets me in a world which has true infinity, but is discoverable only by the understanding … In the former case, the view of these galaxies of world annihilates my importance as a part of my animal creation, which after it has been for a short time provided with vital power, it knows not how, must again give back the matter of which it was formed to the planet it inhabits, and that a mere speck in the universe. But when I consider again, my worth as an intelligent being is raised to infinity through my personality. For then the moral law reveals to me a life independent of my animal nature and all the world of the senses, so far at least as follows from the fact that my being is designed to follow this law, which is not limited by the condition and limits of this life but reaches to infinity.
Iqbal says that Man, in whom egohood has reached its relative perfection, occupies a genuine place in the heart of Divine creative energy, and thus possesses a much higher degree of reality than the things around him. Of all the creations of God he alone is capable of consciously participating in the creative life of his Maker. Endowed with the power to imagine a better world, and to mould what is into what ought to be, the ego in him aspires, in the interest of an increasingly unique and comprehensive individuality, to exploit all the various environments on which he may be called upon to operate during the course of an endless career.
With regards to man’s perfection in his egohood, Iqbal’s beautiful verses quoted below tell us what is egohood and how the real ego or the Self can be developed in a person. Each Persian verse below is followed by a translation in English done by Iqbal’s teacher Professor R.A. Nicholson of Cambridge University in U.K.:
Nuqta-i noor-i key nam-i-oo khudist;
Zeri khak-i ma sharar-i zindagist.
The luminous point whose name is the Self;
Is the life-spark beneath our dust.
Az muhabbat mi shawad painda-tar;
Zinda-tar sozinda-tar tabinda-tar.
By Love it is made more lasting;
More living, more burning, more glowing.
Az muhabbat Ishta-al-i johar-ash;
Irtiqa-i mumkinat-i muzmirash.
From Love proceeds the radiance of its being;
And (also) the development of its unknown possibilities.
Fitrat-i-oo Atish andozad zi Ishq;
Alam afrozi biamozad zi Ishq.
Its nature gathers fire from Love;
Love instructs it to illumine the world.
According to Iqbal, the whole of reality in its ultimate essence is spirit. Hence life cannot be attributed to a combination of atomic or the non-living elements. … Man does not flourish out of matter that ultimately is reducible to inert particles or even to electric charges. He is a spiritual reality in his ultimate essence. … In the world of creation, God manifests Divine Effulgence and Divine Glory in and through Man and creates the universe in order to create man. Thus man is not a mere accident or episode in the gigantic evolutionary process. He is not a mere speck in a huge and mighty cosmic reality. … The universe is meant to serve as a soil for the fruition of man. Man is the very theme of the whole drama of creation. He is the real story or the main book for which the universe is a mere preface. He is the richest fruit of the tree of existence and the crowning glory of Divine Creation. Iqbal says that Man is the custodian of all Nature’s hidden secrets. In the following two verses of his book Bang-i Dara he elaborates this lofty theme in the shortest possible manner::
Teri fitrat ameen hai mumkinat-i zindagani ki,
Your nature is custodian of all life’s possibilities,
Jehan key johar-i muzmir ka goya imtihan too hay.
So to say you are the touch stone for world’s hidden
Qur’an defines the vast domain of Man in the
universe in following verse:
“Do you not see that God has subjected to your (use) all things in the heavens and on earth, and has made His bounties flow to you in exceeding measure, (both) seen and unseen.” (31:20)
Paul Davies, a brilliant mind of today, a distinctive scientist and a unique philosopher, says that he has found that human beings are able to grasp nature’s secrets. Man has already ‘cracked part of the cosmic code’. According to him we are children of the universe – animated stardust, but we can reflect on the nature of universe and are able to see the rules in which it runs. He says: “I cannot believe that our existence in this universe is a mere quirk of fate, an accident of history, an incidental blip in the great cosmic drama. Our involvement is too intimate. --- Through conscious beings the universe has generated self-awareness. This can be no trivial detail, no minor byproduct of mindless, purposeless forces. We are truly meant to be here.” On page 16 of the same book he comments on Man’s importance with these beautiful words: ‘That is not to say that we are the purpose for which the universe exists. Far from it, I do, however, believe that we human beings are built into the scheme of things in a very basic way.’
Einstein says that ‘a human being is a part of the whole, called the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest – a kind of optical illusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.’
Man’s potential is unbound. He can move mountains and conquer not only the forces of Nature but can also attain the highest sublimity, ever dreamt of. He can unfurl the banner of human greatness and declare that the mount Sinai has borrowed his grandeur from his ‘glow-worm – (a warm and spiritualised human heart)’.
ABBREVIATIONS AND BIBLIOGAPHY
AOR Asrar-o Ramooz, translated by Mian Abdul Rashid published by Sheih Ghulam Ali and Sons, Lahore, 1991.
BID Bang-i Dara by Dr.Iqbal, published by Sheikh Ghulam Ali & Sons, Lahore, 37th. edition 1980.
DTE Darwin to Einstein, Edited by Colin Chant and John Fauvel, published by longman Inc., New york in 1980.
ICD An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines by Seyyed Hossein, pubished by State University of New York Press, Albany in 1993.
IPV Iqbal and Post Kantian Voluntarism by Bashir A. Dar, published by Bazm-i-Iqbal, Lahore (Pakistan) – 1965.
PGU The Place of God Man and Universe by Dr. Jamila Khatoon, third edition published by Iqbal Academy Pakistan (1997)
RRT The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam by Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, first published in 1934 by Oxford University Press, reprinted and published by Iqbal Academy Pakistan in 1989.
TMG The Mind of God by Paul Davies, published by Penguin Books Ltd., London (1993).
Bang-i Dara (Academy) p. 147
A.D. Lindsay, KANT, p.198-99
RRT p. 58 (The phrase ’endless career’ means that such a
complete person makes himslef immortal. For him the death does
not mean a total extinction.
AOR p. 58 (Iqbal’s Asrar-o Ramoze) & SOS p. 28 (Professor
Nicholson’s Secrets of the Self).
The New York Post dated 28th. November 1972, p.12.