Dr. Waheed Ishrat


English Translation


Dr. M.A.K. Khalil



Allama Muhammad Iqbal’s philosophy of revolution has emerged from his dynamic concepts of God, universe, history, individual and society. Rejecting the metaphysics based on the static concepts of God, universe, history, individual and society, he made a re-statement of metaphysics which emphasized dynamism and activism. Iqbal adjudged all static ideologies of inaction and quietism, which had crept into the Muslim society from the Greek and particularly Plato’s ideology of maxims, and static philosophy, as contrary to the Holy Qur’an. Making them the target of his severe criticism Iqbal adjudged them contrary to the spirit of the Holy Qur’an. He declared in the very first sentence of the preface to his Reconstruction “The Qur’an is a book which emphasizes deed’ rather than ‘idea”. Though the metaphysics of dynamism and activism created by Iqbal is present in his verse, its comprehensive explanation exists in The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam. Consequently the topics of “Lectures” themselves show that, discarding the hypothetical methodology based on deductive logic, and basing on the study of nature, history and the individual’s own personal states, he establishes such a soiled sense oriented methodology on the foundations of knowledge which is rooted in ligic’s inductive style. Therefore, in the thought and intuition created by this inductive methodology the Allama emphasizes the presence of a religious experience on the basis of an organic relationship. By creating an organic relationship between religion and knowledge, and between thought and intuition and the latter’s highest stage of wahy, he leads on to accept the religious experience as a scientific way of acquiring knowledge, like other social sciences. The basic purpose of both of the first two lectures of Iqbal was to present wahy and intuition itself as the foundation of the background of psychology and sciences so as to build a new world of learning based on that foundation, and to establish a new world of learning with the help of the study of the inner knowledge of the Holy Qur’an with the new knowledge and technology as a fore-runner whose metaphysics may be completely based on the Holy Qur’an.




Before talking about Iqbal’s philosophy I consider it necessary to explain that the term of revolution is usually applied to political revolution, which means a sudden and complete upheaval and immediate change. In addition, this change also includes the concept of subversion or destruction for reconstruction. In the third world revolution also means the overthrow of the established government by martial law or in some other way and capture of the political power by some dictator or despotic ruler. The murder of hundreds s thousands of people in the Russian and French revolutions etc. and establishment of new governments was also called a revolution. In modern world revolution is considered nothing more than a phobia because the change expected by the people from political revolutions does not follow it. The revolution is restricted to mere change personalities and the appearance of some new faces in the wake of the revolution. In the third world, and particularly Pakistan, as the word ‘revolution has become attached to martial laws the average person along with the intellectuals become wary of this word. However, as have applied revolution to such an intellectual and notional change which would herald a new cultural and social change, only t’ concept of revolution should be kept in mind which aims at such changes in the intellect and thought which would gradually bring about a new order. I have not used the world evolution because t evolution of a concept or order of things is based on its o foundation, for example, the evolution of the Western mode thought. However, Iqbal does not want the evolution of any existing; order in his thought. He does not want evolution of the existing order based on the foundations of materialistic worldview. On the contrary he created a new spiritual worldview in his order of things in the light! Of modern physics and away from materialistic thought which is not composed of evolution but revolution and whose attribute dynamism and not quietism. Hence when I talk about Iqbal’s! Philosophy of revolution I use revolution in a very broad sense. Iqbal considered Islam to be a social and cultural movement; I am presenting revolution in the meaning of that social and Cultural Revolution which Iqbal wanted to bring about at the intellectual; social, and cultural levels. He was not in favor of establishing any order by overthrowing the government overnight by means of destructive measures. On the other hand he was really the herald of a philosophical order whose foundation was spiritual instead of tilt existing order based on materialism. Instead of justifying this point of view of his by the traditional concepts of matter, he used the researches of modern physics in the light of which matter came to be considered mutable rather than immutable and imperceptible instead of perceptible. He based the foundation of his metaphysics on the concept of destructibility of matter from fission of the atom and conversion of electrons and protons into energy or power, leading to its destruction. On this basis he adjudged the basis of the universe to be spiritual rather than material. With this revolution in the metaphysical thought Iqbal explained religion and provided a new inductive foundation to religion. In addition, he also established a new route for knowledge by ‘establishing an organic relationship between intuition and thought and considering the religious experience a scientific experience, like other experiences of material nature. In this way, by presenting new social, cultural and rational explanations for Islam and its principle of Tawhid in his “Lectures”, he pointed out new principles of Figh by entrusting the right of Ijtihad for society, State and economy to the parliament, which could be used to prepare a new social and cultural framework. In this way, it was the graft of this very revolution in Iqbal’s thought which endowed his homeland with the concept of Pakistan and procured the excellent leadership of Quaid-i-Azam. It is the purpose of this paper to plead for focusing attention on Iqbal for bringing about this scientific, intellectual, and cultural revolution, for laying the foundations of the Islamic revolution in Pakistan in the light of Iqbal’s though, so that Pakistan my be molded into a new Islamic Welfare State in the light of his philosophy, and the Islamic world may reach its goal of renaissance on the basis of unity and dynamism.


Iqbal’s metaphysics is based on “Absolute Existence” or the dynamic concept of God. Iqbal does not accept Aristotle’s concept of God being “The Unmoved Mover”. Aristotle thought that God can be adjudged as the source of all movement only by being considered “The Unmoved Mover”. According to him if God be considered as dynamic some other center for movement will have to be formulated, Hence, he hypothesized that God is the first cause of the long series of movements and changes, but is stationary Himself. He also argued that if God also is moving we will have to accept the impossibility of the explanation of God’s movement. So he says that God is that primal cause which is the cause of the Universe’ movement but is Himself beyond movement and change. However, when Aristotle, adjudging God’s status as intellectual, says that God is a ‘thought’ he accepts God as an action and a movement on account of being a thought as well as its object. Neither can ‘thought’ be considered to exist by itself nor can ‘thought’ be without movement and action. Movement is a property of ‘thought’. Now, when Aristotle himself says that God is “the Thinking Thought” he really wants to say that the ‘thought’ of God ‘exists inside Himself and His movement and ‘thought’ are within His own Essence, without being dependent on any other thing or object. He Himself is the mover of His movement, is not depended anything else for His movement or ‘thought’ and his movement thought’ are in Himself, He Himself has the power and authority over His ‘thought’ and movement. As the problem is not solved by accepting God as Unmoving the very concept of God is movement. In spite of all this His movement is within His Essence whose real character is known to Him alone. Unlike Aristotle’s thinking He is not the primal cause of movement b Himself wholly and completely movement. He has within His Essence the subject as well as the object of His movement. Therefore thought also relates to His eternal Perfection in His own time space. In reality the hounds of eternity and time and space are meaningless with reference to Him because these terms have created by Man which lose their meaning in reference to Him.


Professor Ali Abbas Jalalpuri has presented a detailed discussion Iqbal’s concept of the Deity or the Essence of God. With respect to the transcendental concepts of God, i.e. the discussion whether God is beyond or in the universe, Ali Abbas Jalalpuri considers Iqbal to be a believer in the transcendental concept. Notwithstanding that I consider it inappropriate to bracket Iqbal with any one concept of the Deity, whether transcendental or Assyrian. This is so because in the Iqbal’s concepts themselves we see signs of negation of Assyrian concepts. Iqbal accepted the Islamic concept of God in contradiction of the Assyrian or transcendental (Semitic) concepts. In the Islamic concept God is the Omnipotent, the Perfect, the Eternal in His own Essence, who is also our personal God. He is beyond this universe as well as this universe is one of His unlimited manifestations. Hence, the assertion of Ali Abbas that Iqbal, like Bergson and Alexander, did not construct the Islamic Divinity on the basis of presenting the Assyrian theory of Wahdat al-Wujud, but gave scientific form to the Assyrian theory, shows lack of comprehension of Iqbal’s concept of God. This is so because, Iqbal fought against this concept all his life, Iqbal did not fully accept either Assyrianism or transcendentalism, but emphasized the Qur’anic concept of the Deity, which fuses in it self the basic component of both the transcendental and Assyrian concept. According to the Islamic concept God is the Infinite, Most Perfect, Absolutely Omnipotent, Essentially Eternal, Independent Essence which transcends the universe, who created the universe from Absolute non-existence with His extraordinary attributes. The creation is based on evolution for its growth and completion. Hence, the explanation of the-universe of Nature such a creative act of the self which is offered at the present stage from the human point of view, Whose bounds cannot be defined, in which Nature is a live and consistently expanding celebrated Unity, whose growth cannot be restricted from outside, whose limits are internal, if any, is Iqbal’s concept which has been formed from the concordance of the transcendental and Assyrian concepts. Iqbal had more interest in the Qur’anic concept of God than the Assyrian or transcendental concepts. According to Iqbal, God is a live and effective Power in the creation of the universe, who is not isolated from mankind but has deep relationship with them. Iqbal did not accept the concepts of Wahdat al-Wujud, because in this concept existences do not rise above entities of equal ranks, while in Wahdat al-Shuhud the Essence has a higher rank than Existence. S.M. Raschid has made Iqbal’s concept of God so much borrowed from Hegel’s concept of the Absolute in the same way as Ali Abbas Jalalpuri has entangled it in Assyrian and transcendental concepts. Really there is no correspondence of thought in the Hegel’s concept of the Absolute and Iqbal’s concept of the Living, the self subsisting, the Eternal God. Dr, Muhammad Ma’ruf has rightly pointed out in his book Iqbal and His Contemporary Western Religious ought that S.M. Raschid could not adequately comprehend the concepts and thoughts of Iqbal and Hegel. This is so because there is no similarity at all between Hegel’s concept of the Absolute and the Iqbal’s concept of God.


Iqbal’s concept of God is the one of a Being Absolutely Omnipotent, Absolutely Perfect and Eternal in His own Essence Who transcends the universe; which is one of His unlimited potentialities.  This universe is the expression of His extra-ordinary power of creation. He is completely dynamic, which dynamism depends entirely on His own Being which does not admit any lack, but is the symbol of His being Live, Self-subsisting, and Eternal. He transcends the boundaries of time and space as well as those of the Beginning and the End. Time and space are His own creation, and do not apply to His Essence. He is the Essence of most perfect Attributes. His Existence also has potentialities when some potential makes its appearance. His attribute becomes. His Attributes like His Essence are All-pervasive, Iqbal’s dynamic concept of the universe has emerged from his this very dynamic concept of God.


The universe which is a constant movement has come into existence from absolute non-existence into existence by the extra-ordinary attributes of God. The Holy Qur’an has said, “God is the Light of the Heavens and the Earth”. In other words if God has identified Himself with anything it is Light. Light is that unique form in which God has expressed Himself. Light is not the mane of any solid entity but appears in movement, energy and light. Now, viewing with reference to the universe and matter, the atom or the smallest indivisible part of matter when split changes into energy. Within it are found electrons, protons and an unknown number of other centers of energy which are in constant motion. This means that matter by splitting of its smallest indivisible particle changes from perceptible matter into non-perceptible power and energy. This energy, which modern physics accepts as convertible into light, shows the reality that the existence of the universe itself is a particle of light, a wave of current of light, which means that the reality of the universe is light. Now consider the concordance between the Light of God and the Light of the universe, i.e. the universe is only a wave of the Light of God. This very Light appeared as an effulgence to Hazrat Musa (A.S.) on the Tur. The heart of Light is being molded from God into the universe. Many universes are being or will be benefited from this Light and many universes will be annihilated by the ceasing of some specific wave of God’s Light. If the molding of this wave of Light on emanating from God into a universe demonstrates a movement which is specifically assignable to God its comprehension is not difficult, though there is no precedence for it. This very wave of Light is the creator of different objects in the from of the universe. The combination of time and space is the creator of objects, The same wave of Light, which is completely a motion, by coming into existence through explosion, condensation, ascent and descent appears in different ever-changing forms by radiation and spreading and changing form motion into quiescent and stationary states. If everything is moving one moving object will see the other object stationary, because both are in motion with the same energy and velocity. Motion will be felt only when there is some hand in its velocity, style and form. Life collects energy in a material form and evolves. Motion can be witnessed by your body being in constant motion, by changing of your cells and tissues, by the movement of the earth and the growth of the mountains. Non-living objects show their movement by their fragmentation and re-assembly, still, the act of motion is related to every object by its quality and quantity. But motion is certainly the property of all objects.


Life also is a property of the same Light. Motion itself is a quality derived from life, Life itself is motion. If the mountains are growing and if they increase the objects on or in them it obviously means that they also have life. If the electrons and protons are moving within atoms they are expressions of life in the atoms. The cells and tissues of the human body have life, and move, Life has different forms and expressions at its different levels. Life appears in constantly changing forms in minerals, plants, animals and mankind. The heap of dust which becomes a cup acquires its life by becoming the cup. We do not perceive some subtle levels cis and stages of life, but life rages through and appears in every thing and produces the act of change. In the same way sensitivity, which is a property of life is also -present in minerals, plants and animals. It has different levels. The change appearing in some stones by touch, and wilting or changing color of some plants reflects their sensitivity. Sensitivity also appears in its different forms by its density and its subtlety. Man has such a level of sensitivity as has the perceptive capacity to distinguish, feel and decide whether to do or not to do some act. When Man evolved, or. was created by God in the form of Adam, as a result of the continuation, succession and effect of centuries, arrived at the level of perception he descended from his first level. The fruit which he ate was the same ability to distinguish at the level of perception and he distinguished between himself and his sexual opposite, and by the realization of her presence he gave birth to action which resulted in his transfer from paradise to the earth’s orbit. By adopting this motion of Man’s or Adam’s sensitivity he grew on the earth. By the distinction between himself and his opposite sex he acquired the perception which enabled him to remain in possession of the potentiality of changing his life into a new form. Consequently, through Adam and Eve life started molding itself into different forms.


Life is one of the innumerable possibilities., which can appear from life and sensitivity. Hence the possibility which appears becomes a fact. Destiny is the appearance of any possibility. When some object is faced with the appearance of one of the occurrences selected from the innumerable possibilities that occurrence is called the destiny or fate of that object. This destiny is not pre-determined, but every object makes own destiny by selecting one incident out of the innumerable possibilities. This means that destiny is the name of the occurrence of one possibility out of the innumerable open possibilities. Hence, history which presents itself in the shape of the arrangement, of innumerable incidents is also the name of the appearance of one incident out of the innumerable possible incidents. History is the function of the conversion of possibility into incident. As the appearance of an incident out of possibilities is the destiny of history, which is selects out of its innumerable possibilities, history is the destiny of any object which moves from possibility into fact. This, the metaphysics of motion, is the characteristic of Iqbal’s thought, which in turn is based on his dynamic concept of God, universe and history. Iqbal’s concept of the individual and society is formed on the basis of this dynamic philosophy of God, the universe and history.


In this dynamic metaphysics of Iqbal the individual, Khudi and society are involuntarily in motion. In Iqbal’s view Khudi is intuition of Man’s own individuality and uniqueness by which distinguishes itself and creates as well as goes around the orbit of its ‘action. In Iqbal’s view the appreciation of one’s individuality uniqueness has three stages which he has stated in ‘avid Namah an the end of this last Lecture “Is Religion Possible?”


Whether alive or dead or on the verge of death you be

Obtaining testimony from three witnesses you should be

First witness, a sense of existence of the Self

Second witness, a perception of existence of others

To see one’s Self with help of the light of others

Third witness, perception of Existence of God

And seeing one’s Self with the Light of God

Before this establish the Aiman’s Light of God

Consider your Self Live and Eternal like God

Realizing your own status is life

Seeing the Essence Unveiled is life


These verses contain the explanation of Iqbal’s philosophy of Khudi. Khudi or the individual’s self-identification consists of three levels stages. At the first level he views his own Self, analyses himself in light of his qualities, deeds, longings and ambitions. He acquires knowledge of his own Self, and finds out what he is. Is he a mere lump of flesh or has some other quality also which establishes his identity personality? The individual or Khudi is also the realization of one of the innumerable possibilities, which God creates and establishes with his extra-ordinary attributes. Khudi appears in the form of the center our actions and efforts. This same center is the inner entity or essence of our personality, This should be called “Ego”. The same “e is active behind our likes and dislikes, our decisions and intentions. “ego” appears directly as our existing and real Self. The knowledge “ego” is not inferential in any sense, but is the direct comprehension Khudi itself. It is an Intuition and Intuition alone provides believable foundation of its being .real. Ghazali considers Khudi a separate entity, higher than intellectual experiences and condition According to him it is a virtue which is single, indivisible a immutable. Many kinds of experiences come and go but. the spirit virtue remains unchanged, However, this definition does not provide us with any clue as to the nature of Khudi. Firstly, it is a metaphysical existence, and it has been supposed to exist so as to explain our experiences. However, do our experiences enter into it in the same way as color in a body? Do they have the same relationship with Khudi as conditions or properties with material particles? This is certainly so. Secondly, as Kant points out, the indivisibility and immutability of the spiritual virtues depends upon the uniqueness of experience. But this uniqueness neither proves its indivisibility nor its immutability. Thirdly, this theory is unable to explain the expressions of the schizophrenic personality. Now psychology considers Khudi as a mere heap of human experiences. But Iqbal not only denies its being a mere mixture of human experiences, he considers Khudi as different from Intellect and Experience, and considers its acquisition as dependent upon concentrating on the depths of the inner consciousness and using Intuition. Nevertheless the expression of Khudi after being exposed in Intuition like this is very difficult. According to Iqbal Khudiis a continuous current of life, feelings and influences which is a discontinuous change within ourselves. It is a mere motion which is present as a unit behind the multifarious feelings, which strings them together, and produces the phenomenon of multiplicity in unity and unity in multiplicity.


According to our above-mentioned statement Khudi also is purely a motion which is part of our continuous feelings and reflections and which is present in our experiences and feelings like a unit which links them together on a string. Thus, it constitutes a dynamic unit in the experiences and reflections of our perceptions, which are part of the continuous process of ever-changing experiences and their unlimited possibilities. In other words human Khudi is also a name for a creative current of perception which is continuously progressing with production of its unlimited possibilities and which is propelled by the desire for expression. In this human ego we witness the effulgence of God in the same way as we see the manifestation and warmth of the sun in innumerable water-filled cups, or witness the presence of the river’s flow and flood in the river’s waves. Like our above-mentioned explaination about life and its gradual ascent from minerals, through plants and animals to Man, perception also progresses through rise and fall in different stages and conditions. Its revolving circle starts with the primal source of life and perception, i.e. God. A very subtle and pure ray of Light emerges from God which, becoming gradually materialized appears in extremely subtle particles of Light. These particles of Light, evolving from the particles of air through the particles of. water appear in such particles of soil which are indivisible any further and are invisible. These particles are converted into such particles of soil through multiplying and assuming material form, as produce different elements in different objects. All these elements by their mutual combination and interaction create life and its perceptions. Life and perception are not two different things on the contrary as life becomes gradually more and more pure it acquires maturity of perception and the perceptions become more dynamic, mobile and reliable. As life gradually becomes more and more impure the senses become gradually less and less lasting and less and less mobile. This revolving circle of life reverts to its original condition from God, particles, or in the material universe from minerals, insects, plants, animals, to elegant and chosen persons and Man. It keeps on moving between union and separation and the perception continues traveling through its stages in the company of life. Consequently, when the human Khudi attains self-cognizance it progresses from Khudi to Bekhudi, from individualism to collectivism, from Man to society, and finds its place through the visions of history. Perception moves from individual to collective perception and for its cognizance creates cultural and social norms in the same way as God, transforming Himself from a concealed treasure to congregational elegance, created a system for being known. In this state of affairs the new needs, desires, ambitions and longings of Man created in him a restlessness, a warmth, a feeling of disappointment, and gave him a new strength which created in him the power of dynamism and activism and activism. Iqbal calls this “Love”. The human life started with the longing for absorption, and the ardent desire for reaching and meeting the Beloved, The desire for everlasting continuation of the human race was the strongest force in its creation. The very foundation of human society is based on Man’s desire to establish and continue the human race. The foundation of all economic struggle, all institutions, the formation and evolution of all civilizations, cultures and societies as well as the sum and substance of “Self” is this continuation and betterment of the human race, Every religion, every belief, existence and institution lasts only as long as it regards the continuance and betterment of the human race as its ideal. In this way the creation of the collective personality of a society, its personality and identification is associated with the betterment and continuance of the human race, Hence any society which is based on the collective existence of people cannot be useful unless it is dynamic itself. The human society is not an artificial entity, but is a natural collection which ensures the satisfaction of their needs. This is so because Man is a social animal which not only likes to live in society but is compelled to do so for his own continuance. He creates different institutions according to his innate and natural needs.


We have stated above that history is the destiny of some object which moves from possibility into reality and history is the act of moving from possibility into reality. In addition we also state that history is also the record of the society’s ups and downs. When the different components-and actions of society, changing from possibility to reality, leave some records, and when these records are eventually saved, we create our own trails for the preservation and continuance of our race and for balancing and prolonging our dynamism. In this way, in the words of Byling Brook history teaches us philosophy through the examples of the rise and falls of human civilization, and shows us the ways of shaping the institutions for our environment on proper lines. In this way history changes from a science to an art. Iqbal called history a gramophone record. But Iqbal also calls history a molder of man and his destinies because we ourselves move forward fixing our own speed with history’s help. In the same context, with reference to the Holy Qur’an, Iqbal adjudges history as a fountainhead of mutually associated events of knowledge, which is a necessary means of establishment and stability of Khudi in nature. Thus, history becomes such a fountainhead of the Signs of God which becomes a means of acquiring knowledge from the Self and the universe. In Iqbal’s view history is an inductive science, because it derives its inferences from individual examples through logical reasoning. It was this inductive study of history which created in Muslims the habit of inductive methodology. Iqbal does not consider the science of history restricted to historical generalities. On the contrary he says that the Holy Qur’an has established a basic principle of historical criticism. The same science of historical criticism introduced the science of humanities, testing of traditions and use of intelligence. In any case in Iqbal’s philosophy of history it is not a mere collection of facts, but in its capacity of being the signs of God is in itself a reliable source of knowledge. This is so because history is a reliable record of human activities as a member of society which moves us towards organizing a series of inferences about the past, present and future through induction, and warns us about the transfer of objects from the realm of possibility to that of fact, Here the question arises whether the knowledge of God is restricted to the universal principles with reference to possibility, or extends to all the details. In the view of Iqhal as well as in our view, as possibility includes the universal principles and there are all possibilities of the universal principles being within the knowledge of God, the knowledge of God about generalities is proven to include that of details. He knows the whole universe of possibilities and that of fact, including all their details. Now the selection of any specific possibility turning into fact is the function of possibility itself. So the knower of this knowledge completely covers possibility and occurrence, but the responsibility for the results of this occurrence will rest squarely on the shoulders of the person selecting it. Its responsibility will not extend to its knower. This is an important problem which demanded reference in view of its importance, Now, as the bestower of this power of the occurrence of possibility is also God the question arises as to why God bestows the power of doing evil. The reply is that God has fully demonstrated the virtue and evil to Man, the source of evil is present within himself and the one persuading towards evil is present in the outside. However, Man’s nature has been provided with the criterion for distinguishing between virtue and evil. Man certainly feels restraint and abhorrence at the tithe of committing evil as well as after it but he paralyzes his capacity to select properly on account of being overcome by greed, anger and jealousy. Hence, the disposition for selection of virtue and feeling pleasure after doing a virtuous act has been endowed in Man by God Himself. In the same way the disposition for restraint on sin, and feelings of pain and shame after committing it is also found in Man. Even if goaded by being human he does commit a sin God has kept the door for forgiveness open, even though society may or may not forgive him. In spite of this if somebody misuses this right of selection he alone is accountable for it. If the mistake in the right of election is punishable its correct selection is also worthy of rewards. It is the Divine Will that He preferred a specific selection for a particular person’s destiny and nobody has the power to object.


As we have explained above society is essential for the Khudi and the very continuance of Man, because being a social animal Man cannot live his life in isolation. This very nature of sociability has led Man to create different institutions for his inter-relationships, out of which State is the most important and in fact the real institution. All other institutions are affiliated to it and their function is only to ensure the continuity of the State, to keep moderation and balance within it and to devise plans for its evolution and progress. The most primary form of this institution is the family, with its progressively higher forms of brotherhood, tribe and finally nation and State. Iqbal has devised very fundamental principles to keep this institution based upon justice and fair play. lqbal considers the human society or State a basic training institution for evolution and progress of human Khudi which is an evolutionary, live and dynamic organ. But, because Iqbal places on religion the foundation of the metaphysics of his thought we cannot comprehend his attitude towards State and its different institutions. So let us briefly review Iqbal’s concept of religion.


Defining religion in the words of Professor Whitehead Iqbal writes, “Religion is the system of well known truths which, if followed sincerely and understood as they should be, will change morals and character.”


By acceptance Iqbal means having faith in the system of the truths of religion. In the words of Farid al-Din ‘Attar Faith, without the aid of Intellect, finds its unmarked way like a bird. In Iqbal’s view-religion is not mere feelings but includes the component of Intellect also, for which reason the existence of thinking is inescapable for religion. Hence, in Iqbal’s view some intellectual basis is needed for religion’s principles and beliefs even more than for science, For the same reason Whitehead regards every period of religion to have a component of Intellect. That is why Sufis and Kalam theologians came into existence very early in Islam. In Iqbal’s view the prayer of the Holy Prophet “0 God apprise me with the reality of all things” was the starting point of the basis of Intellect which, together with the Greek philosophy, appeared as a strong cultural power. Still this cultural potential of the Greek philosophy was conceived to exist in the Holy Qur’an to a limited extent among the people of insight. The passage from the deductive trend of the Greek philosophy to the inductive trend is the acquisition of Islamic culture itself, which, moving the Muslims from abstract theories and concepts, led them towards comprehension with senses and, together with Intellect and mind, gave the concept of the reality of hearing .and sight. After two hundred years the Muslims started feeling that the Holy Qur’an own spirit was contrary to the Greek philosophy. The substance of this revolt appealed in the logical discourses of Ghazali and Ibn Taymiyya. In Iqbal’s view Intuition and thought are not mutually contradictory but, being derived from the same fountainhead are mutually complementary. One attains the grasp of the Absolute Reality in stages and the other in its entirety. One sees the eternal aspect of Reality and the other temporal. In other words while Intuition seeks the pleasure of enjoying the Reality in its entirety, thought treads the path with cautious steps and fixes the peculiarities and limits of its different components so as to view them individually one by one. Both need each other for-their freshness and strength. So Intuition and Thought are not different from each other, but Intuition is only an advanced stage of Thought, and both have an organic relationship with each other. In Iqbal’s view, unlike Kant and Ghazali, thought is not incapable of reaching the destination but is able to reach the Boundless Reality with the deepest dynamism concealed in itself. Thought in its intrinsic value is dynamic, not static. Thought appears in its entirety within the limits of time, which we comprehend with reference to one another, while beyond time its entirety is preserved The Lawh-i-Mahfooz in the words of the Holy Qur’an. All the undefined possibilities of knowledge are present in it from the very beginning, which make their appearance in the form of defined concepts in the continuity of time. In this way the unlimited and undefined possibilities, becoming limited in the continuity of time appear in the form of limited concepts of knowledge, and in this way in every action of knowledge also thought, transcending its limits, enters into limitlessness, and so thought is freed from its limitations. In the breaking of its limits and in the achieving of its limitlessness alone thought gets that dynamism which keeps it oscillating between limitlessness and limit. Hence, religious thought also, like the flame of longing, is busy in restlessness for acquiring its limited accessibility from its inaccessibility.


The religious experience, which forms the foundation of this Intuition, instead of exhibiting the comprehended, can only explain the controversies of logic. This is so because of the difficulties in the faithful expression of its attributes of concentration, and the uniqueness and individuality of the Sufi’s moment of ecstasy. This increasing expression of his condition exhibits and promotes the development and expression of the component of feelings. But feeling itself is a great source of knowledge, which fully preserves the grandeur of knowledge in his religious experience, and makes it possible to acquire the knowledge of the comprehended due to the presence of the component of Intellect. Thus thought oscillates between the temporal and non-temporal limits of the Truth. Hence, by the merging of the Sufi with the Eternal Essence the continuity of time is not negated because inspite of its uniqueness the momentary and ephemeral Sufistic observations are not separate from daily feelings and perceptions. Very soon the Sufi returns from his Sufistic or prophetic condition to the world of physical occurrences. In Iqbal’s view it is clear that Sufistic observations are also as real and as reliable in the acquisition of knowledge as some other universe of our observations. In this way in Iqbal’s view the revealed books, and particularly, the Holy Qur’an are a reliable source of knowledge, which is the universe of the spiritual observations of the Holy Prophet which was divinely revealed to this heart. In Iqbal’s view the echo of the spiritual experience of a prophet is the vehicle of far-reaching results for mankind. This echo is creative. The prophet, returning from his spiritual incidents, enters the current of time, so as to create a new world of goals with the superiority and the powers of the whole world. The pleasure of Union is the last stage for a Sufi as is clear from the statement of Sheikh Abd al-Quddus Gangohi. Defining prophet-hood-Iqbal says, This is that form of the perception of saint-hood in which the occurrences of Union exdeed their limits and search for the means of discovering or re-shaping those powers which are the creator of collective life. In other words in the personality of prophets the limited center of life is absorbed in its unbounded depths, so that it may re-emerge with a new power and strength. It annihilates the past and opens up new paths of life to it. By this concept Iqbal elevates religion much above a system of mere beliefs and rituals to a social and cultural movement which shapes the collective form of Man on the basis of Tawhid and binds this cultural power of religion with the science of Tawhid.


Iqbal, by moving away from the traditional concept of religion and presenting it as a scientific and cultural movement, makes religion itself a social, cultural and scientific current which is moving, evolutionary and constantly acquiring ever new dimensions, instead of leaving it as a puzzle of inert, immobile theories and beliefs. This means that in Iqbal’s view this principle of Tawhid is continuously moving towards evolution in its social environment. The seed of Tawhid also produces social and cultural fruits around itself and appears in its ever new forms in every human historical as well as existing environment. In Islam Ijtihad is really another name for scientific reasoning for Islam’s principle of Tawhid, which we do for our guidance in our special historical as well as existing, individual and collective environments, so that we may live our lives in life’s fast moving evolution. By accepting three sources of knowledge, i.e. the world of Nature, Self, and History Islam has accepted the principle that in the explanation of the principles of Tawhid these worlds cannot be overlooked. Therefore, it is very necessary to ‘keep in view the world of Nature, (the physical world), ‘self, (psychological and the temporal world) and History (the social and cultural world) in the explanation and clarification of Ijtihad. In Iqbal’s view, as the universe is not a static and immobile entity but a moving reality, life also is a mobile reality. When life is the name of an incessant movement, and all social, cultural and civic institutions surrounding it are part of a motion, how long can the rules and regulations of life remain immobile and static? Therefore, even the principles which Islam has called eternal and absolute also contain within them the components of motion, evolution and progress, and together with the needs and conditions of the evolving life they also continue evolving. This is that revolution which Iqbal presented in the form of a constantly evolving system of life and concepts in contradistinction of the concept of religion as an immobile and static religion with fixed beliefs and rituals. Iqbal has reasoned in favor of the principle of Ijtihad on the conversation of Hazrat Ma’ az Ibn Jabal, Governor of Yemen, with the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) in which the former expressed the desire to use his own religious insight to express and apply Islamic principles after the Book of God and the Practice of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). The history of Islamic Figh also shows that the scholars of Figh, have used this principle freely in Islamic legislation and, with their religious insight, have leaned heavily on Ijtihad in accordance with their existing environment. Hence, in Islam the need and importance of Ijtihad for legislation and religious matters was never abandoned in any period and environment. On the other hand, with the increasing depth and complexity in the evolution of life, its need and importance is increasing. It is the principle of Ijtihad alone which has maintained Islam as a living reality in its competition with other religions. Hence, t if Islam claims to be the religion for all humanity and all ages it is incumbent on it to be capable of fulfilling the needs of Man universally and in all ages. In addition, in my view Islam insists on its acceptance 1 and practice from all its believers. The practical aspects of religious I doctrine which tailor to the temporary, and temporal needs of different cultures and civilizations should not be emphasized to the extent of turning them contrary to Islamic principles. Distinction should also I be made between the requirements of Islam and Arab society of the ,1 time of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). Islam should insist on I its adherents to obey its commandments, but the Arab society of the Holy Prophet’s days and its social norms should not be considered Islam and it should not be confined to them. The traditions of the Holy Prophet (peace he upon him) should not be confused with conformity with the Arab society. On the other hand the essence of the Holy Prophet’s traditions, i.e. the highlights of character should be emphasized. This is so because the cultural, social and civic norms of I the days of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) have changed much due to the passage of long time. Applying the social norms of those days to the present age is tantamount to turning the wheels of history backwards. This is obviously un-Islamic because Islam is the name of 1 organizing history on its own principles rather than dragging it back. 1 The main principle is that, keeping Islamic principles and their spirit in view we should shape our civic, cultural, and social institutions in such a way that they should clearly reflect the spirit of Islam together with -modernism.


After explaining this basic principle we want to explain that the State which Islam wants to create is such an ideological State as is based on the concept of Tawhid. In, Iqbal’s view the ideology of Tawhid is the basic principle of our individual as well as collective lives. The ideal Islamic State will not be shaped on the principle of race, language, geography or collective gain. On the other hand the Islamic concept, of Tawhid is the basic principle of shaping it. 4 According to this the State and its government is a trust of God, where the ultimate authority rests in God and the pillars of the State are obliged to establish the ultimate authority of God in the State and, being the vicegerent of God on earth create such a collective theology where the law of God may reign supreme, and should select their advisors by mutual consultation and opinion, who would establish Islamic justice, clean economic ways and virtuous society. Iqbal calls  this State and the machinery as well as the system for its administration “Spiritual Democracy”, which should be governed through such a parliament the members of which would possess Islamic character and would legislate on the principle of Ijtihad and with due regard to the requirements of the times. In Iqbal’s view the legislation of such an elected parliament, enforced by the powers of the Islamic State, would create a Figh which would satisfy our timely needs on the one hand and, eliminating sectarianism, would reflect our collective perceptions and would be able to create unity among us. Iqbal has two expectations from such an ideological Islamic State. One is the establishment of a precedence which would start the work of change in the other states of the Islamic world, and will result in the establishment of this ideal spiritual democracy in them, which will ultimately lead to the molding of all the democracies born out of this concept of Islamic State into a federation. In this- way the Muslim world will witness the dream of Islamic renaissance come true. The second expectation of Iqbal from this Islamic State, which would be the embodiment of spiritual democracy, will be solving the economic problems of its poor population: The land and all resources belong to God which concept - makes it incumbent on the Islamic State to disallow the continued concentration of these resources in a few hands, and must take periodic initiatives for the just and fair distribution of these resources. In Iqbal’s view the just and fair distribution of there resources. In Iqbal’s view the just and fair distribution of resources and their procure and the elimination of all kinds of feudalism and capitalism is the act of reverting to the real spirit and principles of Islam. For this Islam has undertaken to establish of ‘Ushr, and benevolence in addition to Zakat. When Islam introduces the economy of charity and benevolence in place of the economy of usury it uproots economic disparity completely. The State to be established on the principles of Iqbal’s “Spiritual Democracy” must be considered bound to provide education, medical treatment, home, and justice and fair play to all people. In this State the society is strengthened collectively in addition to conferring dignity on the individual’s individuality, and such institutions, associations and pressure groups are formed as, continuously draw the society, the State and its pillars to progress and evolution. Its goal would be to keep the society and its life dynamic and to keep the society constantly flourishing through Ijtihad according to the requirements of every age and environment and with due regard to the ideology of Islam. This alone is the essence of Iqbal’s philosophy.


On the basis of this very philosophy of revolution Iqbal presented the concept of Muslim nationalism in contrast with the. nationalism nurtured by the geographical, racial and linguistic movements of Europe. He adjudged this philosophy of revolution as the charter of the Nation of Islam and created the concept of this Islamic national throughout the Islamic world. This philosophy was also a reaction against the movements of migration, Arab nationalism and the con of a single nation propounded in the Indian sub-continent. This Islamic  nationalism was not related to homeland, province, race, collective’ interests or economic ends. On the contrary it was based entirely c the creed of Tawhid. It contained the lesson of Islamic unity from the banks of Nile to the city of Kashghar for the defense of the Haram. Iqbal conferred this new enthusiasm on the nation of Islam from  Lahore to the lands of Bukhara and Samarqand and talked about making Tehran as the center of the Islamic world.


The Muslims should unite into one body for Haram’s defense

From banks of the Nile to the city of Kashghar

I have given a new enthusiasm to the hearts

Form Lahore to the lands of Bukhara and Samarqand

If Tehran becomes the Geneva of the Eastern lands

Perhaps the destiny of the whole world may change


This same Islamic nationalism was the most powerful weapon the Indian Muslims against the Hindu imperialism, which brought about the defeat of the British, Hindus and their camp followers, as well as the establishment of Pakistan under the leadership of Quaid-Azam. Thus, Pakistan was an ideological State based on the principle of Islamic nationalism, which should have been established on in ideology from the very outset. Unfortunately the absence of Iqbal ideology and the dearth of leadership of Quaid-i-Azams character made the country the victim of the plunder by feudal lords, landlord capitalists, mullahs and pirs. Consequently, Pakistan was deprived the State based on. The ideology of Islam and Islamic nationalism. T made Pakistan the helpless prey to sectarian, racial, linguistic,, provincial and group prejudices. Pointing out an old malady of the Muslims Iqbal had said that Muslims lacked spiritual enlightenment which he had attributed to the Islamic Nation’s Attachment monarchy, and the institutions of Mullahs and Sufis. This means that though the malady of the Muslims is due to external causes, the above three are very important among the internal ones. These maladies are slowly consuming their body corporate. Iqbal gave the solution monarchy in the form of “Spiritual Democracy”, annihilated Mullaism and the resulting sectarian mentality by assigning the right of Ijtihad the parliament. He discarded the institutions of Tasawwuf and Pirs on the basis of their being born in the ‘Ajam and are based on “Philosophy of Goats”. Distancing himself from the philosophy, Wahdat al-Wujud of Ibn al-Arabi, Hafiz, and Plato he adopted that. Wahdat al-Shuhud of Hazrat Mujaddid Alif Thani.*” Thus, rejecting these three institutions responsible for the Muslims’ downfall he established new ways, because in Iqbal’s view these institutions were symptoms of the static and stalemate life, and were devoid of the spirit of Iqbal’s philosophy of dynamism. Hence if Iqbal’s spiritual democracy, Islamic nationalism and spirit of Ijtihad, which is based on the inductive method and is associated with an elected parliament, is accepted and, instead of the ‘Ajami philosophy of Tasawwuf Iqbal’s ideology of Khudi is adopted the Islamic world can benefit from both the spiritual as well as the material revolution. The same was the subject matter and the raisom d’etre of Iqbal’s “Lectures” and poetic works, through which he satisfied the demand of the youth of Islamic Asia and Africa that the time was ripe for the assessment of the basic principles of Islam so that Islam might be understood as a system which concerns the whole of the human race. In addition to this Iqbal also considered the changes in Central Asia in addition to the new current of awakening among Muslims as the prime movers of this movement. On this basis he undertook to review Islamic theology and in this way, by the comprehension of correspondence and reconstruction between religion and science, established a new theology which, in the words of Maulana Saeed Ahmad Akbarabadi, laid the foundation of a new theology. It also created, in our thinking, a new philosophy of revolution, which is a blessing for the whole human race in addition to Muslims. Still, as Iqbal stood for dynamism and revolution he, not only made himself dynamic and vocal, but also made it clear that in philosophical thinking there is no such thing as absolute and final. As and where we advance forward new ways for thought open up. Many more ideologies, and perhaps more important than those presented in his “Lectures”, will present themselves to us. In any case it is our duty to keep a careful watch on the growth and development of human thought and carry out independent criticism in this field. It is this point of view of Iqbal alone which is the spirit of his philosophy of revolution and tells us that we should continue critical examination of our religious, political, cultural, and social concepts along with the evolutionary progress in human thought, and should always remain in search of a new world for ourselves because the spirit of the lives of nations is the struggle of revolution.




1. Aiman- The valley of Mount Sinai.

2. Figh- The body of literature and knowledge in Islamic jurisprudence.

3. Khudi- The realization by Man of his elegant status in God’s creation according to the Holy Qur’an.

4. Ijtihad- The effort of a jurist to determine the right course of action new situations in the light of the sources of the Shari’ah.

5. Lawh-i-Mahfooz- The guarded tablet in the High Spiritual Universe which the Holy Qur’an has been inscribed since eternity.

6. Mullah- A term applied to rather half-baked religious scholars w interpret the Holy Qur’an and other sources of the Shari’ah literally.

7. Per- The spiritual guide in Tasawwuf. However, in the modern tin this position has become hereditary which leads to its corruption and which is what Allama lqbal has condemned in his works.

8. Qul al-’Afv- Between the two extremes of capitalism and commune Allama Iqbal supports and preaches the. middle path of Islam contained in the Holy Qur’an 2:219, which teaches Muslims to “spend what is beyond


W. ISHRAT : lqbal ‘s Philosophy of Revolution

their legitimate meeds”. At the very outset of the Communist experiment Allama Iqbal predicted the arrival of the time when the meaning of the phrase “Qul al-Afv” would be clarified:

0 brave Muslim dive into the depths of the Qur’an May God endow you with renovation of conduct The secret of “Spend what is beyond your needs” May perhaps be revealed in this day and age

9. Tasawwuf or Sufism- The system of comprehension of the nature of creation, the essence of the Creator and the correct guidance in the pursuit of the dictates of the Shari’ah on the basis of Divine guidance obtained through the Love of God, meditation .and supplication to God in terms of the Holy Qur’an 1:6-7. This is in opposition to philosophy which is based on the guidance of the Intellect as opposed to that of the Heart. During the course of its history Tasawwuf has been divided into several groups with variations in their practices. It has also undergone degeneration in its practices to which many reformers, including Allama Iqbal have objected and which they have tried to reform.

10. Tawhid- Belief in and declaration of the Unity of God and fulfillment the demands of that belief. Allama Iqbal has used this term for the “Unity of God” as well as the “Unity of mankind”

11. Ushr- The tenth part of the proceeds from agriculture which are to be given by Muslims into Zakat fund for use of the unprivileged members of the Muslim society.

12. Wandat al-Wujud- The doctrine of a section of Sufis according to which the real existence is the attribute of only one Entity and the rest of the universe is only the appearance of the same Entity in different forms.

13. Wandat al-Shuhud- The doctrine of another section of Sufis according to which the universe is the creation of God and is a reflection of His Image, which is incomprehensible by average persons.

14. Wahy- A form of Divine revelation bestowed only upon prophets. Acceptance of this revelation and its dictates is incumbent on everyone to whom it has been communicated.

15. Zakat- Obligatory tax on Muslims payable on the accumulated wealth of a person at the end of each year. The proceeds of this tex are to be used for the amelioration of the condition of the unprivileged members of the Muslim society.


1. Naeem Ahmad, Tareekh-i-Falsafah-i-Yunan (The History of Greek

Iqbal Review 36:3 Philosophy (Urdu) .Ilmi Kutub Khana, Lahore.

2. Will Durrant , Store of Philosophy Translation by Maulvi Ihsan Ahmad, Hyderabad Deccan, 1942, p.49.

3. Muhammad Iqbal Kulliyat-i-lqhal (Persian). Published by Ghulam Ali and Sons, Lahore, pp. 32-34.

In Mathnavi of Asrar-i-Khudi Iqbal calls Plato “the Ancient Ascetic” the “Ancient sheep”

Many a nation have been poisoned by his poison Slept and were deprived of the taste for action

4. Muhammad Iqbal, The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam Iqbal Academy Pakistan, Lahore, 1989. Preface.

5. Muhammad Iqbal, The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, cit., p.8.

6. Ali, Abbas Jalalpuri lqbal Ka Ilm•i-Kalam (Iqbal’s Theology), Khirad Afroz, Jhelum, Pakistan, 1987, pp. 61-77.

7. Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy, George Allan & U’ Ltd. 1961, p. 135.

8. Ibid., p. 216.

9. Ibid., “There is one unmoved mover, which directly causes a circular motion”.

Both these statements, to say the least, are balatant simplifications which, moreover, do not find support from the available’ materials in Iqbal’s writings on the same subject.. A more balanced nearer to truth observation would be to say that Iqbal tried to s reforms for the institution of Tasawwuf while upholding its positive as’ and, regarding the question of Wahdat al-Wujud, maintained an ambival attitude while taking philosphic/metaphysical positions that were not different than those of lbn ‘Arabi. (Editor)


* A condensed version of this paper was published in the Iqbal Number of the Monthly Sha'er Bombay, 1989, and in the Monthly The Crescent, as well as in Iqbaliyat, (Persian) No.5, 1990 and the Daily Mashriq, November 1990.

This paper was also read in the "Iqbal Forum International" "Halqah Iqbal", "Islamic Philosophical Association", and "Wasa Staff Training Institute", Samanabad, Lahore, on September 5, 1990, October 24, 1990 November 14, 1990, and November 1, 1990 respectively.

Technical terms, which cannot be correctly translated into English, given in original in the text and explained in the "Explanatory Notes" after the text. They are arranged in an alphabetical order.

References to literature cited are given in parentheses in the text a listed in the alphabetical order of the well known name of the, author "References" section. Similarly biographical notes are provided on the important persons referred.