Perfect Man in the Eyes of Rumi and Muhammad Iqbal
Prof. Dr. Erkan Turkmen

Rumi is M. Iqbal’s great master whom he calls "Pīr-i Rūmī (The master from Anatolia); and he names himself as "Murīd-i- Hindī (The Indian disciple)". In his Asrār-o-Rumūz Iqbal claims, "The saint Rumi has changed my earth into an elixir and out of my dust has produced many splendours". It means that there is a great impact of Rumi on Iqbal’s spiritual teachings. When we study Rumi and Iqbal side by side, we find two bodies in one shirt. There are more than 250 poets in Turkey that follow the great master Rumi but Iqbal’s interpretations are the most up-to-date. It is Rumi’s Masnevi that seems to influence Iqbal the most. Great Persian poet Mulla Jāmī says this about Rumi’s Masnevi. "The Masnevi of the spiritual master (Rumi) is the Koran in Persian." This statement is very true. Thus many teachings of Iqbal depend on the Koran, directly or indirectly. The major theme of the Koran is ‘A Perfect Man’ or ‘Merd-i Mu’min’ and Muhammed (s.w) is the prototype for it. Muhammed (s.w) devoted his life for the betterment of human beings regardless of race or national discrimination; and killed his ego or selfhood for the love of God to set a unique example of character. Masnevi aims at this character. So do teachings of Iqbal. Rumi guides a man gradually from the lowest stage to the highest where he is finally submerged in the ocean of divine attributes. It is at this stage that a man becomes perfect, and understands the will of God. Here God loves the man and the man is pleased with God. Captivity of time, worldly worries and fate disappear. As Iqbal says:

"Raise your self-being to the stage where God, before writing your fate may ask you tell me my beloved what is your will?"

To reach this spiritual stage of a perfect man one need to go through these steps:

  1. Freedom from the worldly greed:
  1. Set yourself free:
  2. "O my son! Be free and break away from your worldly ties.
    For how long will silver and gold keep deceiving your eyes?
    If you want to pour a sea into your single jar.
    It shall hold the need of day, not to be carried far" (M.I/19-20)

  3. The wakefulness of this world is actually a deep sleep:
  4. "He who is awake (in this world) is actually more asleep
    His wakefulness is worse than his normal peaceful sleep
    When our souls aren’t awake to God’s wonderful Presence
    We are awake yet in prison, without an active essence.


Iqbal adds:

    Find the secret of your life by drowning in your inner self
    If you are heedless to me, let it be so at least think of yourself"
    The real awakening is to discover your inner being which is the gift of God.
    His holy spirit as God says in the Koran,

    "I breathed into him of My spirit" (XV/29) is the "Amānah" (Trust) which man accepted from God, as the Koran says, "We indeed offered the Trust to the Heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they refused to undertake it being afraid thereof. But man undertook it. He was indeed unjust and foolish". "Unjust and foolish" because man carries God’s spirit with him and yet ignores it (33/72).

    The soul and the body are not from each other concealed,
    But to many an ear and eye this fact is not revealed"

Body is made out of clay (minerals); and earth attracts it. Because it is the part of earth; and the spirit of God in man is drawn towards God as Rumi reminds:

    If anything from its origin may ever fall away
    It seeks a chance to find it in a better way"

Rumi explains this fact by the following parable:

    One day Majnun decided to visit his beloved Leyli and for this he rode on a camel’s back. Soon Majnun lost himself by thinking of Leyli. He-camel had a beloved too in the village from where the journey started. When the camel found that his master was asleep he came back to his beloved. This happened two or three times. Majnun gave up and said, "Alright my dear camel! you go to your beloved I go to mine; and he walked on foot" In this story body is camel and the spirit is Majnun. There is a struggle between body and soul. They want to return to their origins. Dust to dust and spirit to Spirit. A worldly man is in love with his physical body.

He is like an embryo:-

    Mercy of God wants to bring him out
    Yet he runs back to his mother’s womb
    With fear and doubt

    For he is afraid to give up his beloved station
    And thinks that he will never reach the real salvation

    (M III/3964-3966)

A perfect man tends more and more towards God. He lives in this world but his soul is with God.

    "He has a concealed attraction towards the sky (spiritual location); he is made of clay yet he is free from it"

This world of physical charms fails to cheat a perfect man:

As soon as man turns his attention to God the satanic powers begin to stop him. More worldly charms try to hamper his progress. Rumi and Iqbal warn man not to fall in such traps:

"Don’t be satisfied with the colours and smells of this world for there are many other gardens and nests"

"If you pas beyond these shapes and deceptive forms,
Then you begin to see rose gardens after rose gardens.

(M III/578)

It is not wise to fall in love with traffic signs when you still have to go further.

Perfect man uses his divine knowledge to avoid temporary lures.

e) In order to attain hawkish flight one has to kill these four birds in him as Rumi suggests:

Cut these four birds, heads to gain your immortal bread

The duck is your greed and your ego is the crow

The cock is lust, and the peacock is your show

(My /42-44)

While Iqbal says:

"O nightengale begin to sing so that because of your songs a heart of hawk may be born in the bosom of a pigeon"

When hawkish spirit is born among the young

They see their abodes in the skies

Your nest is not on the domes of royal palaces

You are a hawk go and live on the high rocks

Hakim Sanā’ī also says the same thing:

"Let’s uproot partridge – like life from within us

And change it with an active life of a falcon"

III- Action and divine food:

He who eats husk and barley deserves to be slaughtered

He who consumes light of God becomes the Koran himself.

(M/V 2478)

No one knows this secret that a believer (or lover of God) seems to be a reader although he is the Koran himself.

IV:- Love and action:

When love of God is filled in the heart of a man his selfhood melts away in the crucible of divine love. He has no fear of death, time or worldly worries as God says in the Koran" on the friends of God there is no fear, nor shall they grief" (X/62)

Rumi verifies:

"Although in our life there are many a snare,

Since you are are with us then why should we care?"


"Love is a flame and when it begins to blaze,

It burns everything but the Beloved worthy of praise"


and Iqbal says:

"With the plectrum of love is born the music of life,

Love is heat of life and light of life"

Due to love this partial intellect surrenders to the universal intellect:

"Pass beyond this intellect for this light,

Is not the goal but a lamp for sight"?

A true lover of God cannot sit idle for the whole universe is in action due to divine love and God’s manifestation.

"Like the mill stone this universe

Day and night turns up and cries restlessly

Since it has no peace because of love of God

My heart! Seek no rest like a wandering star"

Iqbal adds:

"Real life is hidden in searching

The essence of life is concealed under desires"

When the lover fails to posses any love-fire

He is like a bird without wings and desire.


Perfect man is like roses. There are white, red, pink roses but the smell is the same. Earth is full of filth and manure but rose-branches suck up only what is needed for the beautiful smell. This world is like the manure and a perfect man takes only what is required for his Beloved (God) by reaching maturity:

As long as you are raw you are only a heap of clay

When you are baked you become an un-rusted sword"

"For a lower man the stage of a perfect man is too high

So cut a long story short and say to him Goodbye"