The main problem before Iqbal is to counter the tendency towards undue emphasis that, under the influence of Western thought, people have begun to give to reason in human life. Iqbal's criticism of the West (which in his poetical works is designated by the word farang, a term used by the people of the subcontinent in a derogatory sense in the earlier phases of the rule of the East India Company and different Western ideologies like Capitalism, Socialism, Imperialism, Nationalism, is based on his conviction that all these ideologies flow from the belief that matter and spirit are basically different and that matter is primary, more important for our life, than spirit.

In his Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, he says. "Modern Europe has . . . built idealistic systems . . . but experience shows that truth revealed through pure reason is incapable of bringing that fire of living conviction which personal revelation alone can bring. This is the reason why pure thought has so little influenced men while religion has always elevated individuals, and transformed societies. The idealism of Europe never became a living factor in her life, and the result is a perverted ego seeking itself through mutually intolerant democracies whose sole function is to exploit the poor in the interest of the rich. Believe me, Europe to-day is the greatest hindrance in the way of man's ethical advancement.1"

Professor Arberry refers tauntingly to this opinion of Iqbal as a mere dogmatic assertion, which, in his eyes, has no basis in truths.2  Professor Arberry seems to miss the main point of Iqbal's argument, which is that unless ideologies are formed with the conviction that spirit is more important than matter, that life after death is more significant than life here and now, there is no hope of survival for mankind. What we need today is not more of material prosperity, but prosperity which is not divorced from spiritual aspirations of man. In the same Lecture, Iqbal says: "Humanity needs three things to-day-a spiritual interpretation of the universe, spiritual emancipation of the individual, and basic principles of a universal import directing the evolution of human society on a spiritual basis."3

This, however, does not mean that the material aspect of our life should be ignored and the utility of reason totally denied. In emphasising the importance of love in contrast to reason, Iqbal never meant to deny the value of reason. His object is. that there should be a proper balance between the two and that we should try to avoid the mistake of the West in denying either of the two.


[Science without love is a demonic thing,
Science together with love is a thing Divine.]4

1.             P. 179 (Lecture entitled : "The Principle of Movement in the Structure of Islam").

2.             Preface to Arberry's English translation of Iqbal's Rumuz i Bekhudi (Mysteries of Selflessness), p. xiii.

3.             Reconstruction, p. 179.

4.             Javid Namah, p. 83.