According to the tradition prevalent in the Wisdom Literature particularly, the Orient represents the land of light, knowledge, right guidance, while the Occident is the land of darkness, ignorance and misguidance. (Cf. Corbin, Ibn Sina and the Visionary Recital.)

As a source of light and illumination. Iqbal seems to be enamoured of the Sun, which rises in the East and diffuses its light and warmth to all. East and West alike.

Very early in his poetic career, Iqbal composed a poem on the Sun which, according to Iqbal himself, as he stated in the Makhzan of 20 August 1902, conveyed the sense of the Vedic hymn on the praise of the Sun. The first seven verses here reflect in substance the spirit expressed in the earlier poem

[O Sun. thou art the moving spirit of the world,
thou bindest together the scattered pages of the universe.
All things are sustained through thy manifestation,
all thy ardour stands for Life, total and absolute.
The Sun that diffuses light throughout the world is heart,
reason, spirit and consciousness.]

The East is not only politically under the heels of the West; intellectually too it is the West’s slave. Iqbal wishes to free the. people of the East from bondage to Western modes of thought, which are not conducive at all, he thinks, to the welfare of the people of the world. In order to build anew, Iqbal had to demolish old and harmful systems of thought (verses 111-12).

He expresses a similar idea in the Introduction to the Gulshan-i Raz Jadid:

[A battle of life -and death is being waged in my soul;
my eye is on immortal life.
I saw thy clay devoid of life,
I breathed my soul into thy body.
The fire that I have has affected me deeply,
illumine the darkness of the night with my lamp.]

In the Epilogue of the same book, he says:

[Catch the flying flame from my fire,
for I am warm-blooded like Rumi;
otherwise get fire from the new culture (of the West),
adorn your exterior and die spiritually.]

Iqbal has explained his programme of social Reconstruction in different books, specially in Rumuz-i Bekhudi and Javid Namah. Here he epitomises this programme by stating, as in verses 101-02, that dhikr and fikr, meditation and rational approach, are essential for normal growth of individuals and societies.

Dhikr, literally, reciting the name of God or words in His praise or reciting some sacred phases, in Iqbal, however, dhikr does not mean this ritual reciting of some formulas in the mystic tradition, which he condemns as harmful for the growth of society.4 For Iqbal, dhikr stands for an attitude of mind which is the result of maintaining constant touch with Reality that affords the individual spiritual nourishment at all crucial moments of his life. Fikr is rational approach, an attitude of mind which characterises a true scientist who is always in search of Truth. Iqbal thinks that an individual should cultivate both these characteristics; he should be a scientist as well as a mystic.

These two terms, dhikr and fikr, are derived from the following verse of the Qur’an (iii. 190): “Those who remember (dhikr) Allah standing, sitting and (lying) on their sides, and reflect (fikr) on the creation of the heavens and the earth: Our Lord, thou hast not created this in vain! Glory be to Thee !”

Iqbal defines the two by bringing them into sharp contrast:

[These are all a wayfarer’s search posts
about whom the Qur’an says6: “He taught all the names”.]

[The achievements of Rumi and ‘Attar are stations of dhikr;

the compilations of Bu ‘Mi Sina pertain to the station of Fikr.

To measure time and space is the station of fikr,

to recite: “Exalted be my Lord, Most High” is the station of dhikr]

and then recommending that both these should be synthesised. In Javid Namah (p. 89), he says:

[The Faqr of the Qur’an is the mingling of dhikr and fikr;
I have never seen .fikr perfect without dhikr]

In other words, Iqbal recommends both dhikr and fikr, reason and intuition, intellectual and vital ways of dealing with the universe, the former represented by scientists and the latter by mystics. If you ignore fikr, reason, you are destroying the motivation for social progress, advance in civilisation and hence you fail to fulfill the negative demand of faith, La ilah. If you ignore dhikr or, in other words, lose your contact with the Source of Being and Life, you are creating a spiritual vacuum in your life, mischief and disharmony in society and hence paving the way for violent and aggressive revolution.


1.         Bang-i Dara, pp. 30-31.

2.         Zabur-i ‘Ajam, p. 205. See my art. on “Iqbal’s Message” in monthly Faran (Karachi) for September 1972, pp. 10-21.

3.         Zabur-i ‘Ajam, p. 243.

4.         See Armaghan-i Hijaz, p. 228

[(Satan advises his followers to)
Keep him (man) busy in morning meditations
that renunciatory trends take firmer roots.]

5.         Darb-i Kalim, p. 16. These words are recited in prayer when man prostrates himself on the ground, bringing home to him

(a)        the great gap that separates him from God, Who is most High, while he is most lowly;

(b)        the role of prayer is covering up that gap and thus bringing him nearer to God.

6.         The Qur’an, ii. 31.