Explanatory Note

Question 4 off Iqbal is the same as Questions 6 and 12 together of Shabistari. If Absolute alone is, why is there the distinction of contingent and Necessary Being? What is the significance of man's aspiration?

According to the pantheistic view of Shabistari, distinction of contingent and necessary is meaningless for, in the last resort, they are not separate at all. The eternal is real and what we call temporal is eternal plus attribution of not being attached to it - the Being (wujud) in the so-called plurality is One. The goal of fana, according to pantheists, is not the attainment by the temporal of union With the eternal. There is no question of becoming one with Him, for everything is one from all eternity. Fana is only to become consciously aware of this eternally existing unity of Being. And yet man, the acme of creation, who is made to reflect in his innermost heart the beauty of the One, aspires to know and realise in this temporal life the sacred Covenant (Qur'an, vii. 171) undertaken by the progeny of Adam before their birth and so, according to Shabistari, the highest ideal is to seek in the self all that one wishes to know.

To Iqbal, who is an advocate of pluralistic theism, separation of the temporal and eternal is not only an actual fact but is a real blessing and necessity. Without this distinction neither the One nor the Many would have significance and value in the economy of life. Man as a permanent element in this cosmos, no doubt, derives his existence and importance from the divine Light which is manifest everywhere, but his career as an individual demands that he must have a distinct individuality of his own, separate from the Absolute. Existentially, there is not unity but duality between man and God which the pantheists wrongly deny though ideally God is the ideal towards which all creation including man must look for its development.

Discussing this point of view in one of his articles ("Self in the Light of Relativity") Iqbal says that Pringle Pattison deplored that in the English language there is only one word creation to denote the relation of God to the universe of space and time on the one hand and to the human ego on the other. But in Arabic there are two different words to distinguish this dual relation. As related to this spatio-temporal order, the Qur'an uses the word khalq, creation, while as related to human ego, we have the word amr, direction From this Iqbal argues that Nature must be viewed as a passing phase of God's consciousness, a fleeting moment of His activity. But not so the human ego. It must be taken as something individual and specific, with all the variations in the range, balance, and effectiveness of its unity."4 "The finite ego must be distinct, though not isolated, from the Infinite.... I am distinct from and yet intimately related to that on which I depend for my life and sustenance."5

The final fate of man, therefore, is not the obliteration of this distinctness of the human ego from the Infinite Ego but a gradual growth in self-possession, in uniqueness, and intensity of his activity as an ego. "The climax of this development is reached when the ego is able to retain self-possession, even in the case of a direct' contact with the all-embracing Ego."6

[See Notes]