Explanatory Note

This Question corresponds to Question 4 Of Shabistari and attempts to describe the attributes of a Perfect Man.

According to Shabistari, perfection as represented in saints means passing away from the state of phenomenal existence and realising oneness with the Absolute. But a true Perfect Man is one who, after realising this unity, comes down from, this state of fana. In the position of a saint, he may and often does ignore the formalities of religious laws, but when he goes beyond this stage and attains perfection, religious law (though a husk) becomes as important for him as the mystic path (which is the kernel).

Perfection, according to Iqbal, lies in passing beyond all experiences of ephemeral character till what is absolutely objective is reached. "This- final experience is the revelation of a new life-process-original, essential, spontaneous. The eternal secret of the ego is that the moment he reaches this final revelation he recognizes it as the ultimate root of his being without the slightest hesitation."6 In his letter to Nicholson reproduced in the Introduction to English translation of Asrar-i Khudi, Iqbal views God as the most unique Individual and the progress of man is measured by his, nearness to this ideal. "The Prophet said, 'Create in yourself the attributes of God.' Thus man becomes unique by becoming more and more like the most unique Individual .... The greater his distance from God, the less his individuality. He who comes nearest to God is the completest person. Not that he is finally absorbed in God. On the contrary, he absorbs God into himself" (pp. xiii-xiv), In Javid Namah (P. 14) and in Gulshan-i Raz-i Jadid, he argues that the distinction lies in appropriating attributes and essence of God. He who assimilates attributes (akhlaq) of God is no doubt a higher person but a truly perfect man is he who goes beyond this stage and assimilates the very Essence (dhat) of God. In Javid Namah, enumerating the different stages in the evolution of man, he says:

The third witness is God's consciousness
See thyself, then, with God's light.
If thou standest unshaken in front of this light,
Consider thyself as living and I eternal as He!
That man alone is real who dares
Dares to see God face to face!

Discussing this problem in Reconstruction. be says, "The climax of this development (of man] is reached when the ego is able to retain full self-possession, even in the case of a direct contact with the all-embracing Ego. As the Quran says of the Prophet's vision of the Ultimate Ego: 'His eye turned not aside, nor did it wander.' (53 :17.) This is the ideal of perfect manhood in Islam. Nowhere has it found a better literary expression than in a Persian verse which speaks of the holy Prophet's experience of Divine illumination:

['Moses fainted away by a mere surface illumination of Reality Thou seest the very substance of Reality with a smile!']"6

Like Plato, Iqbal thinks that such perfect men, philosopher kings, alone are fit to rule, for they alone will be able to bring moral principles to bear upon the problems of State. It is due to the lack of moral basis of modern political thought that Iqbal criticises Western democracy which, according to him, is a fiend let loose from its bondage. It has brought about world-wide destruction of spiritual values.

[See Notes]