The dream of reality: Allama Iqbal's 132nd Birth Anniversary
Dawn, November 9, 2009
In his prose work, Allama Muhammad Iqbal foresaw the trajectory of the Pakistani masses, writes Khurram Ali Shafique.
The best resource for understanding the work of Allama Iqbal is the collective experience of the Pakistani masses, including the unschooled. Call it a dream, but I consider it to be reality.
Let me give an example. The greatest prose work of Iqbal is in English, and is called The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam. It was first published from Lahore in early 1930, and later (with some addition) by the UK-based Oxford University Press in 1934. Few Iqbal scholars claim that they can explain even half of the seven lectures contained within that volume. Hence, there is not the slightest chance that the masses of Pakistan, mostly unschooled, may have read, studied, or even heard about it.
Yet, if we divide the history of our community from 1887 to 2026 into seven periods (and this division is based on certain principles adopted from Iqbal), we discover that the topic of one lecture from the book becomes the dominant issue for the masses in each period. The sequence is exactly the same in which they appear in the Reconstruction. Of course, scholars prefer to discuss the book in its entirety (though with little results). But it is more productive to consider how one particular topic became the dominant issue for the people at each historical stage. The lectures contained in the Reconstruction are:
1. 1887-1906: Knowledge and the Revelations of Religious Experience
2. 1907-1926: Philosophical Test of the Revelations of Religious Experience
3. 1927-46: Conception of God and the Meaning of Prayer
4. 1947-66: Human Ego – His Freedom and Immortality
5. 1967-86: The Spirit of Muslim Culture
6. 1987-2006: The Principle of Movement in the Structure of Islam
7. 2007-26: Is Religion Possible?
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To read, Iqbal's Reconstruction of Religious Though in Islam, click here