Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Iqbal and Nationalism

The following excerpt has been taken from the the Iqbal's Allahabad address which is an insight about his thinking about the aspired Muslim state and his concerns about nationalism.
It cannot be denied that Islam, regarded as an ethical ideal plus a certain kind of polity – by which expression I mean a social structure regulated by a legal system and animated by a specific ethical ideal – has been the chief formative factor in the life-history of the Muslims of India. It has furnished those basic emotions and loyalties which gradually unify scattered individuals and groups, and finally transform them into a well-defined people, possessing a moral consciousness of their own. Indeed it is not an exaggeration to say that India is perhaps the only country in the world where Islam, as a people-building force, has worked at its best. In India, as elsewhere, the structure of Islam as a society is almost entirely due to the working of Islam as a culture inspired by a specific ethical ideal. What I mean to say is that Muslim society, with its remarkable homogeneity and inner unity, has grown to be what it is, under the pressure of the laws and institutions associated with the culture of Islam.
The ideas set free by European political thinking, however, are now rapidly changing the outlook of the present generation of Muslims both in India and outside India. Our younger men, inspired by these ideas, are anxious to see them as living forces in their own countries, without any critical appreciation of the facts which have determined their evolution in Europe. In Europe Christianity was understood to be a purely monastic order which gradually developed into a vast church organisation. The protest of Luther was directed against this church organisation, not against any system of polity of a secular nature, for the obvious reason that there was no such polity associated with Christianity. And Luther was perfectly justified in rising in revolt against this organisation; though, I think, he did not realise that in the peculiar conditions which obtained in Europe, his revolt would eventually mean the complete displacement of [the] universal ethics of Jesus by the growth of a plurality of national and hence narrower systems of ethics.
Thus the upshot of the intellectual movement initiated by such men as Rousseau and Luther was the break-up of the one into [the] mutually ill-adjusted many, the transformation of a human into a national outlook, requiring a more realistic foundation, such as the notion of country, and finding expression through varying systems of polity evolved on national lines, i.e. on lines which recognise territory as the only principle of political solidarity. If you begin with the conception of religion as complete other-worldliness, then what has happened to Christianity in Europe is perfectly natural. The universal ethics of Jesus is displaced by national systems of ethics and polity. The conclusion to which Europe is consequently driven is that religion is a private affair of the individual and has nothing to do with what is called man's temporal life.
Islam does not bifurcate the unity of man into an irreconcilable duality of spirit and matter. In Islam God and the universe, spirit and matter, Church and State, are organic to each other. Man is not the citizen of a profane world to be renounced in the interest of a world of spirit situated elsewhere. To Islam, matter is spirit realising itself in space and time. Europe uncritically accepted the duality of spirit and matter, probably from Manichaean thought. Her best thinkers are realising this initial mistake today, but her statesmen are indirectly forcing the world to accept it as an unquestionable dogma. It is, then, this mistaken separation of spiritual and temporal which has largely influenced European religious and political thought and has resulted practically in the total exclusion of Christianity from the life of European States. The result is a set of mutually ill-adjusted States dominated by interests not human but national. And these mutually ill-adjusted States, after trampling over the moral and religious convictions of Christianity, are today feeling the need of a federated Europe, i.e. the need of a unity which the Christian church organisation originally gave them, but which, instead of reconstructing it in the light of Christ's vision of human brotherhood, they considered fit to destroy under the inspiration of Luther.
A Luther in the world of Islam, however, is an impossible phenomenon; for here there is no church organisation similar to that of Christianity in the Middle Ages, inviting a destroyer. In the world of Islam we have a universal polity whose fundamentals are believed to have been revealed but whose structure, owing to our legists' [=legal theorists'] want of contact with the modern world, today stands in need of renewed power by fresh adjustments. I do not know what will be the final fate of the national idea in the world of Islam. Whether Islam will assimilate and transform it, as it has before assimilated and transformed many ideas expressive of a different spirit, or allow a radical transformation of its own structure by the force of this idea, is hard to predict. Professor Wensinck of Leiden (Holland) wrote to me the other day: "It seems to me that Islam is entering upon a crisis through which Christianity has been passing for more than a century. The great difficulty is how to save the foundations of religion when many antiquated notions have to be given up. It seems to me scarcely possible to state what the outcome will be for Christianity, still less what it will be for Islam." At the present moment the national idea is racialising the outlook of Muslims, and thus materially counteracting the humanizing work of Islam. And the growth of racial consciousness may mean the growth of standards different [from] and even opposed to the standards of Islam.
I hope you will pardon me for this apparently academic discussion. To address this session of the All-India Muslim League you have selected a man who is [=has] not despaired of Islam as a living force for freeing the outlook of man from its geographical limitations, who believes that religion is a power of the utmost importance in the life of individuals as well as States, and finally who believes that Islam is itself Destiny and will not suffer a destiny. Such a man cannot but look at matters from his own point of view. Do not think that the problem I am indicating is a purely theoretical one. It is a very living and practical problem calculated to affect the very fabric of Islam as a system of life and conduct. On a proper solution of it alone depends your future as a distinct cultural unit in India. Never in our history has Islam had to stand a greater trial than the one which confronts it today. It is open to a people to modify, reinterpret or reject the foundational principles of their social structure; but it is absolutely necessary for them to see clearly what they are doing before they undertake to try a fresh experiment. Nor should the way in which I am approaching this important problem lead anybody to think that I intend to quarrel with those who happen to think differently. You are a Muslim assembly and, I suppose, anxious to remain true to the spirit and ideals of Islam. My sole desire, therefore, is to tell you frankly what I honestly believe to be the truth about the present situation. In this way alone it is possible for me to illuminate, according to my light, the avenues of your political action.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sands of time

The sun of 2011 was set by vanquishing the stagnant, miserable and dim lights of indolence. The new sun of 2012 rose with the rejuvenation of passion and struggle. What lead the initiation of events in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt, marked a point in the sands off history, that whenever there is not enough light for people to see vividly they hope and struggle for the new sun to rise. Sand which trickles down from the narrow tight passages of trial and frustration lays down in the hourglass of nature, that is ready to repeat its course with the same outcome of serenity, attained after a lot of loss and repentance after its struggle.
It is wondrous that with the discreetness of outcomes of our actions which repeat themselves, we are unable to comprehend that what is necessary and what needs to be done. Many notable historians like Toynbee and Ibn e Khaldun have pointed out in history that when the characters of Nations and civilizations rot in the attic of vulgarism and disintegration of moralities takes place, there is a test for people and for civilizations. This predicament leads to a mass movement of people which decides their fate. This increases the pace of history itself and exaggerates its evolution. This movement of people is to undo the past condition and to rebuild the future on the sentiments of esteemed values which were buried beneath the sands of unconscious mind.
These actions, if, are unable to repair the damage of the past endeavors of people, are like sandstorms which disperse the civilizations to anonymity and annihilation. This is also incipient for new civilizations and they breathe fresh air for some time to again fall prey to the holocaust for inception of new life. This has happened with many of the civilizations of the past like Babylonian, Syrian, Hellenic civilizations.
With loss there is repentance, with repentance there comes faith, with faith there is taqwa, with taqwa there is responsibility, with responsibility there is opportunity, with opportunity there is struggle, with struggle there is satisfaction, and satisfaction leads to self righteousness and nafs e mutmainna. This is the way civilizations are built again on the sentiments of vigor and dignity. It’s when people decide to stand firm on ground, to do what is right and to demolish the whims and falsehoods of turmoil. It exalts hope in people and a spark to reignite the yoke of life.
It is uprightness and steadfastness that keeps the balance of universe. Without motion there could be no universe, no life and nothing like struggle would have existed in our lives. In reality, all these truths exist in our lives and these are integrated part of human mind and intellect which certainly cannot be overlooked or be forgotten. It just needs to be revived.
“Relieve yourself of the fear of others,
You are a power asleep; shake yourself awake”
(Allama Muhammad Iqbal)
In the Islamic world as well as other centers of the world social structure of our communities is at a decline, injustice is a norm, discrimination flourishes under capitalism, monarchy with a new hood of democracy is dominant, and people live astray lives in trying to find peace in the delusion of modern notions of society. The zeitgeist has stripped humans off of their religion and faith and has made the material world their supreme commander. Particularly in Pakistan people have become static in their lives, they have befallen in the hands of sloth and luxury. Action which was to endorse their existence, aims which were to keep them alive, and dignity which had to earn their rightful place in society is on the verge of extinction.
Although, we have managed to hold on to the mimesis of our civilization but procrastination, and inability to act, and a dignified character is missing from the souls of our people. Universe is a single truth, so as Allah and so as humans. It’s is the unity and constant change which ensures the existence of our life on the small grain of sand. We have today infinite number of reasons to make a divide among ourselves. It is the oneness of our religion which can unite the pearls in a single necklace of love.
But we are faced with venomous melancholia which forbids us to stand up for right and turn down evil by all our force, to adopt the path of righteousness and to put a halt on the wrong turns. We need to act, we need to volunteer, we need to work, and we need to actualize our selves. We need to revive our Islam, we need to wear our morals and ethics, we need to ponder over our own actions and we need to alter them for good, we need to inspire the lost dignity, we need to care for our brothers and sisters, we have to say no to our selfish desires, we have to work for others, we have to rejuvenate the spirit of selfless service for others, we have to adopt the character of our leader Muhammad (S.A.W), we have to do something or else the sands of time will wipe us out from the face of this world as they did to sixteen of the major civilizations of the past.
خدا تجھے کسی طوفا ن سے آشنا کر دے
کے تیر ے بحرکی موجوں میں اضطراب نھیں
On the question of aims by one of our teacher, blank faces of students were observed and they didn’t surely knew what their aim was and what is it that they are here for. The replies came out like this; I want to be an accomplished engineer; I want to be self dependant and would share the burden of my parents; I would go abroad for study and would come back to Pakistan to serve it; etc. There is a reason that we are Muslims and we need to work for that reason. Unfortunately we have taken our deen for granted and we are not willing to learn what it teaches us and what injunctions imply on us as the responsible young Muslims. A study has revealed that majority of the Muslims are 25 or under, a resource that is passing its lives with no aim what so ever. We were sent down to form the caliphate under Allah’s subjected rule. We were to be His representatives. But we are living our lives in a delusion with no meaning and purpose.
The reason of all this delusion and procrastination is that we are reluctant in acquiring knowledge and are hesitant about our fundamental beliefs and faiths. This ideological weakness and lack of true understanding of Islam has lead to this situation. It is observed that those people who are staunch believers of any idea transpire movement and revolt in people against the stagnated sands. We should relive our past and be confident about our future, we should always remember that we have a resource of true wisdom and knowledge with us and it can contribute to eradicate all the grave misconceptions faced by humanity today. We have to understand that our salvation lies in helping others not by ridiculing them, it lies in understanding others not by leaving them alone in the delusions of the society, our success lies in unity and not in discord. We have to revive the brotherhood, a fraternity which no religion on this earth provides with.
We should act, persevere and incept new horizons for our future while learning from the mistakes of our past. We should unleash the passion which is concealed in our hearts and tame this spirit for the fulfillment of Allah’s commandments only then we will be able to succeed in this world and in the world hereafter. Otherwise there will be chaos and discontent in our lives. Otherwise, hourglass of time will break free our sands and will disperse us in the preposterous winds of delusion.
خدا ےَلم یزل کا دست قدرت تو ، زباں تو ہے
یقیں پیدا کر اے غا فل کہ مغلوب گماں تو ہے