Shariati’s Iqbal

Ajaz Ahmad Lone

Ajaz Ahmad Lone
Ajaz Ahmad Lone

Iqbal and Ali Shariati, the two thinkers who may be counted amongst the most influential social reformers of contemporary Muslim Ummah and their thought can help us steer the past and face the challenges of new century. They have creatively appropriated Islamic tradition. The person who is fully imbibed with the thought of Iqbal and Ali Shariati would be aware about the fact that Muslim Ummah went through one of its most difficult and agonizing phases during their time. And it is obvious that the prevailing conditions of any particular society are instrumental in shaping the ideas of every social philosopher who attempts to study it.

Ali Sharaiti, an eminent contemporary social reformer of Iran, was highly inspired from Iqbal’s philosophy and thought, in his formative years. He was influenced by many people including Frantz Fanon, Jamul-Ul-Din-Afgani, Taleqani, and above all by Muhammad Iqbal. From Shariati’s readings it seems that he was more influenced by Iqbal than any other scholar, whether in the east or the west.

Describing the persona and message of Iqbal, Dr. Shariati writes, “Iqbal is a multi-faceted individual. He thinks like Bergson. He loves like Rumi. He plays the songs of his faith like Nasir Khusraw. He fights with colonialism for the liberation of Muslim nations as Sayyid Jamal had done. He endeavours to save civilization as Tagore had tried to do from the tragedy of calculating reason and the pest of ambition. Like Carrel, he holds the hope and the aspiration to be able to revive love and the spirit in harsh life of modern man. Like Luther and Calvin, he makes his goal the revival of his religious thought and an Islamic Renaissance in this age.”

The greatest advice of Iqbal to humanity, writes Dr. Shariati, is to have a heart like Jesus; a thought like Socrates; and a hand like the hand of a Caesar. “A man who, in philosophical thought, raises to such a high level that he is considered to be a contemporary thinker and philosopher of the same rank as Bergson in the West today or of the same level as Ghazzali in Islamic history.”

Dr. Shariati points out that Iqbal understood the West from close quarters, he became familiar with the civilization, culture, society, and history of the West, yet he escaped from being captured by the West. Dr. Shariati observes, “Iqbal ascends to the highest intellectual summit in the West and understands the value of European science and technology, the nature of Iqbal’s thought is derived from a nation which is historically and culturally characterized by fineness of sentiments, tenderness of imagination, purity of spirit, idealism of heart, illumination, and inspiration. With such an intellectual background, spirit and outlook, Iqbal has turned to Islam and he is competent enough to reassemble and reconstruct the dispersed and disintegrated elements of Islamic intellectual schools.”

Commenting on Iqbal’s masterpiece “The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam,” Dr. Shariati observes, “But his greater masterpiece is in realizing his full and multi-dimensional self, that is, the integration of a total Muslim, in his own person.”

On Iqbal’s message, Dr Shairiti writes: “We should light a fire in our hearts, rekindle the flame of faith, Gnosticism, and great human love in human soul in order to become better acquainted with the essence of existence, the meaning of soul, the secret of nature, and the ultimate objective of being.”

Describing Iqbal’s aspirations about Pakistan, Dr. Shariati observes, “Iqbal wished Pakistan to be a new, great experiment in the 20th century Islam. He wanted it to be an India that has brought European civilization within itself. This is an ideal Islamic society.”

(Ajaz Ahmad Lone, PhD Scholar at Iqbal Institute of Culture and Philosophy, University of Kashmir.”


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