Imam Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Idris Shafii (767-820) was the founder of the Shafii school of jurisprudence in Sunni Islam. His tomb is a prominent landmark of the Old Cairo (Egypt).
Shafii receives a glowing tribute from Iqbal in Secrets and Mysteries. The famous saying of Shafii, “Time is a Cutting Sword” is explained by Iqbal at length, with some unconventional observations: Time is non-linear, and more than a series of days and nights.
Apparently, one of the purposes for choosing the quotation from Shafii and explaining it in this manner was to show, as Iqbal would write to the translator of his poem soon afterwards, “I claim that the philosophy of the Asrar [i.e. ‘Secrets of the Self’, the first part of Secrets and Mysteries] is a direct development out of the experience and speculation of old Muslim Sufis and the thinkers. Even Bergson’s idea of time is not quite foreign to our Sufis… I wish I had time to write an extensive book on the subject to show to the Western student of philosophy how philosophic thinking makes the whole world kin.”