The Republic of Rumi: a Novel of Reality (2007) was a book in which I attempted a new approach to Iqbal Studies. Since then, I have realized that the idea can be developed further.
In short, it means two things:
- The message of Iqbal is relevant today. It can be helpful in finding solutions which can be acceptable to the masses and not just the experts - quite possibly in many cultures of the world.
- Iqbal's message is a reinterpretation of the message of Rumi for our times.
What will be gained? The benefits can be at the national level as well as international.
At the national level, a society which adopts the ideals presented by Iqbal may discover "Marghdeen", the ideal world proposed by Iqbal where no one is needy or destitute, where knowledge is not used for exploitation and where a unity exists between spirit and matter. Iqbal presented this ideal world in his epic Javid Nama (1932), and from a careful study it may be realized that this is not just another utopia. It is achievable, provided that we are willing to reconsider some of our perceptions about things:
جہانِ تازہ کی افکارِ تازہ سے ہے نمود
کہ سنگ و خِشت سے ہوتے نہیں جہاں پیدا
Internationally, the message of Iqbal holds the promise of peace and harmony with better understanding between the masses and the educated elite, and between societies in the world. In Iqbal's own words:
The object of my Persian poems is not to make out a case for Islam; my aim is simply to discover a universal social reconstruction, and in this endeavor, I find it philosophically impossible to ignore a social system which exists with the express object of doing away with all the distinctions of caste, rank and race; and which, while keeping a watchful eye on the affairs of this world, fosters a spirit of un-worldliness so absolutely essential to man in his relations with his neighbors. This is what Europe lacks and this is what she can still learn from us.
(In my book, I tried to imagine this “universal social reconstruction” through an allegory, ‘A Parable Never Told’).
A better understanding of the work of Iqbal is the way to begin. Marghdeen Learning Centre (MLC) has been added with the support of Iqbal Academy Pakistan.
An online certificate course, ‘Introduction to Iqbal Studies’, is offered four times a year at MLC. The course is certified by Iqbal Academy Pakistan. It is promoted internationally by Dr. Iqbal Society of North America (DISNA) and in Pakistan by Topline Publishers.
A new syllabus
I am convinced that the complete scope of Iqbal Studies can be realized only if we readjust our understanding of five areas to the vision of Iqbal. These areas are history, literature, political science, religion and science (together) and education.
Hence, the next step may be the development of a new syllabus in which various subjects are approached with the help of the guidance provided by Iqbal.
It might be more desirable to start introducing this new syllabus through informal and non-formal education. Marghdeen Learning Centre has also started offering courses in some of these areas. Self-Development through Iqbal is a certified course which offers a new introduction to literature with special focus on Javid Nama but also includes sections on Nezami, Attar, Rumi, Shakespeare and Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai. Another course, History According to Iqbal, is likely to be offered in January 2012.
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