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Friday, August 3, 2012

Iqbal and Quran


Illustration by Tabassum Khalid;
Courtesy: Iqbal Academy Pakistan



“Alif. Lam. Mim. This is the Scripture whereof there is no doubt, a guidance unto those who ward off (evil). Those who believe in the Unseen, establish daily prayer, and spend out of what We have given them.”

This is a translation of the first three verses of the second chapter of the Quran. In my humble opinion, any attempt at understanding Iqbal’s approach to Quran can be much more fruitful if it begins with these verses, and how he interpreted them – especially the third verse.

In his doctoral thesis (written between 1905 and 1908), Iqbal cited the third verse as the Quran’s definition of Muslims: “Those who believe in the Unseen, establish daily prayer, and spend out of what We have given them.” He then went on to explain what is meant by “the Unseen”, in which one has to believe in order to be a Muslim.

“The Quran replies that the Unseen is in your own soul,” Iqbal wrote. To support his argument, he quoted the verses 20-21 from Chapter 51: “And in the earth there are signs to those who believe, and in yourself; What! Do you not then see!”

The Unseen is in your own soul. This is the central theme not only in Iqbal’s understanding of the Quran, but even in his overall philosophy. Latern on, he discarded many of the other observations presented in his doctoral thesis, yet he retained this one to the very end. We find it repeated endlessly, in his English prose, and in his poetry written in Urdu and Persian.

So, how do we discover this Unseen in our souls? In my understanding, Iqbal has given us a proper and systematic method for this, which I shall try to share in the next few posts.

To be continued, tomorrow.

10 comments:

  1. Greetings,

    I love this post, and greatly look forward to your elaborations on it.

    All good wishes,

    robert

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  2. looking forward to being enlightened.. it is interesting how one comes across so much these days on the soul.. so this post is definately very timely..

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  3. Thanks for the post. I would like to know more on this topic.
    Best!

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  4. Thanks for the post, I would like to know more on this topic.
    Best!

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  5. Upon knowing the Unseen, we have access to divine guidance for our lives. This I need! Urgently~

    I appreciate the shortened segments, bit by bit works very well for me.

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  6. "Those who believe in the Unseen, establish daily prayer, and spend out of what We have given them.”

    Along with the continual confirmations of the Unseen both around one's sense-perceiving world -- there are continual "glimpses" of the Unseen in all the imperfect attempts for us to fathom the same in literature, history, interpretations of our sacred scriptures and other less perfect wisdom.

    YET, the depth and courage of Allama Iqbal in his resounding and clear understanding of the Unseen evidence within us is most helpful of all and should give great confidence to the discovery of the same for ourselves. (And he was WAY ahead of most theologians worldwide, I venture to add.)

    Finally, such awareness, as the Quran points out early and with perfect order, leads to daily prayer and compassionate giving.

    I am so grateful to be one of the many recipient's of Iqbal's and your wise amplifications and applications.

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  7. Very interesting, loved reading this post! I'm looking forward to read the rest. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    Best regards,
    Shaidi

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  8. The quote "And in the earth there are signs to those who believe, and in yourself; What! Do you not then see!” reminds me of my favourite line from The Conquest Of Nature "At times to see nothing but the One in throngs of tulips" There are signs in every moment, some so subtle you miss them and others that slap you in the face and yell "I'm a sign!"

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  9. Thanks for sharing these details with everyone. ..
    Quran

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