Friday, December 24, 2010

Democracy, on a personal note

I could not have thought that “the Father of Hypocrisy” would evoke such strong reaction (and keen interest). From the feedback it seems that the connection between Iqbal, democracy and Pakistan has surprised some and shocked some others. Maybe a few basic points should be outlined here.

The purpose of my recent posts is not to voice my own ideas. They consist mainly of material that explains Iqbal’s point of view on various matters (and eventually it will go under the “Worldview of Iqbal” chapter in the Republic of Rumi Website.

There cannot be any ambiguity regarding Iqbal's opinion about the political ideal of Islam. “Democracy, then, is the most important aspect of Islam regarded as a political ideal,” he said in a lecture in 1909 and never changed his position on this issue. Even in his famous Reconstruction lectures, the final edition of which was published only four years before his death, he referred to a “spiritual democracy” as “the ultimate ideal of Islam”.

For the same reason he was a critic of Western democracy. His famous verses in Urdu and Persian, with which most of us are familiar, are a criticism of Western democracy – for instance, “democracy is a form of government in which heads are counted but not weighed":
جمہوریت اک طرز حکومت ہے کہ جس میں
بندوں کو گنا کرتے ہیں، تولا نہیں کرتے
[To be continued]


  1. The phrase "spiritual democracy" and ending quote here are both new phrasings to me and I eagerly look forward to Part II.

  2. Greetings,

    Thank you for this post.

    The word "democracy" is thrown about so much today, particularly from the United States, that its sometimes a name without a reality. I am intrigued about the potentials for manifesting a "spiritual democracy."

    All good wishes,