Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Concept of God

According to Iqbal, there are five elements in the Islamic conception of God. In other words, from an Islamic point of view, anyone who sets out in search of God is likely to form the following concepts:
  1. God is Eternal: everything passes away; God alone is eternal and immortal.
  2. God is Powerful: God has absolute power over everything, and His power does not contradict His other traits.
  3. God is Knowing: God has complete knowledge of everything, and this implies that the way we learn things as human being cannot be the only mode of knowing, because our knowledge is not comparable with that of God.
  4. God is Creative: His creation is also unlike ours, because we create from material already available to us whereas God’s creativity is obviously free from every limitation.
  5. God is the Infinite Ego: God is not the name of a mere energy pervading through the Universe. Despite being Infinite, He has a personality.
Much has been written about Iqbal’s concept of God, and much more can be written, but these are the five basic points in the Islamic conception of God as explained in the third lecture of The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam (1930/34). Of course, the more urgent question is whether Iqbal suggests any particular method for realizing these aspects of God’s existence.


  1. Thank you for sharing this with us! I hope to learn a lot more from you Insha'Allah.

  2. As far as my understanding of Iqbal goes, (which is primarily based on reading his book' the reconstruction of religious thought in Islam' ), I think the method suggested by Iqbal for realizing these aspects of God's personality is through the discovery of 'self' or 'khudi'. Self does does not mean the 'human ego' or 'nafs' here, it refers to the overcoming of human ego so that that man can fully realize that there is only one true 'Ego' in this universe and that belongs to Allah Almighty.

    Because the Infinite Ego is matchless, only it possesses these traits like eternity, absolute power, ultimate knowledge, creativity and many others. Because of these, only this Ego deserves to be worshiped or obeyed. Man can only realize or truly bow down before this Ego when he surmounts his human ego (which forms the basis of his pride and his tendency to crave power, to command his fellow beings). Only then he can find his 'khudi', the link between man and the Infinite Ego. Only through his humility man is able to realize the greatness and infinitude of the Infinite Ego (by contrasting his ego with the Infinite Ego), and only by accepting his humility i.e. by renouncing his identify as the human ego, man can become a part of the Infinite Ego and a participant in creating his own destiny. Man's power or true worth lies in this link which he has with God. They true empowerment thus becomes submission to God. This is what I believe Iqbal means in this verse:
    'Khudi ko kar buland itna k har taqdeer say pehlay
    khuda banday say khud pochay, bata teri raza kia hai'.

    Also I think the following hadees also proves this point:
    'Allah Taala farmata hai: aay ibn e adam, aik teri chahat hai aur aik meri chahat hai. agar tu nay supurd kar dia apnay aap ko us k jo meri chahat hai to main bakash dun ga tujhe woh bhi jo teri chahat hai, aur agar tu nay khilaf warzi ki us ki jo meri chanat hai, to main thaka dun ga tujh ko uss main jo teri chahat hai, phir ho ga wohi jo meri chahat hai.'

  3. Iqbal is now getting on my nerves. I don't know how but I have to manage time to read this book. I don't know why I never thought of reading prose by Iqbal.

  4. So if God has "personality", what is that personality. My curiosity is piqued.

  5. @Shazia: to some extent, your question is addressed by Iqbal at the beginning of his third lecture in the Reconstruction. But of course, the comprehensive answer is presumably to be known first hand only :).

    You can read the lecture at the Allama Iqbal website.

  6. jzakallh 4 sharing such a 9c in4maxn.
    i am relating it wd EAMAN-E MFASSIL n now value of IQBAL is acceedind in my heart.
    now i am thinking about SPRITUAL relation wd IQBAL


  7. Mr. Sultan Geelani, a senior friend, found some technical problem in posting his comment and has asked me to post it on his behalf:

    "The 'Republic of Rumi' has given a precise set of cencepts defining God in terms of Iqbal's conceptualizing of God. However, there appears to be a paradox in the concepts as given(Sufi unverse is full of them to help expand the esoteric wisdom); it is, being infinite entails being infinite in all possible directions and dimensions.

    "Therefore infinity alone is enough to "account" for the Almighty.

    "The other paradox is that Iqbal stood for Religious Experience, and dogmatics that emanate from mere concepts in repect of the Providence and Deen was anathema to him. Because Religious Experience transcends
    all rationalization and resolves all appearences of contradiction in reality; while concepts tyrranize us with tataulogies along which logic must flow. Iqbal was nothing if he was not for transcending the universe of senses, and that of rationality which is not disciplinned by sublime transcendence.

    "Hence the Republic of Rumi appears only to whet the apetite of God seeker [through Iqbal, say] by giving a rational statement of God's
    'Sifaat,' according to Iqbal."


  8. Jazakallah for sharing the wonderful information with us.

  9. Bismillah.i think,IQBAL described these specific atributes of ALLAH SUBHANAH,because,he only want MUSLIM UMMAH ,to come forward to understand The DEEN,to know ALLAH...SO when we know him,we will LOVE him,
    when we LOVE HIM,we will WORSHIP him,in a PROPER WAY!!!

  10. The concept/journey from "khudi" (ego/I) to "khuda"(god consciousness) reminds me of buddhism. How do you derive these concepts from Quran? Quran is a simple set of obey commands and "carrot and stick" rules for obtaining eternal heaven. There is nothing else in the philosophy of Quran.

    Sufism seems to be a completely different religion (much more evolved philosophy) than what one can see in Quran. My sense is the content of sufism closely matches buddhism:- The prevailing religion of the conquered lands. The sufi saints just changed the symbols to islamic ones (quran and muhammed) to curry favour with the newly installed islamic rulers to invent sufism.

  11. I agree that God is Eternal, All Powerful, All Knowing, Creative and Infinite. I am curious to learn what Iqbal has to say about God's personality.

  12. I agree God is Eternal, All Powerful, All Knowing, Creative and Infinite. I am eager to learn about Iqbal's concept of God's personality.

  13. I agree God is Eternal, All Powerful, All Knowing, Creative and Infinite. I am eager to learn about Iqbal's concept of God's personality.

  14. Greetings,

    Thank you for this post. These are intriguing concepts.

    I am interested in *knowing* how these may come alive, through humans, as Marghdeen.

    All good wishes,