Friday, February 3, 2012

The central proposition of Islam

"The central proposition which regulates the structure of Islam,
 then, is that there is fear in nature,
and the object of Islam is to free man from fear." (Iqbal)
Illustration from Tabassum Khalid.
Courtesy: Iqbal Academy Pakistan

Excerpt from 'Islam as a Moral and Political Ideal', a paper delivered by Iqbal in April 1909 at the anniversary of Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam, Lahore.
The truth is that Islam looks upon the universe as a reality and consequently recognises as reality all that is in it. Sin, pain, sorrow, struggle are certainly real, but Islam teaches that evil is not essential to the universe; the universe can be reformed; the elements of sin and evil can be gradually eliminated. All that is in the universe is God’s, and the seemingly destructive forces of nature become sources of life, if properly controlled by man, who is endowed with the power to understand and to control them.

These and other similar teachings of the Quran, combined with the Quranic recognition of the reality of sin and sorrow, indicate that the Islamic view of the universe is neither optimistic nor pessimistic. Modern psychometry has given the final answer to the psychological implications of Buddhism. Pain is not an essential factor in the constitution of the universe, and pessimism is only a product of a hostile social environment. Islam believes in the efficacy of well-directed action; hence the standpoint of Islam must be described as melioristic – the ultimate pre-supposition and justification of all human effort at scientific discovery and social progress. Although Islam recognises the fact of pain, sin and struggle in nature, yet the principal fact which stands in the way of man’s ethical progress is, according to Islam, neither pain, nor sin, nor struggle. It is fear, to which man is a victim owing to his ignorance of the nature of his environment and want of absolute faith in God. The highest stage of man’s ethical progress is reached when he becomes absolutely free from fear and grief.

The central proposition which regulates the structure of Islam, then, is that there is fear in nature, and the object of Islam is to free man from fear.


  1. Greetings,

    I very much like this. This brief post is not only instructive, but inspirational as well, in the most practical way.

    Thank you for this.

    All good wishes,


  2. I wonder if it is possible to be free from fear and grief?

    1. According to Iqbal, belief in the Unity of God eliminates fear and grief.

      This belief is strengthened when we participate in spreading "solidarity, equality and freedom" for all humanity while respecting the opinions of others (since this is how the essence of the Unity of God translates into "a working idea").