Why Iqbal is relevant in present times and will continue to be in foreseeable future? The answer lies in the method Iqbal adopted to construct his thought process or what later on became to be known as “Fiqr-e-Iqbal”.
There is a need to find solutions to contemporary problems in Fiqr-e-Iqbal because Allama Iqbal had explored the ideas of East and West keeping in mind the spirit of Islamic teachings. Iqbal’s ideology is based on the same principles of Islamic teaching despite the fact he spent his youth in Europe. Allama Iqbal has constantly tried to get acquainted with the spirituality of the methods prescribed by Islam to keep man on the straight path and insisted on the need to explain them in the light of the demands of the present age. While doing so, he very succinctly prescribed the elements of European societies which Muslim minds must adopt and those as well which they must refrain from.
For example, while expanding the concept of worship to new dimensions, he emphasized the point that man should strive to be a co-worker of God while being a servant of God for the society and people. This will raise the status of human beings and the status of every individual will be the same. No one will be superior to anyone as a human being. This will be an important step towards clarifying the real basis of democracy. Everyone’s opinion should be respected. It is the same principle ignoring which today we see democracy is unable to resolve the global issues. In fact this modern western democracy has divided people among classes where material wealth decides the standing of few above others. This is also true in case of modern comity of nations.
For Iqbal, even if there is difference in social status or arguments, others can be made equal with the help of argument and reasoning based on universal principal of equality. No one’s opinion can be suppressed by force. This notion of human equality was not prominent in ancient times because slavery and coercion was common. The religion of Islam wisely broke the chains of slavery and gradually raised human dignity. Thus the evolution of democratic ideology was tarnished during the dark ages.
Allama Iqbal emphasizes on Ijtihad; first among Muslims and then between human beings at global level. He believes that many aspects of Islamic teachings have so far come to the fore with all their might. There is a need to clarify these hidden wisdoms with the help of further reflection. The way to establish a society should be enlightened. In this regard, the moral teachings of Islam can be revolutionary. By putting the concept of God into practice, one can get rid of all the problems and difficulties in which the modern man feels entangled. Unfortunately, instead, Muslim minds of early 20th century surrendered before the scientific advances of West and adopted norms and values which were primarily based on materialistic thought process.
But how can Muslims stir global dialogue or Ijtihad within Muslim societies in the pursuit of idea of democracy that would be entrenched in universal values? This is an important and natural question and Iqbal answered it with his philosophy of “Self” also known as Concept of Khudi.
Allama Iqbal’s philosophy of the self is characterized by the fact that the human self maintains its separate identity despite being close to God. He proposed that a “finite self” i.e. human beings communicates with the “infinite self” i.e. God. Obedience, self-control, and devotion to God are the stages of self-training in Iqbal’s thought, through which the human self becomes stronger and stronger. The stable self becomes so powerful that no force can weaken it. By moving towards self-stability and self-affirmation, man also remains a servant of God and becomes a co-worker. Helps to shape the universe. By doing so, it is as if he is following God’s commands. He beg and pleads with God, utters words of complaints about God’s decisions (due to not being able to understand these decisions), this interaction with his Creator makes him wise. Slowly he begins to comprehend the universal wisdom which elevates his conscience to new heights. His horizon becomes endlessly wide, where he performs such an alchemy that he takes a prescription from the Creator and prepares a mixture which takes the form of love (for every living thing). This is a journey of a Muslim heart that travels from “knowing” to “believing”. This is how his finite self finds its way to communicate with infinite self of God.
One can observe that for Iqbal faith is not a static entity without motion or any life. Iqbal’s “belief” is a beautiful combination of belief and supreme love of Creator and his Messenger (PBUH) that pervades his heart and conscience, his intellect and thought, his intentions and disposition, his friendship and enmity throughout his life. He conveyed the message to the Muslims that you have been created to lead the world, get up and do your duty.
It is the perfection of Allama Iqbal’s art that he uses the methods of training the servants of Allah to fight Mamula (Wagtail) against Shahbaz (Falcon). It is time for Muslims especially young minds to adhere to Iqbal’s call of Khudi as a tool to achieve universal democracy which can benefit everyone regardless of caste, creed or religion.
Today, when we take stock of our plight, it is clear that if the teachings of Iqbal had been followed in accordance with his spirit, we would not have suffered from these difficulties. The situation was such that the teachings of the greats of the nation became secondary and now, unfortunately only materialism is being taught whereas ideology and high moral values are disappearing. Efforts to turn the new generation away from religion are on the rise. Morality is being called stereotypes, the nation is being divided into nationalities and the enemies of Pakistan are fueling differences. In these circumstances, it is very important to fully understand the message of Allama Iqbal and to inculcate it in the hearts. This should be done with a mission in mind, which is the responsibility of the government of the day, intellectuals, teachers as well as parents.