Friday, September 4, 2009

"Iqbal in Jail"

IQBAL does not stand for himself or Muslims only. He also stands for SHAKESPEARE, GOETHE, and much good that was coming from the West, and which was acknowledged with gratitude by Iqbal and his predecessors Jauhar and Sir Syed. These positive trends were thwarted in the West itself.

The process through which a minority of self-destructive intellectual elite suppressed the voices of Western masses is worthy of your consideration. I have already explained it in The Beast and the Lion. Here are a few points which may have been missed there:

  • In 1857, the French Poet Baudelaire described "hypocrisy" as a literary ideal. Hypocrisy is nothing more than an annoying immaturity in everyday English language as compared to the initial verses of 'The Cow' (the 2nd Chapter of the Quran) where hypocrites are introduced as those "who say that we believe but actually they do not". There, hypocrisy is a "disease of the soul" which increases itself because hypocrites consider themselves to be morally superior than the rest of the group whom they claim to represent - "When they are asked, why dont you believe the way others have come to believe, they say, Shall we become like the ignorant fools?"
  • The emotion of Baudelaire was developed into a philosophy of literature by Matthew Arnold and later perpetuated by Yeats and Eliot. By the end of the First World War, this school was completely in charge of the literary and academic scene in Europe and UK. In America, Fitzgerald was not strong enough to check the onslaught of this school and the Russian immigrant Ayn Rand, whose insight into these matters was nothing less than visionary, was unfortunately entangled in her own aristocratic biases which led her into worshipping the same idols by other names.

If you look at the writings of these decadent writers, you will find that they denounce Shakespeare, Wordsworth and Goethe in one way or another. These writers are nothing less than suicide attackers on the intellectual fronts of the modern world - they want to destroy the best of their own culture. Unfortunately, this school has had an unrestrained dictatorship on the letters of West, and through the West on the East.

Iqbal was the only person whose literary merit as well as standing in the masses of a significant society was big enough to check this assault. He did that for the MASSES of his own community: the people of Pakistan (and to a lesser extent the Muslims of India even after 1947) have never rallied around decadent literature even though some of the decadent poets claimed to be speaking for the people and tried to lure the masses with socialist messages.

Unfortunately, the intellectual elite in Pakistan also went the way of their Western bosses - and the loss was not of Pakistan alone. Just at a moment when healthy messages from East could have repaid the debt of West for giving us Shakespeare and Goethe, and creating a lasting bridge for taking the world forward, these Pakistani academics and intellectual elite imported anti-Western and anti-human poison from West itself.

I call this an "anti-Shakespeare Revolution" which started in the West in 1857, and an "anti-Iqbal Revolution" which started in Indo-Pakistan in 1936. Here, I use Iqbal and Shakespeare as metaphors for one and the same thing: the best of the East and the West, which may need not be different at the deepest level of soul, even if different in terms of its more practical and immediate applications in various culture.

In Pakistan, our academia has "jailed" Iqbal. In the West, they have done the same to Shakespeare and Goethe. Briging out even one of them, in either society, could bring about a healthy shift in thought, the results of which may be greater than expected.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What would you most like SPIRIT to say to you?

A dear friend dropped by for a day. Yet, because she broke her foot the morning before she arrived, the day became a small retreat with us while her foot heals. She is a writer and has been in a most thoughtful mode. Yesterday she asked out of the blue: "If you could hear audibly SPIRIT speak, what do you wish SPIRIT would say to you?" I said, you first. She said "Be not afraid". Then I said that I would like SPIRIT to say to me: "LISTEN and I will show you the way."

What about you?

Maybe this could be a small beginning as we show our writing to one another and ask questions about things deep and matters less serious or even entertaining?

Another idea I'd love to discuss with you is the impact of metaphor on cross-cultural dialogue and literature.

Anyone here?