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.


  1. Personally, I gained lots of insight from this post by Khurram Sahib. My hesitation has been to decide on my comfort level and ability to commit to this little community of dialogue.

    There's more I'd love to say about this post, "Iqbal in Jail" later...IF there's more interest.

    Perhaps this kind of discussion is best left for after Ramzan? However, I'm keenly interested in comparing West - East literature in the LIGHT of Iqbal's foresight for OUR time.

    For me at this time in my life I'd enjoy literary AND spiritual/ethical discussions both at least some of the time.

    I am willing to wait and I am ready to commit to this new discussion blog when and if others would like to do so.

    There would be more comfort for me if Khurram Sahib and another more literary than I take the lead...and I am most honored to be invited into such a group.


  2. The more I consider Khurram Shafique Sahib's insightful "Iqbal is in Jail" with Iqbal's basic and rather spiritually revolutionary teachings - the more I keep revisiting this possible key: that the world and particularly the West and possibly even the East and possible even Asia and Pakistan are continuing to hold Iqbal and therefore his truths in jail...

    Also continuing as well to see personal applications:

    No, it's not only the God or Divine of our understanding - nor is it even the State (whatever the state) which gives freedom to our best selves collectively or together (for me the writer- the poetic part of myself)- nor is it any other the KEY -- it's we ourselves, once we give up our fear...once we make our best priorities...we can give our each our own societies, our own religious and ethical practices and each our own selves at our best - freedom...


Thanks for choosing to comment.