Mohammad Iqbal Philosophy

Mohammad Iqbal Philosophy:

(1) Universe- The Universe is designed to serve as the theatre of man’s growing and manifold activity. It is not a finished product that has left the hands of God. It is not predetermined. It is growing, advancing and has the capacity for infinite growth and development. It is not a complete truth. The universe is a unity broken into components leading to a multiplicity of phenomena. All life activity is the outcome of man’s craving for this unity. The driving force of evolution lies in the conative tendency, striving for the resumption of unity. There is nothing like a predetermined universe. The main purpose of the Quran as Dr Iqbal interprets is to awaken in man “a higher consciousness of his manifold relations with God and the Universe”.

(2) Mind- Mohammad Iqbal praised highly the wealth of the “world of mind” and asserted that, “the wealth of mind once secured is never lost”. He remarked that the goods of mind and the riches of the spirit are always aspiring upward in man and are very precious. He emphasised the development of practical, creative, intellectual and spiritual minds. He believed in the enrichment of the mind by establishing a give and take relationship. In his words, “The schools could attempt to elicit the intellectual, aesthetic and moral significance of the occupations and interests of life and to find the growing points of the mind in its effort to handle the everyday concrete problems”. Open and enterprising mind should be developed through interaction with other minds as well as with the environment and the society. Mind’s creativity “should not only be confined to the reshaping of the material world alone but should also build a much vaster world in the depth of his own inner being wherein he discovers sources of infinite joy and inspiration in art, poetry, literature, science, philosophy and religion”.

(3) God- God is Absolute Ego from whom proceed the individual ego. God too is a self, for, He responds to our reflections and prayers. God’s infinity is not spatial but inner. Change is the continuous flow of energy. God will not change the condition of men till they change what is in themselves. To quote Quran, “God, give us the good things in this life and in the life hereafter”.

(4) Man’s Ego- Man’s ego is twofold:

  • Efficient Ego.
  • Appreciative Ego.

Efficient ego corresponds to the material world whereas appreciative ego is spiritual existence which can be experienced in meditation where efficient ego is in obeyance.

(5) Faith in Man and Mankind- Man is the roof and crown of all creations of God. Dr Iqbal is a champion of man’s freedom and dignity. He has a challenging vision of the destiny of man as a Vice-regent of God on earth. Like Tagore and Radhakrishnan, Iqbal is essentially an optimist, with faith in man’s high destiny. He sees imperfect man constantly striving towards perfection. The distinctive grace of man is that he alone, of all the living creatures, has become an active participant in the creative activity of his Maker. Man is free to choose. So he is accountable for good or bad deeds. So he should justify.

Iqbal believes, “Man must hopefully develop all his powers, bring them into an active and creative relationship with his environment, work to understand the laws that operate around him and, with their help conquer the world of matter. Having done so, he should use the resources of knowledge and the power that it gives for the enrichment of human life, for raising the equality of living. If the ‘eventual victory over evil’ is to be achieved, the relation of man to nature must be exploited”. According to Iqbal, “No form of reality is so powerful, so inspiring and so beautiful as the spirit of man”. The main purpose of Quran as Dr Iqbal interprets it, is to awaken in man “a higher consciousness of his manifold relations with God and the Universe”. The kingdom of God is within man. He can establish the Kingdom of God on earth. He can find salvation by working as a righteous crusader. Man of God had the power to change the decrees of fate. Dr Iqbal exhorts man by saying, “Exalt thy ego so high that God Himself will consult thee before determining the destiny”.

Dr Iqbal is a Humanist to the core. His entire philosophy converges on the man, his nature and the development of his individuality in a social milieu. He was able to expand the concept of “momin” to make it co-equal with that of man.

(6) Portrayal of Good Man- In his Presidential Address to the Seminar on Religion and Society at the Institute of Advanced Study, Dr Iqbal talked about the following characteristics while giving the portrayal of Good Man-

  • Creative Life- Good man leads a creative life of effort and struggle as a result of which he transforms the crude world into beautiful world.
  • Application of Intelligence- Good man applies his intelligence to the exploitation of the forces of nature.
  • Subordination- Good man lives his life in the name of Lord, dedicating all his powers to the working out of His increasing purpose on earth. He subordinates everything to God.
  • Self-realization- Good man sets out on the arduous course of self-realization and self-development.
  • No Compromises with Evil- Good man refuses to make compromises with evil or falsehood.
  • Active Contact- Good man develops all his power and strengthens his individuality in active contact with his material and cultural environment.
  • Courage and Tolerance- Good man cultivates courage, tolerance and faqr. He firmly believes “It is better to be a man than an angel, but it requires a lot of preservance”.

(7) True Life- The true life for a man of faith is, one of action and striving and not of renunciation. In the words of Dr Iqbal, “Life is ever welcoming the difficult, ever rejecting easy, ever creating, ever achieving new thing”. It must be directed to the improvement and salvaging of this world here and now. Having said “Yes” to the world of matter, the man of faith goes forward to conquer it and, for this purpose learns its secrets and laws and gains power and riches. He cultivates the capacity to remain mentally detached from them, to rise superior to temptations which they throw in his way. He has the spiritual integrity and unselfishness needed to use them for the common good and to try and realize the ideal in terms of the real. In the words of Iqbal, “The life of the ideal consists not in a total breach with the real, which would shatter the organic wholeness of life into painful opposition, but in the perpetual endeavour of the ideal to appropriate the real, with a view eventually to absorb it, to convert it into itself and illuminate its whole being. Any individual or nation claiming true spiritual greatness or attachment should be able to make a success of its life.

(8) View about Religion- For Iqbal, religion is a dynamic inspiration for the whole of life. It implies the adoption of a moral, spiritual and humanitarian approach in dealing with the complex social and technological problems of the age. It means a rejection of any doctrine based on exploitation or hatred. It means finding our way back to the charity which is embedded in the heart of man.

In his Lectures, Dr Iqbal remarked, “Religion, which in its higher manifestations is neither dogma, nor priesthood, nor ritual can alone ethically prepare the modern man for the burden of the great responsibility which the advancement of modern science necessarily involves and restore to him that attitude of faith which makes him capable of winning a personality here and retaining it hereafter”.

(9) Prayer and Spiritual Illumination- In the words of Dr Iqbal, prayer is “an effective method of expressing our appreciative self, through which we can establish a deep and fruitful communion with our inner self and with God”. He further states, “Prayer as a means of spiritual illumination, is a normal, vital act by which the little island of our personality suddenly discovers its situation in the larger whole of life…. and it must be regarded as a necessary complement to the intellectual activity of the observer of nature…. It is an expression of man’s inner yearning for a response in the awful silence of the universe. It is a unique process of discovery whereby the searching ego affirms itself in the very moment of self-negation and thus discovers its own worth and justification as a dynamic factor in the life of the universe”.

(10) Nationalist and Internationalist- Dr Iqbal was a nationalist and internationalist. Liberty, equality and fraternity are the watchwords of his philosophy. He sang the song in the praise of India “Sare Jahan Se Achha Hindustan Hamara”. He also held, “China and Arabia are ours, so is Hindustan, we are Muslims and the whole world is our native land”. He wanted to see ” the education of youth so patterned that they would be well versed in their own way of life, the finest of their cultural values and also receptive to the best from the outside”.


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Democracy and Education by John DeweyColonial State– NIOS

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