His message was universal

Iqbal’s Concept of Universalism is as relevant as ever



Iqbal’s thought represents all universal attributes of Islam practiced by the Muslims in the hey days of Islam. He urged the Muslims to develop those universal qualities which characterize the pristine glory of Islam. So his message is totally universal and his outlook is unlimited. He rose above all limited outlooks and inhuman racialism, firmly believed in the divine principles of Islam. That is why he clearly explains in his “Stray reflections” compiled by Dr. Javid Iqbal that, “Islam is not a religion in the ancient sense of the word. It is an attitude –an attitude, that is to say, of freedom and even of defiance of universe. It is really a protest against the entire outlook of the ancient world. Briefly, it is the discovery of man”.
Thus by this statement, Iqbal explains that, Islam as a religion and as a culture, is humanistic in its nature. Any interpretation of Islam which sanctifies feudalism and discriminates between man and man is not acceptable to him. His Western critics contend that he picked up this humanism from European thought and interpreted Islam in that light. But Iqbal claimed that humanism is purely production of the Islamic culture and teachings. It is actually the main gift of Islam to the West.
 He believes that, “The essence of ‘Tawhid” (Unity of Allah) as a working idea, is human equality, human solidarity and human freedom.” According to him an Islamic state is “an endeavor to transform these principles into space-time forces, an aspiration to realize them in a definite human organization. As I earlier mentioned that Iqbal believes that Islam, in real sense has a vast humanistic nature and attitude. So in his proposed Islamic state, Islamic laws cannot be imposed on the non Muslim minorities. They have always been and shall be governed under their own laws. Iqbal proclaimed categorically in his speeches and statements that:-
“The principle that each group is entitled to free development on its own lines is not inspired by any feeling of narrow communalism. There are communalism and Communalisms. A community which is inspired by feelings of ill-will towards other communities is low and ignorable. I entertain the highest respect for the customs, laws, religious and social institutions of other communities. Nay, it is my duty, according to the teaching of the Quran even to defend of their places of worship, if need be.”
 Here Allama Iqbal’s assertion regarding the responsibilities of a Muslim state to safeguard the rights of the minorities is based on Sura 20, Verse No. 40 in which Allah says:-
“If Allah had not created from aggression, then churches, synagogues, oratories and mosques where Allah is worshiped most. Would have been destroyed.
According to Rt. Justice Dr. Javid Iqbal, in the early stages of Islamic history this Quranic verse was interpreted as legal provisions for the protection of the places of worship of the “People of the book” Jews and Christians. After the conquest of Iran this protection was extended by the jurists to the Zoroastrians, who were considered as” like the people of the Book” ( Kamassali-Ahli-Kitab) The same protection was extended to the Hindu temples during the reign of some Mughal emperors in India, after Humayun.
 Allama argues from the historical prospective that religion in the primitive times was national. Judaism affirmed that it was racial. Christianity preached that it was personal. But Islam teaches us that religion is neither national, nor racial, nor personal, but purely human. Allama further argues that as a culture Islam has no specific country, no specific language, no specific script and no specific mode of dress.
In the light of these above observations it is now crystal clear that Allama Iqbal’s perception of Islam was purely humanistic. Any interpretation of Islam which approves feudalism and discriminates between man and man was not acceptable to him. 

(Dr. Mushtaq Ahmad Ganai teaches at Iqbal Institute of  Culture & Philosophy, University of Kashmir )

Lastupdate on : Wed, 7 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 7 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 8 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST

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