The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam by Allama Iqbal

The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam by Allama Iqbal

The Philosophical Test of the Revelations of Religious Experience

by Dr. Muhammad Iqbal
The Qur’«n is a book which emphasizes ‘deed’ rather than ‘idea’. There are, however, men to whom it is not possible organically to assimilate an alien universe by re-living, as a vital process, that special type of inner experience on which religious faith ultimately rests. Moreover, the modern man, by developing habits of concrete thought - habits which Islam itself fostered at least in the earlier stages of its cultural career - has rendered himself less capable of that experience which he further suspects because of its liability to illusion. The more genuine schools of Sufism have, no doubt, done good work in shaping and directing the evolution of religious experience in Islam; but their latter-day representatives, owing to their ignorance of the modern mind, have become absolutely incapable of receiving any fresh inspiration from modern thought and experience. They are perpetuating methods which were created for generations possessing a cultural outlook differing, in important respects, from our own. ‘Your creation and resurrection,’ says the Qur’«n, ‘are like the creation and resurrection of a single soul.’ A living experience of the kind of biological unity, embodied in this verse, requires today a method physiologically less violent and psychologically more suitable to a concrete type of mind. In the absence of such a method the demand for a scientific form of religious knowledge is only natural. In these Lectures, which were undertaken at the request of the Madras Muslim Association and delivered at Madras, Hyderabad, and Aligarh, I have tried to meet, even though partially, this urgent demand by attempting to reconstruct Muslim religious philosophy with due regard to the philosophical traditions of Islam and the more recent developments in the various domains of human knowledge. And the present moment is quite favourable for such an undertaking. Classical Physics has learned to criticize its own foundations. As a result of this criticism the kind of materialism, which it originally necessitated, is rapidly disappearing; and the day is not far off when Religion and Science may discover hitherto unsuspected mutual harmonies. It must, however, be remembered that there is no such thing as finality in philosophical thinking. As knowledge advances and fresh avenues of thought are opened, other views, and probably sounder views than those set forth in these Lectures, are possible. Our duty is carefully to watch the progress of human thought, and to maintain an independent critical attitude towards it.

As in other part of the book said

Scholastic philosophy has put forward three arguments for the existence of God. These arguments, known as the Cosmological, the Teleological, and the Ontological, embody a real movement of thought in its quest after the Absolute. But regarded as logical proofs, I am afraid, they are open to serious criticism and further betray a rather superficial interpretation of experience.
The cosmological argument views the world as a finite effect, and passing through a series of dependent sequences, related as causes and effects, stops at an uncaused first cause, because of the unthinkability of an infinite regress. It is, however, obvious that a finite effect can give only a finite cause, or at most an infinite series of such causes. To finish the series at a certain point, and to elevate one member of the series to the dignity of an uncaused first cause, is to set at naught the very law of causation on which the whole argument proceeds. Further, the first cause reached by the argument necessarily excludes its effect. And this means that the effect, constituting a limit to its own cause, reduces it to something finite. Again, the cause reached by the argument cannot be regarded as a necessary being for the obvious reason that in the relation of cause and effect the two terms of the relation are equally necessary to each other. Nor is the necessity of existence identical with the conceptual necessity of causation which is the utmost that this argument can prove. The argument really tries to reach the infinite by merely negating the finite. But the infinite reached by contradicting the finite is a false infinite, which neither explains itself nor the finite which is thus made to stand in opposition to the infinite. The true infinite does not exclude the finite; it embraces the finite without effacing its finitude, and explains and justifies its being. Logically speaking, then, the movement from the finite to the infinite as embodied in the cosmological argument is quite illegitimate; and the argument fails in toto. The teleological argument is no better. It scrutinizes the effect with a view to discover the character of its cause. From the traces of foresight, purpose, and adaptation in nature, it infers the existence of a self-conscious being of infinite intelligence and power. At best, it gives us a skilful external contriver working on a pre-existing dead and intractable material the elements of which are, by their own nature, incapable of orderly structures and combinations. The argument gives us a contriver only and not a creator; and even if we suppose him to be also the creator of his material, it does no credit to his wisdom to create his own difficulties by first creating intractable material, and then overcoming its resistance by the application of methods alien to its original nature. The designer regarded as external to his material must always remain limited by his material, and hence a finite designer whose limited resources compel him to overcome his difficulties after the fashion of a human mechanician. The truth is that the analogy on which the argument proceeds is of no value at all. There is really no analogy between the work of the human artificer and the phenomena of Nature. The human artificer cannot work out his plan except by selecting and isolating his materials from their natural relations and situations. Nature, however, constitutes a system of wholly interdependent members; her processes present no analogy to the architect’s work which, depending on a progressive isolation and integration of its material, can offer no resemblance to the evolution of organic wholes in Nature. The
ontological argument which has been presented in various forms by various thinkers has always appealed most to the speculative mind. The Cartesian form of the argument runs thus:
‘To say that an attribute is contained in the nature or in the concept of a thing is the same as to say that the attribute is true of this thing and that it may be affirmed to be in it. But necessary existence is contained in the nature or the concept of God. Hence it may be with truth affirmed that necessary existence is in God, or that God exists.’1
Descartes supplements this argument by another. We have the idea of a perfect being in our mind. What is the source of the idea? It cannot come from Nature, for Nature exhibits nothing but change. It cannot create the idea of a perfect being. Therefore corresponding to the idea in our mind there must be an objective counterpart which is the cause of the idea of a perfect being in our mind. This argument is somewhat of the nature of the cosmological argument which I have already criticized. But whatever may be the form of the argument, it is clear that the conception of existence is no proof of objective existence. As in Kant’s criticism of this argument the notion of three hundred dollars in my mind cannot prove that I have them in my pocket.2 All that the argument proves is that the idea of a perfect being includes the idea of his existence. Between the idea of a perfect being in my mind and the objective reality of that being there is a gulf which cannot be bridged over by a transcendental act of thought. The argument, as stated, is in fact a petitio principii:3 for it takes for granted the very point in question, i.e. the transition from the logical to the real. I hope I have made it clear to you that the ontological and the teleological arguments, as ordinarily stated, carry us nowhere. And the reason of their failure is that they look upon ‘thought’ as an agency working on things from without. This view of thought gives us a mere mechanician in the one case, and creates an unbridgeable gulf between the ideal and the real in the other. It is, however, possible to take thought not as a principle which organizes and integrates its material from the outside, but as a potency which is formative of the very being of its material. Thus regarded thought or idea is not alien to the original nature of things; it is their ultimate ground and constitutes the very essence of their being, infusing itself in them from the very beginning of their career and inspiring their onward march to a self-determined end. But our present situation necessitates the dualism of thought and being. Every act of human knowledge bifurcates what might on proper inquiry turn out to be a unity into a self that knows and a confronting ‘other’ that is known. That is why we are forced to regard the object that confronts the self as something existing in its own right, external to and independent of the self whose act of knowledge makes no difference to the object known. The true significance of the ontological and the teleological arguments will appear only if we are able to show that the human situation is not final and that thought and being are ultimately one. This is possible only if we carefully examine and interpret experience, following the clue furnished by the Qur’«n which regards experience within and without as symbolic of a reality described by it,4 as ‘the First and the Last, the Visible and the Invisible’.5 This I propose to do in the present lecture.
Now experience, as unfolding itself in time, presents three main levels - the level of matter, the level of life, and the level of mind and consciousness - the subject-matter of physics, biology, and psychology, respectively. Let us first turn our attention to matter. In order exactly to appreciate the position of modern physics it is necessary to understand clearly what we mean by matter. Physics, as an empirical science, deals with the facts of experience, i.e. sense-experience. The physicist begins and ends with sensible phenomena, without which it is impossible for him to verify his theories. He may postulate imperceptible entities, such as atoms; but he does so because he cannot otherwise explain his sense-experience. Thus physics studies the material world, that is to say, the world revealed by the senses. The mental
processes involved in this study, and similarly religious and aesthetic experience, though part of the total range of experience, are excluded from the scope of physics for the obvious reason that physics is restricted to the study of the material world, by which we mean the world of things we perceive. But when I ask you what are the things you perceive in the material world, you will, of course, mention the familiar things around you, e.g. earth, sky, mountains, chairs, tables, etc. When I further ask you what exactly you perceive of these things, you will answer - their qualities. It is clear that in answering such a question we are really putting an interpretation on the evidence of our senses. The interpretation consists in making a distinction between the thing and its qualities. This really amounts to a theory of matter, i.e. of the nature of sense-data, their relation to the perceiving mind and their ultimate causes. The substance of this theory is as follows:
‘The sense objects (colours, sounds, etc.) are states of the perceiver’s mind, and as such excluded from nature regarded as something objective. For this reason they cannot be in any proper sense qualities of physical things. When I say "The sky is blue," it can only mean that the sky produces a blue sensation in my mind, and not that the colour blue is a quality found in the sky. As mental states they are impressions, that is to say, they are effects produced in us. The cause of these effects is matter, or material things acting through our sense organs, nerves, and brain on our mind. This physical cause acts by contact or impact; hence it must possess the qualities of shape, size, solidity and resistance.’6

Knowledge and Religious Experience

What is the character and general structure of the universe in which we live? Is there a permanent element in the constitution of this universe? How are we related to it? What place do we occupy in it, and what is the kind of conduct that befits the place we occupy? These questions are common to religion, philosophy, and higher poetry. But the kind of knowledge that poetic inspiration brings is essentially individual in its character; it is figurative, vague, and indefinite. Religion, in its more advanced forms, rises higher than poetry. It moves from individual to society. In its attitude towards the Ultimate Reality it is opposed to the limitations of man; it enlarges his claims and holds out the prospect of nothing less than a direct vision of Reality. Is it then possible to apply the purely rational method of philosophy to religion? The spirit of philosophy is one of free inquiry. It suspects all authority. Its function is to trace the uncritical assumptions of human thought to their hiding places, and in this pursuit it may finally end in denial or a frank admission of the incapacity of pure reason to reach the Ultimate Reality. The essence of religion, on the other hand, is faith; and faith, like the bird, sees its ‘trackless way’ unattended by intellect which, in the words of the great mystic poet of Islam, ‘only waylays the living heart of man and robs it of the invisible wealth of life that lies within’.1 Yet it cannot be denied that faith is more than mere feeling. It has something like a cognitive content, and the existence of rival parties— scholastics and mystics— in the history of religion shows that idea is a vital element in religion. Apart from this, religion on its doctrinal side, as defined by Professor Whitehead, is ‘a system of general truths which have the effect of transforming character when they are sincerely held and vividly apprehended’.2 Now, since the transformation and guidance of man’s inner and outer life is the essential aim of religion, it is obvious that the general truths which it embodies must not remain unsettled. No one would hazard action on the basis of a doubtful principle of conduct. Indeed, in view of its function, religion stands in greater need of a rational foundation of its ultimate principles than even the dogmas of science. Science may ignore a rational metaphysics; indeed, it has ignored it so far. Religion can hardly afford to ignore the search for a reconciliation of the oppositions of experience and a justification of the environment in which humanity finds itself. That is why Professor Whitehead has acutely remarked that ‘the ages of faith are the ages of rationalism’.3 But to rationalize faith is not to admit the superiority of philosophy over religion. Philosophy, no doubt, has jurisdiction to judge religion, but what is to be judged is of such a nature that it will not submit to the jurisdiction of philosophy except on its own terms. While sitting in judgement on religion, philosophy cannot give religion an inferior place among its data. Religion is not a departmental affair; it is neither mere thought, nor mere feeling, nor mere action; it is an expression of the whole man. Thus, in the evaluation of religion, philosophy must recognize the central position of religion and has no other alternative but to admit it as something focal in the process of reflective synthesis. Nor is there any reason to suppose that thought and intuition are essentially opposed to each other. They spring up from the same root and complement each other. The one grasps Reality piecemeal, the other grasps it in its wholeness. The one fixes its gaze on the eternal, the other on the temporal aspect of Reality. The one is present enjoyment of the whole of Reality; the other aims at traversing the whole by slowly specifying and closing up the various regions of the whole for exclusive observation. Both are in need of each other for mutual rejuvenation. Both seek visions of the same Reality which reveals itself to them in accordance with their function in life. In fact, intuition, as Bergson rightly says, is only a higher kind of intellect.4

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پاکستان کا مطلب کیا پڑھنے لکھنے کے سوا

’’آجکل ایک نجی ٹی وی پر ایک ایڈ آپ اکثر دیکھتے ہیں: ’’پاکستان کا مطلب کیا پڑھنے لکھنے کے سوا‘‘… جس کی تفصیل میں بتایا جاتا ہے کہ جب ہمارا ایک بادشاہ اپنی بیوی کی یاد میں تاج محل بنوا رہا تھا اُس وقت امریکا میں فلاں یونیورسٹی بن رہی تھی، اور جس وقت ہمارا ایک بادشاہ اپنے پالتو ہرن کے سوگ میں ہرن مینار بنوا رہا تھا اُس وقت برطانیہ میں فلاں یونیورسٹی بن رہی تھی۔ میری عرض یہ ہے کہ کیا ہم اپنے بچوں کو یہ بتانا چاہتے ہیں کہ ہمارے بزرگ عاقبت نااندیش اور ناسمجھ تھے؟ مجموعی طور پر اسلامی دنیا میں۔ حضرت صدیق اکبرؓ کے دور میں جب اسلامی لشکر کے جرنیل حضرت خالد بن ولیدؓ اور ابوعبیدہ بن الجراحؓ نے ایران اور روم فتح کیا، مساجد تعمیر کرائیں، یونیورسٹی کیوں نہیں؟ حضرت عمر فاروقؓ کے دورِ خلافت میں جب فلسطین فتح ہوا تو بجائے یونیورسٹیوں کے مسجدِ عمر کیوں بنوائی؟ ولید بن عبدالملک کے دورِ خلافت میں موسیٰ بن نصیر نے افریقہ اور طارق بن زیاد نے ہسپانیہ فتح کیا تو مساجد ہی کیوں بنوائیں، یونیورسٹیاں کیوں نہیں؟ ولید بن عبدالملک کے دورِ خلافت میں ہی جب محمد بن قاسم سندھ آئے تو فتح کے بعد مساجد کے بجائے یونیورسٹیاں کیوں نہیں بنوائیں؟ عباسی دورِ خلافت میں بغداد پوری دنیا کے لیے تعلیمی لحاظ سے مالامال تھا، تو کیا وہاں یونیورسٹیاں تھیں یا مساجد؟ اسلام کے رجلِ عظیم سلطان صلاح الدین ایوبی نے صلیبی جنگوں میں صلیبیوں کو شکست اور بیت المقدس کو آزاد کرانے کے بعد بھی یونیورسٹیاں کیوں نہیں بنوائیں؟ سلطان رکن الدین بیبرس نے ہلاکو جیسی آفت سے عالم اسلام کی گلوخلاصی کرائی، پَر کوئی یونیورسٹی کیوں نہ بنوائی؟ عثمانی تاجدار سلطان محمد نے قسطنطنیہ فتح کرنے کے بعد نیلی مسجد بنوائی، یونیورسٹی بنانے کا خیال کیوں نہ آیا؟ کیونکہ ان ادوار میں ہر مسجد ایک یونیورسٹی تھی، اسی لیے تو بغداد پوری دنیا کا تعلیمی مرکز تھا۔ اس کے علاوہ البیرونی، ابن الہیثم، بوعلی سینا جیسے عظیم لوگ کس یونیورسٹی سے فارغ التحصیل تھے؟ جہاں تک ہندوستان کا تعلق ہے، سلطان ناصر الدین محمود، سلطان شمس الدین التمش، جلال الدین خلجی اور علائوالدین خلجی نے بھی اس طرف کوئی توجہ کیوں نہ دی۔ میری عرض یہ ہے کہ فتح پور سیکری کی جامع مسجد میں جو یونیورسٹی تھی یورپ میں اس کی کوئی مثال اُس وقت نہیں تھی۔
مجھے یہ پڑھ کر لارڈ میکالے کے وہ جملے یاد آگئے جو اس نے برطانوی پارلیمنٹ سے خطاب کرتے ہوئے کہے تھے:
’’میں نے ہندوستان کے طول و عرض کا سفر کیا، مجھے ایک شخص بھی ایسا نظر نہیں آیا جو فقیر ہو یا چور ہو۔ میں نے اس ملک میں بے حد دولت دیکھی، اعلیٰ اخلاقی قدریں دیکھیں اور اعلیٰ پائے کے عوام دیکھے ہیں۔ میں تصور نہیں کرسکتا کہ ہم کبھی اس ملک کو فتح کرسکتے ہیں جب تک ہم اس قوم کی ریڑھ کی ہڈی نہ توڑ دیں۔ یہ اس قوم کی روحانی اور ثقافتی میراث ہے۔ اس لیے میرا یہ مشورہ ہے کہ ہم ان کا پرانا تعلیمی نظام یکسر بدل دیں، کیونکہ جب ہندوستانی اس بات کا یقین کرلیں گے کہ بیرونی اور انگلش چیز ان کی اپنی چیزوں سے بہتر ہے تو وہ اپنی خودمختاری اور اعتماد کھو دیں گے۔ پھر وہی بن جائیں گے جیسا کہ ہم چاہتے ہیں… یعنی ایک حقیقی محکوم قوم۔‘‘
مسلمانوں کی تاریخ پڑھتے ہوئے بہت سارے قارئین کو ایسا لگتا ہے کہ یہ صرف جنگ و جدل اور درباری سازشوں کی تاریخ ہے، لیکن مسلم تاریخ کے کئی ایسے روشن پہلو بھی ہیں جن سے ہمارے مؤرخین نے مجرمانہ غفلت برتی ہے۔ رہی سہی کسر نوآبادیاتی دور کے بعد پیدا ہونے والی غلامانہ ذہنیت نے پوری کردی، جو کسی بات کو اُس وقت تک مستند تسلیم کرنے سے انکار کرتی رہتی ہے جب تک مغرب کے کسی مصنف کا حوالہ نہ دیا جائے۔
تاجدارِ کائنات صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم کی بعثت سے تاریخِ انسانیت میں علم و فن، فکر و فلسفہ، سائنس و ٹیکنالوجی اور ثقافت کے نئے اسالیب کا آغاز ہوا اور دنیا علمی اور ثقافتی حوالے سے ایک نئے دور میں داخل ہوئی۔ آپ صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم پر نازل ہونے والے صحیفہ انقلاب نے انسانیت کو مذہبی حقائق سمجھنے کے لیے تعقل و تدبر اور تفکر کی دعوت دی۔ ’’تم عقل سے کام کیوں نہیں لیتے؟، ’’وہ غور و فکر کیوں نہیں کرتے؟‘‘ اور ’’جو لوگ آسمانوں اور زمین کی تخلیق میں غور و فکر کرتے ہیں‘‘ جیسے الفاظ کے ذریعے اللہ رب العزت نے اپنے کلامِ برحق میں بار بار عقلِ انسانی کو جھنجھوڑا اور انسانی و کائناتی حقائق اور آفاقی نظام کو سمجھنے کی طرف متوجہ کیا۔ اس طرح مذہب اور فلسفہ و سائنس کی غیریت بلکہ تضاد و تصادم کو ختم کرکے انسانی علم و فکر کو وحدت اور ترقی کی راہ پر گامزن کردیا گیا۔
محمد اقبال اپنی کتابThe Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam میں لکھتے ہیں:
لہٰذا تجرباتی طریقہ، عقل و استدلال اور مشاہدہ جس کو عربوں نے متعارف کروایا، وہ قرون وسطیٰ میں سائنس کی تیز رفتار ترقی کی وجہ بنا۔ بہت سے اہم ادارے جو قدیم دنیا میں موجود نہ تھے، ان کی بنیاد قرون وسطیٰ کی اسلامی دنیا نے رکھی۔ ان اداروں میں عوامی ہسپتال، امراض نفسیات کے ہسپتال، عوامی کتب خانہ، ڈگری جاری کرنے والی علمی یونیورسٹی اور فلکیاتی مرصد شامل ہیں۔ پہلی یونیورسٹی جس نے ڈپلومے جاری کیے، وہ قرون وسطیٰ کی اسلامی دنیا کی بیمارستان طبی ہسپتال اور یونیورسٹی تھی۔ یہ ڈپلومے نویں صدی میں جاری کیے گئے۔
بہرحال مسلم تاریخ کے روشن ابواب میں سے ایک ابوعلی الحسن بن الہیثم بھی ہے جو اُن سینکڑوں نابغہ روزگار ہستیوں میں سے تھا جنہوں نے ’’دور ظلمت‘‘ میں علم کی شمعیں روشن کیں اور ایسے محیرالعقول کارنامے انجام دیے جن کی وجہ سے ان کا نام آج بھی تاریخ میں سنہری حرفوں سے لکھا ہوا ہے۔
سب اتفاق کریں گے کہ آئزک نیوٹن دنیا کے عظیم ترین ماہر طبیعات تھے۔ کم سے کم اسکول میں ہمیں جو پڑھایا جاتا ہے اُس کے مطابق وہ جدید بصری علوم کے بانی ضرور تھے۔ اسکول کی کتابیں عدسوں اور منشور کے ساتھ اُن کے مشہور تجربات، ان کی روشنی اور انعکاس اور انعطاف کے عمل پر تحقیق کی تفصیل سے بھری پڑی ہیں۔
لیکن حقیقت شاید کچھ مختلف ہے۔ میں یہ باور کروانا ضروری سمجھتا ہوں کہ بصری علوم کے میدان میں نیوٹن سے پہلے ایک اور بہت بڑی ہستی سات سو سال پہلے ہو گزری ہے۔ مغرب میں اکثر لوگوں نے ان کا نام کبھی نہیں سنا۔
بلاشبہ ایک اور عظیم ماہر طبیعات جن کا رتبہ نیوٹن کے برابر ہے، 965ء میں اس علاقے میں پیدا ہوئے جو اب عراق کا حصہ ہے۔ ان کا نام تھا: ’’ابو علی الحسن بن الہیثم‘‘… ابن الہیثم کے نام سے مشہور ہیں۔ ان کی پیدائش عراق کے شہر بصرہ میں غالباً 354 ہجری اور وفات 430 ہجری (پیدائش: 965 ئ، وفات: 1039ئ) کو ہوئی۔

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