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No dusty tome from the distant past this, but a timeless intellectual challenge of the first rank — and, as such, testimony to a man with a commanding knowledge of numerous intellectual traditions from Ibn Arabi and Fakhr ad-Din Rasi to Einstein, Bergson and Freud. Like many thinkers of his generation he felt that Islam had suffered for centuries under an "intellectual paralysis" that had allowed the West to leave it behind.

The task, then, was the reconstruction of religious thought: "The task before the modern Muslim is, therefore, immense. He has to re-think the whole system of Islam without completely breaking with the past". An important prerequisite for this re-thinking is a critical reception of modern knowledge: "The only course open to us is to approach modern knowledge with a respectful but independent attitude and to appreciate the teachings of Islam in the light of that knowledge.

The careful balance here is not accidental.

History of Buddhism in India

However Iqbal's emphatic insistence on an independent attitude is something that tends, even nowadays, to be overlooked. And in a society like Islam the problem of a revision of old institutions becomes still more delicate, and the responsibility of the reformer assumes a far more serious aspect". None of this is apparent from a recent review in a German newspaper, where the impression is given that Iqbal had urged Islam to free itself from the "medieval fantasies of the theologians" in order to achieve spiritual emancipation, because, it was claimed, "the Islamic world is moving spiritually towards the West.

It might have been advisable to have read the book to the end: "Believe me, Europe today due to its perverted ego is the greatest hindrance in the way of man's ethical advancement. The Muslim, on the other hand, is in possession of these ultimate ideas of the basis of a revelation, … which, speaking from the inmost depths of life, internalises its own apparent externality. With him the spiritual basis of life is a matter of conviction for which even the least enlightened man among us can easily lay down his life.

No, the study of Western thought had not turned Iqbal into an irreligious European, his Westernisation did not go that far, in spiritual matters he remained a believer in ex Oriente lux the conception that light, in the sense of culture and civilisation, originates from the East.

When Iqbal calls for a reconstruction of religious thinking, that is exactly what he means — and why he balances out two lines of argument. On the one hand the reception of science, that is to say the natural sciences must be justified. This can be done by providing proof of their Islamic origins:.

AMENITIES XL

The empirical character of the Koran, this theory maintains, made it possible for Muslims to become the founders of modern science, the birth of Islam then being the birth of inductive reasoning, an intellectual revolt against the speculative philosophy of the Greeks — and for the experimental methods of the Arabs to be taken up in European thought and further developed. How convincing this rather Islamocentric genealogy of empirical science is remains to be seen. On the other hand, the mystic experience of God is as real for Iqbal as every other human experience; the segmentary character of the natural sciences means they — "are like so many vultures falling on the dead body of Nature, and each running away with a piece of its flesh" — so religion has a central role in the synthesis, the bringing together of all human experience.

Religion alone has the power to establish an intimate contact with reality and it does so by means of the spiritual condition we call "prayer". However religious thinking does not attain dynamism merely through the reception of modern knowledge. Of more crucial importance is the world- and self-conception of Islam, according to Iqbal, the true and 'rediscoverable' essence of Islam in conflict with a mistaken fatalistic concept of divine predestination.

To this end he devises a theology of creative change:. Destiny is time regarded as prior to the disclosure of its possibilities.

Feminist Philosophy of Religion

Everyday doth some new work employ Him, says the Koran. To exist in real time means … to create it from moment to moment and to be absolutely free and original in creation. The universe is a free creative movement. This sounds wonderful. But it only gets serious when Iqbal moves from freethinking theology into the treacherous field of jurisprudence where nothing less than the rules and laws by which society functions are at stake. Here, as generations of reformist Muslims and Orientalists have done, he identifies ijtihad, the process of making a legal decision by independent interpretation of the sources of the law as "the principle of movement in the structure of Islam".

In order to find reconciliation between stability and change, Islamic society must, on the one hand, find eternal principles, "it must possess eternal principles to regulate its collective life; for the eternal gives us a foothold in the world of perpetual change. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi : Oxford University Press, Matilal, B. Oxford: Clarendon Press, Calcutta: K.

Samvada : A dialogue between two philosophical traditions, Indian and Western. Daya Krishna, M.


  1. 1. Introduction.
  2. The British Nuclear Weapons Programme, 1952-2002.
  3. Freely available.
  4. The history of science and the history of the scientific disciplines.

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