On Rumi, Iqbal and ‘Dynamic Sufism’

Pakistan celeberates Allama Iqbal’s death anniversary on April 21 with the usual lip-service. The key messages of Iqbal seem to have been lost in the maze of officialdom.

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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Raza, your amazing blog is the inspiration for my latest post.

  2. PS. and thank your for exceptional and extremely relevant post.

  3. […] day to reflect upon his message without the usual […]

  4. Indeed, the message arose in a historical context when old certainties were crumbling and the new were struggling to be born

    Thats a reminder for many of us who think that this is an unprecedented time of change like globalization et al. but what we sometimes forget is that people have faced changes of similar magnitude in the past and have learnt to see and think in a new way. There is still hope for us. Nice Post.

  5. Thank you for reminding, I had completely forgotten. There is a verse which I had written in my diary, and unfortunately I don’t have it with me right now (thanks to bi-city life), what I can remember is:
    “Na falsafi say na mulla say hai mujhe raghbat
    Yeh dil ki maut woh andesha-e-fasaad”

  6. assalam alaikum Raza

    I’m sorry this may be unpleasant to some, but I have to state that there is no such thing as “dynamic sufism.” There is only real sufism and fake sufism.

    Allama Iqbal was a genius, an inspired poet and a diverse thinker, but one who did not however fully synthicize, despite his best efforts. His poetic output does not present a coherent and always consistent philosphy, and the reformist, the metaphysician, the red blooded jihadi, the intellectual under the sway of Neitzsche all sit uncomfortably side by side too often.

    Also, he had not travelled the Sufi path under a spiritual guide, although there were signs near the end that he was attracted to Hazrat Pir Mehr Ali Shah, r.a.. But bear in mind that someone who has not reached the stations of fana fi’illah and baqa bi’llah, through tazkiya & tasfia, mujahida & mushahida, is very likely to misunderstand Islamic Sufism, its philosophy and its’ language. As the great Qutb, Haji Imdadullah Mahajir Makki oft said, een rah guftani n’est, raftani ast.

    That would have been fine, but a generation of well meaning, clean shaven academics, (and I do not mean here the professor in question personally) have taken it upon themselves to hold up Allama Iqbal’s peculiar misunderstanding of Sufism as a kind of “Other” to one presumes “static Sufism”…. which I suppose is what is practiced in khanqahs under real Pirs.

    But dynamic Sufism’s arrogant assumption is, of course, that with merely some literary taste one can bypass the body of knowledge of the Shaykhs of Sufism, and training under them.

    This is merely, their Nafs, the great Shaytan.
    It is also extremely arrogant, and highly demaning to assume that traditional Sufis in Iqbals’ time were such poor fools that it took some poet educated in Germany to explain to them what real Sufism was about, as filtered through Neitzsche. Of course travelling the path as outlined for 1400 years become irrelevant. Junaid, Ghazali, Hujveri, Gharib Nawaz, Ghaus Pak can be tossed out of the window.

    Untill one submits oneself mind body and soul to a real pir ina genuine silsila, one does not get anywhere except in some kind of poetic fantasy.

    May Allah preserve us from the fitna of this time.



  7. My understanding, like Gumnaam’s is that Iqbal did not subscribe to Sufi ideas, except for a short while when he turned, under the influence of Rumi, against the ideas of Hafiz, before turning against Sufism in general. His later stress on the development of the ego/ Self, is certainly a repudiation of sufism (where the Self becomes part of the Whole/ God).

    Also, it is often forgotten that he inspired not only Muslims, but Indians of different faiths in the 1930s-1940s, before the rise of a newer, more radical generation of left wing Urdu poets.

  8. iqbal for me and i am sure for many others,is not just a poet or a wayward philosopher for that matter. he is a saint of modern times. and i suppose most of us who do nt hve massive and fauly egos do believe in saints as they are deffinately people of greater religious and spritual understanding.
    seeking the ‘ultimate reality’ i.e is [God Himself] is a question pose to humankind since alwayz. when the basal thing and needs of a man is taken care off he always trys to reach out for the light tht wuld illumine both his mind and soul.
    iqbal in this case provides u with the ultimate experience to realize God staying within the limits of ur humanhood. if u venture to read his philosophy it works like an elicxer. he is probably the only modern theological philosopher.
    i would say tht he takes u out of all the madness tht philosophy would put u through whn one is trying of reach to the ultimate thruth.
    how can one help but to say tht there wuld never be another iqbal ever

  9. Dear Asmaa
    Many thanks for visiting my blog and leaving the comment. I fully agree with you – Iqbal’s azmat and uniqueness will never be matched –
    afsos that we have forgotten or deliberately erased his real message and mission…

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