“His concept of God is a finite (panentheistic) one, and is arrived at largely by a superficial and uncritical reading of western science and philosophy. The chief philosophical influences are those of Hegel, Whitehead and Bergson. There is both misunderstanding as well as distortion, no doubt unconscious, on Iqbal’s part. The weakest part of his case is the bold, but quite illegitimate, attempt to draw extravagant metaphysical conclusions from his reading of these western thinkers. He provides virtually no original, or even independent, argumentation.
Iqbal tries to relate his metaphysical extrapolations from western sources especially his finite concept of God to the Quran and the tradition of Muslim thought. This enterprise is equally unsuccessful.”
The book deals with the ideology of Iqbal concerning God and His attributes. Salman Raschid, the author, compares Iqbal’s concept to philosophers of the West as well as the East. The book focuses on Iqbal’s ideology of God, because it would have been too confusing and difficult to capture Iqbal in one go, and this even the author admits.
The book at hand is quite thorough in its treatment of the subject. The positive point about it is that it reviews Iqbal’s ideology from a critical view. It questions the ideology like no one would have attempted to do before.
It has broken the tradition of accepting Iqbal as he is just because he is the poet of the East and a celebrated scholar of this region. The outlook is a refreshing one, indeed. ‘The development of Iqbal’s concept of God is examined and assessed,’ writes the author in the introduction. The author discusses all the phases he thinks Iqbal’s philosophy (concerned to God) has gone through to become what it did in the end and by who he was inspired at different times in life.
The book is divided into three parts: Iqbal and the Western Tradition, Iqbal and the Muslim Tradition, Beyond Iqbal: The Nature of the Problem of God. The first part talks about Iqbal and western philosophers like Hegel and Bergson, and even science. The second portion deals with Iqbal and Muslim philosophers like Ghazali, Abul Kalam, Isa Nuruddin Abubakr Sirajuddin and Sufism. While in the last part the author deals with the philosophy of God’s existence and the logic behind His infinity.
For most people studying Iqbal’s philosophy is difficult due to the language and terms used in it. This book doesn’t make it any easier. For a common man who is considerably literate, this book is certainly not recommended. However, for someone learned in philosophy or religion, it may provide food for thought. The book’s target audience is people who already have a know-how of this subject.
Book: Iqbal’s Concept of God
Author: Salman Raschid
Publisher: Oxford University Press (OUP)
By Hira Shah for Express Tribune