Forging Faith and Freedom – Iqbal and Jinnah

AA Khalid has written this thoughtful article for PTH

Pakistan has been unfortunate that two of its founding fathers Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Muhammad Iqbal died before the country were properly on its feet. Iqbal died years before he saw Pakistan come alive and Jinnah died in its infancy. Their deaths represent more than just their earthly demise; it represents the death of their ideas in the public sphere of Pakistan.

Every nation has a series of figures and architects of the country that leaves behind an intellectual legacy about the type of ideas they wish to see flourish in their new nation. With Pakistan this has not happened, from the earliest days of its existence there has been a vacuum with the political and indeed religious discourse. What does Pakistan stand for, and what is our identity? What are our ideals and how can we implement them? These ideas provide the social and psychological bedrock for the type of democratic discourse which flourishes in a country, but due to their absence from the marketplace of ideas there is a noticeable vacuum.

If Pakistan is an ‘’Islamic Republic’’ then it must learn to balance these two concepts and learn to forge faith and freedom, and this can be done by revisiting the intellectual and political legacies of Mr Jinnah and Iqbal. Whilst Mr. Jinnah was an exponent of liberalism, appreciating minority rights, democracy and tolerance, Iqbal on the flip side of this very same coin of liberalism was a humanist and a religious man. Iqbal clearly thought a synthesis of the republican spirit (as he put it) and religious sensibilities of a Muslim nation can be achieved (as he cited Turkey many a time). If Pakistan is to be an ”Islamic Republic”, it must learn to develop a republican based religiosity, a religiosity based on tolerance, rationality and democratic contestation.

Mr Jinnah’s work and political philosophy I feel is not a contentious issue, he was a liberal and one should also say of constitutional secularism (soft secularism, to readers who are more accustomed to my posts), that much is absolutely clear. Though I imagine his liberalism to be congenial religious sensibilities, say in the Lockean tradition of liberal religionists. The ambivalence is towards Allama Iqbal’s work.

Iqbal’s sophisticated work of ‘’Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam’’, is perhaps one of the key texts of modern Islam, and perhaps the outstanding effort of trying to grapple with the philosophical, cultural and religious problematic with modern intellectual tools.

The alleged ambivalence stated that Iqbal had towards ideas of liberalism and democracy is a falsity, which arises from confusing two expressions of literature, that being of prose and poetry. I argue that confusing the genres of poetry and prose has been the chief reason why the masses of Pakistan are accustomed to a distorted presentation of Iqbal’s ideas. How many have actually read Iqbal’s Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam? Do we know that Islamists like Sayyid Qutb (the chief ideologue of ‘’political Islam’’) whose political vision is similar to that of JI and other Pakistani religious parties actually was severely critical of Iqbal’s prose. How many ulema

Qutb said in his work ‘’The Islamic Concept and Its Characteristics’’:

‘’ Deviations introduced into the Islamic concept by works written to correct a particular situation, may be illustrated in the writings of Imam Sheikh Muhammad `Abduh and in the lectures of Muhammad Iqbal published as The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam.’’

Qutb further writes about Iqbal:

‘’ Furthermore, Iqbal’s borrowing of Western terminology led him to this prosaic work, which is difficult, terse as well as dry, while his poetry is alive, dynamic, and vibrant.’’

Qutb too realises that there is a dichotomy of the poetic and prosaic expressions in Iqbal’s work. One feels that this attitude towards Iqbal’s work is perhaps widespread amongst the ulema but they remain silent and instead selectively quote Iqbal’s poetry for their own interest. Members of the clergy in Pakistan when discussing Iqbal’s Reconstruction frequently confuse and distort the analysis of this prosaic work by quoting his poetry and other external sources, rarely do they ever discuss the ‘’Reconstruction’’ on its own merits. This is because Iqbal’s prosaic work is deeply uncomfortable reading for traditionalists who see the disciplines of philosophy and theology as useless which only cause doubts and produce weak faith rather than as intellectual tools for nurturing a strong, examined and rational faith.

While Iqbal’s chief and only work of English prose, the ‘’Reconstruction’’, is a clear case for the democratization of Muslim thought, liberalising the legal traditions, and enthusing the republican spirit in Muslim societies to undo the regressive hold of the mullah, his poetry is more layered and ambiguous. But ambiguity surely is one of the chief devices of the poet; it is his or her artistic license to explore. Ambiguity in prose and rational discussion is a nuisance but in spirituality and mysticism ambiguity is a deep concept connected with religious experience and one’s consciousness associated with deeper discussion about doubt and faith.

One should not confuse Iqbal’s prose with his poetry, his poetry is a spiritual expression and hence deeply enigmatic but his prose should leave us in no doubt that Iqbal was a democrat. The poetic expression is an expression based on passion, spirituality and mysticism, while Iqbal’s prose though incorporating these same elements was more in touch with rational and critical analysis. Confusing the two is like confusing reason and passion.

Such was Iqbal’s intellectual synthesis between European and Muslim philosophers discussing the likes of Kant, Whitehead and Bergson, that if his work was published today in Pakistan the likelihood is that the very same ulema supporting Iqbal would advocate banning the ‘’Reconstruction’’. A modern incarnation of Iqbal’s work, a new ‘’Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam’’, is extremely difficult to get away with in the current acidic and regressive religious discourse in Pakistan. One the issue of liberalism in the political sphere, we can venture to say that Iqbal held a nuanced view in his ‘’Reconstruction’’:

‘’We heartily welcome the liberal movement in modern Islam, but it must also be admitted that the appearance of liberal ideas in Islam constitutes also  the most critical moment in the history of Islam.’’

But in terms of the religious discourse particularly in the legal dimension Iqbal was clear:

‘’ The claim of the present generation of Muslim liberals to reinterpret the foundational legal principles, in the light of their own experience and the altered conditions of modern life is, in my opinion, perfectly justified. The teaching of  the Qur’an that life is a process  of progressive creation necessitates  that each generation, guided but  unhampered by the work of its predecessors, should be permitted to solve its own problems.’’

Furthermore, Ebrahim Moosa’s article the ‘’Debts and Burdens of Critical Islam’’, makes it clear that Iqbal’s work should be seen in context of the wider reformist and modernist project of Muslim intellectuals in the 19th and 20th centuries with the appreciation of ideas such as freedom and the phenomenon of modernity.

The discussion of these two figures Mr Jinnah and Allama Iqbal should go beyond secularism. The discussion on secularism in Pakistan is superfluous and exaggerated at the expense of a far more important concept and that is liberalism. The two liberalism and secularism are not the same. Secularism is only a paradigmatic analysis or model for mosque-and State relations. Nothing less and nothing more in the political sense, the real discussion to be had about human rights, political pluralism, public reason, the public sphere, religious discourse, citizenship and minorities is a discussion which should be anchored in liberalism. The discussion on liberalism is a far more important issue than secularism. In this respect we can say that both Allama Iqbal and Mr Jinnah were liberals, even though there ‘’liberalisms’’ had different relationships and made different connections to Islam.

It is true that Pakistan has never learned to balance the ‘’Islamic’’ and the ‘’Republic’’ which makes up its whole political philosophy. It’s not an easy task by any means, after all the concept of the ‘’Islamic Republic’’ is unprecedented in Muslim history. The fusion of republicanism with religion is a new and novel experiment, but the maturation and development of this experiment has never truly gotten off the ground. Where does one begin today, since Mr Jinnah and Allama Iqbal are long gone from the marketplace of ideas in Pakistan? Their early deaths before the birth of the nation have meant the continuing confusion and instability raging at the heart of Pakistan’s democratic experiment, successfully forging faith and freedom. The perceived ambiguity about the place of Islam in the public sphere in Pakistan in terms of whether it should be a source for direct governance or as a moral bedrock providing over-arching political and social values has never been fully tackled.

This ambiguity particularly troubles the youth of Pakistan, a major demographic of the nation. Never fully certain about the relationship between faith and republicanism, between faith and the liberal spirit of Mr Jinnah’s political project, there exists a tension about the notion of accommodating a democratic culture with a religious tradition that based on the popular narratives of clerics and mullahs seems totally at odds with the spirit of republicanism.

Mr. Jinnah and Allama Iqbal are ever present in photos within public institutions and public sphere as an aesthetic reminder of the past rather than as an artistic vista for deep contemplation. Pakistan’s identity and political philosophy is based on an amorphous and vague idea of Islam which has never truly been described, and which is exploited by radicals and conservatives who fill this vacuum.

With constant interruptions whether from the military or from other dictators, the chance for a genuine political culture of democratic values to flourish has been curtailed, the militarisation of the State from an early period has meant that civilian politics and the associative organs of the State are woefully under-developed. The social and political maturation required to allow the societal conditions for democracy to work such as mass education, good healthcare and a stable economy have never materialised. The militarisation of the State has meant the re-arrangement of social priorities from education and healthcare to weapons and arms. These continuing set of circumstances throughout our history has meant that the democratic experiment could never take off unhindered, it was always thwarted.

But what does the notion of forging faith and freedom, and the full implications of the term ”Islamic Republic” mean? Does it mean a State sponsored Islam? Does it mean the State prescribes religious interpretations which are politically convenient, but morally questionable? Furthermore, as religious teaching is foremost about ethical conduct, what does it mean to mix the corrupting dynamics of political wrangling with religious ethics? There will be many questions that will have to be asked, but until there can be a free and open conversation about this crucial issue the issue will become murkier rather than clearer through the lens of critical investigation and intellectual curiosity.

In our time, this great social experiment of democracy still seems to be hanging on by a thread, and still key issues about faith and freedom, and confronting Allama Iqbal’s and Mr .Jinnah’s visions for this nation have been unresolved by society at large. False histories and narratives are spun to ever prevent such an event from happening.

But the issue is clear, the Islamic Republic has never really got to grips in having a conversation between the ‘’Islamic’’ and the ‘’Republic’’ without rude interruptions by the military and autocrats (religious or secular). If we ever do get to this part of the conversation without any further interruptions, its best to revisit Mr Jinnah and Allama Iqbal to try and forge faith with  freedom.


Filed under Jinnah, Jinnah's Pakistan, Pakistan

52 responses to “Forging Faith and Freedom – Iqbal and Jinnah

  1. NSA

    A timely article to address the just released Pew Research poll of Pakistani attitudes.

    Quoting Kalsoon Lakhani about that poll:

    “Some of the most interesting results relate to attitudes toward religion, law, and society. According to the findings, “Pakistani Muslims overwhelmingly welcome Islamic influence over their country’s politics. Nearly nine-in-ten (88 percent) of those who see Islam playing a large role say that is a good thing.” Moreover, many Muslims in Pakistan say there is a struggle between groups that want to modernize their country and Islamic fundamentalists (44 percent), and of those who see a struggle, most identify with the modernizers (61 percent). At the same time though, a solid majority of Pakistanis polled said they would favor making gender segregation in the workplace a law in the country (85 percent), as well as punishments like whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft and robbery (82 percent), and stoning people who commit adultery (82 percent). “

  2. AA Khalid

    If I can quote something very important in respect to the Islamic legal traditions and Iqbal’s attitude to modernizing and liberalising the fiqhi traditions:

    (From the Editor’s Introduction in Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam):

    ””””’In a press interview, a little before the second Round Table Conference, the Allama expressed his intention of writing a book on ‘the system of fiqh in the light of modern knowledge’, another ‘work of reconstruction’ on the legal aspect of Islam, much more important than its purely theological aspect.

    To this second work of reconstruction, his present work of reconstruction on the philosophical aspect of Islam, he added with his usual modesty, was
    ‘necessary as a prelude’. The much cherished book: ‘The Reconstruction of Legal Thought in
    Islam’ was, however, not written: but the bare fact that the Allama wanted to write it and the great importance that he attached to the writing of it, signifies, perhaps, his will to posterity. ””””’

    I have talked about the importance of Iqbal’s work ”The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam” as a milestone and a great text in the modern canon of Muslim liberalism (reformism or modernism).

    But surely if Iqbal had got around to writing a text on the LEGAL RECONSTRUCTION then that would have had a most positive effect on religious discourse in Pakistan.

    That would have opened many more vistas and many more avenues for critical thought in modern Islam.

  3. poke

    khalid is nothing but islamic fundamentalist apologetic in disguise . He is slick with words and english language and pedals the same hatred against non muslims….. end of the day an evil cannot be defended be it a human or ideology

  4. AA Khalid

    ”’pedals the same hatred against non muslims”’

    Care to provide some references, quotes, extended citations to prove your bare assertion?

    Is your intelligence so stunted that you cannot engage in the substance of the post (not going off topic) and instead launch personal attacks, for that is the sign of a lazy and most wretched mind.

    Or is this a case of someone drinking deeply from the fountaion of ad hominem?

  5. Arjun

    Rationalist, a possible answer to your question among those who believe is that this is all part of A’s plan to teach the Muslims the hard-earned value of democracy so through this hardship they become capable of establishing a just society by themselves without the need for one leader or savior but as a collective people. 🙂 anything can really be turned into part of A’s plan if you’re smart enough to get it 😉 – how do you think clerics work?

  6. Chote Miya

    why are my comments being deleted?

  7. nasir jan

    THE MULLAH now holds Pakistani society by the throat. His version of Islam has plunged Pakistan into an epidemic of honor killings, hate murders and mob executions of fellow Muslims and minorities alike. Society is paying the price for allowing the Mullah to propagate extremism and intolerance from the pulpit.
    BRAVO Mr Cameron for saying what every pakistani knows but will never admit – The Mullah owns pakistan and our politicians are shit scared of them (including the ones with real degrees)

  8. AA Khalid


    first those were not my comments but part of the editor’s introduction, and second you are taking a far too literalistic conception of theistic attributes.

    Furthermore, with posterity and hindsight one can speculate and delve into ”what might have been”, which has no real pratical import except for refining one’s appreciation of studying and analysing history. Furthermore, the purpose of such exercise is to derive lessons for us in the here and now today.

    This is philosophical anthropology and historical analysis and as such does not in any way negate any theistic belief (just see the work of Ibn Khaldun).

  9. Chote Miya

    Some tidbits about (much reviled) Maulana Abul Kalam Azad(I, frankly, didn’t know these facts about the Maulana):

    “Maulana comments that “he (Lodhi) does not know that there is a set of scales in which this madness would outweigh all the wisdom in the world”, adding that “anyway he (Maulana) prefers the madness of Dara over Alamgiri wisdom, which is tainted with the blood of innocents”. He adds, “Dara was probably fed up with the pernicious wisdom of the likes of Aurangzeb that he preferred the company of Sarmad.” ”

    Would the learned members of PTH kindly throw some light on this aspect of Maulana.


  10. YLH

    Chote miyan…

    I don’t know where you are getting this from… but the same Maulana Azad hated Akbar and eulogized Sirhindi and Ibn-e-Taimiyya … So we are mixing up a few things here… clearly.

    But then as Raj Mohan Gandhi showed in his book “India Wins Errors”…. Maulana was a rather slippery character.

  11. YLH

    Iqbal should and must be discarded if Pakistan has to move forward.

    I am not sure why A A Khalid is trying to make this dichotomy of Iqbal and Jinnah. Iqbal is a nobody… he had no contribution to the creation of Pakistan.

    As a poet he sucked… as a philosopher… what philosopher?

    Please spare us this lie and control freakery of the witchdoctors such as the Mahatmas, Maulanas and Allamas.

  12. YLH

    The more I read this article… the more I feel like vomiting. Are we still trying to fool ourselves.

    If there was an Iqbalian experiment with Islam – it has failed (just like Gandhian experiment of “introducing religion into politics” failed), but unlike India, we continue to attach ourselves to a failed experiment… consequently making a failure out of ourselves.

    Modern legislation and statehood should be based on reason, common sense and application of human idealism…. it cannot and should not be limited to or even based on the injunctions from the “divine” and “unknown”.

  13. AA Khalid


    Your views are symptomatic of the general discourse on Iqbal in Pakistan. That it is entirely focused on poetry (Iqbal himself confessed he was not a poet first and foremost), and entirely neglectful of his philosophical work.

    Iqbal’s Reconstruction ranks as one of the foundation texts of the modernist/reformist movement and is renowned for its depth and analysis.

    Furthermore, Iqbal is not some illiterate alim, he studied philosophy at great depth in top class institutions such as Cambridge and Munich, but as ever it seems those who acheive great success in academia are shunned in Pakistan.

    Are you always going to discard the arguments of people who have allama or mahatama in their names or titles, even if their arguments are sound? Because if you do so you are engaging in ad hominem.

    And this ad hominem is an all too often occurence on the PTH.

    Does that mean you would discard the work of Sheikh Ali Abdel Raziq, who is arguably the first Muslim to really construct a text on secularism and argue for the concept in the Muslim World. His work Islam and the Foundations of Governance” (Al-Islam Wa Usul Al-Hukm) argued for a secular state. He was a distinguished scholar and a Mufti.

    Does that mean you will still sneer your nose at the fellow, and look down upon him because of his title?
    Furthermore this whole nonsense debate in Pakistan on the secularization thesis, shows how dated the Pakistani discourse is on secularization. You are still operating in old and discarded models of secularization, when the whole sociological world has moved leaps and bounds.

    Now prominent social thinkers such as Berger, Cassanova, Taylor, Bellah and others have accepted the classic secularization thesis is wrong as envisioned by Marx, Durkheim, Habermas and Comte.

    The inexorable rise of belief or disbelief is really not helpful in understanding the infinitely more complex reality. Inevitable secularization is a myth, rightly discarded by prominent sociologists.

    Furthermore in the Gallup Centre of Muslim Studies it has been shown conclusively in many empirical reports that many in the Muslim World and Pakistan see a role for Islam in the public sphere, and law. Many see Islam and democracy as compatible in fact a big majority do so. Engage with this reality rather than denying the blindingly obvious.

    I am boggled by this obsession in Pakistan with the secularity debate. There are more important issues than just mere secularity, liberalism is a far more important concept, and liberalism can be congenial to people whether they are religious or not.

    That could be such a more constructive debate than this myopic and impoverished debate on secularism in Pakistan which is hopelessly out of date with modern sociological and political thought. It is as if we are still operating in the middle of the 20th century.

    Also in this amazing study, ”A World Survey of Religion and the State”:

    ””””’This book delves into the extent of government involvement in religion (GIR) between 1990 and 2002 using both quantitative and qualitative methodology. The study is based on the Religion and State dataset (RAS), which includes 175 governments across the globe, all of which are addressed individually in this book. The forms of GIR examined in this study include whether the government has an official religion, whether some religions are given preferential treatment, religious discrimination against minority religion, government regulation of the majority religion, and religious legislation.

    The study shows that GIR is ubiquitous, that GIR increased significantly during this period, and that only a minority of states, including a minority of democracies, have separation of religion and state. These findings contradict the predictions of religion’s reduced public significance found in modernization and secularization theory. The findings also demonstrate that state religious monopolies are linked to reduced religious participation.””””””
    (From the Cambridge website)

    Empirically in studies it has been shown the classical secularization thesis envisioned by 19th and 20th century social thinkers is obselete.

    Now you can deny all these studies (many in Pakistan and indeed when I confront Indians with studies which are uncomfortable reading they blame the big bad ”West”, what a joke!), or you can look at them more closely. That is a choice entirely in your hands….

    We must go beyond superifical binary constructions which are constructed with a predetermined setting which only ensures conflict rather than consensus.

    In the past YLH I have read articles by you actually complementary of Iqbal. Is this double talk YLH? Do you simply play to the gallery like dear Mr Cameron? Are you being disingenious with your views? If you have indeed changed your views so drastically in a relatively short space of time then what triggered this?

  14. YLH

    I have read the famous reconstruction lectures in some detail… and frankly I don’t ascribe to my previous view of these lectures. I think these are counter-productive. I now place Allama alongside the Mahatma and the Maulana and consider all of them witchdoctors… nothing more. It has nothing to do with their usage of these highfalutin religious/spiritual titles… but the congruence in their bankrupt ideas about the role of religion in state and society.

    This is the kind of hogwash Iqbalian thought produces:

    That could be such a more constructive debate than this myopic and impoverished debate on secularism in Pakistan which is hopelessly out of date with modern sociological and political thought

    This is what I call nonsense!!! There can be no liberalism in an absolutist ideology like religion… especially one that is monotheistic and consequently narrowly construed according to one absolute scripture. If you find a liberal interpretation, you will always find 500 illiberal ones… this is why any idea of reform or liberal Islam is graft on dead wood. Only thing – only possible course- is uncompromising separation of church and state. No more of the council of Islamic ideology, no more federal shariat court… no more of this mixing of religion in matters of the state.

    In Iqbal’s case… honest investigation will show that his contribution to the creation of Pakistan or the Muslim League’s movement of which the creation is a by-product is greatly exaggerated.

    There is no place for Iqbal if you want Pakistan to progress along Jinnah’s liberal secular vision (that the grand old man had himself done enough to damage by playing politics… let alone his successors who went completely beserk).

    And like David Cameron… I am calling a spade a spade.

  15. AA Khalid

    ”’There can be no liberalism in an absolutist ideology like religion””

    What rubbish. Read Charles Kurzman’s thought provoking anthology of writings by Muslim scholars entitled ”Liberal Islam – A Sourcebook”. I find it mind boggling that self proclaimed secularists find it difficult to read around their subjects…….

    I hope you do agree the debate about secularism in Pakistan is an absolute sham, considering the massive progress made on the subject by anthropologists, sociologists and political philosophers. Its like travelling back in time when you read about the debate on secularism in Pakistan.

    What is bankrupt in Iqbal’s conception of the role of religion in society, he was advocating totally new paradigms. Or are you just saying this because you feel uncomfortable and awkward discussing faith in society, even though in many societies faith is here to stay.

    We can also see the example of Martin Luther King and other African American civil rights activists who mobilised their faith for acheiving their liberty.

    ”’ If you find a liberal interpretation, you will always find 500 illiberal ones”’

    Straw man argument, read Richard Bulliet’s works, which remarks that the ideas of classical commentators Tabari, Ibn Rushd, al Razi and others are such that if they were published today in Muslim countries they would be banned and exiled. The current discourse on Islam is a perversion of the classical tradition. More importantly the current religious discourse in many Muslim countries is controlled by despotic regimes using it as legitamacy for power, for example Egypt.

    I agree with you that religious institutions should not be privleged with power and influence by the State. I agree with you in this respect.

  16. YLH

    Richard Bulliet is frankly an idiot. I don’t know why Columbia hired him. I remember responding to one of his excessively stupid articles in Lebanon’s Daily Star.

    Waisay funny you mention Al-Razi. Al-Razi’s estimate of religion was much lower than mine.

    The debate about separation of church and state is never a sham… it is a question of whether you’ll let your foot off the clutch when driving a manual or not. It can hardly be a “sham”.

    On the contrary the debate about “liberalism” in religion is a sham. It is as stupid a debate as say two men arguing about if you could fuel up a horse on hi-octane it would run as fast as a ferrari or not. Ironic … given that Rushd and Razi have been dead for over 1000 years!!!! Not to mention the fact that your Iqbal mian the bigot Allama abused the hell out of them in his stupid little lecture on why Ghazali was like Immanuel Kant.

    As for your appeal to Dr. King… given my distaste for Mahatmas, Maulanas and Allamas… what do you think my view of the good reverend is likely to be?

  17. Sher Zaman

    It is true that loss of such great leaders in the very beginning was certainly harmful for PAKISTAN and perhaps that’s the reason why this country had to face so many problems.

  18. AA Khalid


    Calling everyone who disagrees with you an ”idiot” is pretty appalling, but then the authoratarian culture of Pakistani society seems to have infected everyone from across the political spectrum…….

    I mean the other Razi, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi. Ibn Rushd was not abused by Iqbal at all, not in the ad hominem sense which you so love to indulge in .

    What is with the sub-continental discourse which resorts to name calling when anyone dares to disagree……….

    If you say YLH that religious voices that argue for liberty are pointless then that is a shame.

    Your hopeless equivocation of liberalism with skepticism is an illusion. You confuse epistemology with political philosophy.

    Liberalism does not mean one cannot have convictions, it refers to inter-human relations. We are talking about citizens not creeds when we talk about a liberal polity. You confuse creeds with citizens. Skepticism is not a prequisite to liberalism at all………

  19. AA Khalid

    ”The debate about separation of church and state is never a sham”’

    I never said it was in essence, I said the nature and myopic obsession of the discourse concerning secularism, (which as you say is about church state relations) in Pakistan is impoverished and intellectual dated considering the great strides in sociological thought. The secularism debate in Pakistan needs to be sharpened, at the moment its one big amorphous confusion, conflating moral theory, political theory, legislative debates, existential issues all in one great basket.

    The debate about rights, liberties, democracy, pluralism and other political concepts is far more crucial than just mere secularism. Secularity does not imply a discussion on these issues, but liberalism does.

  20. AA Khalid

    I do not understand how one make the fatal mistake of taking intellectual criticism as an ”insult”. Since when does the critique of an idea mean abusing the person behind the idea?

    One can take issue with ideas, but still have great admiration and a good estimation of the people behind these ideas. I may disagree with the ideas of a particular philosopher, writer etc. but still hold a good opinion of them and see their commitment to scholarship and nuanced debate as something I can learn from.

    One of the reasons why intellectual discourse in S.Asia has suffered is because of this fatal mistake, to confuse one’s own personal worth as a human being with the actual coherence of an idea.

    Is this the super inflated ego of some South Asian

  21. YLH

    Hang on… haven’t called you an idiot yet. Are you pre-empting it?What name-calling are you talking about ? That I called Bulliet an idiot? How ironic that you can’t come up with a decent counter-argument, you are acting like Bulliet is your honor and you would kill for it.

    A religious system imposed by state can only be illiberal for aforementioned reasons. One can have personal liberal interpretation for religion but in public sphere these are bound to fail. Religious Liberals have long realized that.

    Now consider the case of John Locke… he was a good moral Christian man… yet he spoke of a separation of church and state precisely because he realized that not every Christian is going to hold his liberal view of Christianity.

    The founder of Rhode Island… I forget his name… was another staunchly Christian fellow who forwarded the idea of separation of church and state.

    This is why I cannot consider you a liberal even in religion…. and certainly not that Allama fellow…after all Iqbal wrote that disgusting piece on why Mansoor Al-Hallaj was rightly executed. Is that Liberalism? I mean seriously give me a break.please do quote from “Reconstruction” what he says about the rationalists and about Ghazali being the Kant of Islam.

    Then please explain how that fits in with your equation of Iqbal to Ibn-e-Rushd?

    “I do not understand how one make the fatal mistake of taking intellectual criticism as an ”insult”. Since when does the critique of an idea mean abusing the person behind the idea?”

    Well I can’t help you with your problems. All I can say is that you should take intellectual criticism in stride and differentiate between insult and criticism better. You are right. It has to do with your South Asian genes.

  22. AA Khalid

    ”How ironic that you can’t come up with a decent counter-argument, you are acting like Bulliet is your honor and you would kill for it”’

    Nice hyperbole……..

    ”One can have personal liberal interpretation for religion but in public sphere these are bound to fail. ”

    Classic confusion, confusing the State with the public sphere. The two are not the same, I agree all the long that the State should be religiously neutral but the public sphere does not have to be unless you use authoratarian and coercive measures which undermines democracy.

    Separateion of religion and state I have always said is necessary, but separation of the public sphere and religion I do not agree with and neither would any religious liberal such as Locke. This is symptomatic of the dated discourseon secularism in Pakistan, cannot even tell the difference between the State and the public sphere as two different conceptual entities in political philosophy. Banning religious voices from the public sphere I do not agree with.

    I am not aware Iqbal made those comments about Hallaj, can you give me a citation please.

  23. AA Khalid

    ”Then please explain how that fits in with your equation of Iqbal to Ibn-e-Rushd?”

    They may disagree but their attitude to intellectual enquiry is very congenial, Ibn Rushd thought that Scripture enjoins the study of philosophy and Iqbal similarly thought Scripture invokes a higher consciousness aimed towards spirtuality and philosophical discourse about nature and reality.

    Its about one’s approach. Literalists do not like Iqbal or Ibn Rushd’s writing because there is are philosophical dimensions to it.

    ” All I can say is that you should take intellectual criticism in stride and differentiate between insult and criticism better”

    So using juvenile language and calling other idiot is intellectual criticism? Wow……..

  24. AA Khalid

    Locke never said to ban religious voices from civil society, never he just said that State should not have a monopoly on religious discourse as this is deterimental to faith.

    The public sphere is not the same as the State……..

  25. YLH

    Yawn. Now those are just strawmen.

    We are talking about a separation of church and state. I am not sure what other public sphere you want but you are welcome to take it.

    As for the citation … you may refer to Iqbal’s hate-filled 1935 article against Ahmadis after he left their movement. He discusses Mansoor Hallaj in it and says that the state should be free to kill such people. What a liberal.

    “Literalists do not like Iqbal or Ibn Rushd’s writing”

    Radicals like Maududi and Israr loved Iqbal and hated Ibn-e-Rushd.
    Now… can you point out where I have called you an idiot (though I am very tempted to do so).

  26. AA Khalid

    Well the public sphere is everything in society but the State so yes thank you. The public sphere is part of civil society, media, basically the associative organs of the State but not the State itself. A place where society can get together and freel discuss social, political and moral problems independently of the State.

    No, Iqbal writes a poscript in his article, ” Qadianis and Orthodox Muslims”:

    ”It is thought that I have made a subtle suggestion to the Government to suppress the Qadiani movement by force. Nothing of the kind. I have made it clear that the policy of non-interference in religion is the only policy which can be adopted by the rulers of India. ”

    I still haven’t found the citation of Hallaj…

  27. YLH

    If you take those blinkers off you’ll find the reference to Hallaj in the main body of that garbage …

    you’ll also realize what Iqbal mian meant with his post script. Rulers should not interfere while non-Qadianis kill off Qadianis … that is the only interpretation Iqbal’s ridiculous post script lends itself to.

  28. AA Khalid

    ”Radicals like Maududi and Israr loved Iqbal ”

    Political mileage more than anything else. Did they ever quote the ”Reconstruction” at length. And why did Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian ideaologue in the same vein as Maududi see Iqbal as ”deviating”?

    Qutb and Maududi were of the same ilk, but because Iqbal had no political worth in Egypt Qutb could criticise Iqbal as he wished, but the ulema of Pakistan instrumentalised Iqbal for their own political gains, by confusing his poetry with his prose.

  29. AA Khalid

    ”you’ll also realize what Iqbal mian meant with his post script. Rulers should not interfere while non-Qadianis kill off Qadianis … that is the only interpretation Iqbal’s ridiculous post script lends itself to”’

    Ummm…no nowhere does he mention violence…what on earth are you talking about? He never talks about violence, and he added the PS to clarify the matter.

    Well for the sake of ease can you directly quote the piece about Hallaj please?

  30. YLH

    Look dude… I don’t have time to argue about someone as ridiculous as Allama Iqbal. Tell you what… do control F on the article… for mansoor or mansur. Or maybe Sarmad (I am mixing it since I have two cousins who are called Sarmad and Mansur) … anyway the point is that he praises the murder of Mansur… or Sarmad…

  31. AA Khalid

    Iqbal actually says in that same article:

    ”Nor is the idea of separation of Church and State alien to Islam. The doctrine of the major occultation of the Imam in a sense effected this separation long ago in Shia Persia. The Islamic idea of the division of the religious and political functions of the State must not be confounded with the European idea of the separation of Church and State. The former is only a division of functions as is clear from the gradual creation in the Muslim State of the offices of Sheikh-ul-Islam and Ministers; the latter is based on the metaphysical dualism of spirit and matter. ”

    Quiet adept, Iqbal is taking in the same sort of terms as Max Weber about the two types of secularisms, one being political (which Iqbal endorses) and the other psychological which is actually atheism and a lack of religious belief in an individual.

  32. AA Khalid

    ”Tell you what… do control F on the article… for mansoor or mansur”

    I have there is nothing in the article about Hallaj at all, can you please give me the actual text. You are making a serious accusation, at least provide some proof. Or are you making this up………………

  33. AA Khalid

    Iqbal in the same article further writes:

    ”In the history of Muslim political experience the separation has meant only a separation of
    functions, not of ideas.”

    Functional secularity is a must. I agree religious instutions should be absolutely separated from the State, but in the public sphere in the marketplace of ideas how can marginalise religious voices?

  34. AA Khalid

    ”’anyway the point is that he praises the murder of Mansur”’

    I have not seen any evidence from his writings on the subject that would make me inclinded to take that view point. If you can provide actual textual references and better yet actually copy and paste these references on this forum I will change my opinion.

    Unforunately YLH I do not take your views as gospel………

  35. AA Khalid

    Actually Hallaj is esteemed by Iqbal, especially in his poetry Javidnama, where it seems Iqbal has a good estimation of him.

    In his work Javidnama, in the Sphere of Jupiter he writes ”The noble spirits of Hallaj, Ghalib, and Qurrat ”.

    Either this is an honest mistake YLH or a horrible and malicious slur you have employed for point scoring. I am prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt and consider you made an honest mistake.

    That you make such grand statements and then provide no proof for them is quiet strange. What’s more, it turns out Iqbal actually admired Hallaj as an exponent of religious and spiritual experience, and even wrote in his poetry, ”The Song of Hallaj”.

  36. YLH

    Look Iqbal mian was a Qadiyani Ahmadi till 1931 or 1933… so it wouldn’t surprise me if he wrote something praising Hallaj and then later praised his execution… in his case it was a regression and not an evolution.

    If you reproduce the entire letter/article, you will see where he talks about Hallaj and praises his execution.

    I dare you to produce the article in toto. I am very busy right now and don’t have the time or patience to go looking for it….

  37. AA Khalid

    The quicker you produce your reference YLH the better, so that I can revise my opinions. It will take a few seconds if you can show me the exact quote you are talking about because I cannot find it at all……….

  38. AA Khalid


    I have no problem waiting until you present the quote, what’s the rush, good things come to those who wait and I will wait until you present that quote.

  39. YLH

    I do not wish you to revise your opinions. Some people deserve to live in their fool’s paradise.

    If you reproduce the article I referred to everyone can see the veracity of your claims for yourself.

    You say you have the article but you can’t reproduce it because

    1. It has the reference I am talking about.

    2. It shows Allama Iqbal’s illiberal narrow-mindedness which inspires people like Zaid Hamid in good measure.

    So no point going in circles. Allama Iqbal praising Mansur Hallaj’s murder cannot be “liberal”.

    To others:

    How can Allama the witchdoctor be considered an equal of Mahomed Ali Jinnah is beyond me… here was Allama Iqbal says:

    The meaning of this policy for Islam was quite accurately seen by our great poet Akbar who in his usual humorous strain says:

    “gorment ki khair manao yaron,
    ana al haq kaho aur phansi na pao yaron” (ana-al-haq was Mansur’s crime-YLH)

    O friend! pray for the glory of the Briton’s name:
    Say, “I am God” sans chain, sans cross, sans shame.

    I very much appreciate the orthodox Hindus’ demand for protection against religious reformers in the new constitution. Indeed, the demand ought to have been first made by the Muslims who, unlike Hindus, entirely eliminate the race idea from their social structure. The Government must seriously consider the present situation and try, if possible, to understand the mentality of the average Muslim in regard to this issue which he regards as absolutely vital to the integrity of his community.

    (Allama Iqbal, former Qadiani, on why Qadianis should be persecuted)

    Now you can either have Jinnah’s Pakistan … or Allama Iqbal’s Pakistan… but not both together. Jinnah was pro-reformers, pro-modernity, pro-women’s rights, pro-liberal state…. Iqbal was anti-reformers, anti-modernity, anti-women and completely bigoted.

  40. AA Khalid

    I still do not think that Iqbal praised any form of murder and his postscript completely clarified that. As for his views on having a religious reformers clause to the constitution Iqbal was wrong, but then he was also wrong about the Wahabbi movement calling it the ”throb of modern life in Islam”.

    Yes all thinkers have great failures, but they also have great successes (Mr Jinnah included). Iqbal’s views in this respect were yes not right. In some respects Iqbal was a creature of his time, but in other respects he had great vision, our task is to yes seem Iqbal (and Mr Jinnah) with a critical eye.

    I just saw the English translation to Akbar’s poem (so thank you for the original), and did not see the connection with Mansur, though with Iqbal having his postscript it does clarify his position. However, the fact he wanted a clause to prevent ”religious reformers”, does not seem plausible.

  41. AA Khalid

    ”It shows Allama Iqbal’s illiberal narrow-mindedness which inspires people like Zaid Hamid in good measure. ”

    Umm…no across the border in Iran with the reformist Green movement which struggles for liberty, one of the chief archeitects of the Green Manifesto AbdolKarim Soroush is very much inspired by Allama Iqbal. Soroush and other Iranian reformist intellectuals who wish for greater democracy, rights and liberties actually find Iqbal’s ”Reconstruction” quiet helpful . Some contemporary Turkish intellectuals find Iqbal quiet helpful aswell. Fazlur Rahman the late great Pakistani intellectual held a very high esteem of Iqbal, and Rahman has become one of the great figures in modern religious thought.

    I have also shown that Qutb who is the main idealogue of political Islam actually spoke harshly of Iqbal’s Reconstruction.

    Hamid only selectively quotes the poetry, he does not try to go into the Reconstruction, that is a fallacy. Iqbal was socially yes more conservative but in his religious and legal thought he was more liberal advocating ijtihad as the ”the principle of movement in the structure of Islam”. That is the heart of Iqbal’s philosophical thought which is ijtihad which is overlooked by practically all demagogues and ulema wishing to exploit Iqbal for their own gains.

    By selectively quoting his poetry and totally ignoring his prose.

  42. AA Khalid


    Zaid Hamid if I am not mistaken is also a supporter of Jinnah, he moulds Mr Jinnah in his own fashion and whims just like Iqbal. One would also think (if one did not have any idea about what Mr Jinnah was like in his political thought) that Hamid was also an authentic representative of Jinnah.

    Come on YLH do not suspend your critical eye when thinkers and personalities other than Mr Jinnah are abused and used by demagogues of this country. I have seen many a time the most reactionary individual cite the name of Mr Jinnah in their defense.

    Is this valid and fair?

  43. AA Khalid

    So does that mean YLH everytime I turn on my TV, switch to Pakistani talk shows and see a conservative, or bigoted individual cite Mr Jinnah’s name as support I should take that claim at face value?

    At this rate then we should consider Mr Jinnah a most unpleasent character if he inspires such thinking in the public discourse in Pakistan today.

    That is only and only if we suspend our critical eye on the claim of demagogues. Your defence of Jinnah is admirable and a much needed correction but I have to say I detect a bit of myopia in your thinking YLH, if someone cites Jinnah as support for their conservative or regressive cause you will take the shotgun out and shoot on sight (metaphorically of course), but if any other individual, thinker or personality is quoted you will stand by idly, like what you just did with Hamid and Iqbal…….

  44. Dastagir

    Pakistan and Pakistanis should get over their fixation with Iqbal, Jinnah, India (Aishwarya Rai, Indian Movies, Shahrukh Khan, and the Indian songs)… and say good bye to Cricket. After burying these… go where ?

    The new fads / fascination should be : Scientific Education.. Secular Education.. Positive Attitude.. Sometimes i feel (and this is weird), that Pakistan should become a Colony of Germany… for a couple of centuries.

    The German Masters will build Pakistan from Scratch. (this is meant to drive home a point… need not be taken as an insult.. that is not my intent.. i am above barbs… but the underlying thought is.. if “X” is not able to manage his life well.. what harm.. if he comes under the protective umbrella of “Y”. If you merge Pakistan with CHINA, can it help ? Will it help ? China has huge financial resources.. if a little of it could be diverted… the face of Pakistan would change (for the better). Do i mean to imply.. that Pakistan should voluntarily accept to become a colony (voluntary enslavement)., because over the past 65 yrs., it has been proved., that they could not manage their affairs decently ! And that failing… is visible ! That lack of leadership over 65 yrs… is visible. That cruel Zamindar and Vadera along with the Mullah and the “BOOT”…. is visible… and the present system cannot cut the shackles… So will temporary “enslavement” help ?

    Part of Germany… Part of China… for a few centuries.. till they bring out the best and turn men into gentlemen…! The Mullah needs someone who is more powerful and more evil.. Only when he sees THAT naked power (Powell Doctrine)… he becomes flexible.

  45. rationalist

    to dastagir

    Pakistan is a colony of arabs already. Islam means submission (mental slavery) under a 7th century arab god-concept. Slavery under China will bring a further terrible devaluation of Pakistan since China has been misusing it already for China’s imperialist mischief. (See China’s dealings with Tibet, Sin Kiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Korea, Myanmar etc. – China’s rulers are an extremely cynical and ruthless lot.)

    Way forward for Pakistan is to admit that its hate of India and hindus is totally unwarranted and counter-productive for both. Why ignore India and embrace Germany or China or whoever else? Afterall it is the brother who will really care. Why do so many indians/hindus write on the PTH, even bitter words? Because they care. How many chinese or germans or arabs write on the PTH?

    Advise pakistanis to reject slavery under China and islam and arabs. CIA = China, Islam, Arabs. That is the CIA that is now misusing Pakistan. Earlier it was the US-CIA. But the US-CIA got a bloody nose through pakistani duplicity.

    Germans are wise and intelligent enough not to take up Pakistan as a colony.

  46. Dastagir

    I want to see a developed Pakistan.. an educated Pakistan.. with high school enrolment.. and atleast 40% of all kids should have college (graduate) education.. I want to see it as a country that has soft power (literature, arts, poetry, flowers, horticulture) as well as hard power (weapons self sufficiency.. otherwise you cant protect yourselves with perfumes and lipstick.. we dont want it to be Beirut-II / Lebanon-II). And for that., i think it is most advisable that Pakistan be a Colony of Germany. Pakistani Friendship with India (and viceversa) is not possible., because of the hatred injected into the DNA of Indians and Pakistanis by RSS and the Mullah for the past 100 years. A 4 year old Hindu boy., hates Pakistan today… with bitter venom. The earlier history(ies) cannot be wished away. The recent past (1947) is very painful. There is pain on both sides.. i understand that… but… there is a feeling… and i will be direct here. For every 1 Hindu killed., there are 200 muslims who were killed. For every 1 hindu girl raped., there were 200 muslim girls who were raped. In simple terms., the loss of life… and pain to the heart.. was 200 times more for Muslims (compared to Hindus). This is as far as the “balance of pain” (which is balance of power in SE Asia)., is concerned.

    A reproachment with India is next to impossible. There is no leadership (Nehru could have.. but he didnt) in India-Pak-Bangla… to sell the Idea.. that this artificial partition.. the Durand Line.. the Mc Mohan Line.. this Radcliffe Line.. is enslaving us. Around 28 – 30 Billion Dollars annually. This is a drain… If we could learn to live and accept each other.. part of this money can be used.. and we can wipe poverty… But.. the RSS will not accept it.. cuz it would mean having 17+17 = 34 crore more muslims into India. Add Indian muslims 20 crores.. and then India would have 54 crore muslims… versus.. 80 crore hindus.. the balance of power would be altered.. In the first place, RSS partitioned India (as early as 1920.. Lal-Bal-Pal- Savarkar-Hegdewar.. 1st advocates..) to rid India of its Muslim Motif.. Gandhiji’s main contribution was not to have won India its freedom (that came for all practical purposes as early as 1935.. .with the GOI Act 1935)., but to rid India of its Muslim motif… and replace it… with a Hindu one.

    So thats the obstacle…. with India. Thats the reason.. i suggested that Pakistan should be part of either China.. or Germany.. it would mutually benefit both China/Germany.. to have Pakistan as its Colony… and the internal strife that we have in Pakistan.. the corruption.. the bureaucracy.. the administrative flaws.. all that will end.. and a new culture based on merit.. could be initiated.

    I suggest Colonialism.. not in an insulting way.. but in an “Instructing” way.. as a corrective.. tactically corrective course of action… so that the nation’s long-term potential is realised for posterity.

  47. rationalist

    to dastagir
    you wrote: “because of the hatred injected into the DNA of Indians and Pakistanis by RSS and the Mullah for the past 100 years.”

    The RSS is not 100 years active. The mullah is active since >1000 years. Many hate-generating sentences are to be found in the book of the muslims.

    “For every 1 Hindu killed., there are 200 muslims who were killed. For every 1 hindu girl raped., there were 200 muslim girls who were raped. In simple terms., the loss of life… and pain to the heart.. was 200 times more for Muslims (compared to Hindus).”

    These are the quantitative lies that muslims grow up with. Furthermore why look only at the one year 1947 AD? The muslims have been doing it since much earlier – since 710 AD. The cumulative perspective actually reverses your figures.

  48. Dastagir

    Why China/Germany.. and not India !

    The love, affection, compassion, humanity, consideration and the humane-ness shown / displayed by Indian leadership from “Sardar Patel to Narendra Modi… via. Indira Gandhi and Golwalkar”…… is the answer….. This line should trigger retrospection within the inner recesses of your your mind.

    As far as 1920… THEY wanted to get rid of muslim-majority areas.. so that they get the gaddi of DELHI. They succeeded in their plans.. (and also played victim)… What a success they had… (Read Ayesha Jalal’s thesis.. read 200 books on partition of india.. and who DID it.. or who pushed towards it.. and when did they start.. Go back to 1920.. and then you will know.. who did the dirty work..). There are no angels here., but its the RSS (Hegdewar was once a Congress-man)… so Sangh Parivar of today… was once a part of Congress-Parivar.

    The behavior “From S. Patel to Narendra Modi” ensured that Pakistan and India will be inimical to each other for eternity. Its not something pleasant.. or something to be happy about.. .there are no winners here… but the SEA OF HATRED that Hindus have for Islam and Muslims… is shocking.

    What is Hindutva today … tell me.. Nothing but Hating Islam and Muslims (jointly and severally). Hating every single Muslim man, woman and child to death…

    Remove muslims.. from the mental landscape.. and what is left of Hinduism (on the ground) today. What are its philosophical pillars… what is it.. in the life of a Hindu today.. (as a living ideology). Today it means : Hating Islam and Muslims to death. Bas… It is a negative force..

    If you look at it from a civilisational point… RSS.. Sardar Patel to Modi.. they caused great damage to Hinduism too.. (long-term.. civilisational world-view).. cuz they turned philosophy .. hindu philosophy to muslim hatred.

    In the short term., it was a HIT though.. Hindus got the GADDI of Delhi.. Got rid of Muslims substantially (the remaining left in India.. were needed.. cuz a PUNCHING BAG was needed.. otherwise with its Caste-System would have surfaced and destroyed everything.. Remember.. Chandragupta Maurya was NOT a Hindu.. and Shivaji was not a Kshatriya !)… thats why Nehru said.. “Substantially.. though not in full measure”.. in his “Tryst with Destiny” speech.

    It is the Hindu behaviour… and Hindu hatred that is responsible (75%) for the scenario we have today. There are no angels .. i agree.. but muslims.. even in their crime.. are murgi-chor.. and anda-chor… whereas Hindus are sophisticated Bernard Maddoffs. I say this openly.. RSS is 1 million times more dangerous than Al Qaeda… with its Institutionalised Riot Systems…. but RSS is like the drunkard who beats his wife inside the house daily (It is our internal matter).. hence the world has not waken up to the danger that RSS poses to humanity….

    I hope some day… we discuss RSS at a special seminar.. at Sorbonne or MIT/Harvard… cuz the danger that RSS poses to humanity.. must be discussed at the highest tables.. the highest think tanks.. in the world. The world’s finest minds must be exposed to the dirty work RSS is doing. RSS is Al Qaida multiplied by a million times… so it is the duty of everyone to highlight this.

    “In order for evil to succeed, the good has only to remain silent” – Burke.

    We shall never remain silent to RSS dirty acts / atrocities / Babu Bajrangis / Vanzaras / Abhay Chudasama / Rithambharas… all these criminals of humanity… must be exposed… for the sake of humanity.. and civilisation.

  49. rationalist

    to dastagir

    Fact is: muslims are quislings of an anti-indian, arab-imperialist ideology and hindus are defending their hindu homelands. Your arguments would be somewhat correct if the hindu-muslim conflict takes place (or had taken place) in Arabia.

    The muslim’s hate and anger is that of the agent or quisling of an alien imperialist ideology. The hindu’s hate and anger is that of one who is defending his homeland against the muslim aggressor and his desecndants.

    I hope you do try making RSS a world-wide theme as per your fashion ro analysis. But the PTH cannot help you much here – so why not try elsewhere?

  50. Abhi

    Why nobody bans idiots like rationalist and Dastagir ? 😦
    They just add to the noise level on this fine blog.

  51. Tilsim

    When a thing is said to be not
    worth refuting you may be sure
    that either it is flagrantly stupid —
    in which case all comment is
    superfluous — or it is something formidable,
    the very crux of the problem.
    Miguel De Unamuno

  52. Ammar

    The vision of Jinnah or Iqbal had no role for clergy, Iqbal always loathed the dual morality of Mullah’s and Jinnah was staunch believer of democratic norms. Why have we forgotten the vision of our founder or perhaps their narrative has been distorted by the religious zealots?