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Iqbal's Conception of God (review)

Iqbal's Conception of God (review) BOOK REVIEWS Iqbal's Conception of God.ByM.SalmanRaschid.Secondedition.Karachi:Oxford UniversityPress,2010.Pp.xxvii+122.PakRs395. ReviewedbyM. Shabbir Ahsen LahoreUniversityofManagementStudies(LUMS) InhisprovocativebookIqbal's Conception of God,SalmanRaschidchallengesthe receivedviewaboutMuhammadIqbal(d.1938) poetandphilosopherfromBrit--a ishIndiawhoisgenerallyregardedastheofficialphilosopherofPakistan sagreat --a religiousthinker.HedoesthisbyexaminingIqbal'sconceptionofGodaspresented inThe Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam (hereafterReconstruction),especiallyinitssecondchapter.Thisexamination,accordingtotheauthor,doesnotvindicateIqbalasagreatreligiousthinker.TheauthorfindsIqbalwrongintwoways. First,Iqbaldrawsextravagantconclusionsofametaphysicalnature,whichlackany solid foundation, from his superficial reading of science and philosophy. Second, IqbaltriestofindsupportforhisintellectualfindingsintheQur'an.Thus,heisguilty ofmisunderstandingboththeWesterntraditionandtheIslamictradition.Inaddition tothis,theauthorfindsatensionbetweenpanentheisticandpantheisticconceptions ofGodinIqbal.Inthefinalanalysis,wearetoldthat"Iqbalhasproducednooriginal orindependentargumentation."Toputitstrongly,wehaveapictureofamanhere whofailstoimpressasaseriousthinker. Thisisthebook'ssecondedition,thefirsthavingbeenpublishedin1981.Inthe presentedition,theauthorhasappendedatimelinefromthearrivalofIslaminIndia totheestablishmentofPakistanandabiographicalnoteonIqbal,whichmaybehelpfultothereader.Thesubstantialpartremainsthesame.Thebookhasthreesections: thefirstdealswiththeWesterntraditionandthesecondwiththeIslamict adition,and r thethird,whichisverybrief,triestogobeyondIqbal.Thewritingstyleissimilarto thatofadissertation;thetreatmentispiecemealandbriefwithoccasionalr petitions. e TheauthorbeginswithasummaryofIqbal'streatmentofthescholasticargumentsfortheexistenceofGod.TheseargumentsareshownbyIqbaltobelogically inadequateonseveralaccounts.Verybriefly,thecosmologicalargumentgoesfrom thefinitetotheinfinite,theteleologicalargumentisconsistent,withafiniteexternal designer,andtheontologicalargumentbegsthequestion.Iqbalmaintainsthatthese argumentsfailtoprovetheexistenceofGodbecausetheyassumethedisunityof thoughtandbeing,andarenotsensitivetothedistinctionbetweenthefiniteandthe infinite.Accordingtotheauthor,thesethemesassumeHegelianepistemologyand ontology.Theunityofthoughtandbeingcanbefullyappreciated,accordingtoIqbal, ifandonlyifoneexaminesandinterpretsexperienceinthelightoftheQur'an.The authorfindsthistobeproblematicontwoaccounts,onephilosophicalandtheother religious.Onthephilosophicalside,thisapproachisnotconsistentwithHegel.Here IqbalistryingtoproveHegelianontology,wearetold,withamethodthatischaracteristically anti-Hegelian. Iqbal, therefore, is guilty of distortion. On the religious PhilosophyEast&WestVolume62,Number4October2012602­604 ©2012byUniversityofHawai`iPress account,IqbalisaccusedofmisinterpretingtheQur'an.Theinterpretationofexperience allowed Iqbal to delve into science, but the author questions Iqbal's understanding of the subject; he is criticized for not having a proper understanding of Einstein,Whitehead,andBergson. The author does not find much support for Iqbal's view of God in traditional I lamicthought.Herehetakesal-GhazaliandAbulKalamAzadasthekeythinkers s andgoesontoshowthatIqbal'sconceptionofGodisverydifferentfromtheirs,and, asmentionedabove,Iqbalhasbeencriticizedfornotbeingcarefulinquotingthe Qu'ran.Theauthor succinctly employstheconception ofGod held by al-Ghazali andAbulKalam,inwhichanthropomorphismisrejectedandHisTranscendenceis affirmed ithanunderscoreonHisUniqueness,makingitclearthatGodneednot --w beconstruedinanywaysimilartousorHisCreations.Onewouldhavethoughtthat Iqbal's conception of God would agree with this in principle if not in detail.The a thorarguesthatIqbalhasafiniteconceptionofGod,andhispositionisdescribed u aspanentheistic.Therearesomereferences,though,whichpresupposepantheismas well.A more in-depth discussion of this issue would have been greatly beneficial here.ThisisespeciallyimportantinthelightofIqbal'srejectionofpantheisticSufism. OnewouldalsohavelikedtoseeadiscussionofhowIqbal'sclaimregardingthe infinitecreativityofGodcoincideswithhisfiniteconception. TheauthorhasrigorouslyarguedhiscaseandhasmadesomeimportantobservationsandcriticismsofIqbalwithrespecttoscience,philosophy,andtraditionalI lamic s thought.However,onefeelsthathehasnotbeensensitivetoIqbal'soverallprogram. AtthecoreofIqbal'sthoughtistheideaoftheprimacyofexperience.Whateverthe meritofthisposition,Iqbalseesexperiencetobetheprimarysourceofknowledge, whetheritisknowledgeoftheworldorknowledgeofGod.So,inamannerofspeaking,Iqbalisseeinghowscienceshouldbetakenfromareligiousperspective,aswell asattemptingareconstructionofreligiousthoughtfromtheIslamicperspective.As farastheformerisconcerned,Iqbaltriestoshowthatnatureneedstobeseenas reflectingthe"habitsofGod"andnotintermsofcausalrelationsonly.Asfarasthe latterisconcerned,Iqbalmakesitclearthatreligionisbasedondirectexperience. Raschid'sHegelianinterpretationofIqbalisbasedmainlyonhisanalysisofthesecondchapterofIqbal'sReconstruction.Beforedealingwiththescholasticarguments, Iqbalhasmadeitclearthatreligionisbasedondirectexperience.Inhisdiscussions ofthescholasticarguments,hetriedtomovefromthecause-effectrelationshiptoa person-habit one, from designer-designed to person-purpose, and from an ideal (logical)-realdualismtoaperson-consciousnessrelation(p.122).Thetransformation fromtheformertothelatterisessentiallyatransformationfromamechanisticstandpointtoamoreperson-orientedstandpointthatcanbeappreciatedinexperience. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Philosophy East and West University of Hawai'I Press

Iqbal's Conception of God (review)

Philosophy East and West , Volume 62 (4) – Nov 2, 2012

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Abstract

BOOK REVIEWS Iqbal's Conception of God.ByM.SalmanRaschid.Secondedition.Karachi:Oxford UniversityPress,2010.Pp.xxvii+122.PakRs395. ReviewedbyM. Shabbir Ahsen LahoreUniversityofManagementStudies(LUMS) InhisprovocativebookIqbal's Conception of God,SalmanRaschidchallengesthe receivedviewaboutMuhammadIqbal(d.1938) poetandphilosopherfromBrit--a ishIndiawhoisgenerallyregardedastheofficialphilosopherofPakistan sagreat --a religiousthinker.HedoesthisbyexaminingIqbal'sconceptionofGodaspresented inThe Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam (hereafterReconstruction),especiallyinitssecondchapter.Thisexamination,accordingtotheauthor,doesnotvindicateIqbalasagreatreligiousthinker.TheauthorfindsIqbalwrongintwoways. First,Iqbaldrawsextravagantconclusionsofametaphysicalnature,whichlackany solid foundation, from his superficial reading of science and philosophy. Second, IqbaltriestofindsupportforhisintellectualfindingsintheQur'an.Thus,heisguilty ofmisunderstandingboththeWesterntraditionandtheIslamictradition.Inaddition tothis,theauthorfindsatensionbetweenpanentheisticandpantheisticconceptions ofGodinIqbal.Inthefinalanalysis,wearetoldthat"Iqbalhasproducednooriginal orindependentargumentation."Toputitstrongly,wehaveapictureofamanhere whofailstoimpressasaseriousthinker. Thisisthebook'ssecondedition,thefirsthavingbeenpublishedin1981.Inthe presentedition,theauthorhasappendedatimelinefromthearrivalofIslaminIndia totheestablishmentofPakistanandabiographicalnoteonIqbal,whichmaybehelpfultothereader.Thesubstantialpartremainsthesame.Thebookhasthreesections: thefirstdealswiththeWesterntraditionandthesecondwiththeIslamict adition,and r thethird,whichisverybrief,triestogobeyondIqbal.Thewritingstyleissimilarto thatofadissertation;thetreatmentispiecemealandbriefwithoccasionalr petitions. e TheauthorbeginswithasummaryofIqbal'streatmentofthescholasticargumentsfortheexistenceofGod.TheseargumentsareshownbyIqbaltobelogically inadequateonseveralaccounts.Verybriefly,thecosmologicalargumentgoesfrom thefinitetotheinfinite,theteleologicalargumentisconsistent,withafiniteexternal designer,andtheontologicalargumentbegsthequestion.Iqbalmaintainsthatthese argumentsfailtoprovetheexistenceofGodbecausetheyassumethedisunityof thoughtandbeing,andarenotsensitivetothedistinctionbetweenthefiniteandthe infinite.Accordingtotheauthor,thesethemesassumeHegelianepistemologyand ontology.Theunityofthoughtandbeingcanbefullyappreciated,accordingtoIqbal, ifandonlyifoneexaminesandinterpretsexperienceinthelightoftheQur'an.The authorfindsthistobeproblematicontwoaccounts,onephilosophicalandtheother religious.Onthephilosophicalside,thisapproachisnotconsistentwithHegel.Here IqbalistryingtoproveHegelianontology,wearetold,withamethodthatischaracteristically anti-Hegelian. Iqbal, therefore, is guilty of distortion. On the religious PhilosophyEast&WestVolume62,Number4October2012602­604 ©2012byUniversityofHawai`iPress account,IqbalisaccusedofmisinterpretingtheQur'an.Theinterpretationofexperience allowed Iqbal to delve into science, but the author questions Iqbal's understanding of the subject; he is criticized for not having a proper understanding of Einstein,Whitehead,andBergson. The author does not find much support for Iqbal's view of God in traditional I lamicthought.Herehetakesal-GhazaliandAbulKalamAzadasthekeythinkers s andgoesontoshowthatIqbal'sconceptionofGodisverydifferentfromtheirs,and, asmentionedabove,Iqbalhasbeencriticizedfornotbeingcarefulinquotingthe Qu'ran.Theauthor succinctly employstheconception ofGod held by al-Ghazali andAbulKalam,inwhichanthropomorphismisrejectedandHisTranscendenceis affirmed ithanunderscoreonHisUniqueness,makingitclearthatGodneednot --w beconstruedinanywaysimilartousorHisCreations.Onewouldhavethoughtthat Iqbal's conception of God would agree with this in principle if not in detail.The a thorarguesthatIqbalhasafiniteconceptionofGod,andhispositionisdescribed u aspanentheistic.Therearesomereferences,though,whichpresupposepantheismas well.A more in-depth discussion of this issue would have been greatly beneficial here.ThisisespeciallyimportantinthelightofIqbal'srejectionofpantheisticSufism. OnewouldalsohavelikedtoseeadiscussionofhowIqbal'sclaimregardingthe infinitecreativityofGodcoincideswithhisfiniteconception. TheauthorhasrigorouslyarguedhiscaseandhasmadesomeimportantobservationsandcriticismsofIqbalwithrespecttoscience,philosophy,andtraditionalI lamic s thought.However,onefeelsthathehasnotbeensensitivetoIqbal'soverallprogram. AtthecoreofIqbal'sthoughtistheideaoftheprimacyofexperience.Whateverthe meritofthisposition,Iqbalseesexperiencetobetheprimarysourceofknowledge, whetheritisknowledgeoftheworldorknowledgeofGod.So,inamannerofspeaking,Iqbalisseeinghowscienceshouldbetakenfromareligiousperspective,aswell asattemptingareconstructionofreligiousthoughtfromtheIslamicperspective.As farastheformerisconcerned,Iqbaltriestoshowthatnatureneedstobeseenas reflectingthe"habitsofGod"andnotintermsofcausalrelationsonly.Asfarasthe latterisconcerned,Iqbalmakesitclearthatreligionisbasedondirectexperience. Raschid'sHegelianinterpretationofIqbalisbasedmainlyonhisanalysisofthesecondchapterofIqbal'sReconstruction.Beforedealingwiththescholasticarguments, Iqbalhasmadeitclearthatreligionisbasedondirectexperience.Inhisdiscussions ofthescholasticarguments,hetriedtomovefromthecause-effectrelationshiptoa person-habit one, from designer-designed to person-purpose, and from an ideal (logical)-realdualismtoaperson-consciousnessrelation(p.122).Thetransformation fromtheformertothelatterisessentiallyatransformationfromamechanisticstandpointtoamoreperson-orientedstandpointthatcanbeappreciatedinexperience.

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Philosophy East and WestUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Nov 2, 2012

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