Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Mohamed Iqbal or Sir Muhammad Iqbal, aka Allama Iqbal

Indian Muslim Poet, Lawyer and Philosopher

"A child is born through the rending of the womb; a man is born through the rending of the world. The call to prayer signalizes both kinds of birth, the first is uttered by the lips, the second by the very soul."

"From your past emerges the present, and from the present is born your future."

"The possessor of a sound heart puts to test his power by entering into big adventures."

"Life is a struggle and not a matter of privilege. It is nothing but one’s knowledge of the temporal and the spiritual world."

"Everything that possesses life dies if it has to live in uncongenial surroundings."

"I tell the truth: your enemy is also your friend – his presence makes your life fuller and richer."

"Respect for man is the underlying spirit of civilization."

"Prayer is an expression of man’s inner yearning for a response in the awful silence of the universe. It is a unique process of discovery whereby the searching ego affirms itself in the very moment of self-negation, and thus discovers its own worth and justification as a dynamic factor in the life of the universe."

"The man of Love follows the path of God – and shows affection to both the believer and the nonbeliever."

"Words, without power, is mere philosophy."

"I advise you to guard against atheism and materialism. The biggest blunder made by Europe was the separation of Church and State. This deprived their culture of moral soul and diverted it to the atheistic materialism."

"The spirit of philosophy is one of free inquiry. It suspects all authority. Its function is to trace the uncritical assumptions of human thought to their hiding places, and in this pursuit it may finally end in denial or a frank admission of the incapacity of pure reason to reach the ultimate reality."

"People who have no hold over their process of thinking are likely to be ruined by liberty of thought. If thought is immature, liberty of thought becomes a method of converting men into animals."

"God is not a dead equation!"

"It is the nature of the self to manifest itself, In every atom slumbers the might of the self."

"Art is a sacred lie."

"Nations are born in the hearts of poets, they prosper and die in the hands of politicians."

"Psychologically speaking, all states, whether their content is religious or non-religious, are organically determined."

"Plants and minerals are bound to predestination. The faithful is only bound to the Divine orders."

"Let's try hard to stop insulting each other and to prevent all kinds of violence,"

"Indeed, in view of its function, religion stands in greater need of a rational foundation of its ultimate principles than even the dogmas of science."

"Be not entangled in this world of days and nights; Thou hast another time and space as well."

"I am a hidden meaning made to defy. The grasp of words, and walk away With free will and destiny. As living, revolutionary clay."

"The immediacy of mystic experience simply means that we know God just as we know other objects. God is not a mathematical entity or a system of concepts mutually related to one another and having no reference to experience."

"Why should I ask the wise men: Whence is my beginning? I am busy with the thought: Where will be my end?"

"When truth has no burning, then it is philosophy, when it gets burning from the heart, it becomes poetry."

"I lead no party; I follow no leader. I have given the best part of my life to careful study of Islam, its law and polity, its culture, its history and its literature."

"Rise above sectional interests and private ambitions... Pass from matter to spirit. Matter is diversity; spirit is light, life and unity"

"If the object of poetry is, to make men, then poetry is the heir of prophecy."

"Destiny is the prison and chain of the ignorant. Understand that destiny like the water of the Nile: Water before the faithful, blood before the unbeliever."

"It is the lot of man to share in the deeper aspirations of the universe around him and to share his own destiny as well as that of the universe, now by adjusting himself to its forces, now by putting the whole of his energy to his own ends and purposes. And in this process of progressive change God becomes a co-worker with him, provided man takes the initiative: Verily God will not change the condition of men, till they change what is in themselves. If he does not take the initiative, if he does not evolve the inner richness of his being, if he ceases to feel the inner push of advancing life, then the spirit within him hardens into stone and he is reduced to the level of dead matter. "

"Ends and purposes, whether they exist as conscious or subconscious tendencies, form the wrap and woof of our conscious experience."

"See as one, not bit by bit!"

"The mystic state brings us into contact with the total passage of Reality in which all the diverse stimuli merge into one another and form a single unanalysable unity in which the ordinary distinction of subject and object does not exist."

"To the mystic, the mystic state is a moment of intimate association with a Unique Other Self, transcending, encompassing, and momentarily suppressing the private personality of the subject of experience."

"All experience is immediate. As regions of normal experience are subject to interpretation of sense-data for our knowledge of the external world, so the region of mystic experience is subject to interpretation for our knowledge of God."

"The form of prayer ought not to become a matter of dispute. Which side you turn your face is certainly not essential to the spirit of prayer. The Quran is clearly on thus point. "The east and west is God’s: therefore whichever way you turn, there is the face of God."

"What is the character and general structures of the universe in which we live? Is there a permanent element in the constitution of this universe? How are we related to it? What place do we occupy in it, and what is the kind of conduct that benefits the place we occupy? These questions are common to religion, philosophy, and higher poetry."

"But the kind of knowledge that poetic inspiration brings is essentially individual in its character; it is figurative, vague, and indefinite. Religion, in its more advanced forms, rises higher than poetry. It moves from individual to society. In its attitude towards the ultimate reality it is opposed to the limitations of man; it enlarges his claims and holds out the prospect of nothing less than a direct vision of Reality. Is it then possible to apply the purely rational method of philosophy to religion?"

"The division of mankind into races is for purposes of identification only. The Islamic form of association in prayer, besides its cognitive value, is further indicative of the aspiration to realize this essential unity of mankind as a fact in life by demolishing all barriers which stand between man and man."

"The one grasp Reality piecemeal, the other grasps it in its wholeness. The one fixes its gaze on the eternal the other on the temporal aspect of Reality. The one is present enjoyment of the whole of Reality; the other aims at traversing the whole by slowly specifying and closing up the various regions of the whole for exclusive observation. Both are in need of each other for mutual rejuvenation. Both seek vision of the same reality, which reveals itself to them in accordance to the function of life. In fact, intuition, as Bergson rightly says, is only a higher kind of intellect."

"But to rationalize faith is not to admit the superiority of philosophy over religion. Philosophy, no doubt, has jurisdiction to judge religion, but what is to be judged is such a nature that it will not submit to the jurisdiction of philosophy except on its on terms. While sitting in judgment of religion, philosophy cannot give religion an inferior place among its data. Religion is not a departmental affair; it is neither mere thought, nor mere feeling; it is an expression of the whole man."

"The essence of religion, on the other hand, is faith, and faith, like the bird, sees its 'trackless way' unattended by intellect which, in the great mystic poet of Islam, 'only way lays the living heart of man and robs it of the invisible lies within."

"Yet it cannot be denied that faith is mere feeling. It has something like a cognitive content, and the existence of rival parties- scholastics and mystics- in the history shows that idea is a vital element in religion. Apart from this, religion on its doctrinal side, as defined by professor Whitehead, is ' a system of general truths which have the effect of transforming character when they are sincerely held and vividly apprehended'. Now, since the transformation and guidance of man's inner and outer life is the essential aim of religion, it is obvious that the general truths that it embodies must not remain unsettled."

"Thus, in the evaluation of religion, philosophy must recognize the central position of religion and has no other alternative but to admit it as something focal in the process of reflective synthesis. Nor is there any reason to suppose that thought and intuition are essentially opposed to each other. They spring up from the same root and complement each other."

"Vision without power does bring moral elevation but cannot give a lasting culture. Power without vision tends to become destructive and inhuman. Both must combine for the spiritual expansion of humanity."

"In the West, Intellect is the source of life, In the East, Love is the basis of life. Through Love, Intellect grows acquainted with Reality, And Intellect gives stability to the work of Love, Arise and lay the foundations of a new world, By wedding intellect to Love."

"A wrong concept misleads the understanding; a wrong deed degrades the whole man, and may eventually demolish the structure of the human ego."

"Another way of judging the value of a prophet's religious experience, therefore, would be to examine the type of manhood that he has created, and the cultural world that has sprung out of the spirit of his message."

"Art: If the object of poetry is, to make men, then poetry is the heir of prophecy."